November 29, 2006

Cold Spawner Patrol on Byrne Creek

Yumi and I did a cold, wet spawner patrol on Burnaby's Byrne Creek today -- halfway through it started snowing again. We were rewarded with one dead spawner, unfortunately it was a female coho salmon that had not deposited her eggs. Poor visibility precluded sighting any other returning salmon.

An unspawned female coho.

(Please note that streamkeepers monitor spawners under the auspices of the DFO -- please do not disturb salmon or their carcasses.)

Oily filth accumulates in the semi-frozen spawning habitat.

The blast of snow in BC's lower mainland is going to have a negative impact on local creeks. All the salt and snow melt that people use to keep their vehicles moving will eventually make its way down rain drains (AKA storm drains :-) and into local waterways.

Posted by Paul at 09:40 PM

November 28, 2006

Snowy Byrne Creek Photos

The snow in the lower mainland of BC might be causing havoc, but it's also beautiful. Here are a few shots around Byrne Creek today.

The trail to the ravine along Brynlor.

Leaves yet green covered with snow.

Ice formations in Byrne Creek.

More ice formations in the creek.

The overflow pond in the spawning habitat.

Posted by Paul at 09:25 PM

November 27, 2006

Snow Swamps BC Lower Mainland

An unusual amount of snow has hammered the lower mainland of BC. We're fortunate to work from home, but others in our townhouse complex who must drive have been having trouble. It took our snow contractors three days to show up due to their incredible work load, so as council president I found myself laying snow melt the first evening of the dump, shoveling the treacherously sloped main entranceway into the complex with my wife Yumi the second day and laying more snow melt, and clearing sidewalks today. The prerogatives of power! :-)

Here's a few shots of our complex, and a few along the way up the hill to my Mom's condo:

The view from our balcony this morning.

The pool surrounded by snow.

Trees with limbs broken by the weight of the wet snow in Ron McLean park.

Here I am beneath the Skytrain on the way to Mom's with a poinsettia.

Yumi between Nikkei Place and the Alan Emmott Centre with Mom's condo tower in the background.

A snowy pond in the gardens at Nikkei Place.

Snowy mountains with Highgate Village towers in the foreground.

City in the Park towers near Edmonds Skytrain station.

Our townhouse complex is just in front of the line of evergreens below the towers.

Posted by Paul at 06:18 PM

November 18, 2006

Salmon-Safe Certification -- Why Not in BC?

I first learned about the Salmon-Safe certification program at the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference a few days ago. It's an intriguing program that certifies farms, vineyards, industrial sites and even parks as being salmon safe. I think this is a great idea, and one that would be excellent to transplant to British Columbia.

"Welcome to Salmon-Safe. Almost a decade after we first started certifying fish friendly farms in Oregon's Willamette Valley, Salmon-Safe has become one of the nation's leading regional eco labels with more than 50,000 acres of farm and urban lands certified. The Salmon-Safe retail campaign has been featured in 200 supermarkets and natural food stores."

Posted by Paul at 06:58 PM

Ran across the website tonight. It appears to be an excellent sustainability resource, and I think I'll buy the book, too. Everything from sustainable food to green building to smart growth to ecological economics to....

Posted by Paul at 02:18 AM

Federal, Provincial Govts Invest $20 Million in Fraser Salmon

Some good news. Read the press release.

Posted by Paul at 02:06 AM

November 17, 2006

2006 Fraser Basin Conference Day 2

The second day of the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council was as interesting and even more inspiring than yesterday.

The exercise on interactive voting on actions from yesterday's breakout sessions was very informative and there was good audience interaction. There were also several more excellent speakers including Shawn Atleo, BC Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations, and Canadian Olympic medalist Silken Laumann.

It's hard not to feel inspired when listening to speakers like Atleo and Laumann -- they really get across the principle that individual efforts can make a huge difference.

I'm looking forward to the next conference in January 2007.

Posted by Paul at 09:15 PM

November 16, 2006

2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference

I am attending the 2006 State of the Fraser Basin Conference put on by the Fraser Basin Council at the convention center in Vancouver today and tomorrow. The sessions today were a mix of depressing and inspiring. The focus of the conference is sustainability, and how governments, businesses, First Nations, and NGOs in the basin can work toward a sustainable future.

The council released its 2006 state of the basin snapshot (which can be downloaded from the above website), and overall, the grade was C-. Ouch. There is much we need to do.

I will share just a few highlights from each day that caught my interest.

First, the basin is projected to see 37% population growth over the next 25 years.

FBC Chair Dr. Charles Jago:

This conference is about inspiring action. We need collaboration for positive change. Realize synergies. We need to focus on what is most crucial. We have the ability to significantly remake our world. It is individuals who must act to change institutions. In turn institutions can change how individuals act.

James Hoggan, James Hoggan and Associates Inc.

Communicating Sustainability: People seem to be talking to themselves. People become less able to connect with broader perspectives. Gap between sustainability community and the general public. Need to bridge this gap to move forward to change how we function as a society. Research into how Canadians are thinking about sustainability.

Bad news ? the word sustainability gets in the way. Very high level of mistrust of government, mistrust of business, mistrust of other Canadians, yet Canadians underestimate each others? concerns about sustainability.

Canadians are very quick to understand sustainability and their values are in line with it, but they are looking for trustworthy leadership and are not seeing it.

Once the concept is explained to them, 82% of Canadians see sustainability as a top goal. Research shows 84% agree we need stricter laws and regulations to protect the environment and 65% agree businesses would be more profitable in the long run if they adhered to sustainability principles. Only 5% said they were not concerned about sustainability, yet thought 50% of other Canadians were not concerned!

