June 30, 2010

Commercial Properties Still Using Pesticides in South Burnaby

I happened to cycle past the Ballard building on North Fraser Way down in the Glenlyon Development near Fraser Foreshore Park in south Burnaby over lunch today.

There was a guy applying something to the lawns on both sides of the street, so I asked him what it was: Weed 'n Feed. I asked him if he was aware that he was applying it right next to Sussex Creek (neither fertilizer nor pesticides are good for aquatic habitat), and he brushed me off saying it was an approved chemical.

I called the City of Burnaby, and staff confirmed that they couldn't do anything about it because it was commercial property and the City's Pesticide Bylaw does not apply to commercial properties. I also checked the Environment Canada website, and discovered that weed 'n feed (combined fertilizer/pesticide) products have been banned on a national level, effective 2012. So it seems a shame that landscapers are still applying the stuff.

It would be great if developers, property managers, and landscapers got ahead of the curve!

I've talked to people who say they've heard that landscapers are intent on using up stocks of products that face potential bans, or that have already been banned but the deadline hasn't been reached yet, and that seems morally reprehensible to me.

Perhaps chemicals manufacturers could be encouraged to take back such products with partial refunds, and governments could be encouraged to support such programs through rebates? Perhaps such programs are in place, but people don't know about them? There's a lot that could be done here!

Posted by Paul at 02:56 PM

June 29, 2010

D-Link DNS-323 NAS Initial Impressions

I am a firm believer in multiple backups of my computer data for several reasons:

1) As an editor, my livelihood/business relies on computers

2) As an avid photographer, ever since I went completely digital many years ago, I've accumulated over 350GB of digital photo files

For years I've had dual HDs in my main computers, and some time ago added an external hot-swappable USB2 HD cradle which works great.

But I've been hearing a lot about NAS (network attached storage) and about a week ago I picked up a D-Link DNS-323 NAS device from NCIX, along with a couple of Seagate 1.5TB hard drives. Total damage? C$299 before tax, so cheap for the additional backup peace of mind. I set it up as RAID 1, which means that the two 1.5TB drives in the D-Link mirror each other.

The salesperson at NCIX warned me that the DNS-323 would run only as fast as my network, but I didn't think much of it. I should have!

Backing up those 350GB of photo files took more than 30 hours over my 100Mbit LAN (local area network)! Mind you now that the initial backup has been done, updates will go much more quickly. Still, I now do have my sights set on a gigabit router/switch :-).

The other great thing about a NAS device is that any of the computers on my LAN can back up files to it.

The unit itself is compact, about the size of two fat paperback novels, but it does require an external power brick. I haven't set up or tested some other cool functions such as remote FTP access, or serving up music files across the network.

Posted by Paul at 08:23 PM

June 28, 2010

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society Executive

The founding directors of the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society met tonight for the first time. We've incorporated as a British Columbia non-profit association after more than ten years of functioning on an informal basis.

The new executive is: President, Paul Cipywnyk; Vice President, Frank Williams; Treasurer, Dave Burkholder; Secretary, Abby Schwarz; Director at Large, Maho Hayashi; Director at Large, Joan Carne.

The board passed a policy to create the position of Past President to ensure continuity. This is not an official executive position, but more an honourary one. We designated Joan Carne as the founding Past President in recognition of her 10+ years of chairing the group to this point.

The society membership fee was set at $5.00 annually. Dues will be payable from the September 2010 regular monthly meeting.

The board passed a motion to designate Bert Richardson, Bob Fuller, and Lloyd Longeway as honourary life members of the society in recognition of their founding efforts with the Vancouver Angling & Game Association to clean up Byrne Creek and initiate restocking of its fish populations.

Posted by Paul at 10:28 PM

June 24, 2010

Scintillating Entries From My Diary – Circa Age 8 Or So

The scan says it all, er, or not . . . :-)


Jeez, with this early reticence, I coulda been a prime minister, or at least a member
of cabinet! :-)

Posted by Paul at 09:45 PM

June 19, 2010

Bountiful Bugs Near Byrne Creek

This morning we walked Byrne Creek Ravine Park in southeast Burnaby, and came across lots of cool bugs.











Note: All of these shots taken with my teeny Canon SD780 pocket camera,
so the lens was just a couple of centimetres away from the bees and bugs.
Stay relaxed, move slowly, and they're very tolerant.

Posted by Paul at 09:35 PM

June 18, 2010

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Incorporated as BC Society

After over 10 years of streamkeeping in which we've racked up close to 20,000 volunteer hours, the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers have incorporated as a registered British Columbia non-profit society.


While we've functioned very effectively as an unstructured "jazz band" in which different people have taken the lead on various activities and initiatives on an ad hoc basis, new volunteer insurance requirements were the final straw that pushed us to apply for society status. It'll mean more paperwork, but it also safeguards our well-respected "brand" and sets the stage for fostering a new generation of community leaders.

