March 29, 2009

Snowy Rice Lake

Rice Lake on Vancouver's north shore was still covered with ice and snow on the last weekend of March. It was a bright day, and we enjoyed the short ramble through the woods.


It's an easy trail through the wonderful forest.

A reflecting pool in the woods.

Yumi checking annual rings on a stump.

Leaf embedded in the icy lake.

New growth pushes up through last autumn's dead leaves.

Tiny shoots sprout from a mossy log.

Pockets of snow in the forest.

Posted by Paul at 03:28 PM

March 27, 2009

Strange Response From Vancouver Sun Multiculturalism Poll

I received an email today telling me that:

"The next survey for The Vancouver Sun Reader Forum is ready. This survey is about the different issues you think are important in today?s society and multiculturalism in Canada."

So, OK, I started the survey.

Were you born in Canada? Yes.

What is the most important issue facing Canada today? Environment.

What do you consider to be your racial background (don't remember the exact wording, but something like that...)

I chose "Caucasian/White".

"Thank you, we have no more questions for you today."


Which left me with the impression that being a white guy born in Canada disqualified me from answering questions on multiculturalism though my ancestors were immigrants from Ukraine, my wife is Japanese, I live in one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Canada...

Posted by Paul at 04:14 PM

March 24, 2009

200km of Light Rail or 1 Bridge?

UBC sustainability experts say that for the $3.1 billion cost of a new Port Mann bridge "the government could finance a 200-kilometre light rail network that would place a modern, European-style tram within a 10-minute walk for 80 per cent of all residents in Surrey, White Rock, Langley and the Scott Road district of Delta, while providing a rail connection from Surrey to the new Evergreen line and connecting Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge into the regional rail system."

Read the full article.

Seems like a no-brainer, eh?

Posted by Paul at 07:50 PM

March 23, 2009

Golf Courses Huge Water Users - Recycled Sewer Water Does Great Job

"According to a UN estimate, golf courses around the world use 2.5 billion gallons of water each day?if potable, that would handle the needs of 4.7 billion people."

That's a scary statistic. Why not use recycled sewage as this article suggests?

Posted by Paul at 08:07 AM

March 22, 2009

Salmonid Fry Spotted in Byrne Creek

Yumi and I saw salmonid fry in Byrne Creek in southeast Burnaby, BC, today. After checking ID books against the photos we took, they appear to be chum salmon fry.

It's always exciting to see fry in this urban creek, and know that the few salmon that came back the previous autumn were successful in spawning and creating a new generation.


Posted by Paul at 12:32 PM

March 19, 2009

Rainy Byrne Creek

I had to get outside despite the rain and shake my afternoon drowsiness. Byrne Creek was running high and dirty, but there were some beautiful scenes. I saw some varied thrushes -- a male and a female hanging out together -- on the ravine path, and some red-winged blackbirds at the overflow pond. Unfortunately my bird photos were all blurry today because of the low light in the woods. My Canon S5IS does not perform that well in such conditions and I didn't want to carry my DSLR in the rain.

Byrne Creek with high, dirty flow in the rain.

A mossy tree - I didn't realize there were raindrops on the lens until I viewed the photos at home!

Posted by Paul at 03:55 PM

March 18, 2009

Depave Group Sets Excellent Example

I've been following the Depave website because these folks are doing fantastic work. It would be great if we could get some similar projects going here in the City of Burnaby, and across Metro Vancouver and the lower mainland.

Depave's mission is "to inspire and promote the removal of unnecessary concrete and asphalt from urban areas" with the vision of "Livable cities where people and wildlife coexist and thrive amidst clean air, clean water, and an abundance of plants, trees, and vegetation."

