Online organizing experiment a success, says Dunbar Earthquake & Emergency Preparedness (DEEP) group

DEEP has quietly been continuing work towards building a stronger and more resilient community. In response to COVID restrictions, we decided to redesign our Map Your Neighbourhood (MYN) tool and make it easier to meet via Zoom to learn about the nine important steps to follow immediately after a disaster – starting with securing your home and then helping your neighbourhood.

The first online experiment was led by long-time volunteer leader Colin Gray, who ran two meetings to introduce his neighbours to the idea of forming an emergency support group. Their block ‘circle’ focused on neighbours whose houses back onto the lane, as many already meet doing daily tasks like parking, garbage and recycling.

Both meetings were facilitated by the short, connected videos that address the challenges a neighbourhood could face in any emergency, especially an earthquake. The award-winning video sequence was created by the Washington State Emergency Management and adopted by DEEP to foster neighbourhood support groups able to respond effectively to an emergency. As everyone knows, a major disaster will severely limit the ability of first responders to help citizens, as their immediate priority will be to protect schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure.

The initial MYN online trial attracted 15 households with 10 more joining later. DEEP coordinators set up the Zoom meeting and Colin served as DEEP contact for neighbours after the meeting. This first COVID-era emergency support group now has 25 households participating, with more than half the homes on the block signed up.

If you are interested in learning more about this program or starting a group on your block, please reach out – we are here to help get you started. Contact us at

Dunbar Little League brings neighbours together at the ball diamond

By Joyce Gillespie

Dunbar Little League (DLL) – have you heard about it? Have you seen the large white lettering on the big green sign at Memorial Park West along West 33rd Avenue? Have you seen the number of players and families enjoying games at the park? Perhaps you’ve thought: “Baseball? Isn’t that a sport for boys? Isn’t that rather boring? I am pretty sure my child would not be interested in baseball.”

DLL is so much more than just baseball. Without question, it is the most community-minded sports organization on the west side of Vancouver. Our league is composed of girls and boys ages 4-12 who live or attend school only in Dunbar. The baseball season is short (typically 8-10 weeks), running from April to the third week in June and all practices and games are played at Memorial Park West and Balaclava Park. Our teams, in the regular season, only play each other and after six decades in operation, this has proven to be the winning formula for our neighbourhood. What was established by Ralph Stong (yes, of that Stong’s) over 60 years ago and continues to this day, is the notion that when children only play games with and against their friends and neighbours, the community comes together under a common goal, and that is to create a safe, fun, engaging environment for the entire family and indeed, the entire neighbourhood.

DLL is a completely volunteer-run organization and the pride of tradition and caring for our community is evident in the incredible levels of neighbourhood engagement that extends well beyond one’s years spent in Little League.

Although we put great focus on building our community and providing an environment for neighbours to become friends, we also work diligently to provide a well-developed and competitive baseball program. DLL has an extensive development program that helps players of all abilities achieve whatever level of success they choose, whether it’s playing for fun with their friends, or working to make an All-Star team to play teams from around the province. We also provide training for parents and caregivers to contribute to their child’s baseball experience as a coach.

We hope you will consider joining us for the coming baseball season. Registration opened Oct. 1 and the season starts April 9. We look forward to getting to know you and your family. After all, this is what DLL is all about!


Vandals hit the Dunbar Lawn Bowling Club and DLL on Oct. 2-3. Want to help? Go to:

Butterflies, benches & a boost for those living with dementia

Angus McIntyre demonstrates part of the history of Balaclava Park

By Andrea Sara

Imagine a lovely bench in a boulevard garden where people, especially those living with dementia, can rest in the sun or shade, surrounded by pops of bright flowers while listening to the sounds of birds and bees and watching butterflies dance and play.

That idyllic scenario is the potential outcome of two Dunbar-area initiatives that have coincidentally been developing together over the past year. One initiative encourages the creation of habitat for pollinators; the other encourages those with dementia to participate in community life and works to ensure their access to physical and social opportunities.

