November 28, 2008

Collective Apathy, Amnesia

'Crisis puts climate fight back on the back burner'

'Public is tiring of climate change fight, poll finds'

The above two headlines ran together on the same page in today's Vancouver Sun.

To some extent I understand the apathy and amnesia about what is happening to the environment as the global financial and economic crisis hits home. What I don't get is why the old economy always seems to trump the environment. Without clean air and water, without productive land, we cannot survive. We are talking about our health and well-being, not only that of some nebulous "environment".

Let's take a look at a few more headlines from the last week:

'Complete fishing halt won't save cod: study' -- in today's National Post. Do you like fish and chips? How about 'Gulf cod are doomed, DFO finds' -- the same story in the Sun.

'Aquatic food webs at risk' -- on the same page as the two headlines that started this blog post.

Yesterday's Sun -- 'Abbotsford mushroom farms fined for dumping toxins: Waste caused destruction of salmon-bearing stream'

Well knock me down with a feather! It took nearly two years, but enforcement and fines actually happened. What about the guy who was caught wet-booted pouring chemicals into John Mathews Creek in the watershed that I live in? How many more years will we wait for action on that blatant poisoning?

'Boy died from spraying too much deodorant: Solvent in can most probably cause of death, coroner finds' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

So you think all those cleansers and beauty products in your house, and pesticides in your garage, are fine because they are "approved", eh? Think again...

'Declining gas prices could derail surge in transit use' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

'Way cleared for farmed fish to be labeled as organic' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21. And what about all those chemicals used in the process?

'Scientists assail easing of rules for natural gas exploration: Planned changes cited as path to ecological crisis in boreal forests' -- Vancouver Sun, Nov. 21.

I've got more articles cut out of the paper in the last week or two, but I think the trend is clear. So why don't we get it? Are we so self-absorbed and selfish that we'll just continue to consume and spray and clear cut and mindlessly "develop" and the hell with our own health and the prospects for our children and their children?

Posted by Paul at 09:23 AM

Seattle Coho Dying Before Spawning

Coho are dying in restored streams in Seattle before they can spawn, according to this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. The cause is speculated to be polluted runoff from roads. We have noted the same effect here in the lower mainland of British Columbia, with many coho dying unspawned in "our" stream, Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby. While Byrne has received few coho in the last few years, it's even more tragic when the few that do come back do not spawn before they die.

According to the Seattle article, coho in rural creeks are fine, it's urban creeks and restored city waterways in which the fish are struggling -- precisely the creeks that suffer most from pollutants.

Thanks to streamkeeper Joan for pointing out the article.

Posted by Paul at 07:09 AM

November 24, 2008

Streamkeepers on CBC Radio

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers were interviewed by CBC radio reporter Terry Donnelly today. Joan Carne and I spoke about the trials and tribulations facing urban creeks, and the positive news that this year's run of chum and coho spawners in Byrne Creek had at least matched the new low set last year. Why is that good news? Well, it's the first time in several years that the numbers had not declined!

We covered some of the issues affecting urban creeks including scouring and erosion caused by massive runoff during rains due to the buildup of impervious surfaces (roads, parking lots, roofs) in urban watersheds, pollution from road wash that goes down storm drains including gas, oil, antifreeze, brake dust, rubber dust, etc. Terry was also curious about efforts to daylight creeks, or bring them back to life from the pipes that they have been buried in.

It was a great conversation, and I hope a decent portion makes it onto the air. I know that the vagaries and time pressures of journalism often result in at best a minute or two of a two-hour discussion actually being published...

The piece should air on B.C. Almanac on Friday, Nov. 28, 2008, and the latest we heard was that it was slated for 1:40 p.m.

You can monitor the show here.
( Just look for the link near the top of the page under "Listen Live".

Posted by Paul at 02:49 PM

November 22, 2008

Jakes's Gift Is... Tears

Jake's Gift is a wonderful one-hour, one-woman play that brings to life an imagined interaction over several days between a young French girl and a cantankerous Canadian WWII veteran at the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Juno beach. Julia Mackey amazes with a minimalistic set and her flawless shifting between several characters, all of whom she makes believable. By the end of the play, there were few dry eyes in the audience...

The contrast between youth and age, cheerful innocence and weary worldliness was portrayed with subtle nuance, humor, and tenderness. A beautiful salute to a generation now nearly gone, and the hope embodied in the dreams of children.

Yumi and I had never been to a play at the Shadbolt Centre in Burnaby before, though we've been to many other events at the scenic venue overlooking Deer Lake. Jake's Gift was certainly an excellent introduction to live theater there.

Posted by Paul at 10:32 PM

November 21, 2008

Waiting for Dell... and waiting... and waiting

Do I stay or do I go? A new laptop should arrive from Dell today, seven weeks after I ordered it, and nearly five weeks after the supposed original delivery date. So I'm hanging around the office, hoping... though I do have errands to run...

Dell's customer service appears to have collapsed. If you Google "Dell" in the news, the company is in trouble, and from my recent experience, rightly so.

Over the past ten years I've ordered several computers from Dell, and have never experienced the delays and breakdown in communication that have dogged this last order.

I specifically wanted the new laptop ahead of a two-week vacation, and when the order form informed me that the estimated delivery date was Oct. 13, and I was departing on the 16th, I went ahead, assuming I had a cushion of a couple of days for any delay. Right.

Despite Dell's avowed policy of updating customers regarding any delays, I did not receive any notification, and left on my vacation without a new machine.

When I returned, over two weeks past the original estimated delivery date, there was still no computer. So I fired off an email to customer service and a day later received a reply apologizing for the delay, proposing a new estimated delivery date of Nov. 21 (today), but no mention about why they didn't proactively inform me about what was (not) happening.

