Posts Tagged "centre"


Vancouver council approves fees for ride-hailing trips in the city centre | CBC News

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People taking an Uber or Lyft within the confines Vancouver’s central core will be paying nearly $1 in municipal and provincial fees.

Vancouver became the first municipality in the Lower Mainland to pass regulations around ride-hailing on Wednesday, with council approving up to 60 cents in fees — a 30 cent fee for every pickup and drop off in the “Metro Core” region — defined as the area east of Burrard Street, west of Clark Drive and north of 16th Avenue. 

The fee is in place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day, with revenue going toward managing congestion.

An additional 30 cent fee has been created by the province for all rides in B.C., regardless of time, with the money supporting accessibility. 

In both cases, the fees will not apply for accessible vehicles. Most major cities in Canada have additional fees of 20 to 30 cents per trip.

In addition to the municipal and provincial fees, ride-hailing companies in B.C. will have to set the same minimum rate as taxi companies, which varies between $3.25 and $3.95 depending on the region.

The province’s regulations around ride-hailing do not allow municipalities to withhold business licences but allows them to put additional regulations on companies operating within their borders.

“It’s important for us to bring in some interim measures immediately to do our best to manage the launch of ride-hailing,” said Lon LeClaire, Vancouver’s director of transportation.

Rides would have to pay a 30 cent fee for trips between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. that begin in Vancouver’s Metro Core and an additional 30 cent fee if it ends in the Metro Core. (City of Vancouver)

$100 yearly business licence fee

While councillors were on board with the 30 cent fee, there was significant debate over a proposal by city staff of a $100 yearly business licence for each driver.

Representatives for both Uber and Lyft worried that if other municipalities copied Vancouver with their own fees, drivers would choose to stick to the one or two municipalities with the most customers and fewest municipal boundaries.

“Are we putting in too many barriers, so most people choose to just drive in Vancouver because it’s the most profitable market?” asked Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung. 

“I [don’t support] a Vancouver-only model that moves ahead without looking at an entire municipal approach. What that smacks of to me is the taxi approach, where we are creating false challenges to having vehicles go across municipal boundaries.”

City staff noted they were also lowering the yearly licence for taxis to $100 ,down significantly from $616, in order to create the more “level playing field” between taxis and ride-hailing companies that council had previously asked for.

In the end, an amendment was passed directing staff to review the $100 licence fee after six months, following consultations with other municipalities in the region.

City manager Sadhu Johnston said he expected Vancouver’s legislation to serve as a template for other municipalities, but Vancouver would continue to fine tune its bylaws when they see the impacts of ride-hailing company operations  which are expected to begin by the end of the year.  

“This will be very dynamic,” he said. “We’re going to be watching it closely. We’re trying to avoid some of the pitfalls we’ve seen in other cities.”


First-of-its-kind Parkinson’s community centre opens in Victoria

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For people living on lower Vancouver Island with Parkinson’s disease, there is now a community centre to help them through their journey.

Wednesday marks the official opening of the Parkinson Wellness Project (PWP) in Victoria, located at 2680 Blanshard Street. Staff refer to the facility as a community centre where people diagnosed with the progressive neurological disorder can come together and talk about their struggles with others going through the same journey.

Krista Lavoie, operations manager at PWP, says when someone gets diagnosed with the disease, often people suffer from depression and self-isolation.

One of the most important things someone can do for themselves at the time is to talk about it, she says. 

“We’re here sharing stories, we’re sharing food, we’re sharing laughter and we’re also sharing the hard stuff too,” said Lavoie.

“It’s important that everyone get a chance to do that here.”

Along with the emotional support, the centre emphasises fitness. While there is currently no cure for Parkinson’s disease, physicians globally recognize exercise as the number one way to combat the physical effects of the illness, according to Lavoie. 

“People with Parkinson’s need specific movements to slow their progression, so we use specific exercises that we introduce repetitively throughout our classes,” said Lavoie. “It’s helping regain those movement patterns that you’ve lost.”

