CBC broadcaster shares joy of Lynn Valley

A childhood dream was realized when a pandemic move brought CBC’s Johanna Wagstaffe to Lynn Valley. The well-known face of Canadian weather has been showing off our neighbourhood ever since. 


Early roots


Over the last year and a half, Lynn Valley has been playing a background role in some CBC broadcasts, as meteorologist and science host Johanna Wagstaffe broadcasts for the network from her home.

“I was so privileged to move here during the pandemic,” she said between live interviews for CBC about September’s Hurricane Fiona. “It was finding solace and falling in love with these trails when that was all we had. I feel lucky that I get to live here and share that with our audience.”

It had been a long time coming for Wagstaffe who first explored the North Shore as a girl. 

“I grew up in Ontario but both my parents immigrated to Canada in the 70s. My extended family on my dad’s side lived in North Vancouver,” she said. “As I kid we used to spend summers exploring the Lynn Valley forests with my grandmother – I have so many great memories of her teaching me about nature.”

With a growing family of her own and her parents on this side of the water, 10 years after moving to Vancouver, Wagstaffe has settled in Lynn Valley.  

“We realized it was time to get closer to nature. It was my hope that I could end up in Lynn Valley and I am so happy I did. This is our forever home.” 


Local micro climate


Now that she’s a resident, Wagstaffe and her expertise confirmed what many locals think: Lynn Valley has its own distinct weather. 

“Lynn Valley is unique,” she said. “We often get these systems coming in from the southwest and they sort of run into our mountains – Grouse and Seymour. They climb up the ridge on the southwest side and sort of get rung out. These little cells get stuck over Lynn Valley as they move from the southwest to the northeast. I love watching them on the radar.”

It doesn’t take too many clouds to lead to more rain. 

“We do get more rain but we also get more interesting skies,” she added. “I love watching the snowline – often we are the snowline – and I think we are going to see that again this year as we head into another La Niña. The difference between Lonsdale and Lynn Valley is huge. When I am in [Vancouver] I love looking over and seeing those little clouds that look like mustaches on our mountains. It might be a bit wetter but in the grand scheme of things it is more interesting and that is what makes it so much greener too.” 

No bad weather, only bad gear

With the local environment as a big lure to our community, Wagstaffe and her family make sure they enjoy it. 

“We are out every single day rain or shine. I have always been someone who isn’t afraid to go out in it – and moving from Ontario to BC – British Columbians are better at gearing up and getting out,” she said. 

Those that follow Wagstaffe on Instagram will frequently see her and her son Wesley out in local parks sharing regional weather updates from a Lynn Valley perspective.  

“I have a dog – Rodney – he has so many best friends now in Lynn Valley so he gets me out and bringing my son along,” she said. “It has been so exciting relearning what I love about weather through my son’s eyes. He hasn’t lost interest yet but I am sure he will find me annoying but for now, it’s so wonderful.”

The get-out-there attitude has made Wagstaffe’s job even more rewarding  

“I know that being out for every story I tell means a lot to people – the floods, the heat dome. Last Christmas, [CBC] had our open house again and I heard from people about the impact of experiencing the weather with them.”


Climate Changers


Field reporting weather stories has prompted Wagstaffe to add author to her resume (which also includes podcaster). Seeing firsthand the impacts of climate change inspired her to connect with children. Her third book – Little Pine Cone – was published this summer. 

“I knew after the back-to-back wildfire seasons of 2016-2017 that this was the next topic. I saw climate anxiety coming out in the students I was talking to – in a way I never had before,” she said. “I wanted to find a way to connect with them. Anthropomorphizing a pine cone is how I did it after it worked so well with a cloud in my earlier book. There are natural processes, humans have disrupted some but these extreme weather events aren’t all ‘bad.’ Climate change is enhancing them but there are good things about these cycles as well.”

Wagstaffe says her hope is to give agency to youth. 

“The part of my job I love the most is getting to talk to children. My first two books discussing climate change were written before I had my son, and after having him I have realized how important it is to empower them with knowledge. I interact with kids of all different ages – all the way up through to highschool – and climate anxiety is real and it is impacting young people in ways I never experienced.” 

She doesn’t want British Columbians to feel lost or overwhelmed when considering our climate future. 

“I have realized over the past few years that climate change is no longer theoretical. It’s impacting Canadians and it’s impacting British Columbians. My neighbours and my community are affected,” she said.  

Her latest radio special offers hope. Climate Changers aired in September. 

“It’s telling the stories of individuals who are combating climate change in their own way,” said Wagstaffe. “How small actions hopefully have big ripple effects. I am always looking at stories through the data and the numbers can seem scary. It is so reassuring to hear what people are doing on the ground now and how big a difference it is making.”

Her next project will follow a similar theme – with a local tie-in. 

“I can’t say too much but there is another exciting  [CBC TV] project hopefully launching in the fall talking about climate change and climate change solutions – I am really excited and you can expect Lynn Valley to be featured.”

