4/ 20 at Sunset Beach

This is an open letter sent to the Mayor and Council:

Dear Mayor and Council,

We are writing to express our concern over the intent of 4/20 festival organizers to host a large event at Sunset Beach in spite of the Parks Board not permitting the event. We strongly encourage the Mayor and Council to work with festival organizers and to enforce unpermitted events.

As a grass roots community group we have heard from many neighbours about their concerns with a large unpermitted festival taking place in a neighbourhood park.

Air Quality concerns top the list. As you are aware the West End is a densley populated community. In the 3-4  blocks immediately northeast and northwest of the Sunset Beach site there are approximately 5000 occupied dwellings with a total of 9100 residents. (Census tracts 9330060.01 and 9330060.02)

As an organization primarily interested in the needs of children and families we are concerned with the issue of air quality as it relates to Little Beach & Beach YMCA Child Care center (1475 Burrard Street) center and Aquatic Center. Both were in the thick of the haze last year. We have reports from parents who will be unable to work on April 20 because they cannot safely send their child to daycare.

Little Beach Daycare
Other concerns we heard from community members was that clean up after the event was insufficient and that traffic management was insufficient for an event of this size.

Many large festivals/ events are hosted or pass through the West End and proper steps are taken to ensure that safety and security of residents and visitors are properly managed. Some of the permitted events include:
Celebration of Light
Pride Parade
Car free day
Vancouver triathalon
Scotia bank half marathon
Sun Run
BMO Marathon

We would like to see Council and festival organizers work to find suitable festival locations. Our hope is that City Council will hold large unpermitted festivals and their organizers accountable for their actions. This includes but is not limited to; clean up, traffic management, and police enforcement.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter,


Response to collapse of BC Hydro seed proposal

We think this project had a lot of potential to benefit the community and we are disappointed that the parties have chosen to abandon the process at this early stage rather than continue to work through the areas where the parties’ respective interests were not in alignment. We believe strongly that any development should involve an investment in community amenities and will continue to advocate for responsible development that will bring with it benefits to west end families.

Even though the deal seems to be dead in the water 3 things still remain:
1. Hydro will still need to build new substations in the near future downtown
2. Downtown schools are at capacity and new school spaces need to be made in our community now.
3. The City continues to approve new developments at a pace that outstrips community ammenities and this development will continue to put pressure on schools & electrical systems.

WEFA encourages The City to pause development until BC Hydro secures new sites for substations and until the VSB opens more school spaces downtown.

WEFA calls on The Provincial Government to fund the building of new school spaces in downtown Vancouver.

WEFA encourages BC Hydro to continue to look for creative solutions that provide ammenities for the community.

Joint community letter RE: BC Hydro SEED proposal

Printable Petition Package 

WEFA logo 25%Lord Roberts Annex

Parent Advisory Council



February 20, 2017

BC Hydro SEED Project Community Requests

West End Families in Action (WEFA) is an advisory panel to the Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton St.) comprised of local West End parents.  We hold monthly meetings, invite guest speakers to address the community, and have an active social media presence.  In early February, we held a meeting dedicated to the SEED proposal.  In response to the many questions posed at that meeting, a careful examination of SEED documents, and the attendance of WEFA members at other SEED consultation events, we have drawn up a list of community concerns with the proposed project.

The Lord Roberts Annex Parent Advisory Committee (LRA PAC) is the voice of the parents in the Lord Roberts Annex School. The LRA PAC has discussed the SEED proposal at PAC meetings and during other gatherings at the school. Members of PAC have attended various Hydro open houses and information sessions. Following SEED information and consultation sessions, LRA PAC has identified several areas of key concern with respect to the proposed substation beneath the Annex.

WEFA and the LRA PAC have a common interest in this project. A concern that has been identified is the deficit of meaningful consultation time. The project promises a variety of benefits to West End schools and the community. Notwithstanding these potential benefits, both WEFA and LRA PAC have had very little time in which to consider this significant project and to weigh the merits against the possible drawbacks of the proposal. In our view, consultation had just begun when we were informed that a decision was imminent.