Classes vary from circuit training to boxing classes, which benefit local residents like Sukhi Rai who was diagnosed with the disease nine years ago. 

Rai says he was an avid runner and knew something was wrong when he started having troubles with his left ankle. After seeing a multitude of health specialists, he finally had a diagnosis. 

“It was a relief to finally be diagnosed because I had been living with the symptoms for quite a few years,” said Rai. “I continued to work for a while but eventually I had to go on long term disability.”

For Rai, the centre offers him a weekly routine of exercise, conversation and a place to just come feel as though he is part of a community.

“Without it, I don’t know where I’d be,” said Rai. “It’s been a pillar of my health plan and my battle with Parkinson’s.”

The PWP is open to all people with Parkinson’s disease and those around them. 

“If you have Parkinson’s, everybody in your social circle potentially is living that journey with you,” said Lavoie. “We want all of those people in here and we just want to make them comfortable.”

The centre is 100-percent funded by donors, with no medical or government support. All classes are completely free but often participants will donate what they can per class.

People who are interested in learning more about the Parkinson Wellness Project or are looking for ways to donate to the facility can find out more at their website here


Feds pledge $500,000 for Vancouver’s Chinatown Storytelling Centre

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The future home of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre on 168 East Pender St. in the heart of Chinatown in Vancouver.

Arlen Redekop / PNG

Jack Wong is a third-generation Vancouverite whose grandfather came to Canada in the 1800s.

Wong lives in Richmond now, but Vancouver’s Chinatown holds a special place in his heart.

“I remember coming to Chinatown as a kid. It was our home,” said Wong, a director and treasurer of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, a non-profit group that works to revitalize and preserve the cultural heritage of the historic neighbourhood.

One of the foundation’s projects is the establishment of the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, a purpose-built cultural space on 168 East Pender St., set to open in early 2020.

On Monday, the federal government announced it was investing $500,000 toward the building of the centre — part of nearly $5 million in infrastructure funding earmarked for 47 arts, culture and heritage organizations across the province.

“Every building, every alleyway, storefront and street sign has untold stories about the history of Vancouver’s Chinatown,” said Mary Ng, minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, who made the announcement at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden.

Mary Ng, minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, at Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden in Chinatown in Vancouver on Aug. 26.

Arlen Redekop /


“Until now these stories had never really had a permanent home to showcase and honour the richness of this neighbourhood and the important contributions of Chinese-Canadians.”

The funds will go toward retrofitting the former Bank of Montreal building into a 4,000-square-foot facility that would feature permanent and temporary exhibition spaces, presentation spaces, and a shop with cultural and educational items.

The centre will highlight the experience of early Chinese-Canadian pioneers who helped build Vancouver and Canada, as well as share the more contemporary “living heritage” of the neighbourhood and its residents.

Permanent exhibits will include ones of the history of the trans-Canada railway, the creation of Chinatown, the impact of the head tax on Chinese-Canadians, the fight for citizenship and continuing challenges faced by Chinatowns in North America.

Wong said the centre isn’t going to be a museum. Instead of artifacts, stories are going to be front-and-centre.

“We’re going to ask people in the community to bring in their stories … some of the pioneering families they can come share their photos and stories, and that will be part of the exhibit,” he said.

Jack Wong, who sits on the board of directors of the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation, talks about the Chinatown Storytelling Centre, slated to open in early 2020.

Arlen Redekop /


The stories could be told through live presentations or videos, he explained. There could be photo and objects, but the focus would be less on the objects, but on the stories they tell.

The centre has a fundraising goal of $10 million. A representative of the foundation declined to say where the organization is at in terms of reaching that target. Perhaps more than the dollar amount, the funding is important because it signifies support from its partners, including the federal government.

“This shows that they have interest and they have the commitment to telling the historical stories of Chinese-Canadian history in this country,” said Wong.

The federal funding came from Canadian Heritage’s Canada Cultural Spaces Fund. Projects funded range from an accessibility lift at the Kitimat Museum and Archives to new lights at New Westminster’s Massey Theatre.

