Local writer tackles youth mental health

Suddenly managing schooling and health care during a pandemic, on top of working and parenting, Lynn Valley’s Lisa Bournelis turned to writing for respite. Her first novella hit the shelves at the local library and online stores in July, and she hopes it will help kids with their mental health.

Lived experience

Being a parent is hard. Being a parent of a child who is unwell is harder. Being a parent negotiating the mental health system is exhausting. For Bournelis, her journey into this world began a couple of years ago as her son showed signs of obsessive compulsive disorder. 

“As a parent, we can’t step in and can’t make this go away – that was the hardest thing ever,” she said. “I started to see these compulsions and I was unwittingly enabling him.”

Bournelis credits her son’s hard work, the care of the BC Children’s Hospital, and its exposure and response therapy (ERP) for his improvements. According to Dr. S. Evelyn Stewart, the medical director of the Provincial OCD Program, OCD is a disease characterized by obsessions and/or compulsions that cause significant distress, take up a great deal of time or limit a person’s functioning. An obsession is a repetitive, intrusive thought or image, and a compulsion is a recurrent action or mental act that is intended to reduce distress related to the obsession.  

“It’s horrible – not what is portrayed in the movies like washing your hands a lot, or compulsions shown in a funny way,” Bournelis. “That is not what it is. It is a compulsion that if you don’t complete it something horrible will happen to you or your family. Therapy has been incredible, to learn OCD ‘lies’ to you. One in 40 people globally has OCD. People are good at hiding it.”

Despite it typically beginning between seven and 18 years old there is little information readily available to parents and schools. Frustrating because early intervention can help prevent adult crises, she said. 

“It’s actually very debilitating.”

Cutoff by Covid

Similar to school and other health supports, when the covid pandemic began Bournelis’s family also lost access to therapy. 

“A lot of the good, hard work he had done, was undone,” she said. “Like many parents with children with complex health needs, we found ourselves unable to access therapy when we needed it most. We had to go back to look at our notes and step in as therapists.”

Soon the repetitive days were wearing thin. 

“I was really stuck – it felt like a perpetual groundhog day,” she said. “I set an intention to write every day as a release. The story of Louie and the Dictator flowed out and I hope it helps other anxious kids. I poured my heart and soul into this book.”

With fingers to keyboard Bournelis penned the story of Louie and the Dictator.

I wrote an uplifting children’s novella that will help anxious and neuro-divergent children see themselves as heroes of their own stories. They will be able to apply some of the fun ‘tools’ in the story to help them remain calm, or shift mindsets,” she said. 

Her son offered important insight and enthusiasm during the writing process.  

“He loves it,” she said. “He is my biggest cheerleader. I did consult with him throughout the process and ask how he feels, if he wants it published. He was very much a collaborator. He would give insight into his compulsions and I also added in others he didn’t have. A lot of the experiences you will read about did happen to him or our family. 

“He is loving reading the reviews coming in and knowing he is helping other kids.” 

The story also weaves in aspects of the pandemic. Bournelis says she wanted to help address the ongoing challenge and growing anxiety facing children.

“We have all experienced trauma in the last 18 months,” she said. “The health care system is seeing more mental health concerns, more agoraphobia, more anxiety, more repetitive things because people are worried now. This isn’t just my son, this is the experience of many children. They are worried about the air they breathe, what school will look like, will they see their friends.”

One of her goals with the book was to support the very programs that helped her son. Bournelis will be donating some of the profits to the OCD program at Children’s Hospital. The other goal was to empower children.

“This book shows that kids can have control, that change is incremental and small shifts can improve our circumstances.” 

Early reviews of the book are very positive. Learn more by visiting Bournelis’ website or check out Louie and the Dictator at the NVDPL and online.  

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.

Ecology anniversary

Five decades ago a very special flower blossomed above Lynn Canyon. Next month the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of education and outreach for local kids, families, and visitors to our community.  Join the festivities starting October 2. 

Early vision

As British Columbia looked to mark its centennial in 1971, the government offered grants for community projects and celebrations. The District of North Vancouver was feeling ambitious and proposed one of the largest projects in BC: an Ecology Centre at Lynn Canyon, said Isobel Rennie, graphics and display technician for the centre. 

“The Ecology Centre was the first nature centre in an urban environment. It was built in the shape of a dogwood flower – BC’s provincial flower – to mark the centennial,” she said. “People were just getting into understanding how humans affect the earth. Going through old displays in the back cupboards there was a good vision of what is important and most show issues we still talk about today.” 

It is one of the lasting legacies left by former District of North Vancouver Parks Manager, from 1959-1993, Dirk Oostindie (1928-2019). His forward thinking was transformational for the district, bringing us Maplewood Farms, the Baden Powell Trail, improving (disability) access to parks, creating Canada’s first public skate bowl at Seylynn and leaving generations of families with the Ecology Centre. 

Dirk Oostindie

Dirk Oostindie

“He grew up in Amsterdam during the war years,” said Nellie Oostindie, Dirk’s widow. “He didn’t have much in the way of school for many years. We didn’t have books, we didn’t have paper. But there were other ways and he would go to nature houses and learn there. It left an impression on him. He thought we could use one in Lynn Valley.” 

With many Centennial project options, it was good timing some trees needed to be cleared for a rain runoff culvert in Lynn Canyon Park. The new piece of infrastructure left the perfect empty spot for Dirk’s vision, said Oostindie. 

The opening exhibits – housed in each of the five dogwood petals,  discussed land use, she said, displaying a polluted, devastated forest, a pristine forest, a forest – like Lynn Valley was at the time – impacted by humans, an exhibit on garbage and a theatre. The grand opening, and a subsequent Cub Scout visit, left a lasting impression on Nellie and Dirk’s son, seven years old at the time – especially the resident live raccoon.

I am surprised that he remembers that after 50 years,” said Oostindie, adding that last week as they reminisced together he could recall the film he watched and describe the raccoon den in detail. Decades later the Ecology Centre continues to educate and delight visitors.

“There are always families who don’t dare go across the bridge and this was something they could do,” she said. “And on rainy days people would go inside. People who plan to go have a background in knowing about ecology but on rainy days, you catch the people who don’t plan to and learn something.” 

The Ecology Centre was just one project of countless others, Dirk spearheaded to make the DNV more livable for its growing community. Oostindie reflects Dirk was quite pragmatic about the changes he brought to the North Shore. 

“He said ‘That’s my job, I am paid for it – and I love my job. He felt it was his duty to do it.”

More than a building

Most locals have explored the petals of the Ecology Centre at some point. It remains one of the most accessible attractions in Metro Vancouver.  The staff adapted and innovated early in the pandemic creating online programs attracting participants from around the world. 

“It is a place where kids on the North Shore come as they grow up or as part of school and sparks interest in the environment and teaches them they have a role in caring for the environment,” said Rennie. “I think it’s a really accessible place, if teachers want to bring their classes it is subsidized, entrance is by donation for our visitors and our weekend programs are very affordable.”

In a typical year, 88,000 people visit the centre each year. Many of the guests are international or from other parts of Canada.  Over the years that is more than 3.3 million visitors from 70+ countries. 

“For people who are coming to Lynn Canyon Park and didn’t grow up here it is a place to learn who to explore, how to be safe and respectful of the animals and forests,” she said.

Centre staff encounter guests who are unfamiliar with forests and hesitate – often with concerns about bears.  

“Most come here not knowing the forest has been logged before, viewing the trees as large, ancient and old,” said Rennie. “When they get a chance to learn about the canyon’s past through the displays and learn its a very different place than it was 100 years ago, it gives a better understanding of the environment today.”

The centre’s pandemic pivot brought Lynn Valley ecology education into homes here and abroad. The centre now gets frequent participants from the US, UK and regularly teaches a class to students in Japan, said Rennie. It has also led to innovation that will enhance local programming. 

“We have a new underwater camera we hope to offer virtual underwater discovery soon.”

Celebrating a golden anniversary

Join the Ecology Centre Saturday, Oct. 2 – exactly 50 years from opening day: 

  • 12 – 4 pm
  • Nature groups will join the centre inside and out, such as North Shore Black Bear Society, the Wild Bird Trust (Maplewood Flats), the Invasive Species Council of BC, Furbearers, Streamkeepers,  DNV Trail and Habitat, DNV Rangers and others.
  • With covid procedures, visitors can walk through the centre and check out vintage film reels plus there will be crafts for kids, a colouring contest and an outdoor scavenger hunt to take-away.
  • Help create a memory wall where people can share their Ecology Centre memories.

Week-long events Oct. 2 – 8

  • Guided nature walks
  • Displays at the café mezzanine from Walter Draycott’s collection
  • Crafts, colouring contest and outdoor scavenger hunt. 

To stay up to date on events visit their website, follow on social media or sign up for the centre’s newsletter (at the bottom of the home page). 

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.

Living in a looper landscape

Mid-July if you took a walk through the forest, you likely ran into hundreds of tiny hanging caterpillars. The larvae were lunching on hemlocks and other conifers, in the matter of weeks turning the hillsides from green to brown. Unfortunate timing also brought a heat dome to Lynn Valley and the result is a forest stressed and facing long-term deterioration. We spoke with UBC’s Dean of Forestry for his thoughts on looper moths, cedar die-off, and the future of local forests. 

Local impacts

The change was fast. The forests on Mt. Fromme and through Lynn Canyon were green – dry from lack of rain but still green. Then in just a couple of weeks, some ridges clearly seemed more brown and red than green. The quick change took even forest experts by surprise. 

“When someone told me about earlier this year I was quite surprised because I do spend a lot of time in the North Shore mountains,” said John Innes, a West Vancouver resident, professor, and dean of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. “The hemlock looper is actually quite localized, but where it is occurring it is significant. You may have noticed that the moths are now flying. We had exactly the same last year.”

