Every year Gordon Neighbourhood House help hundreds of West End neighbours file their income tax returns through our Income Tax Clinic. The program is by donation, and available to any low-income neighbour with a ‘simple’ tax return.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, The Canada Revenue Agency has extended the filing due date for 2019 individual tax returns. This decision was made to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person during this difficult time.
“In order to provide greater
flexibility to Canadians who may be experiencing hardships during the COVID-19
outbreak, the Canada Revenue Agency will defer the filing due date for the 2019
tax returns of individuals until June 1st, 2020. However, the Agency encourages
individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child
Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements
for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.”
As a result of this announcement, we made the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all income tax clinic appointments in order to protect the health and safety of all volunteers and participants.
As of March 17th, 2020 Gordon Neighbourhood House will be temporarily closed to the public until it is safe again to open. We would like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience as we determine whether we will offer this program again before the filing date. Please email Jessy at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
One of Vancouver’s liveliest and most historic downtown neighbourhoods, the West End is well-loved for its diversity, tree-lined streets, and proximity to nearby parks and beaches. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, the virus has created unique challenges for our community.
Across Metro Vancouver, approximately two thirds of the population own a home. The situation is very different in the West End however, as over 80% of residents are renters in high-rise apartment buildings. Equally troubling, many West End renters live alone, in one bedroom apartments with higher than average rents. Amid massive layoffs and job insecurity related to COVID-19, many tenants have been experiencing anxiety about being able to pay rent, and cover basic necessities.
According to a recent survey
by Abacus Data, 62% of renters are ‘extremely worried or worried a lot’ about
the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other Canadians. Additionally, 64% of renters
are ‘really worried’ about not being able to pay their bills over the next
Gordon Neighbourhood House
has compiled these updates and resources for tenants and landlords during these
“As we work together to fight this pandemic, we can’t afford to leave anyone behind,” Spencer Chandra Herbert, MLA for Vancouver-West End said. “That’s why I delivered recommendations that address the immediate concerns of both landlords and tenants who are doing their best at this difficult time.”
Some immediate measures include:
Immediately suspend all evictions (except in cases of danger and safety issues) to ensure people can stay in their homes, during this public health crisis.
The BC government will provide support to help people pay their rents, by giving up to $500 a month towards rent, building on the recently announced federal and provincial financial supports for British Columbians facing financial hardship. Application information for this program will be released soon.
The BC government will enact a rent freeze so rents cannot go up on April 1st.
Allow landlords to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against the transmission of COVID-1
Residential Tenancy Act The Residential Tenancy Actis a provincial law that states what your legal rights are as a tenant. This Act sets out rules for both you and your landlord. There is a government office called the Residential Tenancy Branch. If you encounter a problem, the Residential Tenancy Branch has trained staff who can provide information about the Act and its application to your specific circumstances.
City of Vancouver Renter Office The Renters Office helps ensure households have a place at the City to access timely information and receive support in exercising their tenancy rights under Provincial and City policies. City staff monitor enquiries daily, and aim to respond within two business days. (604) 673-8291 or email@example.com
Tenant Survival Guide This plain-language guide offers tenants a basic understanding of residential tenancy law in BC. It is designed to educate readers on their rights and responsibilities, and help prevent or resolve any problems they may encounter during their tenancy.
Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre TRAC is a non-profit organization that promotes the legal protection of tenants by providing information, education, support, and research on residential tenancy matters.
Linda moved to the West End years ago and she really enjoys Vancouver because there is not much snow during the winter. She adores the neighbourhood because she can walk anywhere. In fact, for 35 years she would walk to Downtown everyday, where she worked at the Government of Canada,
“I used to get off work and head to the beach… it felt like a vacation.”
Nowadays she enjoys traveling, volunteering once a week, and going to knitting club. Linda has been volunteering at GNH for 25 years.
“I know everyone who’s around but what’s more, my daughter who grew up with the community is now working here.”
Abdol has lived in the West End for 15 years, owns a moving company, and likes to relax at home and spend time at English Bay. He drives up often to North Vancouver and he likes very much seeing the landscape across the bay,
“Vancouver looks so much different from afar, compared to what it feels like being inside, it looks like another city.”
Just as many others, he is in favour of maintaining the West End as it is,
“If the developments keep on going, it’s not going to be possible to see the houses anymore. Similar to Yaletown or Gastown, the West End has its own history, but not the night life and popularity to protect it.”
