Dunbar’s future is in your hands

dunbar votes

by Carol Volkart, DRA Newsletter Editor

When you cast your vote for the next City Council on Saturday, October 15, 2022 you won’t just be choosing people or parties – you’ll be voting for how Dunbar and the entire city will develop over the next 30 years.
    That’s because this election will also determine whether the Vancouver and Broadway Plans, which set the stage for massive densification throughout the city by 2050, will go ahead as planned, be altered dramatically, or withdrawn altogether.
    For Dunbar, that means you’ll be deciding whether you agree to the prospect of 12-to-25-plus-storey towers in some areas of the neighbourhood, plus much denser development throughout.
    The controversial plans were approved by City Council in June and July after heated public hearings, heavy correspondence to council, and many amendments. However, they will not be implemented until the next council takes office, so their future depends on the people we elect this fall.
    The Vancouver Plan is mostly a “framework” setting out directions for future growth, with many specifics still lacking. The much-further-advanced Broadway Plan, which will be incorporated into the Vancouver Plan, gives a clearer idea of what we can expect citywide if the overall plan proceeds.
    And that is density – lots of it. The Broadway Plan allows 20- to-40-storey towers, as many as three per block, in a 500-block area along the Broadway Corridor, from 1st to 16th, from Vine to Clark Drive.
    The Vancouver Plan is less specific, but a map shows only a small proportion of the city reserved for relatively low-density housing of up to six units per lot. Everywhere else is denser, with apartment buildings and towers of various heights allowed.


A key element of both plans is the disappearance of Vancouver’s 23 traditional neighbourhoods, including Dunbar. Long considered the basic building blocks of the city, they are to be replaced by a handful of generic “neighbourhood types” scattered all over the city.


get out and vote dunbar

    The two plans also dramatically change the treatment of neighbourhood voices. Contrary to past practice, the city did not engage neighbourhood residents or their representatives in planning the future of their areas. Instead, it worked with selected “stakeholder” groups to create the plans, then released them to the general public for input.
    Previous neighbourhood plans created by residents, such as the Dunbar Community Vision approved by city council in 1998 after two years of work by community members, will be repealed, as has already happened in Broadway neighbourhoods. Chief City Planner Theresa O’Donnell has said the old plans are outdated and incapable of dealing with the city’s current challenges.
    What can Dunbar residents expect if the Vancouver Plan proceeds?

  • Our neighbourhood will look very different. Many more and bigger buildings will fill once-single-family lots where trees and gardens flourished. Apartment buildings and some retail will move off Dunbar Street and into what have traditionally been single-family areas. There will be towers.
  • The area we’ve known as Dunbar will become three different “neighbourhood types” – a multiplex area, a neighbourhood centre, and a rapid transit area. The Vancouver Plan map is fuzzy about boundaries, but the two latter categories appear to take up most of Dunbar.
  • The relatively small multiplex area could allow up to six units per residential lot, at heights of up to three storeys. However, six storeys would be allowed for rental apartment buildings or social housingin these areas.
  • Dunbar Street and a vaguely defined area around it will be called a neighbourhood centre. What will happen here is a bit confusing. In late 2021, council got a jump on the Vancouver Plan by approving six-storey rentals on arterials like Dunbar, and four-to-five-storey rental apartments on adjacent blocks.

    However, the newly approved plan appears to allow much higher buildings around the main shopping street. It says buildings of up to 12 storeys will be allowed, with the latter “within a block or two of the local shopping street.” For Dunbar, this would mean west to Highbury and Wallace, east to Collingwood and Blenheim.

  • Forty-first Avenue and an area that appears to run from 33rd to 49th will be a rapid transit area, described as “generally within a 10-minute walk of existing or future rapid transit stations.” For these areas, the plan allows up to 12-18 storeys, with “25-plus in strategic locations.”
  • As a low-density, high-amenity area, Dunbar is a high priority in the Vancouver Plan. Along with most of the city’s west side, it is categorized as an “opportunity area” that can be used to improve equity citywide, one of three main goals of the Vancouver Plan (along with reconciliation and resilience.)

    CityHallWatch, a website that keeps a close eye on civic issues, notes the only party with a stated policy on the Broadway and Vancouver Plans is TEAM for a Livable Vancouver, which says it will withdraw them if it wins a majority. All the other parties have indicated support for the plans through press releases or other methods.

