Oh Christmas Tree – You’re done

We all love a real Christmas tree and all of the decorations and lights that make the holidays shine in the dark winter. But as the season comes to a close, we have a list of local options for chipping and recycling.


Chip ups


Lynn Valley Lions – January 5 & 6 – Lynn Valley Legion

You can sign up when you purchase your tree from the Lynn Valley Lions and they will pick up your tree on Jan. 5 or 6 and chip it for you for a $20 donation. Talk about making it easy.

You can also bring your tree by yourself from noon – 4 p.m.

Scouts Canada – January 5 & 6 – St. Clements Church

The local Scouts are back offering their chip-up by donation at St. Clements Church. The funds raised well fund outdoor activities and programs for local youth.


Lights


Strings of lights can be taken to the North Shore Transfer station.

Troubled bridge finally over water

Four years after a rockslide dramatically changed the Seymour River the replacement pedestrian bridge at Twin Bridges will open as early as late this month.


What happened


In November 2014 following a severe rainstorm a landslide entered the Seymour River.

“The rockfall was about three-quarters of a kilometer downstream of the original Twin Bridges site,” said Heidi Walsh, director of watersheds and environmental management for Metro Vancouver. “And we had about 50,000 cubic metres of rock come into the river.”

With the debris entering a steep canyon it caused an approximately 800m backup that pools into a pond which drains in the summer but during the winter remains backed up, explains Walsh.

“When the rock fall originally came down the water backed up high enough to go over top of  the bridge,” said Walsh. “We had to take the railings off as an emergency measure and wait for the water to recede. Then we took it out in late January.

“I think everybody understood that it was safety issue. There are provincial standards that require a certain amount of free board [space between the water and bridge] during storm events so the bridge was no longer in compliance with those standards.”

The impact of that 2014 storm also extend to trails, resulting in a number of closures and detours.


Troubled bridge


The project encountered several challenges and delays. The replacement project was designed with three bridges – a replacement pedestrian suspension bridge at Twin Bridges, a new vehicle crossing at Riverside Drive and a temporary bridge to help accomplish the project – along with some trail building. Originally the project was put to tender in 2016 as separate projects.

“The price came back much higher than we anticipated,” said Walsh. “We tried again by packaging the suspension bridge and the vehicle bridge together and again it came back too high – almost double our approved budget.”

She attributes the challenges to poor timing – high project volumes offered to construction firms by the provincial government.

“We asked our board for a little bit more money and decided to package everything together as one big project,” said Walsh. With a successful tendering process completed in January, construction began this spring.


The new bridge


This winter the public will be able to take its first steps over the new pedestrian suspension bridge.

“It’s not a swinging suspension bridge,” said Walsh. “It’s very stable. We designed it so that you could ride over it with your horse – so the railings are high and it’s very solid. It is meant for bikers, hikers and horses so it won’t move when you’re on it.”

The change in river flow had significant impact on the final design, she said. Originally a vehicle bridge was considered for maintenance and emergency access (and completed at Riverside Drive in the final project). The steep slope that approaches Twin Bridges would require the bridge to be raised up resulting in a much longer bridge deck than the previous bridge, said Walsh. The east side’s bedrock also created issues for a landing substantial enough for vehicle traffic resulting in a project that would have been much larger than the previous bridge and more expensive than ever planned, she said.

“The bridge needs to be able to withstand a one in 200 year flow event so you need to be have a certain amount of room under the bridge to allow for water, debris and rocks move underneath,” said Walsh. “So in order to get that standard we had to raise the bridge up.

“It is slightly downstream from the original bridge so we had to build short access ramps to get to it on the west side. We had to put in a short 150m trail spur.  The main concern on the other side is a mountain bike trail called Bottletop. We are very close to where it used to exit onto Fisherman’s Trail so we had to do a little bit of redesign with that exit.”

At this point the bridge is almost complete. Once the temporary bridge is removed and the site cleaned-up Walsh expects the official opening to be between late November and mid-December.

“We are a little behind schedule there because we needed to do some redesign of the anchors on the east side,” she said. “The towers are there now, the bridge approaches are there, the anchors are all in. They really just need to string the cables and put the decking and railings in.”

Images courtesy of Metro Vancouver

Little rippers ready to ride

Little rippers will be taking to the trails this weekend for the the second youth riding event of the season put on by the North Shore Mountain Bike Association.   


