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Translink Buzzer Blog

Our new report highlights the success story of our entire region in 2019

We just released the 2019 Transit Service Performance Review (TSPR)! This is basically a report card on transit service. It provides a comprehensive review of ridership and service productivity for bus, SeaBus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express and HandyDART.

You can find the full report, complementary resources, and CSV files here

By using the data in the TSPR we can identify opportunities to reduce overcrowding, improve performance and reliability and meet the needs of our customers as the region continues to grow.

Given the significant impact of COVID-19 on our ridership in 2020, we are now facing an entirely new set of circumstances. While the data provided by the report is less relevant for immediate planning purposes, the 2019 TSPR will be instrumental as we map out our blueprint for ridership recovery in 2020 and beyond.  Read more »

Fluffy appearances on transit

Transit is coming back to life and we’re excited to welcome more of you on the system in the upcoming months! Our ridership has been always diverse  🐶🙋‍♂️👩🦆  and in the past some of our special furry friends, both real and illustrated ones, have made an appearance on the system.

Join us for a walk down the memory lane for some of the most memorable fluffy appearances. Read more »

Bus Services staff helping to keep transit clean

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Keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been our priority. Across the system, we’ve enhanced our cleaning procedures, equipped buses with temporary barriers and reinforced physical distancing measures.

The servicepersons on our Bus Services team have been fundamental in this effort – their dedication, adaptability and incredible work ethic have helped Coast Mountain Bus Company deliver transit services to thousands of people who rely on us. Read more »

How roommates on the Customer Information team help keep transit moving during COVID-19

Remote work has become a new norm for many of us in the era of COVID-19. For our Customer Information (CI) team, this meant leaving a small but bustling hive at the North Surrey Office, where real-time alerts are sent out, updates are received, and hundreds of customer questions are answered.

Working from home (WFH) was quite a readjustment for the team in numerous ways. For Michael Robertson and Cam Muirhead, Customer Information Work Leaders, one thing has remained constant – a good daily face-to-face dose of work banter and chuckles with a desk buddy, which, we’re sure, many of us missed so much. The thing is Mike and Cam are roommates!

We of course couldn’t miss the chance of talking to this awesome CI duo about their ‘co-working at home’ experience and how CI worked during these most uncertain times.

Mike and Cam met while working at Coast Mountain Bus company (CMBC – the bus company that’s part of the TransLink enterprise)  in 2013. They’ve always gotten along in-and-outside of the workplace, so when in the end of 2019, Cam was looking for a new place to stay and Mike was in need of a roommate, they decided to team-up for a mutually beneficial living arrangement.

Mike (on the left) and Cam (on the right), customer information work leaders

How was your experience working from home as roommates during COVID-19?

Cam: COVID-19 was first announced as a global pandemic on March 11th. Initially, like everyone else, we couldn’t anticipate what this would entail. Read more »

Things to do on Canada Day: take an adventure by transit

This year, we’re going to have to celebrate Canada’s 153rd a little differently. The Government of Canada’s hosting a virtual celebration and you can read this Vancouver Sun article for a list of local virtual celebrations.  

But if you haven’t made plans yet and prefer something a little more hands-on, we have a last-minute Canada Day adventure by transit for you!   Read more »

Bringing Transit Home: Authentic transit maps coming to TransLink Store

Starting on Thursday, June 25, you’ll be able to bring TransLink maps from the system to your home!

The discontinued maps and wayfinding that were once found at our stations and facilities will be available for purchase at TransLink Store. Read more »

All buses begin operating out of the Lonsdale Quay Exchange again

Lonsdale Quay Exchange, picture of the Seabus Terminal

The upgrades to the Lonsdale Quay Exchange are almost complete! Starting on Monday, June 22, all buses will begin operating out of the Lonsdale Quay Exchange.

The entire bus island has been upgraded and is now complete. This means that the temporary stops along Carrie Cates will no longer be required and customers can now catch and disembark their buses inside of the loop. Read more »

6 transit-friendly beaches in Metro Vancouver

Each time summer draws near, we’re reminded of thousands of kilometres of British Columbia coastline and countless panoramic destinations to visit. This year might feel different, but it doesn’t mean you should cancel your summer plans!

