Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Artists bring people together at Slocan Park


A group of artists has a new home to meet and share their work with the Renfrew-Collingwood community. The group, called the Art House in the Field Collective, will turn the empty caretaker’s suite in Slocan Park field house into a hub of arts activity as part of an artist-in-residency program sponsored by the Vancouver Park Board.

The community and local artists have been involved in the development of Slocan Park for many years, notes January Wolodarsky, one of the artists in the collective and the director of community development at the Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

“Suddenly a neighbourhood that had no dedicated space for arts activity, and has worked so hard on community-engaged art, now has this wonderful place,” she says.

“I’m really excited about the possibilities that come out of the field house. The neighbourhood will really benefit.”

Everyone is welcome. “If you have a creative skill, you’re welcome to come out and share. If you want to come out and find out what’s going on, you’re welcome to participate.”

Artists like Yoko Tomita and Alexis Macdonald Seto, of the Renfrew Collingwood Multicultural Artist Network; Carmen Rosen, of Still Moon Arts; and Jolene Andrew, of the local Aboriginal Youth Canoe Club, plan to offer community workshops in lantern making, felting, visual arts, costume design and carving, among others.

A welcoming tradition – Building Community through Cultural Expression

This new home for local arts is the latest achievement coming out of a vibrant multicultural arts scene that, you could say, started from a scraped knee and a longing to feel at home more than 15 years ago.

In summer 1997, January Wolodarsky was comforting her daughter, Tuedon, who had just tumbled onto the concrete near the wading pool at Slocan Park. A newcomer from Japan, where she worked as an environmental artist, January couldn’t help but think of ways to create more welcoming spaces in the park.

January brought her ideas to Collingwood Neighbourhood House, where then-executive director Paula Carr stitched together residents and artists to lead the project Building Community through Cultural Expression.

The project launched a community-driven plan to renew Slocan Park, eventually leading to the Duchess Walkway, the covered area and field house renovations. It also started the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News and the Aboriginal Youth Canoe Club.

Celebration artist Carmen Rosen received a warm welcome soon after she moved to the neighbourhood on Christmas Eve, 1999. “Within the first month, January came over and asked me what I was passionate about.” Carmen recalls. “I was supported from the very first moment I moved in.”

Carmen talked about a seasonal cycle of celebrations and, within six months, she organized her first celebration in Slocan Park as part of the Building Community project. She would go on to create the annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, which has drawn thousands of participants for the past 10 years.

This new Slocan Park artist in residency continues this tradition of bringing people together through art and helping newcomers express their creativity and feel like they belong. For more information, go to

Julie Cheng was a founding member of Building Community through Cultural Expression and is currently the editor of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

© Copyright (c) 2012 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Fine Indian Fusion
3499 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC


Greetings, food fans. A show of hands―how many of you have discovered the goodness which is Mezbaan? And how many of you are regulars? I am guessing about the same. Let’s go back over the reasons for such an assumption.

Let’s start with the heart of Mezbaan’s popularity―the buffet.

First, we have all of that delicious food. With about 12 main dishes, along with the dessert section, the buffet offers us a generous assortment of gourmet offerings. Usually, it is the Indian classics that we will find here, while on Wednesdays, it is the fusion side of Mezbaan that gets a chance to shine. Indian-style Chinese food; Indian-style Mexican food and lasagna are popular on Wednesdays. In fact, with the exception of the butter chicken and rice, the entire buffet switches into fusion mode. “Total Fusion” is what it has been dubbed.

Secondly, we have the buffet’s all-you-can-eat factor. I don’t know about you, but there is something comforting in knowing that one can eat until their heart is content. Yes, folks, feel free to pig out. As long as you do not waste food, no foul in heading back for more.

And finally, folks, and what sets Mezbaan apart, and scoring high, high, HIGH, on the Gourment/Gourmand’s Scale of Goodness*, is the price for such excellent food. Hold onto your hats, but if you didn’t know already, the fine buffet at Mezbaan’s can be experienced for the amazing pittance of just $7.99!. Did he say $7.99? I did.

But wait, there’s more. That’s for lunch OR DINNER! Yes, on Mondays and Wednesdays, the buffet is available ALL DAY for just $7.99. Wednesdays, remember, feature the fusion goods, so that, my friends, is the place to be Wednesday nights. The buffet, now available every night at Mezbaan, is always an excellent deal, even at its regular dinner price of just $10.95.

In concluson: All you can eat, gourmet food by five-star chefs, here in Collingwood, for less than you would likely spend at McDonalds. Case rested.

Apart from the buffet, Mezbaan offers a full array of Indian and fusion-style dishes. Recommendations include the Mango Chicken and the Prawn Coconut Curry. Actually, all of the coconut dishes are superb. “We do not buy packaged spices,” says Chef T.J., “We buy them whole and then ground them up.”

Chef T.J., co-owner and head chef of Mezbaan, is a former chef at five-star restaurants in New Delhi, who was hand picked to work in such restaurants as Handi and Saffron. Now he is joined by two other five-star chefs: Chef Harry and Chef Mandeep, also from New Delhi.

New at Mezbaan: The chefs at Mezbaan are always introducing new fusion items to the menu. We can also be on the lookout for Indian sweets―coming soon to Mezbaan. Chef T.J. asks that we keep our eyes out for the Mezbaan flyer―which contains their menu for all of your take-out needs, discount coupons, and the entry form for the Mezbaan prize draw. The first draw will be held on Christmas―prizes include dinner for Mezbaan―up to $100 value.

So if you haven’t been to Mezbaan, or it’s been awhile, go taste the deliciousness for yourself and let’s put a permanent line-up outside a door that deserves it. Bon appetit.

© Copyright (c) 2012 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News