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SRA October 2020 Newsletter

Here's what's new....

The Strathcona Community Centre gym is tentatively scheduled to re-open on Tuesday, Oct 13. The Centre is already open for scheduled programs. Check out their website to learn more.

The MacLean Park Music wrapped its summer season last week with concerts by guitarist Shawn Bullshields and Sudlanda, featuring Sudanese singer and oud player Alaaeldin Abdalla. A huge thanks to Alan Zisman for organizing 44 concerts that kept music and community spirit flowing through the summer.

Thanks to all who volunteered to Adopt a Street and do clean-up once or twice a week on your block. There are still streets that need adopting. If you’re interested, email Noelle.

Halloween is coming soon, but like everything else this crazy year, it has to cope with COVID. The Strathcona BIA, SRA, SCPC, and Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre are planning to produce a safe Halloween trick-or-treat event on Saturday, October 31. Let us know what you’re planning. We’ll send out a Halloween update in late October. For now, here’s a link to the BCCDC’s recommendations.

abOUT Damn Spot: Check out the long row of hand-sewn flags hanging along the fence on Prior just east of Hawks. It’s a community art project, inspired by the encampment, led by Mira Malatestinic and the CAWN Collective. Here’s more about it. The project is still ongoing, so if you’d like to get involved, send them an e-mail.

 

PRIOR STREET IMPROVEMENTS

Between COVID and BC Hydro taking over Prior St. for much of the summer, a long list of promised improvements and calming measures remain to be addressed. Richard Taplin had an on-site meeting last Friday with a team from Engineering. Street parking will be reinstated this week. Then there needs to be road surface repairs and painting before the remaining pilot items are installed. November is given as an end date for all works planned for this year. They are fully aware of the weather risk.

Meanwhile, the underpass design and budget submission have started. We have asked for drawings of what is currently being proposed. Assurances HAVE BEEN given that the neighbourhood will be consulted. Measures to control traffic rat-running through Glen and Campbell especially during rail crossing closures are scheduled to be done in 2021 using Neighbourhood Traffic Management (NTM) program funding.       

 

STRATHCONA PARK ENCAMPMENT

First, thanks to all who attended last week’s protest and to the Safe Homes For All organizers who spent many hours pulling it together.

In the last few weeks, the situation in the camp has deteriorated. 

“There’ve been endless little campfires in the tents, there’ve been endless fights, pepper spray every day on people,” camp resident Peter Portoundo said in this week’s Tyee. “There are too many gangs, and it’s too close for all the problem street people to be calm and have a normal life.” 

The initial camp, which was organized and overseen by housing protesters, is now surrounded by campers who refuse to abide by their rules. Because campers are encouraged to harass police and EMT’s when they enter (even responding to 911 calls from the camp), the now 400+ tent encampment has degenerated into an out-of-control, autonomous free zone. And the warm summer is rapidly turning dark, cold and wet.

So what are our elected officials doing?

The Provincial government has essentially shut down until at least November due to the election. The SRA continues to converse with Melanie Mark and other Provincial authorities.

Recently, the Feds announced a $1billion Rapid Housing Initiative to purchase existing housing, like hotels, but those funds need to be applied for and are months off at best. (Read Minister Hussen’s recent reply to the SRA.)

Which means the ball is currently in the City’s hands.

Last month, City Council asked staff to compare several options for finding housing. The staff report was released on Oct. 2.  The mayor has put forth a motion recommending allocating $30 million to purchase vacant apartment buildings, hotels and SROs. Unfortunately, this will likely take months and does nothing to address the immediate crisis.

Councillors Rebecca Bligh and Pete Fry have been working with their fellow councillors on an alternate option that also addresses the needs of the camp’s homeless population in the short-term, before winter hits.  Their idea is to convert the city’s existing Winter Shelter sites into Disaster Relief/Navigation Centres that will provide a warm, dry, safe space to get through the coming months. These centres will also assess needs and navigate people to permanent housing as it becomes available starting in the spring. Hopefully, once this alternative shelter is available, the Park Board can get back to its mission of protecting and preserving parks.

These options will be presented to Council this Thursday, Oct. 8. The Disaster Relief/Navigation Centre idea seems like a doable, affordable, compassionate solution that addresses both the immediate crisis and buys time for long term solutions. We think the SRA should support it, along with allocating funds to purchase more permanent housing. We think the SRA should support it, along with the Mayor's plan to purchase more permanent housing. We can discuss more at Wednesday’s SRA meeting.

Meanwhile, please sign up to speak online at Thursday’s Council meeting or send an e-mail to your mayor and city councillors demanding that people need safe housing before winter. If the link doesn't work, cut and paste this list:

kennedy.stewart@vancouver.ca, CLRFry@vancouver.ca, CLRswanson@vancouver.ca, CLRcarr@vancouver.ca, CLRdegenova@vancouver.ca, CLRhardwick@vancouver.ca, CLRwiebe@vancouver.ca, CLRboyle@vancouver.ca, CLRdominato@vancouver.ca, CLRBligh@vancouver.ca, CLRkirby-yung@vancouver.ca

 

WANT TO GET MORE INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

Next month is our AGM. The SRA is looking for people to take the lead as board members on projects we want to accomplish next year. One of our big goals is to find ways to be more inclusive of and responsive to all the residents of Strathcona. We're hoping to find board members who can help us:

·      Build a bridge to the Chinese community

·      Build a bridge to the Indigenous community

·      Build a bridge to residents who live in social housing

·      Build a bridge to residents experiencing homelessness/addiction

·      Help us re-design, re-build and manage our website

·      Help with the newsletter and communications

·      Be our neighbourhood rep on Inner City Assembly and other city-wide groups

·      Work on a plan to re-imagine Strathcona Park post-encampment

If you're intrigued, send us an e-mail. It’s a great way to be more involved in one of Vancouver’s liveliest and most diverse neighbourhoods

Please forward this newsletter to your friends and neighbours. There are still many residents who don’t know about the SRA.

To sign up for our monthly newsletter and/or join the SRA to also get our Member Only Mailings, click here.