As the quarantine restrictions ease up, the following months can be a good time for us to safely explore our local communities and enjoy their beaches. Living in Metro Vancouver also means that most of the excellent sunset spots and panoramic destinations are just under an hour away by public transit. We’ve compiled a list of awesome transit-friendly spots for you to check out this summer.

While visiting public outdoor spaces, please don’t forget to maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) from others. Note lifeguards are not on duty at certain beaches and some facilities may remain close. We advice that you to check the official websites before planning your trips. 

1. White Pine Beach

How to get there: Bus 150

Location: Sasamat Lake, Port Moody

Website

If you want to go for swimming, consider checking out the White Pine Beach on Sasamat Lake. Sasamat Lake is one of the warmest in Greater Vancouver and the beach is located just a few minutes outside of Coquitlam in Belcarra Regional Park. It’s a family-friendly spot that has great walking trails, a beach area and swimming in the lake.

2. White Rock Beach

How to get there: Buses 361, 362

Location: Marine Drive, White Rock

Website

A beautiful gem located just a few kilometres north of the US border and only 35 minutes south of the City of Vancouver, BC. White Rock is known for it’s sandy beaches and stunning sunsets. The 2.5 km long beach promenade, which connects west beach and east beach at the ocean’s side, will offer you a nice stroll.

3. Centennial Beach

How to get there: Bus 619

Location: 541, Centennial Parkway, Delta

Website 

If you live nearby or want to avoid the Vancouver crowds – this is a perfect destination for you! Located in Boundary Bay Regional Park, this spot has sandy beaches, salt marshes, tidal flats and lagoons.

4. Barnet Marine Park

How to get there: Bus 160

Location: 8181 Barnet Road, Burnaby

Website

Barnet Marine Park is located on the Burrard Inlet and offers ocean swimming, walking trails and dog off-leash area. Whether you prefer an early morning walk, or views of the setting sun, this park and beach have something for everyone.

5. Ambleside Park Beach

Note: The beach is undergoing annual clean-up and log removal. Please check the official website for further updates.

How to get there: Buses 250, 253

Location: 1150, Marine Drive, West Vancouver

Website

Ambleside Park Beach offers a stunning view of Stanley Park and Lions Gate Bridge. This is one of the dog-friendly destinations with large off-leash area for dogs that you can visit with your furry friend. Another perk includes a large waterfront walking path that stretches throughout the park.

6. Crescent Beach

How to get there: Buses 351

Location: Sullivan Street, South Surrey
Website

Visit Crescent Beach for a fun day on the seaside! It is a beautiful family-friendly beach and residential area in South Surrey not far from White Rock.  Enjoy swimming, scenic views from the pier and nature trails. Dogs are not allowed along the walkway at Crescent Beach from May 15 to September 15, as per municipal bylaws.

There are many other beaches in Metro Vancouver to visit by transit. Let us know your favourite in comments below!

National AccessAbility Week: A Conversation with Erin Windross

May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Erin Windross is the Manager of Access Transit Planning and Service Delivery (pictured on the right). Together with his team, Erin focuses on developing innovative initiatives to make transit system as inclusive and accessible as possible. 

 

Erin Windross’ eyes light up when he talks about TransLink’s Universal Fare Gate Access Program. It’s already been more than two years since the launch of the Program, but his enthusiasm and passion are palpable. As the lead on the fare policy and eligibility policy development, he’s always delighted to hear how useful customers have found the Program and how it has allowed them to travel more independently.

“One of our goals at Access Transit – and ultimately one of the overall goals at TransLink – we want our customers to be as independent and self-sufficient as possible, to allow them to travel without needing to ask for assistance,” explains Erin. “We all share in wanting to make the system better for customers.”

After three years of working at TransLink, Erin feels like he’s hit a career sweet spot. Professionally, his interests in mobility and regional planning led him to a job at TransLink. But it was his dedication to equity and inclusion that made him a natural fit on the Access Transit team.

