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Letter from the new Chair, neighbourhood news, development at 955 East Hastings, and crime alert

 

• Letter from New Chair

   - Proposal for an Executive Council 

   - Child Care at Meetings

   - The Road Ahead

 

• Other News / Events


   - Neighbourhood Crime Alert

   - Community Forum on Development at 955 East Hastings

   - Celebrate Strathcona's History

   - Strathcona Community Centre 40th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser

 

 

Letter From the New Chair, Pete Fry

 

Hello friends and neighbours.

 

My name is Pete Fry and I would like to introduce myself as the new Chair of the Strathcona Residents' Association. I would also like to acknowledge our new Secretary, Gordon Roe, our new Treasurer, Roberta Robertson and new member of the Zoning Committee, John Belshaw, all resulting from last wednesday's AGM.

 

I'm a self-employed graphic/web designer, and have lived, worked and volunteered in Strathcona and the DTES since the late 1980's. During that time, my attraction and commitment to this neighbourhood has always been the people and the wonderful community we have here. I am extremely appreciative of the socio-economic and cultural diversity that gives Strathcona its indomitable spirit and its big heart — the slogan on the wall really sums it up: "We Take Care of Each Other". 

 

I've taken on my new responsibility with high hopes and a clear agenda — to transform the SRA and our style of governance; to build our representation and scope; to make this Residents' Association a loud and clear voice for the community, our people, and our aspirations. I would like to see us expand and diversify our membership, to ensure that all Strathcona residents have a voice, and for us to adopt a more nimble decision making process so that we might be better positioned to meet the challenges ahead. 

 

To accomplish this, I am proposing we change the way we run the SRA, and adopt an executive council model.

 

 

Proposal for an Executive Council 

 

The pretense of an Executive, Council or Board of Directors is fairly well-established in many organizations, and should work well for the SRA. In fact, neighbouring community associations like the DNC (DTES), GWAC (Grandview Woodland) and WERA (the West End), all operate with an executive council.  A council would ultimately be a less demanding and time consuming way to participate in SRA leadership and could enable the SRA to streamline business, allow for more nimble and timely decision making, provide greater transparency and promote more order in SRA proceedings.

 

I've worked with with SRA member Elana Zysblat and come up with a rough framework for a council and their responsibilities:

 

  • An elected council of six or so Strathcona residents
  • Take turns chairing SRA meetings and the direct follow-up duties from the meeting they chaired (ie letter writing, e-mails, gathering information to report back etc...)
  • Implement and coordinate the decisions of the general membership
  • Determine (as a group) SRA meeting agendas, issues statements and press releases, updates newsletters and website content
  • Conduct council business (via email or in person) at least once a month
  • Take turns chairing council meetings, whether electronic or in person
  • Take turns keeping minutes of council meetings to be made available to any member of the SRA
  • Prepare and deliver a summary report of council proceedings at monthly general meetings
  • Provide timely reactions to issues that might occur outside of the SRA general meeting
  • Make consensus based decisions* pertaining to SRA business, excepting major decisions, initiatives or changes to Association rules or constitution which would be deferred to the SRA for vote (*any one member can ask that a decision be deferred to the greater association for vote)

 

Over the course of this month, I will be developing this concept for presentation prior to the November SRA meeting, at which point, pending ratification, hopefully we will be able to vote in a new council. Several members have expressed a willingness to contribute ideas and input into this proposal, and I welcome you to share your thoughts with me at chair@strathcona-residents.org.

 

While this council would only be elected by voting members of the SRA, it would be open to any resident of Strathcona to run. It is my genuine hope that we can broaden our scope of representation, and we might consider a condition that at least one member of council should be a home owning, and at least one a renting resident. In the future, as we expand our demographic I would hope we could add a similar condition to include at least one social housing resident as well.

 

To be clear, this council would not be acting in secrecy or as an autocracy; it would operate with full transparency and accountability, as mandated by the general voting SRA membership. General meetings, guest speakers, committees and reports would continue to be presented at our general meetings. The main function of this council would be to streamline our operations and allow for more timely decision making. To illustrate the need for timely decision making, consider our community reaction to the viaducts removal proposal and calming Prior Street in July — under our current governance structure we would only have been in a position to vote on a reaction at our last October meeting.

 

Moving forward, as first orders of business for the new council, I'm suggesting we:

- consolidate, formalize and codify our constitution and rules, for presentation to and endorsement by the SRA and documentation on our website.

- initiate an outreach program to engage new membership, reaching out to currently underrepresented voices and working closer with RayCam

- research and develop Strathcona input to the DTES Local Area Plan

 

 

Child Care at Meetings

 

We have heard from a number of resident parents that attending meetings on the first Wednesday evening can be a timing challenge. Starting on a trial basis in November, we have secured the adjacent room to offer on-site child care during the meeting. Details will be forthcoming - please RSVP if you think you would be interested in this.

 

 

The Road Ahead

 

I hope that moving forward, we can build the SRA into a powerful and representative voice for the neighbourhood. We are at a pivotal time for Strathcona, development and political pressure mean we will need a strong clear community voice to address some of the coming challenges, including:

 

- Affordable Housing Strategy: While affordable housing is an issue city-wide, it's especially poignant in a small and diverse community like ours. We need to ensure that our seniors can grow old in their community and that low and moderate income working people and families continue to have a home. New development and new people are coming - we need to make sure the people who are living here now aren't displaced, and the diversity of our community continues to flourish.

