Planting for protection

Maple Leaf Garden Centres and the District of North Vancouver Fire Rescue Service have partnered with British Columbia FireSmart British Columbia to offer advice on best practices to keep yards looking good and reduce the wildfire threat to homes.

Where the forest meets the city

Lynn Valley, like a handful of communities in the Lower Mainland, is a borderland between the forest and the city. All across the North Shore fire services have been embracing the knowledge and programming offered by FireSmart BC to help homeowners protect themselves and wildland interface communities, like Lynn Valley, from fire risks. The DNVFRS points residents to the website and will assess homes for specific risks if requested. 

Asst. Chief Jeremy Calder

This year FireSmart is offering more options to help homeowners landscape their yards with options more suitable for communities like ours. West Vancouver’s Asst. Chief of Fire Prevention Jeremy Calder brought the program to Maple Leaf Garden Centres.

“What you plant and where you plant it matters when it comes to protecting your home from a wildfire,” said Calder. “There are no fireproof plants, but there are FireSmart ones that are less prone to burning than others but it’s hard to figure out exactly what those are and what’s right for our neighbourhood. The FireSmart Plant Program BC has already gone through and identified what plants are good for what zones and which are fire smart.”

In turn, grants have provided funding for that information to be given directly to gardeners via plant and shelf tags at Maple Leaf Garden Centres. While Lynn Valley doesn’t have the same risk factors as the Okanagan, the weather and seasonal changes of recent years should have residents thinking, said Calder.

“Our ecology is changing and so who knows what it’s going to look like in five to 12 years from now,” said Calder. “We need to do what we can now to prevent wildfires that not only come from the wildland into the community but from the community in the wildland.

It’s probably more likely that our communities are going to start a wildfire that’s going to run up into the mountains as opposed to a wildfire coming over the mountains into our community. But the best protection that we can do is protect our homes. The FireSmart principle is kind of from the roof down and working on your properties.”

Get FireSmart

Calder has a practical approach. He is aware that homeowners have finite resources and time. He encourages gaining a bit of knowledge and making the best choices possible. 

“These might be long-term projects for people. We are not saying re-roof your house today but if re-roofing, I want people to consider fire-resistant materials. And then, of course, the landscaping. This is something that everyone can do. We all have landscaping around our homes and FireSmart is trying to get the right information and to make it as easy as possible for everyone.”

One of the easiest ways to get people thinking about FireSmart landscapes is the place they are making plant decisions: local garden centres.

“This is a new program for us,” said Robert Talbot, nursery supervisor for Maple Leaf Garden Centre’s Lynn Valley store. “I think it’s another good layer of education we can offer.”

He also suggests gardeners turn to the FireSmart Landscaping Hub website to understand the FIresmart principles of planting. 

“Sometimes it might be about making plant choices but it also might be about where you are going to plant that plant,” he said. “When I talk about avoiding resinous plants you may think of large trees like firs or cedars – those aren’t likely close to your home. But will you think of lavender? Rosemary? Or eucalyptus? They are more flammable so keep them out of the immediate zone [0 to 1.5m from your home].

Tidy up tinder

There have been reports across the North Shore that it was a brutal winter for cedar and juniper hedges. Many have died and are presently sitting tinder dry in local yards. 

“Even normally those green cedar hedges, if you put your hand inside they’re going to be dry. Everything is fuel,” said Calder. “If we can keep it green, that’s great. If we’ve got dead materials and we have the ability to remove them, I would say remove any dead materials so that they do not pile up near buildings.”

Small actions can make a big difference. Past summers have seen North Shore firefighters deployed to forest fire zones to help with structure protection. Those experiences have taught valuable lessons to local crews to better protect communities.  

“We have sprinkler protection like we do throughout BC. We can go in and we can create humidity zone bubbles around a home to fight those embers that are showering in by extinguishing them by the humidity. But we have to triage a community. If we go to a house and we want to do the sprinkler protection, but we see that the eaves are filled with pine needles and that there’s a bunch of combustible materials on a deck and a mass of cedar hedges all around the house, we’re probably not going to be able to do anything. So we’ve got a triage review saying, let’s move on to the next home because they haven’t done anything to make themselves more resilient.”