Here's an update on the type of stuff they're doing:


Depaving Opportunity!
On Saturday, March 21st, we will be partnering with the Mt. Scott Learning Center to depave part of their parking lot at MSLC! They are hoping to turn it into a green space for students and community members, and need volunteers to help with the depaving. They are looking for 40-50 volunteers. I know there are Depavers out there ready to bust up some cement, so here is your chance! The information is as follows:

* Date: Saturday, March 21
* Time: 10 am - 4 pm
* Location: MSLC High School at Laurelwood Church (6148 SE Holgate Blvd. in Portland)
* Requirements: Event will go on rain or shine so come prepared for the appropriate weather. Tools, gloves, safety gear, drinks and lunch will be provided.


And another project they've been working on:

Fargo Garden Update
Fargo Garden is the site on N. Williams and NE Fargo, where we did our large depaving event in June of 2008. The site is approximately 3,000 square feet. The project was funded through a grant from the (City of Portland) Bureau of Environmental Services, and includes transforming the now-depaved lot into a 'food forest' and community gathering space.

After many months of work, we submitted our 'Site Development Plan,' including stormwater management features, to the Portland Bureau of Development Services (BDS) on March 2nd. We hope to receive our permit by the end of this week (by 3/20) and then to spring into action with the rest of our work. What does that entail? Removing the remaining gravel from the site, creating paths and bioswales, adding lots of organic material, finishing the fence and gates... and planting! And celebrating!


This sounds so cool!

Posted by Paul at 08:15 AM

March 16, 2009

VanLUG Newbie Night

I enjoyed the Newbie Night put on by the Vancouver Linux Users Group this evening. I hadn't been to a VanLUG event in a couple of years, but since I proposed one of the topics, it was time to go again :-). The turnout was on the low side, but the audience was enthusiastic. I also got to see the LAMP (Linux, Apache [web server], MySQL [database], and PHP) stack in action, with demos of installing WordPress and Drupal. Of course with experts running the show it appeared very easy!

Ben Holt addressed this topic from from Paul Cipywnyk:

As a non-programmer, non-sysadmin who has played with Linux a bit off
and on, and considers himself a newbie, I'd be interested in learning
more about LAMP. It seems to me that LAMP is one of the huge strengths
of the open-source community. How do I install things like WordPress,
phpBB and Drupal on a local Linux box, and once I have a blog or BBS
or CMS set up locally to my liking, how do I transfer the whole
shebang over to my web host?

Kim Kulak addressed running Windows applications on Linux as suggested by
Jel Coward:

Virtualbox rather than dual boot.

Folks often get scared by partitioning - and running two OS's
concurrently is cool - and folks are often impressed how much faster
Windows runs in a linux virtual machine than it does natively.

Rob McCrea moderated a discussion on the subject put forward by Jose Da Silva:

My Windows98 computer got sacked with 100 viruses and nothing runs.

Should I install Debian or Redhat?

Will it run games?

How do I do it?

Posted by Paul at 10:18 PM

March 12, 2009

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Host Kerr Wood Leidal Presentation

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers hosted Crystal Campbell and Laurel Morgan from Kerr Wood Leidal at our meeting this evening. Crystal and Laurel spoke about stormwater control and amelioration methods, and integrated stormwater management plans, or ISMPs.

The City of Burnaby is currently working with consultants and streamkeepers on an ISMP for the Byrne Creek Watershed, so it was a timely topic. It was an engaging presentation followed by a lively question & answer period.

We had a great time discussing ways to better manage water quantity and quality in an urban watershed with high flows and pollution due to the spread of impervious surfaces, industrial and road (gas, oil, antifreeze, metals) sources of toxins, and the loss of forests and wetlands.

Posted by Paul at 10:07 PM

March 08, 2009

Snow in Burnaby in March?

Yep, took a snooze this sunny Sunday afternoon, only to wake up to fluffy flakes piling up outside, and one nonplussed turtle wondering where her rays went....

Dori just came out of hibernation a few days ago, and now this :-).

The view out the front door.

Posted by Paul at 08:06 PM

March 07, 2009

Punctuation, Mechanics Rock -- Really!

