Good Neighbour 2019 – Matina Spiropoulos

We say it over and over. We love Lynn Valley. Sure, the trees are great and the trails fantastic but what makes Lynn Valley our home is the community of people. We are so proud to shine the light on the good work that happens throughout the year. This year we are excited to announce Matina Spiropoulos as our Lynn Valley Life Good Neighbour!


Spreading the love


Matina has her hands involved in so many aspects of our community – not just Lynn Valley but also across the North Shore. She is a connector. A community needs people with vision of its entire being; someone who knows what is needed and has the willingness to organize those with resources to help. Take this year’s partnership between the Mollie Nye House and Argyle Secondary. Matina connected the sewing class to help with much needed updates. 

She is a year after year supporter of the Mollie Nye House and has joined the board of the Lynn Valley Services Society. She is the chair of the marketing committee as well as the vice-president. She loves the cross-generational support it provides to Lynn Valley.

“Matina is passionate about our community and goes beyond the call of duty,” said Maria Roney, operations manager for the LVSS. “Whether she is fighting for change to protect our natural resources, volunteering at the many community events or developing and executing a social media plan for Mollie Nye House, she does so energetically and with passion and commitment. She is a true asset to Lynn Valley and the North Shore.” 

Matina’s work extends to those younger as well. She has been an important part of the Argyle Parent Advisory Committee. Helping with a variety of fundraisers and representing Argyle’s PAC at the district level. 

She is also passionate supporter of music – for years spearheading the open mic Sunday Jam at the Lynn Valley Legion (supporting also as a member). This is a resource to musicians across the North Shore. 


Beyond Lynn Valley


Reaching beyond our little neighbourhood, Matina volunteers with the District of North Vancouver on the Community Services Advisory Committee. This is a volunteer driven committee that reviews grants submitted to the DNV. She discusses, with the committee, social and cultural concerns that affect the quality of life in the municipality. Last month also marked a milestone for countless hours of lobbying Matina invested in bettering our parks and environment. She was a key voice in the fight to have all types of smoking/vaping banned in ALL district parks and greenspaces.  

Also this year, Matina has become an ambassador for Foundry BC, She helps increase awareness of Foundry and its services to support mental illness (ages 12-24). She liaises between community and Foundry at booth events throughout the year to help reduce stigma and increase community engagement.

“Matina has a passion for our community and supporting the work that many of us do,” said Nicole Kennedy, prevention educator for Foundry BC- North Shore. “She is dedicated to ‘getting the word out,’ informing community  members (at events) of how to access services, and always has a bright smile on her face. We are truly lucky to have her as a volunteer with Foundry North Shore.

We are so lucky to have Matina investing in Lynn Valley and beyond – thank you for the hours and hours contribute to so many parts of our community and beyond. Congratulations on being our 2019 Good Neighbour. 


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.

Think Red for the Holidays

With the busyness and frantic obligations of Christmas and the holidays, we are featuring some of Lynn Valley’s best options for holiday solutions. From finding that perfect something for that hard to buy relative to finding something small and sweet for someone small and sweet: we want you thinking red for the holidays.


Childhood delights at Red Door


Tucked away on the campus of the Vancouver Waldorf School, 2725 St. Christophers Road, is a Red Door. Inside you will find a non-profit, parent-run shop dedicated to the wonders of childhood.

“We take great consideration in choosing the toys and art supplies that we offer in our school store,” said Ella Pedersen, manager of the store and Waldorf School parent. “Many of the companies we order from hold values similar to ours in their care for quality, tradition, sustainability and inspiration to engage the senses of children in their development.”

The little shop is elegantly packed with items just calling for a child’s touch. The wooden figures have soft rounded corners and simple paint jobs. The felted dolls have delicate features but simplistic beauty. There are the occasional quality handmade item contributed by Waldorf family, hard to find children’s books, rocks and crystals, even parenting books and sought-after wet weather gear by Abeko.

“We carry quality items – like gorgeous dolls and wooden figures from Germany,” said Pedersen. “We carry good quality craft supplies so it lasts and it’s a pleasure to use.”

Most of the items and supplies in store are hard to find in Vancouver and have artists and art teachers making the pilgrimage to Lynn Valley to pick up molding wax and drawing materials from Stockmar and Lyra.


Whimsy and wonder


Delightful, hard to find books will immerse children in nature and the wonder of the season.

