Shop local this season

At this time of year, through all the hustle and bustle there are holiday solutions right in our own backyards. From quality caterers to specialty artists to great small shops. Lynn Valley has a thriving scene of makers, crafters, creators and business people offering great options to make your holidays more meaningful and more relaxing. 

Handmade with love

A knife from Lynn Valley Forge

We put the call out on our Facebook page asking for local entrepreneurs to share their small local shops.  We got a bunch of solid suggestions that we have shared before like Folia and Lynn Valley Forge.  We also got plenty of new suggestions.

In an effort to keep the list up to date and have an opportunity for others to add thier businesses or recommendations, we are redirecting you to our FB posts. They have a great list of holiday solutions in the comments. Check out this one for local crafters and makers and this one for local small businesses and services.

Check out our seasonal picks from past years (not all small businesses may remain active). Here are our picks from 2021.

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.

Local authors make must read list

Just in time for the wet grey days of winter, the North Shore libraries have just released their annual list: the North Shore Writers Collection. With the help of the North Vancouver District Library, we have pulled out six Lynn Valley authors who are proudly on this year’s list.

A dark story for dark nights

With her first book on the list, Rhonda Mailey warns you might be left with more than a good story after reading her suspense horror novel Reginald

“Reginald seems to have a presence of his own. I hear from readers all the time and they tell me they sense him – like they are walking down the street and feel him hiding behind a bush. Even my writing coach: she was hearing noises in her bathroom and she thought that it could be Reginald in the walls,” laughs Mailey. “I thought: ‘For heaven’s sake it could be a mouse’.” 

The novel is set in a fictional BC coastal community called Einer’s Bay. When Leah, a busy career-driven Vancouverite, inherits a grand home she has experiences she can’t explain. With the help of local community protectors called the Guardians, they encounter Reginald – a demon born from despicable and tortured beginnings. 

“I’ve always had a little bit of a twisted mind. I am not a big fan of horror per se, I was more interested in mysteries. Reginald popped into my head one day and I thought I would see where it would go,” said Mailey. “I am not a writer who plans – it was really just the story that came to me. It’s about people. It’s about the characters and tension and the humanity of Reginald.” 

Mailey has some heavy hitters on her side. She worked with CKNW broadcaster John McComb to voice and produce the audiobook and artist Alejandro Colucci – known for The Witcher series –  for the cover and illustrations

Mailey has another book nearing publication and the sequel to Reginald is in the editing stage, plus she has two children’s books she hopes to make it to print in the near future. 

“I have always been a voracious reader. I remember being at Eastview Elementary and sitting under a tree to read Nancy Drew after Nancy Drew. I just loved to read,” she said. “I was quite touched to be a part [of the North Shore Writer’s List]. It was nice to have everyone together. It’s no surprise, there are a lot of talented and creative people on the North Shore.” 

More Lynn Valley authors on the list

My BIG Floofy Feet by Judy Bjornson

This is a sweet story told by a loveable cat whose extra toes and giant feet give him many abilities in life that he otherwise would not have had. Respecting both the similarities and the differences in each other, opens doors to making new friends, learning new things, and having more self-confidence. The storybook is intended to empower all children to accept and love each other unconditionally the way they are and to let their inner aspirations flourish.

Judy is a Master Trainer both for exercises in the water and on land. Due to her genuine compassion and extensive disease/disability knowledge as it relates to rehabilitation/movement, Judy was selected as a Program Co-ordinator by the Vancouver Brain Injury Association. In all aspects of her life Judy strives to positively affect the lives of those she encounters. She decided to write a book from a kitty’s point of view to communicate with young children because perhaps the most powerful path to healing for our children is through animals. A second book in the series of three introduces new characters with their own differences and teaches the value of how each of us contributes with our unique abilities to make the work a better place will soon be published. The illustrator, Sydney Kosnik was only 16 years old when she illustrated the book, winning an award for her illustrations and character design in New York.

On Foot in France by France Fehr

France and her husband Stephen had just turned 60 when they began their journey on the Camino de Santiago in France. On each of the 39 days, they knew they would always do three things: walk, eat, and sleep. The historic trail took them through breathtaking landscapes and picturesque villages, offering them magical moments and ample time to think. But, walking the 800 kilometres was also a challenge, especially when France injured her foot and quitting was not an option. On Foot in France is an inspiring story of courage, determination, and friendship on the path shared by countless pilgrims.

France Fehr was born in Quebec and has lived in North Vancouver for over three decades. She has travelled around North America, Europe, and Asia, taking many photographs to share on Flickr, Instagram, and her blogs. When she is not on a trail in Europe, she keeps fit while hiking or cycling in British Columbia. On Foot in France, a travel memoir of her adventure on the Camino de Santiago is her first book.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke

Jane Sinner, a 17-year-old dropout, sets out to redefine herself through a series of schemes and stunts, including participating in a low-budget reality TV show at her local community college.

Lianne Oelke has a degree in philosophy and works in the film industry – which may explain a lot about her debut novel, Nice Try, Jane Sinner. Or not. She lives, camps, and thinks about cats in North Vancouver.

