Category Archives: Society

Sledding in South Burnaby, BC

Yumi the Kid cajoled me into walking over to Ron McLean Park in SE Burnaby for a few runs down the slope.

We don’t get snow that sticks very often in south Burnaby, and this year has been quite the exception. It’s been tough on commuters, so take what fun you can!

It was pretty dark by the time we got out. Most shots at ISO 12,800. Tried a few at 25,600 but those looked overly grainy.

snow sledding south burnaby bc

Gateway to fun!

Skytrain zips by in the background

Salmon Run is Ending on Byrne Creek, Sharing Some Love

As the salmon spawning season draws to a close on urban Byrne Creek in south Burnaby, BC, I have a few thoughts. . .

Thank you to the dog walkers who ask us when the “keep your dogs out of the creek” posters will go up. You’re some of our best eyes on the creek! You’re out there every day.

Thanks to City of Burnaby Parks who approve posting the posters and oversee invasive plant removals, and thanks to City of Burnaby Engineering who follow up when volunteers report issues with water quality.

I also want to thank the increasing numbers of folks who are aware there are salmon in this urban creek, and who stop and chat with streamkeeper volunteers and ask how the run is going.

It’s emotional for me when the spawner run draws to a close. I feel bereft until I start spotting fry in the creek in the spring.

Yes, we do see alevin popping out of the gravel in the spring, and watch as they become fry.  It’s a wonder to behold and cherish.

I’m a prairie boy, Yumi is a northern Japan girl, and we have a common passion in BC salmon that started soon after we moved here some 20 years ago.

A lot of that goes to mentors like Stream of Dreams Murals Society founders Joan Carne and Louise Towell, and ZoAnn Morten of the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and our DFO Community Advisors over the years, Maurice and now Scott. . .

Streamkeepers in British Columbia are an amazing community.

We’ve had some hard years, and we’ve had too many low runs.

Here’s to making things better!

Respecting Wildlife Without Making Life a Disney Movie

I’m an animal lover. I’m a wildlife and nature photographer. I’ve always had pets, always cared for them to their dying days. . .

But I think some folks are ignoring reality when it comes to animals.

Humans are terrible? Sure, some are, hopefully not too many. Of course we’ve had huge impacts on wildlife, not to mention on each other.

And factory “farming” is gross and disgusting.

But have you ever watched a large cat disembowel an ungulate, and start eating its stomach and organs while the ungulate is still alive?

Ever watched an eagle or an owl stripping flesh off of a still-quivering rodent?

Ever seen a 12cm coho smolt gulp down a 6cm chum fry?

Is that somehow better than us killing?

Nature is not Disney. It never has been, and it never will be.

I think Disney and its ilk have done a huge disservice to children who’ve fallen under their spell.

Predators are not sci-fi movies or documentaries. Predators are daily life, starting from plankton all the way up the food chain to carnivorous mammals. . .

That does not mean that humans cannot reduce their footprint by reducing meat consumption etc.

But let’s not somehow put wildlife up on pedestals as shining examples of harmony and love and whatever. . . .

Humans Are Terrible at ‘Managing’ Wildlife

Something I think we need to keep in mind when thinking about issues such as “culling” wolves and seals, or working with species at risk, or habitat loss, or sustainability, or climate change, etc., is that here in British Columbia, our homo sapiens species has gone from a population of about 55,000 in 1851 to some 4,648,000 in 2016.

That’s an 85X increase in only 165 years.

And our population continues to grow at 5.6% a year.

Caribou? Elk? Wolves? Seals? All a drop in the bucket compared to our numbers. . .

Think! Don’t Drink the Koolaid!

I am increasingly troubled by friends and family who are falling into the right-wing and left-wing disinformation worlds.

It’s getting scary.

Friends and family that I’ve known for decades are getting sucked in and spouting shit that a fourth-grader could see vast holes in. . . Be it “right-wing or left-wing. . .”

We have a fragile democracy here in Canada. We have tens of thousands of folks who want to come here because conditions are so crappy in their home countries. Folks who would work their butts off to ensure we have a democracy in Canada because they have experienced totalitarian evil.

China and Russia are both dictatorships. Both have decades of experience and intent in subjugating people, and destabilizing democracies.

Democracies are by nature fragile because they do accept individual thought. That is worth protecting.

People are dying in Hong Kong, people are dying in Ukraine aspiring to democratic freedoms that we take for granted here.

Learn, read, remember. . . Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Why the Vitriol on Remembrance Day?

Those who respond “Ha-Ha” to social media Remembrance Day posts may be sick in their souls.

Particularly those posts that denigrate Canadians of colour, of ethnicity, of different beliefs, who proudly served and who continue to serve their communities as volunteers.

I cannot fathom what imaginary constructs you fear, what you hate. But millions died to keep societies like ours inclusive and welcoming ones.

You have the freedom to hate, because so many loved and died for democracy and freedom.

Why can’t you make wiser choices, and exhibit positive behaviours?

What and why do you fear?

Byrne Creek Autumn – Bring on the Salmon!

I love autumn, and while the colours are starting to diminish, next up will be spawning salmon. We volunteer with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers in SE Burnaby, BC, and for us this is the most exciting part of the year when salmon start returning to spawn and die.

There’s so much anticipation to see how many fish we’ll get as our numbers vary considerably over the years. Some years have been very poor with only a few dozen spawners counted, but last year we had over 100.

byrne creek dog posters

We have permission from Burnaby Parks to zapstrap two or three funny dog posters to trees in the lower ravine during the spawning season. We’ve had excellent responses to them, with dog walkers asking us when they’ll be up.

salmon redd nest byrne creek burnaby
While we haven’t seen any salmon yet, they should start arriving any day now. Yumi spotted this disturbance which is likely a redd, or nest of eggs, so they may be here and hiding. That could mean coho, as they are very secretive, while chum, the other species in our creek, is readily observable.

byrne creek garbage
Unfortunately the creek also attracts irresponsible types and we often find garbage dumped in it. This speaker was tossed off of the Meadow Ave. bridge.