Quality wool felts and felting supplies are a treat for the eye and hands. They are wonderful to work with. Abeko products are sought after in Lynn Valley – they’re essential for outdoor kids.

The details in the tiny dolls & wooden figures are beautiful & thoughtfully created. The designs encourage hands on play.

The carefully curated art supplies are both ethically and environmentally responsible. They are long wearing and natural – perfect for small children.

A chat with the mayor – and you can too!

Once a month you can head down to the Lynn Valley Library and have a face-to-face chat with the mayor. The open invitation is a longstanding and unique North Vancouver tradition.


Meet your mayor


Following in the tradition of past elected officials North Vancouver District Mayor Mike Little visits the Lynn Valley branch about once a month for residents to ask questions, share concerns and create an opportunity for open dialogue. 

“I enjoy it,” said Little. “Sometimes people bring a case they want to bring to my attention. Sometimes they raise macro issues like climate. I get everything from dead cedars that need attention to concerns about international agreements.”

The experience is quite different at each of the libraries he visits, said the mayor. At Lynn Valley participants are often initially quite quiet and reserved about talking at all in a library but warm up. Other Meet Your Mayor locations are more separated and have lively discussions. But sometimes no one comes at all.

“I have been skunked – no showed up,” laughed Little. “Whatever someone comes to talk about is a concern to them. It’s something affecting their life and they are asking for help or more information. It keeps me on my toes and gives me insight into the changing concerns of the different neighbourhoods.”

With the current crop of councillors this is more important than ever. Previous councils had a natural geographic mix of representatives but the current group councillors and the mayor reside in the eastern side of the district, he said. Making the Meet Your Mayor sessions an important part of understanding what is happening in the district. 

It doesn’t appear any other mayor in the Metro Vancouver area holds such regular and open engagement with the public. The City of Vancouver Mayor held one afternoon last spring with pre-booking required. If anything, this is a practice that will expand, said Little

“They are a valuable experience,” said Little. “I can better respond and these meetings have changed how I approach issues. We will hopefully expand to a new library space opening at the bottom of Capilano Road and I hope to use that to engage with that corner of the district. I have also gotten some feedback about adding some weekend times.”

You can meet the Mayor the first or second Tuesday of the month. The dates and times can be found here.


Mayor Little’s thoughts on . . .


Traffic and parking

I think one thing we have not managed well . . . we have to be forward thinking about how to get people out of their cars but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to manage the cars that are there now. There are some neighbourhoods that are really under pressure now. The Sunnyhurst/Ross area. That was a place where we went from 1.6 car spaces per unit to 1.2 and now you really see it. On 27th it is about design. The Evergreen development all has outdoor entrances so people don’t want to use the parkade. The street is full but if you walk around to the underground garage there is lots of space. 

Lynn Canyon

It’s a trending issue region wide – what is happening is people are moving into smaller and smaller spaces. Where [people] might have gone into [their] backyard, instead [they] now engage in destination recreation on a Saturday and Sunday. Destination recreation is getting out of the house because there is no space there. We are on the edge of this. More and more people are coming to anything that is free: Deep Cove, Panorama Park, Lynn Canyon. The North Shore is now playing backyard to the entire region. 

We have had major traffic problems to and from the North Shore during the work week and what we are seeing now it’s the same on the weekends. We are going to have to engage in the regulatory side with parking . . . we are going to have to do some more traffic demand management techniques where we are paying for parking or we are paying for access. I think we have to look at it so we are responsible with our neighbours and our residents are protected from the popularity. We have talked about issuing a free annual pass with your taxes so residents can access for free. For far to long it has been too easy for tour groups to use our public parks.

Changing character of Lynn Valley

We were under some pressure to put a cap on height and the council of the time was supportive of that. But there were arguments raised that said “If you ever want to do something like the Kiwanis building again – purpose built rental, supportive senior housing – don’t lock down height because you won’t be able to do it.” So the justification on height was the rare unicorn of an amenity and then all the developments come in pushing for height. I think we should have locked down height earlier in the OCP and LAP then we would have been in a better position. Then maybe we could have budged for affordable social housing but not high-end luxury housing that is going for $1000 a square foot. 

More playgrounds and updated community centres

There is a pot of money that is set aside for a youth centre that will be tied into the Kirkstone space on the Karen Magnussen side of things. We see Karen Magnussen as an aging facility that needs to be redeveloped [Ron Andrews top the priority list, as an older facility]. 


