Monday, February 14, 2011

Militant Mothers and Booze Cans

Today's entry is about how people have made changes in this city and helped to keep some safe and beautify their piece of the community.

The Militant Mothers of Raymur are an important part of Vancouver's history.

In the late 1950s the city began a urban renewal plan for the Strathcona area. The plan was to demolish older homes and use that land to create public housing including the Raymur Housing Project. The housing project is at the corner of Campbell and Pender Streets but many of the project's children attend school at Seymour Elementary School. In order to get to the school the youngsters had to cross the railroad tracks.

In the fall of 1970 a group of mothers from the housing project organized a protest against the Burlington Northern Railway. They had been negotiating with the railway to get the company to build an overhead walkway but the negotiations were going nowhere. So the mothers began to camp out on the tracks and stopped the trains. Even though there was legal action and intense pressure from the railway the mothers refused to move and allow the trains to get to the Port of Vancouver.

The Burlington Northern Railway finally did give in and build the walkway. I guess it was less expensive in the long run that the money they were losing by not being able to get to the port.

Part of this urban renewal plan for Strathcona also consisted of plans to build a highway through the district. In order to do this the planners were going to demolish houses on the entire block of Prior and Union Streets. There was a public outcry. Not only because we would be losing parts of our history but also because there was no public consultation on this. Planners quickly backtracked on that idea and a new approach to urban development and change was born. Now the public is allowed to present their opinions and concerns. Walking around downtown lately I have seen notices where planners are intending on constructing large condo towers so there may be more public outcry as the citizens try to stop this.

At the corners of McLean Drive and Charles Street is this little park - Mosaic Creek Park.

In the 1990s these three vacant lots were slated for a condominimum building. The residents of the area weren't pleased with this proposal so they raised the money to purchase the land themselves and turn it into a park.

 Artists Glen Andersen and Kristine Germann worked with project coordinator Sarah White and ran workshops to teach residents how to create the mosaics that are seen throughout this area. 300 community members created the mosaics that create a path running through the park. (Initially the community wanted to have a stream running through this area but it proved to be impractical.)

This mosaic feature surrounding an herb garden was designed and coordinated by Glen Andersen and Marina Szijarto.

Here, though my camera didn't pick it up, are stones with names of people involved with this project. The design team consisted of: Glen Andersen, Christopher Dale, Kristine Germann, Joanne Hogarth, Lawrence Low, Sarah White and Ms. White was the coordinator.

Friday while walking through here I ran into a woman who told me all about how this park came to be. She used to live in a house here that was once a booze can. She now lives in an apartment building on the Charles Street side of the park and she said she can remember when that area was all orchards. She wasn't that old so it wasn't that long ago. Relatively speaking of course.

This building which has an entrance on Mclean Drive as well as one on Charles Street was built in 1912 but I don't know anything about it.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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1 comment:

  1. Great profiling. this is a story that is not well enough known. love the pictures.