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Meeting Wednesday, May 1 - Viaducts, LAPP, new constitution 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 May 1st, as well as minutes from April's meeting. 

We have a lot in this newsletter and on the agenda, including recent changes to the bike path, new local filming protocol, updates on the Powell Street overpass and a lot of community events.There are some new developments to share as far as the Viaducts Removal and Prior Street calming, and how that is shaping up in advance of Council's expected June vote.

Despite recent inactivity, and governance issues resulting from recent shake-ups at the Carnegie Community Action Project; the City's DTES Local Area Planning Process held an update last week on some of the new directions they are evolving as part of their plan. The most significant of which is the proposal to create the DEOD as a 100% low-income "social justice zone". As some will be aware, the City's DEOD zoning stretches from Gore to Heatly, to the alley north of Pender, so the implications of this direction will have significant impacts on Strathcona, and is contrary to our existing 1992 Community Plan and 2008 "Vision 2010" document.

With that said, we need to formalize and discuss some of our policies, and how they relate to the LAPP and our presence on the committee. If you haven't already, please read our 2010 Vision document (link), we'll be discussing this document and how it pertains to our LAPP posotions and policies. Residents are also encouraged to attend this Friday's open house LAPP presentation, at the Pigeon Park Savings, and see how the plan is shaping up (see announcements below).

Earlier this month, council-member Jodi Spargur initiated a conversation with the End Prohibition Project, to have a Strathcona-focussed conversation called "Does Harm Reduction encourage Drug Use?". The idea is to draw folks from the neighbourhood into a discussion of harm reduction and drug use, a topic relevant to the local context and beyond. This presentation will be taking pace at the Community Centre on May 15th, with an opportunity for dialogue and discussion from a Strathcona perspective.

Last, but not least - we are also moving forward on the important work of ratifying our constitution and bylaws. Council member John Hawkes has done an excellent job preparing a draft, which we will be discussing on wednesday, with an eye towards ratifying in June.

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

In this newsletter:
• Community Announcements
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Meeting Agenda for Wednesday May 1
• Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes from Wednesday April 3

Community Announcements

Note : upcoming events can also be found on our website

Warmer weather brings increased break-ins

Reminder to neighbours, that as the weather improves and we open our doors and windows to catch the sunshine and spring breeze - be vigilant about your home security. A 600 block Union neighbour reports that this weekend, while gardening in the front yard their unlocked garden shed was robbed in the back yard.

Powell Street Overpass Project Update / Open House: May 2

Details on the City's $50 million Powell Street Overpass Projectl this major infastructure project is taking place on Powell west of Clark and scheduled to start during the week of June 10, 2013. The Project is designed to improve safety and navigation through the area for all commuters while enhancing the rail network that supports cargo movement to and from the Port. Open house, Thursday May 2, 4 pm – 8 pm. Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, 1607 East Hastings Street
* for more information, please see the Events Page on our website.

2013 BC Election - Mount Pleasant Candidates Forum : May 2

Come out, bring your issues and meet the candidates
Thursday, May 2, 2013
6-8pm, Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre: 920 East Hastings

DTES LAPP / Open House : May3

Find out more about the DTES LAPP and see what has been discussed so far:
- Meet your community representatives
- Meet with City Staff
- Voice your comments and opinions
Friday May 3, 12 - 6pm, Pigeon Park Savings, 92 East Hastings
* for more information, please see the Events Page on our website.

Does Harm Reduction encourage Drug Use? May 15

Presented by the End Prohibition Project and facilitated by SRA chair Pete Fry. The presentation will be given by Ann Livingston (co-founder of VANDU) and Dave Murray (member of VANDU), and challenges the popular notion that strategies that seek to reduce the harmful effects of currently illicit drugs (such as safe injection sites, needle exchanges, opiate maintenance programs, etc.) promote the use of drugs in the community. After the presentation, there will be time for dialogue and discussion.
Wednesday, May 15, 7pm
at the Strathcona Community Centre's Multipurpose Room (upstairs)
* For more information, details and full schedules, please see the Events Page on our website.

Strathcona Mental Health Team Mental Health Week : May 27 - 30

A series of panel discussions facilitated by the Strathcona Mental Health Team (330 Heatley Ave), a number of which focus on the high concentration of mentally ill and dual diagnosis (mental illness and substance abuse) in the DTES. Everyone welcome.
* for more information, details and full schedules, please see the Events Page on our website.

