This past January the idea collection phase of Vancouver's first  participatory budgeting pilot project launched in the West End. Used in cities around the world, participatory budgeting is process that gives the entire community the opportunity to participate and decide how to invest a portion of the City's budget.

Winning projects from participatory budgeting in other cities have included resource kits for the homeless, community gardens, public art installations, and programming for community events. Winning projects are adopted through a community vote and implemented with the support of government.

The City of Vancouver launched this participatory budgeting pilot to distribute additional revenue, projected to be as much as $100,000.00, collected through West End permit parking fees, as part of the follow-up to the  West End Parking Strategy, implemented in 2017.

Get involved! Become a Project Proponent

Now that the idea collection process is complete, the community-led WE Choo$e Impact Team is seeking community volunteers to serve as "Project Proponents" to support the proposal development phase of the process. These community volunteers will research project ideas and local needs and ultimately identify a group of projects that will go on the ballot for a community-wide vote. 

You can work on projects you've proposed or that have been proposed by others. Everyone is welcome to join!

Members of the team will be asked to: Attend five to ten meetings from March to July 2019, choose and work on a committee that will address the West End's needs (committees could include arts and culture, health, safety and environment, parks and recreation, transportation, and schools and education); and review community needs and ideas and develop project proposals with help from City experts. The will visit locations across the West End and research project ideas, participate in outreach efforts to engage the community in participatory budgeting, and help educate the community about the project proposals and neighbourhood needs at the Project Expos and during the voting event in the spring.

If you're interested in becoming a WE Choo$e Project Proponent, plan to attend the upcoming orientation event at the Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton Street) on Thursday, March 14 from 6 - 8 p.m.  Space is limited so you are asked to RSVP here.

Maple Leaf Bakery remains open … for now. (John Streit Photo)


You could say “you win some, you lose some”, but these days we mostly seem to be losing stock of affordable (truly affordable) housing and numerous West End storefront businesses, some of which have been part of the neighbourhood for decades.

Devoted customers left farewell messages on the window of Chocolate Mousse. Click on image to enlarge.

One could devote an entire website to tracking all the openings and closing in just the past few months. Lacking that platform, here are a few of the latest news flashes.

The West End Journal was pleased to learn recently that the family-owned Maple Leaf Bakery on Davie, which was slated to close last summer, was able to renew their lease and continue to provide us with fresh-baked goodies — and how about those donuts, eh?

Italian Tomato will bring Italian cuisine back to the former site of Gigi’s.

On the bad-news side of the ledger, after 33 years on Robson The Chocolate Mousse Kitchenware owners, sisters Karen and Jane Tennant have closed their doors after the City of Vancouver last year raised their property tax by 92.7 per cent, to around $130,000 a year. Longtime customers, friends, and neighbours posted farewell notices in the shop’s window as the end of February closing date approached.

Around the corner on Denman a more recent arrival, the West End branch of My Liquor Store, next door to the former Dover Arms, announced recently that their landlord declined to renew their lease and they too have shuttered their doors. One wonders what developers have in mind for that prime Denman stretch of low-rise shops.

On a more upbeat note, Richmond’s Italian Tomato will be opening shortly (or may have opened by the time you read this) at 1047 Davie. For many years the location was home of the popular Gigi’s Pizza & Spaghetti House, so this latest change brings the place full circle, back to its Italian cuisine roots.

As noted, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the changing streetscape in the West End. You can help us keep track by keeping an eye out for closure and opening soon announcements in your corner of the community, and alerting us at


And while we’re toting up our gains and losses, you’ve likely already heard the latest. For ten years the lot on the north-west corner of Burrard and Davie streets has been a thriving community garden, located on the site of a former Shell service station. Late last month the properties owners, Prima Properties posted signage informing the community of the garden’s forthcoming closure and the construction of a 43-storey condo tower to come. For details and renderings of the planned high-rise, see The West End Journal’s “Developing Stories” section here.

West Ender Lorna Schwenk is now a Burlesque Hall of Fame Living Legend.


Last month West Ender, Performing Arts Lodge resident Lorna Schwenk was honoured as a Living Legend at the Burlesque Hall of Fame in Las Vegas.

Accompanied by her niece, Canadian novelist and short story writer Shaena Lambert, Lorna was picked up at the airport in a limousine and whisked away to enjoy the full VIP treatment at The Orleans Hotel and Casino.

