Posts Tagged "Living"


Province secures safe shelter, supports for people living in major encampments

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The Province is working with the cities of Vancouver and Victoria to transition people living in encampments in Oppenheimer Park, Topaz Park and on Pandora Avenue into safe, temporary accommodations with wraparound supports to protect their health and safety in the overlapping COVID-19 and overdose crises.

Since March 2020, the Province, in partnership with BC Housing and local municipalities, has worked to secure and operate 686 hotel and community centre accommodations in Vancouver and 324 hotel spaces in Victoria. This allows people from the encampments to safely physically distance, with access to important health, social and other supports.

“Providing safe, temporary accommodations and wraparound services for people facing homelessness has been an urgent priority for this government for a long time,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Now, more than ever, with the concurrent emergencies of the pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, it is time to implement long-term housing solutions that take care of and protect our most vulnerable people.”

This is a step toward providing permanent housing for people in these encampments. BC Housing, non-profit and health authority staff, provincial community-integration specialists and municipal staff will be working directly with people living in these three encampments and will help transition people into safer accommodations. There, they will have their own living space and access to services, such as meals, laundry, washroom facilities, health-care services, addictions treatment and harm reduction, storage for personal belongings and other supports.

This is the next step in a phased approach, developed in co-ordination and collaboration with local governments and service delivery partners, to support vulnerably housed people living with elevated risk during two public health emergencies – the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing overdose crisis. 

“Having a roof over your head, access to food, health care and social supports are all essential to finding a pathway to hope,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “As we stare down not one, but two public health emergencies, we are saying that we won’t leave anyone behind.”  

By transitioning vulnerable people into more secure accommodations, the Province is focused on reducing the immediate health and safety risks to people living and working in these densely populated encampments, as well as those in the neighbouring communities.

“Every day I am inspired by the tremendous leadership the Province has shown British Columbians,” said Lisa Helps, mayor, City of Victoria. “This approach to helping our most vulnerable residents is thoughtful, prudent and ultimately will keep all of us safer during this pandemic.”

This transition is supported by an order under the Emergency Program Act under the provincial state of emergency issued by Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, as part of the Province’s all-of-government response to COVID-19. The order sets May 9, 2020, as the deadline to transition people out of the encampments.

“In this provincial state of emergency, our priority is public safety: for those living in these encampments, neighbouring communities and front-line workers delivering services to these vulnerable people,” Farnworth said. “We are committed to working in partnership with local governments and law enforcement to address the elevated health and safety risks within and around these encampments, while making sure people have access to the critical services they need.”

The Province is working on comprehensive long-term plans to secure permanent housing with appropriate supports for those leaving the encampments and moving into safe, temporary accommodations. These plans will include strategies that will mitigate a return to homelessness and will also make sure the many public safety concerns at the current encampments are addressed, including fire code violations, property crime and sexual violence.

These accommodations are in addition to the more than 1,739 beds that have been secured for vulnerable people, including those experiencing homelessness, in other hotel rooms, community centres and emergency response centres across the province. This step also supports additional and existing work done to date by the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Working Group, regional health authorities, BC Housing and the cities of Vancouver and Victoria.


Cheryl Casimer, political executive, First Nations Summit –

“We would like to acknowledge the efforts of the provincial government and all partners involved in developing a strategy for the Downtown Eastside (DTES). Although the strategy announced today includes a temporary plan to address urgent housing and social service supports needed to curtail the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the DTES, it will also allow the Province and primary partners to work towards addressing the much needed long-term housing and wellness strategies and needs to support the DTES community. Based on reports that a second wave of COVID-19 is possible, it is absolutely necessary that these long-term needs are addressed on a priority basis.”

Regional Chief Terry Teegee, B.C. Assembly of First Nations –

“These necessary supports for vulnerable members of the DTES community as well as other communities are much needed during this unprecedented health crisis. I applaud the efforts of the provincial government and other partners in addressing the housing and health-related realities that residents are facing. We must continue to advance and ensure long-term collaborative supports as we work to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Learn More:

The related order under the Emergency Program Act under the provincial state of emergency can be viewed here:

For an overview of BC Housing’s work to monitor and respond to COVID-19, visit:

For more information and latest medical updates on COVID-19, follow the BCCDC on Twitter @CDCofBC or visit its website:

For more information on non-medical issues like travel recommendations and how to manage social isolation, visit:
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.