How Canadians view sustainability:
Atheists (completely reject the concept) 2%
Heathen (oblivious to the concept) 16%
The Choir (sold on sustainability) 15%
The Congregation (receptive to sustainability) 67%

The Congregation is crucial because these people are enthusiastic but unfamiliar with the issues and too much negativity demoralizes them.

We must reach out on sustainability: Focus on the congregation. Second, given the degree of mistrust, we must communicate through action. Third, we need to define the term sustainability and use a human voice, use their language. The story needs to be hopeful, the benefits must be brought to the fore, and people must know they are not alone.

Canadians do not believe there is anyone at the wheel and are calling for leadership, particularly in sustainability.

The conclusion was that there is hope!

Chris Kelly Vancouver School Board:

There is more than a message here, there is an imperative that needs to be addressed. Humans are always intervening with cycles. The world is elegant and fragile at the same time. There are three themes in the snapshot report. A call for education/a call for learning. A call for leadership. A call for hope.

Young Canadians are starving for meaningful engagement. I?m not talking about learning instead of doing, but learning as active participation. There is no uniform way people learn. Learning is an individual and social process. Extend this to every organization. Importance of engaged learning with systems. Action is common learning. This is a time when a current generation must not pass on its way of doing things to a new generation. Leadership is the act of taking responsibility for the quality of other people?s experience.

Hope is the essential notion. Hope is the oxygen of the human spirit.

Kelly was an excellent speaker!

Paul Kariya, Pacific Salmon Foundation

If we?re going to have creativity we have to have fun. Think Salmon.

We, humankind are the problem, but we are also the solution.


Sorry for the jumble, and apologies to speakers that I left out!

Posted by Paul at 10:17 PM

November 15, 2006

BMO Marketing Wastes Resources

The Bank of Montreal mailed me a package of fake American Express travellers cheques the other day. When you flip through the booklet, you see a stylistic plane taking off. Duh. Aside from the "buy travellers cheques" copy, that was it. What a waste of paper! And what a waste of energy shipping this wasted paper all over the country!

Posted by Paul at 10:06 PM

November 14, 2006

Firefox 2.0 Slow to Load Pages?

Firefox has been my browser of choice ever since it came out, but the latest version, 2.0, has been irritating. It seems to be very slow at loading websites, especially after it's been up and running for some time. I can run Firefox 2 and Explorer 6 on Win XP Pro, and sites that never finish loading on Firefox load in a flash on Explorer. If I shut Firefox 2 down and restart it, it loads sites just fine, but gradually slows to a crawl again.

I also found that I had trouble downloading a bunch of programs from Adobe using Firefox 2 recently. I was finally upgrading to Macromedia Studio 8, and downloads of Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, etc., kept choking and dying mid-stream on Firefox 2. When I switched over to Explorer 6, I downloaded all the applications in the suite with no problems.

Hm. I didn't have any such issues with Firefox 1.5.X. I don't see a huge hue and cry about this on the web, though there are a few complaints out there. Whatever it is, I hope it's rectified soon, 'cause I love Firefox!

Dang, it's happening again! I was looking for URLs to add to this post, and Firefox 2 began choking up again. It just doesn't load pages, or gets stuck halfway through.

Posted by Paul at 07:57 PM

November 10, 2006

Heavy Rains, Urban Development Batter Byrne Creek

Byrne Creek has been suffering as torrential waters barrel through it during the recent heavy rains that have hit the lower mainland of BC. The ravages are human caused -- if the watershed were still in its natural pre-settlement state, the creek would be in fine shape. Say what?

Yes, development is pouring the massive amounts of water into the creek -- the deluge comes from roads, parking lots, and buildings that drain directly into the creek. All those roads, all those parking lots, all that pavement, all those roofs mean that rain pours directly into the creek through the rain-drain (storm drain) system instead of being absorbed into the ground.

We can't turn back time, we can't "un-develop" urban areas, but why can't we protect what few teeny pocket forests we have left? Why not redevelop aging one- and two-story buildings into towers instead of clearcutting pockets of urban biodiversity?

Burnaby has done a decent job of protecting urban biodiversity, but it could be doing so much more.

Heavy rain turns what is normally a few inches of water into a torrent that scours the creek.

Massive flow is causing erosion and ripping a new, less diverse channel through the creek.

Posted by Paul at 08:27 PM

November 09, 2006

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards

The 7th annual Burnaby Business Excellence Awards Gala tonight was a blast. Sponsored by the City of Burnaby and the Burnaby Board of Trade, the "Blues Brothers" themed event was packed.

I was on the nominations committee for the awards this year, and it was a great learning experience. I want to congratulate the two businesses that I nominated, Mr. Ho Wonton House and Mussio Ventures (Backroads Mapbooks) for being finalists in the awards.

I also want to congratulate the Safeway #148 employees who were finalists nominated by the Stream of Dreams Murals Society. They have raised over $23,000 for the society over the last two years, and as president of the society's board of directors, I cannot thank them enough.

Posted by Paul at 10:57 PM

November 08, 2006

Byrne Creek Spawner Patrol

I went on my first spawner patrol this autumn on Byrne Creek this morning, as I had been away at university for three weeks. Yumi and I found two dead coho spawners and a very dead chum. We also saw four live chum and a live coho.

Unfortunately, the two coho were both unspawned females. They were in excellent shape and had not begun to turn color as spawners usually do. Their egg sacs were still firm, and we wondered why they had died prematurely. We hope this doesn't become a recurring pattern with female coho, as it was last year on Byrne Creek.

Here's Yumi hauling one of the coho out of the spawning channel.

A close-up of the egg sacs.

Yumi found this one by smell! Not much left of it...

Streamkeepers measure all dead salmon spawners we find and check if they have spawned. We then cut the carcasses in half so we don't double count, and return them to the creek where they provide essential nutrients.

Posted by Paul at 06:45 PM