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Tuesday, April 13, 2021
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City of Vancouver invites local artists to submit proposals for temporary public artworks

THE City of Vancouver announced on Monday that it welcomes submissions for “Platforms: We Are Here, Live,” a public art program that will commission temporary artworks for existing platforms throughout Vancouver.

The program will focus on artists working in video and two-dimensional media. Each commissioned artist will receive $5,000 for the creation, editing and design of the artwork.

The City hopes to feature up to 20 Vancouver-based and Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh artists, who are grappling with issues revealed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging artists and those new to working in the public realm are encouraged to apply.

“”Platforms: We Are Here, Live” highlights the crucial role of public art in our community by sharing the powerful works of local artists who continue to create from their living rooms and bedrooms and on the streets of the city at this critical moment,” said Eric Fredericksen, Head of Public Art at the City of Vancouver. “Artists offer responses to the conditions of our time and their works can help us engage and reconnect as we move through and beyond the pandemic.”

The Platforms program will run for one year, starting in November of 2021. Selected artworks will be displayed on platforms throughout the city, including the light box at šxʷƛ̓ exən Xwtl’a7shn Plaza 9 (formerly the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza), banners at Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch, the glass wall at City Centre Canada Line Station, transit shelter posters, the VanLive! video screen and digital display boards throughout the City.

For information about submission guidelines visit: https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/platforms-public-works.aspx

Ottawa Police launches ‘Unsolved Homicide Task Force’

THE Ottawa Police Service (OPS) Homicide Unit has launched an Unsolved Homicide Task Force to review multiple outstanding cases. 

“We will never forget the victims of homicides and all of these cases remain active. We have been meeting with and working with the families and loved ones of the victims to offer them support and ensure these crimes are solved,” said Chief Peter Sloly on Monday. “We have continued to follow investigative leads, bringing in new approaches like rewards and Neighbourhood Resource Teams to develop more community links. This new Task Force is the next step in our mission to solve these homicides, support the victim’s families, hold the perpetrators accountable and improve the safety of all affected communities.” 

Police say the victims in these crimes are primarily young men from marginalized communities. Improving public trust, providing heightened duty of care to the victims’ families and improving community safety and well-being in the most impacted communities will all be important outcomes from the efforts of the new Task Force. 

The Homicide Unit, formerly known as the Major Crime Section, will lead this effort with new resources and additional officers from diverse backgrounds. 

“Our Unit is dedicated to being the voice of the victims of homicides and to bringing justice to their loved ones,” said Insp. Carl Cartright. “Several cases from the past decade will be examined by a team of experienced investigators that will explore all investigative avenues and techniques, which may include the use of newer investigative techniques.” 

The number and exact cases will not be released at this time. Each of these cases are unique, however, investigators will also examine the possibility of any linkages that may be present.  In several of these cases the victims had fallen prey to gun violence.  

“In every case we have evidence and leads that we will follow up on, but we need help from our community,” said Cartright. “Homicides are solved because people with information come forward to police. If you know something, we ask you to come forward and do the right thing both for the victims and their families and to ensure this does not happen again.” 

The Homicide Unit will continue to update the public as the work of this Task Force continues. 

Anyone with information about unsolved homicides is asked to contact the Ottawa Police Homicide Unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5493. 

Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca

Decriminalization of drugs: Second submission of “Vancouver Model” to Health Canada

Kennedy Stewart Photo by Sukhwant Singh Dhillon

AS part of an ongoing and iterative process, the City of Vancouver on Monday submitted its second submission as part of the pr­oposed “Vancouver Model” for decriminalization of simple possession to Health Canada. This iteration of the submission outlines drug possession thresholds for the most common substances contributing to the overdose crisis. Under this approach, no criminal sanctions would apply, paving the way towards reducing stigma and embracing a health-focused approach to substance use.


“The City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department, and the Office of Vancouver Coastal Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer have worked together with expert consultants to determine these initial thresholds based on science and research, including long term studies and input from people with lived experience,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

The second iteration of the Vancouver Model provides detailed background on how thresholds levels were reached and settles on a recommendation to Health Canada that allowing people to carry a three-day supply of drugs provides the best threshold to address health risks. The three-day supply would mean people who use drugs wouldn’t need to continue a daily search for substances, nor would they face seizure of drugs by police at or below this threshold.

Vancouver’s decriminalization effort is being led with the support of subject matter experts like public health consultant Ted Bruce. This approach should reduce stigma that often prevents people who use drugs from seeking help because of fear they will be charged or viewed as a criminal,” said Bruce.

Vancouver’s approach to addressing substance use as a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue, continues to be based on science and engagement with the community and people with lived experience, according to a statement from the mayor’s office.

These initial threshold recommendations to Health Canada present a starting point, with the next step being detailed risk assessments and engagement with people who use drugs. As this process is ongoing and iterative, these discussions could result in changes if needed.

The planned final submission from the City of Vancouver is expected to happen in May.

For more information, visit vancouver.ca/decriminalization

Most unvaccinated Canadians uncomfortable with AstraZeneca

WEEKS of questions, blood clot concerns and changing guidance over who should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine has had a devastating impact on Canadian confidence in it.

New public opinion data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds just 41 per cent of Canadians who are yet unvaccinated – but intend to be – are comfortable with receiving an AZ vaccine, currently comprising about 20 per cent of Canada’s stockpile.

The survey’s findings show that while urgency to be inoculated against COVID-19 climbs again to an all time high, critical doubts about one of the main brands that make up this country’s vaccine program could result in Canadians opting not to be vaccinated at all if a dose of AstraZeneca were the only option on offer.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of those who haven’t yet received a vaccine but intend to say they would reject a dose from AstraZeneca outright if that is the brand being administered to them.

Levels of discomfort increase considerably among women over the age of 34, two-in-five of whom say they are ‘extremely uncomfortable’ with the idea of receiving the AstraZeneca dose.

Against the backdrop of these doubts, public health officials and politicians must also battle skepticism over another critical aspect of COVID-19 related data: the very number of people who have been infected. Fully one-in-five people in this country believe the federal government has been inflating COVID-19 statistics, that the real figures are lower, while fewer than a third think the official data is accurate (32%).

More Key Findings:

  • Assessment of vaccine rollout by provincial governments has worsened in Manitoba and Ontario but improved in most regions over the past month. Residents in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, Saskatchewan are most positive.
  • Despite receiving more doses of COVID-19 vaccines in recent weeks, Canadians remain divided about the federal government’s procurement efforts. 45 per cent have confidence in the Liberal government to handle procurement and distribution to the provinces; 50 per cent do not.
  • Desire to be vaccinated continues to rise. 69 per cent of Canadians have either had at least one dose or would like to be vaccinated as soon as possible

Link to the poll here: www.angusreid.org/

City teams up with Vancouver School Board on School Streets

Photo: City of Vancouver

THE City of Vancouver in partnership with the Vancouver School Board (VSB) has launched a four-week School Streets pilot at three elementary schools. A School Street is a car-free block beside a school open to walking, biking, and rolling during drop-off and pick-up. School volunteers will be leading the day-to-day implementation of the pilot program.

The goals of the pilot are to help improve safety, encourage active travel and reduce carbon pollution, which is part of the Climate Emergency Action Plan and Transportation 2040 Plan.

The School Streets pilot will be in place April 12 to May 7 at:

  • Hastings Elementary 
  • Lord Roberts Elementary
  • Van Horne Elementary

(See below for motor vehicle closure times and locations of pilot schools)

“Children are one of our most vulnerable road users and it’s crucial they have safe public spaces for physical activity – like the block outside their school,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Monday. “Partnering with the VSB on this pilot will allow kids to walk, bike or roll safely as they arrive and leave school.”

School Streets have been implemented in many jurisdictions, particularly in the United Kingdom, and have been shown to successfully:

  • Create a safer environment for children
  • Improve air quality
  • Encourage active travel to school
  • Reduce congestion and vehicle volumes
  • Support physical distancing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic

“The Vancouver School Board is dedicated to promoting active transportation, as outlined in the District’s Environmental Sustainability Plan,” says Carmen Cho, Chair, Vancouver School Board. “We hope many students will take this opportunity to experience walking, cycling or rolling to school.”

Stephen Leung, Principal, Van Horne Elementary, says more than 75 per cent of parents at the school were keen to try the pilot. He hopes it will encourage active travel and reduce traffic volumes around the school during pick-up and drop-off times.

Staff will monitor the four-week School Streets pilot, collect feedback from the school community and residents and report back on findings. The pilot will provide information on whether establishing School Streets at other schools may be feasible.

Background

In November 2020, City Council approved the Climate Emergency Action Plan. This included direction to develop a Transportation Demand Management Action Plan that includes expanded School Active Travel Planning Program offerings.

In October 2019, Council passed a motion on “Improving Transportation Safety Around Vancouver Schools”, which is a core objective of the School Active Travel Planning Program. Established in 2012, the School Active Travel Planning Program consults with school communities and other stakeholders to identify transportation-related challenges and opportunities, improve safety, and increase the number of children walking and cycling to school.

