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SRA Newsletter: November 2019

Thursday, October 31, 2019
Prior Street Rally

We’ll be holding our annual AGM on Weds. Nov. 6, from 7-9 PM at the Strathcona Community Centre. Currently, on the agenda:

  • The election of a board of directors for 2019-20
  • A discussion of the recent City Council resolution on Prior St.
  • A follow up to last month’s Air Quality Forum
  • An update on the Burrard Rail line
  • A discussion about the uptick in burglaries and other crimes in the area 

Please e-mail us if you'd like to add anything.

SRA BOARD ELECTIONS

We’ll be holding elections for the 2019-20 SRA Board of Directors. Running are Ghazal Arefi, Tom Cummins, Dan Jackson, Kate Lewis, Wilson Liang, Trefor Smith and Richard Taplin. If you are interested in running, please contact us before the Weds. meeting.

 

THE FUTURE OF PRIOR ST.

First, a big round of applause to all the residents who came out for the rally, wrote to or spoke before City Council and stood up for the hood. A special thanks to Penny Crawford who did a brilliant job as spokesperson and Allison Murray for coordinating our media campaign.

For those of you not up to speed, on October 2 & 3, City Council debated and voted on where to put the False Creek Flats Arterial and rail crossing. City staff presented their Report which recommended an underpass on Prior - versus the National-Charles option chosen by the Community Panel. City Council ultimately agreed, but also sympathized with our long desire to calm Prior.

The result was a resolution approving an underpass on Prior that included a long list of amendments directing staff to work with the neighbourhood to find ways to reduce traffic volume and speed, to redesign Prior as a collector street, to improve access to the park, to consider decommissioning Hawks Ave. between Prior and Malkin and to invest in upgrading the park and other community facilities. So our efforts were not in vain.

The question that remains is: Will any of this ever happen? Can anything be seriously done to calm Prior as long as the viaducts are feeding traffic to and from downtown? Is the City genuinely committed to working with residents to calm Prior?

So far, we’re cautiously optimistic.

On Weds. Oct 30, a working group from the SRA (Richard Taplin, Dick Heloffs, Kate Walker) met with City Manager Sadhu Johnson and a team from engineering. We walked up and down Prior brainstorming what could be done both short term and longer-term. Among the many relatively low cost quick fixes discussed were restoring all-day parking on both sides of the street, reducing (and enforcing) the speed limit along the park to 30 kph, adding brighter speed signs, installing temporary bump-outs at intersections, restricting access to Hawks to re-route truck traffic, and working with local artists to re-design crosswalks and signage to send the message that Prior is a local street. Longer term, the City's goal, once the viaducts come down and the hospital goes up, is to completely re-design Prior using the Great Streets design principles. Permanent bump-outs, new and improved traffic lights, repaving, improving the sidewalks, etc. All requiring a capital budget, but the City acknowledges that it saved millions not building National-Charles.

What makes me optimistic is that the City wants to roll out the first phase of this plan as soon as January 2020. The engineering team will report back to us by the end of the year with a list of both short and long term improvements. Stay tuned.

 

AIR QUALITY

On Sept. 29, the SRA held an Air Quality Forum that featured expert speakers from UBC and Metro Vancouver to discuss the expected increase in already high levels of air pollutants once the expanded Centerm Port comes online. The Forum was organized and led by SRA Board Member Trefor Smith.

To follow-up, the SRA is forming a new Air Quality Working Group. The goal of the group will be to develop local-based expertise on this issue, to become aware of and involved in the monitoring of local air quality and to act as our advocates with the various levels of government. If you're interested in getting involved, e-mail us.

For a primer on our air pollution problem, read these recent news articles:

 

TRAINS

The Prior Street decision removes a major hurdle for the doubling of the Burrard Inlet Line and the eventual closure of the rail crossings at Powell, Raymur, Union and Parker Streets, expected to happen as soon as 2021. At the upcoming Wednesday meeting, Su-Laine Brodsky will give a brief update on where things are at after the CTA mediation agreement and formation of the South Shore Community Liaison Committee.

CRIME

We've been hearing anecdotally about an alarming increase in home burglaries and violent crime in and around our neighbourhood. To find out what's going on - and what we can do about it - David Vogt, from the Strathcona Community Police Centre and (hopefully) Constable Janine Tanino, with lead a discussion at the upcoming meeting.

Hope to see you there.