The largest grant, for more than $725,000, was given to the Vancouver Symphony Society for a digital concert-hall upgrade at the Orpheum Theatre.

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Dr. Peter Centre has had to reinvent itself as the face of HIV changed

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Longtime AIDS survivor Frederick Williams (left) and Scott Elliot, executive Director of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. Photo: Jason Payne/Postmedia

Jason Payne / PNG

Every Wednesday night at the Dr. Peter Centre 38 men gather to meditate, laugh, listen to music, share a meal and talk about their lives.

The men are long-term HIV survivors.

“A lot of us thought there wasn’t a hope in hell that we would survive,” said Frederick Williams, 55, who tested positive for HIV in 1986. “I had waves of friends that died and died quickly.”

Williams said many survivors missed out on romantic relationships, on friendships, and work opportunities, and experienced isolation and stigma.

“We were told don’t bother to go to university or plan a career, you won’t be here,” said Williams.

For the past year Williams, who is on disability, has been participating in the Dr. Peter Centre Evening Program, a clinical pilot project designed to serve the special needs of men over 50 living with HIV. 

Longtime AIDS survivor Frederick Williams.

Jason Payne /


Since the introduction of antiretroviral medication, HIV has become a manageable chronic disease, but it is still a very complex medical condition, with significant social stigma attached, said Scott Elliot, executive director of the Dr. Peter Centre.

Isolation, PTSD, loneliness, internalized shame and a lack of acceptance in their own communities are just some of the social challenges many still face.

“Thirty years ago no one thought they were going to live,” said Scott. “There was a lot of trauma.”

The Dr. Peter Centre was founded by Dr. Peter Jepson-Young in 1992 to provide comfort and medical care to AIDS patients.

With the advent of antiretroviral therapy, and as the demographic most affected by HIV shifted from gay men to the  intravenous drug-using community, the Dr. Peter Centre pivoted its programs to service that community.

“Among the HIV community we now serve 80 per cent have mental illness, 80 per cent have substance abuse and 100 per cent have chaotic life circumstances,” said Scott.

Scott Elliot, executive Director of the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation.

Jason Payne /


The cohort of “aging gay men with HIV” no longer fit the model of services the centre provided, said Scott.

As data emerged showing long-term HIV survivors experience unique health challenges, the Dr. Peter Centre became concerned this demographic was again experiencing neglect.

“They are aging faster, getting co-morbidities such as neurological difficulties, bone density issues, depression, challenges with the pill burden — all things we expect with age, but showing up earlier among this population,” said Scott. “We saw a need and wanted to help reach out.”

Since its inception in 2017, the program has been a huge success, said Scott.

The 38 participants have a say in the program and even developed a self-reported quality of life survey index that included questions the participants felt were most important: physical and mental health, as well as social connection and support.

“They’ve made new friends,” said Scott. The dinners are a highlight, with frank conversations that flow from lighthearted joking, to politics and trends, to managing the pill burden, to deeper issues around stigma and shame.

“This is a place where we can talk about anything. We don’t have to explain ourselves,” said Williams who the program has prompted a “calming” and a “recovering of self.”

“To be alive after all these years is amazing, but it’s hard to relate to society knowing we experienced this epidemic, we lived it, we survived it. It’s a great place to vent, and we have a lot of fun.”

The fun includes music, art, trivia games and a big social dinner prepared by the Dr. Peter Centre chefs.

“We even take the leftovers home, and hopefully we’ve made a friend or two,” said Williams.

The Dr. Peter Centre is now looking at developing a similar program for women aging with HIV.

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New St. Paul’s Hospital to get $12 million for hearing loss centre

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The new St. Paul’s Hospital will feature a state of the art hearing loss centre, funded through $12 million in equal $6 million commitments from a Rotary Club foundation and the hospital’s own fundraising arm.


The new St. Paul’s Hospital will feature a state of the art hearing loss centre, funded through $12 million in equal $6 million commitments from a Rotary Club foundation and the hospital’s own fundraising arm.

