Hundreds of years to fix impassable Vancouver curbs: documents

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It could take anywhere from dozens to hundreds of years to fix all of the Vancouver curbs that remain impassable to people who use wheelchairs, according to city documents obtained by CTV News.

Despite a promised $1 million in 2019 to replace upwards of 150 corners with sudden drops to slopes, thousands remain, each of them an insurmountable barrier to many people with disabilities.

“It’s frustrating,” said Kerry Gibson, the CEO of EcoCentury Technologies who has used a wheelchair since she was injured in a crash when she was in her 20s.

“In most cases you have to backtrack. You lose time. It might as well be a wall,” she said.

And that’s when she’s prepared. At night a surprise curb can send her flying, she said.

“I’d flip backwards and hit my head and be stunned, hoping that someone would help me out while I’m shaking the stars from my eyes,” she said.

A city document from 2013 estimated that there are some 27,000 corners in the city. Nineteen thousand have been done over the past 60 years, but there are about 8,000 corners left over.

With $200,000 a year budgeted for curb ramps, and a budget of $8000 per ramp, the city could fix 25 curbs each year. At that rate, it would take 320 years to finish them all, the document said.

“I’m quite speechless when you told me that stat,” said Jane Dyson, the retired director of Disability Alliance B.C. “That is not good enough. Not even close.”

The city should consider every policy on this with a final date in mind that city streets will be accessible, she said.

In August, TransLink funded 140 curb ramps close to transit routes. The city also upgrades curbs near reconstruction projects, and the city asks developers to upgrade curbs near major construction, which has resulted in as many as 100 more curb ramps each year.

The city also responds to complaints – though in February there was a backlog of 600 requests to fix those curbs, city documents say, with a wait time of several years.

Since 2015, the city has put $325,000 to make around 50 ramps per year, and with the other methods, city documents say it now upgrades around 100-200 a year.

The city’s most recent budget and capital plan allocates $1 million in 2019 for curb ramps.

“It should be a priority to speed it up,” said Christine Boyle, a Vancouver City Councillor with OneCity. She said it’s important for people with disabilities, but also for other groups like parents with strollers, for whom a high curb can be a problem.

“It’s certainly a commitment of OneCity’s to support moving that strategy forward,” she said.

Melissa de Genova, a city councillor with the NPA, said she didn’t like hearing stories about people who were going blocks out of their way before finding an accessible crossing.

“I was happy to see money in the budget for that. We definitely need to do what we can to make the city accessible,” she said.

But even at 100-200 curbs per year, it could take 40-80 years to upgrade all the curbs that are left in the city.

“In 80 years I’ll be dead,” said Gibson with a laugh. “You have to laugh. It’s a coping mechanism.”

“Any increase is obviously welcome. But – another 20 years to navigate your own neighbourhood. We need to move beyond that attitude,” she said.

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Video shows cougar hanging out on Maple Ridge deck

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A man from Maple Ridge, B.C. has shared video of a hair-raising encounter he had with a cougar over the weekend.

Kevyn Helmer said he locked his own cat in the bathroom after finding the apex predator hanging out on his deck on 287th Street Sunday afternoon.

“There’s a big, scary kitty cat out front,” Helmer says in a Facebook video. “My cat’s in the washroom, he’s meowing away.”

The video shows the cougar lounging right beside the door, barely paying attention as Helmer watches through the glass for several minutes.

“The road is right up there, so if anybody comes walking by – oh, man,” Helmer says. “I hope no kids or nobody walking their dog goes by the front gate there.”

The nervous resident called authorities to the home and they apparently managed to chase the cougar away without incident.

“He’s a big, nice kitty I’m sure they’ll take care of it,” Helmer says in a follow-up video.

The B.C. Conservation Officer Service has not responded to a request for comment on what happened.

According to WildSafeBC, anyone who encounters a cougar outdoors is advised to keep calm, appear as big as possible and back away slowly while keeping the cougar in view.

“If a cougar shows aggression, or begins following you, respond aggressively in all cases as cougars see you as a meal: keep eye contact, yell and make loud noises. Pick up nearby sticks, rocks, or whatever you have at hand to quickly to use as a weapon if necessary,” the organization says on its website.

In the event of an attack, WildSafeBC recommends focusing on the cougar’s face and eyes.

Anyone who sees a cougar that could pose an immediate threat to public safety is asked to call conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.  


Mountain Lion on front door step

Posted by Kevyn Helmer on Sunday, December 30, 2018

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Navid Karimi: What most Canadians don’t know about the Canada Health Act, but should

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Universality is a foundational concept of our national health plan.

Ted Rhodes / Calgary Herald

When the Canada Health Act was passed in 1984 by the Liberal government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and Health Minister Monique Begin, it contained ambiguities that to this day many Canadians are not aware of and believe the principles it held were the perfect alternative to their costly healthcare.

