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The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

A dressed-up lie when exposed and stripped to bare facts will reveal the naked truth.

Ann Landeers


The views expressed by DON PITCAIRN are his and his alone personal opinion




Tuesday September 26, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Stink, Stank, Stunk

Surrey Bio-fuel plant


You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch, 
You're a nasty wasty skunk, 
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, 
Your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch.

The three words that best describe you are, and I quote, "Stink, stank, stunk"!

You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch, 
You're the king of sinful sots, 
Your heart's a dead tomato splot 
With moldy purple spots, Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled-up knots! 

Lyrics to "You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch", How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie, 1966

I have to admit that the title and lyrics used to start this TNT might be a little over the top and are meant in jest, not to be alarmist.  Let's hope that folks in south Surrey don't start singing this classic Christmas song all year long if and when a waste to energy plant located on Semiahmoo First Nations land gets up and running. Andion Global ( a world leader in designing and building biogas facilities, has teamed up with Semiahmoo First Nations to build a waste organics to renewable natural gas facility on two hectares of lane north of Beach road and west of Highway 99 north of the Peace Arch Duty Free.  It will accept organic waste from the Lower Mainland and process it with an anaerobic digestion solution to create biogas (methane), fertilizer and organic solids used to produce soil amendments and topsoil at another site.  

This project has already been funded with $14.4 million from the Federal government several years ago in its preliminary planning phase.  Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) need to determine if it is likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects so they are inviting comments from the public that need to be submitted by October 14, 2023.  It is posted on the Canadian Impact Asment Registry that can be found at .  Metro Vancouver and the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District have been provided with the information that normally is needed to receive permits for this type of bio-gas facility if built off reserve.  Most importantly, the air dispersion modeling report has been completed by Tetra Tech and is posted online for public viewing at .  With air pollution and odour release being of prime concern you may want to sniff out this 195 page report and nose through it.

The Semiahmoo Renewable Natural Gas Facility Air Quality Dispersion Modelling Rev.1 report lists nuisance odour sites as being the nearby Hills at Peace Portal Golf Course, Hwy. 99 at the Peace Arch Border Crossing, the Peace Arch Duty Free and Peace Arch Provincial Park.  The anaerobic digestion and biogas upgrading process results in the discharge of various air contaminants that requires a Metro Vancouver Air Permit. The top five sources of possible odours emanating from the plant are listed as:

1. Biofilter that releases treated exhaust gases from the food waste reception and pre-treatment buildings 
2. Biogas upgrading stack that releases gases from the biogas upgrading system.
3. Boiler stack that discharges combustion gases from a natural gas hot water boiler.
4. Flare stack from an emergency flaring system.
5. Stripping tower stack from an ammonia stripping tower.

The main chemicals expected to be released include sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitric oxide (NO), ammonia (NH3) hydrogen sulphide (H2S) plus volatile organic compounds (VOC).  Flaring of biogas from the stack is expected to happen 900 hours a year or less than 10% of the time with durations from under one hour to over 24 hours.  

The Coles notes for the air quality study summary are as follows.  "Of the identified receptors, exceedance of 5 OU (odour units) of more than once per year is predicted to occur at the Hills at Portal Golf Club, Peace Arch Duty Free store (and adjacent Highway 99) and Peace Arch Park (seven predicted occurrences per year) with exceedance of 10 OU occurring only along at the portion of the golf course nearest Highway 99, adjacent to the proposed Project. There are no predicted exceedances of 10 OU at any residence.  The majority of odour exceedances occur during fall and winter when people are less likely to be golfing, frequenting Peace Arch Provincial Park, queuing at the border or have their residential windows open. In particular, less than 20% of the predicted exceedances at Peace Arch Park occur during the spring and summer. Similarly, the majority of predicted exceedances at the identified sensitive receptors occurs during the nighttime."  To read the summary in its entirety, it is located on page 30 of the report.

One must not confuse this biofuel plant with composting plants or feed lots.  The Harvest Power composting facility in Richmond was shut down because of its strong odours that wafted for miles.  The GFL composting plant in Ladner was the source of many smell complaints that have almost ceased due to enclosed work areas, negative air systems, filters and scrubbers.  The J. Baird Cattle Company feedlot on 8th Ave. ran afoul of Metro Vancouver for smells emanating from its next door soil operations with open piles of manure exposed to the rain.  While all of these operations raised quite a stink in their communities, the Surrey Biofuel facility at 9752 192 Street that converts the city's green waste into renewable natural gas (RNG) seems to have gotten the process right.  With a negative air pressure system and closed-loop technology, they have had very little response even though they advertise their complaints hotline.  Of course, this may have something to do with their 70 metre tall red and white coloured stack that effectively mixes any released odours high into the air where smell concentrations can dilute to unnoticeable levels before reaching the ground.

To make comments about this proposed renewable natural gas facility on SFN lands, ask questions about its operation, and to express your concerns or support, please send them to the following:

Lee-Ann Hamilton, Senior Environmental Specialist

Indigenous Services Canada

1138 Melville Street, Suite 600
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4S3

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.



Monday September 18, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Grassholes Among Us

Last year we saw an unprecedented drought from the beginning of summer lasting deep into the fall.  You used to be able to count on the PNE parade being the start of the rainy season with this event usually getting soaked by rain.  in 2022, the PNE parade did not get rained on and the entire PNE was dry  without a drop of rain falling on the midway.  It turns out that 2022 was only a dry run (groaner) for the drought of 2023.  If you delve into Vancouver weather stats at you will suddenly get an understanding of how serious this problem now is.  I added up the monthly rainfall rates we received for 2023 and compared them with the historical average.  Till the end of August, we had received 335 millimeters of precipitation, compared to an average of 607 ml.  We are currently at 55% or just over half of our regular yearly rainfall.  In fact, we have not received a regular month of rain in the past year and it is likely this Sept. will likely follow that troubling trend.

With the lack of rain and parched forest, 14,000 square kilometers of land in B.C. burned since April 1st, officially making 2023 the Province's worst wildfire season on record in terms of area.  If that sounds bad, this information was released by the B.C. Ministry of Forests on July 18th well before West Kelowna got scorched down to the shores of Okanagan Lake.  As of a week ago there are now 22,560 square kilometers of land burned in the province of BC and the fire season is still a long way from over.  If you think this is just a problem on the west coast, over 165,000 square kilometers of land have been scorched across Canada so far this year, smashing the previous record.  Currently there are 407 wildfires burning in BC, 11 that are fires of note which pose a threat to public safety, with so many out of control fires that I didn't bother counting them all.  You can see how dire the forest fire situation is on the BC Wildfire Service map at . Nearly 14,000 square kilometres of land in B.C. have burned since April 1, officially making 2023 the province's worst wildfire season on record in terms of area burned.Jul 18, 2023

Close to home, Metro Vancouver initiated level 2 watering restrictions as of August 4th that banned the sprinkling of lawns until Oct. 15th.  The rationale for this was that water use in the Lower Mainland increases 50% during the summer months, mainly due to lawn watering.  The north shore reservoirs are still at an average level for this time of year but with continued drought, it is prudent to preserve the supplies until such time as it starts to rain and these lakes get refilled.  With six weeks having passed since the Stage 2 watering restrictions were implemented, most lawns in the region should now be drying out and turning a golden brown colour. While most people are doing their part to conserve water and adhere to the lawn watering restrictions, there are still businesses, stratas and residences with dark green lawns throughout the Semiahmoo peninsula.  These scofflaws are what I like to call "grassholes" who seem to think that the rules somehow don't apply to them, especially if they have the luxury of an in ground sprinkling system that can quietly water in the middle of the night. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love a thick healthy green lawn a lot more than most people.  I take many steps to ensure my lawn is nice and healthy without watering outside of the dates and times that are allowed.  I don't have a sprinkler system but it would be easy for me to buck the rules and keep the grass watered enough to keep it green and growing.  The trouble is, I'm doing my part for conservation and don't want to be looked at by my neighbours with contempt as the only person on our street who still has to mow their lawn on a weekly basis.  I can sometimes be an a-hole, but I certainly don't want to be on display as being a self-centered grasshole.  With continued drought and more expected into the future due to climate change, the days of being the envy of the neighbourhood for having a lush green lawn are now a thing of the past.  Those who flout the rules and water their lawns on a constant basis during times of drought should now be looked at as the pariah of their neighbourhood for being an egotistical narcissist.   

Part of the problem with folks ignoring the lawn watering ban is that the City of Surrey Bylaw department's goal is to "seek compliance prior to issuing a ticket" that will cost the offender $300.  In layman's terms, grassholes will get a warning for illegal watering before they are hit with a fine.  Vancouver on the other hand enforces the watering ban with $500 tickets using a policy of more stick and less carrot.  Imagine how much of a speeding problem we would have in Surrey if the RCMP or SPS told drivers that they would get a warning before being issued a ticket.  Also, the low fines are not much of a deterrence when you look at mansions and estates worth a small fortune.  Without giving names or addresses, there is a property only a few blocks from us in Ocean Park that currently has grass that is greener than the Augusta golf course.  I highly doubt a $300 fine would not mean much to a homeowner whose property is valued over $30 million.  For those who think that the rules don't apply to them, imagine the sting if the fine was tied to the assessed property value.  Something tells me that getting compliance would not be a problem then.

If you still want green grass but don't want to be a grasshole, there are several options available these days.  Some people are fed up trying to keep their lawns green and healthy and instead are installing artificial turf,  While expensive, it does not require watering, mowing or fertilizing and will not get ripped up by raccoons or crows looking for chafer beetle grubs to eat.  Another option is to simply paint browned grass with products such as LawnLift that are non-toxic, safe for pets and which instantly turn your lawn a dark emerald green even while dormant.  A more natural option is to do what my neighbour's did and install a water-wise lawn last year.  This involved laying down a thick layer of organic topsoil and seeding it with a drought tolerant tall rescue grass with micro clover.  They fertilized as required and then did not mow it during the heat of the summer.  Only after a heavy rain a few weeks ago did they finally cut it, but still at a high mower height.  Even with zero watering this year, their lawn is still surprisingly thick and green as it also benefits from being shaded by nearby conifers.

Here is contact information for the enforcement of the Stage 2 watering regulations.

City of Surrey:

Bylaw general inquiry

Report a violation online

City of White Rock:

Call Bylaw Enforcement at 604-541-2146

Email Bylaw Enforcement at

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.



Monday September 11, 2023 

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Seafaring Shanty Town  Shut Down

It was great news to me when it was announced last week that the City of Surrey along with Transport Canada will be removing the derelict boats from the Nicomekl river between the Elgin Sea Dam and Nico Wynd Estates.  Here is the Coles Notes version of the City media release:

Working in partnership with Transport Canada, the City of Surrey will be removing derelict boats on the Nicomekl River in South Surrey. Instead of using several marinas in the lower section of the river, derelict boats have been illegally mooring on a narrow section of the Nicomekl. In addition to dumping raw sewage and garbage into the water, the derelict boats are gathering salvaged debris creating hazards for other boaters.  “The Nicomekl River has many spots where boats can legally drop anchor,” said Mayor Brenda Locke. “There is no reason for any boater to illegally moor their vessel. The City is working with Transport Canada to remove the derelict boats and clean up the debris in that section of the river. The Nicomekl is for all to use and is not a place for boat owners who illegally dock their boats with a complete disregard to the environment and the safety of others.”  Governed by the Canadian Navigable Waters Act, the cleanup of the derelict boats and any associated debris will be conducted with through partnership with Transport Canada. The work will commence this month and will be continually monitored.

The problem of derelict vessels, sunken boats, release of raw sewage and dumping of garbage into the water at this end of the Nic has been an ongoing problem for decades.  Until now, it was a political football that was constantly tossed around with nobody wanting to take responsibility or assert jurisdiction over cleanup of the river.  There are marinas up and down the Nicomekl where people could moor their boats but likely not for free.  The Nic near the Sea Dam became a spot where those down and out but with a boat that still floated were able to drop anchor and apparently anything else without repercussions.  The same kind of situation has created an ongoing sanitary, environmental and public safety issue at False Creek in Vancouver where three boats lashed together caught fire on Friday with two of them sinking.  Kudos for Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and S.Sry-WR MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay for working together to find a fix for this festering issue.

The boats currently on the Nic look like something between the post-apocalyptic Water World movie and a shanty town.  In some cases several boats are lashed together and strung with tarps, held together by tar paper and plywood. Some of them look more like floating junk piles than anything resembling an actual boat.  If not sheltered in the Nic and instead exposed to the ocean, it is unlikely that they would last a week before becoming nothing but flotsam.  My wife and I went canoing in the Nic several weeks ago and I have to admit that the problem with rotten boats in this region looked to have certainly gotten worse over the past five years.  Even the dingys that these freshwater pirates use to access the Mud Bay dyke are barely seaworthy.  One recently washed up against the Sea Dam and I stopped to pull it away from the control gates and up onto the rocks.  I know people who repair boats and this one was not worth salvaging, let alone trying to fix it up.

It is not just at the far end of the navigable stretch of the Nic where these derelict boats cause a problem.  When there are wind storms, they often break away from rotting ropes and drift down the river bouncing off other boats in the process.  Once they are pulled out into Mud Bay by the winds and currents, they then drift northward, running aground on the marshy shore along the Delta Dyke Trail.  Several years ago after noticing three vessels aground along Highway 99, I decided to go investigate what was going on.  On one of these boats I met a gentleman named Peter who lived on the Nic at one of these flotillas.  He was trying to free the boats, waiting for high tide to try and float them off the muck and return them back into the river.  I'm not sure whatever happened to these boats but eventually they all disappeared.  Currently there is another power boat aground not far from Hwy. 91that has been there for several months and it would not surprise me if it came from the river squatters living on the Nic.

I do realize that we are in a housing crisis and these boats offer living accommodations to some people likely struggling with substance abuse or mental health issues.  Having seen inside several of these vessels, the level of filth and squalor I witnessed was absolutely appalling with clothes, garbage and debris spread all around.  Being always wet and damp, the wood inside these boats were covered with black mold that can cause serious health issues.  I learned from Peter that when the river squatters die or move away, their boats and possessions are taken over by the other pirates, looking to replace vessels taking on water or that have sunk to the bottom of the river.  With candles and propane being used for light and heat, it is amazing we have not had a fire in what is basically a floating homeless encampment.  If we can remove these derelict vessels and find proper sanitary housing for those who call the Nicomekl river home, we would be doing them a favour while protecting the marine environment of the Semiahmoo peninsula.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.




TNT The Naked Truth

UPDATE September 06, 2023

In a related story, a Judge ruled last week that a Surrey woman must pay $150,000 after repeatedly trespassing and cutting down her neighbour's hedge.

The judge applied putative damages to achieve "retribution, deterrence, and denunciation to both punish the egregious action and also prevent similar future behaviour by the wrongdoer and other members of society.

It will be interesting to see if the BNSF Railway's legal department pushes for charges and then sues the arborists and strata for damages in this case.


Don Pitcairn

Chopped at the Top

Last week we were relaxing quietly along the shore of Crescent Rock beach in south Surrey when there was a loud cracking noise followed by branches smashing behind us above the BNSF Railway tracks.  It was so loud that everyone at the beach instinctively ran towards the water thinking a tree was falling, including our dog who shook his way out of his harness to escape.  The cause of the ruckus was the top of a tall cottonwood tree suddenly snapped off from the drought and then bounced from branch to branch on the way down to the ground.  I immediately went up to the railway to ensure that it had not fallen onto the train tracks blocking the line.  It had landed onto the landslide detector fence and while it was stretching the wires they did not break, signaling trains to stop.  I reported this incident to my BNSF contact and the tree top was taken away by railway crews several days later.

This weekend we were taking advantage of the great weather and were again down at our favourite beach.  Once again we heard falling branches but this time it came from arborists cutting away at the top of the Ocean Park bluff.  We walked out onto the sand flats and could look up to see large branches falling onto the hillside above the tracks.  It was obvious that the strata at the end of Christopherson Road were having trees on BNSF property cut to improve the views from their in ground pool area.  What made this so alarming was that the Ocean Park bluff just south of the Christopherson Steps is the most active slide area in the Semiahmoo peninsula.  The vegetation between the beach and the tracks in this area that gives the nude beach its privacy is growing on a mound of landslide debris excavated off the tracks by the BNSF over the past century.  In fact, the area where we were sitting is a flat bench of landslide muck from a slide four years ago from the very same hillside.

It seems that the hoity-toity folks living at the top of the bluff figured out a long time ago to get illegal tree trimming done during the weekends when Surrey Bylaw staff are less likely to appear.  Bylaws were called hourly to investigate but the chain saws continued to roar to life for most of the afternoon with the constant sound of heavy branches landing on the slope above.  Talking with people on the beach who were by this time sick of the racket, it was decided that a call to the BNSF Railway Police was in order.  It turned out this was not a simple task since E-com does not have any contact information for the Railway.  Trying to find a listing for the BNSF Police in BC was a lesson in futility as well.  It was only after talking to CN Police that we were able to finally contact an operator in Fort Worth,Texas at their American head office who put us through in a 3-way call to our local railway cop.  In the future, a simple Google search of "BNSF Emergency Number" will give you the number.

Low and behold, the BNSF police did show up and put a stop to the illegal tree work being done.  I'm not sure if there will be charges but they found arborists trespassing on BNSF land, destroying Railway property and from what I was told, the strata were informed to cease and desist further tree cutting operations.  Amazingly this is the first time that the BNSF Police have actually caught someone in the act of chopping at trees on the bluff for views.  Stumps in front of a hill-top mansion are not evidence as to who did the cutting even though it is easy to deduce who might have been responsible.  There is also the problem of White Rock clear-cutting the Hump slope for views of Marine Drive residents, yet people in south Surrey do not get the same bizarre perks from their Council. The BNSF should not have a double standard of allowing tree cutting on one ocean-front slope, while trying to stop it only miles away in a neighbouring city.  It boggles the mind why the BNSF kowtows to White Rock and continues to allow this to happen.

Transport Canada warned the BNSF Railway and cities of Surrey and White Rock that tree cutting for views by hill-top residents was one of the top three causes for landslides burying the train tracks below.  The hillside just south of Crescent Beach is notoriously unstable and I have witnessed over a dozen slides onto the rail corridor in this area alone.  This was the place where the last landslide actually hit a BNSF freight train just south of Bayview Ave.  It did not derail because it was already stopped for an even larger slide event that happened just below the Christopherson strata that was having the bluff trees cut this weekend.  For those who still don't get what the big problem is, a BNSF freight train rolled by while the trees were being cut.  It was a unit oil train consisting of four engines, two empty boxcars and 104 black tankers ( yup, I counted them), likely full of Bakken crude oil headed for the Chevron Refinery in Burnaby.  A train derailment here from slide activity likely means these cars falling 20 feet below to the shore lined with jagged rip-rap boulders.  Imagine Lac-Megantic but at the edge of Boundary Bay and you get my concern.

If you hear or witness anyone cutting trees on BNSF property in the Semi-pen, you can call the Railway emergency line at 1-800-832-5452 and they will immediately put you in touch with the Railway officer who will attend promptly.  You can also call Surrey Bylaws at 604-591-4152 or go online to report a problem at but I would not expect a quick response on the weekend, if at all.  It will be interesting to see how the BNSF Railway responds to this tree cutting issue.  They could lay charges or possibly put this ball in the hands of their legal department to sue for damages and reparations including having the strata remove all of the dead branches from the slope where they add to the forest fire risk.  At the very least I would send those responsible a letter that if there is slide activity in the future linked to the area where the trees were being cut, that they will be liable for any cleanup costs and loss of use that the Railway experiences.  Maybe then, people living above the tracks will get the message that their million dollar view just might cost them that.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.


Monday August 28, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Don't Get Locked In-sanity

So here we are in the middle of another hot summer weekend with many people wanting to beat the heat by going to the beach.  Besides White Rock and Crescent Beach, many people opt for the more rugged and secluded 6.5 km. of shoreline between the two known as Crescent Rock beach.  To enter this region you must walk in from either end or else use one of the three staircases that Surrey has built over the years.  This includes the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave., the 1001 Steps at the east end of 15A Ave. and the Olympic Trail located at the south end of 131 Street.  All three of these staircases are locked at night to stop partying at this secluded shoreline and to keep people off the BNSF Railway tracks at night.

If you go onto the City of Surrey website at you can find information on the first two of these staircases.  Both the Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps list the operating hours as "dawn to dusk."  This should not be a surprise since the Surrey Parks Department security contractor locks the parking lots to their parks throughout the city using the dawn to dusk timing.  In case you are not aware, dawn and dusk are calculated when the sun dips to six degrees below the horizon.  As far as timing goes, this is usually a little more than half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset.  For most people wanting to take in an ocean sunrise or sunset, this gives them ample time to climb the stairs and leave the beach.  Oddly, the Olympic Trail, aka Pot Point, aka Stoners Point, aka 13 Ave. Lookout is not listed on the Surrey website.

So here is where it gets weird.  There are signs at all of the staircases to Crescent Rock Beach warning people "DON'T GET LOCKED IN" with the dates and times these park gates are locked listed as follows:

Feb 12 - Apr 15  8:00 pm

April 16 - Aug 26  10:00 pm

Aug 27 - Oct 15  8:00 pm

Oct 16 - Feb 11  6:00 pm

It is unsure why these signs are even posted since they do not agree with the information listed on the city website.  It is weird that these gates get unlocked at dawn but are then locked at these apparently arbitrary times.  Even more bizarre is why these random dates and times are used in the first place.  For August 27th the gate lock time changed on a Sunday when many people were at the beach with sunset being at 8:04 pm.  If you wanted to see the big red orb behind a veil of smoke, it was very likely you would get locked out of using the stairs to leave the shore.  If you stayed to watch the colours of the sunset before walking out, you would be in for a nasty surprise, with the gates guaranteed to be locked out with dusk at 8:36 p.m.  If you did not have a cell phone it is a very long walk to freedom from the 1001 Steps that could only be done by walking out on the train tracks.

This idiotic situation gets even worse when you look at the other gate lock times throughout the year.  Remember that it is still summer until Friday, Sept. 22 when the sunsets at 7:09 pm, nearly an hour before the gates get locked.  On Oct. 16, a Monday, the lock time then drops to 6 p.m., even though sunset is at 6:21 p.m. and dusk is at 6:53 pm.  This 6 pm lock time remains throughout the winter when I realize not many people would likely venture down to the beach due to cold and rainy weather.  On the shortest day of the year, Dec. 22, the sun sets at 4:16 p.m., an hour and 44 minutes before the gates are due to be locked.  On Feb. 12, 2024 when the time magically springs back to 8 pm, the sunset is at 5:26 pm, over two and a half hours before the gates get locked.  In the spring on Apr 16, the sunsets at 8:06 pm, nearly two hours before the gates get locked.

