About 300 community residents marched through the rain Friday night in solidarity with our local Strathcona neighbour who was brutally attacked in her home on Hawks Avenue on Thursday. The solidarity walk was organized by local Strathcona women. A fundraising campaign, started by another neighbour, has already raised over $38,000 to go towards the survivor’s healing and recovery. These are intense times in Strathcona. The strength and engagement of our community is astounding. The need to get together and begin processing this traumatic event and its aftermath is still very evident.
In response to Thursday’s violent assault and the community’s need to hear about it and discuss it, the Vancouver Police Department will host a community meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, March 31st starting at 7:00 p.m. at the Strathcona Elementary School Auditorium (enter from the school courtyard off the 600 block of E Pender or Keefer Street). The meeting will help answer some of the questions we might have surrounding this serious incident in our neighbourhood. Members of the VPD, Victim Services and Community Policing Centre staff will be in attendance to answer questions and address any safety concerns residents may have.
In lieu of this meeting, we have decided to cancel the regular SRA meeting planned for the following night, Wednesday April 1st at 7:15 pm at the Strathcona Community Centre. We apologize for the short notice and hope that many people can come to the meeting on Tuesday night instead.
- SRA Executive Council: Elana, Rick, Gord, Chris and Roberta
For now, we leave you with the minutes of last month’s meeting:
SRA meeting Wednesday, March 4th 2015
17 members present, a pretty good turnout considering the toxic cloud emergency at the Port
The initial plan was to have speakers from VPD’s Car 87 come in and talk to residents about policing and mental health issues. Unfortunately Car 87 wasn't able to come because of 2 emergency calls. Our Community Constable Edmonds, and Sergeant Kevin Bernadin, liaison with Community Policing Centers, were able to attend. They engaged the members in a question and answer session which was lively and informative.
Bernadin: There are 8 districts which have 2 crime prevention stations. We are District 2, and our offices are on Commercial and in Grandview Woodlands. We also have 2 cultural sub-stations, one Chinese and one Aboriginal. These stations are all private societies which are tasked with representing their communities to the police. He said he came this evening in response to requests to discuss citizen patrols and crime prevention. The area already gets some from the Chinese CPC. There's no real possibility of funding for another office, at least not until a great deal of community organizing and fundraising has been done. He recommended that we consider partnering with the existing Chinatown CPC and extend their program into Strathcona. But he would like to hear what people would like from community policing.
Bernadin mentioned that the Chinatown CPC would be willing accept and train volunteers, and that two people from Strathcona have already expressed interest. Their training emphasizes observational skills- be a good witness. Two other ideas mentioned by residents were 'pooch patrol', integrating neighborhood watch with dog walking, and Block Watch, organizing relatively small areas. A resident said that a variety of neighborhood security initiatives have been tried out successfully in the past but that energy has lapsed now. Interest comes back up with a crisis but then fades. Bernadine again emphasized that there would be relatively little support for a brand new initiative unless it provided its own resources and maintained its energy for a time.
Elana asked if the VPD would assist us in slowing down traffic speeds on Prior by regularly posting motorcycle officers there, and making drivers slow down because they 'know' that someone's waiting. This has worked on the viaduct where speed has slowed dramatically. Const. Edmunds offered to continue doing occasionally ticketing but said he had difficulty finding people going over 70. He can extend this if we would partner with CPC, and field more volunteers to observe and warn drivers speeding. Another strategy that has some effect is writing letters specifically to the Traffic Services asking for more and more regular enforcement.
The speakers left to attend to more toxic cloud business and the members expressed their thanks for the visit.
Prior Street the Sequel
We had managed to persuade the City to engage outside traffic consultants to analyze the safety issues on Prior Street. Those consultants had come back with a preliminary report and Elana summarized the report as saying that the situation is bad but will remain unchanged until there is an alternate route for the current traffic. She said that we will have to continue the pressure. Those present discussed what would be effective pressure and achievable goals. The consensus was to concentrate on working to get the traffic speed limit reduced to 30 or 40 kph. Another suggestion was to push for altering the 'built environment'- road pullouts, trees looming over the road, garbage cans and benches next to the roads, etc- to passively encourage slower speeds
Ann Livingston spoke about the effort to slow traffic on Hastings. The City had assessed the speeds as being essentially unchanged despite traffic measures instituted at the community’s request. But Ann noted that whatever the speeds, the pedestrian death rate had dropped remarkably. People suggested a number of original ideas to achieve speed reduction- pushing for speed bumps, frequent rumble strips, ‘Burma Shave’ signs (multiple successive signs with one word on each, ‘killing a pedestrian can ruin your day’), having a clown to direct traffic, making fake traffic cameras which flash, a variety of guerilla actions which will make people think and increase public awareness. Pete mentioned that the Neighborhood Small Grants was coming up and we might get some kids safe signs made for the road
If you want to join the Prior Street Committee, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
420 Hawks development
Elana has been inundated with media requests over this and has done a wonderful job of representing the SRA's concerns
People reported on their impressions of the design. One is that the design is quite severe with no effort at green space or encouraging window boxes, etc. Several asked about parking at the open house, and were told that this was not an important question since ‘these type of people were unlikely to have cars’. The unit type proportions are also currently been reconsidered, with more singles rather than parent/child accommodation.
These Atira developments are under the LAPP, but they are not not proceeding according to this plan. The housing is supposed to be 'family-focused' housing, but the majority is single residences. The developments are supposed to contribute to a 'street-friendly retail and walkable streetscape', but the development has no retail on the sidewalk and represents a blank space. Elana pressed for both, but the City rep said the LAPP was ‘subject to interpretation’. Also stated that retail requires 15' ceilings and alas, that wasn't possible here. Elana and others expressed concern that letting this go would let the LAPP go.
Ukrainian Hall hosted the open house event, and have significant issues with the development as well. They have written a letter laying out their concerns, which mirror the concerns above. The SRA will work with them to put forward our concerns. Our best approach is to demand they meet the requirements of the LAPP, the requirements from a process that the City sponsored and said they would stick. We need to be prepared to push for it.
Community meeting tomorrow at 7 pm - regular SRA meeting cancelled in lieu