Canadians don’t know that medical clinics — as well as doctor’s practices — are private businesses, which means doctors can choose when and where they want to work and can simply bill their provincial government for their services they have provided.

According to the Sec. 8 of the act: “The health care insurance plan must be administered by a public authority,” but this puts the province at full control and prevents competition. Although Sec. 8 states this plan ought to be on a non-profit basis, the provinces set their own standards.

Further, Sec. 9 of the act does not oversee which services the provinces will insure and which ones they will not. This eventually makes health care providers charge people for the services that are not covered by their provinces.

Additionally, Sec. 10 of the act states universality and 100 per cent coverage by “the plan,” but again “the plan” is set up by the provinces at their own discretion. The question here is: Was “the plan” supposed to protect the people or merely the health care providers?

Also, this section indicates “the insurance plan of a province must entitle 100 per cent of the insured persons,” but what about those who are not insured or those who can’t get insured? This perhaps leaves hundreds of thousands without any coverage.

Moreover, Sec. 11.a indicates a waiting period of three months for “minimum period of residence in the province,” which disables new immigrants and returning Canadians from universal health care, and sadly enough, to this day, Ontario, B.C and Quebec implement it.

In addition, Canadians planning on travelling abroad should take a look at Sec. 11.c. It indicates if “the health services are provided out of Canada, payment is made on the basis of the amount that would have been paid by the province for similar services.”

This means if any Canadian who gets injured in the U.S., for example, where hospital and doctor fees are outrageous compared to Canada, they are literally on their own. This clearly undermines the “portability” claim of the act and requires immediate action by the federal government.

Lastly, under the “accessibility” section of the act, reasonable access is not clearly defined, which is exactly why those living in the north or far from cities have less access to health clinics or hospitals.

According to the Health Canada statistics released in 2015, nearly five million Canadians, with a national average of 16.8 per cent (20.8 per cent of Aboriginals and 16.1 per cent of non-Aboriginals), did not have a primary care provider. Again, this is conceivably due to inaccessibility to health care providers.

Health Canada statistics released in 2016 showed an estimate of 90 per cent of Canadians with major chronic conditions report taking prescription drugs that are not covered (other than those provided in hospitals) by a universal insurance plan.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, in 2010, out-of-pocket spending made up 34 per cent of private expenditures on prescription drugs, and in 2011, Canadian households spent an average of $476 out-of-pocket on prescription drugs.

This is exactly why Dr. Daniel Martin, a physician in Toronto, advocates for bringing prescription drugs under medicare. If our health act is universal, then why has it failed to acknowledge this concept?

Navid Karimi is a Master’s student and soon to be a PhD student in experimental medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at gclark@postmedia.com.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com.

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Town Talk: Revisiting some who helped make 2018 what it was

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For most, although not all, New Year’s Eve is an optimistic time for celebration. Many also reflect thankfully on a dying year that enhanced their and their families’ well-being and that saw them benefit others. Those portrayed here appeared in this column during 2018 and are remembered for being among the myriad who contributed to the character of a community that many value as second to none.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra president Kelly Tweeddale welcomed music director Otto Tausk after a debut concert conducting works by Edward Top, Francis Poulenc and Igor Stravinsky.

Malcolm Parry /


With his net worth topping $17 billion, 27-year-old Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, attended a reception alongside city-based Grosvenor Americas chief executive Andrew Bibby.

Malcolm Parry /


Heiltsuk artist KC Hall and Haida Clarence Mills contributed designs to 60 female and male fashions by Chloe Angus that also featured Coast Salish, Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka’wakw) and Ojibway motifs.

Malcolm Parry /


Dr. Chan Gunn was honored by University of B.C. President Santa Ono when his $5-million donation spurred creation of a sports-medicine and pain-research-and treatment facility on campus.

Malcolm Parry /


Bruce Allen welcomed singer-client Michael Bublé when he and other city-based talent managers entertained colleagues and performers at a reception that accompanied Juno Awards festivities.

Malcolm Parry /


Demonstrating a curry that his mother used to make, restaurateur-chef Vikram Vij told Audi car-launch attendees: Chicken white meat is the most boring meat there is. Always cook with the bone in.”

Malcolm Parry /


When the Pants Off gala benefitted Prostate Cancer Canada, Angus Research Institute chief Shachi Kurl and CBC TV news anchor Mike Killeen sported identical Joe Boxer smiley-face shorts. Photo for the Town Talk column of Dec. 29, 2018. Malcolm Parry/Special to PNG [PNG Merlin Archive]

Malcolm Parry /


Opening his and wife Laura Byspalko’s eighth annual Indian Summer Festival, Sirish Rao said the 14-day event was devised “for the curious mind. The more it is fed, the more curious it gets.”