“I want to make sure people and communities are given the same access to services and we’re not overlooking anyone,” adds Erin. “I grew up with disability. I have two siblings who have fairly profound disabilities, so it’s always been a part of my life. It’s a great mix being able to combine my educational and personal background with my professional interests.”

In his current role as Manager of Access Transit Planning and Service Delivery, Erin’s work focuses on two key areas: delivering the recommendations set out in TransLink’s Custom Transit Service Delivery Review and developing forward-thinking initiatives that can make HandyDART better for our customers.

His team is committed to creating a transit system that is as inclusive and accessible as possible: “That to me is really at the core of what we do at Access Transit. We enable self-autonomy – for seniors who might feel isolated or for people with disabilities. We want to make sure that regardless of ability, people are able to go out, do the things they want with ease, access the places and communities they need, and live as fully realized human beings.”

One project that is keeping Erin busy is a new pilot program that is testing smaller HandyDART vehicles: “Our larger shuttle vehicles have some issues in terms of navigating through narrower, urban areas, so we’re currently collecting operator and customer feedback on smaller vehicles. We’re looking at whether any adjustments are required to right-size the vehicles for our service needs and make it better for both customers and operators while entering and exiting.”

The team is also exploring additional programs and platforms that will provide an easier, more convenient and more seamless travel experience for HandyDART customers across Metro Vancouver. Erin points out that with a smaller customer base, Access Transit can focus on fostering a more personalized, impactful service:

“HandyDART plays an integral role in many people’s lives. It’s a very personal experience we bring to the transit system. Operators are very involved in our customers’ lives. They meet them at their door, escort them to the vehicle, have conversations with them – it’s this level of personal outreach that really sets us apart from the rest of the organization.”

If you’d like to learn more about the accessibility programs and initiatives at TransLink that are making transit easy to use for as many people as possible, visit Accessible Transit.

Written by Rebecca Abel

The print Buzzer turns 104 years old!

🎉The print Buzzer is turning 104 today🎉

The Buzzer turning 104

The first publication of the Buzzer was released on June 2, 1916.

Throughout the years, the print Buzzer has informed generations of readers about exciting transit news and developments in Metro Vancouver.

From the opening of the Patullo Bridge in 1937 and the launch of trolley buses 11 years later to the launch of the Expo Line in 1986, our readers were updated and entertained one fold at the time!

The first print Buzzer was published on June 2, 1916, and was originally distributed on the hydro-electric streetcars that made up public transportation in Vancouver. The publication was launched to help streetcars compete with jitneys, private citizens who patrolled streetcar routes and offered rides for five cents. By informing the riders about public transport, the hope was that people would be more encouraged to use the streetcars.

streetcar in early 1920s -1940s

Two-car streetcar “trains” ran on main Vancouver routes from 1927 to the late 1940s

An interesting fact – the first publication did not have a name! It was the riders of trams and streetcars, who coined the name by endearingly referring to the publication “our dear Buzzer”.

As one of the oldest publications in the province, the Buzzer has changed companies, themes, mastheads and editors. Its goal of the publication always stayed the same however- to deliver informative and fun transit and community related tidbits to our riders.

old versions of the Buzzer since 1910s

How the Buzzer changed since 1910s

 

Are you interested to see how the Buzzer looked like back in the day? Check out our comprehensive archive that dates back to the early 1900s. You’ll also want to checkout our 100th birthday edition of the Buzzer for a great look at how transportation and the publication has changed over the years.

As we’re facing challenges due to COVID-19 we’re looking into the future for the print Buzzer. We’d love to know you thoughts. What do you like/dislike about print Buzzer and are there changes you’d make to it? Leave a comments and tell us what you think!

National AccessAbility Week – Pamela Findling on her personal experience and things we can do about accessibility during COVID-19

 

Pamela Findling performing at the comedy show

Pamela performing at the stand-up comedy show. She often shares her personal experience of being hearing impaired in her performances.

May 31 to June 6 is the National AccessAbility Week, a week that celebrates the valuable contributions of Canadians with disabilities and recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

Pamela Findling, the Director of Training, Health, and Wellness at BCRTC shares her personal experience with us and talks about things we can do about accessibility in the era of  COVID-19.

