Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Future of the Inner City – have your say on-line

It used to be that the downtown eastside referred to a couple of blocks of ‘skid row’.  Now the term is used to apply to the entire Oppenheimer Planning District – from Victory Square, through Gastown, Strathcona, Thornton Park — all the way to Clark Drive.  The city has now released its “Emerging Directions”, and we have another chance to have a say.  Unfortunately past meetings with planners have had no results, and the document only reflects the concerns of certain low income members of the community.  The document does not reflect the views of those of us who want to see a balanced and mixed community – one that can develop and sustain economic and social development.

Check out the Emerging Directions at:  http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/downtown-eastside-local-area-plan-open-house-boards-07182013.pdf

Complete the survey at: http://vancouver.fluidsurveys.com/s/dtes-lap/?l=en

 

Our Plea to City Council

On July 22, city staff were kind enough to come out to meet with some of the members of the community who are upset at the redirection of traffic through the  already congested 1 block residential streets of Milross and National.  The number of vehicles is at issue.  At the meeting staff mentioned 2,000+, but the number on the city web site cites 5,000 per day.

Our request at that meeting was that Mr Dubrovolny advise Council that the community is very much at odds with Council’s decision and request that Council delay its decision until there is a solution which better meets the needs of residents.  This request was denied.
The purpose of this email is to summarize the facts as we know them, for your further consideration.
1.  Lack of Prior Knowledge and Consultation
1.1. The Joint Working Group on Northeast False Creek (JWG), meets regularly.  This would have been an ideal forum for staff to engage in community consultation.  By the time members of the community were aware enough to bring this item to the attention of the Planning Staff managing the JWG process,  the city’s plan was already formed.  Active Transportation Staff did volunteer to attend our meeting ‘for information’, but at no point were we asked for input.
1.2  The FCRA is well-known to city staff.  We are available 24/7 through our web site.  At no point did Active Transportation staff contact the FCRA for input or advice.
1.3.  The Citygate Inter-tower Community Group, representing the 13 buildings in the Citygate community, is well-known to the city.  At no point did Active Transportation staff contact the Inter-Tower Group for input, however many other city staff continue to contact the Inter-tower group to assist in information dissemination on other issues.
2.  Inadequate and Misleading Information
2.1.  Information was posted in the community about “upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway”.  Most members of our community have no association between that title and the threats to Milross and National.  Perhaps Vancouverites coming from the East will connect that title with Union Street, but for locals in Citygate, no connection can be assumed.
2.2.   The City’s web site (http://vancouver.ca/files/cov/adanac-bikeway-open-house-info-boards.PDF) misleads the public.  The information Board for Section B-B shows one lane of vehicular traffic from Main to Quebec.  It was NOT made clear that this section of Union street would be closed to vehicles.
2.3. The rhetoric on the city’s information boards and the motion passed by Council speaks to ‘removing Union Street from the Regional Truck Route  network’ .  This is quite different from closing the street to ALL vehicles.  Again, as mentioned in 2.2 above, the information boards specify the Regional Truck Network, not all vehicles.
2.4.  The city bases its decisions on data from ICBC.  That data is obviously limited to incidents in which ICBC claims are involved.  At our public meeting, there were at least two accidents noted which would not have been in the ICBC data base.   Both incidents occurred on the already busy and congested 1 block of National.  One collision involved a cyclist, the second involved a pedestrian.  Although both accidents involved serious personal injury, neither was reported to ICBC.
2.5.  The city’s use of ICBC data in decision-making has serious limitations.  It is critical that staff develop more effective and accurate data collection strategies.  Obviously, one such strategy is to take community consultation and engagement seriously.  Staff go out to the community with seemingly intransigent pre-formed plans. The community is asked to endorse the plans, not have input into them.
This is NOT about cyclists vs motorists vs pedestrians.  As was evident at the meeting, many of our residents are avid cyclists.  As one of our residents put it:  “I have a wife and two small children.  None of us have drivers’ licenses”.  This is about community safety.
If Union Street is closed, the 5,000 cars and trucks will find their way to Keefer, Milross, National.  Why is the City redirecting car and truck traffic from a street that has no residences to residential streets that are home to many children and families, and two child care centres?
 
