Be the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood: Join the Dunbar Community Patrol

Grey Joyce & Marlene Anderson-Joyce

By Marlene Anderson-Joyce, Data Coordinator

 Although our Dunbar neighbourhood is one of the very safest in the city, we do get our share of house and car break-ins.  Thankfully, this summer saw a decrease in those two crimes. During June, July and August we had reported break-ins into 20 houses and 33 cars. There was also one car stolen and no commercial businesses robbed.  That’s a 28-percent decrease from the same period in 2020.  All property crime totals are available on the Vancouver Police Department website at http://vancouver.ca/police. At the top, click on Crime Statistics, scroll down and click on GeoDash Crime Map and follow the prompts. These statistics are updated every Wednesday afternoon if you’d like to see where crimes are happening weekly.

 Your Dunbar Community Patrol does its best to cover as much territory as it can, but we’re always in need of new patrollers, especially cyclists. During COVID we have not been able to accept new patrollers.  However, we are hopeful that we will be able to use the Dunbar Community Centre for interviews and training this fall. So if you enjoy meeting new people, walking or biking for some exercise, and getting to know Dunbar better, please see our Recruitment Flyer in this issue.  We’re now in our 17th year and continue to work with the Vancouver Police Department to assist in ensuring the safety of Dunbar residents and businesses.

In 2005, I joined the newly formed Dunbar Community Patrol as reports coordinator and walk patroller. Since then I’ve enjoyed meeting dozens of interesting and personable neighbours that I’m unlikely to have met otherwise. I take pride in doing the best I can to help protect our neighbourhood from the criminal element that unfortunately no neighbourhood can now avoid. I can honestly say that no street or lane has escaped my scrutiny, daytime or late at night, at some time during the last 16 years. Some patrols are what one might call “uneventful,” and some are not. You never know what you might find.

Blueline Map shows City’s proposed rezoning of Dunbar.

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Consultation lacking in City's plans for rental apartments in large areas of Dunbar, says DRA

By Carol Volkart, Newsletter Editor

The Dunbar Residents’ Association has spoken out against a city plan that would open big swaths of Dunbar to four-, five- and six-storey rental apartment buildings, townhouses and multiplexes if approved by city council this month.

“We urge you to vote against it and work with communities like ours in finding better ways to bring needed housing to Vancouver,” the DRA said in a submission to a public hearing now being held on the controversial “Streamlining Rental Rezoning” plan.

The hearing began on Nov. 2, but so many speakers signed up that it was continued Nov. 4 and resumes Nov. 9 with speaker No. 50 out of 97. About 600 pieces of correspondence have been received so far, nearly evenly split between “support” and “oppose” factions. The numbers may still grow, as people can still sign up to speak or send in correspondence until the public input part of the hearing ends and council members begin deliberations.

The DRA’s major concern about the plan, according to the letter by president Bruce Gilmour, was that neighbourhoods and their residents had not been consulted or properly informed about a proposal that would dramatically affect them. “The DRA has not had the courtesy of even an official notice of this plan, and we know many of our residents are unaware of it.”

The plan is aimed at dramatically increasing the supply of rental housing – although not necessarily affordable housing – along designated arterials where there’s easy access to amenities like stores and schools. It’s a city-wide initiative, focused especially on low-density areas such as Dunbar.

Under the plan, the entirety of the block on and adjacent to a designated arterial would be eligible for the new, higher-density forms of housing. Six-storey buildings would be allowed on the main arterial, with four- and five-storey rental buildings permitted in the rest of the block. Projects would require rezoning, neighbour notification, a public hearing and council approval, but the plan is expected to increase rezonings and result in full-block land assemblies.

Since one of the designated arterials is Dunbar Street, from Fourth in the north to Southwest Marine Drive in the south, the implications for Dunbar are significant. For example, apartments would be permitted in an area stretching from Highbury on the west side of Dunbar Street to Collingwood on the east.

Adding to the impact is the designation of stretches of arterials that intersect with Dunbar, such as West 41st, King Edward, West 16th, West 10th and Fourth, meaning that eligible areas run not only north-south but east-west as well. A summary of the proposal is at https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/streamlining-rental-summary.pdf.

Commenting this fall before the public hearings began, DRA board members questioned how such a sweeping plan could have come this far with so little public information, notification or consultation.

Gilmour noted that it took a Dunbar listserv posting by civic commentator Elizabeth Murphy for the DRA to learn some of the plan’s details and ramifications.

