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Category "Vancouver"

2Dec

Thousands of ride-hailing drivers ready to hit the roads in B.C.

by admin


Austin Zhang is CEO of Gokabu, which runs the Chinese language ride-hailing platform Kabu.


Francis Georgian / PNG

Thousands of ride-hailing drivers are set to hit the streets of Metro Vancouver when companies are permitted to begin operating in the next few weeks.

No fewer than 19 ride-hailing platforms are being vetted by the Passenger Transportation Board, some with hundreds of drivers already qualified to work.

The Chinese-language Kabu Ride app was disabled in September to avoid operating illegally after legislation passed enabling legal ride-hailing.

But Richmond-based Gokabu Group had been operating Kabu Ride in the “grey space” for more than three years with hundreds of drivers pulling in more than $10 million a year combined, said company spokesman Martin van den Hemel.

They began encouraging drivers to get their Class 4 drivers licence months ago and secured affordable training with local driving schools to ensure they would have a small army of drivers ready to work under new provincial rules.

Kabu Ride has “hundreds of qualified drivers” who have been through Kabu training, obtained a commercial driver’s licence and secured all the documentation required by the transportation board, said CEO Auston Zhang. “We’ve got many more taking their knowledge test to obtain a Class 4 learner’s licence.”

The vast majority of Kabu Ride drivers are men, but the company is encouraging female applicants.

“We have stay-at-home moms who work for two or three hours a day while their kids are in school,” said Hemel. “We also have drivers who work 50 hours a week and make north of $65,000 a year.”

Lyft is operating two driver hubs in Metro Vancouver — with a third on the way — to recruit and educate potential drivers about the documentation needed before they can participate in ride-hailing.

To drive for a ride-hailing service, you must possess a Class 1, 2 or 4 drivers licence, produce a commercial driving record, obtain a criminal record check and your vehicle must pass a commercial vehicle inspection.

More than 600 people have attended Lyft information sessions in Vancouver, Surrey and Langley, the company said.

Lyft driver Met Yi Su likes the flexibility that gig driving offers, to work around his main job.

“I’m a project manager for a mining organization, which has me working in the field around six months of the year,” he said. “What attracts me to driving with Lyft is the option to do it anytime I want. My wife stays home with the kids, and I can do ridesharing as needed.”

Uber is encouraging potential drivers to use its online guide to get through the qualification process and “be ready to drive in the next few weeks.”

The ride-hailing giant has started distributing Uber decals to its qualified “driver partners” to display once the transportation board approves its transportation network service licence.

Edmonton’s TappCar also has plans to serve Metro Vancouver along with smaller cities in B.C.

It is difficult to know exactly how many drivers will be in the field because some are likely to be active on more than one platform, but other Canadian cities are recording tens of thousands of trips a day.

Based on data from Calgary, the City of Vancouver conservatively estimates 500 to 1,000 ride-hailing vehicles will operate in the “metro core,” compared with about 800 licensed taxis, according to a response to a freedom of information request.

On average, drivers in Calgary worked 10 hours a week and made 2.5 trips an hour. But that’s only part of the picture.

Ride-hailing firms reported more than four million trips in Calgary last year, according to a presentation to the International Association of Transportation regulators.

That’s almost 11,000 trips a day serving a population about half of Metro Vancouver’s 2.5 million residents. Mississauga ride-hailing drivers logged 10 million trips in 2018 — 27,300 trips a day — with a population of less than one million.

Most of that is new business. Ride-hailing trips appeared to have a relatively modest effect on the volume of taxi trips in those markets.

Kabu Ride is a platform with uniquely local roots and an impressive growth record.

Zhang and Gokabu president Billy Xiong had originally conceived their platform as a social media app for foreign students, but quickly changed their business model when they noticed that users were organizing rides around the city.

The company has 60 full time employees and about 25 part time staff. The company also offers subsidized health and disability benefits, through The Cooperators, to “driver partners” who work enough to qualify.

While their ride-hailing service is suspended, some drivers are still active on the food delivery platform, Kabu Eats.

rshore@postmedia.com

29Nov

Vancouver releases final, record-breaking 2019 homeless count

by admin

Final numbers from the 2019 Vancouver homeless count were released this week and advocates say they again prove the urgent need for more social housing and welfare rates high enough to cover basic rent in the city.