Who says punctuation and mechanics are boring? Frances Peck led a great session today on the topic at an Editors' Association of Canada BC chapter workshop. Frances works with West Coast Editorial Associates, and also teaches at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College. If you think editors don't need punctuation workshops, you'd be wrong -- a refresher never hurts as today's session proved.

Posted by Paul at 09:22 PM

March 06, 2009

Firing Up Worm Factory Composter

For years we've talked about composting, but we always shied away because we live in a townhouse with no garden. Today at the BC Boat & Sportsmen's Show I finally decided to go for a Worm Factory composter that supposedly can be used indoors with no-to-minimal odor if you've got it running right.

I bought a 3-tray kit with worms from Webster Solar Energy and brought them home from the show. After supper, Yumi and I read the instruction book and set up the system, getting our first "working tray" going. Here's hoping things go well and that as the worms get at it, and we keep adding trays, in a couple of months we'll be ready to start using rich, homemade compost in our indoor and balcony plants.

Me opening up a can, er, box, of worms.

Yumi pointing out worms. Cool!

Closeup of worms.

Choco the cat is not too sure about this...

Posted by Paul at 10:44 PM

March 05, 2009

President's Speech for Stream of Dreams AGM

Here's the speech I wrote and delivered for tonight's Stream of Dreams Murals Society AGM.

As president of the Stream of Dreams Murals Society it?s my pleasure to welcome you to our Annual General Meeting. \

It?s great to see so many dreamers here tonight, sharing ideas among all the Dreamfish and other art and awards on the walls around us \

and in the window \

and hanging from the ceiling. \

and if you haven?t been to our office before, I should warn you that if you need to commune with nature while you?re here, you?ll find the facilities to be an alcove of fish art as well. \\

At this point, protocol calls for me to introduce any VIPs present. But tonight is special because we are entering our tenth year of teaching kids about their local watersheds and creating inspiring murals of community art, so I would first like to recognize our co-founders, Artistic Director Louise Towell and Executive Director Joan Carne. \\

Next, our board of directors:

Vice President Micqualyn Waldie, who also leads our Vancouver Island programs and is a valuable member of our management team. \\

Treasurer Rob Carne \ Secretary Jane Burkholder \ and members at large Jennifer Linton and Andrea Rozsa. \\

And all of the members and volunteers here tonight who keep our program moving forward. Thank you. \\

I would now like to recognize some of the guests here tonight, who have provided support in many ways over the years. [list here: ]. \\

So it?s been ten years? \\

Who knew ten years ago that when a local artist and a streamkeeper beautified an ugly vacant lot with a mural of Dreamfish painted by local elementary schoolchildren to remember the killing of thousands of fish poisoned in Byrne Creek, that the project would result in teaching 80,000 kids across Canada about the importance of clean water? \

Who knew ten years ago that Dreamfish would swim across our nation, and even poke their noses into the United States, carrying their message of hope for a future with healthy streams and rivers? \

Who knew ten years ago that a couple of self-styled stay-at-home Moms would dream up a project that would grow from a handful of friends in a kitchen to a registered charitable society with a real office ?? and if you look out the window, an office that overlooks Byrne Creek, the urban waterway that inspired it all? \

At Stream of Dreams we never pass up a teachable moment, so I want all of us to think about Byrne Creek, and think about all the drains we see in that parking lot, and remember that all drains lead to fish habitat! \\

Drains on roads lead to creeks. \

Drains in parking lots lead to streams. \

Drains from roofs lead to rivers. \

All drains lead to the one great ocean that encircles our Earth, and sustains us all. \\

80,000 kids and other program participants know that message, and carry that dream for clean water. \

80,000 Dreamfish on schoolyard fences share that dream with everyone. \\

The Stream of Dreams Murals Society vision began ten years ago. \

The work began ten years ago, \

and the dream and the work go on. \\

It took a couple of passionate, crazy women to take the dream to reality. It took a lot of volunteers. It took a lot of hard work. It took a lot of swimming upstream against the current and negotiating obstacles, just like the salmon do every year when they return to our streams to spawn. \

Just like those beautiful, stubborn salmon have one goal ?? to keep their cycle of life alive ?? so we at Stream of Dreams have one goal: to ensure that those salmon, and all other species, including us humans, have the clean water that sustains life. \\

I look forward to working with you all in the years to come, and seeing where the dream takes us next. Thank you.