Staff could not answer this question.  Staff provided no evidence that the situation for Milross or National or Keefer was taken into account in their recommendations to Council.  Again, we urge City Council to reconsider its decision until a better solution can be found – one that does not put our community at risk.
As previously informed by Councillor Meggs, we do appreciate that Council depends on staff to come forward with well-researched and well-founded information.  However, in this case, we urge you to reconsider your direction to staff.  Instead of proceeding to close Union Street, please  ask that they seek at better solution.
Fern Jeffries
Co-Chair, FCRA

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The FCRA supports the new school at International Village!

July 24, 2013
To Mayor and Council
Re: International Village School

As a community/resident association we would like to support, in principle, the development and delivery of the new International Village School at 55 Expo Blvd. We understand that there are some necessary building requirements to ensure that the comprehensive size of the building can accommodate both the school itself and the common area/child care area. This will entail a possible encroachment onto Andy Livingstone Park via a cantilevered second story. We support this design as it will alleviate the possibility of the building disturbing the views from the Firenze. We also understand that the parking requirements are still being negotiated with the Firenze strata council and its resident members.

We have met with representatives from the VSB and the architect, Walter Francl and as well they have attended one of the JWG meetings and an FCRA Board meeting. As a resident association we hope to continue the dialogue with the VSB in order to ensure that the IV School is the best fit for our community.

The construction of the new International Village School is critical to the continued development of NEFC. We look forward to its arrival in our community.

Regards
Patsy McMillan, Co-chair, FCRA

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False Creek Residents Association — www.falsecreekresidents.org

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Today, July 23, 8 am 200 block Union Street – Let’s Make a Noise!

It was a full house last night at 1128 Quebec Street when residents from Strathcona, Citygate, and Crosstown met with city staff to ask that there be community consultation on their plan to close Union street, re-directing 2000+ cars and trucks per day onto the congested residential streets of Milross and National.  This plan, masked as “upgrades to the Adanac Bikeway”, somehow never made it to the agenda of the Northeast False Creek Working Group that has been meeting monthly under the city’s chairmanship for the last 6 years.

Everyone – Cyclists, Parents , Seniors, –  residents from impacted neighbourhoods expressed their fears for safety.  The Director of Transportation admitted that he had no statistics on pedestrian injuries unless there was an ICBC claim.  John Murray, a Director on the Board of the FCRA disclosed that the person who cause his accident did not make an ICBC claim.  No Statistics there! Others had similar stories to tell.  Again, the City has no interest in our lived experience – 20 years in the neighbourhood means nothing!

MAKE A NOISE – We live hear, we work here, we play here.  The City must take our views into account!  8 – 9 am, 200 block Union Street.  Be there with bells on–or trombones, trumpets, pots and pans

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Burned by “Business in Vancouver”

The FCRA had a good presence at City Hall when Council met to decide on whether to proceed with the staff request for $2,000,000+  to continue their work on planning for removal of the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts.  FCRA Directors on the speakers list included Sean Bickerton, Andrea Mackenzie, and co-chairs Patsy McMillan and Fern Jeffries.

Following this, the local magazine Business in Vancouver contacted the FCRA for an interview.  On behalf of our association, co-chair Fern Jeffries agreed to be interviewed.  The reporter asked about property values.  Consistent with our published position, the response was “property values are not our issue.  Our issue is Quality of Life.

So what did they publish?  “Viaduct removal is good for quality of life and that’s good for property values,” False Creek Residents Association co-chair Fern Jeffries told Business in Vancouver.

Creative writing for sure!

City Council voted to approve the ongoing program for viaduct removal, which included a commitment for “meaningful community engagement”.  Subsequently staff have cancelled our Working Group meetings for the next two months.  More creative writing!