The figures didn’t change much from a preliminary report released in June. Volunteers counted 2,223 homeless people in the city, up two per cent from 2,181 last year. It was the highest number since 2005, when the count was first done.

Surveys revealed that 23 per cent were women and girls, one per cent identified as non-binary, and seven per cent were under 25 years of age.

Most were sick and most lost their homes in Vancouver. Sixty per cent were experiencing two or more health problems, up from 54 per cent in 2018. Eighty-one per cent were already living in the city when they became homeless.

Celine Mauboules, the city’s director of homelessness services, said she was particularly troubled to learn that the homeless population is aging. Twenty-three per cent of respondents were 55 years or older, up from 21 per cent last year.

Shelter providers meet seniors living on small incomes and pensions, and unable to keep up with rising rents, Mauboules said. With vacancy rates near zero, upon losing their housing, they are unable to find affordable units elsewhere and turn to the street. Some lose their housing during long hospital stays, she added.

“They just don’t have any other options,” Mauboules said. “We hear these stories from seniors who are falling through the cracks of our systems of care, and are really being priced out of the housing market based on their limited income.”

Jeremy Hunka, spokesman for Union Gospel Mission, said the rising number of homeless seniors was a top concern for his non-profit, too.

“We know that homeless seniors face even more challenges to exiting homelessness than others, including health and mobility concerns that can keep them stuck, along with fixed incomes and less ability to work, which also prevents exiting homelessness,” Hunka said.

“Senior guests are also much more vulnerable to extreme cold and being taken advantage of, mistreated, or even robbed when they are alone outside, so this steady increase is definitely concerning.”

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Coun. Jean Swanson, a longtime poverty fighter elected in 2018, said many of the figures in the counts have been consistent over the years, and government should be acting on what it has long known.

“It’s so frustrating to be always counting and not building housing,” she said.

“I disagree with the premise that it’s so complex. I think we do need to do the counts but it’s almost as if the purpose of them is to say that the problem is these people have mental health issues or they have addictions, when the problem is that they don’t have housing.”

Swanson wants the provincial government to build more modular housing and raise income-assistance rates to be commensurate with the cost of living in the city.

“Those things have to be changed, we can’t let up on them,” she said.

Income and disability assistance rates rose $150 in the past three years, but only after more than a decade with no increase at all, Swanson lamented. A $50 increase last budget put the rate for a single employable person at $760 a month, less than 50 per cent of the poverty line, according to the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition.

In the past two years, just over 600 units of temporary modular housing, a relatively fast-to-erect and inexpensive kind of prefabricated building, has been built in Vancouver, mostly funded by the province.

Next spring, a 58-unit modular building will open at Vanness Avenue and Copley Street, and the city is working with the province for more permanent modular housing.

Mauboules agreed with Swanson that building more social housing and raising income-assistance rates are key to reducing homelessness.

Meantime, with the temperature dropping, an additional 300 low-barrier shelter beds have been opened in the city. Extreme-weather response beds add another 160 sleeping spaces and warming centres provide a place for people to come inside from the cold for some food.

Mauboules urges people seeking shelter to call 211 or visit vancouver.ca/homelessness.

Mauboules said there are some people who won’t want to use shelters and who say they are fine sleeping in parks or on the street. Outreach workers are working to build relationships with them over time, she said.

“I think it’s a matter of building trust with that person and identifying what the options are,” she said.

“Maybe they had a bad experience at a shelter so they don’t like shelters. But maybe with a different shelter or operator, they might have a different experience … or in terms of housing. People need choice.”

neagland@postmedia.com

twitter.com/nickeagland

28Nov

What to know about Vancouver’s bylaws on single-use plastics

by admin


Here’s when Vancouver’s bans on plastic bags, foam containers, and straws will be in effect and what you can expect.


Getty Images

Vancouver is set to tackle single-use plastics beginning in the new year, after approving new bylaws targeting plastic bags, straws, cups and utensils this week.

But don’t worry. You’ve got time to adjust. The city is working with local businesses to ensure accommodations are made where needed and that there is adequate time to phase out various plastic items.

