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Category "Local Business"

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.

Handout /

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.

Handout /

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 /

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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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11May

Town Talk: Gallery gala benefits Lions Gate Hospital just up the road

by admin


Farah Sayani chaired and Lions Gate Hospital Foundation chair Pierre Lebel aided a gala at the North Vancouver waterfront Polygon Gallery that reportedly netted $1.2 million for new-technology services.


Malcolm Parry / PNG

HOSPITAL AID: It’s hard to beat the cross-harbour view from the Polygon Gallery at the foot of North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Avenue.

But those who gathered there recently were figuratively looking the other way and 15 blocks up the hill to Lions Gate Hospital. Chaired by Farah Sayani, a 19th-annual event reportedly netted close to $1.2 million to support new-technology services at a hospital that recently completed a $100-million medical-and-surgical campaign. Ian Telfer and wife Nancy Burke represented the event’s published title sponsor, Goldcorp Inc., which was acquired by Newmont Mining Corp. recently to become Newmont Goldcorp. Perhaps relieved by events, Goldcorp chair Telfer looked a decade younger, as Burke always does.


Nancy Burke and long-time Goldcorp chair Ian Telfer represented the previously sold firm as the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation gala’s title sponsor.

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TOASTING SISTERS: It takes chutzpah to stage alcohol-themed events in high-performance-car showrooms. But Cheryl Nakamoto and Cam and Sarah McNeill’s Grape Juice wine tasting and auction in Asgar Verji’s Weissach Porsche showroom reportedly added $84,000 to a 12-year total nearing $900,000. This recent sum will elevate 42 girls from Big Sisters of Lower Mainland’s 137 wait-list, said executive director Hanne Madsen. She’s also pleased to launch Big Sisters’ Career Camp program for 36 girls in Grades 10 to 12 to spend a two-overnight July weekend readying for university at her Simon Fraser alma mater. Madsen, meanwhile, fancied a 1963 Porsche 356 coupe that would have cost her $100,000-plus.


Cam McNeill, Cheryl Nakamoto and Sarah McNeill’s Grape Juice event reportedly benefitted Big Sisters of Lower Mainland to the tune of $84,000.

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Big Sisters of Lower Mainland’s Hanne Madsen figured a $100,000-range 1963 Porsche 356 coupe would be an engaging alternative to her Honda Odyssey.

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TOUGH TIMES REVISITED: Williams Lake sisters Jeeti, Kira and Salakshan Poonin’s childhood years of sexual abuse are a quarter century behind them. Now residing in Vancouver, they had the courage to recount youthful anguish, along with challenges to the legal system and non-protecting parents, in director Baljit Sangra’s 85-minute movie Because We are Girls. Encouraging other women to not stay silent about abuse, it opened the recent DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver as part of the Justice Forum series.


Jeeti, Salakshana and Kira Poonin backed Baljit Sangra whose Because We Are Girls documentary revealed their quarter-century-past sexual abuse.

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CHOCS AWAY: Caren McSherry’s Hastings-off-Clark Gourmet Warehouse filled up recently with folks munching on chocolate in order to help children who seldom get that chance. That was when Firefighter of The Year Justin Mulcahy and Vancouver Firefighter Charities executive director James Docherty staged a contest between seven chocolatiers ranging from Christopher Bonzon to Thomas Haas. Mentored by Daniel Capadouca, Okanagan College’s Jalayne Jones won, and the event reportedly raised $21,000 for Snacks For Kids, Project Chef and the Strathcona Community Centre Backpack Program.


Dotty Kanke and Caren McSherry tempted firefighter Justin Mulcahy when the Chocolate Challenge event benefited children deprived of foodstuffs.

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LIONS’ PRIDE: The Vancouver Chinatown Lions Club celebrated its 65th anniversary at Keefer Street’s Floata restaurant recently. Close to 700 banqueters, including club president David Mao and event committee and three-time Lion of the Year chair Syrus Lee, saw non-member Richard K. Wong receive the organization’s Medal of Merit. Hong Kong-born former banker Wong was cited for “promoting intrinsic Canadian ideals of diversity, harmony and inclusion.” He continues to be involved in dozens of community and charitable endeavours. Wife Grace is feted for public service, too, not least as the S.U.C.C.E.S.S. community-service agency’s former chair. The Wongs also attended the club’s flag-raising ceremony on a newly installed pole in the adjacent Memorial Square. Possibly more delighted was 97-year-old former Master Warrant Officer George Chow, who fought with Canadian troops at the June 6, 1944 Normandy landing and the liberation of Holland. His many medals include that of the French Legion of Honour. Still, Victoria-born Chow’s long ambition was to see the Canadian flag fly over Vancouver’s Chinatown. Objective realized.