The Rotary Club of Vancouver has been supporting hearing loss or deafness for three decades. In 1985, it formed the Rotary Club of Vancouver Hearing Foundation to address an unmet need in the philanthropy community. Through bike-a-thons and other events, it has raised over $3.5 million.

But the $6 million pledge is the biggest fundraising challenge for the charity. Jack Zaleski, president of the Rotary’s hearing foundation, said the St. Paul’s endeavour will be separate from the smaller donor bike events.

“We recognize with this opportunity that we can do something truly extraordinary, creating the premier clinic for those afflicted with hearing problems and deafness, a centre where everything will be under one roof.”

Zaleski said the foundation will leave no stone unturned in its mission to raise money. It will approach pharmaceutical companies, technology companies and everyone else involved in supplying services and equipment for the hearing community.

The provincial government hopes that a new St. Paul’s Hospital will open for patients by 2026.

The most recent big donation to the hospital development project came from the Louie family, which owns London Drugs. Two years ago, Vancouver billionaire Jimmy Pattison pledged $75 million for the new hospital, which is expected to be built by the fall of 2026 at a cost of nearly $2 billion. The existing hospital on Burrard Street will likely be demolished with land sales helping to fund the redevelopment of the False Creek flats site.

The B.C. Rotary Hearing and Balance Centre will include examination rooms, surgical suites, research space and laboratories. Funds will be earmarked for audiology testing and research, tinnitus and vestibular conditions that often affect balance. Since hearing often affects seniors, the centre will have specialized care for those who, because of age, mobility and geography, are less likely to access specialized hearing care.

“Benefiting thousands of patients provincewide, this funding will help us transform the patient experience …” said Dr. Brian Westerberg, head of the division of otolaryngology at St. Paul’s.

He noted that hearing problems are sometimes linked to other conditions so the new centre will allow for improved interactions and collaborations between doctors and health researchers in numerous areas including neurology, physiotherapy, kinesiology, psychiatry, ophthalmology and gerontology

The existing BC Rotary Hearing and Balance Centre at St. Paul’s Hospital had 4,629 patient visits from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

Broek Bosma, chief development officer for the St. Paul’s Foundation, characterized the donation pledge by Rotary as a “golden opportunity we did not want to miss.”

St. Paul’s has been the province’s main referral centre for patients with complex ear and hearing problems and it was the first hospital in Canada to offer cochlear implants in 1982. Since then, nearly 800 adult patients have had the revolutionary procedure there. B.C. Children’s Hospital offers the procedure as well to pediatric patients.

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Twitter: @MedicineMatters

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Food security centre creates stronger food economy in Victoria

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Healthy, fresh and sustainable food options are now on the table for more than 35,000 people facing food insecurity in the Greater Victoria area.

With support from the Province, the Mustard Seed has secured a permanent home for its Food Security Distribution Centre.

The Mustard Seed has purchased the centre at 102-808 Viewfield Rd. with the help of $2 million in provincial funding provided through the Victoria Foundation. The building is home to a growing system of food security programs, food literacy initiatives and other community social supports. It is also the central collection point for the Food Share Network, a collaboration of more than 50 organizations including non-profits, First Nations, school districts and other community agencies that operate food security programs in the area.

“Our goal as a government is to make lives better for people in our province and the best way to achieve this goal is to work together,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The collaboration and partnership of different organizations is filling gaps in affordability and opportunity so that people and their families can live healthier, fuller lives.”

More than 1,815 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of fresh food from grocery stores pass through the centre each day. This food is redistributed to Food Share Network partner programs across the region.

“When we waste food, we waste all of the additional resources it takes to get it to our tables,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “The partners in the Food Share Network have collaborated to create an innovative solution that keeps food on the plates of people who need it most. It’s about working together to tap into the large number of food resources in our region and create a sustainable food economy that works together to support everyone who lives here.”

The Mustard Seed and the Victoria Foundation have plans for the building and intend to explore new opportunities beyond the traditional food bank model. They will work with organizations and individuals through a community consultation process to determine the best way the distribution centre can continue to support food-insecure families and the local food economy.