Trails for all


This season the NSMBA has been actively trying to expand follow its motto: Trails for all, trails forever. From reworking parts of the Bobsled to make it accessible to adaptive mountain bikes to its larger plans for a Seymour Mountain adaptive mountain bike loop – soon people who cannot participate in traditional two-wheel mountain biking will be able to shred the mountain on three- or four-wheeled bikes. In the same vein, the NSMBA kicked off a youth riding series in 2018. Its next event is Sunday, Sept. 23,  on Mt. Fromme.


Toonie time


“The more youth mountain bikers we have, the more kids mountain biking, the more kids running, the more kids walking, the more kids we have understanding and advocating for healthy use of our forests,” said Ryan Pugh, administrator for NSMBA. “As more kids get into outdoor recreation – no matter what they are doing – hiking, biking, camping it’s another way for them to get introduced to stewardship and taking care of our natural areas – especially our local areas.”

The Youth Toonie Series builds on the successful Fiver series which saw adult riders gathering twice a month for some leisurely racing and community connection – often with a charity component like the $6000 raised last week for the Autism BC and the Canucks Autism Network. While the Fivers will kick off again next April, youth are invited to trails this week.

“We were seeing more youth turning up to the Fivers,” said Pugh. “We wanted to create something that would be just for them.”

While not a race, the Toonie rides are about getting kids aged 2-13+ out on the trails and celebrating the riding community. Run bikes can take on Roadside Attraction, while pedalers challenge that trail too, the Griffens or Boblsed.

“If they want a challenge they can tackle all three,” said Pugh. “Parents can do whatever they need to do to help them down the trails. Some ride, some run, and some kids do it on their own.”

The first event earlier this year had over 100 kids take to the trails. The NSMBA knew families wanted this. The organization heard from parents whose children had done other events in places like Squamish.

“If parents love riding, kids love riding,” said Pugh.

Grab a toonie, your helmet and bike and meet up at Mount Fromme Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Ride registration is from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Bring gloves, armour and a backpack if you have it – but it’s not necessary. There will be treats and games for participants. Full details on Facebook or here, and participants are asked to register so the NSMBA can plan for all participants. While the Endless Biking is helping out with the event, the NSMBA would love some volunteers.


MTB symposium


If you love mountain biking and what to get even more involved the NSMBA is hosting the Western Mountain Bike Advocacy Symposium Oct. 12-14 focusing on Building a Diverse Mountain Bike Community. It will also build on the NSMBA’s motto and guiding principle of Trails for all, trails forever.

“It’s a timely conversation on the need for us all to work collectively towards ensuring mountain biking is seen as an open and inclusive recreational pursuit,” said Christine Reid, executive director. “We want to introduce new perspectives, outline why this is an important issue and help create a cohesive vision for building a diverse mountain bike community.”

Presentations and discussions will include: Privilege and the Mountain Bike Community, Building First Nations Relationships, Adaptive Mountain Biking, Supporting Youth Voices, and Reducing Barriers to Participation. More information can be found here.

 

Photos courtesy of NSMBA. 


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Culture Days: Glorious Mountains

From zeppelin logging to secret whiskey caches, the tales and trails of North Shore mountains come alive in a new book from locals David and Harry Crerar and Bill Maurer. Highlights from The Glorious Mountains of  Vancouver’s North Shore will be shared at the upcoming Culture Days Festival in Lynn Valley.


Ninth annual Culture Days September 28-30th


Culture Days is an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to try something new, experience something totally different, discover creative spaces in the community and meet the artists that work there. North Vancouver Parks and Recreation have centred the events at seven different “Hubs” throughout the District and City of North Vancouver.

“North Shore Culture Days celebrates the vital role that arts and culture plays in creating vibrant and connected communities. We invite residents to participate, be inspired and have some fun.” said Heather Turner, Director, North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission.

We have two picks for Lynn Valley:

  1. Saturday Sept. 29; 10-11 a.m. Shaketown Walk with NVMA curator Karen Dearlove , Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley
  2. Saturday, Sept. 29; 2-3 p.m. The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore with author David Crerar,  Community History Centre, 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley

Glorious Mountains


For David Crerar the love of the mountains came early. It was puttering around the neighbourhood heading off on random trails – sometimes ending up in Deep Cove at about eight-years-old after following the Baden Powell trail after school, well that was only once, he says.

