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Have you heard of Car 87? They are our guests speakers next Wednesday!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Hi neighbours,
 
Lots to tell you, but first of all mark your calendars with the date for our next meeting, Wednesday, March 4th 7:15 at the Strathcona Community Centre. We have guests speakers from Car 87! 
 
1. Guest Speakers: When you mention Car 87 in Vancouver, some people might think you’re talking about the local punk rock group by that name.
But Car 87 is the number of a police unit that is dispatched to respond to calls where mental illness is thought to be a factor. A joint service of the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Coastal Health, Mental Health Emergency Services (Car 87) is a crisis response and emergency service that responds to calls involving people with apparent mental illness or in acute distress.

We are fortunate to have staff from this unit as our guests, to talk about mental health issues, incidents and procedures in Strathcona and the DTES. Also, our neighbourhood Police Officer Constable Graham Edmunds and Sgt Kevin Bernardin will be in attendance to talk about volunteering for the VPD, Pooch Patrol and how to know when to call 911 vrs the non emergency number. It’s going to be an action packed meeting!
 
2. Free Streaming: For the next few hours, the National Film Board is providing free downloading and steaming of “Everything is Going to Be Alright” a feature documentary by Sundance award-winning director Julia Kwan that captures the subtle nuances of a culturally diverse neighbourhood—Vancouver’s once-thriving Chinatown—in the midst of a transformation that plays out across many ethnic enclaves in North America. Here is the link: https://www.nfb.ca/film/everything_will_be?utm_campaign=177609_NFB_Films_2015-02-26_A&utm_medium=email&utm_source=NFB-All_Recipients
 
3. 420 Hawks Open House on March 2nd from 5-8 pm at the Ukrainian Hall, 805 E Pender Street. Please attend!!!!
 Atira (the land owner and housing provider for this proposal) as well as City staff will be present to answer our questions and hear our concerns.
Council is in the midst of working with Atira on a Good Neighbour Agreement. We will report progress on this at the March 4th SRA meeting.
 
To reiterate some concerns about this development brought up by neighbours:

  • A ‘high rise’ (7 storeys) on a residential street, unfortunately permitted north of the lane between Pender and Hastings under the new LAP guidelines, that towers over the Rice Block, a heritage building 
  • A ‘wall like’ complex that is not relevant or accessible in design or function for the residents around
  • The configuration of units which seems to be geared to bachelor suites for single women (20 of 26 units) and not for women with children (only six 2-bedroom until in the building)
  • Atira’s reputation for management of their housing for at-risk women which have seen violent incidents and have attracted illegal activities in their surroundings
  • Neither 420 Hawks nor the corner store space in the Rice Block (also run by Atira) will be contributing to the revitalization of Hastings through street level retail that is relevant and accessible to local families such as grocery stores or coffee shops.

Here is the full link to the feedback form for those who may not be able to attend the open house:
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/420hawksave/feedback.htm
 
Here is the information about the development:
http://former.vancouver.ca/commsvcs/planning/rezoning/applications/420hawksave/index.htm
 
4. Report from Prior Street Road Safety Audit: On February 23, The SRA Prior Street Committee sat through the one-and-three-quarter-hour PowerPoint presentation by Urban Systems (US), the consultants hired by the City to do an “In-Service Road Safety Review” of Prior and Venables streets between Gore Avenue and Victoria Drive. A couple of City Staff from the traffic and engineering departments were also present.

The presentation was only US’s draft document (final to come in a couple more months after they incorporate our feedback). The consultants’ bottom line is that, while many things small and large can be done to make Prior Street safer for drivers and pedestrians, none of the large things will be done. This is because the doing the large things will make the street less safe for drivers unless the volume of traffic is reduced, and traffic volume is NOT going to be reduced.