Three backgrounders follow.


‘Our lives are worth living’: Remembering those with disabilities who were murdered

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A solemn group of two dozen gathered in Burnaby Sunday to remember those whose lives were cut short at the hands of loved ones.

The annual Disability Day of Mourning is a vigil dedicated to raising awareness that some people with disabilities are killed by caretakers and family members.

“Many of us organizing, and many attending, do have disabilities ourselves,” said Vivian Ly, one of the founders of Autistics United Canada. “A lot of us have had violence enacted on us by our caretakers. A lot of questions that come up are, ‘Am I next?’”

“[The vigil] is sending the message that our lives are worth living; that these murders are not justified,” she said.

In preparing for this year’s event, Ly researched one of Metro Vancouver’s latest victims, Florence Girard, a 54-year-old Port Coquitlam woman who had Down syndrome.

Girard was found starved and malnourished in October 2018; she weighed just 56 pounds. Her case was not brought to light until this year, when her caretaker was formally charged in her death.

“She did not deserve such a horrific death,” Ly said. “She deserved way better from those who were responsible for her care.”

She doesn’t want to focus on the circumstances of Girard’s death and pending court case, but rather remember the life that she led. She told the crowd the 54-year-old was funny, liked to take photos and swam competitively.

“We want to remember them as people,” Ly said. “People like us. And they had voices, too – even if they were silenced too soon.”

During the vigil, Sam McCulligh, another organizer, read a list of victims from across the country who have died since this type of death began being officially recorded.

“When I read the list, I just think about how many people have been senselessly murdered,” he said.

The list contains 61 names, but McCulligh believes there are many more cases that didn’t get reported.

For example, the list dates back to the early 1940s, but only two cases are mentioned before it jumps to a victim in 1977. Then there’s another large gap before Tracy Latimer’s name is mentioned.

The 12-year-old Saskatchewan girl was killed by her father in 1993. Robert Latimer served 10 years in prison and when he was released, he said he had no regrets about killing her.

The father always claimed he killed her out of compassion to end her daily pain and suffering.

“It’s extremely disturbing to me that he’s been receiving so much support after essentially murdering his own daughter,” McCulligh said. “A lot of times, we aren’t viewed as full people; our lives are viewed as tragedies, viewed as burdens.”

He said that is why it is so important to hold events like the vigil to raise awareness that a disability should not result in a death sentence. 


Andrew Longhurst: B.C. needs to significantly boost supply of public assisted living for seniors

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The B.C. government should provide new capital and operating funding to non-profit organizations and health authorities to increase the supply of publicly subsidized assisted living units as part of a provincial seniors’ care capital funding plan, argues Andrew Longhurst.

AlexRaths / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Too many seniors in our province struggle to find publicly subsidized assisted living where they can be supported as they age. Amidst an affordable housing crisis felt across generations, the need to significantly boost the supply of subsidized assisted living is more urgent than ever before.

Assisted living is a type of supportive housing for people with moderate levels of disability who need daily personal assistance to live independently (meals, help with bathing, or taking medications, etc.). Publicly subsidized assisted living is part of B.C.’s larger home and community care system. There is also a large private-pay assisted living sector, where seniors pay entirely out-of-pocket and fees are completely unregulated. For-profit corporations provide the vast majority of private-pay units, while non-profits provide the majority of publicly subsidized units.

In a new study published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, my research found a number of concerning trends.

Access to publicly subsidized assisted living units in B.C. dropped significantly — by 17 per cent — between 2008 and 2017. (Access is measured as the number of units for every 1,000 seniors age 75 and older).

Perhaps not surprisingly, the private-pay assisted living market has benefited as a result, as seniors and their families look for other options when subsidized care is unavailable. Between 2010 and 2017, 1,130 private-pay units were added throughout the province, while a mere 105 publicly subsidized units were added.

