March 31, 2005

Fun Streamkeeping Talk at Burnaby South

I met about 15 students from the Burnaby South Secondary Green Team over lunch break today to talk about Byrne Creek and streamkeeping.

I had a great time, and I hope the students did, too. We looked at an aerial photo of the watershed and talked about how lucky Burnaby was to have as many existing creeks as it does compared to other cities in the lower mainland.

I explained what streamkeepers do and what amazing animals salmon are.

Thanks to streamkeeper and Burnaby South student Eleanor for setting up the talk, and to Mr. Terpening, the Green Team teacher.

I borrowed this photo from the school's website.


Posted by Paul at 07:38 PM

March 22, 2005

Big Bend Development Draws Crowd to Burnaby Council

A rezoning hearing brought a big crowd to Burnaby City Hall this evening, with the bulk of the focus on proposed big box developments in the Big Bend area near where we live.

The developments, on both sides of Marine Way east of Byrne Road, have been drawing strong local opposition, but appear to be a done deal. Letters of support were read from Best Buy/Future Shop, Winners, Canadian Tire, and other retailers, while opponents were mostly local residents.

I understand the necessity of development, however NIMBYism aside, I really don't see the need for these projects. The traffic in the area is already terrible, and having thousands more drivers doing destination shopping will bring it to a standstill.

There is little mass transit to the area, and having dozens of big stores there will undermine the city's efforts to revitalize Edmonds Town Centre, which is a five-minute drive away.

The whole plan simply flies in the face of sustainability and livability.

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

March 20, 2005

Stormwater Out, Rainwater In

Following up on my Let it Rain conference report, Stream of Dreams Murals Society Artistic Director Louise emailed saying "I like rainwater management over stormwater... so shall we change stormdrain to raindrain?" ;-)

I think that's a great idea!

It makes a much more direct connection in people's minds to say "raindrain" -- it's one less cognitive step they have to process (backwards up the cause-effect ladder) to make the connection that most rainwater that hits impermeable surfaces such as roads, roofs and parking lots, goes down stormdrains, er, raindrains.

Instead of the idea that these systems are only for storms, people would more clearly see that they are for all rain.

And imagine if we called them "rain pipes" rather than "stormwater pipes" or "storm sewers" as a lot of people at the conference called them.

Stormwater > Rainwater
Storm drain > Rain drain
Storm sewer > Rain pipe

It all sounds less negative, cleaner, and perhaps would hit home harder when people think about pouring something down a "rain drain" rather than a "storm drain." Semantics, I know, but words are powerful.

Paradigm shift, here we come!

Posted by Paul at 04:34 PM

March 18, 2005

Let it Rain Conference

I attended the one-day Let it Rain conference at Douglas College today.

"A Conference on Managing Rainwater Runoff with Low Impact Development Methods"

It was a very interesting event. Over a hundred people attended, with lots of representation from various municipalities in the lower mainland, the GVRD, developers, engineering firms, and NGOs (environmentalists).

The very short of it: There is a paradigm shift underway.

We are rapidly moving from piping ALL rainwater to attempting to preserve natural conditions as much as possible in the face of inevitable development. People were upbeat, and many of the engineers/developers presenting were actually leading the charge. Many of them had 30+ years of experience and admitted that in that time they had personally shifted from a "pipe everything" approach to a sustainability approach.

A common theme was "it doesn't matter if it costs more, it's the right thing to do, and costs will come down in the future." This was in reference to building permeable surfaces, swales, SEA streets, "country lanes" a la recent Vancouver back lane experiments, rain gardens, roof gardens, LEEDs buildings, detention/retention facilities, etc. This was reiterated passionately by both city staff and consulting engineers in response to questions about costs, acceptance by society, etc. Of course the fact that lots/developments next to creeks and nature command hefty premiums is also a driving factor :-).

Overall a very useful event, and I hope the organizers do it again annually, or perhaps every couple of years.

Oh, one neat idea that popped up was no longer talking about "stormwater management" but shifting to "rainwater management." Presenter Don Moore said that MS Word always flagged "stormwater" as incorrect, while "rainwater" was OK, and that led him to think about changing all uses of "stormwater" to "rainwater." It is rain after all, not just storms, and "stormwater" has developed negative connotations, such as flooding.

So from now on, no more "stormwater management," its "rainwater management." :-)

Posted by Paul at 10:27 PM

March 12, 2005

Byrne Creek Coho Fry Photos

Yumi and I managed to net one of the new coho fry (baby salmon) that have been emerging in Byrne Creek.


These are a couple of photos that Yumi took.


This little fry was about 4 - 5cm long and we released it unharmed after getting its portrait.

With a lot of luck it may survive the year it spends in the creek before heading out to the ocean for a couple of years. Then against immense odds, it might be back in our creek in three years or so to spawn and die.

Posted by Paul at 08:18 PM

March 09, 2005

2010 Olympics Burnaby Luncheon

Brian Krieger is the general manager of the 2010 Commerce Centre, and he spoke at a Burnaby Board of Trade luncheon today.

The 2010 Winter Games are already bringing a lot of business to BC, and that will only increase over the next five years.

Krieger urged businesspeople in the audience to sign up for the site's newsletter, and once the functionality is added, enter their companies in an online database.

Posted by Paul at 07:03 PM

March 05, 2005

Review - The Unusually Useful Web Book

Review - The Unusually Useful Web Book.

By June Cohen.

This is another website book that focuses on creating succesful websites rather than the nitty-gritty of coding.

Lots of useful information on usability, ranking, common errors, etc.

Plenty of lists and action items make it easy to quickly implement some of the ideas, and comments from experts on the front lines back up the information.

Posted by Paul at 06:56 PM

March 04, 2005

Cold Snake Makes For Easy Catch

Yumi and I found a garter snake on the path along Marine Dr. in southeast Burnaby today. It was overcast and about 10C, so the poor snake was still in a semi-torpid state and could not muster much speed.

We were afraid it might get stepped on, or perhaps slither onto the road, so Yumi picked it up and moved it into a bushy area.

We observed it for awhile and it remained motionless, though it was aware we were still there. What a cutie!

Yumi took the following photo of it.


Posted by Paul at 01:59 PM