Recently, in late October, the City of Vancouver announced, without consultation, that they would be building temporary modular housing next door to George Pearson Centre, at the corner of Heather and W 59th Ave. The space has been unused lawn for as long as anyone can remember.
For Pearson folks, it was a bit shocking to learn about something as a done deal, without any prior consultation. But we understand that housing the homeless is something few people advocate for in their back yard. In fact, a lot of the neighbours are protesting against it.
From the City’s website: “Our next housing development will be home to two, three-storey buildings; each with 39 homes (total of 78 homes) for homeless residents….Both buildings will be managed by Community Builders, an experienced supportive and low-income housing provider with 15 years of experience in Vancouver’s urban core area specializing in tenant support for persons with a variety of needs.”
At the recent November 14th Resident Council meeting, George Pearson Centre residents discussed this new development, which is expected to spring up very quickly, to house people this coming winter. Residents have some concerns about what new neighbours will bring, but no one suggested that this shouldn’t happen. We discussed inviting the new neighbours to events at Pearson. Everyone needs a home, said a resident.
It was heart warming to learn that some nearby high school students are standing up for this development, as well. Read more here and here.
On July 20, 2017, three GPC Residents were able to go and speak at the City of Vancouver’s public hearing on the rezoning application.
Several more were heard in a new method – pre-recorded video contribution. This enabled people who would not otherwise be heard, to speak up. Many who live at George Pearson Centre cannot easily attend an hours-long hearing in person. Kudos to the City for allowing a new form of contribution – we hope it continues.
It is unfortunate that there were no GPC residents present at the 2014 Pearson Dogwood Policy Statement hearing at the City. Their voices were missed, and decisions were made that appear to exclude the wishes of the most vulnerable residents. While the independent housing is welcomed by many, those who prefer larger group living similar to the current Pearson model are left without a home on this site.
The redevelopment planning continues for the land on which George Pearson Centre sits. In 2016, members of Resident Council became concerned that very few residents were directly engaged in the planning. It is a complex process that is inherently difficult for Pearson residents to be a part of without various kinds of support.
So, Resident Council asked VCH to fulfill its commitment made in the policy plan to consult and collaborate with Pearson residents as part of the planning process. As a result, VCH has facilitated two open houses, several focus groups and some one-on-one interviews. There will be two reports – Part 1 gathers feedback on Housing Design, while Part 2 looks at the Care Models.
Pearson’s Garden Club grew another giant pumpkin this year. We received the seedlings from a volunteer’s friend and started a friendly plant competition. One pumpkin pulled ahead in the race for biggest size. When harvested, the Great Pearson Pumpkin weighed 340 lbs. After we chopped the pumpkin up (which took considerable time and effort) some was given away for baking, cooking etc.
John Nyce was our friend and neighbour. He moved into Pearson when he was 16 years old. He passed away on Feb 27th, just 5 days after his 55th birthday. He is missed by many of us.
John was a caring fellow. He always asked you “How are you?” He had a speech impediment, so some people had trouble understanding him at first, but he was patient and would repeat himself until you understood. One thing we all remember about John is his laughter — he loved joking around and was quick to laugh. Another thing we remember is that he loved drinking Coca-Cola.
Nowadays, people of such a young age don’t move to Pearson. But in the 1970s, things were different. People remember John as a mischievous youngster with a great sense of humour, and that he would hide when it came time for him to go to ‘school’, like many children do.
John used to travel on his own up to Oakridge mall, about 16 blocks from Pearson. There was some concern at some point that he wasn’t safe doing that, and some people starting worrying him about going there. So John started going to Metrotown mall, which is about 60 blocks away, in the next City over (Burnaby), and involves taking public transit. He wasn’t afraid of adventure, that’s for sure!
Something else that John was passionate about was Soccer. He had a specialized attachment on his wheelchair that enabled him to play Powerchair Football, also known as Power Soccer. Here John had one of his many friend circles — Powerchair Football Canada wrote a blog post on March 16, 2016 in memory of him as well. He was their longest running athlete!
John Nyce’s memorial was on Saturday April 2nd. The family came to Pearson. Some live in Vancouver, but many of them traveled a long distance to come share this time with us. John and his family are from the the Nisga’a nation — their village is Gitwinksihlkw, and they are the “People of the Lizards.” It is about 100 km north of Terrace. Staff and residents really appreciated the family coming such a long way, so we could remember John together at his home of the last 39 years.
John’s memorial was attended by many residents and staff. The family presented GPC a handmade wooden plaque thanking staff for the care they gave John for the 39 years he lived here. The plaque will be located on Ward 6 for now, John’s local neighbourhood, and it will likely go into the Activity Wing at a later time for all to view.
