March 2021 SRA Meeting Minutes

SRA minutes – Wednesday March 3, 2021

Chair:  Dan Jackson

Guests:  Donnie Rosa, GM, Park Board; Sandra Singh, CoV GM Social Services; Dominic Flanagan, BC Housing.

Update on Strathcona Park Encampment:

City & BC Housing working actively on getting park campers in housing.  The hotel on Kingsway and Army Navy are being outfitted; doing best to get them done by end April.

Plan is to move majority of campers into one of the 2 facilities as temporary measure until more permanent housing is found.

Question re Camper Trucks surrounding 2 sides of Strathcona Park on Malkin and Raymuir.  What is the status:

Sandra: No specific plan for Strathcona – there are RV’s across the City.  They are working on it.  The by-law prohibiting them was not actively enforced in winter months; currently, if a camper is actively working to get housing with the team, the by-law will not be enforced.  Further info to come from Sandra re the by-law

Question re short term remediation plan for the Park in light of the fact a long term plan is being worked on?

Donnie:For long term, need to get Strath Park into the capital plan – for now, Director of Parks and team are reviewing to get a full picture of what’s needed.  Will be done incrementaly to allow useable spaces.  Ongoing dialogue with community to get feedback on programming and land use in Park.

Question re Navigation centre – why aren’t we putting campers in navigation centre?  Is there an awareness of how much stress the community has experienced historically first over Prior and in past 8 months, the loss of our Park. 

Dominic:  Province recognizes the challenges over many years for Strathcona.  No site yet for Nav Centre –   Looking forward to it being open this year.  Nav Centre will respond to homelessness across the City of /vancouver.  The 180-200 people in Strath Park are only 1/10th of homeless in Vancouver. 

Donnie:  Very eager to get back to working with the community and do some healing.

Question re Oppenheimer Park – fenced off for a year, why no communication on when it will be open?  How can we get better communication?

Donnie:  Sandra and Donnie both work on this – in terms of park itself and programming (city). OPppenheimer much more severely damaged than Strath, which is 10x the size. Currently working on opening plan for Oppenheimer.

Sandra:  Team at Carnegie Centre working on plan with parks.  Hope to open by summer – no exact date.

Question: Is every person in an RV/Vehicle on Raymuir/Malking actively working with the homeless services team?

Sandra:  trying to connect with them.  Not everyone wants to engage with homelessness services. Treating the RV’s as part of ending the encampment.  Not sure how long suspension of enforcement is.  Will go back and get an update on the plan for RV’s moving forward. 

Question:  There are RV’s and vehicles parked on Community Garden property and there is a massive pile of trash – how do we resolve?

Sandra:  311 is best way – but right now also send Sandra Singh an email and let her know  –  send a photo.  Continue to go through 311 which logs reporting data.

Question re Shigella outbreak  & Hep.C. in park – How safe are grounds on West side of park in light of this?  Why isn’t remediation starting now, given the risks?

Donnie:  they will test specifically for shigella and send waste for testing.  Remediation starts this week – goal to have park safe asap.

Q. What other sites besides the 2 mentioned are there?  Why only DTES?  Anything outside of DTES?

Sandra – Will be doing it throughout the City – We have the Day’s Inn at Kingsway nr Victoria.  These will not be ready for Strathcona people.  In process of going thru rezoning on two sites not in the DTES –  arbutus near 10th and King Edward –  modular and supportive but they won’t be ready for a while.  Believe in mixed income communities across the City.

Question – Has the ground on the west side of Strath Park been tested?  Donnie:  will ask team and find out.  There is a plan.

Question:  is there a map of housing across the City? There should be a community measure. 

Sandra: lots of supportive and social housing in e. side of vancouver due to land values and what it costs to deliver – taking every opp they can to develop supportive on W. side.  Working on one in Coal Harbour, Arbutus, another property near UBC.

Question: Issue of more human waste in the neighbourhood since covid – trash bins have disappeared from Union & Heatley & in front of the Community Centre.

Sandra – Lack of washrooms since covid is a problem – people don’t have the usual places; no guests allowed in housing, limited hours, etc.  New washrooms at Abbott and Pender – 2 more coming in the DTES. Federal funding for this year has allowed that.

Chinatown Stewardship pilot – works with agencies to support basic sidewalk cleaning & helping move people from storefronts to allow businesses to open 

David Vogt (Strathcona Community Policing office): SBIA has Crap Pick Up program.  Because no one else was going it.  pilot program was successful and permanently installed for businesses who have feces on or near their property.

Re:  Where can RV’s go.  18 months have managed to get all temp and permanent housing and all options in place – will be dozens who refuse any of those options and will still be camping in Strath.  The City should be looking at a managed campground space where they can be supported.

Sandra – council directed staff to look at it.  They prioritized creation of indoor spaces – a sanctioned campground is not being considered.

Question:   Accessibility to Park  – i.e. crossing of Prior. How can people get there safely.

Donnie:  That’s why planning people are there – park planning is working with engineering & city to address in a wholesome way. They are aware of it and the history. 

Question:    Is there a possibility to have a 3rd party to work on remediation of the Park?

Dan: eager to hear creative ideas and get conversation going with wider community. 

Donnie:  Park planners and community developers are working on a plan with the community.  Everyone will be brought together with that intention.

Question re Drinking Parklet on Princess – why was the community not part of the conversation?  The SRA was not invited into the discussion.  Huge issue for the community needing to take the bus and feeling unsafe in front of Astoria which opens at 7.  People are afraid and intimidated.

Sandra – There will be active outreach by PHS (operators of the lounge) to encourage people to move from bus stop to parklet.  It will run to the end of June.

Question:  Why a place to congregate when people aren’t supposed to be gathering at all – confusing.  What’s the public health rationale for that?  Why no concern for people who need safe access to transit – but concern for people who have to drink? 

Sandra: phs will manage that and encourage them to move to parklet.  Regular outreach will occur.

Covid exascerbated lack of social places for people to be – it was always there but covid made it much worse. 

Sandra left the meeting.

Update on Planning for Strathcona Park’s Future

Maureen Teehan (SRA Board) updated on zoom meeting between Jessica  – Park Board Planner, and reps from the neighbourhood.

Park working group is eager to move ahead – SRA asking for a survey in conjunction with Park Board – and  planning team to get feedback from neighbourhood on what they want to see in the Park in terms of asthetics and programming – SRA is doing a call out looking for good cross section – teenagers, seniors, ethnic reps.  Put a team together and be ready to jump into action as soon as funds available to rebuild the park.  In communication with Donnie and Sandra: 

Update on Prior St. – Richard Taplin (SRA Board)

Meeting coming up on 18th march w. designers of underpass for a design that will make Prior a great street in the future.  Will be giving input.

Progress on road work slow – most done by end March/early April. Focus on stability for residents to park cars and getting traffic to a single lane again, art trailers go back and close off parking areas as much as possible – speedchecks from vpd, strath policing and volunteers, seems as though speeds during daytime are within 10% of legal limit of 30/50.  Evening and night speeds are high 80-90 k/hour.  Vpd don’t want to do speed checks in the dark for safety reasons.  Working w. engineering to help with a solution.

Speed boards working now – need to make prior tight to discourage speeding.

Update on new SRA Website: Dan Jackson (SRA Board)

Koltyn Parsons, a Calgary based web designer, offered to help with web site – a link to a potential new website was included with the Meeting Invite – Please check it out and send feedback.

Meeting Adjourned 8:49.