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11Oct

Town Talk: A Night To Dream gala benefits expanding Ronald McDonald House

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Seen with singer-lawyer-artist-wife Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, artist-carver and Order of Canada member Robert Davidson is the subject of director Charles Wilkinson’s feature-length documentary, Haida Modern.


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SWEET DREAMING: Ronald McDonald House’s recent A Night to Dream gala was a recurring one for Lindsey Turner, who chaired it for the fourth consecutive time. The 17th annual event reportedly grossed $680,000 to help accommodate the 2,000-a-year families who occupy the 73-suite facility for an average 13-day stay. CEO Richard Pass and new board chair Patrick McGuinty may soon announce that up to 52 suites will be added to five-year-old Ronald McDonald House on the B.C. Children’s Hospital campus. Four-bedroom satellites are also expected beside Royal Columbian Hospital and Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. They’ll duplicate one at Surrey Memorial Hospital.


Ronald McDonald House CEO Richard Pass and four-time Night of Dreams gala chair Lindsey Turner saw that event reportedly grossed $680,000.

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MODEL CITIZEN: Masset-raised artist Robert Davidson is the subject of Charles Wilkinson’s documentary, Haida Modern, that premiered during the recent Vancouver International Film Festival. Called “a protégé and friend” by celebrated late carver Bill Reid, Davidson also perceives the Haida tradition not as inviolable rules but as the basis for evolving, living art. His own wide-ranging artworks include gold coins that the Canadian Mint released to accompany his 1997 elevation to the Order of Canada. $50,000 in ordinary currency came his way in 2010 with the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement. “I’ve been thinking about a new car,” the ever-modest Davidson said before cheerfully admitting that he’d forwarded the entire amount to fund post-secondary bursaries for Haida Gwaii students.


Former B.C. Lions coach-GM Wally Buono’s wife Sandy and their four children attended his induction into the Italian Cultural Centre’s Hall of Fame.

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FELICE ANNIVERSARIO: Italian Cultural Centre president Michael Cuccione welcomed community members to a recent 42nd anniversary fundraising gala. Such events have been staged annually since 13 Italian associations founded the Slocan-at-Grandview “Il Centro” on a 3.25-hectare former city dump site. This year, Cuccione inducted former B.C. Lions football team head coach and general manager Wally Buono into the centre’s Hall of Fame. Happily, his old team defeated the Toronto Argonauts 55-8 the following day. Buono likely approved the teamwork when catering director Fabio Rasotto’s kitchen squad served the centre’s fourth full-capacity banquet that week, then repeated it the following night when the Confratellanza Italo-Canadese Society honoured longtime community benefactor John DeLucchi.


Susan Mendelson celebrated her Lazy Gourmet catering firm’s 40th anniversary made possible by her policy of hiring “people better than me.”

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BON APPÉTIT: Lazy Gourmet owner Susan Mendelson celebrated her catering firm’s 40th anniversary at the Roundhouse Community Centre recently. She likely didn’t foresee that when a UBC arts-and-social-work degree scored her a $350-a-month job at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre, now the Cultch. To meet her rent, she made carrot cake, cheesecake and Nanaimo bars for sale during intervals. She and friend Deborah Roitberg then founded Lazy Gourmet, but Mendelson’s brush with dramatics continued. That was when “two beat-up cars jammed in (a departing customer) and all these scruffy-looking people were waving guns.” Suspecting that it wasn’t part of an earlier movie shoot, Mendelson asked if she should call the cops. “We are the cops,” one fracas member replied. Her business maxim: “I always hired people who were better than me.” That doubtless pleased seven-year general manager Kevin Mazzone at the anniversary beano.


Actor-moviemaker Mark Oliver, who recently screened his 2018 short, Elvis Strung Out, likely benefitted from previous generations of showbiz pros.

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Mark Oliver’s parents, Jeanne and H.A.D (Bert), show the latter with Second World War medals and French, German and Liberian Orders of Merit.

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TREES AND APPLE: Actor-moviemaker Mark Oliver, who recently screened his 2018 short Elvis Strung Out, may appreciate late singer Judy Garland’s lyrics: “I was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatello, Idaho.” Oliver has a trunkful of theatrical antecedents himself. Grandfather David Oliver owned theatres and produced films in 1910s and 1920s Germany. Grandmother Edith was a screen actress. A great grandmother danced with the Kirov ballet. Oliver’s late Berlin-born father, H.A.D. (Bert) Oliver, sidestepped the stage to study with a London firm of solicitors founded in 1560. “But inside every solicitor there’s a barrister struggling to get out,” he said after moving to Vancouver and pleading criminal law cases. But the theatrical gene survived. One of Bert’s many acquittals involved him holding up a pre-punctured cup of water that dripped steadily for 30 seconds. Then, facing the judge (he later became one himself), he said: “This decidedly reminds me of the case for the Crown.”


Rupa and Rana Vig staged a 100 Year Journey gala based on a same-name book he published following his and brother Minto’s Mehfil magazine.

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CENTENARIANS: Rana and Rupa Vig staged another 100 Year Journey gala recently. The annual event began in 2014 along with a same-name book marking the centennial of Canadian officials turning back South Asians aboard the ship Komagata Maru. The book, which contains illustrated accounts of 103 successful immigrants and their families, was developed from Mehfil, a glossy magazine that Rana and brother Minto founded in 1993. Four years later, then-premier Glen Clark called Rana “a politician in the making.” Evading that dubious assessment, he achieved something comparable in 1994 by becoming a diamond-direct dealer of the Amway multi-level marketing firm.


Pamela Anderson may break out her self-named wine should there be a successful outcome to her protesting a Port Moody park’s proposed roadway.

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BOTTOMS UP: Actress and animal-activist Pamela Anderson has joined others opposing a proposed roadway through a Port Moody park. If successful, they could celebrate with toasts of Anderson’s name-brand wine. That would be a step-up from the tankerloads of Baby Duck produced by Port Moody’s old Andre’s winery. Coincidentally, that concern’s former site is contentious, too, with three towers and nine lower buildings now proposed.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Brexiteering Britons may ruefully sing Three Blind Mice on that children’s rhyme’s 510th anniversary Oct. 12.

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4Oct

Town Talk: Britain’s Red Arrows fly over Coal Harbour

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Portrayed with a Red Arrows aerobatics team’s poster, British High Commissioner Susan le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, Consul General Nicole Davison and guests had just seen the real Royal Air Force jets fly past them.


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STRAIGHT ARROWS: A key factor in aerial combat — literally a matter of life and death — is to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time. Having the sun behind you helps, too. Full marks, therefore, to the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows aerobatics team that was scheduled for a Coal Harbour flypast at 1700 hours recently. With the declining sun glistening on their red-white-and-blue tail fins, the team’s BAE Hawk trainer jets skimmed over at 5 on the dot. As they banked and climbed away, workhorse aircraft — de Havilland Beaver and Otter float planes — resumed their everyday takeoffs and landings.


Vancouver Chief Constable Adam Palmer, Mayor Kennedy Stewart and others saw the RAF Red Arrows aerobatics team’s jets speed over Coal Harbour.

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Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, Chief Constable Adam Palmer, Bard on The Beach artistic director Christopher Gaze and others watched the proceedings from the Pan Pacific hotel’s eighth-floor deck. They were guests of British High Commissioner to Canada, Susan le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, formerly ambassador to Austria, and Vancouver-based consul-general Nicole Davison. “The Red Arrows are the best ambassador our country has,” said le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, whose married name is more common in Brussels than London. As those two cities duke it out over Brexit, the fast-flying Red Arrows might remind Gaze and especially British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Hamlet’s “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.” Ditto for that soliloquy’s humbling conclusion: “And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”


Vancouver International Film Festival executive director Jacqueline Dupuis welcomed Guest of Honour director Atom Egoyan to the 38th running.

