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 danadykema@gmail.com. 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.” 


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.

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.”


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.

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.

Managing North Shore emergencies

The North Shore Emergency Management office has just released a plan to get residents thinking about how they will take care of their families if disaster strikes. This is part three in our series about environmental risks, wildfires, and the impacts on the North Shore.


Regional approach


A new director took the reins of the North Shore Emergency Management this past January. As Emily Dicken dove into the new role, she was pleased with the foundation built by the Districts of North and West Vancouver and the City of North Vancouver. As the risks around the province rose this summer with increased wildfire risk, it was an opportunity to see our regional plans in action. 

Emily Dicken

“The depth of capacity found on the North Shore supersedes a lot of municipal spaces,” said Dicken. “When municipalities work in silos, there isn’t the depth of capacity to manage large-scale events. On the North Shore because we have that tri-municipal program, we have been able to build incredible program capacity. We also have a huge depth of volunteer support we can draw on. We have people ready to drop everything in a time of crisis to help their community.”

As the province looked beyond the Interior to support evacuating communities, the North Shore was able to not only send firefighting resources to help, it was able to open its doors to evacuees. Residents of an Interior community came to the North Shore and NSEM supported with lodging, clothing, meals, Indigenous culture wellness – and even some fun activities, said Dicken.

  “People were coming to the North Shore because we had the capacity to support that,” she said. “It was an opportunity to test our functions and approaches without going through our own incident. We never really know what a response will look like until we’re in it. It was a chance to learn more without direct impact on our community.” 


Household approach


An early goal from Dicken was to build on the procedures in place at the municipal level and engage residents at the household level. The wildfire season was a fitting time to release the new North Shore Evacuation Guide.

“We know when people are prepared to evacuate is less traumatic and we know – even if you are prepared – evacuating is very traumatic,” said Dicken. 

“Given we had a potential for a devastating fire season and the impact on the forest from the looper moths I felt it was a great place to start with our evacuation strategy. We have a lot of work to do to communicate our expectations at the household level in an emergency. There is an incredibly rich and resilient evacuation plan and process in place for the various response agencies, but citizens don’t have access to that. What we tried to do is take the information we want people to know and break it down into action they can take in a tool that is easy to understand.”

The new guide covers the steps households should take prior to and during an evacuation. Most residents are not ready, said Dicken. People tend not to engage in preparedness unless they have gone through one before, she added. 

“It comes down to the household level to be prepared for an evacuation,” said Dicken. 

The guide begins by walking residents through the steps of their own personal evacuation plan. It covers what to pack in a ‘grab and go’ bag, as well as setting up a family and friends communication strategy. 

“We know there are some people in our community who will struggle with evacuations – people with mobility challenges, seniors who no longer drive and others who are in isolation,” she said. “There are gaps we need to close. This is ‘evacuation plan 1.0’ and it will evolve.”

The other key takeaway from the evacuation guide is to download the app Alertable

“Alertable will ensure people get information. The important part is not just the notifications that an evacuation is happening, there will be enough context provided that it will tell you where you can go safely.”

Dicken notes that Alertable is an additional tool with increased efficiency and comprehensive information but will not replace the neighbourhood or door-to-door notification will still take place by the fire department, police and volunteers in an emergency situation.


Neighbourhood engagment


Like many agencies, there have been challenges in the last 20 months for NSEM to continue its public education campaigns.

“With covid, it has been a lot harder. In normal years we would be in the schools doing presentations, we would be out at community gatherings and events,” she said. “There are these limiting factors that reduce the dialogue on what preparedness looks like.” 

NSEM has stepped up in important ways during this time. After the March stabbing at Lynn Valley Village, it moved out of its usual emergency support to leverage its provincial connections and resources to establish the Crisis Wellness Centre at Karen Magnussen providing mental health support for community members. 

When planning a response to a region or neighbourhood wide crisis, Dicken assures robust plans are well established. 

