Argyle student represents Canada at world championship dance competition

By Robin Thorneycroft, contributing writer

For most students, balancing high school involves choosing classes, finding your friends during breaks and perhaps practicing a sport a couple of times a week. That’s not the case for Samantha Olivier, a Grade 12 Argyle Secondary student, who has taken on a full course load and a part-time job, and yet practices dance up to 40 hours a week as well.

The focus and hard work is paying off – this past August, Olivier was selected to represent Canada at the IDO World Show Dance Championships this month in Germany. She will join two other dancers from the North Shore, Mandy Rabinovitch and Elisse Beckett, and many others from across Canada to form the team of about 50 dancers.

“It’s an honour to go and compete representing my country,” said Olivier. “I am excited.”

Showdance is a mix of jazz and contemporary that focuses on telling a story, said Olivier. She was selected for two events at the upcoming world championship – a small group and a larger adult formation.

Competing at this elite level is a challenge. Her day starts with school, which ends for her at about 1 pm, when she heads to RNB Dance and practices for another eight hours. She then squeezes in homework and on Fridays and Saturdays her part-time job.

“My mom and dad support me a tremendous amount – obviously the practical and emotional but also financial,” said Olivier. “It is super expensive to do dance at this level.”

After winning a spot on the Canadian team Olivier’s family started fundraising – and the community can help. Dance isn’t recognized in Canada the way it is in some other countries where it is given similar funding as national sport athletes. To support this world championship run her family has started a GoFundMe page.

“When I dance I feel like me,” said Olivier. “I like the dedication and commitment needed for dance – the passion. I hope to pursue this as a career.”

Along with the dozens of hours of actual practice, Olivier has had to meticulously plan her education to ensure future success. She is part of the Peak Performance and Flex for Success Program at Argyle Secondary. This speciality program, offered by the North Vancouver School District at Argyle, Carson Graham, Handsworth, Seycove, and Windsor Secondary schools, was created to allow elite student athletes and performers to excel at their competitions and practices without sacrificing school. For Olivier that has meant, in addition to regular classes, completing online courses in advance to free up practice time and ensuring her physical skills are tested to qualify for PE credits.

Olivier’s English teacher Wendy Hebbourn emphasises the commitment Peak students need.

“Some students struggle academically, as they try to juggle it all, or they get sick, as their bodies fail to cope with the added burdens,” said Hebbourn. “Unless, as Samantha, they are dedicated enough to create schedules for themselves.”

Thoughts echoed by Olivier.

“The Peak program helps me balance it all. I really want to do this – it can be really hard,” she said.

Olivier’s love of dance began at three years old as a ballerina. She progressed through tap and jazz dance, as well as rhythmic gymnastics. She says she has found her love in contemporary. She hopes it will carry her through her future. Olivier hopes to one day audition at Juilliard in New York City or take other avenues to dance professionally. Her other ambitions include maintaining a connection to physical health and wellbeing by studying kinesiology.

The immediate focus for now is this month’s world championships. She has added additional weekend practices with Team Canada.

We are working so hard. The whole team has become so close and we are working together.” she said. “It would be amazing to win but the experience of working hard just to get there has been so good. We are going to as far as we can.”

This extra push maybe new but Olivier’s growth and progress has be exciting to watch for family, friends and teachers.

“She is more confident in herself, and more true to herself with each passing year,” said Hebbourn.

From her tiny twirls at three, where Olivier says she danced to feel happy, to world class competition:

“Dancing makes me feel like myself,” said Olivier, “I don’t know who I would be without dance.”

You can follow Team Canada’s progress at the showdance world championship here. You can donate to Samantha’s Olivier’s trip funding here.

LV Legion helps community remember the fallen

After a tough couple of years the Lynn Valley Legion is returning to its roots and focusing on remembering Canada’s veterans this Nov. 11 with poppy tagging and a ceremony at Lynn Valley’s Veterans’ Plaza followed by a community open house.

“We are a service organization,” says Royal Canadian Legion Branch 114 President Diana Saboe. “Each year we give $100,000 back to the community. We are the Guardians of Remembrance. Even when the bar was closed we were open as a service organization. We still did our poppy tagging and raised about $60,000.”

Saboe is referring to the past 18 months or so that saw the Legion closed by its provincial oversight, a legal challenge, and the dismissal of many members. It reopened in April with a board appointed by the BC-Yukon Command and has been working towards this November 11th ever since.

“We need the legion because we remember,” says Saboe. “We are the only organization that holds and organizes Remembrance Day ceremonies. Having a legion in each community – Lynn Valley, Lonsdale, West Van – is important because there are veterans in each community and they have different needs.”