Malcolm Parry /


When dealer Christian Chia debuted Rolls-Royce's titanic Cullinan SUV, silver-painted Cynthia Doucet wore fan-driven flowing attire to simulate the maker's Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.

When dealer Christian Chia debuted Rolls-Royce’s titanic Cullinan SUV, silver-painted Cynthia Doucet wore fan-driven flowing attire to simulate the maker’s Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.

Malcolm Parry /


Inez Cook and Lauraleigh Paul Yuxweluptun’aat prepared and served smoked oolichan and barbecued salmon to guests at the West Vancouver Harmony Arts Festival’s alfresco Indigenous Feast.

Malcolm Parry /


Night of Miracles gala chair Bob Rai accompanied wife Harpreet when the ninth annual event reportedly added $755,000 to the $5.4 million raised earlier for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Malcolm Parry /


The Neeko Philanthropic Society’s Mana Jalalian admired artist Mona Malekian’s traditional painted eggs that were part of the Haft Sin display at a celebration for Persian New Year.

Malcolm Parry /


Yolanda Mason sculpted a bicycle entirely with bones from 10 species for her participation in the local heat of an international art tournament sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Yolanda Mason sculpted a bicycle entirely with bones from 10 species for her participation in the local heat of an international art tournament sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Malcolm Parry /


Early childhood educator Lule Abbay was happy to see Commercial Drive’s Havana restaurant reopen after renovation although son Solomon still looked for nourishment directly from mama.

Malcolm Parry /


City photographers Lincoln Clarkes and Dina Goldstein were ready for anything when the fifth annual Capture Photography Festival opened with a reception at the Contemporary Art Gallery.

Malcolm Parry /


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BC overdose crisis continues with 120 suspected deaths in November

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The three cities experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdoses are Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.


VANCOUVER — There were 120 suspected drug overdose deaths in British Columbia last month, representing a 13 per cent increase over the number of deaths in the same month last year.

The B.C. Coroners Service says an average of four people died every day last month from an illicit drug overdose.

The latest figures show 1,380 people died by overdose between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2018, almost exactly the same number of dead between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2017.

The service says the majority of those dying from overdoses are men who are 30 to 59 years old, and most overdoses are occurring indoors.

The three cities experiencing the highest number of illicit drug overdoses are Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria.

The coroners service says 1,486 people died of overdoses in B.C. last year.

It is expected to announce the overall death toll for 2018 next month.

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A festive day to just be your elf adds final memory for Fun On The Run

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Dear Santa:

My work as your “special tanned elf” — and my memorable time as a Vancouver fun run blogger — is done. Let me just say I’m not doing fist-pumps today about either.

Whether it was mugging for fun photos in my elf-fit with smiling strangers in humid downtown Bangkok and all the wonderful women at Kalavin Thai Massage in toasty Phuket, Thailand earlier this month, or standing with 525-plus costumed characters Saturday afternoon in chilly Stanley Park at the fourth annual Big Elf Run, it struck me that being surrounded by happy people in a sometimes troubled world should never be seen as a bad thing.

Esteemed Elf BaxterBayer, the brains and thin wallet behind the Vancouver-based Running Tours Inc. that never fails to put smiles on faces, was at his very best Saturday pumping up the kids and later the adults with his enthusiastic (and very original) warmups, hospitality and festive ambience at Lumberman’s Arch. You’d never know that seven days earlier, after the City of Vancouver revoked his event permit at the 11th hour, he was reeling and worried sick this superb show might not go on.

Baxter Bayer leads a hearty warmup on Saturday at the fourth annual Big Elf Run in Stanley Park. More than 500 people laced up for the 5K and 10K events. (Francis Georgian photo)

And while the turnout took a bit of a hit by the one-week delay, there was a lot to be said Saturday afternoon about quality over quantity. To those who couldn’t make it, for whatever reason, you missed a sweet upbeat Christmas party that included dogs and strollers — and lots of colour and imagination. If I had to pick one event to say goodbye, this was the perfect one to drop the microphone at.

One little girl told me she was going to kick her brother’s butt in the 1K Wee Elf kids’ race, and did just that. One teenaged girl told me she was going to kick my butt in the 5K, and then did (showoff!). One much older gal (smile) said my wedgie-tight elf suit wouldn’t last the 5K without a “wardrobe malfunction.” Thank gawd she was wrong!

The Big Elf Run, which checks all the boxes for having a good time, also raised awareness and funds for Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, a place where courage really lives. For the serious runners, and there were some real Dashers, Startline Timing ensured those “racing” in the 5K and 10K had accurate times to send to the North Pole, or wherever Garmin’s elves hang out!  To check out all the finishing times, click HERE.

“Was a bit bummed out we had to delay this run a week,” admitted Bayer moments before the entertaining kids’ race wrapped up. “You try to avoid holding events this time of year what with last-minute shopping, vacations, the weather and traffic, but the schedule change was totally out of our control. My objective today was to put the best show on for those who could still make it, and hope everyone liked it!”

