Issue #159
Hives, Alive! Therapeutic beekeeping takes flight

Its eerie... MT @van_special: Why are @MegaphoneMag horoscopes always so dead on? All I've been craving today… t.co/x2ahGkQQ8x Jul 27, 03:00 PM

Ending Poverty in British Columbia Will Save Us Money


Living with poverty is hard. It hurts people’s health, education, and living conditions. It’s also incredibly expensive. Every year, poverty costs British Columbia up to $9.2 billion. Like most provinces in Canada, however, the B.C. government could enact a plan to end it—saving the province up to $6 billion a year. But Premier Christy Clark continues to ignore calls for a poverty reduction plan, wasting taxpayers’ money as one in 10 people in the province continue to struggle in poverty.


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For Renting Seniors, a Subsity to Soften Sky-High Rents


“SAFER? What's that? Should I apply for it?” 


Seventy-one-year-old Brenda Berck leans forward in a garden chair outside her Vancouver West End apartment. She hands over a blank application form she received in the mail, hoping for an explanation. Berck currently receives $1,358 a month from the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement, and an additional $333 for some consulting work. After paying for rent, she has a mere $262.18 to spend on food, medication, transportation, social activities, clothing and toiletries. Berck moved to the West End in 1985, shortly after she was offered a job at the Vancouver Writer's Festival. Now retired, she is struggling to stay in the $1,430 one-bedroom apartment she's called home for nearly three decades. Like many B.C. seniors her age, she didn't know that help was right under her nose—until now, that is. 


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Vendor Voices: For Peter Thompson, The Hope in Shadows photo contest is an annual celebration of community


On Friday, June 6 of all nights, I wanted to go home and try to get in some early sleep. I knew it was going to be a busy day the next day, not only for me, but for a lot of people: the people from the Downtown Eastside. 

I managed to get some sleep but was up early Saturday morning. Coffee was on; I was excited for the day ahead. By the time I got to the Pivot Legal Society office, the place was already buzzing with people and things were happening: it was the big camera handout for the Hope in Shadows photography contest, where there were least at 200 disposable cameras handed out in the Downtown Eastside. For participating photographers, the theme this year was “The Community We Have Built.” 

I remember when I first started participating in the contest years ago. The photos were in black and white. Now, the contest is a lot more interesting, with more categories like Best Portrait, Best Landscape, Best Colour, Best Black and White photos, and Best Artistic Photos. 

So, as you can see, the camera handout is a great way to start your day. The tents were going up, the stage was getting set up for the live bands—we had blues singers, which was cool. All this was happening so participants could
get a number and didn’t have to wait in line until their cameras were given out. We even had chalk drawing on the sidewalks. My lucky number was 75. How lucky could that be? That’s 3⁄4 of a dollar, anyway. 

While I waited for my camera number to be called, I sat around listening to great music, drank coffee, even got called out to dance by Kristie, which was cool. What a great way to spend some time waiting. Once we got rolling, I was up. I signed a waiver, then got my camera. The first picture you take is a self-portrait so everyone knows the film is yours. Smart, eh! Then, they have a professional photographer come and give you tips on picture taking. We learned about lighting, shadows, great stuff. 


Soon, I found myself out on the road, trying to get a picture or two that would at least make the cut. I had some ideas, but to put them into action was a different story. I did manage to do one before I left the office. Last year, my camera never worked; hopefully this one will. 

I took some pictures of people, reflections, and places, around town. I even got some animal shots in. Once I ran out of film at the Downtown Eastside street market, I turned my camera in on Monday after the weekend of shooting.

Now, it’s waiting time to see if I make the cut. Landing a photo in the Top 40 is also very exciting time; you have another grueling wait to see what category you won. 

The waiting is intense, but all in all, the best and foremost part is having fun taking the pictures. 

I wish all the contestants the best. These three days of the contest are the ones that bring joy and peace to the people of the Downtown Eastside. Thank you, Carolyn Wong, for the work you put into this and all the volunteers, and everyone who took part for making this a success. 

Peter has participated in the Hope in Shadows photography contest since 2008—that year, he won honourable mention for a photo, and two years later in the 2010 contest, his photograph of his nephew won in the Best Colour category and was featured on the cover of the 2011 calendar. It was through Hope in Shadows that Peter started selling Megaphone. He sells Megaphone at Robson and Howe, and will be selling the 2015 Hope in Shadows calendar there when it hits the streets October 1. Photo: Robin Toma 

PUBLIC LIBRARIES, SOCIAL HUBS - For Homeless and Low-Income Citizens, Libraries are a Necessary Haven

Alvin Stewart lives in the Downtown Eastside and spends time at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch almost every day. Photo: Vivian Luk. 