We appreciate the various presentations that have taken place. Nonetheless, we ultimately believe that six to eight weeks is simply not enough time to have a meaningful discussion on such an enormous project that involves so many uncertainties including school funding, community and resource planning, and the health and wellbeing of growing children. Given the interests at stake, and BC Hydro and VSB’s stated commitment and policy regarding community consultation, we feel that our legitimate expectations regarding this phase of consultation have yet to be met.  As such, we would like to see Hydro continue to work with the community throughout the duration of the project.

Should the project proceed, the main concern is that Lord Roberts Annex and the local community receives a fair deal in exchange for the considerable construction impacts and the permanent presence of the substation under the school field.  In particular, we are seeking assurances that the Vancouver School Board (VSB) and Vancouver Parks Board receive fair value for the 99 year lease they will be granting to BC Hydro, and that any contract include specific language that requires project funds to be spent in the local community of the West End, Coal Harbour, and Yaletown.  We respectfully request that the three main parties involved – BC Hydro, the VSB, and the Parks Board – commit to upholding this principle.

We would also like guarantees regarding the degree and form that ongoing consultation will take, to ensure that community opinions remains integral to the design and implementation of this project. To this end, we implore the Park’s Board and, in particular, the VSB, to advocate for West End families and children with respect to any and all future agreements with BC Hydro, so that parents and the community will continue to have their voices heard. Our aim is that, if approved, SEED will develop in a manner that continuously responds to and accommodates the concerns of parents and the community. This advocacy on the part of VSB is particularly crucial at this time.

We have drafted a list of community needs that the SEED project could potentially address if the safety and other concerns can be addressed.  We feel that all are deserving of consideration, whether at this current stage of consultation or at future stages, as the project evolves.

1.Health and Safety of Children and Staff at the Lord Roberts Annex

Of paramount importance, we would like to see an independent baseline study on current levels of EMF on the site, and a guarantee to test the levels on an ongoing basis during the construction, and after completion, for as long as the sub-station is active. Ongoing monitoring is critical to the LRA PAC. We would also like assurances that other safety measures that may come to our attention will be implemented. Further, we would like assurances that BC Hydro will continue to seek out and to develop additional safety and mitigation measures and will implement them as they become available.

We understand that BC Hydro is concerned with the safety of our children.  We also understand there are studies that suggest there will be little to no health impacts resulting from this sub-station. However, there remains a lack of scientific certainty and in the interests of growing children, the parties should recognize that where there are potential health risks, one should err on the side of caution even when there is not full scientific certainty with respect to the risks. In the event that impacts are identified at any point during the operation of the sub-station, we would like some assurance that BC Hydro will be involved (financially and other) in addressing the identified issues in a manner that is satisfactory to the concerned parties.

As noted we respectfully request that BC Hydro continue to meet with community members to discuss health and safety concerns in a meaningful way.  This will require more than quick, “one-way” information sessions. We would like time to have a meaningful conversation that satisfies the questions and concerns of parents and the community.

2.Build the Coal Harbour School

First and foremost we support the construction of the new Coal Harbour elementary school.  This project has been on the drawing board for many years as the neighbourhood has grown and the other local schools reach or exceed their capacity.  Based on your project timelines presented to the community, we expect the new Coal Harbour School will be open in 2020.  We note that several large developments will be built in the surrounding area in the next few years, further necessitating the construction of the school in the short term.

3. Build the new Lord Roberts Annex School

Some community members have expressed concerns that construction of the new Annex school could be delayed.  As we understand the SEED proposal, the current consultation concerns the granting of 99-year leases to BC Hydro by the VSB and the Parks Board.  Based on your project timelines presented to the community, we would like assurances from the parties involved that the Annex school will be rebuilt on its current site by 2025, thereby following the timelines outlined in the SEED documents.

