One-of-a-kind jewellery made from found glass

When life gives you lemons, the optimistic make lemonade. So when Dana Kovanda and her son find broken glass in Hastings Creek, they don’t just pick it up – they make beautiful jewellery that’s unique to this neighbourhood.

Dana’s tumbled-glass jewellery – like beach glass, but tumbled via machine instead of waves – has just been introduced at the End of the Line store, where owner Connie Fay is confident it will be popular with neighbourhood residents and visitors alike.

The silver-wrapped green, clear, amber and blue pendants and earrings aren’t just lovely to look at, Connie thinks that some Lynn Valleyites of her generation will also get a kick wondering if the glass shard might be a remnant of one of their own evenings of youthful excess.

While the glass jewellery might evoke fond memories, the garbage that Dana and her son collect from the banks of Hastings Creek is a less romantic testament to human activity around the fish-bearing waterway. According to her sign posted by display case, glass isn’t the only thing they find – unfortunately, it’s not  too unusual for them to have to haul out items as large as office chairs.

The family passion for environmental stewardship has found a lovely expression in this Hastings Creek line of jewellery, so have a look while you’re at the End of the Line. If you’d like to clean up your own neck of the woods, consider North Van District’s Adopt-a-Street program (bottle cap cufflinks may be the next big thing!). If you’d like to learn more about the interesting history of Hastings Creek, read this watershed profile. And if you’d like to learn more about local creeks and their protection, check out the fine work of the North Shore Streamkeepers.

And if you’d like to know more about Dana’s jewellery, you can contact her at!

Get ready for LynnValleyLife 2.0

What could possibly be better than LynnValleyLife, your neighbourhood news source? That’s easy – LynnValleyLife 2.0, coming your way later this month.

We’re excited to be unveiling some major changes that will make the LVL experience even more user-friendly. We know that readers often visit our website when they’re on the go, whether it’s to check out the details of a community event listing or the address of an open house. So we asked the good folks at SplitMango (a web development agency headed by Lynn Valley’s David Miller) to build us a site that is “mobile responsive.” That means that regardless of what device you are using when you visit, the content will present itself in the most reader-friendly way. No more squinting and “zooming in” required!

We’re also introducing a bulletin board forum that will allow Lynn Valley residents to talk directly to each other. We know that if you’re selling household treasures, looking for a babysitter or hunting for a lost dog, it’s the people down the street you want to reach, not the citizens of Port Coquitlam or Richmond. We’ve really been looking forward to launching this “classified ads” section – because who doesn’t love a little buying, selling, and swapping, especially when you can shop local?

Another upgrade will be a re-organized Merchant Profile section that will make it easier to search out the shops and services you need. So if you operate a business here in Lynn Valley and haven’t yet gotten on board, now’s the time. Just contact us at and we’ll send you all the info you need to have your own page in our business section – for free!

It’s thanks to readers like you that LynnValleyLife is able to help local businesses, individuals and non-profits spread the word at no charge. We’re able to stay ad-free because our site is sponsored by Jim Lanctot and Kelly Gardiner, the top two RE/MAX realtors in Lynn Valley,* so your continued word-of-mouth referrals and real estate business will keep LynnValleyLife thriving well into the future. But don’t just sign on with Jim and Kelly because you love your neighbourhood news website – take a look at what previous clients have said about their work. You can be confident you’re making a great choice when you go with the LynnValleyLife team!

(*based on MLS sales in Lynn Valley, Braemar, Tempe, Westynn, Westlynn Terrace & Princess Park between 01/01/13 – 10/15/13).

New fitness club opens close to home

The Fitness Well – a public fitness studio within the North Shore Winter Club – is opening on January 13, just in time to help Lynn Valleyites with their New Year’s Resolutions. Up to three classes may be taken for free during the week of January 13 to 18; after that, classes can be taken in eight-week sessions. The schedule of classes can be found here.

LynnValleyLife caught up with Fitness Consultant Justine Simmons as she was in the final countdown to get the Fitness Well open for business. Here’s what she had to say about North Van’s newest fitness facility.