Former S.U.C.C.E.S.S. service agency chair Grace Wong saw the Chinatown Lions Club honor husband George’s countless community works.

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Consul General of China Tong Xiaoling congratulated George Chow, 97, who fought at the 1944 Normandy landings and then for the liberation of Holland.

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TRUTH TO TELL: Chinatown Lions Club board member and accounting firm principal Hebron Shyng expressed an amusing but pertinent opinion of the Canadian Revenue Agency: “I’d like to thank the CRA, without whose incomprehensible regulations I wouldn’t have a job.”

SLOW SPEEDSTERS: Most of the 250 police-escorted cars nose-to-tailing to Whistler in the recent Diamond Rally would have cost well over $100,000. Still, along with Luxury and Supercar Weekend and other related events, the rally has been money in the bank for Craig Stowe and Nadia Iadisernia. With collector-enthusiast Robbie Dixon, they have enjoined owners of cars that can exceed posted speeds three times over to putter along rural blacktop and benefit various charities as an option to startling pedestrians by razzing around downtown streets.


Diamond Rally organizers Craig Stowe and Nadia Iadisernia saw this Mercedes-Benz AMG GTR and 250 other exotics prepare for a Whistler roundtrip.

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CHERRY CHEERY: Linda Poole celebrated another Cherry Blossom Festival by staging Sakura Night in the Stanley Park Pavilion. Seven restaurants, from Benkei Ramen to Zen, served Japanese-themed cuisine, and five beer and wine purveyors helped attendees wash it down. Among the latter, Stanley Park Brewing general manager Doug Devlin said that the firm’s long-gestating restaurant-brew pub should open in the park’s 2016-closed Fish House premises by mid-June. Ten location-only beers will be served alongside the firm’s six existing one, Devlin said. The 260-seat restaurant will be managed by Andre Bourque and Ryan Moreno’s Surrey-based Joseph Richard Group as the first Vancouver operation in their Richmond-to-Chilliwack chain.


Linda Poole, who stages the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Sakura Night, always counts on be-gowned friend Daphne Crocetti to fly in from Switzerland.

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Plying beer at a Cherry Blossom Festival event, Neesha Hothi and Doug Devlin said Stanley Park Brewing’s brew-pub reopening of the Fish House is nigh.

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: While Queen Victoria might finally be amused to have a great-great-great-great-great-grandson named Archie, his great-grandma, Queen Elizabeth, would doubtless welcome a Betty.

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19Apr

Town Talk: Style show made big hair even bigger

by admin

HATS OFF: Nobody expected Easter bonnets, fascinators or headgear of any kind when the Show It Off extravaganza filled the Vancouver Playh­­ouse recently. Hair alone was the attraction, and Avant Garde salon owner Jon Paul Holt and dancer-choreographer producer Viktoria Langton showcased plenty of it when the male and female show benefited B.C. Children’s Hospital. Stylist from the UK, across Canada and hereabouts created confections that, in most cases, were frothed up on models attired in the Playboy rather than Easter bunny manner.


Dee Daniels will return from her and Denzal Sinclaire’s U.S. tour to sing at Motown Meltdown’s benefit for Seva Canada’s eyesight-restoration efforts.

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HIGH FLYERS: Early aviators gained surprising extra height by flying at top speed and jerking back the joystick. They called it the zoom climb. A century later in 2008, one-time television wunderkind Moses Znaimer applied the term to half-century-old folk able to elevate their lifestyles. Among now-77-year-old Znaimer’s related enterprises, Zoomer trade shows feature travel, financial, cannabis and health-and-wellness exhibitors. Entertainers, too.


Joy TV’s CARPe diem show host-producer Carmen Ruiz y Laza greeted Motown Meltdown’s Bill Semple and Kendra Sprinkling at the Zoomer Show.

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The recent Zoomer show here saw Kendra Sprinkling produce a version of the 17th annual Motown Meltdown concert that will play the Commodore Ballroom April 27. Its beneficiary, Seva Canada, restores eyesight to thousands of global patients annually. One concert singer, Dee Daniels, will zoom home from her and Denzal Sinclaire’s touring tribute to the late Nat King Cole and daughter Natalie.


