Archive for the ‘Insights’ Category

Conservation leads to new lives

June 29, 2017

With Canada Day two weeks after Father’s Day, it’s a time for grateful reflection. For me, that includes my family’s arrival in Vancouver in late June, 65 years ago.

We came by ocean liner, the MV Georgic, from England to Halifax, and then crossed our new country by train. In the battered photo, we’re stepping into the future on the deck of the Georgic—the children in order from two to seventeen years of age and then our parents. I’m second youngest.

During the voyage, my father gave the keynote speech at a banquet. It told the story of the ship.

I listened and learned the Georgic was a motor vessel, not a steamship. It began life as a passenger liner in 1932 but became a troop ship in World War II. In 1941, German aircraft bombed it at anchor south of the Suez Canal. Ammunition stores exploded, and it burned and sank, a total loss.

Incredibly, it was refloated a few months later and towed 1,500 miles to “British India,” where my future father, an engineer, was chief executive of the Karachi Electric Supply Company. To help the war effort, his electricians restored the motors and everything else electrical (March–December 1942).

After structural work in Bombay (now Mumbai), the Georgic was a troop ship again. After the war, it was refitted as a passenger liner once more, enabling our Atlantic voyage in 1952.

The story ended like this: “And that was how the Georgic came to be known as ‘the ship that lived again’.”

Later, the Georgic’s final voyage brought British troops home from Hong Kong in 1955. It had served longer after death than before it.

My father retired young for health reasons in 1959. Encouraged by George Norris, sculptor and friend, he took up sculpting. He’d gather driftwood from the sea, notice latent form, and carve exquisite sculptures from it. In essence, they’re like the sunken shipwreck with value after all.

Dad died in 1976. Just four of us in the photo are alive for Canada’s 150th birthday, and we all live the Georgic spirit in our own ways. Through my conservation efforts, you may have shared in it.

Jim Wright is past president of the Garden City Conservation Society.

Support the 2017 Oxfam Richmond Walkathon

June 16, 2017

Orval Chapman, longtime Friend of Garden City, is a tireless volunteer despite the severe ongoing effects of being knocked down by a car several years ago. Currently in his mid-eighties, he is a co-organizer of the 2017 Oxfam Walkathon, which will be on Sunday, June 25.

Here, with a photo of Orval, are their poster (click for a larger version) and letter:

Several African nations and also Yemen are now facing the worst famines since the Second World War.

On Sunday, June 25, 1:30–4 p.m., the Richmond Oxfam Committee will once again host a Walkathon at Garry Point Park in order to help. The government of Canada will be doubling all donations up until June 30.

Please join our Oxfam Richmond Walkathon, gather some pledges, or donate to this worthy cause. We would like to have all donations by June 25 so they can reach Oxfam in Ottawa in time. You can also donate online.

Thanks very much!
Richmond Oxfam Committee—Orval Chapman, Carol Rennie, Don Maclean

An  anniversary: Canada’s 150th birthday year is also the 50th anniversary of the Miles for Millions Walkathons across Canada, raising funds for victims of famine in Africa since the 1960s and 70s.

Extending the 12th Day of Christmas year round

January 6, 2017

My family’s homemade Christmas card shares the Nativity spirit, and lots of people say nice things about it as an actual card and also a Richmond News column. Now I’m finally sharing it here for the Twelfth Day of Christmas, also called the Epiphany. It celebrates the journey of the Magi—wise men from the East—to Bethlehem and the infant Jesus, adding greatly to the broad significance of the Nativity.

Have a look at the illustration and column below. They apply year round.

Christmas 2016 Nativity illustration by Suzanna Wright, Vancouver, BC

Welcome to my family’s homemade Christmas card. It features the “Peace on Earth” visual (above) by my daughter Suzanna. This column also appears in the card.

Suzanna has used cartoon style to simply say a lot. I’ll share with you what I see in her art.

For a start, I see diverse people focused on a central treasure—in harmony with each other, animals and nature. They’re even okay with the closeness of at least fifteen humans and the pig, cat, sheep, rabbit and dog.

They’re still, but they pick up energy from the treasure and send off energy with their vibrancy and focus. The treasure is “Peace on Earth,” the higher value imbuing all, enabling a better community and world.

Since the card is for Christmas, I also see the visual as the Nativity of Jesus. I bet there’s a newborn child nestled in the manger, charming everyone as they gaze on him.

The scene includes the baby’s young mom, Mary, along with her fiancé, Joseph. He knows the baby is not his offspring, but he’s kept his faith in a divine power and Mary, who would’ve been shamed or worse if he hadn’t. Joseph and Mary are outwardly ordinary, blending in.

I’m aware that a Roman emperor’s decree has forced them to travel far from their town to Bethlehem, where they have little or no shelter. It occurs to me they’ll later become refugees, fleeing to Egypt to save their child from a murderous local king.

But in Suzanna’s visual they have friendly company, including humble shepherds who were watching over their flocks when peaceful voices led them to the manger. Also, other people may have followed the shepherds back to the manger after they spread the news.

That fits with the Nativity account by Luke of Antioch (near Aleppo), a physician. He became the historian of the early Christians, with an engaging style. I think he wanted readers to identify with the shepherds, who take up half his Nativity story, as well as with the family.

People do that so much that Nativity characters often look Ugandan in Christmas cards from Uganda, Japanese in cards from Japan, and so on. In that vein, Suzanna’s visual is fitting for a community from many lands—when we identify as harmoniously diverse.

Two final notes:

First, Jesus spoke well of shepherds and even identified as “the good shepherd” in his public life thirty years later, in keeping with the Nativity scene. He also reached out to people who’d been shamed. Two millennia later, the values still inspire.

Second, last December our new neighbours from China had little English, so we added a message in Chinese on our 2015 homemade card and dropped it off on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, our doorbell rang, and their beaming family presented a Yule-log Christmas cake.

Our Christmas dinner would’ve lacked a cake, so the kindness was perfect.

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In case you wish to use the card non-commercially for its intended purpose, you can download it as a PDF. Print it on two sides of a sheet and fold it to half the width and then half the length.

New president of Garden City Conservation

June 16, 2016

Sharon MacGouganAll going well, Sharon MacGougan will succeed Jim Wright as president of the Garden City Conservation Society on June 23, 2016. Sharon has been vice president for the past two years.

No stranger to leadership, Sharon is a former local president of Amnesty International and then president of Amnesty International Canada.

A career band teacher, Sharon is the published author of two books about teaching music, and she went on to publish a novel, The Mayan Mysteries. She is actually dressed for promoting that book in the photo at right.

