July 7:  Raising funds to pay for garden supplies and programs.  Join up at Britannia School Garden with  community members who care about school gardening, socialize, have fun, and support a great cause. An in-the-garden event featuring a gourmet dinner, live music, silent auction, homemade pies, and games and activities for all ages.
Tickets: $30 adults, $15 youth, children under 6 are free. Tickets at Britannia Info Centre.

"The Britannia School Garden is one of Grandview Woodland Food Connection (GWFC)'s  main programs, acknowledging that healthy food choice should start at a young age.   We work with approximately 100 students, connecting them to the food they eat, learning and growing.  For most students, planting seeds, caring for the garden, then harvesting and eating veggies that they grew is an empowering experience."  CCEC member Ian Marcuse,  GWFC Coordinator (a Neighbourhood Food Network member) which support food access for Grandview Woodland and nearby residents who are struggling financially. 

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Hunger in Canada is not about the lack of food.  People are food insecure because they can’t afford to eat.  Poverty is a multi-dimensional problem.  We know that the systemic causes of poverty cannot be addressed overnight.  But, we need to put in place a Government-wide integrated approach to addressing the systemic issues of poverty based on the principles of social inclusion and collaboration.  And that we need to start with income.

Meet CCEC Member, the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks and its’ member sponsors, Ian Marcuse and Joanne MacKinnon.  Ian says, “As the price of food escalates, increasing numbers of households are feeling the food affordability squeeze.  We are seeing more people coming to our programs that include community kitchens, community meals and food hampers (bulk buying and free baskets).  We are feeling under pressure as we need to expand our existing food programs and establish new food programs to serve those in need.  Ideally, rather than expanding existing food security programming, we would prefer to tackle the systems that result in food insecurity and end poverty."

So, who is going hungry?  We have a growing population of working poor in Canada whose wages do not cover basic necessities.  2/3 of food insecure people are working.  We know that inadequate wages, shrinking social assistance rates, meager pensions, illness and disability are at the heart of food insecurity.  More than 4 million people in Canada are unsure about where they’ll eat next or skip meals so their kids can eat.   1 in 8 people are food insecure but only 25% access the food bank.

The Neighbourhood Food Networks, with 12 part-time funded coordinators, are part of the Greenest City Action Plan to address food security and to increase all residents’ access to healthy, culturally appropriate food.  Joanne MacKinnon says, “We believe in the right-to-food, and social justice are at the forefront of our philosophy and how we approach our work.”  She continues, “We work with our program participants but are engaged and contribute their diverse skills and talents toward co-creating a just and sustainable neighbourhood food system.”

Part of the solution is for BC, who is the only province in Canada without a Poverty Reduction Strategy and Canada, who lacks a comprehensive policy to step up and put in place the strategies and policies around food justice.  According to CCEC Member, Raise the Rates, Canada has a Poverty Policy.  This needs to change.

But, Do Poverty Reduction Strategies work?  Let’s look at Newfoundland and Labrador's Poverty Reduction Strategy which is a government-wide (13 Ministries) approach to promoting self-reliance, opportunity, and access to key supports for persons vulnerable to poverty.  The strategy, introduced in 2006, includes more than 90 initiatives that were created based on an intensive public consultation process.  Their cross Ministerial approach developed strategies to address the linkages between poor health and low income, between low income employment and limited economic development, between poverty and violence and impacts on women’s equality, and the need to support persons with disabilities.  How do they know it is working?  Just one indicator shows that it is working: food insecurity has been reduced by 50%. 

The bottom line is that we should be supporting employees fighting for fair, livable wages.  It’s time that politicians, backed by citizen voices, talk about justice and equity.  It’s time to create real, long lasting solutions to poverty and hunger, policies that bring us together, rather than divide us as citizens.

In BC, we have 17 government ministries that work with vulnerable populations and, often-times, they seem to be working at cross purposes.  We know that the systemic causes of poverty cannot be addressed overnight.  But, we know we need to get started.  Next year, 2017, is a BC Provincial Government election.  Make your vote count.