4. Lord Roberts Annex Playground

The PAC at the Annex has been involved in fund-raising and designing a playground for some time.  This has been a careful and collaborative process. LRA PAC would like assurance that this process will not further delay our long awaited playground–that it will be installed straightaway.  We are seeking assurance that once the students are transferred from the Annex to the Coal Harbour school, our playground will be de-installed, put into safe storage, and then re-installed in the new Annex before the students are transferred back from Coal Harbour.  Further, in order to maintain the integrity of the design of the playground, including the memorial, we would like assurance that the playground will be expanded to accommodate the increased capacity of the new school, at no additional cost to the PAC or to the Annex as our funds are extremely limited.  We respectfully request the same architect is involved with the expansion to maintain the naturalized look and feel of our playground that we have worked very hard to achieve.  Further, since the school playground is highly used by the community when school is not in session, we respectfully request that funds be earmarked for this important resource.

5. Address the capacity crunch and safety concerns with King George High School

We recognize that high school capacity in the downtown areas is not currently a part of the SEED proposal.  However, this issue has been raised again and again at our meetings and at other SEED consultations.  If built as proposed, SEED will add approximately six hundred elementary school seats while doing nothing to address the lack of space in the local high school.  King George (1755 Barclay St.) is currently over capacity and in urgent need of seismic upgrading. We call on the VSB and its partners, including the provincial government, to fund the King George upgrading and expansion project immediately.

6. Land for a future school site

The impetus for the current proposal by BC Hydro is the need to replace the aging substations. The site of the current Dal Grauer substation is set to be decommissioned in 2030.  Substations don’t need to be above ground, but schools do.  Dal Grauer is a centrally located site and is just a block from the original King George high school site.  The VSB is in need of more land for future school sites and the Dal Grauer site would be a fair trade for the permanent presence of the substation under the Annex school site.

7. A Strong Start space for the West End

The West End had a “vulnerability” rate of 32% in Wave 6 of the Early Development Instrument (HELP, 2016). There is no Strong Start center in the downtown, and WEFA has heard many times that a lack of available space is a key reason. With the addition of two new elementary schools in the neighbourhood,

space needs to be made for a Strong Start program in one or both of these buildings. Ideally, space would be created at the main Lord Roberts School (1100 Bidwell St.) or the Annex site as these catchment areas have the highest poverty rates in the West End (First Call BC, 2016). WEFA calls on the VSB and its partners, including the provincial government, to fund a Strong Start in the West End immediately.

8. Dedicated number of childcare spots

The idea of childcare space in the new Annex school has been suggested by BC Hydro staff during the SEED consultation.  We call upon BC Hydro to negotiate with the VSB and the City of Vancouver to earmark funds from this transaction for the creation of daycare spaces on this site. According to the West End Community Plan additional childcare spaces are needed to meet existing and future demand in the neighbourhood, particularly for infants and toddlers (0 – 3 years) and school age children (5 – 12 years) (Page 100).

9. A new playground at another site in the West End

The playground at Nelson Park is the ONLY Parks Board playground in the West End.  For this reason the playground is a highly used community resource.  During construction we anticipate that Nelson Park will not be a relaxing place to play and that access to the adjacent Annex playground will be closed for a period of 5 years. A playground will need to be installed at another West End park to compensate for this community loss. Some Parks to consider: Barclay Heritage Square, Alexandra Park, and Sunset Beach.

10. Thoughtful design of school and Nelson Park

With a larger school population and a daycare at the site of the Annex safety issues in Nelson Park are of greater concern. There are already issues with improper needle disposal and tents in the park.  Any changes made to the configuration of the school and landscaping need to take into account principles of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). Taking steps to activate the park space and create clear lines of sight are two strategies to make this a safe public park adjacent to a school and daycare.

11.Community Advisory Panel

Finally, in addition to these community concerns and needs, WEFA would like to emphasize once more the importance of continuing to include the local community in future stages of consultation. This request is echoed by LRA PAC, which would like assurances that future consultation will be in depth and meaningful with the possibility of accommodations where reasonable. Given the interests at stake, and BC Hydro and VSB’s stated commitment and policy regarding community consultation, we feel a community advisory panel, such as those that have been created for other large city projects, should form part of the model for future SEED consultation.

