March 29, 2007

Cat Happy With De-Hibernated Turtle

We brought Midori, our red-eared slider, out of her hibernation tank the other day, and Choco the cat was happy to have her buddy back. Though Choco tries to play, they don't interact much, but I think Choco just likes having Midori around.


Posted by Paul at 07:49 PM

March 21, 2007

Community Liveability Survey

A professor in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University (where I'm studying) is conducting research on community liveability. If you have a few minutes, you can access the survey here.


I and my research team have embarked upon an ambitious research project to solicit feedback from two million Canadians exploring what kinds of relationships we have within our communities.

You can participate in this unique research in two ways:

1. Complete the online Community Liveability Survey. If you would like to enter the early bird draw (exclusive to members of the RRU community) as well as the general draw for one of five iPod Shuffles, simple enter your address into the space provided. Your response is CONFIDENTIAL. Your e-mail address will be used only for the random draws - you will not be contacted unless you win.

2. Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to complete the survey and share the survey link with the members of their many communities. To see how broad the reach is of our RRU community network, we ask all to type ?peacock? in the last question of the survey, forwarding the same request on to their networks.

Ultimately we hope the findings will shed light on the relationships between agency (individual capacity), social capital and sustainable community development.

For further details on the project, including your opportunity to win an iPod Shuffle, please see the brief survey outline following my signature block. Thank you - your responses could well help shape the world we leave to our children and grandchildren.

Ann Dale, Trudeau Fellow
Professor, School of Environment and Sustainability Faculty of Social
and Applied Sciences Canada Research Chair on Sustainable Community
Development Royal Roads University
2005 Sooke Road, Victoria, BC, V9B 5Y2


Regardless of geographic location, our communities are formed by the individual day-to-day choices we all make. Many of our decisions to live more sustainably are shaped by the community resources available to us such as public transit, access to shops and restaurants, water and sewer, friends and family, health care, schools, services for seniors, and recreational opportunities. But do we define communities or do they define us?

In order to fully understand what makes a community sustainable and how it functions, Dr. Dale's research team is looking not only at the geographic communities in which we live, but also the relational communities of which we are members such as those related to our career, profession, sports and social interests, disabilities and illnesses, religion, age, gender, hobbies, sex, cultural background, and of course the virtual communities in which we find ourselves. They are also exploring what access to sustainable infrastructure a community has and how that determines how people come together.

Five randomly chosen respondents will be selected at the end of the survey period to win an iPod Shuffle. Your response is CONFIDENTIAL. You will only be asked to identify yourself if you wish to register to win the iPod Shuffle and you will not be contacted by anyone unless you win.

All results from the survey will be published online at as of Sept 2008, with continual updates as numbers dictate.

"The survey is a dynamic research tool and thus, we will continue to collect data as long as there is community interest" says Dr. Dale. "We are hoping that this data allows us to learn more about gaps in community perspectives and critical linkages between agency, social capital and sustainable community development that will lead to concrete policy recommendations by governments."

Posted by Paul at 03:31 PM

March 20, 2007

Streamkeepers ID Several Species of Salmonid Fry in Byrne Creek

Baby salmon and trout are appearing in greater numbers in Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. Yumi and I positively identified chum salmon fry and cutthroat trout fry today and have photo evidence. We also thought we had got a few coho salmon fry, but unfortunately we have only one, poor-quality photo to back us up.

NOTE: It is illegal to net baby fish, and streamkeepers do so with permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. We handle them with care and release them once we get a close look at them and take some photos.


A chum fry. Note the parr marks that do not extend below the lateral line, and the light greenish coloration.


A cutthroat fry. Black leading ray and white tip on dorsal fin.


Three chum and one cutthroat in the creek after we released them. The chum are in the top center-left and the cutthroat is at the bottom right. The chum were around 5cm long, while the cutthroat was about 3.5cm.


Likely a coho fry -- it's a poor photo, but the anal fin does appear to be sickle shaped, and have a leading white ray followed by a dark ray.

Posted by Paul at 05:38 PM

March 19, 2007

Cloudy, Rainy Burnaby Sunset

On a dreary, rainy, monochromatic evening visiting my Mom in her tower condo, the setting sun broke through for a few moments to illuminate the northern ridges of Burnaby. The north shore mountains are hidden in the mist.


Posted by Paul at 10:26 PM

March 18, 2007

Cherry Trees Begin to Bloom in Burnaby

Cherry trees are beginning to blossom in Burnaby. Yumi and I took a quick tromp down and back up Byrne Creek Ravine Park this afternoon to get some exercise and some fresh air in between work and school assignments, and were enchanted to see some fragile petals.