Vancouver Sun Sun Run columnist Lynn Kanuka and editor-in-chief Harold Munro welcomed guests at a reception preceding the 35th annual event.

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FEET FEATS: Olympic bronze medallist Lynn Kanuka’s columns helped prepare Vancouver Sun reader for last weekend’s 35th annual Sun Run. She and run co-founders Doug and Diane Clement were acknowledged at a reception where Sun editor-in-chief Harold Munro noted that the 10k event’s earlier participants had covered the equivalent of 10 times around the world. Kanuka’s 2019 columns revealed that her training world extends northward to Burns Lake and New Aiyansh beyond Terrace. With three other regions, they’re part of her 10-year-old effort by which Indigenous leaders develop running and walking programs. Regarding such communities’ elders, “Their health has changed,” Kanuka said. “Their blood pressure has gone down.” So have blood-sugar and cholesterol levels, “One has even lost 100 pounds,” she whistled.

DO GO: Although tough by foot, the few B.C. residents following remote, spectacular Highway 37 north from New Aiyansh to the Alaska Highway should relish every one of its 750 kilometres.


Some wonder whether the brotherly love Jason Kenney had for Charlie Wu in 2015 will extend to other Vancouver residents now that he’s Alberta premier.

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KENNEY, CAN HE? During 2015 TaiwanFest celebrations here, then-federal immigration minister Jason Kenney called festival manager and former University of San Francisco fellow student Charlie Wu “my Chinese brother with different mothers.” Let’s see if such familial regard for B.C. residents will continue.


Monica Soprovich, Tanya Perchall, Rebecca Bond and Carey Smith ringed host Zahra Salisbury at the Hotel Georgia’s Reflections terrace reopening.

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SKY TIME: Springtime sees the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s substantially open-air Reflection terrace reopen formally. Rain made the recent event rather more al drencho than fresco. But with one area permanently covered and some others tented, attendees stayed dry and, given the enhanced intimacy, possibly more reflective. They were hosted by Zahra Salisbury, whose brother Azim Jamal and uncle Joe Moosa founded Pacific Reach Properties that paid $145 million for the then-90-year-old hotel in 2017.

UP PARRYSCOPE: One block west on Georgia Street, the Depression-delayed Fairmont Hotel Vancouver will celebrate its 80th birthday on May 9.


Seen partying at his architecture firm’s old Gastown premises, keg-surrounded Michael Green literally raised the bar with an Armoury district move.

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GREEN PARTIERS: Free drinks and a high-volume deejay would fill any Friday-night joint to the rafters. So it was when A-grade party giver and wood-structure-tower advocate Michael Green celebrated his self-named architecture firm’s move to Armoury-district space formerly occupied by Emily Carr University students. Despite a new climbing wall, Green’s guests didn’t actually reach the joint’s near-10-metre-high rafters.


Kelsey Kushneryk and Lindsay Owen alternate between piloting a Twin Otter and a rebuilt and re-engined DC3 aircraft between Arctic and Antarctic bases.

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Still, two among them routinely reach higher altitudes in places quieter, colder and far more dangerous than False Creek shores. Former rodeo roper-funeral director Kelsey Kushneryk and partner Lindsay Owen are 4,000- and 5,000-hour pilots who have spent six seasons flying for Calgary-based Kenn Borek Air in Antarctica and the Canadian Arctic. Owen hit the news in 2017 as first officer aboard a Twin Otter that sped 14,000 km from Alberta to rescue two sick workers in ‑­­60 C temperature from near the blizzard-whipped South Pole. She and Kushneryk also pilot an 80-year-old DC-3 airliner that, like the same-age axe with four new heads and six new handles, has likely had every part replaced and turbine engines installed.


Vancouver International Centre for Asian Art interim head Yun-Jou Chang and president April Liu fronted 20th-anniversary celebrations at the Imperial.

