The inaugural Vancouver Virtual Reality Film Festival (YVRFF) will take flight for the first time starting tonight.

The immersive film-going experience will be a treat, not only for the virtual reality enthusiasts and early adopters, but also for those new to the virtual reality experience.

YVRFF will provide the ideal atmosphere to introduce film-goers to the 360 degree approach  to storytelling. Content is no longer confined to a rectangular box and one way consumption, but an interactive experience where you are engaging with the film and  people around you.

A 2 day festival, YVRFF will kick off tonight with an Opening Gala. Following up, on day 2 YVRFF will host 5 screening sessions showcasing the final selection of Virtual Reality films from around the world.

For more information or to buy tickets, visit yvrff.com.

And when you purchase a ticket to YVRFF you'll also receive a free pass to this year's CVR Conference and Expo - Canada's largest virtual technology event taking place from May 5 to 7 at the Convention Centre.

Shutterstock 326562737

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While the weather may not agree, summer is slowly creeping closer in Vancouver and there's no better sign that the fast-approaching opening date of Playland Amusement Park!

Saturday, May 6th at 10am, the much loved attraction that has hosted millions of thrillseekers of all ages since it opened in 1910, will be  opening its gates for the start of the 2017 amusment park season. Playland will open on Saturdays, Sundays & Holidays until June 16th, when it will be open all week long. This year, the season will open with 3 new family-friendly rides that are sure to excite:

The Bug Whirled - a ride that spins you through a magical land on the new coaster ride.

Flutterbye - get ready to peddle your way to the clouds while flapping your wings.

Dizzy Drop - takes you through to high altitudes, shooting up to the sky then taking the plunge back down.

In additional news, Playland has announced that every Friday during the month of July the park will be hosting a series of 19+ adult only evenings. More details to come. Stay tuned on the PNE/Playland Facebook page to learn more.

Playland 2017

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Need a bit of motivation to get outside and into a park? The Metro Vancouver Parks Passport Program is perfect for the people that love a bit of a challenge with their afternoon adventures in nature.

The passport program includes parks all over Metro Vancouver from Bowen Island to Mission. The initiative was created to give residents and visitors to Vancouver an extra reason to visit some of the amazing  parks that are in close proximity to the city.  The passport is free and gives you a chance to win awards.

If you are interested in taking part in the passport challenge, you can pick up a hard copy version of the booklet in seven locations around Vancouver, including:

Regional Parks West Area office - 130-1200 W. 73rd Ave

Metro Vancouver  Office Info Centre - 4330 Kingsway

Burnaby Lake Regiona Park - 9146 Avalon Ave

More locations are listed on the Metro Vancouver Website.

You can also get a passport mailed to you by emailing icentre@metrovancouver.org or you can download a free app (MVPassport) if you would rather save some trees.

You can earn stamps by joining events listed in the passport, participating in programs listed in the Check it Out! Program Guide or by visiting the Burnaby Lake Regional Park Office or the Campbell Valley Regional Park Office (Langley). Win 15 stamps, you'll receive a 50 year commemorative pin and be entered into the grand prize draw.  Get out and have fun!!

metro vancouver parks passport program

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History, fun and adventure is sailing back into Richmond for Ships to Shore King of the Sea 2017.

One of the world's largest tall ships, the Kaiwo Maru, is coming May 3rd to 8th to Garry Point Park. Built in 1989, this majestic tall ship sailing from Japan is 361 feet long and 143 feet tall and has over 29,000 square feet in sails.

Come on down for a multi-day festival to view the King of the Sea. Watch live entertainment on the main stage, interact with roving entertainers, visit the Kids Cove, eat at a variety of  food carts and much more.  Tickets will be available for onboard ship tours.

Relive the days when Richmond's Steveston Village was a major port-of-call for fleets of sailing and working ships from around the world. All part of the City of Richmond's Canada 150 festivities.

Kaiwo Maru

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Picture this: a nightime parade of cyclists lit by glow sticks, bike lights, and neon tubes. This gives you a small glimpse into the excitement that is a Bike Rave.

Each year, this unsanctioned event pops up in April or May to get everyone geared up for a summer of long nights spent cycling around deserted streets free of cars. The Vancouver Bike Rave has had a few different hosts leading the charge each year and 2017 is no different.  

This year, the first bike rave of the season is scheduled for April 29th. It is sure to be a fun, friendly time (hoping the weather permits). So, if you've ever wanted to see what all the fuss is about, get a few glow sticks to join in on the party.

A non-profit organization called Party4Health will be hosting the 2017 Vancouver Bike Rave starting at a secret location and navigating through a new and unique bike route. More details are expected to be announced on the official Facebook page as we get closer to the date.  

The event is expected to have more of a 'dance party' feel, with regular breaks from the saddle to get up and dance. If you have to miss this one, time will tell if there will be more bike raves in the future - past events have popped up in May and even June.