What does accessibility mean to you personally?

Pamela – I’ve been hearing impaired since I was little. Then, as an adult, I went profoundly deaf and received a cochlear implant six months later. With my implant, I hear and get by really well and people often know me for awhile before they realize I’m hearing impaired. It’s a daily effort though, and it takes work for me to make sense of the sounds I’m hearing.

For me personally, accessibility is about being able to be independent and not having to rely on others.

Part of that is also feeling safe and supported when I do need to ask for help or changes to participate as fully as possible. I recognize that people and organizations often don’t realize the impacts of their design or implementation decisions on people with disabilities, which is why I really appreciate the ones that take the time to ask questions and make adjustments as they learn more.

To me, accessibility is also about having options available and recognizing that there’s no one-size-fits all. What I need as a deaf person with a cochlear implant could be much different than what another deaf person with a cochlear implant needs.

 

What are some small things you do in your day to make everything work for you in terms of accessibility?

Pamela – So much that I don’t even realize anymore!

I don’t hear anything out of my left ear, so in meetings and groups I sit with my right ear towards the most people. I also make sure that I can see people’s faces, since I read lips a lot.

It’s actually much easier for me to follow meeting on Skype and Zoom  – I’m happy to see they’re being used more than conference calls now! The Bluetooth on my phone gives me a direct link to my implant and blocks out background noise, so I use that instead of the computer audio whenever I can.

As to other everyday activities, I use the Next Stop signs on the buses, closed captioning on TV and at the movies. I Google lyrics for new songs, turn off music and loud fans when I’m talking to people, ask strangers to repeat intercom announcements for me, and sometimes, when the noise is too much, I turn off my cochlear implant processor to have some quiet. I also ask people to repeat themselves, or to switch seats—people are always happy to help, but it’s important that I speak up.

How do your personal experiences inform your professional interests and work?

Pamela – Losing my hearing shaped so much of who I am, and I’ve always been interested in what other people’s stories are and sharing those stories. I was in communications for a lot of years. I like writing and visual elements because it’s something I’ve personally always been able to count on to stay connected to people. Now I lead the Training and Occupational Health teams, which is meaningful for me personally.

When I went profoundly deaf and was waiting for my cochlear implant, I was working as a co-op student in a new city, with no family there. I was devastated and planned to quit my job and move home, but my manager said “No. I’m not going to let you do that. You still have a lot you can do.” He set me up with the Occupational Health Nurse and she was amazing to help us figure out how I could complete my work term and contribute meaningfully.

That support and being able to keep working was so important for my mental health and recovery, and I’m still so grateful for it. Because I know how much that meant to me, I really value the work of Training and Occupational Health teams. I know they can literally save lives.

 

The pandemic has posed new challenges for our communities, potentially aggravating some of the existing accessibility barriers. How can we work together to create more accessible and inclusive working environments during these uncertain times?

Pamela – A prime example of this that people might not think of: I haven’t figured out how I’m going to navigate a mask-filled world yet where I can’t read lips!

I think the biggest thing is to ask questions and be aware that people have struggles and barriers that we don’t know about. I’m always happy to answer questions from people about my hearing, because it helps them better understand me and how we can best work together.

Be kind and patient. Know that we’re not always going to get it right at first, but be open to learning how we can do better. Don’t make assumptions: something that worked well six months ago might not work now because things have changed and could have a bigger impact than we realize (like masks!). And we need to advocate for ourselves and be honest about what we need.

Knight Street Bridge is ready to support the restart of BC’s economy

Cars and trucks crossing the Knight Street Bridge

We are excited to announce that the Knight Street Bridge’s Rehabilitation Project is now complete and the bridge is ready to support the restart of BC’s economy.

Bridges play a vital role in the movement of goods and people in our region. The movement of goods includes anything from the shipment of produce to local grocery stores and food to your doorsteps to components and materials required to manufacture finished products, such as plexiglass partitions and protective barriers.

Together with various modes like roads, waterways, rail facilities and air and sea ports, bridges form an intricate network that enables us to access essential goods and services so that we can carry on with our day-to-day lives.