Community connection has proven valuable to Wagstaffe and made the science she is so passionate about more accessible. By inviting viewers and the public into her neighbourhood, she hopes it helps form a solid foundation to help make a better world. 

“By opening up more and sharing the community I live in shows I am affected and also sharing the joy I get being here. As a meteorologist and someone who is so interested in the interplay between our relationship with nature and nature-based solutions, I like sharing that world and giving people ideas of how they can get connected to that world, no matter where they live.”

Locally, Wagstaffe’s latest books are available at Kidsbooks and the NVDPL.

Images courtesy of Johanna Wagstaffe and Orca Book Publishers. 


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.

New neighbours buzzing about Argyle

If you live near Argyle Secondary you may have noticed a bit of buzz around the school this summer. More than 20,000 new neighbours have moved onto the campus – and they are bringing a sweet educational opportunity for students. 


Pollinator power


A new bee hive was established at Argyle Secondary in mid-July. The project – initiated by new science teacher Magali Chemali – was fully funded by the University of British Columbia with support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Speeding in and out of a small circular hole on the second floor of the school, honey bees are hard at work establishing a colony that Chemali hopes will grow to 50,000 bees. The glass-sided hive stands, bolted to the floor, about the size of a door where students can pass by and check out their new schoolmates. 

“My goal is to develop curiosity,” said Chemali. “I believe we need to show students connection to build bonds and grow curiosity. As humans, we need to feel connected to care.”


Experiential learning


The hive is small by honey standards and will serve as an educational tool, rather than an agriculture producer. 

“There are so many ways to tie the bees to the curriculum – all the way from K [kindergarten] to 12,” said Chemali. “Students won’t do a ‘bee unit’ but it can be tied into learning about ecosystems, life cycles, reproduction, math – the hexagon shape, symmetry, philosophy, social systems like hierarchy, literature – there is so much written about bees in literature.”

While not native to BC, honey bees offer opportunities to engage in Indigenous ways of learning as well. 

“The bees offer an opportunity to observe and learn from the bees – it’s a way to use nature as a teacher that has been done here for centuries,” she said. “Students may have heard the example of observing a bear as a teacher – if a bear eats a berry, it is likely safe for a person. If it doesn’t, definitely don’t eat it. 

“Bees are a chance to try that look and learning. They are connected to the seasons, the weather. By watching the bees you can learn about what is coming.”


Full circle


The arrival of the hive was a full-circle moment for Chemali who fell in love with bees at school.

“I was living in California and volunteering at my child’s school,” she said. “They knew I had a biology background and started me on a bee-keeping project – I knew nothing about bees!”

The experience sparked a passion within Chemali that led to a lot of learning and eventually the creation of a company that builds and helps maintain hives. To date there are seven in West Vancouver schools and another is planned for installation at Windsor Secondary in North Vancouver as part of the same funding project as the Argyle hive. 

Bees face challenges

Another goal of the hive is to simply create an opportunity for more pollinators to help local ecosystems. Globally honey bees are under threat from a parasitic mite. 

“The hive is one step. A group of dedicated teachers here at Argyle are working together on a garden project which will include more pollinator-friendly plants, together with various indigenous plants,” she said. “I am feeding the bees [nectar] because I am not sure they will have enough honey to survive the winter. There are not enough bee-friendly flowers in the area to support the bees. Bees don’t like plants like roses – those are for us.”

The observational nature of the hive, with windows, can also be a challenge for the bees that require a warm temperature to thrive. To support them, the hive has warming wires and when not in use, covers to keep the bees warm. 

Previous installations of the hives have proven safe for students.

“Bees have a job to do – to fly and go to a flower and get to work,” said Chemali. “Bees are not interested in us – they aren’t interested in what we eat [unlike wasps].”

She expects the hive to more than double in size over the next year and will have about 50,000 bees when it reaches capacity. 

“My goal is to have students become bee stewards,” she said. “To feel connected to nature, to realize they have an impact and to appreciate they are sharing this space with another species.”


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.

Trees to be cleared at Rice Lake

Dam maintenance on Rice Lake will clear 200 trees and significantly change the shoreline of the lake. Metro Vancouver is currently engaging in public consultation about the project. In 2023 the north and south dams on the lake will undergo significant maintenance. The public has a chance to review and comment on the restoration until early September.


Review prompts changes


The public is invited to comment on planned changes to the north and south ends of Rice Lake through a public engagement process with Metro Vancouver until September 7. A routine review of the dams revealed they no longer fit their water licence and prompted a long-term maintenance and inspection plan, said Niki Reitmayer, senior media relations strategist for Metro Vancouver. 

“To complete this work, vegetation and trees next to each dam will be removed,” she said. “This will support effective regular inspections and monitoring of the dams and prevent roots from causing damage that would require increased maintenance.”

