Attack of Danger Bay – Pender Harbour

Racers ready at the hilltop

You know how sometimes the right interviews just seem to fall in place?

Covering the Attack of Danger Bay, an annual longboarding tournament in Pender Harbour, it seemed everyone I spoke with had an interesting story to tell.

It was one of those events where you find people of all ages, from all sorts of locations, all united in their common love of broken bones, high speed and thin pieces of plied wood.

The most notorious bend on the Pender Harbour course is Carnage Corner. Behold:

Photographer Justin Samson put together an excellent gallery. Check out his work.

Story.

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Vancouver man involved in SK residential schools sex case: reports

Beauval Residential School in 1924

Beauval Residential School in 1924

An elderly man from Vancouver is facing sex assault charges stemming from his time spent as a dormitory supervisor at a residential school in Beauval, SK.

The reports seem to have conflicting information, such as the vital detail of his age. Anyways, here they are:

Global Saskatoon

Northern Pride (local independent)

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several survivors from the Beauval Residential School and others. It has been a great source of pain for many First Nations people living in northwest Saskatchewan and all over Canada. Here’s an article I wrote last year about a couple of their experiences.

BC Soccer optimistic about Vancouver Whitecaps MLS debut

Proud fans watch the Whitecaps' first MLS victory. Photo by Rosie Tulips

The enthusiasm surrounding Saturday’s Whitecaps victory over Toronto FC has BC Soccer Association excited about the future of youth soccer in the province.

As a director of BC Soccer, Steve Allen said he expects the Whitecaps’ integration into Major League Soccer will boost interest in soccer for both parents and their children.

“In general we expect to see an increase in youth registration. BC Soccer’s programming has changed over the last year in anticipation of the MLS,” Allen said.

Many of the 23,000 screaming fans that witnessed Whitecaps star Eric Hassli score two goals on Saturday, leading the team to victory over Toronto FC, were parents and children.

“Those kinds of activities tend to generate new registrations in the youth game,” Allen said, adding that when the parents become interested, they’re much more likely to register their kids to play.

This February, BC Soccer announced the eight clubs comprising their new Premier League. Top-level talents in youth soccer will be recruited from multiple age ranges to participate in the first ‘mini-season’ this fall.

The league, which recently enlisted EA Sports as a major sponsor, begins its first full-season in March of 2012. BC Soccer’s Premier League will have youth competing on the national level.

“Our reorganization was to bring us in line with the rest of Canada,” Allen said.

Some adjustments

“BC’s in a very unique situation in that we can play soccer all year round. It’s also a double-edged sword because you get lousy weather, more injuries. Summer time, when we should be playing or training, we’re not.”

Like the Canucks, the Whitecaps sell 50/50 lottery tickets at their games and a significant portion is marked for youth programs. Allen said he also expects increased revenue from the Whitecaps to help development.

“More camps, academies and programs that people can take part in. There’s some revenue generation there,” Allen said. He added that many of the kids involved at this level will have their eyes set on a career in soccer that may include university, college, or even the Whitecaps themselves.

While the new league has been organized around the anticipation of the Whitecaps heading to MLS, Allen hopes the added interest in the sport will show at all levels of competitive soccer in BC.

Beyond simply raising interest in the sport, there are expectations that the Whitecaps will have other positive effects on the province.

Around $563 million has been injected into renovations at BC Place, the future home of the Whitecaps and BC Lions. With this, there is added hope that Vancouver will win its bid to secure the 2015 Women’s World Cup of Soccer.

Hope for growth

While increased revenues are expected by people like Allen to trickle down to the lower levels of soccer in the province, he said he also expects merchandise sales and tourism to have a positive effect on the local economy.

“It’s flying off the shelves right now,” Allen said of Whitecaps merchandise. “There’s a lot of [economic] activity that comes from these events.”

BC Soccer expects that games against Toronto, Portland and Seattle will generate the most tourism, with visitors loyal to these teams staying in hotels and enjoying Vancouver’s culture.

