Help plan LV’s future – your health depends on it!

FROM THE EDITOR: Do you consider yourself an opinionated person? If so, this is the week for you!

I can’t remember being asked for my opinion quite so often. Between the North Van District Open Houses presenting the new Lynn Valley Town Centre proposal, to tonight’s Healthy Communities Conversation Cafe, to a Cultural Plan Open House in the Village on Thursday, there is enough proposing, pondering, possibility-seeking and planning going on to satisfy the most ardent citizen activist.

Thing is, it’s not just the typical ‘citizen activists’ who should becoming out to these events. Lynn Valley is fortunate to be home to a great corps of dedicated people who pay attention to community planning, who take the time to think about the issues, and who give their feedback and follow the process through to its conclusion.

But the decisions being made now don’t affect just them. They affect busy, double-income families and single seniors. They affect our lower-income residents and our mortgage-free homeowners. And they affect our children, most of whom will have to leave this community to search out affordable accommodation elsewhere – unless, of course, things change.

At tonight’s Conversation Cafe, hosted by Vancouver Coastal Health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and North Van District, North Shore Health Officer Dr. Brian O’Connor told us that as far as our health is concerned, district planners are far more important than doctors.

“The decisions they make shape the context of your everyday life,” he said. “Your health doesn’t depend on the advice of your physician; it depends on where you live.”

As just one example, he pointed to study that found a typical, 35-year-old male who lives in a walkable neighbourhood weighs 10 pounds less and has better physical and mental health than his ‘twin’ who lives in a lower-density, less-walkable community.

It’s also been discovered that children who live in higher-density, mixed-income neighbourhoods score better on ‘school readiness’ assessments than children who live in uniformly wealthy neighbourhoods, as they have easy access to a wider range of community services.

Finally, seniors who are able to stay in their home community have more social connections and lower mortality rates than those who have to leave their familiar neighbourhood.

Clearly, community planning affects every age group, income level, and interest group. Unfortunately, most of us are too weighed down with the busy-ness involved in the present to pay enough attention to the future.

Which is why it’s so great the District is doing all it can to make engagement easy, interesting, and – yes – even enjoyable! Take tonight as an example. Attendees were given a lovely, heart-healthy dinner and entertained by a live jazz combo; they heard interesting presentations, had the pleasure of having their views actively solicited, and even witnessed the evening unfold visually as artist Taraneh Erfan King used her felt pens and fine doodling to bring people’s thoughts to life.

So, please accept district planners’ invitation to get involved. Help ensure that our neighbourhood can be a vibrant community that is home to people at all ages and stages of their life. Over the next 20 years, it is projected that 5,000 people may move into this community – this is not a small project!

If you can’t make an in-person event, be sure to make time to review and comment on the proposals online.

A Cultural Plan Open House is taking place in the LV Village Community Room on Thursday, May 3, from 5 to 8 p.m. Details, here. (Heads up, an arts facility for the Lynn Valley area is under discussion, so put your two cents in!) You can fill in the Arts Office online survey, here (until May 18).

For all the information about North Van District’s proposals for Lynn Valley Town Centre, see our earlier blog post. You have one more chance to see the displays this week, and that’s tomorrow (Wednesday, May 2), at Karen Magnussen Rec Centre from 1 to 8 p.m. Online options for reviewing the plans, though, are available and we’ve given you all the details.

We promise you’ll discover something interesting in your perusal of the plans. Personally, I love the proposed idea of a “Rain Street”! If we’ve got it, we might as well flaunt it!

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen


Visions of the valley await your voices and views

There was quite a buzz around the boards set up near the Lynn Valley Mall centre court today, as district planners toured visitors around several graphic displays that gave glimpses into the future of Lynn Valley Town Centre.

Since the Official Community Plan was approved last June, planners have been hard at work developing implementation plans for different town centre sites around the district. For more information about the process, and the tools that will help you contribute your own views about the latest proposals, visit the purpose-built District website, here.

The Lynn Valley plan calls for a variety of housing, street-level storefront shopping plazas, community amenities (an arts facility of some sort is under discussion, for example), parkland features and pedestrian/cycle-friendly trail networks. It promises walkers protection from our infamous local rainfall – and even a ‘rain garden’! It’s quite a change from the current town centre layout, and gives residents plenty to ponder.

