May 13, 2022

Lawsuit of the week: City of North Vancouver takes owner of problem-plagued rooming house to court

Municipal government cites history of alleged bylaw violations and complaints to the police and fire department

A property at 462 East 11th Street in North Vancouver has been the subject of multiple complaints | North Shore News files

The City of North Vancouver is taking the owner of a rooming house property to court, claiming the home on the lands has been converted into several unpermitted living units while contravening numerous city bylaws.

In a petition filed in BC Supreme Court on May 2, the city claims Celein Goh’s property at 462 East 11th Street has been the subject of several neighbourhood complaints over the years. The city alleges that the home doesn’t have proper fire extinguishers, smoke alarms or carbon monoxide detectors, in breach of the municipal fire code.

Moreover, Goh allegedly carried out a host of unpermitted renovations, including plumbing and heating alterations to the home without permits while allowing “the accumulation of rubbish or noxious or unwholesome material to collect or accumulate around the Property.

According to the city’s petition, the home has been divided into 10 separate dwelling units that contain cooking facilities, despite city zoning bylaws capping the number of boarders for such property at two individuals. Goh’s unauthorized alterations to the home date back to 2007, the city claims. Since 2010, Goh has allegedly allowed the property to become a nuisance to neighbours by allowing the accumulation of “garbage, discarded furniture and bedding, plywood, tires, carpeting, and shopping carts” around the home.

Meanwhile, the home has had several complaints and calls to police and the city’s fire department over “assaults, drug related investigations, a sudden death, overdose calls, burning complaints, untidy/unsightly property complaints, parking complaints, zoning complaints and a drive-by shooting.”

“The City has demanded the Respondent cease the use of the property as a rooming house, but the respondent has not complied,” the petition states.

According to the latest assessment from the BC Assessment Authority, the land and buildings on the property are worth $1.84 million, though the home makes up just $32,900 of that total.

The City of North Vancouver seeks declarations that Goh is violating several city bylaws, and orders for her to cease using the home as a rooming house and for the tenants at the property to move out “until a final review is passed or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by a Building Official under the Building Bylaw.”

The petition’s factual basis has not been tested in court and Goh had not filed a response by press time.



Public health suffers when pro sports goes all in on gambling

On this issue I am prepared to be called a prude, a fogey and a knuckle-dragger.

I am braced to be the wet blanket.

While we’re batting around clichés, I suppose I can add that I am here to rain on the parade.

But for crying out loud, for goodness sake, what have we done to permit this sudden surge of sports betting on the pre-game, during-game and post-game programming of live hockey, basketball and baseball in recent weeks?

Why have we held back this industry for decades, only to allow it to descend with such ferocity? Why have authorities subjected us to this unbridled deluge, this emergence from the underground, this saturation of our sporting airwaves?

What happened here? Hasn’t the pandemic disrupted us enough, distracted us enough?

Where were the powerful regulators who stood firm in recent years in clamping down on cannabis when it came to letting the genie out of the bottle on gambling?

Why are we – and by that, I mean not only the private firms but our provincial governments across the country – staging incessant commercials for the legal but dangerous glorification of gambling?

Why are our broadcasters permitted to carry segments before ball games with great communicators like Cabbie touting the betting lines or star athletes like Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky, tacitly endorsing such risk to well-being? Why are once-interesting sport highlights channels like The Score now simply some sort of bettors’ din?

Enough questions. Let’s deal with statements.The sociological literature is clear on the connection between gambling advertising and problem gambling. The medical literature is clear that the brain chemistry triggered by gambling is little different than that triggered by drugs, sex, alcohol and eating, in that the release of dopamine is evident – no matter win or lose, just playing. The inducement of the easily placed bet, often aided by introductory bonuses for newcomers, is little different than the first free drug from the dealer.

Regulators and advocates that fought industry over legitimate health concerns and kept marketing pitches from inducing minors into weed, just as they had fought to push back on alcohol and cigarettes, were toothless when the single-game betting arrived with its tentacles into our temptations.

