How a local playground fell victim to class size and composition

Lynn Valley Playground Looking for Donations and Sponsors

Lynn Valley Elementary PAC President Kyla Shore

When the courts reversed the province’s right to impose class sizes without negotiating with teachers, many parents let out a sigh of relief. More teachers, smaller classes — it seems win-win. As the North Vancouver School District struggled to conform to the changes, one local school’s playground became an unfortunate victim in the shuffle – and they hope you can help.

“Last summer the district added two portables to our school,” said Kyla Shore, president of the Lynn Valley Elementary Parent Advisory Committee. “The only space to put them was where our swings used to be.”

In August out went the swings, in went two temporary portables.


Another hurdle for playground committee


Unlike most other schools in the community, Lynn Valley Elementary has little more than pavement and gravel, said Shore. There aren’t any natural spaces. This prompted parents more than five years ago to start a committee to revamp the area with more natural features and improved playspaces. The process of fundraising and planning began. In the meantime, almost 100 students were added to the school.

Swings are the number one feature students requested in a poll the PAC did three years ago to help guide playground plans. At the time Lynn Valley Elementary had three swings and one accessible swing.

Today there are zero.

“[The school district] took out the swings with our hope being that they would move them,” said Shore. “When they were taken out there was significant corrosion so they couldn’t be reused. Once they were out of the ground it became our cost to replace them.”

This began a process of assessing school yard space, consulting with other community users and construction.

“The [school] district has been very helpful over the last few months,” said Shore. “They had to talk to groups they have agreements with for field use. They ended up removing two goal posts and changing the fields.”

This has freed up some of the gravel to be returned to a playspace.

“We would also like to see paths, boulders, logs, trees to reflect the natural beauty of the North Shore. Something that kids can use during school and after,” said Shore.

The first step is to replace the swings and add a few features to physically engage students. This is a chance to make the space better, more accessible and to allow more students to play at the same time, said Shore.

“We are going to install eight swings and two disc swings that can be used by more than one student or by a child with special needs,” said Shore, adding the first phase will also include horizontal bars, plus all the framing and fill needed for safety requirements.


Adopt a Piece of the Playground


The Lynn Valley PAC is hoping the community will help. To take advantage of available timelines from the school district they have temporarily reassigned funds from other projects to cover costs and is hoping families and community members will sponsor a piece of equipment to finish off the project, said Shore.

“We know most people maybe can’t afford a swing ($500), but maybe they can sponsor a wheelbarrow of wood chips ($25) or post ($100),” she said. “A lot of money we raise goes to things the community don’t usually get to see – like technology in the classroom, or field trips, or special guests. This is something where you will see the impact every day and for years to come.”

As a registered charity, the PAC is able to issue receipts for donations of more than $25 or offer public recognition to donors. More details and how to donate are on the PAC’s website.

 

(Photos courtesy of Lynn Valley Elementary PAC)

The Provincial Budget and Lynn Valley Real Estate

This week’s provincial budget had a focus on housing and real estate. Some policies are tax measures geared at the wider-province but could have impacts here in Lynn Valley. If you are planning to buy or sell in the next few months here are some issues you might want to consider.

The government released a 30-point housing strategy aimed at reducing housing demand, curbing tax fraud, building affordable housing, and increasing security for renters.

New tax measures include increasing property taxes and property transfer taxes on residential properties valued above $3 million, expanding the foreign buyer tax, and implementing a housing speculation tax.

LynnValleyLife’s real estate experts Jim Lanctot and Kelly Gardiner are available to help you understand how these changes will affect your property sale or property search. They can be reached at 778-724-0112


Tax Measures


Foreign Buyer tax

  • Effective Feb. 21, 2018, the foreign buyer tax will increase to 20 per cent from 15 per cent and will be extended to the Fraser Valley, Capital, Nanaimo, and Central Okanagan Regional Districts.

