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Meeting March 6 - Viaducts Removal, Prior Street and more

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.
Here are some items of interest to Strathcona residents, including the agenda for our upcoming meeting of the Strathcona Residents' Association (Wednesday March 6th), as well as minutes from February's meeting. 

This March SRA meeting will follow up on last month's special presentation from the City regarding the viaducts removal plan. Residents and attendees were extremely disappointed to to learn the 'new' plan had no remediation of the 'old' plan, or 40 year legacy of dumping highway traffic onto a residential street. The as-yet unapproved City plan proposes to connect a new expanded six-lane Pacific Boulevard (replacement for Viaducts traffic and new arterial for False Creek / Yaletown) to Prior Street. City staff maintain that the area east of Gore is "too complicated" to include in any Viaducts Removal Plan. Residents maintain that in the absence of an Eastern Core Strategy or even a Road Safety Audit, the plan as proposed is reckless.

Since that time, the SRA Council have been working hard, meeting with City Councillor Geoff Meggs, and reaching out to similarly concerned allies about potential impacts surrounding Viaducts Removal. In an unprecedented show of cooperation, neighbouring affected communities have united to demand that specific traffic calming measures be conditions of any Viaducts Removal plan.You can read that letter here.

Vancouver City Council is set to vote on viaducts removal as early as March!

Wednesday's meeting will discuss what (if any) repsonse we receive from the Mayor and his staff and what (if any) our next steps will be and how we intend to move forward.
Read more on Wednesday's agenda below ...

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

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In this newsletter:
• Community Announcements
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday March 6
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes from Wednesday February 6

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Community Announcements

Vancouver Heritage Foundation "Old School" Workshops

March 6th – Navigating City Hall: Zoning, Permits and More with Marco D’Agostini, Senior COV Heritage Planner, and James Burton, Architect, 5-9pm,$60 Vancouver City Hall.
Most building projects require permits. Learn from an insider and an experienced outsider what to know to save time, money and headaches before you go to City Hall. Find out what you need to know and how to be prepared so you can successfully navigate the Planning Department.

March 27th – Researching the History of a Building Archives with John Atkin and Archives staff, 6.30-8.30pm, $15 City of Vancouver Archives.

April 10th – Researching the History of a Building Vancouver Public Library with VPL staff, 6:30-8:30pm, free (pre-registration required).
These two workshops teach you how to conduct research on your heritage building. Find out when it was built, who lived there and other historical information for fun or to help you plan a heritage renovation or restoration project.

April 13th – Wood Window Repairs: Restoring Double Hung Windows
with Jim Stiven, Vintage Woodworks founder, 9am-5pm, $125
Mission to Seafarers, downtown Vancouver waterfront.
If your windows are painted shut or the weights have fallen, learn how to unstick and disassemble your double hung wood windows, repair the broken sash cords, weather strip, get the windows operating smoothly again, and how to properly paint them. Make them last another 100 years!

Information and registration:
http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/learn-with-us/workshops-talks/old-school-workshops/

Strathcona Unplugged - March 24

The Best of Strathcona Music, Spoken Word and more!
featuring Tall Brothers with special guests Supernovah Soundwave
Host Bob Gilson

A monthly fund raising event at the Patricia Hotel to benefit Ray Cam Community Centre and its range of Community Programs.
Patricia Hotel Show Stage: 403 East Hastings — All Ages event, Suggested Donation $5-10

Strathcona Unplugged is a monthly fund raising event starting March 24th 2013 at the Patricia Hotel to benefit Ray Cam Community Centre and its range of Community Programs.

This all ages event is sponsored by the Patricia Hotel and will take place on the Hotel’s main event room stage from 2 pm until 7 pm on the last Sunday of each month. The event will be recorded and broadcasted live on the Ray Cam Community Radio website www.raycamcommunityradio.ca. The event will provide quality musical, spoken word, performance art and theatre entertainment for a suggested donation of $5.00 per person, children 12 and under are free. In addition there will be a special food and beverage menu of which 50% of the proceeds will go to the benefit and a silent auction.

The event organizers are particularly interested in encouraging performance artists, poets actors and musicians who live in the Strathcona community to donate 30 minutes of performance time in support of Ray Cam Community Programs. A complete backline of instruments will be available as well as house musicians to support single or solo performers. For more details please contact Bob at Ray Cam Community Centre Media Lab 604-257-6949 or at rgilson@rebootvancouver.ca

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Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday March 6

Wednesday March 6, 7:15pm at the Strathcona Community Centre

Welcome from council

Approval of February SRA minutes (see below)

Report on council's February meeting

Committee Reports

- Zoning

- Film

- Bike Path
We have recieved a number of concerned emails from residents about Vancouver's Cycling Advocacy group HUB calling for cyclists to be allowed "rolling stops" and what that might mean for pedestrian safety in already dangerous intersections like Hawks and Union, we'll update on the intersection repair progress and the HUB directive. Read the Province article here.