Sharon also teaches kung fu and (not necessarily related) was the president of a local non-partisan group, Team Richmond, that helped elect candidates in Richmond elections.

Sharon likes to work with the City of Richmond in implementing its excellent Ecological Network Management Strategy, which can be thought of as an approach to restoring the Garden City. She was pleased with the response to her Earth Day 2016 letter to the City (delivered on behalf of  Garden City Conservation) on that topic.

Sharon is currently also active in Save Richmond Trees. That is in keeping with her personal commitment to saving trees and bird habitat and her ongoing related efforts with Garden City Conservation.

At the Annual Gathering on Thursday, June 23, 2016, Sharon will lead a half-hour discussion to bring out the directions that are important to members. That could well include trees, but it’s up to the members.

If you support the Garden City Conservation purposes and wish to take part in the Annual Gathering, please respond with this innovative RSVP form.

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Note: Scroll up for a newer and more thorough article about Sharon MacGougan as the new president of the Garden City Conservation Society.

Together we see hidden paths to success

May 18, 2016

Katie Karker, Steve Larigakis and Michelle Larigakis at transfusion conference, Vancouver

My friend Steve sent this photo with a single word: “Sisters.” It was last Friday, after his keynote talk for the 2016 Canadian Society of Transfusion Medicine Conference in Vancouver. He’s hugging his sisters of two kinds.

Exactly five years earlier, he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive lymphoma at a late stage. It was soon clear he needed a stem cell transplant.

From the time of that diagnosis, Steve has shared the story so his many friends and well-wishers can have a part. It’s in “Dr. Steve’s Blog,” still online and full of ups and downs and truly never-say-die cooperation.

Michelle, in Steve’s left arm, is his sibling, always ready to listen or help. Siblings often make good transplant donors, and she tested for it but didn’t match.

Then she helped with a huge donor drive, including many Greeks, their ethnic group, somewhat likely to be matches. No such luck.

Even in Bone Marrow Donors Worldwide, a registry with over 17 million donors at the time, no one fully matched. But there was one near-match.

Katie, in Steve’s right arm, lives in the village of Kingsley in northern Michigan. As the near-match, she gladly went to a lot of trouble to donate the needed stem cells for an unknown recipient. She saved his life.

Early on, the donor drive had got me back to giving blood. A year after Steve began his life anew, I went to his “re-birthday celebration.” He called me his mentor, so perhaps I’m a good influence too.

Recently, I helped Steve refine his talk for the transfusion conference.

Minor roles like mine add up, and anyone can have a key effect. During his recovery, Steve had a further brush with death when donor cells attacked host cells, and it was a pharmacist who came across a therapy that worked.

As I reflect, it strikes me as earned luck. It’s the sort of thing that happens when unselfish people focus on a goal and roll up their sleeves to do what needs to be done.

That has paid off with Steve’s return to health and a visionary role in family medicine. As well, the success energizes everyone who cares, and it motivates me to keep using simple means that get results.

At the conference, Steve’s words and slides relived his journey with cancer. Near the end, he introduced Katie, his “blood sister.” Standing ovation. He’d never met Katie till last week, but she’s become family and a star.

There was even a feature article on the front page of the Vancouver Sun. (Just google blood sister stem cells.)

Adding a new adult sister is rare, but aiming together for values—as so many did for Steve’s recovery—lets us see hidden paths to our goals.

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This article has also been published as “May we all find our hidden paths,” a Digging Deep column in the Richmond News.

For related news articles with video, visit the Vancouver Sun and CKNW and UpNorthLive.

 

2 ways to steward the Lands

April 29, 2016

legacy view of North Shore mountains from Garden City Lands, including the damaged area where the mall developers have killed trees and deposited sand

Advance a goal of Garden City Conservation: steward the Lands for best ALR uses for community wellness:

(1) Get up-to-date on the May 5 eco-tour.

(2) Do the Garden City Lands survey well.

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1 Get to know the Garden City Lands:

The Thursday, May 5, 2016 eco-tour starts at the East Entrance (No. 4 Rd) by 7:10 p.m. It’s guided by conservationist teacher Michael Wolfe, joined by key project member Mike Coulthard, Diamond Head Consulting. See details of May 5 and May 29 tours.

 

2 Then do the current Garden City Lands project survey well:

Online resources tip: The survey is on Let’s Talk Richmond and also here in PDF. Click on GFX links for relevant graphics. (Update: This referred to a survey that is now closed, but a simpler feedback opportunity is open until the end of Sunday, June 12, 2016.)

Success tips: Compose your answers in Word so it’s easy to refine them. Then paste them into the survey’s text boxes after refining. Notice that some text boxes limit the number of characters (to 256) and that the “General comments” box near the end has no limit.

Question 1 (GFX-1) limits the options for the perimeter trail to:

  • Option A, only an all-use path just 4 metres wide—for pedestrian/mobility, bike, service, and (in illustration) pet use
  • Option B, a pedestrian/mobility/service path just 2.5 metres wide, plus a separated bike path (on outer side in illustration)

Option B—the option of two separated paths—is more pleasant and safe for all uses. However, the stated pedestrian/all-use path widths are woefully constricting. (See “General Comments” near end.)

Questions 2 (GFX-2), 3 (GFX-3) and 4 (GFX-4) are phrased to prompt a “Yes” response (e.g., with “enhance the ecological performance”). Take care with question 4, as the “Rise” is the best part of the Lands for agriculture. (If we use the image of eggs in one basket, the “Rise” basket is loaded with rec eggs. Free-flowing trails should enable ALR rec needs to be met all around the Lands—eggs in many baskets.)

Question 5 (GFX-5): The least intrusive place for ample parking is on the wide strip of disturbed land down No. 4 Road. Between entry and exit, there could be fishbone parking with an aisle down the middle. Re surface, if there’s runoff, accessibility should trump permeability.

General comments (near end):
Assuming Option B, there’s:
(1) a basic network of perimeter and central dike-road trail plus
(2) a separated bike stream on the same routes. In that context:

  • The entire basic network should be wide enough for the community to enjoy the park together—on foot, in a stroller, or using a mobility aid such as a wheelchair or mobility walker.
  • The surface could be treated clay that’s more durable than asphalt, slightly convex for runoff, with white lines (broken centre line and solid margin lines), and with room to pause and enjoy or chat or use interpretive features.
  • For the basic network, a 7-metre total width could be just enough, even with only 5 metres for thoroughfare (2.5 m in each direction). That enables two metre-wide shoulders for safety and enjoyment. It also enables occasional service vehicles to carefully share the trail.
  • Eliminating the proposed kilometre of wooden viaducts over the bog (a headache for bog restoration) would save more than enough cost and space to let this basic infrastructure be done right.

