Vancouver
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In brief

Local and national news

SATURDAY, IN THE PARK. Pride this year was kicked off with the Picnic Credit: TJ Ngan

OOS $10,000 SHORT

The director of Vancouver’s queer film and video festival is less than impressed with the cheque Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt delivered last week. The cheque for $20,000 comes from BC’s gaming department, which disperses money collected by BC’s lotteries and casinos to community groups throughout the province. This year, Out On Screen asked for $32,000 to help fund both its film fest and a new project it’s working on to bring queer films to high schools. But the gaming department gave them $12,000 less than requested. It’s the second year in a row that the provincial government has under-funded Out On Screen, director Drew Dennis points out. Last year, Victoria initially offered just $10,000 and eventually relented (after the queers appealed) and handed over an additional $10,000. “So while we’re happy to receive the $20,000, the level of funding from the provincial government is not keeping up with our programming and our vision,” Dennis says. Until last year, Out On Screen had been receiving $32,000 a year in BC gaming grants. The gaming branch’s assistant deputy minister says he can’t comment specifically on why he and his colleagues decided to give the queer film fest less than two-thirds of the money it asked for this year. But, says Derek Sturko, his branch evaluates each request individually and tries to distribute the available funds appropriately among the thousands of community groups that apply. “Based on the information we got, we could not rationalize” increasing Out On Screen’s funding this year, Sturko says. Dennis says the show will go on-it just needs to raise another $12,000.



The festival starts Aug 5.



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STEVENSON SEEKS NDP NOMINATION

Gay city councillor Tim Stevenson officially threw his hat into the ring Jul 26, declaring his intention to seek the NDP’s nomination for the next provincial election. If he gets the party’s nod, Stevenson will run as the NDP’s candidate in Vancouver-Burrard-the riding he represented from 1996-2001, when the current MLA, gay Liberal Lorne Mayencourt, beat him. Stevenson says he decided to attempt a return to the provincial arena because he is “deeply concerned with the damage that [Liberal Premier Gordon] Campbell has done to our city.” Stevenson points to the Campbell government’s cuts to hospitals, human rights programs, wages for young people and others that have increased the number of street people and threatened to raise rents in the West End. Mayencourt, he points out, has silently supported the majority of these initiatives. “He’s basically Gordon Campbell’s messenger to Vancouver-Burrard,” Stevenson charges. “He’s got it upside down.” The MLA is supposed to “take the concerns and needs and wishes of the people of Vancouver-Burrard to Victoria.” Mayor Larry Campbell has endorsed Stevenson’s bid. Allison McDonald, a longtime West End resident and education activist is challenging Stevenson for the NDP nomination. The next provincial election is scheduled to take place May 17, 2005.



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SLOT MONEY FOR QUEERS?

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.



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CITY SEEKS QUEER INPUT

Vancouver city hall is reaching out to lesbians and gay men specifically in an attempt to add their views, needs and experiences with excessive drug use to the new “four pillar” drug policy it’s developing. This time the city is working on its prevention pillar and hopes to involve members of different minority, cultural and neighbourhood groups in the process. In addition to its gay and lesbian public forums, city staff are also inviting trans people, seniors, First Nations, Latinos, Vietnamese, Chinese and South Asians to participate. The lesbian forum will take place Aug 4 at the REACH Community Health Centre (1145 Commercial Dr) from 6:30-8:30 pm. The gay men’s forums are scheduled for Aug 10 and 17 at the Roundhouse Community Centre boardroom, from 7-9pm. Call Ed Lee to reserve a spot: 604.418.7031.