Private-pay care may be an option for some, but it is beyond the means of most low- and moderate-income seniors. Senior couples at the median (middle) income of $61,900 can scarcely afford a one-bedroom assisted living unit, which would eat up 58 per cent of their income. For seniors living alone, even a bachelor suite would require over 80 per cent of their income.

Without access to subsidized assisted living, seniors who can’t afford to pay privately may go without care altogether or wait until their health deteriorates to the point of requiring a nursing home or hospitalization. This situation does not serve seniors or our public health system well at all.

Over the last two decades, the provincial government has not made the public investments needed for health authorities and non-profits to develop new assisted living spaces, which means very few new subsidized facilities are being built.

At the same time, skyrocketing real estate prices have led to a growing financialization of seniors’ care, where real estate assets are bought and sold as commodities on international markets. But allowing assisted living facilities to be treated this way is fundamentally at odds with the basic social purpose of providing care to vulnerable seniors.

It is clear that B.C.’s policy approach is not working. Access to publicly subsidized units has fallen and yet we know that the for-profit sector is more likely to build private assisted living units because the rate of return on capital invested is higher.

What is the solution?

B.C. currently relies on private-sector financing of assisted living, which is more expensive than the provincial government financing new construction. This approach is a relic of the early 2000s when government refused to take on debt in order to build critical social infrastructure.

Aside from an initial injection of federal and provincial capital funding in the early 2000s, the provincial government has provided very little ongoing direct capital funding to expand subsidized assisted living. In fact, over nearly 10 years (2009-10 to 2017-18) the B.C. government provided a mere $3.3 million in capital funding. To put this into perspective, this represents 0.04 per cent of total capital investments in the health sector over this period.

The B.C. government should provide new capital and operating funding to non-profit organizations and health authorities to increase the supply of publicly subsidized assisted living units as part of a provincial seniors’ care capital funding plan. Seniors and their families deserve no less.

Andrew Longhurst is a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and author of the just-released report Assisted Living in British Columbia: Trends in access, affordability and ownership.


Living near traffic corridors linked to risk of MS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease: UBC study | CBC News

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Researchers at the University of British Columbia have found that living near major roads or highways is linked to an increased risk of neurological disorders, while proximity to parks and green spaces is linked to a decreased risk.

The findings are included in a study published this week in the journal Environmental Health.

“Neurological disorders are one of the leading causes of death and disability, globally, and we know very little about the risk factors associated with neurological disorders,” said Weiran Yuchi, the study’s lead author and PhD candidate at UBC school of population and public health.

Yuchi’s study looked at the neurological health effects of green space, air and noise pollution all together, but she said they made no findings regarding noise pollution.

The researchers found an increase in the incidence of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and non-Alzheimer’s dementia among those living close to busy roads and highways. 

In the case of Parkinson’s, the risk increased by seven per cent among those living close to busy roads and highways. For non-Alzheimer’s dementia, the risk rose by 14 per cent.

But on the flip side, the study showed green spaces are associated with a three to eight per cent lower risk of neurological disorders, said Yuchi, who characterized the link as “protective effects.”

Study based on Metro Vancouver population

Yuchi said the study doesn’t demonstrate that busy roads and green spaces cause the increased and decreased risks, respectively, only that a correlation exists.

In terms of how close to a road one needs to live to fall into the affected population, Yuchi’s study used as its measure 50 metres from a major road and 150 metres from a highway. 

The researchers used a data set including nearly 700,000 adults living in Metro Vancouver for their study. They relied on hospital records, prescription information and doctor visits. They then estimated individuals’ exposure to air and noise pollution and proximity to green space using their postal codes.

In terms of access to green space, Yuchi said the study used 100 metres as a measure, and beyond the role trees play in creating clean oxygen to breathe, the positive effects could be associated with the likelihood of being more physically active and other benefits of living close to a park. 

“We’re not in a position to tell where people should live, but we do suggest that urban planning efforts to increase accessibility to green spaces and to reduce motor vehicle traffic would be beneficial for neurological health at population level,” she said.

Yuchi said the study accounted for socio-economic status — things like income and education — as determinants of health, but the researchers didn’t look at the effects of those factors directly.