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A-PLUS: Now ensconced on Keefer Street with a 30-year lease, the Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, aka Centre A, celebrated its 20th anniversary recently. President April Liu and interim executive director Yun Jou Chang welcomed centre founder Hank Bull and guests to the Main-off-Hastings Imperial where Chinese-language kung-fu movies once were screened. Las Vegas-born Liu is a Chinese art historian and Museum of Anthropology public-programs curator. Belgium-born, Taiwan-and-Prince-Rupert-raised Chang is vice-president of the pan-Asian Cinevolution Media Arts Society. As well as encouraging beginning artists, the centre “strives to activate contemporary art’s vital role in building and understanding the long and dynamic Asia-Canada relationship.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: While Chinese genetic scientists transfer human brain cells to monkeys, the reverse process may have been perfected in London, Ottawa and Washington, DC.

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12Apr

Town Talk: BMW showroom gala supports pancreatic cancer research

by admin

BEEMER TEAMING: BMW dealer Brian Jessel and managing partner Jim Murray cleared all but one vehicle from their Boundary-off-Lougheed new-car showroom to stage the 14th annual Cabriolet gala. Previous runnings reportedly raised $2 million. Staged by Diana Zoppa and sponsored by ZLC Financial chairman-CEO Garry Zlotnik, the recent one benefited Pancreatic Cancer Canada by netting some $525,000. The sole car left standing beside a spotlit stage and dining tables reflected the ever-more-elegant gala’s name. It was a just-introduced BMW M850i Cabriolet tagged at $145,000. Figuratively donning his dealer hat, Jessel compared it to a certain $350,000 British sportster, “But this is a nicer car.” As for other BMW introductions, half-year Cabo San Lucas resident Jessel said: “We’ve got a lot of new product coming this year. I won’t have to marry for money after all.”


Elektra Women’s Choir conductor and co-founder Morna Edmundson welcomed operatic soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian to a benefit banquet at the Sutton Place hotel where she sang works by Berlioz, Bevan and Schubert.

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BETTER WORLD: Operatic soprano and graduate biomedical engineer Isabel Bayrakdarian sang at the Elektra Women’s Choir’s recent benefit-banquet in the Sutton Place hotel. Elektra honorary patron Bayrakdarian also performed at the choir’s 30th anniversary concert in 2017. At the hotel, co-founder Morna Edmundson conducted the 53-voice ensemble as she did in January at East Hastings Street’s Oscar’s Pub. That Elektra Uncorked fundraiser followed the release of Elektra’s 15th album, Silent Night. No repertoire stick-in-the-muds, the choristers are heard prominently on Gibsons-based progressive-metal musician Devin Townsend’s Empath album that released March 29 to seven-figure YouTube hits. Such musical genre-bending aside, few would dispute Schubert’s An Die Musik that Bayrakdarian sang to Elektra patrons: “You, lovely art, in how many gloomy hours of experiencing the turmoil of life have you ignited love in my heart and transported me to a better world?”


City singer Amanda Wood accompanied an ovarian cancer fundraiser’s fashion-show models with an energetic rendition of Alicia Keys’s Girl On Fire.

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Anna Wallner, Marousa Dumaresq and Kristi Brinkley modelled Chikas, Sundress and Riana garments at the Love Her benefit for Ovarian Cancer Canada.

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Okanagan Crush Pad owner Christine Coletta brought wine to and accompanied cousin Lisa Konishi at a $225,000 Ovarian Cancer Canada benefit.

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OVARIAN OVATION: With Franci Stratton chairing for the third time, the recent Love Her gala reportedly raised $225,000 for Ovarian Cancer Canada. The lunchtime event included a fashion show by West Vancouver retailer Marilyn Diligenti-Smith. Local volunteer models hit the catwalk as singer Amanda Wood belted out Girl On Fire. Ovarian cancer, however, is a murderous fire that researchers and practitioners yearn to put out while striving to discover how its starts. Back at the gala, attendees applauded when an annual award commemorating business and community leader Virginia Greene went to Christine Coletta and cousin Lisa Konishi who have jointly lost eight friends and family members to ovarian cancer. More cheerfully, Coletta donated and served much wine from her 45,000-cases-a-year Okanagan Crush Pad operation.


His artist in residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden now over, Paul Wong will publish a book based on 700 letters to his late mother.

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PAUL’S LETTERS: Paul Wong’s year-long artist in residency at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden ended with a reception at his Keefer Street studio. Fifty-five arts-related tenants reportedly pay $2 a square foot to occupy the building’s lower, third and fourth floors. A Korean restaurant and Scotiabank branch are conveniently located at street level. Meanwhile, Wong’s now-concluded exhibition of 700 letters to late mother Suk Fong has received a reply. The Canada Council for the Arts reportedly offered $54,500 to fund a related book. “We’re trying to get the money as soon as possible in case there’s been a mistake,” Wong cracked while admitting, “It was more than I asked for.”