Despite his many dog walks, it wasn’t until Innes flew over the area last month that he saw the full impact of the hemlock looper moths on Stanley Park, parts of Lighthouse Park, and the Lynn Valley area. Other portions of the North Shore remain largely untouched.  The native insect is in the middle of a three-year cycle, he said. They defoliate hemlocks, firs, and other trees. 

The loopers

“Normally the insect effects beginning in early July, so that is why you see very rapid effects,” said Innes. “The trees aren’t actually dead. The foliage is affected. The foliage has died but it is possible – it’s not a 100 percent certain but it is possible – these trees will recover in a year or two or a bit longer.”

As the North Shore forests are midway through a natural multi-year cycle that occurs every 11 to 15 years, some trees were also hit hard last year. 

“What we know is the ability to recover is strongly linked to the amount of defoliation and so we are seeing that if trees are completely defoliated there is a lower chance of recovery,” he said. “The other problem is that if the tree was affected last year, its reserve would be depleted. If this year it is again defoliated, that depletes its reserves again and it may not produce foliage next year and it may die.” 

There is some question of where we are in the looper moth cycle. The District of North Vancouver states we are in the last year of a three-year cycle, whereas Innes has a different opinion. 

“We had one last year, there is this year and we may get another one next year, and then it should die down again.”

The long-term impacts

Lynn Valley’s forests are not just dealing with a looper moth outbreak, they are also impacted by climate change and the sudden heat dome that occurred in late June/early July. 

“The heat plays a role in overall forest health – particularly cedars,” said Innes. “We are seeing over the years an increase in mortality for cedar across the North Shore mountains, particularly young cedars. 

“Within the forest, there is always some mortality. Like the human population, there is always one or two people who get an illness and ultimately die, unfortunately, and age-related mortality. Trees can reach a very old age but very few trees that grow in the forest actually reach that old-growth status. The majority die before then for all sorts of reasons, so what we are seeing is accelerated mortality. If it is bad, it can change the nature of the forest.”

Cedars are the cornerstone of North Shore forests. Without young trees slowly growing there will likely be a shift in the local ecosystem, he said. 

“There is going to be a problem in the future because there are no young cedars. There will be hemlocks and firs but we will lose the cedars are the oldest living trees in the forest and that will be quite significant in the future,” said Inness. “What we also can get is destabilization.”

The slope safety

Our mountainside community relies on the trees to keep the forest where it is – on the hillsides. The roots of healthy trees retain the soils that help bushes and younger plants grow – continuing the cycle. 

“Dead tree roots slowly decay. What we have seen is that it takes three to four years for the soils to be affected,” said Innes. “If you have a very strong rain or the soil is saturated, the soil’s ability to hold in place is at risk and you may see a landslide.”

The District of North Vancouver is aware of the shift in forest health. 

At this time, we do not know how many of those distressed trees will survive and we likely won’t know until next spring,” said Cassie Brondgeest, communications coordinator for the DNV. “There are many variables that will contribute to tree recovery including looper moth activity and future weather patterns. District staff are working closely with subject matter experts, our neighbouring municipalities, Metro Vancouver and the Province to monitor the situation and to determine next steps. This is a dynamic situation and much will depend on what happens next year.” 

Typically, if remediation is required it would involve replanting trees, said Innes. 

“We have a period of a few years where there is a high risk until the new roots gain enough strength,” he said. “It isn’t everywhere but it is a problem for certain slope conditions.” 

Immediate concerns

While slope destabilization is an issue to closely monitor, Innes feels there is an immediate concern residents should more fully educate themselves about: fire risk.

“Just because it is a rain forest does not mean that it’s not going to burn in the right conditions. And this year has given us the right conditions,” he said. “I don’t think we are quite ready. People in the interior are familiar and know about evacuation orders, but if that situation were to happen in the District of North Vancouver a lot of people would not know how to respond or what to do.”

Despite this week’s rain, the heat of summer and looper moths have created a situation that remains high risk. 

“Once trees drop their foliage, the red browns stuff is very dry and it does increase risk. If the trees are dead they will gradually break down and increase the risk,” said Innes. “In terms of the North Shore, the primary risks are the availability of fuel, dryness of the fuel, and the igniting effects. What you would be looking for, on the North Shore is the human risk.”

Big fires on the North Shore are not unheard of, he said. Exploring Cypress Bowl is one place where we can see the effects of local forest fires. He emphasizes we aren’t immune and need to learn more about fire prevention

“I was out walking and I was thinking that this is so, so dry and it would easily be set off by a cigarette.”

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.

Election 2021

Last month, LynnValleyLife reached out to all of the candidates with a list of questions about the election and how Lynn Valley factors into their vision of the future. Unfortunately, only one candidate took the time to respond. 

Election 2021

The early election called by the Trudeau government will take place on Sept. 20. Voting will take place throughout the region. Some Lynn Valley residents will head to the polls at Lynn Valley Centre, others at Capilano University,  Lynn Valley Legion or Lynn Valley United Church.  Check your voter registration card or visit elections.ca for more information.  Advanced poll days are Sept. 11-13 or you can vote by mail before Sept. 14 at 6 pm.

