Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Celebrating our 15th annual Collingwood Days with playfulness

Collingwood-Days-2018

This year’s Collingwood Days invites community members to join in on all sorts of play and games, sports and arts alike, that are being held throughout the community. Image source: collingwooddays.com

BY ANDREA BERNECKAS

In May 2003, the first official Collingwood Days celebration took place at the Safeway parking lot at Tyne and Kingsway. Before then, a group of creative community-minded residents had been putting together yearly events to bring people together in shared experiences.

In 2000, there was Faces of Our Neighbourhood, an initiative that led residents on a parade from Collingwood Neighbourhood House to Slocan Park for a community celebration. Mosaic Madness followed in 2001; and in 2002, residents gathered to celebrate the installation of the Renfrew Totem Pole through Nature Meets Art.

The interest and need for regular community celebrations and gatherings brought about both Collingwood Days Festival and the Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, which began September 2003.
After a couple of years at the Safeway location, Collingwood Days Festival moved to the Sir Guy Carleton Elementary school site, where it remained until 2016. After the closure of the school, the festival made the move to its new location at Gaston Park.

Throughout the years, the festival has highlighted the unique stories of Renfrew-Collingwood residents, and over time we have based our festival themes on these stories. We have discovered and showcased the histories of individual community members, the natural environment, artists and performers, local businesses and even our dogs!

What’s new for 2018

This year, we have a particularly fun theme, that of Play and Playfulness – “The quality of being light-hearted or full of fun” – and we invite community members to join in on all sorts of play and games, sports and arts alike, that are being held throughout the community.

Throughout the world there is play. There are schoolyard games, board games, sports and word games. Music, performance and making art can be playful. While we often think of play as something that is only for the young, play is critical to the physical and social well-being of everyone, no matter their age. This wide-ranging theme allows us the space to celebrate ways of playing from around the world.

This year, the festival week begins after the Victoria Day long weekend, on Tuesday, May 22; but you can jump-start playing by joining Family Board Games at Renfrew Library on Sunday, May 20 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm.

Among the many different things happening throughout the community are:

  • Lego Block Party at the Renfrew VPL (May 23, 3:30–4:30 pm)
  • Games Night at the Bamboo Café (May 23, 5–7 pm)
  • Mahjong at Renfrew Park Community Centre (May 24, 11 am–1 pm)
  • Open Mic Night and Board Games at First Lutheran (May 25, 5:30-9 pm)
  • Annual Graham Bruce Carnival (May 25, 4–8 pm)
  • Exhibition of art on the theme of play by the students of Dr. George Weir at Collingwood Branch library
  • Last but not least, Madam Beespeaker, the artist-in-residence at Renfrew Park Community Centre will be holding a Sketch-a-Palooza at Renfrew Community Centre on Sunday, May 27, 1–3:30 pm

Festival day

On Saturday, May 26, Gaston Park will be the site of playful activities ranging from live musical performances such as the Wooly Bears Square Dancing, Balkan Shmalkan and Vietnamese Fan Dancers; roving performers such as Lola Loops, Birds on Parade, and Ariel Amara; art and craft making with Still Moon Arts Society and local artists; as well as games led by InterACTIVE volunteers, Tin Can Studio, and other groups.

This is your chance to try out handball, bocce, backgammon, hoops, and juggling; make paper airplanes in the Artisan Village; and enjoy a variety of multicultural foods. We hope you join in the spirit of play!

Please check the festival insert in the May issue of the RCC News for further details, or visit www.collingwooddays.com

 

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Windermere Law 12 students learn about housing and homelessness crisis at Housing Justice Conference

Windermere Secondary Law 12 classes attended their first Housing Conference. Photo by Maya Cindrich

Windermere Secondary’s Housing Justice Conference 2017

BY MAYA CINDRICH

On Nov. 20, the Windermere Secondary Law 12 classes attended their very first school-organized Housing Conference of 2017.

Key speakers, such as anti-poverty and social justice activist Jean Swanson, gave detailed presentations about Vancouver’s ever-rising homelessness epidemic and what the students as youth, could do to put an end to homeless.

The conference began with a presentation by Jean Swanson, who covered a wide array of topics that tie into Vancouver’s massively increasing homelessness population, such as the $41,000 tax decrease on the wealthy since the 1970s, and the decrease in social housing and inadequate funding from the provincial and federal governments.

Jean also pressed the importance of decisions that will affect our future with housing for the better, saying, “If we can get a man to the moon, why can’t we end homelessness?” Jeans stated simple facts that would inevitably end homeless such as bringing back higher taxes on the wealthy, providing more social housing opportunities and, of course, gaining rent control.