Here’s when the bylaws come into effect and what you can expect:

Foam cups and foam take-out containers banned beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

The city is currently undertaking an education campaign, distributing toolkits and information to local businesses to help with sourcing suitable replacements for one-time use foam cups and take-out containers. You may also start to see signage at your local restaurants between now and then announcing the changes to come.

Plastic straws to be banned and single-use utensils are by request only starting April 22, 2020.

Plastic and compostable plastic straws will go extinct in the spring of 2020 when this ban goes into effect, however restaurants and bars will still need to stock bendable plastic straws wrapped in paper for patrons with accessibility challenges. The bendable straws will be by request.

Bubble tea vendors will get a one-year exemption, as there are currently no eco-friendly alternatives for the sealed plastic cups and larger straws that are a signature of the popular drink.

Another bylaw coming into effect April 2020 is a by-request requirement for single-use utensils. That means customers will have to request single-use utensils if needed, but restaurants will no longer automatically include plastic utensils with take-out orders.

Plastic bags banned and minimum fees introduced for paper and reusable bags beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

Say farewell to plastic bags at the grocery store. All plastic bags will be banned beginning Jan. 1, 2021, while minimum fees are being introduced for paper and reusable bags given out.

Paper bags will cost 15 cents per bag, while reusable bags will be sold for $1. Those fees will be in place for one year until Jan. 1, 2022 when the fees go up: 25 cents for a paper bag and $2 for a reusable bag. Paper bags are also required to be a minimum of 40 per cent recycled content.

A 25 cent minimum fee is also being introduced for disposable cups. The city hopes this fee will encourage the expansion of reusable cup share programs.

For more information on the city’s strategy to cut down on single-use plastics, visit vancouver.ca/reduce-single-use.

sip@postmedia.com
twitter.com/stephanie_ip

21Nov

Thief allegedly stole from patients in cystic fibrosis ward at St. Paul’s Hospital

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The Vancouver police are investigating a theft at St. Paul’s Hospital on Nov 7 in the cystic fibrosis ward. The woman (in the photo) allegedly used a patient’s credit card in the hospital gift shop.


Facebook / PNG

Jennifer Wright was sleeping after a medical procedure at the cystic fibrosis clinic at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver earlier this month when someone stole her belongings.

It’s stressful enough to be in the hospital but to have your bag stolen while you are ill is really low, said Wright, who has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. CF patients sometimes spend long periods of time in the hospital.

Wright, 41, a former classical ballet dancer, said she was sleeping after a procedure sometime between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Nov. 7 when her bag with her wallet and some food she had brought to eat was stolen.


Jennifer Wright, a former ballet dancer with cystic fibrosis, was in hospital for a medical procedure when a someone entered the CF ward at St. Paul’s Hospital and stole her bag with her wallet. The woman later allegedly used her card in the hospital gift shop.

When she realized her wallet had been stolen she called the bank and was informed that one of her credit cards had been used in the hospital gift shop.

With the help of a friend who volunteers at the hospital she was able to watch the surveillance video from the gift shop.

She then posted stills of the suspect on Facebook.

The young woman was seen on the security camera allegedly using Wright’s stolen credit card.

“On the tape, the (alleged) thief takes my credit card out of her bra, so she had most likely ditched my wallet already,” she said.

Sgt. Steve Addison, a spokesman for the Vancouver police, confirmed a theft was reported to VPD on Nov. 7 from a patient at St. Paul’s.

The incident is under investigation and no arrests have been made, he said Thursday. Addison also said police were aware of the surveillance camera photos that Wright posted on Facebook of the suspect.

Wright alleges the female suspect was with her boyfriend, an outpatient, and they were stealing from patients in the cystic fibrosis clinic, an area meant only for doctors and CF patients, some of whom are recovering from serious chest infections, which may include pneumonia.

Wright says at one point they were caught trying to come back into the CF clinic, but they ran down the stairs. She said a security guard caught up with them and asked the woman to dump out her bag to search for Wright’s wallet.

However because they didn’t see the wallet they had to let them go, she said.

Security told Wright there were multiple expensive sunglasses and headphones in the bag, which they deemed suspicious, she said.

Wright was living in Australia from 2011 to 2017, and said physical fitness from the ballet helped her stay healthy living with cystic fibrosis. However, she says because of her CF the government turned down her application for a visa and told her to leave the country. The stress of leaving her job and starting over in Vancouver has caused her CF to “go downhill,” she said.

