We remain as committed as ever to delivering on programs that improve cleanliness and sanitation across the district. Helping to keep our streets clean and safe, and buildings graffiti-free is part of our core services to the Strathcona community. In the past year this has become more challenging, as the district continues to experience rising rates of graffiti. Advocating for more resources and new solutions was an important part of our work on these issues.
We partner with Coast Mental Health, United We Can, and Mission Possible Maintenance to provide street cleaning services in the Strathcona BIA district. These impactful partnerships create inclusive job opportunities for local people in our community. Between all program partners, team members have picked up over 1000+ bags of litter and 2960 needles across the entire district in the last year, working over 2411 hours or an average of 46 hours per week. Our teams are here to keep the area clean and support members each day.
Clearly, street litter is a big problem. Through advocacy efforts by the BIA’s, City Council approved additional funding for street cleaning programming city-wide, and allocated $2.1 million in funding for the 2021 Street Cleaning Grant Program. For the Downtown Eastside and Strathcona neighbourhoods this has resulted in an additional 18 micro-cleaning shifts per week. This allowed us to shift more resources towards specific areas of the district as well as our Private Property Debris Pick Up program. We helped complete 70 private property debris pick-ups this last year and make daily reports to VanConnect for debris in lanes and on public property, saving members over $10,000 in removal fees, plus their valuable time.
From Strathcona Pilot to City Service
A big point of pride for us this year was supporting the launch of the social enterprise, The Crap Trapper. Initiators Mark and Elwood saw a need in the community and stepped up to provide a valuable bio-waste pick-up service with support from the Strathcona BIA. Before this, no dedicated service existed for human and animal waste pick-up and removal, often leaving businesses on the hook to deal with this tough task on their own. The Strathcona BIA was a key player in identifying this need and called attention to this from the City. Since then, the program has not only expanded, but is now a City-provided and funded service that members can access through 3-1-1. Mark and Elwood joined forces with Mission Possible to continue to deliver the service, and Strathcona is benefitting from patrols, removals, and on-call service. While advocacy for more public washrooms continues, this has been a big win in improving sanitation across the district in 2021.
Members have access to a comprehensive graffiti removal program through our contract with Goodbye Graffiti Vancouver (a Strathcona business!). In the last few years, the overall size of a graffiti tag within the SBIA district has increased by 70%. The number of calls Goodbye Graffiti receives from the SBIA and members for graffiti removal has doubled in the past 1.5 years. Through our program, we have removed 7,386 graffiti tags in the district over the last year. SBIA members receive unlimited removals of tags 12 feet and under. The program also helped to remove 4,595 square feet of high level tags, a new service being offered through the program. It takes Goodbye Graffiti around 30 minutes to remove a tag the size of a small car from a painted surface. For porous surfaces, a graffiti tag the size of a small car takes around 45 min to remove. All labour, supply, and removal costs are covered within the scope of the program. These time and money savings add up for our members! This program also helps prevent City bylaw infractions and potential fees for our property owners and businesses.
In partnership with other BIA districts across Vancouver we successfully advocated for and secured more funding to handle this challenging issue. We received $35,000, one of the highest amounts from the City of Vancouver, for additional graffiti removal services. This funding will enhance our ability to target graffitti and leverage your levy contributions even further. As always, we also continue to think outside the box on solutions for the rise in graffiti tagging, with initiatives like meaningful mural art with respected local artists, working with the VPD to allocate more preventative resources, and connecting with other community partners to raise the impacts that graffiti has on our members, especially small businesses.
Members can call 604-789-4143, seven days a week from 8am-8pm to reach our safety patrol team who dedicated 6,126 hours to keeping members, customers, and the community safe over the past year. Everyday our compassionate patrol team is on the ground in the district, responding quickly to member needs and connecting with community members. The safety team is our most used program and we are consistently working towards ensuring our approach to community safety is responsible, valued, and holistic. With this in mind, we launched our first annual safety survey this year to better understand how Strathcona BIA members feel about safety in the neighbourhood. Advocacy, Environmental Safety, and Patrols emerged as the priority areas for investment. We received 64 completed surveys, representing 113 businesses and properties across Strathcona. We’re excited to build on this feedback and future engagement to develop a new and strong community safety model for the Strathcona BIA. Stay tuned for updates!
Advocacy is an enormous part of our work in all of these areas. For more on our advocacy efforts and impacts read our advocacy report.