CityHallWatch’s summary of the plans are at: https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2022/08/14/2022-election-crucial-on-broadway-plan-vancouver-plan-future

Thoughts from a Broadway Plan Rally

By Bruce A. Gilmour, DRA President

On Saturday, May 7, I joined a rally at Vancouver City Hall!  I gathered with those curious, concerned, hoping to learn more, or wanting to voice their opinions to the current Mayor and Council about the Broadway Plan and citizen participation in civic democracy. 

Regarding engagement at the neighbourhood level, has the time arrived for Vancouver neighbourhoods to petition Council on what change we are prepared to adjust to in housing mix in the traditional single-family neighbourhoods?  For example, mixed zoning changes one or two blocks off arterials. A housing design plan that provides for single-family, duplex, fourplex, and sixplex housing –market, fixed income, rental, and seniors’ housing and supports.

Would this zoning approach protect views, natural light and trees, sustain form and character, and attract the eight-to-80 demographics wanting active and healthy living?  Let’s have the conversation at the local level to learn what we can live with as we plan for growth and change.  The Broadway Plan rally raised the following questions for me:

  • Affordability – for who?
  • Capacity – are City Council and staff locked into building up without considering unrealized zoning potential?
  • Trust – does getting the plan through before the end of the current Council’s mandate engender trust?
  • Liveability – has a reliable inventory of what residents define as their neighbourhood values been completed?

Turning to the Vancouver Plan, I ask whether it has created the opportunity for engagement and feedback at the neighbourhood level about residents’ definition of liveability.  This would include walkability, retail diversity, accessible transit services, rent controls, green and park space for play, seniors’ housing and supports, and ‘K’ to 12 education.

Does densification of housing supply threaten these neighbourhood values with the introduction of medium (six-storey) to high (40-storey) towers to increase housing stock?  Common thought is yes. 

Housing is needed, but are taller buildings going to preserve neighbourhood values defining liveability?  As often is the case, we did not know what we had until it was taken away – irreplaceable, taken-for-granted values, such as faces at the street level, ambience, mom-and-pop commercial retail diversity, the public realm!

I live in a single-family home where we raised a family.  I experience overwhelming gratitude for living in a friendly, welcoming neighbourhood.  I am incredibly grateful for the neighbourhood values which have meant a positive experience of liveability.  I accept that growth and change are inevitable.  I also understand my responsibility to stay informed, to advocate, and participate in citizen-created forums.

The past two years of COVID ruined opportunities for face-to-face citizen participation.  Consequently, news talk radio interviews, mailouts, print media coverage, surveys, and social media have been utilized to educate and message the taxpayer.  Has the process been effective? Do you feel you have any agency in this far-reaching government-led neighbourhood planning? Has the City put in a checkmark in the community-consultation box?  The jury is out on this decision!  Perhaps more to learn in this fall’s municipal elections?

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN HURT YOU

by Carol Volkart, DRA Newsletter Editor

If you don’t know about two massive city-changing plans that will transform the look, feel and texture of Vancouver over the next 30 years, you’re not alone.

Mention the Broadway Plan and Vancouver Plan to most people on the street, and you’re likely to hear, “I didn’t know about that!”  

The plans, both expected to be approved by City Council in the next two months, will densify the city significantly by 2050, allowing high-rises in many new areas and more intensive building everywhere.

The Broadway Plan, which covers 500 blocks from Vine to Clark Drive, from 1st to 16th, will allow as many as three towers per block, some as high as 40 storeys. The overall Vancouver Plan replaces traditional neighbourhoods with a patchwork of generic neighbourhood types based on the kinds of buildings each allows. All include more density; some allow high-rises where none have been permitted before.

Why don’t you know about this? Probably because you don’t belong to the “stakeholder” groups targeted by the City in the years it’s been developing the plans. Certain groups, including the building industry, were heavily consulted, but curiously, neighbourhood groups and associations were scarcely notified, if at all.

Another reason is the process – top-down, with staff drawing up the plans, then inviting feedback through online surveys and Zoom workshops. For non-stakeholders who don’t follow City issues closely, especially during COVID, it was easy to miss.

Vancouverites are accustomed to a different kind of planning process; traditionally they’ve been deeply involved in creating plans for their neighbourhoods. A prime example was the Dunbar Community Vision, approved by City Council in 1998 after Dunbar residents spent nearly two years figuring out how their neighbourhood should evolve. 

