Community and Vancouver City Council join forces for eastside community centre renewal
Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre, over 40 years old, seeks city funding to rejuvenate
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Linda Tallio grew up in the 70s at the Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre on the eastern edge of the Downtown Eastside. The space started as a group of portables on Campbell Ave. born out of a grassroots movement of mothers who strapped themselves to train tracks to get a pedestrian overpass built for their children, she told Metro.
Tallio’s mom was one of them. Today Tallio, along with her partner and two children, frequent the centre and live behind it. “To me it means family,” she said. “We watch each other’s kids and make sure everybody gets fed and that they’re safe.”
“If I move anywhere else the rent is going to skyrocket,” she added. “I need a new Ray-Cam. This one has been here so long and we are running out of room for our different programs.”
Local residents like Tallio, along with three different Councillors from three different parties, are moving a motion at council on Tuesday towards a review of the Ray-Cam Renewal Project (created by the Ray-Cam Cooperative and community members) to be included in the city’s 2019-2022 capital plan.
“We need to step up and have something the community deserves,” said Kate Hodgson, coordinator of the centre. “When you have a neighborhood changing, so quickly with so many more people, you have to have community amenity spaces.”
What was important then is important today, she added, like child care, family services and multigenerational programming. Unlike other centers, Ray-Cam’s land was given to the community for amenities in perpetuity from the province. Today, it is jointly operated by the cooperative, the city and the Board of Parks and Recreation, Hodgson noted.
“We’re bursting at the seams,” she said. “There’s a huge opportunity to expand the community center, add more childcare and community space and put housing on top.”
The current two story building at 920 E. Hastings was recently re-zoned for up to 12 storeys of mixed use. Working on the plan since 2016, the group secured support from BC Housing for the construction of the project pending city approval for funding of a new community centre, Hodgson added.
“Making social or affordable housing for families, children and seniors is really key,” she said.
Coun. Adriane Carr, who moved the motion said the building is the heart of the community and in poor condition. “They’ve come up with a proposal that incorporates affordable housing, which is desperately needed,” she said. “They’ve done all the legwork and hard lifting to create the vision that will be able to provide even better programs, spaces and services people need.”
Both Coun. Andrea Reimer and Coun. Melissa De Genova supported the motion - which is rare, Carr noted.
If the motion is approved, Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre will sit at the table with the city, BC Housing and parks board to get on the ballot for the Oct. 2018 capital plan.