None of these arbitrary dates or times make any sense at all in the real world.  The signs should all be pulled from the staircases leading to Crescent Rock beach and replaced with ones that state they are locked closed from "dawn to dusk" and possibly even giving the clue "half an hour before sunrise and half an hour after sunset."  This would put the staircase locking times in line with all of the other Surrey parks and in agreement with the times posted on the website for the various steps.  Locking people down at the beach means a long walk on the train tracks after dark that puts them in mortal danger.  I should also note that the signs at the beach staircases do not state who the Surrey security contractor is or any phone number or email to contact them if locked in.  It is Surrey Securiguard at 604-689-7588.  If you like to go to the beach off Ocean Park to catch a sunset or possibly skinny-dip, you might want to save that number to your cell phone in case you really need it one evening.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.



Monday August 21, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Choke on the Smoke

Smoke on the water, a fire in the sky Smoke on the water

Burn it down

Lyrics to Smoke On The Water, Deep Purple, Machine Head album, 1972.

We are very fortunate to live in the Semi-Pen surrounded by water and beaches, fresh air and moderate temperatures.  This year has been extremely dry for most of the province with drought and high temperatures seeming to get worse every year.  It is heartbreaking to watch the devastation currently occurring in the Okanagan with forest fires marching through neighbourhoods burning them right down to the water's edge.  The scene around Yellowknife in the far north is no different, happening only weeks after Lahaina in Maui was scorched into the ground with over a hundred dead and reports of more than a thousand missing.  As the U.N. Chief recently stated, "The end of global warming has ended, the era of global boiling has arrived."  I think he would have been more on point to call it "global burning."

In case you missed it, July 2023 set the dubious record as the hottest month ever on planet earth since records began.  That was the same time that ocean water off the coast of Florida hit an astounding 101 degrees Fahrenheit.  Now this sounds pretty crazy but it really hits home when you know that is the same temperature we like to keep our hot tub set at during the winter months.  As I'm writing this TNT the remnants of hurricane Hillary is hitting California releasing torrential rains that are described as "life threatening" with extreme flooding expected.  It is the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, the last one happening the year my now deceased father was born.  In case you missed it, BC is in a state of emergency, Northwest Territories is in a state of emergency, Maui is in a state of emergency, and California is in a state of emergency, from either fires or floods.

All of this brings us back to this little corner of the world.  On Friday night we were down at Crescent Rock beach cooling down and taking in the sunset over the glassy water of Mud Bay.  As the sun sank lower in the sky, it encountered what looked like a small cloud bank in the horizon off Vancouver Island.  As it sank into this grey mass, it was obvious from the red and then purple orb in the sky that it was in fact forest fire smoke from an unknown location.  We have been extremely blessed this year that as BC burns, the air here has remained relatively clear.  Seeing the sun disappear into this mess, we knew immediately that our days of blue skies were over.  It was no surprise that we woke up the next morning to discover that the sky was overcast with a thick pall of forest fire smoke that turned the sunlight a peachy orange colour.   

Of course there has been a burning ban here in effect for over a month and we are also on a stage 2 watering ban where sprinkling of lawns is outlawed.  Unfortunately some of the nocturnal visitors to the shoreline south of Crescent have obviously not gotten the word that fire risk here is currently at high on its way to extreme without measurable rain.  A couple of weeks ago, I met a group of younger Indo-Canadian gents down at the beach having a fire.  I informed them this was extremely dangerous and that they were risking fines of $1,150 for everybody sitting around it.  They basically told me to go snake my own toilet, so rather than pissing on their fire I went home and phoned the Surrey Fire Service to report what I had seen.  Imagine my surprise when I found out that the waterfront from Crescent Beach to White Rock is not their jurisdiction and that I had to report fires to the police instead.  When I phoned the RCMP non-emergency reporting line, they had so many calls that I eventually hung up after waiting forever for them to respond.

A buddy of mine went down to the beach south of 24 Ave. on Sunday morning for a walk and he phoned to let me know that there were three new fires on the beach from the previous night.  Even more concerning, one of the fires was still smouldering with large logs belching smoke from a thick bed of embers.  He dragged the burning logs 100 feet out to the water to douse them and then used an old barbecue lid to bring in sea water to drown the coals.  My friend was very upset that for all three campfires, there appeared to be no attempt by the folks who had lit them to put out their fires.  All you need is the wind to pick up, for embers to ignite the brush and for the fire to quickly climb the Ocean Park bluff.  From there the fire would be into the heavily wooded areas of Crescent Heights and Ocean Park where it would become an interface fire.  There have been fires on the bluff before and firefighters here have told me they were extremely difficult to fight because of the lack of access and the steep terrain.

There needs to be a change in Surrey where fires, regardless of where they are, get reported to the fire department and not the police.  I realize there are overlapping jurisdictions down at the beach from Federal, Provincial, BNSF and Surrey, but only the Surrey Fire Service has the ability to fight fires.  Knowing of the beach fire problems, the BNSF police and RCMP police need to enforce the fire ban with frequent patrols in the evenings by their high-railer truck.  Residents living along the bluff should be able to report the smell of smoke from the beach to the Surrey Fire Service, who if they need to can then contact the RCMP directly.  There are signs warning about the threat of fires at all of the bluff stairway entrances but missing from them is the fine of $1,150 per person that might make people think twice before flicking their Bic.  For me, I now know to simply drive to my local Fire Hall 12 where I report what I've seen or smelled and they respond immediately to the situation without a call to 911.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People


August 14, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Biking to the Beach is out of Reach

Go car-free and bike, walk, ride, and roll to to your favourite summer spots. We've teamed up with local businesses to offer exclusive discounts for transit riders!

Translink is always full of zany ideas and concepts that don't quite work.  Case in point has to be the far side of the Park & Ride lot located at King George Boulevard and Hwy. 99.  This white elephant that soaked up $4.5 million of taxpayer dollars continues to be used as a driver training ground and not much else.  Of course nobody thinks about closing it off when the extra space is not necessary.  No, instead they pay for the lighting, gardening, maintenance and even snow clearing and salting in the winter.  A little bit of common sense would be nice or appointing people who actually take the bus on a regular basis as directors.  For the 21 mayors on the Mayor's Council of Regional Transportation, it should be mandatory for them to take public transit to the meetings if they wish to be paid for attending.  

This opening salvo takes us to Translink's summer program titled "Ride & Shine" that invites people to "Go car-free this summer and bike, walk, ride, and roll to events with convenient transit connections to your favourite summer spots."  You can find this great piece of marketing and promotion online at .  The summer destination map shows you all the local hot spots and which buses to take to easily get there pus bike friendly roadways.  If you hit the beaches tab it shows you how to get to 4 area beaches, including Ambleside, Jericho, Kwomais Point and Old Mill Site Park.  Now, if you noticed something missing, you are not alone.  In case you are not aware there are 20 beaches in the Lower Mainland including Crescent Beach and White Rock. 

Now imagine being a visitor or new to the area and following Translink's instructions to check out the beach at Kwomais Point in Ocean Park.  You would be a little perplexed since there is no obvious pathway to the waterfront.  If you hop the chain link fence behind the Kwowmais Lodge and Sanford Hall, you will find the posts for the old viewing site and a literal goat path leading down some of the steepest bluffs in the Semiahmoo Peninsula.  I have climbed this hillside from below several times over the years while investigating the origins of landslides that buried the BNSF Railway tracks below.  The path is so steep that I have never climbed down it.  You would need hiking boots at the very least and if you wore flip-flops you would likely slip and get injured or killed.  A climbing helmet, several 100 foot lengths of nylon rope and a harness would be advisable to anyone thinking of scaling this slope.

If you made it to the bottom of Kwomais Point, you have to trespass on the BNSF Railway corridor in an area with wide sweeping curves that conceal trains from view.  If the RCMP catches you there on a track patrol you'll be hit with a fine of $500 for each member of your party.  Crossing the tracks you would then be met with a wall of large jagged rip-rap boulders that you must successfully scale.  Finally down at the so-called beach you will find a blanket of large slippery rocks and zero sand unless the tide is out at an extreme low.  Should you try to go swimming, you need to know that Kwomais point is swept by large currents as the tide flows to each corner of Boundary Bay.  I have been on this shoreline many times performing shoreline cleanups from Crescent Beach to White Rock,  I would not recommend it for anyone who is not in good shape and well prepared.  If you slip and get injured, cell phone service is spotty at best, adding to the risk of not being rescued.

Even more bizarre is the circuitous route shown in the Translink maps for biking to the non-existant Kwomais Point beach.  The first issue is that it does not show a starting point, which should logically be the south Surrey Park & Ride lot.  You would need to print out this map and carefully follow it due to all of the twists and turns that sometimes have you headed in the wrong direction.  The northern part of the map does show a bike path along Crescent Road but it ends at the entrance to the Crescent Beach marina, just before you would get to the nicest beach in Surrey.  Of course there is no route or mention of the beaches in White Rock that obviously are not considered a destination by Translink, regardless of the crowds of visitors it receives.  What kills me about all of this is the directors at Translink wonder why they can't help attract more people onto public transit.  Maybe if they got out of their cars or possibly tried to use their website they would find out it is not based in reality.

If all of this has not left you shaking your head, here is the final rub.  White Rock's Mayor Megan Knight and Surrey's Mayor Brenda Locke both sit on the Mayor's Council receiving $400 for every meeting they attend.  I'd like to think that someone else noticed the problems with the Ride & Shine program and brought it to their attention.  If not, I know that this column gets read by plenty of people at both White Rock and Surrey City Hall's because their servers show up on the computer visitor listings for the White Rock Sun.  Now maybe..., just maybe..., someone will copy a link to this TNT column and forward it to these mayor's or the braintrust (pun in case you missed it) at Translink.  My bet is that nothing changes and this website remains the same until the end of summer because from what I've seen, they are either totally incompetent or else they just really don't care. 

My guess is that it's both.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People

July 31, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Not Weed The Knotweed

I went to Harrison Hot springs several weeks ago and took a walk on the pathway around the lagoon next to the lake.  It was a pleasant stroll with plenty of water views but being a gardener what really caught my eye was a large clump of a bamboo like weed growing in the rip-rap rocks used to control erosion.  I recognized this rather exotic looking plant as Japanese Knotweed, one of four varieties of Knotweed known to infest this province.  These include the aforementioned Japanese Knotweed, giant Knotweed, Himalayan Knotweed and bohemian Knotweed  Collectively these plants are one of the 100 worst invasive species as identified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  The Invasive Species Council of BC rates knotweeds as one of the top 10 invasive species for BC because of its ability to proliferate in a wide variety of soil types and climate conditions.  They are designated as a noxious plant species under the Weed Control Act plus Forest and Range Practices Act.  

Here is a description taken from the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) website at

Flowers: Small, white/green flowers grow in showy, plume-like, branched clusters along the stem and leaf axis (joints).
Stems: Green stems, or canes, are hollow with varying thicknesses, upright, and bam-boo-like with reddish-brown/red speckles. Stems are gener- ally 1-5 m in height and grow in large, dense thickets. Stems may persist through the winter as bare, grey or straw colored hollow stalks.
Rhizomes: At maturity, rhizomes are thick and woody and can spread up to 20m laterally. Rhizomes have reduced leaf scales that span every 2-4 cm. The underside of the rhizomes has adventitious roots that travel into the soil with penetrable force.
Leaves: Predominantly heart- to triangular-shaped on all species except Himalayan, which are elongated and tapered.  Leaves on all species, except giant knotweed, are 8-10 cm wide and 15 cm in length. Giant knotweed leaves are generally twice the size of the other 3 species. A distinguishing feature
for Japanese knotweed is the zigzag pattern in which leaves are arranged along the plant’s arching stems.

This nasty weed unfortunately spreads both by seed and by fragments of both seed and roots, making eradication extremely difficult.  Attempts at digging it out often inadvertently spread it even further from contaminated soil and portions of the plant not properly disposed of by burying in a landfill 5 metres deep.  Home composting does not work as both the seeds and portions of the roots will likely survive, only to sprout up somewhere else.  Knotweed are often found in areas around streams, lakes and ocean beaches, in piles of landscape material, road and railway right of ways and derelict land.  They prefer moist soil and full to partial sun, making most riparian areas ideal for their growth and dispersal. Seeing Knotweed growing on the shore of Harrison Lake was obviously a cause for concern as not only could it spread around this lake, boaters could also move seeds to other bodies of water.  I reported my find to both the Harrison Village Council and the Invasive Species Council of BC at https://noninvasive/invasives/japanese-knotweed/ so they could take action against this clump of knotweed on the lakeshore.  

Both Surrey and White Rock have taken steps to combat this noxious weed that is mainly controlled by applying the herbicide Glyphosate to the plant to kill it.  Better known by its trade name of Roundup, this chemical is non-selective and translocates down into the roots killing the entire plant.  Treated areas are generally cleared once the plant has died and the area monitored for possible regrowth the next year.  While these two cities are working to solve this problem, unfortunately they are fighting a losing battle.  With the extreme low tides from the full moon, I ventured onto the south facing section of Crescent Rock beach not far from Ocean Park in search of sand bars left exposed.  While the beach was beautiful, I was shocked by the large groves of Japanese knotweed all along the BNSF Railway.  These big clumps were growing every 15-25 metres on the area between the tracks and the rip-rap boulders.  Around homes this weed can push through asphalt and building foundations, damaging retaining walls and choking drainage systems.  Along the BNSF tracks these thickets impact sightlines for the railway engineers, hiding people foolish enough to walk on these waterfront train tracks.  Even worse, the ISCBC warns They have also been known to reduce the stability and integrity of the rail bed and compromise train safety."

I am going to be notifying the cities of White Rock and Surrey, the BNSF Railway, the BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change plus Fisheries and Oceans Canada because it is unclear who actually has jurisdiction over this area.  Removing this large amount of knotweed will not (knot?) be easy and using Roundup so close to the ocean might not be allowed due to environmental regulations.  It is extremely concerning that the BNSF has apparently done little to control the spread of this noxious weed in an area that might affect train safety.  I do know that the Railway already uses Roundup on the ballast rock in the rail corridor to control unwanted vegetation but the knotweed groves are just outside of this area growing in the boulders used to stabilize the tracks and protect them from erosion.  The other issue is that seeds and tissue from these plants can float away on the tides and infest other areas of Boundary Bay including those on the American side where it is already on the radar of the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board.

For more information on knotweed please refer to the following invasive species websites.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lads of the Semiahmoo people.



Monday July 24, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Stop Stumping The Hump

The latest cutting of trees and clearing of vegetation on the Hump hillside is now complete but knowing the history of White Rock Mayor & Council it is likely to continue unless there is a ground swelling of public support to let this forested area that was clear cut in 2015 regrow.  It is worth noting that the current mayor, Megan Knight, was a Councillor at that time aligned with the White Rock Coalition that also included current councillor Bill Lawrence.  They seem to be comfortable with continuing on with the legacy of Hump hillside clear cutting that was partly responsible for the then Mayor Wayne Baldwin and Coalition members being all kicked to the curb in 2018.  I guess they have never heard that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

For some reason, it seems that the residents of the Semiahmoo Shores strata located at 15165 Marine Drive apparently have the ear the current council and or staff at city hall yet again.  It was this 21 unit building that apparently was the driving force behind the push for so-called "vegetation control" needed in 2015 to view the retaining walls along Marine Drive at the top of the hump.  Of course, in White Rock, vegetation control actually means "clear cut the trees for views of the pier" and the Hump hillside was turned into a barren scar that was never replanted as promised.  I have been informed that the same strata and possibly the same people were also responsible for getting the latest brush and tree clearing done directly across the street from this four story condo building. 

On Monday there is a Regular Council Meeting being held at White Rock City Hall.  You can view the agenda online at   I am planning to be there for the beginning question and answer period to ask rather pointed questions to the current Mayor and Council about why the Hump hillside that is owned by the BNSF Railway is once again being cleared for views from Marine Drive.  Shortly after that Q&A is over, a delegation of four people, David Sharpe, Kerry Wray, Shelley Mare and Jan Wild will attend to discuss vegetation on the Hump.  My guess is they will praise the current tree cutting and ask for even more to be done to help improve the view from Semiahmoo Shores.

There might be a fly in the ointment to any plans to clear cut more trees on the Hump hillside.  I reported the recent clearing to the Transport Canada Rail Safety supervisor for this region, giving him my many reasons why I believe this threatens slope stability and railway safety in the area.  This included a lengthy history lesson on the geology of the region, previous landslides onto the BNSF tracks and the destruction of the forest that used to grow on the Hump.  An email I received from Transport Canada stated the following:  "  BNSF will follow up with the City of White Rock.  Transport Canada will continue to monitor the slope at this particular location as well as other slopes along the BNSF right-of-way to verify that BNSF railway operations remain compliant and safe."

I made sure to send my contact at Transport Canada the link to a YouTube video provided by former White Rock Councillor Erika Johanson who was chair of the Environmental Committee.  It features Geotechnical Engineer Callum Buchan talking about his findings regarding soil movement and slope instability on the Hump starting in 2009.  A portion of his talk goes like this.  "Seismic stability, things were not very good, the hillside is marginally stable.  After (the 2015 tree removal) we started noticing the pavement starting to crack up again.  More shifting of the road surface and it seemed to coincide shortly after the tree removal."  He called on White Rock to vegetate the hillside with deeper rooting woody species that could help in terms of providing root reinforcement and transpiration that really helps hillsides.  Mrs. Johanson believes "The current council was not paying attention to the dire warning of an expert brought in by the committee to discuss safety and slope stability on the Hump.    With all of the information I have made public about the Hump hillside, I hope that concerned citizens of White Rock will take the time to attend Monday's Council meeting with placards in hand.  Residents need to make sure that Mayor Knight and the current Council realize that cutting trees for the views of a select few is vastly outweighed by the threat of slope movement on the Hump and the risk of landslides onto the BNSF tracks.  They need to not be so short sighted and change their point of view, realizing that having a lovely green forest on the hillside along the promenade is also a great backdrop for the White Rock boulder as viewed by millions of people every year from the pier.  If White Rock politicians continue with their assault on the Hump, maybe the only way to stop it might be for a green slate to run on the promise to rejoin Surrey where motto is "The future lives here" and not "The City - Buy The Sea."

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.

CONTACT - Don Pitcairn



Monday July 19, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

More Stumps on the Hump!

I think I know how Bill Murray felt when waking up in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania-every morning in the movie Groundhog Day.  White Rock is up to its old tricks with arborist contractors once again cutting down trees on the Hump hillside between East Beach and West Beach.  This is in the area where two black-tailed deer were recently photographed that was posted on local social media pages.  The wild cherry and maple saplings were finally regrowing to a height of 10 metres after the hillside above the tracks where it was clear-cut in 2015 under the guise of "vegetation control" to allow access to check out the retaining walls along Marine Drive.  I guess the some of the newly elected council wants to act like the old mayor Wayne Baldwin and mow down the Hump trees yet again.  The clearing is at the viewing platform directly across the street from the four storey tall Semiahmoo Shores building located at 15165 Marine Drive if you want to see this latest debacle for yourself.

I have more than a few issues with this latest Hump hatchet job done by the City of White Rock on BNSF land that they do not lease from the railway.  This hill has had landslides before, with a photo from the pier in 1920 showing four vertical and one lateral slope failures after it was first cleared in the late 1800s when it was cottage country.  The Marine Drive sidewalk and handrail were replaced approximately ten years ago because it was leaning at a 15-20 degree angle towards the beach due to soil creep on the hill.  In fact, the 2015 defacto clear-cutting was halted near East beach when several active slide sites were located in the blackberries and alders, both species that thrive on disturbed land and areas of soil movement.  Of course, the clear-cutting was somehow needed to see the retaining walls they feared would collapse after large cracks were noticed in the middle of Marine Drive.  If people are not aware, one lane of Marine Drive did already collapse onto the Hump in the 1960s.

In 2008 the federal Ministry of Transport sent both Surrey and White Rock a letter warning that the cutting of trees on the steep bluff slopes for views in the Semi-pen was one of the top three reasons for landslides hitting the BNSF Railway tracks.  While there is a landslide detector fence along the Ocean Park bluff from West Beach to Crescent Beach, this simple low voltage wire safety system does not exist along the base of the Hump hillside.  The last time this slope was razed, there was a city sign promising replanting of trees and shrubs, asking the public to be patient with the process.  Well, here we are eight years later and not a single tree has been planted on the Hump by White Rock.  In fact, just to the east of the pier at the last parking lot, all of the shrubs that were in an area between two retaining walls have also been sawed to the ground and removed.  Apparently this was so that people parking above could sit and admire the view without having to get out of their cars, or even turn them off for that matter. 

It is interesting to know that the WR city website clearly states "The city cannot do tree removal or pruning on private property."  Obviously what they tell residents and what they decide to do behind closed doors are the complete opposite.  No word on whether the city had permission from the BNSF to clear cut the forest regrowth, or if they had a geologist conduct a slope stability study on the work area.  They also needed to hire a qualified environmental professional (QEP)  to perform a nesting bird survey to look for nesting birds between March 1st and August 31st.  It would be interesting to know what the cost to tax payers was for this tree cutting that the city says it cannot do, yet somehow manages time and time again regardless of their own rules and bylaws or the landslide risk.  What we do know is the city spent $1.7 million to shore up Marine Drive two years ago to keep it from collapsing.   I believe it would have been a lot cheaper to simply have left the forest on the Hump alone, protecting both Marine Drive above and the BNSF Railway below that regularly carries hazardous goods and 144 car long unit trains with tankers of crude oil along the waterfront.

I'm now starting to think that the only way to return the Hump hillside to its original state with a large canopy of trees is for residents to rejoin Surrey and put an end to to this ongoing madness tied to small town politics.  Until that time, the Hump should be classified as "Ravine Lands" and the cutting of trees for views should be completely forbidden except for rail safety.  Even better would be for the City of White Rock to purchase this area and designate it as a wildlife park, improving the overall tree canopy in the city that has been steadily whittled away.  When the Hump was forested only 15 years ago it made a great backdrop for pictures of the White Rock boulder and was a green gem for the City By The Sea.  Instead of cutting down trees on the Hump, we should be planting them instead, creating new nesting sites for raptors.  The Grand fir on the Hump that is called the "Eagle Tree" is not looking healthy, likely because all of the trees around it have been cut down.  When it goes, so do the eagles but not to worry, people can still look at the man-made pier now mainly composed of concrete and steel as it slowly disappears (dis-a-pier?) beneath the rising waves.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditeional lands of the Semiahmoo people.