In Vancouver, Victoria, and across North America, urban libraries are more than place to borrow movies and books. For people with no fixed address or in vulnerable housing, libraries are places to seek shelter, to stay in touch with loved ones, and even lay their heads to rest, even if just for a short while. 

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Hives, Alive! Therapeutic beekeeping takes flight

Megaphone's got all the buzz on urban beekeeping in issue #159 with a feature on how Hives for Humanity offers beekeepers in Vancovuer's vulnerable Downtown Eastside neighbourhood a place for quiet communion with nature and friends.


Also in this issue: the push for the B.C.'s first Community Investment Fund to save money while giving back to our communities; Ted Bruce fills big shoes as the Portland Hotel Society's new executive director; District of Central Saanich files suit against homeless haven Woodwynn Farms for bylaw violations; vendor Hendrik Beune reminices about sustainable summers spent sleeping under the stars; and much more!


Megaphone. $2 every 2 weeks. Find your vendor here


MEGA-NEWS: Proposed prostitution bill makes sex work more dangerous, UVic researcher finds


Photo by Steve Rhodes/flickr


Popular narratives about sex work tend to frame sex workers as victims and johns as predators. But that doesn’t fit reality, says Chris Atchison, co-author of the largest Canadian study of sex workers and customers. Atchison presented the findings to the federal Justice and Human Rights Committee reviewing Canada’s prostitution bill Monday.


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Beyond the Books: Libraries scale up their social work

Homeless and low-income people have been using the free internet, books, washrooms and comfy chairs in libraries for decades. In Megaphone Issue #158 out today, we look at how libraries are changing to better serve their most vulnerable patrons. 


Also in this issue: Victoria's new police chief takes a friendlier approach than his predecessor to low-income people and their allies; a provincial rental subsidy for seniors could go a long way to improving housing security if more people applied; vendor Hendrik Beune talks about the many lives--and jobs--he had before selling Megaphone; Canada's proposed anti-prostitution law gets sex workers and their customers all wrong; and much more!


Megaphone. $2 every 2 weeks. Find your vendor here

Pending closure of Victoria youth custody centre raises questions

The Victoria Youth Custody Centre, pictured here, is slated to close due to dropping youth detention centre populations across B.C. The closure would require current youth custody centre residents to move to a facility in Burnaby, B.C., which advocates say could land at-risk youth in even riskier situations. Photo courtesy of the B.C. Ministry of Child and Family Development.


When the provincial government announced earlier this year that it was shutting down the Victoria Youth Custody Centre, the closure was touted as the result of a success story: the number of people in B.C.’s three youth detention facilities has declined so dramatically over the past decade that it no longer made sense to keep the one in Victoria open.

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OPINION - Disciplinary architecture: A case study in anti-homeless NIMBY-ism

Vancouver’s Spring Advertising designed benches this year for RainCity Housing that aim to provide an alternative to the disciplinary architecture often seen in public spaces aimed at welcoming certain demographics of people while shutting others out. Photo: Spring Advertising for RainCity Housing.


Big news last week was the street-level installation of spikes outside a new luxury housing complex in Southwark, a south central neighbourhood of London, England. The spikes were assumedly erected in response to a homeless person who had been sleeping there a few weeks ago. Pictures and commentary about the spikes spread quickly through Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

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MEGA-NEWS: After a long wait, the Kingsway Continental opens


Former residents of the Old Continental residence, pictured here and situated at the north end of Vancouver's Granville Bridge, moved into a new, city-owned non-market housing complex called the Kingsway Continental in Renfrew-Collingwood this month. The Old Continental is set for demolition and subsidized housing will be developed in its place over the next 10 years. Photo by Herb Neufeld/flickr. 


It was almost a year behind schedule when it opened this month due to a mould problem, but the Kingsway Continental welcomed its first residents this month. The new city-owned, non-market housing development in a former Ramada Inn hotel on Kingsway near Joyce is a replacement for the Old Continental, a city-owned Single Room Occupancy Hotel that closed in Downtown South earlier this spring— the building was old, and maintenance costs had become too high.

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