Child Sex Trafficking in Canada and How To Stop It by Catherine Peters

Child Sex Trafficking in Canada is a primer or textbook and immersive study into the dark world of trafficking for prostitution in Canada. Its reach is universal as trafficking is a global problem. Research, resources, and solutions are provided throughout the book with the goal for the reader to learn how to stop sexual exploitation locally and nationally.

Cathy Peters is a former inner-city high school teacher from British Columbia. She is a wife, a mother of three remarkable children, a business partner, a public speaker and an author. Cathy lives with her husband Allan in North Vancouver, BC.

Philosophy’s Role in Counseling and Psychotherapy by Peter Raabe

The book’s purpose is to show how philosophy is a useful addition to the knowledge counsellors and psychotherapists already have. Clients often need a way to look at what is troubling them that peels back the layering put there by the way they are used to thinking about their problems. Philosophy gives them important tools to aid them in the process of discovering how to get to the heart of what they are seeking help for.

Peter B. Raabe received his P.H.D. in 1999 from U.B.C. He began his teaching career at the University of the Fraser Valley in 2003 teaching philosophy. He published a book in 2014 titled, Philosophy’s Role in Counseling and Psychotherapy, which became the textbook for a unique course he developed called Philosophy for Counsellors. Peter retired in 2021 and was awarded Professor Emeritus status. He lives in North Vancouver with his wife.

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.

Good Neighbour 2023: Maureen Bragg

North Vancouver and Lynn Valley would not be the community it is today without the tenacious advocacy of our Good Neighbour 2023 – Maureen Bragg. From protecting Lynn Canyon to opening up access to North Van’s foreshore, much of the land we routinely use to recreate is accessible because of Bragg. A touch shy of 90 years old Bragg has a passion for civic engagement that is fiery enough to burn for years to come.

From introvert to activist

Always keenly aware of news and politics, in the early 1980s Bragg was a mom and businesswoman who had a habit of enjoying her neighbourhood park. 

“I wasn’t a tree hugger – when I saved the canyon everyone put that title on me but I just loved it – loved the beauty of it. I felt that it was something that should be kept sacred and enjoyed by all people,” said Bragg. “It’s a magic spot. The beauty of the water rushing after the rain, the sun coming through and shining on the moss and the ferns.” 

One day a simple postal delivery changed everything.

“I hiked the canyon every morning before going to work,” said Bragg. “Then one day in the mail I received a colourful brochure from the district saying there would be 2000 houses built in the park including a highway going through the top of LV road going through to Hyannis. 

“I was appalled because it was at the third reading and I had never heard of it. Us locals always called it Lynn Canyon Park and the references to development were calling it Inter River. At that time Seymour wasn’t developed and we thought it was kind of out there.”

This put Bragg in a difficult position. As a realtor and director of the Real Estate Board, she was well aware she was about to fight against 2000 home sales.  

“I had never been involved in anything life,” said Bragg. “My husband thought I had gone stark steering mad because I was the type of person to sit in the back of a room so no one would ask me any questions and I would never put my hand up.”

Bragg was quick to leverage the community. Hand delivering hundreds of flyers sharing a news article and compelling residents to show up at the third reading of the development permit. 

“And to my surprise when I got to the district hall for the meeting there were crowds there. It was so big that the mayor moved it over to the school gymnasium down the street. Over a thousand people turned up. 

“We had no computer, no cell phone, no fax in those days. It had to be done by gumption, as they say, and word-of-mouth.” 

As Bragg distributed flyers she connected with another passionate family and together they spread the word. 

“At a public meeting, everyone has to be able to speak and over 300 signed up stopping the vote from being taken.”

That pause in the process led a small group of advocates to form the Save Lynn Canyon Association and fight a two-year battle. 

“We used to stand in the park and sell memberships  – a lifetime membership was about $1. We raised funds to get the work out and managed to put out four newsletters regarding saving the canyon,” said Bragg.

“We eventually made it a political thing and two and half years later we pushed it to a referendum,” she said. “Then we crossed our fingers that people would turn out and pleaded with people to vote – whichever way they wanted. We were successful. Six thousand people voted to keep it a park and 500 against.”

When the dust settled North Vancouver had the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve and Lynn Canyon Park as we know them today. Bragg credits many others who joined her in the fight for Lynn Canyon Park for the campaign’s success, including many passionate youth from Argyle.  

“There is a cairn in Lynn Canyon Park that shows the district council at the time that officially formed the park – including all members who first voted against it,” said Bragg. “None of us who actually fought to save the park are mentioned – we weren’t exactly popular.”

Tenacious advocate

From the outside, it looks like the fight for Lynn Canyon lit a spark in Bragg that brought her fiery advocacy to so many areas of Lynn Valley and North Vancouver. There is a common thread about all the causes she fights for: To make North Vancouver as livable as possible for all its community members. 