Les Jickling – Conservative Party of Canada

Please tell us about yourself and your connection to the North Shore. 

I was born in LGH and live in the Edgemont area with my wife Michelle and son Benjamin. I have family in Lynn Valley who have been helping on my campaign. My father taught in schools in North Vancouver. As a young boy I remember tobogganing on the local North Shore mountains (and later skiing), fishing, hiking and bike riding. As a parent I appreciate all the wonderful resources the North Shore offers young families.

Why are you the best person to represent Lynn Valley (and all of North Vancouver) in Ottawa? 

I have a vision for a safe, healthy and sustainable community. Recently, mental health, COVID-19, job losses, unaffordable housing, traffic congestion and climate change have threatened our way of life. These big issues can only be addressed by taking actionable steps. My past successes, as an executive for a healthcare company, raising funds for palliative care, as a three-time president of VOWSA, or navigating the entire Blue Nile in support of access to freshwater, were only achieved by breaking down big challenges into actionable steps. I will do the same for big issues impacting life in North Vancouver.

What issue do you think is most important to Lynn Valley, specifically, and how is this a priority for you?

Recent tragic events in Lynn Valley require us to make mental health a top priority in our community. Canada’s Recovery Plan, under the leadership of Erin O’Toole, will double the current healthcare transfer payments to 6%, injecting an additional $60 billion over 10 years and providing $150 million in grants to nonprofits delivering mental health programming. A 25% tax credit will be offered to employers offering mental health coverage and a nation-wide, three-digit suicide prevention hotline will be implemented.

How do you feel about calling an early election during a pandemic and BC’s devastating wildfire season?

The election-call during the pandemic was reckless. Canadians neither want, nor need, an election. Arguments to the contrary are disingenuous – legislation was passing through the house. The wildfires are tragic, alarming and require immediate action. The Conservative climate plan will get us to our Paris targets.

What three party priorities best support North Vancouver? 

Healthcare, including the COVID response, mental health action and increases in transfer payments. Jobs and economic recovery including recovering the 1 million jobs lost during the pandemic and climate change including implementing the Conservative climate action plan.

Which non-political achievement are you most proud of in your life? 

My wife Michelle and I are adoptive parents. Of all the things I’ve done in life, I consider jointly raising my son Ben as my greatest and most rewarding achievement. I also wrote a humorous book about paddling the world’s most famous river which is one of my proudest achievements.

How do you spend your non-professional time? 

My son is six years old so I like to spend time with him riding bikes, hiking in the canyon, going to the pool, camping and playing in the park. When I have adult time with friends, I like to hike the Grouse Grind and explore the North Shore’s fine craft breweries.

What would you like the people of Lynn Valley to know about you? 

I would like them to know I am a reasonable and thoughtful person with genuine care and concern for the community.

To learn more visit his website.

Other candidates

We did not get responses from the other candidates. They are:

Tammy Bentz New Democratic Party Website
John Galloway People’s Party of Canada Website
Archie Kaario Green Party of Canada Website
Jonathan Wilkinson Liberal Party of Canada Website

Elections Canada looking for poll workers

Go to www.elections.ca and apply online (faster) or fill out an application at the North Vancouver Electoral Office at Capilano mall (where Sears used to be, parking lot entrance)

Who can work?
  • you must be a Canadian citizen
  • you must be at least 16 years old on election day
  • you must speak English. French and other languages are an asset (Farsi, Mandarin,…)
To be employed by Elections Canada, you must agree to refrain from any partisan political activity during the term of your employment.

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.

From local bike shop to Olympic elite

With years of international experience, Adam Trotter landed in Japan last month as part of Canada’s Olympic delegation. It was his second Olympics as head mechanic of the mountain bike team. 

Climbing to the top

Following his bike from Ontario to Lynn Valley, Trotter has been on the road with professional teams and Team Canada since 2009. But you may have unknowingly had your bike tuned in the past by one of Canada’s top mechanics, with Trotter’s downtime often spent at Lynn Valley Bikes. 

“Rio was my first Olympic Games,” said Trotter. “I had some ‘major games’ experience doing the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland by that point so I was used to that environment as it’s quite different from a World Cup or World Championships. It was memorable for the fact we won a bronze medal [Catharine Pendrel] in the women’s race – so that was special for sure.” 

Trotter’s career began as a shop mechanic before doing event support and later joining Cycling Canada’s elite downhill, cross-country (XC), and cyclocross teams. 

“We select our staff from among people working with professional teams,” said Karine Bedard, Cycling Canada. “Adam is a trusted mechanic on the Enduro World Series and has also been part of the Canadian team for many years.”

Canada’s best

“I can’t recall where I heard this but a mechanic can’t win the race for an athlete but they certainly can lose it,” said Trotter. “I’ve got my systems in place that I used during my pre-race checks so that I’m confident that each bike that I put a number plate on is race-ready when it rolls to the line. In terms of stress, I just make sure I’m dialed and relaxed and if the riders see that then they’re chill as well. If I’m freaking out, they’re freaking out and that’s not good.”

Bedard echoes the importance of the mechanic-athlete relationship.

“The riders have to trust that their equipment is in the best condition possible, and the mechanic needs to be a calm presence who knows what to say and what not to say even in stressful situations,” she said.

“It’s just an honor to be able to support our best athletes on that stage,” said Trotter. “Athletes always say it’s special to wear the jersey representing your country and I feel the same way wearing my T-shirt.”

The Olympic experience

The Tokyo Olympics were a different experience than a typical international competition. Pandemic protocols limited how the athletes, staff, coaches, and crew could interact with each other, the events, and the entire Games itself. 

“Last season I traveled internationally for some EWS races and MTB World Championships so I’m used to all the added layers of travel these days,” said Trotter. “I got my first shot in May and my second one while I was traveling in France so I was fully vaccinated by the time I got to Tokyo.” 

Even for someone used to the constant travel and competition, this Olympics was a whirlwind. 

“I felt Tokyo was over pretty fast,” said Trotter. “We flew in from a camp in Europe, got settled, did our training days, and we were on a plane home 24 hours after the last race. It was also unique that we weren’t in the main Olympic Village but three hours south in Izu at a summer resort transformed into a satellite village. It was just mountain bikers for the first six or seven days until the road and track athletes began showing up.”

Behind the scenes

LVL: Can you describe event day from your perspective?

Trotter: The night before I wash and check over the bikes and get all my things organized for the next day – like spare parts and wheels that I bring to the tech/feed zone. Race day Tara [team physio]  and I head to the race early on the bus to get our pit area at the venue set up. The riders get driven to the race with [Coach] Dan. Then I just hang out and help as needed – putting a bike on a trainer or some tire changes. With 15 minutes to start, I’ll walk down to the tech area and set up my tools and spare wheels. Sometimes I help with bottle feeds.

LVL: Can you describe the relationship between elite riders and their mechanic?

Trotter: All the athletes we had at the Olympics I’ve worked with plenty over the years on National Team projects. I know how they operate on race days and as people. Some racers like to talk and joke around before a race, some just tune out and get in the zone. Andreanne [ALN] is one of the athletes I work with on the Rocky Mountain Team and I’ve known her since she actually raced XC on the National Team before switching to Enduro. She calls me her psychic, just from working together for so long. It’s also a relationship where communication is important. They need to be able to talk to you about bike stuff, set up, tire choice, and you need to be able to understand them as well. 

Of course, they also have to trust you that their bike is going to perform as well every single time you hand it back to them.

LVL: Were the crew and riders as surprised as they appeared to be on TV about the removal of the ladder between training and racing? [During training runs a boulder leading into a drop had a ladder eliminating the drop. Not all riders appeared to be informed of the change, resulting in some crashes.] 

Trotter: I haven’t actually watched the coverage of the race. I do find it strange that they took it out, but also strange that it was there in the first place.  

Quick pitstop

Just like the athletes, Trotter’s 2021 mountain bike season is continuing as he heads to Europe this week. When it wraps you might see him at Lynn Valley Bikes, riding the Shore, or hanging out at home in Lynn Valley. 

“The trails are right here, the riding community is amazing and having a bike shop in the area is awesome! I’m a mountain biker for sure,” said Trotter. “It’s really why I moved out here from Ontario. I love a good Seymour lap, my favourite trails are over there.” 

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.

Stop thrifting, start swapping

Eco-fashion is booming and the clothing resale market is the fastest-growing segment. As Lynn Valley’s Geraldine Durant noticed the climbing prices at local thrift shops, she created a more community-oriented swap. 

Think globally, act locally

Inspired by the eco-focus of her former employer, Lynn Valley’s Cousteau School, Durant has been trying to make environmentally friendly decisions. Often they pay with bonus rewards. 

“I love thrift stores,” she said. “They are unique and interesting. You can find different things than you can find at the mall.” 

Speaking with like-minded friends sparked the idea of a clothing swap. If the interested swappers continue like (the non-pandemic restricted portions of) last year, more than 15,000 items will be kept out of the landfill.

The Good Swap

Many people who shop at thrift stores are the very same people who donate to them in the first place, said Durant. 

“Talking with friends we realized the amount of money we were spending in thrift shops after we donated to them. The idea of a clothing swap led to this,” she said gesturing to the lower level of her home filled with stock from the Good Swap’s swappers. 

The swap idea is simple. Participants bring in their items – quality clothing and children’s items  – and choose a similar amount of new-to-them items, as well as paying a small flat fee to cover cleaning and storage costs and minimally compensate Durant for her time organizing the swap. 

“Trading doesn’t always work, because if I don’t have what you need then we can’t trade,” she said. “This makes the circle bigger so more people can find items and more items stay out of the garbage.”

Curation is key

The items at the Good Swap have been checked for stains and rips – missing items like buttons are clearly labeled.

“Most people bring in items in good condition,” she said “I check the games and puzzles – I don’t want someone to get home and find there is a piece missing.”

Items that don’t pass her standards are donated for other thrift options or textile recycling. Her swap stock continues to grow with most people choosing to leave with fewer items than they came with.

