GPforMe

NHLTweetup in Vancouver This Thursday

April 28th, 2009 @ 5:49pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

After the resounding success of the first NHLTweetup in Vancouver, I’ve joined forces with the king of Canucks tweets, Richard Loat, and plotted the Round Two tweetup.

What’s a NHLTweetup?
An in-person meetup (eat, drink, chat) for people who are on Twitter and like to cheer on the #Canucks. You can read my post from the last one for more information and a recap.

Where will this be?
Richard has secured the big room at the Shark Club on Georgia Street for our group.

When should I show up?
6:00pm on Thursday April 30th – it’s short notice but hey, we just got the schedule.

Canucks: Game 1 of 2009 Playoffs

I am also personally pretty excited to wear my shiny new jersey out in public for the first time since the recent purchase.

If you can come by, just RSVP on the Twtvite page (or using the Twtvite RSVP panel on the main page of my site) and we’ll count you in. All you need to do is show up and watch the game with the rest of us and we’ll have a great time.

Should you or your company be interested in sponsoring a raffle prize or perhaps a round of beer, please leave a comment or message Richard or me on Twitter.

Pet Area on BC Ferries

April 28th, 2009 @ 11:00am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Last weekend I discovered what it was like to be a walk-on pet owner on a BC Ferry. Keira had told me before that the “designated pet areas” on BC Ferries were pretty lacking but I certainly didn’t imagine this.

When you walk in the door there’s a sign that says you must remain with your pet at all times, meaning you’ve paid just as much money to ride the ferry as everyone else but you must sit on a metal chair, in a metal room, in the middle of a car deck for your entire 80-minute voyage. Meanwhile, other passengers are upstairs with basic amenities such as clean drinking water and restrooms (I won’t even mention the cushioned seats, cafes, cafeteria, magazine stands, vending machines and work spaces). Pet owners also don’t get to hear the safety messages so I had no idea where I could grab a life vest in case of an emergency.

I understand that having a pet is a choice, and deciding to take that pet on a ferry as a foot passenger (not driving a car) is a choice as well. However these facilities just seem a bit lacking. I would at least imagine that pet owners would get a discounted fare for enduring the trip in the metal box they call a “pet area” as I certainly could experience the difference – but not in a good way at all.

If you have something to add to this discussion please do so in the comments of this post.

BMO Vancouver Marathon This Sunday

April 28th, 2009 @ 8:34am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

This weekend the city will be taken over by the colossal BMO Vancouver Marathon 2009.


Photo credit: thelastminute on Flickr – Duncan Rawlinson / TheLastMinuteBlog.com

On Sunday May3rd, there will be the marathon for elite and recreational runners (42.2km), a half marathon (21.1km), an 8km run (for runners or walkers), and the McDonald’s Kids Marafun.

Leading up to the event, there is a sports expo down at Concord Pacific Place in False Creek (Thursday, April 30th from 4:00 to 8:00pm, Friday, May 1st, 11:00 to 8:00pm, Saturday, May 2nd, 10:00 to 7:00pm, and Sunday, May 3rd from 7:00 to 3:00pm).

There is an extensive list of road closures downtown for Sunday, which include several major thoroughfares downtown, in the West End, in Kitisilano, Point Grey, Chinatown, Gastown, and False Creek. You can also view race maps for an overview of the route.

I have been told by organizers that they are also in desperate need of volunteers for Sunday so if you’re interested in helping out you can sign up online. All volunteers get a Saucony t-shirt when they check in as well as a certificate for hours volunteered.

Just as I suspected, Wyn will be running the marathon (before heading to Halifax and NYC) so best of luck to her and the other participants on Sunday.

Related post: Check out my fun run roundup for more running events in Vancouver this season.

Drina Read Candidate Interview

April 27th, 2009 @ 7:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

While discussing her campaign over a mango smoothie on Davie Street I realized that it was probably Drina who got me started with all of these interviews back in the fall.

Drina Read is the Green Party of BC candidate for Vancouver West-End and being a long-time resident she’s very passionate about her community as well as the issues in which the Green Party strongly believes.

Drina Read - Vancouver-West End

Drina has lived in the West End on and off for over 20 years as a renter and as such the renovictions and concerns of renters hit close to home. She spoke at the Renters at Risk Rally in the fall and told me that, “we have to fix the Residential Tenancy Act not only for renters, but for landlords too.”

She says, “the biggest issue of course is raising the rent – just thinking that any moment you could get a notice saying ‘oh by the way, we’re fixing up your apartment, you have to get out‘ and then when you come back you might not be able to afford it.” Drina would also like to see an amendment that would include something like the right of first refusal, so that you can have first dibs on your newly renovated apartment when it’s ready.