“Maureen has always struck me as the epitome of constructive activism,” said Dan Ellis. “While she’s not slow to gripe about politicians when they don’t measure up, her activism has always been about accomplishing something positive. And she’s been tenacious in her efforts, whether they be: to help citizens be heard in municipal politics, to create a community space at Mollie Nye House, to support community diversity through the District’s Official Community Plan, or to preserve public waterfront access through Save Our Shores.”   

As part of Save Our Shores Bragg helped fight waterfront homeowners who block access to beaches (all oceanfrontage below the high tide line is public in Canada). Their work removed more than 20 blockages to provide almost complete access from Whay-Ah-Wichen/Cates Park to Deep Cove – although a couple of, according to Bragg, politically well-connected homeowners remain in violation. The group hosted an annual beach clean up that on the first year filled four dumpsters and on their last (just prior to Covid) partially filled a single garbage bag. 

“We have made a difference. There used to be tires, old mattresses. The beaches were a dumping ground. Today we have beautiful beaches,” said Bragg. 

If you spend any time in Lynn Valley Bragg has impacted your life. As a member of the Lynn Valley Community Association for more than 20 years with five as president. She has helped with Lynn Valley Days, the Lynn Valley Link and the Lynn Valley Services Society at Mollie Nye. Her legacies extend far beyond the list. 

What now

Bragg has a healthy sense of skepticism for all forms of government and she urges residents to be engaged.  

“People live in a bubble and they are not concerned until it pricks their bubble,” she said. “People are not concerned until they are affected. There is not enough human contact. There is too much living online. We need human connection.

“We need people to pay attention to what is going on or we will lose. I live in beautiful Lynn Valley – I still walk the trails. It’s lovely and we must keep it so. We must pay attention. Although I saved Lynn Canyon Park, they can take a slice off for a road or something the district ‘needs.’ It will be a death of a thousand cuts.”

As Bragg talks about her community work it is clear her mind is on the future and she is deeply concerned about making Lynn Valley more inclusive and livable for all people.  

“I have been a strong advocate for a number of years – and it has fallen on deaf ears. We are now in crisis: We have not supplied housing for the people of the community – only for one section.

“The average family and low-income people that the community depends on – to clean the hospitals, serve our early morning coffees, pick up our garbage – the people that make a community work – and they have to do a brutal commute to where ever they were banished – as far out as Abbotsford and they have to commute hours to come here to make this community function. How long will they keep it up? Why would they? We are losing the community engine.”

Businesses are suffering and the quality of our neighbourhoods is declining. 

“They can’t pay staff enough. When you think of young people, the 20 odds, the young couples just meeting each other. Where are they going to rent? There is nothing. There is a housing cruising in every community – Coquitlam, Maple Ridge. We have done nothing for the average bunny. It’s ridiculous. It’s unacceptable.”

She hopes for more affordable duplexes and fourplexes designed to fit with the community streetscape much like parts of England where Bragg spent her youth. 

“I support gentle densification,” she said. “ There is a lot to do. We need rentals, we need co-ops, we need diversified housing. Unless the government offers incentives they won’t. Developers aren’t building for charity. They are businessmen building for profit. We haven’t had proper rental developments for 30 years. I feel sick every time a building goes up showing what it offers below market. Ten percent is nothing.” 

Bragg hopes more members of the public simply care a little bit and get involved in what they are passionate about. Perhaps you too will end up with a legacy that has shaped a community as much as Bragg. Her efforts have made Lynn Valley what it is today and will be in the future. But like Maureen Bragg, you can start small. 

“I am a political junky and tend to get carried away. I wasn’t talented or famous. I paid attention.”

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.

When Red Bull rings, hang on for the ride

When Kelsey Toevs was walking the halls of Argyle Secondary, snowboarding down Grouse or pointing her handycam up to Fromme she never imagined she would level up her passion to travel the world filming for action sports icons Red Bull.

The big screen

This summer in the late evening light Toevs watched in awe as her short film “Ready or Not” hit the big screen at Whistler’s epic mountain bike festival Crankworx. A short time later family and friends were screaming and a dumbstruck Toevs was making her way to the stage as the evening’s big winner. 

“It’s surreal,” she said from her Lynn Valley home. “I have never won anything. I was not even thinking it was possible. The goal was to watch something I made on the big screen – so I could say I got to show something at Crankworx.”

The festival knew Toevs was ready for the big stage even if she did not. Originally asked to participate in its photography competition, Toevs couldn’t make it work with her schedule so she took a chance and asked if there was a spot in the video competition. Not only was there space but the festival had already planned on asking her. 

“It’s a huge platform for videographers. In just a few months it has brought so many opportunities,” she said.

During the festival she was asked to be a second shooter for the women’s Red Bull Joyride – she said yes. After her big win she got a text message from action filmmakers Anthill Films and asked to join them earlier this fall in Switzerland working on a Red Bull production – Toevs screamed. “It’s insane.”

Finding a passion

The first camera that mattered to Toevs came into her hands for a high school photography class. A family connection helped her get a decent camera to start off on the right foot and Toevs did what most teenagers do. Give it a go but she didn’t think too much about it. 