The Knight Street Bridge (2020)

Everyday about 100,000 vehicles cross the Knight Street Bridge, the second busiest bridge in the Lower Mainland. The bridge acts as the main corridor from Downtown Vancouver terminals to industry in North and South Richmond North as well as the Tilbury Industrial area out to Delta Port. Many of these are trucks support the goods movement in/between the region and the rest of Canada/US.

On the regular days, you are most likely to encounter various trucks delivering containers from the ports in Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma to destinations in British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon Territory as well as Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Even during the pandemic, the bridge continues to play an essential role in the movement of goods.

The Knight Street Bridge was opened on January 15, 1974. To ensure safe and efficient operations for all bridge users, we conduct significant rehabilitation work of this nature approximately once every ten to 15 years, in addition to ongoing maintenance, as a part of TransLink Maintenance and Repair Program. This work also safeguards the bridge from the effects of climate change and allows for seismic preparedness and resilience.

The 2020 Knight Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project commenced in January and was conducted overnight from 10 p.m and 5 p.m to minimize the impact on bridge users. The work included:

    • Concrete pier repairs, bearing and expansion joint replacement
    • Replacement of signage, including warning signs, regulatory signs and pedestrian crosswalks signs
    • Lighting upgrades for better visibility and energy efficiency
    • Replacement of crash cushions (impact attenuators)

We have recently successfully completed the upgrades on time, just as the province announced the plan for easing COVID-19 restrictions. The Knight Street Bridge is refreshed and ready to support the gradual restart of our economy. Learn more about TransLink’s role in Metro Vancouver’s goods movement by checking out Regional Goods Movement Strategy.

How is TransLink funded?

Many of you inquired over the previous few weeks about how funding at TransLink works. One of the most common questions we received were about fares and if they comprise the main source for our revenue.

We’ve pulled together some details, graphs, and data and bring back an updated version of TransLink Funding 101 for everyone who’s curious about the subject! 

Diversified approach to funding

As the regional transportation agency, we are responsible for more than just public transport. We maintain major roads and five bridges (Knight Street Bridge, Pattullo Bridge, Golden Ears Bridge, Westham Island Bridge, The Canada Line Bike and Pedestrian bridge), work on developing multi-modal travel in the region, collaborate with our partners on the regional cycling strategy and more.

With our minds focused on spearheading an integrated system for the Greater Vancouver region, we also take a diversified approach to our funding. In short, our funding comes from more than one revenue source. This approach helps us weather changes to economy and minimize the impact of service disruptions or loss of ridership during most critical times so we can continue deliver transportation and operational services. However, with COVID-19, this has become more challenging.

SCBCTA Act has all the answers 

The discussion about TransLink’s funding would not be complete without the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act. This is the provincial legislation that provides formal guidelines for the planning, funding, management and operation of our regional transportation system.

Any changes to the revenues TransLink can collect – or how they can be collected – require many levels of approval, typically from the Province, Mayors’ Council, or some combination of these. They also require a process of extensive consultation with the public and our customers.

Under SCBCTA Act, TransLink develops a 30-year strategy and fully funded, ten-year investment plans (updated at least triennially). While 30-year strategies like Transport 2050, which is under development, provides a bigger picture of how people will live, work, play, and move around the region today and in the future, The 10-Year Investment Plan outlines all the details that determine the funding levels, such as level of services to be provided, major capital projects, estimated revenue, expenditure and borrowing.

What are our main revenue sources?

 

We rely on three main revenue streams that help us deliver our transit and operational services.

Taxation revenue (44%). This is our largest revenue stream. Although transit revenue covers about 51 per cent of our operating costs, taxation revenue helps supplement the remainder of these costs and a lot more. Sources of taxation revenue include fuel and property tax, parking rights and the hydro levy.

Transit revenue (33%). These are all types of payments that we receive from you whenever you use our transit system or programs such as UPass BC and the BC Government Bus Pass. Revenue from other complementary sources, including transit advertising, Park and Ride and revenue from the sale of carbon tax credits also fall under this category.