If you want to give an opinion, now’s the time – don’t leave it until the last minute. If you want to shape the future, you have to pay attention to the present! The Open House will continue at the mall tomorrow (Sunday, April 29), and in the LV Village Community Room on Tuesday afternoon (1 – 6 p.m.) and at Karen Magnussen Wednesday from 1 – 8:30 p.m.

To view the displays online, go here; to fill out a “report card” with your thoughts (which can be saved or printed), check in here.


Recycling depots close at hand

Lynn Valley is an excellent place to live if you’re an environmentalist. Sure, we have lots of trees. But did you know we’re also particularly well-situated when it comes to recycling drop-off depots?

We’re a hop, skip and a jump from North Van District’s recycling depot located across from the transfer station on Riverside, where you can drop off large quantities of our curbside recyclables and purchase subsidized bins for backyard composting.

We’re even closer to two other handy depots – the WCS Recycling Depot on the corner of Mountain Highway and Dominion Road, and the Encorp Depot across from Park and Tilford at 310 Brooksbank.

WCS will accept a wide range of non-curbside recyclables, six days a week, for a small drop-off fee.  Check their website for accepted materials, as well information on their prepaid ‘red bag program,’ which gives locals a convenient way to stockpile their Styrofoam, plastic bags, gable-top cartons, laminate foil and non-blue box plastics in between depot trips.

Encorp is a busy drop-off point for beverage containers, but also accepts electronics and small household appliances.

And a number of charities, such as the Developmental Disabilities Association and Big Brothers, will come to your home to pick up clothing and small household goods for re-sale. Call Big Brothers at 604-526-2447 or email; Developmental Disabilities can be reached at 604-273-4DDA.

Wondering where to recycle other household items? Check out this complete recycling listing, courtesy of the North Shore Recycling Program.

District workers are up the creek

FROM THE EDITOR: It’s always been easy to be impressed by Lynn Valley’s trees; after all, the world’s tallest fir – measuring 417 feet high and 77 feet around – was documented here in 1875. But for the next few months at least, it’s Lynn Valley’s streams that will be in the spotlight, thanks to a project being launched by North Vancouver District.

Most of Lynn Valley drains into the 23-km Hastings Creek, which springs from the east slope of Grouse Mountain and lets out into Lynn Creek near Hoskins and Arborlynn.

Hastings Creek and its tributaries (including Thames Creek) played a huge role in Lynn Valley’s early logging days, allowing for mill ponds and the rushing water that carried shingle bolts down the area’s infamous log flumes.

Hastings Creek Bridge over Lynn Valley Road.

But damming and later urban development took its toll on the creek, and – now that the Official Community Plan has passed and set out a framework for the future – North Van District is doing an in-depth study of the waterways to determine how local streams can be protected or enhanced.

According to Rjchard Boase, NVD Environmental Protection Officer, creeks “tend to suffer dramatically from the cumulative effects of many small infringements.” The District has contracted with environmental and engineering consultants who will walk the streams to check the stability and composition of their banks, log what natural species are present (or notable for their absence), take photos, and assess drainage infrastructure.

Since so many Lynn Valley homeowners have streams running near or through their property, the District wants to alert residents to the project, as they will no doubt see the researchers in action (they will be carrying identification). The work will start at the end of January, and likely wrap up by April 30. Results will be presented to the public in June.

There have already been many improvements made to the health of Hastings Creek since various restoration projects began in the late 1970s with the installation of a fish ladder near the mouth of the creek. Today, after the addition of more ladders and many environmental and fisheries projects undertaken by everyone from the North Shore Streamkeepers to school children, Boase says the fish population is alive and vital.

Coho salmon, he reports, travel Hastings Creek up to and including Hunter Park, while resident trout are also active above that section and into Twin Lakes.

While the municipal government will be looking at ways to further protect our local waterways, there is plenty that homeowners can be doing to ensure the health of the Hastings Creek watershed.

For information on development restrictions around streams, click here. Or visit this site for a number of lawn, garden, automotive and other household tips that help ensure clean waterways.

And to learn more about the Hastings Creek Watershed Management Plan initiative, click here or call North Vancouver District’s Engineering or Environmental Department at 604-990-2450.

 – Peggy Trendell-Jensen