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Posts Tagged "public"

20Sep

BC Ferries wants public input on major Horseshoe Bay terminal overhaul

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BC Ferries is in the early stages of redeveloping its decades-old Horseshoe Bay terminal and is now seeking public feedback.

The terminal, which services routes between Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Bowen Island, hasn’t gone through significant upgrades since the 1960s. Over years of growth, small changes and add-ons have tried to accommodate an increase in travellers, but BC Ferries says the terminal is at capacity. 

“The Horseshoe Bay terminal plays a significant role in connecting communities and customers,” said Mark Wilson, vice president of strategy and community engagement, in a news release. 

“This makes it a good time to get more detailed input on how we improve the terminal to meet the community’s future growth and emerging needs.”

Last May, BC Ferries surveyed 1,500 people to get feedback on what they’d like to see in the redevelopment. Themes that came out of that process included efficiency, accessibility and integrating the village. Some design concepts were developed from that feedback. 

“We’ve developed these draft concepts with what we heard, and now we want to further define them with more input from the community,” Wilson said. 

As part of its process and based on that initial feedback, BC Ferries has created a “visual profile” that will be used in future designs. For example, several images are included to “reflect the kind of narrative you would like the design of the terminal to tell,” such as a West Coast shore, present ferry terminal and a seal. 

Some of the changes proposed include a second exit road, a new waiting area for foot passengers, a transportation hub and another storey being added to the terminal building.

From now until Oct. 13, anyone can give feedback online. There is also a community engagement event scheduled on Oct. 7 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Gleneagles Golf Course in West Vancouver.

The engagement process is part of a long-term, 25-year plan for the terminal and construction likely wouldn’t begin until the mid-2020s.  

17Sep

BC Ferries seeks public input on Horseshoe Bay redesign | CBC News

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BC Ferries is seeking public input on some draft concepts for the redesign of its busy Horseshoe Bay terminal. 

The West Vancouver terminal, which has three different routes connecting Metro Vancouver with Bowen Island, Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast, is one of the company’s busiest.

Because the bay is tightly hemmed in by mountains, it’s reached its geographic capacity, says Tessa Humphries, a spokesperson with BC Ferries,

“[It] is at a point now where it’s going to need to be renewed,” Humphries said.

The company has already sought public feedback on the design plans. Nearly 1,500 people submitted responses on what they think is important for the future of the terminal.

Humphries said some key concerns included traffic efficiency in and out of the terminal, accessibility and integration with the Village of Horseshoe Bay. 

BC Ferries took in all those ideas and have created some draft terminal concepts. These include creating another exit lane to improve traffic efficiency, creating a community hub and redesigning the terminal building. 

Still, it will be quite some time before anything changes.

“This is a large, large project and it’s part of the overall 25-year plan for the terminal,” Humphries said. 

“We wouldn’t expect construction to actually begin on the first phase until the mid 2020s.”

People can submit feedback online until Oct. 13 or attend a community engagement meeting on Oct. 7 at the Gleneagles Golf Course in West Vancouver.

8Sep

VPD ask public for help locating senior with disability

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Vancouver police are asking the public for help locating wheelchair-using senior who was last seen Saturday in the Downtown Eastside.

In a release, the Vancouver Police Department said Garry Molyneux didn’t return to his care facility near West 12th Avenue and Ash Street Saturday night. Police said they are concerned for Molyneux’s safety.

Molyneux was last seen Saturday near the intersection of Main and Hastings streets around 7:30 p.m., police said.

Police said Molyneux is paralyzed from a stroke, adding that he can’t speak and uses a motorized wheelchair. Because of this, police said, he is unable to ask for assistance.

Molyneux requires medication for diabetes and may seem confused or disoriented, police said.

Police described Molyneux as white, with fair skin. He is 5’7″ tall with a medium build, short grey hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing blue jogging pants and a long jacket.

Anyone who sees him is asked to call 911 and stay with him until first responders arrive.

17Aug

How did we get here? Failed public policy and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside | CBC News

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Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has been the epicentre of homelessness and drug addiction in the province for decades. It has also been the focus of public policy to address these problems for almost as many years.

