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DTES/Strathcona Local Area Plan draft released

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hello friends and neighbours,
Word yesterday that the Strathcona / DTES Local Area Plan is now being made available to the public. The plan represents nearly two years of work involving local residents, stakeholders and staff, and will involve the next thirty years of growth anticipating 10-12,000 additional residents for the DTES. The plan covers everything from housing and building heights, to arts & culture, heritage, health & well-being, economy, transportation and public benefits.
The entire 182 page plan can be downloaded here:
— Not exactly light reading for the holidays!

This is a complicated plan, with something for everyone, but also of course, pros and cons. Despite flaws in process and procedure, staff have worked very hard and should be commended for attempting to engage as many disparate groups as they have, and producing such a cohesive and comprehensive document. Residents are encouraged to read the plan and make their own opinions. SRA Executive have reviewed the plan, and without leading readers' opinions too much, offer the following highlights:

  • The definition of 'social housing' can be found on page 88 (it's otherwise hard to find). HILs, while not specifically defined in this document is presumed to be in accordance with the CMHC definition; 30% of household income. 'Affordable housing' assuming the same benchmark as recent West End Local Area Plan, might cap at $1450 for a studio apartment. The DEOD housing proposal calls for 20% shelter (welfare) rate, 20% HILs, 20% affordable housing and 40% market housing. The SRA's position has been for 30% shelter, 30% HILs and 30% market.
  • Significant height increases along Hastings (for point of reference,150' is about 15 stories).
  • Major zoning changes in the Kiwassa area.
  • Little mention of concerns over Prior Street, or safe access to Strathcona Park and gardens.
  • Proposed development of green spaces at Stamps and MacLean Park housing.
  • Vague details about Hastings as a retail corridor / high street, particularily between Heatley and Gore.
  • $35 million for new cyclist and pedestrian upgrades. A concern given the hitherto lack of community consultation regarding the Adanac Bikeway, and the City's Active Transportation Branch's stated desire to revisit the idea of closing Union Street to vehicular traffic after the 2014 election and concerns over proposed cyclist/pedestrian upgrades on Princess, which would presumably run through the elementary school.
  • Implementation and financing of this plan is suggested to cost over $1 billion and relies largely on on developer contributions and levies, other governments, and non-profits.

If you have any specifics in the plan you wish to flag for further discussion, please drop us a line at
As the SRA Executive and LAPP Committee are all overwhelmed, overworked and unpaid your input is valuable, please take the time to read and comment!
Expect more detailed analysis in the weeks to follow, and further discussion and open houses in the coming months. The SRA hope to be presenting a symposium on issues around building heights early in the new year. The plan will likely be going before City Council for ratification mid-March.
- Pete Fry, SRA Chair
From the DTES Planning Group:
Please be advised the Draft DTES Local Area Plan and summary handout documents are available online (see link below):

Staff will be arranging a series of public information sharing sessions in January 2014 (times, venues, and dates to be confirmed).

An online questionnaire for public comments will be available soon as well.