Vancouver
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In brief

Local and national news

NEW, GAYER WEST END PLAN?

As Davie Villagers prepare to swap ideas on the future of their neighbourhood at Sep 11’s Davie Day street fair (and its vision sessions), city hall is thinking about updating the area’s plan to meet its citizens’ needs. The current West End plan is more than 15 years old and doesn’t mention the Village’s gay community at all. But that may soon change. City hall’s senior planners have already begun meeting with the Village’s Business Improvement Association (BIA) and the West End Residents’ Association to discuss the area’s evolving needs-and its gay character. “We think that’s one of the defining aspects of the neighbourhood,” says Vancouver’s co-director of planning, Larry Beasley. “We want to make sure there’s a lot of respect for that.” Though Beasley isn’t sure the current West End plan needs a complete overhaul, he does think parts of it may be out-of-date. The commercial part of the plan, for example-“And the emergence of gay and lesbian culture more obviously and more pervasively in the last few years.” That’s a very positive thing, Beasley notes. “So part of the discussion is: how do we support and reinforce that spontaneous energy that’s there?” Beasley says meetings between city planners and West End citizens will continue this fall.



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FIGHTING FOR FAMILY RIGHTS

Couples in Manitoba and Nova Scotia have launched their own court cases to challenge the federal definition of marriage in their provinces. Right now, same-sex marriage is only legal in Ontario, BC, Quebec and the Yukon. The six couples (three in each province) want to add their homes to the list.



In somewhat related news, a lesbian couple in New Brunswick recently won its case against two provincial agencies who refused to recognize their family. When the couple’s baby was born in November 2001, the Department of Health and Wellness refused to register the baby’s non-biological mother as its second parent. Three months later, when the non-bio mother applied to adopt her baby, the Department of Family and Community Services rejected her application because only married couples could adopt in New Brunswick. On Jul 28, the province’s Labour and Employment Board, which heard the couple’s ensuing human rights complaint, ordered both agencies to stop discriminating and to pay the couple damages. The ruling should pave the way for same-sex couples to legally adopt children in New Brunswick or to register as parents right at birth.



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NO JAIL FOR SVEND

Canada’s pioneering gay former MP, Svend Robinson, won’t be going to jail. Robinson pleaded guilty to stealing an expensive ring from an auction in April. A provincial court judge gave him a conditional discharge Aug 6. That means Robinson won’t go to jail and won’t get a criminal record, provided he meets certain conditions. The conditions include 100 hours of community service. “I’m satisfied that what he has gone through is enough,” Judge Ronald Fratkin reportedly ruled. “He’s fallen a long way and embarrassed himself.” Robinson publicly confessed to his crime, returned the ring and took a medical leave after the incident.