Yet for a neighbourhood in the public spotlight, a walk along East Hastings Street these days looks like policymakers have turned a blind eye. 

Mayor Kennedy Stewart recently acknowledged to Stepehn Quinn, the host of CBC’s The Early Edition, that the notorious neighbourhood is in the worst shape he has ever seen. Homelessness and open drug use are hard to miss on area streets. and people who have been on the front lines of housing, addiction and mental health programming say years of inadequate services are partly to blame.

Donald MacPherson, the former drug-policy coordinator for the City of Vancouver and current director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, has seen a lot of policies introduced into the Downtown Eastside, including the highly-lauded Vancouver Agreement in 2000.

The Oppenheimer Park homeless camp on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Signed by all three levels of government, the agreement was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare in the area. According MacPherson, many of the agreement’s initiatives “came to a crashing end when the Harper Government was elected and did not participate.”

“A well thought-out strategy to provide supportive housing, mental health and addiction treatments city-wide, to provide harm reduction services city-wide, never really actualized,” said MacPherson.

Today, the concentration of homeless people on the streets and in Oppenheimer Park’s tent city shows the problems the Vancouver Agreement intended to fix are far from solved.

 Retired politician Libby Davies, a former city councillor and NDP member of Parliament for Vancouver East who was the federal housing critic, has seen a lot of housing ideas come and go.

 “If you can’t have a sustainable program — and that’s critical for housing —  and if you don’t have the partnership of the federal government … it creates a dire, serious situation.”

Protesters at the intersection of Main and Hastings Street calling for affordable housing in August 2019. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

After the Vancouver Agreement, Davies said the federal government was notably absent from housing initiatives. 

“We had this huge gap where nothing was happening, because the federal government had opted out of and completely abandoned building new social housing,” said Davies. “We’re still recovering from that.”

In 2017, the federal government announced a 10-year multibillion-dollar national housing strategy. Davies hopes it is more than lip service.

“Big announcements are one thing, but getting the money, shovels in the ground … this is what’s urgently needed right now,” said Davies.

A police car cruises an alley on the Downtown Eastside. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)

Dr. John Miller, former B.C. provincial health officer, said modular housing is one step in helping the homeless and precariously housed, but without “wrap-around’ support services for mental health and addiction, chaos will continue.

He said when Riverview Hospital closed in the 1970s many patients from the  mental health facility gravitated to the DTES and policymakers planned to put mental health services in the community.

“The second step never happened and still hasn’t happened,” said Miller. “Mental health services, addiction services, physical disability services, all of these things need to be there, and we haven’t really put them in place thoroughly yet.”

MacPherson, author of the city’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy, which is based on the principals of harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement, said the strategy was “never really implemented” and addicts are not getting the help they need.

“We keep propping up this failed drug policy that we have in Canada that continues to criminalize vulnerable people, push them into the shadows and make them the target of the problem,” said MacPherson.

The Vancouver Agreement signed in 2000 by all three levels of government was a 10-year plan to improve housing and social welfare on the Downtown Eastside that the city’s then drug policy co-ordinator says never really materialized. (Rafferty Baker/CBC News)

25Jul

B.C. government seeks public feedback on reducing plastic waste

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Don’t forget to reduce, reuse, recycle and reply with your feedback.

The B.C. government is asking the public to weigh in on how the province can cut down on plastics and improve recycling in an effort to protect B.C.’s waterways and environment.

Among the proposed actions the government is considering are bans on single-use packaging, requiring producers to shoulder more responsibility for plastic products, expanding the recycling refund program and reducing plastic waste across all product categories and industries.


Vancouver, BC: JUNE 08, 2019 –– Colunteers clean-up plastics and other refuse scraps from the shoreline at Second Beach in Vancouver, B.C.’s Stanley Park Saturday, June 8, 2019. Volunteers from the Vancouver Surfrider Foundation scoured local beaches Saturday as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup initiative.

Jason Payne /

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“The message from British Columbians is loud and clear — we need to take action to reduce plastic waste, especially single-use items like water bottles and plastic bags that often find their way into our waters, streets and environment,” said Environment Minister George Heyman in a statement.

