Category "Van Live"


Everything you need to know about the 2019 Celebration of Light fireworks

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So you want to see some fireworks, hey?

First off, it’s going to be crowded. You’ve been warned. If you still insist on seeing the fireworks live, then read on.

Here’s what you need to know about watching the Honda Celebration of Light in downtown Vancouver this summer.


Here’s a handy map for navigating the 2019 Honda Celebration of Light in Vancouver, B.C.


When are the fireworks? Who’s competing this year?

In 2019, the Celebration of Light will take place over three nights:

• Saturday, July 27: India: Amir Morani Fireworks
• Wednesday, July 31: Canada: Firemaster Productions Inc.
• Saturday, Aug. 3: Croatia: Mirnovec Fireworks

The fireworks begin around 10 p.m. each night, with the winning team being announced on Aug. 6.

Where do the fireworks take place and how can I watch them?

The fireworks are set off from a barge located in English Bay, with the show visible from several vantage points in and around the West End, Kitsilano and some spots along the downtown Vancouver False Creek area.

Your best bet will always be to transit, walk or cycle. TransLink will be offering more frequent service, modified routes and extended hours for buses, SkyTrains and SeaBus. You can find all that information here.

Some viewing points are more crowded than others, and some are easier to access than others. Take your pick.

English Bay Beach

This is by far the busiest spot from which to watch the fireworks but also where many of the official festivities take place, including music stages, the Pete McLeod airshow, the judges, VIP seating and official Celebration of Light PA system where the fireworks soundtrack will be broadcast.

For a good view, you’ll need to park yourself on the beach early in the day with a beach blanket to wait for the show. The buzz is undeniable but be warned — it will be crowded and could be a challenge meeting up with friends close to showtime. The exit afterward is usually slow-moving as well.

Crowded? Very. VERY.

Food? Great West End selection nearby or pack your own. Food trucks will be parked along the beach.

Bathrooms? Beach bathroom facilities and portable toilets.

Best way to get there? Take transit downtown and then walk from central downtown into the West End; it’s a 20- to 40-minute walk, depending on where you start from.

Cycling in along the seawall is good too — there will be complimentary bike valets set up from 6 p.m. onwards along the beach, though leaving with a bike could be a challenge if crowds take over the pathways.

Don’t bother trying to drive — it’s usually a nightmare unless you park far away from the beach, and nearby roads shut down beginning at 7 p.m.

Second Beach

This is a partially obstructed view of the fireworks but that also means it’s a bit less crowded than English Bay Beach. A good spot if you’re exploring Stanley Park before hunkering down at Second Beach to watch the fireworks.

The Second Beach Stage will host official festival entertainment, as well as other family-friendly activities nearby. A site-wide liquor licence means you’ll be able to enjoy a cold brew at this venue.

Crowded? Bearable.

Food? Food trucks will be parked nearby but your best bet is to pack some food and snacks since restaurants aren’t within walking distance.

Bathrooms? Beach bathroom facilities and portable toilets.

Best way to get there? Take transit downtown early in the day and walk into Stanley Park. Cycling would work well too since the beach is located on an easy riding route. You could drive into Stanley Park, but be mindful of parking fees and the lots will likely fill up quickly.

Kitsilano / Vanier Point

This is a great alternative if you want the atmosphere but don’t want to be trapped downtown, or if you’ve got kids and want to keep out of the downtown fray. There’s both sand and grass, as well as some benches if you’re lucky enough to snag one.

You’ll be able to see the fireworks happening downtown, though there usually aren’t any loudspeakers broadcasting the show’s soundtrack. For that, you’ll have to bring your own radio to tune into LG 104.3 FM or a smartphone equipped with the festival’s mobile app to play the simulcast.

Crowded? Yes.

Food? There are a few restaurants and bars nearby and will likely be some food trucks, but your best bet is to pack a picnic.

Bathrooms? Beach bathroom facilities and portable toilets.

Best way to get there? Take transit along Broadway or West 4th and get off between Burrard and Arbutus, then walk about 20 minutes down to the beach.