Born out of the volunteer efforts of several gentlemen from the Vancouver Angling & Game Association who began cleaning up the creek in southeast Burnaby around two decades ago, the streamkeeper group was formed when more people from the broader community became involved after a horrific toxic spill in 1998 that killed some 5,000 fish and other animals in the revitalized urban creek.

I must mention the leadership of Joan Carne, who has herded the group since its inception. I hope the newly established board can fill the huge gumboots she's leaving us! She's not really leaving, but is stepping down from an executive role because she's super busy with the Stream of Dreams Murals Society, which was also spawned from that 1998 kill on Byrne Creek, and has to this point taught over 100,000 kids across Canada about their local watersheds, how they function, and what every single person can do to protect clean water.

Thanks too, to the City of Burnaby, in particular Environmental Services in the Engineering Department, and the folks in Burnaby Parks who deal with environmental issues. Not to mention the Planning staff who work with community groups! Of course we also cannot do the work we do without the oversight and guidance of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and in particular Maurice Coulter-Boisvert, our DFO Community Advisor. And many of us volunteers got our streamkeeper training and ongoing support from The Pacific Streamkeepers Federation. Yay Zo Ann!

Byrne Creek has suffered several more kills over the last decade when people in ignorance have poured toxins down street drains in the watershed. But streamkeepers never give up!

Here's to the next ten years of streamkeeping!

Posted by Paul at 08:00 PM

June 17, 2010

South Burnaby Safety Forum June 23, 2010

The 3rd Annual South Burnaby Safety Forum will be held on Wednesday, June 23, 2010, from 6:00 - 9:00pm at Eastburn Community Centre, 7435 Edmonds St.

I started out attending one of these forums, progressed into helping to organize a few more, and while I am no longer actively involved in the organizational side, I can assure everyone that they are useful events. So if you have any public safety or crime-related issues, I urge you to come out and participate. Community succeeds when people in the community make their voices heard!


Posted by Paul at 01:03 PM

June 13, 2010

Surrey Owls Have It Good as City Builds Them Mini-Bars


If you find this hard to read it says: "As an innovative way to protect Barn Owls from further population loss, raised miniature bars such as this have been introduced in fields. . ." Yes, it should be "barns."

I'm an editor, and I've read this sign in South Surrey, BC, a couple of times, and I didn't pick up the typo until today. I'm not trying to be mean, I just love collecting such slips.

Dunno if building mini-bars for endangered species is such a good thing! :-)

And it gives expressions such as "the party was a hoot" a whole new meaning. . .

Posted by Paul at 07:36 PM

June 12, 2010

Ugly Bug Ball 2010

DFO Community Advisors in the lower mainland of BC and the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation host a free volunteer appreciation event called the Ugly Bug Ball every two years. For the last several times, the event has been held at the A Rocha facility in South Surrey, a gorgeous old farm that's been turned into an environmental education venue.

A few photos of this year's event, with a concentration on the beautiful natural setting :-):


DFO Community Advisor Mark Johnson sets the stage


PSKF's Zo Ann Morten shows what it means to be a stakeholder :-)


Bribing volunteers with cake!


The wine/whine session where everyone gets to beef in good company!


One of the gorgeous salmon moulded at an Ugly Bug Ball several years ago.


Participants hang out in the orchard.


Looking up at the sun through the orchard trees.


The beautiful pond on the A Rocha property.


Another water feature with snails enjoying the spattering flow.


Some of the gyotaku (Japanese-style transfer images) people created.




It truly is a gorgeous property!



Posted by Paul at 10:35 PM

White Rock on Solar-Supercharged Day

We dropped in to the White Rock, BC, pier on a sunny Saturday on our way to the Ugly Bug Ball in South Surrey. It was packed, and we were surprised to snag a parking stall just a few meters from the pier.


Yumi on the pier


Some impromptu sand sculpting  going on


A kayaking class adding colour to the scene



Posted by Paul at 01:27 PM

June 11, 2010

RBC Blue Water Day Hosts Byrne Creek, Stream of Dreams

I was happy to represent the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers and the Stream of Dreams Murals Society at the Kingsway/Walker RBC branch in southeast Burnaby for a couple of hours today for the bank's Blue Water Day. Several RBC branches invited streamkeepers and Stream of Dreams to participate, and we did our best to accommodate as many of them as we could, though it's tough to find volunteers during working hours.

Thanks to Veloy and the staff at the branch!


My Byrne Creek/Stream of Dreams display

All Drains Lead to Fish Habitat!


Serving clients cake!


Veloy and I - thanks!

Info on the RBC Blue Water Project here.

And thanks to the Pacific Salmon Foundation for matching our groups up with RBC!

Sometimes I feel a bit strange displaying front-page spreads of myself from the local papers, but I've discovered it's a great way to start conversations. People trundle by, glance at me, glance at the display, stop as recognition dawns, look at me again and blurt out: "Hey, that's you!" Yup, and now I've got you hooked for at least a minute :-).

Posted by Paul at 08:29 PM

June 10, 2010

Are Email Disclaimers Enforceable?

I noticed the following at the bottom of an email message:

This email may be privileged and confidential. Any dissemination or use of this information by a person other than the intended recipient(s) is not authorized. The sender accepts no responsibility or liability for any errors and omissions, loss or damage from use (including damage from viruses), or breach of any confidentiality related to the contents of this message which arises as a result of email transmission.

This strikes me as being so strange.

What does it mean, "may be privileged and confidential"? How do I tell?

How do I know who is the intended recipient? Sometimes that is not evident. How do I know for sure that I may not be an intended recipient? Isn't the onus on the sender to ensure the message is being sent to the correct address?

And what's this "damage from viruses" bafflegab? It's your responsibility to keep your computer secure, not mine.

As for the claptrap about confidentiality of information, email by nature is a wide-open medium. Messages pass through dozens of servers on their way across the Internet. If you want/need to ensure confidentiality, well, encrypt the message.

Posted by Paul at 11:24 PM

USGS: Effects of Urbanization on Stream Ecosystems

An excellent series of videos on how urbanization affects local streams. Thanks to the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation mailing list for this lead. These videos are great resources for explaining the function of urban watersheds to the public.

Posted by Paul at 02:40 PM

June 07, 2010

Baby Spiders

We've had a bunch of baby spiders hanging around the front door. They're kinda cute, and, kinda creepy :-). But we're being careful not to disturb them as much as possible until they make their own way in the world.


Posted by Paul at 08:21 PM

June 06, 2010

Burnaby Environment Awards Lunch 2010

The City of Burnaby's 2010 Environment Awards were presented at a lovely luncheon today.


Councillor Dan Johnston, chair of the Burnaby Environment Committee


The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC received the Environment Award
for Communication


Jennifer Atchison of the Stoney Creek Environment Committee
received an Environment Award for Community Stewardship


Brentwood Park Elementary School received an Environment Award
for Youth


Coro Strandberg and Phillip Legg received an Environmental Star
for Planning and Development

And Candace LeRoy of Simon Fraser University received an
Environmental Star for Business Stewardship


Group shot of the awardees

The reception is always a fun event. I've attended four or five times over the past years, first as an award recipient with my wife Yumi for our volunteer work on Byrne Creek, and now as a citizen representative on Burnaby's Environment Committee. It's always a great crowd with opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones. City of Burnaby staff do an excellent job on coordinating the event.

Posted by Paul at 07:27 PM

June 05, 2010

Busy Burnaby: Farmer’s Market, Hats Off Day, Deer Lake Ramble

It was a glorious Saturday with great weather - sunny but not hot - after several weeks of cool, rainy days here in Burnaby, BC. We celebrated with a grand tour of several places: the farmer's market at City Hall, the Hats Off parade and celebration along the Heights, a ramble all the way around Deer Lake, and topped if off with a balcony BBQ back home.

The Farmer's Market:




Beekeeping is now allowed in many yards in Burnaby. Yay!

On to Hats Off in the Heights. We missed the parade but walked the street festival from end to end:


A & W carhop mannequin on roller-skates :-)





OK, I'm an environmentalist now, but in my youth
I skinned plenty of knuckles on V-8 engines - this one's
a beaut!



We dropped by Deer Lake on the way home and walked a complete loop:




The songs that burst forth from little balls of fluff are amazing!






This young Canada Goose is starting to fill in with an adult's patterns



An osprey soaring over the lake looking for a meal.
It's wonderful to see such magnificent birds right in the city!

Posted by Paul at 10:25 PM

June 03, 2010

Vancouver Sun: Remote Alaskan sockeye salmon offer clues to long-term survival

An interesting read, though I find the overall conclusion to be a "Duh" moment:

The study shows the key to the health of the Bristol Bay fishery is a 'diversified portfolio' of hundreds of discrete populations of sockeye. Some of the populations like it when the surface climate is hot and dry, while others like it cold and wet. Some spend just one year in fresh water before heading to sea, others spend two years.

Researchers for the study, which appears in today's edition of the journal Nature, liken it to a diverse stock portfolio that spreads the risk around.

While this is a great explanation for the layperson, uh, haven't we long known the importance of genetic diversity?

Anyway, a key statement was: "The hope for the Fraser is that the fish can adapt to these warmer conditions and to the diseases that they've seen," says Hilborn. "We just basically have to give them time. And that basically means not harvesting them very much until they can solve the problem."

How about not harvesting Fraser sockeye at all? For several generations? Lower-Fraser First Nations have agreed to a complete sockeye moratorium and are doing only selective fishing, what about everyone else?

UPDATE: Another take on the same issue by Mark Hume in The Gl0be and Mail can be found here.

Posted by Paul at 09:53 PM

Inspiring Quotations on Water, Rivers, Fish & Sustainability

Here's a bunch of quotations that I've collected. They focus on water, rivers, fish, nature and sustainability. I've likely shared some of them here before:

From Mighty River by Richard Bocking
"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise." -- Aldo Leopold

"We are a restless, dissatisfied novice species, clamoring for rulership of a planet toward which we display not even a rudimentary form of allegiance." -- Robert Harrington

"It seems clear beyond the possibility of argument that any given generation of men can have only a lease, not ownership, of the earth; and one essential term of the lease is that the earth be handed on to the next generation with unimpaired potentialities." -- Roderick Haig-Brown

"This curious world that we inhabit is more wonderful than convenient; more beautiful than it is useful; it is more to be admired and enjoyed than to be used." -- Henry David Thoreau

"It is the salmon that expresses the force of our land. Without the salmon, the land and the rivers would only survive as a corpse survives the death of the nervous system and the departure of the spirit." -- Alan Haig-Brown

"The world was not created for people only, but for purposes that transcend the human race with its limited foresight and imagination; therefore it behooves all conscious inhabitants of this superb planet to nurture it as a garden, maintaining it in health, beauty and diversity for whatever glorious future its denizens may together share." -- Stan Rowe

"The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope." -- Wendell Berry

"Unlike our ancestors, those of us alive today comprise the generations running headlong into the limits of our use of natural systems while observing permanent loss of much of our natural heritage. The bottom line is that people have the freedom to change their behavior, whereas fish do not. If we are to save wild salmon, then some people will lose money or the ability to do things they wanted to do. But we all lose if we lose the salmon." (p. 245) -- King of Fish: The Thousand-Year Run of Salmon by David R. Montgomery

"...if we can silence our egos for a moment and set aside our preconceptions about who we think we are, we may begin to perceive some of the lessons that the rest of nature has to teach: lessons not of personality but of relationship, not of order but of complexity, not of private property but of shared responsibility, not of rationality but of mystery, not of the ultimacy of the human enterprise but of the interdependency of all life." (p. 47) -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... is the story we've been telling ourselves about our 'progress' as a species during the last ten thousand years really upside-down? Have we actually regressed, psychologically, from a state of harmony with our natural surroundings to a state of boredom, contentiousness, and alienation?" (p. 122). -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... we have learned to adapt, by increments, to the humanscapes around us until we can hardly remember what a natural landscape looks like any longer.... Most dangerous of all, we convince ourselves, perhaps because of the pervasiveness of the humanscape, that we are at the center of things -- that we are the controllers, the 'managers' of the planet." -- Cathedral of the World: Sailing Notes For A Blue Planet by Myron Arms

"... while engineers can reproduce fish, they cannot replace nature. Hatcheries are technological marvels and they may be a necessity in the modern world, but they are not signs of progress; they are monuments to our failure to protect rivers." -- The Run of the River: Portraits of Eleven British Columbia Rivers by Mark Hume

"A river is water in its loveliest form, rivers have life and sound and movement and infinity of variation, rivers are veins of the earth through which the life blood returns to the heart." -- Roderick Haig-Brown A River Never Sleeps

Posted by Paul at 11:15 AM

When Editing, Be Sure to Check Graphics

The following graphic was in an email pitch from Dragon Naturally Speaking  voice recognition software:


Posted by Paul at 08:35 AM

June 02, 2010

BC Lower Mainland Streamkeepers: Sign up for Ugly Bug Ball!

Ugly Bug Ball IV is coming on June 12 in South Surrey. DFO Community Advisors from the Lower Mainland of BC and the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation invite streamkeepers to attend this event, network, share information about your group, etc. This fun event in a beautiful venue is free for volunteers!

Posted by Paul at 05:50 PM

June 01, 2010

‘BC Waters Clean Up Challenge’ from Pacific Western Brewing

This is a good initiative by a key member of BC's corporate sector - Pacific Western Brewing.

"Proceeds from Pacific Pilsner and PWB will be used to support the clean-up of streams, rivers or lakes in beautiful British Columbia. We will be selecting one or more community water clean-up projects with funding and other tools this summer."

Community groups can apply here.

While I laud this initiative, I must also chide PWB for its tag line "Save Water Drink Pilsner."

While it's cute, and I do like my beer, brewing and bottling is a hugely water-intensive process in which far more water is used than in simply quenching your thirst from your tap, eh?

Posted by Paul at 08:24 PM