 

- Local Area Planning: While the SRA had previously voted to decline a seat on the DTES LAP Process Committee, we are still able to prepare and advance our input directly to the City. City Planners acknowledge there is still a lot of outreach work to do, particularly in Strathcona. We need to start assessing and addressing what we would like to see in the plan.

 

- Helping our vulnerable population: Part of our socio-economic diversity includes the sobering fact that we have double the low income population as the city average. Our local schools and community centres continue to struggle to provide basic necessities, right here in our neighbourhood. We need to work closer with the RayCam and Strathcona Community Centres and other service providers to identify and prioritize how the Residents' Association can help, lobby and advocate.

 

- Viaducts Removal and the Eastern Core Strategy: The city's proposal to remove the viaducts will bring opportunities and challenges, we need to be engaged and active stakeholders in the process; we need to hold the City to the promise to calm Prior Street; we need to make sure the new Malkin connection doesn't balloon into a 12 lane highway and obliterate the community gardens; we need to take an active role in helping to decide what kind of parks and amenities any future development of North East False Creek will bring.

 

- City Relations: We need to position ourselves to take a much more assertive role with the City. As some will be aware, the City's new website has virtually eliminated our neighbourhood's identity (before: http://former.vancouver.ca/COMMUNITY_PROFILES/strathcona/  and now: http://vancouver.ca/green-vancouver/hastings.aspx). Other decisions coming from City management include a possible proposal to reduce the roles of local Community Centre Associations to more of an advisory capacity; budget consideration have resulted in a noticeable reduction in garbage pickup in our parks and playgrounds.

 

If you're a resident, and you care about this neighbourhood perhaps you will consider joining us. This summer's Reclaim Prior action showed what we as a community can do when we roll up our sleeves and work together… So let's make it happen!

 

And one last thing. 

I would like to close by offering my very real gratitude to friend and outgoing Chair, James Johnstone. I've had the pleasure of working with James through the SRA and on a number of projects including the recent Prior Street Calming and the Strathcona 125 Celebration. His genial good nature and infectious love of this area's history have enriched and enlivened our sense of self and place. He has done a fantastic job as chair the SRA over the last three years and inspired me to step up and receive his passed torch.

 

thanks!

- Pete Fry, Acting Chair SRA

 

 

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OTHER NEWS

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Neighbourhood Crime Alert 

Residential B&Es 12-10-05

 

from the VPD

 

The Vancouver Police Department has noticed an unusual increase in Residential Break-and-Enters in your area.

 

The Hot Spot Area is within the boundary of:

E Hastings St- north, Campbell Ave- east, E Georgia St- south, and Heatley Ave- west.

 

Entry is being gained by climbing ladders or plywood to access windows.

Break-ins are occurring between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm.

Food and other miscellaneous items are being stolen.

 

The Vancouver Police Department is asking for your assistance:

 

Ensure all doors and windows, including those above ground and on patios or balconies, are securely locked when you are out or sleeping. 

If you have a secondary lock please ensure that it is engaged.

Do not leave ladders, chairs, or other items that could be used for climbing in your yard.

 

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Community Forum on new 955 East Hastings Condo Development

Wednesday, October 10 - Russian Hall

 

Regarding the pending development application for 955 East Hastings (at Campbell), residents are encouraged to attend an important community dialogue this Wednesday, October 10, 6:30pm at the Russian Hall. There will be representatives for the developers, and panel speakers presenting different community views about this condo project with background summaries, and question-and-answer discussion.

 

The application for 955 is a fairly significant one. A 12-storey mixed use development including over 64,000 square feet of commercial and light industrial job space, retail store frontage, and 352 residential units, with 20% social housing.

 

Additional details about the development application can be found on the City's Planning Department website http://cfapp.vancouver.ca/planning_wa/index.cfm

 

The rezoning proposal for the development is scheduled to be a heard at city hall as early as Tuesday October 16. Submit a comment on the project by writing to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca regarding rezoning proposal at 955 E Hastings. To sign up to speak at this public hearing call 604-829-4238 or email publichearing@vancouver.ca.

 

It's important for the community to understand what impacts his development may have:

- How will this development effect the residents of RayCam and Strathcona? 

- How does this development compare with the multi-stakeholder and SRA-endorsed 2010 Community Vision Statement? (http://strathcona-residents.org/2010-vision-statement)

- Will this development effect affordable housing stock?

- What kind of social housing is being proposed, who will be running it? Will it be inclusive or segregated?

- Can this project be leveraged to provide opportunities and amenities for the community?

 

Residents are encouraged to attend the forum to find out more.

 

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Celebrate Strathcona's History

Saturday, November 3 - Strathcona Community Centre and around

 

The Tour of Nothing: The Freeway that Never Was 

Walking tour with John Atkin, 1:30pm - 3:30pm

 

SPOTA Mosaic Unveiling - Walter and Mary Lee Chan House, 

658 Keefer, 3:30pm - 4pm 

The mosaic pays tribute to the founding members and supporters of SPOTA.

Plaque presentation Vancouver Heritage Foundation Places That Matter

 

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Strathcona Community Centre 40th Anniversary Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, November 3 - Pink Pearl Restaurant

 

Strathcona Community Centre is 40 years young!

 

Come celebrate with our community over good food, storytelling by friends and alumni, hot jazz and a stylish silent auction featuring items like team jerseys from Roberto Luongo and Steve Nash, art and design from local studios and much more.

 

Stay tuned for details, but get your tickets early. The early bird rate of $55 goes up to $65 after October 12. Tax receipts are available upon request.

 

All proceeds support Strathcona Community Centre programs including food security, childcare and access to arts and sports education for all children and families.

 

Get tickets here: http://strathcona40gala.eventbrite.ca/