Government Transfers (19%). The third largest revenue stream comes from federal and provincial government transfers and helps us to fund major capital projects. This includes funds received from the Federal Gas Tax, Canada Line funding, Building Canada Fund, Public Transit Infrastructure Fund and other miscellaneous programs such as the City of  Richmond contributions for Capstan Station.

Other (4%). Other revenue sources include income from investment (interest on sinking funds, capital contributions, debt reserve funds and cash balances) and amortization of deferred concessionaire credit – both of which are not currently available to fund operations.

Figures taken from the 2019 Year-End Financial and Performance Report.

 

What do property taxes have to do with a transportation agency? And other tax details you might be wondering about.

For those who are not aware, the fact that tax revenues, and not fare revenues, comprise the largest revenue source for TransLink may come as a surprise.

TransLink relies on tax revenues, such as fuel tax and property tax, to continue to create transportation and infrastructure improvements. These initiatives, in turn, positively affect property values, increase travelling options for other modes of transportation and contribute to other complimentary benefits that don’t necessarily fall neatly under “transportation” category.

a pie chart showing the breakdown if transit revenue numbers

Transit Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

a pie chart showing the breakdown of tax revenue numbers

Tax Revenue Breakdown based on 2019 figures

Fuel Tax. When people fill up their cars in TransLink’s service region, 18.5 cents of every litre sold goes to TransLink.

Property Tax. A portion of property taxes collected in the region is used to support transit, roads and bridges, walking and cycling infrastructure. The majority of property taxes goes to the Province and local municipalities.

Parking Rights Tax. TransLink currently administers parking sales tax for all off-street parking (hourly, monthly, and annually) within TransLink’s service area in Metro Vancouver.

Hydro Levy. This is a levy that is added to the hydro bill of residences in Metro Vancouver.

DCCs. A fee is collected from new developments to help pay for new transit and transportation investments required to support growth.

What are TransLink’s expenditures?

As you can guess, our expenditures are mainly spent on various transit operations and infrastructure maintenance. Below is the expenditure breakdown for 2019:

  1. Transit Operations. 62 per cent of our budget is spent on transit operations, including rail and bus.
  2. Amortization of tangible capital assets and interest – amortization is a non-cash expense that allocates the cost of our capital assets over the period the assets are expected to be in use. The cost of capital assets is funded through debt and government funding. Interest expense is incurred to service the debt.
  3. Corporate operations. about six per cent of our budget goes to corporate operations, such as information technology costs, planning, finance and human resources
  4. Road and bridges – we spend around six per cent of the annual budget on maintaining roads and five bridges.
  5. Transit police – part of our expenditure goes to maintaining Transit Police operations. This includes police equipment purchases, as well as vehicle and facility maintenance costs.
  6. Corporate one time costs – one per cent.

How has COVID-19 impacted TransLink’s revenues?

The outbreak of the pandemic has significantly impacted our operations over the last two months. With most of us staying in, the transit ridership has declined across all the modes in tandem with lower utilization of parking spaces and decreased consumption of fuel. In turn, those changes have also contributed to considerable reductions to our transit, parking tax and fuel tax revenues.

The announcement made by the provincial government and TransLink on May 8th was therefore highly important in giving reassurance to our customers.  As the province is gradually unrolling the BC’s Restart Plan, TransLink will resume fare collection on buses on June 1. We will be working on a comprehensive solution to address the major financial impacts to the work TransLink does and will continue to call on the federal government for a national solution to the challenges facing transit systems.

 

Public art installation comes to the Stadium–Chinatown Station

Davey's two photographs featuring a fowl and equines at the Stadium-Chinatown Station

Installation by Moyra Davey, Plymouth Rock, 2020 at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station. Courtesy of the Artist, Courtesy the artist; greengrassi, London; and Galerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne/New York.

TransLink has been a part of Capture Photography Festival for the last three years. In the past, we partnered up with local artists to bring public art installations to our SkyTrain stations, including Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation Basketball  in 2019, Qimash in 2018,  and Precession of the Feminine in 2017.

