Vancouver Plan Implementation – Repeal of CityPlan Community Visions

October 31, 2023                                                                                                                

City of Vancouver
453 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1V4

Dear Mayor, Council and City Staff

Re: Vancouver Plan Implementation – Repeal of CityPlan Community Visions

The Dunbar Residents’ Association is immensely concerned about the recently released report going to Council on November 1, 2023 that proposes to repeal CityPlan Community Visions. We oppose the repeal. If it is to happen, however, we urge that CityPlan’s key central philosophy of robust community engagement be retained and that all Vision documents be permanently and readily available on the City’s website.

The Dunbar Community Vision was approved by Council in September of 1998 after a year and a half of extensive community engagement and consultation. While that was 25 years ago, our understanding is that Visions such as ours were intended to be living documents regularly updated with community involvement.

The DRA has always been eager to collaborate with the City on changes affecting the community and Dunbar Vision but, over the years, have noticed declining City interest. Now we learn, with only a few days of advance notice and no preliminary discussion, that the Dunbar Vision is to be eliminated on the grounds that it has been superseded by the Vancouver Plan and is supposedly at the end of its original lifetime.

We urge the City to institute a proper engagement process so that Dunbar residents, and all other Vancouver residents, can work with the City in helping meet the challenges of current realities. Whether the work is carried out under CityPlan or the Vancouver Plan, we believe the key to success is ensuring local residents are deeply involved in the evolution of their communities.

Our city is growing and changing and Dunbar residents would like greater opportunities to participate in the continuing development of our city and our neighbourhood.

Yours truly,

Board of Directors, Dunbar Residents’ Association

Salmonberry Days are back!

Theme : Re-discovery

May 17th to 31st 2023 Dunbar’s Environment Festival

Among the newer happenings are:

1. New birders’ walk with Graham Sunderland

2. Visit City Farmer Compost Demonstration Garden with Michael Levenston

3. Pollinator Planting with Farmer Alex Kaiser

4. 40 Years Behind the Wheel with Angus McIntyre

Welcome to the mini-version of the Salmonberry Days Festival for May 2023. The planning committee had started to plan for our 2020 event when COVID arrived and everything was put on hold. We put several video walks and talks together as we all started to Zoom. Three years later we are embarking on a smaller version of two weeks. This will allow us to monitor attendance and get feedback for the events. Check out the guide for new and repeat activities, especially if you moved to our neighbourhood in recent years. Most events are free and led by volunteers.

And of course we know – with gratitude – that Salmonberry Days events are located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

The Salmonberry Days Fair, traditionally held on the last weekend of Salmonberry Days at the Dunbar Community Centre, will not take place this year.

Remember World Migratory Bird Day on May 13th this year. And check out the campaign to name the Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack as Canada’s national bird. Birding is a wonderful activity, available to all. http://www.vancouverbirdweek.ca

Please keep a lookout for the Dunbar-in-Bloom pamphlets in June.

And of course we know – with gratitude – that Salmonberry Days events are located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

The Salmonberry Days Fair, traditionally held on the last weekend of Salmonberry Days at the Dunbar Community Centre, will not take place this year.

Remember World Migratory Bird Day on May 13th this year. And check out the campaign to name the Canada Jay/Whiskey Jack as Canada’s national bird. Birding is a wonderful activity, available to all. http://www.vancouverbirdweek.ca

Please keep a lookout for the Dunbar-in-Bloom pamphlets in June.

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

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.

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!

St. Philip’s Anglican Church: A New Chapter

St. Philip’s Anglican Church’s welcoming courtyard at 3737 West 27th

By Debbie Matheson

From its founding in the growing neighbourhood of Dunbar Heights in 1925, St Philip’s Anglican Church has served not just as a place of worship and service, but as a centre of fellowship for the whole community.

The first building, constructed by parishioners, functioned as Dunbar’s community centre. There were dinners, dances, theatricals, sports teams, community meetings, tennis courts on the property, and twice-weekly bowling leagues. Today, that original church is the gym where community groups meet, voters assess candidates, the DRA gathers, and shoppers enjoy our sales. We have hosted Crown and Tom Thumb preschools for over 70 years. The current church and rectory were built during WWII, a time of uncertainty. Later, the Fireside Wing was built to meet the needs of returning servicemen and their families, the rector at the time recalling the stress of his own re-entry into civilian life after WWI.

Along with attention to individuals’ needs, engagement with the whole community continues as a major theme for St. Philip’s. Outreach volunteers have sponsored refugees to Canada, most recently a Syrian family of eight. Neighbourhood Ministry volunteers weekly give out food, clothing, and support to vulnerable people on west-side streets.

During the pandemic, St. Philip’s never missed a Sunday, pivoting quickly to recorded and live-streamed online worship. We even gathered on lawn chairs in Caldecott Park to keep people connected and lift their spirits.

In 2021, online fundraising events were created, the church reopened, community groups reconvened, and hope continued. When Omicron arose, we checked vaccination passports at the door, and sadly cancelled the sold-out live reading of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

For 2022, ever hopeful, we plan the return of the online Flower Basket Sale in April, a Book Sale in June, a Christmas Fair, and a new “Everything but the Closet” Sale in late May. Watch for news on our website and the Dunbar Neighbours list serv.

Sadly, in the spring of 2021 our rector Stuart Hallam and his family returned home to the UK. Stuart had made many connections and friends in Dunbar; his talents in community building were recognized in a thank-you from DRA President Bruce Gilmour in the spring 2021 newsletter. A chapter had ended.

St. Philip’s is resilient, however, with a committed parish family. In October, we welcomed with open arms our new rector, Reverend Lorne Manweiler. A new chapter has begun.