The dementia project, combining the efforts of the DRA, the Westside Seniors Hub and UBC Nursing, grew out of a desire by many in the community to find ways of helping isolated seniors during the early days of the pandemic. Since the DRA is not a United Way-sponsored community services organization, it was outside its scope to assist with delivering groceries and medications.

 Instead, the DRA worked with the Dunbar Youth Network to develop a database of neighbourhood benches and picnic tables that could be used in creating a map of supportive walking routes. All along the routes would be stops where people could rest on a bench or share a socially distanced conversation at a picnic table over a coffee and a sandwich.  A big thank-you to Sophia Bi for compiling the database and riding her bike around the neighbourhood snapping photos of all the benches and picnic tables.

Separately, but at the same time, a group of neighbourhood parents began an environmental stewardship project. The Balaclava Pollinators, part of the David Suzuki Foundation Butterflyway program, have been building indigenous-plant butterflyway pollinator habitat gardens on boulevards, pathways, front yards and Green Street corner gardens.

The DRA hopes to integrate these garden plots into the walking map so people can plan neighbourhood walks that include beautiful boulevard gardens. Ideally, as in the scenario described above, benches could be incorporated into the gardens so walkers can stop to rest amidst flowers, birds and butterflies.

The dementia and pollinator projects are also coming together at Balaclava Park, where the Balaclava Pollinators have built a demonstration butterfly pollinator habitat garden to educate people about native pollinator plants that attract B.C. butterfly species. A wheelchair-height raised planter box has been added to the garden, so those who use a wheelchair or walker can participate. This new initiative, called the Fireweed Club, is part of the dementia project, which is officially known as ‘Building Capacity for Meaningful Participation by People Living with Dementia’ under the Public Health Agency of Canada and a new federally funded Dementia Community Investment strategy.

A celebration was to be held October 1st at Balaclava Park to showcase all the 2021 Building Capacity initiatives by the partner organizations of the Westside Seniors Hub. Due to the continued social restrictions of the pandemic, many of the partner initiatives focused on outdoor programs and virtual programs. The partner projects can be seen at these websites: and

At the October 1st event, the DRA showcased its 2021 contributions to building a Dementia Friendly Dunbar via the mapping project, as well as showcasing the self-guided and virtual walking tours developed for Salmonberry Days.

This fall and winter, the Balaclava Pollinators will focus on planting perennial herbs and greens and on workshops with eco-artists to learn about the various uses of fresh dried herbs. If you would like to participate, please email Andrea at

Check out Vancouver Public Library’s Dunbar Branch

By Andrea Brown, (former) Dunbar Branch head

The Dunbar Branch is open, and you are welcome to visit! Vancouver Public Library locations are following all current public health guidelines. The library continues to be a place where everyone is invited to discover, create and share ideas and information (both in-person and online)!

Please ask a friendly Dunbar branch staff member if you have questions, could use some reading suggestions, and/or would like help placing requests for specific items from the library’s collection.


Library cardholders can borrow downloadable ebooks and audiobooks, read digital magazines and newspapers, and stream movies and music for free using an internet-connected device! Here are some examples of VPL’s extensive digital resource offerings:

Career Cruising:  Comprehensive Canadian career guide providing detailed listings of 550 occupations, including education and training information.

Creativebug:  Enjoy unlimited arts and crafts project suggestions, workshops, and techniques by top designers and artists via streaming video.

LinkedIn Learning:  LinkedIn Learning offers video courses in business, computer technology, software, and creative skills, all conducted by experts in their fields.

Livres Numériques (French language ebooks):  A collection of French-language ebooks from Canadian and European publishers. Includes popular fiction as well as titles from a wide range of subjects.

Mango Languages:  Over 70 self-paced language-learning courses.  Classical music streaming library featuring over 1,600 classical music videos, concerts, operas, ballets, documentaries and more.

Naxos Music Library:  A music streaming service featuring classical, jazz, folk, and world music.

PressReader:  Full-page images of 5,000 newspapers and magazines from 100 countries.

Vancouver Indie Authors Collection:  Collection of self-published books by local authors.

VPL to Go (OverDrive):  Extensive selection of popular fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audiobooks.

Questions? Please connect with us in-person, by phone, or online:

Vancouver Public Library – Dunbar Branch: 4515 Dunbar Street (on the corner of Dunbar Street and West 29th Avenue). Call: 604-665-3968 or visit us at:

TRANSITIONS: Andrea Brown announced October 1st that she was leaving her position as Dunbar Branch library head to take another library job in Ontario. The DRA wishes her well and thanks her for all her help during her time in Dunbar. As of October 12th, Katherine Parker took over as acting branch head. She can be reached at or at 604-665-3986.

Walks, video mark Salmonberry Days in COVID times

By Angus McIntyre

The Salmonberry Days Committee cancelled the annual May event in March of 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. For May of 2021 we created a printed set of self-guided historical neighbourhood walks that are also available in video form. Three more videos were added to a new YouTube channel: Terry Slack on the history of the Fraser River Trail, a look at Kitsilano Beach with David Cook and a Dunbar Back Lane Tour.

VIDEOS: You can view them by logging onto YouTube. In the Search Window enter: Angus McIntyre, and click on the large red letter A for the videos.

Dunbar’s Salmonberry Days attracted the attention of a UBC student, who kindly provided us with the following:

“My name is Akhila A. Varghese, and I’m a fifth-year international student at UBC (Vancouver) studying food, nutrition and health in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.

“From UBC CCEL, through the Storytelling Sessions-workshop series, I connected with Andrea Sara, community planner and organizer for the Dunbar Residents’ Association about Dunbar’s annual Salmonberry Days. It was fascinating to learn about the events held in the month of May, focusing on the environment, conservation and nature. Through the project, I was invited to connect with the community elders who started and continue to host Salmonberry Days. I met Angus McIntyre, Helen Spiegelman, Terry Slack and Sonia Wicken. We gathered at Pacific Spirit Park, where Terry and Helen met for the first time, to conduct an interview about the history and beginnings of Salmonberry Days.

“It was exciting to learn about the time before the creation of Pacific Spirit Park that old cars, TV sets and refrigerators were dumped off old trails, the story of the herons on school grounds and the vintage bus tours. I hope to weave the stories and interviews together to create a digital space and presence for Salmonberry Days. I’m looking forward to learning more stories.” As for 2022, the planning committee normally meets in January, and perhaps by that time we may know where to go next. The Dunbar Community Centre Association has advised us that they are optimistic for the future, but uncertain if they will host the Salmonberry Fair next year. They plan to keep patrons informed with updates on their website, and through the DRA Newsletter. The Salmonberry Days Committee plans a similar approach.

Cutting bus stops cuts quality of life for Dunbar residents

I take the route 25 bus to the Canada Line once a week for physiotherapy downtown. Earlier this year, I arrived at my southbound bus stop at 21st Avenue and Dunbar to find a notice that TransLink was eliminating certain bus stops to speed up service and improve reliability.

By Angus McIntyre

While my stop survived, those at 19th and 23rd Avenues were removed, leaving four-block gaps between stops and only two stops remaining between 16th Avenue and King Edward. The 7 Dunbar service at these two stops was also removed, even though only route 25 was part of the “Bus Stop Balancing” program. Routes 2 and 17 have also had some bus stops eliminated, although a few have been reinstalled.

I take the route 25 bus to the Canada Line once a week for physiotherapy downtown. Earlier this year, I arrived at my southbound bus stop at 21st Avenue and Dunbar to find a notice that TransLink was eliminating certain bus stops to speed up service and improve reliability. While my stop survived, those at 19th and 23rd Avenues were removed, leaving four-block gaps between stops and only two stops remaining between 16th Avenue and King Edward. The 7 Dunbar service at these two stops was also removed, even though only route 25 was part of the “Bus Stop Balancing” program. Routes 2 and 17 have also had some bus stops eliminated, although a few have been reinstalled.