Dunbar has already been affected by the early approval of one aspect of the Vancouver Plan. The “Streamlining Rental” initiative passed last December allows six-storey rental buildings on Dunbar and four- to-five-storey apartment buildings on adjacent blocks. 

As for further impacts, a muddy Vancouver Plan map shows Dunbar divided into at least three neighbourhood “types” – “Rapid Transit” along 41st (meaning towers); “Neighbourhood Centre” along Dunbar (meaning an emphasis on shops and mid-rise construction); and “Multiplex Area” for the rest (purpose-built rental housing and “missing middle” ownership.)

While the City calls the Vancouver Plan an essential long-term strategy to support future growth, local architect and planning critic Brian Palmquist isn’t impressed. He says it will mean a continuation of the “years-long practice of spot rezoning a pox of development across our city, so that no resident of any neighbourhood will know how long their neighbourhood, their street, their view, their green space, their access to light will be preserved, or even respected.”

For more information: Vancouver Plan at https://vancouverplan.ca/, Broadway Plan at https://shapeyourcity.ca/broadway-plan

For analysis of what it all means, see Brian Palmquist’s City Conversations Substack at https://bit.ly/cityconv For Broadway Plan, see https://bit.ly/cityconv57  For Vancouver Plan, https://bit.ly/cityconv42 

CityHallWatch https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/ puts out a constant flow of information about city issues.

Blind Transit Rider Starts Website to Fight Bus-Stop Cuts

By Carol Volkart, DRA Newsletter Editor

More danger. Extra time. Less independence. That’s what Bus Balancing has meant for a blind Dunbar resident who has started a website and petition to publicize the impact of TransLink’s bus-stop-cutting program.

“I now have to ask strangers to guide me along streets and across intersections,” says Stephanie, a physically fit woman whose carefully established routines were turned upside-down by the loss of stops on the No. 7 and No. 2 routes.

TransLink says its Bus Balancing program is aimed at improving travel times and reliability while maintaining convenient access for passengers, but Stephanie says that for those coping with mobility or disability issues, it’s the opposite.

“I am very independent, but removing the bus stops is a huge problem and will be for so many other people,” she says. “I see it stopping people from going out and about, so it’s more isolation for seniors and people with disabilities.”

She says much of TransLink’s “propaganda” about Bus Balancing is misleading, and some is simply not true.

While TransLink says the program could cut two-and-a-half minutes off some one-way trips, providing an easier and more pleasant transit experience, that isn’t the reality for those struggling to get to more distant stops, she says. Its statement that it wouldn’t cut stops in busy convenient areas is the opposite of what she has experienced. Its assurance that bus stops won’t be so far apart as to make transit inaccessible is also not true. Many are four blocks apart, an impossible distance for those with mobility and disability issues, frail seniors, and people carrying young children and loads of groceries.

In fact, the new program “excludes seniors and people with disabilities from being able to access parts of transit so it’s a loss of mobility,” she says. “It also affects anyone who has had a stop removed where they live and for people with small children it makes it more difficult to get around.”

The reality, she says, is that Bus Balancing is “backward thinking and does not provide the service that is needed now or into the future.”  

Stephanie gave three examples of how bus-stop cuts have made her life more inconvenient, stressful and dangerous:

  • Fourth and Vine was a shopping hub for her, with its Safeway, Whole Foods and Shoppers Drug Mart on three corners easily accessible from east and westbound stops at Vine. The stops were removed when the No. 4 and 7 routes were “balanced” earlier this year. Now she gets off a stop early, at Balsam, and must depend on finding someone who will guide her the extra block to Whole Foods; she says it takes three months to fully learn a new block. “For the first time in 15 years of getting my groceries at Whole Foods, one of the employees there guided me to the bus stop because it was further for me to walk and it was a new stop and I had lots of food on my back, so lots of weight.”
  • Removal of the No. 2 stop at 10th and Macdonald has cost her time, independence and added a dangerous intersection to her route. “It is a transfer point so people would get off the bus at 10th then walk to Broadway and turn right to catch the 99, 9 and 14 when the 14 was going east on Broadway,” she notes. Now, she says, she must catch an earlier bus to make her transfer on time, get off at Broadway on the north side of Macdonald “and have to ask a stranger to guide me across the street so I can get the bus. That intersection is a very busy intersection with people running red lights and turning right on to Macdonald.”
  • Removal of the No. 7 stop at 26th and Dunbar has caused problems for her regular trip east along West 25th to Main, where she stocks up on two to three months’ worth of meat. She used to get off the northbound No. 7 bus at 26th, walk to 25th and turn right to catch the No. 25 on West 25th. Now she stays on the bus until 18th, then crosses Dunbar to catch the eastbound No. 25 at 17th. She chooses that route instead of crossing Dunbar at 25th because she’s concerned about aligning with the crosswalk when crossing such a wide street. “It adds up to 15 minutes to my trip and is an added stress.”

