November 28, 2005

Canada Off and Running

It's election time again. Following the defeat of the minority Liberals today, Canadians will be going to the polls in January.

Reaction from people on the street on tonight's news was uniformly muted. Most people just do not care. That's sad, and I encourage everyone to take the time to read the platforms of all the major parties. Check out their websites over the coming weeks and decide for yourselves. In alphabetical order:

Bloc Quebecois

Conservative Party of Canada

Green Party of Canada

Liberal Party of Canada

New Democratic Party

Posted by Paul at 06:34 PM

November 26, 2005

Mystery Coho Kill in Byrne Creek

I got a call from two volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streameepers today who were out patrolling the creek for returning salmon spawners. They had come across nine dead coho salmon, all female, all un-spawned, and all looking like they were fresh out of the ocean.

This was unusual for several reasons. First, we rarely see that many dead spawners in one day in our small, urban creek. Second, the fish were in pristine condition, without the usual bodily and color changes that salmon exhibit when they return from salt water to fresh water to spawn. Third, they also found a couple of dead coho smolts -- young fish that live in the creek for a year after they hatch before going out into the ocean.

Coho are our "canaries in coal mines," for they seem to be more sensitive to pollutants than other fish.

We got the word out to a City of Burnaby environmental officer, who went down and took some water samples, and some of the dead fish. We hope an explanation will be found, but often in such cases nothing can be pinpointed.

The kill distressed me, for it added to the toll of female coho that have died before spawning in the creek this autumn.

Posted by Paul at 06:13 PM

November 21, 2005

Misty Photos at Deer Lake

My wife Yumi had a pottery class at the Shadbolt Centre at Deer Lake today, and when I dropped her off I took advantage of the foggy day to take some photos around the lake in the soft light. If that phrase sounds familiar to readers, that's because it's almost the same as in this post :-).

I find such conditions are a challenge to my aging 3.1MP Kodak digital camera and its nearly five-year-old technology. It prefers punchy, vivid colors. You have to tinker a lot with the exposure compensation to get decent shots, however highlights still tend to blow out.


At the floating platform near the Shadbolt Centre.


The fog shrouds the shore.


Majestic trees shimmer in the soft light as winter nears.


A last view of the misty lake.

Posted by Paul at 01:35 PM

November 18, 2005

Disappointing Start to Byrne Creek Spawning Season

We're off to a disappointing start to the salmon spawning season in Byrne Creek, the urban waterway that runs behind our townhouse complex.

So far we've confirmed (measured, sexed, and checked spawning status of dead fish) only 15 chum and 11 coho, less than half of what we had counted by this time last year.

We counted 91 dead spawners last year, and while that may sound paltry, it's an amazing feat for an urban creek in which salmon populations were wiped out for decades. Even after cleanup efforts and restocking initiatives, everything in the creek was killed when someone poured something toxic down a stormdrain six years ago.

It is also frustrating that nearly all of the coho females have not spawned -- we find them with full egg sacs -- while the chum females are almost uniformly spawned.

Streamkeepers have heard that runs have been late this year, so we're hoping the action will pick up.

Posted by Paul at 07:17 PM

November 17, 2005

World's Biggest Internet Discussion?

How's this for an ambitious attempt to get people from around the world tackling social issues over the Internet!

"In a lead-up to the third session of the World Urban Forum (WUF), to be held in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2006, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with IBM and the Canadian Government is holding what it hopes will be the world's biggest Internet discussion to date from 1-3 December 2005."

"...the Habitat JAM promises to give thousands of global citizens, rich and poor alike, a chance to present their ideas on-line for presentation at the Forum..."

"Topics for the online debate include improving the lives of people living in slums, access to water, environmental sustainability, safety and urban crime, finance and governance, and the future of our cities."

You can learn more about the JAM here:

And sign up to participate here:

I've signed up and hope to have time to join in the three-day discussion.

Posted by Paul at 07:31 PM

November 16, 2005

Open Source Media - Blogs Rule!

I ran across the Open Source Media site the other day. Its goal is to collect the best in blog reporting.

"At Open Source Media, we believe... that freedom, openness and transparency in media is an inevitable result of the technological advances that have given every citizen the chance to breathe deeply of the news, thought and opinion that hovers in the ether between us... the phenomenon of blogging... (is) the modern equivalent of the Gutenberg revolution, a way of putting not just published material in the hands of the public?but publishing itself."

I'm doing a paper on the effects of blogging on traditional media and corporate public relations for a media theory course I'm taking in my Master of Arts in Applied Communication program at Royal Roads University.

This supports my thesis that blogs are changing traditional mass media.

Posted by Paul at 08:05 PM

November 14, 2005

Clear, Autumn Sky at Deer Lake

My wife Yumi had a pottery class at the Shadbolt Centre at Deer Lake today, and when I dropped her off I took advantage of the first sunny day in weeks to spend an hour and a half walking around the lake.


Looking southwest across Deer Lake toward the Metrotown skyline.


A bold heron near the floating dock.


Frosty leaves in the meadow.


Looking northeast across the lake at fresh snow on the mountains.


Ceperley House which is now the Burnaby Art Gallery.


The Shadbolt Centre overlooking Deer Lake.

Deer Lake Park, and its restored mansions that are now mostly public spaces, is one of Burnaby's jewels.

Posted by Paul at 03:34 PM

November 09, 2005

Burnaby Lake 'Ecosystem Enhancement' Means Rowing Ditch

I attended a Burnaby Lake Rejuvenation Project public meeting tonight, and came away with a bad taste in my mouth. The city is working hard to spin the $26.5 million plan as an environmental project when it basically calls for dredging a long rectangular ditch down the center of the lake for a rowing course.

I was taken aback to read the project's November 2005 newsletter, which baldly states: "The primary objective of the project is to provide long-term protection and enhancement of the lake ecosystem, fish passage and wildlife habitat by removing approximately 360,000 m3 of sediment in the lake through dredging. The secondary objective of the project is to restore the open water area and create better opportunities for rowing activities."

Funny how that primary "ecosystem" objective is being achieved by dredging that long rectangular ditch down the middle of the lake.

I felt bad for city staff who were left to answer questions, with nary a politician in sight -- conveniently there was an all-candidates meeting for the upcoming civic election on the other side of town.

OK, so say there could be some ecosystem benefits. But what might the costs be? The sediment to be dredged is loaded with pollutants including heavy metals. They are now contained in the lake bottom, but dredging will stir them up.

And how will the sediment be disposed of? The estimate was 50,000 dump trucks of sediment will be removed. If even half of it has to go to a landfill capable of containing pollutants, that's a lot of trucking -- easily a third or more of the projected budget for the whole project -- not to mention the environmental impact of all those trucks roaring around for three or more years.

As a local taxpayer, I wonder about that $26.5 million budget. How many years has that figure been bandied about already? We all know that construction-related costs have been soaring. Transport-related costs have also been soaring. And how many millions have already been spent on this project for all of the engineering and environmental studies? Nobody at the meeting could answer these basic questions.

I think the city has to come clean and present this issue to taxpayers as what it really is -- an elite rowing course that will likely end up costing a lot more than $26.5 million.

This figure also doesn't include new or overhauled rowing facilities. How many more millions will that cost? Apparently no thought has gone into that phase yet....

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM