4 min

In brief

Local and national news

Credit: Gareth Kirkby


Fresh off the success of Davie Day-and its packed-to-overflow vision sessions-the president of the Davie Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) is urging all Villagers to attend this year’s annual general meeting, Sep 30. On the agenda this year? The budget, as always, replies Randy Atkinson-and, of course, the vision. Atkinson wants the Village to keep developing in a way that at once enhances its gathering-place feel and captures its identity as the Capital City of Gay Vancouver. He also wants the BIA itself to have a greater presence on the block this year; he’ll announce details of a brand-new office and a full-time coordinator at the meeting.

Now, he just needs more people to get involved. He’s encouraging all eligible members (all merchants/tenants and property owners on Davie St between Burrard and Broughton Sts) to come out and participate in the decision-making process. And non-members can play a role, too, he notes. They can join committees and focus on specific subjects, such as safety and security, street enhancement, long-term vision, marketing and more. Atkinson himself will run for another term and hopes to be picked by the new board as president. “I really feel the direction we’re taking is the right one for the business community, the gay community and the West End. I’d like to see it further developed before I can reasonably step back and let somebody else carry on.”

The Davie Village BIA’s annual general meeting will take place Thu Sep 30 at 7 pm at the Sands Hotel, 1755 Davie St.



Manitoba became the fifth Canadian province/territory to legalize same-sex marriage, Sep 16, after a judicial ruling. Eight days later, a Nova Scotia court fell into line and earned its spot in history as the sixth. That leaves New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan, Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. An Ontario court started the trend when it legalized same-sex marriage in June 2003; BC’s court quickly followed suit, trailed by courts in Quebec and, more recently, the Yukon territory. In last month’s back-to-back rulings, neither the provincial nor the federal governments opposed the courts’ orders to extend the definition of marriage to same-sex couples.

In related news, two lesbians successfully convinced an Ontario court to grant them Canada’s first same-sex divorce, Sep 13.



Council’s recent decision to add slot machines to the Hastings racetrack could be good news for local queer groups. The city is expecting to gain about $6.5 million from the gambling revenue the slots are expected to bring in. That’s money that could be used to support organizations such as The Centre on Bute St. It’s an idea that’s apparently already close to councillor Tim Stevenson’s heart. “The only legitimacy for having slots would be to take that revenue and put it into areas like treatment centres and seniors centres and, in our community, the lesbian-gay community centre,” he told Xtra West in February.

“It’s the only way it makes any sense to me.”

Stevenson was among the five city councillors who voted in favour of the slots during the tight vote held Jul 22. Lesbian councillor Ellen Woodsworth joined the ranks of the opposed and cast her vote against. Mayor Larry Campbell cast the deciding vote in favour.



For those of you keeping score, Ottawa’s House of Commons gained another out gay MP over the summer. As Xtra West reported in June, the number of out MPs did not fluctuate with the election, since there were four out MPs before Jun 28, and four after. Keeping their seats were Réal Ménard of the Bloc Québécois; NDPer Libby Davies; and Scott Brison who switched to the Liberals but kept his seat. Longtime NDPer Bill Siksay kept the queer count stable when he won Svend Robinson’s old seat in Burnaby-Douglas. Now observers can officially add a fifth out queer to the list. Toronto MP Mario Silva officially came out over the summer, after the Toronto Star described him as gay. He recently granted an interview to Xtra, Xtra West’s sister paper in Toronto, where he openly discussed his sexuality.



There’s a new Canadian gay ski weekend in the works. The inaugural Powder & Pride weekend, produced by UB Productions, is scheduled to take place Jan 21-23, 2005 in Lake Louise, Alberta. Powder & Pride will join a growing list of North American gay ski events, led by Whistler’s Altitude and its Aspen, Colorado counterpart. Altitude 2005 will run from Jan 29-Feb 7.

In related news, a recent survey found that gays and lesbians travelling in Canada are more likely to pick shopping and queer nightlife as preferred activities when presented with a list of vacationing options. The survey, conducted by Canadian accounting firm Grant Thornton, also found that 86.8 percent of gay and lesbian tourists prefer businesses that are known to be gay-friendly-and that said tourists spend an average of $195 per day while in Canada.



Vancouver’s popular gay hockey club has voted unanimously to endorse Rendez-Vous 2006 in Montreal over its competition, Gay Games VII, in Chicago. Montreal was originally supposed to host the Gay Games in 2006 but lost the right to use the name after a falling out with the Federation of Gay Games last year. The federation then asked Chicago to step in. Chicago agreed and is now planning to host the next Gay Games from Jul 15-22, 2006. Meanwhile, Montreal is forging ahead with its own event, albeit bearing a different name; it’s scheduled to take place Jul 29-Aug 5, 2006. As a result, many gay sports teams around the world are feeling forced to choose between the two events, since they are scheduled barely two weeks apart. The Cutting Edges announced its choice in a press release in July. According to the same release, the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation, Europe’s largest sports group with 100 teams and 10,000 athletes, has also reportedly voted to pull out of Chicago’s Gay Games VII and endorse Rendez-Vous 2006. In contrast, Team Vancouver is planning to send a contingent to both events.



A recent survey conducted in Southern California found that 64 percent of the area’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans Asians and Pacific Islanders are sexually active; 12 percent don’t practice safer sex; and 37 percent don’t regularly know their lover’s HIV status. The survey also found that 62 percent of the respondents have experienced some form of discrimination. “It is imperative that studies such as this get funded,” says Patrick Mangto, director of California’s Asian Pacific Islanders for Human Rights. “Up until this moment, we did not have any information about the discrimination that our community faces or how Asian norms reflect upon the LGBT attitudes towards safer sex.” The report is the first of its kind in Southern California.