Cycling is also a good bet, but driving will be a challenge. If you plan to bring a car, you’ll have to park in the nearby residential area and walk in. Nearby road access shuts down at 6 p.m. and reopens around 11 p.m.

What else is there at the Celebration of Light Festival?

Before the fireworks, there is live music and entertainment throughout the afternoon.

The Park Stage at Second Beach will host live music beginning at 2:15 p.m. and wrapping just after 9 p.m., while the Z-Fest Stage at English Bay will have music beginning at 7 p.m. and ending around 9:30 p.m. To see the full lineup of bands expected on each day of the festival, click here.

There’s also the Honda Zone at English Bay from 2 to 6:30 p.m., where family-friendly activities will take place along with the Pete McLeod Airshow above the English Bay Beach at 7:45 p.m.

As for food, there is no shortage of food trucks that will be located near English Bay Beach and Second Beach as part of the festival. Those who prefer a less crowded experience can purchase dining packages. There are VIP lounges offering live music, food and drinks if you’re so inclined.

Crowds gathered for the fireworks display from team USA Disney at the Honda Celebration of Light at English Bay, Vancouver, July 30, 2016.

Gerry Kahrmann /


What’s with the tickets? I thought the festival was free?

The Celebration of Light is free to watch, but those who prefer can buy a ticket for a dining package. The package includes food and drinks through a partner restaurant and a seat in the VIP section during the show. There are several packages:

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Lounge: This ticket gets you into the party on top of English Bay’s Bathhouse Roof beginning at 6:30 p.m. and is 19+ only. There’s music, panoramic views of the beach, live music, two complimentary drinks and access to a private bar, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and grill station and VIP washroom facilities. Tickets are $159 and up.

Concord Lounge: This ticket puts you into an exclusive sectioned-off area of English Bay near the Inukshuk sculpture. It’s the closest viewing spot and your ticket includes live music, two complimentary drinks and a private bar, a BBQ and VIP washrooms. Tickets start at $169 with reserved tables starting at $209.

YVR Observation Deck: This ticket does not include complimentary food or drinks but does get you a reserved seat in the VIP viewing bleachers, access to dedicated washroom facilities and an all-ages licensed area. Tickets are $44 and up. There is a cash bar available as well as alcohol-free zones by request.

Air Canada Business Class Cabanas: If you’re rolling in with a big crew, then this spot is for you. Private cabanas complete with complimentary appetizer platters and bar service; dedicated washroom facilities and bar access are available for rent, allowing you to host up to 24 of your friends and colleagues.

What should I bring and what should I leave at home?

You should definitely bring:

• Radio or smartphone with Celebration of Light app to broadcast fireworks soundtrack.

• Beach blanket to mark your territory and some cushions/seat mats for comfort.

• Water, food and snacks.

• Sunscreen and bug repellant — when it gets dark and you’re watching the show, it’s a bug’s feast.

• Playing cards or a book to pass the time while waiting for the show.

• If you plan to take videos or photo, you’ll want a good camera for low-light settings and a small tripod.

You should definitely not bring:

• Alcohol — you can be sure police will be on the lookout.

• Lawn chairs — heavy to carry in and out and you’ll likely obstruct someone’s view.

• Beach umbrella — the idea of having shade is great but an umbrella is a challenge in a crowd.

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B.C. research study evaluates safety of take-home drug checking kits

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A fentanyl check in progress. One red line on top is a positive result for the presence of fentanyl or one of its analogs. Two red lines is a negative result.


Vancouver Coastal Health and B.C. Centre for Disease Control are collaborating on a pilot project that will provide substance users with take-home drug checking kits to determine if people can safely use them on their own.

Clients will receive five free test strips, with instructions, to take home so they can determine whether their drugs contain fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid being cut into the illicit drug supply.

“We know that most people dying from overdoses die while using alone,” said Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, medical health officer with Vancouver Coastal Health. .“We’re hoping that giving people the opportunity to check their drugs for fentanyl on their own could help them make safer choices and save lives.”

The VCH says fentanyl was responsible for approximately 87 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in B.C. last year.

A record 1,489 British Columbians died of suspected drug overdoses in 2018.

