Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Spring cleaning? 10 tips to conquer clutter


Spring cleaningWhen you look around at all the stuff in your home, does the thought of spring cleaning fill you with dread? Have no fear! Here are 10 easy tips to declutter and refresh your living space.

  1. Boxes Ready. Have three boxes. Label them Trash, Donate and Keep.
  2. Love It or Lose It. If you haven’t used it or worn it in six months to a year, you probably don’t love it. Right?
  3. A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place. Buy organizer inserts, baskets, storage bins and label them.
  4. Take It Slow. Clean room by room; clean one room each week.
  5. Beat the Clock. For each room set the timer for one hour. Ready, set, go!
  6. The Basics. Clean windows, mirrors, refrigerator, stove and floors.
  7. Pump Up the Volume. Make it fun, play your favourite tunes while cleaning.
  8. Divide and Conquer. Make it a family affair or hire a cleaning service.
  9. Sell It. Make some money selling your unwanted items.
  10. Reward. Take time to reward yourself at the end of all your hard work!

Born and raised in Vancouver, Cecilia Stewart attended Vancouver Technical high school and now works, lives and raises her family in Renfrew Heights. She is a licensed realtor, home stager and decorator.,, 604-816-1595

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Skytrain 30 years ago

Skytrain Upgrades January 2016

The east side of the Joyce Station where upgrades are taking place place. Photo courtesy of Loretta Houben


The year 1986 was the year of Expo, a world fair to celebrate Vancouver’s 100th birthday. The year many things changed in the Joyce Collingwood area.

For one thing, SkyTrain opened for service on December 11, 1985. Do you remember the excitement of riding for free that month? My husband and I tried it out one foggy day, travelling from Joyce Station to Metrotown Station. The huge mall wasn’t complete, and we got off at Patterson Station by mistake and decided to walk the rest of the way as the trains were so packed. We nearly got lost in the maze of old warehouse buildings which were still standing at that time.

Do you remember the fare was $1.15 for single zone and $2.20 for three zones for adults? And do you remember having to push a button to open the doors when the SkyTrain stopped, as not everyone got off at all stations?

What a change in the Collingwood area since then! Have you been keeping up with the new development planned for this area in the coming years? There have been a few open houses at Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

Exciting and innovative changes are coming for the Joyce SkyTrain Station, too! I live in the area, and since January 2016, the old exercise gym near the community gardens on Translink property has been taken down, along with a few trees including a lovely Kanzan cherry blossom tree, in order for equipment and mobile housing to be stored while the massive upgrades are done.

Loads of gravel have been put in to replace the boggy land along the old suburban pathway. An elevator for the east side will be installed, along with escalators and bike lockers.

SkyTrain’s name was coined for the BC Transit ALRT (advanced light rapid transit) system in 1986 because the first Expo line runs on an elevated guideway, giving passengers a scenic view of the city. Be sure to check out On Track: Early SkyTrain Project Film from 1983 on Youtube, provided by the Buzzer. Going to Town—1985 is another fantastic YouTube clip, showing the changing skyline of our city.

Work began on the SkyTrain line in the spring of 1982. I can remember the huge cement pillars going up in the Joyce area, and I was pleased that such a modern means of transportation was available, although doubtful about riding on a train without an actual person driving on board. In fact, when the trial run took place for free at Main Street station, one of my sisters refused to get on as she thought the train would fall off the track!

SkyTrain was such a new and novel idea, that a pamphlet was printed to show how to use it.  Please see:

If you have memories of SkyTrain and the way it’s affected your life, please share them with us. We’d love to read them. Email

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood. She coordinates the Seniors Connection page of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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East Vancouver swordplay school named Top 5 Emerging Entrepreneur in small business awards

Valkyrie Western Martial Arts - student

A student works on her fencing stance in class. Photos courtesy of Valkyrie Western Martial Arts


Late January 2016, Small Business BC announced the top 5 finalists for all categories of their 13th annual awards. Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly, a school of boxing, wrestling and swordplay in East Vancouver’s Collingwood neighbourhood, was chosen in the Best Emerging Entrepreneur category. This award recognizes a new business that “contributes to the social, cultural and economic well-being of their communities [and] has demonstrated community leadership and entrepreneurial initiative.”

Valkyrie WMAA 1As co-owner Kaja Sadowski puts it, “Martial arts and fitness training offers an important path to personal transformation, self-esteem, self-reliance and lifelong health. Unfortunately, this path is closed to many women, older or unfit people, and members of the LGBT community due to hostile environments and poor training models that cater predominantly to fit, straight, men.”

In the macho, competitive world of mixed martial arts training and high-end fitness, Valkyrie WMAA’s colourful, welcoming space, strict anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, and wealth of strong female role models stand out.

Valkyrie WMAA 2

With over 50 years of combined martial arts experience, the school’s teaching team offers top-tier technical training and fitness support for a diverse student body that includes everyone from competitive athletes to self-described couch potatoes. They’ve also gained the attention and respect of the international martial arts community.

Maija Soderholm is an instructor of Yizong Chinese internal martial arts and Visayan Style Eskrima, a Filipino sword art. She has taught martial arts for over 15 years, including seminars in the United States and Europe.

In her view, “What has been missing for far too long is a space where all people will feel comfortable participating regardless of gender or ability. A school offering top class training on par with the best there is, a place for women, the LGBT community, and for older folks who still wish to enjoy movement and play, alongside the more traditional demographics. Finally we have a place like this. A women-owned martial arts space committed to full inclusivity, and to becoming a vibrant part of the community of which it is part.”

The winners of the Small Business BC Awards will be announced at their award gala on February 25, in front of an anticipated audience of 450 members of B.C.’s entrepreneurial community. To take the top prize, the Valkyrie WMAA team is preparing a Dragon’s Den-style pitch for a six-person judges panel of business, development and marketing professionals.

Says Sadowski, “I’m really excited for it, actually—it’s not every day that we get to introduce this kind of audience to the arts we love, and to really share the big dreams that drive our school.”

Courtney Rice has been studying swordplay for more than 10 years. She is the vice president and co-founder of Valkyrie Martial Arts.

UPDATE: Valkyrie WMAA didn’t win the Top Entrepreneur prize, but it is still achievement to be nominated. Congratulations!

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News