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Dan Fumano: ‘Postpone and delay’ — council defers rental incentives


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But council didn’t approve, reject or modify the proposed changes. Instead, they voted, 6-5, to defer the decision to some point in the future pending further consultation.

There was a stark difference in the way some councillors described the situation at the July 24 meeting, which ran until 10 p.m. on a Friday as council worked through several days of packed agendas before their August break.

For NPA Coun. Colleen Hardwick, things were moving too fast, she saying these changes shouldn’t be “rushed through.”

“There is no need to push this through now,” Hardwick said. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of summer, and many residents are not aware of the major changes being proposed here tonight.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Mayor Kennedy Stewart said this council is gaining a reputation for moving too slowly to address what most of them have described as a housing crisis.

“We’re criticized as a council for delaying, for being slower than most other municipalities,” Stewart told council. “I want to vote on this this evening, and I want to get on with building more rental housing in this city.”

As Stewart pointed out, in the commercial zones council was looking at, developers can currently build four-storey condo projects without seeking a rezoning. Stewart wants to push developers toward building more rentals, saying: “I cannot vote for more condos.”

Other councillors too insisted it was worth acting quickly. OneCity Coun. Christine Boyle, and NPA councillors Melissa De Genova, Lisa Dominato, and Sarah Kirby-Yung, also opposed the delay.



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COVID-19: Praise for pandemic health pros prompts patio dance party


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Each night at 7 p.m., Vancouverites collectively stand on their balconies, patios and yards to bang pots, pans and other cookware, as a way of applauding essential workers across the city who continue to step up in the face of COVID-19.

A few minutes after that is when the party gets started – that is, the Mount Pleasant patio dance party.

Harry Curtin, 28, is a teacher and has been working remotely from his condo near Main and 7th since health officials ordered schools and workplaces closed to curb the spread of the virus.

He and two roommates had been regularly participating in the nightly 7 p.m. cheer when, on a sunny Tuesday in early April, the trio decided to play some music over a speaker when the clanging and banging subsided.

“It just seemed like – we could all clearly see each other but we just kind of walked back into our apartment,” Curtin said of his neighbourhood, which consists of condominiums clustered around a Main Street intersection.



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Vancouver School Board to vote on anti-racism motion at Monday meeting



The Vancouver School Board will revisit an anti-racism motion at Monday’s meeting before heading to a vote.


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The Vancouver School Board will revisit an anti-racism motion at Monday’s meeting before heading to a vote.

The motion, put forward by Trustee Jennifer Reddy and developed in consultation with parents and community groups, seeks to create a strategic plan for both the short, medium and long term on how the district should handle and prevent racism and discrimination in Vancouver schools.

An interim report on the progress of the plan is expected in June 2020.

The motion comes after multiple incidents in the previous school year, including one that involved a racist video that prompted a Black student to transfer out of Lord Byng Secondary.

Another aspect of the motion to be discussed Monday looks at hiring an expert to advise the school board on how best to handle such incidents in the immediate aftermath of hate-motivated acts.

The B.C. Community Alliance is among those in support of the motion and will be in attendance at Monday’s meeting, alongside members of the Byng community.

“As we have recently seen several racist incidents at Vancouver schools and the way these incidents are currently being handled, it is urgent that it passes now. If it doesn’t pass, racialized Vancouver students will not see any significant change in the 20/21 school year, as it will not make it into the budget,” read a statement shared by Marie Tate of the BCCA.

“These motions also benefit the broader spectrum of students who need support when incidents of hate arise, such as homophobia, anti-Semitism, gender violence and more.”

The meeting takes place Monday at 7 p.m. at the Vancouver Board of Education office’s boardroom.



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Squamish Nation approves $3-billion housing project in Kitsilano


Squamish Nation voted 87 per cent in favour of moving ahead with the project in partnership with Westbank Development to build 6,000 rental housing units in 11 towers on a 11.7-acre parcel of land in Kitsilano.

