Marriage in the council chambers? Vancouver politician proposes City Hall weddings – BC

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A Vancouver politician has a marriage proposal for City Hall.

Melissa De Genova is calling for a simple process that would open up the council chamber to couples who want to get hitched at City Hall — in order to cut red tape and offer affordable options for wedding ceremonies.

“People have asked me if it’s possible to book council chambers or areas of City Hall for weddings and they were quite surprised that there’s an entire program offered on Vancouver.ca, our city website, for booking park facilities. There’s a one stop shop permit program there, but not here at City Hall,” said the Vancouver NPA councillor.

WATCH: Massive pop-up wedding in Vancouver’s Robson Square






Even though the Vancouver Park Board offers permits for public wedding options on its sites, the City of Vancouver currently has no formal program in place for weddings at its heritage building — although couples have tied the knot outside.


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Mira Oreck and Stepan Vdovine got married on the Helena Gutteridge Plaza on Vancouver City Hall grounds this past summer — but the couple had to apply for an $800 film and special events permit — and rent their own washrooms for the big day.

“There isn’t infrastructure here. There aren’t bathrooms, there’s not shade cover for the sun or for the rain. There’s not an inside space to put any personal items so I think it’s a great idea but I think it needs to be supported by some infrastructure and resources,” Oreck told Global News.

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De Genova wants the city to consider its council chamber, Helen Gutteridge Plaza and the garden at City Hall as possible wedding venues.

In a motion set to go to council on Tues. Dec. 18, the NPA city councillor states that many other Canadian cities “including Victoria City Hall, Calgary City Hall, Fredericton City Hall, Ottawa City Hall and Toronto (both Old and New City Halls) offer the opportunity for couples to book in advance and hold wedding ceremonies on-site.”


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At Ottawa City Hall, wedding costs range from “$141.30 for week day ceremonies to $212.00 for weekends, subject to availability.”

A marriage licence can also be obtained on-site for a $161.60 fee – provided all requirements are met.

In the capital city, couples can say “I do” at the heritage City Hall building four days a year – when three one-hour ceremonies are offered each day for a room rental fee of $150.

On Fri. Dec. 14, Vic PD’s top cop crashed one couple’s municipal wedding. Chief Del Manak posting a photo with the tweet, “Love is in the air @CityOfVictoria City Hall. Ran into a happy couple coming to City Hall to get married. Now @vicpdcanada is a part of their wedding pics. Congrats to Peter and Sandra. Such a great couple! May you enjoy a life of laughter and #happiness.”

De Genova wants the city to consider the structure city halls across Canada practice in providing marriage venues and services – and then report back to council by December 2019 with recommendations, including any budget implications, and recommendations for a possible pilot or trial program for holding weddings on set days of the year or regularly at Vancouver City Hall.

Vancouver’s City Hall opened in 1936 and was designated a heritage building in 1976.


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The city of Vancouver website states that, “On the third floor, the ceremonial and formal spaces including the Council Chambers are substantially intact.”

Currently, the Vancouver council chamber is not available for external bookings.

In a statement to Global News, the city of Vancouver wrote that since Helena Gutteridge Plaza opened earlier this year, it has received some inquiries about the use of the space – and one wedding, Oreck and Vdovine’s, has been held there.

WATCH: Shanel Pratap and Jay Durant crash wedding in Green Bay






Oreck says she and her husband chose the venue for a reason.

“My husband and  I met actually campaigning, door knocking for Vision Vancouver many, many years ago and so this was a meaningful space for us — but it was also meaningful because of Helena Gutteridge Plaza. It’s named after the first woman elected to city council, a labour activist, a suffragette.”

The emailed city statement says a permit to hold a wedding at a city-managed public space such as the Helena Gutteridge Plaza can be requested via the Film and Special Events group and that “the fees associated with that depend on where/how many people/what type of event, etc.”