According to Metro Vancouver’s website, approximately 200 trees will need to be removed.  Most of these are small (less than a 30 cm diameter), and about 10% are dead and must be removed for public safety reasons, it says.

“The maintenance work will create new open spaces around the dams at the north and south end of Rice Lake,” said Reitmayer. “These new spaces provide an opportunity to enhance the visitor experience at the lake. Public feedback will allow us to do something meaningful with the new open space and it will be considered alongside technical advice and First Nations input.”


Public input


With significant land clearing required, the municipal federation is asking for public input on the proposed designs and for comments on how residents use Rice Lake. Metro Vancouver has a survey available until September 7. The survey provides some background on the project and the proposed restoration of the land after clearing and maintenance are complete. 

“In order to meet the BC Dam Safety regulations, trees and vegetation must be removed from within approximately five metres of the dam perimeters,” said Reitmayer. “The spaces near the dams will need to remain clear and open in order to facilitate effective maintenance and regular inspections of the dams.  No changes are planned along the Rice Lake shoreline, except in the immediate areas of the dams.”

The proposed designs look very different from the current shores of Rice Lake. On the south end, the small wooden pier will be removed and replaced with some shore access and public art to educate the public about Metro Vancouver’s water system. The north end has a proposed picnic area and lake viewing area. The concept has been described by Metro Vancouver as “celebrating what lies beneath.” 

“Celebrating what lies beneath is one consideration in the current concept designs,” said Reitmayer. “Creating awareness of the drinking water infrastructure at Rice Lake, which includes two dams and a regional water main, provides education on how our water system shaped the area and why we must protect it for the future.”

The proposed concepts do not reforest the area similar to the current trees and small shore pockets, instead the north and south will have open spaces to facilitate maintenance and inspection of the dams. 

“The new open spaces then provided an opportunity to work with the public, First Nations, and technical experts to create accessible, enjoyable, educational, and environmentally-conscious concepts to enhance the dam areas.”

The design proposed for the south end of the lake also includes a new interactive map. 

“The 3D wayfinding sculpture we are sharing as part of the concept designs is an interactive and tactile way for visitors of any age and ability to understand the landscape and how our regional water infrastructure interacts with the area,” said Reitmayer. “This type of sculpture would allow visitors to touch the contours of the lake, view the dam locations, and orient themselves within the landscape.”

 During the public consultation period, park users are encouraged to share why Rice Lake is important to them. 

“We are asking residents to share what they love about Rice Lake on a virtual comment wall,” said Reitmayer. “We will be sharing selected stories from here on construction signage during the maintenance work around the Rice Lake dams in 2023.”


Construction


The report from the public engagement process is expected to be complete in late fall 2022, with clearing work is expected to start in early 2023 and plans for dam restoration to be complete by spring 2023 and further site restoration throughout the summer.  

“Rice Lake will remain open during the maintenance and restoration work, but there will be crews and equipment in the area. There may be times where some trails are not available or where we will ask trail users to wait momentarily while crews and equipment pass through,” she said.  

To have your say, complete Metro Vancouver’s survey before September 7, 2022. 

All drawings provided by Metro Vancouver. 


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.

Getting outside and learning something too

We chose to live close to nature when we all made homes in Lynn Valley. As summer ticks along and we try to take advantage of dry(er), sunny(-ier) days by embracing our outdoor neighbourhood, there are a number of chances to learn something while we are at. The Wild Bird Trust at Maplewood Flats and the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre are offering some education programs throughout the summer. 


Wild Bird Trust


Nestled on the shores of Burrard Inlet, the Wild Bird Trust at Maplewood Flats has the goal to provide wild birds with sanctuary through ecological protection and restoration, and to support communities with education, culture, and reconciliation programs. Much of their programming is led by First Nations experts to provide learning opportunities to decolonize local ecology education.

July 16, 11 am-1 pm Basics of Nature Photography with Shou Ye Gauthier. $20

The nature walk and nature photography workshop will include a photo walk around the site and guidance from workshop leads on the technical aspects of lighting and composition when shooting nature with a digital camera. You can bring a camera or just bring your smartphone to shoot with. We welcome folks with no knowledge or lots of experience. All welcome.

Participants will have the opportunity to submit an image to our annual photography exhibition titled “Framing Our Relations: Annual Wild Bird Trust Photo Exhibition.” Participants will receive a print of your photograph(s). The photography exhibit celebrates and reflects the traditional and ancestral relationship of the Tsleil-Waututh and Squamish Nations to the land on which Maplewood Flats resides.

 Registration is required or emailing [email protected]

July 21, 7-8:30 pm, Native Plant Advocacy in Salish Lands hosted by Senaqwila Wyss. Free. Online

The Wild Bird Trust will be hosting an in-depth conversation on pesticide use in the Lower Mainland and its effects on local Indigenous nations.