Meeting Notes: WECHCPC

Meeting Date: September 12, 2016

Thankwechcpc you to Aleya Trott, Executive Director of the West End Coal Harbour Community Policing Center (WECHCPC) who came out and spoke with us about what the Community Policing Center does and for responding to some of the concerns that WEFA members identified.

The WECHCPC is open Monday to Saturday 10 am to 6pm and is located at 1267 Davie St between the Independent Grocer and Rogers. There are 2 staff members and 160 volunteers. They are looking for 16 and 17 year old youths to volunteer with the Youth Action Initiative Program.

Who to Contact 
Emergencies call 9-1-1
Vancouver Police Non-Emergency Line at 604-717-3321
Van Connect App or  3-1-1

Lord Roberts Basketball Court Closure
School parents had been told in the spring that the VPD had recommended locking the basketball court at Lord Roberts. After many queries Aleya was unable to find any officer who made this recommendation.

Needles in Nelson Park
Aleya recommended calling the PHS Mobile Needle Exchange (604.657.6561) to collect discarded needles. Reporting needles to PHS or 3-1-1 can help with tracking. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) and the need to activate park spaces to reduce crime. Plans are in the works for events in Nelson Park in summer 2017. Due to the design of the park it is difficult for police in patrol cars to have a clear line of site to the center of the park. The lack of a needle drop box in the public washroom in the park was also discussed. See news reports in Vancouver Sun and CBC.

Dangerous Intersections
The WECHCPC has a Speed Watch program where volunteers take data and share it with the VPD. The following Intersections were identified by WEFA members as concerns:
2-way Stops: Nicola & Nelson, Nicola & Barclay
No curb easements: Nelson & Gilford, Nelson & Thurlow
Short Crossing time: Georgia & Cardero

Where have all the playgrounds gone?

Play spaces for children, or the lack of them, has been an ongoing issue raised by members of West End Families in Action. Why do they matter so much to families in this neighbourhood? Simple, it’s about space. When you live in an apartment your children don’t have access to a backyard.  You need to get out. This is further compounded by the fact that the 2006 census identified 1,300 families with children living in studio and one bedroom apartments in the West End. The benefits of play and physical activity are commonly understood.  Why then, is there just one playground within the boundaries of the West End?

density of children by community 2011

The 2011 Census found that the West End had the fourth highest density of children when compared with other communities in the City of Vancouver.

Area parks and amenities table (2016)

If we compare the same communities using information from the City’s guide to area parks it becomes very clear that the West End has fewer parks than other communities, but also way fewer playgrounds. It should be noted that the total number of parks (and playgrounds) for the West End does include Stanley Park. While this is a great asset, it is not within boundaries of the West End, as defined by the West End Community Plan. For families and caregivers the further challenge is that because the playgrounds in Stanley Park are quite a ways in they are not easily accessible and require a “special” trip.WECP Public facilities and ameneties map


Sure, there are other playgrounds in the West End, on Vancouver School Board property. As such these playgrounds are not available for use during school hours (understandably). The maintenance of these facilities also falls squarely on the shoulders of school Parent Advisory Councils (PAC) through fundraising. All the same these facilities are used heavily outside of school hours by the wider community, without the financial support of the City or Parks Board. (See the previous post on the shading of Lord Roberts playground during community use hours).

So what does the one and only City playground in the West End look like? Well, it is referred to by many parents as the art sculpture. To add insult to injury it is designed for children 5 to 12 years old! So, the preschool set who cannot access the school playgrounds during the day are out of luck.

There is one last place to go… it is not an official playground, but it has a loyal following. The Barclay Heritage Square wobble board is well-used. This site has been identified by many families as just one potential location for more playground equipment.

bhs wobble board

The West End Community Plan has set the wheels in motion for increased density in our neighbourhood. Before this happens we need to work towards improving the amenities for the people who already live here. WEFA hopes the City and Parks Board will recognize the need for enhanced play spaces and work with the community to give our children the play spaces they need.