If you're more fond of a quieter, relaxed bike ride - you can also check out the official Bike the Blossoms event that will  also be happening on the same night. This ride will take you on a journey through some of the best cherry blossom-laden streets in Vancouver from Trout Lake to Nat Bailey Stadium.

What a great time of year!!

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Housing is important to the quality of life in B.C., whether you rent or own.

Increasing the number of homes built along transit corridors, raising the property transfer tax threshold and incentivizing faster approval processes are all necessary to improve housing affordability across the province. The British Columbia Real Estate Association has proposed a '5 pillar approach' to addressing affordability challenges being faced by both renters and homeowners. Some of which are:

-BCREA would like to ensure the propery transfer tax (PTT) reflects the market and proposes increasing the exemption threshold for first-time buyers and to raise the 2% PTT threshold from $200,000 to $525,000

-they would like to assist homeowners and renters by increasing the withdrawal limit of the Home Buyers' Plan and extending eligibility to those who relocated to secure employment.

-they would like to encourage more rental housing by creating more housing stock and by allowing investment real estate sellers to recapture previously claimed depreciation and allowing a deferral of capital gains tax.

BCREA CEO Robert Laing points to the idea of connecting government programs with inflation as one fo the major recommendations in the plan.

He goes on to say, "The real estate market changes over time, and programs like the provincial PTT and the federal Home Buyers' Plan need  to accurately reflect the market and the economy.

The Canadian Home Builders' Association of BC has endorsed the plan.


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This Saturday we celebrate Earth Day, the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.  It was first celebrated in 1970, Earth Day events take place in more than 190 countries around the world to demonstrate support for environmental protection.

So take a few seconds to yourself in some nature and reflect on how great it is to be living on earth these days.

Science World After Dark - Earth Day Edition: After the kids leave for the day, adults take over. Explore Science World at sunset and enjoy the urban gardens, model ecosystem and resident chickens.

7th Annual Earth Day Parade & Festival: Since 2011, we have flocked to Commerical Drive each April for the Annual Earth Day Celebration. This celebration of climate action includes music, entertainment, activities, special guests and creative art. It's free and family friendly.

Party for the Planet in Surrey:  This is BC's largest celebration of Earth Day. The party will include a bike powered smoothie stop, tree and plant sale, road hockey, a rock climbing wall, food & drink and fun photo booths.

Whatever you choice, let's get out and celebrate!

Earth Day Vancouver 2017

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The TED Talks Conference event is known around the world as an enlightening speaking series that has featured some of the most recognizable names in society.

The next TED Talks Conference takes place from April 24-27, 2017 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.  However tickets for the event can be  a little mind-blowing for the average person at $2,000 - $6,000 a seat, plus the fact that they are already sold out!

So, how can someone on a budget get to experience TED2017 in Vancouver. Luckily, there are a few options for those who want to watch this year's speakers, the likes of which includes Serena Williams and Elon Musk.

This year, you can watch the event in a special experience for cinemas, captured live.  There will be 3 shows available for viewing in select cinemas across Vancouver starting April 24th. 

The cinemas in Vancouver screening the TED Talks 2017 event include:

The Park Theatre (3440 Cambie Street, Vancouver), Cineplex Odeon Park & Tilford (333 Brooksbank Ave., North Vancouver), and Silvercity Metropolis Cinemas (4700 Kingway, Burnaby).

You can also search the map for a cinema closer to you screening the shows on April 24, 25 and 30. Tickets are around $23 for each screening.

In addition, there are usually several live web streams of the event screened at libraries and other locations around Vancouver.  Last year the event was streamed in libraries and universities, including:

Vancouver Public Library - Main Branch, Kitsilano Branch and Refrew Branch

For more information visit the official website.

TED Talks Vancouver 2017

 

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Toyota doesn't believe the future of the car is only about teaching vehicles to drive for us. While the Concept-i vehicle shown at CES would be capable of driving autonomously, its biggest draw is the artificial intelligence that powers it. Toyota claims the car will be able to learn more about the drivers' preferences and needs over time, such as suggesting destinations after a driver chats with the vehicle's virtual assistant, call 'Yui'.

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After a long, dreary March, nothing could be more exciting than the upcomng Easter Long weekend! If you're more excited about the prospect of searching for chocolate eggs rather than an excuse to sleep in, there are plenty of organized egg hunts happening around the city.  Unfortunately, most of these egg hunts have an age limit of 10 and below. But if you have a kid, you can always live vicariously through their frantic attempts to locate the eggs hidden amongst the garden.

If you are hoping to get into the Easter spirit this weekend, here are some events to give you some ideas:

VanDusen Botanical Garden A-Maze-ing Egg Hunt. Tickets sell out quickly so make sure you grab a few ahead of time.

Stanley Park Easter Train. Hop onboard the Stanley Park Train for an exciting Easter ride through Stanley Park.

