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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2014 Vol. 105 No.29 • Established 1908

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THE VOICE OF VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOODS

12TH&CAMBIE:Oldnewsagain3/GREYMATTERS:Travellingseniors16

Condo owners can’t stop the music COURT ACTION AGAINST PIANO PLAYING NEIGHBOUR FAILS MIKE HOWELL Staff writer

A

photo Rebecca Blissett

PRETTY IN PINK: A woman wearing a yukata, a cotton kimono, pauses to take a photograph under the canopy of cherry blossoms at VanDusen Botanical Garden during Saturday’s Sakura Days Japan Fair that ran this past weekend. See story page 12 . To view a photo gallery, see vancourier.com or scan this page using the Layar app.

retired Vancouver couple’s legal bid to keep their neighbour’s teenage son from playing the piano has been dismissed by a B.C. Supreme Court judge. Justice David Masuhara said in a recent judgment that despite the complaints of condo owners Andrew and Shirley Wolodko, he didn’t find the piano playing of Michael Zhang’s son reached a point that it had to be silenced. “In my view, the evidence is not sufficient to find that a reasonable person would conclude that the described incidents of piano playing constitute a nuisance,” Masuhara wrote in his March 25 ruling. The Wolodkos moved into their condo at Highbury Tower in Point Grey in 2006. Four years later, the Zhangs purchased the condo next door. The two units share a common wall, although Zhang’s son was playing his piano in a room removed from the wall. The Wolodkos said the piano noise reverberated through their unit and, at times, was loud and untenable. They said Zhang’s son was not playing entire pieces of music but practising portions of songs repetitively.

The Wolodkos filed their first complaint in December 2010 with the building’s property manager. The complaint set off four years of complaints and, at one point, the strata council unanimously voted to order Zhang to have his son stop playing the piano. “There is strong compassion towards the budding musician in unit 804 and council truly hopes other mechanisms can be used to continue their musical development,” according to a letter from the property manager to Zhang. Zhang countered with offering to curtail his son’s playing time between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., close the windows and place carpet over the back of the piano. The strata council rejected Zhang’s plan, suggesting instead that Zhang’s son play an electric keyboard with headphones or practise the piano at an offsite location. Zhang requested an independent investigation into the noise complaint and a hearing before the strata council. The council also requested getting access to the Wolodko’s unit to assess the noise but the couple refused, saying an independent professional would be more appropriate. See PIANIST on page 5


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news Mayor seeking third term not news W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

12TH & CAMBIE with Mike Howell

Y

ep, Mayor Gregor Robertson will seek re-election in the fall. It’s something he told me a couple of times last year. He also made it known that, no, he wasn’t interested in running for the leadership of the provincial NDP and, no, he won’t be joining Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals — at least not anytime soon. Simply put, the guy likes being mayor and he wants a third term in the big chair at city hall. But nothing like a good ol’ press release sent out last week by his party to confuse some media types into believing Robertson just made up his mind to run again. It’s old news, folks. In fact, the release came with a headline announcing Robertson was hosting another so-called telephone town hall meeting with his supporters. So, if the intent was to bury the lead, his party people sure did. And I quote: “I’m running for re-election because we need a mayor with experience in business and government who can take our city to the next level. More than anything, that means getting the Broadway subway built, taking a strong stand against

photo Dan Toulgoet

Mayor Gregor Robertson has formally announced he plans to seek re-election. the Kinder Morgan pipeline and continuing our work on homelessness and becoming the greenest city in the world.” And if that doesn’t excite/anger/unite/ bore voters, there’s more: “There will be a clear choice in November’s election between Vision and the NPA. The NPA simply don’t get the Vancouver of today. They’re against Vancouver’s greenest city plan, against better transit, against new affordable housing. The only thing they’re not against is Kinder Morgan’s massive expansion of oil tankers in our harbour.” OK, that’s enough rhetoric for now — they’ll

bemoreto comeaswe getcloserto thecivicelection in November. Plus, the NPA hasn’t named that “game-changer” of a mayoral candidate — former park board commissioner Ian Robertson? Former health minister Margaret MacDiarmid? — to respond to Robertson’s comments. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Robertson’s party still hasn’t officially anointed him as its mayoral candidate. Prior to the 2011 election, Vision Vancouver held what it called a leadership review. That meant Vision members could vote on whether they wanted Robertson to lead the party. The result was 96.3 per cent of voting members

A3

saying, hell yeah, give the guy another shot. “OK, who are the 3.7 per cent?” Robertson quipped after the results were announced at a party at The Waldorf Hotel back in June 2011. This time around, the party will hold another leadership vote May 4. A formality, I know, but members will also get a say on whether they want any of the incumbents on council, school board and park board to represent them in November’s vote. Three weeks later, on May 22, Vision will hold a fundraiser at the Coast Plaza followed by a nomination meeting June 14 to fill out its roster of candidates. The NPA, meanwhile, is scheduled to hold a fundraiser May 7 at the Vancouver Convention Centre and it still hasn’t said whether it will hold a nomination meeting, which would be unusual for the party. But if you’re looking for certainty from either of the parties, you can count on them raising and spending more than a million bucks each to get elected. And both parties will tell you they hate having to spend that kind of money and they’re tired of telling the provincial government to bring in spending limits and to ban union and corporate donations. They’ll also tell you that even though they accept a lot of money from the very people who go to council asking for rezonings and other approvals, that they are not influenced one bit by all that cash. Shame on you for even thinking that. mhowell@vancourier.com

Dunbar Community Centre Association

Notice of Annual General Meeting A musical performance, by members of the Dunbar Youth Council, will be held in the lobby from 7:30 - 8:00 pm prior to the AGM. Notice is hereby given that the Annual General Meeting of the members of the Dunbar Community Centre Association will be held at the Dunbar Community Centre at 4747 Dunbar Street, Vancouver, British Columbia at 8:00 pm on Wednesday the 23rd of April, 2014, for the following purposes: 1. To approve the report of the Directors to the members; 2. To approve the financial statements of the Association for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2013; 3. To re-appoint Tompkins, Wozny, Miller and Company, the auditor for the Association; 4. To elect the slate of Directors for the next term of service; 5. To present bursaries to student award recipients; and 6. To transact such other business as may be properly brought before the meeting. Dated at Vancouver, B.C., the 1st day of April, 2014. By Order of the Board, Rudy Roelofsen, Secretary

Dunbar Community Centre’s Spring Program Brochure is out. Register online at

www.dunbarcentre.org

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news Transit workers want safer jobs, better breaks THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

SURVEY REPORTS 53 PER CENT OF BUS EMPLOYEES SATISFIED WITH JOB The survey included 1,175 employees of the Coast Mountain Bus Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of TransLink, done during the CAW/Unifor 111 union consolidated sign-up last summer. The Courier obtained the survey from TransLink using the freedom of information law. CAW 111 union president Nathan Woods said he has had the survey report since

STANLEY TROMP Contributing writer

J

ust over half of the Lower Mainland transit workers were “satisfied” with their jobs, according to a survey of hundreds of transit workers. The survey noted many challenges such as “lack of trust among staff” and “management does not understand the front lines.”

December, but believes management asked him to keep it private because the results were embarrassing. Some workers had positive comments. The transit system’s strengths included “sharing concerns, team support, job expectations.” Amongst the operational workers, the survey found pride of work, clarity of tasks and comfort in speaking up to supervisors.

