Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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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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City plans housing for homeless residents at 4410 Kaslo


The paths around the current garden at 4410 Kaslo are heavily used by commuters as a thoroughfare to the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and bus loop. Photos by Julie Cheng

Community garden near the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station slated to become Vancouver’s latest site for temporary modular housing


Dec. 13, 2017, local residents packed the First Hungarian Presbyterian Church in the first of two information sessions to find out more about the temporary modular housing that the City of Vancouver has planned for 4410 Kaslo Street.

Currently a community garden, 4410 Kaslo is located across from the 29th Avenue SkyTrain station and Slocan Park. One three-storey building with 50 units is being considered there as housing for people experiencing homelessness.

Kaslo is the city’s fourth site planned for such housing, following sites in the Marpole neighbourhood and on Franklin and Powell streets in the Downtown Eastside.

Together the four sites make up roughly 200 out of the 600 new units of temporary modular housing that the city aims to place across Vancouver. The city is working on six to seven more sites, according to Abi Bond, director of affordable housing community services.


Jennifer Gray-Grant of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Chris Taulu of Collingwood Community Policing Centre were among the many community members who attended the 4410 Kaslo information sessions.

Vancouver’s first temporary modular housing at 220 Terminal Avenue opened in February 2017 and has been a “big success,” says Luke Harrison, CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. “It’s operating beautifully. There’s been no increase in crime. The residents have been good neighbours.”

Staff from Atira Women’s Resources Society will manage the Kaslo site and will connect its residents to support services such as health services.

Development permit timeline

December 13 and 14, 2017: Community information session to present project and gather feedback.

December 22, 2017: Public can provide input until December 22 via email ( or at the community information sessions.

January 2018: Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency applies for a development permit to build temporary modular housing at 4410 Kaslo Street.

January to February 2018: City and community partners hold another community information session to present the project and listen to feedback. Public has the opportunity to provide input for one week after the community information session via email ( or at the community information session.

February 2018: The city’s director of planning determines whether a development permit will be issued.

Spring 2018: Once approved, it takes about three months for construction to be completed.

For more information visit

Current City of Vancouver temporary modular housing projects

Franklin Street – 39 units on a 18,913 square-foot lot

Powell Street – 39 units on a 21,203 square-foot lot

Marpole – 2 buildings of 39 units; total 78 units on a 65,198 square-foot lot

Kaslo Street – 50 units on a 20,139 square-foot lot

The building sizes for Franklin, Powell and Marpole are about 15,000 square feet for each 39-unit structure, according to Luke Harrison of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. The building planned for Kaslo would be closer to 25,000 square feet.

Did you know?
The 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver reports more than 2,100 people living in homeless shelters or on the street within Vancouver.

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9th annual Climate Change Conference by Windermere Leadership students

Calling all students: What will be your legacy?


Calling out youth in the Lower Mainland! It’s that time of the year again, Windermere Leadership’s ninth annual Climate Change Conference (C3) is happening on Friday, December 1, 2017! This year’s theme is What Will Be Your Legacy?  

We decided on this theme because we wanted to deliver the message that our time here on this beautiful Earth is fleeting. Decades from now when climate change has done its damage on this planet, will you be able to be satisfied with the actions you have took? What have you contributed towards our planet? It implies to take action and do something that will leave a positive impact for future generations. 

What is C3?

The idea came about not too long ago, from just a group of Leadership students who wanted to educate and spread awareness about climate change to primarily youth.  

Climate change is upon us more than ever in this day and age. Temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting and, in turn, sea levels are rising more than we’ve ever seen before.  

Yet youth are still turning a blind eye to this pressing crisis. This is why the Windermere Leaderships students present C3. In the past, we’ve had workshops revolving around fracking, LNG, food security, water and more.  

Now, each year the Grade 11 Leadership class is involved in continuing this vision. Our goals are for everyone to leave the conference with a heightened knowledge of climate change, and be able to walk out feeling inspired to take action and apply that knowledge in the real world. 

The entire day is student-led and organized by the Windermere Leadership 11 class. The day starts off with inspiring keynote speakers, then attendees break off into different morning workshops, followed by a lunch break, then an afternoon workshop.  

Workshops are determined by the attendees’ choice when they register. They range from more information-heavy sessions to hands-on activities to team bonding. This provides opportunities to network with other youth passionate about sustainability, like yourself! There is an option to buy lunch upon registering, and as always this is a zero-waste event so everyone must bring their own cutlery! 