She called anyone who steals from hospital patients “a sad excuse for a human being” and hopes the Vancouver police find the person responsible.

Providence Health Care, which operates St. Paul’s Hospital, has been contacted and is looking into what happened.

Anyone with information about the person in the surveillance photo can call the VPD or CrimeStoppers.


Jennifer Wright, a former ballet dancer with cystic fibrosis, was in hospital for a medical procedure when a someone entered the CF ward at St. Paul’s Hospital and stole her bag with her wallet. The woman later allegedly used her card in the hospital gift shop.

Thefts at St. Paul’s Hospital have been a problem in the past.  Last year, an Albertan woman told Postmedia she had her car broken into three times while she was visiting her dying brother.

ticrawford@postmedia.com

4Nov

Vancouver city council to consider regulations on sale of vape products, ads

by admin

16Oct

First case of vaping-related illness confirmed in B.C.

by admin


The first probable case of vaping-related illness in B.C. has been confirmed.


Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty

The first probable case of vaping-related illness in B.C. has been confirmed.

In a news release Wednesday, provincial health officer Bonnie Henry confirmed a patient suffering an illness sought care and that the illness was linked to vaping.

Several other patients and their illnesses are being investigated by health officials, with Henry suggesting it’s possible those cases may be linked to vaping as well. Henry did not say whether the cases involving the vaping of nicotine cartridges or cannabis-oil cartridges.

“These are the first cases of vaping-related illness in B.C., but we fully expect there will be more as this is quickly emerging as a significant public-health issue,” Henry said. “Vaping is turning back the clock on decades of effective anti-smoking efforts and creating a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine.”

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Last month, Henry issued a notice that required doctors to report cases in which patients had a history of using e-cigarette or vaping devices within the past 90 days, had abnormal X-ray results, and whose illnesses couldn’t be linked to other causes.

Those reports are being forwarded to the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and will be investigated by the public-health authority. Cases confirmed to be linked to vaping will be shared with the public.

Vaping has come under the spotlight recently, with at least 450 cases of acute vaping-related illness and 13 deaths reported in the U.S. to date.

While officials are still studying the cause and working to determine the exact reason vape users have been suffering breathing problems, it’s believed a contaminant created during the vaporization of oils in e-cigarettes has damaging effects on lungs. It remains unclear whether the illnesses are linked to vaping nicotine cartridges or THC cartridges.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has also promised to dramatically reduce the number of vendors that can sell e-cigarettes and vaping products in a bid to bring the problem under control.

sip@postmedia.com
twitter.com/stephanie_ip


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7Oct

Daphne Bramham: Elizabeth May looking ahead to how Greens might influence a minority government

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Elizabeth May is surprisingly cheerful for an environmental crusader worried that the civilization may be on the brink of collapse by the time her 43-year-old daughter reaches May’s own age of 65.

It’s because after being a party of one for eight years in Parliament and only graduating to a party of two earlier this year, the Green party leader says this federal election — her fourth — feels different.

Support is coming in unexpected places, she says forcing her to run something closer to a truly national campaign and visit ridings that weren’t previously on her itinerary.

The polls reflect some of that. May has the highest approval rating of the leaders on the CBC’s Leader Meter.

Her party’s support has nearly doubled in the past year to close to 10 per cent, which would translate into anywhere from one to eight seats with four seats being the consensus prediction.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5XFIb8P_Do?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

But the Greens have been here before. They polled at close to 10 per cent in 2010 long before the prospect of a dystopian future drove tens of thousands of Canadians into the streets last month.

Many of those marchers, like the climate strike’s founder Greta Thunberg, are too young to vote and are too young to be surveyed about voting intentions in Canada’s upcoming federal election.

As a politician, May laughingly told The Vancouver Sun’s editorial board that she should be talking about measuring for new curtains in the prime minister’s resident in anticipation of moving in.

But she’s a pragmatist and what is within reach in 2019 is holding the balance of power — or the balance of responsibility, as she describes it — in a minority government.

Unlike the B.C. Green party, May would make no deals to support either the Conservatives or the Liberals.

She’d use her few seats as a club to force the prime minister to either bend policies — especially on the environment — to something closer to the Greens’ platform or she’d bring down the government.

