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SRA Meeting Jan 9 - Discussion of the DTES Local Area Planning Process and Committee

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.

We hope everyone has had an enjoyable holiday season so far, and on behalf of the SRA Council wish you all a Happy New Year.

Here are some items of interest to Strathcona residents, including the agenda for our upcoming meeting of the Strathcona Residents' Association (Wednesday Jan 9th), as well as minutes from December's meeting.

Reminder: The Community Centre is closed on January 2, so we will be meeting on January 9 instead.

In this newsletter:
• Community Announcements
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday January 9
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes from Wednesday December 7

Community Announcements

Grants for Heritage House Owners

The Vancouver Heritage Foundation has recently announced grants to help with restoring and maintaining heritage houses.

VHF offers two major grants for painting and repairs, and two smaller grants for getting your house on the heritage register and for drafting a conservation report to help plan the long term maintenance of an older building. The major grants require that the house be on the Heritage Register. The grant deadline is February 1, 2013.

True Colours is a paint grant where the homeowner receives up to $1500 from VHF, and all the paint for the project for free from Benjamin Moore.

Restore It is a grant that offers funds to help with the maintenance, repair and restoration of the exterior fabric of a heritage house.

Details and a grant application form are available online: http://www.vancouverheritagefoundation.org/granting.html  

Community Modelling Sustainable Neighbourhoods

Rather fortuitously, (given the upcoming LAPP discussion) residents of the Strathcona neighbourhood have been approached to participate in an urban design project which hopes to create an environment where community members have an opportunity to learn about and earnestly discuss different sustainable urban design ideas.

The project is called Community Modelling for Sustainable Neighbourhoods  communitymodelling.com), and sessions will be mid january through early february; there will be opportunities for youth sessions as interest allows. Members and neighbours are encouraged to visit the website, sign up for a session and participate in the project. From their blurb :

- Learn about and discuss sustainable neighbourhood design principles while building your own 3D model with fellow members of your community

- Vancouver and the Lower Mainland is under increasing pressure to build more sustainable developments. 

- Be equipped as a community member by knowing the different ways in which sustainable design can be manifested. Density for example can be expressed in many different ways. 

- See the visual impact of different interventions on the urban form while you build your model

- This knowledge is an asset when engaging with the city and developers. 

- Help contribute to research on how to improve community engagement in urban design and development

- This research is conducted through the McGill University Department of Geography in association with the School of Community and Regional Planning at UBC.

Go to communitymodelling.com for lots more details and to sign up!

Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday January 9
  • Welcome from council

  • Approval of December SRA minutes (see below)

  • Report on council's December meeting

  • Committee Reports

  • Announcements

    1. Report on rezoning application for Villa Cathay (970 Union)

  • Items for vote/discussion

    1. Motion from the SRA Council to develop an official planning position: "That the SRA engage and work with the City of Vancouver on a Social Impact Assessment and visioning for the entire Strathcona Community and that the SRA form a committee to facilitiate this City work and develop a Strathcona Planning Position"

    2. Motion from the floor (Matthew B.) regarding development along the Hastings Corridor "That the library/housing development at 723 East Hastings is unusually massive and lacking appropriate setbacks for being next to private residential properties; and in setting a precedent for other developments on the Hastings corridor that the SRA should take a position on this." *

    3. Motion from the floor (Alan B.) to elect/appoint an SRA representative on the DTES LAPP Committee:
 "That the accept the City’s offer to participate in the Area Planning process by having an SRA representative on the committee, that the SRA contact the City in this regard, and that the SRA duly elect or appoint a representative." * 

    * The SRA Council have met and discussed the LAPP issue and will be recommending that both the second and third motions be tabled until our members have had an opportunity to discuss the LAPP Committee (see below) and develop a Strathcona Planning position per motion 1 above.

  • 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)

  • Group Discussion on DTES LAPP.
    The conversation will begin with a presentation on background and why we chose not to participate in the first place; what has changed since then; SRA opportunities and options for involvement; and possible courses of action for representing SRA interests in the LAPP. Following the presentation we will have a group discussion to air any concerns or interests. Recognizing that the LAPP has been a highly politicized issue in the past, the chair will be recusing himself and the discussion will be facilitated by Council member John Hawks. 

  • Closing Remarks, Announcements regarding next month's agenda

Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes from Wednesday December 5

Meeting Welcome from Council member Elana Zysblat

Introductions of the new Exec Council and some of the issues we thought needed to be addressed were: People have expressed concerns about the tone of meetings, the perception that the org was hostile to new members and that the meetings themselves were overly emotional and difficult because of personal conflict and disorganization. We suggest we begin every meeting with a welcome and introduction of new members and old. In this meeting, Jamie and Rickie introduced themselves and were welcomed to the organization.

Jodi Spargur presented a list of organizational aspirations for developing a good and productive SRA 'culture': Start with welcome Function with respect sensitivity and productivity Business will be conducted transparently, and the Council is available in person and through email (council@strathcona-residents.org) We would like to operate in a friendly family manner, not forbidding disagreements but making sure that we make decisions and proceed with them without rancor In response to question about SRA rules, Jodi stated that we would be working out a consistent set for approval of the membership, and may be moving towards formalizing it as a society.

