Sunday, March 26, 2023

Work Party tomorrow (Monday, March 27) in the Greenway, 3:00

Howdy Brit Neighbours!
Please join us tomorrow at 3:00 for a work party in the Greenway. It should be clear and chilly. We can admire all the crocuses and the tete-a-tete daffodills.
Bring tools if you have them. I'll bring a couple of leaf bags and a couple of rakes.
They've fixed the big leak in the pavement near the library entrance, so we should be able to get down as far as our ginkgo tree. I'll sprinkle some red poppy seeds around that!
Think about whether we want to deal with a load of city compost and if so, how much.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Work Party, March 27, 3:00!

 Hi. We're back in the swing for spring! Please come and join us if you can. Bring your own tools if you have them -- rake, pruners, leaf blower?, trowel, weeding tools. We always have a few extras, so if you don't have tools but want to work with us, we can accommodate you. Napier Greenway between Choices and Sweet Cherubim on the Drive.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Work Party, Monday March 20, 3:00, Napier Greenway

 Hello Britannia Neighbours,

We’ll have our second Work Party of the season in the Greenway tomorrow, March 20th, at 3:00!

Bring your gloves, secateurs, rake, etc. I’ll bring some leaf bags.

See you then!

Cheers, Penny

Saturday, March 04, 2023

The Story of the Napier Greenway and Britannia Neighbours

What was once a rather grim half block of Napier Street just to the west of Commercial Drive (between the Drive and Britannia Community Centre) is now a Neighbourhood Greenway, arguably one of the busiest “parks” in the City of Vancouver. Although it’s not technically a “park”…

The group Britannia Neighbours in Action worked with the City’s Green Streets Branch to design and create Napier Greenway. It took about a year and a half from conception in 2000 to the Grand Opening ceremony, which happened May 4, 2002.


Oct 18, 2001 City Council approved $140,000 funding to develop the Greenway; it also approved a $5000 yearly maintenance budget.


The deal with the City was, essentially, “The City will work with you to put this Greenway in, provided you folks will look after it — forever!” And that’s pretty much what we agreed to.


At the outset there were six “Britannia Neighbours” community members actively working on the project (Pat Davitt, Karen Martin, Alan Ross, Mark Johnston, Margaret Jones, and me) plus someone assigned to work with us from the City (Karyn Thompson); soon thereafter there were two artists involved as well (Glen Anderson, who did the mosaic workshops and installation, and Pat Beaton, who designed the art posts workshops and installation).


I’m the only one of those six still actively involved with the Greenway from that original group, although Britannia Neighbours had already been in existence for quite a few years having put on the East Van Garden Tour since 1993 and having already worked with the Park Board to install Mosaic Creek Park.


We currently have a dedicated community work crew of about twelve — a few of whom are Master Gardeners and a few of whom are big and strong — and we also have a list of about 40 longtime supporters who hear about all our work parties and occasionally show up.


The garden is quite mature now. We have learned which plants work well and which don’t work in our very high-traffic area.


In order to keep the Greenway well tended and tidy and to keep the plants alive and looking their best, we need money. To that end Britannia Neighbours puts on the East Vancouver Garden Tour, now in its 25thyear, to raise money to pay for:

  • Garden tools, hoses, hose carts, nozzles, leaf bags
  • Plants and trees as needed
  • A person that we hire through the Kettle Friendship Society who picks up litter in the Greenway just about every day
  • A person to water the garden through the warm/dry months (plus 12 cement planters in the Britannia courtyard, just to the west of the Greenway plus two garden beds

As well, Britannia Neighbours provided a seed grant to help start up the Grandview Garden Club, which meets once a month at Britannia Centre (or, when in pandemic mode, on Zoom).
The Green Streets department at the City provides support for us when we need something that is beyond our ability/scope. About once a year they provide us with a load of City compost so we can amend our soil. About fifteen years ago we asked them to install a water tap in the Greenway so we could water during the dry months, and they did. We’re lobbying now in hopes of having an automatic sprinkler system installed to reduce our costs and the immense effort of watering in the summer.
The keys to our success:
  • We have work parties at a regular/predictable time — Monday afternoons 3:00–5:00. This generally means that people who work regular business hours cannot show up. We had tried meeting on Sunday afternoons for a couple of years, but we find Mondays work better for our regular volunteers, most of whom are retired.
  • We are a really happy and congenial group and we look forward to working together for a couple of hours every week.
  • We have people to pick up litter and to do our watering so we don’t have to do that work at our work parties and can concentrate on improving the garden.
  • We have two e-mail mailing lists — one for what we call our “core group”, about twelve people who always show up and whom we consult when any decisions are being made — and one called “work party announcements”, about 40 people who are interested and want to know what we’re up to.
  • Since 2005 we’ve had a website, which is mostly used as notification of work parties for anyone who’s not on our e-mail list.
  • We have an account at Vancity and a volunteer who writes cheques and keeps track of our finances.
  • We also have a sandwich board that we sometimes put up in the Greenway when we're working that tells passers-by who we are and what we’re doing — that we’re a volunteer group and they’re welcome to join us. It has a little rack for brochures/business cards. People often stop to chat with us as we’re working in the Greenway … and some even say they’d like to volunteer. And sometimes they give us their e-mail addresses and I add them to the “work party announcements” e-mail list. It’s always good to recruit new blood!

Work Parties in the Napier Greenway

 During Spring, Summer, and Fall we have work parties in the Napier Greenway just about every Monday afternoon from 3:00-4:00 p.m. (or sometimes 5:00). We don't garden in the winter.
We'd love it if you'd come and join us. It's a good way to learn some gardening skills and to get to know some of your neighbours.