Angelina Hopkins Rose is addressing threats to traditional plant gathering practices of Interior Salish and Coastal Salish First Nations People, due to BC Timber Sales pursuing a Glyphosate-based Pest Management Plan. Her research and advocacy have contributed to the resurgence of awareness about the importance of traditional foods and medicines, as well as confronting the lack of self-determination local First Nations have in their own lands. Angelina and her partner Ronnie Dean Harris will be highlighting the importance of access to traditional plants. Senaqwila Wyss is Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), Tsimshian, Sto:lo, Hawaiian and Swiss. She holds a Bachelors of the Arts Degree in the faculty of Communications, Arts and Technology, minor in First Nations Studies. She also holds a First Nations Languages Proficiency Certificate and Diploma in the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Sníchim. Senaqwila is the Coast Salish Programs Coordinator at Maplewood Flats. Register on Eventbrite for the online event. 


Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre


The Ecology Centre is offering mini camps, Treetop Tales and its Summer Nature Club. 

There are still spaces in three of its Mini Camps. Join Ecology Centre naturalists for three days of adventures, fun and outdoor education. Suitable for children ages 5 to 8 or 8 to 12. Each mini-camp costs $83.00. Get 15% off mini-camps with a family Ecology Centre membership. Please ensure you have read the Centre’s Covid-19 Policies, which includes their refund policies.

Phone 604-990-3755 to register.

 Take a Hike

Wednesday, July 20 to Friday, July 22, 1-4 pm

Ages 8-12

Go on an afternoon adventure through Lynn Canyon Park and beyond, learning about local plants and wildlife and playing games along the way.

 Deer Discovery

Wednesday, August 10 to Friday, August 12, 1-4 pm

Ages 5-8

Explore the realm of our local Columbian black-tailed deer, and see what it eats and where it travels through the forest.

 Eco-Experiments

Monday, August 15 to Wednesday, August 17, 9:30 am-12:30 pm

Ages 8-12

Dig in and discover what makes our ecosystem tick. We’ll investigate animals and explore the forces at work in nature with experiments, projects, and games.

The centre also offers the interactive storytime Treetop Tales for ages two and up, with an adult on the first and third Fridays of the month. This summer, Treetop Tales will be held outdoors in our covered back walkway. Masks are recommended for adults and distancing will be possible. Please stay home if you’re not feeling well.

July 15, Aug. 5 & 19th 10-10:30am, by donation. 

New this year is the Imagine and Explore Series. During these adult-participation programs for children ages 3-8, you’ll explore Lynn Canyon Park and enjoy learning about local plants and animals, both big and small. Each program in the Imagine & Explore series incorporates a walk, a story, and a simple craft to take home.

Tickets are $11 plus fees per child. You do not need to purchase a ticket for the accompanying adult.

July 23 – Hole in One – 10 am-noon, Register here. Learn how woodpeckers are an important part of the Ecosystem. 

Aug. 13 – Hum and Buzz, register here.

Aug. 20 – Going Batty, register here.


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.

Spring maintenance and heat dome preparation

What a spring – we had snow on the local mountains this past week and temperatures overnight are still hovering around 4° C. It’s hard to believe that it was about five weeks from now, last year, we saw backyard temperatures of 43° C. We have put together some tips to get ready for summer – if winter ever leaves us behind.


Heat dome


We live in a special place, on the edge of the forest at the edge of a city. We know that this intersection makes Lynn Valley special and the people who live here care deeply about our wild areas. However, there is tension between urban and wild areas and we have to take care of both – last year we spoke to the DNV Fire Rescue services about preparing our homes for wildfires

DNV Fire Rescue cooling kids off at Lynn Valley Park.

It may be unlikely we have another heat dome like last year’s extreme heat but the statistics have temperatures climbing and longer stretches of warm weather are becoming more common. A heat warning, as defined by Environment Canada, means daytime and nighttime temperatures or humidex values are expected to be higher than the average high temperature for 2 or more days in a row.

Here is what you can do to prepare:

Before:

  • Listen to local news and weather reports for heat warnings.
    • Know the humidex rating – it combines the temperature and humidity to indicate how hot the weather feels to the average person.
  • Find ways to keep cool before hot weather starts.
    • Arrange air conditioning and fans to help keep your home cool.
    • Find out where you can go to get cool such as public libraries, malls, and municipal cooling centers: last year the NVDPL opened for cooling, as did the Pipeshop on Lonsdale and there were additional misting centres. 
    • Discuss heat safety with members of your household. Have a plan for wherever you spend time – home, work and school – and prepare for possible power outages.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
  • Ensure you have sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), as sunburned skin reduces the body’s ability to cool itself.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of cool liquids before you feel thirsty to reduce your risk of dehydration and heat-related illness.
  • Ensure that your animals’ needs for water and shade are met.
  • Make sure you know those who are most at risk in your neighbourhood, such as the elderly, children and those who are sick or in need of extra assistance.

