3 min

In brief

Vancouver and national news

BIG LOSS. Club Vancouver bathhouse and Ms T's bar went up in flames on Jul 1 as one of the city's most important landmarks at 339 W Pender burned in a four-alarm blaze. Mark James, co-owner of the building (and owner of the nearby Lotus Hotel) leased upper floors to artists. Fire and smoke damage next door at 319 Pender affected YouthCO, especially its library, and the organization may have to move. A bathhouse has been on-site since before Club Vancouver's franchise began in March 1980; the owners are con Credit: Frank Contrino


Tom Graefe and Antony Joseph Porcino got married-legally-Tue Jul 8 as Xtra West went to press. Their service was conducted by United Church minister and city councillor Tim Stevenson, who gave them a covenanting service some seven years ago. Graefe and Porcino had an official marriage certificate issued by Vital Statistics. The marriage occurred just hours after the BC Court of Appeal ordered the provincial government to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The court agreed with litigants that, given last month’s Ontario court decision to allow marriage immediately, there was no reason why BC gays had to wait until Jul 12, 2004 to get married-the date that the court had previously ruled that same-sex marriage would become legal in BC if the federal government failed to amend legislation. There was a flurry of marriages in Ontario after the June decision, but they are now trailing off.



The Victoria school board joined its Vancouver counterpart on the forefront of gay-friendlier education Jun 23, when it passed a series of recommendations to make schools safer and more welcoming for queer students. The recommendations come almost a year to the day after the board struck a committee to study gay issues and report back. Among the highlights: recommendations urging teachers to get more training on queer issues, urging administrators to change their schools’ codes of conduct to specifically cite homophobia, and urging schools to put support services in place, such as gay-straight alliances. The trustees also created an official queer advisory committee to keep an eye on how the changes are implemented. It’s a victory, says committee member Karen Leahy-Trill. “Now the real work starts,” she adds; “taking the [recommendations] off the page and bringing them to life in the classroom.” Vancouver and Victoria join a small number of Canadian school boards that have also adopted action plans addressing gay issues. Gay education activists in BC had hoped that the recently released Safe Schools task force report would force more school boards to follow suit.



Police arrested a 17-year-old man Jul 1 after he allegedly made homophobic comments and pointed a gun at two men outside Blockbuster Video on Robson St. The incident occurred around 6 pm on Canada Day. Insp Dave Jones says police sped to the scene after one of the targeted men called 911 about the gun (which later turned out to be a pellet gun). Police are now urging Crown counsel to charge the young man (who can’t be named under the Young Offenders Act) with uttering threats, carrying a concealed weapon and assault with a weapon. They are treating it as a hate crime.



Mayor Larry Campbell proclaimed Jul 8, 2003 to be Glen Edward Hillson Day. “The City of Vancouver has lost a tireless champion of the rights of HIV-positive people, gay people, and working people,” reads the proclamation in part. Hillson chaired the BC Persons with AIDS Society for four years, helped secure the monthly nutritional supplement for people living with HIV/AIDS and recently won an Xtra West lifetime achievement award for his many contributions to the community. He died Jun 12 of HepC, exacerbated by advanced HIV infection, in St Paul’s Hospital. He was 51.



The Odyssey, the PumpJack, the Fountainhead, Club 23, Numbers, the Oasis and the Dufferin are among 54 bars, pubs and clubs which began staying open until 4 am Jul 4. The later closings are part of a trial run, which will be monitored by city licensing staff and the Vancouver Police Department. The experiment runs Fridays and Saturdays until Sep 29.



Translink has agreed to re-instate its late-night buses sooner rather than later. The night buses were supposed to start Sep 1, but council convinced TransLink to move the start date up to coincide with this summer’s later bar closings. The night buses began running Jul 5. The four routes will leave Granville and Robson every half hour between 2 am and 5 am on Saturdays and Sundays. One route will loop through the West End, another will go to and from the University of British Columbia, another will go along Hastings to Simon Fraser University and the fourth will service Surrey and points in between. The pilot project is supposed to last one year.

In related news, Councillor Tim Stevenson successfully attached an extra clause to council’s night bus motion, asking staff to conduct a feasibility study on the possibility of adding a new bus route linking Davie St and the downtown bar area directly to Commercial Dr.