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HAPPY ENDING: Cultural organization heads sometimes roll amid a blizzard of finger-pointing, trustee bickering and other nastiness. Not at the Vancouver International Film Festival where eight-year executive director Jacqueline Dupuis announced in July that she’ll leave at year’s end. Looking as relaxed and, dare one say, glamorous as in 2011, Dupuis launched the 38th annual festival by escorting director Atom Egoyan to a screening of his Guest of Honour feature film and to a gala later. Although called “a masterful piece of subtly sophisticated filmmaking” in the VIFF program, showbiz bible Variety deemed the Egypt-born Torontonian’s picture “hopelessly muddled … overplotted and under-reasoned, hysterical and stiffly earnest.”

CONSONANTAL DRIFT: If asked to define modern-day political equivocation, habitual phrase-tangler William Spooner might have replied with a self-defence tip: “Trust in judo.” Then again, his spoonerism of voters’ “elementary affluence” would entail a mere vowel movement.


Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation executive director Scott Elliott and chair Joy Jennissen reported the 16th multi-chef Passions gala raising a record $220,000.

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MORE AID: Dr. Peter Jepson-Young succumbed to HIV/AIDS in 1992 at age 35. CBC-TV’s weekly Dr. Peter Diaries detailed his then-almost-inevitable approach to death. Founded that year, the Dr. Peter AIDS Centre and related foundation began caring for those still living. A decade later, Nathan Fong recruited fellow chefs to launch the annual Passions gala that reportedly raised a record $220,000 recently. Executive director Scott Elliott said the centre now helps clients deal with hepatitis C and supports older ones “isolated and not participating in health care.” It will soon offer twice-weekly programs for female HIV/AIDS patients, he said.


David Robertson compiled his second cookbook, Gather, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Dirty Apron cooking school he and wife Sara founded.

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DIRTY DISHES: Wearing a whistle-clean apron, Dirty Apron co-founder David Robertson marked the cooking school’s 10th anniversary by launching his second cookbook, Gather. Some of the 100,000 folk he’s reportedly taught filled the Beatty Street joint to buy the book and sample such dishes as sake-braised pork belly, seafood and chorizo belly and Robertson’s sensational Thai-style coconut-lemon grass braised beef short ribs.


Maggie Sung had Taiwan Tourism Bureau director Linda Lin visit from San Francisco to inaugurate her as head of a new information centre here.

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TAIPEI TIES: There were complaints when electioneering defence minister Harjit Sajjan attended a recent gala honouring China. Not so when San Francisco-based Taiwan Tourism Bureau director Linda Lin inaugurated Maggie Sung to head our town’s new information centre for the island China claims to own. The ceremony followed Vancouver’s recent 100-event TaiwanFest that began celebrating Taiwanese culture in 1991.


Kyle Parent made the $2,100 quilt and designer Kate Duncan the $30,000 walnut bed to exhibit at the fifth annual Address show she staged.

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BED BUDS: As the huge IDS design exhibition ran downtown, furniture designer-manufacturer Kate Duncan and curator Amber Kingsnorth staged their own fifth annual show titled Address. It occupied five-times-larger premises at Malkin Street’s Eastside Studios. As well as mature and emerging exhibitors from Pacific Northwest states and Alberta, the event welcomed newcomers from Saskatoon, Toronto and Texas. Port Alberni-raised Duncan exhibited a solid walnut bed and side tables tagged at $30,000. Calgary native Kyle Parent added a $2,100 bedspread from his ktwpquilts.com concern.


Designers Madeleine Sloback and Annaliesse Kelly exhibited artworks by Miriam Aroeste and Sandra Lowe in their East Vancouver studio/office.

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GO EAST, YOUNG WOMAN: Vancouver’s creative activities are enhanced — some say dominated — east of Main Street. The 23rd annual Eastside Culture Crawl alone will include 500 artists, artisans and designers Nov. 14-17. The latter include interior designers Annaliesse Kelly and Madeleine Sloback who, although business competitors, share chic Pender Street premises. They mount thrice-yearly exhibitions there, most recently by Mexican-born painter Miriam Aroeste and Okanagan-raised photographic artist Sandra Lowe.


Paisley Smith wore spilling-pipeline headgear alongside Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun whose paintings she animated for her Unceded Territories film.

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TOP HAT: California-based Canadian Paisley Smith wore a simulated oil-pipeline helmet to promote her “immersive” VIFF film, Unceded Territories. Screening in a Vancity Theatre kiosk to Oct. 2, it addresses climate change and Indigenous civil rights with animated interpretations of works by Cowichan/ Syilx artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun whose usual headgear is a four-feathered straw fedora.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Crown yourself inventively for Mad Hatter Day Oct. 6.

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27Sep

Town Talk: Luncheon generates $700,000 for pancreatic cancer clinic

by admin

https://vancouversun.com/


Levi James and Chelsea Brennan simulated a lion and gazelle when the Serengeti-themed Hope Couture luncheon reportedly raised more than $700,000 for the B.C. Cancer Agency’s pancreatic cancer rapid-access clinic.


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HOPE SURPASSED: Susan Chow and Lisa Dalton co-chaired the recent sixth-annual Hope Couture luncheon that reportedly raised more than $700,000 from 415 mostly female guests. Those donations will help the B.C. Cancer Foundation fund a pancreatic cancer rapid-access clinic. At the event, medical oncologist and Pancreatic Centre B.C. co-director Daniel Renouf said a recent wide-scale study of the role of genetics in pancreatic cancer will further B.C.’s pioneering role in screening for the dangerous ailment. He said the clinic will bring together “oncologists, surgeons, geneticists and the scientists. That’s the innovative part.” Along with a fashion show by the Bacci’s and Boboli stores, the Serengeti-themed luncheon had body-painter Christina Rapacz present fitness instructors Levi James and Chelsea Brennan as a lion and gazelle. Fully dressed attendees tucked into an entrée of chermoula crusted B.C. ling cod and vegetables.


Perhaps heartened by a giraffe’s stuck-out neck, Lisa Dalton and Susan Chow co-chaired the Hope Couture luncheon to benefit the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

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WALL FLOWER: Hope Couture participants Charlotte Wall and daughter Sonya Wall paid $18,000 to name a new bloom donated by Langley breeder Brad Jalbert’s Select Roses concern. The rose will commemorate Sonya’s corgi Joe, who recovered from cancer to die of old age. Joe’s recessive fluffiness makes similar Corgis ineligible for showing and thus not favoured by breeders, or possibly the Queen. Happily, cash raised in his name may help humans survive cancer as the much-loved furry outcast did himself.


At the Hope Couture luncheon, Sonya Wall and mother Charlotte bid $18,000 to name a newly developed rose that commemorates Sonya’s pet Corgi.

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Sonya Wall’s photo shows Fluffy Corgi Joe, who survived cancer, died of old age and left his name to a bloom from Langley rose breeder Brad Jalbert.

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SECOND BOUQUET: Inspired by the Walls’ bid, Gloria Au paid $17,500 to do the same for a Select Roses hybrid she has still to name.