“There are almost no scenarios where we would need to evacuate the entire North Shore,” she said. “If you think of a seismic event, we won’t be using our bridges right away. We would look at other interoperable methods of transport like the Seabus until we know our infrastructure is stable.”

For a scenario like wildfire, the response will be measured. 

“There won’t be a mass exodus of the North Shore,” said Dicken. “What it will be is a very staged and focused evacuation where what we’ll do is move certain neighbourhoods out of the North Shore or into other areas.” 

If you take the time to plan, prepare your family, and download Alertable, you will be in a better position during a crisis, she said. 

“Intuitively, we know the best way out of our neighbourhoods. It can become paralysing if [government/support agencies] prescribe routes. It’s about creating a plan for your household, your neighbours and, if you work off the North Shore and have children, that you have a plan in place for them.”


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.

Stepping up for sick kids

Just weeks after leaving BC Children’s Hospital Beatrix Reilly spent her summer summiting 10 mountains. The nine-year-old is bagging peaks to bring IV medical treatments to sick kids.


A day’s play turned life upside down


Much of Reilly’s free time is spent outdoors. A typical North Shore tween she spends a lot of time in the forest. More than average kid, she thrives outside: tackling road and mountain biking, participates in a weekly forest school program and follows in the footsteps of her trail running mom. This is a lifestyle for the Lynn Valley family – her dad Ryan even runs  a business renting emergency locator beacons to weekend adventurers. It all stopped last April when a normal day of normal play resulted in a cut on Reilly’s knee and within 24 hours she was a long-term resident at BC Children’s Hospital. 

“Many people with this type of infection do not make a full recovery,” said mom Caroline. Severe necrotizing fasciitis kept Reilly in and out of Children’s and Lion’s Gate hospitals for two months. As her health improved she was offered a relatively new program that got her home and active again.

 “Towards the end of her stay she only needed to be there to get IV antibiotics,” said Ryan. “We were able to be a part of the Home IV program. It was a portable pump that went around her waist. She was able to go back to school, get back riding her bike. It gave her freedom again.”

The family was one of the first handful to take advantage of the new technology. 

“I was excited to give it a try because I wanted to see my friends,” said Reilly. 

As Ryan points out, for anyone juggling family, jobs and a sick child is difficult but a long hospital stay for a child is even harder during the covid pandemic. Visitors were very limited to only one family member. The addition of this new program frees up hospital resources and gets kids home and back to normal quicker, he said. 


From adversity to adventure


In March, before her injury, Reilly was getting excited about ‘peak bagging’ – that is the hobby of hiking to summit as many peaks as possible. The south coast has a number of informal groups and challenges encouraging people to get outside and active. In the early season with snow still on the ground, she reached three summits. The idea of continuing the challenge as part of her recovery led Reilly to launch her “Peak bags for IV Bags” fundraising challenge – on until Oct 31. The medical program is so new, Reilly’s fundraising will help with training and education materials for the Home IV program for staff at Children’s Hospital.  

“Peak bagging feels like an accomplishment more than a hike,” she said. “It’s an adventure. My favourite was Goat Mountain because it had lots of ropes and was really fun.”

Even with 13 peaks under her belt since March, like most kids, Reilly doesn’t always love hiking, said dad Ryan.

“There can be resistance, but getting to the top was her goal,” he said. “She like that we were tracking her peaks and that there was a leaderboard. She also liked seeing what [her mom] and I do for fun.”

Most of the hikes were done with family and progressed slowly to match Reilly’s improving health. When asked if the hikes were easier now, Reilly gave a clear ‘No!’

“I think you have gotten so much stronger, but you are choosing hikes that are also growing in difficulty,” chuckled Ryan, with a  look to Reilly. “The last week of September Beatrix reached Tim Jones and Seymour peaks for her ninth and 10th post-injury peaks.”


Big goals, big rewards


With the drive of helping more kids access the IV technology that made a difference to her quality of life, Reilly learned the power of setting goals. 

