Here's an update on what's going on in Strathcona as we head into September.
Several residents have come together to "Adopt-a-Street" and put our love for the neighbourhood into action. Volunteers commit to once- or twice-a-week quick clean-ups of the street/alley they call home. Garbage grabbers and containers can be provided! This is a small way to make a positive impact in your community as we deal with these stressful times. To participate or learn more, e-mail Noelle Bauman
We understand that trains have been causing more disruption than usual in the past few months and are looking into ways to co-ordinate advocacy in the neighbourhood. We’d like to hear from residents about the specific issues that affect them, such as shunting noises (those crashing sounds), air pollution from trains, and longer-than-normal road blockages. Please email us to let us know.
CAMP KT UPDATE
WHAT IS THE CITY DOING?
This week, Mayor Kennedy Stewart put forth a motion to City Council to have staff explore the feasibility of three options for securing temporary housing in the short term for homeless residents of Vancouver: (1) Lease or purchase existing housing (hotels, SROs); (2) Establish a temporary emergency relief camp on vacant, non-park land, or (3) temporarily convert City-owned buildings into emergency shelter space. Some Councillors have been working on their own motion for a Temporary Disaster Relief Shelter. Council is debating the issue at a special meeting at 1 PM, Friday, Sept. 11. Here's a link to watch the meeting or send comments.
The SRA is relieved to see the Mayor and Council finally working on some near-term plans before winter arrives. We hope that City Council will quickly implement one of them. We hope that Park Board commissioners will focus on their mission “to provide, preserve and advocate for parks.” We're not happy that the Province is forcing the City to take the lead on what is primarily a Provincial responsibility.
WHAT IS THE PROVINCE DOING?
On Sept. 1, BC Housing Minister Selina Robinson announced plans for 98 modular units to be built at 1580 Vernon Street by Spring 2021 and 350 units of permanent supportive housing to built eventually. Great. But what happens as we move into fall 2020? So far, no answer.
What can you do? Send an e-mail expressing your frustration to Provincial Ministers for their refusal to take immediate responsibility for the largest homeless camp in Canada. “Please work in partnership with the City of Vancouver on a solution that can be implemented before winter. Please put someone in charge of a Provincial push to address the interwoven problems of homelessness, addiction and mental health. Please score a win before elections.” Either click on the link above or cut and paste this list:
WHAT ARE THE FEDS DOING?
Last week, MP Jenny Kwan reported that BC has only received .05% of National Housing funding. Here’s the Vancouver Sun article. This is outrageous. Please send another e-mail to these MPs, demanding that the Federal Liberal government live up to its commitment to fund housing in BC and put in place a Federal strategy to address homelessness.
Kwan also recently came out in support of Recovery For All, a comprehensive national homelessness strategy put forth the Canadian Association to End Homelessness that's already being implemented in some Canadian cities. She’s started a petition to present to Parliament. Here’s a link.
WHAT IS VPD DOING?
VPD presence in the neighbourhood has increased significantly. We’re seeing frequent patrol cars and even officers and Park Rangers on foot. It continues to be important that you report any and all incidents. Data matters. Call the non-emergency line 604.717.3321 or file a report online.
WHAT IS THE SRA DOING?
We've formed a Camp KT Working Group to help address residents concerns about safety and advocate all level of governments to take effective short and long term actions to address the interconnected problems of homelessness, addiction and mental health. E-mail us to learn more.
OTHER LOCAL ADVOCACY GROUPS
Other groups in the neighbourhood, not affiliated with the SRA, have formed to advocate action around the camp. Strathcona Stands for Safe Homes is "an inclusive grassroots movement created to apply pressure on all levels of government to secure safe permanent homes for unhoused residents of Strathcona, and to ensure community safety in our neighbourhood. We support the demands and strategies of the Strathcona tax resistance campaign, and we are planning direct action events to draw a political response to our cause. We are also considering legal action". Here's a link to their site.
Earlier this year, a group of tech students did a great job re-thinking and partly re-designing a new, updated, resource-rich, user-friendly SRA website. But before they could build it, their school shut down. We’re now looking for someone with the skills to finish the job. We may even have some grant money. E-mail us if you can help.
JOIN THE SRA
Also please share this e-mail with your neighbours. We invite all residents of Strathcona to join the SRA. It’s free. It’s a great way to stay informed and participate in our community. Just fill in this form.
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