Thank you for helping to steward the Garden City Lands!

Fractured Land evening

April 15, 2016

Fractured Land

Join in an informative night of film and guest speakers to learn more about the implications of LNG expansion in Richmond and Delta and how it relates to the Massey Tunnel Replacement Project.

The evening features a special screening of the award-winning Fractured Land, made by BC film-makers Damien Gillis and Fiona Rayher. It tells the story of Caleb Behn, a young Dene lawyer, and the effect of fracking for LNG in Northern BC on his people’s land. The film follows Caleb as he seeks to discover how to reconcile the fractures within himself, his community and the world around him, blending modern tools of the law with ancient wisdom. Trailer here.

After the film, a panel of speakers will “connect the dots” between fracking, LNG expansion and the bridge proposal. We will also discuss what actions we can take to protect the Fraser River and our communities.

Date: Thursday April 21, 2016

Time: Doors at 6:30. Program begins at 7 p.m.

Venue: Ralph Fisher Auditorium, north end of Richmond Hospital, 7000 Westminster Highway, Richmond, B.C. Unceded Coast Salish Territory.

Details:

  • Everyone welcome.
  • Wheelchair accessible.
  • No admission charge—donations accepted.
  • Refreshments served.

Directions:

  • Canada Line: Lansdowne Station, walk to corner of No 3 Road & Westminster Hwy and then west to 7000 Westminster Hwy. The location is at the corner of Gilbert and Westminster.
  • Buses: many buses run along No.3 Road—check schedules.
  • Parking: Free event parking in the gravel lot, SE corner of Westminster Hwy and Gilbert.
  • Bike racks: Near entrances

Event sponsors:

“Child of the Fraser River and the sea”

February 17, 2016

Thomas Kidd of Richmond, 1846-1930One way to respect our Garden City legacy is through a settler leader who strove to make things better for those to follow. That’s farmer poet Thomas Kidd. In today’s terms, he was also a Richmond MLA, mayor, councillor, school trustee and good neighbour. We learn from him through his History of Lulu Island and poetry.

Thomas Kidd was born in Ireland in 1846. He arrived here in 1874 after living in New Zealand and California. Lulu Island, he found, was the fairest of all.

In his ode to Lulu Island, Kidd speaks to her as “Child of the Fraser River and the sea.”

"Lulu Island" first stanza

Where-is-RichmondThe name captures the nature of Lulu and her smaller siblings, the 17-island Garden City.

In that aspect of who we are, we exist through the interplay of the tidal sea and the flowing river bearing silt and seed. Always, we depend on their relationship.

Kidd, who built sturdy skiffs from local cedar to row from place to place, knew the Garden City’s life-giving estuary well. These days, it’s at risk, coveted for an outsize port.

In B.C. Ministry of Environment words, “Estuaries, formed where rivers enter the ocean and fresh water mixes with the saltwater environment, are among the most productive ecosystems on earth.” Our estuary is vital for the Fraser, the greatest salmon river. Fortunately, Kidd’s respect for nature’s legacy is not dead.

Otto and Sandra 2015.pages

It lives on in people like Sandra Bourque and Otto Langer, a couple who met while doing master’s degrees in zoology in Alberta. They’ve championed the estuary and its child since arriving in Metro Vancouver in 1969 and making Richmond home in ’72. They care about impact, not fame, but you deserve to know about them.

Otto got results as a federal biologist and manager for 32 years and then with the David Suzuki Foundation. After retiring a decade ago, he remained immersed in conservation of the Fraser, sharing his expertise. Otto currently chairs VAPOR, standing up for the estuary.

Sandra was an ecological voice on school board for 18 years. Always, she’s a doer who gets things done.

Garry PointAn example: In 1978, Sandra and others went to court to stop a residential development on Garry Point. To help pay court costs, Sandra and Otto took out a loan with their home as collateral. They lost, appealed and won. Public support grew, and we all got Garry Point Park.

This New Year’s, Otto had a massive heart attack. After multi-bypass surgery, his heart stopped six more times in six days, but he’s on the mend.

Poetic justice in a note from Otto: “While Sandra worked to save Terra Nova farmland and Gary Point, I attended to our first child. That child became a cardiac nurse. Lately she helped save my life.”

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Please scroll down for three more articles with the inspiring environmental story of Sandra Bourque and Otto Lang and the Garden City, Richmond, B.C.

In the meantime, you can read my guide to “Lulu Island.” Or read related articles and Thomas Kidd’s poems in the Thomas Kidd section of this blog.

This article also appears as a column in the Richmond News of Feb. 17, 2015.

Sandra Bourque I, Garry Point

February 17, 2016

Otto Langer and Sandra Bourque on the sand

This is first of three Sandra Bourque answers to questions prompted by Sandra’s help with the “Child of the Fraser River and the sea” article on this blog. On request, Sandra Bourque and her husband Otto Langer also dug up some photos for illustration.

Jim, you asked Otto and me about how citizens saved Garry Point. This will be a longer answer than you had in mind, but Im enjoying the walk down memory lane.

First, Otto reminded me that Garry Point was mostly my cause, not his. But he supported me, and we did take out a loan against our joint mortgage to put towards costs of the initial court case.

Several of us Richmond activists agreed to put our names on the charge (Bourque et al., 1978) that the city had met with the Garry Point developer after the public hearing for the proposed development had closed—and they had thus invalidated the proper process. We were all prepared to have to pay for the court costs if we lost. And for Otto and me, that would have meant remortgaging our house.

Bill Sigurgeirson provided free legal services for the initial proceeding, which we lost. Murray Rankin’s firm provided help for the appeal, which we won.

Basically the legal proceeding effectively stalled the city’s ability to approve the development and allowed those opposed to build the case against it in the public’s mind.

Over the next few elections (every two years back then), we were successful in electing some new councillors—Sigurgeirson, Greg Halsey-Brandt and Corisande Percival-Smith come to mind—who opposed the development, thus shifting the balance. Ultimately a city council agreed to purchase the area for a public park.

Once we had Garry Point secured for park, there were disagreements as to what kind of park should be developed. Harold Steves, Don Cummings and Evelena Vaupotic sat on the Parks Board committee, and so did I as School Board Rep since half the city’s parkland belonged to the Board. I pushed for a more natural sandy park with beaches, logs and natural plantings at most.

Luckily, my fellow school trustees and a majority of councillors agreed. Trustees felt that we had grown up with places where there were natural areas to hang out in, have campfires, dig and hide in the bushes—wild places where no one would complain about broken branches, picked flowers or trampling. The sand piles of Garry Point had been that for Richmond kids. We won, and so far no marina and green grass.

