Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Thursday announced $2 million in funding for East Vancouver community initiatives and improvements to CRAB Park as part of the expansion of the Centerm container terminal.
“We have had the privilege of knowing these communities near Centerm through our existing community investment programs and are pleased to be able to contribute to programs, organizations and community spaces that mean so much to residents nearby,” said Duncan Wilson, vice-president of environment community and government affairs at Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.
Construction on the $320-million project that will expand the Burrard Inlet terminal’s footprint by 15 per cent and increase the number of containers it can handle by two-thirds is expected to start this summer. The project is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2021.
The $2 million donation includes:
- $1 million for improvements to CRAB Park
- $250,000 for First Nations initiatives
- $125,000 for Strathcona Community Centre Association
- $125,000 for Ray-Cam Co-operative Association, and
- $500,000 for the creation of a three-year community fund to support projects proposed by organizations in the Downtown Eastside, Strathcona, Hastings-Sunrise and Grandview-Woodland
“Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre is so excited to be receiving this gift from the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority as part of the Centerm community investment,” said Jennifer Guest, president of the Ray-Cam centre board of directors.
“This gift will help us greatly to support our youth, our children in childcare programs and our work towards creating an expanded community centre for the Downtown Eastside-Strathcona neighbourhood.”
Strathcona Community Centre Association chair Holly Alyea said it is unusual for the centre to receive a donation of this size with no strings attached.
“Often our donations are tied tour food program or specific to different things like childcare, so it’s really an opportunity for us, as we move into our strategic planning, to explore how we can best use that money for the community,” she said.
Alyea said the association is looking at a number of ways the funding could be used including doing more around reconciliation, building youth programs and green initiatives.
Not everyone was happy with Thursday’s announcement. Don Larson of the CRAB Water for Life Society, which oversees CRAB Park said the $1 million donation falls short of what the park board and community is asking for.
In May, Larson and a group of Downtown Eastside residents and supporters rallied at the park board office highlighting the need for improvements to the park, including expanding the park, establishing an Indigenous healing centre and improving access, especially for people with mobility issues.
After hearing from speakers, park board commissioners unanimously approved a motion from COPE commissioner John Irwin to ask the port authority to work with the City of Vancouver, park board and First Nations, on a plan for the central waterfront area, including CRAB Park, that would give equitable access to “expanded, high-quality greenspace,” explore the feasibility of an Indigenous healing/cultural centre, create and enhance significant shoreline habitat, and put a city-wide focus on expanding waterfront park access.
Irwin was on hand for Thursday’s announcement and said the park board is still pursuing the goal of expanding, and improving, the park and establishing the healing centre.
Board chair Stuart Mackinnon said the park board will consult with the community to determine the $1 million donation could be used.
“Improving CRAB Park is a high priority of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation and, of course, for local residents that use this crucial green space,” he said.
“The park board would like to thank the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority for this donation toward much-needed improvements… and we look forward to hearing from local park users on how best to use these funds,” Mackinnon said. “We also recognize the continuing need for additional park, green space and shoreline habitat, in particular in the Downtown Eastside community.”
Organizations can find out more about how to apply for the new community fund at portvancouver.com/centerm-fund. The first submission period for applications will be open Sept. 3 to Nov. 29.