The purpose of the study was to identify factors contributing to collisions and injuries and to develop mitigating measures. The consultants looked at existing documents such as those produced by the Venables/Prior Greenway Project and Reconnect Strathcona. They conducted an online resident survey, which was completed by over 100 people, and they accessed five years of ICBC collision data, and data on traffic speeds and volumes, etc. from the City of Vancouver.

US compared the Prior/Venables corridor with 11 other “similar” traffic corridors in Vancouver. (While they noted that Prior/Venables is unique in many ways, it bears similarities with other streets in terms of such factors as land use, demographic context, number of lanes, etc.) The most similar corridors were both on Rupert Street, one between 3rd Avenue and Broadway, the other between 41st and 49th. US also included Hastings between Cambie and Victoria Drive, even though it’s not at all comparable. They said they included it because it’s nearby and because it would probably get any traffic that might be shifted off of Prior/Venables.

Prior/Venables from Gore to Clark supports 26,000 vehicle trips per day. Venables east of Clark has 16,000. Eighty-five percent of the traffic was going at or under 57 kilometres per hour during the morning westbound rush hour, and 54 km/hr during the afternoon eastbound rush hour. Late-night speeds were up to 65 km/hr. In comparing collision data with the other corridors, US noted that the rate of collisions on Prior/Venables is among the lowest. 

Some of the factors the consultants noted that contribute to high speeds and collisions included: motorists experiencing changing conditions from freeway-like to residential as they travelled east; frequent lane-changing; higher speeds in the curb lane than on the inside lane; narrow sidewalks with no buffer zone from traffic; narrow lane widths; short pedestrian crossing signals; diagonal curb let-downs; long traffic waits and line-ups because of vehicles turning left; etc., etc. Not too many surprises there.

The consultants said the most effective long-term counter-measure to increase safety on the entire corridor would be to reduce the four lanes of traffic to three by providing a centre median and/or left-turn lane, BUT traffic volume is too high to do this.

Their list of short- and medium-term counter-measures to increase safety on the corridor as a whole included optimizing signal operations; installing pedestrian count-down timers; retiming pedestrian clearance intervals; building new sidewalks; adding new signals; etc. The two City Staff at the presentation said there is a limited budget for these measures, although some of them are already being done under existing programs. They’ll do what they can.

A good 45 minutes was spent discussing location-specific safety issues and safety measures for almost every intersection on Prior/Venables between Gore and Clark. Turns out the most dangerous of these were at Clark itself (no surprise there), plus at Campbell and at Vernon. Issues included (among many): poor sight-lines, and long line-ups at left turns, with resulting rear-enders and side-swipes. 

The consultants from Urban Solutions concluded the presentation of their draft report by reiterating why nothing significant can be done to improve traffic safety on Prior/Venables. The installation of intersection cameras (AKA red-light cameras) reduces speeds but (alas!) increases rear-end collisions. Lowering speed limits from 50 km/hr to 30 km/hr makes NO difference to speeds or to the number of collisions. (The consultants and the City Staff pointed to the changes in speed limits on Hastings between Abbott and Jackson that City Council approved against the advice of the Traffic Department: the average speed is still about 47 km/hr, the same as it was before the changes.)

Finally, the consultants reported that more curb-side parking (i.e. putting back the street parking on Prior that had been taken away decades ago) would have a “negative road-safety impact.” They recommended that the current parking hours be maintained, but that no more be instituted because the “operational needs” of the corridor require those traffic lanes. Use of the current on-street parking is low at this time, they said, and the current arrangement “balances” the needs of neighbourhood residents and commuters. Until the fabled Malkin Connector is built (and that could be years and years, if ever, says staff), heavy traffic will stay on Prior and Venables streets.
 
The Prior Street committee will answer questions and give more details about this report at the March 4th meeting.
 
We look forward to seeing you on Monday night at the 420 Hawks open house and on Wednesday night for our SRA meeting.
 
Regards, 
SRA Executive Council: Elana, Rick, Gordon, Chris and Roberta