The cardiac centre at the new St. Paul’s Hospital will be named the Tong Louie Cardiac Wing in recognition of a $6.5-million donation from the Vancouver family that owns London Drugs, it was announced Tuesday.
Two charities — the London Drugs Foundation and the Tong and Geraldine Louie Family Foundation — are contributing the sum for the new hospital near Main Street and Terminal Avenue. The 124-year old hospital on Burrard Street is to be demolished after construction on the new hospital ends, in 2024 or later.
“As a 115-year-old B.C. owned and operated family company, we are proud of our lengthy history of giving back to the people of this province,” said Brandt Louie, chair of London Drugs Ltd.
“This is a proud moment for our family and we are honoured to be part of the bold, bright future of the new St. Paul’s.”
Louie said in a statement that family matriarch Geraldine Louie received exceptional care at St. Paul’s towards the end of her life and while being treated for congenital heart disease.
The donation will be used for an in-patient wing of the hospital that will be built on the False Creek Flats. The wing will be located close to imaging and diagnostic areas, operating rooms, outpatient clinics, cardiac research labs and medical offices. The design is meant to allow patient treatment and research side-by-side.
Dr. Sean Virani, the physician program director for the Heart Centre, said the donation will help recruit cardiologists and surgeons and expand care for patients. St. Paul’s is the only hospital in B.C. that performs heart transplants. Under pioneering interventional cardiologist Dr. John Webb, it has become world-famous for minimally invasive heart valve surgery.
Construction of the new hospital is not expected to begin for a few years as the City of Vancouver rezoning process is expected to take more than a year and soil remediation will require extensive work.
The B.C. government has not yet announced approval of the more than $1 billion business plan, but numerous announcements from the hospital foundation would suggest the project — first announced by the former Liberal government — will go ahead. Just over a year ago, health minister Adrian Dix said the redevelopment of St. Paul’s on the False Creek flats was one of his priorities.
It is expected the sale of the lands under the existing hospital will fund the construction of the new hospital, to which Jimmy Pattison has already pledged $75 million. While the hospital itself will still be called St. Paul’s, the campus will be called the Jim Pattison Medical Centre.
On Monday night, the foundation held an invitation-only gala event for past and future donors.
Chronology of the site where new St. Paul’s Hospital will be built:
1912-20: False Creek drained to make way for construction of railway lines. A Great Northern Railway station is built on the site, with a Canadian National Railway station, which still stands, built to the south.
1930: Great Northern Railway freight sheds occupy the south end of the site. Businesses along Prior Street include Canadian Junk Co. and a junk storage warehouse.
1956: The site is occupied by Finning Factory and the Great Northern Railway freight shed. Prior Street businesses include the United Fruit Ltd., Canadian Junk and Great West Smelting.
1966: Great Northern Railway is moved and the train station is torn down.
2000: Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners purchase the site for $22 million from Trillium Corp., hoping to develop the site for the high-tech and dot-com industries.
2004: A Providence Health Care-affiliated entity buys 18.5 acres from Schroeder Properties and ING Realty Partners for just over $24 million. The entire amount is financed with a bank loan.
2010: Gravel is added to reinforce and level the site for use during the 2010 Olympic Games as a parking lot for the buses that transport people between Vancouver and Whistler.
2010: The B.C. government acknowledges it has paid millions in municipal taxes to hold the site for the future hospital.
2015: Providence Health Care, which manages St. Paul’s Hospital and numerous other Catholic health facilities, announces a new $1.2 billion hospital on the new site and the eventual demolition of the old hospital in the West End.
The Renfrew Ravine, a little bit of wilderness in the City of Vancouver, just got a lot more accessible.
The Vancouver Park Board and the Still Moon Arts Society have collaborated to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the East Vancouver nature spot.
The upgrade’s grand opening was Tuesday.
“It’s really amazing that it’s here. It’s just so spectacular,” said Carmen Rosen, artistic director of the Still Moon Arts Society, speaking to On the Coast‘s Margaret Gallagher.
Both Renfrew Community Park and Renfrew Ravine Park have been redeveloped in order to give residents easier access to the ravine’s habitat and Still Creek, according to the project’s master plan.
Renfrew Ravine is part of the Still Creek watershed. There are seven blocks of wild ravine near the 29th Avenue Skytrain station, says Rosen. The creek goes underground at 22nd Avenue and emerges at the Renfrew Community Park.