“I liked that I was raising lots of money,” she said. “And Slurpees at the end!”

For Reilly, the key motivation was her fundraiser but she also has other advice to get kids out, active, and bagging their first peaks:

  1. Good company – “Go with someone you want to spend time with, like a friend.” She noted little brothers don’t always make the best peak-bagging partners.
  2. Good Food – “Bring good snacks – like chocolate.” A rare treat for Reilly, who also finds gummies a good “but not as good as chocolate” choice.
  3. Good rewards – “Something like hot chocolate or a Slurpee at the end is the best.”
  4. Good timing – “I really liked sliding down when there was still snow.” A clear day also helps to enjoy the view and fully appreciate the summit, adds mom Caroline. 

To start bagging peaks all you need are some good hiking shoes, said Reilly, adding her mom carries a pack with an emergency blanket, safety gear, water, extra food and clothing, and a phone. For routes, fellow peak bagger and North Shore teen Harry Crerar has written a family hiking book

To donate to Beatrix Reilly’s Peak Bags for IV Bags challenge visit this page


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.

Virtual Fall Fair

With torrential rain in September and heat domes in June, Lynn Valley’s gardeners needed to adapt and innovate to make a garden worth celebrating! So many of you have. Short walks around the neighbourhood have discovered 10ft tall sunflowers – favourites of ours! – dazzling dahlias and whimsical wildflowers. The pandemic shift to gardening has stayed strong. 


Produce proud and sunflower successes


We want to share the gardening glory and hard work being invested in yards and patios. More than anything we would love to gather and look at your summer projects – woodwork, quilts and art. While we would really love to taste your jams, jellies, pickles, and pies, it doesn’t seem like the most covid-responsible idea.

Instead, we are putting together a digital Fall Fair – we want to share your hard work with our readers and Facebook followers. We are running a contest from now until Oct. 30 for residents of North Vancouver. We especially want to see the results of Project Sunflower!

We have four $25 gift cards to Maple Leaf Garden up for grabs!

Send us your photos in one of these categories.

  1. Best flowers/ornamental garden
  2. Best Veggies – garden or harvest
  3. Best basket or container of any kind
  4. Best under 13 years old – I grew it myself!

Here is how you do it:

Pick ONE entry per category.

Put the category in the subject of the email.

Email the photo to robin@lynnvalleylife.com – please send a SEPARATE email for each entry. For adults, there is a maximum of three entries, one per category and for children, a maximum of 4.

Include your name, postal code, phone number, age (if entering the child category), and any details you want to add about the photo.

Deadline Oct. 30, 2021.

By entering the contest you consent to receiving future editions of our newsletter, sent once a month. We will not distribute or sell your private information to others.


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.

Ecology anniversary

Five decades ago a very special flower blossomed above Lynn Canyon. Next month the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre will be celebrating its 50th anniversary of education and outreach for local kids, families, and visitors to our community.  Join the festivities starting October 2. 


Early vision


As British Columbia looked to mark its centennial in 1971, the government offered grants for community projects and celebrations. The District of North Vancouver was feeling ambitious and proposed one of the largest projects in BC: an Ecology Centre at Lynn Canyon, said Isobel Rennie, graphics and display technician for the centre. 

“The Ecology Centre was the first nature centre in an urban environment. It was built in the shape of a dogwood flower – BC’s provincial flower – to mark the centennial,” she said. “People were just getting into understanding how humans affect the earth. Going through old displays in the back cupboards there was a good vision of what is important and most show issues we still talk about today.” 

It is one of the lasting legacies left by former District of North Vancouver Parks Manager, from 1959-1993, Dirk Oostindie (1928-2019). His forward thinking was transformational for the district, bringing us Maplewood Farms, the Baden Powell Trail, improving (disability) access to parks, creating Canada’s first public skate bowl at Seylynn and leaving generations of families with the Ecology Centre. 

