Future of McBarge still a secret

McBarge during renovations. SUBMITTED PHOTO

McBarge may have started as a fast food outlet, but there are no fast answers about the future of the barge.

The barge, originally built as the first floating McDonalds for Vancouver’s Expo ’86, was recently moved from the Burrard Inlet to Maple Ridge to begin renovations after being in the inlet for 30 years. Howard Meakin bought the barge in 1999, and said he will be ready to announce what it will be used for in three to four months.

“It’s an exciting venue, it’s world class,” Meakin. “It will appeal to all people and all countries.”

One thing Meakin did say is that the barge will look different than people remember.

“The roof has to be completely replaced, and we’re putting a new roof-deck on it and it will actually have quite a nice display area on the roof deck as well.”

What will be on display? “That’s the secret,” Meakin laughed.

Two possible locations

According to David Eaton, the architect working on the project, there are two places currently being considered to anchor the barge.

“We’re looking at two locations, both have different timelines, both have different aspects to them that make them quite unique in their solutions,” said Eaton.

Barge with a long history

Suzan Stamenkovic, a travel account manager at Brave New World Travel, used to work on McBarge, and said that she hopes they return the barge to False Creek, as a way to honour the Expo.

“I would actually really like to see it back in False Creek, and turned back into a McDonalds,” Stamenkovic said in an email. “Looking at the area now, you can’t even tell there was a World Exposition there. This would be a perfect reminder, be a ‘living’ reminder of what was and how exciting and lively the city was then.”

And for people who want more information about the McBarge project? Eaton says, “Stay tuned, I guess that’s all we can tell you.”


Mental health on a diverse campus comes with challenges

Students pass the counselling department. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM


On Langara College’s diverse campus, international students face unique issues when seeking mental health support.

According to Michele Bowers, head of Langara’s counselling department, students from other cultures might be more inclined to talk to friends rather than a counsellor.

“Different cultures have different cultural beliefs and values, including different ideas of and attitudes towards mental health,” Bowers said in an email. “Some [international] students come from cultures where there is greater taboo or stigma surrounding mental health.”

Many international students with barriers

In fall 2016, there were 3,649 international students enrolled at Langara, which made up nearly a quarter of the student body, according to the college’s website. While mental health services are available on campus, cultural differences and language barriers could stop students from seeking help, according to Daisy Bai, a registered clinical counsellor.

“[There is a] lack of social support, both from their immediate social, like family or friends, as well as that general support from the school system,” Bai said. “Because they have that major language barrier, a lot of them don’t really have the courage to speak up, or they don’t have the vocabulary or the knowledge how to describe their experience better.”

Institution recognizes extra weight on being international

Queenie Choo, CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., an organization that supports immigrants to Canada said international students face extra stress because they need to find a new group of friends, while learning the language in their new country.

“Domestic students have their network of friends already established, international students, they start looking for friends in the new country,” Choo said.

One way to help international students feel more comfortable is to spread awareness of the programs available on campus, according to Bai.

“It would be pretty nice to have that in their first day of orientation,” Bai said. “Or whenever they go to their class their teacher can speak a little bit about that about how it is okay to talk about difficulties with them.”

South Vancouver business Barber Prosthetics exploring the limits of 3D printing

When first walking into Barber Prosthetics Clinic, it might seem daunting entering directly into the workshop, but that impression is very short lived. As soon as you encounter David Moe he brings a sense of fun and relaxation to the room.

David Moe (left) and Loren Schubert (right) sharing a joke while working on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Moe is the owner of Barber Prosthetics, a South Vancouver company that does research in the field of prosthetics, as well as making them, and is starting to explore 3D printing.

Moe has been around prosthetics his whole life. His father used to work in the Children’s Hospital in Calgary before buying his own practice in Edmonton. The practice became a family business, and through his time at that practice, he worked with his father, two of his uncles, his grandmother, his sister and his brother.