For many, the Greens’ plan is scary, requiring radical and fundamental changes to retool the Canadian economy, its social programs and even individuals’ expectations and habits.

May admits that.

By 2030, her plan would cut carbon emissions by 60 per cent from the 2005 levels, limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above global pre-industrial averages. Within a decade, a Green Canada would be fully powered by renewable energy.

Quoting an October 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, May says it’s all do-able and that the needed technology already exists to avoid going above 1.5 degrees C.

Citing a National Research Council projection, the Greens’ platform says four million jobs would be created in energy efficiency retrofits compared with the 62,000 Canadians working in oil and gas in 2018.

But May admits some will disappear and talks about a “just transition” for workers that would include more education spending, bridging of some workers to early retirement and a guaranteed livable income, which would replace and build on disability payments, social assistance and income supplements.

“It’s a tough choice and I’m not saying that people will never sacrifice,” May said. “But we’re talking about whether our children are able to have anything above a deteriorating human civilization all around them …

“A functioning human civilization is at risk within the lifetime of my daughter to be able to have basic elements of a functioning human society.”

But if the Greens hold the balance of power in a post-Oct. 21 Parliament, it’s not just the environmental agenda that may influence new legislation.

May frequently references the 1960s minority government of Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson that with support of the NDP (then named the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation), which resulted in universal health care, the Canada Pension Plan, unemployment insurance and the flag (which, bizarrely, was the most controversial).

So beyond an improved climate plan, what do the Greens want? Proportional representation rather than a first-past-the-post voting system has always been high on its list both federally and provincially. The Liberals promised it in 2015 and reneged. A Liberal minority government might be willing to rethink that.

The Greens’ platform calls for decriminalization of drug possession and access to “a safe, screened supply.” The Conservatives have resolutely said no, while the Liberals have said no for now.

May is actively supporting Wilson-Raybould’s bid to win re-election as an Independent in Vancouver-Granville. Wilson-Raybould was forced out of the Liberal Party after she publicly accused Justin Trudeau and his staff of inappropriately pressuring her to stop the prosecution of engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

The only reason there is a Green candidate in that riding is because running the party’s constitution requires one in every federal riding.

But would May be willing to bring down the new government — Liberal or Conservative — if it agreed to negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement?

May could play a pivotal role in forging a better response to the climate emergency and even help return Canada to a leadership role if she can muster the kind of patience, diplomacy and intelligence that NDP leader Tommy Douglas exercised in the 1960s.

And if she can’t? Well, we’ll have another election sooner rather than later and by then, at least some of those climate-striking kids will have reached voting age.

dbramham@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/bramham_daphne

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30Sep

Vancouver councillor says city needs to clean up streets and sidewalks

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A Vancouver councillor wants the city to get back to basics and fix bumpy sidewalks, potholes in the streets and tackle overflowing trash bins and litter.

NPA councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung is putting forward a motion Tuesday urging the city to prioritize core services such as maintaining streets and sidewalks and other public spaces, which she said has deteriorated in recent years, eroding civic pride and creating safety hazards for seniors and people with disability.

“I hear this consistently from the members of the public that they feel the city is looking a lot more rundown and it doesn’t look taken care of like it used to,” she said. “People used to be so proud of living in Vancouver — we’re known as a very clean and green city — and I don’t think people feel that anymore.”

The problem isn’t limited to the Downtown Eastside or the neighbouring areas of Chinatown or Strathcona, but throughout the city, said Kirby-Yung, adding overflowing garbage bins on the street are a common complaint.

From her previous tenure as a park board commissioner, Kirby-Yung said she is concerned about the difficulty park board staff has in accessing street medians the park board is supposed to maintain for the city, particularly along stretches of Knight Street where three-foot weeds and litter could be spotted.


A neglected median on Knight Street, south of 33rd Avenue, in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

The problem of uneven, dangerous sidewalks in Vancouver was also highlighted in a feature by Langara journalism students published by Postmedia in August.

While some may argue the city has more important issues than clean streets on its plate, including an affordability crisis and the homeless camp at Oppenheimer Park, Kirby-Yung said maintaining and cleaning streets and sidewalks are part of a city’s core responsibility — one residents and businesses expect it to fix, especially as property taxes have increased in recent years.

