The regular monthly meeting of the SRA will be on Weds, April 5, at the Strathcona Community Centre.
This month’s meeting will be focused on several looming developments in the neighbourhood. It’s a great chance to find out more about what’s going on – and to share your perspective.
We currently have several openings on the board and would love to find a few residents who are concerned about Strathcona’s future, would like to get more involved and have a few hours a month they can share (just a few. Promise). E-mail Dan if you’re intrigued. firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s what’s on this month’s agenda
Williams Street Extension Through the Park. The Park Board and the Flats Planning Group are currently considering options for a new arterial to connect Clark to Main St. via a new bridge over the tracks (so they can close Prior at the RR crossing). The city considers National too expensive and business owners on Produce Row and gardeners at Cottonwood have come out strongly against Malkin. The third option is extending Williams St through Strathcona Park, eliminating the oval track and fieldhouse. We’d like to get residents opinion so the SRA can take a strong position.
http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/false-creek-flats-info-boards-jan-2017-part-1.pdf (see pages 12-13)
Centerm Port Expansion. The operator of the port has announced plans to expand its facility so that it can unload container ships faster. This means an increase in both truck and railroad traffic (which is partly why CN wants to close the grade crossing at Union and Prior). They’ve released a detailed booklet describing their plans, local feedback and mitigation efforts. They also asked for ideas of how to spend a Community Investment Program they’ve set up.
Union Bikeway – The city has unveiled its initial plan and we gave feedback at our February meeting. The plan does not currently address residents’ concerns about bikes vs pedestrians at the Hawks chicane or cars vs bikes at the Campbell intersection. The city is open to signage designed by a local artist, but so far no one has come forward. http://vancouver.ca/streets-transportation/adanac-bike-lane.aspx
Community Policing Centre - The City, VPD and interim board report that a site has been found on the 800 block of Hastings as well as an interim director to help get it set up. Expected opening will be later this Spring along with opportunities for members of the community to get involved in volunteer, advisory and board capacity.
SRA Meeting Minutes – March 1, 2017
Welcome - 7:15pm
- • Request for Strathcona residents to fill out attendance sheet.
- • Overview of the agenda for the evening:
- o Committee updates, neighbourhood updates, review of February SRA meeting, panel discussion on “Future of Chinatown”.
- • Introduction of guest panellists and their biographies
- o Hayne Wai, Historian, former president of Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC.
- o Kevin Huang, CEO, Hua Foundation
- o Doris Chow, Co-Founder of Youth Collaborative for Chinatown
- o Andrew Lau, Vice Chair, Chinatown Historic Area Planning Committee
- o Bill Yuen, Heritage Vancouver Society
- o Plus special guest speaker: Helen Ma, City of Vancouver Planner
Committee and SRA Updates
- • Matthew decided to step down from SRA council.
- o Jeff Murton has volunteered to join council. Motion passed to include Jeff as new SRA council member.
- o Request for additional SRA members to stay after meeting if interested in joining the council.
- • Treasury update
- o Active society status for SRA now and active bank account with balance of $9000.
- o Request to think of ways these funds can be utilised. Discussion during next SRA meeting.
- • Update on February SRA meeting
- o Motion passed to accept minutes from the February meeting.
- o Our park survey with the Strathcona community has been completed. Outcomes to be communicated during next SRA meeting. Responses to be communicated to Park Board.
- o Bike path discussion with CoV:
- ♣ SRA has given CoV as much input as they are willing to take on board from SRA.
- ♣ CoV expressed interest for art project to be installed at Campbell Chicane to slow down bike traffic. Suggestions from artists to be submitted to SRA.
- ♣ Artists request budget to determine scope of project
- • Update on other previous SRA meetings and neighbourhood events
- o City of Vancouver and Vancouver Park board presented latest plans for Prior/Venables replacement during January SRA meeting. Options discussed included National, Malkin, and Williams. We will generate a survey to gather community’s consensus (Dan).
- o Request to sign letter of support for National Historic Site Designation for Japanese Hall
- ♣ Laura Saimoto presented background
- ♣ SRA passed motion to write letter of support
Panel Discussion – The Future of Chinatown
- • Questions for the panellists:
- o What is the historical significance of Chinatown and its relationship with Strathcona? Hayne: Chinatown is part of my history. Chinatown is not just for Chinese Canadians, but for all Canadians. It is meant to be shared. Toronto lost its Chinatown. Freeway through Vancouver’s Chinatown was fought and stopped. Took a lot of time. Similarly, bulldozing of Strathcona was stopped. Residents drew the line in the sand. Brought in not-for profit housing into Strathcona. Chinese were only allowed to come in in 1950’s and later.