The city says it can’t comment on what a more formal program or fee structure might look like until after the Dec. 18 council meeting.

“It’s a fun light-hearted motion for our last council meeting of the year, ” said De Genova.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Kingston resident proposes curfew for Gordon Edgar Downie Pier – Kingston

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The first summer with the Gordon Edgar Downie Pier in Kingston has concluded and now many Kingstonians are voicing their concerns over excessive partying during the nighttime hours — with one longtime resident proposing a solution.


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“Young people are going to the bar and then going down to the pier and partying, leaving a large mess. At times, there could be 50 to 60 people down there late at night. What we’re saying is, ‘Let’s put some ornamental gates that close the pier at night,’” said Phillip Brown, a longtime resident who lives near the pier.

Brown is asking council members to consider closing the pier from 10 p.m. to sunrise during the summer months, which he believes will make partygoers much more visible to residents living close by.

According to Brown, if there is a cry for help from Breakwater Park or closer to King Street, someone can actually hear them but if somebody is out on the pier late at night and they have an emergency and cry for help, no one is able to hear them.


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Brown’s proposal to shut down the pier during the night hours is something city Coun. Peter Stroud is opposed to.

“To think that if you close off the pier, it would actually improve behaviour is a little bit naive and it sends the wrong message. I think we opened up that place, put a lot of money into that place and it’s wildly successful which is a good problem to have,” said Stroud.

Brown says one of the many reasons why he is pushing for more security measures is that he spoke to a local family who almost lost a family member swimming late at night in the area.

“One family commented firsthand what can happen late at night because two strong swimmers pulled their family member out just in time,” said Brown.


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According to Brown, there are 600 signatures for his petition to close the pier at night.

A date has yet to be announced for when council will vote on the pier curfew and gates.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh proposes plan to ‘end the theft’ of money meant for veterans – National

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NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says it’s time for Liberal and Conservative governments to stop stealing from Canadian veterans.

In a motion put before the House of Commons Monday, Singh and fellow New Democrats proposed that all money allocated to Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) in a specific year should be spent. If money is left over at the end of the year, these unspent dollars should be transferred to the next year’s budget and targeted specifically to improve services and reduce wait times for veterans and their families.


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“Over the past number of years money is promised to Veterans Affairs, that money has lapsed or not been spent,” Singh said. “That means veterans have been robbed of finances and resources for the services they need. This has to end,” he said.

The NDP proposal comes days before Canadians will mark Remembrance Day and the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.


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It also comes just six weeks after Global News revealed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government allowed more than $372 million meant to help veterans and their families to go unspent at VAC since taking office in 2015, something then-Liberal leader Trudeau called “wrong” when campaigning to become prime minister.

”The Liberal government promised to address this,” Singh said. “They were standing up with us as New Democrats in opposition saying we cannot accept this treatment of veterans, but now they’re doing the exact same thing.”

The $372 million Liberals left unspent at VAC is in addition to the more than $1.1 billion Stephen Harper’s Conservative government left unspent while in office.

WATCH: NDP MP says not passing Veterans Affairs motion will raise more questions






If passed, the practice of allowing money to lapse at VAC would effectively end. The NDP plan would also mean about $124 million a year more for veterans and their families, NDP figures show.

The money would be targeted toward improving services and reducing wait times and backlogs many veterans face when trying to access benefits.

“Veterans have had our back, at a minimum Canada needs to take care of them,” Singh said.

“This [motion] would end the theft of financing and resources for Veterans Affairs and ensure that we actually see the adequate levels of care and response times for veterans who have given so much,” he said.


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Under the proposed plan, VAC funds left unspent at the end of the year will automatically be carried forward to the next year until the department meets its own prescribed service standards in 12 areas in which it is currently lagging behind.

These areas include wait times for decisions on disability benefits, long-term care, career transition and other programs, review and appeal timelines, and what some veterans have described as inadequate response times for VAC’s telephone service.

