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Update on Ming Sun Building, Neighbourhood Events

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Hello Friends and Neighbours,
Some community announcements and coming events, plus an update on the Ming Sun building.

Look for some important updates in the near future regarding the Strathcona/DTES Local Area Plan, including a citizen-led symposium on heights, densities and built form in lieu of our scheduled SRA meeting January 8, followed by a City-led built form study workshop regarding proposed heights and densities in the Local Area Plan on January 11. The Local Area Plan is scheduled to go before council mid-March.

Best Wishes for a Happy Holidays!

- Pete Fry, SRA Chair

In this newsletter:

  1. Update on Ming Sun Benevolent Society
  2. Community Announcements:
    • Bah! Humbug!
    • Eastside Showcase at Pat's Pub
    • Hogans Alley Holidays
    • Winter Solstice Lantern Parade
    • Jack and the Beanstalk Pantomime at the Metro Theatre

Updates on Ming Sun Benevolent Society

Last week, residents were informed of a demolition order for the 122 year old building and home to the Ming Sun Benevolent Society. As a result of community support and many impassioned letters sent to mayor and council, the City ordered a stay of demolition, which would have occured this past Monday, December 9. Unfortunately this reprieve did not spell and end to the troubles for the Ming Sun, and on tuesday night, the building was flooded under what can only be described as very suspicious circumstances.

here's my (editorialized) recap of the events:

A building purchased by gentleman seeking to develop the block is, upon occupation found to have previously undetected structural damages which precipitates in a City-ordered demolition within 24 hours. Following demolition, the brick veneer of the neighbourhing 122 year old Ming Sun building is damaged, and the city orders it vacated, displacing affordable rental space for artists and Chinese seniors. Society elders, trusting in the benevolence of the City prefer not to 'lawyer-up' and negotiate the 'old school way' on a handshake.

Over the course of the months to follow, "vandals" break into the now-vacant building to steal copper pipes and plumbing fixtures and deliberately damage the structure (punching hole in floors and support walls). On discovering the damage, Ming Sun hires security and when their limited funds run out, octogenarians are doing their own "security" in shifts. The would be developer complains of potential damages to his other adjacent property (part of a larger parcel he wishes to develop including the Ming Sun bldg). The City defers to their legal department and blames the Ming Sun elders for failing to adequately secure the building (despite chains, locks and boards). Ming Sun commissions a structural engineer who finds the building sound with the exception of the remaining brick veneer.

At a press conference December 6, concerned residents, artists, housing advocates, heritage activists as well as Japanese, First Nations, and Chinese elders tour the empty building and find it to be in good shape despite damages and removal of the plumbing (precipitating in the water being shut off). Public pressure forces City to back down on a demolition order for this last monday. Mysteriously, despite the fact that the plumbing has been removed, the water is turned back on and floods the building tuesday night. This last act has caused significant additional damage to this lovely old building and presents a difficult financial challenge to the limited resources of the Benevolent Society. The building is one of THE oldest in the City, and an important historic asset to the Japanese and Chinese communities.

The battle is not yet over and there has been considerable media attention, from as far away as Hong Kong's South China Morning Post, who put a sad personal face to the story: Outrage at demolition order for Chinese elders' Vancouver home "Distraught Chinese tenants of Vancouver benevolent home claim property developer is behind council's action to evict them".

Our friends at the Ming Sun are still hoping to save the building and will present a plan of action to the city this coming week to show their vision for the building and how they would like to work with the city in helping make it happen.

On a more personal note, Mr David Wong from the Ming Sun wrote to say how appreciative they were for the community support and the many people who took the time to write mayor and council with their concerns. He writes: "On behalf of the Ming sun, we really appreciate all the great support our many communities have come forth with. It is especially meaningful coming from Strathcona ...a Neighbourhood my family fought successfully to save. I still have proud memories of my late dad carrying my then baby brother on his shoulders in the many protests."

Special acknowledgement should also go to local residents John Atkin and John Mackie for writing a statement of historical significance and reporting this story respectively, and of course the many residents of Strathcona who wrote letters of support.

Community Announcements

Bah! Humbug!
An Eastside Adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

This year’s Bah! Humbug! features Jim Brynes as Ebenezer, alongside Downtown Eastside actors Steven Lytton and Mike Richter, and First Nation artists Margo Kane, Sam Bob and Jenifer Brousseau and special guests the-always-wonderful St. James Music Academy Children’s’ Choir. Plus!: two new songs with lyrics by DTES involved residents Patrick Foley and Leith Harris.
www.vancouvermovingtheatre.com
TONIGHT (Saturday) at 7:30pm

Eastside Showcase at Pat's Pub
Featuring classical pianist Gaye Alcott and jazz pianist Randy Doherty
Showcasing Eastside performers at 8pm. Preceding the performance, arrive early for a Christmas dinner, starting at 6pm.
– Wednesday December 18 - Pat's Pub

Hogans Alley Holidays
Businesses around Hogans Alley will be collecting food donations for the Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Programs, to help kids in our neighourhgood get a nourishing start for school. Participating businesses including The Union, Charlie & Lee, Shop//Task, Hogan's Alley Cafe, The Pie Shoppe and East of Main Cafe will be collecting dontations as well as offering special shopping discounts and holiday treats. - Shop Local!

Further details about the food security program at Strathcona from Lauren, who runs the program:
Thanks so much for thinking of us. In general, it would be great to have non-perishables that are lower in salt and sugar and high in protein, whole grains and fibre. Some examples include:
- Canned fish - Canned or dried beans and lentils - Low sodium soups - Whole wheat and whole grain pasta - Whole wheat and whole grain crackers - High fibre breakfast cereal with no or little sugar.
We run a Backpack Program which is a healthy weekend snack program that enables families that are experiencing food insecurity to bring home fresh produce and other staples on Fridays to contribute to their food supply on the weekends when other food programs in the centre and school do not run.

– Thursday December 19 til late

Jack and the Beanstalk at the Metro Theatre
Special Charter Bus and Tickets for Strathcona families
The Strathcona Community Centre is offering a special holiday treat for families, Jack and the Beanstalk at the Metro Theatre (1370 SW Marine Drive). Friday Dec 20. A chartered bus will take families to a live showing of Jack and the Beanstalk. The show starts at 7pm and the bus will leave Strathcona Community Centre at 6pm. The theatre has arranged space for our families.
Please register at the SCC front desk at 601 Keefer or call 604-713-1838.
Metro Theatre has a tradition of presenting a pantomime every year around Christmastime. Pantomimes are a British family-friendly tradition – they combine a fairy-tale story with silly song and dance numbers, as well as zany characters that interact with the audience. They’re a great introduction for children of all ages to the magic of theatre, and Metro’s been putting them on for nearly 30 years!
Thanks to the Strathcona Community Centre, Vancouver Metro Theatre and the Vancouver Sun Adopt-a-school Family Program for sharing this fun festivity. We encourage you to bring non-perishable food items for the Vancouver Food Bank, there will be containers under the trees in the lobby at the Metro.
metrotheatre.org/
Friday December 20

Winter Solstice Lantern Parade
Join a lively lantern procession led by the drums of African Crossing through the streets of Strathcona for a magical evening at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
6pm start. Come early for hot chocolate and cookies.
*Pre-parade Lantern Workshop, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Drop in and make a simple lantern to carry in the procession that leaves @ 6:00pm. Lantern can be made in as short as 30 minutes. While supplies last. $10/lantern
secretlantern.org/ – Saturday December 21