Now that you have a better understanding about this phenomenal event, we encourage you to come join us! You can register online on our website, and get notified on any additional information such as our workshops and speakers for this year by following us on social media! Hope to see you there! 


Facebook: @c3vancity

Twitter: @c3vancity

Instagram: @c3vancity

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Windermere Law 12 students take action on homelessness


All proceeds from the Windermere Law 12 clothing drive go to the local Morning Star Program, which helps the homeless. Photo submitted

Clothing drive to support the Morning Star program


The homeless, housing and affordability crisis at an all-time high:

  • The most recent homeless count found that there are 828 more people who identify as homeless in Vancouver. This is an astounding 30% increase since 2014, which is the highest increase to date in Vancouver.
  • The number of homeless seniors (55 and over) went up by 185, which makes up 23% of the homeless population.
  • The crisis has particularly affected the Indigenous population. Metro Vancouver found that 34% of the homeless population identify as Indigenous, despite making up a mere 2.5% of the overall population.

The Morning Star Program, located at Collingwood Neighbourhood House, is dedicated to helping low-income families and individuals that have been affected by the housing and homelessness crisis in Vancouver. Staff provide recreational, educational, social and cultural programs for members of the community. They offer everything from day camps for children, support for Indigenous people, services for seniors, and food security programs such as shower and breakfast programs and rooftop gardening.

Morning Star gives so much to our community, and it’s time we give back, to aid them in supporting people affected by the housing and homeless crisis that has struck citizens all across Metro Vancouver.

Clothing drive

Law 12 students from Windermere Secondary School are hosting a clothing drive from October 10 to 20, 2017, to assist members of our community who are vulnerable to poverty. They are also hosting an educational campaign on housing, homelessness and the affordability crisis in Vancouver and will be studying long-term issues around affordability and renting in Vancouver.

The class is looking for new socks and underwear, new toiletries such as toothbrushes and soap, and lightly used clothing cleaned and ready for use. Donations can be dropped off at Room 211 at Windermere Secondary School, or directly to the Collingwood Neighborhood House. All proceeds will be going straight to the Morning Star Program, so come on down and support those who need your help.

Katie Frain is a student in the Law 12 class at Windermere Secondary.

Time is ticking on the homelessness problem


Homelessness isn’t “necessary.”

It’s a problem that policymakers can address and take action to improve the situation. Despite that, homelessness is still on the rise in Canada, specifically in Metro Vancouver where the number of homeless people rose up 30% this year, as compared to the most recent count in 2014.

More than 1,032 people are unsheltered, sleeping in doorways and alleys, or simply couchsurfing in Metro Vancouver. Furthermore, an additional 2,573 people are living in homeless shelters or transitional houses.

Too many Canadians are feeling the effects of the ever-growing housing crisis, and it’s time to take assertive action on homelessness!

Causes of homelessness

With nearly one in every 300 residents homeless in Vancouver, what is the main cause of homelessness?

The main cause of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing – due to rising housing prices and the average house in Metro Vancouver costing around $860,000, according to the Globe and Mail. This leaves most people scurrying to find a place to rent. Even while renting, an average person living with a roommate can start paying at $2,000+. That hefty price tag doesn’t even include taxes, student loans and personal needs, so imagine the price of living alone.

That leaves most Vancouverites needing to make $50,000+ per year, per person in order to even have enough money to pay rent. That kind of money is only achievable for a fraction of people, resulting in more homeless people in Vancouver than any other cities in British Columbia.

Alyssa Yan and Cindy Chen are students in the Law 12 class at Windermere Secondary.

Alarming homelessness numbers – No end in sight but there’s help around the corner


Homelessness is a rising issue in British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, and it’s no secret. There are so many keys that factor into the cause of people ending up on the streets. However, all but one is very obvious; housing affordability.

This year’s homeless count has skyrocketed due to lack of income and the outrageous housing costs of the real estate market. According to the same survey, the report counted 3,605 homeless people in total–a 30% increase since the last report in 2014. Yet, this number doesn’t include those who don’t seek help from public services, or are living in the crooks and nannies of places where volunteers aren’t able to find them.

According to Vancouver Sun (Sept. 15, 2017), “Vancouver rental cost for one-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is now $2,020.” It’s going to get even harder for many people to make ends meet. Lack of income and the sizzling real estate market, it couldn’t be more difficult.

About half of the people surveyed in the 2017 Metro Vancouver Homelessness Survey stated that they were residents of the city for over a decade before ending up on the streets. Yet, we should keep in mind that this method of counting the number of homeless people all across the Lower Mainland only accounts for those in the state of absolute homelessness.

