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Prior Street, Viaducts Removal and Notes from March 6 Meeting

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.
A break from protocol here to report back on last night's SRA meeting, and inform you of an
important planning event to develop our community action and repsonse
to City Council and the Viaducts Removal plan, next Wednesday.

As members will be aware, The SRA have engaged a number of community partners to advocate for traffic calming of Prior Street and the adjacent neighbourhoods as part of any Viaducts Removal scheme (You can read our letter to Mayor and Council here).

As of last night, we have yet to hear back from City Staff, Mayor or Council with regards to our five clear demands for traffic calming as conditions of viaducts removal, specifically:

  1. Establish a 30 kilometre zone on Prior through residential Strathcona.
  2. Reduce Prior to two lanes of traffic flow, through either full time parking or a separated bike lane
  3. Move truck traffic to Malkin / National; facilitate additional flow by moving one of Malkin's two lanes of 24 hour dedicated parking to Prior.
  4. Physically limit the six lanes of Pacific and/or Prior east of Quebec, until such a time as an Eastern Core strategy is developed.
  5. Dedicate immediate resources to the development of an Eastern Core Strategy; monitor and consult with affected communities before, during and after Viaducts removal.

Last night's meeting saw unanimous support for a strong, timely and decisive community response to the viaducts removal and development of NE False Creek lands. Vancouver City Council is set to vote on viaducts removal in a matter of weeks, as soon as April 9th!

This is a call-out to the community to muster all hands and help us send a very clear message. Please join us for an important planning event to develop our community action and response to City Council and the Viaducts Removal plan:

Wednesday March 13, 7:15 at the Strathcona Community Centre

Please feel free to email ideas and suggestions in advance of next week's meeting.
Please spread the word, tell your friends and neighbours:
download, print and share the poster here (450kb PDF).

see you Wednesday!
Pete Fry - Chair,
on behalf of Strathcona Residents' Association Council

(last night's meeting minutes are below)

PS Don't forget about some of the great upcoming community events like:

PPS. We have been getting emails about a number of daylight coyote sightings in the neighbourhood lately, apparently as far north as Cordova - owners of small pets should be cautious and vigilant.

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Meeting Minutes March 6 - Viaducts Removal, Prior Street and more

Wednesday March 6, 7:15pm at the Strathcona Community Centre

Welcome from council
- Elana introduced the council and asked new attendees to identify themselves. New residents and representatives from several organizations whose interests coincide with those of the SRA identified themselves and were welcomed.

February SRA minutes approved

Report on Council's February meeting
Attending roundtables from the LAPP
Sent a letter on SRA concerns about Prior (distributed via email earlier)
Working on a new constitution for the SRA

Committee and Reports

Zoning Cmtee
Reviewed one development application from Sacred Heart Church to renovate a former school building for other purposes. Zoning opposed the application. Concerned about the large and vague description of purposes the building would be used for. Renovations of resizing rooms and the construction of a large commercial kitchen required more detail. Exterior would be modified and delete a lot of heritage features. Sacred Heart wrote a letter explaining their intent and several members of the parish attended to clarify their plans.
Letter stated that Sacred Heart wanted to renovate the building to accommodate programs which would dovetail with and not duplicate existing neighborhood services. A speaker from Sacred Heart addressed Zoning concerns: existing food distribution programs elsewhere would not be moved here; there were no undisclosed plans for use of the building; want to retain its use in support of current church activities (events, weddings, etc); want to serve the parish needs as they are, as well as make it available for neighborhood uses; designed to be as flexible as possible; made exterior changes to make the building more useful, increase natural light, etc; has worked with the City to meet their requirements, which imposed some of those changes and ambiguity in their application. Ended with invitation to a rep from SRA to work with Sacred Heart in the process of application and renovation.

Film Cmtee (no report)

Parks Board/SRA's relationship with SCC
Jodi reported that the Parks Board has backed down on many of the concerns and SCC is feeling more hopeful about retaining its programs.

LAPP Committee Reports
Pete gave summary of LAPP discussions to date, no resolution on Hastings Corridor but continuing to advance SRA's position.