What is The Fitness Well, in a nutshell? 
The Fitness Well is a brand new fitness studio based in the North Shore Winter Club. We offer yoga, pilates, Zumba® and dance to all ages including family classes.

Do you have to be a member of the North Shore Winter Club to join The Fitness Well (FW)?
No. Both members of the NSWC and the public can register for classes at the FW, although the FW is owned and managed by the NSWC.

What’s your background in the fitness biz?
I have been a personal trainer and fitness instructor for over 10 years. I have specialised in yoga for the last five. Before that I competed in international level skiing.

What prompted the NSWC to open up The Fitness Well?
The NSWC was lacking in non-“sports” fitness. They have very active tennis, hockey and curling programs, but not a lot aimed at women and girls, nor people who enjoy non-competitive fitness. We hope the studio will be an inviting space for females mostly, but men are encouraged to join in as well.

What do you think FW clients will most appreciate about your facility?
I think they will appreciate the convenient location and free parking, the variety of classes for all ages, and the hand-selected instructors.

What’s ‘different’ about the The Fitness Well?
We’re the only public studio within a private club setting. It is a little exclusive, but not excluding, if that makes sense!

Do you have a target market for whom you think the FW would be a great fit?
Locals will enjoy the accessibility of the location, and we expect mostly local women and girls of all ages. We have surveyed our female members in detail and hope we are offering the classes, times and levels that they are looking for. That said, we also offer classes such as “strength and stretch” which are provide a great balances for hockey players and other athletes who need to minimise injury and protect their joints and muscles.

What words of encouragement/advice do you have for fitness newbies embarking on a healthier 2014?
Sign up with a friend, it makes it easier not to back out. You will look forward to seeing your friend even if you don’t feel like working out. Also, try out our free classes in our January opening week – there is no excuse not to!

Thanks, Justine! Anything else you’d like to add?
Those who have never been to the North Shore Winter Club may like to take a tour of the facility when they stop in. They may be surprised at how enormous the Club is, and what a great family environment is provides. Please speak to the front desk for more info and to sign up for the free classes: 604-985-4135.


North Pole coming to Lynn Valley!

Well, it seems that all the debate regarding high-rises, mall redevelopment and the like was really just a smokescreen. While petitions circulated and activists rallied, a secret development was taking place in the emptied Zellers building,  unbeknownst to all.

But we don’t expect a huge neighbourhood outcry. After all, how often does Santa set up shop right under one’s nose?

LynnValleyLife was  allowed behind the blue curtain this week, into the Zellers space that is in the process of being transformed into the North Pole by North Pole BC. Company owner Martin Miller showed us around the winterland village that will soon be bustling with traditional Christmas characters.

There will still be a free mall Santa, located in a ‘woodland’ just inside the old Zellers entrance. Those who wish to book tickets to the North Pole ($13.95 and up) step into a world of twinkling lights and fun activities.

Kids can decorate gingerbread cookies in the elves’ kitchen, read stories with Mrs. Claus, help the elves make toys in their workshop, visit with a snow princess, make their own gift wrap, write letters to Santa, and more.

Those who opt for a personalized visit with Santa get some scheduled one-on-one time with a Santa who knows just the right thing to say to each child (thanks to getting some info in advance from Mom and Dad), and go home with a small gift.

This is the fifth year that the company has offered the North Pole tours; last year it was at Maplewood Farm. Martin says he is delighted to bring the village indoors, where the weather can’t play havoc with the experience. He expects that once again the North Pole will attract visitors from all over the Lower Mainland and beyond.

Tours begin with the arrival of Santa to Lynn Valley Centre on November 23 (there will be free entertainment from 10:55 a.m. to 12:15 in the mall food court). North Pole excursions will primarily take place on weekends, but become more regular in the weeks leading up to Christmas. To assure availability, families should pre-book in advance, but impromptu visitors are welcome to inquire at the door to see if space is available. Group visits are common and special pricing starts at 10 people.