During:

  • Stay hydrated and cool
    • Drink plenty of cool fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty, and check-in with children and seniors to make sure they are drinking regularly.
      • Avoid caffeine and alcohol because they can cause dehydration, which stops your body from controlling its temperature properly
    • Avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day (typically between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.).
    • Dress for the heat and for your activity level:
      • Wear light, loose clothing to let air circulate and heat escape.
      • Always wear a hat and apply sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher before going outside.
    • Slow down your activities as it gets hotter. Move indoors and don’t work, exercise, or play outside for an extended period of time.
      • Take frequent breaks in a cool or shady area and use a buddy system if you need to be outside when it’s hot.
    • Check on your pets and animals frequently – make sure their needs for water and shade are met.
  • Check with your neighbours, friends and those at risk.
    • Pay close attention to how you and those around you feel. Following public health guidelines in your province or territory, check on vulnerable family members, friends and neighbours (such as children, the elderly and ill) who may require assistance.
    • Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke, can happen to anyone who stays in the heat and sun for too long.
      • Watch for symptoms of heat illness, such as:
        • Dizziness or fainting

          Lynn Valley asphalt temperature last June.

        • Nausea or vomiting
        • Headache
        • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
        • Extreme thirst
        • Decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine
        • Changes of behaviour in children

Annual Spring home maintenance


We would all love a low-maintenance home – and the reality for that to be the case, being diligent about the little to-dos helps avoid major repair costs. Now is the time to tackle a few projects outside to maintain the appearance and value of your home. 

  •  Check out the roof

It is vital to ensure your roof is free of damage. An issue with your roof, such as damage to shingles, flashing, or leaks, can quickly impact other areas. Look for missing, torn, or curling shingles and any shingles with missing granules.

  • Clean out the gutters and downspouts

Over time, gutters and downspouts can get clogged, especially if you have many trees and vegetation in your neighbourhood. We all know that clogged gutters can cause water damage and prevent water from being directed away.

Remove any debris, patch holes in your gutter with exterior grade caulking, and check your downspouts to ensure they are properly directing it away from your structure.

  •  Inspect the foundation from the outside

Your foundation is often the source of water issues in your basement. Do a walk around the exterior, check for cracks in the foundation, and inspect the exterior walls, siding, and brick for damage. If you identify issues, contact a foundation specialist to look.

  • Check seals around exterior windows and doors

The cold weather can cause cracks or harden the caulk around your windows and doors. Inspect the seals on all windows and doors and replace them as required. This will help prevent water from getting in and help reduce your energy bill. Replace any broken or damaged screens.

  • Take a closer look at the garage doors

Check the garage doors to make sure they are working. Vacuum dust and dirt around the doors, make sure nothing could fall and prevent the doors from working properly.

  • Check the chimney

If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, it’s important to check the chimney and the unit for any blocks or damages. Look between the joints of bricks and stones.  Have any fallen out? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Each signals water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence—a white calcium-like deposit that indicates your masonry joints are no longer repelling water but absorbing 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.

Spring Break in the Wild

As things slowly return to normal there are a handful of activities to check out during Spring Break and we are pleased to expect more to be offered as we head toward summer.


Wildlife Weeks


The Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre is offering both mini-camps and its wonderful Wildlife Weeks during Spring Break. Their camps are full (protip: become a member or sign-up for their newsletter to get an advance heads up for summer) but there are still in-person and virtual experiences for March 14-25 for their Wildlife Weeks. The suggested donation is $3.50 per person or $6 per family which is used to support other community organizations that share their knowledge during the Centre’s programs. Content is geared to ages 6+

“We have eight events, with six guest presenters,” said Cassie Allard, Ecology Centre education programer. “There are five online and three in-person events. We are so happy to be back being able to do something outside – to be able to look at some things,  touch some things, and even taste some things. There is a lot happening – the birds are chirping and plants are starting to grow.”

This is a great time to be out in the canyon with spring solidly on its way. There are signs of salmonberry and huckleberry bushes plumping up, skunk cabbage (one of bears’ favourite post-hibernation foods) sprouting and ferns unfurling, she said. 

“Our outdoor walks – are a bit of hiking,” said Allard. “There are lots of stairs so it is not stroller-friendly but babies that enjoy being in a carrier are welcome.”


Virtual events


Courtesy of Fur-Bearers

With the success of its pandemic pivot to online programs, the centre is reaching people from across Canada and the globe. Regular participants from the UK and New York join to learn more about our coastal rainforest, she said.

“The best chance to see some animals will be the Swoop and Soar presentation by the OWL Rehabilitation Centre.  I think the Canada’s Superhero presentation about beavers will be a good one,” said Allard. “Presenting for the first time for us is Dana Eye, a biologist who is passionate about rattlesnakes – but I don’t think there will be any live rattlesnakes at that one.”

At the Centre

If organized events aren’t your thing, the Ecology Centre is also open for visitors. 

“We have so many things going on,” said Allard. “The gift shop is freshly stocked. We have a colouring contest for Wildlife Weeks. We have two family scavenger hunts – one indoor and one outdoor.”