Posted by Paul at 10:23 PM

Can New Pollution Bill be Trusted When Present Laws Are Ignored?

Environment Canada News Release
New Enforcement Legislation Cracks Down On Environmental Offenders

Ottawa -- March 4, 2009 -- Cracking down on polluters, poachers and wildlife smugglers through increased fines and new enforcement tools are the main elements of the Environmental Enforcement Bill introduced in the House of Commons today by Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

I hate to be negative because overall this sounds like a great move; however, the problem is even present laws are not being enforced, so will this change anything?

One example: In October 2007, John Mathews Creek in Burnaby, BC, turned orange and fluorescent yellow after someone poured a toxic chemical down a storm drain. Here we are 17 months later, and apparently nobody has been charged.

John Mathews Creek runs into Byrne Creek and then into the Fraser River, so the contamination was widespread. It occurred just as salmon were returning to spawn in Byrne Creek. When streamkeepers recently called the Canadian Environment Ministry about progress in the case, they were told to file a Freedom of Information request if they wanted to pursue the matter. Apparently the City of Burnaby got the same response. This is our national government, using our tax money, "at work." Hah!

Now let's review a few points:

  • Said "someone" was caught red-handed
  • The pH of the creek was running 3
  • Dead fish were collected
  • City of Burnaby environmental staff were called in and were on scene
  • British Columbia Environment Ministry staff were called in and were on scene
  • Samples were collected

And here we are, a year-and-a-half later, and our designated national protectors of the environment have apparently yet to accomplish anything, and refuse to speak to the tax-paying citizens that they work for.

So I'll praise the "new and improved" enforcement bill when I actually see some enforcement.

Posted by Paul at 04:00 PM

Burnaby Board of Trade 2010 Biz Breakfast

Attended my second Burnaby Board of Trade event this week: 2010 Winter Games Opportunities Session - Presented by RBC. The presenters pointed out that there are still opportunities to sign up with the 2010 Commerce Centre and bid on Games-related product and service contracts. I also enjoyed the enthusiastic talk by Olympic hopeful Sylvia Kerfoot.

When I got back to the office I checked out the 2010 Commerce site and signed up for two free events: Demystify the RFP Bid Process Workshop at 2010 Commerce Centre on March 25, and 2010 Business Opportunities Workshop at BCIT in downtown Vancouver on April 2. Check out their events calendar.

The approach of the Winter Games reminds me of the Monty Python movie scene in which a couple of guards at a castle gate see a knight charging at them from far off in the distance, and charging, and charging, and then suddenly he is upon them and strikes them down. That's how I feel -- I've attended several 2010 Commerce events over the last couple of years, and now the Games are less than a year away!

Posted by Paul at 01:07 PM

March 04, 2009

Hong Kong Trade Breakfast with Burnaby Board of Trade

The Burnaby Board of Trade is pouring it on with events! I think they have four or five lined up for this week alone. This morning I attended a breakfast sponsored by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. Mr. Stephen Wong, HKTDC Regional Director for the Americas, presented an informative session on Hong Kong ? Canada?s Business Link with China. I was invited on the basis of my interest in Asia-Pacific business and my background in journalism in Japan.

Mr. Wong made an impressive case for why Canadian businesses would do well to partner with Hong Kong companies when looking at the Chinese market, ranging from a familiar legal system based on British common law, to an ideal geographical location with excellent transportation links. He spoke of Hong Kong's "four freedoms": free flow of money, free flow of products, free flow of people, and free flow of information. He said the HKTDC is the largest organizer of trade fairs in the world, located in the city with the world's busiest air cargo terminal.

Posted by Paul at 10:40 AM