“I started at 14 and I’m still here,” Moe said. When his father bought a practice in 1979, “I started going there and sweeping the floor at the end of the day. I’d grab the bus and I’d go down to work, my dad would stay a half hour late so I that I could get two hours worth of work in.”

Here is Moe describing how he first got an interest in prosthetics:

No two patients the same

David Moe holding casts on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Every patient is approached differently, because some techniques used for one patient can’t be used in the same way for another, according to Moe.

“Each person is like a puzzle,” Moe said. “Our role is to know that there is a puzzle, and then help the people to figure out which piece is the next piece that’s actually going to go in to that puzzle.”

Hoping to improve the profession

David Moe (left) looking at the work Alyson Clow (right) has done on a prosthetic on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Moe hopes that by the end of his working career, he leaves the profession better than he entered it, whether through his work at Barber Prosthetics, or his time as a prosthetics instructor at BCIT.

“I’m always striving to see if we can be better, to see if we can raise the bar, to see if we can develop the highest standard of patient care that’s available,” Moe said. “My goal is to hopefully leave my profession better than I entered it.”

3D printers in the prosthetic industry

David Moe working at the 3D printer at Barber Prosthetics on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Barber Prosthetics got a 3D printer in November of last year, but Moe is hoping to answer some questions about the strength of the sockets, or the piece that joins the prosthetic to the residual limb, before giving any clients anything 3D printed. Moe is doing research with the National Autonomous University of Mexico and BCIT on this topic.

“We just created 48 sockets, we’ve just broken them all, and now we have the data to compare 3D printed against how we create them now and we’ll be able to write a paper,” Moe said. “Once we know it’ll be strong enough, I think I’ll have a far more likelihood of allowing people to walk them, and we’ll usher in the 3D printing in a safe, controlled manner.”

Workshop Decor

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Decorations, including a bent ruler on the left photo, around Barber Prosthetics’ workshop on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Decorations are hung up around the workshop, to give patients something to look at. One of those decorations is a ruler twisted due to its uselessness, according to Daryl Murphy, prosthetic technician at Barber Prosthetics.

Daryl Murphy working on a prosthetic on Mar. 9. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

“It was a ruler and it had a whole bunch of felt marks on it,” Murphy said. “Then [somebody used] some acetone to rub that mark off, and it took a whole swath of the actual increments off, and it was like ‘well this just became useless.’ So we just bent it into a little shape.”

Red-Light cameras passed up for Vancouver’s most dangerous intersection

Remainders of the front bumper of a vehicle left of SE Marine drive east of the intersection with Knight street on Mar. 12. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM


Knight Street and SE Marine will not see safety improvements after 231 vehicle accidents in 2015

Plans to improve safety at Vancouver’s intersection with the highest collision rate do not include red-light cameras, despite evidence that they reduce collisions.

With construction starting in June, Knight Street and SE Marine Drive will gain a new left-turn lane onto Knight Street Bridge, a new traffic light and will ban left turns onto Borden Street. The intersection, which saw 231 accidents in 2015, has the most crashes in Vancouver according to ICBC.

Simon Goppel, a warehouse worker at Matrix Logistics Services Ltd., almost got hit by a car at the notorious intersection earlier this month.

“I was heading down the street and at this moment a fancy sports car drove with much too much speed, it almost killed me, I’m not kidding, it was driving so fast there. Not obeying the red light or green light,” Goppel said, adding that it would help if drivers were fined. “It would be much safer [if] the car gets punished. The next time it will stop at the red light.”

Red-light cameras can improve safety

Transport Canada said red-light cameras can reduce the number of fatal red-light collisions by 35 per cent, but the intersection’s safety upgrade plans don’t include one.

Bruce Taylor, a forklift operator for C2C Premium Seafood, has seen many near-accidents at the intersection. Like Goppel, he also thinks a red-light camera could help.

“People after a while will know that camera is there,” he said. “Little by little it will gradually decrease the number of people that try to run red lights, or run the amber lights.”