“This may refocus some of the buyers who left the North Shore for regions like Victoria,” said Jim Lanctot, publisher with LynnValleyLife and realtor with the Lynn Valley office of Sutton WestCoast Realty. “By distributing this tax wider it may no longer deter those keenly interested in areas like the North Shore.”

Speculation Tax

  • The province will implement a new speculation tax on residential properties, targeting foreign and domestic homeowners who don’t pay income tax in B.C. This includes those who leave their homes vacant.
  • The tax will apply to the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Capital, and Nanaimo Regional districts and in the municipalities of Kelowna and West Kelowna.
  • In 2018, the tax rate will be $5 per $1,000 of assessed value. In 2019, the tax rate will rise to $20 per $1,000 of assessed value.
  • The province will administer the tax and will collect data to enforce it including, social insurance numbers, household information, and world-wide income information.

Property Transfer Tax

Effective Feb. 21, 2018, the Property Transfer Tax on residential properties above $3 million will increase to five per cent from three per cent.

Provincial School Tax

Beginning in 2019, the provincial school tax will increase on most residential properties in excess of $3 million.


Affordable Housing


The province will:

  • Invest $6 billion in affordable housing to create 114,000 homes over the next 10 years.
  • Enhance local government capacity to build and retain affordable housing.
  • Require developers to collect and report comprehensive information about the assignment of pre-sale condo purchases.
  • Track beneficial ownership information.
  • Collect additional information to increase transparency and strengthen enforcement in real estate.

Database on pre-sale condo assignments

The province will require developers to collect and report comprehensive information about the assignment of pre-sale condo purchases. The information will be reported to a designated government office and shared with federal and provincial tax authorities to ensure taxes are paid.


Other Highlights


Task force on money laundering and tax evasion

The province will work with the federal government to formalize a multi-agency working group on tax evasion, money laundering and housing.

Residential Tenancy Branch

Increased funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait time, improve service and deal with disputes more quickly, as well as strengthening the Residential Tenancy Act and the penalties for those who repeatedly break the law.

(Source: Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board)

Family Day fun for 2018

As we head closer to B.C.’s newest holiday, Family Day LynnValleyLife has put together some great North Shore events.


Lynn Valley family fun


There are a number of Family Day events organised by North Van Rec. In Lynn Valley Karen Magnussen will be offering its family rate for skating on Monday, Feb.12 from noon-3:15 p.m. and public swim from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. That means each family member gets in for $2 each.

There are two days of activities at Lynn Valley Centre – Family Day and Valentine’s Day from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  On Feb. 12 enjoy free family carnival games and crafts and Feb. 14 take part in games and take home a design from a glitter tattoo artist.


Quay to fun


Lonsdale Quay has a day of events On Feb. 12. It begins with the Lonsdale Artisan Farmer’s Market – complete with a petting zoo for the kids. There will also be some Valentine’s Card making and a puppet show. All the details of the Lonsdale Quay website.


Winter fun


All three of our ski hills are having special pricing, events or both. Highlights include family-friendly events at Grouse and 50% of ticket prices. Cypress has special kids pricing and some activities. Seymour is offering free skiing for kids with paying adults all weekend long.

Lynn Valley-made Spring Break Solutions: Nature

With March Break fast approaching there is always a bit of panic: how will the kids keep busy when you are at work? LynnValleyLife is looking at three made-in-LV solutions to engage and challenge children and provide some experiences far different than the classroom. 


Nature School


For nine years Soaring Eagle Nature School has been taking kids out of the traditional classroom into the forest.

“We are  a nature-based school that has an emphasis on naturalist skills as well as survival skills,” said Jenna Rudolph, co-founder, director and lead instructor of Soaring Eagle Nature School. “We are based completely outside – we don’t have any indoor space. We go out to the forest get the kids really comfortable being outside and learning skills that go hand in hand with being outside.” 