The Coalition of Vancouver Neighbourhoods, which includes many of the city’s residents’ associations including the DRA, called the city’s consultation process “extremely flawed” and designed to ensure a predetermined outcome. The process emphasized special-interest groups, “and avoided most of the population of Vancouver,” the coalition said in a July 2021 letter to council.

Elizabeth Ball, a former Non-Partisan Association city councillor who serves on the DRA board and whose home will be affected by the plan, said: “There has been absolutely no consultation whatsoever with us.” She said council appears to be relying on online “push-pull” polls to tell people what it’s up to – “the polls where they tell you what they want you to say so that whatever you answer is a trap.”

DRA board member Bill Rapanos, a longtime Dunbar resident and former city planner in Burnaby, criticized the plan’s top-down, “big-bang, one-solution” citywide approach that ignores the peculiar characteristics of neighbourhoods. “What does the city have to lose by consulting with the people who live in Vancouver neighbourhoods instead of just the developers?” Smaller, more widespread solutions might be found through consultation, he said. “There is no one big solution to providing rental housing but there are many small steps that together could do more than the six-storey blockbuster approach.”

He suggested tax incentives or density bonuses to encourage duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes instead of single-family ultra-luxury homes. Tax incentives for small rental suites in all new detached buildings should be provided through zoning regulations, he proposed. He said current policies encourage “reverse affordability,” because older houses with secondary suites are being torn down and replaced by luxury houses for one family only. “I walk the neighbourhood and I can see how the new buildings are being built. They’re not putting suites in the basement. If you’re building a $5- to $6-million house, you’re not going to fool around with tenants.”

Rapanos predicted the plan will result in long stretches of neglected arterials because an oversupply of rezoned land will encourage land speculators to buy it up and wait for developers to buy them out. “You need only look at the south Cambie redevelopment corridor to see how the formerly well-kept homes on this arterial street now look like hell.”

Another board member said she understands the need for more housing “but I feel like we’re moving very fast without consultation. They don’t seem to be listening to the neighbourhoods.” A six-storey 109-unit rental project at 41st and Collingwood proposed under an existing plan, for example, “is not liveable housing, it’s very tiny spaces” and the building design doesn’t fit with the neighbourhood, she said. “We did meet with the developer but he wasn’t interested in listening to us. He just wanted to move ahead with his proposal.”

Architect and author Brian Palmquist, a Dunbar resident whose “City Conversations No One Else is Having” series on the CityHallWatch website https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/ frequently targets the disconnect between the city and its residents, said there’s already enough zoned capacity to meet housing needs for the next decade, based on the census and Metro Vancouver housing demand estimates. The problem is not lack of zoning, he said, but the slow pace of development for smaller projects, as the city prioritizes megaprojects over smaller, less-lucrative ones.

Palmquist agrees with the current zoning allowing four-storey condo buildings along arterials, and thinks six storeys for rental-only projects along arterials is reasonable. He suggests their impact could be tempered by rezoning one or two lots across the lane – not the whole block – to allow four-storey buildings, but “the farther we carry four- or six-storey development along side streets, the more we simply goose the land values. They will not create more affordable housing; it will just be condos that march down the street.”

Rapanos and Gilmour emphasized that changes are needed and that Dunbar is not opposed to adding people or housing. But the new housing shouldn’t be the ultra-luxury type that is turning Dunbar into another Shaughnessy, says Rapanos. Instead, it should be a variety of small-scale, relatively affordable housing types that will help shift Dunbar back to the diverse, busy neighbourhood it used to be, with kids, families, students, seniors and a mixture of low- and high-income earners popping in and out of thriving local stores.

Gilmour stressed the DRA is not against density “or saying change and development is forbidden.” Residents want a thriving, diverse community, but they also want to be consulted in how that is achieved, he said. “It is a process requiring planning and the identification of concerns and the remediation of those concerns – what all parties at the table can live with.”