Now in the moments before a ball game, when we’re evaluating starting lineups and the pitching matchups, we’re also getting the odds on a victory, the over-under line on runs, the chances of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. launching one into the seats – if you wish to be all-in on the telecast by moving your money into play.

Let’s not be naive. Betting probably goes back to whether Eve would eat the apple. More than US$8 billion was legally bet in America on this year’s Super Bowl. The floodgates in Canada opened when single-game betting was legalized last August.

Many intelligent people study sports to the degree they feel comfortable that gambling is not much of a gamble; with open eyes, with methods, they choose their targets with some precision and confidence.

The challenge in opening the door to a near-unfettered environment is to separate the moral question from the public health question. Through the courts and our legislatures, we have decided as a society that there is no longer any moral question to debate. The illegal practice was so rampant as to be unenforceable, except perhaps at tax time on income, so it was deemed wiser to build some structure with transparency and accountability. And if gambling dollars could pay for socially beneficial services, all the better to soothe our consciences.

Of course, illegal gambling is bound to continue, largely because of easy access to credit, the evasion of taxes and lower commissions on the bets. Organized crime isn’t folding its tent all of a sudden.

But in the way we have assembled the public environment for the practice, we have left the public health question aside. What worries me is the brazen celebration of the bet for all to see. A Harvard University study indicates the percentage of pathological gamblers and problem gamblers amounted to about 5.5 per cent of Americans. In Canada, three-quarters of us say we gamble, while an Ontario study suggests problem gamblers amount to about three per cent of them. The new environment won’t reduce that.

If I were a parent of minors, I would be concerned today to have them sit through excitable, encouraging parlance on the parlay (actually, parlays have been legal since 1985, but you get the point). The prohibition of gambling ads where children can see them ought to have been a central provision of the expansion of the industry. Britain, with a richer history of bookmaking, has such a law.

Just as with cannabis, the serious investors have staked the pole position in the gambling business. The arrival of the more casual single-game bettor – the person with the favourite team who bets on them loyally, for instance  – is found money for the inveterate gambler because the returns will be better when underinformed gambles are thrown into the fray. They’re mopping up in the early going, to be sure.

This is one of the best times of the year for sports: concurrent National Hockey League and National Basketball Association playoffs and early-season Major League Baseball are, frankly, great competition for getting outdoors. This year, as a big sports fan always eager for insight and a lot of trivia I will never use profitably – not just for gambling, but also in life – the experience feels shady. I would like my attention on thinking my team, and not the house, always wins. •

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of BIV and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.



How a 90-year-old film roll found in Vancouver developed into a picture-perfect mystery

Can you help? A local photographer bought a roll of film from a Vancouver antique store and is trying to discover who the people in the images are

Jim Sollows bought a roll of film from a Vancouver antique store and is trying to discover who the people in the images are

In the digital age, most photos are seen by human eyes quickly, sometimes within seconds of being shot.

Sometimes it's longer. With film it always is, often days if not weeks before a captured image sees the light of day.

In this case it's a bit longer. Likely more than nine decades.

Jim Sollows is a photographer with a serious interest in old cameras and film. For example, he recently rebuilt a camera from the 1870s, fitting it with some more modern pieces to shoot on film (instead of glass plates) so he can use it. This isn't that story.

Like an unsuccessful bakery, he had an old roll

The Fort Langley resident and his wife often pop into antique shops while out and about, and on a trip to Vancouver a little while ago they stopped in at Stepback in Kitsilano.

"I ended up getting into a discussion with the proprietor. When I mentioned I do darkroom work and occasionally come across old film and develop it, he reached under the counter," Sollows says.

What he produced was a roll of film. A very old roll of film.

"He asked 'You ever seen this before?'" says Sollows. "I said 'I've heard of it, but I've never seen it.'"

It's a roll of 130 film, a format that produces postcard-sized negatives. It hasn't been produced since the 1960s. The specific film Sollows was given is Verichrome, a type of film that was discontinued in the early 1930s due to its flammability (it was replaced in the market with Verichrome 10).