Dirk Oostindie

Dirk Oostindie

“He grew up in Amsterdam during the war years,” said Nellie Oostindie, Dirk’s widow. “He didn’t have much in the way of school for many years. We didn’t have books, we didn’t have paper. But there were other ways and he would go to nature houses and learn there. It left an impression on him. He thought we could use one in Lynn Valley.” 

With many Centennial project options, it was good timing some trees needed to be cleared for a rain runoff culvert in Lynn Canyon Park. The new piece of infrastructure left the perfect empty spot for Dirk’s vision, said Oostindie. 

The opening exhibits – housed in each of the five dogwood petals,  discussed land use, she said, displaying a polluted, devastated forest, a pristine forest, a forest – like Lynn Valley was at the time – impacted by humans, an exhibit on garbage and a theatre. The grand opening, and a subsequent Cub Scout visit, left a lasting impression on Nellie and Dirk’s son, seven years old at the time – especially the resident live raccoon.

I am surprised that he remembers that after 50 years,” said Oostindie, adding that last week as they reminisced together he could recall the film he watched and describe the raccoon den in detail. Decades later the Ecology Centre continues to educate and delight visitors.

“There are always families who don’t dare go across the bridge and this was something they could do,” she said. “And on rainy days people would go inside. People who plan to go have a background in knowing about ecology but on rainy days, you catch the people who don’t plan to and learn something.” 

The Ecology Centre was just one project of countless others, Dirk spearheaded to make the DNV more livable for its growing community. Oostindie reflects Dirk was quite pragmatic about the changes he brought to the North Shore. 

“He said ‘That’s my job, I am paid for it – and I love my job. He felt it was his duty to do it.”


More than a building


Most locals have explored the petals of the Ecology Centre at some point. It remains one of the most accessible attractions in Metro Vancouver.  The staff adapted and innovated early in the pandemic creating online programs attracting participants from around the world. 

“It is a place where kids on the North Shore come as they grow up or as part of school and sparks interest in the environment and teaches them they have a role in caring for the environment,” said Rennie. “I think it’s a really accessible place, if teachers want to bring their classes it is subsidized, entrance is by donation for our visitors and our weekend programs are very affordable.”

In a typical year, 88,000 people visit the centre each year. Many of the guests are international or from other parts of Canada.  Over the years that is more than 3.3 million visitors from 70+ countries. 

“For people who are coming to Lynn Canyon Park and didn’t grow up here it is a place to learn who to explore, how to be safe and respectful of the animals and forests,” she said.

Centre staff encounter guests who are unfamiliar with forests and hesitate – often with concerns about bears.  

“Most come here not knowing the forest has been logged before, viewing the trees as large, ancient and old,” said Rennie. “When they get a chance to learn about the canyon’s past through the displays and learn its a very different place than it was 100 years ago, it gives a better understanding of the environment today.”

The centre’s pandemic pivot brought Lynn Valley ecology education into homes here and abroad. The centre now gets frequent participants from the US, UK and regularly teaches a class to students in Japan, said Rennie. It has also led to innovation that will enhance local programming. 

“We have a new underwater camera we hope to offer virtual underwater discovery soon.”


Celebrating a golden anniversary


Join the Ecology Centre Saturday, Oct. 2 – exactly 50 years from opening day: 

  • 12 – 4 pm
  • Nature groups will join the centre inside and out, such as North Shore Black Bear Society, the Wild Bird Trust (Maplewood Flats), the Invasive Species Council of BC, Furbearers, Streamkeepers,  DNV Trail and Habitat, DNV Rangers and others.
  • With covid procedures, visitors can walk through the centre and check out vintage film reels plus there will be crafts for kids, a colouring contest and an outdoor scavenger hunt to take-away.
  • Help create a memory wall where people can share their Ecology Centre memories.

Week-long events Oct. 2 – 8

  • Guided nature walks
  • Displays at the café mezzanine from Walter Draycott’s collection
  • Crafts, colouring contest and outdoor scavenger hunt. 