Green Coast Rubbish cleans up at awards night

Many congratulations to Lynn Valley’s Green Coast Rubbish, a local company that doesn’t just haul your ‘junk’ away … it finds good homes and uses for as much of it as possible. That dedication to waste reduction was recently recognized when the company was given the 2013 Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award in the Green Business category. Green Coast Rubbish joins other well-known  previous award recipients that include the David Suzuki Foundation.

It isn’t the first honour the company has received, as you’ll see if you read their LynnValleyLife Merchant Profile. But it’s great to hear they certainly aren’t slowing down any in their efforts to find ever more ways to divert waste from the landfill and incinerator.

These are some of the impressive stats from Green Coast Rubbish’s recent blog entry: “Whenever possible, we divert and donate materials to local non-profit organizations that can put them to good use (over 9 tonnes of goods & material in total, this past year alone). Since 2010, we’ve kept over 522 tons of waste materials away from our local landfills by recycling or diverting them (a 76% diversion rate), with our ultimate goal being a 100% diversion by 2020. And while our business is built upon helping clients effectively manage their waste, we also believe in consciously working toward bettering our own environmental footprint on a daily basis. In 2012, we managed to reduce our personal greenhouse gas emissions by 7.73%.”

Many congratulations again GCR, and remember, Lynn Valleyites, this company is happy to come to your home or business, so if you’re wanting a simple way to keep your own waste disposal as green as possible, keep Green Coast Rubbish in mind!


LV’s building supply landmark closing its doors

Whether you call it the “Irly Building Centre” or still refer to it by its earlier moniker, “Woodstop Building Supplies,” you’ll be sorry to hear this Lynn Valley landmark is shutting down operations.

Trevor Stephenson, the co-owner who founded the store in 1978, told LynnValleyLife that he first went into business in the adjacent lumberyard, which had been abandoned by previous operators. Trevor believes it had been run as a lumberyard since the 1950s; he says a six (not seven!)-digit telephone number is still written on the inside of the warehouse door.

Five years later, Trevor built the building supply store and was joined by recent Argyle Secondary grad John Horsnel, who later became a co-owner of the business.

Over the years, Trevor says they have served many longtime customers; about 80 per cent have been contractors and 20 per cent homeowners. He’s been in business so long, he says, that he’s seen some contractors through their entire career. As for himself, he’s still getting used to the idea of semi-retirement.

“I’m still in denial to some extent,” he says. But he’s warming up to the thought. “The beauty of retirement is the ability to be on your own schedule, not someone else’s. I’m looking forward to that flexibility.” That’s no wonder, considering that Trevor has been up at 5 a.m. for the past 35 or so years, in order to commute from his Port Coquitlam home to be at work by 6:30.

But it won’t be all play, no work. Trevor and John also own North Shore Door, which sells doors, windows, moldings and door hardware from its shop at 103 – 2433 Dollarton. John has been working full-time at that location for the past year, and Trevor intends to lend a hand to help the shop build its brand.

The owners have sold the property to a residential developer, a land use that Trevor feels is a better fit for that corner of Lynn Valley. They plan to close the lumber yard on October 31 (all materials are currently being sold at cost) and he says that from November 1 to December 15 the contents of the building supply sale will also be sold at cost. He hopes to have the business wrapped up by December 31.

Trevor says he’ll definitely miss his customers and the relationships he’s developed through his work. “It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle,” he notes. He asked LynnValleyLife to pass on his and John’s appreciation to all their longtime customers. “We’re awful thankful for their support over the years.”

Trevor, John and the rest of the Woodstop crew will certainly be missed by Lynn Valleyites, most of whom will never have known their neighbourhood to be without this stalwart landmark. On behalf of the community,  thanks for everything and we’ll see you at North Shore Door!

Council ponders LV town centre feedback

North Vancouver District Council is on the hot seat as it ponders a report describing options for the implementation of the Official Community Plan (OCP) in Lynn Valley.

The report was presented at a regular council meeting on September 23, in front of a gallery of citizens representing a wide range of opinions.

