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September general meeting, LAPP, Union Street, Community Events and more

Hello, Strathcona friends and neighbours.

September's upon us, summer vacation is winding down and the kids are heading back to school. This coming Wednesday (Sept 4) we'll be holding our first SRA meeting since June. There are a number of recent community developments to discuss, and lots of news. We also have a number of community events, including a Strathcona built-form workshop with City Staff, Dance Workshops at the Ukrainian Hall, Eastside 10k Run, DTES Powwow, and this weekend marks the return of the Hawks Avenue Yard Sale, and Alley-oke! Please see community announcements below or event listings on our website strathcona-residents.org/events.

A note for beer-lovers and friends of the late Dan Small, (Dan's Homebrew) — a fitting tribute to the godfather of Vancouver's DIY Brew scene and Strathcona local: "Dan's Homebrewing Strathcona Pale Ale", on sale at select pubs like Biercraft and Alibi Room, and rumour has it, growler fills at the Parallel 49 brewery. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/08/29/bc-tribute-beer.html

Wednesday's SRA meeting will have a lot to cover, please see the agenda below.

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

In this newsletter:

• Meeting Agenda for Wednesday September 4, 7:15pm Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer
    * items are for vote

  1. Local Area Plan:
    •  City's Emerging Directions document and feedback
    •  Built Form workshop with staff September 7
    •  Other neighbourhoods, concerns with LAPPs and call for coalition *
    •   Motion to extend LAPP by 6 months *
  2. Viaducts and Eastern Core
  3. Union Street Closures *
  4. Cycling advocacy group HUB seeks more cycling routes through Strathcona/CityGate
  5. Vancouver Coastal Health strategic planning for DTES and community input *
  6. Upcoming AGM, SRA as a registered Society
  7. Safety in Strathcona
  8. Items Announcements from Floor

• Community Announcements Street Market, Alley-oke, SRA meeting, Ukrainian Dance, LAPP Built Form Workshop, Blockwatch Crime Prevention Summit, Eastside 10k Run, DTES Powwow (details below)

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Meeting Agenda for Wednesday September 4, 7:15pm Strathcona Community Centre, 601 Keefer

Local Area Plan

Earlier in August, the City presented two open houses, detailing "Emerging Directions" in the Local Area Plan for the DTES (including Strathcona). These emerging directions proposes some wide ranging development directions and change for the DTES, and particularly this neighbourhood (download the 20MB pdf of the City's open house boards here). Beyond the content of these emerging directions, there remain some wide-ranging concerns about the process which seem to be coming less from the volunteer resident committee and more from the planning department.

City's Emerging Directions document and feedback
The SRA council have had an opportunity to review some of the "unfiltered" feedback from the open houses and surveys. While there was some support for the direction (25%) the majority of respondents did not support (39%), supported but with refinements (31%) or were not sure(5%).
Some of the most consistent comments and concerns include:

• Concerns over height and density rezoning for the sub area being referred to as "Main & Hastings" (Hastings, from Abbott to Heatley) which call for dense, up to 12 story towers geared towards low-income singles.
• Concerns over height and density rezoning for the sub area being referred to as "Hastings East" (Hastings, east of Heatley) which calls up to 15 story towers.
• Concerns over height and zoning changes being proposed for Strathcona and Kiwassa.
• Concerns over lack of definition for social housing, and that not enough is being built.
• Concerns that too much low-income/low-barrier supportive housing is being proposed for the area and that the city is creating a "ghetto".
• Concerns that the City has been pandering to special interest groups over residents.

Built Form workshop with staff September 7
The City has offered to hold a workshop about the built form issues and emerging directions. The workshop would involve walking a short circle route to explore, discuss and photograph in key areas of Strathcona where emerging directions are making proposals. This would allow us to go back to the hall and workshop with everybody having shared and understood some of the ‘real life’ issues (staff included).

This workshop will take place from 10:00 - 3:30 on Saturday September 7 at the Russian Hall and presents an important opportunity for residents to provide planners with real local insight and explain any concerns over heights and the kinds of development being proposed. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to chair@strathcona-residents.org if you will be attending.

Other neighbourhoods, concerns with LAPPs and call for coalition
Earlier this month, the Grandview Woodland Area Council held an open meeting, and invited resident groups from across the city to discuss Local Area Planning. Attendees heard a litany of complaints from neighbourhoods including Grandview Woodland, Marpole, West End, DTES, Kits/Pt Grey, and Dunbar, as well as cautionary tales from Mt. Pleasant and Norquay. The common thread from all was a lack of meaningful community consultation, back-room planning, and concerns over heights and density. Further to these concerns, the SRA have been invited to join a coalition of communities, and put our heads together and possibly issue some sort of joint statement calling for "a new planning process that provides genuine collaboration between the City and the neighbourhoods". Our own experience dealing with the City over the viaducts issue, has been that working with other communities has afforded us considerable leverage and the goal of a better planning process is worth our support.