With one of her works to open the DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Baljit Sangra hopes to make a feature about Canadian South Asians in the 1970s.

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POST PAST: B.C.’s early 20th-century South Asian pioneers were the subjects of a recent Vancouver Sun article. Now, moviemaker Baljit Sangra wants to portray their second- and third-generation descendants. To open the DOXA Documentary Film Festival May 3, Sangra’s 85-minute Because We Are Girls examines three Williams Lake sisters who concealed their shared sexual abuse for almost 25 years. She hopes that her next, and bigger, project will be a feature-film drama. “I would love to do a coming-of-age narrative of South Asians growing up in the 1970s,” Sangra said. “The fashion, the music, what they thought.” That might cost $5 million. Let’s hope she raises it.


Former mayor, former premier, cannabis firm principal Mike Harcourt received Simon Fraser University’s President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award.

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NEW LEAF: Simon Fraser University chief Andrew Petter presented the President’s Distinguished Community Leadership Award to Mike Harcourt recently. The latter’s merits aside, the Four Seasons Hotel ceremony echoed Petter having been in 1991-96 NDP premier Harcourt’s cabinet. No such gender or partisan links occurred in 2010 when the honour went to Petter’s decade-later successor as B.C. Liberal finance minister, Carole Taylor. Her co-awardee, since-deceased husband Art Phillips, was Harcourt’s predecessor-but-one as Vancouver mayor. Soon after her award, Taylor was named chancellor of SFU where, vis-à-vis president Petter, she said: “My job is to protect him.” In his early 20s, lawyer Harcourt counselled Kitsilano-based Cool-Aid youth social services’ clients, some of whom were jailed for possessing marijuana joints. Today, he chairs Lumby-based True Leaf that plans to produce 2,500 kg of cannabis annually.


Andrew Petter made an SFU president’s award to Mike Harcourt as he had done in 2010 to the university’s then-pending chancellor, Carole Taylor.

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DOWN PARRYSCOPE: A century ago, satirist Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary contained: “Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Also: “Conservative: A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal who wishes to replace them with others.” Finally: “Liberty: One of imagination’s most precious possessions.”

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5Apr

Town Talk: Gotham Steakhouse turns 20

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Hy’s of Canada president-CEO Neil Aisenstat and COO Megan Buckley welcomed guests to Gotham’s 20th-anniversary celebrations as Buckley did when the steakhouse opened on the site of an earlier Bible store.


Malcolm Parry / PNG

HOLY BEEFSTEAKS, BATMAN: Just as she did in 1999, Hy’s of Canada COO Megan Buckley welcomed guests to the Gotham steakhouse’s recent anniversary celebration, this one the 20th. As wall-to-wall invitees enjoyed abundant drinks and food, Hy’s president-CEO Neil Aisenstat cracked: “We can still give it away.” They can sell it, too, and have done since 1955 when Neil’s late father, Hy Aisenstat, launched the self-named chain in Calgary. Our Hornby-off-Dunsmuir Hy’s Encore has served 60-day, dry-aged rib steaks and other prime cuts since 1962.


Musicbiz partners Sam Feldman and Bruce Allen flanked singer Sarah Maclachlan during a debut event at Gotham in which Allen had a financial interest.

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Three blocks away at Gotham, fine-weather patrons enjoy an open-to-the-heavens patio where a Bible store once stood. Its succeeding steak house adopted the Gotham nickname that author Washington Irving coined for New York in 1807. Irving’s inspiration was an ancient English village where the name reflected its beginnings as a “home of goats.” In a tactic worth retesting today, that small community’s 13th-century residents reputedly outfoxed tax collectors by simulating insanity. Here, though, Gotham patrons must keep their wits about them when negotiating a curving stairway to the basement washrooms, especially after a few beverages. When one distinguished-looking man’s possibly overcautious descent resulted in a usually embarrassing personal accident, he nonchalantly announced: “Well, this is a black suit, so nobody’ll know.” What fellow diners upstairs would have known is that such deception was never needed for Gotham’s high-calibre fare and service.


Macdonald Development Corp’s John Macdonald attended the Gotham event while father Rob caddied for other son Stuart in the PGA Tour Series-China.