“When I think back, I definitely thought it would have been cool to film snowboard videos,” she said. “But I also thought that wasn’t a job.

The camera became a bit of a constant companion as she explored jobs, possible careers and tried to figure out how to pay some bills. 

“I ended up going to Cap U for tourism and recreation,” said Toevs. “I did everything from lifeguarding to day camps to construction.”

In 2014 she was bringing the camera along on adventures she and, her now husband, Steve Vanderhoek were tackling in their free time. Often, that was Toevs tagging along as Vanderhoek hit local mountain bike trails. 

“I wasn’t into dirt jumping but I would tag along with my camera,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Toevs began to think there might be a future in photography. That passion had remained steady but not focused until she connected it to her interest in architecture and real estate. 

“Once I realized that architectural photography could be a career, I knew I wanted that to be my business,” she said. 

Her skills grew and, more importantly, her gear list grew. At the same time, Vanderhoek was hitting the trails, building connections and making a name for himself in mountain biking. 

“When the pandemic hit there was a lot of demand in real estate for video so I got quite a bit of equipment,” she said. 

Vanderhoek and Toevs were still spending their free time in the forests of the North Shore.

“I started playing around with Steve on Instagram and it began to be noticed because it was such high quality. I didn’t know anyone in mountain biking but people began to ask Steve who was shooting his stuff and asking for his recommendations.”

It’s a partnership that has allowed both Toevs and Vanderhoek to excel – he now has professional riding contracts and she is an award-winning filmmaker. 

Riding high

It has been more than a decade of overnight success for Toevs.

“It’s [action sports filming] has always been for fun,” she said. “I could take risks and try things. Steve and I would come up with some crazy ideas and we could give it a go because we had the stability of our other careers. He comes up with a film in his mind and I go out and learn how to do it.”

That strong partnership helped Toevs feel confident to tackle this summer’s ‘Ready or Not.’

“It was big, if it worked out we wanted to be able to say that just the two of us did that,” she said. “We work well together. I love what I do and he loves to do what he does. We are kind of each other’s managers. I helped him gain some exposure, he’s helped me with contacts and contracts. We will do it until we aren’t having fun – for now, we are keeping it going.”

The pair is preparing for another large-scale shoot in 2024, adding an additional layer by documenting the project to give insight into how they work together.

“My mom’s still a bit surprised I am getting paid to film bikes,” laughed Toevs. “‘Yes, mom, in Switzerland. Yes, mom, I will be paid.’ I like to prove people wrong.”

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.

Saying good-bye to the Black Bear

With less than a month until the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub closes its doors, owner Ron Slinger is grateful, proud and excited. The neighbourhood institution opened in 1997 with one dream – the same one that led him to open the Queens Cross almost 20 years earlier – to make a place his wife Bobbi would want to spend time.

If you build it, they will come

When Ron Slinger was hitchhiking through Europe in the 1970s he fell in love with two things – the girl that would become his wife and the charm and comfort of neighbourhood pubs.

Bobbi, Molly and Ron Slinger (courtesy of the Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub)

“There was nothing like that here,” he said from a corner table tucked away in the Black Bear on a recent Sunday morning. “Bobbi’s father was a bit of a publican in North Cave, Yorkshire. Here, it was a new concept. It was a three-year project to open the Queens Cross. It was very difficult to get the municipality to consider that it would be something different than a beer parlour.”

In the late 70s drinking establishments had a distinctly rough reputation but, Slinger and his business partner Dave Raht had an alternative concept.

“I loved UK pubs. We wanted to build something where our wives would want to go, where they might feel comfortable hanging out by themselves. A place where friends would stop by and share a drink, not to get falling down drunk,” said Slinger.

Slinger is very clear that his success at the Queens Cross and the future Black Bear was built on his understanding of one thing: what it’s like to be a consumer.

“I am not a chef, I am not a bartender, I am not a server – there’s a story! I once ‘fired’ myself from the Queens Cross after I dropped food in the lap of my friend,” laughed Slinger. “I know what it’s like to have great service, great food and to feel welcome. I am a facilitator and I can make sure we try every day to succeed. We may not succeed but we will learn and try again.”

The North Shore’s favourite neighbourhood pub

Building on the success and lessons of the Queens Cross (which was sold in 1996), Slinger and Raht opened the Black Bear in 1997. 

“You would think it was easier to open a pub almost 20 years later – it was not! Four years working with the municipality. No small business should have to put their livelihood at such risk,” he said.

The reward was to build the perfect community pub from the foundations up. Inspired by the original craftsman architecture that once filled Lynn Valley, Slinger commissioned the pub design to be warm and authentic to the neighbourhood. The success has been its track record: the public has voted the Black Bear as the North Shore’s Favourite Neighbourhood Pub for a record 27 straight years in the North Shore News’ annual awards. 