Author David Crerar with giant cedar on slopes of Zinc Mountain

“My parents appreciated the outdoors and were content to let me play around in the forest and explore,” said Crerar, still a North Shore resident and now a lawyer. “We lament we couldn’t quite give our kids the same experience – more because of cars than bears, so my way was to embrace outdoor adventures. Walking, hiking, exploring – I think they did Little Goat Mountain behind Grouse by the time they were three.”

His passion for local hills lead to the creation of a contest to encourage local trail runners to hit as many peaks as they can in a single season.

“I found there wasn’t a list,” said Crerar. So he began making one, which lead to more research and now, eight years of research later, a book is complete.


From Dreams to Pages


With friend Bill Maurer, and high-school-aged son Harry, Crerar has written The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore – a Peakbaggers Guide that goes well beyond the typical trail guide.  

“In the marvelous 105 Hikes by Stephen Hui, it covers, I think, only 10 of the hikes,” he said. “And although it is classified as a hiking book, I almost prefer to think of it as everything you need to or wanted know about these mountains in our backyard. Even folks who aren’t hikers will find history and culture.

“There has never been a book written like this which focuses on the North Shore peaks and which tries to provide not only a comprehensive list of hiking routes but the history of the mountains not only hiking use but the long industrial history beyond the obvious forestry – did you know there is an existing zinc claim in the [Lynn] Headwaters Regional Park on the Hanes Valley trail?”

The authors also recognize the history in the mountains extends well past the European contact.

“I think we have written the most comprehensive collection of local indigenous people use of and names for not only mountains, but also creeks and islands and everything,” said Crerar. “We’ve researched the archaeological finds and there is a fair bit of information on Squamish and TsleilWaututh nations.”

There a nuggets and secrets like this peppered throughout a short conversation with Crerar. The depth of his local knowledge perhaps only trumped by his enthusiasm to get outside. Take Lynn Peak for instance, right in our own backyard.

“Did you know the park sign leading to the peak – isn’t technically the peak? It’s a viewpoint,” he said. “Most people don’t know the reason it is clear and makes a nice view point is that in the 1960s there was a zeppelin logging operation there and that was the mountaintop docking station. They would basically float this big balloon up and put a bunch of logs on it and float it down again. If you bike along the Lower Seymour Conservation trail lower down and to the east, you will find Balloon Creek and the Balloon Picnic Area – they are there for a reason. It tells a relatively unknown and wacky bit of North Shore history.”


Culture Days


First ascent of the Camel August 4, 1908

Much of the research the authors undertook was at Lynn Valley’s North Vancouver Museum and Archives and the Community History Centre, which also houses the BC Mountaineering Club archive. David Crerar will be returning Sept. 29th from 2-3 p.m. to share more secrets from his book and local highlights. Pre-registration is required: call 604 990 3700 x8016.

“I’ll be talking about waterfalls you don’t know about, First Nations history, wildlife – there are still mountain goats in our local mountains,” said Crerar. “If you hike back there you will see old mining claims, old mining stakes, old metal stoves – there is so much mining history back there and Vancouverites really have no idea. There are a bunch of plane crashes in mountains. There has been a fairly recent phenomena of whiskey caches – there are so many unique things to learn about.”

David Crerar’s book The Glorious Mountains of Vancouver’s North Shore is available now and he will be speaking Sept. 29 from 2-3 p.m. at the Community History Centre 3203 Institute Road, Lynn Valley. Pre-register: 604 990 3700 x8016.

Photos courtesy of David Crerar and Rocky Mountain Books. 

For all the Cutlure Days events check out the  NVRC website at https://www.nvrc.ca/arts-culture/culture-days (for Lynn Valley events, click on the Lynn Valley Hub accordion on the webpage) or the national website at https://culturedays.ca/en.


Looking for more?


There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

Harvest time bear awareness

With the summer-ready fruit we love bursting with flavour, there is no doubt it will be attracting wildlife as well. In this season of harvest in Lynn Valley’s forests and yards becoming more bear aware will help you and our furry neighbours. 


Preventing backyard bears


The North Shore Black Bear Society has some tips to make your yard less attractive to bears and other wildlife.