This busy time is energizing the legion membership, whose core volunteers are diligently donating hours upon hours.

“Lest we forget – We remember them – our two slogans are important to teach to our youth and those younger because of the the sacrifices that were made allow them to have the freedoms we have today,” says Saboe.

Passing this on has become more challenging as the schools and teachers have increasing pressure from more places placed upon them, says Saboe. They legions organizes poppies for North Vancouver public and private schools.

“Most the highs schools ask if there is a veteran who can speak or attend their service,” says Saboe. “It is a matter of getting people to drive the veterans.

“There are a handful of us running Remembrance Day for the last couple of years – it feels like we are doing the work of 10 to 12 people each,” says Saboe. “It can get a bit daunting but we are dedicated to this.”

The Lynn Valley community can help at the legion in many ways this time of year. There are organizational details to look after for the November 11 ceremony, potluck food can be donated for the post-ceremony open house at the legion and, of course, there is the poppy campaign – or Poppy Tagging as the legion calls it.

Numbers of legion volunteers are down this year, but it still has its goals to hand out as many poppies as possible and collect donations. Lynn Valley community members can step up to help by visiting the legion – 1630 Lynn Valley Road – any day until November 11, between 10 am and 8 pm to volunteer. Poppy taggers will be given a tray, a short briefing and assigned a location in Lynn Valley. The work is flexible for whatever time the volunteer has. Locals are also encouraged to pick up a poppy tray to take to their workplace.

“We want to give out as many poppies as we can to spread that awareness,” says Saboe. “We never turn someone away because they don’t have a donation. The goal is to remember.”

The legion would also like to invite people to visit their hall. The space is open to all – including children and can be used as meeting space for groups or a place for friends to gather. The legion has a goal to add more family activities in the coming year. The money raised through the bar, poppies and other activities supports veterans needs and is also donated back to the community to Lynn Valley groups like Argyle Secondary and Mollie Nye House, says Saboe.

Lynn Valley’s November 11 will have a full ceremony with a choir, colour party, bugler and speeches. It will take place at Veterans’ Plaza – behind the Archives building between Lynn Valley Elementary and Parent Participation Preschool, 3205 Institute Road at 10:30 am.

There will also be a ceremony at 10:30 at the Victoria Park Cenotaph off of Lonsdale Ave.

Too many leaves for your bin? Here’s what to do

You either love this time of year: cool days, golden light, leaves to scuffle in, or you hate it: frost to scrape, short days and mounds and mounds of leaves to deal with. This fall’s yard clean up is looking a little different. This is the first year there will be no paper leaf bags lining the streets of Lynn Valley.

The adoption of the lockable organics carts for yard waste by the District of North Vancouver has changed how you have to deal with fall leaves. Here are some tips to get through the fall gardening season.

Gather leaves using yard waste bags – and place them INSIDE your organics cart. No bags will be picked up curbside by the DNV.

  • Use old garbage cans to gather leaves around your yard and dump them in your organics cart.
  • If your cart is full, you can store leaves until your next collection in your old garbage cans or leaf bags.
    Add leaves to gardens as mulch.
  • Consider mowing your leaves – move your mower blade to the highest setting and the leaves will be chopped finely and spread over your lawn. Eventually it will be absorbed as compost. Alternatively if your mower has a catch it will gather the some of the leaves for you to dump in your cart.

“Residents may request a second 240L organics cart at no direct cost, if they require additional capacity,” said Stephanie Smiley, communications manager for the District of North Vancouver. “Subsequent organics carts are available for approximately $40/year. Information is available on our website ( under the Questions about garbage and organics limits section at the bottom of the page below the map.”

Just a reminder that this is also the time to do the neighbourly (and smart!) thing and remove leaves from your nearby storm drains. No one wants a repeat of the floods from a few years back!

Time to sponsor your LV Village Christmas tree!

Lynn Valley’s recent snowflakes make this announcement from the Lynn Valley Community Association timely indeed.

The festive Lynn Valley Village Christmas Parade of Trees is celebrating its seventh year lighting up the village square with colours, lights, and greenery.

Sponsoring a tree is a great opportunity to promote your business or organization, while at the same time supporting families in need and helping build a strong community here in Lynn Valley.

You can sponsor a tree for $250, with $50 from each sponsorship donated to the Harvest Project helping those in need in our community. Any other net proceeds support the work of LVCA in the community such as our speaker series, trail improvement projects and community events. At the lighting ceremony we collect toys for the Lynn Valley Legion Toy Drive. Your sponsorship goes a long way!