Stephanie says she started the website to draw attention to the problems Bus Balancing is creating for herself and others. She’s especially concerned because TransLink plans to expand the program throughout the region at the rate of four to eight routes a year, so all Metro residents will face similar issues.

Her website includes a petition link and offers readers a form they can fill out to tell TransLink what an “awesome” transit system looks like to them.

“Let’s not let TransLink’s short-sightedness dictate our lack of access to transit,” she writes. “Let’s design a transit system that is accessible for all people and one that is good for businesses and our community at large.”

Ron Hatch: A Life of Books and Adventure (1939–2021)

Residents involved in The Story of Dunbar remember the kind and professional support of local publisher Ron Hatch, who died in November.

By Carol Volkart, Newsletter Editor

“When I heard of Ron Hatch’s passing last fall, I googled him and found an outpouring – a flood – of appreciation for him and his work coming from the province’s finest writers,” recalls Dunbar resident Helen Spiegelman. “How amazing that he made time to help a little committee pull together a history of their neighbourhood.”

The history was The Story of Dunbar: Voices of a Vancouver Neighbourhood. Ron Hatch was the quiet man who helped his neighbours capture the century-long transformation of their community from forest to suburb in 12 polished chapters, complete with old photographs, and high-quality index and sources sections.

The Dunbar book is among about 300 titles published by Ronsdale Press, the company Ron Hatch and his wife Veronica bought (and renamed) in 1988 after his retirement as a UBC English professor. Headquartered in their West 21st home, it became a strong and highly regarded press in the B.C. and Canadian literary world.

Dunbar’s efforts to capture its early voices before they were gone fit well with Ronsdale’s goals of giving Canadians new insights into themselves and their country.

But why would a world adventurer, mountaineer and lover of the wilderness choose to set up as a book publisher in his retirement? Asked about it when he won the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award in 2014, Hatch said: “I felt I could add something.”

What he added was apparent in the torrent of appreciation unleashed when he died on Nov. 25. Author after author – poets, biographers, novelists – wrote online tributes to his fastidious editing, his kind support, his honest opinion delivered, as one writer said, “with a twinkle in his eye.”

Spiegelman, who took over the editing of the Dunbar book after the death of the original editor Peggy Schofield in 2005, had the Ron Hatch experience first-hand:

 “As I settled into that committee following the death of dear Peggy Schofield, I sensed the presence of invisible forces guiding our work, providing us with behind-the-scenes support that made our project so much more than it would have been, and our work so much smoother and easier to do. In retrospect, it looks like a fairy tale,” she wrote.

“I met with the kindly man on West 21st a few times without realizing that he was the wizard making it all happen. He would be the one who sent us our copy editor, Naomi Pauls, who read our manuscripts and sat with us at weekly meetings at Pam Chambers’ dining room table hashing out details. He would be the one who thought of bringing in a little behind-the-scenes team that distilled out of the sprawling text (400+ pages long) the meticulously detailed index at the back of the book, so people could look up references to things and people that they were interested in. He would have been the one who had the eye and the experience to approve a really great cover image, clear photos, and graceful design inside.

“In all those tributes to Ron Hatch that I read online, I could see the same Ron Hatch that we’d known, smiling, gentle, helping make magic happen.”

Hatch was so notoriously modest that his friend Alan Twigg organized a celebration of the Hatches’ publishing venture in 2013 because he felt that “Ron’s low-key and determinedly non-self-referential manner was being under-recognized.” On Hatch’s death, Twigg, an author and creator of BC Bookworld wrote: “A keen environmentalist, a meticulous proofreader and a courageous soul, Ron Hatch was a gentleman and a scholar who never sought the limelight; always empowering others to do so.”