  • Pick fruit promptly
  • Clean fallen fruit from the ground
  • Ask for help if can’t tackle the fruit yourself

“If residents are unable to pick the fruit on their property for some reason – being away at the time the fruit matures or being unable to climb a ladder, or other reasons –   the fruit can be picked by a volunteer organization called the Fruit Tree Project and donated to those in need,” said Christine Miller of the North Shore Black Bear Society. “The resident can keep up to 25 percent of the fruit that volunteers pick.”

Some of the agencies that will receive the donated fruit are the North Shore Harvest Project, North Vancouver Salvation Army and Sage Transition House.

To arrange for fruit to be picked and donated, the North Shore Fruit Tree Project can be contacted at northshorefruittreeproject.ca or 604-983-6444 (ext 640).


Bear encounters


The North Shore Black Bear Society is at the forefront of human-animal interaction education. They partner with government organizations at all levels to improve our cohabitation with bears. It will also place Bear-in-Area signs, answer questions, make home visits, and canvass areas where bears are reported.

“If you see a bear in your backyard, remember that it is in your territory so do what you can to safely discourage the bear,” said Miller.

Here are some ideas:

  • Give the bear lots of space, and go inside with your pets.
  • If the bear is eating  let it finish as eating is its number one priority.
  • From a safe vantage point, shout loudly, bang pots or throw water balloons and wave your arms to let the bear know it is not welcome. Remember to accompany the unwelcoming experience with your voice.
  • When the bear has left, remove all attractants from yard. Keep in mind that it will likely return several times to check for the same source of food that it found before.
  • Let your neighbours know about the bear and tell them to remove attractants.
  • Report your sighting.

“If you see a bear up a tree, give it some space by leaving the area or going inside if you are at home,” said Miller. “A black bear will climb a tree because it is anxious and stressed. Let the bear come down in its own time. It may wait until nightfall. Do not bring extra attention to the bear by inviting friends and neighbours.”

NSBBS recommends if you see a bear leaving a tree, from inside your home shout, make loud noises or use noisemakers to reinforce that it is not welcome.

Bear and attractant sightings can be reported to the North Shore Black Bear Society at:

If you personally encounter a bear in your yard or on a trail, these are the NSBBS’s tips on how to handle the situation:  

Remember the four S’s:

  • Stay calm
  • Stand still – Do Not Run!
  • Speak calmly  
  • Slowly back away

New green and garbage carts


This is the first season full summer season all of Lynn Valley has had the new locking garbage and green carts. The NSBBS has been working with the District of North Vancouver to help establish best practices to ensure our neighbourhoods are not attractive to bears and other wildlife.

“The lockable carts are bear-resistant, not bear-proof,” said Miller. “Therefore, people who store their carts outside should not have odorous food scraps in their carts. The odours attract wildlife and can lead to property damage.”

The DNV and the NSBBS recommend that:

  • odorous food scraps (especially meat and fish scraps) be kept frozen until the morning of collection
  • other food scraps should be wrapped in newspaper to reduce odour and mess and layered with yard trimmings
  • carts should be washed out periodically to keep them clean and as odour-free as possible
  • No carts, including those containing only yard trimmings, should be placed at curbside before 5:30 a.m. on the designated collection day.

Questions about household waste storage and collection can be forwarded to District staff at 604.990.2311. Information is also available at DNV.org/bear-aware or from the North Shore Black Bear Society.

 

(Most images courtesy of North Shore Black Bear Society)

Helping hands sought for Princess Park project

Can you help revitalize part of Princess Park on April 28? Many hands make light work. Here is the press release sent to us with all the news you need to know:

The Lynn Valley Community Association and the Lynn Valley Seniors Association are working together on the 2018 Lynn Valley Annual Park Project.

The location this year is an area of Princess Park near the bridge and dog play area. Park in the parking lot off Princess Avenue. Meet at the Lynn Valley LINK Kiosk which is a short walk down the main paved trail in to the park.

The Park Project will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018, from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm (come for all or part).

The focus of this community event will be on restoring a section of the park just west of the bridge. District crews will do some preliminary work ahead of time leaving us to restore the natural vegetation and lay down mulch. We will be doing basic gardening work, removing invasive plants, planting natural vegetation, cleaning litter and anything else that needs to be done with the direction and support of the DNV Parks Department.