Approval of November SRA minutes Moved/Approved as presented

Committee Reports

Bike path on Hawks: Pete reports that it is proceeding and looks like it will be finalized soon. Concerns that the City may be envisioning this as a bike 'freeway' that. Traffic. Pete reported that discussions are happening and will be.

Zoning: Reported on review of 1134 Pender, 1001 Keefer applications. 1134 was a request to demolish home on 2 lots, replace with 2 faux heritage house. House not deemed important enough to preserve, committee did not oppose. 1001 is HRA (Heritage Revitalization Area) is application to renew property. Question about development 833 and 837K. Member concerned proposed property developments in her area which will increase density and 'monster home' which has caused friction with neighbors and will result in the loss of her windows. This is also apparently supported by the Portland Hotel Society. There will be a public hearing Tuesday Dec 11 at 7:30PM and she urges members to attend. Interested should contact the City to be put on the speakers list. Zoning reviewed this in 2010 and opposed it, but the City has gone ahead anyway.

Items for vote/discussion

Scheduled Motion for quick votes at chair's discretion 
"That the current policy that forces a motion made at a SRA meeting to be automatically deferred to the next meeting for discussion and vote, be replaced with giving the Chair the discretion to have the motion considered at the same meeting it was made. If the Chair considers the motion to be of no major change from the spirit of the Strathcona neighbourhood, that it does not contradict SRA by-laws, constitution, vision statement or considered to be controversial, then the motion can be introduced, discussed, questioned and voted on at the same meeting. The Chair as well would retain the right to automatically defer the motion to the next meeting, if it was felt the motion contradicted any of the above, or other reasons determined by the Chair." MOVED/APPROVED with 3 opposing

Scheduled Motion regarding Trillium Park noise and lights 
"That the Vancouver Park Board facility known as Trillium Park abide by the same hours mandated for all other Strathcona Parks, and that hours and specifically flood lighting be curtailed at 10pm. " MOTION/APPROVED with 1 opposed

Scheduled Motion to support Glen Drive safety and improvement initiatives MOVED/APPROVED with 2 opposed Non-Scheduled Items,

Motions from the Floor: Matthew B on VPL project and rezoning along the Hastings Corridor. About 723 Hastings and the library expansion from a homeowner neighbor. Concerned about how it will affect his light and property and what he has found out is that it zoned to go to 6 stories with a setback to the edge of the property. His concern is that this is an unusually massive for properties next to private properties. He feels that this setting a precedent for other developments on the Hastings corridor and that the SRA should take a position on this.

Guest Speaker, Tom Wanklin City of Vancouver's Senior Planner for the DTES discussing the LAPP

Mr. Wanklin discussed some of the history and objectives of the DTES LAPP Committee, followed by Q + A.

QUESTION How could LAPP help the SRA reach its community?
ANSWER City staff would be happy to meet with SRA Council or members to share informatio and engage in a mapping process to identify community assets. There is also a social impact assessment process that could be helpful.

QUESTION Is the LAPP definition including Strathcona in the DTES set in stone? ANSWER Subsumed into DTES for now, but see it as communities in communities and there is room for movement and redefinition of boundaries and what they mean.

QUESTION Is the LAPP process including the Georgia Viaduct study?
ANSWER Currently handled by a different team, but since part of viaduct is in the DTES they have been working together on it.

QUESTION Are you re-inviting the SRA onto the LAPP or offering a new way to engage with it.
ANSWER Both. City Council gave SRA a seat, its still there. But they would also like the membership generally to engage, and offer resources to help with this. The LAPP is a collection of processes of engagement, recognizing that information is available from different communities through different avenues.

QUESTION Why was Strathcoona sidelined and put into Strathcona into the a planning area called DTES. How those various communities were incorporated and why that label chosen he doesn't know.

QUESTION Who and how is the LAPP chaired? There are a number of different subcommittees and they have different chairs who draw on different expertise. At the beginning there were only 2 organizations chairing, but now there is sufficient engagement from diverse communities and interests to mix it up. Jeff Summers gave a history of the changing redefinition of neighborhood and zoning naming over many decades in the City which resulted in the LAPP's effort to work out a consistent nomenclature. CONCERN about the original decision to not participate. Member proposes revisiting it and will submit a motion for the next meeting.

QUESTION about advisability of involvement that doesn't involve the SRA as an organization joining LAPP.
ANSWER “Better to be on the bus than to be hanging onto the outside”. It would be better for the SRA to take a formal seat and exercise formal power. Without that, Strathcona may not be harmed but will be neglected, even forgotten, without advocates. CONCERN about revisiting joining LAPP when it was such a divisive issue last time. Concern in response that the situation, the decision and the people making them may have changed and we should check on that.

Closing Remarks and announcements
Grand opening of a new restaurant at 337 E. Hastings, 'Perch' December 6. It has been open for a month and apparently has reasonably priced food and beer.