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November 2020 Newsletter

Bravo to the many neighbours who kept Halloween alive and safe in this most challenging of years. We loved the creativity on display.

The SRA held its AGM on November 4, 2020 via Zoom. Here's a link to the minutes. We discussed what we’d accomplished in 2020 and what our plans are for 2021. Elected to the board were Maureen Teaham, Richard Taplin, Trefor Smith, Katie Lewis, Andrea Kastanis, Dan Jackson, Ghazal Arefi.

GOALS FOR 2021

It’s going to be a long winter. Getting involved is a great way to stay connected with the wider community. If any of the projects below interest you, contact us at: sra@strathcona-residents.org.

DTES Working Group: Regardless of what happens with the camp in Strathcona Park, we would like to continue being part of the conversation about how best to address the combined and persistent issues of addiction/mental health and homelessness. If enough folks are interested, we set up a Zoom meeting to discuss what that might look like.

Strathcona Park Working Group: We are setting up a new working group to focus on not just restoring Strathcona Park, but to re-imagining it as a park for residents: families, kids, seniors, dogs, etc. We will be sending out a survey to members later this month and will set aside time at our December meeting to hear your ideas.

Inclusiveness Initiative: We want to make a concerted effort to invite all residents to join the SRA so that we can better understand and collaborate on issues that impact us as a community. We are looking for individuals to help us build bridges to individuals in those sub-communities: Chinese-speaking residents, Indigenous neighbours, residents in social housing, families, renters, newcomers, refugees, etc.

SRA Website: We’re in the process of rebuilding our website using WordPress. The goal is to make it much more user friendly and useful for getting updates, connecting to community groups, posting events, and accessing local resources. We need volunteers who can use WordPress and Elementor. We’re also looking for photos of Strathcona, past and present.

Air Quality. We invite residents to get involved in our Community Air Quality Monitoring Project which will be happening from December to March next year. We need people to do research and circulate surveys. See more info below.

• We are always willing to help residents launch and lead projects that improve the community. If you have one, let us know.

WOMEN-ONLY PERSONAL SAFETY WORKSHOP: Nov 25. 6-8 PM

The Community Policing Services Unit and Block Watch, in partnership with our Strathcona, Grandview-Woodland, Chinatown and Vancouver Aboriginal Community Policing Centres are hosting another personal safety workshop for women living and working in the Strathcona area. This interactive workshop will feature a personal safety demonstration by VPD’s women tactical training specialists, building upon the personal safety knowledge and practices that many women already follow, and will provide an opportunity for feedback from police experts in the field. No prior experience required. To register, e-mail info@strathconacpc.ca or phone 604-717-0622

 

CAMP KT UPDATE

Here’s an update on Camp KT from Paul Mochrie, Deputy City Manager:

As directed by Council, our staff have identified several properties that can accommodate people who are currently experiencing homelessness in either congregate or single unit settings. We are expediting the negotiation of terms for the lease or purchase of those properties for approval by Council and to develop plans for activation of these facilities, including securing one or more non-profit operators.

As you may be aware, the federal government recently announced an opportunity for Vancouver to secure up to $51.5M to fund the creation of housing for people experiencing homelessness. Staff are finalizing the required application to access that funding for acquisition of one or more of the properties referenced above; that application will be submitted to CMHC before the end of November. In its resolution adopted on October 8, Council also identified up to $30M in capital contributions from the City for this purpose.

The City is also reaching out to the incoming provincial government and to BC Housing regarding funding to support the cost of operating these new facilities.

In the immediate term, staff from the City, Park Board and BC Housing are continuing to examine potential measures to address deteriorating conditions in the Strathcona Park encampment, including support for efforts by individuals in the camp to address the accumulation of debris and abandoned material.

We certainly appreciate the fact that residents are looking for tangible progress on this issue.

The SRA remains frustrated that the Provincial government has yet to publicly take a leadership role. Since the elections were called, they have remained absent from the table. We have been pushing Premier Horgan to put someone in charge of addressing the combined issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health either by creating a dedicated ministry or at least a Vulnerable Population Task Force. Here’s a link to our recent letter to Premier Horgan. We encourage you to send your own thoughts. Here's his e-mail: premier@gov.bc.ca

PRIOR STREET UPDATE

The Prior Street Working Group held a meeting on Nov. 12 with City Manager Sadhu Johnson, G.M. of Engineering Lon LeClaire and the city staff who are working on calming Prior and designing the underpass. Now that BC Hydro has finished street work, the city is planning to install bump outs at Heatley and Dunleavy, and jersey barriers between Campbell and Raymur to restrict traffic to a single lane through the neighbourhood. We agreed to set up a quarterly meeting between our working group and high level engineering staff to review evolving designs for the underpass, the downgrade of Prior, the “Great Street” treatment, the re-routing of truck traffic and eventual closure of Hawks.

And the winning Hawks crosswalk colour: turquoise.

AIR QUALITY MONITORING PROJECT

Our Community-Driven Air Quality Monitoring project officially kicked off Nov. 12 when members of our AQ Working Group met with air quality experts from Metro Vancouver, UBC, Vancouver Coastal Health and the Port’s environmental team to start the discussion about what the project might look like. Can we establish a baseline to measure pollution as port traffic increases? What should we be measuring? Where should we be measuring it? How do similar community-led projects in cities in the U.S. and Europe work? (As far as we know, this is the first such project in Canada).

An advanced AQ Monitoring Station is set to go into MacLean Park early next year. The Port seems willing to fund portable AQ monitoring technology so that we can compare levels nearer to transport corridors (like the tracks and Clark) and vulnerable populations (like schoolyards and senior homes). Residents who are citizen-scientists are welcome to get involved.