Online medical service, EQ Virtual, working to bring accessible health care to the Downtown Eastside

EQ Virtual is working to become accessible to members of the Downtown Eastside. Photo by: Jonathan Hayward

EQ Virtual is working to become accessible to members of the Downtown Eastside. Photo by: Jonathan Hayward

Equinoxe LifeCare, a health care management company partnered with EQ Virtual, an online service allowing patients to see health care professionals through video visits, is working to become accessible for people in the Downtown Eastside.

The health care service, which is already available to the public, requires patients to have a computer or a mobile device; from there, they create their account, provide their health care card number for covered visits, describe their symptoms, and are then connected with a doctor over video chat.

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Melanie Mark’s NDP MLA victory a positive step moving forward for indigenous people

The New Democratic Party coasted to a landslide of a victory in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant’s byelection on Tuesday night, making its candidate, Melanie Mark, the first aboriginal woman elected to the B.C. legislature.

Melanie Mark, NDP MLA for Vancouver Mount Pleasant is the first aboriginal woman elected to the B.C. Legislature. Photo by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

Melanie Mark, NDP MLA for Vancouver Mount Pleasant is the first aboriginal woman elected to the B.C. Legislature. Photo by: Gerry Kahrmann , PNG

Mark easily won with 5,353 votes, worth 60 per cent of the voting, while Green Party candidate Pete Fry finished second, with 2,325 votes, worth 26 per cent.

Mark, who is part Nisga’a, Gitxsan, Cree, and Ojibway, grew up in social housing in East Vancouver and has many roots attached to it and the Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods with a history of being an activist, youth worker, volunteer and coordinator.

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New street vending restrictions in the Downtown Eastside will negatively affect vendors’ livelihoods

Street vendors around East Hastings are desperate to continue selling because it’s the only solution they have to make ends meet with a lack of affordable housing in an area being rapidly gentrified, according to advocates.

The city’s decision to force the sellers to move to the new sites and impose restrictions on how often they can sell is devastating, says Maria Wallstam from the Carnegie Community Action Plan Project.

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Proposed development in Downtown Eastside receives mixed reactions

The development proposal for 288 E. Hastings Street has received different reviews, with some fears of gentrification, but the city says the development will enhance the character of the Downtown Eastside.

Documents from the project say “it’s a unique opportunity to provide much needed affordable non-market and market residential housing,” despite worries of the neighbourhood being gentrified and pushing local businesses out.

Abigail Bond, assistant director of social housing, said the plan has received mixed reviews so far, but many support it.

“There’s been lots of people saying the project isn’t delivering enough,” she said.

The 12-storey  rental building will house 172 units, 104 will be residential, while 68 will be for businesses. Bond added one-third of the units are required to be rented out at a shelter rate.

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Foreign investors should be taxed for empty Metro Vancouver homes, say some

An affordable housing shortage in Metro Vancouver has sparked discussions that it could

Photo by: Caelie Frampton | Wikimedia Creative Commons

Photo by: Caelie Frampton | Wikimedia Creative Commons

be alleviated if the empty homes owned by foreign investors were taxed, said West Vancouver mayor, Michael Smith.

According to Metro Vancouver‘s Regional Affordable Housing Strategy, low and low to-moderate income renters earn less than $50,000 per year. The report suggests higher levels of government should intervene for housing to become accessible for people that fall under that category.  Continue reading

Some East Van shops not as lucky in moving forward in medical marijuana application process

Photo: Getty Images - So far, 11 out of the 176 applications for medical marijuana dispensaries have been approved by the city.

Photo: Getty Images – So far, 11 out of the 176 applications for medical marijuana dispensaries have been approved by the city.

The City of Vancouver recently sent out letters 11 out of 176 medical marijuana dispensary applications advising them they can move forward in the application process, yet some businesses with two locations are only allowed to move forward with one development permit review.

The approved businesses meeting the zoning requirements will get to move forward with with development for a permit review, which includes the opportunity for public input. One East Vancouver business with two locations, however, will only get to move forward in the application process with one of its shops.

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Chasing Murals: an artist’s transition from animator to concept artist

There’s a good chance Ilya Viryachev wouldn’t be the artist he’s progressively become if his family hadn’t migrated to Vancouver, B.C. when he was 14.

With the completion of his most recent outdoor mural at Main and 16th behind Caffe Rustico, approval for another mural to go at Main and 8th, and an art show next month, he’s come along way from his life back in Kazakhstan.

Hailing from Almaty, Kazakhstan, what Viryachev describes as a “second world country,”  he said most jobs there fall under the trades and that getting work in the arts is more difficult. Although Viryachev’s interest in art began at an early age with the help of his mother who took him to art classes, the dream of fully pursuing his passion was put on hold until the move to Canada.

His eyes widen and his smile stretches from ear-to-ear as he reminisces his journey. “It’s pretty awesome I have the opportunity to do this here,” he says.

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