References:

Public Hearing Agenda: https://council.vancouver.ca/20211102/phea20211102ag.htm
Report for Public Hearing: https://council.vancouver.ca/20211005/documents/spec1.pdf Eligibility Map: https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/streamlining-rental-summary.pdf

Media:

https://elizabethmurphyblog.wordpress.com/2021/10/30/citywide-rezonings/

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/west-side-residents-upset-with-city

https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2021/10/30/streaming-rental-arbitrary-citywide-rezonings-murphy/
 
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2021/11/01/demarco-streamlining-rental-problems/
 
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2021/11/01/palmquist-rental-streamlining-or-steamrolling/
 
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2021/11/01/hein-10-policy-considerations-streamlining-rental/
 
https://cityhallwatch.wordpress.com/2021/11/02/streamlining-rental-rezonings-speculation/


Let’s add the right kind of housing to Dunbar without losing liveability

By Bruce Gilmour, DRA president

This summer, my family and I enjoyed the pleasures of country life in the south Cariboo. However, with my ear to the ground, I was also learning about trouble brewing back home in Dunbar. It came out in dribs and drabs because the city did not bother officially informing the Dunbar Residents’ Association about big changes planned for our community. Now the story is less about being asked to the table and more about struggling with what we learned after the fact! As explained elsewhere in the DRA’s fall newsletter, the city is planning to allow four-, five- and six-storey rental buildings on blocks along arterials. Anyone who lives on a block adjacent to Dunbar Street might see four- or five-storey rental apartment buildings going up next door, with six-storey buildings on Dunbar.

The city says this is necessary because of the urgent demand for more rental housing. But I think the real need is affordable housing that meets the variety of needs in our community, from the young family starting out, to long-timers having to make changes as they age. The city’s failure to talk to residents means its plan does virtually nothing to ensure the resulting housing meets the needs of all ages and abilities, or is affordable. The new buildings will be mostly market rentals, which will be ridiculously expensive in a place like Dunbar. When land prices are sky-high, rents will match, and who will really be served by this plan except the builders, developers and rent collectors?

Lots of people will be hurt, though. People who have lived in these areas for decades, upgraded their houses and planned to retire in them, may find a four-storey apartment going up next door. There are better, less-disruptive ways of adding the kind of inclusive, affordable housing our area needs, and the city should be working with us in creating it without losing what has attracted us to this community in the first place.

Consultation is key. The DRA has had no official notification of updates to the neighbourhood plan, an engagement process, or timelines. Nor have residents in affected areas been told how to contribute to the plan. Apparently, the city now thinks that online surveys that most people don’t even know about are sufficient to check the communication box!

What can we do? Although public hearings on the plan began Nov. 2, there were so many speakers that they have been extended, with the next hearing Nov. 9. There’s still time to write council and speak out for the liveability that must be the starting point of any conversation about rezoning.

Let’s insist on a local process for creating housing that fits the size and scale of our neighbourhoods and adds to its inclusivity and affordability. Speak out to preserve retail character and diversity, green space and walkability, pedestrian safety and community gathering spaces, parks and playgrounds, traditions and heritage, and housing forms and character. Liveability is built from active and healthy neighbourhoods with affordable and inclusive housing for its residents!

How to contact city council:

Fall greetings from the Dunbar Community Centre

We hope you are all keeping safe and well.

We continue to take a gradual, thoughtful approach and thank you for your patience and cooperation as we navigate the changes required because of COVID. At present, masks are mandatory in public spaces, including the Dunbar Community Centre.

The Fall program guide is on our website.  Our Fall Community Centre hours of operation are:
Sept. 7-Dec. 23, 2021
Mon-Fri: 8:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Sat: 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Sun: Closed
*closed Dec. 24-Jan. 3 (reopening Jan. 4, 2022)
Updated Fitness Centre hours will be out soon.

If you’ve got ideas on senior programs or how we can enhance the quality of senior recreational or social activities, please send them to us by email at dunbarcca@gmail.com

We look forward to seeing you!

Online organizing experiment a success, says Dunbar Earthquake & Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) group

DEEP has quietly been continuing work towards building a stronger and more resilient community. In response to COVID restrictions, we decided to redesign our Map Your Neighbourhood (MYN) tool and make it easier to meet via Zoom to learn about the nine important steps to follow immediately after a disaster – starting with securing your home and then helping your neighbourhood.

The first online experiment was led by long-time volunteer leader Colin Gray, who ran two meetings to introduce his neighbours to the idea of forming an emergency support group. Their block ‘circle’ focused on neighbours whose houses back onto the lane, as many already meet doing daily tasks like parking, garbage and recycling.

Both meetings were facilitated by the short, connected videos that address the challenges a neighbourhood could face in any emergency, especially an earthquake. The award-winning video sequence was created by the Washington State Emergency Management and adopted by DEEP to foster neighbourhood support groups able to respond effectively to an emergency. As everyone knows, a major disaster will severely limit the ability of first responders to help citizens, as their immediate priority will be to protect schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

The initial MYN online trial attracted 15 households with 10 more joining later. DEEP coordinators set up the Zoom meeting and Colin served as DEEP contact for neighbours after the meeting. This first COVID-era emergency support group now has 25 households participating, with more than half the homes on the block signed up.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or starting a group on your block, please reach out – we are here to help get you started. Contact us at www.dunbaremergency.ca.