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.

Highway Interchange Update

Some big progress is taking shape on the Highway and Mountain Highway/ Keith Road intersections. We’re excited to see some of these new improvements in use soon. For example, the new bridge connecting the Seymour area to Lynn Valley, removing the need to get on and off the Highway heading westbound.


Cranes positioning girder for installation

A new onramp from Mountain Hwy onto the highway heading westbound is also coming along nicely and will ease the pressure off the Lynn Valley Road onramp. Highway 1 will also be widened with the construction of additional lanes including the construction of two 2-lane bridges on either side of the existing 4-lane Lynn Creek Bridge.

The Mountain Highway/Lynn Creek, Keith Road/Seymour Parkway and Main Street/Dollarton Highway Interchanges will be upgraded in four phases. Improvements will address safety, queuing and delays and will help to improve travel times along Highway 1 and the Lower Lynn Interchanges.

An Egg-citing Way to Celebrate Easter in Lynn Valley!

It sounds like there will be a mix of sun and clouds in Lynn Valley’s future, but whatever the weather we hope the Easter weekend is joyful for all!

We are having our annual FREE family Easter Egg Hunt April 22 from 10 a.m.-noon at Viewlynn Park. There will be prizes, plenty of eggs to find and lots of family fun — think face painting and balloon twisting too.

If it is rainy, there’s no better way to spend the time than in painting some Easter eggs to give out to family and friends. Here are few novel ideas to get you started – you probably have everything you need at home already!

 

Another tradition that will keep the kids busy is to bake hot cross buns on Good Friday, or to make an Easter bonnet for Sunday. And if you’re really having fun, why not make some homemade chocolate Easter eggs as well?

Easter Egg 2017Easter Sunday is the culmination of the Christian Holy Week, and is preceded by Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Special services are being held on all three days at many Lynn Valley churches, and all are welcome – should you want more information, contact info and church websites are listed on our Clubs and Associations page. Happy Easter, everyone!

Healthy teachers – happy classrooms

A health-focused Lynn Valley couple has written the book on keeping teachers healthy. With more than 20 years practicing occupational therapy focusing on the education sector Wade Repta put much of his expertise down on paper in The Well Teacher with the help of his wife Andrée.


Keeping teachers well


“Expectations on teachers are extremely high,” said Wade. “They work under extreme scrutiny and typically they are hare high performing individuals who put others ahead of themselves. The job can be overwhelming – it’s far more challenging than people think.”

Covering a range of topics The Well Teacher was written to give teachers practical tools to keep them in the classroom longer and to get them back sooner after injury or illness.

“If someone is struggling with mental or physical health it can be a tough to manage while caring for 22 children,” said Wade. “I have probably worked with over 1000 teachers either one on one or in workshops. We see so many challenges and there was nowhere for them to go to get the information they need. We wanted to give them the information to improve their well being. We hear over and over again ‘Why didn’t I know this?’ Or ‘Why was I never taught this?’”

Another big difference between other sectors and education are the return to work accommodations, explained Andrée. After an injury or significant work absence most employees are able to figure out with their employers reduced hours, part-time schedules, different responsibilities and a variety of other accommodations.

“For teachers depending on their schedule, their blocks, their specialties it can be difficult to find support for that which makes it very different from other sectors,” she said.

Most of the book is specific to the teaching profession which Wade says is to address the unique challenges teachers are facing.

“In the work we do – [the teachers we see] are already struggling,” said Wade. “Our job is to help people to manage their illness or disability and then figure out their work. This book is to help those teachers and to give information to teachers who don’t want to get to that point.”


Specific help for teachers


Topics range from mental health to ergonomics to voice as well as an entire chapter on returning to work after an injury or illness. They cover the day to day life of educators which can slowly erode health. The physical challenges are usually not brute force injuries but stem, typically, from poor routine.

“In younger grade levels everything is low, so there are repetitive injuries from bending, kneeling,” said Andrée. “Or in high school a teacher maybe working by a white board all day long and not doing in the best way.”

Often small changes to classrooms and routines can help those teachers. The Well Teacher also addresses the physical challenges of chronic conditions and disease. But that’s not the case for other teachers.

“Of those we see – people who are asking for help or had a crash – pretty universally, about 50 per cent are off for physical health and about 50 per cent are off for mental health reasons,” said Wade. “We are seeing a lot of anxiety, we are seeing a lot of depression and while it is not a diagnostic term, we are seeing burn out. They are just tired.”