The second part to the conference consisted of students picking their own presentations to attend, according to their own interests. Going with the housing theme, I was the most interested in the presentation about Tiny Homes and Co-op Housing, given by Samantha Gambling and Fiona Jackson.

With the help of these two women, our group of students learned about all the possible aids to not just lower class homelessness as we see it, but our suffering middle class as well. Samantha gave a detailed presentation of her life as a woman owning and living in an affordable, sustainable and ecofriendly tiny home on wheels, and the challenges and the rewards.

I got to learn about zoning –which is a term that basically means what can be built on a piece of land or lot – that I hadn’t known about before. I also got to learn about the eco-friendly alternatives that come with living in a tiny home, for example, “humanure.” Samantha showed us a photograph of her toilet that had been altered to spit up solid and liquid waste, where it could then be sterilized in a bin outside for farming purposes. For me, that piece of information was interesting but wasn’t the highlight of our time together.

Fiona Jackson, however, gave a presentation on co-op housing and the benefits that come with being a part of a non-profit organization. With her, we got a more thorough look into co-ops. We learned about the democratic and business approach to co-op housing, where everyone “aims to break even.” She spoke about the different co-ops in Vancouver, and the ones being built as I’m sitting here typing this. For a short moment she even indulged into the history of co-ops, letting us know that the very first recorded existence of one was in Rochdale England, 1849.

All this brings up the pressing question: is housing a commodity or a human right? Personally, I can give a definitive answer to this question. It would simply be facts against beliefs. I believe it should be seen as a basic human necessity. No one in this world should sleep without a roof over their head, or not have a place to come home to.

Nevertheless, my eyes are still open to the fact that as of now housing is in fact a commodity. Until a real change occurs, whether that be in the form of higher taxes on the wealthy or gaining rent control, housing will continue to be a game of status. A show of sorts. A gamble for the poor, but a game for the wealthy.

Maya Cindrich is a Grade 12 student attending Windermere Secondary. She aims to better her knowledge of our justice system and one day become someone that makes a change, however big or small.

Homelessness addressed at Windermere Housing Justice Conference

Jean-Swanson-Housing-Conference

At the Windermere Housing Justice Conference held on Nov. 20, guest speaker and activist Jean Swanson proposed that the government introduce a mansion tax. Photo by Veronica Kong

BY VERONICA KONG

The Vancouver Housing crisis has affected many individuals who are currently homeless in Vancouver. So how can we work towards ending homelessness?

At the Windermere Housing Justice Conference held on Nov. 20, Guest speaker and activist Jean Swanson proposed that the government introduce a mansion tax. With this progressive property tax, we could end homelessness in a year. The mansion tax would bring in an extra $174 million annually, which could be used to build 2,138 modular homes for each counted homeless person in Vancouver. The cost of building the modular homes would only cost $160 million, which will take less than one year of revenue from the mansion tax.

There are other ways that we can deal with the housing crisis. Co-op housing and tiny houses can also contribute to ending homelessness.

In co-op housing, the members own the co-op, but the co-op owns the housing. Therefore, rent and other housing factors are voted on between the members. This means that the members work together to keep their housing well-managed and affordable.

Another alternative housing option are tiny houses. These houses are fully functional, customizable and has the capacity to be moved to other locations. The tiny houses are designed and built on the principles of affordability, community and sustainability. The downside to tiny houses is that they are currently not legal in Vancouver.

Homelessness affects many individuals in health and other factors. We should not treat housing as a game for the rich when it causes others to suffer. Housing is a human right and should not be taken away from us.

Veronica Kong is a Law 12 student at Windermere Secondary. She is currently trying to raise awareness on  such issues as homelessness and housing justice.

Windermere Secondary hosts housing conference

BY VINCENT WU

“If we can put people on the moon, why can’t we end homelessness.”

This was an amazing quote by keynote speaker and Order of Canada recipient Jean Swanson at Windermere’s Housing Conference on Nov. 20, 2017.

During the brief hour we heard her speak, she discussed the present and future of housing in Vancouver. Did you know in the 1970s over 760 social housing units were built every year, but now the number has decreased to only 11?

Back then welfare was more than enough to be able to survive. Now, welfare only supplies $710 per month, which is not enough to even rent a one-room apartment. One of the main reasons for this was because taxes on the richest one percent have decreased by $41,000 since the 1970s.

To combat this situation, Swanson has lobbied for a mansion tax. This tax would increase property taxes of houses ranging from $5 to 10 million by one percent and houses over $10 million by two percent. This would end homelessness within one year.