“I am proud as hell to be a pub owner,” he said. “We are so fortunate to be a part of Lynn Valley – to be a part of the birthdays, anniversaries, funerals and wakes. We are proud to offer the community their ‘Cheers’ moment where we do know their name and what they like to drink – that they are comfortable – at home here.”

Sitting in the sun discussing the Black Bear, Slinger is content. Even with the doors closing in less than a month, his excitement for the future is palpable.

“There is no bad guy here. It’s time. The building is approaching the end of its life. It doesn’t make sense to keep patching it up. It was not my idea but it’s season is done. I love it. I will miss it.”

“It’s time to face the music – there is too much maintenance on this old building,” said Slinger. “It’s going to be sad – but also relief. We can do it right. We can take care of our staff, and we can share a final drink with our customers.”

It ain’t over yet . . .

There is energy in Slinger, fiery in his 70s. It is easy to imagine an unstoppable force in his younger years fighting council to bring his dreams to life. Late last month Slinger was inducted into the British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame as the 2023 as an Industry Pioneer. The timing couldn’t have been better. His fellow inductee Kelly Gordon (2023 Lifetime Achievement) is also his new business partner. It all feels a bit kismet, he said.

“The Black Bear as a venue is tired – but I am not. I need to be busy. We are doing something else that will still be in the community. There is no way we could ever replicate the Bear – so we are not.”

Gordon, Slinger and his son-in-law Justin Thompson are launching a 150-seat (plus 50-seat patio) Romer’s Fresh Kitchen & Bar in Lynn Valley Centre this February.

“I am going to work until I am 100 years old,” laughed Slinger. “I am so excited.”

He says the partnership had to fight out numerous other concepts to get the space. His track record of local success was what won Bosa over, said Slinger. 

“I am so happy to live in this community, to work, to be here and make my own fun – my family is just a 10-minute Uber ride down the hill – if my wife was still with me [Bobbi lost her battle with ALS in 2021] it would be perfect. My reward has been this amazing life.”

See you later, not good-bye

There isn’t going to be much fanfare as the Black Bear goes through its final weeks. 

“It’s not a celebration,” said Slinger. “It’s a closure.”

There won’t be a party.

“The community has already said it’s thanks. Every time a customer comes in, that is thanks. Thank you to everyone who has kept us going for 27 years – that is all the thanks we need. I could have been out of business in a year. I am the proudest guy in town . . . but it ain’t over yet.”

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.

Who is our Good Neighbour 2023?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It is Good Neighbour season! For more than a decade we have been shining a light on those that make Lynn Valley the best place to live! We want to celebrate the community members who share their time and skills to make our neighbourhood better. We are once again looking for nominations for our Good Neighbour Award. 

Notable neighbours

Day-to-day we try to gather interesting and innovative stories about Lynn Valley but one thing that can be missed is the quietest of stories. The good that goes on in our neighborhood every day – often unnoticed beyond the person or the organization helped.  

We have people step up in times of tragedy, we have those that day in and day out give of their time, money, and energy. We have those that invest in our schools, our community groups, our churches. We have those that are staples on our streets who step up and help neighbours and friends whenever it’s needed. From helping refugees to outstanding coaches to people who are practically community institutions.

Community builders

The Good Neighbour Award has been going strong since 2012. We receive heartfelt nominations – some short, some long. Check out some previous winners and read their stories – we have an exceptional community! Last year we surprised Gillian Konst on stage at her own event – that was a blast. In the past, we recognized the great Bob McCormack. We were able to celebrate Matina Spiropoulos in 2019.  The year before, we had Linda Munro, a local who puts her hands in so many local groups. In the past, we have had Tim Green, a tireless supporter of the Lynn Valley Services Society and Molly Nye House. Dave and Wilna Parry are passionate advocates for refugees and immigrants. In 2015 we were proud to recognize Cath Bates Dimmock a volunteer with Argyle Secondary for more than 10 years! We have shared the astounding work of Lizz Lindsay and her charity Sharing Abundance that brings people together through food and programs that address food insecurity and social isolation. We love hearing about who makes a difference in your life and our community.

How to nominate your good neighbour

Who might our Good Neighbour be for 2023? Please send us a note telling us why you think your nominee makes Lynn Valley a better place to be. It doesn’t have to be long and fancy – just from the heart! Please send your suggestions to [email protected] before November 26, 2023. Lynn Valley’s Good Neighbour will receive a plaque, a restaurant gift certificate, and some well-deserved recognition!

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.

Maximize your Output

Building on work in professional sports, Olympic games and academic circles, Lynn Valley’s Ben Sporer is launching a book this month to take lessons he has learned as an elite sports physiologist to help others maximize their Output

Embracing opportunity

With more than 25 years working in the field of elite sport and human performance, Sporer’s new book is his version of a pandemic pivot. Embracing the calls to stay close to home led to reflection. The immediate changes to life and work were viewed as an opportunity. 

“My wife and I went for hikes in the trails around Lynn Valley regularly and recorded our discussions around performance and reflected on the things I’ve learned throughout my career,” he said. “We transcribed the stories, drafted a manuscript, and found a local publisher.  Fast forward 18 months and here we are. We’re really pleased to be at this stage and see it in print.”