Posted by Paul at 10:10 PM

March 15, 2007

Burnaby Business Excellence Awards 2007

I am sitting on the nominations committee for the Burnaby Board of Trade Business Excellence Awards 2007. We are coming up with a list of businesses and non-profit organizations that deserve to be in the running for an award this year, and encourage people to nominate them. I am the president of the board of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society that won the Community Service award in 2004.

The Burnaby Spirit and Community Service awards have been combined into the category of Burnaby Community Spirit. This category is not open to non-profits. To accommodate non-profits and not have them run directly against businesses, there is now a new category of Non-Profit Organization of the Year.

The other categories remain the same and are open to both businesses and non-profits: Business Innovation, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Newsmaker of the Year, Business Person of the Year, Small Business of the Year (fewer than 50 employees and annual revenues of up to $5 million), and Business of the Year.

Please contact the board of trade at the link above if you have any ideas about Burnaby based companies and groups that you feel would be deserving of an award.

Posted by Paul at 07:40 PM

March 14, 2007

A River Runs Through Us

Fin Donnelly, founder of the Rivershed Society of BC, gave a presentation on his work at the Fraser River Discovery Centre this evening. He recapped his amazing swims (twice!) down the entire length of the Fraser River, a distance of nearly 1,400 km, to highlight issues of sustainability. He also spoke about programs the Rivershed Society is working on including Project Rivershed which is focusing on the Brunette watershed in the Lower Mainland. Another exciting program from the Rivershed Society is the Sustainable Living Leadership Program, which takes young people on rafting trips down the entire length of the Fraser, while training them in leadership and sustainability along the way. Fin is also a councillor for the City of Coquitlam.

A River Runs Through Us is a Rivershed Society slogan highlighting the importance of healthy watersheds, and that we can all make a difference with our own behaviours.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

Salmon Fry Popping Up in Byrne Creek

Salmon fry (babies) are popping up out of the gravel in Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. I saw fry in several areas of the creek, the spawning habitat and the sediment pond this afternoon. I was elated to spot them because streamkeepers had seen fry several weeks earlier last year, and I was getting concerned. I haven't positively identified them yet, but they are likely chum. I also saw mayflies hatching and a butterfly, so spring is in the air. Last, but not least, I saw a muskrat or beaver swim into a hole in the bank of the overflow pond in the habitat.

Look carefully and you can see a school of fry above the gravel.

This mayfly has just hatched. The husk is above.

Here's one emerging. A nymph can be seen to the left.

Posted by Paul at 04:57 PM

March 13, 2007

National Post Sows Descent

In today's National Post, the RCMP takes on the Mafia in Montreal, "sowing descent and confusion among gangsters."

I guess this means: "You're going down, punk!"

Posted by Paul at 09:39 AM

March 09, 2007

Cory Doctorow on The Totalitarian Urge

Science fiction writer and Internet and DRM activist Cory Doctorow spoke about The Totalitarian Urge: Total Information Awareness and the Cosmic Billiards at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby this afternoon.

MP3 files of two talks Doctorow gave at SFU are available here.

A few notes:

People are hard, technology is easy.

The Internet has stimulated amazing works of collaboration that arise spontaneously. Collaboration is now so cheap that you don't even know it is going on. Anyone who has ever linked to a web page has contributed to collaborating. And now we have tagging of blogs and images.

The Open Source movement built by volunteers is amazing, and has changed our notion of what can be done by loosely controlled groups of volunteers.

People will use technology for freedom faster than it can be walled off. Company employees treat systems administrators as damage and route around them.

The more control there is, the less efficient we become.

Net neutrality vs quality of service -- it is more efficient to simply provide more bandwidth.

The Internet is also open to adding more control. Total information awareness is the idea that if we have enough data we can understand the world. This is leading to black lists, no-fly lists. Yet when you're watching everyone, you are watching no one. The Stasi in East Germany had a file on everyone, yet they didn't know the Wall was coming down. We need to distinguish between technologies that track us for our own benefit, and those that track us to spy on us.

RFID (radio frequency identification tags that are increasingly embedded in products) are setting us on a course for non-stop identification and tracking. We are being conditioned to live in a surveillance state.

Forward valuing is hard to do, but we must learn how to do it both in regard to privacy issues and a sustainable environment.

Posted by Paul at 07:07 PM

March 08, 2007

Steelhead Recovery Biologist Speaks to Streamkeepers

Greg Wilson, a fish biologist with the BC Ministry of Environment, spoke to Byrne Creek Streamkeepers about steelhead recovery and habitat restoration efforts in BC this evening. It was an interesting presentation about these unique fish, and he also addressed assessment of the massive fish kill on the Cheakamus River after the August 2005 toxic spill when a CN train derailed on a bridge over the river.