The next presenter, 23-year-old co-founder of City Hive Tessica Troung, showed that Vancouver was no longer affordable. In order to save enough money for a 20 percent down payment of a house in 1976, it would take five years. Compared to today, it would take over 25 years. Studies show millennials earn $8,000 less than their parents even though they have more education. Vancouver housing is a real problem that we need to solve.

Vincent Wu is active in the community. He was one of the marketing and promotion managers for Youth Celebrate Canada Day 2017.

Housing: Why you should care and how you can fix it

BY DYLAN LE

Imagine being evicted out of your home and forced to move. Your new neighbourhood doesn’t have any grocery stores, Skytrain stations or community centres nearby, but it’s the best you can afford. Now let that happen to you again and again, until you’re dwindled down to nothing, leaving you homeless.

The situation I just described is that of gentrification. It is a term used to describe affluent people moving in historically less wealthy neighbourhoods. Gentrification is closely associated to capitalism, which is the economic and political system for the private ownership of goods and services with the objective to accumulate more wealth. Capitalism and gentrification are two prime issues that leave many in the Lower Mainland homeless.

Why does gentrification happen and how do landlords profit from it? By evicting your tenants, you can legally raise the price of rent however high you want. How many times can you be evicted, and rent be increased until there is nowhere you can stay?

Capitalism can be found in Vancouver’s Chinatown. To cater to the wealthier residents, more and more coffee shops are opening up. However, the majority of locals, especially long-time residents, in Chinatown are less interested in coffee shops and prefer traditional stores. This hurts the culture of Chinatown and the community that the locals have built.

(For more information visit https://chinatownaction.org)

5 responses to Vancouver’s housing crisis

Regulation

  • Higher taxes for real estate speculators
  • Limit foreign ownership

Using Public Powers and Assets

  • Community land trust
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Inclusionary zoning

Yes in My Backyard

  • Support shelters being built in your neighbourhood

Support Renters

  • Encourage new rental investments
  • Protect renters’ rights
  • Stop home ownership bias

Vote for Housing

  • Pay attention to the news show support for an affordable housing market.

Become aware of the issues in the housing market and how we can respond to it. We can bring Vancouver’s housing crisis to an end.

Housing rally: More action needed to address housing crisis

Housing rally

The November 2017 housing rally was hosted by the Vancouver Tenants Union, Chinatown Action Group and Carnegie Community Action Program. Photo by Jordan Gammon-Fischer

BY JANICE ZENG

The housing rally on Nov. 25, 2017, was a great opportunity to take action in regards to the housing crisis.

When I arrived, a speaker was talking about the purpose of National Housing Day. It is a day on the calendar, but it is not a holiday. Nobody says “Happy National Housing Day,” for it is not a day to celebrate. It is a serious day for social justice and action regarding housing.

The speaker talked about how, last year, many people ended up on the streets around Hastings. Many tents were put up, which lead to the police arresting 700 people. Homelessness is not a crime, and jailing people that are already in a difficult living situation is cruel.

After the speakers, it was time to grab a poster and begin the rally. Leading the rally were people wearing ponchos that spell out “10,000 In Social Housing Every Year For BC.” Many posters were in Chinese as the situation with Chinatown was a big issue discussed that day.

During the march, we chanted, “Get up, Get down, There’s a housing movement in this town,” “The people united will never be defeated,” “What’s our housing strategy? 10,000 homes in BC,” “What do we want? Housing! When do we want it? Now! (we also said the same phrase in Chinese),” and “We are ready to fight, housing is a human right.”

There was a lot of passion and anger in the people’s voices. As we marched, we passed by many homeless people and tents – that just adds volume to what we’re advocating for.

We heard more speakers at the end of the march. First up was Jean Swanson and it was very nice to hear her talk again. She is very passionate about housing, she has dissected the recently released national housing strategy. The context of the document is very disappointing, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not taking appropriate actions towards the cause.

Swanson explained that this “housing strategy” is nothing but a re-election strategy for the Liberal party. What I found most upsetting was their definition of affordable. The plan defines affordable as “30% of units having rents at or less than 80% of median market rents, for a minimum of 20 years.”

One example that Swanson gave was if the median rent is $2,000 per month, 80% of it would be $1,600. Thus, you would need to make $65,000 a year to afford rent. How is that remotely affordable when the average salary in Vancouver is only $56,000?

Afterwards, we had an activist part of the Chinatown movement come speak. I didn’t get to go to the Chinatown workshop, so it was nice getting to learn about it during the rally. The speaker told us about an empty lot and described it as the heart of Chinatown. The lot was the battleground where development plans  have been defeated by a coalition of the city’s most marginalized people – not just once, but five times. The speaker said that they have won the battle, but they have not officially won until the empty lot can become a home for the most marginalized and hard working people of society.