“People feel there has been a neglect of those core municipal services, and I think it goes toward the fact there are other priorities.”

It does not appear the city has shrunk its budget on these services. According to the 2019 budget, money allotted for street maintenance has increased from about $23 million in 2015 to a proposed $30 million in 2019. Street cleaning expenditures also jumped from about $7.3 million to almost $11 million over the same period.

Kirby-Yung said service levels need to be maintained along with population growth. She also noted there are new demands, such as needle pickups and dealing with illegal dumping in specific areas, that also has an impact on resources.

The motion asks council to recognize that maintaining and cleaning Vancouver streets and public spaces is part of the city’s core service delivery, and to upgrade and repair infrastructure as needed to restore civic pride and safety in neighbourhoods.

The motion also asks staff to identify, as part of the 2020 budget process, what expenditures, if any, are needed to clean up the city’s streets and sidewalks, including a proposed reallocation of funds from other budget items that would not add to any increase in property taxes and fees.

chchan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/cherylchan

30Sep

Call for new shelter to house Oppenheimer Park tent city holdouts

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Gary Humchitt at Oppenheimer park in Vancouver, BC Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Nearly a hundred tents dot the landscape at the park which has pitted various levels of local government and agencies against each other as to how best handle the homeless encampment.


Jason Payne / PNG

Calls will be made to Vancouver city council on Tuesday to create a new shelter, or rent a hotel, to house about 60 people who remain at the Oppenheimer Park tent city.

The first of two motions to council will be presented by COPE councillor and longtime anti-poverty advocate Jean Swanson.

Swanson’s motion is called Emergency Action to Support Vancouver’s Homeless People, Including Those in Oppenheimer Park and states that there are no more B.C. Housing units available to remaining campers.

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The Oppenheimer Park camp in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside began in Oct. 2018 with a few tents and grew to 200 tents in early Aug. 2019.


August 18, 2019. The Oppenheimer Park tent city at its peak.

NICK PROCAYLO /

PNG

On Aug. 19, Vancouver park board manager Malcolm Bromley ordered all tents/structures be removed within two days. At the same time, B.C. Housing made available to campers 123 B.C. Housing units, 11 City of Vancouver units and stated there were 60 shelter spaces available (some tent city residents have told Postmedia News that they would rather be in a tent than at a shelter.) A Supreme Court of B.C. injunction is required to remove campers by force, and as there was no injunction the remaining campers and their tents stayed in the park.

Last Thursday, during a presentation to Vancouver parks board by City of Vancouver deputy city manager Paul Mochrie, he stated that 130 campers accepted the housing offers, over half of whom were First Nations, and 34 per cent women.


August 20, 2019. Some residents are packing up to leave Oppenheimer park in Vancouver, BC, August 20, 2019.

Arlen Redekop /

PNG

Mochrie said that there were currently 120 tents on the site — between Powell Street to the north and East Cordova in the south, with Dunlevy Avenue on the west and Jackson Avenue to the east — with about 55 people still staying in the park who were in contact with city outreach workers. He said 40 were male, 14 female and one trans and noted “a small number of people have declined to identify themselves or are not interested in Outreach’s assistance.”

In her motion, Swanson calls for city staff and agencies to meet with residents “about an accessible alternative site that ensures health and safety, access to services and supports, and is acceptable and appropriate for people currently living in Oppenheimer Park. Swanson states the site needs a community kitchen, electricity, storage, toilets with running water and there be a warming tent in Oppenheimer Park.

She also calls for an emergency homelessness task force to be formed to look at buying or leasing one of more hotels for Oppenheimer Park residents.

The second motion is being put forward by Green councillor Michael Wiebe and NPA councillor Lisa Dominato and is titled A Collaborative and New Approach to Oppenheimer Park and Other Public Spaces.

It starts by stating “Vancouver is experiencing unprecedented housing and mental health and addiction issues,” and that “there are a significant number of persons living on the city’s streets, or out of their cars, due to the shortage of appropriately affordable housing who simply require access to shower and washroom facilities to support them on their path to permanent housing or employment.”

At last week’s park board meeting, commissioners heard that the number of people sleeping on the streets in Vancouver had risen almost 300 per cent since 2011 — to 614 in 2019.