Sollows has developed old film before, but mostly from the 1950s or later. While he doesn't know exactly how old it is, it's definitely older than anything he'd tried developing before.

Old film

The old roll of film is in a format not used since the early 1930s

He took the roll home, where—as a serious hobbyist—he has his own darkroom, a 10 ft. by 10 ft. windowless space to bring film to life.

"I have everything necessary for processing film and printing it," he says. "And also have the capacity to take film and digitize it."

With film resurging as of late (he notes two new films just hit the market) there's lots to try with processing negatives; he even teaches a course in it. But film nowadays comes in smaller formats: 35 mm or 120.

"One of the complications is this old format is it's larger than any rolled film that we have today," he says.

Another complication is that if you leave a roll of film lying around for nearly 100 years, it always wants to curl up again. So in his pitch-black darkroom, fighting with the extra-long roll trying to recoil itself "like an anaconda of film" Sollows see-sawed the antique plastic through his chemicals.

"I literally stood there, fighting with it, trying to get it into the developer," he says.

Eventually, he was satisfied with his efforts and exposed the photos to light to urge the images out. Of the six frames, three turned into pictures.

"My heart skipped a beat; these pictures were old, very old," Sollows says.

What's the opposite of a Polaroid?

The three photos he was able to coax out show what appears to be a family gathering, but other details are hard to pick out.

"The first one I saw—there's an older gentleman and a very young girl, maybe two years old, sitting on maybe the stoop of a house or a bucket," Sollows says. "He looks like a farmer out of the depression and he's sitting there with this young girl."

A second photo shows a similar scene, with a middle-aged man and the same child.

Men sitting with child

In two of the photos, men are sitting with the child

The third is a group shot, with five people in it; there's the older man and the child again, and this time they're joined by two women and a young man.

There are no clues on the roll, so Sollows has tried to learn more from the images themselves. After speaking with others he says the vehicle in the background may be a 1920s agricultural truck. Also, part of a 1920s wringer washing machine appears in the shots as well.

"Normally with photos like this I look for things like street signs or business signs or license plates," Sollows says. "We don't have anything like that in these photos."

His best guess is that they're from B.C., because of where he got the film from. He's spoken to Stepback, but they're not sure where the roll came to them from. As for when, with the film being discontinued in the early-30s and the age of the truck and washing machine, he's guessing they were shot in the late 20s or early 30s.

So now he's wondering whose work he finished.

"To me it's so awesome to know that back, maybe 100 years ago, some photographer, who we'll never know who that was, took those pictures and never finished," Sollows says. "And here I am in 2022 finishing what they started."

If you know who the photos are of, he'd love to hear from you, either through Instagram or his website.

Vancouver Is Awesome


Live flamenco stomps back to stage for Sunday series

A local dance company kicked off Asian Heritage Month with a sold-out “flamenco dim sum” show, and is launching an ongoing series at Anne MacDonald Studio in North Van

Kasandra Lea and Cyrena Huang dance flamenco with Chinese silk fantails | Photo: Luciana D’Anunciação/Vancouver International Flamenco Festival

After getting a spark from a provincial grant, the performers of Mozaico Flamenco are stepping back on the stage for a year of live performances.

Last Saturday (April 30), the dance outfit performed a “flamenco dim sum” show at Vancouver’s Chai Lounge restaurant to kick off Asian Heritage Month in May.

That show was sold out 48 hours in advance, says prima bailaora Kasandra “La China” Lea.

“We were really surprised, but I guess there is maybe some pent-up demand for flamenco,” she said.

Then on May 1, her company launched a “Sunday Salon Series” that will bring regular flamenco shows to the Anne MacDonald Studio in Lower Lonsdale.

Attendees can expect lively Spanish music, flowing dresses and rapid-fire footwork. The show opens with an initial performance, followed by a question-and-answer period where the audience can get to know the artists over red wine. Then, the evening is capped off by forming an "artistic circle" where the audience is encouraged to dress in flamboyant garb, and lend their voices and clapping hands to the performance.

Lea’s interpretation of the dance style incorporates traditional elements, while adding some fanfare from Chinese culture.