Motion to extend LAPP by 6 months
Vancouver City Councilor Adriane Carr (Green), who has been quite vocal on issues of community consultation and planning will be putting forward a motion on September 25 calling for more time and community consultation on Local Area Planning. Carr's motion is ostensibly regarding the Grandview Woodland and Marpole plans, but given that our own DTES plan is scheduled to be voted on (and presumably approved) in November, and given there still remain a number of concerns and sense that Strathcona has not been adequately consulted, given the generally unfavourable response to the DTES LAPP Emerging Directions so far, and given the extent of impact this LAPP will have on our neighbourhood it seems our local area plan is not ready, and needs more work before being approved by the majority council in November.

*Vote

1.a) 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.

1.b) That the SRA formally support Councilor 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 Strategy

Since council's June 26 approval of a further two year's study into Viaducts Removal and an Eastern Core Strategy, there has been little progress as far as actual planning, but some direction as far as procedure.

City staff have expressed a commitment with regards to our previous request for a Road Safety Audit of Prior Street, although so far we have not been able to agree on Terms of Reference. Where the City is looking more towards quantitative data (# accidents, traffic, cars, pedestrians), the SRA Council and associates are looking for more qualitative data (ie. local perception of road safety, use, access to park, etc).

Staff are still working on terms of reference for the larger stakeholder discussion on Viaducts Removal and Eastern Core Strategy, although their preponderance remains one of dividing stakeholders into two different groups. Along with our coalition allies, we are concerned this may reflect another attempt to "divide and conquer".

Union Street Closures

From Council Member Elana Zysblat:

A quick update on the City’s ‘bikeway upgrade plan' for Union Street which we have been talking about since May. To recap, this is an engineering initiative which will reduce car traffic on Union Street and change neighbourhood traffic patterns in order to upgrade the Union Street bike path to All Ages and Abilities. 

These ‘upgrades’ were proposed without consulting with local communities and will significantly impact residents, businesses and workers in Strathcona, Chinatown, Downtown East Side and False Creek. 

Although outraged citizens convinced Council at a June 12th Council Meeting to postpone this plan until the impacted community has a chance to give feedback on it, the Engineering Department failed to consult with us, or even contact us, within the time frame Council requested, and sent out Notice of Construction letters about work beginning on July 22nd. That same evening, Strathcona and City Gate residents invited Engineering staff to a meeting to try to delay construction until residents could give feedback on the plan but the request was denied.

This prompted a rally titled “City Hall is Hard of Hearing” on the 200 block of Union the morning of Tuesday, July 23rd attended by close to 100 residents from our neighbourhood and from City Gate.

Nonetheless, work has started on the bike path portion from Main westwards. Union Street is now permanently closed to cars from Main to Expo Blvd as part of the plan (see plan here).

We still expect to hear from City staff regarding community consultation for Union Street east of Main. Work should not start on this part of the bike path until  consultation happens. Our alternate community plan, involving the input of local stakeholder groups and the SRA executive can be found here: bikepathforeveryone.ca

Given the City's worrisome lack of transparency, consistency and providing of crucial data in this process, SRA Executive Council is proposing the idea of requesting 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). There may be a cost involved but we feel at this point that this is the only efficient way of entering into consultation with the City.

*Vote

2) 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), and allocate reasonable and modest funds as might be applicable.

Cycling advocacy group HUB seeks more cycling routes through Strathcona / CityGate

We have received the following (paraphrased) note from HUB who will be lobbying the City for a new bike route on National (note, this citizen's initiative is separate from the City's proposed cycling improvements for Keefer, Georgia, Pender, Glen, Princess and Gore outlined in the LAPP document). From HUB's Clark Nikolai:

"The gist of it is that we consider it a commuting route which doesn't necessarily need to be AAA as there is Union Street not far. This can compliment that route for the more confident...We see the need for some separation from the Seawall to Main [on National] because of motor traffic. We are suggesting having a path on the edge of the park and a bike corral on the corner of the [Thorton] park for visitors to the park and the farmer's market.

The route would go along National east to Chess then north the [Strathcona] park. We're suggesting a new path along the edge of the park to connect to Raymur and Campbell... We're suggesting off shoots to Union at Jackson. Also that the new Trillium park should have separate cycling and walking paths on the west edge of it to connect to Jackson. (In general we recommend against mixing walking and cycling together as they're usually at different speeds.) Also a cycle path on the west edge of the tennis courts. (We noticed the narrow strip there being used to cycle on during our ride.). National itself from Station to Chess is wide enough to have a two-way separated cycle path on it quite easily and cheaply. .. The bit of Raymur between Union and Prior is wide and undeveloped and could have a two-way cycle path on the west side to cross Prior and go to the park. We're suggesting a two-way cycle path on the east edge of the park between the curb and the line of trees. This could then curve around somehow to connect at Chess and Malkin."