WATCH:  Veteran Affairs Minister Seamus O’Regan acknowledges ‘deficiencies’ in his department






According to NDP veteran affairs critic, Gord Johns, these improved services will come with no added costs. He says the NDP’s proposal is “non-partisan” and calls the decision to support the plan a “no-brainer.”

“Thanking veterans and their families is not enough. Words must be backed by action,” Johns said.

“This motion will dramatically improve the lives of veterans and their families at no additional costs to taxpayers,” he said.


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And while Conservatives had previously left more than a billion unspent at VAC, they announced their support for the plan Monday, with MP Cathay Wagantall saying all members of the Conservative party will vote in favour of the motion.

Meanwhile, Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan seemed to indicate the government would also support the motion, saying “we will always have the resources available for veterans.”

“When it comes to any motions supporting our veterans, our government will be supporting that motion,” Sajjan said Monday.

Benefits are ‘demand-driven’

When Global News first revealed Liberals had allowed $372 million to go unspent at VAC, a department official said lapsed funding is “simply an administrative process” and doesn’t result in anyone receiving less than they should. The department added that VAC funding is “demand-driven,” meaning that money left over at the end of the year is a result of overestimated demand. This was reiterated by Sajjan.

However, Trudeau previously slammed the Harper government for leaving veterans’ support funds unspent. To a room filled with veterans on the campaign trail in 2015, Trudeau said, “Canadians know that this is wrong. A government led by me would make it right.”

WATCH: Trudeau slams Harper for unspent funding on veterans during 2015 campaign







Since taking office, the Liberals have reopened nine Veterans Affairs offices and rehired roughly 470 front-line staff who work closely with veterans. This includes roughly 260 case managers, who serve as the first point of contact for many veterans as they work to access the benefits they need and deserve.

The government also says it will invest an additional $10 billion more for veterans than the previous Conservative government had planned to. Much of this money will go toward enhancing services and creating new benefits, such as reinstating pensions for life and providing new educational opportunities, according to the government.


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Still, with money left unspent each year at VAC, the NDP says it’s time the parties come together to support a plan that will see veterans receive the benefits they “need and deserve.”

“And if the service levels were adequate, efficient and they were meeting their own standards then maybe the money wouldn’t need to be spent,” Singh said.

“[But it] is not acceptable that veterans are promised funding and that’s effectively robbed from them, year after year.”

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Kingston city councillor proposes good neighbour policy for leaves, snow removal – Kingston

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As the seasons begin to change in Kingston, the ground is covered with orange, red and yellow leaves.


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For one local couple, trading swimsuits and sunshine for rakes and snowblowers is nothing new. Doug and Jill Spettigue have lived in their home on the shores of Lake Ontario for over 40 years, and each year they look out the window and see leaves and snow accumulate on their front lawn.

“We enjoy raking leaves and preparing for the snow that we know will fall during the winter months,” said Jill.


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The Spettigues are doing their part to ensure that the leaves and snow in their yard are piled properly so that they do not spread to neighbouring properties — a duty that Coun. Jim Neill says many Kingstonians are failing to do.

“I’ve had several complaints about neighbours who blew snow and raked leaves onto their property, and we’ve always tried to negotiate with that neighbour, but we need a good neighbour policy,” said Neill.

Neill continued by saying that he wrote a good neighbour bylaw, but the municipal act doesn’t allow for it because the city already enforces rules for blowing snow and/or leaves onto roadways and city property. Still, he says a similar policy was enacted in Calgary and seems to have worked.

“A way in which this can be resolved between neighbours without making it a legal bylaw is this policy. We have staff looking into it, and I’m looking forward to Kingston adopting a similar policy,” said Neill.


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The Spettigues say a bylaw is not the answer because being a Kingstonian comes with a certain pride, and it should be reflected on the city’s streets.

On Tuesday evening, the policy will be brought to city council, and Neill says he is confident it will be passed unanimously.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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