From 1969 to 1980 Lorna performed as a burlesque dancer. “The first time I danced was in Windsor, Ontario. A week before I had walked into The Blue Lotus on Bloor Street in Toronto and the women were rehearsing a belly dance. I talked to an agent, auditioned, and was sent to Windsor to begin burlesque. From there I went to Victory Burlesque at Dundas and Spadina and clubs like The Silver Dollar and Le Strip on Yonge Street.”

When Lorna returned home to Vancouver she worked at Isy’s Supper Club, Gary Taylor’s on Granville Street, The Smiling Buddha, Kublai Kahn on Main Street, and the No. 5 Orange. “In the 70s, at the No. 5 Orange, all the dancers felt like they were part of a family. The Brandolinis owned it and the dancing was lovely.”

In the Las Vegas tribute, Lorna was honoured along with thirty other North American Legends.


The Reverend Phillip Cochrane comes to the West End’s St Paul’s Anglican Chruch from the historic town of Banbury in North Oxfordshire England.

He has served in a large parish and is familiar with issues of homelessness, housing, and is interested in the arts. He will have oversight of the church’s community programs at St Paul’s, which include The Labyrinth, the Advocacy Office and rental facilities for numerous community groups in this active West End Anglican parish. Everyone is invited to the induction service and reception on March 4 at 7 p.m. at the church, when he will be inducted as Rector by Diocese of New Westminster Archbishop Melissa Skelton as Rector of the Parish of St. Paul. See here for further information.



Shawn Bourgeault

West End businessman, community booster, and Davie Village notable Shawn Bourgeault passed away unexpectedly over last month’s Family Day ling weekend, apparently from complications of a serious bout of flu. The official cause of death had not been determined at press time.

Shawn was the owner of Davie Village Tanning on Davie Street, where he had started as manager for former owners John Boychuk and Paul Allen, when the location was called Davie Village Banana Tans.

“In the past decade there’s been a lot of loss on Davie Street,” noted Boychuk. “But Shawn was a long time fixture. He was one of those people who worked every day and knew all of the business owners and everyone else in the village.”

LGBT+ community advocate Barb Snelgrove, a friend of Shawn’s for many years, wrote on her Facebook page: “I always looked for him in the window of the salon when in the ‘hood, and never failed to garner a big wave and hello whenever he was there. A quick pit stop for some hugs and chat was a prerequisite when on his ‘block’. I never failed to come away from any chat with Shawn feeling anything less than loved and invigorated. I will always carry with me his mile wide grin and the always accompanying crushing hug that went along with seeing him.

According to Boychuk a celebration of Bourgeault’s life is being planned for March in Vancouver and those details will be made public when finalized.


West Ender and long-time local radio broadcast engineer Ed Jurak signed off in late January, at age 75. Prior to his retirement in 2009 Ed had worked as a weekend and fill-in on-air host for CKLG in Vancouver, CHTK in Prince Rupert through the 60s and 70s. He continued his career at All-News CKO-FM in Vancouver through the 80s and was chief engineer at CKST in Langley through the 90s and as engineer for the CHUM Radio Group in Vancouver for his final years in the radio business.

Ed’s was never a well-known name to the radio-listening public, and to many in his West End neighbourhood he was just a friendly local always ready with a smile, but in his day he was one of those unsung, behind-the-scenes heroes of broadcasting. 

Ed often regaled friends and colleagues with stories of driving long distances on cold nights when 50,000-watt broadcast antennas would begin to sputter, just so he could keep a station on-air. And long gone are the days when an Ed could get a channel back on-air by giving the console a swift kick!

One former colleague reminisced on a radio veteran’s blog, “Once part of the vast CKO [radio] complex had a power failure, including the control room. Ed simply went out to his VW van, grabbed a long lawnmower extension cord (Ed had no lawn) plugged it into the board and ran it down to the end of the hall where a government office still had power. The station was back on the air.”

Gen Xers, boomers and beyond who grew up in Vancouver will remember iconic talk radio hosts such as Pat Burns or Jack Webster, DJs such as Red Robinson, Fred Latremouille, Roy Hennessey or Terry David Mulligan, and FM announcers such as Ellie O’Day or J.B. Shayne. They all stand tall in the memories of radio fans, thanks to guys like Ed, who kept the machine humming.