In 2018, the Vancouver School Board approved the District’s first ever Environmental Sustainability Plan. The goals outlined in the plan include to support active transportation choices for school communities, and to support low-carbon transportation.

Time of motor vehicle closures at School Streets pilot schools:

Hastings Elementary: 

  • Street closure to motor vehicles: Franklin St between Penticton St and Slocan St
  • Time in effect: 8:40am to 9:10am and 2:40pm to 3:10pm. See map here.

Lord Roberts Elementary:

  • Street closure to motor vehicles: Comox St between Bidwell St and Cardero St
  • Time in effect: 8:30am to 9:15am and 2:30pm to 3:15pm. See map here.

Van Horne Elementary:

  • Street closure to motor vehicles: 43rd Ave between Manitoba St and Ontario St
  • Time in effect: 8:40am to 9:10am and 2:40pm to 3:10pm. See map here.

Indians hail British Columbia’s proclamation to mark Ambedkar’s birthday as ‘Equality Day’

Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.


Mumbai (IANS)
: The decision of British Columbia province of western Canada to celebrate the upcoming 130th birth anniversary of the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, on April 14 as ‘Equality Day’ has been hailed by his kin in Mumbai and other prominent Indians, who term it as “yet another acknowledgement of his growing global acclaim”.

The grandsons of Ambedkar – Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi President Dr. Prakash Ambedkar and Republican Sena President Anandraj Ambedkar – say that their grandfather is already an icon for the depressed classes of society and now the world is also recognizing this in a big way.

“The decision of the British Columbia government is indeed a great honour India and even his family — The principles of Equality, enshrined in the Indian Constitution due to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, have inspired many other countries which secured independence after the 1950s to include similar fundamentals in their own Constitutions,” Dr. Prakash Ambedkar told IANS.

“The Republican Party of India (RPI-A) and myself are moved by this honour to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar in the British Columbia province — I shall write a letter of thanks to the government there,” an elated Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale told IANS.

He recalled how Dr. B.R. Ambedkar worked hard all his life, often surviving on a small loaf of bread, studying 18 hours daily at the Lehman Social Sciences Library during his days at the Columbia University in New York (USA), and later became its most famous alumnus to be honoured with a statue (bust) there in 1995.

“The British Columbia gesture has made us all extremely proud. It shows that the world understands and appreciates Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s philosophy of Equality – the first person to propound it after Lord Gautam Buddha, for the upliftment of the oppressed sections,” Anandraj Ambedkar told IANS.

The proclamation was made on April 1 by the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of British Columbia, Janet Austin, declaring that “April 14, 2021, shall be known as ‘Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Equality Day’ in the Province.”

Decreed in the name of Queen Elizabeth II, the proclamation noted that British Columbia is ‘a culturally diverse province comprising many peoples and communities’.

It added that the “Indigenous people, Black people and people of colour in British Columbia continue to experience systemic racism, injustices, discrimination and hate” and the province’s government was committed to address all forms of racism.

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Dr. Prakash Ambedkar pointed out that this was in tune with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s doctrine of “positive revolution in all oppressed human societies”, while Anandraj Ambedkar said “it respects (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s) his humanitarian role as emancipator of the persecuted people world over.”

Athawale feels the latest recognition proves that “Dr. B.R. Ambedkar belongs not just to India but to the humanity and all tyrannized people everywhere on earth”, and said even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has deep respect for him.

The decision has struck a warm chord among Indians elsewhere in Canada like a hospitality industry professional Shirish Deshpande in Mississauga in Ontario.

“It has made all Indians here very proud – Dr. B. R. Ambedkar taught the world to end all kinds of discrimination and his legacy is being followed in many parts of the world,” Deshpande told IANS.

In 2015, the York University, Toronto, unveiled his bust and in 2016, and Carleton University, Ottawa, celebrated his 125th birth anniversary, he added.

A legendary jurist, economist, social reformer, anthropologist and political leader, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar was born in Mhow (now in Madhya Pradesh) town on April 14, 1891, as the 14th child of Ramji M. Sakpal and Bhimabai R. Sakpal with family roots in Ambadawe village of Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district, and belonged to the Mahar (Dalit) caste.

Facing the scourge of discrimination, untouchability from an early left a deep scar on his psyche and barely six years old, he moved to Bombay (Mumbai, now) and became the only ‘untouchable’ student at the famed Elphinstone High School.

By the time he was 15, he had an arranged marriage with a 9-year-old girl, Ramabai, the next year (1907). He graduated from the University of Bombay in 1912, and later went to Columbia University, New York, and London School of Economics, acquired two PhDs, became a barrister, was conferred with top academic honours and accolades.