To stay up to date on events visit their website, follow on social media or sign up for the centre’s newsletter (at the bottom of the home page). 


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.

Living in a looper landscape

Mid-July if you took a walk through the forest, you likely ran into hundreds of tiny hanging caterpillars. The larvae were lunching on hemlocks and other conifers, in the matter of weeks turning the hillsides from green to brown. Unfortunate timing also brought a heat dome to Lynn Valley and the result is a forest stressed and facing long-term deterioration. We spoke with UBC’s Dean of Forestry for his thoughts on looper moths, cedar die-off, and the future of local forests. 


Local impacts


The change was fast. The forests on Mt. Fromme and through Lynn Canyon were green – dry from lack of rain but still green. Then in just a couple of weeks, some ridges clearly seemed more brown and red than green. The quick change took even forest experts by surprise. 

“When someone told me about earlier this year I was quite surprised because I do spend a lot of time in the North Shore mountains,” said John Innes, a West Vancouver resident, professor, and dean of the Faculty of Forestry at the University of British Columbia. “The hemlock looper is actually quite localized, but where it is occurring it is significant. You may have noticed that the moths are now flying. We had exactly the same last year.”

Despite his many dog walks, it wasn’t until Innes flew over the area last month that he saw the full impact of the hemlock looper moths on Stanley Park, parts of Lighthouse Park, and the Lynn Valley area. Other portions of the North Shore remain largely untouched.  The native insect is in the middle of a three-year cycle, he said. They defoliate hemlocks, firs, and other trees. 


The loopers


“Normally the insect effects beginning in early July, so that is why you see very rapid effects,” said Innes. “The trees aren’t actually dead. The foliage is affected. The foliage has died but it is possible – it’s not a 100 percent certain but it is possible – these trees will recover in a year or two or a bit longer.”

As the North Shore forests are midway through a natural multi-year cycle that occurs every 11 to 15 years, some trees were also hit hard last year. 

“What we know is the ability to recover is strongly linked to the amount of defoliation and so we are seeing that if trees are completely defoliated there is a lower chance of recovery,” he said. “The other problem is that if the tree was affected last year, its reserve would be depleted. If this year it is again defoliated, that depletes its reserves again and it may not produce foliage next year and it may die.” 

There is some question of where we are in the looper moth cycle. The District of North Vancouver states we are in the last year of a three-year cycle, whereas Innes has a different opinion. 

“We had one last year, there is this year and we may get another one next year, and then it should die down again.”


The long-term impacts


Lynn Valley’s forests are not just dealing with a looper moth outbreak, they are also impacted by climate change and the sudden heat dome that occurred in late June/early July. 

“The heat plays a role in overall forest health – particularly cedars,” said Innes. “We are seeing over the years an increase in mortality for cedar across the North Shore mountains, particularly young cedars. 

“Within the forest, there is always some mortality. Like the human population, there is always one or two people who get an illness and ultimately die, unfortunately, and age-related mortality. Trees can reach a very old age but very few trees that grow in the forest actually reach that old-growth status. The majority die before then for all sorts of reasons, so what we are seeing is accelerated mortality. If it is bad, it can change the nature of the forest.”

Cedars are the cornerstone of North Shore forests. Without young trees slowly growing there will likely be a shift in the local ecosystem, he said. 

“There is going to be a problem in the future because there are no young cedars. There will be hemlocks and firs but we will lose the cedars are the oldest living trees in the forest and that will be quite significant in the future,” said Inness. “What we also can get is destabilization.”


The slope safety


Our mountainside community relies on the trees to keep the forest where it is – on the hillsides. The roots of healthy trees retain the soils that help bushes and younger plants grow – continuing the cycle. 

“Dead tree roots slowly decay. What we have seen is that it takes three to four years for the soils to be affected,” said Innes. “If you have a very strong rain or the soil is saturated, the soil’s ability to hold in place is at risk and you may see a landslide.”

