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News: Local Area Plan, Harvest Festival, #OurVancouver Rally and more

Friday, September 20, 2013

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.

This is the first of two newsletters this month, as we have some important news and updates to share with you.

The days are getting shorter, and this weekend is the 6th Annual Harvest Festival (Sunday in McLean Park). The Harvest Fest is always a highlight of the Strathcona year, (and there's pie!). More on their website, and below.

On Tuesday, September 24, a grass-roots, apolitical multi-neighbourhood protest on the steps of City Hall will highlight the growing dissatisfaction of citizen groups city-wide. This rally has been organized by a coalition of neighbourhood groups from across the city; from Hastings Sunrise to Mt. Pleasant to Marpole to Pt. Grey... While there are a litany of different complaints in each neighbourhood, the #OurVancouver rally is in no small part a direct response to a staff report scheduled for the following day advising on Local Area Plans for four of neighbourhoods; Grandview-Woodland, Marpole, West End and the DTES. Recent survey results, feedback from our own membership, and LAPP Committee members across the board indicate very little support for the DTES Local Area Plan as visioned in the City's recent "Emerging Directions".

Concerns with the most recent DTES Local Area Plan document include: significantly increased heights and densities (up to 12-15 stories); housing types and the lacking definition of social housing; re-zoning of Pender Street and Kiwassa; among others. As a personal editorial: I feel it's important that city planning involve citizens, and while the LAP Process has engaged a wide range of locals and other stakeholders, the resultant plan (so far) has not been a complete reflection of those efforts.

At September's SRA meeting, members voted overwhelmingly to support Councillor Adriane Carr's motion to extend the schedule for the Local Area Planning Processes, including the DTES. According to the current schedule; Council is set to vote on the Local Area Plan for the DTES and Strathcona in November.

Lastly, our October meeting will be the AGM, and in this month's subsequent newsletter we'll be presenting our new constitution and bylaws for review. There are two council seat vacancies; with Elana, Gordon, John and myself all standing for re-election, Jodi and Danielle will be stepping down — thanks to both for their work this year.... And speaking of thanks, big thanks to Ros Breckner, who will be stepping down as roll call keeper after many years - thanks Ros!

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

In this newsletter:
  1. Community Announcements:
    • Harvest Festival this Sunday
    • OurVancouver rally at City Hall
    • Dan Small Memorial Concert
    • Ukrainian Dance Registrations
  2. #OurVancouver : Neighbourhoods rally at City Hall, September 24
  3. LAPP Report at City Council, September 25
  4. Villa Cathay Rezoning at City Council, September 24
  5. Viaducts Removal and Eastern Core Strategy
  6. Union Street Closure, Adanac Bikepath
  7. Urban Farming Survey
  8. Upcoming AGM, SRA as a registered Society
  9. September Meeting Minutes

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Community Announcements

Harvest Festival this Sunday
The Strathcona Harvest Festival brings the small town country fair to the big city! Come celebrate the wrap up of the harvest season at this all-ages free community event. We'll have live local music, lots of homemade food and good old fashioned fun; a pie contest, a canning contest, potato sack race and lots of straw bales to play in. Bring some food to share and your picnic supplies: blanket, cup, plate, cutlery and napkin.
Don’t forget to stop by our Community Info Booths to learn more about urban gardening, raising chickens, preserving your harvest, urban homesteading and so much more!! We will have an amazing raffle to support the Strathcona Elementary Farm-to-Table Program.
McLean Park: Sunday, September 22, 2013 from 12pm - 4pm

#OurVancouver Rally Tuesday September 24
Join neighbourhoods and citizens from across Vancouver expressing dissatisfaction and frustration with the City's "top-down" approach to community planning. The SRA will be joining a coterie of community groups, and while our interests and concerns range from zoning to local area plans to roads to pro-development agenda, the groups are united in the belief that city planning must legitimately and meaningfully engage the citizens. This protest comes the day before Vancouver's senior planner will deliver a status report on the DTES and Strathcona Local Area Plan, advising that it should be ratified in November per the schedule. You can read more about the SRA's position on the LAPP and why we feel it is not ready for Council's approval, below.
City Hall: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:45pm, on twitter: #OurVancouver