Well, mission more than accomplished. Judging by comments at the event, and later on social media, Bayer’s crew crushed another one out of the park. There were several who took advantage of the virtual run component, too.

Shelley Hatfield, right, and her Over The Top Fitness crew of Aldergrove “sleighed” the Big Elf Run on Saturday afternoon. (Margaret Buttner photo)

This year Bayer’s small company launched a Big Fun Run Series that included the spanking-new La Gran Fiesta Run (Burnaby) and Big Superhero Run (Richmond), along with the established Big Easter Run (Jericho Beach). And if you took part in all four events, which my family did, you received a sweet Big Fun Run Series Go Big medal. And speaking of medals, this series had must-have bling that far exceeded expectations.

Tricia Barker, a new commissioner for the Vancouver Park Board and participant in Saturday’s run, said she had a ton of fun taking part in the fourth annual event, which American Express ranks in the top 14 worldwide as “seasonal events with a twist.”

“Great crowd, lots of spirit, great costumes and love the big medal,” she said, while joking out after inspecting my way too tight elf-fit that she’s also a personal trainer for getting people in shape. No problem, I get that a lot Santa!

The women at Kalavin Thai Massage in Phuket, Thailand stopped working earlier this month to get their photos taken with Uncle Elfie. They also treated his sunburn! (Lisa Kurenoff photo)

One of my final official duties for the Big Elf Run was naming a new Mr. or Mrs. Santa Claus, having won the prestigious ambassador title at this event last year. This year’s winner is Shelley Hatfield of Aldergrove, the brains and beauty behind the Over The Top Fitness crew that dressed up as reindeer (along with Santa’s musical sleigh) on Saturday. Hatfield and her motley crew, who take the fun to every run, also raises funds throughout the year for a cat shelter in Richmond.

A couple of the Sole Girls leaders in Saturday’s run, who said they loved my pirate outfit at the Moustache Miler last month, made me promise that I won’t stop running or wearing new costumes in the new year. Told them my budget-wise wife now has full say on the wardrobe expense account after discovering additional hidden gems in my man cave! But I promised to keep running and surrounding myself with positive people.

Here are some other festive gems from Saturday’s Big Elf Run:

Linda and Dennis Hill, right, said one year ago they didn’t understand the whole costume thing with runners. They’ve really changed their tune! (Gord Kurenoff photo)















Folks do the festive thing, again!

My work colleagues gasped out loud after mentioning I just spent 2½ weeks in toasty Thailand with the in-laws.

“Did you lose a bet?” was the most common reaction, followed closely by “was it your choice?” and “wife forced you to play along?” (No, yes and no are the politically correct answers to those questions, by the way! And I refuse to take a lie detector test.)

Linda and Dennis Hill, great people to call family, really got into Bayer’s Big Fun Run Series. Initially it was because my father-in-law wanted a La Gran Fiesta Run bottle opener medal, and then it was to try out new costumes, a thing most in the family found shocking.

“You’ll never ever catch me wearing a run costume,” said Deadpool Dennis one short year ago. “Who does that stupid stuff?”

Not sure what changed his mind, but he dressed up for the La Gran Fiesta Run, then the Superhero Run, then the Big Elf Run, plus the Moustache Miler and a few other events along the way. In fact, he began calling from costume shops asking if I or his daughter needed anything for upcoming runs!

Yep, welcome to the “who does that stupid stuff” club big guy. And sincere thanks to you and mom for being some of the biggest run/walk boosters out there.

Dora Velazquez of Surrey, who wore the bib Thinny feet Dory, won the Female Elf 10K event Saturday in a blazing 42:18, poses with Postmedia News blogger Gord Kurenoff in Stanley Park before her victory.

Dora the Explorer was a Blitzen

This year I took part in 45 weekend races, some so serious I actually wore real running clothes!

Along the way you meet people who become familiar faces, people who make race day brighter, better and memorable. One such lady is Dora Velazquez of Surrey who continues to improve, and amaze, and inspire.

She was worried Saturday that some of her speedy friends wouldn’t be at the seawall to push her efforts to crush the 10K. This friendly elf offered to be her pace bunny but when she mentioned shooting for the low 40s, I backed out, citing a need to make sure everyone at the back of the 5K race was safe!

Dora, who said her outfit “became super hot” as she burned up the course, finished in 42:18 — the first female elf across the finish line.

She gave me a quick lesson on proper warmup stretching, then asked what my running plans are for January and February, 2019.

Well, I’m doing the PEN Run Resolution Run 4K trail race on New Year’s Day at Crescent Park in Surrey, the Steveston Icebreaker 8K on Jan. 20, Try Events’ Chilly Chase 10K on Jan. 27 and then my first half-marathon in 25-plus years — the sold-out RUNVAN’s First Half Half in Vancouver on Sunday, Feb. 10.