So I sit here, and I check my order page online, and it still has a projected delivery date of Oct. 13, not Nov. 21... And the progress bar indicates that the notebook is still "In Production." Yet what do I believe, the apparently never-updated order status page, or the email from the customer service rep?


How can you run a business like this? How can a company tumble so far?

Posted by Paul at 10:34 AM

November 18, 2008

Edmonds Association AGM Results

Here's my report following tonight's AGM for the Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association...

Hello ETCBCA members and friends:

1) Here is your board of directors for the 2008-09 year:

Paul Cipywnyk (second year of two-year term)
Allan Zhang (second year of two-year term)
Rob Lamoureaux (second year of two-year term)
Dave Fairhall (acclaimed for another two-year term)
Joyce Rostron (acclaimed for a new two-year term)

Thank you very much to Joyce for stepping up, and to Dave for renewing. The board looks forward to working with everyone over the next year.

2) The motion to increase the annual dues to $40 from $20 passed. The new rate is effective from Nov. 19, 2008.

3) When I was preparing my president's report for the AGM, I was impressed with how much the association had accomplished over the last year, so I am enclosing the report here.

President?s Report
Edmonds Town Centre Business & Community Association
AGM, Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It?s been a busy year for our association. I will run through a partial list of some of the events that we have participated in since the last AGM. While I?m sure I?ve missed a few, it?s an impressive list!

November 24, 2007: Santa Parade

November 28, 2007: Executive Meeting

December 11, 2007: Year-End Party at Myles of Beans

February 2008: Survey/Strategic Planning meetings/mailed surveys & posted online

March 2008: Two Strategic Planning sessions facilitated by Deb Thomas

March 27, 2008: Joint KINA/ETCBCA Graffiti/Community Policing open house

April 23, 2008: BC Achievement Awards Victoria - Paul McDonell, recipient

May 3, 2008: Spring Clean Sweep

May 19, 2008: Taiwan Culture Show fundraising concert

May 30, 2008: Liberty Place open house

June 2, 2008: Executive Meeting

June 11, 2008: Urban Trail bridge and trail opening near Edmonds Skytrain station

June 14, 2008: Ground breaking ceremony for the new Edmonds public library

July 1, 2008: Canada Day

July 27, 2008: Spirit of Edmonds - Monica Mueller and Doug Harder

August 11, 2008: Spirit of Edmonds Volunteer Appreciation

September 14, 2008: City Fair in Richmond Park

October 4, 2008: Autumn Clean Sweep

November 13, 2008: ETCBA morning business networking seminar

I would like to thank Past President Dave Fairhall, Treasurer Allan Zhang, Secretary Jim McQueen and directors Kim Mostat and Rob Lamoureux for their contributions over the past year. I would also like to thank Monica Mueller for her invaluable work leading the Spirit of Edmonds committee for three years, and co-chair Doug Harder. Monica and Doug conducted numerous planning meetings and volunteer events in addition to the show itself, which was bigger and better than ever. Thanks also to Paul McDonell for his tireless work on the ongoing community murals project. Our group would be much the weaker without the constant presence of the RCMP, in particular Staff Sergeant John Buis, Ray Allen, and Jennifer Allegretto of the Southeast Community Police Office, along with their contingent of volunteers, and of course the Burnaby Firefighters who appear at nearly every community event with their BBQ equipment and ladder truck. I thank the numerous others who volunteered their time and effort, and beg their forgiveness for not being able to mention everyone by name in this report.

I would also like to recognize our ongoing relationship with the Kingsway Imperial Neighbourhood Association, or KINA. KINA Chair Diane Gillis was instrumental in organizing the joint KINA/ETCBCA March 2008 graffiti/community policing open house, and took the lead on a joint KINA/ETCBCA grant proposal to the City for additional community cleanup equipment and supplies.

As president, I have also had the honour of representing the association at other events and meetings including: the BC Achievement Awards at which Paul McDonell was a recipient, several City of Burnaby Byrne Creek Integrated Stormwater Management Plan sessions, several TransLink BC Parkway Upgrade stakeholder consultations, a number of Morely Elementary School Project Hope meetings, etc.

Early in the year we conducted a mailed and online survey of ETCBCA members, and held several strategic planning sessions facilitated by Deb Thomas of the Edmonds Public Library. We heard that members were willing to pay higher dues to assist the association in carrying out its mandate, that businesses wanted additional business-oriented events and benefits, and that our goal of attaining Business Improvement Area status was likely still a few years off in the future. There was also demand for an association website, and I have secured a domain name at and have set up a rudimentary site that will gradually be developed to include association and community event schedules, member information, community resources, perhaps an online community forum, etc.

Here?s to continuing our good works in the coming year!

Paul Cipywnyk

Posted by Paul at 09:10 PM

November 13, 2008

Female Chum Awaits Death in Byrne Creek

This female chum salmon was quietly awaiting death in a calm pool in Byrne Creek this morning. Her spawning mission accomplished, her life's purpose was done. In her deteriorating state she appeared to have gone blind, as she didn't react to my looming shape, but when I stepped in the water she sensed the movement, her shallow breathing accelerated, and she stirred her body -- battered from digging a nest for her eggs in the gravel. I snapped a quick photo and left her in peace.


Posted by Paul at 01:39 PM

November 10, 2008

Chum Spawn in Byrne Creek

Chum salmon have been returning to Burnaby's Byrne Creek over the last couple of weeks. You can check out the website for updated information on numbers as streamkeepers monitor the run.

I took a video of a few spawners today and posted it on You Tube -- my first YT contribution. The quality is not the greatest as I shot it with a digital camera, not a video camera, and I'm still experimenting with editing and processing techniques.

Posted by Paul at 07:55 PM