About 53 per cent reported being satisfied with their job. In a section called Content Summaries, a litany of complaints was noted: “Stressful job; schedule is unrealistic; cutting running times; workload has increased; underfunded; need to support drivers’ safety.” It continued on another page: “Staff layoffs, outsourcing; managers and TransLink staff do not un-

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work to fix scheduling and recovery time.” Woods said that when Haydn Acheson became Coast Mountain president in 2011, he visited each depot once for “coffee meetings” with a few drivers, but did not do so again, and the drivers felt their concerns were ignored. On the drivers’ call for more safety, Sierpina said that since safety measures were introduced in 2008, assaults on drivers have dropped by half. Woods scoffs at those numbers, saying that assaults rose by 15 per cent last year and are on track to rise again this year. He adds there are only 60 bus security staffers to cover a 1,800 square kilometre area, while transit police mainly focus on SkyTrain stations. This is the first survey done of TransLink’s union workers, and Sierpina expects it to be a yearly event. “This is a good benchmark,” he said. “It really helps us to understand what the workers want and it should improve relations.” Woods is doubtful: “I’d bet you $10 the results of the next survey will be the same.”

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derstand us; we need respect; a direction for the future; [managers have] little contact with drivers and supervisors; policies are contradictory.” The results are seen as positive by management. “We were pleasantly surprised by the 53 percent approval rating, and that’s in line with other public organizations,” Stan Sierpina, Coast Mountain’s vice-president of operations for the past 14 years, told the Courier. “We expected it to be worse, after all the cost-cutting moves we had to make. The most important finding is that we have to communicate better to employees.” Woods said morale has steadily declined in the past few years, and the introduction of the Compass Card is likely to make it even worse, by keeping buses “continually in motion.” This means reducing the five minute recovery and washroom time at the end of the line so that operators might drive 180 minutes non-stop instead of 90, with their fatigue putting the public at risk, Wood said. “We hear the drivers,” Sierpina added, “and will

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noise. Plus, the Wolodkos refused to allow strata council members in their unit to assess the noise. “A further difficulty here for the plaintiffs is the fact they consented to the dismissal of their action against the strata, which related to alleged infractions of the noise bylaws,” Masuhara wrote. As for Mr. Zhang’s son, who is now 17 years old, he has completed the Grade 10 piano certificate program at the Royal Conservatory of Music and is practising for his performance certificate. mhowell@vancourier.com twitter.com/Howellings

An acoustical engineer eventually assessed the noise and Zhang placed “hightech sound insulating cups” on the bottom of each of the four legs of the piano. The measure failed to satisfy the Wolodkos. In delivering his decision, Masuhara pointed out the Wolodkos were the only complainants of the piano noise — unlike a similar case in the building in 2009, when several tenants complained of piano noise in another unit and it led to fines being imposed. Also, he said, the Wolodkos failed to provide recordings of the piano playing or “objective measures or readings” of the

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Two new VPD puppies need names. Over the next two weeks, the VPD invites Kindergarten to Grade 7 classes from Vancouver schools to submit names for the puppies. This will require each classroom to work together as a team to decide on the names. To view a photo gallery, see vancourier.com or scan this page using the Layar app.

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www.vsb.bc.ca/district-facilities/projects/fleming-elementary

Cops ask kids to name crimefighting pups TWO VPD PUPPIES DESTINED TO JOIN POLICE DOG RANKS SANDRA THOMAS Staff writer

C

ute nicknames like “Fluffy,” “Muffin” or even “Fido” just won’t cut it for a naming contest sponsored by the Vancouver Police Department. The VPD’s Name That Puppy Contest is looking for monikers for two pups destined to join the distinguished lineup of police dogs that share their bloodlines and go by such names as Scout, Bear, Jackal, Flash and Saint. The two German shepherd littermates are eight-weeks-old and, while one is black the other is sable, both are destined for service with the VPD. While the VPD has dubbed them the “Cutest Crimefighters,” the puppies have no official names. That’s why the VPD is turning to the experts: kindergarten to Grade 7 students attending schools across the city. During the next two weeks the students will work together as a team in their individual classrooms to decide on a name. The VPD says the names are important because the dogs will become an integral part of the force. School board chair Patti Bachus said the

board has a long history of working closely with the VPD in keeping schools, students and staff safe. “I want to wish all students and classes who participate in this fun contest the best of luck,” said Bachus. This is the third “Name the Puppy” contest for the VPD. Previous winning names selected by children were “Nitro” in 2007, and “Diesel” in 2006. The contest rules are as follows: •The contest is open to kindergarten to Grade 7 classes in Vancouver. • One entry per class. • Submit two names and clarify which dog it’s for — black or sable — in the single entry. • Entry must include the school’s name, class/teacher name and phone number for the school. • Submit entries via email to namethepuppy@vpd.ca. • Keep in mind the puppies are both males and will be working police dogs. The contest continues now through 11:59 p.m., April 17, and the winners will be announced April 22. The winning class will be provided with a tour of the Dog Squad’s facility, have a chance to meet the puppies and in-service dogs up close and receive a police dog demonstration. If a class is unable to travel, the Dog Squad will come to the classroom. sthomas@vancourier.com twitter.com/sthomas10


news

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Girls push boundaries at NASA J.O. SCIENCE TRIP OPENED EYES, CHALLENGED LIMITS CHERYL ROSSI Staff writer

E

ight students from John Oliver secondary visited NASA, the Kennedy Space Center, the Orlando Science Center in Florida during spring break in the first girls-only science trip from Vancouver. “I finally got to see what I learn in class in action,” said Grade 12 student Nicole Mamaril. “You sit in class all day learning about all this stuff but you never really know how it applies to real life.” The trip arose from a suggestion a couple of years ago by a Grade 9 student of physics and chemistry teacher Sangeeta Kauldher to take her students to NASA. “I kind of just laughed,” Kauldher said. “And I said, actually why don’t I? I thought it would be a good opportunity. I mean around their age is when I was inspired to go into science by a teacher.” The travellers held an alligator and learned about ecology and animal conservation at Florida’s Everglades. They learned about physics, nanotechnology and robotics and saw the Canadarm at the Kennedy Space Center.

“Being able to have that conversation about how this is fully an international space centre, technology comes from all over the world, including our own country, and this is what we contributed, they were so impressed to see that,” Kauldher said. The students, most of whom are in Grade 10, experienced a launch simulator, walked the gangplank used for the first missions to the moon and met astronaut Bob Springer.

“Rollercoasters, to the boat ride to space shuttle and everything else we were looking at… even the weather,” she said. The students received a physics lesson about terminal velocity from a university professor and defied gravity with indoor skydiving at iFLY. “Some were pushed,” Aulakh said. “Whether it was to take care of themselves or if it was to go on the iFLY or a rollercoaster, they were challenged regularly and they got to see how strong they could really be.” Kauldher said a lot of boys at the school complained about not being permitted to join the trip. “There’re not a lot of opportunities for girls at our school in science, so we like to just make it for them,” Kauldher said. “We’ll see what we do next year.” Grade 10 student Asmita Jhanji said keeping the trip exclusive to girls allowed the teenagers to become comfortable and fully participate in every experience. Kauldher suspects some of the girls may not have been permitted to go if it had been a co-ed venture. Families paid $2,950 each for their daughters to attend and some students raised money. Kauldher hopes the science trip will become an annual event, open to Grades 10 to 12 girls across the district. crossi@vancourier.com twitter.com/Cheryl_Rossi

There’re not a lot of opportunities for girls at our school in science, so we like to just make it for them.

Sangeeta Kauldher

“I kind of found it interesting, like, how there’re as many astronauts girls [graduating] as there [are] guys” said 15-yearold Simran Puri. Kauldher, who led the trip despite being on maternity leave, chaperoned with her five-week-old son alongside English teacher Harkiran Aulakh, who said the trip helped her see the world with “science eyes.”