The Spanish have their own “abanico” fans, Lea explained, which are used by old ladies around Andalusia because it was too hot and there was no air conditioning. From there, the fan got a little larger to be made of lace and fabric.

“And then my extension to that is I perform with a fan that has much, much longer tails,” she said. “The largest ones [are] called Chinese silk fantails, and they're about four-feet long.”

These fantails are intended to mimic the movement of dragons. “And that's something unique we've integrated in quite a few numbers.”

While there are quite a few people of Asian heritage doing in Flamenco in Canada, Lea is fairly certain she’s the only one who’s been doing it for 25 years.

“I have a little bit of notoriety there,” she said.

The flamenco shows were made possible by a one-time, emergency Arts Impact grant from the BC Arts Council.

Mozaico Flamenco Sunday Salon Series

When: June 5, June 12, July 3, July 10 and repeating on select Sundays at 7:30 p.m. Details available on Mozaico Flamenco's website.

Where: Anne MacDonald Studio, Presentation House Theatre, 333 Chesterfield Ave, North Vancouver 

Cost: $20 for adults; $15 for children, students and seniors in advance. Cash only at the door.



Vancouver Aquarium's new summer exhibit tells conservation success stories

Success stories include a tortoise, a gecko and a couple snakes

One of the success stories is this rare species of tortoise | Photo: Vancouver Aquarium

The Vancouver Aquarium is looking at conservation success stories with its new exhibit.

Opening Saturday, May 14, Wildlife Rescue: Miracles in Conservation will take visitors through the stories of animal species that have been saved with conservation efforts. It'll also feature 12 species highlights with interactive experiences.

"Wildlife Rescue is about endangered animals and the people who have dedicated their lives to helping them survive. Wildlife populations around the world are under enormous stress due to pollution, deforestation and habitat encroachment," states the aquarium in a press release. "Many species are becoming endangered while others are on the brink of extinction."

Wildlife rescue

The new exhibit at the Vancouver Aquarium focuses on success stories in conservation | Photo: Vancouver Aquarium

While endangered animals are often a depressing and dire topic, the exhibit will show how efforts have helped populations return for animals like the Burmese star tortoise, Hog Island boa constrictor and crested gecko. Other species represented will include the domestic ferret, Virginia opossum, painted turtle, western fox snake, cane toad, Malagasy tree boa, red knee tarantula, and the green and black dart frog.


The Virginia opossum is a new addition at the Vancouver Aquarium | Photo: Vancouver Aquarium

The tortoise is a good example of conservation efforts, notes the aquarium. A few years ago only a few hundred were alive; now there are 14,000 in the wild, and others in captivity.

“Everyone can have a role to play in the story of wildlife rescue. We invite everyone to begin their journey as a wildlife rescuer,” says aquarium Animal Care Director Mackenzie Neale.

Vancouver Is Awesome



What are we reading? May 12, 2022

Photo: Minerva Studio, iStock, Getty Images Plus

Each week, BIV staff will share with you some of the interesting stories we have found from around the web.


Glen Korstrom, reporter:

A downdraft in the Canadian housing market has started, as higher interest rates push up mortgage rates. For the first time since 2010, five-year fixed mortgage rates are all above four per cent. – National Post



Consolidation could come to streaming platforms. One analyst is urging Disney to buy Netflix. – Barron’s


Timothy Renshaw, managing editor:

Interesting data on the multibillion-dollar value of energy trading between Canada and the United States. U.S. Energy Information Administration


And while we are on the subject of resources worth multibillions, consider the value of all that plastic in North American landfills. – Science Alert


Ending with a bang: the loudest sound ever recorded on Earth, and it was not the Ted Nugent Band's December 1974 performance at Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom. – Discover Music


Mark Falkenberg, deputy managing editor:

Interesting if unsettling look at the psychology of disaster preparation – or lack thereof – in North America. – The Walrus


Astronomers have long known there’s a supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Now there’s a pretty clear photo of it, courtesy of the Event Horizon Telescope. – Scientific American