LAPP Committee Reports

Other Announcements

Seismic Upgrades for Strathcona Elementary School
A brief presentation on the long-awaited and oft-promised seismic upgrades for Strathcona Elementary School. While other Vancouver-area schools are seemingly being priortized, our 100 year old school and 500+ students are not. How can we push this forward and possible leverage the upcoming provincial election to see some results?

Items for vote/discussion — n/a

Items/Announcements from the floor
(Members are reminded that there is limited time available for items from the floor, if they need more time they are asked to request being placed on the agenda, no later than one week prior to the meeting)

* * Special Discussion: Viducts Removal and Prior Street. * *

We will quickly go over the the background and issues surrounding Viaducts Removal pllan and what it could mean for the neighbouring communities. We will discuss what (if any) response to our letter that have we recieved from the Mayor and staff and we'll strategize and start organizing our next steps.

Closing Remarks, items for next month's agenda

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Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes for Wednesday February 6


• Welcome from council

• Approval of January SRA minutes

• Report on council's January meeting

• Committee Reports

• LAPP Committee Reports
• FILM No report
• ZONING
833/837 Keefer, the cmtee has strongly opposed this and is awaiting response
<<missed this address>>
1134Pender, has been approved but SRA comments were taken in account
• BIKE
Bike path. Have put in zebra crosswalks, no noticeable change in cyclist's behaviour but progress nonetheless
From floor: City guys wanted to move stop sign from Union to Hawkes, stopped for now but will likely go ahead. Lighting changes also coming up. Response from City rep: spoke to the logic of how they will proceed with cyclist traffic calming.
From floor: discussion about the efficacy of these measures and the lack of consultation with residents. Response from City rep: assurances that the issue is being examined and will be tweaked. Agreed that the issue is significant but that it won't be resolved at this meeting or at any number of meetings

• Other Announcements
Items for vote/discussion
1. Motion from the SRA Council to support Villa Cathay rezoning application
MOTION/CARRIED: "That the SRA recognizes and appreciates the work Villa Cathay Care Home does for Chinese seniors in our community; that we support their application to expand and improve their facilities as detailed in their re-zoning application; and that we work with the Villa Cathay and their architects to ensure appropriate street frontages and Community Amenity Contributions"

The Council members have attended all 4 of the scheduled roundtables and have complied responses. (read our report)
Pete introduced the need for guiding principles for SRA, read his position from other doc and the SRA’s position on SRO conversion fees
From floor: the City’s 20% affordable housing is whatever the City feels is 'affordable', uselessly vague in definition
Note that our boundaries are undefined, or defined differently by different agncies. SRA will need to rationalize these into a single definition which includes north of Hastings. But for LAPP its Clark to Gore.
Lot of pressure coming onto Strathcona and anyone interested in this should come to the meeting Saturday 1030 in Strathcona Comm Centre

• Items/Announcements from the floor
(Members are reminded that there is limited time available for items from the floor, if they need more time they are asked to request being placed on the agenda, no later than one week prior to the meeting)

Japanese language school daycare is having an open house Sat 23 to show renovations

Starbucks Giving Day Sat Apr 27, Strath Comm Centre

Has Strath Comm Centre has lost control of its funding? now meeting with City to determine what this means. Read statement from Amanda Gibbs

Sacred Heart Spirit Centre open house Tues Apr 12, opening the space up to community use and would like volunteers

Constable Gailus ali.gailus@vpd.ca gave a presentation on home security, there has been an uptick in home breakins and she provided info on passive measures to deter potential robbers and 'harden' your home. Residents were urged to keep an eye out for their neighbors and to report every incident to the VPD.

The Pigeon Park Street Market
Roland from the Pigeon Park Street Market will give a brief presentation on the market, discuss our future plans, and invite members of the SRA to give suggestions on what they would like from the market, and hopefully discuss areas of possible partnership. 

The Pigeon Park Street Market operates every Sunday, and provides up to $500,000 of economic stimulus directly into the hands of the most marginalized DTES residents for a cost of less than 5 cents on the dollar. Since January 2012, market operations have improved, and we have been reaching out to local businesses, business associations, and funding organizations to find funding to improve market operations and market cosmetics to attract customers and tourist traffic from Gastown and Chinatown. 

Question: how to donate. Ans: come down, pick a vendor and give it to them. Comment that local residents appreciate the efforts to improve human and bike access through the market area, concern that it attracts unregulated cigarette and drug sellers. Comment that perhaps open it up to other residents to 'yard sale'. Request that local artists participater an sell arts/crafts.