The development of the reserve lands at Sen̓áḵw, which is adjacent to the Burrard Bridge and Vanier Park, represents the single largest development on First Nation lands in Canada, according to the Squamish Nation. The city of Vancouver will have no power to regulate what is built.


Artist renderings of the 6,000-unit Senakw development proposed for Squamish First Nation lands in Kitsilano adjacent to the Burrard Bridge.

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“The Squamish Nation Council is thrilled with the outcome of this referendum, which was approved by a landslide. This is truly a landmark moment in our Nation’s history. The Sen̓áḵw Project will transform the Squamish Nation by providing immense social, cultural, and economic benefits to Squamish Nation members for generations to come,” said Squamish Nation councillor Khelsilem, in a statement on Facebook.

Construction on the first phase is expected to begin in 2021.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said earlier this year that this is what reconciliation looks like, and that the prospect of new rental units in Vancouver is “exciting.”

There are two other major real estate projects in Vancouver in planning that involve First Nation groups: the 90-acre Jericho Lands in West Point Grey and a plan for 2,500 homes on 21 acres at the Heather Land in the Cambie Corridor.

In 2014, city council designated Vancouver as a City of Reconciliation and set as its goal the creation of “sustained relationships of mutual respect and understanding with local First Nations and the urban Indigenous community.”



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Supergirl star opens up about being a victim of domestic violence



Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist has opened up about her experience as a domestic violence victim.


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Supergirl actress Melissa Benoist has opened up about her experience as a domestic violence victim in a hard-hitting new online video.

Benoist, who films The CW superhero TV series in Vancouver, has revealed she suffered months of abuse at the hands of a former partner before she called it quits on the toxic romance.

The 31-year-old, who is now happily married to Supergirl co-star Chris Wood, admits she never thought she’d be able to summon up the courage to tell her story as she kicks off the emotional 14-minute video, in which she reads a statement she prepared.

“I am a survivor of domestic violence or IPV (intimate partner violence), which is something I never in my life expected I would say, let alone be broadcasting into the ether,” Melissa says.


Melissa Benoist who stars in the Vancouver-shot TV series Supergirl.

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Refusing to name her abuser, she calls him “a magnanimous person, who didn’t really give you a choice not to be drawn to him”, adding, “He could be charming, funny, manipulative, devious.”

“He was younger than me, his maturity obvious,” she adds. “For a period of time, I wasn’t interested. I was newly single, gaining my bearing in a change in my life.”

But she began to fall for the guy, insisting his abuse wasn’t violent at first, but emotional: “Work in general was a touchy subject,” she recalls. “He didn’t want me ever kissing or even having flirtatious scenes with men, which was very hard for me to avoid, so I began turning down auditions, job offers, test deals and friendships, because I didn’t want to hurt him.”

But things started to get nasty during one fight, when he threw a smoothie in her face.

“The stark truth is I learned what it felt like to be pinned down and slapped repeatedly, punched so hard the wind was knocked out of me, dragged by my hair across the pavement, head butted, pinched until my skin broke, shoved into a wall so hard the drywall broke, choked,” she says into the camera. “I learned to lock myself in rooms but quickly stopped because the door was inevitably broken down. I learned to not value any of my property … I learned not to value myself.”

The final straw came when her boyfriend threw an iPhone at her face and caused a permanent vision issue.

“The impact tore my iris, nearly ruptured my eyeball, lacerated my skin and broke my nose,” she adds. “My left eye swelled shut. I had a fat lip…”

She made the decision then and there to walk away from the relationship, but admits it wasn’t an easy thing to do: “I felt complicated feelings of guilt for leaving and for hurting someone I had protected for so long, and yes, a mournful feeling of leaving something familiar, but luckily, the people I let in, the more I was bolstered, I never lost the sense of clarity that kept telling me, ‘You do not deserve this’.”



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