“The Mustard Seed is a well-known food bank in the community, but we have big goals for the distribution centre that go beyond the traditional food bank model,” said Derek Pace, executive director, Mustard Seed Street Church. “We’re working closely with other organizations to make the distribution centre an integral part of a sweeping network of services that provide fresh, healthy produce to families and connect them with programs that support opportunities in food literacy, education, employment and more.”

The funding is part of a $3-million grant from the Province to support the Victoria Foundation’s new Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund. The fund will expand food security programs and initiatives in communities throughout British Columbia. More details of the consultation process for the distribution of funds will be available in a short time.

“The Food Share Network is an innovative collaboration of organizations that work closely with their communities and understand where their programs fit in the larger picture of regional food security,” said Sandra Richardson, CEO, Victoria Foundation. “Local organizations know the unique needs of the people they support. Our Food Security Provincial Initiatives Fund will use the great work being done here in Victoria as a guide when we work with provincial and local organizations in other communities in B.C., to build on the work already being done throughout the province.”

The grant aligns with TogetherBC, the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, which works across governments, non-profit organizations, businesses, First Nations leaders and Indigenous communities to reduce poverty in B.C.


Mitzi Dean, MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin —

“I’m proud of the great work that is being done right here in Esquimalt. Now that the distribution centre is a permanent fixture in the community, I look forward to watching it support a growing network of services that put food on the plates of people who need it. This community and the partners in the Food Share Network clearly recognize the change that can happen when we all work together.”

Peggy Wilmot, food bank co-ordinator, The Food Bank at St. John’s and Greater Victoria Acting Together —

“Both the Food Security Distribution Centre and the Food Rescue Project are the result of ongoing collaboration among the many organizations delivering the services of the Food Share Network. Every bit as important are those supporting the work, like services clubs, grocery stores, farmers, funders and various levels of government. The great success of the Food Share Network shows the power of community coming together across sectors to make us better equipped to support our neighbours and tackle our common challenges of poverty and food insecurity.”

Matthew Kemshaw, executive director, LifeCycles Project Society and chair, Food Share Network —

“Food insecurity is a regional challenge that affects a broad range of people. More than 50 agencies are participating in the Food Share Network and are distributing fresh healthy food throughout the region, so the people that you are helping are your neighbours. We believe that by working together, as a community, we can ensure everyone has dignified access to healthy, delicious food.”

Steve Walker Duncan, program chair, culinary training, Camosun College —

“Now that the Food Security Distribution Centre is a permanent hub for food security in the community, Camosun College and the Mustard Seed are working together to create a culinary employment program that will support people with barriers to employment train and find work in the culinary field. The program will create opportunities for people looking for employment in a culinary industry that is constantly looking for new staff.”

Quick Facts:

  • The distribution centre has been leased by the Mustard Seed Street Church for the Food Rescue Project since 2017.
  • The goal of the centre is to provide additional regional infrastructure, such as food processing, cold and dry storage and social enterprise incubation, all for the local food economy.
  • Each year, the distribution centre distributes roughly 545,000 kilograms (1.2 million pounds) of food throughout Greater Victoria.
  • Over half a million British Columbians experience some level of household food insecurity.

Learn More:

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:

The Victoria Foundation’s food security initiatives:

The Mustard Seed Street Church’s Food Rescue Project:

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Vancouver community centre installs signs for universal washrooms – BC

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The Vancouver Park Board has taken a big step toward making community centres more inclusive for transgender people.

Hillcrest Community Centre is the first in the city to receive new signage for universal washrooms and change rooms. It is part of a larger effort to make public spaces feels safer and more inclusive.

Over the course of the next year, signs will be changed at other community centres. Fitness and aquatic programs will also be revamped to be more transgender friendly.

“This is about making everybody feel comfortable at our community centres,” said Park Board chair John Coupar. “I am extremely proud to be a member of the Board that initiated these historic moves and to be the Chair of the Board now fulfilling our commitments.”

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