During our SRA meeting in November 2016, we had a chance to meet with the City of Vancouver's Public Engagement team to express our thoughts, concerns and needs for Union Street as a gateway for residents, pedestrians, cyclists, local services and motorists. We have distilled our opinions and communicated those to the City during the last months.
During the last weeks, some of you will have received a notification in your mailboxes about the changes to Union Street the City of Vancouver is proposing. For information on the complete plan, please see here: http://vancouver.ca/file
During our upcoming SRA meeting in the Strathcona Community Centre on February 1st, 2017 at 7pm, the Transportation Planning team of Ross Kenny and Linsday Neufeld will be back to share with us this proposal. It appears that some of these proposed plans are aligned with the very same changes our community already rejected in 2013 and do not consider our community's call for a safer coexistence of bikes, pedestrians and drivers. Especially in the light of frequent road closures due to enhanced rail traffic, a concern is that the plan does nothing to slow down bikers who aim to make up for lost time waiting while traveling on Union Street. Another concern entails the lack of proposed education and monitoring of cyclist behaviour in regards to traffic laws. And finally, the request to preserve street parking on Union Street could not be accommodated for all Union Street residents with the proposed plan.
For more background information about our history with the City of Vancouver in regards to the bike path through our community, please refer to:
Update on Strathcona Community Police Centre
- Ross Kenny - short presentation of latest plans
- Questions & comments from the floor
Welcome - 7:15pm Start
- Request to fill out the attendance sheet and note how you heard about the meeting - goal is to determine avenues to best reach community: Newsletter via email, flyers, website, word of mouth or other routes.
- Notice of media presence in regards to discussion of increased CN Rail Traffic. Nobody present indicated conflict about being filmed.
- Introduction to City of Vancouver planners and Park Board Members: Megan Herod, Cory Dobson, Tom Wanklin, Senior Planner for the Flats, Carol Kong, Transportation Engineer and Parks Board Staff Member.
- Capturing presence of SRA members by showing of hands for streets on which residents live.
- MLA Melanie Mark also present.
Update on SRA Council
- Board update: Sholto and Alex have stepped down. Four members now: Dan, Wilson, Charis, Matthew.
- Prior Safety (Dick): Speed reader board identified in S-shaped part of Prior today.
- Recap of December 2016 SRA meeting. Spoke about community’s priorities for 2017. Responses shared in the minutes of the last SRA Newsletter. Included health & safety concern in community, Viaduct/Prior Street plans, Hastings corridor developments, new hospital, Chinatown connection & support for their community, Union Street bike path, maintaining neighbourhood character, affordable rentals/housing, improved community representation and diversity in the SRA, need for increased number of volunteers to become experts, reps and committee members on key topics. Today’s meeting will focus on learning about the CoV’s plans in regards to the Prior/Venables replacement.
- Recap of November 2016 SRA meeting. Summary of our community’s Union bike path statement has been sent to the City of Vancouver planners. They will be in touch with us again in early January about our proposals and next steps (Dan).
- Provision of assistance for snow removal in Strathcona. We would like to assist seniors and people with limited mobility in our community with snow removal on sidewalks in front of their homes and/or on paths towards their amenities. Sign-up sheet passed around for members to indicate if they are in need of assistance or able to offer help. Plan to match both parties. Reminder to all residents to clear the sidewalk around their properties of snow and ice by 10am every day as outlined per Section 76 of our Street and Traffic Bylaw. Community indicated difficulty accessing salt through the fire halls located in other communities. Request for the CoV to supply salt through firehall No. 1 on 900 Heatley Street (Charis).
- Increased train traffic of Burrard inlet rail line. SRA received notification on 2017-01-01 that six trains per day will be using the Burrard inlet rail line through Strathcona, taking effect immediately. Process involves the assembly of long trains and arterial traffic along Prior Street being blocked. Resultant traffic pattern has lead to increased traffic throughout Strathcona since drivers attempt to cross the rail at other intersections, as well as speeding and running of red lights while trying to make up for lost time waiting at the crossing. The City of Vancouver has not been informed about this new change either, making it a federal issue. The community required improved traffic management as a result and thorough hazard assessment and disclosure of the materials transported throughout the residential neighbourhood. Proposal to put forward a committee to request more accountability from CN Railway, determine next steps and contact federal policy makers. Revisit this motion at the end of the meeting since False Creek Flats plans are interlinked with the railways (Pete).
- Q: What is the scale of the train traffic increase in comparison to its previous usage? A: The line was only used occasionally in the past and will involve six trains at any time of the day going forward, including nights.
- Survey on need for local retail services. A survey funded by the City of Vancouver was launched last year to investigate the kind of retail and economic developments we would like to see in our community. The survey is carried about by the Downtown Eastside Community Economic Development Strategic Action Committee. Printed copies were handed out for attendants to complete if they haven’t done so already. Findings of the Downtown Eastside Community Retail Research Forum from this survey will be presented on January 18th 4:00-6:00 PM at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall Street in Chinatown (Pete).
