A reminder that tonight is the first of two open houses as the City presents the Local Area Plan "Emerging Directions", at the Japanese Language School, 475 Alexander 3:30-7:30.
There will be a second open house at the Strathcona Community Centre on Saturday, July 20, 601 Keefer Street, 11am - 3pm. (Chinese translation available).
These open houses are important opportunities for the community to view and comment on planning directions that will have significant impact on our neighbourhood. Staff and committee members will be on hand to answer questions and hear your comments.
Of particular interest to residents will be social and affordable housing, zoning and density changes, retail revitalization, community amenities, and crime and safety.
There are also significant changes being proposed to Hastings Street as far built form and building heights. The blocks west of Heatley (which are being rather confusingly referred to as the "Main and Hastings Area") propose up to 12 stories, the blocks east of Heatley propose up to 15 stories. While both zoning proposals proffer different kinds of housing, the proposed heights are generally quite out of scale with the established cityscape and skyline.
The LAP Emerging Directions also has a bit to say about the Transportation 2040 Plan, which stands to have significant influence on traffic in and around Strathcona, particularly Hastings, Prior and Union Street.
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On the subject of Union Street - City crews are expected to close Union Street access to Pacific Boulevard as early as next week. Crews have also closed Union Street access between Raymur and Clark and while we managed to temporarily stop them, their intent is still to close west-bound access into Strathcona at Gore.
Understandably, there is a great deal of anger and frustration over these proposals, and lack of community consultation or attendant traffic and safety risk management with regard to the thousands of trucks and cars, both commuters and locals, who use Union Street daily - and where exactly they are supposed to go once Union Street is closed to their access.
On June 15, City Council directed staff to consult with the community toward developing "suitable traffic calming between Main and Princess" on Union and report back within a month. The month deadline has come and gone, and the construction is scheduled to go ahead despite Council's direction.
There is a tentatively scheduled consultation meeting between staff and concerned residents, businesses, drivers, walkers and cyclists from Chinatown, City Gate and Strathcona on Monday July 22 at 7pm in the lobby of City Gate, 1128 Quebec Street (south corner of Quebec and National) (TBD).
The possibility of consulting with City staff on the day Union Street's construction closure is scheduled to begin has done little to dampen the enthusiasm for the City Gate - Chinatown - Strathcona multi-community rally, now (tentatively) rescheduled to Tuesday morning, July 23 at 8am.
Further details will be forthcoming, and the tone of the rally will be dependent on monday's meeting, but the rallying cry is:
"We, a multi-community and stakeholder group are tired of not being heard.
We won't accept bad, rushed planning in our City.
We live here. We work here. We want a say.
As always, we count on your volunteer efforts and enthusiasm to make this happen - if you can help out, get in touch!
Together with our friends in Chinatown, CityGate, RayCam and the DTES we'll echo the concerns of neighbourhoods throughout the city: from Point Grey to Grandview Woodland, Marpole to the West End and send a clear message demanding community involvement in neighbourhood planning.
— Pete Fry, Chair, and the SRA Executive Council