Bourque II, Otto and Sandra and the activists

February 17, 2016

Sandra Bourque and Otto Langer and rushing water

This is second of three Sandra Bourque answers to questions prompted by Sandra’s help with the “Child of the Fraser River and the sea” article on this blog. On request, Sandra Bourque and her husband Otto Langer also dug up some photos for illustration.

Jim, you asked me how Otto and I got started as activists here.

Otto’s passion in the estuary and river arose first out of his job with Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It was informed by his upbringing on a farm at the edge of the northern boreal forest in Alberta and his love of the sheer beauty of BC. He ultimately was head of habitat protection for the Fraser River, it’s entire watershed and the Yukon. He lived at the mouth of the river too and he knew it like the back of his hand.

When we first came to BC in 1969, each development, riprap, dump, sewer outfall, industrial outfall, and gravel pit was considered on its own merit, if it was considered at all. There was no acceptance of the cumulative effect of all this on the salmon fishery or on migratory birds, which were actually protected in legislation, never mind the wider environmental and health implications.

At the start, Otto often found it difficult to get his bosses to agree to acting on obvious transgressions or advocating for changes to legislation, development or farming practices. Their emphasis had been on stock management, so habitat and pollution were “new fangled.” But Otto knew there was a small but growing network of people who saw the need for change and were willing to advocate for it, both within government and without. He worked with this network, sharing his knowledge base of biology, the environment, upcoming or ongoing threats, and the legislation. He was able to keep the pieces of the problems in his mind and help us all keep in mind the big picture we were working toward.

Informed by Otto like that, our network of citizens became knowledgeable advocates. We wrote cogent reports, made presentations at every political level, and advocated for ourselves, our children and our environment. Armed with knowledge and facts, supported by others, we marched into city halls and provincial offices and insinuated ourselves into what had been previously rubber stamping events in unquestioning support of development and industry. We demanded standards and processes that were open and public, adherence to the law, and changes to the law to better protect ourselves and the environment.

In Richmond at the start, that network included Lois Boyce, Wil Paulik, Janet Clark and members of the Richmond Anti Pollution Association, Deril Gudlaugson and his farmland protection group, and Harold Steves, along with me. I have a master’s in Zoology like Otto—we were students together at U of Alberta. Since my gender did not favour employment in the field of biology except as a lab tech, I put my efforts and abilities toward effecting by public advocacy what Otto could not change within government.

In Richmond this started by me attending a meeting at the Lorenzes about a proposed development on Shady Island. I took notes. When no one else would, I volunteered to make a presentation for the group to council. Mayor Gil Blair gave the developer 20 minutes and then told me to sit down after two minutes. I refused based on an principle of equal access and was able to answer every question asked. We won the day, and the environmental partnership of Otto and me began in earnest.

Bourque III, environmentalists in earnest

February 17, 2016

Sandra Bourque and Otto Langer and viewscape

This is third of three Sandra Bourque answers to questions prompted by Sandra’s help with the “Child of the Fraser River and the sea” article on this blog. On request, Sandra Bourque and her husband Otto Langer also dug up some photos for illustration.

Jim, you asked me to fill out a comment in my message about Otto, “We won the day [to protect Shady Island], and the environmental partnership of Otto and me began in earnest.” Here goes!

Collectively in the same manner, we worked on issues such as these:

  • Getting primary sewage treatment for Annacis and pushing for secondary or better sewage treatment
  • Protecting Sturgeon’s Bank from fill and development on what was then private land outside the dyke and eventually gaining protection for it in legislation
  • Stopping a development on Robert’s Bank
  • Recycling
  • Pre-treatment for industrial effluents
  • Containment and treatment of effluent from Richmond landfill (first citizen charges laid by Wil Paulik under Otto’s guidance)
  • Stopping a housing development in Ladner Marsh
  • With Fraser Coalition members from the GVRD, stopping wholesale dumping of concrete and other wastes along dykes and ditches.

These things that Otto and I worked on together and with others in the community were quite separate from all the things Otto did to protect the river and it’s marshes in his employment with Fisheries. Some examples of the latter in Richmond:

  • Pioneer bench compensation marshes along dykes on the Middle Arm near No. 2 Rd  and behind River Rock Casino, in the North Arm on Mitchell Island, on Annacis Island, and in the three marsh areas at Garry Point
  • Conversion of the Angus Lands dump along the North Arm into a park and valuable wetland
  • Protection of sloughs draining into the river, stopping wholesale treatment of ditches with toxic pesticides in the 1970s, and the spraying of sterilants at the airport
  • Constant work to have city councils and crews recognize the necessity of maintaining the 10 % of what is left of the once vast wetlands that supported the river’s wildlife and fisheries

Otto was instrumental in creating awareness by mapping all the lost streams of Vancouver and by creating a green, yellow, red mapping of Lower Mainland shorelines to simplify for citizens, staff and developers what was untouchable, what wasn’t and under what circumstances development could occur.

Finally I would be remiss in not mentioning the GVRD’s role in seeking to understand what was worthwhile in our area and promote it. In the early 1970s, they hosted a large public consultation process called The Livable Region. Otto and I attended, him as a rep of Fisheries, me as a rep for the West End Community Council and when we moved to Richmond for RAPA. This was a breeding ground for evolving lower Mainland environmentalism. Over two years, several committees considered different aspects of livability. Ours was the Environmental Review and Policy Committee composed of everything from professionals—biologists, engineers, psychologists—to interested citizens from around the Lower Mainland. It formed for many of us a statement of principles upon which to base our future actions as citizens.  And it was the start of a network of connections we would work with for the future. We still have several copies buried in our garage!

From News route to vibrant Garden City

January 6, 2016

In the community of Richmond, B.C., many want to revive and respect what we have long been, the Garden City. My “Digging Deep” column about delivering newspapers explored a crucial aspect I found to be alive and well.

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Congratulations, subscribers! You came through with flying colours! I say that as the Richmond News carrier for a good number of you. I had to give up my newspaper route for a caregiving reason after half a year, but you’d proven yourselves by then.

As I brought the paper to 125 doors, I saw many of you. No one was ever unpleasant. Most exchanged greetings with me, engaging with warmth and respect.

Early on, one of you—working in a home office—popped out to receive the paper and offer me two $20 gift cards for fast food restaurants. You’d been given them and don’t eat there and thought I might like them or know someone who would. I did, thank you.

One hot day, you—an exuberant fellow slinging green bins of trimmings onto a recycling truck—kept up with me from house to house, with good-natured comments when our paths met. Then you fetched something from the cab and said “You need this more than me.” I’d just taken a break, so I gratefully declined the bottled water.