- o What is understood by the term “intangible cultural heritage”? Bill: It is an Unesco concept and has broad definition of what that is. Includes for example, Brazilian martial art disguised as dance. Transmission of practice is important for it to be considered intangible cultural heritage. Definitions change and depend on location. What are more contemporary approaches to heritage? In North America: heritage is historical and aesthetic. Rooted in architecture. Historical heritage is more commemorative. In the concept of contemporary heritage, ecology, land and culture work together. In Chinatown we can see the relationship between the people and places. Experts talk about this type of heritage that it cannot be photographed (unlike Victorian), it needs to be experienced. We can have that experience in Chinatown. Planning around that has been the challenge: how to preserve this experience while allowing the city to grow. From an architectural perspective, there has been lots of opposition between development and heritage. In a new perspective, heritage is included in overall planning (includes civic needs, affordability, housing, environment).
- o The revitalization study investigated food security in Chinatown. With the ongoing changes to Chinatown, will it lose its traditional business? Kevin: Studied food security scene in Chinatown. Found out about endangerment of local restaurants and groceries. Two types of food in Chinatown: mainstream and Chinese. This dual system started in 1920’s. Chinese settlers were not allowed to settle anywhere other than in Chinatown. Performed extensive agriculture. Produced 90% of BC’s produce. After the 1927 Vegetables Act, produce had to go through marketing board and the Chinese could not compete with these racist policies. The produce row on Malkin today was born out of Chinatown in those times. Food security today: we are not engaging local economies. Loss of traditional businesses: 50% loss in last six years. How can we provide food justice and food? Need to supply people with the food they want to eat, what they grew up in. We are experiencing segregation of food systems. Food is a cultural practice. How can we make sure it stays in existence for future generations? Feeling at home depends on eating the food you are familiar with.
- o Can you comment on your engagement with senior and youth in Chinatown? Doris: When talking about senior housing in Chinatown, we need to talk numbers. There are not sufficient numbers. And it goes beyond numbers. Community is made up of more than housing. Community has rallied in recent years around 105 Keefer. Thank you SRA for writing letter to oppose the development. What we want to see in our community is intangible cultural heritage. It is difficult to capture the nuances. 25 units per building are not enough to capture the whole community. Policy tends to segregate the pieces, doesn’t look at it as a whole. How can we shape policy to look at the community in an ecological heritage: intergenerational housing – students, seniors and families. Intergenerational care: experiential cultural transmission of heritage to care for seniors. For example, monthly games for seniors but include other ages. Cantonese language for Chinese and non-Chinese, allows for everyone to relate to members of community. Passing on cultural practices and cultural heritage pieces. Need to look at Chinatown and Strathcona as a community as whole not just pieces.
- o How do you envision the future of Chinatown? Andrew: Chinatown is at crossroad. The mass destruction of Chinatown and replacement with 150 feet height condos and big box stores is imminent. Rezoning decisions are made outside public hearings. People making decisions are not subjected to democratic pressures; community voices are not being heard. City planners doesn’t listen. Property values will increase, property taxes will increases, and lead to expenses for stores and renters who can no longer afford their home and business. This will lead to mass displacement of the community, low income seniors, especially those with limited means, with limited education, language skills. They could end up on the street. Zoning policy makes it easy for the city to turn community into a commodity. There is no plan what to do with the community members. City has plans for some community members, but this supply will be grossly insufficient for the need at hand. The city’s plan is to destroy, but there is no plan to take care of the community. We must ban the zoning policy.
- • Question and Answer; Group Discussion
- o Q: How does the City of Vancouver define “social housing”? Is there a definition? Is any housing operated by non-profit? There don’t appear to be limits on the rent and the city is vague. The city owes it to this community to define this rather than to leave it open ended.
- o A (Tom/Helen for the City of Vancouver): The city is interested to hear the views of the community on social housing for seniors. It is a city-wide bylaw. The city council decided for the definition to be the same as the DTES. Housing is owned or provided by city, operated by non-profit, and provision is dependent on income and different percentages. The goal is to provide it at below market rental costs. Not sure about what these numbers are.