In the motion, Wiebe and Dominato ask that Mayor Kennedy Stewart — who in early September unsuccessfully asked that parks board hand over the Oppenheimer Park file to the city — send a letter to parks board asking that the “current impasse” at the park be “resolved swiftly” for all concerned. They also want council to develop a decampment plan with the goal of “restoring the park for broad public use.”

The pair are also calling for council to direct staff to apply for provincial government funding “for the establishment of a low-barrier shelter in the city that can suitably address the specific needs of those currently encamped in Oppenheimer Park.”

The majority of councillors and mayor need to vote in favour of a motion to be passed, and often the motion is amended during the council meeting.

Vancouver’s council is comprised of an independent mayor, five from the Non-Partisan Association, three from the Green party and one from COPE.

The Vancouver park board has the power to apply for an injunction to end the tent city, but are not prepared to do that at this point. In 2014 the park board did use an injunction to end another homeless camp in Oppenheimer Park.


Oct. 16, 2014. A woman sorts through her belongings as tents come down and police and city workers clean up Oppenheimer Park in Vancouver on October 16, 2014.

PNG

dcarrigg@postmedia.com

twitter.com/davidcarrigg

 

 

 

8Sep

Province proposal to turn part of Trans Canada Trail to industrial use ‘mind-boggling’

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https://vancouversun.com/


Cyclists ride across a trestle bridge, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.


Handout/Trails Society / PNG

A historic rail trail that was donated to the province by the Trans Canada Trail society could be opened to logging trucks if a government proposal to cancel its trail designation gets the green light, say trail advocates.

The Ministry of Forests is seeking to transfer management of a 67-kilometre portion of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail to unspecified agencies to reflect local interests and support “access for industrial activity,” according to a letter sent to stakeholders soliciting feedback on the plan.

A major logging company holds tenure for several cut blocks near the trail, which runs from Castlegar to Fife, east of Christina Lake.

“It’s mind-boggling that they’re even considering this,” said Ciel Sander, president of Trails Society of B.C. “The trail is a government asset. It should be protected as a linear park, not an access road for logging trucks.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail was donated to the Trans Canada Trail decades ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway for inclusion in the The Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail, a national trail network stretching 24,000 kilometres across the country.

In 2004, the committee transferred the trail to the B.C. government with the “expressed intention that it would be used and managed as a recreational trail,” said Trans Canada Trail vice-president Jérémie Gabourg.


A cyclist on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

While the government’s proposal is clear that recreational access will remain, it marks the first time a group has sought to convert a portion of The Great Trail from a trail to a road in any province or territory.

“Sections of The Great Trail of Canada are on roadways, and we strive to move these sections of the trail to greenways, where possible,” said Gabourg. “To see a trail go from greenway to roadway is disheartening … It could set a dangerous precedent.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects with the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a route that attracts cyclists from around the world. In accepting the trail from the Trans Canada Trail in 2004, the government made a commitment to preserve and protect it from motorized use, said Léon Lebrun, who was involved in the process as past president of Trails Society of B.C.

“We have a government who has not taken real responsibility,” he said. Officials have “turned a blind eye” to motorized users who have graded parts of the trail and removed several bollards designed to prevent access. “They had no permit and no permission, and the government did nothing.”

In its letter to stakeholders, the Ministry of Forests recognized vehicles are already accessing the trail, explaining the proposed administration change would ensure it was being maintained for that use.

“This portion of rail corridor contains engineered structures including steel trestles, hard rock tunnels, major culverts and retaining walls atypical of recreation trails and requiring management beyond typical trail standards,” said the letter by John Hawkins, director of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.


Tracks on the trail, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

But Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said that allowing motorized vehicles would be rewarding people who broke the law.

“While we acknowledge that this change reflects current use, this is clearly the result of years of mismanagement of what was intended as, and should have remained, a high-profile recreation and tourism amenity,” she replied to Hawkins in a letter that was shared with Postmedia.

“Those who have consistently flaunted trail use regulations are now being rewarded … We expect (Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.) to acknowledge this as a tragic failure, and ensure that resources and strategies are in place to prevent further losses of our valued trails.”

Stakeholders were given one month to register their feedback with the Ministry of Forests, ending Aug. 26.

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests said the process is ongoing to receive more information from regional districts. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

gluymes@postmedia.com

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