The Neigbhourhood Food Network and its’ coordinators at the local level are unique and separate in that we respond to community needs with grassroots solutions. But, together, we represent the experiences of thousands of individuals across the city, giving us an important role to play in advocacy and systems change.

Learn more about the Neighbourhood Food Networks and support our work. 

And, sign on to end poverty in Canada:   

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Meet CCEC member, John Hemsworth, lead design architect with Hemsworth Architects, who received a 2016 Governor General's Medal in Architecture for his BC Passive House Factory design located in Pemberton. 

John says that he got involved in passive housing as a client, Durfeld Constructors, who had assembled Austria House (the first Passive House in Canada built for the 2010 Olympics) contracted him to design their state of the art factory. 


Why we belong to CCEC:  

"We have been members of the CCEC for a number of years now
and very much appreciate the small town feeling of the bank.  
In a world dominated by multinational corporate self interest, 
it is always a pleasure  to walk into the CCEC and feel welcomed.”  

John Hemsworth



The factory, for which he received the design award, is the first of its kind in North America and will facilitate the advancement of sustainable, energy-efficient, wood-based construction.  John says, “There is a growing interest in North America for solid wood construction, ie glulam and cross laminated timber.  And BC is a leader in the design and production.”  The client, BC Passive House (BCPH), mandated that the design and construction of their new facility exemplify their investment in wood construction, prefabrication, energy efficiency, and sustainable design practice.  The new 1,500-square-metre facility is used for the manufacturing of prefabricated Passive House panels and was conceived as a simple, light-filled, wooden box.

So, what is passive housing?  Watch the video to learn more in 90 seconds: 

Passive House Explained in 90 Seconds from Hans-Jörn Eich on Vimeo.

John says that the key advantages of passive housing are:  90% reduction in energy use; no furnace so no fossil fuels; and overall better air quality in the house

Matheo Durfeld, CEO BC Passive House says, “Hemsworth Architecture exceeded our ambitions for our project by designing a stunning, yet robust and cost effective building…that reflects our commitment to sustainable design methods.”

John applies his diverse experience in architectural design, mechanical engineering, environmental initiatives, and community development work to further our commitment to an environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive architecture.

With over 16 years of architectural experience, John has been involved with all aspects of architectural services, including: feasibility studies, programming, design, contract documents and construction administration. His work has been recognized with numerous provincial and national awards.

Congratulations, John! 

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During WW2 in Britain, the government introduced rationing to make sure that people got an equal amount of food every week.  Rationing lasted 14 years, ‘Dig For Victory’ gardens were everywhere, and the health of all improved, infant mortality decreased, and life expectancy increased.  Before the Second World War started Britain imported about 55 million tons of food a year from other countries.  During the war as supply lines were impacted, they had to take measures to increase their food self-sufficiency. The government was worried that as food became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford to eat.

Compare the food basket during rationing with what a person on welfare can buy in BC today:

We need to raise the rate! Read our blog on Raise the Rate or visit their Website.

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Even Warren Buffet is saying, “Tax me!”  So why do we think that people living in Vancouver can survive on $610 per month?   In the most expensive City to live in North America (2013)  singles on welfare get only $610.

It is 10 years since Raise the Rates was established (and joined CCEC), but we would prefer that there was no need for them to exist. If only our politicians would buy-in to a living wage for all residents, and agree that it is not acceptable that BC has had the highest child poverty rate in Canada.   800,000 British Columbians are living in poverty, and that 1 in 8 people are food insecure.  Did you know that the poverty line in BC is around $1,500 a month?

Poverty is a political choice. We can afford to abolish poverty.  We are the only province that doesn’t have a Poverty Reduction Strategy.  Two recent polls showed that 78% of people in BC want a poverty reduction plan and the most important issue is poverty, housing, and homelessness.  More British Columbians are having difficulty dealing with the increasing cost of living, and are compromising on our food choices as our real incomes have stagnated.(BIV Insights West BC Gov’t Report Card, May 2016).  And, we know that hunger is a result of poverty.  Are you surprised that at least half of the new Canadians (Syrian refugees), are using the Food Bank? 