She said she’s already working on a similar study with data from across the country, which includes 20 per cent of Canada’s population to get an even clearer picture of how environmental conditions relate to the risk of neurological disorders.

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Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker


Living near major traffic routes increases risk of dementia and other conditions: UBC study

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People who live less than 50 metres from a major road or less than 150 metres from a highway are at a higher risk of developing dementia or Parkinson’s disease, according to new research from UBC.

Researchers looked at 678,000 adults living in Metro Vancouver between 1994 and 1998, and then followed up with them once again from 1999 to 2003. They used postal code information to assess each person’s closeness to the road and their exposure to air pollution, noise and green spaces. They ended up identifying 13,170 cases of dementia, 4,210 cases of Parkinson’s disease, 1,277 cases of Alzheimer’s, and 658 cases of Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Researchers classified the different categories of roads based on the traffic volume and the width of the lanes.

The study’s lead author and UBC PhD candidate Weiran Yuchi told CTV News Vancouver the research found living near a major traffic route increased the risk of dementia by 14 per cent, and increased the risk of Parkinson’s by seven per cent.

“We believe that the air pollution associated with traffic actually contributes to the onset of these neurological disorders,” she said.

Due to the relatively low number of Alzheimer’s and MS cases identified, researchers were not able to link an increased risk of those diseases to air pollution, specifically. They are now studying information from across the country to try and get a better understanding of any potential connection.

There was one thing researchers found could mitigate the effects of air pollution: living within 100 metres of a green space.

“There could be several reasons,” Yuchi said. “We believe that maybe the visual presentation … actually is one possible reason. Or, you know, people who live near green space, they’re more physically active, and they pay more attention to their health, and as a result they are at less risk of developing certain neurological disorders.”

Increasing access to parks is one of the goals the City of Vancouver set in its “Greenest City Action Plan,” but according to the Park Board, it hasn’t quite hit its stated target of having everyone within a five-minute walk of a green space by this year.

Senior environment and sustainability planner Chad Townsend said in an email to CTV News Vancouver: “99 per cent of people are within a 10-minute walk of a park or green space (80% are within a five-minute walk). However, distribution is uneven and some neighbourhoods are underserved.”

He singled out Grandview-Woodland and Fairview as areas which have less park land per 1,000 residents, comparatively.

Another goal was to plant 150,000 more trees between 2010 and 2020. Townsend said the Park Board expects to achieve that goal by the end of this year.

Yuchi said in light of Canada’s aging population, the study’s authors are hoping that city planners will take their findings to heart and find ways to increase access to green spaces while reducing traffic.

“The number of cases of neurological disorders are forecast to increase dramatically,” Yuchi said. “Neurological disorders (are) actually one of (the) leading causes of death and disability globally, and we know little about the risk factors of neurological disorders, so therefore we think that it’s necessary for people to pay more attention to neurological health.” 


UBC study links living near highways to risk of neurological disorders

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UBC researchers have linked living near a highway with a higher risk of developing a neurological disorder.

Francis Georgian / Postmedia News Files

Researchers at the University of B.C. have found a link between living near highways and an increased risk of several major neurological disorders, including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

The study, published this week in Environmental Health, found proximity to major roads may also increase the risk for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s diseases, likely because of exposure to more air pollution such as nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

Lead author Weiran Yuchi, and a team of researchers at the UBC school of population and public health, analyzed data for 678,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 84 in Metro Vancouver. The subjects were interviewed from 1994 to 1998, and again during a follow-up period from 1999 to 2003.

The researchers concluded that living less than 50 metres from a major road or less than 150 metres from a highway is associated with a higher risk of the neurological disorders, while living near green spaces such as parks and forests reduced risk.

“In our research we found that the green spaces have protective effects against developing the neurological disorders,” said Yuchi, adding that they measured green space using an index of satellite images.

Yuchi said this is the first time UBC researchers have confirmed a link between air pollution and traffic proximity with a higher risk of dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS at the population level. There are other epidemiological studies that have reported associations between road proximity and traffic-related air pollution with impaired cognitive function in adults and neurological disorders.