Dan Small Memorial Concert, Thursday September 26
"I Brewed it My Way" A celebration of the late Strathconan, Dan Small.
featuring the Tall Brothers, Fiends, Wichita Trip, Boomchix, Broken Hands and some surprises...
The Wise Hall 1882 Adanac, no minors 19+, doors 8pm

Ukrainian Dance Open Rehersal and Open House, Friday/Saturday September 27-28
Discover the athleticism, precision and emotion of Ukrainian Folk-Stage dance. Get a taste of the diverse regional styles, steps and music of this popular and challenging dance form. More info on their website www.auucvancouver.ca
The Wise Hall 1882 Adanac, no minors 19+

#OurVancouver Rally

Following a unanimous vote by the membership at our September meeting, an SRA delegation attended a meeting of neighbourhood and community associations from across the City. Attendees included groups from Hastings East, Hastings Sunrise, Marpole, West End, Dunbar, Kits, Point Grey, Mount Pleasant, Riley Park, Little Mountain, Yaletown, Norquay, False Creek, DTES and Grandview Woodland. While the litany of complaints was across the board - the common thread seemed to be that communities felt excluded from a meaningful planning process, which is alleged to largely favour "backroom-politics" and the developer industry. The city-wide feeling closely aligns with the frustration many in Strathcona have been feeling with the City, particularly with regards to viaducts removal and Prior Street calming, changes to Union Street and local area planning. We hope to see lots of Strathconans there, rally starts at 5:30, Tuesday September 24, on twitter: #OurVancouver. If you are interested in ride-sharing, please respond to this email.

Local Area Plan

Tuesday's rally comes one day before the City's senior planner will advocate for our own (DTES/Strathcona) LAPP to be ratified per it's scheduled completion. (Read the report here: PDF) Earlier in August, the City presented two open houses, detailing "Emerging Directions" in the Local Area Plan for the DTES (including Strathcona).The resulting surveys, comments and workshops indicated very little support for these Emerging Directions, either from the general public or event the LAPP committee itself. Key concerns include: heights and densities being proposed along Hastings (rezoning for 12-15 stories); proposed rezoning of Pender Street and Kiwassa; no definition of social housing; very little recognition of Strathcona interests (ie. safe access to Strathcona Park, affordable rental housing, retail revitalization of Hastings, etc.). The SRA Executive feel strongly that this plan needs more work - and there is simply not the time to do that work, and solicit meaningful community feedback before proposed Council ratification of the plan in November. Per the unanimous decision at September's SRA meeting, the Executive Council will be formally presenting this opinion to council. If you wish to comment to council on the LAPP, email mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca. If you wish to speak in person on the 25th, information on doing so can be found on the City's website, the agenda for the meeting is here.

Villa Cathay Rezoning

On September 24, Council will be hearing a rezoning proposal for the Villa Cathay. Readers may remember that in February the SRA membership, recognizing the need for safe and dignified senior's housing in the community, voted to support the rezoning with the resolution: "That the SRA recognizes and appreciates the work Villa Cathay Care Home does for Chinese seniors in our community; that we support their application to expand and improve their facilities as detailed in their re-zoning application; and that we work with the Villa Cathay and their architects to ensure appropriate street frontages and Community Amenity Contributions". Nevertheless, concerns remain over the building height (10-11 stories) and as recently pointed out, there are renewed concerns for (elderly) pedestrian safety with the lack of safe, respected crosswalks and reported increase in aggressive commuter cyclists along the Adanac Bikepath on Union Street. All of these concerns will be reflected in our letter to council. Residents interested in commenting on this proposed rezoning are encouraged to write to mayorandcouncil@vancouver.ca.

Viaducts Removal and Eastern Core Strategy

Today marks the first meeting of the Viaducts Removal / Eastern Core Strategy work group. The group of stakeholders will be mapping out a plan for the consultation process over the next two years. Expect a report in the next newsletter.

Union Street Closures, Adanac Bikepath

Despite City Council's June 12 direction for Active Transportation Staff to "postpone consideration of the eastbound barrier at Gore Avenue and Union Street pending further consultation with the community and report back within a month, with a view to identifying suitable traffic calming measures that improve safety for all users between Main Street and Princess Avenue on Union Street." the block of Union between Main and Gore has undergone significant alterations, without any meaningful consultation with the community. According to accounts by both cyclist and drivers, the changes to 200 block appear to be less safe. At our September meeting, the membership voted unanimously to request all the records regarding community consultation on this matter, utilizing the Freedom of Information Act if necessary. In light of these recent changes; pending proposed changes to Union east of Gore; and the work to Union at Glen, (subsequently removed because staff failed to consult the rail operators or adhere to Canada Transportation guidelines) we are vigorously pursuing this matter and are reaching out to our affected neighbours in Chinatown and City Gate.