The final presentation was directed against Justin Trudeau. They prepared a dummy with a printed picture of Trudeau’s face attached to it. The speaker displayed a giant poster and began educating Trudeau. She took him back to school about the definition of affordability and the basics of problem solving. The audience had a nice laugh and it was an entertaining way to end the event.

Janice Zeng is a Grade12 student at Windermere Secoundary. She attended the Housing Rally to have her voice heard and hear from fascinating activists.

“Nobody says ‘Happy National Housing Day,’ for it is not a day to celebrate. It is a serious day for social justice and action regarding housing.”


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Collingwood Corner: Joyce Station before and after

1950 Collingwood West Station Rupert And Vanness

Collingwood West Station, 1950, at Rupert and Vanness. Photo by Ted Clark, Richmond Archives

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Many things have changed since the long-ago days when British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) first ran a track through the Collingwood neighbourhood in 1891, travelling from New Westminster through to downtown Vancouver. Collingwood was built up along the track for homeowners who worked downtown, but because of the new streetcar system, could commute quickly while living in a lower-priced and quiet area.

There were originally two stations in Collingwood: Collingwood West at the corner of Rupert
Street and Vanness, high up near the bridge which crossed Rupert, and Collingwood East, located near the Joyce Station at Vanness and Joyce, on the west side of Joyce.

Today, the Skytrain runs through the East station, and it recently has been drastically renovated.

Collingwood East Station By Phillip Timms

Collingwood East Station. Photo by Philip Timms, Vancouver Archives, CVA 677-386

Translink has been working on enlarging the East Joyce Station since January 2016, and I noticed one gate on the south side, facing Vanness, was opened the first week in October 2017. The north gate is still closed as the work isn’t quite finished.

The newly renovated station has a set of escalators, an elevator, a place to safely store bikes and a building for commercial use. It’s very modern looking with beautiful artwork that resembles stained glass in the window near the escalators. It’s quite a remarkable improvement from 100 years ago!

To read more about the BCER and interurban history, please visit this Translink post online: http://buzzer.translink.ca/2009/03/a-short-history-of-interurbans-in-the-lower-mainland/

Joyce Station by Loretta Houben

New Collingwood East Station. Photo by Loretta Houben, Oct. 2017

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident of Collingwood and is completely enthralled with the new Joyce station on the east side.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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The Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Veterans Memorial Mural of Grandview-Collingwood Legion, Branch #179

Part of the photo-realistic 6th Street Mural completed by artists Nick Gregson, David Mercer, John De Matos and Jesom. Photos by Paul Reid

BY PAUL REID

Three years since it was first rendered, the Veterans Memorial Mural that was painted onto the walls of Branch #179 is looking as fresh as ever.

In 2014, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #179 commissioned local mural artist Nick Gregson to give the walls of the branch a facelift. Nick worked with the branch to come up with a design. Four months after the first strokes were made, the transformation and resulting mural were nothing short of miraculous.

Nick and his volunteer crew (John De Matos, David Mercer, Jesom) worked throughout the summer and into the fall months, right up until Remembrance Day.

“This was a huge project. I wish we had more time to put in more detail,” says volunteer painter, David Mercer when interviewed on that day of its completion in 2014. “It’s something we worked hard at doing – just wish we had another month. But we’re quite proud of it and have been getting positive remarks.”

All who see the Veterans Memorial Mural will agree that the amount of detail on this mural is incredible. Using photos provided by Branch #179, the painters were able to capture near photo-realistic renditions of the faces of the Branch #179 members, sports teams and veterans of today and of the past.

“I have seen a lot of branch murals,” says Gerry Vowles, “and I think this must be one of the best, if not the best.” A member of  the branch since 1980 and former BC/Yukon Command President, Mr. Vowles is a retired Canadian Forces veteran who has served in many executive capacities throughout his RCL career at Branch, Zone and Provincial Command levels.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nick Gregson at work on the Veterans Memorial Mural.

Nickolas Gregson’s artistic practice is rooted in graffiti and community-centered public art. Raised in East Vancouver, Gregson drew inspiration from local street art and the sanctioned graffiti spaces of Leeside Tunnel Skateboard Park.

In the same year that he created the Veterans Memorial Mural, Gregson launched the Metro Vancouver Art and Mural Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to building stronger communities through public art. Since that time, Gregson’s art and mural society has been transforming Vancouver’s blank walls into vibrant murals.