Bike Path
We have received a number of concerned emails from residents about Vancouver's Cycling Advocacy group HUB calling for cyclists to be allowed "rolling stops" and what that might mean for pedestrian safety in already dangerous intersections like Hawks and Union, we'll update on the intersection repair progress and the HUB directive. Read the Province article here.
Motion (from Pete) for letter asking for changes
"In light of low cyclist compliance, that the SRA supports a special crosswalk and stopsign designation as seen in school zones, etc. as part of a larger pedestrian safety strategy along the Union Street /Adanac Bikeway" — moved by Rick Archambault, seconded by Jack Fraser, carried unanimously
(example of special crosswalk/stop sign combination can be found here)

Seismic Upgrades for Strathcona Elementary School
A brief presentation from Roberta Robertson (who, oddly, has no children) on the long-awaited and oft-promised seismic upgrades for Strathcona Elementary School. While other Vancouver-area schools are seemingly being prioritized, our 100 year old school and 500+ students are not.
Discussed various incomplete plans being presented, all of which seem to be ways of putting us off.
How can we push this forward and possible leverage the upcoming provincial election to see some results? Join Lord Strathcona Facebook group, sign petition here or online, write letters to various politicians. Contact roberta@shaw.ca to find out more.

Neighbourhood Small Grants
Vancouver Foundation Neighbourhood Small Grants application deadline is March 31st, 2013. These community grant provide up to $1000 in individual small grants to help connect and engage residents in their community by encouraging them to come up with their own ideas for how their neighbourhood could be strengthened. Apply online

Viaducts Removal and Prior Street. * *
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.
Graham described his discussions with the City. Attended a Grandview Woodlands council meeting, who wrote their own letter supporting the SRA's position, both concerned that the 'stakeholders process' has been introduced but never followed up. The City is playing games, changing the rules, playing parties against each other, changing the time-line from urgent to slow to urgent again, reserving flexible positions for itself and demanding fixed positions from us, manipulate terms of reference, wanting decisions on viaducts immediately but refusing to discuss Eastern Core plans now, present firm and final plans which they describe disingenuously as concepts in process, and on. The process is broken. Urges the SRA to push aggressively to get the City to take our concerns seriously and give us a serious part in their plans for Prior.

Pete described the response to our letter as somewhat angry concern- not for our points but for the apparent opposition. City feels that the time to remove the viaducts is now, before major developers they have already approved begin building around it. They feel we should agree with this now, and promised consultation on emerging issues later.

Central question: is the removal of the viaducts worthwhile in and of itself, or is intersecting Strathcona with a highway a deal-breaker for us?

Comment that City politicians may be in a hurry for particular reasons. They want this solved now, so they can trumpet it in the next election. If it isn't quickly resolved they don't want to have the potential controversy in the election and so will put it off for at least another year.

Comment
that the idea of 'viaducts now without consultations, and eastern core with consultations later' is part of a very persistent City strategy of getting a foot in the door and using 'consultations' to drag out and discourage possible opposition while they move that foot forward.

Comment
on where the Port is going to place overpasses and whether they could be potential allies in trying to calm Prior, since increased car traffic is not a good thing for their train traffic.

Suggestion
that we initially focus on the 'weakest link', which is politician’s fear of controversy. Then look at emphasizing potential pollution issues on the land in question, which would then put pressure on the City by way of Provincial environ legislation. Target Jenny Kwan and the NDP, since they could be the next government. Target not only Mayor, but also Council.

Suggestion
that we use the LAPP, and refuse to let the process end until it has actually produced a consultative plan.

Suggestion
that we go public with the games City is playing, find out how many other communities are being played and make it a political embarrassment.

Suggestion
that we start a campaign to ‘Save the Viaduct’, possibly as the new home for the gardens, to attack by parody the City’s position. Concern that this could be misinterpreted/misrepresented as our actual position and result in our being even more ignored

Suggestion
that we concentrate on the politicians, developers, and board of trade, and how they see this as fundamental to increase of property values, trade and tax revenue, without reference to quality of life.

Suggestion
that we make a Critical Mass type protest, fill Prior with slow traffic and pedestrians. Keep doing it.

Suggestion
that all residents on Prior put up simple signs to large illuminated signs in their front yard protesting increase traffic decides

Agree to meet here every Wednesday to organize response, because we only have a month before the Council. See you next Wednesday, same time, same place. Tell your friends, let’s get a big crowd to make our action count.

Close of meeting 9:10Pm