LEMON’S ZEST: Ontario-raised architect Robert Lemon recently celebrated his 40th year in Vancouver by hosting a garden party at Shannon, the Granville-at-55th mansion he’s helped restore for two decades. Sugar tycoon B.T. Rogers built the 30,000-square-foot edifice but died before its 1925 completion. Finance and mining tycoon Austin Taylor acquired it in 1935. Developers Peter Wall and Peter Redekop paid a now-pocket-change $750,000 for the mansion and its four-hectare property in 1967. Wall has since built many condos there.

Photos from the Gudewill family’s collection helped Lemon recreate century-past wallpaper, millwork, chandeliers and suchlike. Those features were appraised and appreciated when a deluge squeezed Lemon’s garden party guests indoors for drinks and a recital by University of B.C. School of Music students Jonathan Lopez, Markus Masaites and Nina Weber. Rather than the 1937 hit September In The Rain, the Genesis Trio members performed works by Beethoven, Bruch and Rachmaninoff that likely pleased other Shannon audiences 94 years ago.


The Genesis Trio’s Nina Weber, Markus Masaites and Jonathan Lopez played during Robert Lemon’s reception at the Shannon mansion he’s restoring.

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CUTTING A RUG: Lemon’s guest Larry Killam pointed to a 1930 photo of Shannon’s great-hall carpet and said: “That’s in my living room.” Killam bought it at auction in the late 1960s when he and three co-developers were reviving a downtown district they named Gastown. Far older than the rug or even pioneer-era Vancouver, Killam and wife Sherry’s Southlands home is built around the framework of a 17th century British barn they bought and erected here, albeit without its straw floor covering.


Late-1960s Gastown co-developer, Larry Killam bought a 1920s Shannon mansion rug for his house with a 17th century British-barn framework.

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TIME TO LIVE: The recent 15th-annual Gift of Time gala needed very little time to reportedly raise a record $1,530,000 gift for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. Second-time co-chair, realtor Karley Rice, had Aritzia executive VP Pippa Morgan and Primex Investments VP Lee Rennison join her to help raise that sum and bring the all-time haul to a reported $13.5 million. Founded in 1995, Canuck Place has nine patient beds and four family suites at its original Shaughnessy location, and nine beds and five suites at the recently commissioned Dave Lede House satellite in Abbotsford.


Karley Rice, Pippa Morgan and Lee Rennison co-chaired the Gift of Time gala that reportedly raised $1,530,000 for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

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PARRYNOIA: Unlike the long-ago Russians who sought him as tsar, today’s Britons may not find Boris Godunov.

DON’T BE DUMB: Lake Cowichan-raised Stephanie Nielson didn’t spare potential readers’ sensitivities when titling her dating guidebook Don’t Be A Dumbass: The Every Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl. Along with stern advice about personal hygiene and being a know-it-all, it ends with the assertion that those who settle for less than they desire end up with exactly what they deserve. Now a divorced mother of two, Nielson expects a Tinder-introduced fellow to end her own “100 dating disasters” by producing a ring this fall. Asked if that might entail living together, Nielsen gave the best — or worst — advice of all: “Not until we’re married.”


Following ‘100 dating disasters,’ divorced mother of two Stephanie Nielson released her Don’t Be A Dumbass guide for men seeking relationships.

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THE GANJA GANG: New-era dope dealers congregated in Elevator communications firm owner Bob Stamnes’ Mount Pleasant building recently. Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES) president Jeremy Jacobs welcomed them. He and Stamnes also launched a Vancouver-based cannabis consultancy named Counsel 45 that Stamnes, alluding to a multinational professional-services network, called “the Deloitte of cannabis.” As youngish retailers made merry, it was ironic to recall that some of their same-age forebears were jailed for selling, or even possessing, joints on similar city streets.


Elevator principal Bob Stamnes and Association of Cannabis Retailers of Canada president Jeremy Jacob launched cannabis consultancy Counsel 45.

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: As well as having greenhorns and greybeards spout purple prose, ever-colourful Ottawa gave us a blue blood in blackface and caught another red-handed.

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6Sep

Town Talk: Netherlands dance troupe lures Ballet B.C.’s Emily Molnar

by admin

GOING DUTCH: Last year, Netherlands native Otto Tausk succeeded British-born Bramwell Tovey as Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s music director. Then, as what the Dutch might call tit voor tat, Nederlands Dans Theater snagged Regina-born Ballet B.C.’s artistic director, Emily Molnar, to lead its 27- and 18-dancer companies. Former Ballet B.C. dancer Molnar has steered the once-moribund company through a decade of break-even-or-better seasons to critical acclaim here and on national and international tours. Addressing dancers, staff, board members and supporters recently, she said: “What we have done together is remarkable.” Then, to rueful smiles all around, “It doesn’t happen easily.” Encouragingly, though, dancers “now have more opportunities to stay at home with full-time or almost full-time work.”

MORE GLOBALISM: Finland native Kari Turunen has succeeded Vancouver Chamber Choir’s Illinois-born founder and 47-year artistic director, Jon Washburn.


Thomas and Amy Fung’s annual garden party and singalong drew corporate, cultural and political guests as well as UBC and SFU’s presidents.

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SCHOOLS IN: Fairchild Group chairman Thomas Fung and actress-wife Amy usually draw business, professional, political and cultural guests to their annual garden party. This year, with son Joseph having founded the Fairchild Junior Academy in Hong Kong, local educational-facility top brass shared the lawn. They were University of B.C. and Simon Fraser University presidents Santa Ono and Andrew Petter, St. George’s Senior School headmaster Tom Matthews, York House school head Julie Rousseau, and West Point Grey Junior School head Ciara Corcoran. An after-supper singalong fronted by host-guitarist Fung could have been, but wasn’t, conducted by UBC grad Ken Hsieh. Edmonton-born Hsieh founded the Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra in 2003 and has been music director ever since with no successor even contemplated.


The Fungs’ garden party saw UBC president Santa Ono chat with grad, global conductor and Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra music director Ken Hsieh.

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THE YOGI BERA AWARD: Goes to industrial safety trainer Chris Samson for his August quote: “I’m all for taking risks, so long as it’s done safely.” B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena is runner-up for: “I think it’s very good to have a regulated market in the way that we have a regulated market.”


After baby daughter Hadley died in 2018, Nicole and Ryan Stark returned to Ronald McDonald House for the birth of Soren, Clara and Sawyer.

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THEY’RE LOVIN’ ’EM: Ryan and Nicole Stark were heartbroken in May, 2018, when four-month-old daughter Hadley died. So were staff at 73-bedroom Ronald McDonald House where the Fort St. John family lived while B.C. Children’s Hospital staff fought to save Hadley. Spirits soared this July when three-month resident Nicole delivered daughter Clara along with sons Sawyer and Soren. “Families want normalcy,” said CEO Richard Pass while welcoming the triplets at an RMH donor reception. “That means more stay-together programs for whole families.” The record stay there is 497 days.

BEEP: Phone messages for classic-car minder Vern Bethel are answered promptly. Ones for daughter Pamela can end up on stage. Umpteen 1990s calls to and responses from then-teenaged Bethel constitute her lauded 2017 show, After The Beep, playing the Vancouver Fringe Festival’s The Nest theatre to Sept. 14. Those dialing 250-885-1285 might even hear themselves in a sequel.


Nina Bentil attended husband and Mile’s End Motors dealer David’s hospitality pavilion and show at Hastings Racecourse’s annual Deighton Cup day.