New for this year: an opportunity to upgrade your sponsorship. Event sponsorship is just $500 and includes two trees, one for yourself and one to be donated to a local elementary school to decorate. In addition your name and logo will be included on all flyers, web site and social media, as well as on site signage.

This year we are also offering choice of tree location to those who send in their cheque or send us their e-Transfer to on a first come first serve basis.

You are encouraged to decorate your tree as creatively as you like: the public votes for their favourite tree and there are awards for the best trees!

Bikers love Fromme, sweet Fromme

By Robin Thorneycroft, contributing writer

Twenty years ago, in the clatter and din of Lynn Valley’s Black Bear pub, like-minded locals gathered to chat about some community concerns. Now, two decades later many of those same people – along with many others – are celebrating the grassroots success of the North Shore Mountain Bike Association.

“The North Shore Mountain Bike Association was founded because there was a threat to Lynn Valley bike trails,” says Christine Reid, executive director of the NSMBA. “At the time the trails were created by people – by mountain bikers – who saw a need for them to be taken care of. They were spending a lot of their volunteer time and effort to maintain them and they thought they were going to be taken away. So they started advocating and realized they need to form an organization to represent the people who use the trails to talk to the District of North Vancouver, with Metro Vancouver and any land manager to ensure that these trails could remain and that they could be maintained, worked on and be environmentally sustainable.”

The History

For the uninitiated, our backyard, our local hills – The Shore – are world famous. Lynn Valley resident Todd “Digger” Fiander began building trails here more than three decades ago, back when all bikes were rigid “hard-tails.” He, and others, began building the trails that brought riders. Riders began pushing themselves and their bikes beyond their limits, says Reid.

“He was trying to create a fun experience, and because of the work he did, mountain bikes began to change,” says Reid. “More people began to come to North Vancouver. And the bikes began breaking as the riders tried to keep up with the trails and then the bike industry began changing. They saw how the trails were changing and how people were riding their bikes here. The bikes began to evolve.”


In many ways Lynn Valley has mountain bikers to thank for is vast network of trails – beyond the Baden Powell (and other backcountry trails),” says Reid. The majority of accessible multi-use trails were built by people who want to mountain bike on them and continue to be maintained by mountain bikers, she says.

Today the mission of the NSMBA is Trails for all. Trails forever. It works hard to consult with hikers, dog walkers and other land users. When they advocate for trails with land managers (Metro, CMHC, District of North Van) they try to represent the all users.

Recent years have brought growing membership which is adding up to more advocacy clout.

“We saw last year with CMHC what the power of representing 1,200 people can do,” says Reid. Last year the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation closed access to parts of Mt. Seymour. NSMBA advocates and members were essential in getting the decision reversed.

As the association marks its 20th year its member numbers have hit 1,800. Each one shows the importance of the trails to locals and the community support for mountain biking, says Reid.

“But we think that is only about five percent of mountain bike users,” said Reid. The association urges riders to buy a membership – it helps fund trail maintenance but more importantly indicates participation and supports the association’s advocacy work.

The Work

A typical year for the NSMBA brings more than 5,000 volunteer hours over 100 trail maintenance days.

“Many people don’t know it is volunteer mountain bikers doing most of the repair work on our trails – all trails – not just the biking trails, says Reid.

Think about that. Each weekend, North Shore-trained builders oversee multiple groups to restore our trail system. The association hosts a free academy for members to learn the most recent and environmentally sustainable techniques to build lasting trails. Those that graduate the academy volunteer even more of their time to the trails. There is funding from the District of North Vancouver to support the work and pay some part-time employees but the vast majority of hours are donated by volunteers, says Reid.

To celebrate its 20th year the association has ramped up its work – with close to 7,000 hours volunteered their year to trail maintenance.

“This “corps” (The Shore Corps – trained and dedicated volunteers) extend their hours off the trails doing much of the advocacy work,” says Reid, under the direction of the Association’s 12 board members. “It takes hours of time and planning.”

“We have learned a lot over the years,” says Reid. “We work with International Mountain Bike Association which has developed best practices, to choose the best fall lines, to minimize erosion, to make changes to topography – that’s for new trail building.”

Building new trails is actually very little of the NSMBA does. The majority of the work is to maintain what is there, says Reid.

“We started five years ago to look at what is there and worked to bring the trails up to standard and maintaining to the best practice standards. This means the trails last longer. We consider how hikers and other users use the trail. We reflect and make changes. ”

The Payoff

The work is reaping rewards. A economic report released this month from the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association determined in 2016 more than $12 million in visitor spending in North Vancouver is directly attributed to mountain biking.