Carmen Rosen of the Still Moon Arts Society, left, and Alexandre Man-Bourdon of the Vancouver Park Board, right, were part of a collaboration to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the Renfrew Ravine. They are pictured here in the ravine prior to its grand opening. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC )
“We didn’t want to have too much of an impact on this ecosystem. So we built an elevated boardwalk to ensure that the water has the ability to move underneath the boardwalk,” Vancouver Park Board landscape architect and project lead Alexandre Man-Bourdon told Gallagher.
The upgrades include staircases with improved access to trails, an accessible walkway into the trail system from the parking lot on Renfrew Street, bridges across Still Creek and enhanced trails.
“[You can go] down quite deep into the ravine,” said Man-Bourdon. “From down [there], when you look around, you can’t see the houses around you. And except for a few passing cars and the rain, you really can’t hear anything except the water.”
One of the Renfrew Ravine’s new walkways. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC )
Renfrew Ravine, which is much more wild than the community park, was logged in the late 1800s, making it a second-growth forest, according to Rosen. But visitors can still see old-growth tree stumps.
“Renfrew Ravine really gives you a flavour of what the city was like hundreds of years ago,” said Rosen.
Man-Bourdon says that the park board strives to provide the city with accessible ways to explore nature.
“In the eastside of Vancouver, there are only a few locations where you get this kind of wild nature access. This is really a gem,” said Man-Bourdon.
Listen to the full story:
The Renfrew Ravine is a little bit of wilderness in the city of Vancouver. And it just got a lot more accessible. The Vancouver Park Board and the Still Moon Arts Society collaborated to add staircases, bridges and walkways to the eastside gully. 7:06
Not all of the voter packages mailed out for this fall’s elections referendum are making it into the hands of the voter on the address label, but Elections B.C. says the odds are against voters committing fraud.
Some of the three million brown envelopes containing a chance to vote on future provincial voting systems — maintain the “first past the post” or adopt a new proportional representation — mailed out between Oct. 22 and this Friday, have been seen piling up in the lobbies of multi-family residences.
They are addressed to residents listed on B.C.’s election rolls, but some may have moved and others may have discarded them, not knowing, or knowing, what they are for.
Ex-MLA Judi Tyabji has said she feared a lot of these envelopes would end up in recycling and picked up by anyone, leaving the system open to abuse.
The Election Data and Science Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has collected and analyzed data from U.S. elections about absentee voting, or voting by mail (VBM), to determine “whether it increases voter fraud.”
It said VBM increased “opportunities for coercion and voter impersonation” and raised concerns about “ballots being intercepted and ballots being requested without the voter’s permission.”
“As with all forms of voter fraud, documented instances of fraud related to VBM are rare,” the lab found. “However, even many scholars who argue that fraud is generally rare agree that fraud with VBM voting seems to be more frequent than with in-person voting.”
“We have a number of safeguards to protect the integrity of the system,” said Elections B.C. spokesman Andrew Watson.
He said he couldn’t reveal all safeguards because it could jeopardize their effectiveness, but did say Elections B.C. would confirm the voter’s date of birth by matching it against the electors’ roll.
The ballot would also have to be signed, but the signature isn’t verified.
Watson said anyone who is delivered a package for someone who is no longer living at the address, should mark it “return to sender” and mail it back to Elections B.C.
He noted that during the 2011 harmonized sales tax provincewide mail-in referendum, two per cent of returned ballots, or 38,000, were “set aside” because they weren’t completed properly. The reasons were varied but could have included evidence of an unconfirmed identity.
During the 2015 mail-in plebiscite on transit and transportation in parts of B.C., the percentage of returned ballots “set aside,” was almost five per cent, or around 38,000 ballots, according to the chief electoral officer’s report.
Watson said its post-2011 referendum survey of more than 6,000 voters indicated that 99.7 per cent of respondents confirmed they participated.
He said there were “significant penalties” for those convicted of voter fraud, including fines of up to $20,000 and up to two years in jail. There have never been any such charges in B.C., said Watson.
He also said it’s an offence if a voter’s envelope is opened without the voter’s permission. Also, a ballot must by law be filled out only by the registered voter, but there are exceptions, including those needing assistance because of a disability or language barrier.