If family programming isn’t your thing, the centre has its gardening series launching this Saturday (scroll part way down this page for details). From starting seeds to babying tomatoes to protecting pollinators and much more are on offer. 

Following Wildlife Weeks the Ecology Centre will also be hosting its adult One Earth Series beginning April 2 which are suitable for those 15+.

A reminder: if visiting or participating in an in-person program, Lynn Canyon Park now has pay parking and residents can apply for a permit here

 


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.

Where local government meets wildlife

There has been a lot of planning and future thought put into the development of Lynn Valley and the District of North Vancouver as a whole. Lynn Valley’s unique mountainside location has more than just human neighbours. We reached out to the DNV to learn more about the policy and planning that is going on to protect and promote wildlife in the community.   


Policy planning


In July 2021 the DNV council adopted an OCP Action Plan. It was a process to check-in on the current OCP adopted in 2011. 

“ The OCP Action Plan includes a priority action to strengthen the resiliency of natural environments, with the goal of protecting and enhancing ecosystem health,” said Courtenay Rannard, communications coordinator for the DNV. 

“Council recently directed staff to develop and implement a biodiversity strategy to protect, restore, and enhance ecosystem health within our community, including protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat and ecological networks.”


It will support a number of ongoing projects like the
Urban Tree Canopy Project that provides native trees and shrubs to residents – free of charge – to plant on their own properties, she said. The Urban Tree Canopy Project will return again this fall. 

“As they grow, these trees provide shelter and food for many species and animals,” said Rannard.


Streams and creeks


The North Shore is braided with streams and creeks. These unique features are foundations of local wildlife habitat and their care and protection are top of mind at the District. 

“We’re in the process of developing an Integrated Stormwater Management Plan, which will improve streamside habitat, reduce pollution in our creeks and streams, and improve groundwater conditions,” said Rannard.

 The DNV has designated streamside (riparian) protection development areas which aim to protect the natural setting, ecosystems and watershed. 

Riparian areas are home to many different species of wildlife and serve as important wildlife corridors throughout the district,” said Rannard. “Wildlife corridors are crucial to promote the safe movement of birds and animals, as well as respite areas in urban settings. If a resident owns a home that falls within this DPA and wants to seek a building permit, they must first go through a review with the Environment Department before a permit is issued.”

There are similarly designated areas protecting other natural areas, and like streamside protection areas, require homeowners must first go through a review with the Environment Department before a permit is issued.


Bylaws and policies supporting wildlife


Some animal protections have been put in place like the 2020 ban on anticoagulant rodenticides

“By banning rodenticides where we can, we are actively supporting owls and other birds of prey by removing rodenticide from the food web,” said Rannard. “While owls are the most studied species when it comes to rodenticide, research has shown that many other species are negatively impacted by rodenticide including songbirds, raccoons, and coyotes, as well as domestic animals like cats and dogs.”

Another key management area is to reduce the amount of invasive species in the area. 

 “Our Invasive Species Strategy guides our work to prevent and control harmful, invasive plants such as knotweed, hogweed, and English Ivy,” said Rannard. “More than two dozen species of invasive plants have established in the District. Other examples of invasive species include the European fire ant, goldfish, and many others.”

In recent years residents may have noticed a change in our forests parks. There is more material left behind after maintenance, which is all a part of a larger restoration plan. 

“We leave large woody debris in our parks when we plant restoration areas,” she said. “We identify areas where large woody debris can be left as small mammal habitat. We know that small mammals need logs to run on and, more importantly, under. Where possible, we also leave wildlife snags (standing dead trees) in these areas to provide habitat for cavity-nesting birds and other species.”


Small acts, big impacts


As we live alongside wildlife there are practices homeowners can undertake to better co-exist. 

“We all have a unique set of responsibilities when it comes to living so close to the wilderness,” said Rannard. “Properly managing household waste is one of the most impactful ways that residents can help.”

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Just this week, Lynn Valley’s first bear was sighted awake from hibernation. 

 “Each year as bears come out of hibernation and wildlife becomes more active, we work closely with the North Shore Black Bear Society to educate our community on ways to reduce encounters between humans and local wildlife,” she said. “Keeping properties clear of attractants, only setting garbage and organics carts out in the morning (never overnight), and being generally respectful of animal habitat areas are all ways our community can co-exist with wildlife.”

While we take care of the biggest neigbours there are also opportunities to support our tiniest neighbours and the good news it means less work for homeowners. 

 “Simple things can make a big difference,” Said Rannard.  “For example, by not keeping your garden too tidy in the spring, residents can support native bees overwintering in the vegetation. Planting pollinator-friendly plants can also have a big impact.


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Healthy goodness Valley to Shore

Inspired by her own adventures in growing food led an Upper Lynn mom to take on the mission of providing local, quality produce to North Vancouver homes. All it took was meeting the right farmer to help launch Valley to Shore Harvest Boxes. 