The OCP, which was passed in June 2011, projects the addition of up to 5,000 people in Lynn Valley over the next two decades, and opens the door to the development of a range of low to higher-density housing options within the town centre. In September 2012, Bosa Developments accordingly submitted a preliminary application that included a 22-storey tower in its proposed redevelopment of its shopping centre property.

The resulting controversy over building heights, traffic and increased density meant everyone went back to the drawing board – including the District, which launched extended public education and feedback events in mid-2013.

The results of that feedback are now encapsulated in the recent Golder Associates report, which is available on North Vancouver District’s Identity website.

Perhaps unfortunately for council members, the report notes that there is no clear consensus amongst local residents as regards to the preferred maximum building height. While many have stated their preference for no change to the existing neighbourhood, or the inclusion of buildings that are no taller than five storeys in height, one method of calculating the feedback indicated that the 12- and 16-storey building options led in popularity.

If that’s the case, it’s happy news for Mark Sager, who was hired by Bosa Developments to collect public feedback and work with a new architect to create a proposal in keeping with what residents say they want to see in Lynn Valley. Sager unveiled the new drawings in front of a crowd of approximately 200 residents at Lynn Valley Mall on September 12. All audience comments at that event were supportive of the suggested redevelopment proposal, but Bosa  Developments will not be submitting a preliminary application to the District until Council chooses between the options presented in the Sept. 23rd report.

Council deferred the vote after requesting that staff ‘expediently’ investigate the comparative economic impacts of choosing a five-storey height maximum over the other option, which allows for five through eight storeys, with the option of allowing for exceptions of up to 16 storeys in the town core.

Bosa’s revamped drawings include two 12-storey buildings and a completely redeveloped interior and exterior shopping centre. They can be viewed in the Bosa storefront in Lynn Valley Mall, in the former pet store premises, from noon to 6 p.m. every day except Sundays.

Restaurant adds some spice to the valley

Kevin Li has lived in many places – northern China, Richmond, Burnaby and finally North Vancouver – but wherever he is, he’s always at home in the kitchen.

Kevin and his wife Cindy Feng are the proud owners of the Wonderful Szechuan Restaurant, which has opened its door in the Ross Road Plaza after two months of renovation. Formerly a Greek restaurant, the premises now glow with a warm Asian ambience, with mocha-coloured walls and gleaming wooden floors.

They bring to the Wonderful Szechuan Restaurant two decades of experience – Kevin was a chef for 10 years in China, and the couple subsequently owned a restaurant in North Vancouver – and LynnValleyLife was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of their labours the day before they started serving customers. (While the restaurant is open now, a grand opening is planned for October 2.)

We had the chance not only to tour the sparkling premises, but to meet the couple’s children, William and Vicky, and learn a bit about the family’s goals for the restaurant.

Cindy explained that Szechuan cuisine is a branch of “Chinese food” that emerged from northern China. Cantonese food, which is served by most North Vancouver Chinese food restaurants, hails from the south. While many of the dishes are the same, Szechuan cooks are known for kicking up many of their recipes with the addition of spices.

However, that doesn’t mean that all the dishes are hot and spicy – there’s a full range, and you’ll know which is which by the little chili icons next to the menu items. The couple knows that many people, especially children, prefer milder seasoning, so there is something for everyone in the family.

We were able to watch Chef Li at work in the kitchen, and witness the skilful transformation of fresh meat and vegetables into a range of steaming, colourful – and perfectly seasoned – dishes.

We sampled their boneless sweet-and-sour pork, shrimp fried rice, hot and sour soup, pepper chicken on dry spinach, and sauteed vegetables. Each was beautifully presented, fresh-tasting and delicious, and quite an improvement from the eating-out-of-tinfoil-containers Chinese food we usually experience at home.

We are happy to recommend this new establishment to our Lynn Valley neighbours, and wish Kevin and Cindy every success in a location that hasn’t always proved an easy one for restaurateurs.