Weiran Yuchi, a researcher at the UBC school of population and public health, is the lead author of a study that links living near highways with an increased risk of developing a neurological disorder such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease.

UBC handout /


Living near a major road or highway was was associated with a 14 per cent risk for dementia, and seven per cent for Parkinson’s disease.

While the researchers did not identify a percentage for risk for MS and Alzeihmer’s, they did find road proximity was associated with incidence of both.

Yuchi noted that the research does not make recommendations on whether people should be living near highways, but they do suggest more green spaces and accessibility to parks be included in urban planning efforts.

She said their research shows that there is a three to eight per cent reduction in the risk of developing the neurological disorders for those who  live near parks or forest.

They do not make recommendations about how to minimize the risk for those who do live near major roadways, and say more research is needed.  The study did not account for people who live near roads but spend a significant amount of time in nature hiking or visiting parks.

Michael Brauer, the study’s senior author and professor in the UBC school of population and public health, said, in a UBC statement, that those who live close to a green space are likely to be more physically and socially active, and may benefit from the visual aspects of vegetation.

Brauer added that the findings underscore the importance for city planners to ensure they incorporate greenery and parks when planning and developing residential neighbourhoods.

The study was co-authored by Hind Sbihi, Hugh Davies, and Lillian Tamburic in the UBC school of population and public health.

Researchers are now looking at national data which contains information for 20 per cent of the Canadian population, and they are hoping that this will provide more insight into the association between proximity to highways, air pollution, and neurological disorders.


A single-vehicle crash changed her life. Now she strives to be a living warning against impaired driving | CBC News

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Nearly 20 years ago, Lynette Welch was into her second straight day of drinking when she climbed behind the wheel of her powder blue Chevy truck and drove from her brother’s house to make a run to the liquor store. 

It was Aug. 10, 2000. Welch was 31 years old and married with two young children, living in her hometown of Williams Lake, B.C.

Welch turned her pickup down Horsefly Road, a long, winding backroad with worn centre lines and gravel shoulders leading into grassy ditches. Speeding, she lost control on a curve.

The Chevy lurched off the road and rolled four times, the cab crushed a little more with every rotation. No one else was involved or hurt in the single-vehicle crash, but Welch arrived at the hospital braindead and only survived after emergency surgery.

Lynette Welch’s blue truck was totalled after her crash on Aug. 10, 2000, in Williams Lake, B.C. (Submitted by Lynette Welch)

Welch hasn’t driven since that crash nearly 20 years ago. She lives alone on disability in an apartment in Williams Lake, unable to work because of her traumatic brain injury and a paralyzed arm. She has trouble with her memory and, in her words, she doesn’t walk correctly.

She’s 51 years old, divorced and has only seen her two grown children, on average, once a decade. 

Welch posts old photos of the wreck and its backstory several times a year, especially around the holidays, warning others how much they can lose, or take away from someone else, if they choose to drive drunk like she did.

“I lost my life, in a sense,” said Welch, speaking by phone from her home. “That’s what people need to realize: It costs you so much and it could cost other people, too.”

Welch was an alcoholic at the time of the crash, drinking in secret in her laundry room as a way to cope with stress and a failing marriage. She worked as a licensed daycare provider.

She said the choice to drive the day of the crash wasn’t really a conscious decision at all. She just did it because she felt she could.

“I just drank because I got away with it … I never, ever was confronted about it,” Welch said.

Lynette Welch in hospital after her crash on Aug. 10, 2000, in Williams Lake, B.C. She was in a coma for about a month. (Submitted by Lynette Welch)

Welch was in a coma for more than a month after the crash. She and her ex-husband separated soon after.

A judge granted him full custody of their children after they divorced, a ruling Welch attributes to her history of alcohol abuse. The children and their father soon moved out of province and have seldom returned to B.C.

“I have a bit of a relationship [with my kids], but nothing like I could have had, that’s for sure,” said Welch. “Now they call their step-mom ‘Mom.'”