The North Shore Mountain Bike Association is celebrating its 20 years of shredding, building and advocating with a member party this weekend on Nov. 4.

The majority of Lynn Valley residents use our local trails each year. If you would value the work and advocacy it takes to maintain donate some time help or buy a $40 membership and have a voice at the trail table – biker or not.

“If you can do either one of those things, it’s so significant it means our voice is louder and people are listening” says Reid. “It shows you care about these trails and you stand behind us. We have the trails now and yes we can do the work to build and maintain them but that doesn’t mean it is forever. There is always work to be done on the trails and off the trails.”

Help free Lynn Canyon trees!

By Robin Thorneycroft, contributing writer

Lynn Valley residents will have a chance to wrestle with nature and leave one of our most beloved parks a little healthier on the weekend.

The District of North Vancouver is hosting a Free The Tree ivy-pulling event in Lynn Canyon on October 28th from 10am-1pm. The event is open to all members of the public and all tools will provided. Two additional events will happen throughout the District in November.

“The district has an invasive plant management strategy for all invasive species. You more frequently hear about species like knotweed or giant hogweed,” said Stephanie Smiley, communications coordinator for the district of North Vancouver. “It is not possible to eliminate these species entirely but we do try to control them in areas where are causing either social, ecological or economic problems or harm.”

Next Saturday, volunteers will join parks staff to hear short talk about ivy and its effects on the forest.

“There will be a little tutorial on how to cut back ivy and safely remove if from the tree and the forest floor,” said Smiley. “Then the staff and the volunteers will get to work pulling ivy. And then they will go in and plant native species like ferns.”

While it is an ambitious schedule, past events — like last month’s Hunter Park volunteer invasive species pull and last week’s Hasting’s Creek Riparian Restoration — are seeing plenty of hands showing up to work. At Hastings Creek neighbours of all ages — from toddlers to seniors and everyone in between — got their hands (or gloves) dirty to tackle the projects.

Besides being outside in our beautiful forests, one of the biggest draws for volunteers is the chance to make a difference on the health of our parks and forests.

“One the things that pulling this kind of invasive species from the forest does is that it improves the general health of the trees and the general health of the forest,” said Smiley. “What they do is cut away the ivy from chest height down, so in terms of the tree, about four or five feet up and what that does is separate the ivy from its root system and that lets the ivy passively die off.

“In the case of ivy, it wraps itself around the around the tree, it traps moisture, it reduces air and light penetration to the trees. It also adds weight and wind resistance to the trees. So by removing it improves the overall health of the trees.”

Lynn Valley residents volunteering at Oct. 28’s event or those out just enjoying a walk in Lynn Canyon may also notice some ongoing upgrades and restoration to the picnic area. Over the past few months the gravel paths have been upgraded, some logs and mulch have been added and this week native species have been planted.

“The planting is funded by money that was actually donated by a film crew that was working in the area,” said Smiley. “It was one of those instances where film production often like to make an offer of good faith or thank you to the community for allowing them to come in and use the space. They worked quite closely with parks to have a conversation on what to do.”

“It’s one of those wonderful things we don’t often talk about. In this instance, we wouldn’t necessarily get to do it without the contribution of the film industry.The impacts of the community are coming full circle,” said Smiley.

Smiley acknowledged that our local parks are facing challenges of seeing more people than ever before.

“It is one of things we grapple with,” she said. “We are seeing a tremendous increase to the visitors to our parks. A lot of that stuff [maintenance and restoration] is becoming more necessary simply because we are getting more visitors.”

To join the Free The Tree Ivy Pull and habitat restoration on Oct. 28, meet in the Lynn Canyon parking lot at 10 a.m. Tools and light refreshments are provided, but please dress for the weather. Similar events will take place Nov. 4 at Wickenden Park in Deep Cove and Nov. 18 at North Bridgeman Park.

For more information please email District Community and Parkland Coordinator Megan Cooper at or check out the volunteer Meet-Up online group.

All Souls event remembers Lynn Valley loved ones

At this time of the year, there are a multitude of traditional and non-traditional ways to explore the Great Beyond. From candelit ceremonies in municipal cemeteries to zombie apocalypse Hallowe’en parties, a wide variety of perspectives and celebrations are on offer.

As evidenced by popular Death Cafes, regularly held in cafes and other meet-up spots around the world, it has become more acceptable to speak openly about our mortality. But remembering the dead has taken place since time immemorial, of course, both in personal and communal rituals.