Former last term White Rock councillor and chair of the Environmental Committee ERIKA JOHANSON posted this video on social media. 

Her comment was the current council was not paying attention to the dire warning of an expert brought in by the committee to discuss safety and slope stability on "the Hump (land between east ans west beach in White Rock).





Monday July 11, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

We often go down to Crescent Rock beach in south Surrey after dinner when it has cooled down to relax there until after sunset.  Thursday night was nothing out of the ordinary as my wife and I packed a light beach bag, leashed up the dogs and made our way to the shore looking westward across Mud Bay.  Finding an long empty stretch of beach, we settled down with our blankets and chairs getting ready for the upcoming days-end light show.  Little did we know there would be plenty of action to see long before the sun went down.

I heard a low droning noise from the south of an approaching plane, which is nothing out of the normal for Crescent Rock.  What really caught my attention was when I looked towards the sound and saw a plane literally skimming the water.  I quickly grabbed my phone out of my pocket and hit record on the video camera.  At first I thought the aircraft was going to ditch in the ocean when I realized it was an amphibious plane.  It hit the water, bouncing several times completely clear of the waves before finally settling into the water a hundred metres offshore.  The pilot shut off the power to the engine, opened the bubble window of the plane, stood up and turned around, opening up the rear engine cowling.  He proceeded to work on the engine area for approximately fifteen minutes while the wind and waves pushed the plane north towards Crescent Beach.  Just as I was considering putting a call into the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 5 in Crescent Beach, the pilot closed up the craft, got the engine running and took off heading south in the direction he had come from. 

We recognized a couple further down the beach and went to talk to them about this strange incident that we had a front row seat for.  While in discussions with them about why the pilot had chosen to land his plane, my wife Sheryl noticed something very odd about the far horizon.  In the distance you normally see the hill of Tssawwassen and Point Roberts that descends down to the farm flats of Ladner with barns and groves of trees across this area.  Instead of the usual view, the buildings and trees had been replaced with a bizarre collection of monoliths connected along the top by a thin horizontal line.  It looked somewhat like Stonehenge or a Roman aqueduct running throughout the Ladner farm region.  We sat there in amazement watching this spectacle as some of the pillars slowly changed in shape and size.  Having seen highway mirages where it looks like there is water on the road in the distance, I surmised that it must be some sort of mirage that was somehow reflecting the light and changing what we would normally see.  What was really odd was a boat far out on the bay appeared completely normal as it moved along just under the weird display.

OveR the course of about ten minutes the strange sight slowly started to morph and dissipate towards the north into the setting sun.  When the sun finally kissed the ocean, the effects of the mirage were gone and the horizon had returned to its normal view.  It was not until we got home that I decided to research what we had seen, typing in "mirage ocean light inversion."  In 0.42 seconds with 7,620,000 results, Google spat out the answer with something I had never heard of before, an optical illusion known as a "Fata Morgana (mirage)".  You can find a rather detailed explanation about this optical phenomenon on Wikipedia at .  I'm going to give you the Coles Notes version of this listing in layman's terms to help describe how it works.  A Fata Morgana is a superior mirage visible in a thin band just above the horizon that distorts distant objects including boats, islands and the coastline.  This form of mirage comprises several upside down and right side up images that are stacked upon one another, often in compressed or stretched zones.  It happens when rays of light bend through a thermal inversion with warm air over cold dense air, creating a thermal duct acting like a refracting lens that can stack both inverted and regular images on top of each other.  Best I could do, I'm not Bill Nye.

UBC has some interesting information about optical phenomena in their ATSC 113 course on Weather for Sailing, Flying and Snow Sports at .  In it they discuss how to recognize and explain optical phenomena over the sea including mirages, Fata Morgana and the green flash.  They explain how inferior and superior mirages occur and have photos showing their strange effects.  By far the most interesting thing shown there is a photo of the snow covered Mt. Cheam and Mt. Baker apparently floating like icebergs over Nanoose Bay on Vancouver Island.  Normally these mountains would be far below the horizon but due to the bending of light they were suddenly visible appearing to float on the water of the Salish Sea.  They also explain the Fata Morgana in detail and a very weird phenomenon I have witnessed only once called the green flash that is sometimes visible as the sun sinks below the horizon and the atmosphere breaks the light like a prism, showing a few seconds of green at the top of the setting sun.

I always tell people to go to the beach for sunset as you won't know how beautiful it will be unless you are there.  It turns out that an amazing sunset might not be the only thing you get to see on the waterfront.  Around these parts it could be optical illusions suddenly appearing, planes landing on the water in front of you, powered hang-gliders whizzing by at low altitude, or the Coast Guard hovercraft showing up on a rescue mission.  On the wildlife side it could be grey whales spouting and tail lobbing, families of sea otters playing, bald eagles catching fish, black-tailed deer walking by, salmon jumping, seals and loons feeding, and at Crescent Rock people skinny-dipping.  Besides the exercise needed to reach the beach, the fresh air and connection with nature is both relaxing and rejuvenating.  I'd rather stare at a magnificent sunset reflecting off the water than watch a TV or computer screen.  It's good to unplug and get away from our technology dominated existence and get back to basics, enjoying what nature has to offer us on the shores of the Semiahmoo peninsula.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.


July 04, 2023

The Naked Truth 

The $.316 Million Dollar Man

Last week the City of Surrey made public their 2022 Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) for the year ending Dec. 31st, 2022.  You can find it online on the City of Surrey website at   

Now to be honest, reading this report is about as dry as eating white toast with no butter, lightly seasoned with belly-button lint and served with a glass full of sand.  You have to be an accountant to fully digest the numbers, most representing $1,000 dollars, contained within this report.  That being said, there are plenty of diamonds in the rough if you don't mind spending some time to dig for them.  Sorry to say that I didn't mine the really juicy detail but someone spotted a line item on page 108 of this 119 page report dealing with schedule of payments for goods and/or services.  There it was in black and white, a payment to Peck & Company Barristers for $316,663.50.  The City confirmed that this money was paid for former Mayor Doug McCallum's legal defense after he was charged with Public Mischief last year.  The amount of this bill was not previously released due to privacy concerns before appearing in the 2022 SOFI.

Now in Doug McCallum's defense (pun intended, free of charge), I should point out here that he was found not guilty and acquitted of the criminal charges laid against him.  I found it rather nauseating that Surrey taxpayers were left holding the bag for his legal bills in the first place since Mr. McCallum admitted he was food shopping at Save-On-Foods when he was confronted by a Keep The RCMP In Surrey (KTRIS) supporter who allegedly ran his foot over.  Personally, I don't believe that McCallum's legal bills should have been paid for by the City of Surrey when he was not on official business and not acting on behalf of the City at that time.  Somehow it was decided that this situation met the criteria for his legal bills to be paid and McCallum hired Peck and Company to represent him in court.  For more background to this story, read my Nov. 28, 2022 TNT titled "You Be The Judge" at

Peck and Company Barristers is owned by high-profile lawyer Richard Peck, widely believed to be the most expensive lawyer in B.C. if not all of Canada.  Mr. Peck was the lead counsel for alleged terrorist mastermind Ajaib Singh Bagri who was acquitted along with Ripudaman Singh Malik in the 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people (note: Malik was shot dead in Surrey on July 14, 2022 with two men now charged with his murder).  More recently Peck was also part of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou's defence team that fought her extradition to the US to face fraud and conspiracy charges.  Hiring a lawyer of the stature of Richard Peck does not come cheap and it was a surprise for many to learn that Surrey taxpayers would be on the hook for McCallum's defense.  I should reveal here that Surrey has several lawyers on their payroll and others on retainer for legal work.  Why none of these city employed staff were chosen to represent the then Mayor is a question that nobody wants to answer.

The 2022 SOFI also contains financial information on the schedule of remuneration and expenses of elected officials (see page 54).  Topping the list for elected officials was D. McCallum with a base salary of $139,798.  Throw in his separation allowance of $13,015 for losing the election, taxable benefits of $12,549 and expenses of $3,022 and he banked the tidy sum of $168,384.  If you compare Doug's base salary with his legal costs, Peck earned $176,865.50 more than what the former Mayor was paid in 2022, or a whopping 226 percent more money than what the mayor earned.  Even when you add on all of the benefits and expenses, Richard Peck still billed for $148,279.50 more than what the former Mayor was paid for the entire year.  If you add McCallum's 2022 total remuneration plus an additional year of his base salary, it still comes almost $8,500 short of the legal bills paid for him.

In the real world, it is highly unlikely that somebody would be willing to pay such high legal fees for a relatively minor offence.  The standards for when an elected official qualifies for their legal fees to be paid needs to be reviewed and new criteria selected.  Taxpayers should not be subsidizing high-priced legal dream teams, especially when someone is arrested for criminal behaviour that has nothing to do with their role or position.  If it is determined that an elected official or staffer needs legal representation paid for by the City, one of the lawyers already working for Surrey should be appointed to represent them.  If this is not agreeable to the person charged, then they should feel free to open up their wallet and pay for their own legal bills.  There should be no blank cheque given to the Mayor or anyone else to hire outside legal representatives regardless of the cost to the taxpayer.  

Naturally your,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live. work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People


Monday June 26, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Sure Sign It's June

No, the sure sign of June is not cold and wet weather commonly referred to in these parts as Juneuary.  I had to laugh when the word started being used after a week with some rain and cooler weather when we weren't setting new temperature records yet again.  For me, I know it's June when I start to see these rather bizarre and interesting bugs you see in the photo above flying around.  Commonly referred to as June bugs or watermelon beetles, the one we get here is the 10 Lined June beetle (Polyphylla decemlineata) that is a member of the wider scarab family of beetles that has been on the earth for 230 million years.  

These bugs with a shell that resembles the striped caramel candies our grandmothers liked to give out are quite common throughout western North America and the Pacific northwest, emerging from May to July depending on the daytime temperature.  They are a fairly large beetle measuring 2.5 - 3.5 cm. in size with five white stripes on either side of their elytra, the rear shell that covers their wings.  They are attracted to bright lights at night and can often be found under street lights or in parking lots during the day.  In fact last year I located six June bugs at the Husky station on KGB near 34 Ave. just in the area where I had parked my vehicle.  I went back there on the weekend to look for more but it was closed and under reconstruction.  

Built with the aerodynamics of a bus, June bugs are not the best at flying and have an annoying habit of bouncing off you or landing and holding on tight with their sticky claws.  They do not bite, sting or scratch and about the worse thing they do is to make a slight hissing or sneezing noise when disturbed.  That being said, when a June bug lands in your hair, gets entangled and starts hissing, people do tend to freak out.  The Brown June bug that can be found in the Okanagan is even larger than their ten lined cousin.  I was at a camp one night when one flew into a girl's hair and she thought it was a brown bat instead.  Needless to say, she gave us all quite the dancing exhibition while trying to get it out.

While the adults are harmless, it is the larvae that can do real damage.  Eggs are laid in the ground in the summer and become fat white grubs 2 cm. long that live in the ground for 2 -3 years feeding off the roots of lawns, vegetables, plants, shrubs and trees.  With constant eating and when they are numerous these pests can damage and even kill Christmas trees and orchard trees.  Because they have such a varied appetite and can affect a large number of crops, the June beetle is considered a pest.  I do occasionally find June bug larvae when planting shrubs and usually throw them onto the pavement where birds quickly locate and devour this tasty treat that is 50% protein and nearly 20% fat.  

June bugs were always a favourite of mine as a young boy.  Besides their large size and striped shell, they have light brown fuzz on their underside that is surprisingly soft to the touch.  Their double clawed feet and spiny legs make them the velcro of the insect world and you have to be careful not to rip their legs off if they are hooked into your clothing.  While both male and female look similar, the male June bug has large antennae with lamellate plates that they use to detect pheromones from the females.  You can carefully pet these and the beetle will quickly fold them up when they feel threatened.  June bugs are always interesting to find and are hard to miss when one comes flying by.  Keep an eye out for them here in the Semi-pen as July is almost here.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, e=work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.


Monday June 19, 2023


TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Our Home on Native Land

This weekend saw the official opening of the Totest Aleng Indigenous Learning House at the Elgin Heritage Park on Crescent Road in South Surrey.  This land along the Nicomekl river that includes the historic Stewart Farmhouse is situated on the unceded, traditional and ancestral lands of the Salish peoples, including the Katzie, Kwantlen and Semiahmoo nations.  As explained on the City of Surrey website,  "The new facility provides local space to support Indigenous cultural practices, including carving and other creative disciplines. The unique venue includes enclosed studio space, as well as an open-air pavilion to support additional programming and gathering. The programming model for the facility will include artists-in-residence, workshops, events and school programs."  You can learn more about this new building, its purpose and intended uses at 

The opening certainly attracted a large crowd of well-wishers including Chief Harley Chappell of the Semiahmoo Nation and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke with most of the Surrey Council attending plus representatives from the other First Nations.  Mayor Locke gave the opening speech welcoming all to the gathering and explaining the collaborative work that happened between the City, First Nations, Federal government, Heritage BC, and Friends of the Surrey Museum and Archives Society who helped develop and fund this project.  Chief Chappell and other indigenous leaders gave speeches about the importance of the Totest Aleng and how it will help promote the spirit of reconciliation towards indigenous people.  Several songs were sung to the beating of drums in their native language with plenty of traditional regalia on display.  The youth of the Semiahmoo were then invited to perform several dances that ended with the boys and girls getting to introduce themselves in both their tribal and non-native names. Then it was time for the ceremonial ribbon cutting which took several attempts by Mayor Locke and Chief Chappell with an oversized pair of scissors before people were invited inside the building.

The opening of this Indigenous Learning House and carving centre is a good time to focus on some of the First Nation sculptures and totem poles that are currently on display in White Rock and south Surrey.  On 20 Ave. and 144 St., the Elder Moon and Under the Double Eagle by Semiahmoo artists Leonard Wells and Leslie Wells are mounted on display in the centre of the traffic roundabout leading to the South Surrey Athletic Park.  These two round carved discs were installed back in 2009 when the traffic circle was built and unfortunately they are starting to show their age.  On the Elder Moon the wood is starting to crack and the painted surfaces are weathering and fading with much of the black colour flaking off.  The Double Eagle is faring even worse with much of the white background now showing bare exposed wood and the bottom of this sculpture where the two eagles join having tattered teal blue paint that is hanging in shreds.  It is not only the wooden discs that needs repairing, the two light boxes that illuminate this sculpture at night for aesthetics and safety reasons are both not working, leaving this sculpture vulnerable to damage, vandalism and theft.

At White Rock Elementary the old totem pole (house pole) on the west side of the property still stands in a rather dilapidated state.  It is covered with moss and lichen with the paint fading and flaking off in many areas.  Several wooden pieces that extend out of the body of the pole including an arm have been broken off and never replaced.  The nearby deciduous trees have not been trimmed back in years, obscuring this piece of historic First Nation art and shading it heavily, greatly increasing the growth of moss and lichen.  When the school was recently rebuilt there were plans to relocate this pole to the north-east corner of the property where a concrete base now stands empty.  In the 2021-2022 White Rock Council Strategic Priority Report the restoration of the totem pole at the White Rock Elementary School grounds was listed as a community objective but given low priority.  It really looks as if nobody cares about the totem as it appears it has never seen any maintenance or repairs and with the school now built, this project has likely been forgotten.

It is no better across 16 Ave. in Surrey as the totem pole that adorns the front entrance of Ray Shepard elementary is also in poor shape.  It sits in full sun so it does not have the covering of moss and lichen but many of the problems at the White Rock elementary pole exist here too.  The paint is faded and peeling off with large cracks running through the wood.  There are eight areas where appendages used to stick out of the main pole but these have either rotted away or been broken off over the years.  As it currently stands, only the thunderbird wings are still in the place, with its tail feathers missing as is evident by the lack of paint in this area on the back of the pole where they were attached.  There are bent and rusted screws sticking out of the wood in multiple locations where pieces of the original artwork have been removed.  It may be that much of this damage was caused by people climbing the sculpture over the years as there is nothing in place to keep people off the totem pole.  It is surprising that this piece of indigenous history shows zero maintenance or repair being done to it, even though it occupies a place directly in front of the school front entrance.

This Wednesday is Surrey's National Indigenous Peoples Day with a celebration and wellness event being held in Cloverdale at the Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre from 3-8 p.m.  With the largest non-reserve indigenous population of any city in Canada, Surrey should be taking better care of the totem and house poles on their property.  The four indigenous carvings I have noted in this TNT all need work to bring them back to their former glory, replace broken parts and protect them from the elements.  In the spirit of reconciliation, this should be given high priority before they get weathered and damaged even further.  All of the First Nations totem poles at Stanley Park in Vancouver are cleaned, repaired and restored on a constant basis.  The collection of historic totem poles at Brockton Point are the most visited attraction in Vancouver BC and possibly all of Canada.   Left to rot, the poles and sculptures in south Surrey and White Rock will eventually be lost to the weather and ravages of time.  The other possibility is they might be cut down, a fate that occurred to the totem pole by the old visitors kiosk at the Douglas border crossing that was chainsawed into pieces by a Surrey crew in the 1990s without any notification to the Semiahmoo First Nation across the street on Beach Ave.  

For information on the conservation and restoration of totem poles, please refer to this wikipedia listing below.  I should note that any work planned on these carvings needs to include the original artist if possible, the ritual and ceremonial significance of the piece involved, the beliefs and wishes of the First Nations people of that territory, plus the safety of the children for the two elementary school totem poles.

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


Monday June 12, 2023

TNT - The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Gaggle of Geese

Take away the trees and the birds All have to sit upon the ground, uum Take away their wings and The birds will have to walk to get around And take away the bird baths And dirty birds will soon be ev'rywhere Take away their feathers and The birds will walk around in underwear Take away their chirp and the Birds will have to whisper when they sing And take away their common sense and They'll be headed southward in the spring

That's "To-Surrey" Bird walk

Edited lyrics to Tennessee Bird Walk by Buck Owens, The Great White Horse album, 1970

I drove out to the Fraser Valley early this weekend on Saturday and Sunday mornings along the border separating White Rock and south Surrey.  On both occasions, I encountered large flocks of Canadian geese adults and their fuzzy offspring crossing North Bluff Rd./16th Ave. just east of Oxford St./148th St., which explains the double street names.  On Saturday morning all four lanes of this major arterial road were blocked to traffic as these geese slowly sauntered from the White Rock side of the road headed north over to the Southmere Village Park and the drainage ponds located there.  Thankfully all of the drivers were patient with letting nature take its course and they were apparently enjoying the spectacle by the smiles on their faces.

Now here is where the rubber hits the road on this issue that I already covered two years ago.  This has been a public safety and wildlife safety issue for quite some time as the flock of geese continues to grow every year.  People who are unaware of the situation have to swerve on the roadway or slam on their brakes to not hit these birds that show no fear of cars or trucks.  It really has been amazing that nobody has been seriously hurt or a large number of geese killed by an impatient or distracted driver.  The situation was so bad that two years ago an unknown person installed three yellow driver warning signs on lamp posts along 16th Ave. on the Surrey side reading "Caution, Geese Crossing" with the silhouette of an adult goose followed by five goslings.  While they looked legitimate, they were noticed and deemed non-conforming by the City of Surrey and promptly removed.

Several weeks later after the illegal Geese Crossing signs were taken down by the Surrey Engineering Department, the City of White Rock installed "Wildlife Area" signs on the south side of North Bluff directly across from the Southmere Village Park where the geese constantly cross the road.  This white sign with green lettering shows an adult goose followed by three goslings.  At that time White Rock's director of Engineering Jim Gordon stated "The City of White Rock was contacted by residents who were concerned for the safety of geese crossing North Bluff Road.  The City also wanted to prevent motorists from stopping suddenly when encountering unexpected wildlife."  Kudos to the City By The Sea for getting it right and reacting promptly and decisively to post this much needed nature signage.

Well folks, that was two years ago and on the Surrey side of 16 Ave. near Southmere Village Park, there is still no signage warning drivers about the wildlife crossing in this area.  Back then the City of Surrey's Parks Manager Neal Aven said the resident fabricated signs were removed "since they are non-standard and not appropriate in this location."  To make matters worse, Mr. Aven went on to say “The city has recently completed Biodiversity Design Guidelines, which includes considerations for wildlife crossings (that) will be used by city staff to determine appropriate locations for this type of signage throughout the city.  Exact sign locations will be determined through the consistent application of multiple factors to ensure that ‘Wildlife Crossing’ signs are installed where road users have a reasonable expectation of encountering wildlife so as to ensure drivers remain attentive when encountering these signs across the city.”

What is it going to take for someone at Surrey City Hall to get off their bloated bureaucratic butt and put up some conforming wildlife crossing signs by Southmere Village Park?  It is absolutely ridiculous that staff have done nothing in the past two years except to remove the warning signs printed and posted by an unknown resident that looked exactly the same as those used in Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack.  While they promised to do something about this situation that endangers both the public and the geese, they have instead chosen to ignore this problem.  Now maybe White Rock residents pay more in taxes and actually get service for their money but Surreyites should be outraged that what is good for the goose in White Rock is not good for the gander in Surrey.  It makes me wonder if those in charge of both Parks and Engineering in Surrey are a bunch of flocking idiots!

I'm ready to have my sign guy, Robert at Signman Signs on 20th Ave. (shameless plug) make me some Wildlife Area or Goose Crossing signs and put them up myself.  They are also readily available on Amazon in a variety of styles for under $20 (hint..., hint...).  The other option is for me to take a can of road marking paint and put "GEESE XING" and a big arrow onto the lanes of 16 Ave.  When faced with stupidity and inaction out of City Hall, I find the best way to get their attention is to embarrass them publicly, especially with TV cameras from news networks there filming the action.  The wildlife signage should have been posted two years ago by Surrey who have now let two spring seasons go by with hundreds of geese slowly crossing the roadway in groups and long lines.  For this snafu, the City of Surrey should be shamed and those responsible for this ridiculous delay in posting wildlife safety signage need to be tarred and feathered.