She attributes the money grab by developers and property owners to the Vancouver 2010 games, and noted “after the two week party, what happens to the community? That’s my concern.”

On the general housing issue, “the Green Party has a very strong policy on building safe, affordable housing and we would commit 1% of the total BC budget yearly towards building housing for people with disabilities, low-income, people with addictions and allot of programs to help them as well and not throw them out on the street all the time, like the way it has been happening.”

However aside from housing and rent issues she said there’s an even bigger beast: The Gateway Project.

“Billions and billions of dollars being wasted on a freeway and a bridge when we could have that money go towards housing, education, health care, you name it. All of that money could be used much better to improve the transit services, buy more buses, it just goes on and on.” Drina’s been a fan of rail, for freight and passengers, for many years and said that when she heard Stephen Rees speak at the Green Party conference, “everything he said just made sense.”

I’ve profiled Stephen as a blogger but he’s also a Green Party of BC candidate in Richmond. During his talk Drina said he brought up the fact that a UBC study discovered that for the cost of the new Port Mann Bridge, 200km of light rail line could be purchased for the Lower Mainland and the Valley. She also agreed with something else Stephen had mentioned about communities noting that we need to connect communities and not just move people to the downtown core. Connecting places like Surrey, Maple Ridge, Langley etc. is paramount.

With regards to cuts to the arts budget in the province, Drina pointed out the difference between her party and others. “Our members vote on our policies so we will not waiver from the policies as written. We will stick to them – it’s not political expediency that drives us, it’s whats best for everyone and we see a vibrant arts community as being integral to the society of BC.”

You can reach Drina online or through her Twitter account as she notes that using social media “definitely has an effect especially with younger voters from all over BC.”

The BC General Election & Referendum on Electoral Reform takes place May 12, 2009. Other candidate interviews include Spencer Herbert (NDP, Vancouver-West End) and Haida Lane (BC Liberals, Vancouver-Hastings).

Haida Lane Candidate Interview

April 27th, 2009 @ 6:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

I ventured outside of the downtown core to meet up with Haida Lane, the BC Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Hastings.

Haida Lane - Vancouver-Hastings

“I’ve always had a passion for politics,” said Haida who start campaigning later in the game since the untimely passing of candidate Andrew Mak. “Given the opportunity and the need, I knew that this community could use better representation so I jumped on board and have been at a running pace since.”

Being a stay-at-home mom when her daughter was young, Haida began visiting the Hastings Community Centre Family Drop-In, what she calls a “phenomenal resource for communities”. The adult interaction allowed her to meet other parents, build networks, and led to her getting on the board of the Hastings Community Association. She also Chairs the Hastings Sunrise City Planning Committee, which deals with implementing community visions in the area.

“It’s a pretty diverse riding,” said Haida whose electoral district spans from Commercial Drive, to Boundary, then from the Burrard Inlet down to 12th Avenue. “There are a couple neighbourhood centres within that as well as highway orientated retail… …and we have some small commercial districts, low use industrial districts as well so there’s a lot of variety there.” Resources close to home for Haida though will always be the community centres – promoting small business and living in a “walkable” neighbourhood is key.

Haida is committed to informing her constituents, whether it be when they stop by her office, message her on Twitter or leave a message for a call back (which she’ll do personally). “I believe that this is a very precarious time given where we are on the global economic scale and what we [the BC Liberals] have done for BC in the last eight years. I mean we are one of the leaders of the economy in Canada right now… …I know that just speaks volumes so I really hope that people look at that, and realize the full impact of how important it is to have strong leadership.”

Her main platform issues are on the economy, public safety, and the environment. “I would love to see what could be done working with a majority government (if that ends up being the case) to really move the issues of this riding forward in Victoria.”


Photo credit: houseoftext on Flickr – Hastings Park Conservancy

I asked her what her favourite part of the Vancouver-Hastings area and she had no shortage of highlights to share. “A lot of people, when you say ‘East Van’ they usually go ‘oh, East Van…?’ but this area is amazing!” She continued, “it’s not only just the sense of community that exists but it’s things like your neighbourhood centre where you can do your shopping, there’s neighbouhood community centres,” and also the abundance of parks. Haida recommended the Hastings Park Conservancy and New Brighton Park, which she described as “a bit of the gem on the East Side that not a lot of people know about.”

The BC General Election & Referendum on Electoral Reform takes place May 12, 2009. Other candidate interviews include Spencer Herbert (NDP, Vancouver-West End) and Drina Read (Green Party, Vancouver West-End).

Spencer Herbert Candidate Interview

April 27th, 2009 @ 12:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Spencer Herbert is the current MLA for Vancouver-Burrard and is up for re-election in the new Vancouver-West End riding with the NDP.