“Which ones will you be wearing costumes for,” laughed Dora, who rolled her eyes when I told her I’d likely be the Chafing Cowboy for the half marathon!

Francis Georgian of The Vancouver Sun/Province shoots photos on Saturday of the Big Elf Run. (Gord Kurenoff photo)

Francis focuses on running elves

Francis Georgian, a photographer and video guru with my employer —The Vancouver Sun/Province newspapers — spent some time hanging out at at Stanley Park on Saturday.

Besides doing a full-page colourful photo spread in Sunday’s Province about the run, Georgian filed this fun video, too, which features Bayer and a lot of people you might know:



Gord Kurenoff finishes the Big Elf Run in 33 minutes on Saturday, despite a three-minute “detour” to find a washroom! Baxter Bayer, right, cheers on his ambassador elf. (iPOLPOPHOTOS photo)

‘Potty animal’ gets ‘er done — with a smile

The good folks at iPOLPOPHOTOS, who were the official photographers at Saturday’s Big Elf Run, have been very supportive of this blogger, and this blog over the years.

Katia Reinhardt of Fort Langley, who I met while taking her photo four years ago before an MEC Vancouver race on the seawall, had this dream to expand the company and its app and has made major gains since. The co-founder and chief marketing officer of the company has been a regular race fixture on the Lower Mainland in the past couple of years.

“You have such an awesome happy and supportive spirit,” Katia said Sunday, before sharing a photo of me finishing the 5K. “The smile says it all about you and running. I don’t think I have ever taken a photo of you not smiling!”

Katia is way too kind. On Saturday, at the 2.5K mark, she missed a non-smiling moment as I had to find a washroom to get rid of the coffee, juice, water and tea intake! Eventually found one, wasted three precious minutes getting in and out of the elf onesie, and then ran like made to make up lost time.

Finished the 5K in 33 minutes, which is not bad given the detour. In fact, my Garmin says I ran 5.10 Ks and actually shows the zig-zags when I began the potty hunt mid-race!

Check out more on iPOLPOHOTOS great service and Apple/Android app by clicking HERE.

Gord Kurenoff drops the microphone at Saturday’s Big Elf Run finish line to signal the end of his blogging days. Baxter Bayer looks on. (Scott Williams photo)

End of the blogging road for Uncle Elfie

So, as mentioned, this is the end of the road as a run blogger for yours truly.

Like all fat, out of shape people who work at The Vancouver Sun, you’re approached to be a Sun Run “guinea pig” and blog about your couch-to-starting line experience, which happened to this scribe four years ago.

After crawling through that Sun Run, I was pointed toward the first Big Elf Run as a starting point for this Fun On The Run hobby blog. And some 200-plus events later, and pumping the tires of many a runner, run company, elite and novice athletes and community events on my “spare time and own dime,” I’m back wearing green and calling it a day.

Baxter Bayer has been, without a doubt, my biggest supporter. He totally understood the concept of this fun blog’s intent — trying to push couch potatoes or weekend warriors to races to improve their physical and mental health, to socialize, to have fun, to improve, to appreciate the sport and race-day vibe no matter your skill level, to put down social media devices for a morning, to embrace the West Coast lifestyle and just do it. He also said thanks, which was pure money in my world.

Dennis Hill, Linda Hill, Gord Kurenoff and Lisa Kurenoff, back from Thailand with tans, jet lag and memories, took part in all four of the Big Fun Run Series events in 2018. (Francis Georgian photo)

Truth be told, I really suck as an adult runner most days. My feet are sore, my “strict” diet is iffy, my training routines leave plenty to be desired. But I have fun and never, ever have I regretted being at a race, or catching up with people, or hearing their success stories or future plans.

Bayer let me inside the so-called ropes at several of his and other neat events, shared valuable information that helped me do a better job, and always kept a positive attitude that rubbed off.

As mentioned last month, he also stepped up big time when my younger brother died unexpectedly last year and he made sure this writer and my family didn’t curl up and get lost in grief.

Some people asked why I bother to cover “non serious runs” and some mocked me for wearing costumes at “dumb events” or for not running faster. Isn’t social media grand? Good thing I have thick, well-padded skin as some critics pointed out! I wouldn’t have missed this awesome experience, and adventures, for the world.

With love from “Uncle Elfie,” and my forever grateful family, have a great Christmas holiday and super New Year. Keep smiling, keep embracing life and see you all down the road at a race day near you.

And for Star Wars nut Baxter and the lovely Jana, may the force always be with you and thanks for making a huge difference in this crazy world.