The District of North Vancouver is aware of the shift in forest health. 

At this time, we do not know how many of those distressed trees will survive and we likely won’t know until next spring,” said Cassie Brondgeest, communications coordinator for the DNV. “There are many variables that will contribute to tree recovery including looper moth activity and future weather patterns. District staff are working closely with subject matter experts, our neighbouring municipalities, Metro Vancouver and the Province to monitor the situation and to determine next steps. This is a dynamic situation and much will depend on what happens next year.” 

Typically, if remediation is required it would involve replanting trees, said Innes. 

“We have a period of a few years where there is a high risk until the new roots gain enough strength,” he said. “It isn’t everywhere but it is a problem for certain slope conditions.” 


Immediate concerns


While slope destabilization is an issue to closely monitor, Innes feels there is an immediate concern residents should more fully educate themselves about: fire risk.

“Just because it is a rain forest does not mean that it’s not going to burn in the right conditions. And this year has given us the right conditions,” he said. “I don’t think we are quite ready. People in the interior are familiar and know about evacuation orders, but if that situation were to happen in the District of North Vancouver a lot of people would not know how to respond or what to do.”

Despite this week’s rain, the heat of summer and looper moths have created a situation that remains high risk. 

“Once trees drop their foliage, the red browns stuff is very dry and it does increase risk. If the trees are dead they will gradually break down and increase the risk,” said Innes. “In terms of the North Shore, the primary risks are the availability of fuel, dryness of the fuel, and the igniting effects. What you would be looking for, on the North Shore is the human risk.”

Big fires on the North Shore are not unheard of, he said. Exploring Cypress Bowl is one place where we can see the effects of local forest fires. He emphasizes we aren’t immune and need to learn more about fire prevention

“I was out walking and I was thinking that this is so, so dry and it would easily be set off by a cigarette.”


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.

Bears at risk in Lynn Valley

This past weekend, the plan was to kill Lynn Valley bears. Two traps were set up Friday night. It’s becoming an all too common problem. The last weekend in July a Lynn Valley bear spent its day as high as it could go in a tree, trying to evade the traps and guns of conservation officers. Neighbours of the ongoing incident were watching. One placed a quick call and soon Luci Cadman, executive director of the North Shore Black Bear Society (NSBBS), was also on scene, advocating the best she could for a bear with a death sentence and educating the homeowners with unsecure chicken coops (DNV bylaw require an electric fence) that created the situation.


It’s normal for bears to be around in the day time


The images and anecdotes are flooding social media – but bears aren’t new to Lynn Valley. These furry neighbours will – hopefully – always be a part of the community and we can all master more best practices to live alongside them. 

Bears have been a part of the community since well before settlers arrived in Lynn Valley. The headlines and viral images we see today aren’t really a matter of more bears, but of more reporting, said Cadman. 

“On social media, we are seeing more images as more people are out in the summer,” she said. “But the bears have been active since February.” 

Luci Cadman

We will always have bears in our community – always because they are here for safety whether there are unnatural food sources or not, it’s a natural place to be, said Cadman. 

“We are seeing a pattern of people being at home and Dr. Henry encouraging people outside. Especially in areas like Capilano Regional Park, Mosquito Creek, Braemar, Fromme Mountain, Lynn Canyon Park, there are reports of more daytime bear activity. I believe recreation is pushing bears out of the forest into the community where it is a little bit quieter. We see bears are just resting at the back of people’s yards away from the hikers, bikers, and dogs. They are seeking peace and quiet and going back into the forest at night.”

The society also noticed in 2020 the impact of closing provincial parks led to unsanctioned bike trails on Mount Seymour pushing local bears into neighbourhoods. During education outreach at trailheads, Cadman also has had a number of reports from the public of misinformed individuals aggressively moving bears from their natural areas and food sources with airhorns or bear bangers because the public wants to recreate in the area. 