Based in Lynn Valley, Soaring Eagle offers weekly and monthly programs throughout the school year as well as camps during the spring and summer breaks. The growing interest in forest schools has helped the school expand from the Lower Seymour Conservation Area to Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver and Minnekhada Park in Coquitlam.


What is forest school?


For the uninitiated, forest school, defined by the Forest School Association, “is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.” One report concluded that children, especially, acquire knowledge experientially, through play, experimentation, exploration and discovery. Research shows that many of the fundamental tasks that children must achieve, such as exploring, risk-taking, fine and gross motor development and the absorption of vast amounts of basic knowledge can be most effectively learned through outdoor play.


What kids learn


More than anything, in my family’s experience, forest school is fun. Where else do adults encourage kids to run endlessly, coat themselves entirely in mud or make them pause to listen to the forest? They learn about things like plants and seasons, erosion and weather, insects and animals. Moreover through play they conquer intangibles like compromise, creativity and social development.

Rudolph echoes that some impacts are obvious – others less so.

“I think the rewards are that they can bond and connect with something that is real which can help them learn more about themselves,” she said. “I think they get a lived experience of what it means to take care of yourself. Today was the wettest day we have had all year and the four-year-olds I was with learned that if they are not prepared that will impact their experience and their fun in the forest. I think that lived experience shows the reality of caring for oneself and for others.”

Children will also grow and develop physically be being part of such a program.

“Kids learn to use their bodies in different ways – we have to climb over logs, avoid puddles. We have to climb under branches,” said Rudolph. “The change in body movement is pretty huge. We have to look at solving problems in a different way. If it’s wet – where might we go to find cover or different situations come up where we have to work together to figure things out. It’s different than being in a classroom because it is happening right there, and it needs to be dealt with in real time.”


Spring Break adventure


For Spring Break, Soaring Eagle is offering a number of camps. Like most of its programs, the camps fill up quickly.

“It will be full of nature-based games, cool nature discoveries and adventure in the forest,” said Rudolph. “Basically exploring whatever the forest is doing. Spring is an incredible time. There are many of plants coming up and growing, a lot of birds returning so there is definitely a lot to explore, to learn what’s new and to see what is changing.”

There will be plenty of activity to keep warm and explore the forest, but facilitators will also take time with the children to slow down.

“Kids often want to be really loud and excited in the forest but a lot of the games and activities require the kids to be quiet and sneaky,” said Rudolph. “It’s those games where we have some really special moments. Hiding in a bush, we might see a spider or insect crawling by that we might not have noticed otherwise.

“Being quiet and moving slowly allows us to get closer to wildlife than we would have otherwise and I think that brings a deeper sense of reverence for the forest when we are fully aware of where we are and realizing we are in some other creatures space. That is when the really magical things start to happen – in the quiet and still.”

Like any outdoor adventure on the North Shore, both children and staff need to ready for just about anything.

“Be prepared for any kind of weather: having lots of warm clothing, having some extra layers, having good rain gear and boots,” explained Rudolph. “Be prepared for the newness of being outdoors for a long period of time. Being aware of your safety and others safety – keeping warm. We make sure that each child is dressed appropriately or has what they need in their backpacks. As staff we always have extra gear in our packs for kids if they need it. Often on cold days we have stoves and water to make tea. We always have tarps with us.”

With time and space to explore and grow in the forest Rudolph hopes participants walk away a little bit changed.

“Expect that after just a few hours in the forest it feels like the you have known the people you are with for a very long time,” she said. “You can expect new and different experiences that other people don’t get to have.”

To learn more or to register for any of Soaring Eagles’ programs visit its website.

Are you or your organization offering spring break nature activities in Lynn Valley? Feel free to let the neighbourhood know by posting directly onto our Facebook page!

Lynn Valley-made Spring Break Solutions: Art

With March Break fast approaching there is always a bit of panic: how will the kids keep busy when you are at work? LynnValleyLife is looking at three made-in-LV solutions to engage and challenge children and provide some experiences far different than the classroom.


