Category Archives: Sustainability

Pitt River Stream of Dreams

I spent an intensive three days this week at École Pitt River Middle School doing the Stream of Dreams Murals Society environmental education and community art project.

Years ago I was on the Stream of Dreams board for about seven years, and now I’m back in training to do some PT gigs helping out with delivering the program.

Thanks to Krystal and Cass of Echo Ecological for their guidance, patience, and good humour.

And thanks to all the students, teachers, and staff who participated! What a great bunch!

Stream of Dreams Program Pitt River Middle School

Temperature Perceptions Shift as Autumn Approaches

Funny how a usually comfortable temp on the rising side can make me feel hot, and the same temp on the falling side can make me feel cold.

I’m in that awkward “summer is ending fall is approaching what to wear” phase .

Even contemplated lighting the pilot light in the high-efficiency gas fireplace/heater on the main floor, but will hold off for another week or two, unless the usually colder females in the house want to.

The long-anticipated and much appreciated rain has also likely affected temperature perception. Here on the wet temperate west coast we never heat 24/7 even in the depths of winter. Usually an hour or so a few times a day to take the chill and dampness out of the air suffices.

Ha, threw on a long-sleeved sweatshirt, had a mug of coffee, and now I’m starting to sweat in my basement office .

Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver Spring Forum 2018

The 2018 Spring Forum of the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver today at Mundy Park in Coquitlam, BC, was lots of fun and with educational presentations and a walk in the park to boot.

I joined the board of directors about a year ago, and greatly enjoy opportunities to hang out with this dedicated group that has such a breadth of knowledge and experience.


Beautiful location in Mundy Park

ISCMV Spring Forum
Good turnout


Pamela Zevit of the South Coast Conservation Program leads a walk in the park

Hmm. . .

Don’t Step in the Poop, Dear, People Want to Look at It

Don’t step in the poop, dear, people want to look at it. 🙂

Overheard today from a parent to a young child during a tracks and scat talk ‘n walk at the Kanaka Creek Stewardship Centre in Maple Ridge, BC.

Super event, great fun and educational to boot.


Folks taking turns observing raccoon tracks


Lovely Kanaka Creek


Scat with bones in it


Claw marks


The lovely stewardship centre


A cool bug

Kanaka Creek Tracks Scat
Yumi on the bridge


Moi enjoying the creek and forest

Consequences of Car Crash Drag on for Weeks

A fellow ran a stop sign and T-boned our car nearly two weeks ago, and the recovery process is still dragging on. Thankfully it’s “recovery” as in getting life back to normal, not “recovery” as in being injured. I was fine, but our trusty 1998 Subaru Outback ended up being written off by the insurance company.

Dealings with the Insurance Corporation of BC have been great. Staff have been calm, courteous and helpful. While we’re not happy that it was decided to write our vehicle off, we understand there’s not much to be done for a nearly 20-year-old car, no matter how well we’d maintained it over the years. Unfortunately, we’re unlikely to get more than a few thousand dollars for it, but we’ll push for the most. I’m collating maintenance records, and bills of recent purchases of value like snow tires, new battery, etc.

Our insurance for replacement vehicle coverage will run out this week, so we have to get on with getting a new(er) car. ICBC extended the rental coverage by nearly a week because they’ve been inundated and haven’t provided us with a buyout yet.

So we’re shopping for a new vehicle, and while that’s exciting in some ways, it’s also stressful. All sorts of decisions to make like new vs used, cash vs finance vs lease, etc.

We’re pretty much settled on what we want. I want another AWD (all-wheel drive) vehicle. I loved the Subbie’s performance in winter conditions. My wife wants a hybrid, and unfortunately Subaru has none available in Canada.

You put “hybrid” and “AWD” together, and the result is Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, for the most part. There may be a few others that fit those parameters, but they’re too big  or even more expensive.

We test drove a 2018 RAV4 Hybrid yesterday, and it seemed huge compared to our old Outback.  Mind you a new Outback is also huge compared to the models several generations ago.

We’ve also considered used RAV4s, but it appears you’d save at most three or four thousand dollars if getting a recent “Certified Used” hybrid, so why not go new and get a full warranty, more financing options, etc.

Looking forward to getting this all settled as soon as possible!

98 Outback towed away
Saying goodbye to our faithful companion of nearly 20 years.

Lots of memories associated with this car.

Both of my late parents were still alive when we got it. It transported hutches, dining room tables, coffee tables, armchairs. . .

My wife and I did dozens of trips across western Canada over the years. Many camping and canoeing trips. . . North as far as Kitimat, west to Tofino and Long Beach, east as far as Brandon, south as far as LA and Joshua Tree. . .

Fashion? Me?

Some time ago several of us were chatting on FB about fashion, and its potentially hugely negative impact on the environment. I mentioned that in our little family, I wear stuff until it’s threadbare, and my wife does most of her clothes shopping at thrift stores.

As I was working in my home office today, it occurred to me that what I’m wearing at the moment is an excellent example. It’s a Russell Athletics sweatshirt that I bought at Oshman’s Harajuku in Tokyo over 20 years ago. This has been one tough sweatshirt!

 Paul Russell Athletics sweatshirt

More Coho Dying Unspawned on Byrne Ck in Burnaby

Volunteers with the Byrne Creek Streamkeepers Society are seeing more coho prespawn mortality this season. That’s when coho that return to spawn die before they can do so.

This has been a recurring problem on the creek over the years, and is likely due to polluted road wash that carries contaminants into the water. There are ongoing studies in Washington State that point to a toxic brew of contaminants in stormwater as being lethal to coho, which seem particularly susceptible to it.

male prespawn mortality coho
We found this coho male today

female prespawn mortality coho
And this coho female full of eggs a couple of days ago

We get so few coho back to Byrne Creek that we treasure every one, and it’s so sad to see them die without completing their life cycle.

We desperately need to infiltrate water washed off from roads and parking lots into the ground through swales and rain gardens. The ground acts as a natural filter. Yet the Byrne Creek watershed in Burnaby, BC, is seeing more and more ground paved over despite hundreds of hours of professional and public input into Stormwater Management Plans and a recent Environmental Sustainability Strategy.

Note that it is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon. Streamkeepers have training and permission to process dead salmon to collect data on species, size, spawning status, etc. We return the carcasses to the creek after processing as they provide food and nutrients to other fish, animals and the overall ecosystem.

UPDATE (Dec. 7, 2017): More research coming from the US northwest.