Vancouver Courier columnists feted

Two Vancouver Courier columnists have received honours for their work unrelated to weighing in on Vancouver affairs.

Long-serving columnist Allen Garr, who picked up the coveted City Mike award for commentator of the year at the 2014 Webster Awards for B.C. journalism, won a Greenest City Award Leadership (Individual) at the City of Vancouver’s annual Awards of Excellence held last week at the Orpheum Theatre.

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Garr, who doubles as a master beekeeper, was honoured for his tireless advocacy for bees’ needs for more than 20 years and for increasing public understanding of the threats facing honeybees in the city, which included successfully lobbying city council to amend a 1927 bylaw banning beekeeping in urban areas. As a result, hobby beekeeping is now allowed in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Delta, Burnaby and Richmond, and there are now prominent apiaries at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre, Science World, UBC Farm and VanDusen Botanical Garden.

Michael Geller, whose contributions as an architect, city planner and property developer have helped transform the face of Vancouver and who recently celebrated his first year as a regular Courier columnist, is being honoured for his lifetime of work by ORT [Obchestvo Remeslenogo Truda: Association for the Promotion of Skilled Trades], an international non-profit organization that promotes education and training in communities.

As Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Special Coordinator-False Creek, Geller oversaw approvals for the non-profit and market housing developments within the first phase of the city’s South Shore False Creek community. In four decades in urban design and real estate, Geller has played key roles in projects including UniverCity at Simon Fraser University, the south shore of False Creek, Steveston Village, Bayshore in Coal Harbour, Deering Island, Furry Creek and a variety of residential and mixed-use projects around Vancouver.

“I was shocked when I was approached, but very much honoured,” said Geller. “My first thought was of all the other people who are probably more deserving. But, that being said, I agreed to do it because I am familiar with the good work ORT does, particularly in the field of education.”

Geller will be handed the hardware at a Sept. 1 gala event called Building Minds held at the Richmond Country Club.

Both are expected to continue informing and/or infuriating Courier readers on a regular basis.

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