Growth through art


From textiles to Picasso to Murakami, Kudzu Studio will be offering four classes this spring right here in Upper Lynn.

Artist Jeri Engen has been working with children for decades from creating grassroots arts education programs in the Seattle, to launching programs with the North Shore Arts Council, to guiding students through the Vancouver Art Gallery. Even with all those plates in the air, for the last few years Engen has been offering popular classes through her home studio.

“This is something I am incredibly passionate about – not necessarily to grow fine artists but to create an excitement about and a passion for art,” said Engen.

Kudzu Art StudioThroughout out the year Kudzu Studio offers classes to children from preschool to teens. The popular classes tend to fill up from word-of-mouth praise, but she is open to creating new classes if there are at least four students interested. To get a taste of what Kudzu is like, Engen is offering four classes this Spring Break as well as week-long camps throughout the summer.


Life Skills


“Art is a great share with kids social and historical events,” she said. “It also gives them an opportunity to make sense of their own world – often they can’t verbalize it but they sure can draw. It’s such a privilege to work with kids and share in their experience and get them excited.

“To see them gain confidence in what they are doing – to seem them take risks, take chances. To learn that mistakes are okay. That’s part of life. To think ‘Oh no, I don’t know what to do’ and still give it a shot and if doesn’t work give it another shot – and again. It’s a great safe way to do that.”


Kudzu Art Gallery


For elementary age children they will explore the latest exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery by Takashi Murakami and other art currently featured in local galleries in Art Around Town.

“My biggest objective is that they have fun and create but my second objective is to get the kids excited about art and the artist – to start a relationship that will inspire them to see the original work. They can take their parents and have an experience beyond the studio here,” said Engen.

Her second elementary program will feature the works of Picasso and fostering courage and resilience.

“I think everyone knows Picasso but there is so much more to Picasso than people think,” said Engen. “His always did the things he didn’t think he could do in order to learn to do them – and that is the underlying theme of this camp – go forth and do things you can’t do. Taking the techniques of Picasso like drawing upside down and having the child draw what they want – but upside down. We always have one child who love cats – so that will be their subject matter ”

There are also two tween/teen camps featuring textiles and drawing. In textiles students will explore silk, felting, embroidery and much more. In drawing Engen will cover basic foundational skills and then introduce new techniques that students likely won’t have tried at home – but could if they resonate.

“It is about creating art and it is also about learning some life lessons and having the courage to try something new,” said Engen. “These things they don’t always realize they will carry forth into other aspects of life.”

For details of classes and dates visit the Kudzu Studio website. For registration visit her here or call 604-971-1147. 

Are you or your organization offering spring break art activities in Lynn Valley? Feel free to let the neighbourhood know by posting directly onto our Facebook page!

An ancient antidote to the modern rush

Looking to be an antidote for the rushed, the busy and the overwhelmed Lynn Valley United Church has turned to the ancient labyrinth to offer locals a space to look inward, reflect and spiritually connect.


New building, historic idea


Lynn Valley United Church walkers

On the floor of the new contemporary church building is a very old tradition. Marked on the new floor is a labyrinth based on one of the world’s most famous in Chartres, France. The design in that cathedral is thought to have been built in the early 1200s. The four-quadrant design holds a path leading meditative walkers into the centre and back out.

Lynn Valley United Church invites anyone to come an used the peaceful walk to slow down and reflect. It is open to walk anytime the office is open (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Tuesday-Friday) and during several special sessions throughout the month.

“We live in a culture where so much is coming at you – that is driven by ego. Anytime you can put aside the ego and listen to the inner you – I would say it is a spiritual moment,” said Kimiko Karpoff, Minister for Faith Formation at LVUC.

“The labyrinth is where you can bring your deeper questions and longings to the inner wisdom that exists in in each person. Walking a labyrinth is a spiritual practice – it can take you into deeper conversation. For some people it resonates with, that can be a deeper conversation with God. If that doesn’t resonate with you – a deeper conversation with our essential self,” she said.