Another sunny afternoon, you—a young man and woman driving by—called out as you came to a stop. I’d delivered the News to your parents’ house earlier, and you liked my “Digging Deep” column and talked about follow-up action.

Soon after I resigned the route, some of you dropped in at the Richmond News office with a note of thanks and a $100 gift card. I bought Christmas dinner food with it so the family could share in your kindness.

One purpose for doing the route was to pass on income to good causes, and the money I’d saved on Christmas groceries enabled me to give $175 to the food bank. (After donation tax credits, the net outlay is about a hundred dollars.) Then I responded to you with my family’s homemade Christmas cards.

My route usually wound up at the Richmond Animal Hospital. You staff—mostly young women—always welcomed me with big smiles and thoughtful words. Each visit, you started me home with a booster shot of happiness.

All of that matters a lot to the newspaper carrier trying to get the job done well in any conditions at modest pay.

Garden City Conservation Society logo, Richmond, BCIt’s related to a stated goal of Garden City Conservation, respect for the legacy name “Garden City” as a community value. The garden of the concept is more than a green milieu buzzing with life. It needs people to steward it and make it homelike, with none too lowly to belong in it.

When I delivered your paper, you saw a senior who might have depended on it to make ends meet, and I felt at home with you. In that way, you helped us to be who we want to be, the Garden City.

Toll bridge to replace tunnel makes little sense

December 19, 2015

Re: “Toll bridge to replace tunnel makes sense,” Vancouver Sun editorial, Dec. 18, 2015.

While tolls may make sense, the $3.5 billion project does not.

Yes, there has been a need for “major remedial work to bring [the Massey Tunnel] up to today’s standards.” The first of two planned stages, strengthening joints between tube segments, ended a decade ago. The second stage involves solidifying the matter that underlies the tube. Tunnel users are owed that modest-cost safeguard now, future bridge or not.

Possibly, “Rebuilding the tunnel would have a greater environmental impact” for the worse, and environmental advocates do not suggest it. They typically suggest refurbishing, improving access and egress, and adding two lanes for enhanced transit. The segments of an added tube in the tunnel corridor can be built in a ship drydock. And by nature the tunnel concrete gets stronger with age.

Finally, why assume “no plans to dredge the river to allow for larger vessels”? Two years ago, The Sun reported this: “Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester said he supports the plan for a new bridge since it could reopen the river to deeper-draft vessels.” To be candid, it might as well be called the Port Metro Bridge.

KISS Guide to LNG on the Fraser

December 14, 2015

KISS = Keep It Simple. Succeed!

Keep It Simple — Succeed

The huge LNG expansion at Tilbury Island, Delta, could be either benign or disastrous, especially with shipping down the South Arm past Richmond. You can take steps to know whether to act and how to make a difference.

 

Best starting point?

Go to realhearings.org. On the right side of the window, look over the simplest way to send comments to the environmental assessment about Fraser River LNG. On the left side, read the first paragraph and the numbered headings.

 

Best intro to concerns?

View the Steveston presentation by Eoin Finn, PhD (Physical Chemistry). He is clear and articulate, and he is acting to serve the community. Notice that he is saying that the worst outcomes would be devastating but rare, though more likely than in the U.S. because of lower safety standards than American ones.


Best immersion in the concerns and practical action?

Come to the LNG forum at the Library, Richmond Cultural Centre. It’s at 7 pm on Wednesday, Dec 16, 2015.

Location of Richmond Library at Richmond Cultural Centre

Along with Eoin Finn, results-oriented Fraser activist Kevin Washbrook will fill you in and answer questions. Washbrook is another environmental activist who is committed to values, not personal economic gain, and his practical approach makes his idealism effective.

Blacktop parking and the two-level parkade are ample, but arrive early for a good seat (or perhaps for a seat at all). There’s access from both Minoru Blvd and Granville Ave.

Here’s how the Wilderness Committee promotes the two-hour event.

 

Follow-up for results?

Go back to realhearings.org and send input to the Environmental Assessment by the end of Monday, December 21. Then stay tuned with VTACC.org and Garden City Conservation.

 

The details: How do LNG proponents respond?

Proponent public relations person Brent Stafford of Shaky Egg rebuts in his LNG Fear Mongering video. It is an attack ad in infomercial form. As the text into puts it, “Opponents are braying. . . .” Since braying is the sound of donkeys, Stafford is saying the opponents are donkeys in order to make his case. He then characterizes them in the video as “wealthy and privileged,” which presumably makes them spoiled-brat donkeys.

Like Eoin Finn, Stafford brings in Sandia National Labs for support and actually makes Finn’s point: Stafford uses a Sandia statement that LNG tankers are safe with U.S. precautions, and Finn says that the lack of U.S.-level precautions on the Fraser is a reason that LNG tankers are unsafe there.

At the Environmental Assessment Office open house at Riverport on December 3, I spoke to many of the proponents’ advocates, who far outnumbered the public at the poorly advertised event. They said that Eoin Finn’s PhD wasn’t really in chemistry (because it’s in physical chemistry?) and that his views weren’t correct.

They weren’t able to tell me the capacity of an LNG tanker. Perhaps that’s because the ones they had to include in the plans would not have the capacity (at least 60,000 tons) they want to dredge for after getting rid of the Massey Tunnel.

They also weren’t able to give me any idea how much electricity the Tilbury plant would require. Perhaps that’s because it would be impossible without generating far more power, which gets into questions like whether they’re relying on flooding the Peace Valley to enable Site C dam power.

 

Any final thoughts?

I have noticed that Eoin Finn occasionally uses expressions with connotations that go too far. He doesn’t need to do that to make his case. Although he detracts from his own case in that way, the effect is only to weaken the case, not defeat it.

Personally I think it’s extremely important for the Environmental Assessment Office to consult thoroughly with Eoin Finn and also Kevin Washbrook, and my comments will strongly advocate that they do so.

For the Environmental Assessment Office details, go to their EAO projects page and do a search for “Wespac”.

Go to the Sandia National Labs site for an example of Sandia comments about LNG.

See you before 7 pm on Wednesday, Dec 16!

Bountiful Peace—hope for the Peace Valley

December 8, 2015
Some participants in Bountiful Peace—Richmond, Dec. 1, 2015. Arlene Boon photo.

Some participants in Bountiful Peace—Richmond, Dec. 1, 2015. Arlene Boon photo.

As you may know, an event named Bountiful Peace took place in Richmond last week. It was about saving the Peace Valley, and it was a wake-up call. That fertile land has been condemned to be flooded, but hope remains strong.