Posted by Paul at 10:37 PM

March 07, 2007

Forum: Building Environmentally Friendly Communities

Burnaby - New Westminster MP Peter Julian hosted a community forum on Building Environmentally Friendly Communities at Douglas College this evening. About 40-50 people showed up to hear Julian and four other speakers, followed by a question/answer/suggestion period. (Disclosure: Though Julian has appeared in several of my blog posts, I am not a member of any political party, and intend to maintain my independence in the future).

This is the first of three forums Julian is hosting on climate change. He said we need fundamental changes at all levels to tackle the issue, from individuals all the way up to the federal government.

The first speaker on the panel was Nicholas Lamm who works on the Green Workplace Program associated with the Environmental Youth Alliance. He spoke about creating green communities within businesses to make change last.

Scott Sinclair, VP of the BC Sustainable Energy Association, said BC is blessed with tremendous renewable energy resources. We could double the energy we now produce simply by tapping renewable resources such a wind, solar, geothermal, etc. He said his organization is working on a plan for a fossil-fuel free GVRD. The plan would cut CO2 emissions by 80% by 2025. The main way to achieve this would be by eliminating the use of natural gas for heating (replacing it with heat pumps, solar, wind, etc.) and the use of gasoline for transportation (replacing it with electricity). He said communities need to be redesigned for walking, cycling and transit.

Next came Tom Lancaster, Manager of Advisory Services, SmartGrowth BC. He pointed out that urban design is still centered on cars. He said at least 13 homes per acre are needed for a functional transit system, and on average we are nowhere near that density. We are still not building the right kinds of cities -- we need to create nodal town centers.

Last came Jonathan Cote, a New Westminster city councillor. He talked about a Green Action Plan that he and other young municipal councillors from all over BC are working on. He said a lot of mistakes have been made in designing the GVRD and that we continue to separate where we live from where we work, shop and play. We cannot be afraid of density. He said industrial land is important, and that New Westminster should ensure it remains industrial. He said it is critically important to engage the public. Last, he pointed out that municipalities are called upon to do more and more, but their revenue sources are limited to property tax for the most part.

Julian wrapped up the presentations by insisting that the Gateway Program that centers on twinning the Port Mann bridge is a bad decision. It basically rewards communities for adding to suburban sprawl and continues to focus transportation on cars.

The ensuing question/suggestion period came up with many suggestions for achieving greener communities. When an audience member complained about how many businesses and amenities New Westminster had lost or was losing -- a Canadian Tire, a Zellers, its only movie theater, a community theater, etc. -- meaning people would have to drive more, Cote pointed to neighbouring Burnaby's Big Bend big box developments (he also decried the Big Box-ification of his city's Queensborough area). As a Burnaby resident, I silently cheered, for Burnaby really screwed up on these developments that are completely car oriented and are sucking commerce out of the Kingsway corridor and the nearby Edmonds Town Centre -- undermining the city's own community plans.

Posted by Paul at 10:00 PM

March 04, 2007

Now That's Rain Drain Marking!

Streamkeepers in BC have long been marking rain drains (aka storm drains) with painted yellow fish to inform the public that all street and parking lot drains lead directly to local creeks and streams. Here's a video from New Zealand with some amazing drain marking!

Posted by Paul at 10:07 AM

March 03, 2007

Politicians Tour Byrne Creek

This morning Byrne Creek Streamkeepers took our Member of Parliament, Peter Julian, Burnaby City Councillor Pietro Calendino, Burnaby Parks Commission Chair Paul McDonell and commissioner Alex Ng, and Burnaby RCMP S/Sgt. John Buis on a tour of the creek.


We discussed issues in the watershed, what streamkeepers do, SEA streets and rain gardens, and environmental and social issues. It was great to see them all come out and share their valuable time. Such dialogue is invaluable.

Never ones to waste valuable time, some streamkeepers combined the event with taking another sample in our ongoing late winter/early spring bug survey, while others pulled invasive plant species in the spawning habitat and picked up litter along Southridge Dr.

Posted by Paul at 06:29 PM

March 02, 2007

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Release 2006 Watershed Report

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers released their Byrne Creek Watershed 2006 Status Report today (5.8MB PDF file).

The report grew from 17 pages in 2005 to 27 pages in 2006. We added an extensive write-up on the February 2006 fish kill as an appendix, and added new sections on pH measurements, rain drain marking, and community participation.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Posted by Paul at 05:15 PM