Re-landscaping likely isn’t in the cards for most people right off the bat but affordable impactful acts are to remove debris and clean up yards. 

“Keeping our lawns neat [under 10 cm] and green if possible,” said Calder. “Clean out your eaves of leaves and pine needles. Remove vegetation that allows a fire to climb up the landscape like into a tree and into your home. These large trees, like the large cedar trees in Lynn Valley, aren’t really a problem. I know I have cedar trees on my property and I try to keep the ladder fuel trimmed. So if you prune your lower branches to two meters above the ground that’s going to prevent fire transfer.”

When it comes to planting the options are varied with native species playing a large role in the FireSmart choices. Many of those options may be available from the Coast Salish Plant Nursery in the Maplewood Flats Conservation Area, while Maple Leaf Garden Centres have some FireSmart planting information on hand. 

“We’re heading into a hot summer it’s something we should be thinking about,” said Talbot.

“It’s information for you to make yourselves more resilient and we need to respect our changing environment,” said Calder. “Everyone has bills to pay and families to raise and food to cook and jobs to go to. We don’t have all the time in the world, so we do what we can.”

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.

Staying safe on local waterways

We are pleased to partner with Argyle Secondary School’s journalism class for some student articles. First up: Oscar Robindell! 

As the weather heats up, students enjoy their summer break, and tourists flock to Vancouver, Lynn Creek and other rivers and lakes become popular spots to cool down. However, the shimmering cool water hides great danger, and a fun day with friends can quickly turn into tragedy.

From rivers to the sea

Paul DeGrace

First responders continue to attend many calls each year from swimmers and boaters in distress, and Lynn Creek alone has claimed three lives since 2016, two of them youth. Being prepared and knowledgeable will avoid an adventure that could end in injury or even death. “Despite these examples, this is not to say that swimming anywhere in the North Shore is unsafe. Residents of Lynn Valley are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful lakes, rivers, and ocean, and while it is key to be aware of danger, swimming and boating can be safe activities with proper precautions.

Both rivers and the ocean present their own sets of risks. Paul DeGrace of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue says that people don’t appreciate how big of a factor the winds, currents and tides are. 

“Even in an area that’s right in front of North Van on the beaches there, the currents can be very strong and so can the wind.” he said. “So we get a lot of people who are out on a paddle board, and they just think, oh, ‘I’m just going to go out a hundred meters from shore, I’m right there and can see everyone.’ And all of a sudden, the wind has picked up or the tide is flooding and it’s pushing them toward the bridge.” 

He said that not being apathetic about the danger of being out from shore is key, and that the shipping lanes and under the bridges are very dangerous for a paddleboard or kayak.

 “If you are on the water, it is having a life jacket, although most people on paddle board and kayaks don’t tend to have life jackets, even though they’re supposed to.”

Close calls

Rivers like Lynn Creek are equally dangerous, and with the rise of social media, Lynn Valley has gained attention internationally as a cliff-jumping spot. Cliff jumping is not safe, and many have died on the North Shore as a result of it, yet it remains a popular activity for teens and young adults.

 “August last year, I was cliff jumping at Lynn Canyon,” said Lucas Fleet, a recent graduate of Argyle Secondary. “There was a jump by 90-foot pool, even before where the big jumps start. I had done the jump 10 or 15 times before, with a wall run then a front flip, but that time I got sloppy and unlucky because I had done it so many times I forgot there was danger. I did the front flip but I landed in a very shallow part with rocks so I hit my kneecap on the rock.”

Luckily, he was able to walk out and make it to the rangers, but ended up with a broken kneecap that put him in crutches for three weeks. Fleet says to be careful and that many of the pools have hidden logs brought in from the winter, and may be very shallow. 

“Cliff jumping alone is probably one of the most dangerous things that you can do,” said Fleet, who is thankful he had friends there to help him.

Local knowledge

Before you go out on the water, please ensure you have a good understanding of the area you’ll be in, says DeGrace. 