“I prefer people swap rather than donate. I get a lot of questions about ‘What is the catch?’,” laughs Durant. “There is no catch. Once people visit they are more confident in the swap.” 

About 80 percent of her customers return about every three months. 

“I do have one that comes around every two weeks.” 

With hopes to slowly grow Durant aims to divert as much as 30,000 items from the landfill each year.

To learn more about the swap or book an appointment visit Durant’s Facebook page

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.

Bears at risk in Lynn Valley

This past weekend, the plan was to kill Lynn Valley bears. Two traps were set up Friday night. It’s becoming an all too common problem. The last weekend in July a Lynn Valley bear spent its day as high as it could go in a tree, trying to evade the traps and guns of conservation officers. Neighbours of the ongoing incident were watching. One placed a quick call and soon Luci Cadman, executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society (NSBBS), was also on scene, advocating the best she could for a bear with a death sentence and educating the homeowners with unsecure chicken coops (DNV bylaw require an electric fence) that created the situation.

It’s normal for bears to be around in the day time

The images and anecdotes are flooding social media – but bears aren’t new to Lynn Valley. These furry neighbours will – hopefully – always be a part of the community and we can all master more best practices to live alongside them. 

Bears have been a part of the community since well before settlers arrived in Lynn Valley. The headlines and viral images we see today aren’t really a matter of more bears, but of more reporting, said Cadman. 

“On social media, we are seeing more images as more people are out in the summer,” she said. “But the bears have been active since February.” 

Luci Cadman

We will always have bears in our community – always because they are here for safety whether there are unnatural food sources or not, it’s a natural place to be, said Cadman. 

“We are seeing a pattern of people being at home and Dr. Henry encouraging people outside. Especially in areas like Capilano Regional Park, Mosquito Creek, Braemar, Fromme Mountain, Lynn Canyon Park, there are reports of more daytime bear activity. I believe recreation is pushing bears out of the forest into the community where it is a little bit quieter. We see bears are just resting at the back of people’s yards away from the hikers, bikers, and dogs. They are seeking peace and quiet and going back into the forest at night.”

The society also noticed in 2020 the impact of closing provincial parks led to unsanctioned bike trails on Mount Seymour pushing local bears into neighbourhoods. During education outreach at trailheads, Cadman also has had a number of reports from the public of misinformed individuals aggressively moving bears from their natural areas and food sources with airhorns or bear bangers because the public wants to recreate in the area. 

“The bears in Lynn Valley are the more vulnerable bears, the mom, and cubs, the teenagers, older bears, right now there is an injured bear. These bears live on the periphery of our environment and can’t go higher up in the mountains because that is where the dominant bears are.”

When it comes to the dangers of living with bears, there are few. It is far more dangerous for the bears to live near us, said Cadman. In 2019, 542 black bears and 162 grizzly bears were killed in BC. 

“We have the statistics,” she said. “They are in the community without incident, their intention isn’t to hurt people and we know this because we get hundreds of reports every year without incident. It is very rare for a black bear to make physical contact.”

Even those bears people think are dangerous are not – statistics show a mother bear is the least dangerous bear – her instinct is to retreat from humans. They live near neighbourhoods because it is less dangerous for her – away from dominant bears, said Cadman.

It’s up to us, as residents, to facilitate cohabitation.  

Bears can learn boundaries

The NSBBS believes education will lead to our best co-existence with bears and the role the public can play has evolved over the years, said Cadman.

Photo by Tony Joyce

“These animals are teachable. They are very intelligent. Back in the day it was bang pots and pans and used an air horn but many of our bears are adapting. Don’t expect a bear to run away,” she said. “If they did that every time they saw a person, they would get nothing done. They are comfortable with people – at a distance – never step into their space. 

“Just because a bear is walking down the street in the daytime does not mean they are bold or aggressive.” 

If a bear does enter your yard, Cadman offers this advice: “From a safe place like a deck or window, with eye contact and a firm tone, speak to the bear [in any language, as the key is tone, not words]. It will usually move on. They can be taught this is not a place to be. Be consistent and do it every time they are in your yard. 

“We have had a lot of success with bears changing their routes by people doing that.” 

If you meet a bear in the wild it’s a different procedure and likely not the one you learned as a kid. The typical thought to make yourself large as possible, to glare and threaten the bear in a loud voice is incorrect as Cadman because it may make the bear feel threatened. 

“If you suddenly, closely encounter a bear on a trail or in your yard speak in a calm tone and slowly back away,” said Cadman, adding this behaviour allows you to demonstrate you are giving the bears their space to carry on.

Challenges leading to bear deaths

There are numerous challenges facing local bears, says Cadman. Some are institutional, like the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) and local governments, others are more about individual resident actions.  

“People believe that conservation officers relocate bears,” she said. “In June of this year, in BC, 75 bears were killed. Only one was relocated.”

The false assumption by residents that bears will be relocated leads to behaviours that put bears at risk.

“We always try to educate and I have heard it before, ‘It’s not a big deal [the bear is trapped], it will be relocated like last time,’” said Cadman. “No, the bear will be killed, just like last time.”