“We have all seen the striking images of animals and fish being caught up in everyday plastic waste like grocery bags or beer can loops that ensnare these beautiful creatures and it cannot continue. I look forward to hearing from people about how we can all play a part in reducing plastic pollution and plastics use overall.”

Currently, B.C. has 22 recycling programs — more than any other North American jurisdiction — that cover 14 product categories of consumer products. Those include packaging, electronics, residual solvents, beverage containers, tires and hazardous wastes.

Those programs collect about 315,000 tonnes of plastics annually.

The feedback will help inform things like the reach of a single-use plastics ban, and determining any necessary exemptions for reasons of health, safety and accessibility; possible changes to B.C.’s current recycling program and changes to the deposit-refund fee structure; as well as the possibility of an electronic refund system for empty bottle refunds.

The public can read the proposals in detail and fill out the online survey at cleanbc.ca/plastics.


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2Jun

Prince George struggles to find public washroom solution | CBC News

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City council in Prince George is trying to find ways to increase accessibility to public washrooms in the downtown area.

There are few options available for people, and many businesses have chosen not to grant public access to their facilities because of fear of overdoses and safety concerns. 

City staff presented a report to council this week, which highlighted there are no perfect solutions and that other cities are also struggling with this issue. 

“This is a really tough topic, and I think if I were able to pull some themes it would be…that providing access to public washrooms for everybody that needs to access them, and ensuring that they are clean and safe, is challenging,” said Chris Bone, city manager of social planning.

“My research has shown that no community has figured out how to do this effectively and that some of the communities that were seen to be ahead of the curve are now faced with having to rethink initial solutions because we’re working in a very different world now.”

After a heated debate, council agreed to try one of city staff’s recommendations to provide additional funding to social service providers, such as Saint Vincent de Paul, which already grant public washroom access.

Many of these providers have restricted access to their washrooms in the past because they don’t have the resources to monitor them. The funding is intended to offset the cost of having an assigned washroom monitor during peak hours.

Other cities

One of the other options staff proposed, was giving businesses $500 to open their bathrooms. However, this was tried in Yellowknife, and most businesses weren’t willing to do it for that amount.

Another option considered was bringing in self-contained stalls — called a Portland Loo — which are difficult to vandalize.

The town of Smithers introduced them two years ago. However, staff received mixed reviews from other cities that had them because of concerns that opioid users would overdose inside.

Cost of opening washroom doors

The Prince George Public Library is one of the few places that offers public washrooms, but it’s come at a cost.

In the past, library staff have had to call paramedics because of overdoses, and the security budget has now increased from $55,000 in 2015, to more than $150,000 this year. 

Amy Dhanjal, communications coordinator for the library, said in a recent count, staff found that between 20 to 40 people were using the washroom per hour. 

“We looked at percentages and we saw that about 14 per cent of those people are just coming in to use the washroom and then they’re leaving the library,” she told Daybreak North’s Nicole Oud.

Everyone needs washrooms, says Dhanjal

However, despite challenges the library has faced from opening its washrooms to the public, Dhanjal believes it’s important for the city to be accessible. 

“I know often when people think about public washrooms and people are advocating for public washrooms, the conversation sometimes focuses on people who are experiencing homelessness,” she said.

“But, there are so many other people that need to use the washroom; people that have Crohn’s, people who are menstruating, people that are elderly sometimes need a bathroom right away.”

When you gotta go, you gotta go. But in downtown Prince George, it can be hard to find somewhere to do so. Nicole Oud reports. 8:31

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24May

Congress 2019: UBC throws open its doors to academics, and the public

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UBC will throw open its doors for the 88th Annual Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences for seven days of meetings, presentations and panels for more than 10,000 academics and you too, if you want.

If that sounds about as dry as a mouth full of saltines, you might want to look again. More than 300 events are free to the public, including theatre and musical productions, art and literary exhibitions, lectures and poetry readings. You just have to register for a community pass.

“The public programming is incredibly rich,” said Laura Moss, the academic convener for the congress. “Anybody can come and have extraordinary access to contemporary research and a whole bunch of events, plays and films, along with the people that produce them.”

