Tag Archives: Britannia Neighbours

The Napier Greenway: The City of Vancouver is Renaming Without Consultation

3 Jul

So, every once in a while, we happen across things that make us shake our heads. What we are about to share is one of those things.  For the last few years we have featured the East Van Garden Tour, which is a fundraiser for Britannia Neighbours who do an amazing job of beautifying and maintaining what we all know as the Napier Greenway. For those who don’t know it, this space is located off Commercial Drive at the entrance to Britannia Community Centre.  This is a great community space created in 2001 by the City and Britannia Neighbours (a group of community volunteers), under the City’s Green Streets Program and which has been lovingly tended to by Britannia Neighbours for the last 18 years.   We have to say we were rather surprised when we stumbled across a letter from Britannia Neighbours to the City of Vancouver about the renaming of this space to Margaret Mitchell Plaza.

For those who may not know the name, Margaret Mitchell was a Vancouver resident, social worker, and activist who was elected to the House of Commons four times to serve the riding of Vancouver East. She was the longest serving female MP when she left in 1993 after 14 years in which she boldly advanced women’s rights.  This is without a doubt someone who is worthy of recognition.

Now, getting back to the Napier Greenway, Britannia Neighbours is a group of local volunteers who started working with the City of Vancouver in 2000 to create the Napier Greenway and has, since its completion in 2001, maintained it.  They have weekly work parties, they rake and weed and prune and plant new plants and move old ones, they clean up graffiti on benches, and do other repairs as needed. They also hire someone from the nearby Kettle Friendship Society to pick up litter daily and hire someone else to water all summer.   This greenway is a gathering space that regularly hosts free community events such as Artful Sundays, the Stone Soup Festival, and activities during Car Free Day and Italian Day.  The Napier Greenway was created and is regularly invigorated by the community that surrounds and cares for it.  With no disrespect to Margaret Mitchell, the renaming of it dismisses and disrespects the hard work this community and its volunteers have put and continue to put into this space.NapierGreenway7

We have learned that there is actually a Naming Committee at the City of Vancouver which makes recommendations about places that need new names; the previous Council, however, made this decision without consulting either Britannia Neighbours or its own Naming Committee. During an in-camera meeting, the previous Council agreed, by a majority vote, without any consultation whatsoever, to rename the Napier Greenway Margaret Mitchell Plaza. The initiative for the new name we understand was led by then Vision Councillor, Andrea Reimer. The ‘without consultation’ is the part that really gets under our skin whether this issue or others that affect the communities they represent. Elected officials serve residents of the City, that includes ALL of us, those that may not have such a public face, but serve their communities tirelessly and don’t get the public recognition they deserve.

The Napier Greenway is a space residents and volunteers are proud of and we feel they have the right to maintain the name.

Margaret Mitchell was a tireless advocate for some of the poorest areas in Vancouver, so we think it is fitting that Vancouver’s second temporary modular housing facility at 2132 Ash Street was named Margaret Mitchell Place. This space creates housing for 52 members, teaches life skills, has health teams and support, and employment programs, as well as a community garden.  We think this new housing facility is a fitting tribute to Margaret Mitchell and is reflective of the work she undertook. The Napier Greenway was created and has been maintained for 18 years by Britannia Neighbours, who may be nameless and faceless, but who are worthy of recognition. All they wish to do is retain the name they created for this community gathering space, Napier Greenway.  We hope the current City Council rights this wrong.

 

East Van Garden Tour Sunday, June 17th

30 May

If you love gardens, whether looking at them or working in them, you may wish to check out the upcoming East Van Garden Tour.  This is a self-guided tour that happens Sunday, June 17th. It’s a great opportunity to see what creative projects people have undertaken in their gardens and peak not just over the fence, but on the other side to see how people have used their garden space. Whether you have a home, patio garden or a community garden, The East Van Garden Tour is a great source of inspiration and ideas. If you haven’t participated in this event, previously, you purchase your tickets in advance. Then show up on June 17th at Figaro’s Garden Centre to obtain your map sometime after 10:00 a.m. After which you head off to tour the gardens until 4:00 pm. To purchase tickets in advance, visit Eventbrite, call Figaro’s Garden Centre, 1896 Victoria Drive or contact the Britannia Community Services Centre, 1661 Napier Street, in person or by phone 604-718-5800. Tickets are $15 each.  The tour is popular and has sold out in previous years, so we recommend that you get your tickets in advance.  People who attend the tour will also get a one-time discount to shop at Figaro’s starting on the day of the tour. Note: This is a very walkable tour, but it is not wheelchair accessible and pets are not allowed. To learn more who is behind the tours, visit Britannia Neighbours.

 

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