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NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER

Friday, November 2, 2018

NOVEMBER MEETING: WEDS. NOV 7, 7-9 PM Strathcona Community Centre

Susanna Haas Lyons, chair of the upcoming Flats Arterial Community Panel, is coming to explain how the Panel will work and take questions. The Panel is being formed to recommend the best route for the widened road and railway overpass that will replace Prior St. as an arterial (maybe). Some details below…

This is an important meeting. A big turnout sends the message that residents care about the future of Strathcona. So please make the effort to come. It should be a lively discussion.

FLATS ARTERIAL COMMUNITY PANEL

Reps from the SRA met with reps from the Jefferson Group (the consultant hired to organize the Panel) last week to learn how it will work. Here’s a quick overview:

The Panel will consist of 42 members, drawn from 15000+ applications that will be sent out in November. They will be randomly selected, but will fit a criteria matching census demographics for age, gender, ethnicity and location. The Panel is volunteer.

21 Panel members will be local residents from within a “study area” bordered by Quebec on the west, Commercial on the east, Industrial on the south and the Burrard Inlet on the north. 15 participants will be from businesses in the same area and the other 6 will be city-wide residents from outside the area.

The Panel will meet for 10 day-long sessions between January and April and vote on a final recommendation at the final session in early April. This recommendation will then be submitted to City Council for consideration.

For more details, go to the Panel website or come to our Nov. 7 meeting.

We came away from the meeting with several concerns:

  • The options under consideration include “Prior St (overpass or underpass)” which until now the City had promised to keep off the table.
  • Most of the residents in the “study area” will not be directly impacted by whatever choice is made. Those outside Strathcona will not have their access by car, bus, bike, or foot significantly changed. Nor will they lose greenspace or community gardens. By casting so wide a net, the Panel effectively dilutes input from people and businesses directly impacted.
  • The Panel does not include representatives from the SRA or any other community group. It appears we’re limited to making a brief 10-minute presentation about the Park.
  • Our A Better Way report may be included as supplemental material, but is not currently listed as an option under consideration. (On the upside, the City has recently agreed to meet with us to review and assess it.)

We’ll be sending out further details to members before the meeting.

PARKS WORKING GROUP

Last month, the SRA started a Parks Working Group. The group is a response to ongoing frustration that our neighbourhood parks are being neglected and efforts to fix problems by calling 311 aren’t working. The goal of the group is to develop a collaborative relationship with the new Parks Board, to assess and prioritize needs for MacLean, Strathcona and the Linear Parks and to find ways to improve Park maintenance and safety. A bigger picture goal is to develop a vision to make Strathcona Park more resident friendly. If you’d like to join, please e-mail parks@strathcona-residents.org

TRAIN WORKING GROUP

Line Twinning Report. We’re hoping to put out a report on CN’s plans for twinning the Burrard Inlet Line, but it’s taking some serious detective work to find out what those plans are. If you’d like to get involved doing research, writing or graphics layout, please contact the group at trains@strathcona-residents.org.

Which Came First? The Surprising History of the BI Line.  Many people are surprised to hear that the Strathcona neighbourhood predates the Burrard Inlet spur line by over a decade. Read about it here.

CTA Complaint Moves to Adjudication. A group of 30 Strathcona households has decided to cease mediation and has officially filed a request for adjudication with the Canadian Transportation Agency. The request is to stop CN from using the neighbourhood as a freight train assembly yard, to not run trains through the neighbourhood at night, and to use quieter hybrid locomotives. Councillor Adriane Carr and MP Jenny Kwan wrote in support of our complaint. If the case proceeds normally, the Agency could make a decision in around five months.

Advance Warning System? Last Spring, the City said it would install an advance warning system on alert drivers on Prior/Venables about train blockages. What happened? A recent email from the City claims, "We are in the process of purchasing a tailored advanced warning system at Venables. This system would work with the current Trainfo train presence monitoring device and would provide information to drivers (via changeable messaging boards). This would allow drivers to make a decision about an alternate route in advance (e.g. Clark Drive) of the Venables crossing.” No timeline for implementation has been given.

Please Report Long Road Blockages. It is illegal for a train to block a road for over 5-minutes unless it is moving continuously in one direction. But if we don't report these violations, nothing happens to stop them. So if you see any of the at-grade crossings in Strathcona blocked for more than 5-minutes by a train that is shunting or idling, note the time and please report it to Transport Canada. Use this link to find out how.

Transport Canada has been responding to our complaints (sort of), saying it is "exploring different ways to monitor the area" and that "CN is trying to resolve the problems in the area to avoid blocking crossings.” CN's plan seems likely to reduce the frequency of very long blockages at Venables, which is a good thing. However, it may increase idling and shunting north of Union Street and we’ve told Transport Canada that that’s a bad thing.