Basic welfare has been frozen at $610 a month since April 2007.  Bill Hopwood, Organizer and Activist with Raise the Rates says, “Nine years ago, you could rent a crummy SRO in the Downtown Eastside for $375 a month, now the average cheapest rent is $517.  Rents for the worst housing has increased $142 in 9 years, but no increase in welfare.  After rent and other necessities, a person on welfare has $93 left each month to pay for food, clothing, hygiene, a phone and transit which means $10 a week for food.  The cost of living index has gone up 15%.”  At the recent Vancouver Food Summit held at Gordon Neighbourhood House, the panel on Poverty: What can food policy do?  unanimously agreed that the Welfare Food Challenge, the annual event for Raise the Rates is impossible.  You simply cannot eat a healthy diet living on welfare.  In 2015, Kathy Romses, Dietician and Challenge Participant commented, “Social isolation was a challenge as meals with family and friends or meetings at the coffee shop were not an option.  Trying to guard limited food doesn’t help build or maintain relationships with friends and family.”

For people with disabilities the government announced the first increase in 9 years on the rate of $906 – up by $77.  That is not even half of what is needed to keep pace with inflation.  BUT, they stole most of it back.  They scrapped the free bus pass and now people have to pay $52 a month for the pass so the increase is only $25 a month.  Compare BC with Alberta’s rate at $1,588 a month.

Poverty is a political choice.The government makes it as difficult as possible to even claim welfare - watch the video -


while being extra generous to very rich.  Last year the government gave $227 million in tax cuts to the richest people in BC on top of the $billions they have already received in tax handouts. The minimum wage was increased by 20 cents an hour and no increase in welfare.  Bill says, “The government chooses to feed the rich by starving workers and the poor.” 

One of the biggest challenges facing Raise the Rates according to Bill is keeping their activists confident when they see the abject failure of politicians to take seriously raising welfare rates.  Everyone in BC should live above the poverty line – we can afford it, it would make BC a much healthier place and in the medium term save money. Read the report from Policy Alternatives on the Cost of Poverty.  How can politicians support policies that keep people in poverty?  Yet, Bill say, “Can you tell me a politician who is advocating for welfare of $1,500 a month?”

Movements make change and we have to build public support to push politicians to act.  Welfare Rates need to be Raised.  Raise the Rates will continue to campaign.

JUSTICE not CHARITY.  WE need a HAND UP not a HAND OUT.  Isn’t it time we took a stand?  2017 is a Provincial election year.  Get involved.  Make your vote count.  

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Say NO to Kinder Morgan.

The National Energy Board has approved the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline with numerous conditions.  “It was always likely to be approved.  But we know this megaproject is not in the economic and social interests of our members” says Helesia Luke, CCEC Board Member.  Vancouver Mayor Robertson says, “NEB pipeline process a 'sham,' new Liberal plan not much better.”  Peter McCartney, Climate Campaigner with the Wilderness Committee says, “The NEB has ignored and wasted the time of countless communities, First Nations and individuals who have stood up to oppose this irresponsible pipeline proposal.” 

McCartney continues by saying, “British Columbians have made it crystal clear this pipeline is not welcome in our communities.  No new process is going to change the widespread Indigenous opposition, the unacceptable risk of a spill, the massive climate impacts or the shoddy economics of this project.”

You may recall that CCEC Credit Union was granted Intervenor status, the only financial institution to do so.  We held a public forum in June 2014, over concern that the NEB process was not open, accessible and objective.  We wanted to make the debate more public and complete.  Read the blog

We need everyone to turn out to the meetings in the coming months to show Ottawa and the rest of the country that when we say no – we mean it.  We also need to turn the heat up on our MPs in the Lower Mainland.  Write letters, call offices, show up at events.  Our representatives must put a stop to this! 

Speak Out Against Kinder Morgan!  Learn more – see the map posted by the Wilderness Committee of community and First Nation concerns, and a pledge form where you can find out details of the meetings as they become clear.



