Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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March issue of the RCC News is here

Get your March 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery story, library and community centre.

RCC News March 2013

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Albert Battistoni Celebration of Life
  • Changes to park board model under fire by Paul Reid
  • International Women’s Day: On women’s rights and their safety by Robert F. Edwards
  • Voting is as simple as A-B-C!
  • Lots going on with the Reflecting Still Creek project
  • History: Vancouver Vagabonds Club

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Poor Italian Ristorante

3296 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, BC


It was just over three years ago that the old Choppers Diner disappeared from this Rupert and First location and a sign went up that said “Poor Italian.”

And you thought, “Hmm, Poor Italian, maybe this is going to be kind of like Choppers, but like cheap spaghetti and pizza (for us poor Italians).” But then you saw and maybe heard that “no, there ain’t nothing poor about the Poor Italian―this is one fine dining place, valet parking–oh my God! Tony Parsons?” What?

Yes folks, it’s all true. This is one classy dining establishment owned by Tony and the Musconis, an extremely fine addition to the area―if not the finest. The service, I found, was top shelf, the room itself―finely appointed, and the food … well, even this gourmand knows gourmet when he tastes it.

Folks, I am talking about ravioli like no other ravioli that you ever imagined. Silky smooth, melt-in-your-mouth pasta containing the most delicious gems. Choose from porcini and truffle with veal; Italian fennel with sausage, or ricotta and spinach. During Poor Italian’s Lobster Festival starting February 21, there is also sure to be some lobster ravioli.

Makes you say mmmm.

And that mmmm is largely in part to executive head chef Greg Turgeon. Born and bred here in Vancouver, Greg has 31 years of chefery under his hat. He started out in high school, briefly strayed from the path to become a police officer, but thankfully, returned to cooking school.

“I was classically French trained in the beginning,” says Greg, “but then I switched to Italian cooking.” He prefers Italian cooking, he explains, in that it is more simple, more clean. “With just three ingredients, we can make an amazing uncomplicated dish where the flavours really stand out.”

Everything at Poor Italian is made in house, including their famous pasta. Thanks to an expensive commercial-grade pasta machine, Poor Italian is able to make beautiful fresh pasta unlike most can. Their sauces and everything else, too, are high quality, fresh and made in house.

Also in Poor Italian’s arsenal, helping everything to run smoothly and comfortably for everyone, is manager Christian Gaudreault. Christian, who grew up in a small town in Quebec, the eighth of 10 children, grew up in the restaurant industry. “My parents had this large restaurant, 150 seats, that we all worked at. Beginning at about age 10, Christian soon learned through his father how to manage multiple tables and to do it well. “Teamwork is so important. I need my staff to work as a team. I see it like producing a play at a theatre. Everyone needs to know what to do and to work together as a team.”

“As manager, I am always looking to see that the customer is happy. At the end of the day, customer satisfaction is what is important, so I try to make their experience comfortable, like an extension of their home.”

And Christian does just that, making the rounds, making sure everything is perfect, catching up with the regulars and greeting the new folks. “This is my passion. I love food, and I love people.” I believe that. And, I believe that Poor Italian’s reputation will catch up with the reality that it is a restaurant that is accessible and comfortable for 90% of the population.

So don’t be fooled by the white table cloths and the valet parking (Friday and Saturday nights); Poor Italian is as affordable as, say, the White Spot. Sure, you can spend up to say $34 for the Costata di Vitello (10 ounces of grilled grain-fed veal chop, rosemary, garlic and lemon, and seasonal vegetables), but you might also spend $15 on a linguini. My hearty gourmet lunch, with coffee, water and the most delicious bread you ever tasted, was just $20. I know, I know, you could buy two Big Macs and fries for that, but really folks.

Wish I had more space. Don’t forget about Poor Italian’s Valentine’s Day special, followed by their Lobster Festival starting February 21. Bon appetit.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Quick Mind, Quick Feet: Claire Fergusson works toward her softball dreams


For grade 11 Windermere student Claire Fergusson, a love affair with the game that started at age five has now turned into a personal mission to play softball at the college level in the United States. After getting her start playing baseball in the Trout Lake Little League program, Fergusson switched over to softball at age nine and has been playing ever since.

This past fall Fergusson made the prestigious Synergy travel team in Maple Ridge, which focuses on providing young players exposure to college scouts.

“The Synergy team travelled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Houston, in October and November, to showcase local talents whose teams don’t usually travel as much,” explains Fergusson.

Most of the year, however, Fergusson can be found playing for the White Rock Renegades, training year-round, practising up to three days a week. On top of team practices, Fergusson works out once a week on a strength-and-conditioning program (set up by fitness trainer and former college softball player Jill Munro) with the aspiration to one day receive a scholarship to play in the United States.

Like most young athletes, one of Fergusson’s main priorities is to get stronger.

“I’d like to work on upper-body strength mostly,” says Fergusson. “I’m currently working on getting more power hitting right-handed and throwing.”

On top of that, Fergusson is currently perfecting the art of switch hitting, meaning being able to bat both left handed and right handed when called upon. More specifically, she is working on becoming a left-handed “slapper.”

“A left-handed slapper usually just tries to put the ball in play and then beat the throw [to first base] because you can run to first quicker [rather than the right-handed side of the plate],” Fergusson explains. “A lot of the time it screws up the defensive players because they have to always be guessing where [the batter] is going to put the ball.”

This would only add to the repertoire of an already versatile player who can play shortstop, centre field, pitcher and, because of her quickness, usually bats leadoff.

But the physical side of the game is not even her greatest strength, according to Fergusson.

“I think well on my feet, so when I am put in a situation I can make that snap, tenth-of-a-second decision and just go with it,” she says.
This sharpness of the mind is not only confined to the diamond. Claire is currently taking a full academic course load with the intentions of studying kinesiology and physiotherapy while at university. When asked about how she handles this enormous workload to go along with her training, Fergusson claims self-discipline is key.

“Just being able to lay a schedule out and follow it is the biggest thing,” Fergusson says.

Quite the humble athlete, Fergusson points out that she would not be in the position that she is without the support of those around her, particularly her parents and coaches.

With her natural athleticism and smarts to go along with an uncommon work ethic, Fergusson is primed to achieve anything she puts her mind to. Her current mindset is following her dream: attend college in the U.S. while playing the game she loves.

Soren Elsay is a Langara student and an aspiring journalist.

Let’s Play Ball!
Spring is just around the corner. Time to start thinking about signing up your kids to play baseball or softball.

Vancouver Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Trout Lake Little League. Baseball for boys and girls.

Vancouver Minor Baseball. Plays out of Nanaimo Park. February tryout dates.

Burnaby Minor Softball Association. Girls softball.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News