The Peace River would be blocked at Site C, near Fort St. John, by a hydroelectric dam—higher than Richmond’s tallest buildings and more than a kilometre long. Submerging the valley would change it from carbon sink to greenhouse gas emitter.

Crucially, it would destroy farmland that should help B.C. to adapt to climate change. The warming climate, along with the huge area of excellent soil, should enable the Peace Valley to produce an increasing amount and range of food, bolstering B.C. food security.

It would partly offset declining imports from California’s parched Central Valley as our population and its food needs rise. For British Columbians, the Peace Valley may be less replaceable than the Central Valley.

Unfortunately, we have provincial leaders who’ve skirted the Agricultural Land Commission, which would likely have conserved the Peace farmland, and the B.C. Utilities Commission, which might have rejected the dam. Unhelpfully, our leaders are going all out to flood the valley and not let it address climate change.

Still, if we citizens keep working to grasp and improve the situation, MLAs and potential MLAs will get the message. If the current B.C. government then stops the Site C project, excellent. Since it probably won’t, we need all who might form the next government to commit to cancelling Site C as soon as they take power.

As Bountiful Peace presenters made clear, it’s not too late. There’s site work in progress, but it can be put to new uses if the project is cancelled within 18 months or so. With dramatic timing, the next B.C. election is due in 17 months—on May 9, 2017.

Meanwhile, there’s ongoing legal action by First Nations and landowners. Since flooding the Peace Valley would be as bad for ecology as for agriculture, environmental groups like Sierra Club BC will also stay engaged.

That said, informed action by enough citizens is key. Good springboards include Stop the Site C Dam and the Peace Value Landowner Association’s info page.

Copyright © 2015 Garden City Conservation Society

Copyright © 2015 Garden City Conservation Society

I’ve just taken action by refining my “Keep the Peace” graphic, the issue at a glance. I’ll see if the campaign can use it on buttons or billboards or something in between. In any case, please act too.

______

This article also appears as “Take action to keep the Peace,” one of my “Digging Deep” columns in the Richmond Review of December 9, 2015.

For further viewing and reading:

Site C—STOP the dam flood

December 3, 2015

The Bountiful Peace event in Richmond this week went well, and I like the Peace River Environment Association’s website. However, I’m still trying to get a handle on how to do something successful on this very important issue for both farmland conservation and ecological conservation.

There is an existing logo that works very well on a large banner and could work on road signs:

PVEA stop sign logo

It will also help if there’s a graphic means for campaigners to say a bit more than that does in a more compact way. It needs to be scalable to work at all sizes from a text width of just over 1.5 inches in the Richmond News to the 3-inch diameter of a campaign button to bumper-sticker size to 4-foot by 8-foot billboard size (with the graphic using the left half the width of the billboard). As my mind pondered that, this appeared:

Site C: STOP the dam flood. Keep the Peace Valley.

Copyright © 2015, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, B.C.

Of course, people viewing the graphic will often need some explanation, which would appear beside the graphic on a billboard but would require campaign button wearers to respond to questions about the graphic, enabling dialogue. They would explain that a dam at the place near Fort St. John called “Site C” would block the Peace River, causing the river to flood the valley to form a long lake that submerges fertile farmland and forest. Hopefully the message is catchy enough to slightly entertain and to get minds moving with a sense of the conservation perspective.

I will offer this to the main campaigners, since Garden City Conservation is just on the periphery. If they want to use it, they will be welcome to do so, with minimal acknowledgement when the occasion arises.

“Bountiful Peace,” Tuesday, Dec 1 in Steveston

November 23, 2015

Arlene and Ken Boon

Flooding that river valley is probably a sin against humanity,” said Richard Bullock, former chair of the Agricultural Land Commission. He was gauging the effect of the impending Site C Dam on B.C.’s Peace River country near Fort St. John.

It’s fertile, and the sun’s summer angle gives the Peace Valley long sunny days to energize crops. And, as climate change takes effect, the crop-growing season there gets warmer and longer.

The aim of the dam is to block the river flow so that a stretch of the Peace Valley becomes a reservoir lake. When freed to fall from the surface onto turbine blades, the water would spin them to generate electric power before flowing on.

Judging from Christy Clark comments, Site C electricity is especially needed for LNG production, which requires an immense amount of power. However the LNG boom is in doubt. What’s more certain is the harm to agriculture and food security if the Site C Dam goes ahead.

The astute “Yellowstone to Yukon” conservation group, which collaborates with Peace conservationists, says this:

The Peace River Valley has 20% of the province’s best topsoil. Its Class 1 and 2 farmlands produce higher crop yields than many of Canada’s prairie regions, and it has the potential to supply fresh fruit and vegetables for a million people.

Yet the B.C. cabinet bypassed the commission and removed 3800 hectares of Peace farmland from the ALR. In effect, they raided our land bank. That endangers our food security at the very time when our California source of fruit and vegetables is drying up.

So what does this mean for us here, and what can we do about it? For a start, we can get some answers at the “Bountiful Peace” event on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at the Steveston Community Centre*. Richard Bullock will speak, as will Peace farmers Arlene and Ken Boon (shown above) and Coun. Harold Steves.

It’s slated for 7–9 pm, including at least 45 minutes for questions. Judging from Kwantlen Sustainable Agriculture’s well-received “Evening with Richard Bullock” in June, that will work well.

Sierra Club BC has organized this chance to learn what’s at stake and how there’s hope. Thanks to Sierra, Garden City Conservation is a co-sponsor, along with the Richmond Food Security Society and Richmond Blue Dot.

There’s no charge, and there’s no need to register. Parking is good in the community centre lot and to the east along Moncton Street.

Even if you’re a Site C dam fan, come along and take part in respectful dialogue. We all just want to be informed so our community and province will have a future worth having.

See you!

______

* There will also be a Bountiful Peace” event in Chilliwack on  Wednesday, December 2, 2015.

The Facebook page for the Richmond event is here.

There’s a thorough Stop Site C website.

This column has now also appeared in the Richmond News of Novenber 25, 2015 as “Everyone’s invited to ‘Bountiful Peace’.”

Acting now for Richmond public hearing re new-house massing

August 31, 2015

This older 2.5-storey house is 7.7 metres high. The white chevron shows the height limit for new Richmond houses, 9 metres. The red chevron shows “phony height,” an actual 10.5 metres that counts as 9 metres. (As well, a new house could have a higher site grade and 75% more floor area.)

Update, Tuesday, September 8: Basically the public hearing worked out well. We’ll count our chickens after the council meeting of next Monday, since some revised wording will be voted on at that time.

This article builds on my earlier Richmond News column titled “House bylaw’s phoney height is a real waste,” illustrated with the house at right.