Each voter should receive a voter’s package by Friday, said Watson. He said because of rotating postal strikes affecting mail delivery in some cities, the mail-out deadline may be extended.
During the 2011 HST referendum, mail delivery was halted for several days because of a management lockout of employees and the chief electoral officer extended the mail-out and mail-in deadlines to “ensure the integrity of the referendum,” his report said.
Voters not receiving a package by Friday can request a ballot up until Nov. 23. All ballots must be mailed back by Nov. 30.
Artist’s concept of the new St. Paul’s Hospital. PNG
The B.C. government hasn’t yet announced cabinet and Treasury Board approval for the St. Paul’s Hospital redevelopment plan.
But that hasn’t stopped donations from pouring in.
Tomorrow morning, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation is set to announce – at the Sheraton Wall Centre – a sizeable donation for the new hospital that is expected to open in 2024 on the False Creek flats.
Nor has the lack of government approval precluded tonight’s invitation-only gala for “the new St. Paul’s.”
Red invitations like the one you see in this post have been sent to past and future donors.
The email invitation to the event at the Rocky Mountaineer was a bit of a surprise given the lack of government approval but I’m told this is not unusual for hospital fundraisers.
They need to get philanthropists on board long before governments issue press releases. And despite a $75 million pledge from Jimmy Pattison for the new hospital campus that will bear his name, the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation has plenty of fundraising to do since the project will likely cost well over $1 billion.
A ministry of health spokeswoman said the government has nothing to announce on St. Paul’s yet so it regards the gala as a routine fundraising event.
(In 2012, the former Liberal government committed to funding of $500 million for the hospital redevelopment; I’m assuming that amount will have to increase substantially given the passage of time and increase in construction costs).
We can safely assume that financial institutions will have no hesitation granting construction loans since, apart from the fact taxpayers underwriting this massive project, the current site of the hospital on Burrard Street is expected to yield hundreds of millions of dollars when the hospital is torn down and the land sold off to developers.
The fact the government hasn’t announced its approval of the business plan hasn’t stopped the City of Vancouver rezoning process. Expect that process to take at least a year.
The new St. Paul’s Hospital campus rezoning concept envisions multiple buildings. IBI Group has submitted the application for the 18.5 acre site. It includes the new hospital, retail/commercial space, research facilities, professional offices childcare facilities and a hotel.
Community engagement is occurring now. It’s not clear how long the public engagement process will take before hearings on the applications to rezone the False Creek flats site from industrial to mixed use.
But it’s imperative civic politicians take into account the need for affordable housing close to the hospital since nurses and other healthcare providers are struggling to live in Vancouver, even with their solid salaries and incomes.
Indeed, I’m repeatedly hearing that nursing vacancies are becoming increasingly difficult to fill because of the housing affordability crisis.
A new hospital must be accompanied by affordable housing for the people who will work in it. The Jim Pattison Medical Centre, as it will be called, should have a residential component either on the campus or directly on the outskirts.
Angela Ayre proudly served in the Canadian military for 14 years until an injury forced her to resign prematurely. Her transition to civilian life was relatively smooth compared to many of her colleagues. Yet the mention of Remembrance Day brings a visceral response of grief and regret.
“It’s definitely a difficult time. It’s hard that I’m still here and other people have lost their lives. And some people have lost their family. It is absolutely a hard time,” says Ayre, 35, pausing to stifle tears.
“(Remembrance Day) is a time to grieve and mourn, but also a time to celebrate.”
That conflict brews inside many active and retired military personnel at this time of year, experts say. While wearing poppies and attending parades on Nov. 11 are ways for Canadians to show respect and gratitude, these events can trigger dark feelings in veterans.
In April, the federal government committed $147 million over six years to expand the Veteran Family Program to help medically released veterans, and their families, with the often difficult transition from active service to post-military life. These veterans, who retired due to physical or mental health challenges, can now get help from the 32 Military Family Resource Centres across Canada, which offer a range of services, including a new mental health first aid course.
Ayre helps coordinate these courses in B.C., provide the veterans, their relatives and their close friends with skills to respond to drug overdoses, suicidal behaviour, panic attacks, psychosis and acute stress.
While she grappled with “losing her identity” when medically released from the military, the former medic at least knew where to go for help. But the transition hasn’t been as easy for most of her friends.