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news

W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

Four Vision commissioners bow out SANDRA THOMAS Staff writer

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our of five Vision Vancouver park board commissioners, including chair Aaron Jasper, will not seek re-election for the board in the November civic election. While commissioner Niki Sharma announced in February she will be seeking a Vision nomination for council, both Sarah Blyth and Jasper are putting politics on hold while they raise young families. Constance Barnes also announced this week that she will not seek a third term on park board, but her future political plans were not confirmed by the Courier’s print deadline. The Courier was not able to reach Trevor Loke, the lone Vision Vancouver commissioner to not make an announcement about his future in past weeks, before deadline. Jasper said he came to his conclusion while recently signing his three-year-old daughter up for swimming lessons and soccer. He said he realized what he’d be missing if he continued with the board. Jasper and his wife Arminder also have a son who is almost one-year-old. He said serving on the board would mean too many missed family dinners, soccer games and walks in the park. Jasper is a two-term commissioner and served as chair for three of those six years. He says his goal in running was to make the park board more accessible and accountable to the residents of this city. Jasper noted his first three years in office were difficult as the board was forced to make dramatic moves to recover from the recession. “We had to sort out the budget,” said Jasper. “And that meant some really tough decisions. Staff asked us did we want to close the farmyard and the petting zoo or the farmyard and the Bloedel Conservatory? Those were the kinds of decisions we were forced to make.” Jasper said his leaving has nothing to do with the ongoing, often contentious issues and discussions surrounding the joint operating agreement between the park board and the city’s community centre associations. While 12 of the associations are still in discussions regarding the new JOA, six filed lawsuits against the park board last fall. “I remember when I ran with COPE in 2001, 2002, the JOA was under discussion,” said Jasper. “I felt it was an obligation that people had invested in us as politicians to get this done, no matter what kind of bruising we took. At the end of the day it’s been very productive and respectful and if I can finish out this term knowing the JOA is complete, I’ll be happy with that.” Sharma has been endorsed by several Vision Vancouver elected officials, including school board chair Patti Bacchus and city councillors Geoff Meggs and Andrea Reimer. Sharma, the mother of a five-month-old girl, is a lawyer who specializes in aboriginal law, representing residential school survivors and working for band councils across B.C.

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

THE VANCOUVER COURIER

1574 West Sixth Ave., Vancouver, BC V6J 1R2 604-738-1411 Twitter: @vancouriernews vancourier.com

$5-million tactic puts pressure on teachers

O

n a certain level, you have to appreciate the psychological warfare that goes into negotiations between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the agency representing school districts. It’s like watching chess grandmasters turn into guerrilla fighters. Admiration for all the tactical moves declines a bit if you have kids in school and have to worry about the quality of their education. From that perspective, the moves are just a tiresome continuation of the perennial exercise in frustration. But the tactics on display are still a marvel to behold. Here’s a sample. Peter Cameron, chief negotiator for the Public School Employers’ Association, wrote to BCTF president Jim Iker last Friday. He congratulated him on his re-election as president and took note of the strike vote, as well as the union’s warning it might start some low-grade job action. “We respect your right to do so,” said Cameron. “You have indicated … that the purpose of a strike … is to put pressure on both sides in order to motivate them to find a solution … We agree that this is the classic role of a strike.” Then he unveiled a little tit-for-tat. “In order that there is in fact pressure on both sides, BCPSEA needs to respond to any Phase 1 activities with measures that put corresponding pressure on the union.” So he warned the BCTF that the agency will expect the union to tender enough money to continue teachers’ health and welfare benefits on the same day they start any kind of strike activity. That would put the union on the hook for monthly premiums for about 40,000 teachers — which amounts to an estimated $5 million a month. Translation: “You pressure us. We pressure you.” The move is provided for under labour law, but hasn’t been used previously on the teachers. Cameron also noted in the letter that the BCTF has not sought essentialservices designation. “We understand this to be responsive to the union’s general opposition to essential services in the public school setting.” The BCTF has repeatedly protested essential-services legislation, saying it favours the employer, weakens bargaining and prolongs disputes. So Cameron, at a briefing Friday, professed surprise at the union’s move this week — which was to apply at the Labour Relations Board for essential-services designations. The move is ostensibly to deal with setting levels of supervision needed outside class time to ensure children’s safety. That’s an issue because the BCTF’s Phase 1 plan says teachers will not supervise outside class time. Cameron said applying for essential-services designation is illogical because the only danger arises from the union’s job-action plan. “The source of danger is entirely in their control.” The real reason for the application, in his view, is that if essential-services levels are in place, there’s a much stronger argument that routine benefit payments by employers remain in place. So the union won’t have to suddenly pick up a $5-million-a-month bill. The BCTF said, notwithstanding its aversion to the designation, it is applying because it’s the law. All this is just one small aspect of the negotiations. It’s about each side bracing for events if the negotiations fail. It illustrates the general tone of how talks are going. As for the main event, the two sides are far apart on salaries. And there are huge differences on the implications of the B.C. Supreme Court decision on the government’s conduct in a contract battle from 12 years ago. The union is treating it as a huge win. Cameron said if it survives the appeal, it will have to be addressed, but it’s irrelevant to current talks. So as usual, there’s no cause for optimism. The only hope to cling to is from a completely different sphere. It’s the truckers’ settlement with the Port of Metro Vancouver. If disparate factions can sit down and settle that in a single day, anything can happen. lleyne@timescolonist.com

LES LEYNE

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letters

W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

WE WANT YOUR OPINION

Hate it or love it? We want to know... really, we do!

Reach us by email: letters@vancourier.com

Less crazy after all these years

H

i, Rest of Canada. It’s British Columbia here. Not to be a pest, but I think you’ve got something that belongs to us. Can we please have back our crazy? We’re not imagining this. B.C. politics used to be renowned for being the most bonkers, off the wall, lunatic, bring-thepopcorn-and-settle-in-to-watch show in the country. We had Flyin’ Phil Gaglardi and Wacky Bennett! We had Amor de Cosmos, a dancing toy penis in the legislature, Bingogate, Fast Ferries, police raids on a premier’s house suspiciously timed to let the TV cameras show up. We had the first cabinet minister of the entire British Commonwealth jailed for taking bribes. The Rocky Mountains aren’t really a geological formation, they were put there by the rest of Canada to keep us loons from migrating back east. But now? Are we really so crazy anymore? Sure, we can make fun of Christy Clark’s relentless positivity, but that’s not exactly nutty, is it? And Gordon Campbell, cheerful drunk driving mugshot excluded, was a pretty grey presence during his long tenure. Nope, all the news that’s fit to laugh at is coming from back east. In Alberta, until-recently Premier Alison Redford turns out to have been having a private suite built in a provincially owned building. A custom-made penthouse suite, built at taxpayers’ expense? Sure, why not! It’s not like she was elected to be fiscally responsible or anything. Of course, by the time this came to light, Redford’s own caucus had essentially pushed her out for spending thousands on air travel and hotel accommodations. Then there’s Quebec. Quebec, our only real rival in generalized lunacy for many years. Now the pupil has truly become the master. On top of numerous corruption scandals, there’s the Parti Quebecois’s desire to ban anyone working in the public service from wearing religious symbols — especially non-Christian ones. And of course, they won’t be taking down the honking giant cross in their National Assembly building, thanks for asking. Top that off with a series of paranoid denunciations by their politicians of — gasp! — Anglophone university students. Some of the PQ MNAs are under the impression that McGill students are some kind of Fifth Column, trying to steal the election for Ontario. Which brings us to Ontario itself. Remember when Toronto was boring? That was a nice 179 years. Now it’s the centre of a whirling vortex of madness, and the name of that madness is Mayor Rob Ford. I have American relatives, and the three Canadian celebrities they just about all name instantly are Celine Dion, Justin Bieber and Rob Ford. That’s not exactly putting our best foot forward to the rest of the world, is it? You already know about the weirdness that is Rob Ford, but here’s a quick rundown of his various qualities: large, loud, won’t go to the Gay Pride Parade, thinks “the Oriental people, they’re slowly taking over,” gets drunk in public, denies he was drunk, gets caught smoking crack, denies it, admits it, hangs out with drug dealers, swears a lot, says embarrassing things about his wife, lies repeatedly about his accomplishments in office, and will insist to anyone who asks that he is the best mayor Toronto has ever had. Did I mention he’s still mayor? Or that there’s a non-zero chance that he’ll still be mayor after the next election? I suspect that mad scientists from B.C. crept about in the night a dozen years ago, and extracted the crazy from top B.C. politicians. Then they spirited the vial of concentrated wacky-juice off to T.O. and injected it directly into the fleshy backside of Rob Ford. mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

MATTHEW CLAXTON

All the news that’s fit to laugh at is coming from back east.