If you want to contact the folks at Surrey City Hall currently responsible for posting some "Geese Crossing" signs on 16 Ave. at Southmere Village Park, please take the time to call or email these two folks and voice your concerns. 

You might want to include a link to this story and tell them you read about it in the White Rock Sun at

General Manager Surrey Parks
Laurie Cavan
Phone: 604-598-5760

General  Manager Surrey Engineering

Scott Neuman

Phone: 604-591-4042


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.




Monday June 05, 203

Time and Tides

Living in the Semi-Pen and being an outdoor enthusiast, you start keeping an eye on the weather to help plan your day and outside adventures.  Then if you love seeing a really epic sunrise or sunset, you start keeping track of the changes in daylight and the beginning and end times to the day.  Once the sun goes down it doesn't mean the fun is over as you can also keep track of the phases of the moon during the month.  There is even a time for moonrise and moonset, which can happen anytime day or night depending on the season.  Case in point, after dinner on Saturday night we jumped into the car and went searching for a place to watch the strawberry moon moonrise (the first full moon in June) that happened at 9:26 pm, only a short time after sunset at 9:12 pm.  We ended up at the far end of East beach enjoying this lunar spectacle on the eastern horizon while the sky was still coloured by the sunset in the west.  As the saying goes, "timing is everything."

While all of this is wonderful, around these parts it is the tide chart that gives you the most pertinent information as to what is happening at the beach and on the water.  If you scroll down to the bottom of the White Rock Sun's daily page you will find a listing for the tide forecast in this area.  For a dedicated beach bum like myself, it tells you what the height of the water will be, when the tide will turn and how much available beach you can expect.  For much of the Semiahmoo peninsula, when there are strong high tides, the usable beach area is greatly reduced, limiting any thoughts of marine recreation.  At Crescent Rock beach, people have built suntanning platforms above the high water mark to ensure a dry location but it still makes getting home difficult if waves are crashing against the rip-rap boulders that line the shore protecting the train tracks.  The lack of sand along White Rock is also an issue at high tide but at least there is still the strip of grass along the promenade to spread a blanket and enjoy the waterfront.

Of course, for anyone who wants to venture out on the water, knowing the information contained in the tide chart is not just useful, it can be life saving.  There are portions of the day when being on a kayak, canoe or paddle board can be very difficult due to some of the extreme currents that coincide with a 15 foot change in the tide height.  Experienced folks using non-powered watercraft keep one eye on the tide forecast and the other on the time knowing full well that their journey will become an epic battle against the forces of nature if they are struggling against the current and wind.  There is nothing worse than paddling your heart out only to realize that you are making no headway when looking at the shore.  The nice thing is that with a 30 day tide chart available, you can now make recreational plans up to a month ahead, cherry picking those days when the tides and times are working in your favour and not against you.  Of course the weather can always scuttle your plans but keep in mind, there is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices.

With the full moon this weekend we have experienced extreme tides with differences of nearly 15 feet or 4.5 metres.  It is really a different world when you go to any of the beaches here when the low tide is at zero feet and there are miles of shore and sand flats to explore.  The weekend had very low tides but this Monday and Tuesday will see lows of 0.1 feet or 0.02 metres.  The best part about this is these ultra lows will happen at 12:55 pm and 1:41 pm, meaning there is a two hour window on either side of these times to go exploring areas of the Semiahmoo peninsula that are usually deep under water.  If you have ever wanted to walk from White Rock to Crescent Beach, this is the time to do it so you don't have to climb over boulders or get run over by a train after climbing onto the tracks when walking becomes impossible.  At Semiahmoo beach, it is possible to walk almost to the Canadian USA border on the sand flats to where the 49th parallel marker poles are located.  I will warn you now, it is a rather long walk there and back so you will need to be in shape and bring both water and sun protection.

If you are busy working and can't make it out in the next few days, do not despair.  Just after Canada Day that falls on a Saturday this year, the next four days from July 2 to 5th have four extreme low tides including one on the Monday that will be slightly below zero in the middle of the day.  That is the date I have already circled on our calendar hoping that the weather will be sunny and warm with no smoke in the air.  If you ever need a mental health day, this statutory holiday Monday is the time to hit the beach.  Experiencing and exploring the shoreline and sand flats of the Semiahmoo peninsula at these special times is like watching an episode of "Drain The Oceans" but in real life.  If you have children they will love it but ensure you get back to the beach before the tide roars back in.  Years ago when I was a young teen, my neighbour and I were on a sandbar far out from Crescent Beach when the tide turned.  On the way back in the water got so deep we both had to swim.  The current took us from Beecher Street to around the corner near the swimming pool before we made it to shore.  Needless to say, our parents sitting on the beach were rather frantic when they realized the tide had come in and we were nowhere to be seen.  

Here is the listing for that you can find posted daily at the bottom of the White Rock Sun which has a 30 day forcast.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo Nation.




Monday May 29, 2023

Land For The Band

The time has come to say fair is fair
To pay the rent, to pay our share
The time has come, a fact's a fact
It belongs to them, let's give it back

How can we dance when our earth is turnin'?
How do we sleep while our beds are burnin'?
How can we dance when our earth is turnin'?
How do we sleep while our beds are burnin'?

Lyrics to "Beds are Burning" song by Midnight Oil, Diesel and Dust album, 1987

This weekend was the 47th annual Alex Fest held at Alexandra Neighbourhood House in Crescent Beach, now renamed simply Alex House in an attempt to decolonize its history dating back over 100 years to 1916 when it was first used as a camp for needy mothers and children from Vancouver.  On Saturday it was Family Day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. with various family and kid friendly entertainment on a main stage, a small stage and children's zone with admission by donation.  On Sunday it was time to put on the dancing shoes and enjoy the music of a wide variety of musical talent including Nuvo Zydeco, the Ocean Park Wailers, the Gale Force Blues Band and many more.  If you made it to the party, I hope you had a great time and for those just learning about it, mark it on your calendars for next year.  

There is a great write-up on the website about the history ot Camp Alexander and Crescent Beach Community Services by Donni Klassen.  You can find it online at this direct link:   It gives a decade by decade account of the camp's use as a summer retreat for orphans and disadvantaged youth along with pictures of the people from these eras.  It also details the slow building up of the camp's various outbuildings and property assembly that ended up at its current 2.5 acres in size.  For anyone living in south Surrey and White Rock, it is worth a look to understand the roots of Alex house in our community.  You can also visit the Alex House website at to learn about their activities and its mandate of "contributing to a vibrant, inclusive and caring community" in this neighbourhood house.

I was rather taken back to learn that the posters advertising for Alex Fest contained the disclaimer "Hosted on the stolen and occupied land of the Semiahmoo Nation, with respect and gratitude."  Looking into this I found that the About Us tab on the Alex House website begins with "Alex House has operated on the stolen land of the Semiahmoo Nation since 1916."  It would seem that someone has confused unceded defined as "land never legally ceded or given up to the Crown through a treaty or other agreement"  with stolen defined as "taking  another person's property without permission or legal right and without intending to return it."  This column has a land acknowledgment printed with it each week as a way of honouring the Semiahmoo First Nation and the indigenous history of this region.  I have asked Chief Harley Chappell if he considers all of the land here stolen from his people at the beginning of colonization and am awaiting his response.

Here is where the rubber hits the road on this issue with me.  If people are in possession of stolen property and publicly acknowledge that it is such, should it not be returned to the rightful owner?  As an individual, being caught in possession of stolen goods can get you arrested and charged by the police, with the items being returned to the rightful owner after being used as evidence in court.  If Alex House wants to take the stand that the land they occupy is indeed stolen, then in the spirit of truth and reconciliation it should be returned to the Semiahmoo First Nation.  I highly doubt that the band office would refuse to take ownership of 2.5 acres of prime Crescent Beach property with buildings that currently rent for $3,500 a night.  If Alex House really wants to show proper respect and gratitude, maybe they should follow Midnight Oil's lead and give the land back.  To acknowledge they are on stolen property and continue to keep it shows that they are happy with being admitted thieves, regardless of their misguided woke intentions.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nations



Monday May 22, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Tarantula Terror!

WARNING!  If you are afraid of spiders, they give you nightmares, or really hate the movie Eight Legged Freaks you might want to skip this TNT.

Being an avid gardener, environmentalist, naturalist, naturist and also barely housebroken, I tend to spend a lot of time outdoors.  Besides getting to enjoy Mother Nature for much of the day and sometimes at night, I also manage to run into some of its more bizarre and obscure inhabitants.  When I was younger a friend of mine returned from Arizona with a tarantula embedded in plastic resin that he gave me for a birthday present.  Not only did I think it was the coolest thing ever, I had a great time scaring the heck out of my classmates at school with it (sorry about that girls).  Now try not to get too freaked out, but BC is home to its own tarantula related spider that you can find on the Pacific coast from Oregon all the way up to Haida Gwaii, including on Vancouver Island and in the little town of White Rock. 

I'm not going to reveal the exact location where the spider shown in this TNT was found but it was close to North Bluff Road and Bergstrom Road in the City By The Sea.  It is Antrodiaetus Pacificus, one of only two tarantuloid species in Canada, the other being Sphodros Niger found in Ontario.  Its common name is the Pacific foldingdoor spider and when you see one, especially the female, it is definitely hard to ignore.  This spider has eight eyes with two larger ones in the middle and three smaller ones on each side of its head.  It is large and robust with thick body parts and very little hair.  Like all spiders this one has eight legs, it ranges in colour from light brown to black, and has very large thick fangs.  Most of the Pacific folding door spiders you might come across will be an average of 2.5 cm. across but they can grow up to 5 cm in size and live for up to 20 years.

What is rather unique about this spider is that it is terrestrial and does not spin a traditional orb web.  Instead it burrows into the ground excavating a tube up to 30 cm. deep and 5 cm. wide that it lines with silk.  At the surface of the ground it spins a double sided door hinged on either side that it then camouflages with soil and vegetation to match its surroundings.  The spider places trip lines of silk radiating out from the door and at night this nocturnal spider hides just under the surface waiting for its next meal to walk by.  When an insect like a beetle, centipede or ant crosses the trip wires of silk, the spider feels the vibrations, throws open the door and leaps out to attack its prey.  Once it incapacitates its victim with venom, it then drags the body into the silky cavern where it liquifies and ingests its vital fluids and organs.

You can often find the Pacific foldingdoor spider when gardening or out for a walk in the woods.  Hoeing weeds, digging up shrubs, planting flowers or raking up leaves and debris will often disturb their nests and send them running.  If you do see one of them try to resist the temptation to squash them underfoot and instead take the time to examine this rather unique spider.  Even though it has extremely long and strong fangs, the Pacific foldingdoor spider is not aggressive and its venom is not particularly harmful to humans.  It is the most northern Mygalomorph in North America, a classification that includes the tarantulas and funnel web spiders with primitive features and fangs that stab downwards instead of pinching together.  Because of their rather brutish look with heavy set legs and body parts plus its longevity, this spider is often captured and kept as an exotic pet.

Besides gardening, the best time to see these amazing little tarantulas is in August to October when males venture around looking for a mate.  When he finds a willing partner, they both retreat into the female's burrow to mate.  The male will then leave the lair and continue his search with the female beginning to lay her eggs in her silky tube several months later.  After a further two months the eggs will finally hatch and shortly after that the spiderlings, as the babyspiders are known, will leave the safety of the burrow and venture out to make their own ambush nests.  The Pacific foldingdoor spider is actually more common than you think but with their nocturnal feeding habits and concealed nests, it is likely you could easily pass by one a hundred times and never notice anything out of place.  At least now if you do get to see one you will recognize it and realize how unique it really is.

Check out this YouTube video of a Pacific foldingdoor spider that is sitting on a man's arm and being held with his gloved hand.  If you are an arachnophobe or if this TNT has already given you the willies, you might want to give it a pass as it is kind of creepy.

Your friendly neighbourhood spider man,

Don Pitcairn  

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.


Monday May 15, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Crescent Log Beach 

Welcome to the hottest day of the year with record heat that is double what we would normally expect in mid-May.  With a mini-heatwave falling on the weekend, the beaches were full of people and families trying to beat the scorching temperatures.  In White Rock the city has crews clean up winter storm debris from their public beaches, removing piles of logs that would occupy most of the usable shore area used for recreation while positioning long smooth logs for people to sit on and lean against.  The city of Vancouver does the same thing, clearing out rotten old logs and laying out the prime ones to create maximum usable space at English Bay, Kits and Stanley Park.  Metro Vancouver also does beach maintenance at Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen plus at the world famous Wreck Beach in Pacific Spirit Park so they remain usable.  At Crescent Rock beach, the naturists who frequent this rugged section of shoreline take the time to cut and move logs, rake up seaweed and driftwood, plus use rakes and shovels to create smooth beach areas for nude recreation.

Unfortunately the city of Surrey appears to be the only city with oceanfront beaches that does not perform regular beach maintenance to collect the logs that drift onto the shore during the winter.  The western facing shoreline of Crescent Beach is clogged with over 400 logs, many that are rotting away because they have been laying on the beach for so long.  In some areas logs are piled up over a dozen wide, taking up 20 to 30 feet of prime sandy beach area.  The shoreline in front of the lifeguard tower at the northwest corner of Crescent Beach looks more like a log boom than a marine park that is under the jurisdiction of the second largest city in the Lower Mainland.  Besides covering much of the beach, these logs represent a hazard to people who have to climb their way over them, plus are a major impediment to anyone who is mobility challenged or have kids in strollers.  If the little town of White Rock with only 22,000 residents can perform shoreline cleanups and log removal every spring, you have to wonder why the city of Surrey, with over 550,000 residents cannot clean up Crescent Beach.

It is not like cleaning up the western shore of Crescent Beach would be a monumental task.  The easiest way to do this would be to have an excavator drive along the top of the beach and use a bucket with a mechanical thumb to pick up the logs.  Anything old, rotten, too small or oddly shaped could be grabbed and put into a bin truck driving alongside on the walkway.  Any logs too long to fit in the disposal truck could be chainsawed by cleanup crews into smaller pieces for easy loading. Long smooth logs could then be placed in several broken lines along the beach, creating useful areas for recreation instead of prime sandy beach being used for driftwood log storage. Depending on their location, some of the old rotten logs could even be left in place higher up the shore to ensure wildlife habitat and to give the beach a more natural look while freeing up much needed space for people.  With an ever growing population in Surrey not to mention the rest of the Fraser Valley, the number of people using Crescent Beach will only continue to grow making log removal and shoreline cleanup an essential component of this marine park's annual maintenance program.

Crescent Beach is in a sad state right now because of the large amount of logs that floated into the Salish Sea during the atmospheric river flood event back in November 2021.  Currently I would estimate about 300 logs could be removed from the shore of Crescent Beach.  Once this is done, yearly maintenance in the spring would be much less considering that some of the logs have likely been in place for over twenty years.  When the tide is high, much of the usable beach area is currently covered by old logs so removing them would greatly increase the sandy beach for people to use.  In 2014 Surrey remove all of the sand catching wooden groynes that were rotting away, replacing them with composite pilings and beams to stop erosion and protect the beach.  Performing regular maintenance to remove debris and align remaining logs would greatly improve the beach while creating much more open and usable space for recreation.  It is up to Surrey's Council and their Parks Department to ensure that Crescent Beach is properly maintained to the standard that is common on all of the other public ocean beaches in the Lower Mainland.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn   

I respectfully note we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nations.



May 08, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Ramping Things Up

I'm two for two over the last month and thinking the third time is the charm.  Two out of the last three TNTs dealt with unsafe roadway topics, namely Highway 99 in south Surrey and 20 Ave. from King George to 152nd Street.  Well I'm happy to report that the cable median barriers were installed on Hwy. 99 over several nights last week on either side of the Nicomekl river ensuring that there will be no head-on crashes in this area.  On 20 Ave., work was closed for a day and the site prepped for painting with new up to code traffic lines put on the area in question and stretching out towards the Surrey Athletic Park.  Mission accomplished on both of these construction sites that unfortunately were left in very unsafe conditions by the Ministry of Transportation and the Surrey Engineering Dept.  I'd like to think that with the sudden focus on their construction site safety that they would ensure the other areas under their control were up to snuff.  Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure so here I go lighting a Bunsen burner under their buttocks.

Not far from where the median cable barrier safety system was missing for over a month after construction was completed on Hwy. 99, the 32 Ave. on-ramp project is a dangerous mess.  Heading east on 32 Ave. from the KGB you turn left at the light under the overpass to go onto the onramp heading north onto HWY 99.  There are two lanes turning left in this location that used to form into one line further up the on-ramp with signage and lane markings letting you know it was time to merge.  Well, I don't know what the site managers were thinking but currently these two lanes merge into one in the intersection under the bridge  with no advance notice, no signage, no road lines, no nothing.  Only through the grace of God and some alert driving by the people dealing with this SNAFU has there not been a real life game of bumper cars.  I should note here that in the BC Motor Vehicle Act, it is illegal to change lanes in an intersection, something that might come as a surprise to many drivers these days.  To make this area safe, one of the left hand turn lanes should have been shut down since there is only one on-ramp lane on the other side of the intersection.  Thank you Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for again dropping the ball on safety and endangering the driving public.

As bad as this example of crap engineering threatening lives is, it pales by comparison to what is happening at the Ladner Trunk Highway 99 interchange in East Delta.  This involves the on-ramp to Hwy. 99 heading southbound from Ladner Trunk Road heading eastbound.  I know this roadway that dates back 60 years very well as it has the shortest run-up of any on-ramp in the Lower Mainland.  It was always challenging to get up to speed, pick your spot in traffic and safely merge before having to drive down the shoulder of the highway.  With work underway to add the third lane for the new tunnel, some genius thought it would be a good idea to grind out the shoulder and shorten it up even further.  It is hard to believe but there is only 16 metres of on-ramp for you to get over into traffic in only 0.75 second or slam on your brakes and stop before heading into orange safety barrels and over a 20 cm. drop-off in the pavement leading to the gravel.  The total length of the entire on-ramp including blocked areas and traffic signs is 26 metres in length or 85 feet.

I took defensive driving years ago and know all about reaction time and stopping distances.  This changes with road conditions, type and weight of vehicle, condition of tires and driving ability.  To look at the best case scenario, let's consider the average family car, on dry roads and a driving speed of 80 Kmh, far below the 100 Kmh speed limit on Hwy. 99.  With reaction time and stopping time, most of the road safety websites calculate it at 52 metres or twice the length of the on-ramp that currently exists.  When you look at the 16 metres of available on-ramp, the stopping distance is over three times what the BC Highways and Infrastructure engineers have left for drivers to navigate in an area marked yield, not merge.  In fact, if you look at the pictures posted in this TNT, you will see you only have the space of two dotted lines to make your move and join highway traffic. If you do not have a space or meet a semi-truck in the right lane, good luck getting stopped before you plow into the barricades and fly off the pavement.  If you do manage to get stopped, try to imagine joining rush-hour traffic from a standstill with zero room and no shoulder.  

I really have had enough of road contractors putting people's lives in danger.  I drove through both of these on-ramps last week with my truck and trailer measuring over 40 feet and barely managed to make it through without crashing.  On Monday morning this TNT gets posted on the White Rock Sun.  At 8 A.M., the RCMP Deas Island Freeway Patrol will be called about both of these road hazards.  After that, WorkSafe gets notified and hopefully shuts both of these on-ramps down until they can be made safe for the traveling public.  After that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure gets notified along with the cities of Surrey and Delta.  Both Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford and Delta South MLA Ian Paton are already fully aware of these issues and will likely ask the NDP Transportation Minister Rob Fleming about these fiascos in the Legislature in Victoria.  With the shit-storm this will likely produce and other media outlets looking into the story, I would expect to see instant changes to both of these roadways and safety changes implemented immediately.  

Now here's the rub.  It is not my job to ensure that roadways under construction are safe for the traveling public.  I don't get paid to point out dangers on highways, on-ramps, intersections or arterial roads even though I see things that are a hazard on a constant basis.  I don't do this for publicity, notoriety or to make a name for myself.  I do this because it pisses me off that it never should have happened in the first place!  Having been at the scene of many serious and fatal vehicle crashes I take this stuff seriously after seeing the tragic consequences first hand.  How these two on-ramps were allowed to stay open when they were obviously dangerous to a layman seriously needs to be questioned.  The persons who were responsible for both of these situations should be reprimanded or fired for being totally incompetent.  The NDP government and WorkSafe need to ensure that the work being performed on our highways and byways is being done safely and does not pose a threat to the public.  Maybe then we can all come home safe after our daily commute, instead of our family members heading to the hospital Emergency ward or getting a knock on the door from a constable with bad news.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live/work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nation


May 01, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don PItcairn


The State of Police in Surrey


So here we are more than six months after the Surrey Municipal election and we finally get a decision by the NDP Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth after the government spent much of this time looking at the pros and cons plus price tag of the city reverting back to the RCMP and ending the Surrey Police Service as the Police of Jurisdiction (POJ).  Amazingly it took three months later than was initially promised for a decision by the Provincial government to be made in this important decision on public safety in Surrey.  It certainly was no surprise to me that Farnworth sided with the SPS as I thought this was extremely likely considering the delay and the extra money it has cost Surrey City Hall who are essentially paying for two police forces.

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, who initially endorsed the SPS when she was a member of the Safe Surrey Coalition before finding out the true cost and defecting to start Surrey Connect, was not impressed with the provincial analysis report.  Amazingly she was not provided with a copy of the 500 page report until half way through the Solicitor General's presentation.  Making matters worse, there were many parts of the report that were heavily redacted with large portions blacked out completely.  For those people who thought this would be end of the POJ fight here in Surrey, think again.  It turns out that that while Farnworth can "strongly recommend" that Surrey keep on with the transition, it is non-binding and the final decision on what to do still belongs to Surrey.

It is not like the NDP did not try to sweeten the deal in the eleventh hour.  Along with the recommendation to continue to ditch the RCMP, Magic Mike promised to help Surrey pay for the SPS, promising up to $30 million a year for the next five years to help finance policing operations here.   Of course, it was also pointed out that keeping the RCMP would cost the City of Surrey $72 million in severance to Surrey Police Service officers, with the Province unwilling to help pay for these costs.  The price difference at this point now stands at $222 million, a figure big enough that it might help to persuade some Surrey councilors to back Farnworth's plan to stay with the SPS.  If that is the carrot, the stick for keeping the RCMP is binding provincial conditions that include hiring an implementation advisor, a HR plan to deal with SPS officers, a revised Surrey plan that would not rob other jurisdiction of RCMP officers and hiring senior RCMP officers to oversee re-staffing.

Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum who lead the charge to create a municipal police force in Surrey held his own news conference only minutes after Sol-Gen Farnworth wrapped up his presentation.  Accompanied by Safe Surrey Coalition councilors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra, McCallum called the promised money to pay for the police transition a "huge opportunity."   Surrey First councilor LInda Annis lamented that the decision on the POJ in Surrey had been returned to Council and once again called for a referendum on this issue to allow the residents of Surrey to have their say on who polices the city into the future.  Anita Huberman of the Surrey Board of Trade was not impressed with the recommendation to continue to police transition in Surrey that is not helping resolve public safety issues in the community.  BC Green Party chair Adam Olsen even used the opportunity to blast the NDP for not moving towards a provincial police force and a regional approach.

With all the political capital she has invested on returning to the RCMP, it was not surprising to hear that Mayor Locke plans to continue with the RCMP as POJ in Surrey.  It remains to be seen if all of the Surrey Connect councillors will feel the same now that the BC government is offering to help soften the financial blow of continuing on with the SPS.  Unfortunately it seems that confusion and uncertainty will continue to dog this policing issue that was fatally flawed from the start.  For those looking to learn more about the Soc-Gen's decision on the Surrey policing issue, I have included it below including the 503 page report titled, "City of Surrey's Police Model Transition and Decision to Retain the RCMP."  Sorry to say that you can't read it all because besides of many redactions throughout, pages 50-62, 120 - 159, 161 - 281, 284-305 and 335-503 that have been totally omitted for reasons unknown.  I did the math; that's 360 pages out of 503 left blank or 72% of this important document about policing in Surrey.

Public Safety and Solicitor General
Securing public safety for Surrey and the province
The Province is recommending the City of Surrey continue its transition to the Surrey Police Service, because it ensures public safety for people in Surrey and throughout British Columbia, while offering financial assistance to protect Surrey taxpayers.
The recommendation comes after a systematic report by the director of police services concerning plans put forward by the City of Surrey, RCMP and the Surrey Police Service (SPS). Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, has agreed that the best way to achieve public safety in B.C., especially given the ongoing RCMP vacancy challenges, while putting this difficult time behind Surrey, is with a municipal police force.
Currently, there are approximately 1,500 RCMP vacancies throughout the province. The report states that Surrey reverting back to the RCMP would exacerbate the challenges faced by municipalities and Indigenous communities by increasing demand for officers and aggravate public-safety concerns. Filling RCMP vacancies is the responsibility of the federal government.  
“Everyone deserves to be safe in their community and all British Columbians deserve secure, stable policing they can count on,” Farnworth said. “The people of Surrey are very frustrated by years of uncertainty over this debate, but we must move forward without reducing police presence when we need it the most. Now is not the time to put public safety at risk in Surrey or in any community in the province.”
The report by the director of police services details how the transition to SPS can be safely undertaken. The report also details concerns about the RCMP’s current retention and recruitment challenges and outlines potential implications on the RCMP police presence in other regions of the province if the transition is reversed.
The Province has offered financial support to the City of Surrey in the transition to a municipal police force to ensure no additional costs to Surrey residents.
“This path forward will ensure safer policing for all regions of the province, including the people of Surrey, and provincial support will help keep them from paying significant property tax increases,” Farnworth said.  
Quick Facts:

  • Under B.C.’s Police Act, a municipality with a population of more than 5,000 has the authority to provide its policing and law enforcement by means of establishing its own municipal police department.

  • In 2018, City of Surrey council decided to move away from Surrey’s RCMP police model and opt for its own municipal police department, the SPS.

  • The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General approved the transition plan in February 2020 and the City of Surrey has been implementing the transition since that time.

  • In November 2022, the City of Surrey’s newly elected mayor and council decided to maintain the RCMP as its police model and reverse the transition.

  • The transition to the SPS is well advanced, with approximately 400 officers and support staff hired.

  • The ministry commissioned an independent financial analysis of the submissions that concludes the SPS’ plan to staff 734 officers will cost approximately $30 million more per year than the RCMP.

  • Additionally, the analysis confirmed the costs of severance from disbanding the SPS and reverting to the RCMP would cost the City of Surrey approximately $72 million.

Learn More:
To read the director of police services’ report, visit:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live/work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people


Monday April 24, 2023


Head-On Crash Course

20 Ave. looking east from 154 St.

This TNT could easily be titled "The Middle Of The Road 2" coming after last week's piece about how the BC Highway Ministry apparently failed to hire a contractor in a timely manner to put the median cable barrier safety system back on Hwy. 99 after repairs were completed on the Nicomekl River bridge.  This time it's the Surrey Engineering Department's turn to stand up and take a bow..., bowing their head in shame that is, for the horrible and dangerous condition of 20 Ave. from 152 St. to 156 St. (plus other areas) that are leaving motorists at a very serious risk of being involved in a head-on crash.  This issue is so bad and so unwarranted that instead of reporting it Mayor Locke or the Surrey Engineering Department, I think I'm going to alert WorkSafe to this hazardous job site.

I realize that 20th Avenue from King George Boulevard (KGB) to 152 St. is undergoing major roadwork to upgrade the pipes in this neighbourhood.  I have had plenty of time to watch the work that has been performed because I pick up and drop off an employee in the midst of the construction zone.  That was why I was on site last week reporting about a stolen Mercedes loaded with propane bottles that crashed through a hydro pole at the corner of 154 St. and 20 Ave.  Now in that case I'm sure that excessive speed and likely a mixture of drugs and/or alcohol were responsible for this early morning crash where the occupants miraculously escaped and even managed to run away.  A contributing factor might have also been the lack of painted centre lines, a condition that has existed there since late last year.

When construction first started in this area, for reasons unknown the yellow double solid lines painted on the roadway were physically removed by grinding them off the asphalt.  Maybe the idea was to repaint them somewhere else to allow for digging but along the way the reason was apparently lost and 20th Ave. ended up with no centre lines for almost three blocks from 153 to 156 St.  I realized the danger involved in this several weeks ago when I saw a car heading westbound in front of my buddy's house driving in the wrong lane using the far painted curb line as if it was the centre line.  How this person did not realize they were driving like it was Surrey, England and not Surrey, Canada is completely beyond me.  Fortunately nobody was coming the other way or it would have been a major head-on accident.

20 Ave. looking west to 156 St.

East of this location the road conditions are even worse if that is actually possible.  Most of 20th Ave. is so rough and rutted that I refuse to drive through it in my 4x4 truck.  It's not really the suspension I'm worried about, I'm more afraid the jarring impacts of this ripped up road might loosen some of the old mercury fillings in my teeth.  From 154 St. to 156 St., the road resembles the moon with it having been dug up east-west and north-south in multiple areas.  At the 20 Ave. and 156 St. intersection a fresh excavation has eliminated the dotted white line heading eastbound while an older excavation that now has faded asphalt obliterated the yellow solid centre line at the edge of the left hand turn lane long ago.  In fact, the only paint on the road from curb to curb are the large left hand turn arrows that give the only clue that this lane even exists.  When drivers turn west off 156 St. onto 20 Ave., they literally have to guess where the lanes are.

I have spent many winter vacations in Mexico and I kid you not when I say that the roads in that country are far better than what we see here in Canada.  I realize that Surrey is a big city but the roads here are just crap with sunken man hole covers, pot holes, crumbling road surfaces and dug up areas that never get properly repaved.  We have a convertible sports car and I find driving it is hard on my back because of its stiff suspension and all of the holes in the roads.  Probably the best street in Surrey is now Colebrook Road either side of the KGB that was completely repaved, taking it from worst to first.  It used to be so bad I would never dare to drive on it with my work truck and trailer.  I'd like to think that when 20 Ave. in completed it will receive a top coat of fresh asphalt and a new set of lines.  Until that time, the Surrey Engineering Dept. cannot leave this road in its current state that endangers drivers and anyone working there.

On a related topic I have one more thing to get off my chest about centre lines on roads in Surrey.  At the nearby 17 Ave. and 154 St. intersection the yellow lines in the middle of the road do not line up.  They are offset by about a metre so if you drive straight you will slam into an oncoming car doing the same thing.  Now, do they blame both the drivers for this crash or does the City of Surrey get sued for allowing this dangerous condition to exist?  What other cities do in this case is to put small dotted lines across the intersection showing the shift, or grind the lines off and repaint them properly.  If you think this is an isolated situation I know of at least a half dozen of these offset lines including the one not far from my house at 24 Ave. and 124 St.  The number of times I've had to honk at unaware drivers heading towards me at this spot is just ridiculous but in reality it is not their fault.  As I often say, "bad engineering kills people."  You can quote me on that.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live/work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.


UPDATE April 27

After a visit from Worksafe inspectors on Monday and a day with this job site apparently shut down, new road lines have now been painted on 20th Ave.

It is once again safe for both drivers and city of Surrey Engineering Dept. workers.


Monday April 17, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

The Middle Of The Road

"The middle of the road is trying to find me
I'm standing in the middle of life with my plans behind me
Well, I got a smile for everyone I meet

As long as you don't try dragging my baby

Or dropping the bomb on my street

Now come on, baby
Get in the road
Oh, come on now

In the middle of the road, yeah"

Lyrics to "Middle of the Road" by the Pretenders, Learning to Crawl album, 1983.

Years ago there was only a thin strip of grassy median separating vehicle traffic on Hwy. 99 through Delta and Surrey.  I had the experience of viewing the aftermath of several head-on crashes that happened there with mangled cars and air ambulance helicopters taking away the injured occupants.  When cable median barriers started to be installed in Chilliwack in 2007, I campaigned to have them put onto the Hwy. 99 median after counting the tire track marks in the grass from 36 cross-overs in only a few winter months.  It took a wrong-way driver initiating a five car crash including a cross-over collision that paralyzed a Richmond Fire Captain living in Cloverdale for the barriers to finally be approved.  Since they were installed, the cable barriers that I like to call "the shredder" have proven to be highly effective in eliminating head-on crashes on Hwy. 99.

Terminus of the cable median barrier on Hwy 99 near KGB with open median for nearly 1 km.

Unfortunately there is a serious issue with this vaulted safety system that runs from near the Hwy. 17 interchange all the way to the Canada/USA border.  Over the past year, crews have been working on the Nicomekl River Bridge Rehabilitation Project on Hwy. 99 between the KGB and 32 Ave. (not the Nicomekyl Bridge Replacement on the KGB).   In this stretch of highway, the four strand cable median barriers were removed to allow for change in traffic flow as work proceeded.  Well, the work has now been completed, the construction crew trailers and their equipment have been removed and the ground there covered with hydro seed to grow new grass.  Unfortunately it seems that someone at the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has been asleep at the safety switch, because there is almost a kilometer of highway in this area with nothing in the median to stop head-on crashes from happening.

Heading southbound onto Hwy. 99 from the KGB, the cables terminate before the on-ramp to the highway ends, continuing 500 metres with an empty median to the retrofitted Nicomekyl River Bridge.  Crossing this long span, the median is clear for over 400 metres heading up the hill towards 32 Ave., with the next section of safety cables coming out of the ground just past the pedestrian overpass in that area.  In case you are thinking this has something to do with the continuing work on the 32 Ave./Hwy. 99 Interchange Improvement Project, that is not the case since the safety cables were never touched during the on-ramp and off-ramp work.  The median cable barrier system on either side of the Nicomekyl River bridge should have been reinstalled immediately after the concrete no-post barriers used to separate the flow of traffic on Hwy. 99 during construction were removed.  It is absolutely remarkable that this important highway safety system was seemingly forgotten about.

The paved parking lot median sections of Hwy. 99 on both sides of the 152 St. overpass.

It turns out that this glaring deficiency is not the only problem with the median cable barrier system in use across the Semiahmoo Peninsula.  In Dec. of 2017, a transport truck carrying a piece of over-height equipment slammed into the 152 St. overpass causing serious structural damage.  In order to facilitate the necessary repairs and keep traffic moving, two 100 metre long sections of the median were filled level and then paved with asphalt.  Three months later when the bridge was finally fixed, traffic on Hwy. 99 began to once again flow northbound in the regular right and left lanes.  Unfortunately instead of tearing up the temporary pavement and recreating a grassy median, the gravel and asphalt were left in place along with the cable barrier.  The problem is that the posts were never designed to be used in a solid roadway where they are likely to snap off with contact.  If this happens, the cables will likely stretch further than they were designed to, possibly allowing a vehicle still ensnared by the cables to extend far into the oncoming lane. 

Somebody at Mainroad or the Ministry of Transportation needs to wake up to the serious public safety issues at both of these locations and take immediate action to fix them.  The Nicomekyl Bridge on Highway 99 needs to have new cable median barriers installed immediately before Murphy's Law swings into effect and there is a serious head-on crash on this now open stretch of highway.  The paved median sections on Hwy. 99 at either side of 152 St. need to be removed and re-landscaped, or heavy concrete no-post dividers need to be installed on both of these areas that the cable barriers were never designed for.  I'm pretty sure this will happen since our MLA Trevor Halford is going to be questioning the Transportation Minister Rob Fleming in the Legislature on Monday about the problems on Hwy 99 and how nobody noticed these glaring safety issues before they were brought to his attention by a columnist writing for the White Rock Sun.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn    

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People




Monday April 10, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Soldiering On

It's been a very interesting weekend with everything this Easter pointing me towards soldiers and military history.  This started last week when I learned from the Manager of the Surrey Museum in Cloverdale that the Cenotaph had been vandalized after learning the bronze statue of a soldier on top of it was missing.  This story was broke here first in the White Rock Sun, even before the local Cloverdale Reporter got wind of it.  Because of the violent desecration of this sacred military symbol of sacrifice and bravery, I made sure to share it with several other media groups and it did not take long for this story to blow up on TV, radio, print and social media.  My hope was that the Surrey RCMP would release some of the CCTV footage of the perpetrator that had booted the statue of the kneeling soldier until it broke away, plus kicked at the cross of the unknown soldier.  Well, low and behold, the RCMP issued a media release late Saturday with the alleged vandal's face clearly showing.  Here are both the photo and the release; look closely to see if you can identify the suspect.  

Surrey RCMP is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying a person of interest in relation to a mischief to the Cenotaph located outside the Surrey Museum at 17710 56A Avenue, Surrey. The incident occurred on March 29th, 2023, at approximately 01:30 hours. The suspect was observed dismantling the statue of the Kneeling Solder as well as damaging various items outside of the Museum.

The suspect is described as a Caucasian male, approximately 30-35 years old, medium build, approximately 170 lbs, with brown shoulder length hair, brown goatee beard and wearing prescription glasses (Please see attached photo). He was last seen wearing a black jacket with a blue shirt underneath, black pants, white runners with blue shoe laces.

Anyone with information about the identity and/or whereabouts of this person is asked to contact the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502, or Crime Stoppers, if they wish to remain anonymous, at 1-800-222-8477 or, quoting file number 23-48046.

This story and taking pictures of the damaged cenotaph minus the kneeling soldier, nicknamed Willy,  got me looking into the history of the monument and the following description that I found at on the Heritage BC website at

The Cloverdale Cenotaph was built by the Municipality of Surrey, along with assistance from various community organizations, following World War I. Designed by municipal clerk Clair Lemax, the Cenotaph was unveiled in May 1921 to a crowd of approximately 1,500 people. The Cenotaph was originally located on the west side of Surrey's Second Municipal Hall, and was dedicated in August 1921.

A German field gun, captured by the 47th (Fraser Valley€) Canadian Infantry Battalion in 1918, was originally mounted on the Cloverdale Cenotaph. The gun was melted down for war materials during the Second World War. The Cenotaph was moved to the Surrey Fair Grounds in 1961 and a stone cairn and cross were added to the top. The Cenotaph moved to its current location in 2006, when it acquired newly inscribed granite panels and a sculpture of a kneeling solider.

While the names inscribed on the Cenotaph are all those of Surrey residents who lost their lives in service during the First World War, the Cloverdale Cenotaph also commemorates those who lost their lives in the Second World War, the Korean War, and while serving as Peacekeepers.  The Cenotaph is Surrey's principle war memorial and serves as a reminder of the local sacrifices made in world conflicts.

The Peace Arch News ran a great historical piece on the Cloverdale Cenotaph back on Nov 14, 2017 by reporter Sue Bryant that is still online.  It makes for fascinating reading at the following link:

Just when I thought I'd had my fill of wartime history, a friend told me the three flags at the huge "Welcome To Surrey" sign on Hwy. 99 and 8th Ave. were being flown at half mast.  I contacted a reliable and informed source at Surrey City Hall and found out that Sunday was Vimy Ridge day, a non-statutory holiday that happened to fall in the middle of this year's Easter long weekend.  Since 2003, Vimy Ridge Day has been observed on April 9th in Canada to honor and commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place during the First World War at Vimy Ridge, France, in 1917. The Canadian flag on Parliament Hill’s Peace Tower in Ottawa is required to be lowered to half-mast by law. Wreath-laying ceremonies are held at the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, and other locations around the country.  I knew about the Canadian troops assault on Vimy Ridge and the rolling artillery barrage that proceeded before the advancing soldiers but had forgotten much of the history that I was taught in high school.  Both the British and the French had tried multiple times to take this high knoll, losing 150,000 men in the process.  The Canadian Corps were ordered to assault the ridge and used a precise scripted battlefield plan with 1,000 pieces of heavy artillery and hidden tunnels to help move troops to the front.  Starting on April 9, 2017 the Canadians advanced taking the last of the Ridge on April 12, with nearly 3,600 lives lost and over 7,000 wounded.  The Canadian War Museum has a great story on this battle that you can read at

I ask you to take the time to check out the websites for the stories embedded in this TNT to learn this important history lesson or simply refresh your memory.  I'm hoping that the RCMP release of the photo showing the person of interest in the Cenotaph vandalism results in someone being arrested and charged with this heinous crime.  The bronze statue of the kneeling soldier who is dressed in a 47th (Fraser Valley) Canadian infantry Batallion uniform is being repaired and will hopefully soon be back at his rightful place on top the cenotaph kneeling before the grave of the unknown soldier.  Of the many things I learned researching this TNT is that the original Cloverdale Cenotaph was first unveiled to the public on May 22, 1921 on the Victoria Day weekend.  It turns out that May 22, 2023 will be the holiday Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend.  I could not imagine a better time for the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #6 to invite the public to the plaza between the Surrey Archives building (the original Surrey City Hall) and the Surrey Museum to celebrate the return of "Willy" and all that the 102 year-old Cloverdale Cenotaph stands for.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we work, live and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo people.


 Monday April 03, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Weapons in White Rock


The B.C. man who allegedly slashed a man's throat on a transit bus in Surrey, B.C., on Saturday is facing terrorism charges.

According to court documents filed by the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, the man is alleged to have committed the assault for the Islamic State.

Abdul Aziz Kawam, born in 1995, faces four terrorism charges for attempted murder, aggravated assault and two counts of assault related to the attack.

He was arrested after a stabbing on a bus traveling near the Fraser Highway and 148 Street in Surrey, B.C., just after 9:30 a.m. PT Saturday.


Elenor Sturko, the MLA for south Surrey is certainly making a name for herself these days with her relentless attacks on the NDP as the Liberal shadow cabinet Minister for Mental Health, Addictions & Recovery.  It was divine timing when this former police officer was at Laura's Coffee Corner several weeks ago when a man outside apparently having a mental health crisis started yelling at customers.  Having dealt with these situations before, she approached the man who pulled a hunting knife from his clothes before fumbling it to the ground.  In one swift motion Elenor put her foot on the knife and kicked it back behind her where another patron grabbed it and ran inside the coffee shop.  White Rock Police, with offices around the corner, were quickly on scene and apprehended the man who now faces criminal charges.

It was extremely fortunate that nobody was hurt in this confrontation that unfortunately is becoming ever more common these days with increasing substance use, mental health issues and homelessness.  Having somebody on scene with police training and empathy towards people with mental health issues certainly was a bonus in defusing this situation.  It was reported that the agitated man's mother showed up soon after he was apprehended and that she told Mrs. Sturko she hoped he could now get the mental health support that he needed.  A new mental health and substance abuse facility has now been opened at Peace Arch Hospital but the Health Minister Adrian Dix recently announced more staff need to be hired for it to be fully open.

Knives have been in the news recently for a couple of high-profile crimes.  On the previous weekend, 37 year-old Paul Schmidt was stabbed to death at a Starbucks restaurant at the corner of Granville St. and Pender Ave. in Vancouver in front of his horrified fiancé and their 3 year-old daughter.  Apparently, this happened after the dad asked a man standing nearby not to vape near his young daughter.  A 32 year-old man, Inderdeep Singh Gosal, was quickly arrested after bystanders flagged down police and he has since been charged with second-degree murder.  Closer to home, a confrontation on a Translink bus in Surrey on Saturday quickly resulted in a knife attack.  In this case a man pulled a large kitchen knife and slashed another man across the throat.  He was quickly arrested by Transit Police and the victim taken to hospital in critical condition.  Neither the assailant or victim have been identified at this time and attempted murder charges have been filed.

If you think that living in White Rock means you are safer than in Surrey, think again.  The Crime Severity Index rating for both Surrey and White Rock is almost identical for both cities.  If you think that is surprising, you will be shocked to know how many knives I have discovered stashed in bushes here.  Over the past four years myself and the crew of my commercial gardening company have found five edged weapons in the City By The Sea.  These include two large kitchen knives, a double-edged army bayonet including scabbard, a machete with a 15" blade and a folding hunting knife.  As to how or why these weapons were hidden or disposed of on the sides of White Rock streets, we have no idea.  What I do know is that we never used to find discarded syringes either but unfortunately they are becoming a much more regular site when we are cleaning up in uptown White Rock.

With the number of people who are carrying knives for protection or as a weapon certainly on the rise, it is getting dangerous to confront people who are acting out or doing crimes on the streets or the beach.  If you complain to someone about their behaviour you might get stabbed for your troubles.  The police wear bullet proof vests as part of their protective gear but it is knives that pose the most threat as they are easy to acquire and conceal.  Something as simple as a click-it boxcutter can be a deadly weapon in the hands of a wrong person as was shown by the 9-11 hijackers who used these razor-sharp knives to kill the pilots.  Remember that it was a knife which was used to kill 15 year-old Dario Bartolli in Bakerview park back in 2014 that was never solved and White Rock mechanic Paul Paul Prestbakmo's two teenage attackers stabbed him to death at the McDonalds restaurant in Semiahmoo Mall in 2019.