Dunbar Residents’ Association board member Sonia Wicken recalls Hatch as a casually dressed, quiet man who could be spotted mailing off packages at the local post office or walking his black Labs in the neighbourhood. Sometimes, he’d show up on her doorstep with a royalty cheque for the Dunbar book.

When the DRA and Hatch sat down to negotiate the book contract, there was no drama, says Wicken, who was DRA treasurer at the time. The DRA had to guarantee pre-sales of 2,000 for a 5,000-copy run, which it easily did, and the book sold well afterwards. “He didn’t lose money on it, so we were pleased about that,” she says. Hatch didn’t come across as a salesman, she notes, but he did a great job of distributing the book, working hard to get it into the airport and onto the ferries.

Hatch, born in 1939, grew up in Dunbar after his parents moved here from Thunder Bay, Ont. in about 1947. Except for a few years working for CUSO in India and studying and teaching in Europe, he made Dunbar his home. The house where he lived and ran his publishing operation was a block from where he grew up, his grandson Forrest Berman-Hatch wrote in a Ubyssey obituary in December.

But Hatch was also an adventurer and traveller, with a passion for mountains, wilderness and foreign scenes. As a young couple, the Hatches took “epic motorcycle journeys across South Asia and the Middle East and spent time in the Himalayas so my grandfather could climb among the world’s most legendary mountains,” wrote Berman-Hatch. “He completed multiple first ascents but would never mention them unless pressed.” Later, there were sabbaticals abroad, but always the wilderness too – hiking in Whistler, summers off-grid in northern B.C., and a cabin on Hollyburn Mountain. “He loved that cabin and would go up there to read manuscripts under a propane lantern for decades,” Berman-Hatch recalled.

And underscoring it all, literature “of the kind that champions the values of freedom, decency and critical thinking,” Berman-Hatch wrote. “To my grandfather, literature was about maintaining civilization in the face of darkness.”

Twigg recalled Hatch as “old-fashioned in the best possible ways,” never speaking unkindly of others, saving money on stamps by dropping off cheque payments by hand. “At a crowded literary event,” he remembered, “I once spontaneously introduced Ron Hatch to the person next to me by saying, ‘This is Ron Hatch. He tells the truth and he does things on time.’”

New Pastor on the Side of the Angels

Immaculate Conception Church at 3778 West 28th Avenue has a neighbourhood feel and an ambience that pleases its new pastor.

By Carol Volkart, Newsletter Editor

When the members of Dunbar’s Immaculate Conception Parish welcomed Father John Horgan as their pastor last July, they also welcomed an expert on angels, medical ethics, and a 14,000-volume library into their community.

Plus, of course, a well-known name that surprises cab drivers and requires its bearer to quickly state, “No relation to the premier,” upon first introduction.

Father Horgan, 63, has an impressive background that includes graduation from Harvard University, seminary studies in Rome followed by ordination by Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1986, and an active role in palliative and hospice work with several Vancouver hospitals, including St. Paul’s during the AIDS crisis.

 During his nearly four decades in the Vancouver Archdiocese, the Cambridge, Mass.-born pastor has also served at Saints Peter and Paul in Shaughnessy; at St. Pius X in Deep Cove; and along with his hospital work, 12 years as a priest for the Musqueam Indian Band.

And now he is serving in the pretty cul-de-sac church on West 28th that nestles up against St. George’s Junior School.

 It suits him well.

 “I’m a neighbourhood person,” he says, noting he grew up in a similar environment. He says he’s had a soft spot for the city’s west side ever since his time at the Shaughnessy church, where he oversaw the creation of new stained-glass windows that have since become famous.

“Coming to Immaculate Conception is like coming home. I love the ambience and the people I’ve met.”

He noted that Catholic churches are very neighbourhood-focused, each with their own catchment area, although parishioners may come from outside, too. That neighbourliness shows up in many ways. At Immaculate Conception, it includes the beautifully kept gardens around the church and nearby rectory, which are maintained by parishioners. “The gardens are an important part of our outreach, and good neighbourliness,” he says. “I have a great appreciation for gardens.”

Inside that rectory is a very large library, which includes many volumes related to his fields of expertise, on which he has both lectured and written. One area is moral theology and medical ethics, arising out of his work with hospices and palliative care. A second is saints and angels, a subject of lifelong interest that he studied in Rome. He hosted the EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) series Angels of God. His 2018 book, His Angels at Our Side: Understanding Their Power In Our Souls and the World, casts angels as an integral part of the world, speaking to humans through moments of enlightenment, inspiration and intuition.