A transit map shows that most of the city of Vancouver has a bus route nearby, but the area west of Dunbar Street has no transit service until you get to UBC. Camosun Street is almost a kilometre from Dunbar. Our neighbourhood has hills – the second-highest point in the city after Queen Elizabeth Park is Dunbar and 26th Avenue. Before a bus stop is eliminated, TransLink planners should take a close look at whether hills are involved and the proximity to schools, community centres and shops.

Walking time is important as well, and signs at eliminated bus stops suggest a “walking time” to the “new stop.” On a level street, the three minutes suggested is how long it took me, but a senior with a walker, a parent with children or a person with a seeing-eye dog will take longer.

I don’t think consideration has been given to the terrain, particularly the steep King Edward hill, and there is also a disconnect between the bus-stop-balancing principle and TransLink’s core values

It seems TransLink has changed from the company that was very conscious of providing mobility and increased quality of life to a minority. The journey of the majority sometimes took a little longer while bus ramps were lowered – which was the attitude that helped make ours a world-class transit system. TransLink has now decided to make the time on the bus shorter for the majority by making the walking/wheeling time longer for the minority.

Route 25 bus stops in both directions at King Edward and Collingwood were eliminated, which has had a major impact on one Dunbar resident’s life. “I have never driven. I use transit, and this deeply affects the way I live my life,” said the resident, who preferred not to be named.

“Dunbar has a rich resource of stores and amenities close at hand, and I use local tradespeople who know me and my house. All my health and other service providers were/are selected on the basis of whether they can be reached by the #25 or #7 or adding at the most one other bus or the Canada Line. With all of this I planned to age in place, and if I should become too frail to walk up the hill to Dunbar I would get on the #25 westbound at Collingwood to access Dunbar itself and/or the #7. Now that stop has disappeared.”

DRA president Bruce Gilmour, who is blind and travels with his seeing-eye dog Marley, says the changes are having serious and long-term effects on the quality of life of transit-dependent residents, causing anxiety and disorientation and reducing their independence.

People who are blind or visually impaired “cannot see cardboard signage saying the stop is de-activated,” he said. “We cannot access information technology as simply as peers to research what is or is not an active bus stop.” It’s especially confusing when a stop serves several routes, and buses don’t stop there even if their route hasn’t undergone the so-called bus-balancing, he said.

Construction cranes at St. George’s Senior School

By Neil Piller, Director of Operations, St. George’s School

After approximately 10 years of planning, consultation and awaiting city approval, the building permit for two new senior school academic buildings and dining/gathering hall at St. George’s School was finally issued by the City of Vancouver in mid-June.

Work is well underway, with two shiny white tower cranes now overlooking the corner of West 29th Avenue and Camosun Street. Most of the bulk excavation work for the underground parking is complete, and shoring and final detailed excavation is expected to be completed by the end of September.

Over the next six months, the concrete structure of the academic buildings will begin to appear, and work on the mass-timber dining room is planned to begin next year. We expect the academic buildings and dining/gathering hall to be complete during the 2023/2024 school year.

These new buildings will surround a large, landscaped quadrangle, which will be the new heart of the Senior School. Future building plans include new athletics and performing arts buildings, as well as student boarding facilities and staff housing. Once those phases of the project are complete, the existing school will be removed, though this will likely be completed in 10-20 years.

There are two truck entrances to the construction site, both off Camosun Street between West 28th and West 29th Avenues. The main route for hauling materials in and out of the site is along Camosun Street to Marine Drive. The City of Vancouver has posted “no stopping” signs along the narrow portions of this street to ensure the safe passage of trucks and other traffic. We appreciate your support and understanding about the added impact of this traffic.

Do not miss during this month what is happening on the Fraser River

By Terry Slack

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The reports are coming in: A Large Fraser River Eulachon Run is moving into the river, after years of declining numbers! The spelling is Eulachon, Oolichan,or even Hooligan and they are also known as the Candle Fish or Saviour Fish by First Nations. It is a member of the smelt family and once spawned in huge tonnages within 15 BC rivers.