On a personal note, the man who has worked for me for a dozen years and lives in south Surrey was stabbed in the back as a teenager during a robbery attempt in Newton in a crime that was never solved.  The son of a family member was one of two teenagers robbed by a group of youths with a machete on Crescent Road over a dozen years ago, with this swarming attack also never solved.  The same young man was stabbed multiple times and left for dead in a ditch near a Newton house party several years later, again with this crime never being solved.  Knives do not attract attention like guns as they are silent and don't leave evidence such as bullets and casings.  It is my advice to stay away from parks and the beach after dark and to be careful where you walk at night.  A customer of mine recently confessed that she and her girlfriends now always carry dog-repellent pepper spray when walking in uptown White Rock.  She bought it at the local Canadian Tire store in a cute little pink container for only $20, not far from the six types of machetes they currently have in stock.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live, work and play on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo People.





March 27, 2023

Catatonic Over Cougars

If you live in the Semiahmoo peninsula and want to keep informed on what is going on in this beautiful little corner of the world, there are two things you must do.  First off is to check out the White Rock Sun on a constant basis where you can read local news, find out who is playing live music, get fantastic recipes and meet unique and interesting people.  Heck, you might get so excited about it that you contact the editor and start writing a weekly column for this online newspaper.  Next up is to join the White Rock/South Surrey Community Group on Facebook that is a public forum and has 36,000 members, making it a great way to connect with your friends and neighbours and find out what they are experiencing here.

Now imagine my surprise several weeks ago when a cougar sighting was reported in Ocean Park, south Surrey.  With this area fairly built up you have to take these sightings with a grain of salt unless someone has photographic proof of their encounter.  There are still plenty of connected green spaces and deer are living amongst us so having predators hunting them should not be unexpected.  Here is the FB posting about this recent local sightibng.

"FYI - Two of my sane and sober neighbours ran into a juvenile cougar (not this one which is a stock photo) in Huntington Park area (131 st and 21 Ave South Surrey) yesterday evening.  The cougar ran from one neighbour’s dogs, so it’s probably very young and I would suspect quite disoriented.  Be careful with your small animals, and if you see it please call the BC Conservation Branch 877-952-7277."

It turns out that this was not the only cougar sighting that was reported to this community Facebook group.  Last week another big cat was reportedly seen in the Country Woods neighbourhood north of Hwy. 99.  Here is the FB posting of this encounter:

"This afternoon on Country Woods Road at approx 3 pm I spotted a cougar, I’m 99% sure it was one (I was walking my dogs down the road and was about 100 metres from it).  It was about the size of a Labrador, tan coloured and was sleek. It looked like a young one.  What gave it away was it’s tail.  I have seen many coyotes in the area and it definitely wasn’t one of these.  I called it in to the Conservation officers.  It  was crossing the road and went into someone’s yard heading  in the direction of the trails off of Country Woods Road towards Highway 15.  Posting here for awareness."

This is not the first time that cougars have been reported in this area with two more FB postings on the WR/SS Community Group in July and August of 2021.  The comments on these posts included other alleged sightings in East Beach and the LIttle Campbell River including security camera footage that showed a cougar on the prowl.  Here are both of the posts that were only a month apart.

"Please be careful with your animals. I spotted a cougar 2 days ago walking up the hill of Royal Ave. between Foster and Johnson, around 1 a.m. on Saturday night, an ACTUAL Cougar!"  "I am reporting a cougar sighting yesterday in Kwomais park, Ocean Park yesterday afternoon. Take care with small dogs and children."

Now if you think that everyone has gone to the dogs, consider that in March 2021, a cougar was seen on CCTV footage wandering down a parkade ramp in Surrey near the Langley border a block from Willowbrook Mall at 196 St. and 64 Ave.  In August of 2021 another cougar was caught on a driveway security camera in Langley at 55 Ave. and 240 St. as it stood up against the 5-6 ft. gate and then easily jumped over it.  This cougar was very large, rippling with muscle and easily cleared the gate in a single leap.  Both of these incidents were filmed in the middle of the night on a weekday when traffic is light and things are quiet.  I have had the pleasure of encountering a cougar in the wild while hunting but for those who have not seen one, check out the video of the Langley cat at this link.

With cougars on the prowl in Langley and apparently spotted over the past few years in the Semiahmoo peninsula, here is information posted on the WildSafeBC website about what to do if you meet up with a mountain lion.  "Cougar attacks are very rare, but if you encounter a cougar, keep calm and never run. Make yourself look as large as possible and back away slowly, keeping the cougar in view, and allowing a clear exit for the cougar.  If attacked, always fight back and never “play dead”.  If travelling with small children, pick them up immediately. Children are most at risk in a cougar encounter and they should be taught how to behave appropriately to stay safe (see "Children and Cougars" in "Safety").  For more information on cougars, check out .

To report cougars in conflict, sightings in urban areas, or a cougar showing unusual or aggressive behaviour, call the Conservation Officer Service at 1-877-952-7277.  If you spot a cougar or have CCTV video footage showing them in the south Surrey and White Rock region, please contact the White Rock Sun editor at as we would love to see and post it.  The TV news media are aware of the reports of cougar sightings in the Semiahmoo peninsula but are waiting for photos or video proof before running a story about big cats apparently roaming in the Semi-pen.  Please do not report "cougar" sightings from any of the local bars or pubs even if you have pictures or video footage.  This joke has already been used too many times on Facebook and nobody wants to hear how you barely survived the encocunter.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live work and play on the traditonal lands of the Semiahmoo People.




Monday February 27, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

The Case For Cold Water

In case you missed it, there was a rather unique winter swim that took place at Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach on Saturday morning. Members of the Surrey RCMP and their supporters took to the icy waters of Mud Bay, participating in the Surrey Polar Plunge as a fundraiser for Special Olympics BC. The Mayor of Surrey, Brenda Locke was in attendance but did not go into the icy waters, showing she is obviously a bright and intelligent woman. I started doing the Jan. 1st Polar Bare Plunge at Crescent Rock Beach 15 years ago and have also twice completed the Mat Hatters Swim Club trifecta of the White Rock, Crescent Rock and English Bay Polar Bear Swims in only 2.5 hours. More fool hardy than actual hardy, I've gotten rather used to my annual baptism in our local waters with temperatures varying from -2 to a balmy 10 C.

What I've learned is that there is a small but growing group of people who regularly go for swims in the ocean waters around the Lower Mainland. You can see several of these people taking dips at White Rock including a gentleman that I swam with on New Year's Day this year who is his in 80's. Through social media and Polar Bear swims, I've met a couple of ladies who take the plunge almost every day, either in the waters of White Rock or Kitsilano. A friend of mine says there is a younger man who sits immersed in the water off West Beach for 45 minutes before getting up and walking away apparently without any ill effects. I have no idea how he does it since the record for the Polar Bare Plunge was nearly 9 minutes and the "Ice Man" Mike Hustad came out of the bay with pink skin and his teeth chattering.

Now you may think that you need to be mad as a hatter to consider going cold water swimming and quite possibly you're right, but apparently there are significant health benefits attached to this pastime. Here is a list of some of them from the IPRS Health Group that I have added my personal insight to:

1. It boosts your immune system:

The effects of cold water on the immune system have been studied around the world. Cold water helps to boost the white blood cell count because the body is forced to react to changing conditions. Over time, your body becomes better at activating its defences and adjusting to the natural environment.

2. It gives you a natural high

Cold water swimming activates endorphins. This chemical is what the brain produces to make us feel good during activities. Cold water swimming is also a form of exercise, and exercise has been proven to treat depression. Cold water swimming brings us close to the pain barrier, releasing endorphins to help us cope with it.

3. It improves your circulation

Cold water swimming flushes your veins, arteries, and capillaries, forcing blood to the skin surface and helps to warm our extremities. Repeated exposure adapts us to the cold, boosts cardiovascular circulation leading to a healthy heart, a stronger immune system, well-balanced mental health and a high level of energy.

4. It increases your libido A dip in some cold water boosts estrogen and testosterone production, adding an edge to fertility and libido, along with increased confidence, self-esteem and enhanced mood, Going for a cold swim may help to heat you up for other exercises later.

5. It burns calories

The heart has to pump faster in cold water and the body must work harder to keep everything warm while swimming. Overall, far more calories are burned during cold water swimming than swimming in warmer conditions. This increase in metabolic rate over time helps to control weight.

6. It reduces stress

Cold water swimming places stress on the body physically and mentally. Many studies have identified the link between cold water and stress reduction. Cold water swimmers become calmer and more relaxed. Some cold water swimmers call this effect the "afterglow."

7. It is a great way of socializing and making new friends

There is a great sense of community and camaraderie amongst cold water swimmers. There is nothing that brings people together like facing a challenge and sharing the experience as a group.

Of course, there are safety considerations for immersing yourself in freezing cold water without a wet suit. There are rules posted on the Outdoor Swimming Society website that are as follows:

1. Acclimatise

As the temperature drops, just keep swimming and your body will get used to the cold. The end of summer is the perfect time to start cold water swimming. It will not be such a shock to the system as the sea temperature begins to lower heading into winter.

2. Be safe

Open water can be dangerous. Only ever swim where it is safe and make sure you can enter and exit the water quickly and easily. Consult your local tide chart before swimming and know the strength, speed and direction of ocean currents. Never swim on your own!

3. Wear the right kit

Wear a swimming hat, or two, to help preserve body heat. You can also wear neoprene gloves, booties, balaclava or a wet suit, whatever you feel comfortable with. If you cannot see the bottom, aquatic shoes or closed toe sandals should be considered essential gear for rocks, hazards, barnacles and crabs.

4. No diving

Do not dive or jump in unless you are used to the cold water. Cold water can cause gasping of breath and cold-water shock, which can be extremely dangerous.  This physiological effect has been known to drown people at alpine lakes with strong thermoclines, even during the summer.

5. Know your limits

As the temperature drops, decrease the amount of time you spend in the water. In winter, swimmers often only enter the water for one or two minutes at a time. The general rule is that you can spend one minute of time swimming per degree of water temperature.  Obviously, you need to listen to your body also.

6. Warm up slowly

Don’t have a hot shower right after swimming. Cold water swimming can cool your core and this can be dangerous. Instead, make sure you have plenty of warm clothes, wrap up well and have a hot drink at the ready.

I would not say that cold water swimming is for the weak of heart. Most of the people doing it have adjusted their bodies to the cold conditions and find it very therapeutic. It does help you connect with your body, your mind and the natural environment. It takes more than a New Year's splash and dash to experience these effects. Both of the times that I have completed the three Mad Hatters Swim Club polar bear swims. I have felt amazing afterwards. Your skin gets flush and warm, you become acutely aware of your body and how it is functioning and there is a heightened sense of wellness and awareness. I understand how people can shrug off the cold and become addicted to this hobby considering its long-lasting positive effects. That is of course, once you can feel your fingers and toes again.

Here are some Facebook groups dedicated to cold water swimming where you can find more information.

Vancouver Cold Water Swimmers:

Cold Water Swimmers:

Cold Water Club - Wild About Swimming:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live and work on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nation.



Monday Februatry 20, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Surrey - The Future Pays Here

When a government sends out a media release on a Friday afternoon, you can expect it to be bad news that they want to reduce exposure to with journalists being off work and the public busy with weekend plans.  It happens so often this practice is now referred to as a "Friday news dump" or "Take out the trash day."   When these releases are done on the Friday before a long weekend, it is usually even worse news that they are hoping to shield from media scrutiny.  Now imagine how terrible the subject matter must be for the City of Surrey to issue a media release at 2 p.m. on the Saturday of a long weekend.  It is bad enough that inflation is running at nearly 7% over last year and the prime mortgage rate sits at 6.85% putting the squeeze on consumers who are also holding record personal debt.  On top of all of this, the City of Surrey dropped a bomb on the heads of homeowners this weekend, revealing they can expect a whopping 17.5% increase to their property tax bill, that will likely rise even higher than that.

The details of this shocking increase were contained in the City of Surrey Draft 2023-2027 General Operating and Capital Budgets.  It should come as no surprise to Surrey residents that more than half of this property tax increase, a total of 9.5%, is to pay for the costs associated with the contentious police transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service and back again.  Add to this a 7% General Property Tax increase and a further 1% raise in the Roads & Traffic Levy, and you reach the magical 17.5% property tax increase.  Here are the numbers and cost explanations taken directly from the City of Surrey website that equal $403 for the average single-family home.  

  • 9.5% General Property Tax increase to fund Policing Shortfall (approximately $219 for the average single-family home).

  • 7.0% General Property Tax increase (approximately $161 for the average single-family home) to fund:

    • General inflationary pressures

    • Hiring of additional 25 police officers, 20 firefighters and 10 bylaw officers for 2023

    • City Wide Operations (non-public safety)

  • 1.0% Roads and Traffic Levy. (approximately $23 for the average surrey single-family home)

Keep in mind this is only a start since it is unknown what increases the Surrey School Board and Metro-Vancouver will be tacking onto the tax bill for Surrey residents.  There is also a 3% increase to user fees that will add to the overall tax burden paid for by Surreyites.  The 9.5% increase is not just a one-time tax bill either, Surrey residents will be saddled with it for three years ending after 2025.  It could have been worse with Mayor Locke warning in early January that the SPS transition would cost Surrey $235 million, resulting in a 55% property tax increase, adding $1,200 to the average home bill and $7.700 onto business tax bills.  Meanwhile, across Scott Road, the Corporation of Delta who have had their own municipal police force since 1888 plan on a 4.9% increase in property taxes for 2023.  Adding a little salt to the wound, their Crime Severity Index of 57.6 is almost a third lower than either Surrey or White Rock that average 83.7 with the RCMP as their Police of Jurisdiction. 

There is one major assumption in Surrey's financial plan, which is the Surrey Police Service will be disbanded and the RCMP will once again control policing in what is soon be the largest city in BC by population.  According to figures from City Hall, keeping the RCMP will cost $235 million less than the Surrey Police Service over five years but the transition process would result in a shortfall of $116 million that would be paid for by the 9.5% increase in property taxes.  Mike Farnworth, the B.C. Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety has yet to make a decision on the fate of the policing model in Surrey.   In a media release three weeks ago, the Minister requested additional information and more time to consider this complex policing issue and to complete a full in-depth analysis.  If Mr. Farnworth decides that the transition to the Surrey Police Service will continue, then Surrey's 5-year draft budget will have to be redone with these costs instead of the RCMP.  There has been no time frame given as to when this important decision on future policing in Surrey will be made.

You can read the complete details in the F004 Corporate Report on Surrey's 2023 Five Year (2023-2027) Financial Plan for general operating expenses at this link: .  A public meeting and live streaming of the Finance Committee will be held on Monday, March 6 at 2 p.m. in Surrey City Hall chambers to consider the 2023 draft budget.  The public can provide comment in person at the Finance Committee meeting or through written submissions.  The deadline for written comments is 12 noon on Friday, March 3rd, 2023 by email to or by fax to 604-501-7578.  If you wish to appear as a speaker, registration opens on March 3 with the details at this link:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live and work on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nation.



February 13, 2023

The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Follow The Money


The results of the 2022 Civic Elections across BC are now in.  No, I don't mean the votes, those were counted and the victors taking the Mayor's chair and Councillors seats were declared back on October 15th.  You can now read the financial disclosures of candidates for your region on the Elections BC website (  Simply go there, click on the "2022 General Local Elections Disclosure Statements Available" tab under the "Whats New" section.  

That will take you to the page with the following links for available disclosure statements.

Scanned disclosure statements

Campaign contribution data:

Hitting on the Candidates link that will take you to Local Search Options.  Select "Scanned Reports" and in the Election Area select either Surrey or White Rock.  That will take you to the list of candidates for the past two elections and by clicking on the 2022  results you can see how much money each candidate spent and who helped to pay for their candidacy.  To make this journey simple, here is the direct link, starting with the White Rock candidates:

Megan Knight who unseated Darryl Walker for the Mayor's Chair received $25,289 from a variety of sources with 15 people contributing $1,000 to $1,250 (the maximum individual contribution), many with real estate and develoment backgrounds.  By comparison, Darryl Walker raised $10,671 with only four people contributing $1,000 or more, one of who was Darryl Walker himself.  Keep in mind the Mayor's salary is $107,760 while Council receives a base salary of $43,100.  By comparison, here is the reported contributions for the Councillors who won a seat:  Chesney, $1,850, Cheung, $5,834, Klassen $20,780, Lawrence $10,215, Partridge $5,289, Trevelyan $4,925.  This does not include the dozen other candidates who ran and did not get elected whose campaign donations are also posted for public viewing.

The big city of Surrey was a different election story considering the size of B.C's largest municipality by land area.  There were five parties running candidates including three, United Surrey, Surrey First and Safe surrey with full slates.  Eight candidates ran for Mayor, over 50 for the the eight Council seats and 20 for the six School Trustee seats.  Needless to say reviewing all of the data would be a monumental task so I will only focus on the five people who received the most votes for Mayor of Surrey.  You can find all of the financial disclosure results for the 2022 Surrey civic election at this direct link:

Under the Local Elections Campaign Financing Act, endorsed candidates can share their expense limit with their elector organization by entering into a campaign financing agreement before the campaign period begins.  A candidate's expense limit in based on the election area and the office they run for.  With this in mind, Brenda Locke of Surrey Connect who won the Mayor's chair reported an expense limit of $219,193.36.  Doug McCallum of Safe Surrey, Gordie Hogg of Surrey First,  Sukh Dhaliwal of United Surrey and Jinny Simms of Surrey Forward all reported the exact same number for their expense limit to the exact penny.  This is the maximum amount allowable, just as $1,250 was the most an individual person could contribute to a political campaign.  If you want to be Mayor of Surrey, which comes with a $156,697 salary, you'd better have $220,000 in your bank account if you are serious about actually winning.

The new mayor Brenda Locke's grass roots Surrey Connect party spent $278,076 after raising a total of $289,449.  Former mayor Doug McCallum's Safe Surrey party spent a whopping $691,956 while raising $566,729 for a deficit of over $125,000.  Mr. White Rock Gordie Hogg ran under the Surrey First banner with $322,972 in spending versus $377,453 in donations.  Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhawliwal's United Surrey spent $635,548 while raising $637,643.  Lastly, Surrey-Panorama MLA Jinny Simms and her Surrey Forward party spent $322,972 on their campaign, raising $377,453 in income.  In total these five campaigns, listed in voting order from 1st to 5th,  reported $2.375 million in income and $2.47 million in expenses.  You can review all of this information in detail at the BC Elections electoral organizations disclosure statements at

To see the millions of dollars flowing into these civic political campaigns is rather eye-opening and shows why some people are so intent on trying to control the agenda at City Hall.  Of course, decisions by mayor and council directly affect billions of dollars in real estate deals including rezoning of properties resulting in landfall profits for developers and landowners.  For myself, I want nothing more from my local mayor and council than open and honest governance, a respectful workplace and decision making transparency.  Having a sister who worked in the Planning Department in Surrey for over 30 years, Mayor and Council there would be better off following the direction of their Planners on how to build a city than the demands of their develop friends and campaign financiers.  Now if you excuse me, I have to go clean off my rose-coloured glasses knowing this is not reality with so much money involved.  

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

TNT EXTRA:  Across British Columbia, individual candidates and political parties seeking local office spent a combined $22.1 million during the 2022 election campaign, an increase from the $16.2 million in 2018 that equates to a 36 percent rise in spending.  This record amount was largely due to a large increase in money spent by local political parties, up from $5.8 million in 2018 to $11.4 million in 2022, with this figure nearly doubling in only four years,

I wish to acknowledge we live and work on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nation.



Monday February 07, 2023

Don Pitcairn

The Dirt on Mud Bay

Boundary Bay and Mud Bay are becoming a busy place these days with anticipated sea level rise expected to be one metre high by 2100.  There are many dikes that line both communities and farmland throughout the south Surrey region, including the promenade built beside the railway corridor, the public walkway surrounding Crescent Beach (which has already been raised) and the Delta Dyke Trail connecting Surrey to Delta.  With king tides, rising sea levels and stronger storms, these coastal defense strategies will need to be strengthened to avoid them from being over-topped and major flooding to happen on the leeward side of the dykes.  In case you are not aware, there has already been coastal flooding in the Mud Bay region twice in my lifetime including at Nico Wynd Golf Course and the Art Knapps Mud Bay Village.  Part of the overall flood mitigation strategy is also to extend the tidal marsh zone, modifying the ecosystem to prevent coastal erosion while helping to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Work on many of these projects is already well underway with the City of Surrey starting the Colebrook Dyke Upgrades last year, raising and expanding the dykes along the Serpentine River east of the Mud Bay Park that were originally installed in 1968.  These dyke upgrades are the first phase of Surrey's Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS) to control coastal flooding and protect against sea level rise in the not so distant future.  The Colebrook 100 dyke project at Mud Bay Park and the Colebrook 200 dyke projects stretching to Highway 99 are nearing completion and are visible from Hwy. 99.  From there the Colebrook 300 dyke upgrade will continue east on the north side of the Serpentine River all the way to King George Blvd. next to the Serpentine Fen.  There are calls for this dyke to become a public walkway that will link the Fen to Mud Bay Park leading all the way to Tsawwassen, an idea that I fully support as a long term plan for this region. 

Last week saw the start of a tidal project being performed by Ducks Unlimited along the shores of Mud Bay towards Delta.  Dense rafts of human-modified logs (read cut down trees, delimbed and lost during transport) have washed ashore in the Delta marshes where storm waves move them like large rolling pins that crush the shoreline vegetation.  Over the next few weeks excavators will be working to remove much of this shoreline debris from an internationally significant habitat for migrating birds and ducks plus over-wintering waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.  While this project is being overseen by Ducks Unlimited senior biologists, the bulk of the funding for this work is from the Canadian government's Smart Climate Solutions Fund and the US North American Wetland's Conservation Act.  I should note here that the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee has expressed concern about this log removal and has called for a comprehensive wildlife plan for the entire bay with potential effects arising from the nearby Roberts Bank Terminal 2 expansion project. 