Congress 2019 (https://www.congress2019.ca/) is the biggest academic conference in Canada. Thousands of scheduled events will take place on the main campus of the University of B.C. starting June 1.

“We expect thousands of members of the public to come and there’s really a lot to see and do,” she said.

The keynote Big Thinking lecture series is stocked with artists and storytellers appearing daily at the Frederic Wood Theatre, including the multi-talented Indigenous performer Margo Kane, documentarist and scientist David Suzuki, artist Stan Douglas and novelist Esi Edugyan.

“Art can be a way to tease out important contemporary issues,” said Moss, a professor of Canadian literature at UBC. “I personally work at the intersection of art and politics and I really wanted to bring that out in the programming.”

The speakers will address issues of free speech, censorship and access built around three broad questions: Who speaks for whom? Who listens? And who benefits?

“We will explore who gets to talk, who is in the circle and who hears the messages and we should talk about who profits from that, someone or the community?” she said.

Moss designed the program to highlight the value of the arts and humanities in every facet of society and life.

Governments and universities have a near obsession with promoting STEM, for reasons of commerce and gender equity. And while there’s a lot of value in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the humanities and social sciences have not enjoyed the same level of public enthusiasm lately.

“I really wanted to shift the emphasis back to the humanities, the arts, the social sciences,” she said. “These are the social, political and cultural aspects of everyday life and they can be very grounded in public policy, but (we) approach it with the human impact in mind.”

Look back to look forward

The Galatea Project is a theatrical collaboration between UBC’s English department and Bard on the Beach to mount a production of John Lyly’s 1588 play Galatea about two girls disguised as boys who fall in love. The play is set in a low valley in 16th century Lincolnshire threatened by climate change.

I am not kidding.

“It’s incredible and one of the most relevant plays out there and it was written before Shakespeare,” she said.

Literary scholars shared years of their research into the play with the actors and directors. They in turn brought the characters’ struggles with gender issues, sexuality and an impending climate crisis to life more than four centuries after it was first performed for Queen Elizabeth I. Galatea will be performed June 2.

“People have been thinking and talking about these issues for centuries and there is a great deal we can learn by looking back at those conversations,” Moss said.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale imagined a dystopian future in the ’80s that seems to become more relevant than ever in the age of Trump, she noted.

“There are 5,000 events happening over the course of the week, so it’s almost beyond imagining,” said Moss. “There is so much cool stuff, I want people to come and enjoy it.”

Dozens of literary and academic publishers are booked for the Congress Expo, including Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press, Harper Collins Canada and publishing houses from Yale, MIT, Georgetown and University of Toronto. Some of the publishers are also holding scheduled events exploring themes of reconciliation, gender equity and politics among others.

Picture Perfect: Blind Ambitions is an exhibition of highly textured art by visually impaired artists and daily “meditative mash-ups” with artists and internationally renowned disability scholars, presented by UBC’s Wingspan and Kickstart Disability Arts and Culture.

Join the conversation

More than 70 academic associations will hold their annual meetings through the run of the conference between June 1 and 7 and thousands of the attending academics plan to present studies and papers to their peers.

“It’s hugely important for people to interact face-to-face,” said Moss. “Congress has 73 associations coming together ranging in size from more than a thousand members to just over a dozen in some disciplines like Hungarian studies.”

“Some universities have just one or two specialists in a particular area so this is the one time they have to come together and have really dynamic conversations among people who might be working most of the time in virtual isolation,” she said.

Parallel to those interactions between people in similar fields of study is a whole range of multidisciplinary events under the theme Circles of Conversation to encourage scholars, students, political leaders, citizens and activists to share, debate and dissent on topics such as sustainability, health, education and especially Indigenous issues.

“It’s an opportunity to problem solve in a social way that goes beyond disciplinary boundaries and those kinds of conversations need to happen in person,” she said.

It is often said that the real value of a conference is not in the presentations on the schedule, but in the freewheeling conversations that happen over drinks afterward. Circles of Conversation aims to create that kind of atmosphere among people who may approach problems from very different perspectives.

But if you prefer a more traditional after-conference convo, the Congress does have its own beer — Dialager by Howe Sound Brewing — brewed to promote dialogue and wash down snacks in the Social Zone.