Do join us for this fun and productive day. We have work for every level of physical ability but we won’t let anyone overdo it. Dress for the weather, as this is a rain-or- shine event! Sturdy boots or shoes, working clothes and gloves are recommended, as it could be muddy! Coffee and snacks will be provided but please bring your own water bottle.

For more information email: info@lvca.ca

Out of the school yard and up to ‘Big House’

Suddenly there is quiet – 50 formerly noisy, energetic Grade 3 students have just stepped into the forest. Since they started school, the students have been told they would go to the Big House, now known as the longhouse. For months, they have been working with their teachers and special Aboriginal instructors to gain a base of knowledge they hope will transform into appreciation. The moment they begin their time at  Cheakamus Centre, it is clear this not a typical school day.

For decades, parents in the North Vancouver School District have been sending their children to Paradise Valley – first on trains; now in school buses for the unique programs offered at Cheakamus Centre – remembered by many as the North Vancouver Outdoor School. But unless you check out the Centre’s Open House, only a few lucky parents get to experience this themselves. Thus it was that LynnValleyLife tagged along with Lynn Valley Elementary on a recent visit to see firsthand what this Indigenous Cultural Program is about.


The Forest


Dusted with snow, the forest glowed as the sun shone through a light fog as students were divided into groups for an interpretive walk. Indigenous Cultural Program Coordinator Sarah Davidson-James and Indigenous Cultural Program Staff Member Mathew Siýámken Williams took the groups along the Ch’iyákmesh (Cheakamus) River. It was clear which children frequently visit the forest and for which this was a rare experience – some walked tentatively on the uneven icy ground while other bounded through the snow. Every couple of minutes Mathew would gather the group to share some ecological or cultural knowledge. Students were encouraged to pick up fallen materials – like moss, lichen or horsetails – to feel or use them as Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) people did.

750-year-old cedar

We learned what plants made what pigments for art or ceremonial purposes. Quickly there were 20 children sputtering into horsetails after Mathew shared they were used as whistles. As the walk continued to a 750-year-old cedar tree, a few clear notes rang through the forest.

The trees in this area are stunning, but the second growth looks nothing like the ancient stumps that dot the forest or one of the few remaining ancient cedars. It took about 17 students to encircle the base of towering tree.

The walk emphasized how First Nations people used and respected the forest. The students were keenly interested in how the Skwxwú7mesh people chose to use cedar trees based on their gender. Women would use female trees and men would use male trees. Another fact that resonated with the students was how Skwxwú7mesh children are taught to harvest cedar bark – people were taught to harvest a strip of bark only as wide as their two hands. If children were gathering, their strips were obviously smaller. The students could identify trees that had been harvested by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people about their age. Experiential moments like this throughout the day seemed to foster connection – students were relating to information in a much different way than what they learn in a classroom.


The Programs


Skw’une-was (the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh word for partnership), the overnight Grade 3 program is a provincially recognized program tied to the BC Curriculum, said Sepideh Tazzman, communications and marketing manager for the Cheakamus Centre. It began after a conference in 1985 of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people, North Vancouver District educators, and a few non-First Nations guests knowledgeable in Northwest Coast First Nations culture.

“During the conference that was the impetus for the program, participants listened to the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people speak of their values, attitudes and ways of life as well as traditional family roles and structures, and the approach to educating by example. It also included discussions about religious beliefs and language, as well as sharing experiences of the past and hopes for the future of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people,” said Sepideh. “Both First Nations and non-First Nations came away from the conference with a heightened understanding of and respect for one another. The sharing that had taken place developed into the longhouse curriculum and embodies the same sense of partnership between cultures.”

Within the halls of NVSD schools the program is known as Skw’unw-was and a much anticipated highlight of the year. The program is based on three major ideas that underlie the activities at the longhouse: respect, sharing, and seasonality, said Sepideh.

Those themes ran throughout the experience, from respecting the elders by serving them their food first, to respecting the forest by leaving any souvenirs that students had gathered; sharing of knowledge and cooperating to make lunch; to discussing the changing forest and work needed to survive there throughout the year.

A big takeaway for all the students was how Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people had to be patient and plan – nothing was instant like today’s culture. If you wanted a blanket it took five years to gather the wool and another year to weave, according to Mathew. If you wanted to weave hats or mats the cedar had to be harvested and dried for a year before you could get to work.