“We get stuck in an area where we don’t know what else to do. Career-wise, job-wise, we just feel lost. For a lot of people, the suicide rate has gone up. That’s a big concern. So mental health is absolutely crucial in the transition,” Ayre said.
There are more than 22,000 former members of the army, navy and air force receiving federal disability payments for a mental health diagnosis, a number that has jumped by 60 per cent in just four years. Three-quarters of those veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Veterans Affairs Canada.
It may not necessarily be the case that more veterans are suffering mental health problems, but rather that increased public dialogue and improved social acceptance have encouraged more people to come forward to ask for help, said Oliver Thorne, executive director of Veterans Transition Network.
The non-governmental, charitable organization, which for 20 years has helped veterans adjust to the civilian world, runs two dozen group sessions each year across Canada, including four in B.C. Interest in the courses, which last 10 days spread over several weekends, peak in the fall, Thorne said.
“We definitely see a spike around Remembrance Day of the number who reach out and ask for help,” he said. “Remembrance Day for those of us who are civilians, it is a celebration, a hope that we honour those who served us. For veterans, the remembering is much more personal.
“What we hear from the people who take our programs is that Remembrance Day is a very personal reminder of the things they’ve encountered and the people they’ve lost.”
The Network, formed in 1997 by a University of B.C. counselling professor, Marv Westwood, has offered the 10-day courses for a decade to address issues such as anger, trouble sleeping, feeling down, avoiding public places, dissatisfaction with civilian workplaces, and “seeking out the adrenalin rush of dangerous situations.”
Academics have tracked participants after course completion and report improvements to their health, including an 80 per cent drop in suicidal thoughts, depression symptoms cut in half, and one in three saying self-esteem had increased.
It is not clear exactly how many former and current military members have mental health problems. The number could be much higher than the more than 22,000 receiving mental health disability payments. A recent report by Canada’s veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent, harshly criticized Ottawa for the length of time it takes to grant disability benefits to former soldiers who have applied.
It is hoped that people who need help will come forward now that more services are being offered by community agencies and that mental health is being spoken about more frequently in public, said Tracy Cromwell, executive director of the Military Family Resource Centre in Vancouver.
“Not everyone who is releasing out of the military is broken,” she said. “Most people probably go through transition quite successfully. But there are people (who need help) and we are having trouble finding them.”
She hopes the new mental health first aid course will help, noting it is provided free by her non-profit centre and other locations in Canada. So far in B.C., courses have been held in Vancouver in June and Langley in September, with more scheduled for Chilliwack in November and Prince George, Kelowna and Vancouver in the near future.
The course, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with assistance from veterans, aims to teach how to have conversations about mental illness, how to recognize the most common challenges, and how to decrease stigma and discrimination. It also encourages participants to be willing to help others with problems such as drug use, mood swings, psychoses, and trauma.
“The same way that you or I might attend a first aid course to learn how to take care of a sprained ankle or to stop the bleeding when someone has been cut … we have never really had the opportunity to look at mental health in the same way,” Cromwell said.
Statistics show that nearly 60 per cent of veterans collecting disability benefits for a mental health condition are married or have a common-law partner.
That is one of the reasons Veterans Affairs Canada decided this year to allow medically released veterans and their relatives and close friends to access services at the country’s 32 Military Family Resource Centres, which had previously been open only to active service members and their families. Cromwell’s Vancouver location serves all of mainland B.C., while there are two other centres on Vancouver Island, in Comox and Esquimalt.
“Anything that affects the veteran or the serving member is going to affect their family,” Cromwell said. “It could be their parents, it could be their spouse, it could be children, or it could be a really close friend.”
The courses are also open to people who work or volunteer with former military members, especially with those who are medically released and who often have more trouble adjusting than those who leave military duty of their own volition.
“When a person is released, it is very difficult, and a lot of us do have mental health problems or issues we are trying to deal with and the family is the one that gets first-hand experience of what that’s like,” said Ayre, who works part-time in the Vancouver resource centre.
Ayre entered the military from high school and served from 2001 to 2015, first as a medic and then a clerk. But she was medically discharged after an accident badly injured her back and neck, and she found it hard to adjust to life as a civilian.
After taking the first aid course in June, though, Ayre said it helped her to better relate to her own struggles, those of her former colleagues, and also the veterans who she sees in her office at the Military Family Resource Centre in Vancouver.