Planting seeds


Healthy living and eating has always been a priority for Dana Dykema. When possible she buys local or grows her own food. 

“It’s been a journey of years for me changing how I think about food,” she said. “We don’t go on extravagant holidays because I have to feed our eating habit of buying farmer direct.”

That care for her own family led to Dykema to seek out a farm partner and launch a small business this past fall. 

“I was looking on Instagram and went down a rabbit hill when I saw the name Local Harvest. I thought: ‘Oooo I like that.’ I saw the trailer for a gardening course,” she said.  

Hooked by the quality of the online course, soon Dykema was making the trip out regularly to Dan Oostenbrink’s market garden farm. 

“I was going out to the [Fraser] Valley a lot to pick up what was seasonally available, to pick cherries, ” she said. “I have been frustrated with the lack of Fraser Valley produce on the North Shore. It’s so good and it’s right there. Why isn’t it in our stores?”

As she got to know Oostenbrink, and his family, and to experience the quality foods he grows, Dykema felt compelled to offer it to other families who might not have the time to source high-quality food. 


More than a box of vegetables


Last fall Dykema tested the CSA (community supported agriculture) waters by organizing a veggie box delivery as a Thanksgiving fundraiser for Upper Lynn Elementary. Students got to learn about local food security, visit the farm first hand and help pack the boxes. The interest in that project was the proof of concept needed to launch Valley to Shore. In the weeks since Dykema has been making the trek to Chilliwack and returning with a car full of produce. 

“It’s more than just delivering a product to the North Shore,” she said. “There is a lot more in what he gives in a harvest box than a typical CSA. It tastes better. There is nothing that compares. It’s also about education and building community around this food and seasonal eating.”

Dykema takes the time to offer inspiration and information with each box. Her social feeds chronicle the dishes she cooks for her family and later this month Dykema will be launching her website, valleytoshore.com, where there will be recipes, blog posts and more. 

“Because of the way [Dan] farms there is a large variety of foods available throughout the year,” she said. “Some of the ingredients are new to people so it’s a culinary adventure.”

Some items in the Harvest Boxes might come as a surprise. Those lucky enough to grab a Christmas box were surprised with Fraser Valley grown ginger and lemons – items more typically imported from China or South America. 

“Traditionally any lemon you get at a store has been sprayed with who knows what. This lemon is pure good food,” said Dykema. “The food tastes better than anything you find at the grocery stores. It’s picked at peak freshness – not picked before so it can travel thousands of miles and sprayed with preservatives. It is often picked as I am putting boxes together.”

Local Harvest, like a handful of other Fraser Valley Farms, is not officially organic. Having chosen to invest in organic farming practices but not the bureaucracy to get certified. In addition to organic practices, Local Harvest uses no sprays of any kind, as well as regenerative practices. Regenerative gardening also considers the emissions and waste when working the land. 

 “Knowing Dan, how he farms with the practices he uses brings me a lot of comfort,” said Dykema. “Being a farmer is not easy. People will look at the box and think $65 is a lot of money but I think we are valuing quality and responding to the value of people’s hard work and caring environmental choices. Society wants quick and easy convenience but that bottom dollar idea is bringing bottom quality.”

The past couple of years have been incredibly challenging for Local Harvest. The covid pandemic has limited workers (Dykema said this is a three-fold issue – limited migrant workers means stretching local workers thinner, no students applied to work the past summer versus the typical 100 applications Oostenbrink would get and income programs lead to more part-time workers instead of full farming season help). And then there is the weather. November’s devastating floods were felt throughout the Fraser Valley. 

“I think it has shown us how important these farms are,” said Dykema. “I was making a six-hour round trip to prepare the boxes during the worst of the floods.” 


Seasonal abundance


The winter is the slow time for harvesting in the Fraser Valley. Dykema and Oostenbrink are putting together one more box for a Jan. 18th delivery before taking a break until the Spring. Boxes are $65 and can be ordered by sending an etransfer to [email protected]. Boxes are then picked up Tuesday evenings and Wednesdays at Dykema’s Upper Lynn home. In addition to North Shore customers, she has people come from Vancouver and Richmond to get their share. 

“I love being hospitable and this is a way to do that by introducing people to a farmer and showing them a different way to take care of their families,” said Dykema. “I can’t invite all these people to my house and cook for them but I can help care for their families.”

She hopes in the spring to be able to offer 100 boxes a week. Dykema will launch a “taster” box in mid-late April, with hopes to kickoff the season in May. Details will be on her website (launching soon) and her Facebook and Instagram

“These dollars stay in the community, support local farm families and in return, I get nutrient-dense foods to feed my family.” 


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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.

Trail closure approaches second anniversary

As February approaches, a local resident is asking the district of North Vancouver why an important local trail has been closed. Lynn Valley’s Emily Graydon questions the two-year closure of Hastings Creek Trail and why it’s hard to get answers from the DNV.