- o Comment: My people (Musqueam) were on this land before Chinatown. After 20 years on my reserve in UBC, I was able to afford to rent a house in my community. Forced displacement, loss of identity, dollars over life, and the presence of a dominant culture are all parallels between Chinatown’s struggle and the one we had as the First Nation. I want to see unity and draw awareness. Replacement goes hand-in-hand with homelessness because housing is so far out of reach, far above market value. We need to unite and build bridges.
- o Comment: Carnegie Action Hotel Report showed that the ratio of social housing supplied to the need required is 360:-4. There are only 11 units affordable with a welfare pension rate. The number of low-income housing units is insufficient. Zoning will have implications for these units. City is not true when it claims an inclusionary approach. City’s money goes to developers to put in housing. Developer needs to get his money back by selling it to a non-profit. What we need in Chinatown are thousands of low-income units. Thousands.
- o Comment: I was outraged by the comment that was made by the city that 900 seniors don’t contribute to economy of the city. I am appalled by the suggestion of adding two elevators for different housing units to segregate low-income communities from the wealthy. It is also reduced efficiency. City officials spend millions to use railroad and pave it over so someone can drive a bicycle. But how about money to provide housing? We have a duty to look after people. Lots of people are facing retirement and will be at the mercy of developers. My attendance of the open house for these developments has shown that there are lots of lies, fault information, makes architect look stupid. This needs to be reported.
- o Comment: Concord Pacific is a hogwash. It displays political correctness on the outside. Furthermore, elected officials of the city are part of problem because of the corporate sponsorship they receive. Concord is not listed as foreign donor. It acts as a donor for the Liberal Party and Vision Vancouver. It is power-based, foreign-controlled, pours in money. We are fighting tremendous corporate money that makes politicians lie.
- o Comment: We will not loose, we will resist.
- o Comment: I am a long-term Strathcona resident and lived here for 25 years. History will look very unfavourably on the city if they go ahead with the rezoning of Chinatown. It will yield complete destruction of the remaining cultural heritage. Leaving 1-2 blocks as “historic” Chinatown on Pender St is offensive. Stop rezoning, no amalgamation, further construction needs to be on existing lots, no destruction of anything before 1940. City says it wants to preserve the “historic look”, rather than preserve the cultural heritage. The city destructs small affordable storefronts. We don’t need opportunistic developments – they line their pockets, but community will have to pay the price.
- o Q: How can we influence policies to preserve ecological heritage? How can we integrate people and land?
- o Bill: Development is not bad in itself. Lots of money is spent on architecture to have a Chinatown look. But money is not spent on designing it for its people: seniors. Want to build buildings based on community participation. When designing seniors housing, we can have seniors spaced out in the building. Why confine them to two floors? We need to practice an intercultural, intergenerational approach and can build that interactions into buildings. There are good designs. But not in Vancouver. That’s why we think there is bad/poor development. But we need to demand good development.
- o Comment: In planning stages, city does not consider the sharing of space, e.g. seniors facilities and daycares.
- o Comment: Why are they allowing the foxes to build the hen’s houses? When social housing works, it is not built by developers. They need to first take a social inventory of people they build it for before they implement it. How can we keep officials accountable?
- o Tom/Helen (for the City of Vancouver): We heard from community less than two years ago that they are unhappy with current policy in Chinatown. One of the realities of this policy is that there is no limit on lot assembly. City thinks there should be a limit. We suggested 200 feet as maximum. We are reviewing what policy changes can be made, e.g. if a developers applies for additional height. Developers need to set aside a community contribution (cultural amenities, affordable rental, etc – no stipulated percentage). City is unhappy about this as well. We are seeking your feedback. We want to pull together all you have said and all issues you have raised. We are also concerned about the policy that came in five year ago. What about protecting the heart and cultural heart of Chinatown? We as a city prefer more social housing, operating very well. Sprinkles of social housing here and there is not sustainable. It is difficult to manage as an non-profit organization. Problem of municipality: no government funding. Inclusionary zoning is put forward – what do you think? You say you don’t like it.
- o Andrew: When I review the documents put forward by the City of Vancouver, I cannot find a socioeconomic inventory of Chinatown or understanding of what the implications are of a new zoning. City needs to look at the data. Cannot implement policy without.