Let the sun shine on Lord Roberts’ Playground & Field

UPDATE: The Development Permit Board (DPB) Meeting has been changed to Monday May 16. Comments will be considered up until the date of the decision. Contact: Wendy LeBreton, Project Facilitator, wendy.lebreton@vancouver.ca, 604.871.6796
The Lord Roberts playground and field at Comox and Cardero street is perhaps the most important public space for children and parents in the West End.  While other public spaces abound on the neighborhood’s edges, such as English Bay beach, Stanley Park, and the seawall, the playground and field is one of only a handful of open, accessible public play spaces.  It is very well used by the community, even in the winter months.
WECP Public facilities and ameneties map
The Lord Roberts Playground, number 2 on the above map. Most green spaces are on the edges.
WEFA (West End Families in Action) is concerned about the shadowing that will be caused by the 1661 Davie Street – DE419982 in the winter months, between November and March.  While we acknowledge that the development will not affect the playground during school hours, and that the most significant shadowing is caused by the two existing buildings in the 1600 block of Pendrell St., we note that the additional impact of the 1661 Davie St. development will almost completely shadow the playground during the 3:00pm – 4:30pm time period. 
lr field jan 1 2016
Children playing soccer on Lord Roberts field in the sunshine, New Years Day 2016
This is, in our opinion, the most important time of the day because it is when the playground functions as a public space.  During school hours, the space is reserved for students.  After 3 pm, it opens to the community and is used extensively by the 600 students of the school, their families, and by many local preschool-aged children and home daycare providers.  In addition, two after-school programs use the space on an almost daily basis (the YMCA after-school program operates out of the school itself, while the Gordon House program picks up kids at the school and often remains at the playground for 60 – 90 minutes after school lets out).  From our experience, we estimate that on winter days at least one hundred parents and children use this important public space between 3 pm and 4:30 pm.  When the weather co-operates, usage can easily double.
ymca lr hours
Kids Club at Lord Roberts operates until 6pm
WEFA urges the City of Vancouver and the developer to explore massing options for the 1661 Davie St. development that will lessen the shadowing impacts on the Lord Roberts playground and field.  While it is true that it is often overcast in the winter, we feel that the additional shadowing caused over the estimated 60-year life of the proposed buildings is a significant and cumulative disadvantage of the proposal.
The Development Permit Board  will review the application which is “conditional” under current zoning at 3pm on Monday May 2, 2016. Tell the development permit board to let the sun shine on the Lord Roberts playground and field. Fill out the online comment form.
lr playground
Lord Roberts Playground in sunnier times.


5 Reasons to attend the WEFA Meeting

Meeting Notice

MONDAY, February 15th, 2016  5:30 pm to 6:30 pm


Join us for an update of the WEST END COMMUNITY PLAN with John Grottenberg from the City of Vancouver.


  1. The Jervis: Currently 3 historic homes at 1171 Jervis Street (Approved – May 4, 2015)



2. A 21-storey, 171 unit rental building at 1754-1772 Pendrell Street. Was approved by City Council in September 2015.

1304 Hornby Street Site Map

3. A proposal for a 43-storey residential building with commercial uses at street level was received for 1550 Alberni Street in September 2015.

Image: Kengo Kuma / Westbank Projects Corporation

4. A mixed-use market rental building at 1188 Bidwell Street. Currently Mac’s on Davie. Approved by the Development Permit Board in September 2015.


5. A development application for a 23-storey mixed-use market rental building at 1668 Davie Street. Currently the parking lot next to London Drugs on Davie.  Approved by the DP Board on November 30, 2015.



Upcoming Parenting Class

Three Bridges public health unit will be offering the following parenting class at the Robert Lee YMCA.


The Challenge of Parenting  your Preschooler

DATE:   Wednesdays- February 3,10,17,24, 2016

TIME:     5:30 – 6:00 pm (welcome & registration)

              6:00 – 7:30 pm (group session)

LOCATION: Robert Lee YMCA 5th fl.

To Register:  Call Three Bridges CHC at 604-714-3438