Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Read On: On spring


WORD SEARCH: Save the image and print as a worksheet.


We’re in that wonderful time when winter ends and spring arrives.

Soon, there will be no more looking out the window every morning to see what kind of day it will be. It could be cold and dark – as it has been for the past three months. Or it might turn sunny, tantalizing you with a hint that better, drier, warmer weather is coming. Mother nature has trouble making up her mind early in this month.

So you can be fooled. In early March, it could be just like February – cold and wet and dark when you wake up, and then later warmer and hinting at better weather to come. But on March 20, that will start to go away. Sure, old-man winter might still hang around desperately for a while hoping to beat nature and hang on.

But that’s not likely.

Every day for the next three months it will begin to get warmer and brighter in the Northern Hemisphere, in which Vancouver is situated.The sun will rise a few minutes earlier every day and and fall into night a little later. Plants will sprout, winds will soften.

That’s generally, of course. In Renfrew-Collingwood it might be a little different than in the rest of B.C. because we are in Vancouver, which is next to the Pacific Ocean. Our spring usually comes a bit earlier than the March 20 date because our coastal climate means the ocean has a strong influence over our weather.

On the coast, in early March we can be swathed in raincoat-and-boots-and-warm-hats for a few days and then suddenly it’s spring. The coats and umbrellas are thrown off, the joggers are out in only shorts and light shirts, the flowers start popping their heads out of the ground and the birds are singing.

We’re lucky that way. In much of Canada, winter still holds everyone in its grip for a few more weeks. East of Vancouver and in eastern B.C., Canadians still shudder through the worst of that season. The Prairie provinces often have to endure bitter cold, although it can be broken in Alberta by the odd warm current that wends like a train through the Rocky Mountains; the Great Lakes area is still shuddering in a deep freeze; In Quebec, the song “Mon pays ce n’est pas un pays, c’est l’hiver” (My country is not a country, it is winter) is still true; and in Eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces, howling winds from the  Atlantic Ocean have most people still wearing winter gear.

Spring, by the way, isn’t only enjoyed by current residents of the West Coast. Its gradual delivery of delight from misery has been known for centuries by First Nations who lived here in closer harmony with nature. They learned long ago how to cope with the changing nature of early spring, venturing out of their dwellings when the light and warmth arrived and then retreating back to their warming fires when the cold and dark and rain made a return engagement.

But today, we live in cities, in artificial environments fueled by electricity, and so are often removed from the full effects of nature. As a result, we aren’t able to change our feeling so easily.

That’s why spring is so important. It is the time of renewal, of approaching freedom from darkness, from enclosure, from sameness and boredom. It’s also why, for centuries, people have celebrated spring with various festivals like the Lunar New Year, celebrated this year on February. The festival is always an anticipation of the joys of spring.



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Read On: How to keep your new year’s resolution


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Right now, most people in the Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood have probably started resolutions for how they hope to behave this year. This is so common, someone once named January the “be-a-better-person” month.

A resolution is an act or a series of acts that you will try to do or not do. Common resolutions are to get in better physical shape, stop a bad habit and be nicer to someone.

The problem with new-year resolutions is that they rarely last for long. Some 80%of resolution makers have failed by the second week of February. That means that most of you R-C resolution makers are already creeping up on the brink of failure.

Of course, that doesn’t have to mean the end of a resolution. In fact, it’s natural. To make a resolution continue, you must turn it into a habit. That way it will exist much longer than a resolution that only lasts until some temptation gets your attention and kills it.

Habits are behaviours that are repeated regularly so that they become automatic. Bad habits and good habits start the same way – through repetition. To start a good habit, you decide what action is required, set a time to do it, write it down, repeat it and monitor it. Eventually, this repetition places the action in your brain or replaces some (in)action you are trying to stop.

For example, let’s say you want to do one of the most common new year’s resolutions: getting your finances in order, which means paying off debts and saving money. I used to write a personal-finance newspaper column and it was a common resolution that I heard at this time of year.

Financial problems are almost always about (bad) spending habits. There are cases of poverty where there just isn’t enough money coming in for even the basics, but for many people that isn’t the problem.

Instead, they have a habit of spending more money than they have. This is most often because they are in the habit of satisfying “wants” instead of taking care of “needs,” which aren’t nearly as interesting because they’re so familiar. Because it’s new, treating oneself to a want is more powerful than the boring practice of paying for needs like shelter, food, transportation and other basics.

We can blame these bad habits on advertising and easily available credit, but we are the people who practice them, so we are the people who have to change them.

Typically, good financial habits work like any other habit – though repetition of an act. Your bad habit is a result of repetition – to urges or advertising or whatever. In this case, you replace the foolish spending habit with a healthier saving habit.

Like any other habit formation, this is accomplished by planning and working the plan – repeating desired behaviours like first paying bills and then creating a saving system until they become automatic.