The idea of writing a book had been percolating for a while. Sporer is frequently approached for his expertise. From parents of young athletes, athletes themselves, or executives who were striving to perform at high levels in work and sport, Sporer noticed common themes in their personal circumstances. Simply put Sporer wants individuals to focus on Output – not so coincidentally his book title – over the outcome. 

“Your outcome is the way things turn out, based on factors within and outside of your control. It is the result, so in sport this might be the score and whether one team won or lost. Output is an expression of your efforts based on things you can control. It’s what you deliver in your performance,” said Sporer. “To be a high performer, it is hard work, and you need to be prepared well. But there are times when you don’t get the outcome you prepared for, or that you deserved.”

Working with purpose

Barriers could be bad calls, incredible opponents, terrible weather or equipment failures. 

“This has really taught me to focus on output rather than outcome and on making sure you have a very clear idea of what defines a good performance relative to your objective. It is very easy to get caught in the emotion of a bad loss or a lucky win, yet neither of those are productive in producing sustainable performance.”

Whether on the snow – Sproer is a former director of sport science and medicine for Snowboard Canada, on the pitch – he is currently a vice president in the Whitecaps FC – or in the boardroom, he sees common challenges facing people who want to perform at a high level. 

“Time and time again I’ve seen reactive behaviours if the outcome wasn’t as expected, distracting people from their ongoing plan and preparation strategy, and often emphasizing things that don’t really matter,” said Sporer. “By clearly defining the output required to deliver on your objective, and then evaluating your performance against it, you can identify gaps and modify your preparation to get closer to sustainable high performance and achieving your objective.”

Returning the subject’s objectives is key said Sporer. Work backwards to determine the best path to success. 

“I’ve worked with many athletes and non-athletes and while each one of them is unique, the process is the same,” said Sporer. “When I work with individuals or teams, we always start with clear objectives. We put the work in to clearly and honestly define what their true objective is, understand what is required to achieve it and develop and execute plans to get there. High performers, whether they’re an athlete or not, don’t just work randomly on different things, they work with purpose.”  

Hitting shelves Oct. 24

He says the concepts in the book have been key to his own success. 

“It gave me a different perspective on my own objectives and helped me be really clear and honest about what they were. And the objectives weren’t just career-related… [they] included the family and all the things that we want to do together. By having clear objectives, always allows me to focus on being able to deliver the output that’s required to achieve them, and also helps me from getting sidetracked. It’s a constant process that I revisit regularly.”

This is a busy month for Sporer. His new books will be available online and locally through 32 Books and Kidsbooks in Edgemont. 

“Hopefully [there is] a deep run in the playoffs with the Caps,” he said. “It’s been great to be part of building this team to where it is today and I’m excited about the club’s future.” 

As nice as those wins would be, Sporer returns to his objectives and his principal to focus on output. 

“Honestly, the thing I am most proud of is the life we’ve created for our family here in Lynn Valley. I have a great partner, two amazing kids and we live in an incredible community with access to the outdoors. And to do so while achieving success in my career is a great feeling. I feel very fortunate when I think about it.”    

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.

Pineapples growing on our North Shore

There is a sunny window on the North Shore that is brimming with pineapples, plumeria and bougainvillea. Perhaps more typically found in Hawaii, the mini garden is finally bearing fruit in Lynn Valley. 

Mini-farm’s own Robin Thorneycroft has been growing pineapple plants in Lynn Valley for nine years.  

“It was an experiment to see what happens, I could never quite get avocado pits to take off, so one day I thought to try a pineapple,” she said. “Frankly, we had young kids and just bought a home – money was tight. I liked the idea of a “free” plant.”

From one little plant rooting in water, the family now has six pineapple plants in various stages of maturity and this time last year there was a small big surprise.

“Without question, with a harvest of two so far, I think we are the premier pineapple farmers of North Vancouver. We had always assumed that these would just be some greenery in our living room,” said Thorneycroft. “Last year, I was watering the largest of the pineapples – its leaves are about 90 cm long – and noticed in the centre there was a teeny, tiny pineapple growing.”

While Thorneycroft had considered it was possible to have the pineapple fruit after they were well established, she hadn’t taken any of the steps typically needed to trigger the fruiting process. 

“It was such a great surprise,” she said. “It took so long for the plant to produce a fruit we had no idea how long it would take for the fruit to mature.”

The answer: about six months over the summer for the first. The second pineapple which fruited last October took even longer. The winter seemed to slow down the process even more – taking more than eight months. Most unexpected were the beautiful magenta flowers that are part of the pineapple fruit, said Thorneycroft.

“This is something we have been playing by ear,” said Thorneycroft. “We could have maybe helped it along by creating a greenhouse. Our second pineapple really needed sun. Once we got the warm spell in late April it went from hard and dark green to bright yellow in about three days.”

Compost pile rescue

Growing pineapples from food waste is pretty easy, she said. 