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THEY’RE ON: Whatever their luck with horse-race bets, Deighton Cup organizers Dax Droski, Jordan Kalman and Tyson Villeneuve sure pick winning weather. Sunshine bathed Hastings Racecourse when their 11th annual event’s record crowd of nattily attired younger folk enjoyed music, food, champagne, cigars and even some betting. Mile’s End Motors dealer David Bentil’s usual pavilion and tree-shaded compound had guests loll alongside such exotic jalopies as a 2017 Ferrari F12 TDF worth $1.5 million. Quite a change from the vacuum cleaners Bentil sold door-to-door along and near his native East London’s Mile End Road.


Late Vancouver Sun veteran Alex MacGillivray’s daughter Caroline founded and heads BeautyNight that helps marginalized women seek success.

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R.I.P.: Former Sun editor-restaurant reviewer Alex MacGillivray died recently — no funeral by request — but his name lives on via actress-daughter Caroline who founded non-profit BeautyNight (beautynight.org) in 2000 and has helped endless marginalized women gain confidence, integration and contact-making skills.


Fung party guest Dr. John Yee, who undertakes more than 60 double-lung transplants annually, lamented Eva Markvoort’s 2010 death to cystic fibrosis.

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BREATH OF LIFE: Guest John Yee wasn’t whisked away from the Fungs’ party to perform another of the 60 double-lung-transplant surgeries he’s undertaken yearly on six hours’ notice. The Sun’s Pamela Fayerman reported that Vancouver General Hospital’s new vivo lung perfusion process allows more precious time to assess donor organs. Dr. Yee still laments cystic-fibrosis patient Eva Markvoort who, despite such surgery, succumbed at age 23 in 2010. Philip Lyall and Nimisha Mukerji’s documentary about Markvoort, 65 RedRoses (that’s how many youngsters pronounce “cystic fibrosis”), will screen at a Vancouver Playhouse gala Sept. 8 to help fund CF research and encourage organ donation.


From left, Nimisha Mukerji and Philip Lyall’s 65 RedRoses film about the late Eva Markvoort will have a gala screening Sept. 8 to help fund cystic fibrosis research. This is a 2008 photo. Markvoort died in 2010.

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Chambar co-owner Nico Schuermans and chef Tia Kambas backed student Jade Sarmiento at an all-female-chef dinner to help fund scholarships.

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HAPPY FIFTEENTH: To the Belgian-themed Chambar Restaurant Karri and Nico Schuermans opened on Beatty Street and moved next door in 2014. Also to seafood-themed Coast, which Glowbal Restaurant Group president-CEO Emad Yacoub located in Yaletown and upmarketed to Alberni Street in 2009. Chambar recently staged a dinner by five female chefs and same-gender Vancouver Community College students to help fund scholarships. Its anniversary highlight will be an all-invited block party’s pig roast and waffle fest on Sept. 8.


Chambar co-principal Karri Schuermans will host the Belgian-themed restaurant’s 15th-anniversary block party, pig roast and waffle fest Sept. 8.

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Late French president Charles de Gaulle, whose vetoes made petitioning Britons wait 12 years to join what is now the European Union, might relish their current opera bouffe to get out.

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16Aug

Metro Vancouver’s best ice cream: And the winner is …

by admin

Think back to some of your favourite celebrations. Odds are, ice cream was present for at least one of them.

“Any type of childhood or celebration with family and friends — the commonality is always ice cream,” Mark Tagulao, the founder and culinary director of La Glace in Vancouver says. “Celebrations, or even quiet moments with loved ones, that’s when you eat it. And I think that’s the underlying element of why we love it.

“It’s nostalgic. And it tastes good.”

The fact that it’s cool and creamy — and quite possibly the perfect summer treat — doesn’t hurt its almost-universal appeal, either. But, if you’re to ask Tagulao, you don’t need to be celebrating anything special to enjoy a good scoop.

“I could honestly polish off a litre in one sitting. That sounds really bad to admit,” he says with a laugh. “But, at least you know that I like it.”


Mint and chocolate scoops from La Glace.

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La Glace

Those who have stopped by Tagulao’s much-loved Vancouver ice cream shop, which set up shop at 2785 W 16th Ave. two years ago, are likely as well versed on the topic of quality ice cream as he is. In fact, the cold, creamy treats at La Glace are so delicious, they were voted by our readers as the best in the city.

“Oh, wow! That’s crazy,” Tagulao humbly exclaimed after being notified of the win. “It’s always great when you make something and people respond really well to it.”

Though, he admits to having a head’s up that his ice cream was truly memorable during a recent TED Talks event where he was sharing samples of his ice cream.

“There was this one woman who came up and was insisting on getting more ice cream,” Tagulao says with a laugh. “And I looked up, and it was Cher.”

Needless to say, he gave her a full-sized scoop rather than the tiny sample spoonful.

“That was a pretty cool moment,” Tagulao says.

Celebrities aside, taking the top spot on our reader-chosen list means that the efforts that Tagulao and his team have been making to get customers into the shop are more than working. Situated outside of the downtown core, La Glace is more of a destination for ice cream fans than a place that people simply stumble upon while exploring the city.

The location is an element that’s played a part in the growth story of La Glace, for better or for worse, prompting Tagulao to make sure that every lick or spoonful enjoyed at his store leaves a lasting impression on his customers to ensure that they come back for another scoop. And tell others to do so, too.

“We have a lot of regulars, and there have been a lot of new people coming in this summer,” he says proudly of his growing business. “It is more about getting the word out there because it is one of those places that is a destination. But, the fact is that people do make a point to come and check it out, and for newcomers who say that they heard about it and they heard great things — they’re making the effort to come out, too.”

One taste of the shop’s creamy creations is all that’s required to understand that these blends aren’t your average scoops of store-bought sweet stuff. The small-batch ice cream, which is made from scratch using a base of creme anglaise — a thick custard-like concoction containing heavy cream and egg yolks — is classified by Tagulao as French ice cream, a distinction he says helps to set it apart from the rest of the shops in the city.

“I think we’re still teaching Vancouverites that there are different types of ice cream,” Tagulao says of the dairy distinction. “The fact that we use Avalon Dairy Heavy Cream and egg yolks, for sure make it a much more rich, decadent product.”

The depth of flavour, and overall richness of the product, contributes to the scoop size that La Glace dishes out. In comparison to other shops, the servings may seem small. It’s a portion talking-point Tagulao says he often finds himself explaining to customers.

“When we started introducing our scoop service when we first opened up, people would look at the scoop and be like, ‘Oh, that’s a modest-sized scoop.’,” he recalls. “I think people are more used to American-style ice cream where you get a huge scoop and it starts to melt really fast and you have to eat it right away. The reason it melts really fast is that there’s more aeration in it and that’s why you get larger scoops.”


Vegan Coconut Pandan ice cream from La Glace.

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La Glace

Typically though, about halfway through a serving, Tagulao says those naysaying newcomers realize just why the portions are the restricted size that they are.

“When they started eating it, they were like ‘Whoa, this is really rich’,” he says with a laugh. “The fact is, you only need a little bit to satiate your appetite for it.”

The less-is-more approach is something that fans of Italian gelato are familiar with, where portion sizes are smaller and flavours more vivid. But, Tagulao is the first to inform customers that La Glace’s artisan iced treats are not gelato.

“We’re not gelato, we’re French ice cream,” he emphasizes. “There are a lot of great ice cream places in Vancouver, but we’ve kind of differentiated ourselves in the way that we are French ice cream and we make everything from scratch.