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March 2018 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News March 2018

Happy spring! This issue of the RCC News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Small is beautiful! Neighbourhood Small Grants projects are back
  • Celebrating 20 years of RCC News: Cathy Folkard: The light shines on
  • Connections and Resilience Lab
  • Local youth Maggie Fong wins City of Vancouver Awards of Excellence
  • MLA Adrian Dix addresses resident concerns about homeless housing
  • Nutrition Month 2018 — Unlock the Potential of Food
  • Expert tips to get your lawn and garden going this spring

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email

The deadline for the April 2018 issue is March 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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Seniors and income tax filing in B.C.


Collingwood Neighbourhood House is once again offering its income tax service for low-income households.


Filing income tax is important for everyone in B.C. However, it can be challenging for some groups, including seniors.

Why is it important for seniors to file income tax?
Seniors generally have low income. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “a large share of single seniors has incomes very close to the poverty line: 44 per cent report an after-tax income between $15,000 and $25,000.”

By filing income tax, seniors are more likely to get the tax credits and benefits they are entitled to, such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) credits and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If they do not file income tax, these tax credits and benefits will be cut.

To many seniors, these tax credits and benefits are survival income. Seniors rely on their limited income to pay for daily necessities, such as rent and food, to survive. These basic necessities are important for seniors to maintain their physical, mental and socio-emotional health.

What are the challenges for seniors to file income tax?
According to my own experience working with seniors, many do not know how to file income tax. The Canada Revenue Agency encourages income tax filing by computer. However, many seniors have limited or no knowledge of the computer.

While income tax can also be filed by paper, many find the form booklet complicated or cannot fill it in because of different reasons. For example, they have poor vision and can’t read the form, or their hands shake when writing so they can’t fill in the form. They may turn to family and friends for help, but many do not have this option for support. They may consider paying for an income tax filing service, but many find the service is too expensive.

What is the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program
Seniors and other people who have a modest income and a simple tax situation can consider filing their income tax with the help of the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), which is supported by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Through this program, community organizations across Canada help you fill out and file income tax for free. Some organizations provide the service year-round, but most only during the income tax filing seasons in March and April. The service is provided by volunteers who are either trained or have related education already, like accountants.

What are the challenges for seniors to access the CVITP?
It can still be challenging for some seniors to access the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. First, in many community organizations, there are more clients than volunteers can serve. The resulting long waits can challenge some seniors, who may feel fatigued. It’s a good idea to provide tea, coffee, water and cookies to seniors while waiting.

Second, because many seniors can’t travel to the income tax clinics, community organizations often provide outreach services. However, not many organizations have the volunteer resources to provide such outreach.

Third, many immigrant seniors do not speak Canada’s official languages, English and French. Community organizations may have volunteers who can provide interpretation services but not many have the language resources. Community organizations and the Canada Revenue Agency should continue to consider ways to improve the program.

To find a Community Volunteer Income Tax Program, visit the CRA website

Karen Lok Yi Wong is a social worker in B.C. working with seniors. She was the program coordinator at 411 Seniors Centre Society and lead the centre’s Community Volunteer Income Tax Program in 2017. That year, the program served more than 1,700 clients.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Eating Out in RC: Boteca Brasil


The bright and festive atmosphere of Boteca Brasil will transport you to someplace warm and cozy. Photos by Paul Reid

2545 Nanaimo Street, Vancouver

Call 778-379-7995 for reservations

Open Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner


Even on a dark and rainy Vancouver day, the bright and festive atmosphere of Boteca Brasil will transport you to someplace warm and cozy. And if you are thinking of where to take your sweetie this upcoming Valentine ’s Day, Boteco Brasil will fit that romantic bill.

In Brazil, a “boteco” is place where you go for delicious food, lots of drinks, good music and hang out with friends. Boteco Brasil is where you can do just that – just what the RC area needs! On some nights your dinner at Boteco will be accompanied with live music . You will enjoy some classics of the “música popular Brasileira” (well known as MPB), bossa nova, pop, pagode, samba and many classics of Brazilian music.

Yes, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon when my accomplice and I made this visit to Boteco. No live music at this time, but there was music and as mentioned, our spirits were uplifted, not only by the atmosphere, but by the friendly staff. I’ll add here too, during the sunnier months, one can sit outside on Boteco’s large patio – sweet as well. Probably Renfrew-Collingwood’s best patio.

Back inside, we ordered some drinks. There are lots of fine ones to choose from: a variety of bottled beer, draft beer, wines and some cool-sounding cocktails. There is Cachaçam a Brazilian distilled spirit made from sugar cane. Also Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar and lime. So what did we two wild and crazy kids order? It was an orange juice for her and a Brazilian roasted coffee for me.


The Bobo de Camarao is made of seasoned shrimps on a creamy stew made with red palm oil, cassava, coconut milk, celery and bell peppers.