The Longhouse


The whispers begin even before the field trip forms go home. They have heard from older students…. The smoke…. The fire….The longhouse. In a day of many memories, the longhouse at Cheakamus Centre leaves the most lasting impression. The imposing – yet cozy – structure is the centerpiece of the program.

The students were greeted by Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Elder Henry Khapquolanogh Williams at the bridge leading to the longhouse. Students announced their arrival and he welcomed them to the longhouse and invited them in. The dark, open room was hazy from smoke and warm from fire.

Inside Mathew explains the history, some basic building techniques, the core ideas of communal living, the astounding fact that longhouses were moved – sometimes on canoes – to different parts of Howe Sound and Burrard Inlet seasonally. Students were given an overview of Sḵwx̱wú7mesh life, beginning with food.

Cooking box

If you ask the kids, the most exciting moment of the program was seeing parent volunteers pull glowing rocks from the fire. Students carefully wiped ashes from the stones with cedar bows, before they were placed inside a pot with water and vegetables. Within a cooking box the veggies boiled and cooked while the children roasted bannock over the fire.

Inside and outside the longhouse students cooked their bannock while Mathew explained Sḵwx̱wú7mesh people originally made bread from a flour made from the alder tree and a lichen commonly called old man’s beard. The memorable meal was topped off with salmon prepared by Cheakamus Centre staff.


The Work


Another key piece of the program is experiencing the traditional day-to-day tasks of the Coast Salish people. Groups of students were able to participate in two experiences, choosing from Plant Gatherers, Wood Workers, Cedar Bark Workers, Wool Weavers, or Hunters/Fishers.

Mathew took the Hunters/Fishers down to the river. It was a humbling moment to learn Sḵwx̱wú7mesh means “People of the Fish Weir” while learning about how they would traditionally fish. The students were awed seeing Mathew pull an obsidian arrowhead from his pocket. They scoured the beach looking for basalt, that flakes in a similar way, and a rock to make their own. After seeing an American Dipper fish on the river it was time to head back and try their hand at weaving.

Alongside the longhouse and the outdoor cooking fire, students settled into patiently weaving cedar strips. The slow practice was carefully guide by Elder Henry. He shared photos of elaborate projects inspiring the students to focus harder on their works.


The End


Time at the longhouse flies by. Students, parents, teachers and cultural staff gathered around the longhouse fire one more time to share thoughts of the experience. The take-away from the program is that it fosters an appreciation and understanding of First Nations. The personal stories and anecdotes from indigenous cultural staff and elders help students understand that while they are experiencing a portion of history, they are still learning about issues relevant today – jaws dropped across the fire when Mathew shared there are only seven fluent Sḵwx̱wú7mesh language speakers left. These experiences push some kids out of their comfort zones and invigorate others with a deeper understanding of the forest they love.

With hair scented with wood smoke students filed back on to the bus with exclamations of this being the “best trip ever.”  Osieum (“Oh-see-em”) to Cheakamus Centre and NVSD for sharing it.

The 49th Annual Cheakamus Centre Open House is on Sunday, May 6th, 2018 from 10:30 a.m. -3:30 p.m..

Hatching a new bylaw means more backyard hens in LV

Last September the District of North Vancouver adopted a bylaw allowing for the raising of chickens in single residential homes (RS) zone. You or your neighbours can raised between four to six chickens, given the right enclosure, an electric fence and a animal permit from the district.

While the bylaw maybe new – chickens in Lynn Valley are not. It is estimated there are between 50 and 100 chickens roosting here. For now those chickens are running a-fowl the bylaw, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t thriving in our mountain community.


Happy Hens, Happy Kids


lynn Valley Chickens“Lynn Valley is a pretty cool place,” says Mike, a local chicken owner. “The neighbours have been quite excited about the chickens. They come visit them. When we go away the neighbours’ kids look after the chickens – they get to collect the eggs. It is quite fun.”

For about four years chickens have been a part of their home after his children won over thier parents with some hard fought lobbying and Mike completed some research.

“My wife’s cousins are ranchers and they have 30-40 chickens,” he said. “When the kids were little we would go visit them a lot. And they would play with the chickens. There were dogs, and cattle and haystacks but they would play with the chickens. Eventually they decided they wanted chickens here.