Outside his library is the new parish and community he is getting to know. Although churches saw a drop of 35 to 40 percent in attendance during the pandemic, and only recently returned to full capacity, Masses and services continued, and Immaculate Conception’s doors stayed open for those wanting a quiet moment during the day.

 It’s a “marvellous” parish, says Father Horgan. He sees his goal as continuing to foster the little church’s role as a place of welcoming, strength and neighbourliness in the Dunbar community.

Help Us Save Our Beloved School

Queen Elizabeth Annex (QEA) is a safe and happy community for 70 French Immersion students from kindergarten to Grade 3 located in the heart of Dunbar.  But it will soon be gone if we – parents at the school and the larger community – can’t convince the Vancouver School Board to reject plans to close it and sell the large property it sits on.

The QEA Parent Advisory Committee has taken every available opportunity so far to argue for our school – we’ve written, phoned, attended meetings and even held an outdoor protest. Our efforts will continue, but we hope the broader Dunbar community will get involved too. Trustees are scheduled to make their final decision on May 30, so our request is urgent.

It would be no surprise to us if you haven’t heard of the plans yet, as the school board has rushed them along in an incredibly non-transparent process at the height of a pandemic.  The initial meeting with the board of trustees was Jan. 17, with just 48 hours’ notice, given over a weekend. At that hastily called meeting, the board made a recommendation to close and sell the school, which sits on a large property adjacent to Camosun Bog and Pacific Spirit Park.

There are many reasons why the removal of this site from educational use by the VSB and its subsequent sale – either to the francophone school board or a private school – doesn’t make sense and will negatively impact the Dunbar community.

Aside from the fact that QEA is a uniquely popular, much-loved and successful school, it is illogical to close an elementary school and dispose of these precious lands at a time when plans are progressing to increase family housing in Dunbar and adjacent areas. These plans mean it is likely the VSB will need to expand school spots in Dunbar in the short and medium-term.  Buying sites like the one QEA sits on will be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, in the future. The school board should save this land for future generations of Dunbar-area children.

Another argument is an environmental one. If the site is sold to either the francophone board or to another private school, it would mean many students being driven to the school from other parts of the city, instead of walking there, as our kids do. That means traffic congestion and a strain on the environment, especially as we understand the francophone board plans to build a much bigger, 435-student school on the site.

Ultimately, the VSB is entrusted to manage and maintain educational assets and resources in the public’s interest over the long term. To sell off resources to meet short-term needs during a time of growth is bad planning and a violation of the public’s trust. If we lose this precious community asset, it will be gone forever.

What you can do:

For more information, visit http://www.qea-pac.ca/advocacy/ or contact us at qea.parents@gmail.com.  And please help sign and share our online petition at https://www.change.org/p/no-school-closures-transparent-planning-first/

Remembering George Pinch

by Meredith Kimball, Dunbar Community Patrol Chairperson

On January 7 of this year, George Pinch died at the age of 87. He was born November 12, 1935 and grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan.  He earned an engineering degree from the University of Saskatchewan, where he met his wife, Lorna, at a church function in Saskatoon. They married on May 4, 1957.  After living in Winnipeg and Victoria, they moved to their house on West 22nd Avenue in 1966, where they raised their family.  George worked for years at BC Hydro in the Power Smart program.  For over 50 years he was an active citizen and a well-known neighbour in Dunbar who always had a cheerful word for everyone he met including children and dogs. George was an avid gardener and grew a fine tomato. He served for many years on the Dunbar Residents’ Association Board of Directors and as co-president with Susan Chapman. 

George was a member of the committee that founded the Dunbar Community Patrol in 2005, served on DCP Coordinating Committee for 15 years, interviewed new patrollers, and was one of the most active and enthusiastic of them all.  For 12 years he patrolled the most hours and his records of 102 hours in one year and a total of 942.25 hours over his career still stand.  He and Lorna very generously volunteered their home for our Coordinating Committee meetings from 2004 until the start of the pandemic.

Patrolling with George was never dull.  In addition to watching for problems, he had a keen eye for useful items someone had thrown away in a lane, including bottles to be recycled for money which he donated to Children’s Hospital.  He was always friendly and I was often surprised when someone from the neighbourhood would approach us with, “Hi George, how are you doing?”

