GWAC AGM 2019

The Grandview Woodland Area Council, the oldest established and one of the most active of residents’ associations, held its Annual General Meeting today at Family Place, About three dozen members were present.

After brief reports from the current Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary, the election of directors took place.  Four current directors (Dana Cromie, Craig Ollenberger, Steve Bohus, and Susan Briggs) agreed to stand again, while Penny Street was nominated from the floor.  All directors were acclaimed and will be the officers for 2019/20.

Cathy Low of Save Our Neighbourhood Parks gave a useful speech about the current Parks Board policy of replacing genuine green turf with synthetic rubber surfaces. She is in particular concerned with the plans for Clinton Park, a two block park in the north east of the neighbourhood.  Parks Board planning has one block of the Park to have the grass stripped out and replaced with synthetic material suitable for soccer pitches.  My understanding is that that section will be fenced off and only made available to paid licensees. This is, as Cathy says, privatizing our greenspace.

Cathy notes that teams from across Vancouver will book times to play and that teams waiting to play on the new surface will use the other half as a practice pitch while they wait.  Thus, the entire park will be lost to the general public.  Moreover, the increase in car traffic will significantly disrupt neighbourhood parking.  The group has a Facebook page and a petition at the link given above.

The eastside in general, and Grandview Woodland in particular, are already deficient in greenspace. It seems nothing but crazy to take away the little we already have. These seems like an issue that would fire up the Greens but Cathy’s interactions with Green Parks Board members has been quite the opposite.  We know how that feels.

The balance of the meeting was a presentation by Patrick Beattie and Duncan Higgson of the Portland Housing Society regarding their history with Temporary Modular Housing (which has lately become an issue here).

There were several important takeaways from the discussion;

  • housing is a key component of the health care continuum for opiod and other substance abuse treatments;
  • providing housing results in significant cost savings compared to long term health care without it;
  • compared to the 5 years of planning, bureaucracy, and building of regular bricks and mortar buildings, TMH can be designed, manufactured, delivered, and opened in five months;
  • TMH, built in BC, are designed for a 50-year life span and each TMH facility can be moved inexpensively from one site to another as need arises.

All in all a useful meeting.  It is a shame that only 30+ people came. The No Tower Coalition, the OCOP group that was active during the Community Plan exercise, the Grant Street and First Avenue projects have proved that large groups of people can be activated for specific projects and issues.  We have yet to successfully educate the general populace that these “single” issues are actually part of a planning and development continuum that are best looked at in a wider perspective, the kind of perspective that an organization such as GWAC and, even more broadly, the Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods can present.

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