Gotta run …



Uncle Elfie soaked up the sun at the Movenpick Phuket Beach Resort in Thailand earlier this month, and posed for photos with staff and tourists while spreading the good word about the Big Elf Run. (Dennis Hill photo)

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Town Talk: Event helps those who need help breathing

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Technology for Living's Ruth Marzetti, Susan Dessa , April Skold and Concord Pacific CEO Terry Hui backed patient and peer network facilitator Nancy Lear at the development's firm's annual reception.

Technology for Living’s Ruth Marzetti, Susan Dessa , April Skold and Concord Pacific CEO Terry Hui backed patient and peer network facilitator Nancy Lear at the development’s firm’s annual reception.

Malcolm Parry / PNG

BREATHE EASIER: Occupants of Concord Pacific-built condo towers likely relish fresh air wafting in from False Creek. For some at the development firm’s recent 30th anniversary reception, though, receiving any air at all is a matter of life and death. They were staff, supporters and patients of the B.C. Association for Individualized Technology and Supports for People with Disabilities. A beneficiary of the Concord Pacific event, the 12-year-old non-profit organization (bcits.org) “works with people who have severe physical disabilities and helps them to live as well and as independently as possible.” One such person present at the event was Nancy Lear. She is also an association peer network facilitator who assists and supports others who require ventilators to breathe while also tapping into the organization’s transition and 24-hour therapy services and other programs. Backed by caregiver Susan Dessa, association executive director Ruth Marzetti and staffer April Skold, Lear thanked Concord Pacific CEO Terry Hui. As for his firm’s breathing space in a presently down-turning market, Hui told guests: “A whole new wave of social innovation is coming. Every time you shuffle the deck is opportunity. I look forward to next year.”

Accompanied by wife Yuju Yoon, Japan's newly installed consul general, Takashi Hatori, conducted a birthday reception for Emperor Akihito.

Accompanied by wife Yuju Yoon, Japan’s newly installed consul general, Takashi Hatori, conducted a birthday reception for Emperor Akihito.

Malcolm Parry /


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: A new era opened for Takashi Hatori with his recent posting as Japan’s consul general. Another one was seen to be closing when he hosted an 85th-birthday celebration for Japan’s 125th emperor, Akihito, who has said he will abdicate on April 30. Crown Prince Naruhito will succeed him. Reminding guests of Akihito and Empress Michiko’s warm welcome here in 2009, Hatori diplomatically called Vancouver “a top-ranked city on the global scale.” Noting the 90th anniversary of Canada-Japan diplomatic relations, he expressed “high expectations” for mutual investment opportunities following the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal coming into force Dec. 30.

DESIGN HERE: The 14th annual Interior Design Show ended Sept. 23. But it left behind a remarkable guide to the maturing regional industry. Curated by the show’s Vancouver director Jody Phillips, Currents: Contemporary Pacific Northwest Design is a lavishly illustrated 176-page book that refers to the “truly borderless”  design region as “not just a geographical location but a state of mind, a sensibility rather than a particular style or esthetic.” The $55 book (vancouver.interiordesignshow.com) portrays eight Oregon designers and/or firms, five from Washington and 19  from B.C. The include ANDlight firm’s Lukas Peet, Caine Heintzmann and Matt Davis, and Annie Tung. Naturally it includes designer, manufacturer and Inform store owner Niels Bendtsen who has championed regional creativity for a half century. The Interior Design Show will return Sept. 26-29, 2019.

ON HOLD: The following items and photographs were drawn from several unpublished in this column during 2018.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra musical director Otto Tausk's wife Daphne attended his local conducting debut at an Orpheum theatre concert.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra musical director Otto Tausk’s wife Daphne attended his local conducting debut at an Orpheum theatre concert.

Malcolm Parry /


OTTO’S PILOT: Long accustomed to seeing Vancouver Symphony Orchestra music director Bramwell Tovey, an Orpheum Theatre audience applauded successor Otto Tausk’s debut concert Sept. 21. With wife Daphne later, he said: “You, our audience, have given us such a great feeling of support and dedication to the VSO.”

SUCCESS Foundation chair Queenie Choo welcomed Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to the social-service agency's 40th annual gala.

SUCCESS Foundation chair Queenie Choo welcomed Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to the social-service agency’s 40th annual gala.

Malcolm Parry /


GONE FISHING: The SUCCESS social agency’s foundation made a splash at Vancouver Aquarium in March when its 40th annual gala raised $650,000 for services and programs. Chair Queenie Choo welcomed Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, likely then still happy at having netted Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas as the B.C. legislature’s Speaker.

Dietician Ildiko Toth and multiple-gala chair Naz Panahi attended the Daffodil Ball that raised $1.54 million for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Dietitian Ildiko Toth and multiple-gala chair Naz Panahi attended the Daffodil Ball that raised $1.54 million for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Malcolm Parry /


MILLIONS MAKER: Registered dietitian Ildiko Toth joined Naz Panahi at the Canadian Cancer Society’s $1.5-million Daffodil Ball. Although a guest at that fundraiser, Panahi has long provided it and others with a necessary diet of cash. She chaired numerous Daffodil Balls and Arthritis Research Canada galas. In September, she and Devi Sangara co-chaired the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation’s Night of a Thousand Stars event to raise $4 million.

