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FUN CITY? COPE city councillors seemed to forget their 2002 election promise of a new liberalized approach to regulations in Vancouver when most voted to deny a beer store application filed by the owners of PumpJack Pub, including Vince Marino (above). Credit: Robin Perelle

CITY SCREWS PUMPJACK – AGAIN

City council voted Dec 2 to refuse an application for a beer store at the former Book Warehouse site at 1181 Davie St.



In a 5-1 vote (lesbian city councillor Ellen Woodsworth was the one dissenting vote), councillors ruled that a new zoning designation for a Davie St shopping district between Burrard and Jervis Sts restricted the number of liquor retailers to one-and there are already two, with the Marquis Wine Cellar in 1000-block Davie and the government liquor store on Bute St.



But PumpJack owners had their beer-store application at city hall prior to the shopping district designation.



Instead of going through under the old rules, it sat unprocessed while the new shopping district was created, says co-owner Vince Marino. He adds that staff told him they would look at applications on a case-by-case basis even after the new rules took effect.



But when the application came before council, the new rules were cited in ruling it unacceptable. That leaves Davie St with the lowest service level for alcohol retail among all the city’s shopping districts, says Marino. Davie is the only district where a consumer cannot get beer after 6 pm on Tues, Wed, Thu and Sat, after 9 pm on Fri and cannot find any on Sun or holidays.



It’s not the first time that Marino and his business partners have been frustrated by city hall.



Their experience trying to get city approval for the Fountainhead Pub resulted in 200 protestors packing the public gallery at city hall in 1999. Their more recent attempts to increase capacity and extend operating hours for the PumpJack have also been repeatedly frustrated. And, despite promises made to the gay community by COPE in the last civic election, the majority of councillors refused to designate extended hours to Davie Village bars last November-even as they did so for Granville St bars that have experienced myriad problems.



The experience has Marino wondering whether city staff have plans for Davie Village that do not include recognizing it as the capital city of gay Vancouver. “It seems that as soon as Davie Village tries to do something, especially when it involves the gay community, it seems to be BINGO! It seems like there’s a game going on where city hall has different plans and they’re holding us back from development.”



Still, Marino is not done. He’s hoping that NPA city councillor Peter Ladner will put forward a motion to reconsider the vote against the beer store, and that other councillors will agree to a new vote.



Check your butt Some 60 percent of urban, HIV-negative gay men in the United States carry a virus that causes anal and genital warts and can lead to anal cancer. That’s the finding of a study published Dec 15 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. There are up to 100 different strains of human papillomavirus (HPV). The study found that the virus was more prevalent in men who had many sex partners. HPV can be treated by a doctor.



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GREEN LIGHT FOR YOUTH FACILITY

City hall has approved a facility for at-risk youth for 1134 Burrard St. Opposed by some neighbours, the centre will be run by Family Services of Greater Vancouver, and aims to ultimately reunite street youth with their families. The project will combine services now split between several locations, including the Dusk to Dawn project run out of the back of St Paul’s Hospital. While some property owners strongly opposed the project, gay leaders came out in full support, noting that a disproportionate fraction of street youth are queer. Family Services pledged to explore how the facility can meet the needs of queer youth and the surrounding gay community.



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MARRY OR LOSE BENEFITS

Queers who fear that legalizing gay marriage will result in lower status for single and common-law gays have some ammunition, thanks to employers in Massachusetts, the only US state to legalize same-sex marriage to date. Many of the state’s largest employers are dropping health benefits for unmarried gay couples that are not available for unmarried heterosexual couples. Gay couples must now marry to get domestic partner benefits from companies such as IBM, Raytheon, Northeastern University and Boston Medical Center. Most US jurisdictions do not recognize common-law status for either gay or straight couples.



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MARRIAGE ON THE ROCK

Newfoundland and Labrador became the eighth Canadian province/territory to legalize gay marriage, Dec 21. The province’s Supreme Court ruled that the definition of marriage should include same-sex couples. The ruling came less than two weeks after the Supreme Court of Canada gave its own approval to same-sex marriage. In its ruling Dec 9, the highest court in the land told the federal government that it does have the power to change the definition of marriage and that its proposed gay-inclusive definition is constitutional. The Supreme Court of Canada also told the government that it can’t force churches to perform same-sex marriages against their will. The federal government is expected to introduce a bill legalizing same-sex marriage later this year. Gay couples can already legally tie the knot in Ontario, BC, Quebec, the Yukon, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and now Newfoundland and Labrador.