“When shopping for your pineapple choose one that still has its green leaves in good condition,” said Thorneycroft. “When you want to eat it, carefully twist off the top. Next, peel off a few leaves to reveal the base and place it in a glass with the white fibres immersed in water.”

With frequent water changes the top will develop roots that can then be planted as a houseplant. 

“The plants have been around the house for so long, they have names – Spike was our first and Prickles our second,” she said. “It does feel a bit weird to say Spike was delicious but it really was. They have not been the biggest pineapples but they have been the most aromatic. Just like homegrown tomatoes, there is a big difference when picking one at the height of ripeness and eating it  moments later, compared to getting one from the store that was picked weeks before it was fully ripe and then endured shipping across the world.” 

Much of the advice for growing pineapples focuses on more southern parts of the US – suggesting it takes about three years to go from grocery store top to next-generation fruit harvest. Last year, a grower in the Yukon shared their approach

“This isn’t about food security or trying to be self-sufficient,” said Thorneycroft. “It’s more about bringing a little bit of the Maui to our dark winters. We now have plumeria and bougainvillea growing alongside the pineapples to bring a bit of an indoor tropical vibe.” 

She said her next goal is to get the plumeria to bloom and to see if their first pineapple will produce fruit after replanting its top – in about six more years. 

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.

A home run for dinner

The smell of grilled onions slowly drifts over Upper Lynn. The sounds of kids playing and bats cracking aren’t the only sensations coming from Kilmer Park these days. If there is baseball in the field, there are likely volunteers behind the concession. The Lynn Valley Little League tradition of fundraising through food is by far the best bargain for dinner in Lynn Valley.

A grand slam on and off the field

Four evenings a week and most of the day on Saturday, the Kilmer Park Concession opens its doors under the watch full eyes of

Michelle Buxton and Christine Halicki

LVLL’s concession coordinators Michelle Buxton and Christine Halicki (The full schedule is at the bottom of the post). They oversee hundreds of volunteer hours each year – every one spent for the same goal – to get more kids playing baseball. 

“It’s a bit about feeding the kids and parents before and after baseball but it’s important fundraising for the league,” said Halicki. “It keeps fees down so more kids can participate and helps buy equipment.”

One candy bag at a time, the concession typically nets around $20K. The fundraising helped reduce the fees this year in some age groups, said Buxton. That has translated into a record year for LVLL with more than 650 boys and girls participating this year, said registrar Becky Carlsen, adding the hard work of Halicki and Buxton is essential to making the league accessible. 

Remarkably, a hamburger still only costs $6 at the ballpark.

Best value

In a world of climbing food costs, the league is walking a fine line between fundraising success and affordability. As one patron said Tuesday: “It’s cheaper than Mcdonald’s and it helps the kids.” 

“It isn’t just for players and their families, we get hikers and bikers so happy to enjoy a burger after the trails,” said Halicki. “It felt like we had half the community here last Saturday.’

But it’s still a bit of a secret. What a fun evening to walk up to Kilmer, grab some food and watch some T-ball from the hill. 

“I think the prices are reasonable and who doesn’t love concession – there is something nostalgic about it,” said Halicki. “Maybe it’s remembering when we were kids. It is so fun to see a tiny kid walk up with their 10 cents to buy a piece of gum – or these days tap their parents’ credit card. For little kids, this is often the first place they buy something on their own.”

The menu at the ballpark has all the classic fare: burgers and hot dogs – both meat and veggie, chips, and Gatorade.

“The candy bags are huge,” laughed Halicki. “We switched to paper bags a few years ago to be environmentally conscious but the mystery of what is in the bag has boosted the sales. I try and make a mix of sweet and sour and always include one big candy.”

Other favourites that stand out are slushies and freezies when the weather warms up.  


Somedays the crowd around the concession may look large, but a closer look reveals that is not necessarily a line. It is the gathering place at Kilmer Park. 

“I can’t count the amount of people I have met at the concession,” said Halicki. “I have spoken with people I have seen at my kids’ school but never had a chance to talk with. I stay in touch with parents from past teams.”

Each team is asked to cover at least one shift at the concession with older teams taking on more. 

“It’s a bit of teambuilding for the parents too,” she said. “It helps break the ice and helps parents get to know each other better.”

It’s not unusual to see grandparents stepping up either. 

“The other day there was a Grandma on the grill and her daughter was also helping out,” said Halicki. “That is three generations at the park that day – how cool.

“Everyone volunteers for the kids. It’s very important that when the costs of so many sports are going up and up, Little League is accessible. Kids are outdoors, playing in their neighbourhood – it’s the best.” 

The Lynn Valley Little League concession is open weather dependent Monday to Thursday 5 – 8 pm until April 20th – and 5:30 – 8:30 pm after April 20th and Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm. The last day of the season is June 24th. With it being only about $9 for a burger, chips and pop – this is our pick for dinner this spring. 

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.

North Shore solution to take on bike theft

A local mountain biker is aiming to disrupt the rampant bike theft market tormenting Vancouver, and anywhere bikes are ridden, with hidden GPS technology and some mentoring from a Dragon, Fraser Vaage has launched Snik.