Being that it is such an exceptional work of art, the branch hopes to keep it up for years to come. “It’s been laminated,” explained Dave, when being interviewed about the mural back in 2014, “so if anyone tags it with graffiti, it will just wash off and be as good as new.” Thanks to the vigilant maintenance by the branch, it has remained as such.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Still Moon Arts brings Still Creek to life through art, memories and history

Still Moon Performance

Lost and Found Performance: Carmen Rosen sings an original music piece composed by Isaac Rosen-Purcell, joined by youth dancers and fiddlers. Photo by Kat Wadel

BY JULIE CHENG

The sound of trickling water got louder as we tread carefully down the path. Through the trees we glimpsed a young man hopping over the water and rocks.

On this sunny September afternoon, we found ourselves on the edge of Still Creek in the Renfrew Ravine, immersed in a performance by the Still Moon Arts Society called Still Creek: Lost and Found.

The young man, Hamish Hutchison-Poyntz, tells the story of playing in the ravine with friends and making sure to avoid the older bullies who would throw rocks at them. Then he was gone in a flash, running down the stream. We followed after him along the safer path.

Still Moon Boy in Still Creek

Hamish Hutchison-Poyntz tells the story of playing in the ravine as a young boy. Photos by Julie Cheng

The performance draws from an important new book about the Still Creek watershed, which starts near Central Park and winds its way through Renfrew Ravine and on through Burnaby Lake before emptying into the Fraser River. The book, What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found, brings together artwork, poetry, historical research and archival photos. At the heart of the book are the stories, collected over two years, from local residents who lived and played in and around Still Creek.

You could say the book documents the love affair Carmen Rosen has had with the Renfrew Ravine and Still Creek since she moved into the neighbourhood in 2000.

What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found

What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found brings together artwork, poetry, historical research and archival photos.

Renfrew Ravine was the inspiration for the annual Harvest Moon Festival, started in 2003 and now just finished its 15th year this past September. The Ravine Sanctuary Garden, the 27th Avenue labyrinth and the 22nd Avenue yin yang bench were projects lead by Carmen with organizations including local artists in the Arts Pow Wow, Evergreen and the Windermere Leadership program.

In 2009, Still Moon Arts, Windermere Leadership students and the Department of Fisheries released chum salmon fry in Still Creek. And in 2012, the salmon returned to spawn in Still Creek for the first time in 80 years.

The stories of art, celebration, people and the salmon are woven together in What Comes to Light. What becomes apparent in this book is an enduring love and respect of art, nature and people can bring us all together and make great things happen.

Find more information on What Comes to Light: Stories of Still Creek Lost & Found at http://stillmoon.org/projects-2/still-creek-stories/

 

Old Ted was kind of short, stalky, had worked hard all his life … He lived a real homesteaders’ life with oil lamps in the house and water from a pump and he had pigs and chickens when none of us were allowed to. He was just grandfathered in, probably in his 80s, they thought he’d die soon so it was okay, then he actually lived to 107.

– Daniel McNeil

Still Moon Twetie Chickens

Laura Crema holds the chickens, which were made by Robin Lough, as the story of Ted Twetie and his chickens were told.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Gathering of Canoes – 2017 Pulling Together Journey

Canoe-journey

Photos by Penny Lim

BY PENNY LIM

The Gathering of Canoes was a long-anticipated event, one of the Canada 150th birthday events and the culmination of the annual Pulling Together Canoe Journey. First Nations paddlers – including our very own Collingwood C.R.E.W. based out of Collingwood Neighbourhood House – started up the Sunshine Coast and participants joined in along the way.

Months of hearing of this historic undertaking coming to town. The day dawned. On July 14, 2017, a crowd waited breathlessly at Vanier Park for a sighting of these 23 canoes.

Canoe-journey-3

Here they come! The canoes circled in their protocol before landing. The paddlers asked for permission to land on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Canoe-journey-2

The excitement was heavy in the air. The ceremony was very inclusive, with the RCMP, Police Department and Mayor amongst the paddlers. The different tribes got to know each other, too.

Witnessing this moment was a privilege in life. Absolutely exciting and joyous! Electric waves of emotion.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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August 2017 issue of RCC News is here

Renfrew-Collingwood Community News August 2017

This issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community 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:

  • Skytrain Rambler: Evergreen line connects history from Renfrew-Collingwood to Port Moody
  • Lots happening at Still Moon Arts Society
  • Photos of informal learning in Renfrew-Collingwood by John Mendoza
  • Homeless program raising funds in the neighbourhood
  • Shop local farmers markets
  • Gathering of canoes – Photo montage by Penny Lim
  • Read On! Many reasons to love Renfrew-Collingwood by Tony Wanless
  • Latin festival returns to new venues – Swangard Stadium and Rickshaw Theatre

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the September 2017 issue is August 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.