“We’re trying to create and maintain that level of high-end, luxury ice cream that’s accessible to everybody.”

That accessibility ambition has seen Tagulao introduce a curated selection of La Glace flavours into local grocery stores this season.

“It’s exciting,” he says of the wholesale branch of the business. “It’s definitely a new challenge each year. We’re in the beginning of year three now, and I see ‘expansion’ being the big word for us this year.”

But, he assures fans of his hand-crafted ice creams that the increased production won’t change the richness of his flavours.

“Because we are small batch, that’s where we can really maintain the quality of our product. You can scale up, if you scale up properly. For us, our plan is to do it slow and steady,” he says. “There’s certain compromises that I will not take that would sacrifice the quality. That’s what I really want to adhere to, is to not to dilute the product or the brand at all.”

At La Glace, the menu consists of a few steady favourites including Vanilla Bean, Vegan Coco Pandan Ice Cream with Pandan-infused coconut cream and Ganache Ice Cream.

“We have people who are angry if we ever run out of ganache,” Tagulao says with a laugh of the dark-chocolate mixture of heavy cream and chocolate that is a go-to for many of the shop’s regulars. “We use Valrhona chocolate, which is a really high-end chocolate supplier from France.

“People cant’ get enough of it.”

In addition to the regular flavours, there’s a revolving selection of specials that change each month.

“There’s about 20 or so flavours that rotate through each month. And then we always incorporate some seasonal flavours, as well,” Tagulao says. “We are always trying to do some new recipes. I like to play in the kitchen, so I always add in another flavour as a surprise.”

Tagulao admits that it’s the recipe testing — and tasting — that continues to be his favourite part of the job.

“Being able to be creative is what motivates me,” he says. “I always want to have something new to offer, but I also want to respect the fact that customers have their favourites.”

So, which flavour is his personal favourite?

“I know it’s going to sound really boring, but it’s the vanilla bean,” Tagulao says of his favourite flavour. “There’s just something about being able to add things to your ice cream. I’ll get the vanilla — but I’ll always throw in a spoonful of peanut butter or Maldon salt.

“I like playing with my ice cream that way.”

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Best ice cream shops, as recommended by our readers:

Metro residents know their hot spots when it comes to scoring the perfect ice cream (Note: we didn’t break down the voting into categories such as ice cream, gelato or soft serve. We’ll let you do that).

When we asked our readers to submit their recommendations for the best ice cream in Metro — and beyond — via social media and email, there were a few that immediately came out on top.

Hungry for the details? Here are the top 23 destination in and around the city to get a sweet ice cream treat.

As always, if you didn’t take part in our vote, well then, you’re not allowed to complain about the results. But you’re welcome to add your recommendations in the comments below.


TOP 23 ICE CREAM SHOPS

Alice & Brohm1861 Mamquam Rd #9, Squamish, aliceandbrohm.com

Bella Gelateria1001 W Cordova St, Vancouver, bellagelateria.com

Beta 5413 Industrial Ave, Vancouver, shop.beta5chocolates.com

Birchwood Dairy1154 Fadden Rd, Abbotsford, birchwooddairy.com

Dolce Gelato15045 Marine Dr, White Rock, 604-535-1070

Earnest Ice Cream (various locations) — 1829 Quebec St, Vancouver, earnesticecream.com

Elephant Garden Creamery2080 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, elephantgarden.ca

Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary4090 Hastings St, Burnaby, glenburnsoda.com

Hottiesfoods Emporio31170 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Mission, hottiesfoods.com

Kent’s Ice Cream Co 47582 Yale Rd, Chilliwack, kentsicecreamco.ca

La Casa Gelato1033 Venables St, Vancouver, lacasagelato.com

La Glace2785 W 16th Ave, Vancouver, laglace.ca

Mario’s Gelati Ltd.88 E 1st Ave, Vancouver, mariosgelati.com

Mighty Moose Ice Cream42333 Yarrow Central Rd, Chilliwack, mighty-moose-ice-cream.business.site

Mike’s Place268 Gower Point Rd, Gibsons, mikesgelato.ca

Mister Artisan Ice Cream1141 Mainland St, Vancouver, madebymister.com

Nuvola Gelato & Dolci4712 Hastings St, Burnaby, nuvolagelato.com

Rain or Shine Ice Cream (various locations) — 3382 Cambie St, Vancouver, rainorshineicecream.com

Rocky Point Ice Cream (various locations) — 500 6th Ave #100, New Westminster, rockypointicecream.com

Rooster’s Ice Cream Bar1039 E Broadway, Vancouver, 778-379-6889

Screamers Soft Serve & Treats12211 Third Ave, Richmond, screamerssoftserve.cat

Soft Peaks Ice Cream25 Alexander St, Vancouver, softpeaks.ca

Umaluma Dairy-Free Gelato235 E Pender St, Vancouver, umaluma.com

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12Jul

Western Forest Products rejects well-known mediator after asking for help: union

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9Jul

Taxi borders won’t change under B.C.’s new ride-hailing regulations

by admin


Taxi cabs will keep their municipal boundaries even when ride-hailing is introduced in B.C. later this year.


Gerry Kahrmann / PNG

VICTORIA — Existing boundaries for taxis in most of B.C. won’t change with the introduction of ride-hailing later this year, according to the independent tribunal charged with making the decision.

The Passenger Transportation Board, which will set boundaries and fares for ride-hailing and taxis by next month, is not considering any large-scale changes to current taxi areas that are often based on regional or municipal borders.

“As an administrative tribunal we’d have to discuss changes of boundaries and that would be very contentious and time-consuming and yet another delay in implementing ride-hailing,” board chair Catharine Reid said Tuesday. “And we don’t want a delay in implementing ride-hailing.

“The second reason is we don’t have good origin destination information. So if we try to change taxi boundaries, we don’t know if we’ll make things better or worse.”

Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft can begin applying for licences in B.C. on Sept. 3, after the B.C. government announced Monday it has set the licensing and insurance regulations. Premier John Horgan has said ride-hailing could be in operation by the end of the year.

Drivers must have a class four commercial licence, and companies will be required to pay a $5,000 fee as well as a 30-cent-per-trip levy to improve accessibility services, under the government rules.

But the exact details on fares and boundaries are to be set by the Passenger Transportation Board, which is an independent tribunal.


The Uber app is displayed on an iPhone as taxi drivers wait for passengers at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Reid and the board began public discussions on those issues with taxi companies in Prince Rupert on Tuesday. She said the rest of the taxi sector, as well as ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft will be consulted by the end of next week.

“The policy will be up sometime in August that will provide policy on boundaries, fleet size and rates,” she said.

Uber and Lyft have said they want to operate free of borders, to give their drivers flexibility on responding to demand for a ride anywhere.

The taxi sector is divided on the issue. Eliminating borders could solve problems like “deadheading” — where taxis from Vancouver, for example, take a passenger to Surrey but can’t pick up anyone on the return trip due to licensing restrictions. But removing borders could also devalue taxi licenses that hold value based on their scarcity in a certain area, causing significant financial losses for companies, drivers and those who’ve borrowed money to purchase or lease part shares in vehicle licenses.

The board has released two public discussion papers that lay out its options.

For the rest of the province outside of Metro Vancouver, it offers no options to change taxi boundaries. The report says ride-hailing companies could either follow the same borders, or be given larger regional or provincial areas in which to operate, depending on industry feedback.

In Metro Vancouver, three of the four options proposed would keep the existing municipal taxi boundaries for Vancouver, Surrey and elsewhere.

