April 2021 Newsletter
April 29, 2021
|SRA APRIL 2021 NEWSLETTER|
The May SRA Meeting will be Monday, May 3, at 7 PM via Zoom. We’ll send out a link and agenda to all SRA Members on Monday. If you’re not a member yet, you can sign up here. Joining the meeting will be Donnie Rosa from the Park Board, Sandra Singh from the City of Vancouver and Stephanie Allen from BC Housing to answer questions about the closing of the encampment.
In the last three days, 100 people living in the camp have been offered and accepted housing. BC Housing expects to offer housing to everyone in the camp by the Friday, April 30 deadline. The majority of this housing is at the recently acquired Patricia Hotel and Ramada Inn, but this is only part of a larger strategy by BC Housing to address homelessness city-wide and provide permanent housing for people in need. Here’s a full list of the 1700 supportive housing units that have already – or will soon – become available throughout the city.
The SRA has had direct conversations with Housing Minister David Eby and BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay. We’ve expressed concerns that housing alone is not a sufficient solution. They’ve told us that anyone experiencing homelessness is being individually assessed to determine appropriate, dignified, safe housing; that this housing will include OD prevention, safe supply, and mental health services. Accommodations are being made to house family cohorts together, provide storage, and allow pets (the SPCA is working with people in the camp to provide training and pet support). BC Housing has also set up a dedicated website for updates. CBC News recently reported that aggressive efforts to vaccinate people living in the DTES have achieved significant herd immunity from CoVid.
The expectation is that anyone genuinely in need of housing will be provided housing by April 30, at which time the support services in the park (warming tent, showers, washrooms) will be closed. Donnie Rosa, Park Board GM, will then take whatever measure she deems appropriate to wrap up what remains of the camp and enforce Park Board by-laws.
Residents also met last week with Park Board staff about what happens next. Their plan is to clean up and remediate the east side of the park within 4-6 weeks and then begin programming to reactivate it as soon as June. Details to come.
Beyond that, Park Board planners have begun the conversation about re-imagining the park as an inviting green space for all residents. We’ll be sending out a survey to get your ideas in a few weeks. For inspiration, check out Pandora Park in Hastings/Sunrise just northwest of Hastings and Nanaimo.
PRIOR ST. / HOSPITAL TRUCKS
We had a conversation on April 28 with city engineering about Prior St. improvements and hospital truck routes. The good news is that the long-promised bump-outs and turquoise crosswalks should finally be happening in the next month, just in time for the re-activation of Strathcona Park.
The bad news is that Prior St. is being recommended as an alternate truck route for the expected 500+ trucks a day coming and going from the hospital site. The primary route will be Terminal, with Great Northern Way as a second alternate. Malkin and National are not even options (though the City Council motion said they would be). After all the effort we’ve made to calm Prior and recover the park, this would be a big setback. This plan is not cast in concrete yet, but if you’d like to speak up before it is, please send an e-mail to the folks below expressing your concern. Now is the time your opinion can most influence the outcome.