Robert and Lily Lee attended the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation's second annual gala that daughter Carol founded to fund a social-housing complex.

Robert and Lily Lee attended the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation’s second annual gala that daughter Carol founded to fund a social-housing complex.

Malcolm Parry /


CENTURY SENSED: Attending the Vancouver Chinatown Foundation’s Vancouver Chinatown gala with wife Lily, Bob Lee likely thought of father Ron Bick Lee settling there from Guangdong in 1911. Daughter Carol Lee founded and chaired the gala. The foundation  “promotes the well-being of those in need (and) invests in projects that revitalize Vancouver’s Chinatown.”

Carol Lee joined philanthropist Sylvia Chen at a reception for B.C. Children's Hospital Circle of Care member-donors at Parq Vancouver's D/6 bar.

Carol Lee joined philanthropist Sylvia Chen at a reception for B.C. Children’s Hospital Circle of Care member-donors at Parq Vancouver’s D/6 bar.

Malcolm Parry /


NEXT CENTURY: Carol Lee and philanthropist Sylvia Chen attended a reception for B.C. Children’s Hospital’s Circle of Care group whose 270 individual, foundation and corporate members each donate at least $10,000 annually.

Many signs had pointed to former Surrey mayor and South Surrey-White Rock MP becoming B.C. Liberal Party leader, but members voted otherwise.

Many signs had pointed to former Surrey mayor and South Surrey-White Rock MP becoming B.C. Liberal Party leader, but members voted otherwise.

Malcolm Parry /


KER-BOOM: Having signed up thousands of new B.C. Liberal party members, signs pointed to former mayor-MP Dianne Watts being elected leader. After leading three rounds, though, she was outfoxed by Andrew Wilkinson, not to mention having fewer than half her signed-up members actually cast ballots.

Le Crocodile owner-chef Michel Jacob served his native Alsace's titanic Choucroute Garnie au Riesling at a March banquet for the big of appetite.

Le Crocodile owner-chef Michel Jacob served his native Alsace’s titanic Choucroute Garnie au Riesling at a March banquet for the big of appetite.

Malcolm Parry /


RIB-STICKER: Even this season’s hefty meals seldom outweigh Alsatian-specialty Choucroute Garnie au Riesling that Le Crocodile’s Strasbourg-born Michel Jacob served to colleagues in March. Think smoked ham hocks, pork ribs, other cuts and several different sausages mounded on half spuds and wine-fermented cabbage.

DOWN PARRYSCOPE: Merry Christmas to all and especially the British for whom Brexit shenanigans top such traditional seasonal pantomimes as Cinderella, Peter Pan and Puss in Boots.


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Rita Sidhu: Lawyers not to blame for ICBC’s ‘dumpster fire’

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Attorney General David Eby looks on as Jane Dyson, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, speaks about the changes coming to the Insurance Corporation of B.C. during a press conference in the press gallery at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday February 6, 2018.


Recently, David Eby, the Attorney General of B.C., took a shot at B.C. personal injury lawyers.

His letter is full of misleading information designed to induce the public to blame lawyers for ICBC’s woes and to garner public support for the “minor-injury” cap. It’s simple enough to do as we all know lawyers are easy targets (although politicians are not far behind). No one likes lawyers — until they need one, that is.

For example, Eby took a shot at lawyer advertisements, specifically Preszler Law, as the top advertising firm in B.C. In fact, Preszler Law is an Ontario firm that very recently set up shop in B.C. The reality is that I, and many of my colleagues, don’t advertise at all. It is a tiny percentage of the personal injury bar that comprises this advertising.

Second, he states that the ICBC system has been “uniquely generous” to lawyers. Really? Because I live in a basement suite in Vancouver and can’t imagine affording to buy a home in the city I’ve lived in the majority of my life.

Eby speaks of how his own father’s law practice was almost put out of business and how his mother had to return to work earlier than planned. Unlike the Eby family, I don’t have a spouse to lean on.

My clients come to me because they are not being treated fairly by ICBC. Eby states that almost every accident claim dispute in B.C. goes to B.C. Supreme Court. In reality, almost every accident claim in B.C. is resolved without a trial. The only reason that claims are started in B.C. Supreme Court is because there is a two-year limitation date in which one must file or lose their claim. If ICBC treated people fairly in the first two years, people wouldn’t need lawyers to seek justice for them in the courts. Eby certainly has a way of spinning “alternative facts.”