However, one option does propose opening up the Metro Vancouver region as a single area in which both ride-hailing vehicles and the traditional taxi sector could operate equally.

“It is not clear that taxis would want this approach as they are free to launch their own (ride-hailing) service and could also maintain the advantages of taxis that each has within their current operating area,” read the board report.

Related

An open metro region would give the public “faster and more reliable service, including at peak times,” reduce the numbers of trips refused and tackle the problem of deadheading, according to the report.

However, it would also result in “taxi service likely reduced for suburban areas,” wrote the board.

Taxi licenses would see a “large reduction” in value if ride-hailing was region-wide or provincewide, especially in the City of Vancouver, according to the report.

The B.C. Taxi Association, which attended consultations in Prince Rupert on Tuesday, said all boundaries should be removed for everyone.

“There’s no need for boundaries,” said president Mohan Kang. “If they have the ability to move around Metro Vancouver, so should we.”

The Vancouver Taxi Association, where taxi licenses hold the most value and its operators face the largest risk, could not be reached for comment.

The Passenger Transportation Board is also considering whether to limit the size of ride-hailing fleets, but its discussion papers note that no other governments do so and it would be impossible to set a defensible limit.

Fares are also up for consideration. The board notes no other governments impose maximum price limits on ride-hailing, despite concerns about surge pricing during peak demand. One option up for consideration is setting the minimum fare for an Uber or Lyft ride at the same rate as a taxi, or setting no minimum rate at all.

Uber and Lyft declined to comment. Both oppose B.C.’s class four commercial licence requirement and neither company so far has committed to opening in the province later this year.

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14Jun

Town Talk: Fishing tourney raises $800,000 for Canucks Autism Network

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Canucks Autism Network co-founder Paolo Aquilini and CEO Britt Andersen flanked winger Jake Virtanen before the Fishing For Kids tourney reportedly raised $800,00O with Virtanen hooking the prize fish.


Malcolm Parry / PNG

SPECIAL TEAM: Some Vancouver Canucks team members, owners, officials and supporters flew to Haida Gwaii’s West Coast Fishing Lodge recently and reportedly raised $800,000 for the Canucks Autism Network. The 14th annual Fishing For Kids tournament began with an Old West-style reception at Pacific Gateway Hotel where participants met 2019 “champion child” Christian Stoll, 13, who accompanied them.


Garth and Anne Stoll’s son Christian, 13, who has autism, joined Fishing For Kids participants in Hadia Gwaii as the $800,000 tournament’s “champion child.”

Malcolm Parry /

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The 31.11-pound champion salmon was caught by Canucks winger Jake Virtanen who, after all, is trained to put things in the net. The fish was promptly released and, according to the tradition of winners returning their prizes, only Virtanen’s $200,000 went into the pot.


Adler University board chair Joy MacPhail joined Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin Realty at a dinner where graduate Udo Erasmus donated $500,000.

Malcolm Parry /

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GOOD U TURN: Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin spoke warmly about Adler University at a dinner atop Bob Rennie’s Wing Sang Building. The private institution, which grants postgraduate degrees in counselling psychology, social justice, public policy and the like, was spun off from a 1952-founded Chicago original in 1979. The varsity’s “culture and direction are shaped by “diversity, pluralism, inclusion … and gender and economic equality,” Austin said. As well, “Students, faculty and administration are fortunate to participate in a learning culture … (that) not only values real-life community engagement but requires it.”

Austin’s remarks cheered Adler board chair Joy MacPhail who holds the same role with ICBC. MacPhail also co-owns the OUTtv network with husband and movie producer James Shavick. Fortifying his approval with hard cash, 1988 Adler grad Udo Erasmus, who founded and heads the Udo’s Choice health supplements firm, donated $500,000 to his alma mater.


Ready to leave for Rome in July, Consul general Massimiliano Iacchini and wife Sara attended the Italian Cultural Centre’s national-day festivities.

Malcolm Parry /

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Laura Boldrini, the former president of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, was welcomed by Italian Cultural Centre executive director Joan D’Angola Kluge.

Malcolm Parry /

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ROAD TO ROME: Local community members filled the Italian Cultural Centre hall for National Day celebrations that included ample food and ballroom dancing to Italy’s visiting Orchestra Casadai. The event was a figurative last waltz for Consul General Massimiliano Iacchini and wife Sara. After four “very enriching” years, they’ll leave in July for 24 months in Rome before his next posting. He was congratulated by Italy’s former Chamber of Deputies president Laura Boldrini, who had earlier addressed Women Deliver conference delegates here.


Admiring a low-slung Alfa Romeo roadster at an earlier Italian Cultural Centre event, Ezio Bortolussi recently built Western Canada’s tallest tower.

Malcolm Parry /

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Bidding the Iacchinis farewell, city-based Newway Concrete Forming president Ezio Bortolussi recently completed the Stantec tower in Edmonton’s Ice District that, at 251 metres, is the tallest west of Toronto.


Abigail Rintoul, five, is enrolled at Montessori-themed Little Kitchen Academy where she expects to expand upon her existing cookie-baking skills.

Malcolm Parry /

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STOVE TOTS: Brian and Felicity Curin opened a school for three-to-teens at 10th-off-Dunbar recently. Their Montessori-themed Little Kitchen Academy teaches culinary skills, mostly in five three-hour sessions costing $300 to $375. The event was a second educational launch in the neighbourhood for co-president-COO Felicity Curin’s family. Her father, Clive Austin, was private West Point Grey Academy’s founding headmaster. Little Kitchen co-president-CEO Brian Curin founded such chain retailers as Cold Stone Creamery and Flip Flop Stores. He rebounded from a heart attack at age 38 and now chairs the Heart & Stroke Foundation of B.C. & Yukon.


Executive Group principal Salim Sayani and wife Farah opened the Exchange hotel’s Hydra Café & Bar that features a public-art terrazzo floor.

Malcolm Parry /

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LOOKING UP: Getting high in a bar is one thing. But what if the bar itself is high, with a ceiling 18 metres above a swirling-patterned Italian terrazzo floor that is a bonafide piece of public art? Such is the case at the 9,000-square-foot Hydra café and bar in the EXchange Hotel. That 202-room hotel occupies the 1929-built Vancouver Stock Exchange building where speculative securities were pumped sky-high one day and sank basement-low the next. North Vancouver-born Executive Hotels & Resorts principal Salim Sayani, who opened Hydra, owns the nearby Soleil hotel, 11 others in Canada and three in the U.S. His 72-room SeaSide Hotel and spa will open imminently in the Lower Lonsdale district where wife Farah recently chaired a $1.2-million gala for Lions Gate Hospital.


Dr. Dan Renouf attended Hanna Molnar’s at-home reception for those supporting B.C. Cancer’s vision for a pancreatic cancer rapid-access clinic

Malcolm Parry /

PNG

UNENDED JOURNEY: As a girl seeking refuge from Russia’s advancing Red Army, Hanna Hoyos-Molnar walked across Hungary and Austria “with everything I owned in a little bag.” Today, she hopes fellow Canadians will put pancreatic cancer behind them. At her Shaughnessy home recently, Hoyos-Molnar hosted a reception to support the B.C. Cancer Foundation’s participation in a rapid-access clinic for pancreatic-cancer patients. Of the 700 Canadians diagnosed annually, many have Stage IV ailments that cannot be cured. Screening methodology for early onset has yet to be found. Still, Pancreas Centre B.C. co-director Dr. Dan Renouf, who addressed reception guests, believes that success will come “in five to 10 years.”

