June 2, 2021 SRA meeting Minutes
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Guests: Ian Stewart, Manager of Park Development, Jordan Lypkie, Planning Analyst, Vancouver Park Board
Update on Strathcona Park
The Camp is completely cleared from the Park and remediation has begun – the SRA are circulating a survey to residents to ask what they would like to see in terms of improvements and activities in the Park.
The Park Board guests were asked to outline how the process will work in terms of funding and design.
Working with colleagues in recreation department, environmental stewardship and arts and culture, a small team will work on engaging with the neighbourhood. Recognize that healing and understanding that extra care will be needed in how we treat the land and people – will be consulting with the CC Association, Seniors, Non-profit housing, as well as residents to get short term activation and future planning ideas.
Currently no plans for full renewal but an oppportunity in the future for master plan and full remediation – resources for that are determined by the Capital Planning process (This is a 4 year plan when a new park board steps in after the next municipal elections in fall of 2022) which determines new and renewed parks. The plan is developed in late 2021 by staff and is approved by the current Park Board. It then goes to the newly elected Park Board in mid-2022. Given the lack of improvements in Strathcona, along with the loss of the park by the Community over the past year, Strathcona Park is well positioned to be included in major improvement recommendations for the 2022-2026 Plan.
In the short term, Park Board will focus on welcoming people back; a unique opportunity to get input on future vision and understanding principles and ideas – the Survey on the SRA website that Dan and Maureen have developed will provide very valuable information that the Park Board would not normally have so it is a head start.
A master plan is park design as well as a comprehensive long term vision and lots of engagement with many opportunities for the residents to provide feedback.
Q. what’s the connection to City of Vancouver Planning & Funding? Given that the area immediately adjacent to Park is going through major changes including the port, the new hospital, twinning of railways, underpass on Prior, etc., all of which affect the community – the Park is a way to help offset some of the impacts that are coming down in Strathcona from those particular changes. Will there be collaboration with City funds?
All funding comes from the City – and Park improvement is funded through Cost levies (DCL’s and CAC’s) so when development happens that’s a primary funding source shared throughout all service areas through the City including childcare and housing.
As a Park Board we solicit projects and ask for funds which as stated above, comes mainly from development in the City. So when there’s a lot of development happening it helps to allow park board to keep pace to provide the green and open space and facilities. Can’t promise anything but it’s likely Strathcona is one that deserves amenities.
Master Plan will look comprehensively at what’s happening around the Park and coordinate with other departments including Engineering who are carrying out projects. Things that will be considered – safety around the edges of the Park, challenges to access, , etc. All groups will be represented on the working group of the Master Pan to ensure it is holistic and reflects the changing context of the neighbourhood.
This fall is engagement & working on ideas and defining priorities. VanPlay is the recently developed Policy that guides Park Board Decisions:
Following the engagement process, the concept for renewal is brought to Park Board for approval in mid-2022 and from that point – taken to Council for final step and endorse the plan and allotment of funds. A number of things come into play: when was the park last renewed, is the community equity deserving? (wasn’t always equitable across the City so looking to change that with VAnPlay).
Will the Strathcona Community Centre, which badly needs an upgrade suffer if all efforts go to Strathcona Park?
Luke: CC is handled by Recreation Department but if you look thru the VanPlay and the lack of equity in the past – the fact is that it doesn’t currently meet the needs of the community and that reinforces that Strathcona is a neighbourhood that has been under-served in past decades. The policy in Vanplay provides direction to invest more in places that need to catch up and move ahead.
Dan: That conversation is one that is going on and that it is not an either or situation.
The Current Park Board approves the plan in mid-2022 and the outgoing Council will approve. Implementation happens under the new elected Council and Park Board.
A high level cost estimate will be developed and asked for.
We’re in such a good position in that we can do the survey now and we can ask for very comprehensive things and through the capital plan get a budget to carry out the engagement and coordination and the process of master planning which includes inventory analysis – looking at precedents of other parks, i.e. pandora, best practices, and from there – develop guiding principles which we are in a head start on thru the survey.
After the survey, we will go back to confirm that we heard the community correctly – from there charettes, open houses and more design work will be done to look at details of what amenities and features we want to see. A few options will be drawn up and presented through community engagement events with groups in the neighbourhood.
After that the final concept is brought to Park Board for approval, then city council approves the budget.
Last community engagement that we participated in on finding an alternative route to Prior Street actually did a disservice to the community. The Engineering Department completely ignored the recommendations that came out of of the process. It was $200,000 of tax payers money paid to a consultant, and many hours of unpaid neighbourhood volunteer time and the input was essentially ignored. It was a complete betrayal of the wishes of the community but somehow sold as a win.
Understand that the process wasn’t well received in the community and the challenges there. Looking ahead to this process for park redesign, we don’t have to replicate that process understanding everything this neighbourhood has been thru and more recently with the encampment – will be more sensitive to how engagement happens. Working together is the way to move forward. Our job to engage and deliver a park that works for the neighbourhood and we’ll do it together.
Q. when you look at the Park, the obvious deficiency is the eastern side which includes a 3rd baseball diamond, a gravel field that has never been used – seems it’s the one area of the Park where improvements can be done – would it be possible just to do something as simple as planning trees in anticipation that it will be more resident centric as opposed to being sports centric.
Jordan: have to rely on our best policy to direct that vision moving forward and give proper space for the master plan so don’t want to move forward on too many things that will hinder the future planning and engagement process which will give a new direction but like the idea.
Priorities will be truth and reconciliation, cedar trees and fieldhouse which hasn’t been renewed since the 70’s and will be prioritized for upgrade – it is currently not accessible.
Trevor; Huge impact on neighbourhood from twinning of train tracks and increased train traffic without any consult with people who live on the tracks, has environmental, livability, air quality issues – no consultation – and yet, 55m spent on purchasing arbutus railway for people on the West side.
Jordan will find background on the history of the Park and pass on to the SRA. We will continue these kinds of conversations to understand more about the neighbourhood and what it needs.
The park had been the site of a small Chinese Canadian community and previous was used for thousands of years by the Musqueam Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh for harvesting shellfish – will be learning more as we go forward so we know the facts.
How long will it be before improvements are begun?
The process of design will take a year or 2 to coordinate once approved.
A master plan is a long game – involves RFP’s, consultants, and consultation. It’s a multi-year process for the plan and then implementation can take a year or several years after that before there is a ribbon cutting.
Q. re washrooms – suggestion that these be remediated quickly along with the fact that there is a real issue with rats due to the camp.
Looking at more humane ways of dealing with that. Will be referred back to staff.
Thanks to staff for taking the time.