NURSING A COMPLAINT OVER EXCLUSION

To the editor: Re: “New initiative aims to remedy search for family doctor,” April 2. We read your article with disappointment. Once again there is no mention of how nurse practitioners (NPs) could be better integrated into our health care system to provide an accessible, affordable alternative for patients. An NP can be your primary health care provider. NPs are registered nurses who have additional education, skills and experience. They can diagnose, order and interpret tests, prescribe drugs and perform medical procedures and their salaries are much lower than physicians. The GP4Me program provides incentives for physicians through the Divisions of Family Practice (DOFP) at a cost to taxpayers of $100.5 million. DOFP also offers incentives to GPs such as money for continuing education, locum support and opportunities to participate in policy discussions. NPs

are not welcome in Vancouver’s DOFP, nor are there similar incentive programs for NPs — they have to pay for similar benefits out of their own pockets Instead of incentivizing our health care system for the benefit of physicians, government could fund patient-centered, teambased care that ensures all health professions are working together for the good of the patient.

Heather MacKay, Association of Registered Nurses of B.C. Stan Marchuk, President B.C. Nurse Practitioner Association

PUT WHALE CAPTIVITY TO A VOTE

To the editor: Re: “Vision park board commissioners call for end of whale captivity at Vancouver Aquarium,” April 4. Many thanks to Sandra Thomas for a comprehensive news article on the two park board commissioners calling for an end to whale captivity in Stanley Park. Although happy to hear the news, No Whales In Captivity

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members remain skeptical, since old hats like us have heard such claims many times before, especially from candidates seeking election or reelection to the park board. Once elected, those calls to end whale captivity abruptly seem to just stop. Although Ms. Thomas wrote a comprehensive article, the most important question remains unanswered. Will commissioner Blyth propose a motion — and will commissioner Barnes second the motion — to hold a whale referendum during the next municipal elections to ask Vancouverites if we want to stop the importation of more whales and dolphins into Stanley Park in order to force a phase out of all captive cetacean exhibits? We must put politicians’ feet to the fire because unless these brave commissioners take the next step and actually propose the motion to hold a whale referendum, this feel-good article is no more than political hot air in an election year.

Annelise Sorg, President, No Whales In Captivity

ON YOUR MIND ONLINE COURIER STORY: “Vancouverites face long waits for ambulances,” April 4. Hugh: The health authority in B.C. has recently completed a large study spanning two years on prehospital medical calls. The health authority has determined that some of the medical calls that they were responding to were not emergencies and have been reclassified to a routine response. So why are the fire departments still responding? Is it possible that the fire departments are concerned with losing an estimated 35 per cent of the medical calls once this resource allocation plan is fully implemented? COURIER STORY: “Vision park board commissioners call for end of whale captivity at Vancouver Aquarium,” April 4. Donna Morgan: As a former park board commissioner, I’m glad to see the current board keeping up with 1996! John Dineley: More misguided nonsense from the animal rights industry. If you are going to ban cetaceans then you need to ban other mammals. Dolphins and small whale are not any more special than any other zoo animal. marineanimalwelfare.com David M: Thank you for your comment John. And thank you for confirming to all of us that it’s those who profit from the captivity of marine mammals that are its most vocal supporters. COURIER BLOG POST: “Safe injection site opens in Yaletown,” online only. Tauntobr: Ugh. I guess we can expect more of this as time goes on. It’s not a safe injection site. It’s a place for people with money to burn to mainline vitamins into their urine. Katie_bric0lage: It totally seems like something out of a Huxley novel. ARoadNotTaken: Wonder how long it’ll be before track marks on your arms will suggest an affluent life of IV drips in Yaletown... COURIER STORY: “‘Activist in a dress’ fought for LGBT rights,” April 2. Dale Odberg: R.I.P. ted northe, thank you for your service to the world. COURIER COLUMN: “End of port strike a quick win for Clark,” April 2. Woodie Guy: The Liberals had two years to do something about this but did nothing. It was more like they were shamed into it by the NDP’s debates over the back to work legislation. Jason2025: I feel sorry for the companies who have goods stuck at the port in containers and are being charged storage fees. I hope that they get some relief. I think it’s really unfair to ask them to pay. COURIER STORY: “Evening bike courier on a roll,” April 2. Ian Holliday @Ian_Holliday: Have I lived in Vancouver long enough to say this is SO East Van? Follow us on Facebook: The VancouverCourierNewspaper and Twitter: @VanCourierNews

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letters may be edited by the Courier for reasons of legality, taste, brevity and clarity. To be considered for publication, they must be less than 300 words, signed and include the writer’s full name (no

initials), home address, and telephone number (neither of which will be published), so authorship may be verified. Send to: 1574 West Sixth Ave., Vancouver BC V6J 1R2 or email letters@vancourier.com


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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

CITY LIVING

GOT AN EVENT WE CAN SHOOT? LET US KNOW! 604-738-1411 | events@vancourier.com

2 photos Rebecca Blissett 1. The VACS J-Pop crew entertained the crowd at the cherry stage at VanDusen Botanical Garden Saturday afternoon. 2. Over at the anime tent set up at VanDusen Botanical Gardens for this past weekend’s

Sakura Days Japan Fair was Cindy Chu (dressed as Detective Conan from the Japanese manga series) and Afiq Danial Hieham (as Naked Snake from the Metal Gear video game) who busted out some moves. Scan this page using the Layar app or visit vancourier.com to see more photos.

1

Sakura a fair to remember ORGANIZERS CREATED SAKURA DAYS TO CELEBRATE JAPANESE CULTURE REBECCA BLISSETT Contributing writer

O

ne of the things that sticks out in Elizabeth Stephen’s mind about her first trip to Japan is the attention paid to even the most minute of details.

“Oh, I remember the aesthetics,” she said. “The simplest things are beautiful. Even something you’d buy at a convenience store, or our version of a deli, everything has something beautiful added to it. An item of food would not just be in a plain black or white container. It’s springtime so there’s a