She also struggles to get accurate reports on bears from the BCCOS so she can direct the NSBBS’s finite education resources to where it’s most needed. 

“If people don’t report the bears to us, we don’t know what questions to ask the BCCOS,” she said. “We can’t hold them accountable.”

The District of North Vancouver is making progress to be more supportive of bears cohabiting in the community but there is still more work to do, she said. 

“In January the district passed a bylaw regarding bear attractants and they are using it as a next step when our education isn’t working. First, we want people to talk to their neighbours, but if that isn’t working they can let us know or the DNV and we can provide education. We send a welcome package to all new residents to help them understand bears in our community. We are still working with the district to improve the waste bins. The locking waste bins are not bear-proof and continue to be a problem.”

Revisiting last month’s bear visiting chicken coops, Cadman is pleased to have the bylaw in place, as education didn’t seem to be working. 

Bear Season in long

Bears are in our neighbourhoods from late February to November. They need year-round support. The NSBBS is slowly expanding its small team of volunteers.  Donations are a quick way to make a difference. Self-education can be found on their website (new site coming soon). 

There are actions residents can take now to support our bear neighbours:

  • Report bear sightings online here for tracking, if there is immediate need text or call: 604-317-4911.
  • To report problem attractants use this online form.  
  • Remove all food as soon as possible: veggies, berries, and fruit. 
  • Do not install or remove bird feeders (taking in at night is not sufficient as bears are here during the day). 
  • Keep waste bins in locked sheds or in your home, if possible. Regularly, clean green waste and garbage bins with a vinegar or bleach solution, layer garden waste on top of food waste and freeze scraps when possible only placing them in the cart on pickup day. 
  • Burn off BBQs for 10 minutes and clean after each use.

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.

Fire ready North Van

As fire destroyed Lytton just days ago, it might be a good idea to refresh what Lynn Valley residents can do to make themselves FireSmart and take preventative measures to help support the District of North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service’s efforts to protect the community.

Well resourced

DNVFRS members working north of Lillooet.

As a community on the border between wildlands and urban areas, the District of North Vancouver has a comprehensive Community Wildfire Protection Plan. One that continues to evolve, grow and provide additional resources to DNVFRS. In fact, it is something they are so good at, firefighters have been deployed this week to help protect communities in the interior.

“In the last three years, I would say it’s doubled, and then doubled again,” said Capt. Conrad Breakey, public information officer for the DNVFRS.

To protect against wildfire there are now two structure protection units (sprinkler systems that protect up to thirty homes) and another on its way, he said. There are also plans to add to their fleet of initial attack vehicles so each hall has one ready to go. These trucks are more like pickup trucks than firetrucks equipped with pumps and forestry gear that can access more areas than a typical firetruck. 

“We have close to 75 percent of our crew have structure protection training through FireSmart,” he said. “If a forest fire was breaking through to houses we would go and set up sprinklers ahead of time to create a hydrobubble so those embers can’t jump from house to house to house.”

In further reaches of the district the fire service has combined thoughtful resources with education. As summer approaches it is now implementing strategies to be as ready as possible – especially in the Woodlands neighbourhood north east of Deep Cove where the setting is quite remote, said Breakey. 

“We have found a spot that in high and extreme times we are going to stage equipment up there so it is ready to go and we will have crews patrolling all summer, monitoring the gear and equipment,” he said. “It includes a HydroSub – not only can the roads be difficult but hydrants as well; this allows us to throw it off the end of a dock and pump seawater up to where we need to be.”

Ounce of prevention vs pound of cure

The FireSmart education being undertaken by the DNVFRS in Woodlands is something they want to expand to other areas bordering the forest – including Lynn Valley. 

“Our major effort is to mitigate – to stop fires from impacting homes before they even start,” said Breakey. “That is the easiest and the cheapest option. We can help educate homeowners to have them in a better position should a fire come through the area.”     

The ultimate goal of the FireSmart program is to unite neighbours to be proactive about making better choices. Plans for outreach in Lynn Valley are in the works, with support from grants from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.  

“The easiest, affordable approach – and not talking about swapping out construction materials like cedar shakes for asphalt shingles – I would say is removing all the fuel from around your house,” said Breaky. “Remove the overhanging branches, clean your eavestroughs, remove pine needles from your roof. Take a look at the spaces under decks where leaves and dead brush might accumulate. 

FireSmart assessment in action.

“I know people like having their firewood accessible but move it away. What you have to consider is that if there is a forest fire it is like a snowstorm of embers. Those embers can travel hundreds of metres and land in the woodpiles or a pile of brush. And that tiny little ember will become a fire that was nowhere near the initial fire.”

With the goal to have homeowners take action now, the DNVFRS is offering support to help neighbourhoods be FireSmart. 

“We would like to encourage communities that are near the first to connect and reach out to the fire department, so we can get out into the neighbourhood – especially Lynn Valley,” he said. “We can do those community assessments and put a report together. Reach out to us – to me and we can send out a local FireSmart representative and get the process started. We would love to organize a group and have a community champion but anyone who has questions or concerns can talk with us.”