Big ideas


SFU lecturer Stewart Prest will present a paper on emerging issues in civic politics.

Jason Payne /

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SFU political science lecturer Stewart Prest is working feverishly on a paper he expects and even hopes will be gently critiqued and challenged by his colleagues at Congress 2019.

In The New Urbanism — which he has developed with political podcaster Ian Bushfield — Prest says that Vancouver’s traditional right-left political split has essentially disintegrated in favour of a more complex dynamic built along issues of urban life, housing, transportation and affordability.

Vancouver’s old two-channel political universe has exploded into a whole multi-channel cable-TV-style array of six-plus niche offerings, not based on traditional left-right divisions about social equity and fiscal responsibility, but on how the city will grow and house its citizens.

The right-leaning NPA failed to capture a majority in the last civic election after the party’s constituency split in three, with Hector Bremner founding Yes Vancouver and Wai Young heading the populist Coalition Vancouver.

The left has similarly fragmented into COPE, OneCity Vancouver and the spent brand that is Vision Vancouver.

“You can usually stick with an economic left-right spectrum as one axis, but depending on the issues of the day you can put any number of issues on the second axis,” said Prest. “We have a spectrum now in Vancouver that we hadn’t really thought about before.”

Prest and Bushfield sort the parties based on their support for “urbanist” fast-paced high density development or “conservationist” slow growth.

“When you plot them on urbanism, it makes how the parties and candidates were positioning themselves make a lot more sense,” said Prest.

Other levels of government may not be immune to the proliferation of parties with single-issue appeal. Canada already has six parties represented in Parliament, while the U.K. has nine.

An ethical dilemma


Ryan M. Katz-Rosene will present a paper on the environmental impacts of air travel.

Jean Levac /

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To fly, or not to fly. That is the question Ryan Katz-Rosene had to confront when deciding to attend Congress 2019.

The University of Ottawa assistant professor and vice-president of the Environmental Studies Association of Canada will be thinking about the carbon footprint of that flight. That’s because when he lands, Katz-Rosene will present a paper examining the aviation industry’s impact on Earth’s climate and the so-far fruitless efforts to curb its impact.

Air pollution caused by international flights has doubled over the past 20 years and is expected to double again in the next 20.

Already a brutally inefficient mode of transport, efficiency gains in commercial aviation are being outstripped by the growth of the industry by a worrying margin.

So, is it ethical to fly? The answers are tricky.

“It’s an unsolvable policy challenge,” said Katz-Rosene. “Aviation offers tremendous benefits to our society, whether it’s the value it contributes to the economy, the number of jobs that it contributes, but more importantly the connectivity,” he said. “We can see other parts of the world, visit family and friends.”

But those benefits really accrue only to the richest people on the planet. Before you protest about your impoverishment, 80 per cent of the world’s population has never set foot on a plane. If you fly — ever — you are an elite.

“Canada is a rich country and access to aviation is part of the norm for us and demand is growing tremendously,” he said.

But the environmental impacts of aviation as so severe that there is a growing movement of caring citizens who have decided it is not ethical to fly. Ever.

Katz-Rosene may join them, but not before leading a discussion of the industry’s plans to cap and then reduce the carbon footprint of international air travel through an agreement called CORSIA, Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation.

Will it work? Not so far.

Because most offsetting projects fail to reduce emissions, they amount to little more than a “carbon laundering scheme,” he said. “This will probably be my last work-related flight for the foreseeable future.”

[email protected]


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16Apr

 Microsoft deal means more access for all Canadian public servants with disabilities, minister says

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The federal government has renewed a contract with Microsoft Canada that includes more digital communication tools for public servants with disabilities.

Minister of Accessibility Carla Qualtrough made the announcement at Microsoft’s offices in Vancouver, saying the modern tools will allow for more information sharing, productivity and collaboration.

Qualtrough, who is legally blind, says the seven-year agreement is part of the government’s procurement of software and services for all public servants and that about five per cent of the workforce of 410,000 people has a disability.

The inclusive design of the $940-million deal includes features such as artificial intelligence technology that allows an image on a screen to be described to someone who can’t see and provide transcription for dozens of languages.

Qualtrough says all public servants will now have access to Office 365 and the agreement will enable software to run in data centres or in the cloud.

She says all Canadians will benefit as a result of a strong platform for the delivery of programs and services.


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11Jan

RCMP at UBC warning public of voyeurism incident

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RCMP at the University of British Columbia are asking potential victims to contact them after a voyeurism incident last week.

Police say the incident happened on Jan. 3, in a public restroom in the 6300-block of Agronomy Road.

The victim told police someone reached and placed a cell phone over top of the bathroom stall while they were using the washroom. The cell phone has a unique black case with a cubed and striped pattern, police say.

The RCMP confirmed in a statement that the victim first called Campus Security, who then alerted University RCMP, which caused what they say is a “slight delay” in their response time.

A man believed to be the suspect was arrested for obstruction, but later released, police added. The investigation is still ongoing at this time.

University RCMP says anyone with a similar experience should call 604-224-1322, and reminds the public that if a crime is being committed you should call 911 immediately.


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16Dec

Canadian public libraries call for more access and better prices for e-books

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Public libraries across Canada say major publishers are increasingly charging unfair prices and limiting access to e-books and e-audio books, despite a growing demand from patrons. 

The Canadian Urban Library Council says “the big five” publishers like Hachette, Penguin Random House and MacMillan have long restricted library access to electronic materials, but in the past two years the problem has grown worse.

“Libraries are really struggling to maintain a level of service when it comes to that digital content because of these really restrictive licensing models, whether it be for price or for accessibility,” said Sharon Day, chair of the council’s e-content working group.

“Libraries are about freedom to access and information, and we need to maintain relevance going into the future if we’re going to continue to be a valuable service for the public.”

The council plans to renew its call for fair access to e-books and e-audio books next month. It also wants patrons to understand why they may not be able to access certain materials at their local branch.  

CBC News requested comment from most of the major publishers. They did not respond. 

Rising demand and costs for e-content

Librarians say circulation for physical materials has slightly declined over the past few years, but demand for e-books and e-audio books especially has risen exponentially.

The formats aren’t just popular, librarians say — they also reach different types of patrons. 

But libraries pay up to six times the cover price for some e-books, Day says, and major publishers often limit the number of times the books can be checked out.

In this Sept. 24, 2013 file photo, the 8.9-inch Amazon Kindle HDX tablet computer is held up in Seattle. Amazon owns Audible, which recently launched its dedicated Canadian service, with $12 million earmarked to create audiobooks in Canada. (The Associated Press)

The reasoning is that printed books are eventually repurchased when they’re lost or worn out, and e-book licensing should reflect a similar model. 

Day agrees with that, but says some e-book licences are often limited to as few as 26 check-outs, which is far less than the lifespan of most printed materials.

Exclusive content

But sometimes libraries can’t access e-content from some publishers at all.

In 2017, popular audio book platform Audible launched in Canada and announced it would invest $12 million in Canadian content. But Day says Audible won’t grant libraries access to its platform.

Some of its content, like Justin Trudeau’s 2014 memoir Common Ground, isn’t available in e-audio format anywhere else. 

Librarians also say that last year Tor, a science fiction and fantasy subsidiary of publisher MacMillan, told them it won’t grant libraries access to the electronic versions of new titles until four months after the release date, as a way to boost sales. 

But libraries say research shows that’s faulty reasoning.

Partners, not adversaries

2016 Pew study suggested that library users are more likely to buy books. 

And early research from the Panorama Project, which examines the impact of libraries on book sales, similarly suggests that library availability of new books increases sales and promotions.

“We are partners with publishers, we’re not adversaries. We want just as much as they do for their content to be made available to be purchased to be consumed,” Day said. 

Librarians like Kay Cahill, director of collections and technology at the Vancouver Public Library, say libraries’ access to e-content supports publishers and patrons alike because libraries develop literacy, encourage reading and ensure a thriving literary landscape.

“Publishing in Canada and elsewhere in the world is undergoing a lot of change,” Cahill said.

 “What I would say is just that limiting access and imposing these these high prices for e-content is not the answer.” 


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