ARTISTS OF KERRISDALE “Explore-Express-Excite” Art Show & Sale

Sat - Sun April 12 & 13 10 am - 4 pm Kerrisdale Community Centre 5851 W. Boulevard (at West 42nd) Show runs: April 3 – May 1

www.artistsofkerrisdale.com

little cherry blossom on the side!” That long ago two-week high school student exchange steered Stephen to Asia many times, for a grand total of six years of teaching English and learning Japanese. After her last visit she moved to Vancouver in 1997 and stayed until 2010 when she went back to her hometown of Edmonton where she and her husband Yasushi Baba still live. Despite the distance, the couple is still very much involved with the Japan Fair Association of Vancouver as well as their baby — the Sakura Days Japan Fair that was held this past weekend at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. They started the fair in 2009, missed the following year due to the 2010 Winter Olympics, and have watched its growth every year since, especially after teaming up with the April-long Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. Thanks to technology, meetings with fellow organizers are a cinch and everything that needs to be done is mostly done before Stephen and Baba drive to Vancouver for each year’s fair. “We were talking about the growth just the other day, how we used to have the fair just in the floral hall,” Stephen said. “The first year, two thousand people came and we’re like ‘whoa! ’ It was more popular than we thought it might be.” Now thousands make their way through the historical Vancouver garden for the Sakura Days Japan Fair — the word sakura, by the way, is Japanese for cherry blossom — taking in the seemingly endless fair features that included Japanese drumming,

anime cosplay shows, sake seminars, haiku workshops, and martial arts demos. The fair echoed the culture’s attention to detail as a walk through the visitor’s centre and garden was never without something to engage the senses, including a food stop where there was no shortage of ramen and takoyaki. Near the rose garden, the Vancouver Japanese Gardener’s Association set up a traditional garden with stones, flowers, ponds, and 40-year-old bonsai trees to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Once again, the care in the details made it difficult to believe the garden was a gravel patch up until only a day and a half before Sakura Days. “Even I didn’t realize it was just put together for the fair,” said VJGA member Shuzo Hara, out for the weekend to help his fellow gardeners celebrate. Stephen loves when a plan comes together. “I had this vision when we first started talking about doing the festival in 2007 or 2008 and it’s amazing to see that it’s almost getting to that point,” she said. “When I walk around here, I hear all these different languages and I love it. I remember when I came back from Japan what struck me about Canada is its multiculturalism. Everybody hangs out and gets along and it makes me really happy to see that the fair appeals to everybody.” Baba agreed, adding one little touch would make the fair a little more authentically Japanese. “I cannot drink here outside, that’s a huge difference.” rblissett@telus.net


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news

COMMUNITY BRIEFS PATIO CLOSING TIME EXTENDED Approved patios will be able to say open until midnight this summer instead of just 11 p.m. Expanding from its 2013 pilot program, the city has already approved 53 locations for extended patio hours beginning now until October. Currently, 316 large patios and 277 small patios are eligible for the one-hour extension. Interested businesses who haven’t received noise complaints on file in the past 12 months can apply online at vancouver.ca.

NEW SFU CHANCELLOR NAMED Simon Fraser University’s board of governors has announced that forestry executive, lawyer and writer Anne Giardini will become the university’s 11th chancellor. Giardini will be installed as chancellor June 13 when the term of the current chancellor, Carole Taylor, ends. Since 2008, she has been president of Weyerhaeuser Company Limited, after previously serving as Weyerhaeuser’s Canadian general counsel. She holds a B.A. in Economics from SFU, an LL.B. from UBC, and an LL.M. from Cambridge University.

ADULT ED ENDS IN WEST END Adult education will no longer be offered at Lord Roberts elementary in the West End. A growing population of younger children downtown, particularly in Yaletown and the West End, means the space is needed for elementary students. The Vancouver School Board decided April 7 to convert the adult education classrooms back to elementary school use for September. Hundreds of students will be absorbed into the board’s other five adult education sites. Adult education students told the board Monday evening that having to travel to another location could pose a barrier to them continuing their education when they are balancing jobs and perhaps children.

“We do have to prioritize the young ones as opposed to the adults,” said Patti Bacchus, VSB chairperson. “As I said at the meeting, it would be ironic if we had a case where some of these [adult] students could at-

tend school in their community but their own children had to travel further.”

THREE SCHOOLS TO WATCH The Fraser Institute reported April 8 the three

fastest-improving secondary schools in Vancouver are Britannia, Vancouver Technical and Gladstone. The institute’s Report Card on B.C.’s Secondary Schools 2014 ranks 293 public and independent secondary

3 out of 10 in 2009 and improved to 4.4 out of 10 for 2013, even though 25.3 per cent of its students have special needs, the highest proportion of special needs students of the 293 schools rated.

schools in B.C. based on seven indicators using data from the annual provincewide exams administered by the B.C. Ministry of Education. The Fraser Institute notes Britannia secondary rated

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Getting behind with weeding is surely among the top three gardening problems here on the West Coast. Some people like to smother weeds while others prefer pulling.Then there are the mavericks who strew them on paths or mulch with them or even eat a few of the tastier ones. Young dandelion shoots can be used in salads. So can sorrel and cut-small chickweed.When boiled, young stinging nettles make a delicious (non-stinging) substitute for spinach. So do Lambs Quarters, though this cooks down to almost nothing. Chickweed cut small is a fresh-tasting salad green. But the most earthfriendly weeding tactic is mulching with plant material. It’s especially useful in organic veggie gardens. Natural mulch conserves moisture, earthworms love to breed in it and if plantbased mulch is left on garden beds through winter, birds forage there endlessly. Gardeners with lawns, find the cheapest and

most easy way to mulch is grass clippings. It’s best to hold the clippings back slightly from tiny vegetable seedlings.You can move it closer as they grow. Since lawns also need nourishment, it’s best to keep grass length at about 8cm and sprinkle nutriments or compost on lawns in spring or fall. Once the veggie garden doesn’t need any more mulch, the clippings can just remain on the lawn. Other useful mulches for vegetables include straw — though some straw is quite seedy.Weed-free compost makes another good mulch. Commercial compost isn’t organic but it’s always weed-free. Home compost is variable.Well-composted manure is a good mulch for heavy feeders such as corn or rhubarb. When weeds get quite out of hand, a great job of smothering weeds and their seeds can be done by black plastic. Unfortunately it tends to tear and fragment if left in one place more than a year. Clear plastic breaks up even faster than black

plastic, but it can only be used briefly for solarization because clear plastic magnifies the heat of the sun to oven temperatures.This roasts any weeds and surface seeds laying under it. This weed-clearing method only works when there’s hot temperatures and sunny weather for about six weeks. Cardboard or newspaper makes a good base for a garden bed of mounded soil and compost. Ultimately both barriers rot so that deep-rooted plants can establish themselves well. Tightly woven landscape fabric makes a good weed barrier under a gravel or paver path for virtually every weed except couch grass (a.k.a. quack grass). This perennial grass with its fat, white needlepointed roots can punch through many landscape fabrics. If it appears in gravel, it’s much easier to attack from above. Boiling water kills top growth most effectively though it should never be used in gardens anywhere near toddlers, pets or by people with balance problems. Other organic weedkillers are usually based on horticultural vinegar.You may need to douse the offenders several times. ••• The brand-new Grandview garden club will hold its first-ever meeting 7 to 9 p.m., April 16 at Astorino Hall, 1739 Venables (northwest corner of Commercial Drive). Membership is $20 per year. More info at grandviewgardenclub.blogspot.com. Anne Marrison is happy to answer garden questions. Send them to her via amarrison@shaw.ca. It’s helpful if you can add the name of your city or region.


W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

Where to now?

That’s the question facing seniors after retirement. But it’s also a question for older Baby Boomers, who might be still working or otherwise active, seeking adventure and travel in their downtime. That’s why this edition of Grey Matters is focused on travel. Life doesn’t end after 55, and neither does the need to go places.

In this section, we’ve got a local place to visit, an idea about turning travel into a meaningful contribution, and your chance to show us your own travels. And once a month from now on, Where To Now will focus on places seniors and boomers want to go. Join us!