Click the articles for more information:

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We all know the Georgia Viaducts are being removed.  But what happens to the traffic?  Many on Prior Street want the traffic rerouted.  What is the best option between Malkin Avenue or National Avenue to move the traffic in and out of the City? 

It is clear that Malkin should NOT be considered as it forces profitable businesses, this urban ‘produce row’ for food distribution, and their employees out of Vancouver.  Truck services to the 6 food wholesalers on Malkin cannot be handled on the street if it is to be a traffic artery.  This food hub is key to city residents, city institutions and hotels, cruise ships and more. It is a food security issue in the event of an earthquake. This is urgent!  Time is short as City staff are to release a draft plan to the public in June, produce a final plan in the summer, with the recommendation scheduled to go to council in the fall.

Click here to see the list of Councilors, their email addresses and phone numbers.  Email, phone and Tweet to get the Councilors to Vote NO to Malkin Avenue.

So, what’s at stake and what is the background? 

The issue has been under discussion for a few years.  Key considerations stated in the False Creek Flats Prior/Venables Replacement document to guide the decision include:

  • The impact on three community gardens: Cottonwood Community Garden, Strathcona Community Garden, and the Purple Thistle; and
  • The impact on ‘Produce Row’ where currently 6 of the City’s 9 produce wholesalers* are found along Malkin Avenue, representing approximately 450 local jobs.  These businesses combined receive approximately 4,000 truck deliveries a week, and often block traffic on Malkin while manoeuvering. 

* Including CCEC Member, Discovery Organics who recently relocated to Malkin Avenue.

Click here to read the Open House information boards

Randy Hopper, Co-Owner, Discovery Organics says, “If we are forced to move to the suburbs, this will likely increase fruit and vegetable prices by 3%, and other companies down here are suggesting 6% when the costs of new buildings and millions of dollars of new coolers are factored in.”  Currently, the Food Bank and Agencies serving food secure vulnerable populations in the City with community kitchens, community meals and food distribution programs will lose their capacity to pick up donated produce for use in their programs.”  He continues, “Vancouver will be one of the very, very few major cities in North America without a produce distribution centre in close proximity to the city core.  And, the independent, small local grocery stores and restaurants will lose their capacity to pick up daily from several suppliers in close proximity."

So, it make sense to NOT choose the Malkin Avenue option but to choose an option that minimizes impact to Cottonwood Community (and other community) Gardens; avoids impact to Produce Row; contributes most to the City’s Greenest City Action Plan; creates local green jobs; and builds our City’s capacity to be one of North America’s most robust local food economies.  A Tyee article in 2010 on creating a local food hub stated, “The distribution houses on Produce Row have, for over a century, done a great job of keeping Vancouver, and all points east, fed.”  It also quoted our new City Manager S. Johston as saying, "Over 25% of an individual's carbon footprint is related to food,"  He continued by acknowledging that, “the city recognizes the strong need for an urban distribution centre for local food.”

In 2103, Motions forwarded to Council from the Transportation and Environment Committee discussing the Dunsmuir and Georgia Viaducts that were unanimously approved by Council states:

THAT Council direct staff to incorporate…an urban agriculture "centre of excellence", including the potential for an "urban food" production centre with an expanded future garden system, through optimizing the existing assets in the area, which include: Strathcona and Cottonwood Gardens; and the key food warehousing and shipping infrastructure on Malkin Street.; and

THAT a guiding principle be modified to read:  to "maintain an efficient network of arterial streets essential for goods movement to support jobs and the economy.”

Recently, a Produce Row business sent a letter to his customers urging them to forward it to City Council.  In the letter, it says, “It’s very likely that several, if not all Produce Row businesses will be forced to relocate or close.  It will be an end to their history in the community and the jobs they provide.  This will also mean considerably reduced availability of produce for my business and my customers.  Food quality will decrease and food prices will rise due to longer transportation routes.  It also means fewer much-needed donations to nearby food banks in Vancouver, as the produce supply will be too far away to transport economically. Finally, it probably means the loss of potential economic synergies and job opportunities that could come from fostering the growth of a hub of food and food-related businesses in this area.”