- o City: There is data on DTES from 2013, includes Chinatown. We haven’t extracted this information yet.
- o Andrew: What the projections on what the implications will be?
- o City: We are hearing from community that inclusionary zoning is not acceptable. Need to bring forward an alternative. Will take this back. Need to consult with management.
- o Andrew: Can you assure us that inclusionary zoning will not be implemented?
- o City: Will take feedback on.
- o Comment: The senior population is growing. Many will low incomes, low pensions. Where are people going to live? Two parallel food securities/systems: new restaurants in Chinatown and on Main Street that are not in my price range. I am frightened. Cannot go to restaurants in my community.
- o Comment: According to the 2005 DTES housing plan, the rate of change should be 1:1. For every market value housing unit, one social housing unit should be introduced. Economic impacts were considered 12 years ago. It is important to differentiate between different elements of inclusionary zoning. To get something (more housing), you get something else you don’t want.
- o Andrew: Inclusionary zoning – does not go approved through city council. This is the issue.
- o Q: Does this municipality still have a design panel?
- o City: Yes.
- o Q: Does city still have a board of variance?
- o City: Yes.
- o Q: What is the City of Vancouver’s approach to heritage? Is city/planners looking at that and bringing that to City Council?
- o Helen (for the City of Vancouver): Chinese Legacy Program – designed to rehabilitate and preserve buildings owned by families. Property owners are being supported. We would like to put more uses to existing buildings. Cultural activities. Council passed this proposal and fundraising is ongoing. More heritage buildings need to be preserved.
- o Comment: As long as you allow land assembly, you won’t preserve heritage. The developers’ needs will overtake heritage. If you are serious about protecting heritage, you need to stop land assembly. Otherwise costs will go through the roof.
- o Q: When does this go to council?
- o A: Some time in the summer.
- o Q: I attended the public hearing in 2011 at town hall where the15-storey zoning came in. Meeting lasted 5-6 hours with over 100 speakers. Majority spoke against. Great wall of Chinatown became reality. There are two sides to the story. Why is there nobody from Chinatown BAO themselves?
- o A: They speak mostly Mandarin.
- o Doris: Historic height review was considered the crux of problem. If you have a business, the feeling to survive is based on income-rich residents in your neighbourhood. The option was higher heights or nothing. Maybe other interests should have been considered. The mindset that “Chinatown deserves what it voted for” means that the implications of zoning have not been understood. These are very abstract concepts. There needs to be due diligence to inform community about what this means. Chinatown made not informed decision at that time. Sounded manipulative. Everyone got bulled over with empty promises.
- o Comment to city: Provide us with models so we can get sense for what our neighbourhood would look like.
- • Last comments from panellists
- o Hayne: Looking back, part of Downtown had been promised to become social hosing. City changed its mind, wanted to make it a firehall location. This lead to the 1972 protest and “no more BS” sign. The politicians at the upcoming election changed their mind on the firehall location. We have housing there now. This is a historic community that fights for its community members.
- o Kevin: We don’t allow youth to learn about Chinatown and their heritage. We need to reframe and retell what is Vancouver, where did we come from. We are settlers. In regards to the rezoning, the devil is in the details. What can the city do better? The city doesn’t have the tools to protect culture. Everything is funnelled into “arts and culture” – not specific enough. In parallel food systems, we are in the minority. We don’t have a framework to protect “livelihood” and “heritage”.
- o Comment: The city oftentimes says “We have the Chinese community supporting us”. But in reality they are using our community against us.
- o Bill: If you consider an area where heritage is concerned in Chinatown, it needs to transcend real property and go into the cultural elements and the relationship between culture and place. Lots of discourse in papers and city around vitalization of Chinatown. We want it to happen through cultural experiences.
- o Doris: Filming in Chinatown. Lots of filming in our historic neighbourhood. I experienced a local store owner supplying products of little demand. Filming crew wanted him to keep lights on for their filming and compensated him for it. This is what keeps him in business. Filming won’t happen in new condo and big box store backdrops. Our Chinatown heritage buildings are an asset for our community, not just land. It is the people who make the community what it is.
- o Andrew: We all care about Chinatown. We need to take action. Call the mayor. Write letters.
Other business and motions from the floor - 8.50pm (Wilson)
Reminder for upcoming SRA Meeting on April 5th
Close - 9pm