Hallowe’en, shortened from “All Hallow’s Eve,” refers to the night before All Hallows Day. Hallow was an old term for saints; for centuries November 1 has been celebrated as All Saints Day in the Christian Church, remembering those who spent their lives in extraordinary ways, such as by helping the sick or working on behalf of the marginalized. The following day, November 2, is All Souls’ Day; a time set aside to honour all those people from our own lives whose loss we remember.

In Lynn Valley, St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church marks All Souls by inviting parishioners to record the names of loved ones who have died this past year in their Book of Remembrance.

St. Clement’s Anglican Church is inviting the community to a simple All Souls’ service of remembrance to take place on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. You are invited to attend to light a candle for someone who has died; you may also email Elizabeth Mathers if you have questions or would like the name of your loved one read aloud with others during the service. The church bell will toll in remembrance during the reading of the names; one parishioner who is an Argyle alumnus makes a point of reading names from the Argyle School community.

For an interesting read on creating everyday rituals to remember the people we have lost, click on this TED Ideas article. A bereavement support group is offered in Lynn Valley by North Shore Family Services; while their current program comes to an end this week, information regarding upcoming sessions may be available at the email contact link provided.

However we remember those loved ones who have gone before us, these dark days of the year have long been considered a natural time to do so. Happy Hallow’een, and All Souls!

Lynn Valley Pumpkin Patch brings the community together

By Robin Thorneycroft, Contributing Writer

Mid-October sees Lynn Valley come alive. The maple trees near Argyle Secondary flame and delight. Locals take over the trails once again, and the Lynn Canyon suspension bridge isn’t packed quite as tightly with nervous tourists. And the community shows up to support our local schools and create annual family traditions.

Two of Lynn Valley’s flagship events took place this past weekend. Our Lynn Valley Parent Participation Preschool once again turned its historic schoolhouse into the perfect event for local little kids, while Lynn Valley Elementary School turned its halls into a family harvest fair.

These events are excellent reminders that Lynn Valley is really just a village in the city.

At the pumpkin patch and haunted houses, we see high school students returning to their old stomping grounds to guide children through games, bring smiles with simple face paint and do some essential heavy lifting, lugging hundreds of pumpkins. We see seniors choosing to to forego discount store pumpkins and instead do their Halloween shopping here to keep their dollars in their neighbourhood schools. We see toddlers shyly exploring their future playgrounds, finding the courage to walk through spider alley and joyfully finding the perfect pumpkin.

Once again the Lynn Valley Lions and community merchants have given of their time and resources to carry the burden of community fundraising and invested in locals kids. If you were there you saw the laughter and smiles. If you were there you most certainly bumped into dozens of people you know; I know our pumpkin-sponsoring LynnValleyLife realtors always look forward to socializing with friends and neighbours – it always takes the bite out of what can be a chilly autumn day!

Each of these events is essential to the Lynn Valley Elementary School PAC and the foundation of Lynn Valley Parent Participation Preschool’s annual fundraising, much like Christmas Carnivals and Spring Fairs are important to other neighbourhood schools. As the community chooses to invest in these schools, the Parent Advisory Committees are creating family traditions for the entire community.

A big shout out to the parents and volunteers for doing the work, to the local business that give each and every year to make it possible, and to the community who come, laugh and build up our schools.

LynnValleyLife is looking for this year’s Good Neighbour!

If you’ve been following LynnValleyLife for a while, you’ll know that one of our favourite times of the year is the lead up to our annual Good Neighbour Award.

Good Neighbour Award Winner Ribbon

All year ‘through we keep our ears to the ground for people who represent Lynn Valley at its finest – whether it is through acts of quiet kindness or participating in more public “passion projects” for a good cause. Last year’s recipients were Dave and Wilna Parry, who opened their doors to a blind Somalian refugee, and the year before that it was Cath Bates Dimmock, a volunteer coach who has given heart and soul to Argyle’s gymnastics program. Other times recipients have been people whose name you might not have heard before, but who are heroes on their street or in their organization for all the help they give to others.


Love the neighbourhood? Write for LynnValleyLife!

We know how many of our followers love stories on local recreation, neighbourhood history, interesting Lynn Valley personalities from past or present, or the scoop on new municipal initiatives or retail options. So we’re looking for a few Lynn Valleyites who want to help populate our pages with the local low-down!

IMG_0807We’re looking for a special sort of writer who shares our goals – someone who is interested in  strengthening the Lynn Valley community, sniffing out stories with local interest for the neighbourhood, and in general having FUN on the “beat.” We’re looking for someone whose style is friendly and engaging…. but consistently professional. Just because we like informality and sometimes a certain “chattiness”, it doesn’t mean we’re cool with typos, sloppiness (i.e. missing information, wrong addresses, unreliable facts, etc), or a low standard of journalistic ethics.