Ian Marcuse, CCEC Member and the Grandview Woodland Food Connection Coordinator who has spoken at Council against the Malkin Avenue option says, "Our mandate to support healthy and equitable food access for the roughly 20% of individuals and households living in Grandview Woodland who are food insecure, is strongly supported by the Malkin Avenue food wholesalers from which we purchase quality produce for our Bulk Food Club.”  He continues by saying, “In fact, the only reason that we have been able to make this bulk food program affordable for the 60 or so households dependent on it, is due to the close proximity of these food warehouses.  The potential loss if these food wholesalers from the inner city and inevitable increase in cost for us if we have to travel much further to access food will have significant impact on our community members who are struggling". 

Councilor Geoff Meggs speak in support of protecting Produce Row and the importance of it for our food system, for people’s livelihoods and for small businesses across Vancouver. Despite this support, it is not enough.  With all the arguments against the Malkin Avenue option and direction from Council, why does it seem that city staff continue to push for it?  We urge CCEC Members to write to City Councilors and City staff working directly or indirectly on this to NOT choose Malkin Avenue. 

Click here to see the list of Councilors, their email addresses and phone numbers.  Email, phone and Tweet to have Councilors Vote NO to Malkin Avenue.

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Dan Lewis, a grassroots protester who participated 20 years ago in one of the largest acts of civil disobedience in Canadian history, has started Clayoquot Action to address the areas’ new threats.  The area known as the “Last Great Rainforest” is threatened by a proposed open pit copper mine by Imperial Metals, salmon farms, and the risk of oil spills if pipelines are built from Alberta to BC. 

Dan moved to Tofino in 1991 to operate ocean kayak tours in an area he calls the best kayaking locale in BC.  However, he quickly realized he had to get involved in conservation efforts out of self-defense.  He says, “The places I loved to visit, the wildlife living there, and my own livelihood was being put at risk by transnational corporations.”  He adds that, “Through this work I met people like my current partner Bonny Glambeck who helped me understand the linkages between various forms of oppression—that racism and sexism are related to human’s destruction of the environment.”

Looking back at the Clayoquot Summer 1993, he says, “As a movement we learned that when many people come together and contribute their talents, time and money, great things can be accomplished.  Using feminist consensus process, we were able to create joint actions in which all participants had a sense of ownership.”  Fast forward 20 years and Clayoquot Action is taking a fresh approach working to protect biocultural diversity using research, education, and peaceful direct action.  The conservation group stands for indigenous rights, democratic rights, and the rights of Mother Earth. 

Dan says the conservation movement has changed.  He says, “It's hard to believe that we were able to organize the mass protests (12,000 people participated) by faxing posters to health food stores.”  He comments on the changes noting that social media has made it easier to communicate and organize; environmental threats are taken far more seriously with most people acknowledge that mining disasters and oil spills are bad, and that climate change is real.  He feels there was a real awakening of ecological consciousness in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and it feels like such times are upon us again.

Clayoquot Sound is a household name because of past environmental battles, in particular environmentalists working in solidarity with First Nations.  The Nuuchahnulth nations have never surrendered their sovereignty, and still have the knowledge and ability to manage their territories.  Dan says that many people think Clayoquot was protected after the 1993 protests, but this is not true.  He believes that Clayoquot Sound is a symbol of hope.  Your support is needed to ban open pit mining to prevent a Mount-Polley-type disaster, and stop the pipelines to prevent the risk of an oil spill. 

Even if you never go to Tofino and Clayoquot Sound, we all have a responsibility to protect the environment and fight the transnational corporations from destroying our land.

If you find yourself in Tofino in July or August, check out Clayoquot Sound of Freedom,  every Tuesdays at 8pm.  Free admission. 

For more information and to lend your support: 

·         1-877-422-9453

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Starting a public conversation in our country about the crime of sexual assault. 