ANMORE BEFORE: That recent rambunctious party wasn’t the first celebratory event to be held on Anmore acreage. Late Greenpeace co-founder-president Bob Hunter, who resided there, drew an equally large crowd — but no helicopters or exotic cars — to his 50th-birthday party in 1991. As one buckskin-jacketed, guitar-toting greybeard ambled past, Hunter said: “Y’know, we used to be out saving the planet, and now we’re trying to hang on to our hair and our teeth.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: While vying with Pinocchio in a nose-growing contest, certain global leaders may recall a predecessor with a curious moustache and haircut who proclaimed that ordinary folk accept big lies as readily as small ones.

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7Jun

Town Talk: Former U.S. ambassador now advocates for all Canadians

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FRIENDS IN DEED: In Bob Rennie’s Chinatown office-art museum recently, 2014-2017 U.S. ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and wife Vicki released a jointly written memoir of their time here. Titled The Art of Diplomacy, Strengthening the Canada-U.S. Relationship in Times of Uncertainty, the book reflects their personal friendship with and support of Democrat former president and fellow Chicagoan Barack Obama. Diplomats represent their own country’s interests above all, of course. Still, alternately authored chapters in the Heymans’ “love letter to Canada, our neighbour and best friend” show them contributing to fellowship and culture far beyond Washington’s remit and Ottawa’s political and diplomatic precincts.

Their resolve “to build bridges, not walls” resulted in a bike lane replacing post-9/11 concrete barriers at the ambassadorial residence, Lornado. They also filled the house with art, presented many eminent artists, hosted scores of public events, sparkplugged a visit by Obama, and installed honey bees who, with their queen, departed soon after they did. Conversing with and learning from ordinary folk, the Heymans criss-crossed Canada. That included days spent in Arctic-shore Tuktoyaktuk, Labrador’s Mary’s Harbour and even more remote Battle Harbour. When it came time to leave Canada, though, the news came, deplorably, in a New York Times article rather than a single word from the Trump transition team. “Vicki and I now consider ourselves citizen ambassadors for the Canada-U.S. relationship,” Heyman wrote. “We are private citizens working to make a difference.” Supporting that intent, they and Rennie donated all proceeds from their book sales to The Vancouver Sun’s Raise-a- Reader campaign.


Accompanied by daughter Ali in a simulated 1955 Chevrolet, Jen Rainnie chaired a gala to raise $900,000 for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Malcolm Parry /

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Hweely Lim, Kirsten Maxwell and Lucia Kwong surrounded multi-charity $5-million benefactor Sylvia Chen at the Heart of Gold gala.

Malcolm Parry /

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MISS CANADIAN PIE: Jen Rainnie drove her Chevy to the levee, but it sure wasn’t dry. In fact, the levee — more specifically the Heart and Stroke Foundation of B.C. and Yukon’s 14th-annual Heart of Gold gala — reportedly generated $900,000 and change. Meanwhile, the Chevy that second-time gala chair Rainnie seemingly drove was actually a full-scale Styrofoam sculpture of the front end of a 1955 model. That was an epic year as a new-for-Chevrolet V-8 engine promised high performance. Rainnie, foundation chair Irene Chanin, board chair Brian Curin and all involved doubtless hope the gala will spur a similar result. That would include supporting an automated external defibrillator program planned to double the survival rate of those experiencing cardiac arrest.


Paul Armstrong heads the Crazy8s Film Society Andrew Williamson founded in 1999 and that received an outstanding-achievement Leo award.

Malcolm Parry /

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PICTURE PERFECT: Directors Helen Haig-Brown and Gwaai Edenshaw’s Edge of the Knife (Sgaawaay K’unna) cut through other nominees at the recent Leo Awards gala for B.C.’s film and television productions and personnel. It was named best motion picture, and Haig-Brown and Edenshaw received best-direction Leos. Director Menhaj Huda’s Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance was named best TV movie.


Walter Daroshin and wife Tina walked the red carpet at the local movie industry’s Leo Awards gala he has headed since its second running in 1997.

Malcolm Parry /

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Staged by the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of B.C., the event is nostalgic for chair Walter Daroshin. That’s because a feature film he’d executive produced, The War Between Us, won the 1996 debut running’s top award. Daroshin signed on as Leos president in 1997. Two years later, Andrew Williamson founded the Crazy8s Film Society that won this year’s outstanding-achievement Leo. Long headed by Paul Armstrong, its juried contestants shoot, edit and deliver short but sometimes superb movies in eight days.


Twins Sam and Kailey Spear made the short horror film Alien: Ore at Britannia Mine to commemorate the Alien feature film’s 40th anniversary.

Malcolm Parry /

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QUADS: One Crazy8’s production was written and directed by Bowen Island-raised twins Kailey and Sam Spear, and filmed by two more twins, Graham and Nelson Talbot. Nominated for six Leos, it has a robot nanny violently attack a mother regarding the care of her daughter. Keeping up the jollity, the Spears and Talbots made the short horror flick Alien: Ore in the Britannia mine. It’s the only Canadian picture among 20th Century Fox’s commissions to commemorate the original Alien’s 40th anniversary.


Tim Roddick accompanied entrepreneur-wife Madeleine Shaw at a plate-smashing benefit for the United Girls of The World Society she founded.

Malcolm Parry /

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SMASH BASH: You could wait for a Greek wedding to break plates. Or you could pay $20 for a plate emblazoned with the word for something you dislike — homophobia, perfectionism, say — and sling it against a wall. Attendees did that when multi-entrepreneur Madeleine Shaw fronted a fundraiser for the United Girls of the World Society she founded. The organization aids parents and caregivers “that assist in supporting adolescent girls’ development of personal empowerment, healthy peer relationships, self-esteem and body positivity.” Shaw’s accompanying husband, Tim Roddick, was newly met in 1996 when this column reported her launching a women’s apparel firm. “He had a girlfriend, and I was having unwholesome thoughts about him,” Shaw recalled. “But one thing led to another.” They married in 2001 — without smashed crockery.


City-based movie producer Tex Antonucci’s name was a consequence of animator-father Danny’s reverence for famed film cartoon creator Tex Avery.

Malcolm Parry /

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IN A NAME: Tex Antonucci, who co-produced the Leo Awards’ best-movie-nominated Indian Horse, was named to commemorate legendary cartoon animator Tex Avery. Antonucci’s father Danny made the cult classic Lupo The Butcher (Google it). His Ed, Edd n Eddy was possibly the last TV series to employ Walt Disney and Avery’s hand-painted-cell technique rather than computer animation. At least Danny didn’t name his son for a beloved Avery character: Bugs, Daffy, Elmer, Porky, etc.


Danny Antonucci’s TV series Ed, Edd n Eddy may have been the last one produced by hand-painted cells before digital technology triumphed.

Malcolm Parry /

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Th-th-th-that’s all, folks.

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4Jun

B.C. Ferries’ new ship a nightmare reno of surprises and expenses

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VICTORIA — When B.C. Ferries’ newest ship, the Northern Sea Wolf, left the dock at Bella Coola for the first time Monday, there was little sign amid the bright new paint and spaciously redecorated interior that the public was sailing on one of the most problem-plagued renovation projects in the ferry corporation’s history.

But the 35-car, 150-passenger, vessel was a renovation nightmare for B.C. Ferries.