Lynette Welch with one of her children before her crash on Aug. 10, 2000 in Williams Lake, B.C. She has seldom seen her two children since the crash and her subsequent divorce. Her husband was granted custody and moved away from B.C. (Submitted by Lynette Welch)

Welch dumped her last drink down the kitchen sink on Sept. 22, 2003. She spent years speaking to teenagers in her community through the Prevent Alcohol and Risk-related Trauma in Youth program, known as the P.A.R.T.Y. program, which runs throughout B.C. to expose young people to the dangers of impaired driving by showing them the potential consequences. 

Impaired driving is the third-leading cause of crashes in B.C., behind distracted driving and speeding. One-third of deadly crashes in the province between 2008 and 2016 involved drugs or alcohol, according to the BC Coroners Service.

Now, Welch posts her story on Facebook and encourages others to share it with their networks. 

“It always brings back memories of my decision whenever I share on Facebook, but it’s more important that people see the message,” she said.

“I’m not just standing, shaking my finger, saying you really shouldn’t drink and drive … You can see, physically, with me, why not to drink and drive.”

“I lost one life when I crashed that truck and even if I reach one person … I think that’s why I was maybe allowed to live.”


Cost of Living puts privilege of all kinds under the microscope

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Cost of Living

 When: Oct. 10-Nov. 3

Where: BMO Theatre Centre

Tickets: from $29 at

In Martyna Majok’s 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cost of Living, John is smart, arrogant and wealthy; he is also confined to a wheelchair by his cerebral palsy. Ani is angry and caustic; she too is confined to a wheelchair, having been made a quadriplegic in a car accident. Both are portrayed by actors who share certain aspects of their conditions.

Not all of them, however.

“The way I can not relate to John is that he is very, very rich,” said Christopher Imbrosciano. “I have yet to experience the wealth that John has.”

Imbrosciano also has cerebral palsy, though not as severely as his character — it mostly affects the actor’s gait. Teal Sherer, who plays Ani, is a paraplegic. In the play, the focus is as much on their caregivers as it is on John and Ani. Rounding out the cast are Bahareh Yaraghi and Ashley Wright, as respective caregivers Jess and Eddie.

The different financial circumstances between the characters adds another layer to Cost of Living, Imbrosciano notes. “Hiring caregivers is not something John has to think about. Whereas Ani struggles to get the assistance she needs.”

While Imbrosciano and Sherer bring a certain amount of lived experience to their roles, neither has had to hire a caregiver.

“That’s something we’ve had to discover,” Sherer said. “I think that’s one thing that drew me to the play.”

Teal Sherer and Ashley Wright star in Cost of Living at the BMO Theatre from Oct. 10 to Nov. 3. Photo: Pink Monkey Studios 


Cost of Living is about privilege in its many forms, says director Ashlie Corcoran.

“The play explores the privileges of those who are able-bodied, but at the same time it’s looking at privilege through the lens of socioeconomic status,” she said.

Homelessness, gender, and what it means to be a first-generation American (in the case of Jess) are other themes that come up.

“In prepping for the play, I put different lenses on and tried to say, ‘Well who is more privileged at this moment, and what are they doing with it?’ It keeps shifting. John says, ‘I can do anything I want, except for the things that I can’t.’ And I think you could say that for all of the characters.”

The Vancouver run marks the play’s Canadian premiere. A co-production with Citadel Theatre, Cost of Living will move on to Edmonton in the new year.

Whether identity politics, the #metoo movement, or the environment, theatre is often at the forefront of cultural issues. Recognizing this, the Arts Club has created a role, that of creative cultural consultant, that lets the organization call in experts. For Cost of Living, they’ve consulted with James Sanders, founding artistic director of Real Wheel Theatre. The company is dedicated to inclusion, integration, and understanding of disability.

“Because they (the actors) have their own lived experience, his role has been more about working with the Arts Club as a whole to make sure our spaces and attitudes are as accessible as possible,” Corcoran said. “We’ve learned a lot and made lots of changes. What excites me the most is when we’re in meetings and people bring up these topics.”

Sanders is also collaborating with the Arts Club, in partnership with Bard on the Beach, on an upcoming symposium, Theatre and Accessibility in a Digital World (Oct 20-22 at the BMO). “We’re looking at how we can use technology to make theatre, our spaces, our experiences, our stories, more accessible for artists and audiences alike,” Corcoran said.