“The ranch up in Cariboo is surrounded by wolves and caribou and all sorts of critters – so we did a lot homework about who was going after urban chickens. We talked to people and heard we needed to keep the ‘coons and the skunks out.”


Keeping ‘coons out of the coop


Between the family dog and the wildlife, using the children’s old playhouse and plenty of chicken wire, Mike got to work.

“We started down this road with a huge amount of chicken security – it was basically a high security prison,” he said. “There was a double-fence system, so if something broke through one, they’d have to break through another. Since we have socialized the dog I have rebuilt everything and made it much more friendly – a minimum security prison for the chickens.”

For his family, the biggest knock against getting chickens was their dog.

“I had family members with dog – and I thought dogs and chickens didn’t necessarily mix,” said Mike. “I have since learned that dogs can be trained to not eat chickens. We worked at it and got the dog to understand it couldn’t eat a chicken.”

In fact the dog is helpful, keeping large birds like eagles and other predators away.

The DNV bylaw requires an electric fence to protect household chickens from wildlife. The District has been working with Wild Safe BC to create a framework for urban chickens that doesn’t habituate wild animals to an easy food source. The District has also been working with CLUCK (Canadian Liberated Urban Chicken Klub).  CLUCK North Vancouver is quite active online with local events, get togethers and its website has a wealth of links including info on a veterinarian in Westview who helps exotic pets including chickens.


Everyone has a job


Back at Mike’s, Hipster and Flopsy a more than just farm animals and more than just pets.

“On a farm they don’t necessarily draw the distinction that urban pet owners do,” says Mike. “Farmers care about every animal in their herd – they will go out in the middle of the night, they will bring them into their home if they need to. To me our chickens are like an animal on a farm but they are also a pet where there is relationship with them. They do work – they produce eggs and they have other jobs.”

While there is work in caring for the chickens, they work they do makes up for the effort, he says. In addition to eggs they eat food scraps, eat weeds, gobble up chafer beetles and dig and fluff the lawn creating healthier grass.

“They produce an egg a day – that is one tenth of their body weight,” says Mike. “They eat a lot and make an egg a day – if you think about that it is like giving birth to a kid everyday. So I have a lot of respect for them.”


The fowl-side of hens


Caring for chickens isn’t all meringues and the best quiche you’ve ever had.

Lynn Valley Chickens“The biggest challenge is they are rather indiscriminate with bathroom habits,” said Mike. “If they are eating that much to make eggs, they have a lot of by products and that is good – we compost it. You have to compost it for a year to get really good garden fertilizer. They wander across the patio and leave little things there and have even escaped into the house on occasion.”

Other challenges include protecting the birds from rats. Apparently rats are common in Lynn Valley compost piles. Mike has taken care to – and the bylaw requires – make the coop inaccessible to rats and to make sure rats don’t partake in the chicken feed.

Another challenge stems from chickens being a bit bird-brained.

“Because we have a dog we don’t leave gates open very often, but the chickens do wander around in the yard and they know where their coop is so they don’t go very far,” says Mike. “But they do disappear and we have chicken panics. There is a lot of things that could happen in the real world. They are not smart enough to not run out in front of a car. They are pretty dumb.”

The most common question the family gets and the number one concern of chicken opponents is noise.

“The chickens make a noise – they don’t do it that often and it’s not an unpleasant noise,” says Mike. “It’s way better than a rock band practicing badly or a diesel [truck] warming up in the morning, or kids screaming or dogs barking or a whole bunch of other things you hear in a human neighbourhood. We were worried about… it’s just part of the background and none of the neighbours seem to care – and I’d hope they would come talk to us if they did.”

The other thing to be aware of, says Mike, is that chickens are fragile – they have been bred to do one thing.

“We made the mistake of getting farm chickens, not ones bred to be pets. The first ones we had were quite weak – one died of an infection and one died of leukemia. We have two now.”

With several years as a chicken owner, Mike insists he doesn’t love them – but he does speak about them with a lot of affection.

“I’m still rather indifferent to them – but my kids would have a different answer. They are entertaining,” says Mike. “There is nothing like a fresh egg – let me tell you. An egg that is made by a chicken that is eating bugs and wandering around eating plants is a completely different thing than what you get in a store.”

Rules on raising hens in Lynn Valley can be found on the DNV website.