The Northern Sea Wolf was purchased used in 2017 from a Greek shipyard. It’s retrofit finished a year late and with a $76 million price tag that was more than 36 per cent over budget.

In short, the little Greek boat turned out to be a big fat Greek lemon for B.C. taxpayers.

“I think it’s fair to say that we were, at various times, shocked and surprised at the issues we were running in to,” B.C. Ferries CEO Mark Collins told Postmedia Tuesday.

“I liken it to a house reno. You survey a house and inspect it and all the rest. It looks pretty good for a reno, and then when you start taking off the drywall and you get a few surprises. That’s exactly what happened to us.”

B.C. Ferries had retained a broker and the ship was certified “in class” under marine standards by a third party independent group. There were only three or four ships in the world that met the size, ocean-readiness, and closed deck specifications B.C. Ferries wanted for the Port Hardy-Bella Coola route, and the Greek vessel was “not perfect, but as close as we are going to get,” said Collins.

B.C. Ferries sent staff to survey the ship — originally called the Aqua Spirit — in addition to the third-party inspection. “She needs work, but she’s good enough,” was the opinion at the time, Collins said.

But when the Aqua Spirit arrived in Victoria in December 2017, B.C. Ferries engineers were aghast. There was no fire protection insulation, a key safety measure. “We’d take off the panelling and find no insulation there, I mean literally just missing,” said Collins. “There’s no way a ship should have been approved with that missing.”


The Northern Sea Wolf. Photo: B.C. Ferries

B.C. FERRIES /

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Under the ceiling tiles were sprinklers that didn’t work. “We found some of the sprinklers were not even connected,” he said.

The propeller shafts were “worn beyond allowable specifications.” Some metal was corroded below acceptable minimum steel thickness.

The heating, venting and air conditioning system didn’t work. The elevator didn’t meet code. And the stern door was a problem.

B.C. Ferries had budgeted to overhaul the main engines, install new generators, upgrade the navigational equipment and improve overall safety — but the scope of problems far exceeded the original plan.

“This is what started to put pressure on the budget,” said Collins. The original price tag of $55.7 million grew to $63.4 million in early 2018, and finally $76 million in 2019.

“We were very disappointed in some of the condition of the ship that shouldn’t have been there because a ship being in class should not have had these faults,” said Collins.

“We continue to make claims against the class society for compensation for the things that should not have been there but in fact were.”

B.C. Ferries also had a tight timeline. The direct Port Hardy-Bella Coola route had been cancelled by the Liberal government in 2013 due to financial losses at BC Ferries. Then Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the route was losing $7 million a year, with a taxpayer subsidy of $2,500 per vehicle.

B.C. Ferries sold the ship on the route, the Queen of Chilliwack, which had just undergone a $15 million upgrade. A former B.C. Ferries engineer in Fiji bought it for $2 million for his private ferry operation.

Tourism operators on the coast, Cariboo Chilcotin and Interior were outraged at the lack of consultation and said they’d lose millions in business and international tourism.


Mark Collins, president and CEO of B.C. Ferries, discusses operations in the control tower at the corporation’s Swartz Bay terminal.

Adrian Lam /

Victoria Times Colonist

Then Premier Christy Clark relented on the eve of the 2017 provincial election, announcing the route would be restored by spring 2018. B.C. Ferries was not consulted.

“We informed the government of the day that it was a very ambitious time frame and could only be met with a used vessel,” said Collins.

As problems mounted, B,C, Ferries missed the spring 2018 deadline, and then the fall window as well.

“It was very frustrating for the tourism industry,” said Amy Thacker, chief executive of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association. “Our international visitors who very much enjoy that route are making plans and booking 12 to 18 months in advance.”

Collins apologized directly to the communities and businesses for the lack of communication.

The final version of the Northern Sea Wolf is basically a totally renovated ship, said Collins. There’s a new galley, dining area, lounge seating, outdoor viewing areas, paint, washrooms, chair lifts, elevators and First Nations art. It’s twice as fast as the Queen of Chilliwack.

It was money well spent, said Collins, even if it was far more than budgeted.

“Instead of being 30 per cent renovated for $55 million, we got a ship that’s 95 per cent renovated for $76 million. So, in that sense, the value is not lost.”

In the future, B.C. Ferries will demand a second independent inspection of ships, beyond whether the international maritime certification says a vessel is “in class,” said Collins. Had there been more time, B.C. Ferries would also have considered building new in B.C., but that likely would have cost as much as $110 to $140 million, he said.

The purchase of the Northern Sea Wolf in 2017 straddled the end of the Liberal government and beginning of the NDP.

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena blamed the Liberals for “making terrible financial decisions.”

“They backed B.C. Ferries into a corner with an incredibly tight timeline, leading to the purchase of a used ship which was well below Transport Canada safety standards,” she said. “The upgrades ran well over budget and cost people $76 million that shouldn’t have been spent in the first place.”

Former minister Stone said the cuts only occurred because B.C. Ferries was losing money and facing fare hikes.

“The cancellation was a very difficult decision,” he said. “It was always our intention to put back a direct link between Bella Coola and Port Hardy.”

Stone said “it’s a really good day” to see the link, though the cost overruns and delays are “very disappointing.”

Meanwhile, actual users appear pleased it’s all finally over.

“We’re just incredibly happy to actually have her out there and sailing,” said Thacker. “Now that service is here, I think there’s a lot of consumer confidence restored.”

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The history of the Northern Sea Wolf

2013: The B.C. Liberal government announces cutbacks to ferry routes, including direct service between Port Hardy to Bella Coola, due to B.C. Ferries financial losses. It says the route lost $7.35 million. Tourism operators are outraged at the lack of consultation.

2014: B.C. Ferries sells the Queen of Chilliwack (which had just undergone a $15 million retrofit) for a reported $1.8 million to a private Fiji ferry company.

2015: The new two-vessel journey from Port Hardy to Bella Bella to Bella Coola includes a nine-hour trip on the MV Nimpkish, a small 16-vehicle ferry with one washroom that government touts as having “potable water” and snacks. Tourist reviews are negative.

2016: Premier Christy Clark announces a plan to restore direct ferry service from Port Hardy to Bella Coola by the summer of 2018. B.C. Ferries is not consulted about the timeline, and scrambles.

2017: B.C. Ferries hires brokers to try to find a “rare” small ferry that can deal with ocean conditions, fit 35 cars and has a closed deck. Only three or four candidates exist. A Denmark ship looks promising by the buyer withdraws. The corporation pays $12.6 million for the 246-foot-long Aqua Spirit from Greek firm Seajet. It was built in 2000 and is certified by third-party maritime groups as being “in class” for sea use.

December 2017: The Aqua Spirit arrives in Victoria after a 10,097 nautical mile journey from Greece.

2018: B.C. Ferries starts stripping the ship down and discovers technical problems, sprinklers that do not work, missing insulation, corroded metal, elevator errors, heat and air conditioning that is non-functional, unusable propeller shafts, and more.

Spring 2018: B.C. Ferries misses its government deadline to be back in service. The budget rises from $55.7 million to $63.4 million.

Summer 2018: Technical problems continue to grow. The budget increases to $76 million.

September 2018: The Northern Sea Wolf, as it is now called, still isn’t ready. B.C. Ferries puts the Northern Adventure on the Port Hardy-Bella Coola run for one month.

May 2019: The ship starts trials. Operates the final two weeks of winter connector service.

June 3, 2019: The Northern Sea Wolf takes its first run from Bella Coola to Port Hardy. It is more than 36 per cent over budget and almost a year late.




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