Cost of Living is a step in this direction.

“Society usually tells us to turn away when you see a person with a disability,” Sherer said. “With this play, we’re saying, ‘No, look at us. Look at our bodies, look at our experiences.’ And that’s really powerful.”


Beedie Living goes big in Coquitlam

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The Heights on Austin is a project from Beedie in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]


Big changes are coming to the Austin Heights neighbourhood of Coquitlam. In recent weeks, one of Western Canada’s oldest Safeway stores was reopened on Austin Avenue after a rebuild by Beedie Living. On either side of the new 65,000-square-foot grocery store, the same developer has just broken ground on the first of two 25-storey residential towers that will be part of a major revitalization of the area.

The new development is appropriately named The Heights on Austin. But buyers of the homes won’t necessarily have to choose a plan at the top of one of these buildings to enjoy spectacular views, according to Beedie’s director of marketing and strategy, Sunny Hahm.

“Our views are one of our biggest selling points and they compare favourably to any development that’s been launched recently in Burnaby or Coquitlam,” Hahm said. “Even when you’re only on the third level, you’ll already have incredible southward views of Surrey, the Port Mann Bridge and the Fraser River. Every home on every residential level in this building has a view to immerse yourself in, which is very unusual. Typically, you’d have to purchase something on the tenth floor or above to get any type of view.”

The Heights on Austin is a project from Beedie in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]


The east tower will be completed first and have 177 homes (out of a total of 344 for the whole project), including five three-bedroom townhomes. This first phase will also include 12 affordable housing units to be developed in partnership with B.C. Housing and the not-for-profit Vancouver Resource Society. The west tower – the second phase of Austin Heights – will include additional retail space and commercial office space.

“The accessibility that the Austin Heights area provides to the rest of Metro Vancouver is a one of the key reasons why real estate in this neighbourhood holds its value so well,” Hahm added. “You’re still very much part of a residential community, but you’re also only a five-minute drive away from any one of three SkyTrain stations. There’s Burquitlam, Lougheed Town Centre and Braid stations, serving three different SkyTrain lines that connect you to all of Metro Vancouver. You’re away from the craziness and the hustle and bustle, but still well connected to transit options if you’re a commuter. In terms of driving, you can get to anywhere in Metro Vancouver within about half an hour.”

That’s assuming you need to leave the neighbourhood in the first place, of course. The brochure for The Heights on Austin lists no fewer than 60 educational institutions, restaurants, shopping outlets and activities in the neighbourhood. In addition, there are 750 acres of green space within four kilometres of the site, including the prestigious Vancouver Golf Club.

“Just behind our site, Ridgeway Avenue has been designated by the City of Coquitlam to be a new pedestrian area with an incredible new streetscape,” Hahm said. “It will be a beautiful promenade with cafes, restaurants and public art installations – a fully walkable neighbourhood right on your doorstep. Austin Heights is not just another highrise development. We’re building a new town centre for the City of Coquitlam and the local business community.”

“When it comes to the issue of affordability, we’re seeing purchasers shift from west to east and there’s a level of expectation that comes with that,” Hahm added. “Somebody who’s been living for a number of years in somewhere like Yaletown or Coal Harbour will have certain expectations when it comes to the appliances in their homes and the quality of living they’re looking for.”

The Heights on Austin is a project from Beedie in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]


Beedie is aiming to exceed those expectations at The Heights on Austin. As a result, kitchens will feature premium Fisher & Paykel integrated appliance packages, including 32-inch fridges with bottom freezers, 30-inch stainless steel gas cooktops and 30-inch electric convection ovens. There are white upper Shaker cabinets with wood-grain lower cabinets, soft-close cabinet hardware with polished chrome pulls, LED under-cabinet lighting and quartz countertops and backsplashes.

Bathrooms will have custom mirrors and medicine cabinets, matte porcelain floor tiles, quartz countertops and undermount sinks. There are porcelain beveled subway tiles with niches, as well as polished chrome Grohe shower systems and adjustable shower wands in all ensuites. Main bathrooms feature luxurious soaker tubs.