Green Home an earthy Sunshine Coast delight Sandra Thomas

sthomas@vancouriercom

It was the turquoise blue chairs sitting in the rooftop garden of what’s known as This Green Home in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast that immediately caught my eye during a recent visit. I was even more impressed when homeowner Gail Hunt explained the chairs were reclaimed fromVancouver’s Nat Bailey Stadium. Salvaged chairs are just one tiny example of the lengths Hunt and her husband have gone to build an environmentally sensitive, sustainable home made up of re-used and locally sourced materials.The house uses a rainwater collection system to flush toilets and soy-based foam insulation for warmth. Even the landscaping was completed to reduce the need for watering. But while the details of the infrastructure of this unique home are interesting, it’s the story of the house and the hand-

made treasures and collectables found around each corner that give it life. As Hunt points out the old-growth fir floors reclaimed from six Vancouver homes, the kitchen nook purchased from a Salvation Army store, the extra wide doors from the math department at the University of B.C., and chimney bricks recycled from various demolition sites, it’s obvious the house has been a labour of love. It’s also just one of the reasons This Green House is included in a new Sunshine Coast tourism initiative called Catch Our Drift: Earthly Journeys, which has partnered with some talented locals to offer a variety of seasonal and year-round tours including an animal farm adventure, foodsampling tour of Gibsons Landing, organic chicken farm and wild edibles. Art tours include workshops on everything from cattail creations to chicken feather crafts. Hunt is also a textile artist and internationally renowned quilter and during our

tour gave us a demonstration on making fabric postcards in her quaint studio just steps from the main house. The couple has kept a detailed blog on building the home, which includes anecdotal stories about reclaiming materials found on Craigslist, in landfills, back alleys and thrift stores. They also break down the $258,000 they’ve saved by doing tasks themselves, including $113,761 from not hiring a general contractor. As a retired home-economics teacher, Hunt was able to take on that job. A tour of This Green House includes a vegetarian lunch, but visitors should not expect to be served. During my visit with a group of travel writers, we were put to work creating hand-made corn tortillas, guacamole and Spanish rice. But it was the quinoa maple chocolate cake that was the hit of the lunch — no surprise since none of the writers in attendance had a hand in creating it.

Getting there, staying there:

With the Sunshine Coast such an easy day trip from Vancouver via Horseshoe Bay, Catch our Drift tours are designed to offer experiences tourists and locals can enjoy. Bed and breakfasts are a popular way to go if you’re planning on spending a few days and as part of my media tour I was invited to spend one night at Four Winds Beach House on Hill Road in Sechelt. My suite, located in a separate wing of the main home, was perched on a rocky point jutting into the waters of the Georgia Strait, which meant I was treated to a spectacular sunrise. It also included a large soaker tub with a view of the ocean, a deck situated right over the water and a TV with a remote control I could actually use. For more information visit catchourdrift.ca and fourwindsbeachhouse.com.

“I smell bluebells, and suddenly I’m nine years old again.” Happy memories keep us feeling vibrant and fulfilled. At Tapestry Retirement Communities, we provide all the encouragement and support to keep you feeling that way. Whether it’s growing prize-winning flowers, participating in one of the many activities or enjoying the company of new friends. Call us today and see what kind of individualized programs we can offer to help keep your body, mind and spirit healthy, vibrant and young at heart.

Angela Simmons avid gardener

www.DiscoverTapestry.com

Tapestry at Wesbrook Village 3338 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver BC 604.225.5000


W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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Dr. Y. Vincent Yoshida Courier reader: Lenora Hayman Destination: Oaxaca, Mexico Favourite memories of trip: Lenora Hayman returned to the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, to find there were many more cars on the street since her previous visit 27 years ago. On Nov. 16, 2010, UNESCO added the cuisines of Mexico to the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Foodies regard the city of Oaxaca as Mexico’s culinary capital. After dining at four gourmet restaurants, Casa Oaxaca, La Pitiona, El Origin and Mezquite, Lenora walked off her calories when visiting the archeological site of Monte Alban. Send your Exotic Courier submissions with your name, travel destination, a high-res scenic photo and a short description of the highlights of your trip to letters@vancourier.com.

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

Travel and make a contribution, too

Volunteering while travelling makes use of lifelong skills Kristen Moran

kristenmoran86@hotmail.com

Travelling and volunteering are two of the best ways to stay active after retirement and thanks to a Vancouver-based company, seniors have the chance to do both.

GoVoluntouring offers the chance to vacation in over 100 different countries while giving back through volunteering to a project of your choice. It can be as vigorous as building a school in a developing country or as low-key as helping out in a hatchery

for endangered sea turtles. While not all projects are suited for everyone, the company tries to help clients find a suitable fit. GoVoluntouring founder Aaron Smith says many different factors are taken into consideration, such as accessibility to hospitals,

the type of accommodation available and travel distance. Every customer will speak with an agent prior to booking a trip. “We have consultants and specialists that can ask the right questions. It starts by identifying what your needs and expecta-

Look at retirement living in a whole new way.

tions are,” he said. “If they have a wonky hip or say, a pacemaker, we might recommend that people opt for locations that are closer to a modern hospital, for example.” Smith said inquiries about the 51 and older programs are the third highest, with roughly 10 to 15 per cent of their volunteer base coming from that age bracket. He added that even though it might be difficult to break out of their comfort zones, their skills could be an asset. “Many don’t even realize it’s an opportunity for them. The skills that they’ve learned in their lifetime, such as 30-years experience as a plumber, can be an asset and very useful,” Smith said. One popular program he recommended for those who desire something more low impact is the sea turtle conservation project in Costa Rica because volunteers put in an average of three or four hours per day and include activities such as working in the hatchery or patrolling the beach. Another light impact volunteer option is art restoration in Italy, but for those who want to get their hands dirty and have a bit more energy to burn,

helping build a classroom in Jamaica might better suite them. With over 4,000 programs, Smith said a suitable project can be found. He said the company will help with details including accommodation, flights, airport transfers and travel insurance options. He explained that travellers who choose the volunteer experience often add on a week of vacation time to kick back after participating in a program. “We encourage that because it’s a great culturally emergent experience,” he said. For people that wish to volunteer but are limited by smaller incomes, GoVoluntouring also offers a crowdfunding service through its website to help people raise money for their trip.The person fundraising sets up a profile page that explains why they want to be part of said project and will often offer incentives to contributors depending on the denomination of the donation. “You would offer incentives such as sending a person a postcard from the location or writing their name in the sand and taking some photos for them. Anything you like,” Smith said.

New name, new website, new way of living Formerly known as Pacific Arbour Retirement Communities, we now have a new name, new website and new level of service. Discover for yourself why PARC Retirement Living is the preferred lifestyle choice in the Lower Mainland.

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Seniors heading off to adventure.

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W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

Technology reliance is a sign of the times

Peter MacDonald

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Tom Carney

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I never had a smartphone when I was working and I still don’t. Many of my former colleagues, on the other hand, are glued to their smartphones.They aren’t alone. In a poll by Time magazine one in five people reported checking their phone every 10 minutes and a third of people said that even brief periods of time without their mobile devices resulted in feelings of anxiety. Like it or not, most of us rely on the latest technology to get our work done. Clifford Nass, a Stanford University professor, was one of the first to recognize that the technology we use in the workplace, like our computers, cellphones and social media, aren’t just tools like hammers or screwdrivers.These things talk, they have a relationship with us and they can make us feel good or bad. One of his most publicized research projects was a 2009 study on multitasking. Multitasking is all the rage these days and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Multitasking shortens our attention span and makes it more difficult to concentrate, says Nass. He’s worried that in our increasingly screen-saturated world we may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly. I was never much of a multitasker. I had enough