“A lot of people with mental health issues, they don’t know how to ask for help because they are stuck in whatever they are going through,” she said. “A lot of my friends and veterans are going through the mental health issues themselves, so it just helped me be a better coordinator at my job and helps me better understand my personal life as well.”
Most of the veterans collecting mental health disability payments from the federal government are male and most commonly 40 to 59 years old.
Nancy Szastkiw, the family liaison officer for the Military Family Resource Centre in Vancouver, says the relatives and friends of struggling soldiers often tell her they notice moodiness, distraction and insomnia in their loved ones — especially in late fall and early winter.
“From the end of October to the end of January are trigger times,” said Szastkiw, a clinical counsellor. The triggers include Remembrance Day, Christmas, and the fact that there were a high number of casualties in those months in Afghanistan during several tours of duty.
“Remembrance Day brings it out because the idea is remembering the fallen, and (these veterans) are not remembering history — they are remembering in their own life,” she said.
The advice Szastkiw offers to these families is to talk to loved ones openly about how they are feeling when approaching a difficult time period, and to “try to be more patient and compassionate at these times.”
And to remember that the poppy is a sign of gratitude and respect, but also one that can bring back difficult memories.
For more information about the mental health first aid courses, email [email protected].
Lisa and Patrick Beecroft employ a crack team of specialists at their Port Moody bakery, each seemingly faster and more skilled than the last.
Aaron can perfectly fold dozens of pie boxes in less than two hours, and when they have enough, he is outta there.
“We sell huge, heavy pies, so we need these heavy boxes built fast and properly, and Aaron flies through it,” said sales manager Sarah Breitenbach.
Part-timers Ryan, Chris and Alex come in to scoop and weigh cookie dough, which they do by the hundreds with speed and accuracy.
The key is ultra-short, ultra-intense shifts, that require a special kind of worker.
What is special about the workers at Gabi & Jules Handmade Pies is that these hired guns are people with autism, some of whom are non-verbal.
Seven of their 15 staff have some form of autism. If you think you have an inclusive workplace, just think about that number.
“We also have dishwashers, and you might not think that’s challenging, but we create a huge volume of dishes and they all have to be dealt with in a certain way,” said Breitenbach. “So we get the tunes going and hammer through dishes like you wouldn’t believe.”
Rather than being a drag on productivity, workers who have autism at Gabi & Jules are matched with jobs they can knock out of the park.
“If you are a small business owner in B.C., you know that it’s incredibly challenging to find quality, engaged, loyal staff,” said owner Lisa Beecroft. “We’re very lucky that we’ve found some amazing people over the years that have worked for us, and that is something that’s hard to find.”
Beecroft’s daughter Juliana has autism, so creating opportunity for people like her was the inspiration for the bakery. But Gabi & Jules is also a key cog in a larger empire, supplying baked goods to the Beecrofts’ three Caffe Divano locations.
Lisa is a member of the Presidents Group, made up of about two dozen B.C. business executives committed to creating inclusive workplaces.
It’s a group that also includes heavy hitters such as Vancouver Airport Authority CEO Craig Richmond, B.C. Hydro president Chris O’Riley, and Ledcor president of construction Peter Hrdlitschka, among others.
The Presidents Group held a roundtable last week to share their innovations and successes and to prepare for federal accessibility legislation already working its way through the House of Commons. Their website, accessibleemployers.ca, is a one-stop shop for employers who want to know how it’s done.
YVR knows how it’s done.
Steven Woo was hired full-time as a communications assistant at the airport after a student co-op stint as a community ambassador.
“If you had asked me when I was working on my (undergraduate degree) where I saw myself working, never in a million years would I have said the airport,” he laughed.
But YVR was combing universities for candidates with disabilities, and a chance meeting between Woo and a former instructor who was in the loop opened a door.
Woo is visually impaired and works with an assistance dog, Horatio. To help him do his job, Woo acquired a large-screen monitor and video magnifier from the Neil Squire Society.
He is often the first point of contact for people who reach out to the airport.
“I provide support for our community investment program … our employee giving program and our employee volunteering program,” he said. “I’m the first point of contact for a lot of community members, so a lot of emails come to me first and I handle the community relations phone line as well.”