Eby blames lawyers like myself for spending thousands of dollars on expert reports. In fact, I can give many examples of where I have not got any reports, but ICBC has scheduled multiple examinations of my client, leaving me in the position of having no choice but to get my own reports.

Eby stated, “Nobody knows better than these lawyers do about what is happening.”

Yes, we do know what is happening. We see you. In spite of the dire financial situation at ICBC, there have been no structural or leadership changes at the Crown corporation. ICBC is a so-called “dumpster fire” but the executives receive hefty bonuses.

Rather than cutting the pay/vacations of union ICBC staff or stopping ICBC executive bonuses or cutting the $400 million a year commissions paid to ICBC salespeople, the NDP are taking it out of innocent victims’ injury compensation and blaming lawyers for ICBC’s woes.

The government argued early on that introducing minor-injury caps was the only option available to them to avoid passing on significant rate hikes to British Columbians — and yet here we are with significant rate hikes on the horizon.

There is no doubt that innocent accident victims are the ones who will pay the price for bad drivers in light of the changes to ICBC. I understand that people don’t think it will happen to them, but if and when they are injured through the negligence of a bad driver, and they are unfairly treated by ICBC, as countless numbers of my clients are, they will see the truth of who the real villain is, and … spoiler alert! … it’s not the lawyers.

Rita Sidhu is a Vancouver lawyer specializing in criminal, family and personal injury law.

Letters to the editor should be sent to sunletters@vancouversun.com. The editorial pages editor is Gordon Clark, who can be reached at gclark@postmedia.com.

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Pushing for greener policies? Then give up free parking passes, Victoria city councillor urges colleagues

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Victoria city councillors need to put their green policy talk into practice and give up their free city parking passes, says Coun. Jeff Young.

Young is proposing changes to the parking privileges currently offered to Capital Regional District representatives, arguing that actions speak louder than words.  

“I’ve just been getting a little tired of what seems to me to be slightly sanctimonious or even hypocritical motions by the council, for example, decrying investment in fossil fuel firms,”  Young said.

“We do use automobiles. We need fuel, and for us to say we want to blame the fossil fuel companies for producing fuels seems seems a little odd.”

He pointed to the push to reduce emissions and resistance to projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and number of tankers in B.C. waters as examples of simply talking the talk.

“If we are going to keep making these pronouncements, we should look look at to our own home first,” Young told Gregor Craigie, the host of CBC’s On The Island.

“When we say we don’t want to invest funds in fossil fuel companies, are we really saying we want them to stop producing gasoline?”

Not everyone can cycle to work, argues Coun.Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Others have proposed offering bus passes or other remuneration if the parking passes are removed. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

Concerns about accessibility

Young occasionally drives to work, himself, rather than cycling, he admits, and knows first-hand that having free parking at work is an incentive to hop in the car.

But not all members of council are able to cycle to work, countered Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe. Some may have health issues or drop children off at school along the way or have meetings in several different locations around the city.

“As councillors, we need to walk the talk,” she agreed. “But one of the things we have to make sure of is that … council is accessible to all.”

The parking permits are also part of a larger remuneration package for staff, which is why some councillors have proposed changing the parking passes for bus passes or higher wages instead, Thornton-Joe said.

She said she’s open to the idea but would need more information on how the changes would play out.

“Each and every one of us have different needs,” she said.

“[We need] a little bit more information on what does that entail.”

Council has requested a staff report on the financial implications of eliminating parking passes as part of a review of council remuneration

“I have no problem looking at the the reports,” she said.

“Councillor Young brings up larger issues of how councillors conduct themselves, the motions they bring forward and [whether they are] practicing that.”

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Police investigating after assault in Burnaby condo building elevator

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Burnaby RCMP are asking a man to come forward after a woman was assaulted in the elevator of a condo building early Saturday morning.

Police say they received a report of an assault Dec. 15 just before 2 a.m. of an assault in the area of Nelson Avenue and Imperial Street in Burnaby.

The victim said an unknown man got into an elevator with her, assaulted her, stole her cell phone and fled.

CCTV footage from the elevator shows that the man struck the woman several times and fled after picking up what appears to be a cell phone.

The woman received minor injuries and was treated in a hospital. 

Pair were known to each other

According to police, initial investigations showed the man and woman were together before entering the elevator and had spent time in a condo suite in the same building where the alleged assault took place.

“The nature of this contact and what occurred prior to the male and female entering the elevator is still under investigation but may have been a factor in the assault that is alleged to have taken place,” the news release reads in part.

“At this time, police do not believe the general public is at risk as this appears to have been an isolated incident and it appears the male and female were known to each other, if only for a short period of time just prior to this incident taking place.”

Police want to speak with the man who is alleged to have committed the assault. He is described as Asian, five feet 10 inches tall, with a slim build and black hair. He was wearing a black jacket, black pants, and red and black shoes. He was last seeing headed north on Nelson Street. 

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