Rather than suggest this is an "anti-bike" sentiment, we wish to clarify that this is about bad planning - we feel the City staff lack the insight into our local road use, and are making the situation worse by failing to consult with locals. Our alternate community plan, involving the input of local stakeholder groups and the SRA executive can be found here: bikepathforeveryone.ca

Urban Farming Survey

Our friends at the Urban Farming Society are currently doing research into concerns and opinions around urban farming in various Vancouver communities and requested we get this very brief survey out to folks in Strathcona. Check it out!
http://fluidsurveys.com/s/vufs-communitysurvey/

Upcoming AGM

Next month is the Strathcona Residents' Association Annual General Meeting, and there are two vacant spots on the Executive Council, if you are interested in running, please drop us a line. All are welcome to attend, but in order to vote at the AGM, you must have already attended three (3) meetings in the last year. Next week we will be sending out our draft constitution and bylaws for discussion and ratification as we move towards being a registered society.

Next SRA Meeting, (AGM), Wednesday October 2, 7:15
at the Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer Street

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Minutes from SRA meeting - September 4, 2013

Wednesday September 4, 7:15pm Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer 
( Please see Newsletter for details of announcements and background on motions)
Welcome by Council
Community Announcements (from newsletter): Street Market, Alley-oke, SRA meeting, Ukrainian Dance, LAPP Built Form Workshop, Blockwatch Crime Prevention Summit, Eastside 10k Run, DTES Powwow
Local Area Plan: 
City's Emerging Directions document and feedback.
Pete saw unfiltered community feedback and it was overwhelmingly critical
There is now a newly announced zoning for 10-15 story buildings on “Hastings Main” (Hastings west of Heatley)
Still no real definition of social housing
Final decisions reflect senior staff impositions, not community consultations.
* Moved/Carried: That the SRA work with other residents' associations as part of a larger coalition of communities calling for a new planning process that provides genuine collaboration between the City and the neighbourhoods.
* Moved/Carried: That the SRA formally support Councillor Carr's motion to extend (the DTES) LAPP and allow more time to engage in more genuine collaboration between the City and our neighbourhood.
Viaducts and Eastern Core
Still working to persuade the City to do meaningful safety audit on Prior.
City attempting to split consultations into separate Viaducts and Eastern Core groups, being resisted by affected communities
Union Street Closures
Protest went well postponement of the work West of Gore was unsuccessful
The City is still promising but not delivering consultations on work East of Gore
*Motion/Carried: That the SRA formally request all the records regarding the consultation and planning process on the Union Street bike path under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA), costs to be reported to membership and revisited upon determination of the SRA Council.
Cycling advocacy group HUB seeks more cycling routes through Strathcona/CityGate
Vancouver Coastal Health strategic planning for DTES and community input 
This plan has the effect of over-riding or pre-determining many of the concerns of the LAPP and the SRA. Some response is required.
*Motion/Carried: That the SRA send a letter outlining community concerns regarding the VCH Second Generation document.
Upcoming AGM, SRA as a registered Society
We hope to have finalized bylaws and be registered as a society by the end of October
The Council currently has several vacancies but all positions are open. Nominations for all positions can come anytime and the vote will be at the October meeting
Safety in Strathcona
The recent assault in McLean Park was emphasized and various safety convcerns were discussed
Announcements from the floor
Ros Breckner would like to step down as “keeper of the membership lists”. Anyone interested in keeping attendance records as her replacement is urged to contact Council. Thank you Ros, you will be missed in this position.
September 12 at the City Archives, Daphne and Carol will be doing a presentation on the production of “opening Doors”, a seminal history of Strathcona.
The Inner City Safety Society will be integrating their services with SCC as well as RayCam. It will begin in the later Fall.
James Johnstones history walking tours are now on Trip Adviser and they are #119 of the 120 best things to do in Vancouver. His last tours are happening in September.