He will be missed by everyone in the DCP, the DRA, and many, many of his neighbours. If you would like to find out what made the DCP such a big part of George’s life for many years, please consider volunteering to do walk or bike patrols.  Although the pandemic has made it difficult to train new patrollers, we will resume taking in new members as soon as possible. If you are interested, please leave a phone message at 604-222-9824, send an email to dcp-info@dunbar-vancouver.org or visit our webpage at www.dunbar-vancouver.org.

Sadly, after this article was written, we received word that Lorna Pinch died on February 15, 2022. To the Dunbar Patrol, it feels like an era has passed with both of these wonderful community members gone.

DEEP’s Spring Activities

Dunbar Earthquake and Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) continues to work toward building a stronger and more resilient community in times of emergency and disaster. 

The group offers neighbourhoods assistance in emergency preparedness with our Map Your Neighbourhood Program (MYN) via Zoom. A group member will help a block volunteer organize the Zoom meeting by informing residents of the upcoming meeting with a postcard providing registration information. When the meeting date is set, the volunteer will be supported online by a member to go through and discuss a video presentation.

DEEP is also offering a presentation and a full set-up of DEEP’s Disaster Support Hub this spring.  Our presenters include Dr. Carlos Ventura, Professor and Director Earthquake Engineering Research at UBC; and VECTOR, a volunteer group of HAM operators who assist the City of Vancouver and VPD with communications during or after an emergency or disaster.

Scheduled for this spring were presentations by Dr. Ventura on March 28; a meeting on April 25 (to be confirmed); and on May 28 or 29 at 10 a.m., a full set-up of the Disaster Support HUB at DCC.

If you are interested in learning more about DEEP’s MYN program or participating in our training, please contact us at www dunbaremergency dot ca.

Speak up for Dunbar this Election Year

By Bruce A. Gilmour, DRA President

As 2022 began, I reflected on the DRA’s 2021 accomplishments and the path forward. Much of last year’s focus will continue to influence our agenda this year. That includes an increased emphasis on collaboration with the Dunbar Village Business Association and with Dunbar residents through the newsletter, list serv, and home page. As 2022 is a municipal election year, we must ensure candidates understand that protecting liveability and maintaining stability are priorities for our neighbourhood.

One of the DRA’s major and increasing concerns is what is happening to our once-vibrant retail district. You only have to stroll between West 16th and West 41st Avenues to see the difference between what Dunbar was just a few years ago and what it is now. While some new stores are opening and new apartment buildings are going up, many stores are closing or at risk, and there are far too many vacant blocks and storefronts along our main street.

We must lobby and petition city council to help us protect and attract retail diversity on Dunbar. It makes no sense to be densifying our area while our retail district disappears and transit is cut. While residents succeeded in convincing TransLink not to go ahead with plans to cut 40 percent of the bus stops between 16th and 41st in January, we still lost five on Dunbar, and many on West King Edward and Macdonald that once served Dunbar residents.

Another concern is how little attention the city pays to the voices of communities like ours. Councillors are elected to represent the residents, the neighbourhoods called Vancouver.  But as we saw with the Streamlining Rental plan, which allows four- to five-storey apartment buildings in residential blocks adjacent to arterials, the concerns of many of our residents who opposed this were ignored. We know when it comes to development issues, the deck is often stacked by developers who recruit speakers and generate multiple emails to support their case. Residents are considered obstacles to development.

Which brings me to the Vancouver Plan, where once again the DRA has not been consulted, let alone notified. The Vancouver Plan is described as a single, city-wide plan to guide future growth. Council initiated the plan in 2019, and is scheduled to make a final decision on it this summer.

According to the city website, the plan will “guide future growth in line with the key priorities the community has identified including: housing, climate action and sustainability, employment and economy, environment, transportation, social well-being, arts and culture and infrastructure.”

I have had no details or timelines about the planning process touching down in neighbourhoods such as Dunbar. The DRA did not know! How many Dunbar residents were involved, or even knew this plan was happening?

We have been upgrading our communication tools such as the DRA newsletter, the list serv, our website, and we have started a Facebook page to increase awareness and feedback on issues like this, but it’s a work in progress. Meanwhile, the mayor, council and city staff must be clearer about the process if any neighbourhood is to add value to initiatives such as the Vancouver Plan!