They invite their guests to dine in for a nice evening out, or take advantage of free delivery and order from the take-out menu for a relaxing evening at home.  Prices are comparable with other local Chinese food restaurants (dinner for four = $47.95), and there are a wide selection of daily $7.95 lunch specials. To learn more about Kevin and Cindy, read their merchant profile on our site.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week, at 1238 Ross Rd., North Vancouver. Call 604-988-9927 for information and delivery.

Lynn Valley gets first glimpse of mall sketches

About 200 people came out on Thursday, Sept. 12 to an informal presentation that brought residents up to date on the evolving proposals for the Lynn Valley Mall of the future.

While host Mark Sager, who is handling public consultation and overseeing the new designs on behalf of mall owner Bosa Developments, emphasized that the evening was not a formal hearing or open house, it did give attendees a peek at what may be coming down the pipe.

(Mark said that Bosa Developments has “total, complete respect for the process” and won’t be submitting a preliminary application until North Vancouver District votes on the manner in which the Official Community Plan (OCP) will be implemented in Lynn Valley. Click here for our post explaining the process that takes place once an official application has been made to the District.)

The evening started with a talk and slide presentation that provided a good history of the process, including Mark Sager’s own belief that Bosa Developments’s original proposal, which included a 22-storey building, was not a good fit for Lynn Valley. He explained that the design was based on the OCP’s allowed Floor Space Ratio (FSR) of 3.5, meaning that for every square foot of land one owns, 3.5 square feet can be built on top of it.

Mark showed computer renditions of what a 3.5 FSR would look like if the Bosa property was developed with the goal of keeping buildings as low as possible. The result, shown on the screen, was shoulder-to-shoulder buildings built out to the sidewalk,  each several storeys high. This, Mark indicated, was untenable and a design disaster.

Instead, company owner Nat Bosa agreed to take an economic hit and voluntarily drop the FSR to 2.5, which allows for building height to remain moderate, but still leaves room for plazas, green space and community amenities. (The current mall, by comparison, has a 1.75 FSR.)

Mark then introduced renderings of the new design, and explained some of the major changes that would ensue if it, or something similar, was approved. Important to note is that the proposed redevelopment under discussion would encompass the Zellers area, the old library, and the adjacent concrete parking garage. If passed, Bosa would purchase the old library site from North Vancouver District in a multi-million deal, money which the DNV would use to help pay off costs of constructing the new library.

Inspiring the design is a mountain village look that has outward-facing retail outlets at street level, which terrace back into higher elevations, including two 12-storey residential buildings. On top of this retail “podium” would be acres of usable green space for the building residents, while two new plazas at street level would provide gathering space for community residents.

A new, landscaped high street would connect 27th Street (where one currently enters the Safeway/Zellers parking lot) with Lynn Valley Road, while another new throughway would travel along the back of the current mall, providing a better connection from 27th to the new library and likely housing a number of ‘live/work’ studios for home-based businesses such as accountants, notaries public, etc. Parking for the redeveloped area would be underground.

The development would include approximately 379 living units, to be built over a five-year period, with the needs of Lynn Valley downsizers and younger families in mind. A 6,000 square foot community space would be included as well, for North Vancouver District to consider for uses such as a community theatre or North Shore Disability Resource programs.

This development would see a flagship Save-On-Foods go into the old Zellers location, while Shopper Drug Mart would move to the current Save-On space. The rest of the existing mall, he explained, would retain the same footprint and parking, but have a complete interior/exterior makeover, with more a more interactive, engaging street presence. He is looking at creative uses for the existing huge, flat roof, and hopes the 175,000 square feet can be transformed into a green roof or other attractive feature. And, to the delight of pedestrians everywhere, the renovation will ensure a better connection between the mall and Lynn Valley Village.

Mark is planning for a climbing wall to be situated in the mall, and hopes that existing tenants will be joined by such additions as good family restaurants and a cross-fit gym.

The floor was opened up to a number of questions and comments, all of which were supportive of the revitalization project. Linda Findlay, 25-year resident of Lynn Valley, had brought a prepared address.