Intersection “not suitable” for camera

Danielle Pope, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, said the intersection’s layout with an overpass and on-ramp and merging traffic made it challenging.

“The SE Marine Drive and Knight Street Bridge area is indeed busy with lots of traffic,” Pope said in an email. “It was not deemed suitable for a red-light camera.”

Homemade soaps vegetarian-friendly option

Kate Duda mixes a batch of soap. Photo by Laura Brougham

Local business hosts how-to workshops on handmade, plant-based soaps

Making handmade soap is an option for vegetarians who prefer to use high quality bars that do not have animal-based ingredients.

People can make soap with plant and vegetable fats, which they often choose to do because the product they make agrees with their lifestyles and complements their principles.

“[People come to the workshops] because of the quality and the process and the control they have over the ingredients not necessarily because it’s vegetarian,” said Kate Duda, the owner of Plenty + Spare, a Vancouver-based soap-making company.

 A reduced carbon footprint

“You can make an incredibly high-quality soap with any kind of scrap animal fats that you’ve sourced locally and in that case you’ve reduced your shipping footprint, you’ve reduced your packaging footprint, you’ve avoided palm oil, that sort of thing,” said Duda, who teaches soap-making classes.

The option to make soap with plant oils attracted Jennifer Bigler.

“I’m vegetarian, I don’t eat meat, so I don’t want to be using animal products on my skin,” said Bigler, who works at Cambridge Uniforms.

“It’s handmade, there’s natural glycerine in the soap, there’s no added unnecessary ingredients,” Duda said, explaining a main difference between conventional soap sold at a grocery store and handmade soap.

Homemade option cost-effective

Buying ingredients to make soap at a bulk supply shop can be less expensive than buying them at a grocery store, and Duda encourages people to buy the equipment they’ll need to make soap at home from a second-hand store.

Rick Havlak, owner of Homestead Junction, where soap-making workshops are taught, said the workshop is important because people become more familiar with a product they use everyday.

“Soap making was actually one of the first workshops we offered, back in 2012 when we first opened,” Havlak said. “Almost everybody uses [soap], and almost nobody really understands how it’s made.”

Homestead Junction most recently hosted a soap-making workshop on March 7.

Home ownership to be B.C. election issue

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Students walking past a for sale sign on West 49th Avenue. Photo by LAURA BROUGHAM

Some students may never be able to afford a house in Metro Vancouver, which has led politicians to make housing affordability a discussion point in the B.C. election on May 9.

High housing prices have been a major political issue across the Lower Mainland over the last two years. Financing an investment that can be in the millions of dollars can seem out of reach for students, who would like to enter the housing market in the future.

Investing in real estate has led to an increase in housing prices, according to David Eby, Vancouver-Point Grey MLA, and BC NDP spokesperson for housing. Eby said, when houses become an investment, it means everyday people looking to buy houses to live aren’t left with many options.

Home-ownership program

The Liberal government has started a program to provide an interest-free loan of up to five per cent of the purchase price, according to Sonja Zoeller, spokesperson for the ministry of finance.

“The B.C. HOME Partnership Program contributes to the amount first-time homebuyers have already saved for their down payment,” Zoeller wrote in an email. “Almost 140 loan applications have been approved since the program’s introduction in January, totalling $2.2 million.”

Main problem not addressed

Eby said the home partnership program misses the core of the problem, and building affordable housing is the best way to help.

“I think that’s such a misunderstanding of where people are at right now in terms of their finances,” Eby said. “I think the solution to the housing crisis is managing this quite toxic demand we’re seeing in our housing market, and adding a supply of affordable housing for people.”

Potential buyers need to save

In order to save for a house, you should set aside money every month as soon as you get paid, according to Laurent Munier, financial advisor at Safe Pacific Financial Inc.

“Pay yourself like any other bill that you would pay,” Munier said. “As part of your automated [payments] every month […] even if it’s $50 a month, the habit is the most important part.”