Stephanie’s dad moved to the West End during WWII, he worked for years at the harbour which is one of the reasons why she likes living near the bay. Since she moved to her current apartment, a seagull visits her everyday, his name is Nelson (find him on Instagram @nelson.the.seagull). Nowadays, Stephanie teaches international students, “when I walk back from work, Nelson is able to spot me walking down the street” this is indeed a one of a kind friendship.
Bonnie used to have a business collecting pottery and she had whole shelves covered with it. To this day her collection continues to grow as she participates in the West End Pottery Club and assists to all the shows. However, since 2007 after receiving a IT course, she started a new business fixing computers.
“It all started at a café on Denman St., I could work from anywhere really, now I’m able to take computers apart without any problems.”
What she wants to see for the West End is an area that can support the local initiatives and economy, on her part she believes there is a lack of infrastructure for these purposes.
Last month, we transformed our front mini-plaza into a festive community BBQ full of amazing sights, sounds, and hickory sweet aromas for all to enjoy.
Over 150 neighbours, members, volunteers, donors and partners were invited to fill their stomachs with hamburgers fresh from the grill and salads with greens from our urban gardens. The event featured local musicians such as Madelyn Read and Jan Bartolome, who played some folk and R&B tunes. Other highlights included multiple games of street hockey, after dinner board games, and snacks from Popcorn in the Park (operated by John Merzetti).
A feeling of unity and belonging
Belonging is different for each person but is often associated with feeling at ease, being safe, and being around friendly and familiar faces. At the end of the event, approximately 90% of participants felt an increased sense of belonging in their own community and felt a connection among the people in the West End.
“The ambiance of people laughing and talking, the music, decor and the delicious food was amazing,” says a West End resident.
“It was a beautiful evening and it truly feels good to be a part of it.”
This event was made possible by the generous support of the TD Park Peoples Grant. An enormous thank you to the folks that gave up their evening to volunteer with us and everyone who joined us. More photos can be found here.
The days and weeks leading up to Vancouver’s annual Pride Parade are always packed with events full of fabulous fun!
To join in the celebration and festivities, we hosted the Absolutely Fabulous Neighbourhood Pride Plaza Party on July 22nd. West neighbours, residents, and families were invited to come together for an evening of artmaking, games, storytelling, and music.
We partnered with various community groups to host more than a dozen activity stations. Folks helped paint a 25 feet long PRIDE sign (check it out here), shared their stories at our “Humans of the West End” photo-documentary station, and practiced their circus skills at the hoop station (hosted by DSU Hoop Club).
Thank you to the RBC Denman Branch for supporting this event.
Summer’s just around the corner, which means we are fully immersed in the growing season! Our Farmer Joey and her garden volunteers have been busy planting at our 3 urban farm sites and 10 public herb boxes.
Urban Farm Program
For the last month, Joey and her Urban Farm team have been busy moving soil and prepping our 3 urban farm sites for planting. Last week we brought back 30 lbs of daikon and beets that overwintered and used it to make veggie soup for 300 of our Food Bank members!
So far we’ve planted turnips, lettuce, bok choy, flowers, radishes, leeks and a Japanese herb called shungiku (edible chrysanthemum) that is cooked just like spinach. Almost everything we grow comes back to nourish the community in our Community Lunch program.
Besides taking pride in growing fresh healthy food, our volunteers are also having a great time working in the sun and getting to know each other. We get together every Tuesday at 3pm. If you’re interested in gardening with us, contact Joey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Herb Box Program
Our Community Herb Boxes provide a free resource for West Enders to harvest and enjoy fresh herbs. There are 10 garden boxes located throughout the West End filled with sage, oregano, parsley, chives, thyme, and more! Each box is lovingly taken care of by a Gordon House volunteer.
This program is different from the Urban Farm program, as the boxes are visible and open to the public…so come and harvest a sprig or two for your dinner!
Click on the map below to see which box is nearest you:
Not sure how it works? In the next few weeks, we will be attaching new signs to each box, so you’ll know what to look for and how to harvest:
With the support of some West End Elves, Gordon Neighbourhood House will be hosting our first annual Holiday HoHoHoDown.
Join us on Thursday, December 20th from 6:30 – 9:30pm for an evening of food, drink and holiday cheer. Take an Insta worthy selfie with a sassy snowman, make friends over mulled wine, and channel your inner Mariah Carey with carolers. There will be an Outdoor Mini-Concert (with fresh, local musical talent), a West End Arts Market (gifts galore), a Kringle Korner for kids to create crafts (big kids welcome) and a Grinch Gala for grownups to sip hot drinks (dressing up highly encouraged). This free event has something for everyone – you won’t want to miss it!