“We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to live here,” she said, “Growth in our community is natural, and not any one group is going to get everything they want [in the design plans.]” Given the controversy that has surrounded some aspects of the project, she said “I would like to thank you and Nat for not giving up on Lynn Valley.”

Michael Edwards, a former president of the Lynn Valley Community Association, recalled  previous occasions in which the LVCA had spoken against developments, some of which were later approved. “It wasn’t such a shocker after all,” he said of the McDonalds going into Lynn Valley, prompting laughter from the crowd. He also referred to the number of failed attempts at Lynn Valley Centre revitalization over the years, and said that Bosa’s current sketches “are the most beautiful plan [he’s] ever seen.” He did not want to see “months and months of work for naught,” and emphasized that “we have no right to stop young families from living here.”

Doug Curran commented that he had been working with people in the Lower Capilano neighbourhood to help residents understand and envision the design possibilities that could be expressed within a higher density allowance. He said that he has attended a number of meetings and listened to residents concerned by the prospect of higher buildings in Lynn Valley, and notes that he has “heard statements without foundation, without logic, and prejudicial to the future wellbeing of Lynn Valley.” He encouraged residents of all persuasions to get more engaged and informed about the process.

Some residents commented that the current mall is ‘dying,’ and Mark agreed it was a struggle to get new tenants with the existing set-up. He says the tenant businesses rue the fact that the parking lot is often full – discouraging their customers –  while the mall itself is empty. Mark said his team has spent a number of hours out in the lot, talking to people parking there,  and finding that it is sometimes being used as a park-and-ride, and often used for people going only to Lynn Valley Village. The latter group, he said, commonly expressed the feeling that they did not like the design of the stairwells in the Village’s underground parking, so the mall design team has taken that into account and has allowed for more open, inviting stairwells in their own redevelopment design.

After the discussion, a number of sketches were unveiled and people circulated to look at the various views and floor plans, ask more questions, fill out feedback forms and, if they chose, to add their name to a petition lending support to the revitalization. If people do want to see change, Mark emphasized, it is important for them to express their opinions to North Vancouver District Council.

Mark will be re-opening his former storefront in the old pet store premises across from CIBC, so people can drop in to have a closer look at the designs and continue to make suggestions. Also in the works is a website for the same purpose. LynnValleyLife will publicize further details, and a variety of design sketches, as they are made available.

– Peggy Trendell-Jensen, editor



Starbucks celebrates 20 years!

It’s hard to believe, but our local Starbucks coffee shop has been in business for 20 years, and LynnValleyLife was fortunate enough to be there to celebrate the occasion.

Friday, September 13 was anything but unlucky for people who were in the shop just after 11 a.m. They were treated to a cake-cutting, a mini coffee ‘tasting’ tutorial, and a generally festive atmosphere.

More than that, however, it was lovely to hear a Lynn Valley Lions member, Mayor Richard Walton, and building owner Trudy Duller speak so warmly about the staff’s commitment to community service and the important role Starbucks has played in the neighbourhood.

That commitment was underscored by Dionne Richmond, who has been manager of the Lynn Valley Starbucks for the past six months. She encouraged groups and individuals to approach with community requests, saying she loves to get on board. “If you want us, we’re here,” she emphasized.

Local residents may not know that the Starbucks building has been owned by Trudy and Karl Duller, former owners of the Family Gourmet Deli in the mall, for more than two decades. In her short talk, Trudy laughed at herself for being a little tearful at the happy occasion, but said how satisfying it was for her to have such community-minded tenants.

She and the mayor later shared a laugh, too, recollecting that Richard Walton had originally wanted to lease the space for a business venture in his pre-mayoral days. Now, he told the guests, he is just glad to have Starbucks shops on hand to send people happy on their way to work in the morning, and complimented them on their high standard of customer service.

Trudy, who recalls early Starbucks founder Howard Schultz being present at the Lynn Valley grand opening  two decades ago, says another celebration will happen next year, when Pizza Hut will be marking its own 20-year anniversary in our small town. Like we said at the beginning – time flies!