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FORE: Macdonald Development Corp. vice-president John Macdonald attended the Gotham anniversary. Hardly surprising, as the group his father Rob Macdonald founded owns the property and the adjoining St. Regis Hotel and is an equal partner in the restaurant. Among MDC’s current Canadian and U.S. projects, the Lakestone development encompasses 1,300 speculation-tax-free units near Okanagan Golf Club’s Bear and Quail courses. Missing the Gotham elbow-bender, Macdonald Sr. was at Chongqing’s Poly Golf Course where he caddied for younger son Stuart in the PGA Tour Series-China.


Oliver Young’s 1927 Triumph 500 TT should pale beside his restoring 1930 Bentley Speed Six car like one that outraced a cross-France express train.

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SUCH A KICK: Spring sunshine awakens hibernating motorcycles. Although few riders may be in their nineties, some bikes are. Among them, restorer-collector Oliver Young’s 1927 Triumph 500 TT could hit its present age in miles per hour when new and deftly tuned. Young wouldn’t repeat that, but he is readying a four-wheeled British road-burner. His 1930 Bentley Speed Six is a stablemate of one that raced the Blue Train from Cannes and, despite a Channel-ferry crossing, was in London before the crack express reached Calais.


After retrieving thousands of global plants to propagate at his nursery, Dan Hinkley was astonished by city sculptor Marie Khouri’s bronze tree trunks.

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TREES BY MARIE: Local nurseries will soon face an onslaught of folk seeking familiar and new plants for their yards, verandas, window boxes and pots. Meanwhile, having searched the world for the thousands of species he’s propagated in Washington state, celebrated plantsman Dan Hinkley found an unexpected one here. While he and landscape architect-UBC teacher Ron Rule toured Robert and Marie Khouri’s garden, Hinkley was entranced by bronze-looking tree trunks among the greenery. In fact, they were genuine bronze artworks sculpted by Mme. Khouri. “I must have some of these,” Hinkley said for the umpteenth time during his five-decade career.


Teetotaller James Walton and Michelle Mackay showed equipment he made for his Storm Brewing operation along with one of the beers produced there.

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BOTTOMS UP: The Sun reported March 5 that increasing property taxes may force many craft breweries from East Vancouver. Meanwhile, 100 such producers will serve 300 beers and ciders when the 10th annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week opens May 31. Attendees may toast teetotalling former mushroom farmer James Walton, who founded Storm Brewing in 1994, welded together some fermentation tanks and literally got craft-beer’s pot boiling.


With plans mooted to double out-of-hospital cardiac-arrest survival, Kevin Eastwood recalled Sonja Bennett helping save his life on an L.A. sidewalk.

Malcolm Parry /

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BACK TO LIFE: Cardiac arrests reportedly kill 40,000 Canadians annually. Eighty-five per cent of arrests occur outside hospitals, with nine out of 10 dying. At its annual gala May 31, the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada will campaign to double that 10 per cent survival rate by 2029. Heartening news for city moviemaker Kevin Eastwood, who was 36 when felled on an L.A. sidewalk. Calling 911, actress-friend Sonja Bennett was guided to apply cardiopulmonary resuscitation until defibrillator-equipped paramedics arrived. Several of survivor Eastwood’s friends then took CPR training. Good for them, and maybe you.


Robert Lee’s photo of him with a 1992 hotel development had a friend crack: “You were just starting to make money then, and now you’re printing it.”

Malcolm Parry /

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BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS: Bob Lee was profiled in The Sun March 30 for convincing fellow UBC governors to launch residential and commercial developments that generated $1.6 billion. Rather like a self-deprecatory comedian, UBC commerce grad Lee told them: “I’m not really an academic person, but I do know a little bit about real estate.” Likewise, when former city mayor Tom Campbell pooh-poohed his opening bids for a 260-unit tower, golfer Lee deadpanned: “The pressure made me shoot 30 above my usual high 80s.” Offered the Ernst & Young accounting firm’s Entrepreneur of The Year Award, Lee cracked: “I thought they were calling to ask me about raising money.” Even at his retirement-tribute dinner, where then-premier Gordon Campbell said: “You and I all know that Bob isn’t going anywhere,” Lee promptly replied: “Thank you for coming. I’m leaving now.”

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: The Revised Ottawa Dictionary defines “principle” only as money.

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