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Seniors are becoming increasingly attached to their hand-held gadgets. PHOTO MIKE MCGEE/FLICKR

trouble doing one thing at a time. Actually, most days I couldn’t wait to get out of the office and into the community. Last year, for example, our team met face to face with hundreds of seniors across the city to share the results of our Age Friendly Survey and the only technology in the room was a microphone. We talked in small groups about the issues that were important to us and we spoke to each other about our vision for an age-friendly community in compelling terms. Now don’t get me wrong. Granted, I’m no poster boy for the latest technology, but I’m not a Luddite. I’m not suggesting for a moment that seniors should not embrace technology but, like Nass, I worry about how we relate to technological devices

socially and how those interactions affect the way we interact with people. My wife saw a sign in a store recently that read: “Customers talking on their cell phones will not be served.” I’d call that a sign of the times. Technology may help to make us more productive — the jury is still out on that one — but it does not make us more human. In fact, in his most recent work, Nass suggested that the increasing use of media and social media is eroding our social and emotional development. Dr. Nass passed away last month in California at the age of 55. “The moral of this story is really clear,” he said in a talk at Stanford last year. “We’ve got to make face to face time sacred, and we have to bring back the saying we used to hear all the time and

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

GOT ARTS? 604-738-1411 | events@vancourier.com

2

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1

It’s time to face facts, folks. STEPHEN MALKMUS is not getting any younger. The Portland, Ore. resident is only a couple years shy of 50 and his once boyish mop has reached the cool uncle/college prof stage of salt and pepper dishevelment. Not only is he a Volvo-driving dad, but he’s been with his current musical incarnation, THE JICKS, longer than his stint with indie rock icons Pavement. But that’s OK, because STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS’ latest, WIG OUT AT JAGBAGS, is a spirited mix of hazy guitar jams, loose melodies and Malkmus’s enjoyable skewed wordplay that can rhyme Tennyson with venison without blinking an eye. See and hear yourself when the band plays the Rickshaw April 10. Openers Speedy Ortiz are pretty great, as well, sounding a little like early Pavement if they had been fronted by Liz Phair. Tickets at Red Cat, Zulu and Highlife Records or online at ticketweb.ca.

PICKS 2 APRIL 9 - 11, 2014

For video and web content, scan page using the Layar app.

Steeped in rootsy heartache, old timey folk and a dose of soulful twang, Vancouver’s JOYCE ISLAND, fronted by LISA JOYCE, makes music perfectly suited for riding the rails. And wouldn’t you know it, its April 9 show at the Biltmore kicks off a cross-Canada tour sponsored by VIA Rail that sees JOYCE ISLAND perform on and off the train from coast to coast. Other bands on the Biltmore bill include the Hunting (who have a new album out) and Shuyler Jansen. Details at biltmorecabaret.com.

3

Billed as a throwback to the glory days of radio, OLD TIME GOSPEL RADIO HOUR is a collaboration between local bluegrass outfit VIPER CENTRAL and folk songstress SHEREE PLETT, featuring songs and stories in the style of a good old fashioned gospel show. It runs April 9 to 12 at Pacific Theatre. For tickets and info, call 604-731-5518 or go to pacifictheatre.org.


W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

arts&entertainment

Old Shop a curious success THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP

At Jericho Arts Centre until April 20 Tickets: 604-224-8007 unitedplayers.com

T

2014

he Old Curiosity Shop is a bit of a curiosity in itself. It’s a Charles Dickens novel set back in 1825 and serialized weekly in 1841. Director Sarah Rodgers writes that New York readers “stormed the wharf when the ship bearing the final installment arrived in 1841.” Actor/artist/writer/director Simon Webb adapted The Old Curiosity Shop for United Players and, really, the only thing missing is the pleasure of seeing Webb on stage, too. Webb himself is a bit of a curiosity (a clever, talented Shakespearean who does Mamet with equal ease). I can see him as Mr. Quilp, the villain of the piece, or Grandfather, the gambling-addicted grandfather of Little Nell. Kazz Leskard, however, makes a very fine Quilp, the kind of nasty, slimy piece of work that Dickens writes so well: smiling oily, breathing down necks, listening at keyholes. Throwing himself headlong into the role, Leskard portrays the character that, were this a panto, he would be enthusiastically booed. Pat Unruh is referred to in the program as “musician,” but she’s really a one-woman orchestra playing the violin, the viola da gamba, the piano and the recorder. The music is incidental, much in the style of musical accompaniment to old silent films. Twice, however, there’s a very jolly, full ensemble, knee-slapping dance, choreographed by Shelley Stewart Hunt. Carolyn Rapanos’ set — a skeleton of planks to indicate Grandfather’s old curiosity shop where he lives with Nell. Above the shop appears to be a pub or an upstairs room in the Brass household; below is a cubbyhole where Grandfather gambles away the money he has been putting away for his granddaughter. The set, lit by Darren W. Hales, is worthy of the Stanley. Period costumes — cotton frocks, gowns, cravats and top hats — are creatively whipped

up by costume designer Catherine E. Carr. There is nothing in this United Players production that looks anything less than top-notch. The Old Curiosity Shop follows a very Dickensian melodramatic plot and, under Rodgers’ careful direction, this cast of 18 gets it right. A little over the top but not too much: Dick Swiveller (Graeme Thompson) is giddy enough; Quilp, nasty enough; and Brass (Paul Griggs), toady enough. Olivia Huntsman, a Grade 9 student, makes a lovely, innocent Nell — a huge role for such a young adult; and Amitai Heyl and Toby Verchere, Grade 5 and 6 students respectively, are excellent as the perpetually squabbling little boys in short pants. The connective tissue is provided by Louis Phillips as sprightly Mrs. Jarley, proprietress of a travelling waxwork show, a feature that director Rodgers jumps on with theatrical élan. Phillips and Douglas Abel (Grandfather) are the only two professional actors on this near-as-it-gets-to-professional stage. Criticism of this Dickens novel abounds. Oscar Wilde is quoted as saying: “One would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell and not burst into tears... of laughter.” But he also famously said: “I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.” Adapting a Dickens novel into an hourand-three-quarters is challenging but Webb has succeeded in quickly introducing the characters and getting into the plot while retaining the full flavour of Dickens. In spite of what Wilde had to say, it wouldn’t surprise me if eager readers in 1841 threw themselves off the New York wharf when they read the last episode of The Old Curiosity Shop. Lace hankies were no doubt dampened in many a household as they read of Little Nell’s body being lowered into the grave. Rodgers wisely has Unruh strike up band with song and dance — a rollicking “Run to Jarley’s” to bring the curtain down. —reviewed by Jo Ledingham For more reviews, go to joledingham.ca.

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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

arts&entertainment

Trailer park play no ordinary Joe STATE OF THE ARTS with Cheryl Rossi

I

TSAZOO is producing a play for the Tarantino set. Instead of negotiating narrow aisles, those attending Killer Joe can sidle up to a bar in a Texas-style trailer park, down a beer and a hotdog and then take a seat among an audience of 30 who will sit two feet from scenes of violence, nudity, sexuality and coarse language. “The outside of the trailer looks just like a trailer from the Trailer Park Boys,” said Chelsea Haberlin, ITSAZOO’s co-artistic director and director of Killer Joe. “We’ve got a couple other trailers on the lot and a few other broken down cars and we’ve got pink flamingos and Astroturf and cans of beer.” The 30-year-old Haberlin says there’s a dearth of theatre for people more keen on immersive festivities than sitting tamely in front of a stage. “There are a whole bunch of people out there who love theatre,” she said. “They just don’t know it yet because they haven’t seen the right play.” KillerJoe follows a deeply dysfunctional Texas family, the Smiths. Chris, the eldest son, hires a