By far the most ambitious flood mitigation strategy planned for the shore along the north shore of Boundary Bay is the Mud Bay Nature-Based Foreshore Enhancement project.  This is part of Canada's Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) Program that includes 13 green and grey infrastructure improvements around the Boundary Bay watershed alone.  The City of Surrey wants to build a "living dyke" by bringing in large amounts of infill to help increase the elevation of the salt marsh that will allow it to adapt to future sea level increase.  Once the base soil is leveled, native salt marsh plant species will be installed which will help to hold the ground in place.  They are hoping this will reduce wave energy, enhance biodiversity, decrease shoreline erosion while helping to protect Highway 99 and the farms around it from the dyke being over-topped.  The concept is to build a pilot salt marsh  on a smaller section of Mud Bay of 210 metres in length by 1.38 ha in size followed by a second study area of 320 metres in length and 1.44 ha of shore area.  Learning from these two pilot areas, the plan is to then build a further 790 metres of living dyke that will connect the pilot areas consisting of a an 8.19 ha of marshy shoreline with construction completed by 2028.

The City of Surrey has requested that the Mud Bay Nature-Based Foreshore Enhancement project be exempted from an environmental assessment since it is intended to benefit the environment and the community with the City not expecting it to cause negative environmental effects.  The B.C. Environmental Assessment Office is seeking input and comments from the public on Surrey's project description and whether it should be except from an environmental assessment review.  Considering the amount of fill and erosion structures that are planned to be deposited over existing marshland that is ecologically significant as a major stopover and over-wintering ground for millions of shorebirds, many believe that an EAO review is essential.  This project is massive in scale and the details are extensive and time consuming to read, understand and absorb.  Besides including website links to the other projects I have touched on in this TNT (listed in order below) the last two include the details on the Mud Bay living dyke and the EAO Public Comment section.  The public comment period closes on February 27, 2023 at midnight PST if you want your say on this plan that will redesign and forever alter 1.32 kilometres of shoreline and 11 hectares of wetlands along Mud Bay.  Enjoy your further reading.

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Monday January 30, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Cops Fishing in White Rock

And I'm not feelin' up to par, it increases my paranoia 

Like lookin' at my mirror and seein' a police car 

Lyrics to "Almost Cut My Hair", Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Deja Vu album, 1970 

I had an interesting event happen to me on Friday evening just after I'd finished work.  I was in White Rock to retrieve a tool we had misplaced and decided to drop by an establishment that specializes in craft beer where I happen to also have a maintenance contract.  I was only inside a short time, got in my truck and drove away in a safe and controlled manner obeying all driving laws as I headed home.  Several blocks into Surrey, I noticed an RCMP Explorer behind me, which was of no concern until the officer activated the squad car's red and blue flashing lights.  Figuring they had somewhere important to go, I pulled into the right hand lane and was surprised when they followed behind me.  Thinking that maybe there was a problem with the load on my truck, I pulled onto a side street and stopped with the police car lighting up the world around me. 

Now imagine my surprise when the officer approached my truck window, asking to see my license, insurance papers and demanding a breath sample.  He asked me several questions about where I had been, what I had been doing and if I had been drinking, all of which I did not answer as is my right, especially with already being demanded to supply a breath sample for the first time in my life.  When I took the test standing at the side of the road with cars driving by, I think the officer was pissed that I was sober.  I should note here that I have never been charged with drinking and driving, never been pulled over and been suspected of such, and never blown into any type of police breath alcohol testing device.  When going out for dinner, visiting a bar, or stopping at a brewery, I generally have one drink upon arrival, avoiding drinks with high levels of alcohol or beers with an elevated ABV.   If I am a designated driver with passengers as often happens, I stick to non-alcoholic beverages.   

The problem here is that the White Rock RCMP are targeting businesses that produce or serve alcohol, following people when they drive away from the parking lot and pulling them over to provide a breath sample.  It does not matter if you were there visiting friends, drinking coffee or kombucha, or were purchasing product for consumption at home.  Simply leaving the establishment gives them apparent justification to pull you over for a random sobriety check.  The targeting of certain businesses looking for drunk drivers becomes an issue when the customers realize the businesses is under surveillance by police on what is known as a "fishing expedition."  If police pull over every vehicle leaving a business, it will not take long before customers decide it is not worth the hassle and indignation of a road side sobriety test and vow to never return.  You will notice, I did not name the place I was visiting, which the White Rock RCMP had under observation. 

You may think that if you drop by a bar, pub, craft brewery, or nightclub that getting pulled over by the police when leaving is okay to ensure public safety.  Ask yourself how you would feel if every time you went to your favourite licensed restaurant that the police pulled you over with lights flashing and asked for a breath sample?  Imagine what would happen if the South Surrey RCMP decided to target both the Tap & Barrel and Keg restaurants that share the same parking lot.  With lots of Keg-sized drinks and strong beers, it could be reasoned that people might be driving away from these establishments with a blood alcohol reading over the legal limit of 0.05 gm/100 ml.  Now imagine, what would happen to these thriving businesses bottom line if their customers were being constantly targeted to supply breath samples.  Word would get out in the community and in no time they would be a ghost town and have to close their doors. 

A good example of this has to be the Fuggles Kraft Brewery in Richmond that sits directly behind the main RCMP detachment.  Not only is it right next door, there is even a gate in the chain link fence allowing members to go directly to this brewery to have a glass of beer after work or purchase cans or growlers of beer to take home after their shift is complete.  If the Richmond RCMP wanted to, they could pull over each and every vehicle that left the Fuggles parking lot and demanding a breath sample.  Tired of the police harassment and intimidation, I'm certain their customers would simply take their business elsewhere instead of being pulled over for no reason other than stopping at a perfectly legal establishment.  In this case, I've been told the RCMP have promised the owners that they would never do such a thing, knowing it would quickly destroy their business and the officers would lose their preferred local watering hole. 

While never driving drunk or ever having to provide a breath sample before, this is not the first time that I have been targeted by police doing unannounced drunk driving enforcement.  A few years back I stopped at the Berezan Liquor store in Langley that stocked a particular beer from a distant brewery that I could not get from the government liquor stores.  I noticed several IRSU (Integrated Road Safety Unit) vehicles circling the parking lot but was not concerned since I was sober as usual and picking up a 4-pack of beer for the weekend.  Much to my surprise, I was tailed out of the parking lot and pulled over with the bogus excuse given that I had "almost hit a curb" with my trailer.  I called the officer's bluff, gave him my White Rock Sun business card and proceeded to question him whether this was IRSU protocol to follow people for simply buying beer and if I should contact his superior with my questions for an upcoming TNT column.  Needless to say, he could not give my license and insurance papers back fast enough.   

This kind of fishing expedition could also be expanded to cover other perfectly legal businesses in White Rock that could possibly impair someone's driving.  Imagine the chill it would have on sales if every person leaving from Indigenous Bloom, A Little Bud or the new Seed & Stone were pulled over and checked to see if they were high on the devil's lettuce?  I don't know of anybody that would like to be subject to a roadside sobriety check for drugs simply for picking up a little pot from a registered supplier or BC government store.  Customers targeted for this lazy type of police enforcement would simply go elsewhere, call one of the many green lines that sell marijuana products door-to-door across Surrey or go back to "a guy" they know.  With the amount of seniors living in White Rock taking a cocktail of prescription drugs, maybe London Drugs, Rexall or any food store with a pharmacy might also be a prime site for a police stake-out, checking seniors for possibly being high as a kite. 

These kinds of RCMP tactics are what is used in police states and do not belong in the true north strong and free (think O' Canada).  Gradually over time the police are taking more and more powers while eroding personal freedoms including this kind of random search that is done without any legitimate cause or reason.  Governments are also doing the same thing on a constant basis, draining people's rights and freedoms by a thousand cuts through both laws and the courts.  The new Liberal gun laws outlawing semi-automatic rifles and banning all sales of hand guns by decree without any discussion in parliament is a shining example of this.  Government overreach during the pandemic, the violent police assault on peaceful protestors in Ottawa last January and globalization decrees from both the World Economic Forum and United Nations are eroding personal freedoms faster than a flash flood.  The imposition of digital currencies and digital ID, the ability of governments to cancel your bank accounts and credit cards and social credit scores loved by the CCP in China are on the horizon.  With all that is happening in Canada, it is not surprising that the Freedom Convoy rolled through White Rock on the weekend, with those wrapping themselves in the Maple Leaf wanting freedom from tyranny and oppression. 

Naturally yours, 

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge we live and work on the traditional lands of the Semiahmoo First Nation



Monday January 23, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Plane Truth 2, Train Truth 1, Automobile Truth 0

Plane Truth 2

I have to give credit where credit is due.  Nav Canada has certainly turned the jumbo jet around when it comes to planning flight paths for YVR.  With a landing area constrained by mountains to the north, 240,000 flights a year, cargo planes running non-stop, float planes from the south terminal, plenty of executive jets, a swarm of small plane traffic from Boundary Bay Airport (BZZ) and flights from Abbotsford Airport (YXX), this is not an easy area to alter flight paths.  The last time this was attempted in 2007 and 2008, Nav Canada seemed to think they could make all the changes they wanted without any consideration to the environmental effects and the communities they were flying over.  It would appear that has changed with the recent Vancouver Airspace Modernization Project (VAMP) looking at the broad scope of the effects of these flight path changes.

Because of the complexity of this issue involving areas throughout the Lower Mainland, I will focus my attention on the Semiahmoo peninsula.  Unfortunately some of the information contained on the Nav Canada website pertaining to the flight path changes is outdated or incomplete.  If you didn't attend the meeting at the White Rock Community Centre on Thursday night, you missed out on learning about the details to this plan from actual air traffic controllers.  Unlike the last change of flight paths, this alteration will mean little or no overflights above the peninsula and no noise pollution for White Rock.  The GRIZZ STAR flight path that ran north on the western side of the Mud Bay will  be eliminated.  The new replacement, the Y-shaped double flight path heading north originating from a way-point over the waters west of Bellingham will replace it with jets flying closer to Ocean Park and especially Crescent Beach.  Newer satellite controlled jets on a 3-D path will fly on the left-hand approach to the south runway at YVR while older planes and more noisy flights will follow the right-hand more eastern route to the north runway.  Instead of much of these flights turning over North Delta and Newton, most will now fly over the eastern Burns Bog near Highway 91 away from residential areas.

Eventually all planes will abandon the eastern track, move away from Crescent Beach on the western track and fly a more direct and shorter approach heading north targeting both the north and south runways.  This will move the noise footprint well away from Crescent Beach, keep incoming flights away from the bald eagle nests on the Ocean Park bluffs while keeping commercial jets from flying above North Delta and Panorama Ridge.  In a year's time when the RNP-AR system is initiated, we will get an idea of how well this satellite guided navigation system actually works.  Please note that there will still be vectored flights, visual flight rules (VFR) diversions and departing planes, private jets, smaller planes plus military, police, and special operation flights overhead.  To say that the airspace above the Lower Mainland is complicated would be an understatement.  We were woken up at 8:07 a.m. on Sunday morning by a very loud jet that flew over our home in Crescent Heights.  Checking the YVR WebTrak website, I learned this flight was not recorded (meaning it was police, military or special ops) but it registered 66 dB over Ocean Park and likely 70-75 dB over our house, equivalent to having a vacuum cleaner outside the bedroom window.   In case you don't believe me, you can check it our for yourself at .

After reviewing all of the flight path changes with the knowledge of what transpired in 2007 and 2008, I plan on asking Nav Canada and the VAA to consider making the following changes to their VAMP affecting this region.  While the new approach paths are actually in the middle of Boundary Bay, if feasible a pathway moved westward over the middle of Mud Bay would reduce the exposure to bald eagles and migratory birds to jet engine noise.  This would move the noise footprint away from Crescent Beach that is the main marine recreational site (read beach) to almost a million residents of Surrey and the Fraser Valley.  The noise monitoring terminal (NMT) currently housed at Ocean Cliff Elementary in Ocean Park should be relocated to Crescent Beach, possible at the Beecher Community Centre.  After six months of operations, Nav Canada and the Vancouver Airport Authority should re-engage the communities affected by this change to see if any modifications can be done that would benefit the environment, the communities under the flight paths, and the airlines who fly them.  If you want to submit a Nav Canada feedback survey with these suggestions, please visit the following website before Feb 3, 2023:

Train Truth 1

I really needed this" twofer" TNT like a double-barreled shotgun to the head this weekend.  Already facing dealing with the rather complex Nav Canada VAMP issue, a BNSF coal train ground to a halt on Saturday morning near the trestle approaching the swing bridge by the Crescent Beach Marina.  With a length of a mile and a half (2.4 km long) this train blocked both road entrances to Crescent Beach.  This is now happening about once a year, seriously inconveniencing anyone wanting to leave or enter this seaside hamlet, but most importantly stopping emergency services from attending if needed.  If your house is one fire, you need an ambulance, or require police for any reason, you were out of luck.  The Railway Safety Act regulates rail carriers to clear the tracks at roadways in five minutes for a broken down train but this has not been the case at Crescent Beach, where Surrey now has a camera in place to monitor the lengthy delays due to previous blockages.

The cause of these breakdowns is related to the increasing length of the trains and the 115 year old swing bridge over the Nicomekyl River next to the Crescent Beach marina.  With a 10 mile-per hour speed limit, approaching trains have to slow down, putting pressure on the car couplers and the steel knuckles that hold them together.  With the many curves that wind along this waterfront route, it puts serious pressure on the knuckles, sometimes causing one of them to shatter in two.  This dislocates the trains, pulls the air hoses off and causes the brakes to be applied.  When this happens, BNSF contacts Surrey emergency services and the police, fire service and ambulance are all dispatched to the scene.  I should note here that the antiquated swing bridge is the only component of the rail corridor that has yet to be replaced by the BNSF who have already installed new bridges and continuous rail throughout this region in the past 15 years.

It took approximately three hours for this BNSF train to be repaired and clear both of the road crossings allowing traffic to once again leave and enter Crescent Beach.  During this blockage, near the marina I saw a dozen people walking on the pathway that leads under the BNSF Railway trestle bridge in and out of Crescent Beach.  This is the area that was previously recommended by City of Surrey staff for building a one lane emergency access road, an idea that was shelved due to cost and lack of two-way traffic.  Next up was the concept of putting a tunnel under the BNSF tracks at Beecher St., a plan that was also kiboshed by City Hall.  The latest plan put forth by Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition was for a two lane bridge over the tracks, eliminating issues with breakdowns along with 9 minute waits for 1.5 mile long coal trains slowly approaching the swing bridge.  I expect that due to increasing construction costs and only 400 homes in Crescent Beach, this current plan will also hit the dumpster.

Years ago the BNSF forced the City of Surrey to build a pedestrian overpass at the bottom of Christopherson Park (the former 101 Steps) because of people trespassing across the train tracks.  Since the BNSF are blocking the two roadways into Crescent Beach, I say turnabout is fair play and that this US Railway company should pay for a separated crossing into Crescent Beach, whether it be a tunnel or bridge.  Since the federal government is responsible for rail traffic in this country and have done nothing about enforcing the five minute road clearance rule for trains, I think it is also their responsibility to fix this ongoing problem.  The City of Surrey should not be on the hook for paying to remedy this issue that is being caused by the BNSF Railway and the lack of accountability by the Liberal Government.  Make sure you email the Honourable Omar Alghabra to insist that he fix this transportation issue that the City of Surrey has nothing to do with, at his Parliament Hill address of

 .   While you are at it, dump this hot potato on the lap of our MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay at:

 .  Mayor Locke and Surrey Council would be wise in doing the same thing to finally put an end this growing problem at Crescent Beach, similar to how overpasses were built in Langley City to deal with the issue of CN and CP trains blocking traffic there.

Automobile Truth 0

Sorry, but you'll just have to wait for it.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

TNT Extra:  On Saturday afternoon a fully loaded coal train traveling north to the Jimmy Pattison owned Westshore Terminals at Roberts Bank derailed in Tsawwassen.  This crash took down hydro poles and causing a local power outage that did not affect operations at the nearby Deltaport Terminal.  At this time, it is unclear whether this was the same BNSF coal train that had broken down at Crescent Beach or a different train belonging to CN or CP Railways.

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People

Monday January 16, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

The Plane Truth

Back in 2007, Nav Canada (the Crown created monopoly corporation in charge of air traffic control) decided to change the flights paths for commercial jet airliners heading to Vancouver International Airport (YVR).  People noticed the difference one day when they woke up to the Semiahmoo Peninsula being strafed by passenger planes flying over once quiet neighbourhoods that made it sound like Richmond.  Amazingly, even though the local Nav Canada offices are located in nearby Newton, nobody bothered to contact Surrey City Hall, which at the time was a five-minute drive away.  Instead, these faceless bureaucrats made these draconian changes for the airline's benefit with zero thought and consideration to the people this change might affect.  I should note here that my dad was an air force and commercial jet pilot, I grew up on RCAF bases, plus have lived in both Richmond and North Delta under YVR flight paths so I'm very familiar with the effects of airplane noise pollution.

As you can imagine, the proverbial crap hit the propeller blade on this issue with communities around the Lower Mainland complaining not only about noise from these flight path changes but the complete lack of consultation.  Various community groups were formed to combat Nav Canada, politicians at all three levels of government got involved with the fight, and the City of Surrey formed the Nav Canada Working Group, of which I was a member.  Without getting into the serious technical issues on this topic that went far beyond this region, the end result was the GRIZZ STAR approach flight path was moved into the middle of Boundary Bay with planes piloted under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) being directed to avoid overflying the Semiahmoo peninsula.   YVR also installed WebTrak where flights could be followed and checked with new noise monitoring stations on the ground, including one located in Ocean Park (  If a noisy plane flies over your house, you can wait five minutes and then watch it on Webtrak that will give you detailed information about the flight.

By far the biggest change from the year-long battle to quiet the skies over residential neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland was that Nav Canada was forced to ensure that in the future, changes to flight paths could not be done without proper public consultation.  Well, here we are 15 years later and Nav Canada is once again making changes to approach flight paths for YVR that will help facilitate the satellite guided Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required (RNP AR) that allows aircraft to fly a 3D defined flight path with precise lateral and vertical navigation.  On the Nav Canada website they explain these changes known as "Vancouver Airspace Modernization" at the following link: .  For residents of the Semi-Pen, the most important section is the "Changes in communities to the east, southeast and south of the airport" that includes a map of the proposed approach flights for this region: .

The community specific map on page 4 with the south-east communities (read Surrey and White Rock) shows a week of historical flight approaches to YVR as thin blue lines with many above Boundary Bay.  The thick line of flights heading north and then turning east is the current GRIZZ STAR flight path that follows a set of navigational beacons.  The rest of the flights are VFR where in good weather pilots fly their own less structured route to the glideslopes for the north or south runways at YVR.  You should note that while Nav Canada originally promised these VFR flights would be instructed to "stay in the middle of Boundary Bay", this is not the case with many flying near the western shore of the peninsula and some crossing over Ocean Park and Crescent Beach.  I happen to live in this area and have heard commercial jets flying overhead after 11:30 p.m., waking up this usually quiet neighbourhood.  The map at the bottom of page 5 shows the noise footprint from the proposed RNP AR flight path covering most of Crescent Beach.

The same map shows the new RNP AP flight paths in two thick white lines coming up from the south near Blaine in an elongated V shape.  Both of these new satellite guided flight paths are much closer to the Semi-Pen coast than the previous GRIZZ STAR approach.  In fact, the one to the east will take a large number of jets up the coast just offshore from Crescent Beach.  At only 3,000 ft., these planes will create a constant wash of noise pollution across the public marine recreational areas of Crescent Beach and Crescent Rock where people go to relax in peace and quiet.  The Ocean Park bluff is also a favoured nesting area for Bald eagles plus is their spring hunting ground where they feed on Plainfin Midshipman fish breeding in the shallow waters of Mud Bay.  I highly doubt that Nav Canada gave any of this a thought as they laid out the approach paths that benefited the new navigational system and their airline customers.  What is missing from their report is where all of the older planes that do not yet have satellite navigation will now be flying.  As history has shown with the GRIZZ STAR, VFR flights basically travel where the pilots want to fly.

It will take a concerted community effort to move these proposed flight paths away from Ocean Park and Crescent Beach towards the middle of Boundary Bay where it was previously.  The YVR Airspace Consultation South Surrey/White Rock meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 19th from 5-8 P.M. at the White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russel Ave. in White Rock.  This is a "drop-in" open house style event with no pre-registration required to attend but you can expect a crowd.  There will not be a large group presentation at a set time, instead representatives from NAV CANADA and YVR will be available throughout the entire event period to provide information and answer questions.  This public consultation concludes on February 3rd and you can let your feelings be known by attending this and other scheduled meetings, by sending in your comments by email to or by completing their feedback survey at the following link:  \

Take the time to learn the details and implications of this change to the long-term peace and quiet of Crescent Beach and the rugged shores of Ocean Park.  Make sure you let your feelings be known on this subject and make recommendations to the YVR Airport Authority and Nav Canada on how these changes can be made with less noise and environmental impact to this area.  Above all, contact Surrey's Mayor and Councillors, our MLA Trevor Halford and the MP for the south Surrey-White Rock riding Kerry-Lynne Findlay since control of air transportation in Canada is a federal responsibility.   I hope to see you all at this very important meeting on Thursday night where I have some questions and recommendations on how to once again move these jets away from the beach and stop them from flying over formerly quiet residential neighbourhoods in south Surrey.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Monday January 09, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Skybridge Skyfall

When I headed down to Crescent Rock beach on New Year's Day for the second leg of the Mad Hatters Swim Club trifecta of polar bear swims, I did not expect to come across a TNT story.  A few days later I returned to the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave. in south Surrey to do a more detailed examination of what I had discovered there.  What I found and what I learned makes me realize that there are plenty of natural hazards around us that you might not notice, or if you do, you'd think it would take years, decades or even centuries for them to possibly cause harm.

On Dec. 20th, the Semiahmoo peninsula received up to 35 cm of snow and with my trusty Fat Max tape measure in hand, I measured 14 inches of the white stuff on our deck.  Later that week the arctic outflow weakened and an approaching Pacific frontal system glazed much of the Lower Mainland with freezing rain that coated everything with ice as it fell just before Christmas.  The weight of the snow and subsequent ice proved too much for many trees that suffered broken branches and, in some cases, even caused trees to bend over and fall.  If you went to the White Rock polar bear swim, you likely noticed the many broken locust tree branches along the promenade, many still with lights strung on them.   