This one has appeared as another Richmond News column, “Make your voice heard at public hearing, earn that miracle.”

The first reason it’s here as well is to include hyperlinks. In addition, there are useful updates at the bottom of the article.

__________

Question: Can the public be heeded at the next public hearing?

Answer: Yes, miracles can happen if we earn them.

On Tuesday, September 8 at 7 pm, council will hear the public on a new-house massing bylaw. The venue is the council chambers at Richmond City Hall.

At this point, the bylaw (which was supported by all councillors except Carol Day and Harold Steves) serves the interests of developers more than the needs of citizens. It includes some improvements, but at this point it ignores some evident needs and could even be worse for some neighbourhoods.

The public hearing is a speed bump before the final rubber stamp. If you value neighbourhoods and the Garden City more than mega trophy houses, you will want the bylaw fixed first.

For quick impact, you could go to the online form for public hearings and write “Please use the 3.7 metre ceiling height and the 9 metre building height for all new houses.”

Those ample heights (over 12 feet and almost 30 feet) were set but then fudged. Applied firmly, they’d help put a collar on rampant problems.

If you value trophy houses most, you could write “Please pass the bylaw as is.” I’d still respect you for taking part.

I wanted to check some details of the public hearing, so I discussed them with Richmond’s Manager of Legislative Services, Michelle Jansson. The rest of this column is a brief how-to manual.

Online, get to know the Richmond.ca website. Click your way from the “City Hall” tab to “City Council” to “Watch Meetings Online” or “Public Hearings.” From there you can reach “Speak at a Public Hearing” and “Send a Submission Online.”

On the “Send a Submission Online” form, use 9280 as the Bylaw Number. Or email council. Submissions are accepted up to the meeting time, 7 pm. Send your message much sooner if you can.

You can speak at the public hearing for up to ten minutes. That applies even if you’ve sent input, but do more than repeat it.

After everyone has spoken, you can speak for three more minutes—with new information.

Speaking well will influence people, even if you’re brief. It’s fine to simply state what’s best in half a minute.

Nitti Sharma talking to Richmond Council, July 27, 2015When you practice, visualize yourself at the speakers’ desk. View some of the online video of the July 27 council meeting. You’ll see citizens like Nitti Sharma speak about the new-house massing bylaw in the “Committee of the Whole” part (as shown at right).

Then bring your speaking notes. That will help you recall your points, conserve time and have fun.

Come early. If need be, wait for seats to open up. The new-house bylaw is last on the agenda, and people who’ve come for earlier items will leave when they’re finished.

There will be a handout to pick up as you enter. There may also be a speakers’ list to sign.

Decorum is normal. It’s tacky to shout out, clap or chat in a hearing.

After earning a miracle, sit back and see what happens.

Then bring your speaking notes. That will help you recall your points, conserve time and have fun.

Come early. If need be, wait for seats to open up. The new-house bylaw is last on the agenda, and people who’ve come for earlier items will leave when they’re finished.

There will be a handout to pick up as you enter. There may also be a speakers’ list to sign.

Decorum is normal. It’s tacky to shout out, clap or chat in a hearing.

After earning a miracle, sit back and see what happens.

___________

Updates:

1. The Richmond.ca background material on this for the public hearing is not current.

2. A Friend of Garden City has pointed out that all submissions (including emails) to a public hearing are required to include one’s first & last name and address.

3. A key problem with Amendment Bylaw 9280 is that the definition of building height has an exception that has the effect of making the 9 metre official maximum become an actual 10.5 metres. In an attachment, I’ve highlighted the problem on page 1. Simply by leaving out words, that definition becomes a clear 9 metre maximum: “Height, building means the vertical distance between finished site grade and the highest point of the building.”

4. In the bottom line of the same attachment, the “5.0 m” figure (5.0 metres) is what Lynda ter Borg and other experts say should be changed to “3.7 m” ( just over 12 feet and more normal in Metro Vancouver). Notice that a builder would still be able to choose ceilings much higher than 3.7 metres with the space counting as two floors. The3.7 m height, which Richmond’s Advisory Design Panel supports, has the effect of reasonably limiting the bulk of new houses.

5. At one point, a staff member said that changing the definition of building height would be complicated. In reality, it is very simple. It is entirely a matter of deleting 74 words. amending 9280 building height definition.

6. The WRAPd.org website includes letters on this topic.

Bullock on speculation, farming and the ALC

August 11, 2015

KPU Bullock 2015-07-28c

Richard-Bullock-at-KPURichard Bullock, the former chair of the Agricultural Land Commission, has never seemed fond of the spotlight, and he literally didn’t get a spotlight (or much lighting at all) when he spoke on the Richmond campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University recently.

As the photos show, the hall’s attention was directed to the future of agriculture and land use in B.C., with a semi-circle of bovine stakeholders on the screen watching and waiting for us human British Columbians to do the right thing.

Similarly, there wasn’t much media coverage, with just one report showing up when I googled the event. Let’s hope that some of the various people recording the “Evening with Richard Bullock” will share their audio/video soon.

In the meantime, here are a few points I jotted down.

In a sort of theme statement, Richard Bullock emphatically stated, “We’ve got to take the speculative value out of farmland.” Of course, he took the speculation problem in the right direction as ALC chair, and then the provincial Bill to Kill the ALR (Bill 24) reversed the gains and worse, as discussed in the Bill 24 section  of this blog.

When Richard Bullock spoke at length about the experience of farming, he emphasized this statement: “The toughest part of farming is the mental part.” There are so many implications when one reflects on it.

His dream, he said, is sufficiently wide respect for farmland “that the ALC should no longer be necessary.” Since he was speaking in Richmond, it’s too bad that Harold Steves was the only member of council who came. Some of his colleagues are quick to look for ways around the ALR when that suits their purposes. At present, Langford in the Capital Region seems to be the epitome of the problem, while (on the right track) Bowen Island treasures its bit of ALR.

When Richard Bullock was asked about his top three issues related to agriculture, he had to stop and think for a minute. He came up with something like this:

  • Educating about the importance of food
  • Respecting the land and water where we live
  • Enjoying and sharing the bounty that we have

The event had begun with a Salish prayer, and with that answer it seemed to draw to an end with a shared silent prayer or affirmation: Amen.

_________

Reminder:

_________

Update, August 12: The Vancouver Sun came out with a Richard Bullock article on today’s page C4 and online here. It was said to be based on the KPU event and an interview. It reads to me as though too much of it came from fishing questions in the interview. To get the best information, one can’t beat being at a Richard Bullock presentation in person.

 

Richard Bullock at KPU Richmond 28 July 2015

July 6, 2015

Do you care about the future of agriculture in British Columbia?