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

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

Welcome from council

Approval of April SRA minutes (see below)

Report on council's April meeting

Committee Reports

- Zoning

- Film
As Spring springs and the ubiuquitous movie trucks start sprouting up around the neighbourhood, we are implementing a new film protocol. Residents should know that the inconvenience of neighbourhood filming does yield dividends for the community, in the form of financial contirbutions to the Community Centre's Food Security Program and the SRA. For more information please see the webpage. We do need resident assistance to keep on top of who is filming where.To inform a film liaison of any work being done in your area, please email: film -at- strathcona-residents.org

- Bike Path
Residents might have noted that the City quietly switched to stop signs at Hawks and Union to the North/South axis, thereby giving cyclists unfettered right-of-way on Union Street. Anecdotally, it would appear this and recent path changes have resulted in faster cyclist speeds through the interestection. Despite the SRA's frequently expressed concerns about pedestrian safety and our unanimous resolution to retain East-West stop signs at Hawks and Union, the City has prioritized cycle commuter convenience over pedestrian safety. Concerned residents are encouraged to document cyclist violations at Hawks and Union, and we will be discussing this and other strategies at the meeting.

LAPP Report
We'll discuss the LAPP, some of it's new directions and implications for Strathcona.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. These policies support the consideration of rezoning applications to allow residential development, and is consistent with our 1992 Community Plan. (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 yet.

Powell Street Overpass construction to start in June
Construction of the overpass will begin in June and will close Powell between Clark and Hawks for over a year, with access limited to business and local traffic only. In typical City fashion, there has been very little by the way of communtiy outreach to let us know how this project might effect our neighbourhood, but the City is advising:
    - The intersections at Hastings/Clark and Hawks/Hastings
      will be modified to facilitate the detour
    - Commuter traffic not destined for local business along Powell St and Cordova St
       should use alternate arterial routes.
The City is hosting an open-house Thursday May 2, 4 pm – 8 pm. at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, 1607 East Hastings Street. More info on the project can be found on the City's website: http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/powell-street-overpass-project

Excessive Nighttime Train Noise
Discussion about about excessive train noise at night, who to call and strategies for addressing the issue.

Farmer's Market
We had the overture from the City Farmer Public Market group about a table at their market, whihc starts up again in June at Thorton Park. It's an interesting opportunity, although not specifically JUST for the SRA, but for all of Strathcona, perhaps to host and publicize other community issues like Viaducts and Prior Street, Community Centre programs at Strathonca and Ray-Cam, seismic upgrade at Strathcona Elementary, Food Security, promote local small businesses, events, etc.

The table is not free, but quite discounted, and while we can accept donations, we cannot sell goods. The cost is a $25 application fee, plus $20/day (14weeks = $280). We'll discuss if this is worth pursuing; it might be an opportunity to promote Strathcona's profile to the public and media: which might translate to some political capital for the community, particularly as viaducts come down and development starts moving in.

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.

Policy Items
We will be reviewing some policy items with a mind towards the Local Area Planning Process and our own existing community Plans and Vision.

Items for vote/discussion

  1. Motion from the SRA Council to formalize our 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."

  2. Motion from the SRA Council to formalize our most recent 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."

  3. Motion from the Chair (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"

    * Background from Pete: over the course of the LAPP Committee work, the SRA has been invited to support Social Housing Coalition BC's call for the provincial government to commit to building 10,000 new units of social housing, per year, throughout the province. Despite some of the group's organizers, and my personal rejection of their agendas (members include some of the anti-gentrification activists who have been picketing small businesses in the DTES and are calling for a 100% low-income "social justice zone" in the DEOD) - I believe the stated demand of the wider coalition is worthy of our support and consistent with our community vision. They define social housing as:
    • Non-institutional housing that is owned by government, a non-profit group or a co-op;
    • Not run for profit;
    • Available to people with very low incomes who pay either 30% of their income or the welfare shelter amount for rent;
    • Available to ALL who need it. No one will be excluded from a social housing unit because their income is too low. If a social housing resident increases their income, they don’t have to move, but their rent will go up as they pay 30% of their income for rent.