Dunbar Little League brings neighbours together at the ball diamond

By Joyce Gillespie

Dunbar Little League (DLL) – have you heard about it? Have you seen the large white lettering on the big green sign at Memorial Park West along West 33rd Avenue? Have you seen the number of players and families enjoying games at the park? Perhaps you’ve thought: "Baseball? Isn't that a sport for boys? Isn't that rather boring? I am pretty sure my child would not be interested in baseball."

DLL is so much more than just baseball. Without question, it is the most community-minded sports organization on the west side of Vancouver. Our league is composed of girls and boys ages 4-12 who live or attend school only in Dunbar. The baseball season is short (typically 8-10 weeks), running from April to the third week in June and all practices and games are played at Memorial Park West and Balaclava Park. Our teams, in the regular season, only play each other and after six decades in operation, this has proven to be the winning formula for our neighbourhood. What was established by Ralph Stong (yes, of that Stong’s) over 60 years ago and continues to this day, is the notion that when children only play games with and against their friends and neighbours, the community comes together under a common goal, and that is to create a safe, fun, engaging environment for the entire family and indeed, the entire neighbourhood.

DLL is a completely volunteer-run organization and the pride of tradition and caring for our community is evident in the incredible levels of neighbourhood engagement that extends well beyond one's years spent in Little League.

Although we put great focus on building our community and providing an environment for neighbours to become friends, we also work diligently to provide a well-developed and competitive baseball program. DLL has an extensive development program that helps players of all abilities achieve whatever level of success they choose, whether it’s playing for fun with their friends, or working to make an All-Star team to play teams from around the province. We also provide training for parents and caregivers to contribute to their child’s baseball experience as a coach.

We hope you will consider joining us for the coming baseball season. Registration opened Oct. 1 and the season starts April 9. We look forward to getting to know you and your family. After all, this is what DLL is all about! www.dunbarbaseball.ca/registration

PLEASE HELP!

Vandals hit the Dunbar Lawn Bowling Club and DLL on Oct. 2-3. Want to help? Go to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/repair-dunbar-little-league-lawn-bowling-club

Butterflies, benches & a boost for those living with dementia

Angus McIntyre demonstrates part of the history of Balaclava Park

By Andrea Sara

Imagine a lovely bench in a boulevard garden where people, especially those living with dementia, can rest in the sun or shade, surrounded by pops of bright flowers while listening to the sounds of birds and bees and watching butterflies dance and play.

That idyllic scenario is the potential outcome of two Dunbar-area initiatives that have coincidentally been developing together over the past year. One initiative encourages the creation of habitat for pollinators; the other encourages those with dementia to participate in community life and works to ensure their access to physical and social opportunities.

The dementia project, combining the efforts of the DRA, the Westside Seniors Hub and UBC Nursing, grew out of a desire by many in the community to find ways of helping isolated seniors during the early days of the pandemic. Since the DRA is not a United Way-sponsored community services organization, it was outside its scope to assist with delivering groceries and medications.

 Instead, the DRA worked with the Dunbar Youth Network to develop a database of neighbourhood benches and picnic tables that could be used in creating a map of supportive walking routes. All along the routes would be stops where people could rest on a bench or share a socially distanced conversation at a picnic table over a coffee and a sandwich.  A big thank-you to Sophia Bi for compiling the database and riding her bike around the neighbourhood snapping photos of all the benches and picnic tables.

Separately, but at the same time, a group of neighbourhood parents began an environmental stewardship project. The Balaclava Pollinators, part of the David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway program, have been building indigenous-plant butterflyway pollinator habitat gardens on boulevards, pathways, front yards and Green Street corner gardens. https://davidsuzuki.org/take-action/act-locally/butterflyway/vancouver/.

The DRA hopes to integrate these garden plots into the walking map so people can plan neighbourhood walks that include beautiful boulevard gardens. Ideally, as in the scenario described above, benches could be incorporated into the gardens so walkers can stop to rest amidst flowers, birds and butterflies.

The dementia and pollinator projects are also coming together at Balaclava Park, where the Balaclava Pollinators have built a demonstration butterfly pollinator habitat garden to educate people about native pollinator plants that attract B.C. butterfly species. A wheelchair-height raised planter box has been added to the garden, so those who use a wheelchair or walker can participate. This new initiative, called the Fireweed Club, is part of the dementia project, which is officially known as ‘Building Capacity for Meaningful Participation by People Living with Dementia’ under the Public Health Agency of Canada and a new federally funded Dementia Community Investment strategy.