Special Presentation: City of Vancouver on viaducts removal.

Representatives from the City of Vancouver Central Area and Traffic Planning departments will be updating us on plans for viaduct removal.

Strathconans will remember that in the summer of 2012 City planners presented a plan for viaduct removal through a series of open houses. The community was shocked to realize, that contrary to the anticipated downgrading of Prior Street to a neighbourhood collector or greenway, the city's plans called for quite the opposite.

In their own words :
"Pacific Boulevard is combined with Expo north of the Skytrain guideway and connects east to Prior/Venables thereby maintaining a direct east-west link to the downtown for commuter vehicles and large goods-movement trucks. ." * (From the City's Viaduct Open House presentation boards, May-June 2012)

The resulting grass roots community efforts and protests for our neighourhood's safety resulted in Mayor and Council directing staff to initiate immediate and long term traffic calming measures for Prior and pursue and fast track a Malkin Street connection. Staff is set to report back with the results of this directive in March. Staff's presentation will help the SRA make an informed decision to share with Mayor and Council on this matter. Additionally, the SRA has been approached by consultants for the land developers requesting a letter of support for the viaducts removal.
For more background on the 2012 viaducts removal plan and our response, please visit http://strathcona-residents.org/viaducts 

City opened with promise to continue dialogue. Kevin McNaney Asst Dir of Central Area Planning discussed the history of how the viaduct issue was discussed and developed in the City. Stressed that he was presenting a concept and the final disposition of viaduct will require much more study and consultation, and that the final decisions will be made by City Council in the future. Council will decide in a month whether to go ahead, and that point massive consultations begin. The corporate neighbors are in negotiation and this will influence final disposition.

Kirsten Robinson Planning, Kevin Fitch (Transportation), Karis Hiebert Planning, Lon LaClaire Engineering, introduced themselves . Presentation is a truncated version of an audiovisual online at www.vancouver.ca/viaducts

Viaduct group must coordinate with other landowners, two developers, the Province and then the City. Initial consultations began in September 2011, with resident and business groups and opened a design competition internationally.

Discussion about ; development in the blocks between Quebec and Gore, proposed increase in 'park space'. Question whether the re-arrangement of roads and would actually increase space. Response is that there would be both an increase in the space as well as its unity and usability.

Discussion about transportation analysis that shows that viaduct has the only main East/west connector. Approx 45,000 vehicles use georgia/dunsmuir a day, (1500/hr dunsmuir, 2000/hr georgia) 10% of vehicles entering/exiting downtown. This has decreased by 15% over the last 15 years, even though the numbers of people entering/exiting by all means has increased. Current rough plans see those 5 lanes go to 4 lanes from Georgia to Pacific (which would be 6 lanes to Expo, then at 4 lanes from Main onto Prior, with Union and Georgia and Prior. These traffic changes would be paralleled with changes in transit, particularly in Evergreen skytrain, which will alter indiv trip choices. Beyond that, they feel they have extra capacity on other roads (Hastings and surrounding east/west roads, Cambie south) which can take excess traffic once viaduct gone. In tandem, road network is better for transit, pedestrian and bike access to downtown.

Question about new towers and new residents and how they'll affect capacity. Answer that this was taken into account and the numbers of traffic can accommodate the increase.

Discussion of traffic changes on Prior, already implemented parking changes, new pedestrian crossing lights. Examining at National as an alternative, given the very strong opposition to use of Prior which may increase traffic volumes and speeds. Difficulties encountered with Cottonwood Gardens, the fire station and other existing infrastructure affected by changes. The recommendations to Council in Spring would not include recommendations for Malkin and Prior, these need much more study and consultation.
Pete expressed disappointment in that what was presented did not represent much in response to our concerns. Too much emphasis on transportation, not enough about livability and quality of life.

The concerns of the City are to facilitate the large scale developments on the west side of Main which will require access through the east side, resulting in inevitable changes over time to accommodate inevitably increased demand. We are being asked to wait for the benefits of the Evergreen line, wait for the inevitable and unspecified improvements coming from that development. Promised green spaces will attract more traffic. Thought that engineers and traffic planners have dominated the city's planning. Concerns that average traffic doesn't take into account episodic traffic from BC Place and other entertainment events.

Question that they had been specifically directed to provide recommendations on Malkin, but now they say they would not. Will that be a problem? Answer, staff not comfortable making a recommendation given all of the controversy and issues raised by the prospect. Council may tell them to go ahead and make one, but that's political and staff can't answer this.

Concern that 20% of low-income housing wholly inadequate, and ask if there was more planned. Answer, again this is a political decision and increases in housing are being considered, if money can be found. Concern that pollution from traffic should cause planners should be oriented to reducing and not maintaining existing traffic.