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Meeting Wednesday, June 5 - City plan to remove cars from Union? Viaducts, LAPP and more

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.
Apologies for the lateness, here are some items of interest to Strathcona residents, including the agenda for our upcoming meeting of the Strathcona Residents' Association, Wednesday June 5th, as well as minutes from May's meeting. Wednesday will be our last general meeting until September.

In this newsletter and on the agenda: Update on Prior Street, Viaducts and the Eastern Core Strategy, news about Powell Street overpass construction and resultant traffic changes, updates on the LAPP, and developing our new constitution.

We'll also be discussing some rather late breaking news - about the City's proposed changes to Adanac Bikeway, and their proposal to close Union Street to vehicle traffic entering Strathcona.

The changes had been billed as being between Gore and Carrall Street and staff convened two open-houses in May to present their vision to the community. What staff neglected to mention, is that their plan actually details altering Union Street east of Gore to be one-way (westbound) to car traffic.The SRA council only just found out about this Saturday afternoon after one of the businesses on 200 block Union contacted us to express their own concerns about loss of parking and vehicle access on their block. A check with a resident of 300 block Union indicates the City have not approach those residents who will be directly affected by this change, nor have they informed the SRA of this traffic change. In fact, in a direct email from the City's Active Tranportation staffer Ross Kenney, Chair Pete Fry was specifically told "The project extends along Union Street from Gore Avenue to Carrall Street." with no mention of eliminating vehicular access into Strathcona via Union Street.

Needless to say, this plan stands to have a significant impact on traffic patterns in Strathcona. I will be following up on this Monday morning, and reporting back at our Wednesday meeting. Details of the City's plan can be found at http://vancouver.ca/adanacbikeway. The detailed report can be found at http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/adanac-bikeway-open-house-info-boards.PDF. Pay close attention to page 4, in which the map indicated the changes to Union which staff were apparently prepared to sneak through.

This report goes to council in June, and it looks likely that we are going to have to act very assertively and very quickly on this. If possible, I'll see if we can get someone from the City in to speak to us.

As well, this month has seen a number of meetings and events surround the city's Viaducts and Eastern Core Strategy - which apparently will be going to vote later this month. At Wednesday's meeting we will be discussing what's been going on and our strategy for the Council vote, as part of a coalition of communities that are prepared to support a motion to remove the viaducts, but specifically as an integrated component of a broader program to shape both an Eastern Core Strategy and the communities immediately surrounding the existing viaducts.

Regarding the important work of ratifying our constitution and bylaws. We'll be taking comments on the constitution draft prepared by John Hawkes. We'll be working on the document over the summer, for presentation and ratification when we resume in the Fall. If you haven't already, the draft can be read here.

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

In this newsletter:
• Community Announcements
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday June 5
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes from Wednesday May 1

Community Announcements

Note : upcoming events can also be found on our website

Sunshine Patch Garden Club

The first meeting of the Sunshine Patch Garden Club is this Sunday June 2.
The Club will be meeting monthly to help to care for this lovely garden in our community.
A PEACEFUL PLACE for bees, bugs, butterflies and birds – for kids, grown-ups, families and garden loving folks – all are welcome! SNACKS AND TOOLS provided.
* Meet Behind the portable, right next to the swings. Subsequent meetings on the 2nd Sunday of each month • July 14 • Aug 11 • Sept 8 • Oct 13

Strathcona Unplugged

STRATHCONA UNPLUGGED - The Best of Strathcona: Music, Spoken Word and More! Fun for Everybody! with Host BOB GILSON Featuring: ROB MONTGOMERY, THE TALL BROTHERS, with comedy by SARAH JANE

A Benefit for the Raycam Community Centre and its range of community programmed
Sunday June 2, 3-7pm PATRICIA HOTEL STAGE - 403 East Hastings.
Suggested Donation $5-10

The Sustainable Garden Fair

The Sustainable Garden Fair brings you workshops and activities for the whole family - all totally free. This June 8th, the Sustainable Garden Fair - a day of free interactive booths and workshops on local food - is coming to Strathcona Community Centre. Some of Vancouver's top local food experts will lead classes on gardening, composting, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, backyard hens, and more. Details are online at www.sgfair.ca.
June 8th, 10am - 5pm at Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer
http://www.sgfair.ca

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Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday June 5

Wednesday June 5, 7:15pm at the Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer St.