A celebration was to be held October 1st at Balaclava Park to showcase all the 2021 Building Capacity initiatives by the partner organizations of the Westside Seniors Hub. Due to the continued social restrictions of the pandemic, many of the partner initiatives focused on outdoor programs and virtual programs. The partner projects can be seen at these websites: https://www.westsideseniorshub.org/ and https://www.buildingcapacityproject.com/.

At the October 1st event, the DRA showcased its 2021 contributions to building a Dementia Friendly Dunbar via the mapping project, as well as showcasing the self-guided and virtual walking tours developed for Salmonberry Days.

This fall and winter, the Balaclava Pollinators will focus on planting perennial herbs and greens and on workshops with eco-artists to learn about the various uses of fresh dried herbs. If you would like to participate, please email Andrea at balaclavapollinators@gmail.com.

Check out Vancouver Public Library’s Dunbar Branch

By Andrea Brown, (former) Dunbar Branch head

The Dunbar Branch is open, and you are welcome to visit! Vancouver Public Library locations are following all current public health guidelines. The library continues to be a place where everyone is invited to discover, create and share ideas and information (both in-person and online)!

Please ask a friendly Dunbar branch staff member if you have questions, could use some reading suggestions, and/or would like help placing requests for specific items from the library’s collection.

DID YOU KNOW…?

Library cardholders can borrow downloadable ebooks and audiobooks, read digital magazines and newspapers, and stream movies and music for free using an internet-connected device! Here are some examples of VPL’s extensive digital resource offerings:

Career Cruising:  Comprehensive Canadian career guide providing detailed listings of 550 occupations, including education and training information.

Creativebug:  Enjoy unlimited arts and crafts project suggestions, workshops, and techniques by top designers and artists via streaming video.

LinkedIn Learning:  LinkedIn Learning offers video courses in business, computer technology, software, and creative skills, all conducted by experts in their fields.

Livres Numériques (French language ebooks):  A collection of French-language ebooks from Canadian and European publishers. Includes popular fiction as well as titles from a wide range of subjects.

Mango Languages:  Over 70 self-paced language-learning courses.

Medici.tv:  Classical music streaming library featuring over 1,600 classical music videos, concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries and more.

Naxos Music Library:  A music streaming service featuring classical, jazz, folk, and world music.

PressReader:  Full-page images of 5,000 newspapers and magazines from 100 countries.

Vancouver Indie Authors Collection:  Collection of self-published books by local authors.

VPL to Go (OverDrive):  Extensive selection of popular fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audiobooks.

Questions? Please connect with us in-person, by phone, or online:

Vancouver Public Library – Dunbar Branch: 4515 Dunbar Street (on the corner of Dunbar Street and West 29th Avenue). Call: 604-665-3968 or visit us at: www.vpl.ca

TRANSITIONS: Andrea Brown announced October 1st that she was leaving her position as Dunbar Branch library head to take another library job in Ontario. The DRA wishes her well and thanks her for all her help during her time in Dunbar. As of October 12th, Katherine Parker took over as acting branch head. She can be reached at Katherine.Parker@vpl.ca or at 604-665-3986.

Walks, video mark Salmonberry Days in COVID times

By Angus McIntyre

The Salmonberry Days Committee cancelled the annual May event in March of 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. For May of 2021 we created a printed set of self-guided historical neighbourhood walks that are also available in video form. Three more videos were added to a new YouTube channel: Terry Slack on the history of the Fraser River Trail, a look at Kitsilano Beach with David Cook and a Dunbar Back Lane Tour.

VIDEOS: You can view them by logging onto YouTube. In the Search Window enter: Angus McIntyre, and click on the large red letter A for the videos.

Dunbar’s Salmonberry Days attracted the attention of a UBC student, who kindly provided us with the following:

“My name is Akhila A. Varghese, and I'm a fifth-year international student at UBC (Vancouver) studying food, nutrition and health in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

“From UBC CCEL, through the Storytelling Sessions-workshop series, I connected with Andrea Sara, community planner and organizer for the Dunbar Residents’ Association about Dunbar's annual Salmonberry Days. It was fascinating to learn about the events held in the month of May, focusing on the environment, conservation and nature. Through the project, I was invited to connect with the community elders who started and continue to host Salmonberry Days. I met Angus McIntyre, Helen Spiegelman, Terry Slack and Sonia Wicken. We gathered at Pacific Spirit Park, where Terry and Helen met for the first time, to conduct an interview about the history and beginnings of Salmonberry Days.

