Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

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Zumba fever hits Renfrew-Collingwood

Symptoms include getting fit, making new friends, releasing stress and smiling



Janet Abatayo flings her pony tail in the air as she performs an energetic dance move during a Zumba class at Collingwood Neighbourhood House. Photo by Patrick Painter

If you’ve noticed a friend, relative or co-worker smiling more lately, that person might be one of the many Renfrew-Collingwood residents who are loving life because they’re doing Zumba – an intercultural dance-fitness program that brings people from different cultures together for a fitness workout that feels more like a dance party.

Why do people love Zumba so much?
There are many reasons. “Zumba takes my stress out,” said Maya Nand, who does Zumba as much as possible. Menchie Pabiloma also sees Zumba as a stress-reliever: “When I get stressed out at work, coming to Zumba at Collingwood Neighbourhood House is a way of letting go.”

Connecting with people is another benefit. “Through Zumba, you can meet a lot of new friends,” said Pabiloma, a sentiment echoed by instructor Josie Nicks: “If you’re a shy person, doing Zumba at CNH gives you a comfortable space to express yourself. It’s a great way to meet people.”

Zumba also offers an enjoyable way to keep fit: “I stay fit, active and healthy by enjoying myself through dancing,” said Arianne Copada. Susan Borean agreed: “It’s about having fun and keeping fit, and it’s for both young and old.”

The music, which is mostly based on Latin rhythms, is another attraction: “I’m from Brazil,” said Ivani, “and I can’t stop dancing to the music.” Nelly Yep also digs the grooves. “It’s the music I love most. I was born in South America and I love Latin music.”

“It makes me feel sexy!” Laura Montes declared; the music makes her feel “like an exotic fruit.” Janet Abatayo noted the music’s spirtitual power: “When I do Zumba, I feel like I’m in heaven.”

But it takes more than great music to create the joy you’ll experience at a Zumba class. It takes a fantastic instructor and a welcoming space. Thanks to Collingwood Neighbourhood House and Renfrew Park Community Centre, as well as the talented instructors they’ve attracted, Renfrew-Collingwood residents have all their Zumba needs covered.

A total of 12 one-hour classes are offered each week and no matter which class or venue you choose, you’ll feel welcomed, just as instructor Alicia Meek felt when she first entered Collingwood Neighbourhood House. “The people here at CNH are incredibly welcoming,” Meek said. “After only through months, I felt I was a part of the community. It feels great to hear people say hello to me by name when I walk down the street.”

Zumba participants had only good things to say about the instructors. “Alicia is awesome!” Kitty Fong exclaimed. “She is so patient. She shows us all the steps, and always with a smile.” Alicia also teaches Zumba at Renfrew Park Community Centre. About instructor Josie Nicks, who teaches at CNH, Alison Ku said: “Josie always smiles and she puts her heart into every class.” Jasmine Meger listed some of the virtues of another CNH instructor, Adriana Contreras, saying: “Adriana is so inspiring. She’s always smiling and she is so genuine. Her dancing is so artful!”

Is Zumba difficult?
“Not at all,” Josie Nicks assures us. “Anybody at any level can do Zumba. There are just a few basic moves. It’s the music that adds the variety and keeps things interesting.” Nicks says that for most people, it takes only three or four classes to get the hang of the steps.

So should you give Zumba a try? Zumba enthusiast Elaine Boschman thinks so because “after doing Zumba, you’ll feel like you can take on the world!”

Collingwood Neigbourhood House and Renfrew Park Community Centre offer basic Zumba classes as well as specialized Zumba classes for children and seniors and for body toning. To find out more about local Zumba classes, please visit or Low-income earners should contact CNH (604) 435-0323 or RPCC at 604-257-8388 to inquire about discounts.

Patrick Painter is a member of Renfrew-Collingwood’s Interculturalism, Health and Physical Activity Initiative. Interculturalism is about embracing diversity, fostering awareness and connecting people. “Create something new with someone who’s not like you.”

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Renfrew Ravine and Renfrew Park Master Plan moves forward

Update from third open house

by Deanna Cheng

Most residents are satisfied with the City of Vancouver’s master plan to improve Renfrew Community Park but with the Renfrew Ravine, many of them do not want extra paths going into the ravine itself.

That’s what the two dozen or so people who showed up on May 13 to the Slocan Park field house learned. They came to this third open house to review the updated plans and fill out feedback forms. A couple of them had ridden their bicycles through the light drizzle.

According to Ben Mulhall, landscape architect for Catherine Berris Associates, some people at the second open house held early March were against a path on the west side in fear of break-ins and the invasion of privacy. “It was about 50-50, for and against,” he said. “To compromise, we made the pathway only halfway through, ending it at 25th Avenue.”

Local resident Harvey Dueck said, “It’s great that they want to work on the park and restore natural areas in the park.” When he first moved here, he remembered oil floating on the stream (part of Still Creek that runs into Burnaby), possibly from the decommissioned gas station at 22nd and Renfrew.

“The ravine is relatively wild and a refuge in the city, especially for the birds,” Dueck noted. “A path along the stream would disrupt that.”

Michelle Baudais, another resident, agrees with him. “Increasing access to the ravine park is not compatible with the vision to preserve wildlife and restore habitat.” She points to the number-one objective listed on the vision plan. “Protect, enhance and restore habitats and the ecosystem resilience of the creek and forest,” meaning to maintain and encourage the living trees, plants and animals in the area.

Further access to the ravine may lead to pollution and more coyote encounters with the public. Another proposed change will create deeper ponds and put in culverts, channels or conduits for the drain crossing underneath the roads.

Mulhall said, “The fish and salmon can’t travel but with the local pools, small fish can live there. It will give greater diversity to the wildlife nearby. The insects, newts and salamanders.”

For Renfrew Community Park, one third of the parking lot off Renfrew Street will be converted to an off-leash dog park. The wading pool will be converted into a water spray park with a small platform facing the sloped grass eating area.

On the south side of Renfrew Park Community Centre and Renfrew Branch library, there will be community garden plots.

For additional changes or more details, visit

Deanna Cheng is a journalism student at Langara college.

Copyright (c) 2013 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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July 2013 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

Read RCC News July 2013Get your July 2013 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Passion for India: Young photographer raises money and awareness
  • Proud to be Canadian
  • Cambodia travels by Robert F. Edwards
  • Renfrew Ravine and Park master plan moves forward
  • Eating Out in RC: The Tipper restaurant and review room
  • Green Thumb launches arts campus
  • New health and physical activity project moves residents
  • Local seniors overcome loneliness
  • Enough food for everyone by Kathy Romses, RD

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email The deadline for the August issue is July 10, 2013.