The general confidence in the future of the Whitecaps has also led to an all-star line up of sponsorships. Among the names secured before Saturday’s MLS debut are Bell Canada, Bank of Montreal, Electronic Arts and Kia Motors.

With all the investment, sponsorship and enthusiastic fans surrounding the Whitecaps’ ascendancy, it would seem that Vancouver has caught soccer fever.

“The reality is, when the Whitecaps started to look at [entering the MLS], they had other things in mind as well.”

Hundreds of citizens pack city council for first Edgewater Casino hearing

A crowd gathers outside of the W 12 Avenue entrance to city hall

The corridors of Vancouver City Hall were packed tonight, as hundreds of people showed up to express their distaste over the proposed Edgewater Casino expansion.

Before being allowed into the building, protesters jammed the entrance waiting for the security lockdown to cease, a “standard procedure” according to councillor Andrea Reimer, who entered through the Broadway entrance.

While the anger could be felt from all directions, with various groups lobbing words like ‘greed’ and expressing a strong distaste for what they felt the proposal would mean for the city, a small group of casino workers stood off to the side, wondering why nobody wanted to hear their side of the story.

Edgewater employees

“They help me out a lot,” said Edgewater employee Elela Eremina. A Russian immigrant and 13 year casino employee, Eremina said she was recently diagnosed with cancer and that the company had been quite supportive of her needs.

Beside Eremina stood her friend and colleague Shelly Holden, a 38-year-old blackjack dealer that’s worked at Edgewater for over two years.

“It’s pretty heart breaking to see this many people so adamantly opposed to it,” she said, her eyes watering up indicating she was holding back tears.

“They’re making it more of an anger issue than it is.”

Holden said the critics of the development were ignoring the creation of jobs, expected to number some 1,900 full-time equivalent positions.

“Nobody still has a solid argument as to why [there should be] no casino.”

Gaming addiction

Holden pointed to GameSense representatives who are tasked with identifying problem gamblers, around 4.6 per cent of the population, and providing them with services to deal with their addictions.

“You go online and you don’t get that,” she said. “BCLC seems to be pretty much supporting online gambling and they’re forgetting about the people who actually need jobs.”

Those opposed certainly made their presence felt, with several large banners exclaiming opposition to the casino expansion. The group Vancouver Not Vegas, which distributed signs addressed to various councillors opposing the expansion, had collected over 2,800 signatures for its online petition by the time council proceedings began.

Opposition from an unlikely source

Among the 163 speakers in line to speak was Glyn Townson, spokesman for the BC Persons with AIDS Society.

“I think the politicians need to hear the issues around this that they might not be fully aware of,” he said. Townson expressed a degree of confidence in the mayor and council, but added that he worried about the transparency of gaming funds.

“They’re not giving the percentages they said they were going to in the first place … In the beginning where it was 50 per cent, now [it’s] 30 per cent,” he said.

Townson said that his group depends upon an annual dividend of $210,000 in order to finance much of their operations. While told there would be no cuts to that funding, he said he recently found out that the group will have to budget for $50,000 less.

Saying he had witnessed the effects first-hand of these type of cuts on social programming, like arts and athletics, Townson said his group wanted “A full counting of where that money is going.”

A crowd pleaser

While the highly contenious session of council got underway, the crowd became noticeably unsettled by 8:00 p.m. A drunken individual, who was seen consuming alcohol outside of the council chambers, walked up to the BC Pavilion Corporation speaker and interrupted his presentation.

Security officials asked the crowd if the man should be removed and the group answered with a resounding “Yes!”

It was, perhaps, the least contentious issue of the night.

Video: Vancouver tent city protest, Feb. 26, 2011

Check out the video section for mine and Celia Leung‘s coverage of last week’s 2011 Tent City protest. The morning of the action was a constant push-and-shove between activists and the security forces resisting them. Ultimately, the action fell apart as activists were refused the ability to set up their tents. The city has said housing remains a provincial matter and citing their plans to provide spaces for all of Vancouver’s homeless by 2015, denounced the demands of the group as unrealistic.

Click for Video Section