“It was exciting to learn about the time before the creation of Pacific Spirit Park that old cars, TV sets and refrigerators were dumped off old trails, the story of the herons on school grounds and the vintage bus tours. I hope to weave the stories and interviews together to create a digital space and presence for Salmonberry Days. I’m looking forward to learning more stories.” As for 2022, the planning committee normally meets in January, and perhaps by that time we may know where to go next. The Dunbar Community Centre Association has advised us that they are optimistic for the future, but uncertain if they will host the Salmonberry Fair next year. They plan to keep patrons informed with updates on their website, and through the DRA Newsletter. The Salmonberry Days Committee plans a similar approach.

Cutting bus stops cuts quality of life for Dunbar residents

I take the route 25 bus to the Canada Line once a week for physiotherapy downtown. Earlier this year, I arrived at my southbound bus stop at 21st Avenue and Dunbar to find a notice that TransLink was eliminating certain bus stops to speed up service and improve reliability.

By Angus McIntyre

While my stop survived, those at 19th and 23rd Avenues were removed, leaving four-block gaps between stops and only two stops remaining between 16th Avenue and King Edward. The 7 Dunbar service at these two stops was also removed, even though only route 25 was part of the “Bus Stop Balancing” program. Routes 2 and 17 have also had some bus stops eliminated, although a few have been reinstalled.

I take the route 25 bus to the Canada Line once a week for physiotherapy downtown. Earlier this year, I arrived at my southbound bus stop at 21st Avenue and Dunbar to find a notice that TransLink was eliminating certain bus stops to speed up service and improve reliability. While my stop survived, those at 19th and 23rd Avenues were removed, leaving four-block gaps between stops and only two stops remaining between 16th Avenue and King Edward. The 7 Dunbar service at these two stops was also removed, even though only route 25 was part of the “Bus Stop Balancing” program. Routes 2 and 17 have also had some bus stops eliminated, although a few have been reinstalled.

A transit map shows that most of the city of Vancouver has a bus route nearby, but the area west of Dunbar Street has no transit service until you get to UBC. Camosun Street is almost a kilometre from Dunbar. Our neighbourhood has hills – the second-highest point in the city after Queen Elizabeth Park is Dunbar and 26th Avenue. Before a bus stop is eliminated, TransLink planners should take a close look at whether hills are involved and the proximity to schools, community centres and shops.

Walking time is important as well, and signs at eliminated bus stops suggest a “walking time” to the “new stop.” On a level street, the three minutes suggested is how long it took me, but a senior with a walker, a parent with children or a person with a seeing-eye dog will take longer.

I don’t think consideration has been given to the terrain, particularly the steep King Edward hill, and there is also a disconnect between the bus-stop-balancing principle and TransLink’s core values

It seems TransLink has changed from the company that was very conscious of providing mobility and increased quality of life to a minority. The journey of the majority sometimes took a little longer while bus ramps were lowered – which was the attitude that helped make ours a world-class transit system. TransLink has now decided to make the time on the bus shorter for the majority by making the walking/wheeling time longer for the minority.

Route 25 bus stops in both directions at King Edward and Collingwood were eliminated, which has had a major impact on one Dunbar resident’s life. “I have never driven. I use transit, and this deeply affects the way I live my life,” said the resident, who preferred not to be named.

“Dunbar has a rich resource of stores and amenities close at hand, and I use local tradespeople who know me and my house. All my health and other service providers were/are selected on the basis of whether they can be reached by the #25 or #7 or adding at the most one other bus or the Canada Line. With all of this I planned to age in place, and if I should become too frail to walk up the hill to Dunbar I would get on the #25 westbound at Collingwood to access Dunbar itself and/or the #7. Now that stop has disappeared.”

DRA president Bruce Gilmour, who is blind and travels with his seeing-eye dog Marley, says the changes are having serious and long-term effects on the quality of life of transit-dependent residents, causing anxiety and disorientation and reducing their independence.

People who are blind or visually impaired “cannot see cardboard signage saying the stop is de-activated,” he said. “We cannot access information technology as simply as peers to research what is or is not an active bus stop.” It’s especially confusing when a stop serves several routes, and buses don’t stop there even if their route hasn’t undergone the so-called bus-balancing, he said.