“The bears in Lynn Valley are the more vulnerable bears, the mom, and cubs, the teenagers, older bears, right now there is an injured bear. These bears live on the periphery of our environment and can’t go higher up in the mountains because that is where the dominant bears are.”

When it comes to the dangers of living with bears, there are few. It is far more dangerous for the bears to live near us, said Cadman. In 2019, 542 black bears and 162 grizzly bears were killed in BC. 

“We have the statistics,” she said. “They are in the community without incident, their intention isn’t to hurt people and we know this because we get hundreds of reports every year without incident. It is very rare for a black bear to make physical contact.”

Even those bears people think are dangerous are not – statistics show a mother bear is the least dangerous bear – her instinct is to retreat from humans. They live near neighbourhoods because it is less dangerous for her – away from dominant bears, said Cadman.

It’s up to us, as residents, to facilitate cohabitation.  


Bears can learn boundaries


The NSBBS believes education will lead to our best co-existence with bears and the role the public can play has evolved over the years, said Cadman.

Photo by Tony Joyce

“These animals are teachable. They are very intelligent. Back in the day it was bang pots and pans and used an air horn but many of our bears are adapting. Don’t expect a bear to run away,” she said. “If they did that every time they saw a person, they would get nothing done. They are comfortable with people – at a distance – never step into their space. 

“Just because a bear is walking down the street in the daytime does not mean they are bold or aggressive.” 

If a bear does enter your yard, Cadman offers this advice: “From a safe place like a deck or window, with eye contact and a firm tone, speak to the bear [in any language, as the key is tone, not words]. It will usually move on. They can be taught this is not a place to be. Be consistent and do it every time they are in your yard. 

“We have had a lot of success with bears changing their routes by people doing that.” 

If you meet a bear in the wild it’s a different procedure and likely not the one you learned as a kid. The typical thought to make yourself large as possible, to glare and threaten the bear in a loud voice is incorrect as Cadman because it may make the bear feel threatened. 

“If you suddenly, closely encounter a bear on a trail or in your yard speak in a calm tone and slowly back away,” said Cadman, adding this behaviour allows you to demonstrate you are giving the bears their space to carry on.


Challenges leading to bear deaths


There are numerous challenges facing local bears, says Cadman. Some are institutional, like the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS) and local governments, others are more about individual resident actions.  

“People believe that conservation officers relocate bears,” she said. “In June of this year, in BC, 75 bears were killed. Only one was relocated.”

The false assumption by residents that bears will be relocated leads to behaviours that put bears at risk.

“We always try to educate and I have heard it before, ‘It’s not a big deal [the bear is trapped], it will be relocated like last time,’” said Cadman. “No, the bear will be killed, just like last time.”

She also struggles to get accurate reports on bears from the BCCOS so she can direct the NSBBS’s finite education resources to where it’s most needed. 

“If people don’t report the bears to us, we don’t know what questions to ask the BCCOS,” she said. “We can’t hold them accountable.”

The District of North Vancouver is making progress to be more supportive of bears cohabiting in the community but there is still more work to do, she said. 

“In January the district passed a bylaw regarding bear attractants and they are using it as a next step when our education isn’t working. First, we want people to talk to their neighbours, but if that isn’t working they can let us know or the DNV and we can provide education. We send a welcome package to all new residents to help them understand bears in our community. We are still working with the district to improve the waste bins. The locking waste bins are not bear-proof and continue to be a problem.”

Revisiting last month’s bear visiting chicken coops, Cadman is pleased to have the bylaw in place, as education didn’t seem to be working. 

Bear Season in long

Bears are in our neighbourhoods from late February to November. They need year-round support. The NSBBS is slowly expanding its small team of volunteers.  Donations are a quick way to make a difference. Self-education can be found on their website (new site coming soon). 

