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Kennedy Stewart beat out competition in tight Vancouver election that offered voters tons of options




VANCOUVER— Former federal New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart is Vancouver’s next mayor, defeating a massive slate of candidates and new political parties in the city while running as an independent.

Stewart, the first independent mayor in the city in three decades, beat out the Non-Partisan Association’s Ken Sim by fewer than 1,000 votes. Early Sunday Sim refused to concede the race.

The win provided a photo finish to an election campaign offering voters one of the largest ballots to choose from following the end of a 10-year reign by Vision Vancouver, which was dogged by a housing crisis over the last four years.

As well, the Green Party made a strong showing adding councillors, school trustees and park board commissioners while topping the polls in all three arenas.

During his victory speech Stewart thanked Ken Sim for running a strong campaign, and praised Hector Bremner for a “very brave” race, before talking about his plans to build 85,000 new homes in Vancouver over the next decade and strengthening the city’s conflict of interest rules.

“They voted for a plan that is bold but achievable,” Stewart said.

He also praised the city for the number of women elected.

“We got seven women elected to council. That’s amazing. Can’t believe it. It’s a lot to take in.”

During the speech Stewart, who left his seat in Parliament just months ago, recounted when he launched his campaign, how he heard late NDP leader Jack Layton’s voice: “Never let them tell you it can’t be done.”

Meanwhile, Vision Vancouver, which held a 10-year grip on city council was reduced to rubble with just one candidate for school trustee barely holding on to the last position on the ballot as the final votes were being counted Saturday.

The city’s housing crisis was the dominant issue throughout the election, with all parties claiming to have the answer to exorbitant rents and property prices in Vancouver.

Only one Vision Vancouver incumbent councillor ran for reelection and the party’s mayoralty candidate Ian Campbell dropped out of the race in September citing “the political landscape and my complicated personal journey.” His party said Campbell had failed to disclose an assault charge stayed by the crown eight years ago.

Friday the party then pulled candidate Wei Qiao Zhang from the race, giving little explanation except to say information about Zhang had come to light.

Winning for her third term as a city councillor, Adrienne Carr said she was « very excited » and « honoured » to have so much support from voters. At the Green Party election headquarters at Creekside community centre, she said that the Greens will work to create consensus with the rest of an often divisive city council.

« We will work with whoever is elected to find common ground, » Carr said.

Carr, one of the front runners for city council who had considered a run for mayor, has fielded criticism for voting against duplex housing and increased density projects on council. But she said that her aim was to first do the research into what is best for Vancouver before deciding on anything — which she said she will move forward with on council.

« I feel very strongly we need to move on a citywide plan, » she said, but underscored that much more research needed to be done before determining « what kind of housing we need, and where. »

At the YES Vancouver election night party at Cinema Public House on the Granville strip, the mood is lively despite none of the candidates winning a seat.

While Hector Bremner expressed disappointment over losing his mayoral bid and giving up his council seat, he said he was « blessed to have all these people out today. »

But he said when he was out campaigning on the streets, « we had huge support, » and was concerned voter turnout would be lower than in past years.

Looking at the results, Bremner, who lost his bid for mayoral candidates with the NPA and went on run with YES Vancouver, predicted further challenges among city councillors who he said were « very entrenched » in divisive politics.

« I think it’s going to be a very divided council, » he said.

Meanwhile, former federal Conservative MP for Vancouver South Wai Young, running under the right-wing Coalition Vancouver party, conceded earlier in the night.

In the heart of the Vancouver South riding in the Sunset neighbourhood, a relatively small group of loyal, and politically-“moderate” supporters of Wai Young gathered on election night.

“We were the only ones talking about other things besides housing,” Young said. “Although we know housing is a big issue, but there were other issues in the city that needs to be addressed: opioid crisis, homelessness, the cleanliness of the city, the small business people that are feeling (like) prisoners in their own businesses because of the situation — the taxes.”

Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver, former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum is once again office after a 13-year break brought about by his ouster in 2005.

The numbers are not yet official, but McCallum was 13,000 votes ahead when his chief opponent Tom Gill from the Surrey First Party conceded Saturday evening.

Elsewhere, after five terms as mayor of Burnaby, Derek Corrigan has been defeated by challenger Mike Hurley. Corrigan was first elected in 2002 and faced controversy in his last term over housing challenges in the city.

In a recent interview with StarMetro, Corrigan said he was being unfairly attacked by housing activists in the city. Meanwhile, Hurley was climbing in the polls.

“They can disrupt; it attracts media attention,” he said. “But I don’t think that reflect the issues our community is concerned about.”

Corrigan is the second ouster of the night.

In Port Moody incumbent mayor Mike Clay lost by just under 400 votes to one-term councillor Rob Vagramov.

Smaller cities across Metro Vancouver have started to have their elections settled as the City of North Vancouver has elected Linda C. Buchanan while the District of North Vancouver has ushered in Mike Little.

In White Rock, Darryl Walker has been elected with 30 per cent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the full results from some of the larger cities have yet to come in, including Vancouver.

After a 10-year run, mayor Gregor Robertson did not renew his bid for mayor of Vancouver proper and his party, Vision Vancouver, was left with no mayoral candidate after Ian Campbell pulled out of the race in September.

But there’s no shortage of challengers for the top job in Vancouver politics.

StarMetro has a team of reporters planted across the city and will be tracking these and other major and important races throughout Metro Vancouver as the night goes on.


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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme




Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year




In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal




MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.


The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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