CCEC Member Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is a long time champion women’s rights and fair treatment before the law. Recent court decisions and reported incidents have brought the issue to public prominence once again.  

Regardless of whether you feel the verdict in the Ghomeshi case was justified, it has prompted mainstream media to print editorials including  Time to drop the distinct crime of sexual assault and not as main stream to continue the conversation such as, Ghomeshi: a post verdict update in the Oracle.

In response to a video posted on facebook that went viral called, Your offender isn't a creep': One woman's story of reporting a sexual assault”, Louisa Russell, Spokesperson for the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter  says, “I thought she was brave to speak out about the violence committed against her in her own name. Her experience is typical of what women tell us on our crisis line. I fully agreed with what she said about not going alone to the Police.” 

She continues by saying that her organization carried out a research project on attrition rates in Canada and found that the likelihood of a case proceeding to court went up drastically if the woman took an independent women's advocate with her.  Representatives of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter stay beside a woman throughout the criminal justice process and help prepare her for what to expect. Louisa says, “We know that most women do not want to use the police but for the 30% of our callers that do we go out of our way to make sure she gets the best response possible.” 

Be sure to support the work of the Women’s Shelter in their Annual Walk on May 29.  Funds raised will help pay for the operating costs of the rape crisis centre, the help-line, the transition house including food, transportation for women to get to safety, attend support groups and legal clinics, creating sexual assault prevention materials and public education in the community.

The outcome of the recent high-profile sexual assault case in Toronto prompted Jackie Stevens, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre in Halifax to say, “we want to express our deep admiration and respect for the survivors who so courageously came forward in this case. Their willingness to come forward has started a public conversation in our country about the crime of sexual assault, a conversation we hope will help create a safer environment for others to come forward.”

Sexual assault is not the survivor's fault and is a violent crime. What clothes a person wore, where they were, who they were with, or whether they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their assault is irrelevant. The only person responsible for a sexual assault is the person who commits the crime.

For more information and to support the work of Rape Relief:

Tel: 604 872 8212


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Did you know?  In Vancouver:

  •  65,000 people who are spending more than 50% of their income on housing are facing homelessness. 
  • BC Housing has 5 year wait list. One person was told he better be prepared to go to a shelter as there are an awful lot of people like him on fixed incomes and facing renovictions.
  • More than half of Vancouverites live in rental housing.  But more than 81 per cent of the current rental housing was built in the 50’s and needs upgrading.
  •  People most affected are too busy surviving and lack the capacity to fight. 

Meet CCEC Member and Inman Award Nominee, The Social Housing Alliance (SHA), who are changing their name to Alliance Against Displacement.  They feel this will better represent their movement's roots in displacement due to real estate, and Indigeneous displacement due to resource extraction.  Sign up for their newspaper, The Volcano, and learn how our low-income, working class & Indigenous communities are struggling for social justice in Vancouver & in BC. 

Why we belong to CCEC:  
CCEC reflects our movement’s values.

Housing, like food, is a basic human right.  We all need affordable, good, secure housing to live a healthy life, to enjoy our friends and families, and to contribute to our communities.  Vancouver and BC has a housing crisis.

Those at risk of being homeless are not only in the Downtown Eastside.  For example, SFU students are evicted from student housing; and renoviction is becoming too common in the Metrotown area.  It used to be that you were evicted for being a bad tenant. Today, you’re more likely to be evicted because you’re in the way of someone maximizing their profit.

Letizia Waddington, volunteer organizer says, “We see the need to organize on a daily basis, the challenge is that people most affected are too busy surviving, and the greater proportion of British Columbians believe that they will be fine with working hard.”


Their platform to end the housing crisis in BC is: 

·         BUILD 10,000 units of good quality social housing per year.

·         FUND and support community-based solutions to the housing crisis.

·         PRIORITIZE social housing for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and those most discriminated against.

·         SAVE existing low-rent housing.

·         PROTECT and empower tenants.

·         INCLUDE everyone who needs housing.

For more information:  The website is being updated. 


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