The Talk of the Town

Thank You And Farewell To Paul Taylor

A farewell and thank-you in honour of Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) executive director Paul Taylor will take place at GNH on Friday, March 31 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Paul Taylor, departing executive director of Gordon Neighbourhood House.

GNH recently announced Paul's resignation from the position he has held since 2012. He will be returning to his hometown of Toronto to become executive director of FoodShare, that city's largest food security organization. 

“As his time at GNH draws to a close, I can say that he leaves the House a better organization," said GNH's Community Advisory Board chair James Kim. "The community, staff, volunteers, and even the building itself have been transformed by his hard work and commitment. Although Paul's energy and dedication will be difficult to match, he has also given us the confidence to try.” 

Taylor is credited with working with his team and community to broaden the scope of current programming while developing new and innovative initiatives as well as leading the neighbourhood house’s physical rejuvenation. During his tenure as executive director, Gordon Neighbourhood House also opened the Attic Thrift Store on Davie, launched the Young Ideas initiative, developed the West End Food Festival and launched the Vancouver Food Summit.

“It has been such a pleasure to work alongside Paul Taylor. I've learned from and admired his deep commitment to social justice, his boundless enthusiasm for food and community and the warmhearted connections he makes with his neighbours.  He had made a lasting contribution at Gordon Neighbourhood House and he has helped shape the identity and direction of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC.  We will really miss him.” Said Deb Bryant, CEO of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses. 

Paul’s commitment to social justice has included serving as a co-chair of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and on the board of directors of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (BC Office).

“Paul Taylor's leadership has made a profound difference for Gordon House, and the West End," said West End-Coal Harbour MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, in response to the announcement. "His strong voice for social justice, and for action to end poverty is matched by his actions. He truly does what he says, lives his values and is a role model for many. Our neighbourhood will miss him dearly.” 

“My time in Vancouver and at Gordon Neighbourhood House has had a profound impact on me. I’ve learned and grown in ways that I never could have imagined. I’ve worked alongside the most amazing and dedicated group of people – I’ll really miss them all. Our success couldn't have been possible without their dedication, creativity and passion. I have absolutely no doubt that they’ll continue to do the incredible work that they do” Taylor commented..

Chantille Viaud, Gordon Neighbourhood House's Director of Community Food Initiatives will serve as the organizations Acting Executive Director as of April 10, 2017. 

Friends, staff, volunteers and members of the community are invited to join in the celebratory sendoff. For details call 604-683-2554 or email

Heron Heralds of Spring Nesting In Stanley Park

The Great Blue Heron, a familiar West End neighbour.

For almost 100 years a colony of Pacific Great Blue Herons have made their home in Stanley Park, one of the largest urban colonies of this at-risk species. You can keep a bird’s-eye watch on these neighbours through the Stanley Park Heron Cam.

The colony is located behind the Park Board offices in Stanley Park and is home to about 100 active nests, which produced 138 fledgling herons in 2016.

The earliest known record of these magnificent birds dates back to a 1921 photo by Leonard Frank of a colony near Brockton Point, though it is likely that the birds inhabited Stanley Park for years before this image was captured.

The location of the colony has changed a few times since 1921. When and why the herons change nesting locations is not fully understood, but their choice of nesting trees after Brockton Point have included locations by the aquarium, around Beaver Lake, near the former zoo, and their current home on Beach Ave near the Vancouver Park Board offices.

You’ll find the herons on the tops of nearby trees and even apartment buildings, and at low tide you’ll see them hunting in shallow waters along the beaches and shorelines. 

The Vancouver Park Board’s Heron Cam is now live; be sure to watch it to see all the activity of this year’s herons.

The Pacific Great Blue Heron is a species at risk due to habitat loss and population decline.  Stanley Park Ecology Society volunteers monitor and gather data on the number of birds, nests, eggs, and chicks to determine the colony’s productivity and population size.  The society also installs and maintains metal bands on the trees to protect the herons from predators like raccoons.  

You can help support these efforts by adopting a heron nest for the 2017 season.

For more information on the Stanley Park Ecology Society and its many other programs visit their website here.

In Memory of Fraser Dokes

Fraser Dokes.

A celebration of the life of long-time West End resident and community activist Fraser Dokes, who died March 6, will be held Sunday, April 23 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Gordon Neighbourhood House. Sharing of stories about Fraser will begin at 1 p.m.

Fraser was a prominent member of many local volunteer and social justice organizations, including Positive Living, Raise the Rates, and the Vancouver Pride Society. He was also active in Gay and Grey, a group of senior gay men addressing issues facing their generation.

In June of last year Doke spoke candidly with The Tyee about the challenges of living with HIV and a recent cancer diagnosis, struggling to survive on just a little over $1,000 a month, a combination of disability benefits and a small inheritance from his mother. He spoke of his disappointment, after more than 20 years living on disability, in last year's provincial budget, which failed to include any substantial increase in disability benefits. At $906 for a single person, those rates had been stagnant for the previous nine years. Instead of a meaningful increase, the budget raised benefits by $77 per month and at the same time eliminated the $52 annual bus pass for those on disability.

Despite his own challenges Fraser was well known for his willingness to help others in need, provide counsel, comfort, and practical advise to those facing similar experiences, and contribute time and effort to the numerous causes he supported.

Among the many tributes pouring in after Doke's passing was a touching memory by Caryl Dolinko, who recalled a time in 2005 when they were both volunteering with Vancouver Pride and drove to the border to meet up with Seattle Pride to plant a tree in unity under the Peace Arch. They dug the hole and planted the tree, quickly leaving the area and returning home, knowing that they'd done something important, knowing the tree would probably be dug up, and knowing that the value was in the doing. Concludes Dolinko, "that is a memory I will have of Fraser forever...he did big, bold things!"