Welcome from council

Approval of April SRA minutes (see below)

Report on council's May meeting

Committee Reports

- Zoning

- Film

- Bike Path
This discussion will obviously focus on the proposed Union Street and traffic modifications. If we get someone in from the City, we'll have them in to present first. In light this and recent traffic management; residents are reminded to please document incidents, particularly conflicts between pedestrians and aggressive or reckless cyclists on the Union Street bike route. It is also appropriate for residents to call the non-emergency police number to report dangerous cyclists or conditions on the Union Street bike route.

LAPP Report
As of the writing of this newsletter, the scheduled LAPP Committee meeting for May was moved to Tuesday June 4th. We will have an update on that and recent LAPP developments, including feedback from the LAPP open house in May. (link)

Viaducts/Prior Report
Update on how the viaducts removal is shaping up in advance of Council's expected June vote. The SRA's viaducts team have some progress and recent developments to share. As of this writing, no City Council vote for viaducts removal has been scheduled, but we expect it possible June 11 or 18. At a recent meeting with City Staff, representatives from the Grandview-Woodland Area Council, Vancouver Board of Trade, and the SRA - the City agreed to undertake a safety audit of Prior Street. It was also strongly suggested that the viaducts removal may not come to pass, if the communities "don't show some love" for the plan. Our growing coalition of communities are optimistic that we will "show love for the plan" if we have an meaningful, transparent and genuinely collaborative process involving the affected communities.

Powell Street Overpass construction starts June 10
On May 28, the SRA was invited to attend a stakeholder meeting regarding the Powell Street overpass construction project and how it my impact the local area. In attendance were representatives from the City, project constructors and engineers, Port Metro Vancouver, Strathcona BIA and local businesses and a representative from the Grandview Woodland Area Council. Some key points:

  • June 10: Powell Street public transit will be re-routed to Hastings (between Clark and Hawks)
  • June 24: All traffic will be closed to Powell between Clark and Hawks, Cordova Street eastbound traffic will be re-routed to Hastings via Hawks. Union Street will be closed to through car traffic from McLean to Glen (Union Street access will still be available via the perpendicular north-south cross streets, this measure is ostensibly to prevent commuters from detouring onto Union).
  • Powell Street handles 30,000 vehicles / day. Expect traffic increases on Hastings and on Prior.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this overpass is not motivated by the desire to increase train capacity on the north-south BNSF train line between the ports and the flats; but the desire to increase the rail capacity on the Burrard Inlet/port side. The overpass will shift Powell several metres to the south and allow for the addition of a new eaast-west track. Port traffic is expected to increase by 70% in the coming years.

More info on the project can be found on the City's website: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/powell-street-overpass-project

Report on May Harm Reduction co-presentation
On May 15, the SRA helped to facilitate the conversation "Does Harm Reduction encourage Drug Use?" which brought some diverse groups together in a mostly respectful dialogue and sharing of ideas.

Excessive Nighttime Train Noise
This was to be discussed at our last meeting but was deferred due to a scheduling conflict. The ongoing issue regarding excessive train noise at night, on the BSNF line behind Raymur.

Update on Heatley Block
Last month discussed changes to Heatley Block and fears that it may be destroyed. Council was tasked with a motion that might reflect the significance. At this point it looks like the owner is putting money and restoration efforts in to the property, so the earlier fears may be unfounded.

New SRA Constitution (DRAFT)
Please consult the draft constitution prepared by John Hawkes (link). We will be discussing as we move towards ratifying this in June.

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)

Closing Remarks, items for summer agenda.

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Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Minutes for Wednesday May 1

Wednesday May 1, 7:15pm at the Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer St.

Welcome from council

Motion/Carried to accept April 3, 2013 SRA minutes

Report on council's April meeting

Committee Reports
Zoning:

Reviewed one proposal at 623 Atlantic, made some suggestions for improvement but proposal overall good and supported by the committee.

Film
Request for resident assistance in keeping on top of who is filming where was announced in the meeting notice.. Pete reported success in getting commitments from two projects with new ‘polite but persistent’ approach. To inform a film liaison of any work being done in your area, please email: film -at- strathcona-residents.org

Bike Path/Traffic
The City quietly switched to stop signs at Hawks and Union to the North/South axis, giving cyclists unfettered right-of-way on Union Street at high speeds.
Any incidents with cyclists and cars ignoring traffic regulations should be reported promptly to the police non-emergency number. These reports are aggregated and will result in action if incidents repeat.
If something does happen or if you do report, also drop a line to SRA so we can follow up on specific concerns.
There will be open houses in May where the City will be discussing bike crossing at Raymur.