People don’t realize it’s common for teachers to feel that way because they get multiple breaks throughout the year but when they are at work it is overwhelming, he said.

“So many are just barely getting by.”

The Well Teacher website also has a number of resources available that help readers implement the strategies in the book.

“We wanted it to be functional and actually used and put into practice,” said Wade. “We know sitting down and setting goals leads to more success. We want teachers to have more control over their wellness – to prevent a further decline or give them a starting point to get back in the classroom.”

The Well Teacher is available online or by contacting Wade and Andrée at thewellteacher@humanworks.ca to order your copy and arrange Lynn Valley pick up to save on shipping.

Think Red for the Holidays

With the busyness and frantic obligations of Christmas and the holidays, we are featuring some of Lynn Valley’s best options for holiday solutions. From finding that perfect something for that hard to buy relative to finding something small and sweet for someone small and sweet: we want you thinking red for the holidays.


One last Christmas


The long-time institution in Lynn Valley where you alway knew you could find just the right gift – 

The Red Tulip Gift Gallery – is closing.  After a fourteen year journey that has taken owners Janice Rothenbush and Lynda Buchholtz from Deep Cove to Lynn Valley Village to Lynn Valley Centre, they are retiring from the retail business this January.

“We have gotten to know so many people,” said Buchholtz. “We have seen families grow up – little kids shopping with parents are returning by themselves as young adults. We live in North Vancouver and love how supportive the community has been. It has been a pleasure to do business here – but it’s time.”


Tulip picks


During this last holiday season Buchholtz and Rothenbush have selected some beautiful pieces to fill your home, tree or gift box. Everything in store is now 20% off as they kick off the holidays with a bang.

Topping the list are tiny felted mice Christmas ornaments. The warmth and whimsy they add to a tree is proving very popular this season, said Buchholtz.

For the bold and creative there are a wide range of Sock it to me Socks – with cheeky designs and bright colours they are the perfect choice to make someone smile.

For the smallest Lynn Valley residents, they have books from local author Tory Townsin, beautiful and delicately soft Jelly Cat stuffies, as well as some locally-made onesies to assert hometown pride early.

The perfect hostess gift are Lucia luxury candles and scents. The Red Tulip is currently carrying the scent Les Saisons with aromatic notes of softwood and pine – no one will know you don’t have a real Christmas tree with this authentic scent.

With simple, elegant designs Rothenbush’s handmade-jewelry line Red Chandelier is sure to add a touch of shine that will delight anyone on your list.

The Red Tulip is located inside Lynn Valley Centre at 1199 Lynn Valley Road.


Childhood delights at Red Door


Tucked away on the campus of the Vancouver Waldorf School, 2725 St. Christophers Road, is a Red Door. Inside you will find a non-profit, parent-run shop dedicated to the wonders of childhood.

“We take great consideration in choosing the toys and art supplies that we offer in our school store,” said Ella Pedersen, manager of the store and Waldorf School parent. “Many of the companies we order from hold values similar to ours in their care for quality, tradition, sustainability and inspiration to engage the senses of children in their development.”

The little shop is elegantly packed with items just calling for a child’s touch. The wooden figures have soft rounded corners and simple paint jobs. The felted dolls have delicate features but simplistic beauty. There are the occasional quality handmade item contributed by Waldorf family, hard to find children’s books, rocks and crystals, even parenting books and sought-after wet weather gear by Abeko.

“We carry quality items – like gorgeous dolls and wooden figures from Germany,” said Pedersen. “We carry good quality craft supplies so it lasts and it’s a pleasure to use.”

Most of the items and supplies in store are hard to find in Vancouver and have artists and art teachers making the pilgrimage to Lynn Valley to pick up molding wax and drawing materials from Stockmar and Lyra.


Whimsy and wonder


Delightful, hard to find books will immerse children in nature and the wonder of the season.

Quality wool felts and felting supplies are a treat for the eye and hands. They are wonderful to work with. Abeko products are sought after in Lynn Valley – they’re essential for outdoor kids.

The details in the tiny dolls and wooden figures are beautiful and thoughtfully created. The designs encourage imaginative hands on place.

The carefully curated art supplies are both ethically and environmentally responsible. They are long wearing and natural – perfect for small children.

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