The Heights on Austin is a project from Beedie in Coquitlam. [PNG Merlin Archive]


“We’ve seen mostly end users showing interest in these homes and that’s partly because of the quality of the finishes we’re putting in here and the expansiveness of the floor plans,” Hahm said. “They’re just a little bigger and more livable than what you might typically expect in a development like this. Our primary demographic is an end-use, first-time homebuyer and they’re typically coming from the Tri-Cities or Burnaby.”

There are multiple plans to choose from at The Heights on Austin. East tower homes have one to three bedrooms, range in size from 482 to 1,292 square feet and are priced from $441,900. Completion for the first phase is expected by the spring of 2022 and the presentation centre at 1032 Austin Avenue in Coquitlam is open from noon until 5 p.m. every day but Friday.

The Heights on Austin

Project location: 1045 Austin Avenue (east tower) and 505 Nelson Street (west tower), Coquitlam

Project size: 344 homes with one to three bedrooms. (East tower: 177 homes; West tower: 167 homes) East tower homes range from 482 to 1,292 square feet and priced from $441,900

Developer: Beedie Living

Architect: Chris Dikeakos Architects Inc.

Interior designer: Bob’s Your Uncle Design

Sales centre: 1032 Austin Ave, Coquitlam

Sales centre hours: noon — 5 p.m., Sat — Thurs

Sales phone: 604-492-2882




B.C. family of 5 living out of van draws attention at NDP campaign stop

by admin

CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. — For the past five months, 69-year-old Betty Nicolaye and her family of five have been on a desperate search for housing that has turned empty every time.

“Houses are selling like hot cakes around here,” she said Thursday after an NDP campaign announcement in Campbell River, B.C.  “One application after another, they keep telling us there are 80 people on the list and we never get any calls.”

In April, Nicolaye’s home of five years was sold and since then, she has applied to dozens of rental units but nothing has worked out.

She and her husband are on a pension, her one son has a disability and two others work as janitors. Together they can barely afford a five-bedroom home, which costs approximately $3,000 a month, but Nicolaye said the properties just aren’t available.

“It’s not good. It’s hard, but it’s harder being the mom because you are trying to be the tough person,” she said.

According to the latest census, the median income in Nicolaye’s home riding of North-Island-Powell River is $32,254, below the national average of $34,204. The average rent, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, is pegged at $833 a month.

Knowing she was facing an uphill battle for housing —  the toughest she’s experienced after 30 years in Campbell River — Nicolaye bought a “beat up motorhome” to provide temporary shelter for her kids, while she and her husband live in a tent. The family pays a dollar each for a shower at a nearby gas station and right now Nicolaye says they are currently living out of their van. 

“It’s been rough,” she said. “Now it’s so cold that you wake up in your bed and the blankets are wet, you don’t feel warm.”

Nicolaye is not alone in her unsuccessful search for housing in British Columbia. A lack of affordable homes and rental properties has been an issue in the province for years.

At an announcement in Campbell River Thursday, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh re-committed to building 500,000 affordable homes within 10 years. He also pledged up to $5,000 in annual funding for roughly 500,000 households who are spending at least 30 per cent of their pre-tax income on rent.

“This will make the difference for families that are unable to pay their bills, for families that are making a tough choice between do they pay for their groceries or do they pay rent,” Singh said.

 “These are difficult choices that families are making — far too difficult for far too many families — and we’ll put an end to that.”

Nicolaye was at that announcement and said the party’s pledge would help people like her as long as more properties hit the market. She said she was not brought to the event by the party, but was encouraged to attend by a local Indigenous group.

“I don’t know how anyone can hear that story and not be heartbroken,” Singh told reporters travelling on his campaign bus after meeting her. “I think about her and I think that’s why we need to tackle housing and why we need to build half a million new houses but also why we need to do something immediately because for her, we couldn’t afford to wait.”

A report from the parliamentary budget officer said the current national housing strategy, introduced by the Liberals, would build 150,000 new affordable units, modernize 300,000 existing units and protect 385,000 community housing units.

With files from The Canadian Press

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