This year was not an exception, despite the unforeseen circumstances. The Stadium–Chinatown SkyTrain Station now features Plymouth Rock, a series by New York–based Canadian artist Moyra Davey. A set of black-and-white photographs stands out prominently against the urban backdrop of the station.

The pictures were captured during Davey’s visit to the country home of Dalie Giroux, a political theorist in La Pêche, Quebec, during the making of her film i confess (2019).  “I’d been planning to photograph the political theorist Dalie Giroux, but ended up taking pictures of her animals instead,” Davey recollects in her interview with Capture. 

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

If you pay a closer attention to the photographs, you’d notice that the artist focuses her lens on fowl and equines; while providing little indication of her subjects’ context. This technique emphasizes how certain animals stand “outside of history” – “free and wild and untrammeled by the weight of human concerns”.

Photo Credit: Capture Photography Festival

This series is indebted partly to a candid identification with the work of Peter Hujar (1934–87), known for his black-and-white portraits, including those of animals.

Plymouth Rock will be on display at the station until March 2, 2021. Visit Capture Photography Festival website to learn more about the other exhibitions.

 

Helping with taxes for essential workers and local businesses

head shot of Emma smiling

With tax deadlines being extended for individuals and businesses till June and September, you’d imagine things would slow down for organizations providing tax services. As we found out, that’s not exactly the case. On the contrary, many of us require professional advice more than ever to make some important decisions in the light of new COVID-19 -related government programs and initiatives .

Emma Nguyen is one of the essential workers who help individuals and businesses to navigate through various financial bumps along this uncertain road. She’s an accountant for a tax consulting and accounting company in North Vancouver.

Emma, as well as many other essential workers in Metro Vancouver, relies on public transit to get to work. During the pandemic, Emma switched to a multi-modal commuting to accommodate for her personal circumstances. She carpools with her friend in the morning to get to North Vancouver and in the evening uses bus and a SkyTrain to go back home.

Emma, can you tell us more about your work?

Our organization provides services to individuals, as well as small to medium-sized businesses, in different fields ranging from hospitality and commercial sectors to law and professional services. Some of our clients are frontline and essential workers, such as doctors, dentists and people who are operating local businesses and stores. We help individuals and businesses stay compliant with government and industry standards – so we help them with tax returns and GST returns in addition to tax consulting and accounting services.

We know that the tax returns have been postponed till June, but it seems that it’s still a quite busy time for companies likes yours?  

Yes, that’s right. The tax returns have been delayed until June 1st and payment deadlines until September. You know, these days people are worried about their finances. If they file the returns or payments earlier, they can receive refunds or just plan for the cash flow. Also, the requirements for some of the government relief programs are based on tax returns. So if you have this information early on, you can decide if you qualify. This is really important for our clients and their long-term planning.

Busy time! So I imagine most of people would need to come and work in the office?

Yes, my colleagues and I still come to the office to work. For tax consulting firms that really depends on their culture and IT systems in place. A lot of our tasks involve physical documents, since our company is not entirely paperless. Also, since we are in consulting, our work involves a lot of communication. For junior staff, like me, we work closely with our managers and senior staff.

How have things changed for your company during COVID-19?

Because we are handling physical documents, we make sure to follow some safety measures, such as not touching documents for at least 24 hours and washing hands before and after. Our company is relatively small, but we are also make sure to maintain physical distancing. There are about 10 people right now working on one floor.

What would your message be for other essential workers and just everyone who is going through this challenging time?

I think COVID-19 has made us conscious about every little thing that we took for granted before. I really appreciate everyone’s efforts these days, whether they’re staying at home or going to work. It’s a challenging time for all of us. If you are an essential or frontline worker, I hope you’re staying safe!

A lot of people are feeling worried and anxious about the current situation. I felt the same way (my family lives outside of Canada), and I guess one advice that I have for everyone is to try to maintain some kind of schedule or routine. In my situation, my work helped me to do that (smiles).

In the light of recent service reductions, we’re asking all of our customers to use transit for essential trips only – especially at peaks hours and busy times – so space remains available for those, like Emma and Laura, who need it most. You can find more information about peak hours on transit here.