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Community Panel Update

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The time has come.

The future of Strathcona will be decided in the coming months. So if you care about your neighbourhood, stop watching quietly from the sidelines and start getting involved.

The Flats Arterial Community Panel begins next Saturday, Jan. 19 from 9-4:30 PM at Dudoc Vancouver, located at 1489 Francis St. (just east of Clark). City Staff will finally be presenting detailed plans for the various options that afternoon. The public is invited (to watch, not participate). On Day 2, Sunday, Jan 20, city staff will be giving presentations on transportation performance and cost & constructability.

On Saturday Jan. 26, the Panel will be touring the various sites, starting at 9 AM at the Linear Park where Hawks meets Prior. Dan Jackson will be giving them a brief talk about Prior and access the Park.

On Saturday, Feb. 9, at 1:30, back at the Dudoc, Larry Chan, Mary Chan's son, will be giving the SRA's presentation to the Panel. Again, the public is invited.

Last week, the SRA sent the following letter to Mayor and Council. If you support any or all of these positions, we encourage you to follow-up with a personal e-mail. Tell them who you are and what you care about. Quantity matters, so don't assume your neighbours will look out for your concerns. I've listed e-mails for Mayor and Council after the letter.

If you're a resident and haven't joined the SRA yet, please do by clicking this link.


Jan 10, 2019

Dear Mayor and Council, 

At the dawn of a new year and on the eve of the upcoming Flats Arterial Community Panel, we’re writing to share with you the view from Strathcona.

The residents of Strathcona have been grappling for years with how to best align a new arterial and overpass with the future of our community. We are well aware that once built, it will open the gates for a substantial increase in rail traffic through our neighbourhood, as at-grade streets are closed and the Burrard Inlet Line twinned. For us, we could be a double whammy, dividing the community with transport corridors both north/south and east/west.

We are alarmed that despite a council motion to calm Prior St., passed in 2015 and reaffirmed in 2018, that Prior St. is back on the table. Who made this decision? Since when can Council motions be so cavalierly ignored?  

The Flats Arterial Panel, organized and overseen by consultants from the U.S., appears, on their website at least, to be an ideal solution for collaborative community consensus-building. But, so far, reality has proven the contrary. The “resident” component is drawn from such a large area as to dilute the input of those directly impacted. Few Strathcona residents that we know even received the mailed invite to join. The “learning” process is dominated almost exclusively by city staff. Community groups with extensive knowledge of the issues have been all but excluded from participating. Our fear is that the Panel is an illusion of consultation whose real intent is to provide political cover for putting the overpass on Prior.

This is not an isolated instance of poor community consultation. Strathcona residents have not been invited to the table to discuss major upcoming projects that will negatively impact our health, safety and well being. We were not invited to the initial False Creek Flats Planning Group, not consulted on the Flats Creek Flats Rail Corridor Strategy, not consulted by the Centerm Port Expansion or St. Paul’s Hospital planning groups, not even informed about the plan to twin the Burrard Inlet Line.

The message being sent is that neighbourhoods don’t matter. People get in the way of progress. 

We implore the new Council to change this. To that goal, we make the following requests: 

1.    We ask that Council honour its commitment to calm Prior St. so that our children, seniors and families can have safe access to Strathcona Park. We also ask that Council reaffirm the need and value for green space to our growing community and a developing False Creek Flats.

2.    We ask Council to consider the arterial solution that we are recommending: National-Charles. It calms Prior, saves the park, and allows Produce Row to continue using Malkin to maneuver trucks. It was developed by a civil engineering executive and is supported by over 650 petition signers, as well as many community groups and local businesses. Please find it detailed in our report, A Better Way, attached below. We’re happy to send hard copies upon request.

3.    According to Metro Vancouver, the air quality in our area is the worst in the lower mainland. Nevertheless, the Centerm Port expansion has been approved with neither a federal nor provincial environmental assessment. By the Port’s own internal review process, the increase in ship, rail and truck traffic is expected to double current particulate levels. The Provincial EAO has made it a permit condition that air quality be at least monitored. We ask that the City actively engage in the process of enforcing this condition and demanding mitigations before  Federal safety levels are exceeded.

4.    Transport Canada has allocated $22M to fund the doubling of the Burrard Inlet Line. CN plans to use these tracks to move all of its container traffic in and out of the expanded Centerm Port. This line runs within metres of heritage homes, an elementary school, and social and senior housing, including one of the largest social housing complexes in BC and a new 12 storey seniors care home. Since January 2017 it has been used by CN as both a corridor and a 24/7 freight train assembly yard. The predicted massive increase in rail traffic (an additional half million TEU’s annually), along with planned street closures, will significantly impact air quality, noise, safety, access, and traffic flow.  To our knowledge, the City has yet to develop a coherent response to these challenges, even though residential development directly beside the track is part of the City’s plan for to meeting its housing goals. We ask that the City work with Transport Canada, the Port Authority, and CN Rail to ensure that operations and engine technologies used on the Burrard Inlet Line are compatible with a densely-populated urban neighbourhood, and to develop appropriate mitigations for the benefit of the community.

We understand that governing a city is difficult and requires hard choices to be made. But we also know that the heart of any city is its residents and the ultimate duty of every elected official is to do the right thing by them.

Respectfully, 

Strathcona Residents Association '


Please send your e-mail of support to all of the following:

Kennedy Stewart        kennedy.stewart@vancouver.ca

Pete Fry                      CLRFry@vancouver.ca

Jean Swanson             CLRswanson@vancouver.ca

Adriane Carr                CLRcarr@vancouver.ca

Melissa De Genova     CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca

Coleen Hardwick        CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca

Michael Wiebe            CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca

Christine Boyle           CLRboyle@vancouver.ca

Lisa Dominato            CLRdominato@vancouver.ca

Rebecca Bligh            CLRBligh@vancouver.ca

Sarah Kirby-Yung      CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca