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BC Children’s Hospital Superhero Ball

October 14th, 2014 @ 2:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel will host the 2nd annual Superhero Ball for BC Children’s Hospital on October 24th. The revolving rooftop event space is the perfect place for caped crusaders masked avengers to gather in support of this very worthy local cause.


BC Children’s Hospital Superhero Ball

What: Superhero Ball (costumes encouraged)
Where: Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel (1133 W Hastings)
When: Friday, October 24, 2014 at 7:00pm
Tickets: Available online for $35 (plus fees/tax)

Guests of the Superhero Ball will nosh on artfully crafted cocktails and canapés so savoury and innovative, they’ll keep everyone swaying and swooping to the beats mixed by DJ Southpaw. After costume contests for most original, best duo and best villain, guests can then be immortalized in the photo booth. But the best souvenir just might be something won at the silent auction. Not only are the goodies up for grabs tempting in their own right, they are just one more way superheroes – even those who are suiting up for only one evening – can help the children of BC Children’s Hospital.

Last year’s event sold out so be sure to get your tickets as soon as possible to participate in this fun and fantastic evening in the 360 degree rotating event space atop the luxurious Renaissance.

BC Children’s Hospital is the province’s only full-service acute-care hospital dedicated to serving close to one million children living in BC and the Yukon. All children who are seriously ill or injured are referred to Children’s Hospital and are either treated at the hospital facility in Vancouver or, with consultation from Children’s specialists, in their home community. Last year, more than 85,000 children were treated at Children’s Hospital. Funds raised by BC Children’s Hospital Foundation are used to support BC Children’s Hospital, Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children and the Child & Family Research Institute.

Win Tickets

If you would like to attend the Superhero Ball I have two tickets to give away courtesy of the Renaissance Vancouver Harbourside Hotel. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment naming your favourite superhero (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win #SuperheroBall tix from @RenVanHotel + @Miss604 http://ow.ly/CLt1q in support of @BCCHF

Follow the Renaissance on Twitter and Facebook, along with BC Children’s Hospital on Twitter and Facebook. I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, October 20, 2014. Must be 19+ to enter, win, and attend this event. Please enjoy responsibly.

Update The winner is Jason!

BC Bubbly: Sparkling Wine from the Okanagan

October 14th, 2014 @ 1:44pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Everyone loves bubbles! Pop a cork or cap to celebrate a milestone, achievement, or to make any occasion special. Here in BC, there are plenty of options to sip a crisp and effervescent wine made right here in the Okanagan.

BC  Bubbles

“I’m sure if I look hard enough there’s a Harvard study saying how you cannot be unhappy when you have bubbles,” Jay Drysdale of Bella Wines said with a smile. While on an Okanagan Wine Festivals tour with local and international media, my group joined Jay at Okanagan College’s BC Wine Information Society Sensory Lab in Penticton on a warm early October evening.

BC Bubbles

The Sensory Lab was built in the heart of wine country thanks to donations from the BC Wine Information Society, which operates the BC VQA Wine Information Centre in Penticton. It was here that I learned about the history of sparkling wine in BC from Jay and sampled some of the region’s best offerings.

“These styles don’t need to be chasing Champagne, they can be our own,” Jay added. The Okanagan — whether north, south, east, or west — has such unique terroir (the characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced) that BC wine is standing out on its own.

Sparkling Wine from the Okanagan

Sumac Ridge (Summerland) produced Canada’s first traditionally-made sparkling wine and Canada’s first sparkling Shiraz in 1989, and the Stellar’s Jay Brut is always a solid option today. Summerhill (Kelowna) followed in 1992-1993, as did Gray Monk (Lake Country).

Jay says there are about 45 wineries in the Okanagan who now do sparkling for various reasons, whether it’s to expand their portfolio or use up extra juice, and that number will soon go up to 60. “It’s the wild west of winemaking! It’s exciting that we’re so bloody young, it’s a whole new frontier.”

BC Bubbles
Liquidity’s NV Bubbly.

He told my group that he’d love for BC to be known for more than ice wine internationally, perhaps for its Syrah, Riesling, and most certainly its bubbles. “We need to be shouting that BC grows a style like no one else in the world.”

All revved up, caps and corks were popped for our own tasting in the Sensory Lab. We sampled Bella‘s sparkling Chardonnay, Summerhill‘s Cipes Brut, 8th Generation’s Integrity Frizzante, Gray Monk‘s Odyssey White Brut, and Sumac Ridge‘s Stellar’s Jay. Each was its own expression of its vineyard, grapes, and growers — from green apple, citrus and floral notes to rich and creamy vanilla.

Other sparkling wines enjoyed throughout our trip included Stoneboat‘s Piano Brut and Faux Pas Rosé Brut, and Liquidity‘s NV Bubbly, produced between Oliver, Osoyoos, and Okanagan Falls, which is also home to Blue Mountain and See Ya Later Ranch.

Oliver’s Road 13 Sparkling Chenin Blanc won a 2013 BC Wine Award for Best of BC and a gold medal for its 2010 vintage. Bella (Naramata) won gold medals for both its 2012 Oliver West Side and Oliver East Side sparkling Chardonnays. Vineyards that are a hundred kilometers apart are all producing exciting and unique sparkling wines in their own way.

Basic pairings for sparkling wine range from deep-fried foods and vegetables to oysters, sushi, shellfish, and poultry. BC Liquor Stores currently carry 13 different sparkling wines from our province and independent wine shops like Liberty and Everything Wine also have affordable local selections. The next time you reach for a bottle of bubbly, drink local and make that the cause for celebration.

okanaganwineriesThere are 186 vineyards and 215 licensed vineyards in BC with 131 of those wineries located in the Okanagan region.

Last year, BC wineries won over 2,000 medals in national and international competition – more than ever before.

Find more BC winery listings via the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society and the BC Wine Institute for Okanagan, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands and Similkameen listings.

Free Movie Day in Vancouver

October 14th, 2014 @ 10:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Cineplex is hosting a select Free Movie Day (aka Cineplex Community Day) in participating theatres across the country, benefitting Free The Children, which is the awesome non-profit that has brought us events like We Day. We Day has hosted 278,000 youth at events in cities across North America and in the UK and as a result, $37,000,000 has been fundraised for 1000 causes and 9,600,000 hours have been volunteered by participating youth..


Doors will open at 8:30am on Saturday, October 18, 2014 and movies will start at 9:00am. Select concession items will be just $2. In the Greater Vancouver area, SilverCity Colossus in Langley, Cineplex Odeon Strawberry Hill, Scotiabank Theatre in Downtown Vancouver, SilverCity Coquitlam, SilverCity Riverport, Cineplex Odeon Park & Tilford, Cineplex Odeon International Village, Cineplex Odeon Meadowntown, and others will all show the following films for free:

ENDER’S GAME @ 9:15am
PARANORMAN (3D) @ 9:45 am
DIVERGENT @ 10:00am
FREE BIRDS @ 10:15 am

Enjoy a free movie, concession items for a cause, and a fun family day at the theatre in your community. Follow Cineplex on Twitter, and Free the Children on Twitter for more information.

Free The Children and Cineplex are working together to empower young Canadians to make a positive difference in their local communities and around the world. Free The Children is an international charity and educational partner that works with hundreds of thousands of elementary and secondary students from 5,000 schools across Canada and 2.3 million youth worldwide.

From sponsoring We Day, Free The Children’s biggest youth empowerment event, to providing opportunities and scholarships at youth summits and leadership camps, to offering free movies at Community Day in October, Cineplex is dedicated to empowering the next generation of Canadians to get involved in pressing issues like local hunger and bullying, and make a difference in the lives of others. Free The Children is Cineplex’s national charity partner.

Voting in Vancouver

October 14th, 2014 @ 9:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The next civic election takes place Saturday, November 15, 2014 in Vancouver and with a voter turnout of just 35% last time, the City of Vancouver is hoping to spread the word about advanced voting, where you can vote, and voter awareness in general. Also, for the first time ever, you can vote at any of the 120 voting locations in the city!

Voting in Vancouver

You can help elect Mayor and 10 Council members for Vancouver City Council, 7 Board Commissioners for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and 9 School Trustees for the Vancouver School Board. You can also vote on whether to authorize the City to borrow a specific amount of money for major projects such as building and transportation infrastructure, public safety projects, and parks.


Advance Polling Stations

For the 2014 municipal election, the City of Vancouver is providing 8 locations, for 8 days of advance voting for 12 hours per day (8:00am to 8:00pm) for a total of 768 hours of advance voting prior to the election. This represents a 280% increase over 2011 and a 320% increase over 2008.

You can vote in advance between the hours of 8:00am and 8:00pm on November 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8,th 9th, 10th, and 12th at any one of these locations:

West End Community Centre – 870 Denman St.
Roundhouse Community Centre – 181 Roundhouse Mews
Thunderbird Community Centre – 2311 Cassiar St.
Sunset Community Centre – 6810 Main St.
Killarney Community Centre – 6260 Killarney St.
Kitsilano Community Centre – 2690 Larch St.
Kerrisdale Community Centre – 5851 West Blvd
City Hall – 453 West 12th Ave.

Have your say and be sure to vote either in advance or on November 15, 2014 to take part in your city’s future. Follow the City of Vancouver on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

SPES Saturday: Stanley Park’s Creatures of the Night

October 11th, 2014 @ 4:16pm (PT) by Guest Author

StanleyParkEcologyThis post has been contributed by Don Enright, Volunteer and Past President with the Stanley Park Ecology Society (“SPES”). I have been following SPES since I moved into the West End almost a decade ago and I have been a member for two years. I wanted to offer the team an opportunity to share their news, events, and work so I have created “SPES Saturday” where they contribute and share stories with my audience once a month.

Stanley Park’s Creatures of the Night

Imagine living in a world of near-total darkness, where every night your dinner lies hidden in some strange corner of your home. Imaging having to chase that dinner at high speed, in the dark, before you can sit down and eat it. Now imagine doing all of that during the rainy, cold nights of winter… and you have some idea of what life looks like for the creatures of the night in Stanley Park.

While you and I make our way out of the Park at dusk, after our jogs and bike rides and nature walks, a strange and beautiful underworld is just coming to life. We catch glimpses of it, if we’re lucky, in the early morning or evening. But you and I, by virtue of just being human, are sadly unqualified to really see everything that’s going on in the dark of night. We just don’t have the equipment.

Over on Cathedral Trail, for example, among the giant western red cedars, a pair of barred owls is just beginning their nightly calling: “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for youuuu?” They have huge eyes to help them find one another—so large that they can’t turn their eyes easily within their sockets, as we can, and so must twist their necks an amazing degree, in that wonderfully owl-like way. (They can’t turn their heads completely around, as some might have you believe. But 270 degrees isn’t bad. Try it.)

Barred owl perched in a Stanley Park tree. (Photo: Trevor Buckwell)

Barred owls also have sacrificed most of their colour vision, in order to pack their retinas with the crucial light-sensitive cells they need to make it through the night. It seems a small price to pay for night vision… and with their excellent hearing, they don’t really need to see in vivid colour as they find and dispatch the rodents and small birds they eat each night. Barred owls are so good at what they do, in fact, that they might be the reason we rarely hear western screech owls in Stanley Park anymore: they just can’t compete.

High over the owls’ head, at least during summer, little brown bats and their relatives are busy harvesting the mosquitoes and moths that fill the air. That too is hard work, and bats get the job done with sonar. As they fly, they emit a series of clicks that bounce back off their prey. While it seems hard to imagine that ricocheting clicks could mean anything at all while you’re flying at high speed, to the bats these sounds create a detailed image of where their prey is and in what direction it’s moving. All the bats need do is home in on the source of the echoes, and snap it up in the net-like membrane they have between their legs and tail.

Brown bat captured (and released) during a SPES bat survey. (Photo: Michael Schmidt)

Coyotes are also hunters in the darkness, though they might be more at home in twilight rather than the deepest hours of night. To hear their yips and howls as they keep in touch with each other through the forest shadows is sure to send a chill down your spine.

If you’ve ever walked through Vancouver’s West End in the small hours of the morning, you might have had a close call with another of our night time denizens: the striped skunk. It can be truly alarming to spot them; it seems they’re nearly invisible until you’re just a couple of steps away. Fortunately our skunks are mild-mannered creatures, calmly going about their business of digging about for worms and grubs. Leave them in peace (and definitely keep your dogs away from them) and they’ll just keep minding their own skunky business.

Raccoons are another classic creature of the night, but ours in Stanley Park can be seen in broad daylight, too – a way of taking advantage of the free handouts they get while visitors are in the Park. Leaving them to find their own food is a good way of encouraging natural, healthy behaviour—in raccoons and all our wildlife.

Raccoon foraging. (Photo: Andre Chan)

If you’d like to learn more about these amazing nocturnal goings-on, and would like to do so in a fun and family-friendly way, be sure to join us for Creatures of the Night, Thursdays to Sundays at the Halloween Ghost Train in Stanley Park, October 9th to November 1st, 2014.

About the Guest Author:

This post has been contributed by Don Enright, Volunteer and Past President with the Stanley Park Ecology Society.

Whitecaps Win the Cascadia Cup

October 10th, 2014 @ 9:38pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Cascadia Cup gets to stay in Vancouver as Whitecaps FC claimed the prize for the 2nd year in a row. Defeating the Seattle Sounders 1-0 in Seattle tonight, the Whitecaps stay in the Major League Soccer playoff race and become the first team to win 5 Cascadia Cups.

“The origins of the Cascadia Cup date back to when Vancouver, Portland and Seattle were members of the United Soccer Leagues (USL) First Division. The combined supporters of the three clubs created the two-foot tall silver Cup, which is awarded annually to the team with the best head-to-head record over their Pacific Northwest rivals in regular season matches.


Vancouver won the first two editions of the competition in 2004 and 2005 and added a third title in 2008. Then, last year, the ‘Caps were crowned Cascadia champions for the fourth time – making them the most successful club in competition history.” [WhitecapsFC]

#KINGSofCascadia Thanks @Subhedgehog for taking my pic w/the #CascadiaCup! #VWFC @WhitecapsFC [PIC] @Southsiders looking sharp with OUR @WhitecapsFC's #CascadiaCup! #VWFC #MLS @Doolins Our #CascadiaCup is in the house thanks to @shomgotoshi #VWFC #VanvPor @BCPlace

Fighting Portland for a playoff spot in the west, the Whitecaps have 2 more matches until the end of the regular season. They’ll play in San Jose on October 18th and then back at BC Place on October 25th to take on Colorado. Follow Whitecaps FC on Twitter for more information.

Gastown Steam Clock Down for Repairs

October 10th, 2014 @ 11:14am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Earlier this week, one of the most photographed and visited landmarks in Vancouver was removed for repairs. The Gastown Steam Clock, piping out melodies on the corner of Cambie and Water streets since 1977, has been taken to the fabrication shop at Manitoba Yards for the next 8 weeks.

According to the City of Vancouver, “The mechanical moving parts of the Steam Clock’s device for loading the metal balls have worn over the last 37 years and can no longer be reliably maintained. Mechanical failures have been a common occurrence in the past year, and the proposed repairs to the ball loading device will restore reliability to the Steam Clock while maintaining its historical integrity.”

Gastown Steam Clock
Photo credit: Patrick Lundgren on Flickr

With cruise ship season winding down, it was a good times for crews to work on the Gastown Steam Clock. Its steam vent-powered whistle will return in time for the busy Christmas season.

Things to do in Vancouver Thanksgiving Long Weekend

October 9th, 2014 @ 6:44pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

While the forecast for Thanksgiving long weekend in Vancouver isn’t looking very bright, the events and activities calendar is beaming with family fun. From spooky Halloween-themed attractions in Vancouver opening up to pumpkin patch visits or checking out the cranberry festival for some seasonal fun.

Pumpkins anyone??
Photo credit: Ann Badjura on Flickr

Things to do in Vancouver Thanksgiving Long Weekend

Events that run for longer than three days in a row are highlighted in green below.

Friday, October 10, 2014
Sponsored by Miss604: Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF at SFU Surrey
VIFF Closing Gala Film and Party
Patrick Maliha’s Favourite People
Sea to Sky Gondola Harvest Sunset Dinner
THEN & NOW: Songs and Storytelling – A Fundraiser for Megaphone Magazine
Oktoberfest at the Vancouver Alpen Club
Opening Day: Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Opening Day: Fright Nights at Playland
Pacific Theatre Presents: The Rainmaker
Our Town

Saturday, October 11, 2014
Diwali Fest Vancouver
Orphan Thanksgiving
Fort Langley Cranberry Festival
Cranberry Sale at Richmond Nature Park
Sea to Sky Gondola Harvest Sunset Dinner
Community Short Film Festival
Lookout for Lookout
Oktoberfest at the Vancouver Alpen Club
Vancouver Electronic Ensemble Performance – Vancouver New Music Festival
Trout Lake Farmers Market
West End Farmers Market
Kerrisdale Farmers Market
Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Fright Nights at Playland
Pacific Theatre Presents: The Rainmaker
Our Town

Sunday, October 12, 2014
Bowen Island AppleFest
Women’s History Month: The Remarkable Women of English Bay
Second Sunday Concert Series – Cordei at Roedde House Museum
Kitsilano Farmers Market
Mount Pleasant Farmers Market
Hershe Bar at the Red Room
Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Fright Nights at Playland

Monday, October 13, 2014
Granville Island Turkey Trot
Thanksgiving Loonie Skate at Kensington Rec Complex in Burnaby
Museum of Anthropology Open
Fright Nights at Playland
FlyOver Canada Halloween

View the full monthly event list to plan ahead at any time. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook for frequent updates about local events and community happenings.