Staged in a replica trailer park, ITSAZOO’s production of Killer Joe includes beer, hotdogs, pink flamingos, and scenes of violence, nudity, sexuality and coarse language. cop-by-day/hitman-by-night, Killer Joe Cooper, to murder their mother to collect life insurance. But when Cooper takes an interest in Chris’s virginal younger sister all hell breaks loose. The first play by Tracy Letts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who penned August: Osage County, Killer Joe is bigger and bolder. “He takes really bold risks with this that someone who I think has written more plays perhaps would check themselves,” Haberlin said. Both August: Osage County and Killer Joe focus on family turmoil with nuggets of humour

amid the tragedy. “You’re kind of laughing your way through the tragedy,” Haberlin said, “which is kind of how it is in real life.” The players, which include ITSAZOO’s co-artistic director Sebastien Archibald as Chris and Emma Slipp as the step mom, are all comedic actors first. Haberlin studied Quentin Tarantino’s movie Pulp Fiction, rather than the 2011 movie version of Killer Joe starring Matthew McConaughey, for how Tarantino balanced the drama and humour. For the somewhat

squeamish she says the black comedy falls somewhere between Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill in brutality and grisliness. It’s a big intrusion into the life of the Smith family that stirs up the turmoil. But it’s not the hit man’s interest in the younger sister that constitutes the intrusion; it’s the decision to hire Killer Joe. “Killer Joe brings order, and in bringing order to this family, the chaos is exploded,” Haberlin said. “It’s a really interesting dynamic. And finding that chaos that exists amongst uneducated and people who are quite poor and who are emotionally unstable and to see what it does when you bring in a great controlling power has been really interesting for us.” It is the second production in ITSAZOO’s Premiere Series, which presents site-specific versions of debut works by renowned playwrights. The series’ first production was 2012’s award-winning production of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo, about the kidnapping of a rock ’n’ roll heartthrob in Atlanta in 1958, which was set at Strathcona’s Russian Hall. For Killer Joe, Haberlin advises viewer discretion. “It’s about as gruesome as you can get in theatre,” she said. Killer Joe runs April 15 to May 4 on the parking lot of the Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan St. at Grandview Highway. Tickets at brownpapertickets.com. crossi@vancourier.com twitter.com/Cheryl_Rossi

KUDOS & KVETCHES HAIKUS ON ICE For the first time in six years, the poetic souls at K&K will not be embarking on its annual Haiku Night in Canada Canucks playoff haiku series. That’s because Vancouver’s soon-to-be golfing NHL team failed to make the playoffs, sealing the deal Monday night with a limp, shutout loss to a team from California named after a water fowl. That means readers of this column will not be blessed with homoerotic odes to professional athletes mingling about steamy locker

POWER LINE TREE PRUNING AND HAZARD TREE REMOVALS VANCOUVER When: April 1,2014 to June 30, 2014 Time: 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Trees are a significant cause of power interruptions. Contact between trees and power lines can also

rooms like “gorillas in the mist.” No more double entendres featuring outstretched branches “heavy with plums.” No more references to the Sedins’ ginger lichen or Garrison’s beard mouth that grins “like a cruel marmot.” And for that, we are truly sorry. Not as sorry as the brain trust who hired Mike Gillis to be GM, but sorry nonetheless. That said, readers who are jonesing for their yearly dose of hockey haiku can go to K&K’s online blog at vancourier.com/opinion/blogs/kudos-and-kvetches, where we are reposting videos we made for our past Canucks haikus. Until next year, haiku lovers.

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W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4 THE VANCOUVER COURIER

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GOT SPORTS? 604-738-1411 | mstewart@vancourier.com

Dedication runs deep for Waters OWN THE PODIUM GIVES $1.7 MILLION A YEAR TO WOMEN’S SEVENS RUGBY

MEGAN STEWART Staff writer

S

he didn’t know it at the time but when Brittany Waters first stepped on a rugby pitch in her father’s hand-me-down jersey and shorts, it was because of the next two years. In 2016, the oldest player with Canada’s national rugby sevens program, intends to play at the Rio Summer Olympics. “We’re in the sevens program to be Olympians,” said the 30-year-old Waters. “That is the ultimate goal.” Ranked third in the world, Canada won bronze at the 2013 sevens World Cup in Russia and the team is being rewarded for its potential. Own The Podium gives them $1.7 million each year, more than double the men’s program, which receives $750,000 annually. Rugby Canada is building its rugby sevens program (played like 15-a-side rugby but with eight fewer players and wideopen action), notably through the national training centre in Langford on Vancouver Island where Waters and her teammates train five to six days a

week from early morning to afternoon. They are focused on the Sevens World Series, the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto and ultimately the Rio Games, where the sport will make its Olympic debut. Waters, a York House alumna who competed for the Vancouver Meralomas after graduation, is one of 24 carded team members who also receive a $900 to $1,500 monthly stipend from Sport Canada. Federal funding means she can take a leave from her career as an occupational therapist and commit completely to training. The 15s program, by contrast, is “pay to play,” said Waters, who is an assistant coach at the University of Victoria. She fundraises on the side and two years ago, sold a blackand-white, skin-bearing calendar with teammates. The veteran players are also preparing for a 15s series against the U.S. later this month. Waters was one of 40 players invited to try out for the team that will meet the Americans April 15 and 19 on Vancouver Island. Waters made her first appearance for Canada against the U.S. in 2008. Now an es-

tablished veteran with more than 30 caps, her mindset has evolved as much as her skills. “Because I’ve dedicated my life to this program and this is what I work for every day, there is a larger weight on a game and how I play compared to when I first started,” she said Monday. When she compares herself to six years ago, she said she’s come a very long way. “I didn’t even know how to play rugby. That’s how I’d say it.” The excitement that overwhelmed her during her first game for Canada was the hallmark of a rookie. “Now I know my roll,” said the veteran. “I don’t just walk away from a game and not look back. I analyze the game. I do something about it, whether it’s making small goals, or talking to the coach about it or understanding my game and how I can get better next time.” Waters accepts the weight of expectation. “I can definitely add a lot more to the team when I go on the field now,” she said. “I feel a lot more responsibility.” mstewart@vancourier.com twitter.com/MHStewart

photo Ian Muir / Rugby Canada

Brittany Waters competes for Canada in rugby sevens and 15s.

Swaffield cracks top 20

photo Scott Brammer

Laura Swaffield at the Whistler Cup.

Downhill skier Laura Swaffield quickly moved on from a disappointing first run to finish 17th overall in the girls U16 giant slalom at the Whistler World Cup April 5. She improved on that one day later and finished 15th in the slalom. Swaffield, a Grade 10 student at Crofton House who trains with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, but skied under the Canadian flag at the international race, didn’t get off to a great start on the first day of competition. In the SuperG April 4, she finished 38th. “The weather was really foggy so the visibility was really bad. I didn’t have proper lenses in so I was going down the course and I honestly couldn’t see anything,” she said Monday. “I couldn’t see the gates, I couldn’t see the paint. I wasn’t able to ski nearly as well as I know I can.” The clouds lifted on the second

day of the 22nd annual race, a competition that brings together 400 racers aged 14 to 16 from 27 countries. “The next day, I was going to redeem myself,” said Swaffield. It took her one more run to show what she could do in the giant slalom. “After my first run, again I didn’t ski my best. I felt like I was just kind of frozen. I was nervous,” she said. Her Whistler club coaches told her to take her second attempt like it was a brand new weekend. She dropped two seconds on her first run and put in the ninth fastest time. Her combined results put her in the top 20 at 17th place. She stepped it up again on the third day of competition and in the slalom, finished 15th overall, 6.19 seconds behind the winner from Austria. — Megan Stewart

photo Rebecca Blissett

WHAT’S UP, PUSSYCAT: A Faster Pussycats

pivot (left) gets her elbow up to knock the Public Frenemy jammer off the track in the opening bout of the Terminal City Rollergirls double-header April 5 at Kerrisdale Arena. In the first matches of the TCRG’s eighth season, the Faster Pussycats defeated Public Frenemy 104 – 97. In a rematch of last season’s title bout, the Riot Girls defended their title in a 187 – 114 defeat of the Bad Reputations.


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THE VANCOUVER COURIER W E DN E SDAY, A P R I L 9 , 2 0 1 4

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Vancouver Courier April 9 2014