“If you know your landmarks and know where you are and can give good local knowledge landmarks, that’s very helpful to us because we are search and rescue and we can’t rescue you if we can’t find you,” said DeGrace.

His last piece of advice is very important:  if you find yourself in a dire situation on the water, please phone 911 immediately and avoid a worse situation.

 “Call when you’re first in trouble and don’t wait,” said DeGrace. “It can be embarrassing but who cares if you’re healthy and uninjured.” 

It’s better to be embarrassed than embalmed.

For those between 16 and 18 interested in learning more about and training with marine search and rescue, check out North Vancouver Marine Search and Rescue’s junior program! Go to, or email [email protected] for more information.

Written by Oscar Robindell, Argyle Secondary student

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.

Growing food forests

A North Shore gardener hopes to inspire a food forest in local neighbourhoods in her new book. Author Chris Chung takes food out of rigid backyard beds and into our residential yards in The Layered Edible Garden.

Rethinking traditional

Sitting on a shelf in Lynn Valley’s Maple Leaf Garden Centre there is a new resource available for gardeners looking to have a more natural and fruitful garden. Local gardening expert and writer Chris Chung has put much of the knowledge she generously shares on local gardening Facebook groups and on YouTube into her book The Layered Edible Garden and you might even find her nearby to answer some questions. While working as an instructor at the UBC Botanical Gardens a chance conversation led to inspiration and a passion to rethink home gardens. 

“Not everyone wants to convert a garden into a food garden because not everyone loves the aesthetic of traditional food gardens where everything is in rows and boxes,” she said. “I started looking at the idea of food forests. Why are we not incorporating some of these practices into traditional landscape horticulture? There are plants that are non-traditional yet practical, beautiful, functional and many of them are actually suited to the climate here.”

With that seed of inspiration, Chung began to tackle her own front garden 

“I thought, well, why don’t I just try this out myself? I mean, selling this idea is great, but until I try it and have a feel for it, is it doable? Does it actually look good? And so for the past few years, I have been practicing, mixing and matching plants in the garden.”

Mind shift

Residential gardening is having a bit of a change of identity, said Chung. As we become more environmentally conscious, more gardeners are interested in working with the ecology and weather we have, rather than creating a “picture perfect” garden from some other place. For some, this change may bring relief, and for others discomfort. 

“At the end of the day, you just want plants to be happy. When a plant that is not healthy and dislikes the conditions, as gardeners, we interpret that as, oh, we’re not good gardeners or it was my fault. But you know, sometimes it could just be a fussy plant. 

“But I think mixing and matching is a lot of fun. Food especially doesn’t need to just live in a food bed or a food section of the garden. That’s kind of like the big picture rethinking that I am trying to share with people.”

Chung hopes we can use the garden spaces we have more efficiently. Incorporating foods into the decorative portions. She thinks this is a better use of our time and resources. 

“The less we need to fight with our garden, the better. You can enjoy it. You can focus your energy, money and resources like water to growing things that are purposeful and may improve the impact on local creatures. It’s just so exciting because there are so many areas that we can all explore. I find every season I’m learning something new because I never thought about that but the garden grows and it does something wild and it presents neat stuff.”

Planting purposefully

For a diverse productive garden, Chung suggests we think beyond typical apple trees and rows of carrots as well as straying a bit further from the typical manicured garden aesthetic. 

“If you’re a homeowner, you may feel the need to match the look of your or might have limitations to the time you have to maintain it.  I think just being honest and realistic with yourself like you know what can I work on this. I am encouraging people to mix and match. There are no rules once you understand the conditions of your garden and what is going to thrive and work well.”

There are realities of North Vancouver that can present some challenges. The yards with cedars tend to be shaded and have acidic soil. The amount of sunlight varies greatly. There are many yards in Lynn Valley and Deep Cove where growing tomatoes can be very difficult, said Chung. 

“We have to be realistic and it may not be even apples. They need the sun, Certain berries want more sun. Most of the fruiting things want the sun. But I think that kind of forces us in a good way to explore what could grow here. And it may not be the big trees with lots of fruit that you can harvest in the summer. It could be smaller fruit that are adapted to part shade.”