Easter at FlyOver Canada.  The Easter bunny will be making a special appearance here, to lead young aviators as they search for chocolate eggs.

Yaletown Roundhouse Easter Egg Hunt. Head on down to the Yaletown Roundhouse for their annual Eggs-tacular Easter Egg Hunt.

Easter Fun Run & Egg Hunt.  This run offers a 10km and a 5km run/walk plus a 1km little bunny run/walk. All ages are invited to come out!

Easter Scavenger Hunt at the Vancouver Aquarium. Fun for the whole family. 

easter egg hunt vancouver

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Spring is here and the tulips are finally in bloom. Maybe pack yourself a nice picnic, or visit one of the convenient food trucks on-site and enjoy a fun-filled day at the Bloom Abbotsford Tulip Festival. Bloom is also home to photo cut out boards and a children's play area. That's on top of acres upon acres of rainbow coloured fields that are every bit as impressive as they are decorative.

And if you would like to bring to spring beauty home you are in luck. Bouquets of fresh cut tulips will be available at the on-site flower market, or if you would prefer the full farm experience, you can wander through the designated u-pick area and build a bouquet of your very own.

This all takes place daily until May 7th from 9am to dusk at 36737 North Parallel Rd. Abbotsford.

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Hop on the Stanley Park Train for an egg-citing Easter ride through Stanley Park. After the train ride, purchase carnival strip tickets and enjoy fun activities including mini golf, face painting, hunting for eggs and meeting the Easter Bunny.  Running from April 13-17

Stanley Park Railway Easter Train

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Running tours are offered in Vancouver? I had no idea!  What a great idea. An example is a 4.3 mile / 7 km run around False Creek.  So much of Vancouver's history revolved around False Creek. Originally it was a fertile native fishing and hunting area and later with European arrivals it became the site of all kinds of industry - from sawmills to shipbuilding. This running tour examines the history of Vancouver through the lens of False Creek. You will also see modern False Creek and its multiple uses today.  You will run through the 2010 Olympic Village site and visit iconic Granville Island. From Granville Island you will take a boat across the creek to finish the tour. The run is offered Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays at 9am and on Tuesday at noon. For the Vancouver Running Tours complete calender click here.

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Every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 3pm you can gather at the Gassy Jack Statue for a wonderful afternoon of Gastown. Vancouver Foodie Tours presents this fascinating  history which is served alongside Gastown's best tastings.  Discover award winning restaurants, both old and new in Vancouver's culinary hotspot while our local, knowledgeable guide leads the way through the maze of endless food options.  Hidden gems and Canadian classics await!

The tours runs for 3 hours and covers about 1.4 km, 30 minutes walking with 5 stops. It costs $79.99 - $20 for optional alcoholic pairings. Sounds like fun!

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Richmond city council has finally approved recommendations from its licensing department to address concerns about illegal, hotel-like operations and other negative impacts on neighbourhoods.

There will not be a complete ban on short-term rentals, but rather a restriction on the number of newly licensed bed and breakfasts across the municipality and every residential dwelling, except for secondary suites and coach houses, will be allowed to rent a bedroom, or 2 to up to 2 people, on a daily basis.

The city is also going to temporarily increase the number of inspectors to address suspected house-hotel operations and other short-term rentals that skirt existing bylaws, which have been described by some councillors as full of loopholes and devoid of enforceable measures.

The key to the new changes will be the fact that a short-term 'operator' must reside in the home. Furthermore, a licensed bed and breakfast operator must be the owner of the house and 'live' in the home full-time.

The short term rental of entire dwellings (detached or strata) for less than 30 days is prohibited.

A bed and breakfast will allow for a city licensed operator to rent out 3 bedrooms to up to 6 people in total, daily.  But a 500 metre buffer between bed and breakfasts will limit the number of licenses across the city.

Fines for violations will increase from $250 to $1,000.

The new regulations will come into effect after final adoption of the bylaw amendments, which are expected to take place later this month.

hotel house

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Mobsters! Opium! Booze! Delve into Vancouver's dirtiest secrets on this scandal fuelled walking tour. You'll discover dirty cops, a corrupt Mayor and travel back to 1917 when Prohibition hit us harder than a slug of bathtub gin. You'll visit Vancouver's most salacious building - the Sun Tower, marvel at the ornate Dominion Building and walk the cobblestone streets where bootlegging, rum-running and illegal gambling once ran rampant.  From back alley blind pigs to Chinatown opium dens - these ain't the kindest stories that you will hear on a tour bus.

Recurring daily until September 30th starting at Cathedral Square - Richards at Hastings, across from the Holy Rosary Cathedral.

Adults: $25.  Students and seniors  $22.

Image: Prohibition City Walking Tour

Chinatown in the 1800s - Dupont St - credit City of Vancouver ArchivesVictory Square Vancouver - 1920s - credit City of Vancouver ArchivesWest Hastings & Carrall Streets - CPR interurban train crossing - credit City of Vancouver Archives

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