Richard Bullock poster for 28July2015atKPU-Richmond

Richard Bullock at Kalamalka RotaryThe KPU Institute for Sustainable Food Systems invites you to join in an evening of conversation with Mr. Richard Bullock. The former Chair of the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission will share his vision for a strong future. There will then be time for questions and answers, with Mr. Bullock in dialogue with the audience.

  • Tuesday July 28th, 7–9 pm
  •  Kwantlen Polytechnic University:
    8771 Lansdowne Road, Richmond BC
    (north side, west of Garden City Rd).
    Easy access via Canada Line at Lansdowne Station or via Hwy 99 or 91.
  • Room 2550A: Melville Centre for Dialogue

Although admission is freeregistration is required.

______

Notes:

Kitty Liu on our Salmon Festival success

July 2, 2015

Kitty Liu, Director, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, B.C.Garden City Conservation Society director Kitty Liu (shown at right) has shared this open letter of gratefulness for the success of our 2015 Canada Day booth at the Steveston Salmon Festival in Richmond, B.C. Kitty was the team leader for the event.

______

Happy Canada Day, everyone! That’s what we had, a happy Canada Day, at the Steveston Salmon Festival on Wednesday, July 1. It was a fun day to enjoy being fellow Canadians.

It was so great to see so many of you people from Richmond and all over when you came by to visit us at the Garden City Conservation Society (GCCS) booth at the Salmon Festival. What a perfect opportunity it was to see new faces and grow in awareness of the cause we care about—the conservation of our natural legacies.

We also got to mingle and build stronger networks with others who had community booths in the same area at Steveston Park. At setup time, the groups worked together to spread things out so there was room for all the tents. Then, on a day of strong winds catching the tents like sails, we and our neighbours worked together to get the tents raised and stable. Nature’s challenge for us became an occasion for harmony in the spirit of Canada Day.

For the Garden City Conservation Society, the event was an occasion to celebrate what the Friends of Garden City have accomplished together. Beginning with that setup experience, our booth embodied a generous spirit in doing whatever is needed to reach shared goals. It all went so well because of the GCCS directors and volunteers and visitors who joined in.

From beginning to end, I as the team leader had so many reasons to give thanks. Here are some examples, with a focus on people:

Volunteer Lynda ter Borg – our amazing hero – began working hard on the pre-event evening, picking up the tent, signs, tables and chairs, etc., from several places and bringing them to the Salmon Festival site. Early on Canada Day, she was back, bringing additional items and helping set up the tent. Lynda stayed all day, taking part, giving me confidence, and helping dismantle our booth before returning everything we had borrowed.

Jim Wright, our president, developed our event materials and organized them in a big box as a kit that was customized for the event, and he was always ready to explain anything I needed to know.

Daniel Leung, a founding GCCS director and still a Friend of Garden City, was our neighbour with a booth about prostate cancer awareness. When we had no pegs for our tent, he decided to use one peg per corner leg, instead of two, on his group’s tent. He then lent the pegs he’d removed to us for the day. Thanks to Daniel, our tent didn’t fly away, and we’re very glad that his tent survived too.

Some other neighbours who helped us tie things down were Check Your Head (a youth justice group) and the Liberal Party of Canada. For our part, we acted in the same spirit for other groups.

Sharon MacGougan, our vice president, patiently helped the volunteers and welcomed new Friends of Garden City.

Volunteer Eldon Lin, who is an SFU engineering student, was our superstar, energetically interacting with the public and transferring his outgoing enthusiasm to them as well.

Krishna Sharma, a GCCS director and agricultural scientist, brought his grandchildren Krishangi, 12, and Aishani, 8, to take part at the booth with him in the afternoon.

 Krishna said they have been helping him at the Sharing Farm with seed saving and climate adaptation study, so they have hands-on knowledge about conservation and food security.

Krishangi Dandapure at left

At the Salmon Festival, they set a very nice example. That’s Krishangi trying the approach of holding up a big Save Garden City logo (at left in the above photo).

Michael Wolfe, another GCCS director, had spent the morning with the Green Party’s float in the Salmon Festival parade, and he came by as soon as he finished that to help staff the booth.
Michael, who is a conservation biology teacher, leads our eco-tours, and he let people know about the upcoming tour of July 7.

Councillor Carol Day, who is a former GCCS director, had created our various pieces of signage years ago, and she provided it from where she stores it, along with her tent/canopy and other equipment, all useful.

Director John ter Borg, our treasurer, had arranged our event registration and insurance and managed to help even though he needed to be in northern British Columbia.

People like you. The event happened so smoothly and well because people like these were so unselfish and joyful about doing their part. I know there are lots of others who quietly did things to help, because everyone was trying to help us do well, not to get credit for themselves. Congratulations to all of you, because the success was your success.

Thank you all for showing support in what we do. Hope to see you all again at the East Entrance of the Garden City Lands at the July 7 tour on Tuesday.

Engaging in wonder on the Garden City Lands

May 30, 2015

Kiersten, Michael, Elena, Liam and Leah on May 2015 Garden City Lands eco-tourGarden City Conservation eco-tours can be times to depart from worldly cares and live in wonder. On the eco-tour of the Garden City Lands last Saturday afternoon, photos  by Dr. Mike Bomford of Kwantlen University’s Sustainable Agriculture Program captured that, as experienced by tour guide Michael Wolfe and the other twelve participants.

At left, Michael has found a bog insect that fascinates Kiersten Moore (red top), her children Elena and Liam, and her friend Leah (blue-grey top)— just arrived to visit from New York. Mike Bomford is Kiersten’s husband and the children’s dad.

Margery, Michael and Liam on May 2015 Garden City Lands eco-tour

At right, Michael engages in wonder with Margery (lime jacket), who is one of Michael’s fellow directors of the Richmond Nature Park Society, and Liam (blue sneakers).

Every Garden City Conservation tour brings out something new. On this tour, Liam dug into the boggy ground to bring out a metre-long wire. It is a remnant of the Coast Guard towers that used to dot the Lands, and it’s a reminder of the care needed when working there.

hardback flowersOther participants found half a dozen hardhack shoots coming up through a small patch of overly dry sphagnum moss. As shown at left, hardhack is attractive enough, but it would be essentially a weed in the sphagnum bog restoration that is envisioned.

Although there is a lot of hardhack to the west, this is the first time we’ve found it growing through sphagnum in the eastern area where bog restoration is planned. The new-found bit of hardhack could become a larger problem if it goes to seed and then spreads via the seeds as well as via its rhizomes below the ground. It needs to be removed ASAP, and I brought it to the attention of the relevant general manager, Dave Semple, when I happened to see him a few days later.