Reaction to inaction

When the pandemic slowed the job market North Vancouver’s Fraser Vaage saw an opportunity to tackle a problem plaguing biker riders like him: bike theft.

Fraser Vaage

“Bike theft is a real problem,” said Vaage, Snik co-founder. “Coming from competitive downhill mountain biking I had four of my core friends have their bikes stolen in a really short time. It’s a bad state in Vancouver – and really everywhere. We have seen a jump in users through the pandemic and an increase in bike value – there are bikes worth $10,000 sitting in unattended communal storage areas.”

The North Shore RCMP agree.

“It’s a problem here,” Cst. Mansoor Sahak, media relations officer for the North Vancouver RCMP. “I don’t have any stats of stolen bikes. But I can tell you that we get a lot of reports of stolen bikes.”

With more people on bikes and more people living in condos – some of which forbid bikes in hallways preventing in-unit storage – Vaage was frustrated with the rise in thefts. Friends were seeing bikes stored in ‘secure’ storage with multiple locks disappear. 

“Bikes are most vulnerable in these low-traffic public storage areas and more often they are the only option for riders.”

Shifting gears

With a solid background in biking and a decade in marketing, Vaage started looking at theft in a different way. The rise of technology like Apple Air Tags was a step forward but not a gamechanger. 

“No one is tackling bike theft in a new way,” he said. “I should be able to know when my bike moves.”

Three years later, Vaage and his team launched Snik on March 1. 

“It’s a bike security technology,” he said. “It is integrated inside your bike to let you know if your bike moves without you. It’s been engineered specifically for biking. When I hop on it pairs with Bluetooth and knows it’s me. When I finish my ride and walk away it unpairs and it is monitoring my bike. If it moves it triggers a notification and from there I can look at a live map, I can send out a community alert or I can send a text message with a live link to the police.”

The RCMP are intrigued by what they have seen.

“I think the device is a great idea to keep track of your property. We encourage people to find ways to safeguard their personal property, ” said Sahak. “This device would definitely help police track stolen bikes and retrieve them.”

Snik slides into the stem of a bike and is secured using a lock also used by the US military and CIA. It looks like a normal stem cap, said Vaage, but hidden inside is a battery and GPS system with its own cellular signal. Coming in at $150 at launch including a year of monitoring, it falls well under the rule of thumb to invest 10% of a bike’s value in security. After the first year monitoring will be $7.50 a month. 

“We want to make it approachable,” said Vaage. “We want to give peace of mind to someone with a $1500 commuter or a $10,000 downhill bike.”

Innovation and buzz

There has been a lot of interest in the new technology. Vaage is being mentored [not financially backed] by former Dragon’s Den funder and tech venture capitalist Lane Merrifield, who just so happens to be a former boss. Talks are underway with e-bike manufacturers to incorporate the Snik at the factory level and local police have expressed interest in using the Snik as part of the bait bike programs in Vancouver and Whistler. Vaage says they are particularly interested because of how the location information in the Snik app is also paired with proof of ownership. 

“When you get the Snik app you enter your bike details, from there it goes into a database, with all the parts populated and its registered with the serial number and the value so we have all that information. An officer told me that if a thief is smart they simply say it’s their bike and now they need to go to court to prove it’s not. That proof of ownership is essential,” said Vaage.

“If your bike is taken and you aren’t comfortable knocking on someone’s door – like the downtown eastside, at that point you call the police – say this is what is happening, here is my registered bike, here is the route they took, here is proof of ownership. The officers don’t need to be on the Snik app, you can send them a web-based link with all the information.”

The app will also engage the community to get more eyes looking for the stolen bike.  

“Officers don’t tend to spend a lot of time because the odds of getting the bike back a few,” said Vaage. “I am trying to empower the community here. You can send a message and notify the 50 closest people – they are green, the bike is red and there is a chat below. I am not trying to encourage vigilantism but in the case of a stolen bike knowing where a bike is key.”

And with accurate information, Sahak says the police will be able to help.

“We don’t encourage citizens to put themselves in harm’s way in order to retrieve their property,” he said. “We ask that they call police and let us help them.”

The built-in, rechargeable battery is designed to last for months on standby, he said.

“We have designed this to only use the battery when there is a theft. When you are riding it is on standby, when it’s stationary it’s on standby. It’s only using the battery when it is moving without its owner,” said Vaage. 

Once the Snik is activated it pings every five seconds to produce a real-time record of its movements. With communication every five seconds the battery is expected to last two and a half days but can be adjusted remotely to reduce battery use and extend battery life. 

“If it goes out of service or gets low on battery it will divert to the same technology as an Air Tag,” said Vagge, extending the tracking substantially.  

Vaage hopes that when used with other security devices like locks the Snik will give riders peace of mind. 

“People aren’t using their bikes because they are afraid they will be stolen,” he said. “Maybe I will go enjoy a coffee or a beer after a ride because I will know if my bike moves.”

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.