March 2023 Newsletter

700 Keefer Fire

In the early morning hours on Jan. 25th, a devastating house fire occurred on the 700 block of Keefer Street. It was terrifying to watch. Several families lost their homes.

Word spread quickly about the immediate needs of each of the families. Many residents pulled together to help out in any way they could, with shelter, supplies and support. This kind of response is the very reason why this neighbourhood is so fantastic. We look out for each other no matter what. An extended family that we are blessed to be a part of, ready to help out in any way they can. We all need to remember this.

The families of the 700 block of Keefer want to express their gratitude for everyone’s support, understanding and kindness. And there’s still a long road ahead. They are currently dealing with complicated insurance challenges to get the ball rolling with reconstruction. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers as they move forward. If you think of something that may be of help to any of them, reach out and let them know. Every little bit helps.

And if you don’t know them, but want to help, please contact us and we can connect you to the appropriate people in need.

Lisa Binkley & Lisa Robison

March SRA Meeting

The SRA will be hosting a community meeting for all residents on Tuesday, March 7, from 7-9 PM in the Activities Room on the first floor of the Strathcona Community Centre. All are welcome. The topics below will be discussed…

Drug Testing Facility Applies For Change of Use Permit

The people who operate the drug testing business at 880 E Hastings have applied for a development permit (DP) for interior alterations and change of use from Retail to a Social Service Centre (Overdose Prevention Site) with proposed hours of operation from 8AM to 10PM, seven days a week. The SBIA and residents have expressed concern that this will become a safe injection site; that it will increase public consumption, loitering and discarded needles; that public engagement has been minimal and insufficient; and that the site is operated by Dana Larsen, of the nearby Mushroom Dispensary, who has a long reputation for flouting the rules.

Councillor Pete Fry offers this perspective: “Long story short, there is not a change in actual use here – this is a somewhat bureaucratic procedure to update the outright permitted use (retail) to meet the current actual use (drug testing service, handing out safe supplies and information), and allow the operators to get a compliant business license.

The rumours of onsite consumption are false. To operate onsite consumption or cannabis dispensary would require a new and separate DP (and likely would not be granted). Adding that the current services of drug testing are being explicitly endorsed by the Health Authority as an important harm reduction tool.

On the concurrent issue of Dana Larsen adjacent operations and track record of operating illegal dispensaries. Apparently, we must judge the merits of the DP and the operational letter. Any breach of the operational letter and conditions of the DP (including but not limited to consumption site or cannabis retail) would result enforcement under the City’s Business Licence and Zoning and Development Bylaws.”

To read the details and offer comment directly to the city, use this link.

Off-Leash Dogs and Park Improvements

The city has been cracking down on off-leash dogs in MacLean Park due to complaints
from parents about out-of-control dogs in the children’s playground. We contacted Park staff to ask if they might join us in a conversation to consider options, such as the restricted off-leash area at Burrard View Park. Their response is that they currently have neither the time nor the budget to address the problem. See below from Senior Project Manager Nicole Taddune…

Our challenge is that there is far more demand than resources available to accommodate all of the requests we hear from the public. While we would love to address all requests, there are competing demands, emerging priorities, and a constrained capital budget. As such, we rely on the People Parks and Dogs Strategy to help us prioritize projects and we are currently working on several off-leash areas (OLAs) that fall within high priority and deficit neighborhoods.

For any change to occur in a park, a full public engagement process is required. To be able to address any of your concerns in a substantive way, we would need to engage in a full project, inclusive of a full public engagement process, which is not identified in our current Capital Plan for OLAs. If anything changes, we would be happy to reach out and attend an SRA meeting as part of a larger process.

The good news is the Board will be prioritizing which parks are up for renewal in the 2023-2026 Capital Plan and Strathcona Park is still under consideration. As previously mentioned, leveraging a master plan process for Strathcona Park would be best way to address dog related issues and requests for this park. I would be happy to provide you with an update once the prioritization is complete.

Which brings us back to our ongoing push for improvements to Strathcona Park. We’ve drafted a letter (click here to read) to the current PB commissioners, reminding them of our concerns and recommendations based on our 2021 survey. 

Rolling Truck Program Delayed… Yet Again

Since 2008, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) has been trying to reduce emissions from older diesel trucks that were put in service before current air emissions technologies were required. Emissions from these older trucks are a major source of nitrogen oxide, black carbon and particulate matter, which have been proven to cause a growing list of health hazards. Learn more.

The VFPA worked with trucking companies to create a Rolling Truck Age Program, designed to phase out older container trucks serving the port. According to Port spokesperson Naomi Horsford “once the Rolling Truck Age Program is fully implemented VFPA expects to see a reduction of 37.5 tonnes of Particulate Matter (equivalent of 200,000 passenger vehicles annually) and a reduction of 575 tonnes of Nitrogen Oxide (equivalent to 80,000 passenger vehicles annually).”

The program was originally scheduled to go into effect in 2019. The BC Truckers Association has long supported it. To date more than 85% of operators have voluntarily complied. Other west coast ports such as LA/Long Beach and Seattle/Tacoma already have very similar programs in effect.

But due to push back from United Truckers Association, which represents 310 truckers still driving non-compliant trucks, the program has been repeatedly delayed and diluted (the cutoff was extended from from 7-year-old trucks to 14). Last year, it was delayed until April, 2023. Last week, due to UTA pushback, it was again postponed until at least January 2024.

The SRA has drafted a letter of concern (click here to read) to Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra. 

UBC Air Quality Study Results
The UBC students who conducted an air quality monitoring study in Strathcona in 2022 will be presenting their findings on April 19, from 7-8:30 PM at the nə́c̓aʔmat ct Strathcona Library.

Calling for Volunteer Summer Camp Counselors
“Spring into Summer” Weekend Camp run by United Gospel Mission for local kids is back this year and we are excited to announce the dates are from Friday May 26th at 3:15pm to Sunday May 28nd at 4pm. It will take place at beautiful Camp Kawkawa in Hope BC.
They need volunteer cabin counselors with lots of energy and fun. Transportation from UGM, meals and accommodations provided. If you are interested and available, you can contact them at