Dunbar Southlands North Arm of the Fraser River is one entrance door for the little fish. Down at the river on the Riverfront Trail or in Deering Island Park is where to watch in the month of May and early June. If the run turns out to be as large as predicted and after the Eulachon spawn in late May, the Kelts turn on their side, try to swim on the surface and get washed down the  river to the marshes and die.

Easy pickings for numerous species of gulls, eagles, Great Blue Herons, King Fishers, Hell Divers (Cormorants), and a raft of others such as Harbour Seals, Sea Lions and River Otters. By the end of May the Eulachon table will be set. See you Down at the River!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Wow, what I observed in the North Arm of the river yesterday was a return of Eulachon of times past. A sky full of gulls all looking down. Eagles patrolling the river, also looking down.

In 2010, the fishery for just First Nation Elders was voluntary terminated as the Fraser stocks were on the brink of disappearing forever.

The Fraser eulachon table will be set soon for over 25 wild species once again as the spawned out dying fish Kelts hopefully will get tidally flushed

on ebbing tides down river to the many delta juvenile salmon marshes. The great natural Eulachon fertilization of lower river marsh will hopefully be starting again!

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Little Dip Net with a long handle on it, best spots on the North Arm is Low Water Slack at Harry Potter Park, now called Shaughnessy Park in Marpole, You are catching the spawned out fish, the Eulachon Kelts coming down the river from Richmond’s Tree Island spawning place on the North Arm. They are the best ones to slap on the Barbie! Timing of big numbers of Kelts coming down river is in about week and a half. Wear a hat as the big time pooping gulls will be every where. An old timers fact: The North Arm once had a late run of big male eulachon coming up the North Arm, Middle Arm in the last week of May.

Enjoy, everyone! Terry

50th Anniversary of Exact Fare in Vancouver

Greetings Everyone, in August of 1969, the week after Woodstock, I started my training as a Vancouver bus driver. First off, my hire photo, AKA Mug Shot. I have been assigned the seniority number 3281 in our class of 6 trainees. I was 21. I made change and sold tokens for 7 months until Wednesday 1 April 1970 when Exact Fare arrived and we no longer had to do so. I worked an evening run on Stanley Park/Nanaimo driving a Brill trolleybus, and sold my last tokens at Cordova and Carrall downtown, and changed a quarter for the final time at Nanaimo and Charles Street. While so many drivers cursed the changers, B.C. Hydro allowed the drivers to purchase their changers, and a large number did so. I bought my 6 barrel Johnson changer. 

Six years later, here I am in a 1947 Canadian Car Brill T-44 trolley coach in the Stanley Park Loop. I have my feet up on Grant Money Meter fare box. Tie was compulsory during winter months. To differentiate between the two types of vehicles, the instructors called a trolley a “coach”, and a motor bus a “bus”. And we were “operators”, not drivers. Photo courtesy of Sean Nelson.

B.C. Hydro took this publicity photo in a “Fishbowl” General Motors New Look diesel bus at the Oakridge Transit Centre to make people aware of the 1st April 1970 date for the Exact Fare policy.  The EXACT FARE card behind the transfer rack was put in the exterior card holder on the front of every bus in the system. Looks like they borrowed the secretarial pool for the photo. Lady standing has a $2 bill in her wallet. You can see the change dish, and the rack for the changer above the transfer cutters. The operator is wearing his Chauffeur’s “A” Badge on his cap visible to the public, a requirement of the commercial driver’s licence back then. I wore mine on my jacket. This photo also shows the Grant Money Meter, a musical fare box

Grant Money Meter fare boxes annunciated the coins and tokens thusly:

1¢ – BUZZ
5¢ – BONG
“A” token – BING
“B” token – BRRRINGGGG
“C” token – no sound. These were made of blue plastic the size of poker chips and had to be collected by operating the lever for the scavenge door.

Fares: Student “A” tokens – 10 for $1.00; Adult “B” tokens – 4 for 75 cents; Child “C” tokens – 4 for 35 cents; Cash fare – Adult – 20 cents; Cash fare – Students – 15 cents; and, Cash fare – Children – 10 cents.