Currently substance users voluntarily check their drugs at overdose prevention sites, supervised consumption sites and other community health sites an average of 500 times each month. But since many fatal illicit drug overdoses occur in private residences, and when the user is alone, health authorities believe take-home drug checking kits could help more people.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy announces the opening of a new Overdose Emergency Response Centre at a news conference at Vancouver General Hospital on Dec. 1, 2017.

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy.



“We know using drugs alone presents a significant risk amidst a toxic, unpredictable and illegal drug supply that is taking three to four lives every single day,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions. “Drug checking is an important tool in our toolbox and through this research project we can learn more about how to keep people safer and help them find a pathway to hope.”

The test strips were originally developed to check urine for the presence of fentanyl but in July 2016 in light of the overdose crisis, VCH pioneered the use of the strips to check the drugs themselves for fentanyl. A small amount of a drug is mixed with a few drops of water, the test strip is inserted into the solution, and a positive or negative for fentanyl is revealed within seconds.

The research study will evaluate the fentanyl positivity rates from the take-home checks compared with rates that trained technicians get at VCH sites during the same time frame. The study will help determine whether take-home drug checking kits can be effectively used outside of a healthcare facility without staff oversight.

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BC reduces or eliminates deductibles for many Fair Pharmacare clients

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Health Minister Adrian Dix announced that as of Jan. 1, B.C. households earning up to $30,000 in net income annually no longer have to pay a Fair PharmaCare deductible.

Nick Procaylo / PNG

B.C. has eliminated Fair Pharmacare deductibles for families earning less than $30,000 and reduced deductibles for families earning between $30,000 and $45,000.

Low-income seniors and individuals will see co-payments eliminated, meaning their prescriptions will be fully covered by the plan, if they qualify, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

Before the new rules kicked in Jan. 1, families that qualified for Fair Pharmacare would have to pay some of their prescription costs out of pocket before receiving coverage.

A family with an annual income of just $11,250 would have paid $200 before Pharmacare would begin to pay. Households with a net annual income between $15,000 and $30,000 were paying $300 to $600 out-of-pocket before coverage assistance began.

Ministry data show that people in income bands affected by the deductibles were skipping their prescriptions, possibly to pay for other living expenses, said Dix.

“No one should have to make the difficult decision between their family’s health and putting food on the table,” said Dix. “We know that for many working households, needed prescriptions were going unfilled too often because Fair PharmaCare deductibles were too high.”

A 2014 study by the Institute for Research on Public Policy found that seniors were particularly poorly served by income-based pharmacare coverage. B.C. switched from age-based coverage in 2003 to contain rising program costs.

Faced with paying the full price of prescriptions until the minimum threshold of $1,000, B.C. seniors have been less likely to fill prescriptions, said lead author Steve Morgan, director of the Centre for Heath Services and Policy Research at the University of B.C.

Several Canadian studies have found that British Columbians were twice as likely to report skipping medications for financial reasons (7.1 per cent, according to one study) compared seniors in Ontario, where their drug costs are minimal.

When people skip medications for chronic conditions, the costs tend to turn up in other parts of the health care system, such as more frequent hospitalization.

Fair Pharmacare serves about 240,000 families in B.C., including people in long-term residential care and income assistance clients. The average drug expenditure per patient is about $1,600 a year.

The provincial government has budgeted $105 million to pay for coverage improvements.

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Vancouver police arrest man in connection with West End assault

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Vancouver police have arrested a 34-year-old man in connection with the alleged assault of a woman in a West End apartment building on Saturday.

Just before 3 a.m., a woman reported being attacked after she was followed by an unknown man into her building on Bute Street near Pendrell Street.

Investigators said the attack was sexually motivated.

Police released security camera images of “a person of interest” on Saturday afternoon. By Sunday, they had a man in custody.

“Tips from the public were crucial in helping to identify the suspect,” VPD Sgt. Jason Doucette said in a release.

A person of interest in an assault in the West End on Nov. 17 was photographed by a security camera.

Vancouver Police Department /


The man’s name has not been released.

Doucette says the VPD are anticipating he will be charged with sexual assault and robbery.

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