LAPP Report
Meetings have been on hold for the most part as the City digests information.
The area on the western edge of Kiwassa, between Raymur and the tracks, from Union to Hastings has had their land-use changed from Industrial to General Urban (residential), consistent with our 1992 Community Plan. (link)
There seems to be some City support for getting the DEOD designated 100% low-income but still no indication of how it would be paid for.
City has rezoned east side of Raymur from Union to Hastings for general urban/residential development. This did not come through LAPP nor were they even formally informed.
Discussion: general feeling that the LAPP was sleight of hand, and that decisions have already been made. SRA’s involvements are still useful but expect limited gains.

Viaducts/Prior Report
Graeme, Elana and Pete will be meeting with City staff, backed up by the Port of Vancouver who are also concerned about traffic changes, on the 17th. The Port isn't interested in using Prior and has for now common cause with SRA.
City is looking nervous and may be re-considering Viaducts strategy

Powell Street Overpass construction to start in June
A reminder that construction of the overpass will begin in June and will close Powell between Clark and Hawks for over a year to all but limited local traffic. More at http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/powell-street-overpass-project.

Excessive Nighttime Train Noise
Residents have complained that noise from train whistles/horns has increased. The regulations on track use have changed, more/longer trains are now being run through, and more noise is resulting
. Elana has investigated strategies and will report the next meeting.

Farmer's Market
Discussion on utility of a table at City Farmer Public Market in June at Thorton Park.
*and what did we decide? I recorded nothing. sorry*

New SRA Constitution (DRAFT)
This is an initiative in response to SRA’s need to become a more formally-constituted organization and to have more consistent practices.
Please consult the draft constitution prepared by John Hawkes (link). This integrates the few policies the SRA currently has with standard practices from other similar organizations.
Please email any comments or concerns to the council, and we will move towards ratifying this in June.

Policy Items
We will be reviewing and suggesting some changes to some policy items in the 2010 Vision document. The purpose is to correct some contradictory statements and to bring the SRA’s stated goals in line with changes in both the SRA’s position and in the area since that document was written.

MOTIONS

Motion/Carried (from the SRA Council) 30-30-30 position
"Be it resolved that the SRA formally endorses the 30-30-30 housing mix (shelter/supportive - affordable rental - market) as a model for a healthy community where everyone can thrive."

  • Discussion: is this compatible with the 2010 Vision document? Response: yes, it clarifies/quantifies that documents support for mixed community and supportive housing.
    Discussion: should we implement 30-30-30 in representation at SRA meetings themselves? Response: That is certainly a goal but there is little support for or need to restrict membership/voting to a quota system.

Motion/Carried (from the SRA Council) to formalize SRA position on viaducts and Eastern Core 
"Be it resolved that the SRA supports the removal of the viaducts, only on the express condition that the removal is conducted in tandem with the development of an Eastern Core Strategy that explicitly results in the return of Prior to a residential street."

  • Discussion on whether they were sticking to their original plan. Response: Pete reported that they are shifting their position on traffic in response to a surprising amount of resistance from SRA, Port, etc. Their strategy of separating people in a process they control is at least partially countered by this development, since it is a discussion process they do not control.
    Discussion on whether the Port is a reliable ally. Response: their interests do coincide with ours and they have taken public positions very similar to ours, though for different reasons. It looks good for now.

Motion/Carried (from Pete Fry) to support the Social Housing Coalition BC demand for 10,000 new units per year
"Be it resolved that the SRA supports the demands of the Social Housing Coalition BC for 10,000 new units of housing to be built every year in BC".

  • Discussion: Concern that this is placing too much emphasis on public housing and reinforces the polarization of housing between social and private. Response: since private developers are not providing rental housing in any volume, the only option for renters is government.
    Discussion: Concern that the issue is too global and not specific to the concerns of the SRA and its residents. This could lead to debating other motions that are outside the organizations mandate or the members interests, and divisive. Response: the initiative is bi-partisan, and other groups and individuals in Strathcona are supporting the motion politically, the SRA has to show it is not just for homeowners through its actions, and that means taking stances in support of renters and rental housing.

FROM THE FLOOR

Jeremy Gustafson (independent candidate in provincial elections) has material available at this meeting

Heatley block sold as an investment property, can't Spartacus and beauty parlor have already received rent increased. Anticipate it will be redeveloped, heritage building and the low-income housing lost.

Council is asked to present a motion about this next meeting.

Concerns about the double-house construction crews parking and general interference with neighbors at 700 Union. Resident urged to phone 311 and lodge complaint there, or at the police non-emergency line for pressing issues of safety or security..