When I tell younger people today that when you bought four adult tokens for 75¢ back in 1969 you saved a nickel over the regular fare, they say: “Why bother?” I respond: “Well, 5¢ was half the price of a cup of coffee.” It also became apparent that we functioned as change machines. If you ran out of a certain coin or token on the road, you could always stop another bus and see if the driver could sell you what you needed.  

The employee newsletter published the following article in 2005:

An excellent film made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 1965 shows what it was like when I started the job few years later, and you can hear the Grant Money Meter tinkling away:

The Grant Money Meters were phased out in 1976 and replaced with Duncans. They in turn were replaced with Cubic electronic fare boxes in 2001, which are still in use. Community Shuttle buses have recently been fitted with drop fare boxes and those drivers issue paper transfers. Over 90% of fares are now registered with a Compass proximity tap card. 

Upon viewing the action here, one man came up to me and said: “This is more fun than watching the parade.”

When I started we drove Brill trolleys with manual steering and no right side exterior mirror. We learned to drive with our left hand and fill the changer barrels with our right. We were trained to climb up on the roof of a trolleybus, walk down the pole and repair a broken retriever rope. Neat trick: If one retriever jammed, you cut its rope and tied it to the other rope. You can put up both trolley poles on the wires with a single retriever rope. I once had this happen and didn’t have a knife with me, so I asked the passengers if someone could help. A man came to the rear of my bus with me and produced a switchblade knife, which did the job.

And if you think climbing up onto the roof of a Brill trolley was adventuresome (see fold-out steps just behind the rear door), check out how we kept service running back in the day. My friend John Day snapped this photo of me riding the back bumper at about 30 km/hr on Commercial Drive for a parade detour circa 1972.

Until 1952 Vancouver’s streetcars had conductors and conductorettes on the heaviest routes to handle fares. Here is Edra McLeod alighting from a streetcar during World War II. She became a bus driver and retired in 1976, two years after a new generation of women operators were hired. The last conductors collected fares on the Marpole to Steveston Interurban in 1958.

All the best,


I Remember When…

The Point Grey Bakery was on Dunbar Street

Angus McIntyre

The woman on the right was Dorothy, and the taller one, who had a British accent as I recall, was named Flo’. As it turns out I happen to have the cash register in the photo! When I told them that I had lots of rhubarb in my yard, they said I could bring it in and they could make pies with it, and as payment I got one of the pies gratis. 

In the next photo there is a sign above the door with a little chef’s head and hat. The sign read: LOAFING DEPT. Of course there was always a ginger snap or small cookie handed to the children that came in with a parent. Beside the cash register is a tape dispenser. It had a brush built in that wet the gum on the tape, and that tape was used when the bread was wrapped in light-brown paper. Flo’ lived in the 1950’s apartment building at 16th and Highbury.

I wrote to my neighbour Dave Kileen about the photos, and he responded with his memories. They made a very good malt bread, and also Hovis. I think we should do a little research and list all the bakeries on Dunbar in 1980, and include a short piece on the Ideal Bakery, the oldest one, and currently still a “toney” bakery, which maybe should also be mentioned as the last one standing.

Here’s what Dave said:

The Point Grey Bakery was where my mother would go, often with me, to purchase our bakery items. This is where all my birthday cakes in my early years came from. I remember both of those ladies, the shorter of the two I knew as Mrs. Skinner. She was the primary customer-service person, and my favourite; while the other, also pleasant, was either her sister or sister in law and seemed to take the roll of a backup person during busy times. I have often thought of those ladies, but hadn’t given much thought to the interior of the bake shop, but those interior pictures brought everything back to me immediately, those display cases and especially that faux log cabin back wall with its shingle roof. Mr. Skinner was the baker, but in all the years I went there, I never saw him. I remember that there once was a serious fire in the rear of the building, that required closure of the shop for many weeks, but it was all repaired and continued in business for many years after. There was of course another bakery one block North, on the same side of the street, but while we would look in their window as we walked past, we never went inside and I don’t know why.

Thanks for the pictures, I never thought I’d see them again.