AIDS WALK IN TROUBLE
Organisers of this year’s AIDS Walk are getting nervous about an apparent drop in participants. With less than a week to go before the walk, the chair of the BC Persons with AIDS Society (BCPWA) says only half as many people have signed up to walk compared to this time last year. “And that’s a concern,” says Malsah, wondering if the numbers reflect a growing complacency about AIDS in the community. But the need is still there, he stresses. If anything, it’s growing as more people with AIDS seek access to nutritious food and other services. Money raised at the AIDS Walk will go directly toward funding services for BCPWA members and their partner agencies. Organisers are hoping to raise $450,000. Malsah remains optimistic, urging people to sign up if they haven’t already done so.
COMMUNITY POLICING ELECTIONS
With its annual general meeting less than a week away, the Davie St Community Policing Centre’s (CPC) acting president is encouraging all West End queers to come out and vote for their new representatives. Jim Deva moved up from his position as CPC vice-president a few months ago, after Ronald Mon-Kau, manager of the now-defunct Parkhill Hotel, stepped down. Now Deva is looking forward to a year of new projects and challenges, as the Davie CPC expands its borders to include the entire West End peninsula and encompass zones once served by the West End and Coal Harbour CPCs (neither of which survived the recent community policing cuts). “We want a very representative board,” Deva says, “so it would be good to have as many gay people as possible.” One project Deva hopes to tackle is putting better-trained, uniformed citizen patrols on the street to tackle the area’s growing safety concerns, including gaybashing. But it can’t just be an anti-bashing patrol, he cautions, because the CPC has a wider area to serve now. “We’re going to have to be a little more representative of different communities to be effective,” he says.
The Davie CPC’s annual general meeting will take place Mon Sep 22 at Gordon Neighbourhood House at 7 pm. Only members can vote and run for the board. For information on becoming a member call 604.717.2925.
LATE NIGHT BAR REVIEW
As Vancouver’s late-night bar experiment draws to a close, it’s anybody’s guess as to what the city will do next. The liquor licence coordinator sure isn’t saying much. “It’s an extremely difficult decision,” says Guy Gusdal, as he attempts to pick out a path between Vancouver’s happy party-goers, happy bar owners, unhappy bar owners who were left out of the experiment, and unhappy residents who complained about the noise. “There’s some real solid arguments on both sides,” he continues, noting that the experiment has clearly been a financial success. He also says he didn’t get as many noise complaints as he expected. Sure, he got a few, he says, “but not to the extent we thought it might have been. No hue and cry.”
Now it’s up to staff to compile all the reports and make a recommendation to council. If you want to add your take on the experiment, you can call 604.871.6461 or attend one last public consultation today, Sep 17, at UBC at Robson Square, from 3 pm-7:30 pm. Gusdal is hoping to have his report ready for council by the end of November.
There’s lots to talk about in gay marriage news. The Supreme Court of Canada has tentatively booked Apr 16 as the day to consider the federal government’s draft legislation on same-sex marriage.
But that’s not soon enough for Liberal leader hopeful Paul Martin. Martin is hoping to get the whole marriage thing out of the way before it becomes an election issue for him. That’s why he’s apparently pushing for a Parliamentary vote on the bill this fall. No definitive word yet on whether out-going Prime Minister Jean Chrétien will agree to this.
But, as Xtra West went to press, a very narrow majority of MPs defeated a symbolic Canadian Alliance motion urging Parliament to re-affirm its commitment to the heterosexual definition of marriage as “the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.” The motion wouldn’t have had any real legal effect, anyway, but it did force MPs to declare their position on the subject. A majority of MPs passed an almost identical Reform Party motion in 1999. This time, the motion lost by five votes.
Meanwhile, conservative groups picketing MP offices outside the House of Commons have seen their numbers drop recently. Only nine people showed up outside Justice Minister Martin Cauchon’s Montreal office last week. Organizers had hoped to attract 100,000 people to their cross-Canada protests Sep 7. No word yet on how few turned up at Vancouver’s federal constituency offices.
Finally, the Vancouver chapter of Canadians for Equal Marriage will launch its campaign Fri, Sep 19, at 5 pm at PumpJack Pub on Davie St. Organiser Craig Maynard says his goal is to persuade the majority of MPs to vote in favour of legalizing gay marriage across Canada. Maynard is urging all members of the gay community to start writing personal letters to their MPs right away.
AIDS WALK IN TROUBLE