3 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

PRIZES GALORE. Thomas Dolan, a consultant to VanCity Credit Union, spins the prize wheel for new members at the Business & Lifestyles Expo 2003 on Oct 4. Sponsored by the Gay and Lesbian Business Association, the expo attracted an estimated 1,500 people to a ballroom at The Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel. The Greater Seattle (gay) Business Association participated and expect to become more involved next year, says expo organizer Angus Praught. Credit: Gareth Kirkby


In a surprise turn of events BC’s gaming branch reversed part of its decision to cut Out on Screen’s (OOS) funding after Xtra West looked into the story. OOS was already halfway into its festival this year when its cheque from the gaming department finally arrived-for $20,000 less than expected. With a cheque for just $10,000 in hand (down from the $30,000-plus OOS has been receiving for the last four years), director Drew Dennis suddenly faced a shortfall. OOS had already budgeted for a $30,000 gaming grant and it was too late to take back its expenses halfway through the festival. “We’re scrambling,” Dennis told Xtra West last week, noting that OOS appealed the decision. A week later, word from the gaming branch: it’s will grant part of OOS’ appeal and hand over another $10,000.

“We misinterpreted” the festival’s financial statement, explains gaming manager Derek Sturko. But he won’t hand over the remaining $10,000. OOS doesn’t meet the criteria of providing on-going benefits to the community because it’s only an 11-day festival, Sturko says, adding that he will meet with OOS next year to see if they can work something out. The extra $10,000 is great news, says Dennis. “But it is still shy of what we had historically been receiving and what we’d been expecting this year.” Several community fundraisers are now in the works for later this fall.

The gaming department disperses money collected by BC lotteries and casinos to community groups across the province providing health, safety, social services, arts and culture, sports and environmental programs. A number of queer groups, including most of Vancouver’s gay choirs, rely on that money every year. Sturko says the program is in transition and is tightening its eligibility criteria. It also plans to implement a 12-week guaranteed turn-around time next year. The gaming branch reports to BC’s Solicitor General, who also oversees BC’s film classification board-yes, the same board which tried to censor some OOS screenings last year.


The BC government has agreed to drop its controversial suggestion to allow landlords to raise rents retroactively throughout the province. That means building owners will still be able to raise rents in a given year-but for that year only. They won’t be able to hit tenants with an extra large lump-sum raise at the end of three years. Vancouver-Burrard MLA Lorne Mayencourt says he lobbied hard to remove the retroactivity clause from the proposed changes to the Residential Tenancy Act. “I have been working for months to ensure the voices of the people in the West End have been heard, and I am thrilled to be able to tell my community that, after meeting with the Solicitor General, he told me that he is recommending the retroactivity clause will not be a part of the bill,” says Mayencourt. Solicitor General Rich Coleman told the BC legislature Oct 9 that he will recommend the retroactivity clause be dropped when the bill is re-introduced later this fall. No word yet on exactly how high landlords will be able to raise their rents annually under the amended law.


The Supreme Court of Canada told a coalition of conservative religious groups that it can’t intervene in the Ont same-sex marriage ruling that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry in June. The coalition sought the court’s permission to appeal the January ruling after the federal government refused to do so. The groups argued that since they had intervened in the marriage case they should be allowed to appeal its decision. The court disagreed Oct 9.


Kichx Anagaat Yatx’i: Children of the Rainbow, the two-spirited multimedia performance, captured the Audience Favorite Award at this year’s Out On Screen Queer Film and Video Festival. Festival organizers announced the award Sep 16. The two-spirited performers are now planning to take their presentation to other arts festivals across Canada.


As if the first day of school isn’t hard enough. Protestors gathered outside New York’s first all-gay high school to greet students on their first day of school Sep 8. The newly expanded Harvey Milk High School attracted the attention of about a dozen demonstrators who waved signs and bibles. Meanwhile, across the street, about 250 supporters gathered to cheer the students on. Though the protest was peaceful, staff members had to escort students into the building.