Vancouver-West End Candidate, Spencer Herbert

I have been following his career since, as a member of the Vancouver Park Board, he left a comment on my blog a few years ago. I sat down with him at a local coffee shop near his office on Denman Street where we talked about the main concerns of the community, city, and Province. I also learned (as if I didn’t know already) that Herbert does indeed (heart) the West End.

“When you’re over in Victoria in the legislature it’s such a different world,” he noted. “It just really helps ground you in the community when you’re actually talking to people face-to-face on the street corner where anything can come up.” Since being elected in the fall Herbert has taken to opening up what he calls a “mobile community office”, where he’ll head out and about on a Sunday afternoon to engage the people of the community. He says the type of people he meets in the informal setting are those who wouldn’t normally feel welcome or comfortable stopping by an MLA’s office. There’s everyone from renters who are in need of guidance to homeless people looking for nearby shelters – all are welcomed and offered information.

In his first week in the legislature, Herbert introduced a bill called the Long Term Renters Protection Act, which have would ensure that outrageous rent increases (above and beyond the annual increases) would not be allowed. This is one of the biggest concerns for his constituents in the West End, including the group over at the Seafield Apartments (who aren’t alone in their rentoviction battle).

Other concerns for Herbert include the fate of St. Paul’s Hospital, which is actually still up in the air. “It’s a world leader in terms of AIDS/HIV care, addiction, cardiac care and the Healthy Heart program and it really is a model for many hospitals in terms of its teaching facilities as well.” He encourages people to check out the Save St. Paul’s website for more information. Side note: according to a poll I conducted in January 2009, 72% of my readers would like to see the hospital remain downtown.

Herbert would also like to see better enforcement of hate crimes, namely the recent gay bashing incidents downtown. “I think we need to be treating them as the serious crimes that they are – as hate attacks.” He also said that having community police and the VPD out on beat patrols are helpful. “I have been working with the Vancouver Police Department to get more cops to walk the neighbourhood, instead of drive because it is a walking neighbourhood.” With regards to the hate crimes, he believes, “prosecutors have been too cautious, the evidence is there but it needs to be put forward as such.”

You can read more from Spencer Herbert on his website, stop by his office on Denman Street or follow his updates on Twitter.

The BC General Election & Referendum on Electoral Reform takes place May 12, 2009 and I will have several more candidate interviews, from several ridings, covered here within the next few days — this will include Liberal and Green Party candidates as well. I’ll list each one at the bottom of every post but as this is the first of the batch, I’ll have to add the links as they become available.

Monday Link Fest: Eco-Event Roundup

April 27th, 2009 @ 9:16am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

It’s spring, it’s beautiful, and the Metro Vancouver area is buzzing with events and community activities. Here’s a quick eco-event roundup.


Photo credit: penmachine on Flickr / penmachine.com
  • Arbour Day in Surrey is May 2, 2009. There will be a tree planting event at Hjorth Road Park along with family-oriented games and activities.
  • The 21st Annual Rhododendron Festival takes place May 3rd at Deer Lake Park & Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby. Free Admission, open from 9:30am until 4:00pm.
  • Mow Down Air Pollution – April 23rd to May3rd, 2009 with the Clean Air Founddation. Mow Down Pollution encourages people to replace their old two- and four-stroke mowers and trimmers with cleaner alternatives. This program runs at Home Depot locations across the country and to date, it has retired nearly 18,000 lawn mowers and has reduced 406 tonnes of greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions.
  • EPIC Sustainable Living Expo – May 8th to May 10th at the new Vancouver Convention Centre. Last year I covered the event as a part of the Happy Frog blogging team and it was good times (I recommend the organic beer).
  • Bike to Work Week – May 11th to May 17th. For the third annual event, the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition announced that this year’s campaign is taking place in over 20 communities around the province simultaneously. Workplaces can register to see who can gather up the highest number of kilometers cycled throughout the week.

  • Art in the City 2009

    April 27th, 2009 @ 7:57am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt
    urbanlegend
    “Urban Legend” by Dylan Schultz

    Next weekend at the West End Community Centre stop by to check out Art in the City, a visual art sale and showcase of over 60 local artists.

    Where
    West End Community Centre, 870 Denman Street, Vancouver

    When
    Friday, May 1st 7:00pm – 9:00pm
    Saturday, May 2nd 10:00am – 8:00pm
    Sunday, May 3rd 10:00am – 4:00pm

    Tickets
    Free

    It is the fourth annual Art in the City and for the thousands who will attend, there will be a special door prize draw. The piece “Urban Legend” by feature artist Dylan Schultz (pictured in this post & used in the show’s print campaign) will be awarded Sunday May 3rd at 3:00pm.