There are actions residents can take now to support our bear neighbours:

  • Report bear sightings online here for tracking, if there is immediate need text or call: 604-317-4911.
  • To report problem attractants use this online form.  
  • Remove all food as soon as possible: veggies, berries, and fruit. 
  • Do not install or remove bird feeders (taking in at night is not sufficient as bears are here during the day). 
  • Keep waste bins in locked sheds or in your home, if possible. Regularly, clean green waste and garbage bins with a vinegar or bleach solution, layer garden waste on top of food waste and freeze scraps when possible only placing them in the cart on pickup day. 
  • Burn off BBQs for 10 minutes and clean after each use.

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.

Blooming on Sunnyhurst

After an inspiring conversation with a friend, Lynn Valley’s Alexia Stack has decided to harness her blooming passion for gardening to support a local charity and brighten her neighbours’ days.


Growing some good


If you have walked through the lane behind Sunnyhurst Road you know it’s bustling with activity, from a Little Library to a physically distant, preschool Halloween street party. There is a lot of life happening on that small stretch of pavement. Resident Alexia Stack is going to do her part to make it a little more beautiful. Following her growing success as a gardener, she will be offering flower bouquets and seeds from her new farmstand – all to support the North Shore Crisis Services Society

“I wanted to do it last year but I didn’t have a purpose beyond brightening up the days,” said Stack, a mom and behaviour analyst supporting children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. “Over the holidays I was thinking of a plan to donate the proceeds. I have a friend who has been supporting seniors in care homes through the pandemic and she inspired me and helped me think of it from a different perspective of what I could do and where the money could go. When I got the plan in place, I got really motivated to get started.”

She has been busy packing seeds to be the first offers at the new stand. She hopes to kick off sales – by donation – Family Day weekend. The stand will be located in the lane behind 3185 Sunnyhurst. 

“I will start with seeds available – I have sunflowers, poppies, cosmos, pincushions, and I will be harvesting once or twice a week in the summer and putting together bouquets in the alley. 

The box will be locked and a clear sign of where the donations are going – but you don’t have to donate but all the money is going to go to charity,” said Stack. “I think a lot of issues go unspoken about on the North Shore, we live in a really privileged place and things like domestic abuse are pushed under the rug and swept away. We don’t necessarily see it in the community. I think it’s an issue that is present and we can support locally here in the neighbourhood.”

Stack will post updates in local Facebook gardening groups sharing the stand’s offerings throughout the growing season. 


Just get your hands dirty


The thriving garden takes place in a small footprint – six beds surrounding her townhome. Stack said her success is rooted in trial and error and lots of learning with her former neighbour Tracy Romano.

“I wasn’t a gardener when I was younger – I had two black thumbs for sure.”

Eleven years into her self-education Stack loves getting her hands dirty.

“I love to get my hands in the soil,” she said. “I think it surprised me how good I felt working with soil. I have this tiny garden – just six garden beds but I feel so much more connected and grounded when I can get out and work with the earth.”

A feeling she thinks others could benefit from. 

“Growing a garden in whatever space you have keeps you moving in the direction of tomorrow: a fresh start, a new hope for something better, a belief life is ever-changing,” said Stack. “This belief is helping me make my way through this never-ending pandemic.”

For her – and most gardeners – the first step is planning. Pouring over seed catalogues and schedules. 

“I have already planted sweetpeas inside my office since the beginning of January,” said Stack. “This year over the holidays I used photos that I cut out into small squares and I have put together almost like a quilt that I have pasted into my garden book so I have a clear visual of where things are going to go and I have the dates assigned so I know when to plant. I am pretty keen with the schedules so usually go with the first suggested date of planting.”

She recommends poppies, sweetpeas, cosmos, and dahlias for the budding flower gardner. This year’s focus for Stack will be to encourage density and to extend the blooms throughout the season. 

“I also look at annuals that benefit from being cut, there are a whole bunch of flowers like sweetpeas that live to be cut and produce more and some like pincushions that just thrive,” she said.  

For more inspiration and to get updates of Stack’s farmstand join the two North Shore garden groups on Facebook. 


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.