Types of homelessness

Absolute homelessness is the “visible” homelessness that we see on a day-to-day basis, such as those on the streets.

Meanwhile, there are many more people who are considered in the stage of “hidden homelessness.” Hidden homelessness is where these people have the opportunity to stay in shelters or are “urban couch-surfers”—those who do not have a regular address and temporarily stay in another household.

iceberg homeless count

Visible homelessness is only the tip of the iceberg compared to homelessness as a whole. Source: 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver

Often times, visible homelessness is only the tip of the iceberg compared to homelessness as a whole (as shown in the iceberg image, provided by the 2017 Metro Vancouver Homelessness Survey report).

In addition to this, there is the idea of “relative homelessness”—when people are one pay cheque away from reaching the point of hidden homelessness.

With temperatures dropping, and Vancouver’s unpredictable weather, shelters are expected to be packed, while many others shiver in the freezing weather. Public services such as serving hot meals, food banks, and other programs are forecasted to be jam-packed with volunteers and guests for this winter season.

Are you looking for help?

The Collingwood Neighbourhood House is located in East Vancouver, and the Morning Star program for serving homeless folks occurs every Saturday morning from 7 to 10 am. Showers, a community breakfast, clothing exchange, and much more are offered to those who seek support.

Christal Do is a student at Windermere Secondary taking the Law 12 class.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Easter Seals Camps make a difference

Join the Woman2Warrior fundraiser on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Swangard Stadium

Mohini Takhar Easter Seals Camp

At Easter Seals campsites, anything is possible, says Mohini Takhar.


“Camp is the best place on earth” is the famous phrase of Easter Seals BC/Yukon. Easter Seals provides accessible camps for children and more recently opened them up for young adults as well. These camps are extraordinary as they are designed for people with disabilities. They are located in Squamish, Winfield and Shawnigan. I have been going to Squamish for the past four years.

One word to sum up my experience is “magical.” And yes, I am talking about the version with fairy dust and wishes. You can be your own superhero if you want. At Easter Seals campsites, anything is possible.

At these campsites, children are able to face their fears and try things they have never done before. There is this activity called The Big Swing, but it essentially is ziplining. The first time I tried ziplining, I was probably thrilled but also terrified! The strangest thing is that it was the best feeling I’ve ever felt. That’s what this camp gives you. It will give you the opportunity to surprise yourself in wonderful ways. That’s the great thing about the camp. You can let go and be yourself, probably in ways you didn’t even know about. You kind of discover yourself and find the things you love.

Being yourself. It’s a bigger and more complicated topic for people with disabilities. My 24-year-old friend Emily Anderson says, “Camp gives me a sense of belonging, a place where I can just be me and not worry about not fitting into either the abled-bodied or disabled worlds.” Anderson uses a mixture of a crutch and a wheelchair to get around. She says, “When I was little, I didn’t want to go to camp, but by the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave.” Once you go to one of these camps, you’re in it forever.

Easter Seals Camps are magical

Children and young adults are able to face their fears and try things they have never done before at Easter Seals camps.

Easter Seals makes summer camp possible for people who need minimal and maximum support. Those who require minimal support wouldn’t need a support worker to assist them at camp as there are more than enough camp counsellors to help. This makes it possible for children with disabilities to experience summer camp like anyone else would.

The impact Easter Seals has on children and now adults is astonishing. Children have been going since they were six years old. Regardless if you’re in a wheelchair or not, you have the ability to be whoever you would like to be without limitations. It’s an amazing outlet that children can come back to every year. Throughout the years, I’ve become fierce and more confident. You have the opportunity to have random dance parties with some good friends and dance like nobody is watching. You tend to become a completely different person here, which is an amazing experience.

Easter Seals BC/Yukon relies on community support and special events so campers can have this one-of-a-kind experience. If you would like to send a kid to camp, please consider signing up for their upcoming event Woman2Warrior on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Swangard Stadium. Woman2Warrior is an untimed, five-kilometre run through grass, trail and track, featuring top-secret obstacles designed to test strength, agility, determination and endurance. To register check out

Mohini Takhar graduated from Windermere Secondary and currently studies at Douglas College. In her spare time, she enjoys working with children and reading. She has spoken at events on behalf of the Centre for Child Development and is the 2016 recipient of the BC Council for Exceptional Children Yes I Can! award in the category of self-advocacy.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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15th Annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, September 30, 2017

Twilight Lantern Walk Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival

Festival goers get ready at Slocan Park for the Twilight Lantern Walk. Photo by Ben Rosen-Purcell


With fall fast approaching, Still Moon Arts Society has been preparing for the 15th annual Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival, held this year on Saturday, Sept. 30.

The Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival is a signature festival that celebrates the full moon and harvest abundance, while honouring diverse cultural traditions. The festival will highlight art, music, environmental stewardship and community participation.

This year’s theme, Migrations, allows attendees to reflect on the global movements that occur every day, from the smallest of salmon fry to the largest of humans. Birds journey across land and sea to discover new places and build their nests; salmon and fish swim across vast oceans to spawn new life and continue the survival of their species and others; humans flow within and across boundaries to pursue new opportunities, reunite with loved ones or find safety.

With the current issues in our world, these systems of movement have played a significant role in people’s identity and relationships. As you yourself move through the festival and experience the installations of this year’s event, we invite you to discover your own stories and how you relate to this year’s theme.


Harvest Fair: 4–6:45 pm
Slocan Park

The event gets under way with the Harvest Fair, which will feature live music, food and a booths from local organizations, artisans and non-profit groups. Another featured activity is the Harvest Fair, a home-grown harvest competition, which features entries by local gardeners of some of Renfrew-Collingwood’s best fruits, vegetables and flowers. Enter for a chance to win some awesome prizes!

Twilight Lantern Walk: 6:45 pm

The Twilight Lantern Walk begins with a moonlit parade from Slocan Park to Renfrew Park. Festival goers light their own lanterns and walk the trails along the ravine, accompanied by live music as darkness falls. Passing by the river-stone labyrinth, the procession will be invited to a walking meditation surrounded by music and light. The parade then passes by various art installations and surprise performances until it reaches Renfrew Park.

Lantern Festival: 7:15–8:30 pm
Renfrew Park

At nightfall, time slows down as participants absorb the beauty of candlelight, exquisite lanterns, ethereal music and the shimmering stream. Just outside of the stream, you’ll find musicians playing at the main stage, a Tea Garden full of delicious treats for you to enjoy, and a finale spectacle featuring dancing, stilting, fire spinning and fireworks.

Leading up to the big day, there will be multiple lantern workshops throughout the month. Don’t have a lantern for the parade? For a small cost, varying between $10 and $25, come out to Slocan Hall (2750 E. 29th Avenue) to make one:

Sept. 16: Advanced Lanterns (12–4 pm) – no instructor present

Sept. 18, 19, 20: Bamboo Lanterns (4–7 pm)

Sept. 21, 22: Globe Lanterns (4–7 pm)

Sept. 23: Advanced Lanterns (12–4 pm) – no instructor present

Sept. 25, 26: Globe Lanterns (4–7 pm)

Sept. 27, 28: Glass Jar Lanterns (4–7 pm)

For more information, visit or our Facebook page, @stillmoonarts.

June Lam is the communications coordinator at Still Moon Arts Society. She graduated from the Leadership Program at Windermere Secondary and is currently attending the University of BC. She is also an avid volunteer and has been involved in the Renfrew-Collingwood community throughout her high school career. 

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Logan the goat chews up Renfrew Ravine invasive plants

Logan the goat

Logan chomping invasive plants in the Renfrew Ravine. Photos by Bryden Fergusson


On a Sunday morning in August 2017 in the Renfrew Ravine, about 20 enthusiastic volunteers turned out — plus one goat.

They were all there to pull, dig or munch invasive Himalayan blackberry and morning glory as part of Evergreen’s Uncover Your Creeks—Renfrew Ravine program.

Still Moon Arts Society invited Logan the goat (with professional goat herder Natasha) as a pilot project to see how goats can help keep invasive plant species at bay in parks. One-year-old Logan was the star of the show. He was gentle with kids, worked hard and ate constantly.

Evergreen is always looking for more volunteers!

The next Uncover Your Creeks Renfrew Ravine event is:

Sunday, September 24, 2017
9 am to noon
Meet at 29th Avenue and Atlin (across from the 29th Avenue Skytrain station)
Rain or shine!

More info:


Robin's goat cards

Robin from Still Moon Arts Society kept the volunteers going with her delicious goat cookies and inspired us with her whimsical goat art cards. Watch for her at the 2017 Renfrew Ravine Moon Festival on Saturday, Sept. 30 for more goat cards.

Copyright (c) 2017 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News