Further to recent progress reports and the Five Goals we have established for our government, I am writing to update you on some recent announcements. In this report we are featuring:
- $10 million to improve Gastown, Chinatown, Strathcona and Japantown
- New Funding for Housing Projects
- UBC/Vancouver Integration
- More Buses for Vancouver
In February, I submitted a proposal to the provincial government regarding Vancouver’s participation in BC’s 150th anniversary. The goal was to support our Project Civil City goals by recapturing the vibrancy of Vancouver’s founding neighbourhoods – Gastown, Granville, Chinatown, Japantown and Strathcona. The plan is called Great Beginnings: Old Streets, New Pride.
This week Premier Campbell delivered! During a special ceremony in Chinatown, the provincial government announced $10 million for the City of Vancouver to support this initiative and make these neighbourhoods better places to live and work. We plan to:
- revive streetscapes & improve lighting
- erect banners & murals
- replace worn awnings & paint lamp standards
- install neon lighting
- repair broken windows
- remove graffiti & garbage
- facade & alcove maintenance
We look forward to more announcements in the coming weeks regarding the allocation of these funds for specific community partnerships. I will also be asking Council to support a $600,000 expansion of street cleaning services to support the plan.
On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank Premier Campbell for responding to our request and supporting our efforts to celebrate inclusion and Vancouver’s rich multicultural heritage.
As I have indicated in previous reports, our government is working hard to use the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games as a catalyst to address challenges facing our community – particularly homelessness. The City of Vancouver is contributing $175 million over five years for new social housing. The provincial government is making historic investments and we have been encouraging the federal government to match these efforts.
Last week, it was an honour for me to participate with representatives from the Urban Native Youth Association and BC’s senior federal Minister Hon. Stockwell Day at a special housing event in East Vancouver. A variety of local organizations will receive more than $10 million for 35 projects. They include:
- Lu’ma Native Housing Society
- Urban Native Youth Association
- La Boussole, Centre communautaire francophone
- Aboriginal Mother Centre
- Covenant House Vancouver
- Triage Emergency Services & Care Society
- YWCA of Vancouver
- Salvation Army Harbour Light
- BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
- John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of BC
- First United Church Social Housing Society
On behalf of the City, I want to thank the federal government for responding to our representations on housing and we look forward to more progress in the coming months. I also want to recognize the dedication of the volunteers and staff of community organizations across the city who are working hard to end homelessness.
The results of the 2008 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count were also released last week. The following is a summary of some conclusions from the report.
The rate of increase in Vancouver compared to other regions is less than expected and certainly better than what we experienced between 2002 and 2005 when homelessness doubled.
Today, over 3,000 new units of social and supportive housing are being completed and developed. These will have a significant impact on homelessness in Vancouver and complement other measures, including:
- expansion of Vancouver’s Homeless Outreach Program – housing close to 750 people
- advocacy for re-opening of Riverview Hospital
- accelerated development of 12 city-owned sites for social housing
- reduced red-tape for faith communities providing social services
- secured approximately $30 million from federal government over past six months to help people with drug addiction & mental illness
- funding for local community service agencies
- City Council resolutions supporting InSite & substitution treatment
- employment & housing opportunities associated with Olympic Village development in South East False Creek
Mayor Sullivan, Health Minister George Abbott and other community leaders at an opening of a new senior’s housing facility in Vancouver
Successful global cities in the 21st Century must have knowledge-based economies.
That is one of the reasons why next week, Vancouver City Council will consider an important motion put forward by Councillors Suzanne Anton and Elizabeth Ball to help strengthen the ties between the University of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver.
Vancouver and UBC enjoy a long shared history. Many think it is within our municipal boundary today. It is not. For some time, Metro Vancouver has requested that UBC transfer its local government responsibilities to a more suitable authority. Our goals are to:
- welcome discussions regarding the joining of UBC to Vancouver
- investigate the opportunities and questions which need to be addressed should UBC wish to consider joining Vancouver
- benefit from more effective partnership with one of the world’s premier academic institutions
Increasing access to transportation options is one of the goals we have established for our government. Part of this plan means more buses on the street.
Over the past two years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of buses in Vancouver. I am pleased to confirm that more are on the way. This week Translink announced plans to deliver:
- 20 zero-emission, articulated electric trolleys by mid-2009 for Fraser Street
- 72 diesel-electric hybrids by May 2010 to provide additional capacity for Vancity U-Pass ridership, support increased SeaBus frequency & improve service in the metro core
- 14 new SkyTrain cars for the Expo Line in service by February 2010
By providing efficient transportation options for commuters, we make our economy more efficient and reduce impact on the environment. Our government will continue to be a strong advocate for public transportation investments – including the proposed Downtown Streetcar and UBC Rapid Transit Line.