FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Community and Vancouver City Councillors hopeful about Ray-Cam renewal
East Vancouver, March 8 — Local residents along with three different Councillors from three different parties are hopeful the City can resource a potential partnership to build housing and renew the aging East Side community centre.
On the eastern edge of the Downtown Eastside, Ray-Cam Co-operative Community Centre has been serving local families for over forty years. The centre provides much needed services for over 6,000 members.
The aging facilities are nearing the end of their useful life, but with new provincial government commitments to fund housing and child care, and a cross-party supported notice of motion before Vancouver City Council next week councillors and the community are looking to the future.
Residents involved in the community-visioned redevelopment of the Ray-Cam site have secured in-principle support from BC Housing for construction and financing of the residential component of the project pending a commitment of City funding for a renewed community centre.
A motion before Vancouver City Council next week seeks to direct staff to conduct a timely, systematic, and comprehensive review of the Ray-Cam Renewal Project in order that it be considered for inclusion in the city’s 2019-2022 Capital Plan.
According to Green Councillor Adriane Carr, the mover of the motion: “The potential for new senior government funding and the hard work that local residents and partners have put into getting this Ray-Cam renewal project ready to go convinces me that the City must consider funding it through our upcoming capital plan. Thinking of the needs of the community, it’s a great opportunity that the City can’t afford to miss.”
The motion’s seconder, Vision Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer adds “Ray-Cam Co-operative Community Centre has provided generations of lower income families and residents in east Vancouver with critical services and created community that sustains and endures. With the recent commitment from BC Housing, and a focus on poverty reduction and community services from the new provincial government, it’s the right time for the City to signal our interest in the next generation of Ray-Cam.”
The NPA’s Melissa De Genova adds: “Ray-Cam is integral to the community of the Downtown Eastside. The impact of the resources this community centre provides to the neighbourhood is immeasurable. Like many Vancouver community centres, Ray-Cam is in great need of renewal. With the possibly of partnerships and funding from other levels of government to revitalize the centre, it is important that the City explores opportunities to provide funding for this project. Finding funds for projects can be difficult, but I am hopeful that we will find the resources necessary to support this grassroots community led initiative.”
Residents worried about the future of the centre include Sherry Murray: “If they don’t expand on this place it will slowly go. When we come here, we bring our children here, our grandchildren here. When you think of things you need help with, you come here and share and ask because you trust people here. This is where I send families who are in need of help and support.”
“If the City is serious about building housing for low income people then they need to step up and invest in Ray-Cam, this is an opportunity to provide housing and invest in our community” notes resident and Ray-Cam board member Guy Wakeman.
Local mom, board member Gina Hawkins adds: “Ray-Cam is multi-generational. It is a real parent support place. It is where I come to get help with my kids. There are people here who came to daycare, who grew up here, who now work here.”
Founded in 1976, Ray-Cam is unique. The land is on title to the Province of BC, granted in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of local residents. The centre is jointly operated by the Ray-Cam Cooperative, the City, and the Board of Parks and Recreation.
It’s that unique partnership that affords a unique opportunity for renewal to be voted on by Vancouver City Council next week. The current two story building at 900 block East Hastings sits on land recently re-zoned for up to 12 storeys of mixed use.
Today, the crowded Ray-Cam lobby sees youth and seniors jostling for space between foosball and ping pong tables next to an overflowing computer lab. Meeting rooms do double duty as storage; with diapers, snacks, and supplies stacked against the wall. The gym leaks, the weight-room leaks. An inadequate and chronically broken furnace means parts of the centre are freezing in the winter. With only two public washrooms, increased programming, and growing population, Ray-Cam is bursting at the seams.
The building is well-worn but well-loved: a welcoming family oriented safe space, with recreation and programming for people of all income levels including youth, seniors, new immigrants, and Indigenous residents. Ray-Cam is one of Vancouver’s highest membership, most frequently used community centres. All programs are free to local low-income residents.
For three years, local residents and volunteers have been planning what a renewed centre with housing could mean to the community. Thanks to a City grant, the resident and board-led renewal committee have enrolled architects, planners and consultants to help craft a vision for the future of the site, which they forwarded to City Councillors in February.
At the Council meeting of February 20, Councillor Carr gave notice of her motion, “Renewal of Ray-Cam Community Centre.”
The motion is on City Council’s agenda of March 13, 2018. Link: http://council.vancouver.ca/20180313/documents/motionb1.pdf
For more information about the Ray-Cam Renewal project http://raycam-renew.ca