As a member of the airport’s diversity and employment equity committee, Woo is able to promote his employer’s culture of inclusivity.
But even bigger things are on the horizon. Woo is completing a Masters in Business Administration and has every intention of climbing the career ladder.
The dividends of inclusion extend far beyond good karma.
The Presidents Group maintains there is a strong business case for diversity. Not to mention, there are tens of thousands of people with diverse-abilities ready to solve your skilled labour shortage.
Labour market studies show that diverse workplaces are more likely to meet their financial goals and consumers prefer to engage with companies that show some heart.
Companies that figure out how to help employees with disabilities thrive are six times as likely to innovate and to anticipate change. Your diverse-abled employees also tend to stay longer and have better attendance.
Add it up and the business case is pretty clear.
“This may be one of the last conscious biases that employers have,” said airport CEO Richmond. “When a young person comes through the door and has an obvious disability, you initially will say, ‘This is going to be hard.’ I’m here to say it’s not.”
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says Sofina Foods Inc. is recalling Janes brand Pub Style Chicken Burgers from the marketplace due to possible salmonella contamination, including one in B.C.
The agency says the uncooked breaded chicken burgers were sold across the country in 800 gram packages with a best before date of May 14, 2019 (UPC code 0 69299 12491 0).
In its recall warning the CFIA says Salmonella investigations led by the Public Health Agency of Canada have linked frozen raw breaded chicken products to 25 illnesses in nine provinces — one in B.C., three in Alberta, three in Saskatchewan, one in Manitoba, 12 in Ontario, two in Quebec, one in New Brunswick, one in P.E.I., and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.
It says two people have been hospitalized, though no deaths have been reported.
The agency, however, did not say whether any of the illness were directly related to the products being recalled.
It says the recalled items should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.
Symptoms of Salmonella poisoning typically include fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, but long-term complications can include severe arthritis.
Karley Rice, Shanni Eckford and Merideth Schutter co-chaired the 14th-annual Gift of Time gala that reportedly raised a record $1.5 million to benefit Canuck Place Children’s Hospice patients and programs. Malcolm Parry / PNG
GIFT INDEED: Chaired by Shanni Eckford, Karley Rice and Merideth Schutter, the 14th annual Gift of Time gala reportedly raised a record $1.5 million for the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Its title had special significance for Cherie Ehlert, a support worker at the posAbilities Association of B.C. that serves those with development disabilities. In her case, the gift of time applies to daughter and Canuck Place occupant Charlie, who contracted spinal muscular atrophy at age six months. “She was given three months to live then,” Ehlert recalled. “Now she’s nine, and they have developed treatment for her that they never had before.”
Ehlert well knows Canuck Place’s Detroit-raised medical director and UBC pediatrics clinical professor, Hal Siden, who recalled an odd personal-development practice. It entailed a grandfather teaching him bow-tie knotting, with every error penalized by Siden swallowing a shot of bourbon. The practice likely continued at Siden’s University of Michigan-Ann Arbor alma mater, but not as part of the curriculum.
JINGLE-JANGLE-JINGLE: The Boobyball’s rip-roaring launch last year spurred Speedo swimwear salesperson Kelly Townsend to repeat it. Restaged at the Main-off-Hastings Imperial, the event reportedly raised $48,000 for the Rethink Breast Cancer charity that “responds to the unique needs of young women going through it. Western-attired under-40s yippie-ki-yayed, rode a mechanical bull, watched a Luminesque Dance performance, and doubtless hoped that breast cancer will be vanquished well within those young dancers’ lifetimes.
STREET DREAMS: 50 successful persons are raising at least $15,000 each in order to sleep on concrete pavement on Nov. 15. Covenant House development officer Kim Wing said the Sleep Out: Executive Edition event should raise $900,000 for the organization’s 59-bed crisis program that assists homeless and at-risk youth. At a preamble event hosted by actor TV-host Todd Talbot in Kohler’s Broadway-at-Fir showroom, Wing admitted she’ll catch no shut-eye herself that night: “I’m the security, and its humbling to see executives sleeping outside, knowing that, through the wall, are the youth they are supporting.”
ON A ROLL: Nonchalantly eyeballing a row of important plumbing fixtures at Talbot’s reception, the Covenant House supporter and Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel general manager, Sascha Voth, said: “We’ve got over 1,000 of these Kohler toilets in the hotel.”