Chung looks to cooler-temperature veggies and shrubs. 

“In this area, I always like talking about currants and black currants. They’re great and they do fruit well with partial sun. A lot of the Asian leafy veggies like the weather that we’re getting right now where it’s kind of cool and wet and damp. They grow beautifully.”

The resulting garden is a bit wilder and less formal. Her own garden reflects that. 

“It breaks some rules when it comes to how planting should look. I’ve got something tall here, something small there. I’m honestly just experimenting.  I learned something. Let’s not repeat it. What could be a better option? And if nothing is the better option then maybe I can just put some rock there, or put a planter there, where I can remove the plant and tuck it into the shade if it’s like a super hot, scorchy spot.”


The best resource to influence your garden is local knowledge, said Chung. Besides options like her new book, there are gardening groups in person and online that offer a wealth of relevant information. Gardeners tend to be proud of their work and sometimes chatting on the street offers the best practical guidance. That can also be an affordable way to try a new plant. 

“Some people are just pruning anyway and they’re happy to give cuttings away. So that’s a way you can get around a really expensive plant and buying from nurseries – look for plant swaps. A lot of people are pruning their figs and elderberries. I usually prune my goji plants in late winter and I give cuttings away. They root so easily but if you go to any nursery they are $29 or more for one gallon.”

Another consideration when looking at food gardens for Lynn Valley is wildlife. 

“It’s a real thing, wildlife. As much as we want to romanticize growing an orchard, we have bears walking into our carport from the wooded area. We have to think about wildlife, not just bears coming down and eating fruit, it’s also our maintenance practices. What smells good for us, smells good for the raccoons, bears, and whatever else. If anything is not harvested, it’s going to bring more of those black bears into the property, which, as we all know, is a not good thing for the bears.”

The weather up here, in Lynn Valley, can be very different from the flatter, drier land near Park and Tilford. 

“If you’re deeper into the valley or further up, you’re going to get cooler, moist pockets, which are maybe great for certain plants, like, cool season veggies, but may not be the best for Medaterrian plants like rosemary or bay laurel.”

As the growing season creeps ever closer Chung encourages residents to bide their time.

“It’s so tempting to put out warm season crops, like tomatoes,” she said. “For the past two years, I haven’t planted before June. Just because the weather is so unpredictable, we could be getting a long, cold, wet spring, which is not good for those heat-loving plants. In a nutshell, the tip is to be patient and wait until we get consistently warm soil. A good investment is to get a soil thermometer and test once a day. And if the temperature is consistently at or above 10 Celsius, that’s a good sign.”

You can find Chung’s book The Layered Edible Garden at Maple Leaf Garden Centre or on Amazon. 

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.

Pre-hibernation bear awareness

With the summer gardens we love coming to an end, there is no doubt it will be attracting wildlife prior to hibernation. In this season of harvest in Lynn Valley’s forests and yards becoming more bear aware will help you and our furry neighbours. 

Preventing backyard bears

The North Shore Black Bear Society has some tips to make your yard less attractive to bears and other wildlife.

  • Pick fruit promptly
  • Clean fallen fruit from the ground
  • Ask for help if can’t tackle the fruit yourself

If residents are unable to pick the fruit on their property for some reason – being away at the time the fruit matures or being unable to climb a ladder, or other reasons ask friends and neighbours if they’d like to share the bounty.

Bear encounters

The North Shore Black Bear Society is at the forefront of human-animal interaction education. They partner with government organizations at all levels to improve our cohabitation with bears. It will also place Bear-in-Area signs, answer questions, make home visits, and canvass areas where bears are reported.

If you see a bear in your backyard, remember that it is in your territory so do what you can to safely discourage the bear.

Here are some ideas:

  • Give the bear lots of space, and go inside with your pets.
  • If the bear is eating  let it finish as eating is its number one priority.
  • From a safe vantage point, shout loudly, bang pots or throw water balloons and wave your arms to let the bear know it is not welcome. Remember to accompany the unwelcoming experience with your voice.
  • When the bear has left, remove all attractants from yard. Keep in mind that it will likely return several times to check for the same source of food that it found before.
  • Let your neighbours know about the bear and tell them to remove attractants.
  • Report your sighting.