Being part of the Pearson Community means dealing with a higher rate of death than the outside community. Some people who move here are in a more fragile health state, and it’s usually not surprising when someone with complex serious health issues passes away. But Pearson is also home to long term residents — and when they pass away it has a significant impact on the staff and other residents. We are glad to have known John Nyce and will remember him fondly.
Garden Club is now in it’s 7th full year of happening, and it just keeps getting better and better. Seeds were started indoors at the end of March, and with this warm spring we’re having, we’re transplanting tomatoes already. As well, our strawberry patch is in full production. And nothing tastes so sweet as the first strawberry of the year!
It’s probably the most popular meal we make at Community Kitchen here at Pearson.
Maybe it’s because a good breakfast is hard to deliver in the way that food normally arrives from the institutional food service provider — trucked from the kitchen on a hospital-style tray. Maybe it’s because fresh-off-the-griddle pancakes and fresh scrambled eggs are a distant memory to many of the people who’ve lived here for decades.
Maybe it’s just because a full fledged breakfast is awesome.
The menu included:
Fruit smoothie made simply with apples and assorted frozen fruit and enough water to blend. This includes raspberries that we froze at the height of our summer harvest from the residents’ gardens here at Pearson (Garden Club, a Farmers on 57th program)
Hash browns — grated the last of 2015’s potatoes harvested from the
Bacon and sausages
Pancakes (flour plus eggs plus milk plus butter)
Berry compote (also frozen berries from the summer)
Real maple syrup. Know what’s in table ‘syrup’? Mostly Corn Syrup. Plus gum, colouring, flavouring and preservatives.
Fresh-baked cinnamon buns and plain rolls, prepared in advance by our incredible volunteer Chris.
One of the best parts about Community Kitchen is the socializing that naturally occurs over a meal. Volunteers grab some food and sit down when they have time. We talk about what we could make at the next dinner, even though it is a month away.
As well, residents get the rare opportunity to have seconds (and thirds) of something they really like. Something we try to encourage is for residents to choose what they want.
We were so busy cooking and sharing food that I forgot to take any photos. I leave it up to your imagination…
It all started with a tiny plant donated by a couple who grow award-winning giant pumpkins. The Garden Club accepted this donation, and planted it in an area that didn’t have much going on. How big could it get, we wondered?
The answer is 242 pounds.
We had the pumpkin on display until Halloween, and ran a guess-the-weight contest.
After Halloween…it was time to carve it up and eat it!
We managed to distribute most of the pumpkin around Pearson to staff and visitors. We cooked up a whole bunch for Community Kitchen too. This pumpkin fed a lot of people!
George Pearson Centre is in a new riding for the 2015 Federal Election.
Growth in the City of Vancouver has meant that the City of Vancouver has a new electoral district, increasing its total from five to six. Pearson is within the new riding called Vancouver Granville. It is made of up of parts of the previously existing ridings, which are currently held by different parties.
Monday October 19th is Voting Day. Here at Pearson, there will be a mobile Polling Station. If a resident is in bed that day, Elections Canada personnel will carry the ballot box from room to room for voting.
For the newly created Vancouver Granville riding, there are four candidates for MP. We invited all four to attend our monthly Resident Council meeting to talk to residents about their position on certain issues. Three candidates responded that they would attend. The conservative candidate Erinn Broshko did not reply to our repeated invitations. The following candidates did attend:
Mira Oreck (NDP) was a Broadbent Institute director who also worked on Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson’s campaigns.
Jody Wilson-Raybould (Liberal) a former regional chief of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and former crown prosecutor.
Michael Barkusky (Green) is a CGA and is on the board of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics and other organizations, and is passionate about wilderness conservation.
It meant a lot to Pearson residents to have these three candidates take the time to come and speak to them. Residents face various challenges in attending, speaking, seeing and hearing at public community gatherings, so it really made a difference to have the candidates come to Resident Council.
Hansu lives at George Pearson Centre. She’s not an elderly senior, as is often assumed by many people when they think of long term care facilities. She is a vibrant adult, living her life like all of us — and her home is in a care facility with medical bells and equipment.
She moves around via a motorized wheelchair. She has some use of her hands, but not full use. Her mind is active — she enjoys many activities. You can learn more about what she enjoys and her experience living at Pearson in the video below.
The video was created by Hansu’s niece Kaija and her friend Emily. For the audio, Kaija interviewed Hansu over the phone. Then Kaija and her friend put together a video with Hansu’s voice mingling with animation. It’s both dreamy and grounded — an insight into Hansu’s life and perspective.