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 next month's agenda

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Strathcona Resident's Association - Minutes for Wednesday February 6


Wednesday April 4, 7:15pm at the Strathcona Community Centre

  • Welcome from council
  • SRA minutes for March 2013 approved
  • Report on council's February meeting
    Most of the council’s efforts were on the Prior street protest last month.
  • Committee and Reports
  • Zoning Cmtee
    Reviewed one development application on Atlantic, a large addition to a house which the cmtee will be pushing for conservation of the existing structure
    Nothing new on Sacred Heart application.
  • Film Cmtee (no report)
  • Great Beginnings motion
    Motion presented in support of funding renewal for the Great Beginnings Clean Street Team.
    " That the Strathcona Residents' Association recognizes and values the significant and valuable work that Great Beginnings Clean Streets team does here in Strathcona and DTES, particularly with regards to dangerous trash on the streets adjacent to Strathcona Elementary. We also appreciate that this program serves an important function in providing meaningful opportunities for people who might otherwise face employment barriers, allowing them to work and contribute to the community. We feel Great Beginnings Clean Streets team is an important community program and urge the City of Vancouver's continued funding."
    — Moved by Council, carried unanimously
  • LAPP Committee Reports
    Slow this last month and have slowed meeting while they digest info. More meetings scheduled in April. Becoming more evident that the major decisions have already been made on how development will proceed..
  • Bike Path
    Nothing new but letter about stop signs has been sent in and waiting for response
    From the floor, concerns about confusing signals at Main and Union. Response that is Chinatown and SRA is mandated to Strathcona issues. Concerns should go to Chinatown or City directly
  • Additions to the website
    Pete is working on a list of motions and stands the SRA has taken through time, to help the SRA's intentions become consistent.
  • Prior Street Protest/Aftermath
    Pete quickly went over the background and issues surrounding Viaducts Removal plan and what it could mean for the neighboring communities. He repeated the main points of the letter sent by the council on behalf of the SRA, emailed to members at the time.
    Well attended and got great press coverage. BIG thank you to everyone.
    Graeme, Elana and Pete met with City people, who expressed concern about the tone of the SRA’s position, wanted it to be more positive or a least less negative/confrontational. SRA members at the meeting stated they were willing to do so if the City makes a significant commitment to the Eastern Core strategy.
    The City offered to add parking to the planned 6 lane road feeding into Prior. But essentially there was nothing new beyond efforts to de-rail or mitigate the looming protest.
    Council will continue to push for getting stakeholders (neighborhoods and Port Authority, Hastings BIA, etc) together in a process not controlled by the City to keep pressure on for an Eastern Core strategy.
    City has agreed to conduct a Road Safety Audit, with some limitations, that the SRA will participate in.
    Interpreting their data and plans is a complex numbers game, and it is increasing clear we need some professional expertise to work with us on this.
    From the floor, suggestion that we reconsider the removal of the viaducts and instead think about how leaving them or 're-purposing' them may work for us. Response is that it is probable that the viaducts removal has already been decided, we can only influence aspects of the post-viaduct world.
    Generally clear that consultative process is a false front. We will not be treated or listened to fairly, and that most of the decisions have already been made.
    SRA's media strategy has caused hostility from Council, and we have to decide soon whether we keep it up or dial it down. It may be that negotiation through the media is our best/most effective option but it can have consequences.
    Michael raised the pollution aspect of Prior street traffic. He has brought research on pollution to the City's attention and has been ignored for the most part. Only response has been a hostile reply from Meggs which seems designed to belittle the research and push the matter into the shadows
    It was suggested that the Federal Infrastructure funding announcement offers opportunities for more negotiation on alternate routes which would qualify for this funding and could be worked on sooner.
    Extended discussion of how we should proceed: legal challenges to the process and to the behavior of councilors; a more aggressive media strategy; continue to try to influence City planners to change plan they will present to Council; find political allies; develop neighborhood and business alliances, develop them without City involvement; start our own blog and respond to Meggs, report on day-to-day and more.
    The historic example of the Pit Stop bylaw showed that neighborhoods can write their own agenda.
  • Announcements
    Martha Roberts sent a message to introduce herself. She is a Strathcona resident,
    living in Mau Dan Gardens, and she is a Registered Midwife who works in the neighbourhood at 439 Dunlevy. She asked us to add her practice website/blog to
    our list of family resources: http://strathconamidwiferycollective.com/
    Care is fully covered by MSP, so there is no cost involved.
    Close of meeting 8:40pm