DNVFRS also plans this summer to be present in local parks for fire education and perhaps a spray or two for the kids. A sort of pandemic pivot of their previous year’s Hot Nights outreach. As for the ongoing wildfire prevention programs, Breakey thinks the education and action are paying off.

“We are making quite a few efforts and a lot of progress at the moment.”

Breakey recommends checking out the extensive resources at FireSmart and following the DNVFRS social media channels (Facebook and Twitter) to stay up to date with the latest safety orders or emerging events. 

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.

Stitched with love

A local artist experienced in healing is leading the Lynn Valley Love sewing project. Quilter, artist, and instructor Berene Campbell is hoping the works will help reclaim the Lynn Valley Library and Village after the March 27th attack.

Lots of love

Berene Campbell

As an artist and creator Campbell has felt a need to respond when communities she cares about are struck by tragedy. She uses her work to foster social justice and healing.   

“There is a call – even from far away – when you see your fellow human beings suffering to do something about it,” she said. 

After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing Campbell was inspired to found the community project To Boston With Love. She and others voiced a call for handmade flags supporting the community, the injured and to recognize those that were killed. The project debuted during the month of April 2014 at the Boston Museum of Fine Art to mark one year after the bombing. 

Her initiatives for collective healing continued in Toronto where she was living at the time of its April 2018 van attack. She received over 2000 peace and love flags from across the world that were pieced together to form banners. The project, once completed, was placed in the North York City Centre where it filled a vast space with colour and positive messages.

“The overall idea is to turn this community hub into a space filled with beauty, comfort and love – like a big visual hug,” she said at the time.  

From loss to love

Campbell’s motivation remains much the same after the March 27 stabbing that killed one, injured six, and left the community as a whole reeling. Compassionate, the past projects have been deeply meaningful to Campbell, but with this tragedy taking place in her home community, this one is special.

“My son and his girlfriend were here at the exact time – just one week prior,” she said. “For so many of us, it was just timing that kept us away that day.” 

In May of this year, she partnered with the NVDPL and the District of North Vancouver to begin the Lynn Valley Love sewing project. It is a two-part project set to be unveiled this month at the Lynn Valley branch. Earlier in the spring, the public was invited to pick up simple sewing kits to help stitch the community back together. The felt and cotton pieces were simply sewed at home by residents and dropped off for Campbell and her team to stitch together. The X’s of love have been received from other parts of the world as well as crafters saw the project launch online. 

For some it was an act to send love, for others participation is an act of their own healing and to reduce stress and anxiety.

It’s very repetitive. There is something zen about doing the stitching,” she said.

The second part of the project involves more elaborated quilted banners that will hang in the stairwell of the library. Campbell and her team have a vast network of quilters willing to contribute to the ‘visual hug.’ Banners have arrived from near and far. 

Campbell’s community action goes beyond public displays. She has also established the Handmade Collective Awards, a bursary (financial aid) fund for BIPOC, Indigenous and 2SLGBTQ+ students at Ryerson University in Toronto. Her website also has a number of tutorials and projects for sewers. 

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.

Creative clubs for summer fun

As the community opens up there are a number of ‘clubs,’ some sprouting for the first time to keep people of all ages busy this summer.

Lynn Valley Ecology Centre


The Ecology Centre usually offers some cool respite from the summer heat. Nestled in the forest it typically a few degrees lower than the rest of Lynn Valley. This summer they are launching a Summer Nature Club to encourage kids to get active and outdoors. Pick up a bookmark to track your progress. It’s as simple as filling in each box a picture or details of what you did then visiting the Centre for a stamp. Once the bookmark is complete you get a prize from the Centre’s store. 

The Ecology Centre also offers their Tree Top Tales virtually four times this summer July 16, Aug. 6 & 20, and Sept. 3. These adventures for tiny tots are suitable for children 2+.

Library reading clubs

There is plenty going on at the North Vancouver District Public Library. They have summer programs for all ages. 

Explore the Shore: Adult Reading Challenge – The library has teamed up with the North Shore Culture Compass to offer a challenge involving books, local places history and culture, and film. To participate all you need to do is register and attend at least one summer Zoom discussion to share your Explore the Shore experiences, and you’ll be eligible for the prize draw where six gift cards to 32 Books are up for grabs. Check out their post to learn more.

Under the Sea: Teen Summer Reading ClubThere are nine challenges for teens to tackle this summer. From exploiting manga to creating story-inspired art. Completing a challenge gets an entry into the ongoing prize draws. If all nine challenges are checked off before the deadline teens will receive a book. 

Crack the Case: Children’s Summer Reading Club  –  The goal is to get kids reading – 15 minutes or more – for 50 days this summer. The exploration in literacy can be family reading time, audiobooks, magazines, novels, graphic novels, etc., pretty much anything to get you engaged in a story. Participants can pick up their packages at any library branch to track their progress or participate virtually. At the end of the summer, successful readers will get a medal and a book prize. 

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.