If you see a bear up a tree, give it some space by leaving the area or going inside if you are at home. A black bear will climb a tree because it is anxious and stressed. Let the bear come down in its own time. It may wait until nightfall. Do not bring extra attention to the bear by inviting friends and neighbours.

NSBBS recommends if you see a bear leaving a tree, from inside your home shout, make loud noises or use noisemakers to reinforce that it is not welcome.

Bear and attractant sightings can be reported to the North Shore Black Bear Society at:

If you personally encounter a bear in your yard or on a trail, these are the NSBBS’s tips on how to handle the situation:  

Remember the four S’s:

  • Stay calm
  • Stand still – Do Not Run!
  • Speak calmly  
  • Slowly back away

Green bins and garbage carts

The NSBBS has been working with the District of North Vancouver to help establish best practices with garbage bins and green bins to ensure our neighbourhoods are not attractive to bears and other wildlife.

Lockable carts are bear-resistant, not bear-proof. Therefore, people who store their carts outside should not have odorous food scraps in their carts. The odours attract wildlife and can lead to property damage.

The DNV and the NSBBS recommend that:

  • odorous food scraps (especially meat and fish scraps) be kept frozen until the morning of collection
  • other food scraps should be wrapped in newspaper to reduce odour and mess and layered with yard trimmings
  • carts should be washed out periodically to keep them clean and as odour-free as possible
  • no carts, including those containing only yard trimmings, should be placed at the curbside before 5:30 a.m. on the designated collection day.

Questions about household waste storage and collection can be forwarded to District staff at 604.990.2311. Information is also available at or from the North Shore Black Bear Society.


(Most images courtesy of North Shore Black Bear Society)

Pulling a bike off the shelf

This summer you could possibly check out a pair of wheels from the North Vancouver District Public Library. Inspired by Lynn Valley’s Duncan Wilcox and his passion to help others embrace active transportation, DNV councillor Jordan Back helped pass a unanimous motion at council Monday bringing a Bike Library one step closer to launching.

Getting ready to roll

The District has earmarked a potential budget of $60,000 to bring an e-trike, and e-cargo and e-utility bikes to NVDPL to help the public become educated and aware of the diversity of active transportation options. 

“Duncan is an e-bike enthusiast who saw financial barriers to families with this type of transportation,” said Back. “There isn’t an opportunity to try these types of bikes out. It’s not a huge investment and there are some other revenue streams and grants.”

This is a relatively new idea but there are bike libraries in the US and Europe.

“It has been done in other parts of the world, in Europe in other countries. There are a number of examples in states, it just hasn’t been done here,” he said.

“For Duncan, it was important it was done by a non-commercial place where everyone is welcome – that is barrier-free. Here the options would be a community centre or the library. The NVDPL is quick to try things and offer pilot projects. The pandemic was a good indication of how the library can pivot to serve people in a variety of ways.” 

Information sharing has led to the NDVPL and District considering a Bike Library for a two-year pilot project. 

Family transportation

Interest in cycling has boomed over the last few years. There are a number of bike shares in the Lower Mainland.   

“Lime Bikes serve a purpose,” said Back. “But they aren’t cargo bikes. Box cargo bikes and  long-tails, like I have, can be a second car replacement. They can carry kids and stuff but there is nowhere to go and try to see if this is a fit for your family. ”

It’s an active transportation shift Back and his family of four have embraced. 

“If I am not leaving the North Shore, I don’t even think about taking the car,” he said. “We head down to Lonsdale and we love Moodyville Park. We spend a lot of time there. With an e-bike, it’s not that hard.”

For his family, one of the biggest advantages to using a cargo bike is that they now have a journey, rather than being boxed in traffic. 

“We like to stop. If the kids see something we can stop and take a look, like the construction of the Argyle Field. It’s easy to stop, so we stop and take a look.” 

For those new to cargo bikes, local North Vancouver E-bike manufacturer Ohm has some examples of how longtail bikes can be configured.