- Upcoming Healthy Communities Conversation. During the November 2016 meeting, a motion was passed for the introduction of safe injection sites into our community. On January 19th, we will have a panel discussion about the upcoming change and implications to our community from the perspectives of Vancouver Coastal Health, the Police Department and other stakeholders. We invite the community to join this dialogue at the Strathcona Community Centre, Senior’s Room, at 6pm.
Main Topic: Presentation by City of Vancouver on Prior/Venables Replacement
- Prior/Venables Replacements is ultimately tied into plans for the False Creek Flats and also the above-mentioned rail traffic by CN Railways.
- Open house scheduled by the City of Vancouver for January 25th, at 231 Industrial Avenue from 5-8pm to obtain more information. Possibility also to sign up for Newsletter on their website.
- The plan for the False Creek Flats seeks to unlock the economic potential of the area by creating a more productive, sustainable and integrated False Creek Flats.
- Five keys to unlock the potential: spaces (create flexible and adaptable work spaces to meet the needs of current and future businesses), places (develop a network of public places), environment (healthy resilient environment), connections (between people and places) and programs.
- Ten key moves for False Creek Flats:
- Ensure long-term viability of rail – desire to support the growth of the port to keep containers off the streets
- Connection to and through the flats (especially bikes)
- Leverage key institutional anchors (hospital, Emily Carr)
- Create amenity rich public nodes (services, businesses, restaurants) – cluster them arounds the heritage buildings and arts spaces
- Intensify employment and industrial work
- Build a greener more resilient flats – tie together parks, bring water back into flats
- Secure and strengthen food and culture – expansion of foods and arts economy: community gardens, produce wholesalers on Malkin, food processing, beer, art studios and large-scale industrial-production of arts that cannot be executed in residential areas
- Innovative housing opportunities – South of Atlantic: transition of residential/industrial between Atlantic and Malkin, supporting artist housing, provision of rental properties
- Support new and existing businesses – work with economic development plan
- Tie these above pieces together – pedestrian loop, trace along the old mud land paths
- Prior/Venables Replacement
- Previous developments:
- Oct 2015 – council directed staff to identify a replacement for Prior/Venables
- March 2016 – staff presented two leading alternatives: Malkin Avenue and National Avenue
- Malkin: impacts to Cottonwood Gardens, impacts to produce row businesses, requires investment for impact mitigation
- National: more expensive than Malkin
- Other option: Williams Street
- No decision made yet – further engagement required and identification of mitigation strategies
- Involvement of park board processes: establishm project team/issue RFP, undertake impact analysis, develop mitigation strategies, develop conceptual plans
- Involvement of City-led processes:
- Engineering: Establish project team/issue RFP → William St concept design → mitigation strategy related tasks → final report drafted and report to council due in July 2017
- Planning: False Creek Flats Area Plan + Prior and Venables Replacement
- City will touch base with SRA again after impact study and presentation of mitigation strategies (i.e. to circumvent acoustic effects of traffic noise: setting up landforms, walls and vegetation to offset or ameliorate noise; to mitigate impact on tree canopy: replanting of trees and preservation; to mitigate loss of park space: spacial and qualitative evaluation of park – not just 1:1 replacement, enhancement or renewal of park)
- Major considerations of impact assessment: increased future park use based off population growth, the removal of the viaducts and downgrading of Prior-Venables, air quality, acoustical implications, shading, impacts on current park programming and community use, park spaces and amenities, determination of loss of previous surfaces and increased impervious surfaces, impacts on tree canopies.
- Previous developments:
- Questions & Answers:
- Q: Is Williams Street an active consideration of the city right now? A: Williams Street will be designed to the same level as Malkin and National so these three options are equally considered.
- Q: What are the negative impacts claimed by stakeholders of Malkin and National? A: Malkin - impacts on produce companies and community gardens, National: price-tag ($100 mio), design-challenges.
- Q: Why are businesses considered in this decision? They may not be around as long as residential neighbourhoods. A: Businesses think they still will be there in 10-15 years. Also implications for number of jobs provided by produce row and implications for restaurants that pick up food.
- Q: Is this planning done in conjunction with long-term traffic plans for the Lower Mainland? Consultations with other groups? Planning with Province? A: Yes, the bigger picture is being considered. Consultations with Translink. They are an important stakeholder and are interested in the option of William’s Street.
- Q: What happens to traffic on streets that are crossing the railways?A: Several local streets will be closed off, e.g. Parker Street. Prior would remain open only for some of its length.
- Q: [Self-identified Malkin representative] 1100 jobs are on the line on the produce row. The city council tries to push the option of National due to militant garden community. We are a community. The city needs to consider us as such. Produce row businesses have consultants to help. Politician cannot be trusted. A: City has tried to get all stakeholders to the same table.
- Q: The increased rail traffic has also caught the city off-guard. Does this impact planning since you were previously unaware of this? A: Pushes for need to separate rail lines. No impact differences for the three options. All of them are supportable with the changes to the train traffic. City shares the concerns about the shortcutting and speed of traffic. There are Transport Canada regulations to address these new challenges.