On return to India, he joined the Freedom Movement with Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and others, became a Minister of Labour in the Viceroy’s Executive Council and a Member of the Constitution Drafting Committee.

Later, after the country’s Independence on August 15, 1937, he became India’s first Law Minister in Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s Cabinet and also Chairman of the new Constitution Drafting Committee.

After a glorious life dedicated to the common masses, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar who had converted to Buddhism on October 14, 1956, passed away peacefully on December 6 that year. His funeral was performed at Dadar Chowpatty in Bombay the next day, attended by over 500,000 people.

Child dies in ski accident on Mt. Seymour

ON Saturday, April 10, at around 8 p.m., North Vancouver RCMP received a call to assist BC Emergency Health Services for a report of an 12-year-old child who was seriously injured in a skiing accident on Mt. Seymour.

Paramedics transported the child to BC Children’s Hospital where, tragically, the child was pronounced dead. BC Coroners Service has assumed conduct of the investigation.

Intake for carbon tax relief grants open

ELIGIBLE greenhouse operators can now apply for carbon tax relief grants for the 2020 production year.

Commercial producers in B.C. who grow vegetables, ornamental flowers and plants, forest seedlings and nursery plants in greenhouses are eligible to apply for the grant until May 10, if they:

* had sales exceeding $20,000 in 2020;

* used natural gas or propane to heat their greenhouses or produce carbon dioxide; and

* had a production area greater than 455 square metres.

The grant covers 80% of the carbon tax commercial greenhouse growers of eligible crops paid on the natural gas and propane they used for greenhouse heating and carbon dioxide production in 2020. Cannabis is not an eligible crop at any phase of production, including propagation.

Greenhouse growers supply communities with fresh vegetables for about 10 months of the year on more than 300 hectares of land, growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuce and other crops. In addition to vegetable growers, B.C.’s floriculture and nursery industries grow more than 80 million greenhouse flowers and cuttings and produce approximately 50 million potted plants a year.

Application information and eligibility criteria are available here: 

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/industry/agriculture-seafood/programs/greenhouse-carbon-tax-relief-grant

Several protestors arrested in Mississauga

SEVERAL protestors were arrested Saturday afternoon, after they attempted to breach a police safety line and occupy an active rail corridor, Peel Regional Police said on Sunday.

On April 10, a group of protestors shut down traffic by occupying the area of Goreway Drive and Morning Star Drive. The demonstrators later moved north on Goreway Drive in an effort to block the railway lines just north of Brandon Gate Drive, at which point police intervened.

(The rally had been organized to protest the death of 62-year-old Ejaz Choudry last June. The SIU concluded its investigation of the case and decided that no criminal charges will be laid against the police officers involved in his death.)

As a result, seven individuals were arrested and taken to 21 Division for processing before being released. Any reported acts of property damage, violence or threats against members of the public, police officers or local businesses will be investigated and charges laid, police said.   

“The members of Peel Regional Police support the right to peacefully gather and will ensure the safety of everyone involved, but we have a duty to respond to anything that jeopardizes the safety of demonstrators, local residents, police or crucial infrastructure” said Nishan Duraiappah, Chief of Peel Regional Police. “Unfortunately, a few of the protestors chose to put themselves and others at risk, and were arrested.”

Atif Jameel Qureshi, a 34-year-old man from the City of Mississauga, has been charged with disturbing the peace and obstruct a peace officer.

Nasim Asgari, a 23-year-old woman from the City of Toronto, has been charged with obstruct a peace officer.

Ryan Pelletier, a 27-year-old man from the City of Mississauga, has been charged with disturbing the peace, obstruct a peace officer and assault with the intent to resist arrest.

Ashraf Sahar, a 30-year-old woman from the City of Toronto, has been charged with obstruct a peace officer.

Shawn Amankwah, a 30-year-old man from the City of Mississauga, has been charged with disturbing the peace and obstruct a peace officer.

Anthony Bedward, a 26-year-old man of no fixed address, has been charged with obstruct a peace officer.

Kabir Joshi, a 27-year-old man from the City of Toronto, has been charged with obstruct a peace officer.

Under current COVID-19 restrictions from the Province of Ontario, the Region of Peel remains under the stay-at-home order. All gatherings, rallies, protests, and peaceful assembly must follow existing provincial regulations and City by-laws. Tickets may be issued to individuals or organizers who do not comply with this order, police said.

PLEASE GET VACCINATED!

Drawing of Gurdeep Pandher by artist Carol Anne Shaw. Photo: Facebook