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VIAVOX: Partnerships and Affordable Housing Part 1 of 2

Oct 06, 2010

By Naomi Buell, Marketing Assistant

Last Thursday we had our first VIAVOX which is a reoccurring event we created to bring people together and discuss topics they are passionate about. The name stems from the Latin word for voice so it seemed appropriate. Our first topic was partnerships and affordable housing and we had a great turnout which included people from Housing for Young Adults with Disabilities (HYAD), the Vancouver school board, Pacific Arbour, the City of North Vancouver, our own VIA staff and many other great people.The VIAVOX’s main presenter was HYAD so it was no surprise that Clay Knowlton, the president of HYAD and his wife Susan were the first to arrive. This allowed me the time to chat with them a little. Not only is what they’re doing inspiring but they are both extremely nice people and Clay has quite the sense of humor, just try to find out if he prefers to wear a nametag on his lapel or on the back of his jacket. Vera Frinton of HYAD arrived shortly thereafter followed by Cavan Stephens, HYAD’s vice president and I was able to show them the poster which we had created for the event.

The poster highlighted one of the fundraisers they had held, their website, a news article on their new location, the sketches of the new building and pictures of the various HYADians, as they are called. Because HYAD was created by the parents of young adults with disabilities, it was nice for Susan, Clay and Vera to see the poster which had pictures of their children, who as they pointed out are really young adults. In the pictures were Clay and Susan’s daughter standing in front of the future location of HYAD and Vera’s daughter as a torch bearer for the Special Olympics. People began to flow in shortly thereafter and some great networking ensued.


Armed wish sushi, assorted cheeses and tasty beverages, some great conversations took place. Some people were just catching up while others congratulated HYAD on their great work. Cavan and David Sachs, a VIA employee working on the HYAD project, discussed updates Cavan had about BC Housing. Cavan trained as a mechanical engineer but now works as a builder and does consulting work. David also shared with me Cavan’s background in construction which took him from the UK to Saudi Arabia and eventually to Vancouver where he and his wife have been raising their son, a future HYAD resident.

Lorenzo, also a VIA employee, had an interesting conversation with Ian Ambercrombie of the North Vancouver School board. They discussed, among other things, urban planning and our reliance on personal transportation, namely cars. This conversation evolved into a talk about the price of oil and what will happen when it becomes so scarce that it is unavailable. Will certain cities that have been built around streets and highways – cities that rely on vehicles, find it difficult to adjust to mass transit? Will they even think to adapt or will they look for alternate fuel sources?
After waiting for some of the last invited guests to arrive, a brief informal presentation was made by Charlene Kovacs, the director of Community Architecture at VIA and of course by HYAD. Charlene started by saying that VIA believes in connective communities, in ways to bring people together and that our VIAvox’s are one of the ways we can accomplish that. She discussed her involvement with HYAD for the last 5 years and HYAD’s hardwork over the last 25 years. She then passed it over to HYAD at which point Cavan discussed how HYAD started.

– More to be posted Friday –