- Q: In regards to the stakeholders the City has at its table, has the SRA been considered as a stakeholder? A: The SRA has been invited. The SRA has appointed a delegate in the past who was invited to join our meetings. The delegate is no longer attending the SRA. SRA Council: New delegate to be appointed at the end of this meeting.
- Q: This is a dog and pony show. The City does whatever they want. This is not a consultation. They will bring a Skytrain station into Strathcona, a Seawall. Taxes will increase.
- Q: The new hospital will come in and construction will increase. There will be implications for the viaduct. When are these anticipated to be completed and how these being integrated with each other? A: All three proposed options are compatible with hospital; hospital will start construction in three years maybe longer, 7 years after that to be built. Viaducts: not sure when or if they come down. Each of these items will come together. Strathcona is part of city living and in a city sector that is changing and will continue to change in the next 10 years. If you don’t pick this up, I urge you to work together as residents. The port is extending. They will need to use Burrard Line and this happened earlier than we all anticipated. The length of trains. Glen Yards: long trains get broken down into smaller ones and vice versa. This will impact your streets unless you have an overpass for the local streets. Other important part: The False Creek Flats is all about jobs not residential zoning. Prior and Venables will be downgraded. All other implications are difficult to work out. Rezoning application goes hand in hand with construction of hospital. Huge implications for neighbourhood. The hospital will include associated research laboratories, state-of-the-art health campus. Chinatown is really feeling this, too.
- Q: It is clear that Malkin is problematic for produce row, gardens, residents. Williams is not going to be popular for obvious reasons. National is expensive, economics is guiding light on this. Have you encountered any actual human problems or obstacles on National or is it purely finance-driven? A: It would involve relocating the fire training station. It would interfere with access to Trilium Park. It would look like a 1.5km ugly highway.
- Q: Have you assessed how traffic flows through our neighbourhood and how it will be impacted by trains? We need an immediate response. A: Yes, we will monitor the situation.
- Q: What are implications for rentals properties? The False Creek Flats right now features giant car dealerships in our industrial zoning which do not account for a lot of jobs. The Burrard Slopes allows mixed residential-industrial zoning. Can we see the city move to commitment towards more mixed zones? A: Yes, there is commitment toward mixed-employment zone. We are looking whether car dealerships and storage do fit with the vision for the Flats. We are not proposing residential area in the Flats. Surrounding residential properties will be enhanced by connecting neighbourhoods. Burrard Inlet is a different zone. Rail is here to stay.
- Q: Are the produce row businesses and community gardens in favour of Williams Street? How about access to them with the changes to Williams Street? A: Gardens were willing to support Williams Street. Williams doesn’t guarantee that gardens will remain untouched.
- Q: Why is the National Street option 100-200% more expensive than the other? A: Because a wider structure needs to be supported.
- Q: We should use what you already have. We don’t want to have more traffic, but better use our vehicles, not single-occupancy vehicles. We should dis-incentivise driving and make it a non-popular choice. Change behaviour to more sustainable living rather than bring change to infrastructure to accommodate non-sustainable lifestyle choices. Traffic does not flow like water. Limiting car space will result in people making different decisions: carpooling, transit, biking. A: All three arterial options discussed would accommodate equivalent traffic volumes to what Prior/Venables has been. Not a 6-lane traffic.
- Q: Williams Street hasn’t been the focus yet. What are the implications? A: It would go through Strathcona Park. Park Board and City of Vancouver tries to work together.
- Q: Concerns around how people will get out of the neighbourhood (especially Eastward). Excessive use of Campbell? Examples from other places (e.g. Grandview) show that it’s possible to shut down rail lines.
- Q: Could people get to the hospital if there was an earthquake and the viaduct was still up? Is Federal government in the driver’s seat to make the decision on what comes first? A: Viaducts coming down is being investigated. There are ongoing talks to property owners, Province. Hospital: Providence Health Care has raised money. Seismic, geological testing has been performed. Architects and geologists work together to design a provincial hospital – half is on bedrock, half will go on floating construction. Most important facilities will be on bedrock. Everything planned to a flood-control level to account for rising sea levels.
- Q: Has the False Creek Flats planning all been initiated to accommodate the trains? Do we need a rail yard in Strathcona? All Vancouver rail yards have migrated out of Vancouver. What’s the benefit of keeping the rail yard in the community? A: Rail has existed since 1911 in Strathcona. Burrard Inlet lines hasn’t been busy in the past but will be now. Rail operators tell us that they are here to stay. We have to plan with that in mind. We cannot tell them to close. We developed with the city around the rail. The development of overpasses are good since the trains will need to use their horns less, resulting in less noise implications for Strathcona. Suggestion for SRA to have a meeting with the train operators.
- Q: [Self-identified community garden representative]: Park Board needs to be a stuart of the park, it is grown into our community. We are allies with the produce row. You need to protect our space.
- Proposal to form Railway committee. Five people identified. Motion seconded by Marcia Carlyn.
Close - 9pm