Category Archives: Sustainability

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!

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. . .

Still Some Coho on Byrne Creek

It was a late start to salmon spawning season on Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC, this year and we have seen very few fish compared to past years. It’s a mystery that’s troubling.

We saw one chum, and several coho today. We also processed — measured and assessed spawning success — a few dead coho we found.

Unfortunately, this coho female did not spawn before dying. That’s sad to see, particularly since we’ve been getting so few salmon back the last few years.

unspawned female coho byrne creek burnaby

We also saw this big coho on its last fins. It was barely moving.

large coho fungus byrne creek burnaby

NOTE: Streamkeepers have training and permission to monitor spawning salmon and collect data when the fish die. It is illegal to interfere with spawning salmon.

The carcasses are cut in half after they are assessed, to ensure we don’t double count, and are returned to the creek to provide nutrients to the ecosystem.

Milky Spill in Byrne Creek in SE Burnaby, BC

Photos of today’s incident in Byrne Creek in SE #Burnaby.

A volunteer streamkeeper on his way to Edmonds Skytrain Station this morning noticed the mess.

Called it in to the City, and hope they can find the source.

From Griffiths Pond near Edmonds Skytrain Station I backtracked it all the way to where the creek first appears above ground near 16th. The flow was from higher than that, and was dissipating by the time I got there.

I have not seen any distressed or dying fish, so we might have dodged a bullet, yet again. This has happened a few times over the last few months. Not good.

We have spawning salmon in the creek, and later I will check the sediment pond further downstream, though if it’s this thick down there I likely won’t be able to see anything.

mikly spill byrne creek burnaby bc
Fish ladder at Griffiths Pond


Heading upstream to where the creek comes out of pipes near 16th.

Plastics Street Garbage Entering Storm Drains

Street garbage seen today, much of it plastics, leading straight to a storm drain at the corner of Edmonds and Fulton in SE Burnaby, BC. This was perhaps a 5-meter stretch of curb.

I am documenting more of this when I run across it because the Stream of Dreams Murals Society is researching how plastics are impacting local streams, and eventually the Fraser River and Pacific Ocean though storm-drain pollution.

The City of Burnaby is providing some support for this project.

All drains lead to fish habitat. When this garbage is washed into street drains, it ends up in local creeks, begins breaking down, and keeps moving downstream affecting fish and wildlife along the way. It will eventually arrive in the ocean, perhaps as microplastics.

plastics garbage burnaby bc street

Are We Up to Really Tackling Climate Change?

10, 15, 20 years ago, I’d go to sustainable communities conferences and revel in people getting charged up and excited.

Now I go to sustainable communities conferences and I see people walking out of keynote presentations in tears. . .

It’s been much the same message all along, but it’s finally sinking in with more folks that time is running out.

I work and talk with “kids” in their 20s and 30s, half my age, and more of them are afraid to have children, because there is dwindling optimism in what the future holds.

I help deliver watershed education programs to elementary schools, and there’s an unease among the kids, and alarm among the teachers. . . .

It’s like a world war.

Is this our D-Day? Environmental Destruction Day.

It’s said we can still turn things around, but it’s going to take WAY more effort than any government or almost any political candidate from the big two parties in the current Canadian Federal election has been willing to admit. . .

Are we up to this?

Can we as humans see beyond short-term gain and look a few generations into the future?

Last Day Exhibiting with Stream of Dreams at EcoCity 2019

It was yet another gorgeous day in downtown Vancouver at the EcoCity 2019 event (@ecocity2019). It was my second day helping staff the Stream of Dreams Murals Society booth @StreamofDreams . I’ve been doing some PT work this year helping deliver the Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art program in schools.

I really enjoyed this event. Talked to lots of folks over the two days, collected a bunch of biz cards, and will be following up with many.

There was a serendipitous moment as I was chatting with a conference goer who didn’t seem all that impressed with our watershed education and community art program. Just then another woman walked by and squealed “Oh my gosh, Stream of Dreams! I love your program, my kids got so much out it, and teachers at her school were raving about it!”

No, I’d never met the second woman, and no cash was exchanged under any table : – ).

It’s very rewarding to get such unsolicited positive feedback.

stream of dreams founder Louise Towell Manager Krystal Brennan
L-R: Project Manager Krystal, Co-Founder Lu. Great people to work with!

stream of dreams murals ecocity 2019 vancouver

Stream of Dreams Booth at Vancouver EcoCity 2019

Lovely day in downtown Vancouver at the EcoCity 2019 event (@ecocity2019). I was helping staff the Stream of Dreams Murals Society booth. I’ve been doing some PT work this year helping deliver the Stream of Dreams watershed education and community art program in schools.

Had fun chatting with lots of other exhibitors and visitors, and also enjoyed meeting the folks from Royal Roads University where I did my MA, and University of Saskatchewan where I got my BA and BEd, and the University of Victoria, where I did a year of writing.

Great to see all the environmental programs coming out of these unis, and others!


While the multi-hundred-million dollar buildings are impressive, what really stands out to me is the tree. It outshines them all.

Tree Walk ̓n Talk at Riverview Hospital Grounds in Coquitlam

Excellent tree walk ̓n talk on the grounds of the Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, BC. The grounds have an amazing variety of trees, and the Riverview Horticultural Centre Society has been campaigning for years to save as many of them as possible as the site faces development pressures.

This was the last tour of 2019, but Yumi and I would be happy to go on another one next year!

Thanks to Julia Alards-Tomalin, an instructor at BCIT who led the tour.

And apologies to Julia for taking half the tour to place her — I kept thinking to myself “where do I know this woman from?” Jeez, brain lag, we’re both directors on the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver .

tree tour riverview hospital coquitlam bc


There are a couple of Ginko trees on the grounds. They were far from full aroma. . . There was lots of talk about what they smell like at peak fullness, but there are few around here. . .

But yeah, I remember them from my years in Japan when they were, shall we say, powerful reminders of nature, even on congested Tokyo boulevards…