The pilot project still has a number of matters to resolve. District staff are exploring issues around liability and insurance. The managing partner of Reckless Bikes, Lynn Valley’s Tony Sun, has been helpful with his experience in the rental market, said Back. 

E-bikes have opened up transportation and fitness to people, but the barrier of the unknown and the cost associated with e-bikes might prevent people from giving them a chance. Allowing citizens to experience the bikes might make them more comfortable investing in their own, said Back. 

“It’s a chance for more people to try them. It’s an easier way to get around than a lot of people think. Perhaps the older generation who haven’t ridden a bike in a while and it allows them to ride a bike.” 

Safety is at the top of Back’s mind – especially if people haven’t tried the larger cargo-style e-bikes.

“They will have the manufacturer’s limiter of 32km/h,” he said. “Perhaps there will be additional speed limiters on them. Certainly orientation, safety-training will be a part of checking these out with the addition of a waiver. There might be a video or something. You can’t sign these out and immediately hit the road.” 

For now, the matter lies with staff doing research and the NVDPL board but Back hopes people will be able to check out the e-bikes by late May or early June.

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

North Shore solution to take on bike theft

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

Reaction to inaction

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

Fraser Vaage

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

The North Shore RCMP agree.

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

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

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

Shifting gears

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

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

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

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

The RCMP are intrigued by what they have seen.

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

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

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

Innovation and buzz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking for more?

There’s always something fun and exciting happening in Lynn Valley. Check out our Community Events Calendar or learn more about Local Activities, Mountain Biking or Hiking and Walking Trails.

History never recorded

There is no need to travel abroad for archaeological wonders, instead taking a walk through the Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve with a careful eye can reveal a phenomenal past – one Capilano University professor and writer Bob Muckle shares in his latest book Forgotten Things: The Story of the Seymour Valley Archaeology Project.

Fascinating location

For close to two decades Bob Muckle has been exploring the Seymour Valley. It began as a practical solution: provide hands-on experience for his Cap U students. As they dug and documented he uncovered evidence of a past not recorded. 

“People can walk through the LSCR and have no idea of the activity that was going on there in the past,” said Muckle. “All the settlements around the Seymour River were permanent homes but they were deliberately destroyed and the forest grows so fast. Things get buried really, really quickly. Most people could be in the middle of the Japanese camp and wouldn’t know there was a thriving community there for decades a hundred years ago.”

Bob Muckle

Muckle took to the forest to teach his students practical archaeological techniques evaluating the Euro-Canadian evidence in the LSCR. 

“There was nobody doing logging camp archaeology in BC so I thought I might be interested,” he explained. “But I kept on finding Japanese artifacts at these logging sites and that was unexpected. I did a bit of research and it was really unexpected. There are some vague references to Japanese in the valley and working in the mill around Rice Lake. We didn’t know the scale of Japanese activities in the valley.” 

To learn more, Muckle scoured written records and spoke to people who had lived in the area in the 1930s and 40s.

“Very little has been written down,” he said. “I spent more time investigating the Japanese because it was so unexpected and there was nothing written, so it felt more important.”

Forgotten Things is a book aimed at both (future) archeologists and lay history buffs told in an informal, anecdotal style. It digs into a variety of archaeological finds in the area – including the extensive Japanese camp. 

A time forgotten

The LSCR, as we know it, is not the forest past residents would have experienced. 

“A 100 years ago there was logging activity and there was some settlement,” said Muckle. “The dam had been built early in the 1900s. It was starting to be logged out in the 1920s but activity continued a little bit longer. There was increasing settlement – not large scale. But there were some houses close to Rice Lake and there were larger settlements on the banks of the Seymour River. The environment had been logged so I don’t think people would have valued the land all that much.”

There were both titled owners and squatters establishing homesteads and communities.  

“It was also a recreational area. On the banks of the Seymour River, there were rental cabins where people would come over from the city for a weekend or for a week in the summer to swim in the river.