Vancouver Coastal Health strategic planning for DTES and community input

The Governing Health Authority, Vancouver Coastal Health has released a new strategic plan for the DTES:
A Second Generation Health System Strategy for Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
(link). The report has been criticized by a number of local service agencies and community groups as being "more of the same" ; too narrow in focus and failing to consider the holistic health needs of the entire community, including primary care for children, families and seniors. Indeed, the VCH strategy could loosely be summarized by the statement: "...we believe it’s important to maintain a concentration of community-based mental health, addiction and primary care services in the DTES." (p.12).

The papers authors further concede: "This strategy has been shaped directly by our senior team, staff and [VCH funded] service partners". This point, and lack of consultation with local residents give us concern that VCH is creating public policy without the necessary due diligence. We also are concerned that this planning is being conducted concurrently but independently of the DTES LAPP.

The SRA Executive have reviewed the VCH material, as well as a response letter being circulated by the Inner City Safety Society and others. While we appreciate the ICSS initiative, the council feel that as a residents' association - we aren't qualified or positioned to support some of the more pointed references to best practices, health outcomes, VCH track record, etc. Nonetheless, we do feel it is important to formally comment on the VCH strategic direction for the DTES, and specifically it's failure to consider or engage with the holistic needs of the larger community and beyond their own partnerships.

*Vote

3) That the SRA send an appropriate response regarding the VCH Second Generation document, outlining some of the aforementioned concerns

Upcoming AGM, SRA as a registered Society

From SRA Secretary, Gordon Roe:

We have been working on registering the SRA as a society. The name Strathcona Resident's Association has been purchased, and we now have an official mailing address c/o the SCC. John and Gordon will be working on making sure the constitution and bylaws we distributed earlier meet legal requirements before formally submitting them by the end of October.

Once this is all done, the SRA will have more stability and political credibility, and be better positioned to apply for grants, conduct advocacy, or whatever else the organization decides to pursue. We will also be required to function according to our bylaws and constitution, keep records of our meetings and and file the usual paperwork with Victoria annually.

Our AGM will be held at October's meeting, anyone interested in running for executive council may consider making a advance submission at this month's meeting.

Safety in Strathcona

Despite the recent frightening random attack on a young woman in our neighbourhood, Strathcona remains a pretty safe neighbourhood. Nonetheless, we do live in a challenged urban environment with a history of violence, particularly against women. We'll check in and see how people are feeling, and what we as a community might do to improve safety.

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.

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Community Announcements
Events around the neighbourhood and further details can always be found on our events page:

  • SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013
    STRATHCONA HAWK STREET MARKET

    Everyone Welcome! Buy! Sell! Trade!
    Strathcona Community & Friends gather together to share bazzar treasures of collectibles, clothing, jewelry, preserves, books, bikes, clothing,vintage, art, records, furniture, novelties and plenty more!
    A $5 vendor donation fee is suggested. For further information please contact: strathconamarket@gmail.com
    * Roberta Robertson will be running a booth to benefit the Strathcona Community Centre, if you are interested in donating items, please get in touch: roberta@shaw.ca

  • SATURDAY, AUGUST 31, 2013
    Alley-oke!
    Karaoke in the alley!
    5 - 10pm, the alley east of Hawks, between Georgia and Union

  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2013
    General Meeting: Strathcona Residents' Association

    First Meeting back from summer - lots to discuss! - 7:15, 601 Keefer Street

  • SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2013
    Dance Registration at the Ukrainian Hall

    Dance programs at 805 East Pender, http://www.auucvancouver.ca

  • SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2013
    Local Area Planning : Workshop on Built Form

    Proposed heights and densities along Hastings and how they relate to Strathcona
    City staff will be facilitating a workshop to discuss neighbourhood feelings and perspectives on some of the proposed heights and densities in their recent emerging directions document. This will be a full day workshop, from 10 - 3:30.
    If you are interested in more info or wish to RSVP: chair@strathcona-residents.org
    Russian Hall on Campbell (upstairs)

  • WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2013
    2013 VPD Block Watch Crime Prevention Summit

    Sponsored by Vancouver Police Department, open to all residents, must register by September 9.
    Event takes place in Marpole.

  • SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2013
    Eastside 10k Run

    Charity Run through Gastown, DTES and Strathcona

  • SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2013
    DTES Powwow & Cultural Celebration

    3rd Annual Honouring Our Elders Powwow in the DTES

  • FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2013
    Open Rehearsal with Dovbush Dancers

    Discover the athleticism, precision and emotion of Ukrainian Folk-Stage dance.

  • SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2013
    AUUC School of Dance Open House

    Experience for yourself the joy and artistry of Ukrainian Dance!