Unstable


Significant erosion along the eastern bank of Hastings Creek led to the closure of the Hastings Creek Trail on February 20, 2020. A staircase and viewing platform have been undermined around the mid-point of the 1.3km trail which runs between the south end of Hoskins Road and Ross Road Elementary School. 

“It’s such a great trail,” said Graydon. “It is a beautiful nature trail and a great fitness trail. From where I live on Mountain Hwy, it’s part of the perfect five-kilometre loop. You see all kinds of people on it from kids to dog walkers. It has the equivalent [elevation] to more than 30 flights of stairs so it’s really beautiful and it’s like a gym workout.”

Today, the trail has numerous signs close to the trailheads indicating the entire route is closed, as the midway point is approached the path is blocked at the top and bottom of two flights of stairs where erosion has made the route unsafe. There is a well-trodden, unsanctioned bypass that can prove slippery and dangerous in certain weather. Graydon wonders how 20 steps can take two years to get fixed. 

“For a while, I would climb around but not everyone can. There are other trails in North Van that need repairs and are temporarily closed but open again,” she said. “Look at all the trail work that has happened in Lynn Canyon.”


Trail use up, questions unanswered


Shortly after the DNV closed Hastings Creek Trail, the pandemic began. All across North Vancouver park and trail usage skyrocketed from both locals and people visiting the North Shore. 

“This is a neighbourhood trail. It’s used by kids to get to school, by dog-walkers, by active seniors,” said Graydon. “The alternative is to join Lynn Canyon trails. Those trails are so crowded. I am one of those many people in North Van that got a pandemic puppy – those trails are too crowded – leashed or unleashed – for puppies. Opening Hastings Creek [Trail] again would dilute some of that traffic.” 

Taking a proactive approach Graydon contacted the DNV for its take on the trail closure. Along with a confirmation that the trail is closed for safety reasons, she received this response:

“[P]lease know that an independent engineering firm is looking into whether they can complete the necessary work and reopen it.”

Graydon wasn’t pleased with the vague response. 

“It felt like a brush-off,” she said. “They are just passing the blame for the delay onto someone else. They didn’t give me a timeline,  another contact, or tell me which company was ‘looking into’ it so I could follow up.”

LynnValleyLife had a bit more success reaching out to the DNV regarding the two-year trail closure, however, there isn’t much definitive. 

“We are working with geotechnical and hydrotechnical engineers, who advise that we keep this portion of the trail closed and prevent public access at this time for safety reasons,” said Justin Beddal, communications coordinator.

The site itself is proving challenging, he said.

“This reach of Hastings Creek is a natural watercourse and is subject to erosion during high creek flows, and the erosion undercuts the banks and trails. This portion of the trail is located on a tricky site. When water flow is high, erosion occurs at the base of the slope. The trail was built to the standard of the day over 20 years ago. Current District practice with respect to trails in natural areas is informed by emergent information, such as more frequent severe storms and high stream flows due to climate change, modern engineering understanding of slope stability and greater awareness of environmental factors.”

While the DNV understands why the erosion is ongoing and presents a safety issue. The repair plan is not as well-defined and challenged by fisheries habitat.

We are working with both geotechnical and hydrotechnical engineers on ways to stabilize the embankment. Studies from these professionals are currently underway,” said Beddal.  “Given the location, access for heavy machinery is a major challenge. As well, Hastings Creek is a salmon-bearing creek, so any work requires environmental permits and can only be carried out at certain times of the year. Staff, geotechnical engineers, and hydrotechnical engineers continue to meet regularly to discuss this area of the District and are working towards an action plan. We hope to have identified a path forward in the next few months. We expect that work undertaken would be contracted out.”

Aware that fish habitat requires more care, Graydon points out this will be the third spring and summer without the trail, plenty of time for a plan.

“I keep going and hoping this will be the time it will be open. Is there a funding issue? Is it something else? Is there something the community can do to push for this key trail to open again? I will get on board with anything to get this open – it’s been long enough.”


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Celebrating the growing season

As the grey and the rain threaten to wash us away, we are so pleased to shine some light on the summer and fall we had by announcing the winners of our Fall Fair contest. It was a challenging year with the heat dome raging on in late June. While everyone’s grass turned brown there was still a lot of life left to be found in gardens throughout Lynn Valley.


Congratulations!


We love that more kids are getting involved in the garden – whether it was sunflowers or veggies – there were great examples of kids doing what kids do best: Getting their hands dirty. Congratulations to Eileif T. for his colour squashes.  

It was a polarizing year for gardens, we heard of bumper crops and disastrous drought depending on gardener experience. Congratulations to Megan A. for her colourful and bountiful harvest. 

The mild fall has allowed some flowers to still provide pops of colour to burst through the grey. Every year Lynn Valley has stunning ornamental gardens. Congratulations to Alexia S. we love the array she produces out of her small raised beds.


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.