STAYIN’ ALIVE: Twenty years ago, Al Arsenault, Toby Hinton and a small group of other Vancouver police officers founded the Odd Squad. With the National Film Board, they documented their on-the-street activities with drug users in a 52-minute movies called Through A Blue Lens. Arsenault retired, Hinton is now a sergeant, and other active and retired coppers have joined Odd Squad Productions. The focus on drug abuse remains, most recently in the Understanding Fentanyl resource guide for every B.C. school. Rather than lecture youths, who die at home more often than on the streets, it hopes to “demonstrate an understanding of (fentanyl’s) danger in our communities.” At a recent fundraising gala, Hinton said a guide and 35-minute video titled Understanding Police Use of Force will follow, co-produced by the Canadian Police Association.
Gala entertainers included the Police Judo Demo Team with Hinton’s black-belt daughter Launa throwing brown-belt member Howie Hoang around. Watching raptly, young girls may have imagined doing the same to their brothers.
ALLEY ECLAT: The HCMA Architecture + Design firm has received a National Urban Design Award for its More Awesome Now Laneway Activation project that does much to enhance shabby downtown alleys.
THAT’S COMMITMENT: Charity gala chairs sometimes serve second or third terms. Then there’s Mary Jane Devine, who retired last year after chairing 13 successive Rockin’ for Research galas to benefit the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation. Loverboy band lead guitarist Paul Dean sparkplugged that event in 2000 after his and wife Denise’s son Jake developed Type 1 diabetes. A U.S. gig kept Dean away from the recent Casablanca-themed event and its reported $890,000 haul. Devine accompanied the gala committee’s Carol Hagan, who fronted the event. Pizza Hut Restaurants executive Sheida Shakib-Zadeh was honoured for her employer’s $350,000 contribution to diabetes research. Attendees then dined on chicken salad and grilled beef tenderloin, not pizza.
IN THE SWIM: Glass-walled tanks of possibly hungry fish surrounded those attending Vancouver Aquarium’s recent Toast the Coast fundraiser. The ocean-conservation event’s wine-tasting component likely sharpened guests’ appetites further. Happily, 17 Ocean Wise-certified stations offered such chow as Notch8 chef Will Lew’s scallops with smoked sablefish, birch kabayaki, flamed oyster-tip aioli, pickled wild berries, sea asparagus and nori sand. They went well with Ocean Blu’s Coastal Berry vodka soda that reportedly diverts 25 cents from six-pack sales to ocean and wildlife programs. Peering out at CTV News anchor Sonia Beeksma’s glittering, silver-and-gold mermaid gown, Aquarium tank residents may have silently invited her to join them.
DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Beseeched by a possibly self-serving coalition government to endorse a pig-in-a-poke electoral system, B.C. voters could deliver a poke of their own — in the eye.
FORT ST. JOHN — Thirteen bison on a farm in northeastern British Columbia died of naturally acquired anthrax, a bacteria that the Agriculture Ministry says can remain dormant in certain soil conditions for many years.
The animals are thought to have contracted the disease from exposure to dormant anthrax spores in the soil of a feeding site on a farm near Fort St. John, the ministry said in a statement.
“This is the first documented case of anthrax in livestock in B.C.,” said Jane Pritchard, the province’s chief veterinary officer.
“It was quite shocking when we actually got the first test that suggested that it was anthrax. We repeated that twice more because it’s that unusual. We basically did every test we possibly could do to try and rule it out until we had access to the molecular test.”
The animals began dying last week, samples were sent to the lab on Friday and the diagnosis was made Monday, she said.
The disease has been reported in the Peace River region of Alberta, and that same soil goes right across the border into B.C., Pritchard added.
“The spore of the bacteria of this disease has a preference for certain soil conditions and those are the conditions that were present in British Columbia in this area.”
A disturbance in the soil or unusual weather conditions could have brought the spores up to the surface, causing the animals to be exposed to them, she said.
She said the bison corpses were placed on a brush pile and burned.
The ministry statement said the site is no longer being used and the farm has reported no other losses in its remaining herd of 150 animals.
A vaccine for anthrax for livestock is available and the ministry said exposed animals can be successfully treated if diagnosed early.
It said anthrax can affect humans, although it’s very rare and there is no indication that anyone in contact with these animals has been infected.