“In the 1930s the government started buying up, evicting, and expropriating properties,” said Muckle. “When they left, the government would burn all the buildings down because they were trying to protect the watershed and didn’t want anyone living there. They fenced it off until 1987.”

With diverse experience under his belt from archaeological sites around the world, Muckle has turned to more recent history.  

“North America, British Columbia, Metro Vancouver are fascinating,” he said. “There is so much archaeology to study here. The western, European, colonial view that Indigenous history is not that interesting is completely wrong – it’s fascinating. It goes back thousands of years. The entirety of archaeology in BC is so rich, from thousands of years ago to contemporary times.”

The difference between BC and other parts of the world is that frequently ancient people used stone to build. In BC, most structures were made from organic materials, which when combined with a temperate climate left little for the untrained eye to see. In the LSCR other mitigating factors make sites difficult to find. 

“You need it to be interpreted because everything was burned and then [naturally] buried. It’s unlike, the pyramids of Egypt or castles, most of the archaeology in British Columbia has what we call ‘low-archaeological visibility’ meaning it’s tough to see without someone telling you – then it all makes sense.” said Muckle. “I think that is why people tend not to think of archaeology in BC compared to Egypt or Africa where these features are so prominent. It doesn’t mean it isn’t less phenomenal but it requires more experience and interpretation. It’s easy for an archeologist to see but the public thinks what they are seeing are natural landforms.” 

Hidden gems

In the LSCR, the return of second-growth forest has happened very quickly – in the archaeological sense. 

“The forest grows really fast. It has taken it all over now. If you go back 100 years and you were walking through these pathways, the trees would have been very small. There would first growth stumps very visible and there would have been a lot of burned-out areas and occasionally you would come across houses or orchards.” 

In the early 1900s, the logging operations in the Seymour Valley were different than those in Lynn Valley or the Capilano area, said Muckle. 

“It wasn’t ‘meaningful’ – people today have more of a connection to logging in the Capilano or Lynn Valley areas. You can find people whose grandparents worked in the area and there were people living in the area. My sense is there is a deeper connection in those areas but in the Seymour Valley there wasn’t the longevity of connection. The Japanese and others were just going in and getting out. They weren’t putting roots down – with the exception of the one site I found.” 

What Muckle and his students found was the evidence of a long-term, well-established Japanese community. In a completely unexpected place, it showed signs of being quickly abandoned, likely with the forced internment of Japanese and Japanese-Canadians during WWII. 

“I think people were able to stay at this site until they were forced to leave for interment. They could take so little for them, they weren’t taking their diaries or written histories,” he said. “They weren’t even taking the goods they had. That is why at this site there are perfectly usable artifacts – which is unusual in archaeology. These weren’t thrown away, they were good. This isn’t trash. Dishes, cook stoves, it’s really unusual.”

The internment of Japanese Canadians resulted in substantial loss of their history, wealth, and property. Throughout BC, much of the community archives and artifacts were destroyed. This has left a substantial hole in the historic records. Muckle has shared both the site and its finds with the Japanese community. 

“They are grateful because there was so much loss,” said Muckle. “They have said, ‘We didn’t know our ancestors were in the valley’ because there was no record of it. There is a bit of information in memoirs, but it’s mostly secondhand. I invited curators of the Nikkei [National Museum and Cultural Centre] and North Vancouver Museum to choose items for their collections. In a follow-up conversation with the Nikkei director, they were so thrilled because I had context of the items. They get donations from the early 1900s but there is no understanding of context so there isn’t much a museum can do with it.” 

The entire project is an excellent example of how the historic [written] record is flawed and biased, he said. A record he hopes his new book helps correct by looking at tangible evidence, rather than the written records of a small, privileged group of people.

“In the Seymour Valley there are written records saying the Japanese were there but nothing more,” he said. “The records aren’t accurate and when we talk to some of the early residents and we mention these histories they will say, ‘That’s just nonsense. That didn’t happen.’ Archaeology fills in the gaps of knowledge that history can’t.”

Bob Muckle’s book can be found at Monova: Museum of North Vancouver, ordered through Edgemont’s Kids Books or online.

Images courtesy of Bob Muckle. 

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.

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.”


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.