“You can come and walk it as you are and approach it as you need to.”


Old traditions


Labyrinths exist in the history of just about every culture across the world. Just about as universally they are used for reflection and connection. Despite their wide symbolic appeal they are relatively rare in the Lower Mainland. A small handful exist in other churches and while there is an outdoor labyrinth at The Bridge Church in Deep Cove, there is no other indoor labyrinth on the North Shore.

Lynn Valley United Church finger board“One of things about a labyrinth is that people often mistake it for a maze,” said Karpoff. “A maze is designed to trick and fool. Whereas a labyrinth is actually a singular path where you can’t get lost. It is one single path that takes you into the centre. When you look at the pattern it switches back and forth, so when you are walking you don’t know where you are but the labyrinth knows where you are.”

She says that this is liberating because your mind must be occupied enough to follow the path and but still allows focus on other things.

“It is contemplative, so some people meditate,” said Karpoff. “You are paying attention, but it’s so simple you don’t have to think about it. Your body is doing something but your brain is given space to be creative.”  

LVUC has more information on the history of the practice and how one can meditate in the labyrinth on their website. Traditionally, the labyrinth is walked slowly at the pace you need in order to be reflective. Mentally it is approached in four steps:

  • Remembering – Acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for; be grateful to yourself for taking this time out, and your feet for getting you to the labyrinth.
  • Releasing – Let go of the negative, and the chatter that busies our minds, open yourself
  • Receiving – During the walk open yourself to the guidance, interior silence, peace, or a creative idea; whatever it is your soul chooses to nourish itself, however unexpected this may be.
  • Return – as you exit the labyrinth honour your insights and try to find space for them in world.

“I would love to see people have that time for peace,” said Karpoff. “It doesn’t necessary take a lot of time to do a spiritual practice. It is a simple as sitting and being or walking and being. If all you have is 20 minutes you can walk the labyrinth.”

There is more information on hand at the church on the labyrinth and how it is used and staff are happy to answer any questions labyrinth walkers may have.

“At Lynn Valley United Church we want people feel comfortable to come and be,” said Karpoff. “Some come and walk the labyrinth and go. Others come and connect and talk – that can be simple chit chat or deeper conversation.”


Special walks throughout the month:


LabyrinthFirst Wednesday – 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. – Walk with hymns and sacred music played on the piano.

Second Wednesday – 9 a.m. – Parents are encouraged to stop by for self-care after dropping children off at school.

Third Wednesday – 7 to 9 p.m. – Walk with contemplative music.

Fourth Wednesday – 4:45 p.m. onwards – Walk the labyrinth during Mid-Week Moments, an event for families of all shapes and sizes that integrates a shared meal, gathering for all-ages community worship and activities to stimulate spiritual connection, reflection and curiosity… which includes a playful and exuberant exploration of the labyrinth!

For more information reach out to Lynn Valley United Church at 604-987-2114.

Dogs offer audience to young readers at LV Library

An interesting news release from the Lynn Valley Library, especially for young readers who are dog lovers!

North Vancouver District Public Library is thrilled to announce a new program aimed at encouraging children to further develop their literacy skills by reading aloud…to a dog! On Wednesday evenings from January 17—March 14, local children have the opportunity to come to read to Starr, the friendly Great Dane, at Lynn Valley Library at the Paws 4 Stories program.

Paws 4 Stories is a St. John Ambulance Therapy Dog Community Service program that is designed to assist in helping to improve reading skills of children. Reading to a certified therapy dog has been shown to be motivating and calming to readers, and can potentially help children change their approach to reading. It can be particularly beneficial for children who may be hesitant or anxious about reading.
The program is recommended for children ages 6 -12.

Children can sign up for up to three twenty minute sessions while the program is running, but space is limited and registration is required. Those interested in participating can call 604-984-0286, ext. 8141 or visit the Lynn Valley Children’s Desk to register.