FILE PHOTO – Dr. Francois Benard, Vice President of Research at the B.C. Cancer Agency . handout / PNG
A donor who’s given the B.C. Cancer Foundation $18.35 million insists on remaining anonymous.
The foundation will not even say whether the generous philanthropist is alive or dead. But the individual has given the foundation a total of $29 million over their lifetime, including the latest amount. That makes it a record in individual lifetime giving to the foundation.
The largest single gift came from an estate — the Jambor McCarthy gift of $21.4 million.
Sarah Roth, president and CEO of the foundation – the fundraising arm of B.C. Cancer – said the donor had requested to remain “strictly anonymous.”
“The donation is the second-largest individual investment in cancer for our organization or for our province that we are aware of, and one of the top donations to cancer in Canada.”
The gift will be used to establish a molecular imaging and therapeutics program utilizing “smart” drugs called radiopharmaceuticals (radioactive particles that deliver a highly concentrated treatment to cancerous cells.) The radioactive isotope treatment has been used in medical imaging and to treat thyroid cancer for many years, but only more recently has the radioligand therapy expanded to several other types of cancer, particularly incurable prostate cancer.
The treatment is said to work by breaking bonds in cancer cell DNA. In studies, researchers have shown they can pair isotopes with a protein or antibody that specifically targets cancer cells. The molecule searches for cancer cells and then binds to them, allowing the radioactive therapy to attack.
Some B.C. patients have, in the past year, gone to Germany for such treatment since it wasn’t available here. Experts caution the treatment is not a miracle, but offers patients with untreatable cancers more hope. At an event Wednesday to announce the “transformational” gift, Joanna Clark spoke about her husband Daryl, 59, who died last year after a three and a half year battle with advanced prostate cancer. The well known Vancouver corporate lawyer went to Munich, Germany, last spring for radioligand therapy but died a month later.
Clark said while it would seem her husband got the treatment too late for any benefit, “I find comfort in knowing that his vision is becoming a reality for others.”
The treatment did appear to offer significant benefit for 77-year old Vancouver Island resident Ray Band, who went to Hamburg, Germany, earlier this year after his Vancouver oncologist informed him he had only about six months to live.
Band said he got to the Hamburg hospital on a Monday, had some imaging tests done the next day and by Wednesday, he was getting the treatment. He flew home by the end of the week and learned that the cancer he was first diagnosed with more than 20 years ago was largely under control, with substantial shrinkage in the tumours throughout his body.
The now-retired mining geologist said he hopes the treatment becomes the “standard of care” in B.C., as it is in Germany.
The drugs used in such treatment are not unlike the radiotracer isotopes used in cancer imaging – energy-emitting atoms that make tumours light up during imaging tests like PET or CT scans. Isotopes used in imaging tests, however, don’t have therapeutic drugs attached to them while radiopharmaceuticals do.
Dr. Francois Benard, B.C. Leadership Chair in Functional Cancer Imaging, said the funds would be used over the next five years to scale up the imaging and therapeutics program so that clinical trials can be conducted using isotopes loaded with drugs that bind specifically to cancerous sites in the body of patients with cancer that has spread.
The radioactive drugs – some of which will be made in Vancouver at Triumf and at B.C. Cancer – are injected into patient’s veins; the treatment is then distributed throughout the body, zeroing in on detectable cancerous cells.
Benard said there are about 90 people working in the molecular imaging department now but he expects the donation will enable B.C. Cancer to acquire new technological equipment, plus hire another 20 to 30 scientists, physicists, and research assistants. He said he only learned about the donation a few months ago.
The first research trial to be led by B.C. Cancer will be a multicentre study across Canada using such therapy. About 200 prostate cancer patients who have failed conventional treatment will be recruited for the trial beginning sometime in 2019.
B.C. Cancer said the new molecular imaging and therapeutics program would: test the effectiveness of a Lutetium-177-based treatment in men with advanced metastatic prostate cancer; conduct clinical research studies into the effects of combining radioligand therapy (RLT) with chemotherapy and/or immunotherapy; introduce new or better radio-tracers and radio-pharmaceuticals for prostate cancer and develop and validate the use of RLT for melanoma, breast, liver, neuroendocrine, ovarian, neuroblastomas, pancreatic adenocarcinomas, and multiple myeloma or other cancers.
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