For the food, the accomplice ordered the Bobo de Camarao ($17): seasoned shrimps on a creamy stew made with red palm oil, cassava, coconut milk, celery and bell peppers. I was drawn to the Feijoada ($16): authentic Brazilian style black beans and pork stew served with basmati rice, sautéed kale, farofa, vinaigrette salsa and a slice of orange. We also ordered an appetizer of Coxinhas ($9) which are crispy potato-based dough pockets stuffed with shredded chicken and spices.

The Coxinhas arrived, along with a garlic infused sauce, and mmm, no wonder these are described as Brazil’s favourite snack – really nice and tasty. The Bobo de Camarao, which my accomplice was sweet enough to allow me to try, was equally impressive. The coconut taste of the sauce reminded me of some Thai dishes I have eaten.

My Feijoada was also good. As with everything else, you could tell that it had been prepared with love and all fresh ingredients. I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about arranging it all. Our very pleasant host explained that the farofa, which I would later learn is a toasted cassava flour mixture used on barbacued meat and hearty stews, can be sprinkled on top.

So basically, you can mix it all together, and boy, and girl, was it good – very nice and filling. I barely had room to finish off the accomplice’s Bobo de Camarao.

Now, it would be time for dessert, but as you now know – we were too full for dessert, BUT, there were some nice-sounding ones: Bolo Prestigio ($6) a rich Brazilian chocolate and coconut cake with “beijino filling and brigadeiro” topping. Also, Pudim De Leite Moca ($6) A rich and creamy flan topped with caramel sauce.

So there we have it – Boteco Brasil would be a good choice to take your sweetie, on Valentine’s, or any time, lunch or dinner. Until next time food fans – bon appetite.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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February 2018 issue of RCC News is here

Happy Chinese new year! There is much to celebrate: Renfrew-Collingwood Community News will be 20 years old in 2019 and we will commemorate this milestone by revisiting some of the memorable community submissions over the years.

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Get Involved page: Next info session on homeless housing at 4410 Kaslo, Feb. 6
  • INTERactive: A Valentine gift to get every heart pumping
  • Celebrating RCC News 20 Years: Strong Women
  • Collingwood Corner: The changing face of Joyce Street
  • Seniors and income tax
  • How to keep your new year’s resolution
  • Eating Out in RC: Boteco Brasil
  • History: Letter from 1958

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email

The deadline for the March 2018 issue is February 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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Eating Out in RC: Pho 99 Broadway Tech Centre

2915 Hebb Avenue (at Renfrew)


Pho 99's Combo Roll plate. Photos by Paul Reid

Pho 99’s Combo Roll plate. Photos by Paul Reid

Greetings food fans. Let me tell you about one of the newer eateries in town, just opened on Easter of 2017. This is definitely the most modern pho restaurant that I have ever encountered. When later talking with manager and franchise owner, Mr. Khanh Tran, he explained to me, “There has been a change in philosophy with our generation, compared to the baby boomers before us.

“They would just cook the food and not pay much attention to the dining area. Now, the new generation wants to create an ambience and the atmosphere, to give the customer a full dining experience, one that is comfortable and relaxed.”

Seafood Noodle in Hot and Sour Soup

Seafood Noodle in Hot and Sour Soup

And that it was. My accomplice and I shared a Combo Roll plate ($7): one salad roll, a fried roll and a grilled minced pork roll. It comes with two delicious sauces. Mmm. I also ordered a large Seafood Noodle in Hot and Sour Soup ($10): with vegetables, squid, prawns and crabmeat. My accomplice had a small pho with chicken meat ($9).

The food arrived swiftly and I will just say that everything was oh-so delicious. Loved it!

Tran explained more about the pho-losophy. This is a meal about balance. All of the ingredients that you put in to the pho soup are there to balance one another out. The crunchiness of the bean sprouts balances with the soft noodles; the lime helps to cut through the fat; the basil goes well with the beef aroma; the hoisin sauce (that brown sauce on the table) can be added if you think the soup is too salty; the hot sauce and jalapenos are there for you to control the spiciness.

Pho 99’s broth takes a full 18 hours to get ready, which adds to that irresistible flavour. Yum!

Tran runs Pho 99 Broadway with his wife, his brother-in-law, Quy, and the full support of his entire family.

“This is Pho 99’s 10th location,” says Tran, “11 if you count the U.S. location,” Tran’s first restaurant.

A local hit with the students and staff of Broadway Tech Centre, Tran hopes to bring the best service and food that they can to our community.

“For us, the bottom line is the people. Did they have a great experience. In our culture, it is the honourable thing to give your guests the best that we can, to treat them as best as we can, and that is our philosophy here.”

Helping out the local community is also very important to Tran and his family, who were among the Vietnamese boat people forced to flee Vietnam. “We have begun working with a local nearby church, St. Jude’s, as well as to provide local high school graduates with ‘celebration vouchers’ for a job well done. We look forward to when the new business becomes more sustainable so that we will be better equipped to help our community even more.”

I suggest you visit Pho 99 and experience the new generation of pho restauarants for yourself. Bon appetit!

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News