I don't know the exact date or if it was the weight of the snow or ice (my guess the later) but during this time a 100 ft. tall Douglas fir tree pulled out of the Ocean Park bluff next to the Christopherson Steps staircase and crashed onto the BNSF tracks below.  The bluff is composed of glacial moraine with stratified layers of sand, gravel, mud and silt making this steep slope prone to slope movement and landslides.  I had noticed this fir tree leaning towards the tracks and shoreline and had thought many times that eventually it would lose the battle with gravity and eventually fall onto the tracks.  I really didn't understand the risks involved and not being Chicken Little, I never reported it to Surrey or the BNSF.

This 100-foot-tall tree, likely loaded with a thick layer of ice, pulled out of the ground halfway up the slope and fell on an angle towards the tracks, smashing into a post carrying the landslide detector fence (LDF) that stopped all train traffic.  The top part of the tree impacted the western end of the metal skybridge that allows pedestrians to cross above the tracks from the wooden staircase on the hillside to the metal steps leading to the beach.  Fortunately, the trunk of this tree fell only on the rail corridor but it left a thick layer of branches on the skybridge's roof and all around its base with one branch measuring over 6 inches or 15 cm. in diameter.  BNSF track maintenance crews attended the site and removed the heavy chunks of tree trunk and cleared the broken branches off the train tracks.

I reported this incident to the City of Surrey who will be examining the metal skybridge for damage and to check the hillside above for more natural hazards.  The scary thing about this incident is that this tree could have easily fallen a little further south with the heavy trunk smashing into the middle of the skybridge.  While it is a strongly built steel cage, it is unknown if it would have survived such an impact.  Whether the skybridge would have bent of collapsed is conjecture but being a pedestrian bridge suspended high above the train tracks, it is cause for concern.  Had this tree not smashed into the LDF system, it is possible a BNSF freight train could have also run into the trunk of this tree.  A train derailing next to the vertical supports that holds the skybridge aloft could be disastrous.

As if this wasn't bad enough, here is the scary part.  Just up the hillside on either side of the Christopherson Steps, there are two other large fir trees, both over 30 metres tall and close to a metre wide at the base, that are already leaning towards the tracks and directly at the Skybridge.  When these trees eventually succumb to gravity like the other one did, their thick heavy trunks will not miss the span.  This could take years, decades, or even centuries, but eventually this will likely happen.  The trees of course play an important role in slope stabilization, reducing the slide risk from the bluff above so cutting them down creates other hazards that threaten passing trains.  One thing is for sure, the City of Surrey Parks Department needs to document this hazard and regularly inspect these leaning fir trees before they reach the point of collapse.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



Tuesday January 03, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

To help celebrate the end of 2022, here is the TNT Year in Review that is a quick reference guide to stories you may have missed, wish to share, or simply want to read again. 

Once you have found a TNT column of interest, note the date and simply scroll down into the archives below to find it.

Jan. 9, Barking About White Rock's Tree Bylaw:  I branch out, get to the root of the problem and leave nothing out about changes to White Rock's new tree bylaw, noting it does nothing to stop the city from another Johnston Road or Hump clear-cutting.

Jan. 17, Hummer Bummer:  Extreme cold with artic outflow winds decimates winter hardy Anna's hummingbirds across the region despite various attempts to keep them warm with heaters and to stop syrup feeders from freezing.

Jan. 24, Historic Week For Surrey:  It was a historic time for citizens of Surrey as Mayor Doug McCallum had his first day in court on charges of Public Mischief while Metro Vancouver votes on changes to South Campbell Heights.

Jan. 31, Silencing the Surrey Ethics Commissioner: Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition look to silence the Surrey Ethics Commissioner by cancelling his tenure nine months before the next civic election.

Feb. 07, Convoying a Message:  A broad expose on the Freedom Convoy, the legacy media campaign against it, government smear campaigns and a prediction from me for blockades on the Ambassador Bridge and our local Truck Crossing.

Feb. 14, Love Your Freedom:  This Valentine's Day TNT covers the RCMP blockade of the Truck Crossing, the fundamental rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms and government and RCMP goose-stepping towards a police state in Canada.

Feb. 22, Boots on The Ground:  I go from columnist to terrorist, holding a protest at the NDP's Jagmeet Singh's office as he votes to support Trudeau's Liberals in enacting the Emergencies Act against political protestors wanting freedom.

Feb. 29, Busy Days in the Haze:  in this "2fer" TNT, I cover a couple of stories from the Hazelmere Valley; Met-Van voting to support the rezoning of the South Campbell Heights and illegal "No Parking" signs erected all around the Freedom Convoy corner.

March 07, Legends Never Die:  In this heartfelt TNT, I announce the passing of my father Robert A. Pitcairn at the age of 83 and look at the life and times of one of Canada's most illustrious marksman who is in three sports halls of fame for target rifle shooting.

March 14, Glossing Over The Facts:  Eight months away from the election, a large glossy flyer from the Safe Surrey Coalition is examined in details for mistruths, false claims and omissions, including nothing about Mayor Doug McCallum's upcoming criminal case. 

March 21, Views For Votes:  Once again, efforts to "trim vegetation" on the Hump hillside is back before White Rock Council so that the "creme-de-la-creme" living on Marine Drive can have an unobstructed view of the pier, regardless of the slide risks.

March 29, Locke & Load:  A disturbing look at death threats against mayoral hopeful Brenda Locke of Surrey Connect which were apparently both detailed and sexual in nature, showing how low, vile and personal that political attacks have gotten in Surrey.

April 04, Machete Kills:  Police reports and criminal charges involving machetes are on an upswing and I look at why these long-bladed weapons between a knife and a sword are allowed to be sold in urban areas where they are seldom needed.

April 11, No Morals, No Ethics, No Shame:  In a direct attack on freedom and democracy in the city of Surrey, Mayor McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition are once again attempting to shut down the office of the Ethics Commissioner.

April 19, Trick or Treat on Oct. 31:  It is announced that Doug McCallum's trial date has been set for Oct. 31st, two weeks after the next civic election, with Surrey's criminally charged Mayor finally stepping down from chairing the Police Board.

April 25, Crescent Park Pooch Poisoning:  A rather disturbing TNT about pet poisonings in Crescent Park that have left two dogs dead, how pet owners can keep their dogs safe, and where to report any information people may have on this case.

May 02, Brown is the New Green:  Everything you need to know about Metro Vancouver's watering restrictions and tricks you can use to help keep your healthy and green as we head towards our historically hot and dry summer months.

May 09, Oasis of Green in a Concrete Jungle:  Going green for a second week, I focus on vertical gardens that transform drab walls of grey concrete into a lush oasis of life, courtesy of the Vancouver based horticultural company Green Over Grey.

May 16, Forced Drive to Winnipeg:  "Glorious and Free" this country is not as a family member is forced to drive to Winnipeg since they are not allowed to fly due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates that disregard charter rights of freedom of movement in Canada.

May 24, Garbage in, Garbage Out:  White Rock's transition back from private to city run waste collection is detailed after a strata property is denied garbage pickup even though the new blue bins have yet to be delivered in this classic city hall SNAFU.

Monday May 30. Keep Crescent Beach Open!:  Free parking at Crescent Beach is examined after some NIMBY's want pay parking restrictions brought in.  I suggest we bus in beach people from the unused Translink Park & Ride lot at KGB and Hwy. 99.

June 5, Spray Away Surrey:  Aerial spraying for gypsy moths in Grandview Heights is detailed and spraying of weeds in all-weather sports fields are examined where the dead vegetation has a pinkish orange hue, looking more like Roundup than simple hot water. 

June 14, Chemtrails or Contrails?:  Three planes flying in formation at high altitude leave lines of clouds over Crescent Beach.  They are identified as USAF KC-135 tanker planes that did not appear on YVR's WebTrak monitoring system. 

June 20, A Bridge Too Far:  The KGB bailey bridge replacement, Hwy. 99 Nicomekyl river bridge upgrades and 32 Ave. exit lane projects all proceed at the same time and I ask why it all had to happen at once snarling traffic for a year.

June 27, Crescent Rock Rescue:  The arrival of the Coast Guard hovercraft at Crescent Rock beach leads me towards the 1001 Steps where a lady is rescued after breaking her leg falling on the rip-rap boulders that line the BNSF Railway corridor.

July 04, Order In The Rock:  Two Semiahmoo peninsula residents, Haida artist Robert Davidson (Guud Sans Glans) and lung disease specialist Dr. Donald Enarson both receive the Order of Canada. 

July 12, White Rock Nudist Beach:  Did you know there is a nude beach in White Rock?  It turns out there is, if you happen to live in Dublin Ireland.  By chance, a week later I happened to be able to look down at the coast of Ireland as I flew by.

July 18, The Bisley Bulletin:  The TNT gets renamed "The Bisley Bulletin" as I leave Surrey, B.C. for Surrey, U.K. to compete as a member of the Canadian Rifle Team at the Imperial Meeting in Bisley England.

July 26, Surviving Surrey:  I cronicle my experiences in Bisley at the NRA UK Championships that included wildfires, the first ever red alert heat level, shooting in 43 C. temperature, having a busted elbow and various match results for both individual and team.

August 02, Carving Up Semiahmoo History:  A walk on the wild side of White Rock leads us to a salmon carved deep into a boulder near Coldicutt ravine and a reported indigenous carving of a man's face on a rock near Crescent Beach.

August 08, A Crappy Time for E.coli in White Rock:  Fraser Health water quality testing reveals that both East beach and West beach in White rock have E.coli contamination far exceeding public health water quality guidelines.


August 16, Targeted Risk:  When the police announce "Investigators believe the shooting was targeted and there is no risk to the public" you should know that any shooting in an urban area puts everyone's lives in danger from flying bullets.

August 22, Keeping Track on the BNSF Railway:  With summer here, the dangers of trespassing on the BNSF Railway to reach remote and secluded portions of Crescent Rock beach are examined along with the risks from beach fires.

August 29, Surrey Place Farce:  In a whopper of an election promise, Doug McCallum calls for a 60,000 seat stadium to be built in Surrey with no parking lots around it, leaving out zany ideas of access by canals on unused roads and a giant Ferris wheel.

Sept. 6, Crescent Log Beach:  The sorry state of Crescent Beach where it is jammed with old rotting logs is looked at compared to the nearby Crescent Rock beach that is faithfully maintained by naturists and nudists in pristine condition.

Sept. 13, Locked Out Again:  On a beautiful sunny Sunday, the gates on trails leading to both Crescent Rock beach and Crescent Beach remain locked yet again after security contractors once more fail to do their job without any consequences.

Sept. 19, Locke In Your Vote:  In a funny mix-up, a report that I filed on the Surrey Connect team's kick-off at Northview Golf & Country Club with campaign promises and quotes from Brenda Locke is inadvertently posted as this week's TNT.

Sept. 27, Tarantulas and Alligators of BC:  I turns out we have both of these very unscary creatures in B.C. as I encounter both a Tarantula moth caterpillar and a Northwestern Alligator lizard in the same week.  

Oct. 03, Surrey Stealing Signs:  The attacks on democracy and election signage in Surrey continue as we get closer to the election with By-laws directed to confiscate political signs from residential boulevard lawns and private property. 

Oct. 11, Fall at Hall 12:  The Surrey Fire Service Hall 12 has their historic sign hit the ground when the tree it was carved from falls after rotting out.  I detail their plans to save the sign and hopefully reinstall it at a future date.

Oct. 17, Done With Doug:  A review of the civic election results in both Surrey and White Rock that saw the incumbent mayors of both cities replaced, with Brenda Locke taking down Doug McCallum and Megan Knight winning against Darryl Walker.

Oct. 24, Did You Miss Time Change?:  The asinine times that the gates leading to the beach are locked are examined in detail, revealing why not only do they not make sense, they ensure people get locked down at the beach.

Nov. 01, It's Salmon Spawning Season - Finally!:  After months of drought the fall rains are finally here, much to the delight of volunteers at the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club with salmon finally returning to the Little Campbell fish hatchery.

Nov. 07, "So-Called" Journalism:  I rip into the lamestream media over their smear campaign of using the "so-called" label to denigrate the Freedom Convoy.  It's funny that they can't understand why people across Canada don't trust then anymore.

Nov. 14, Better Surrey:  I reveal my concept of "Better Surrey" where people can help improve this city by making public suggestions on improvements and changes to make the City of Surrey a better place to live, work and play.

Nov. 21, The Magnificent Surrey Seven:  With a new mayor in chaarge, the seven people who were kicked out of Surrey council meetings get a public apology.  What they really need is to have their legal fees recouped by the city.

Nov. 28, You Be The Judge:  A close-up look at the Save-On-Foods parking lot and examination of the CCTV footage shows that former mayor Doug McCallum could not have had his foot run over as he claimed and the trial judge believed.

Dec. 05, Hatching A Plan:  At their AGM, the members of the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club vote unanimously to move forward with plans to build a new modern fish hatchery above the flood plain where it will be safe from the Little Campbell river.

Dec. 12, Crescent Road & Track: A recent rash of accidents on Crescent Road makes me look at issues with this historic road and ways the Surrey Engineering Dept. can slow down traffic and make this road safer.

Dec. 19, Christmas List 2022:  The list of naughty and nice gifts we hope Santa will be leaving under the tree for the movers, shakers and decision makers from the Semiahmoo peninsula.  A Yule-time classic I hope you enjoy!

Dec. 27, Grin and Bear It or Bare It or Dare It:  A look at the White Rock Polar Bear Swim, the Polar Bare Skinny-dip at Crescent Rock beach, and the Mad Hatters Swim Club that does these two local swims plus Vancouver's English Bay in only 2.5 hours.

That's the year in a nutshell folks with 52 TNT's for your reading pleasure.  Look for more of my "The Naked Truth" columns posted weekly in the White Rock Sun for 2023.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People




TNT The Naked Truth

December 27, 2022

Don Pitcairn

The Pitcairn's taking the plunge Jan. 1st 2022 in their hot tub, surrounded by frozen snow, with an ice cold beer in hand.

Grin and Bear It or Bare It or Dare It

The long wait is over, it's time to once again take the plunge.  For the last two years organized polar bear swims have been cancelled across the Lower Mainland due to BC Health Guidelines focused on eliminating public events to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  With those restrictions now eased, there is no longer the need to take the plunge at home (with bonus points for creativity) as was the case for the White Rock Rotary Club's polar bear swim the past two years.  My wife Sheryl and I actually sent in our prisoner plunge entry, jumping into our cabana covered hot tub with icy cold beers in hand and snow all around the yard.  The fact we were skinny-dipping didn't win us any bonus points with the folks in charge of this promotion when we submitted our video.  Too bad, so sad, just another day trying to brighten those rather gloomy times and maybe grab some bragging rights along with a small prize.

The annual White Rock Polar Bear Swim was cancelled for 2019 after the pier damaging wind storm left mountains of debris and holed boats across White Rock's beaches.  It was last held in 2020 before COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings came into place.  With the "take the plunge at home" virtual campaign the last two years, there has been a recent name change with the White Rock Polar Bear Swim now being called the White Rock Polar Bear Plunge.  i guess that no one at the WR Rotary or WR BIA realized that is the same sounding name used for the Polar Bare Plunge skinny-dip that has been held since 2007 at the nearby Crescent Rock beach in south Surrey.  Hopefully this homophone (different words that sound the same) miscue is changed since the words bear and bare even have the same letters.  Either way, registration for the White Rock event begins at 10:30 a.m. in front of the White Rock boulder east of the pier, with the swim starting at 12 o'clock noon on Jan. 1st, New Year's Day.

For a slightly different swim, Surrey's United Naturists ask you to "Brrr...ring in the Nude Year" as they hold their 15th annual Polar Bare Plunge skinny-dip on New Year's Day, Sunday, January 1st, 2023 at the nude friendly Crescent Rock beach in Surrey, B.C.  This clothing optional swim will be held at 1 p.m. in the icy waters of Mud Bay in front of the 120 tonne Crescent Rock boulder.  Simply walk south from the public Crescent Beach marine park 100 metres past the Christopherson Steps elevated metal walkway, or take these stairs located at the very west end of 24th Ave. in south Surrey.  Free registration for the 2023 Polar Bare Plunge begins at 12:30 p.m.   Your birthday suit is the natural attire for this annual skinny-dip but Santa hats, reindeer antlers, body paint and limited festive garments are appreciated.  Foot protection including secured sandals or aquatic shoes is highly recommended to help with footing on the small rocks before the sand flats.   FOR YOUR SAFETY, PLEASE DO NOT TRESPASS ON THE BNSF RAILWAY CORRIDOR.

Ice man Jamie Lee Kwen (5X) and Don Pitcairn (1X), two members of the elite Mad Hatters triple polar bear swim club.

If you think tat running into chilled ocean water during the winter is crazy, then there is another level of madness waiting for those who can't get enough of polar bear swims.  The timing of the White Rock Polar Bear Swim (12 noon), the Polar Bare Plunge at Crescent Rock in south Surrey (1 p.m.) and Vancouver's Polar Bear Swim at English Bay (2:30 p.m.) allow for the triple crown of polar bear swims to be completed in only 2.5 hours on New Year's Day.  This feat was first accomplished by two brave and adventurous ladies back in 2008 and in their honor, S.U.N.created the elite "Mad Hatters Swim Club" that can be joined by completing these three New Year's Day swims and sending in photographic proof to have their name added to the club's honour roll.  While the Polar Bare Plunge is clothing optional, to join the Mad Hatters Swim Club the Crescent Rock beach swim must be done in the nude.  Iron man Jamie Lee Kwen of Burnaby holds the record of completing the Mad Hatters' three New Year's swims an amazing five years in a row before COVID-19 restrictions ended this streak.

There you have it folks, three New Year's swims with increasing levels of difficulty.  I should note here that Delta also holds a polar bear swim at Centennial beach in Tsawwassen at 1 p.m., directly across Mud Bay and at the same time that the Crescent Rock skinny-dip is taking place.  Make a New Year's resolution to actually partake in one, two or three of these annual ocean baptisms.  At least it looks like the weather will be back to normal with temperatures well above zero and no snow in the forcast.  When I was last at Crescent Rock beach just after the big snow storm, the temperature was -10 C and -15 C with the wind chill.  Several metres out from shore, the seawater looked like a Slurpee with a thick layer of ice crystals floating in it.  Sorry to say but the thought of running into salt water that is cold enough to actually freeze does not sound like a good way to start the year, although I'm sure it would cure a hang-over instantly.



Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Deceber 19, 2022 

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Christmas List 2022

If there's one thing I love about Christmas, it's the annual traditions and in the White Rock Sun this holiday TNT is always special.  Here's the list of naughty and nice gifts we hope Santa will be leaving under the tree for the movers, shakers and decision makers from the Semiahmoo peninsula, listed alphabetically so as to not offend anyone.

Diana Barkley, Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club President�- A brand-new state of the art fish hatchery placed high above the Little Campbell river flood plain above the Little Campbell River.� As a stocking stuffer, a jar of organic honey from the club's bee hives.

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor�- For the editor of the WR Sun and veteran WR Councillor, a pound of his favourite Holy Smoke Coffee Holiday Blend coffee beans (so damn good).� As a stocking stuffer for Mr. Music, a 45 speed vinyl record of the Jackson Five's hit song "ABC." 

Kevin Falcon, Official Opposition Leader�- Kevin got his present a month early when the BC Liberals voted overwhelmingly to change their name to the United Party.� As a stocking stuffer, a new party slogan courtesy of yours truly, "Nowhere to go but UP."

Kerry-Lynne Findlay, S. Surrey-White Rock MP�- A dominatrix outfit along with a fine assortment of torture devices to inflict pain and suffering on Justin Trudeau's Liberals.� As a stocking stuffer, a copy of "50 Shades of Grey" for the lady who is now the Conservative Opposition whip.

Trevor Halford, S. Surrey-White Rock MLA�- For the new Shadow Minister for Affordability, Transportation & Infrastructure and ICBC, a tiger torch that he can use to hold the NDP's feet to the fire over impacts from the affordability crisis that we are now in.

Gordie Hogg, Mr. White Rock�- After getting almost 25,000 votes for Surrey mayor, good ol' Gordie gets a splitting axe under the tree since Surrey First once again split the vote.� For White Rock's perennial politician, a fine bottle of Carri-bean rum that he can share with me.

Debi Johnstone, KTRIS member - For the lady accused of running over the foot of the former Surrey Mayor in the Save-On-Foods parking lot, a Tesla car that would have recorded both audio and video of their confrontation and provided crucial evidence in this criminal case.

Megan Knight, Mayor of White Rock - For the new mayor who looks forward to “getting her feet wet” post-election win, an invitation to the upcoming Polar Bear swim on New Year's day.  As a stocking stuffer, a pair of brass knuckles after knocking on lots of doors in White Rock.

Norm Lipinski, Chief Constable, Surrey Police Service�- Kevin Bacon's twin also gets some Holy Smoke beans as he needs to wake up and smell the coffee, and stop wasting millions of taxpayer dollars until our policing debacle is decided on by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnsworth.

Brenda Locke, Mayor of Surrey - For the new mayor, a Gillet Venus shaver and a manicure set after she won a won a razor-thin nail-biting victory over arch foe Doug McCallum.� As a stocking stuffer for the leader of Surrey Connect, a "Surrey Girl" t-shirt courtesy of Surrey Shirts

Doug McCallum, Surrey resident�- For the former Mayor of Surrey who was recently found not guilty of Public Mischief, a boat where this Crescent Beach resident can now sail off into the sunset with the $56,000 separation allowance he received after getting voted out of power.

Ivan Scott, Keep the RCMP in Surrey - For the KTRIS leader, a cheque to cover their $50,000 legal bill to go along with the apology they have already received from the city of Surrey for trampling on their democratic rights and banning seven of their members from City Hall.

Sean Whyte, BC Lions placekicker - The real gift here is watching Sean play another year since returning to the BC Lions and recently signing a new contract extension.� For White Rock's returning prodigal son, a robe, a ring, new shoes and a fatted calf (Luke 15:22) left under the tree.

Harley Xwopoton, Chief of Semiahmoo First Nation�- The gift of good health after Harley recently announced he has a serious dose of the flu after burning the candle at both ends finally caught up with him. As a stocking unstuffer, a box of Neo-Citran Ultra Strength Total Flu.

Merry Christmas everyone an have a happy New Year!

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People




December 12, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Crescent Road & Track

The subject of continuing high-speed car accidents on the many twisting corners of Crescent Road has been covered in this column before, but recent crashes make it time to look at this problem again.  Crescent Road is a bit of an anomaly for roadways in Surrey as it does not follow the regular assortment of north-South and East-West mile apart grid lines.  Instead, this historic road follows the lay of the land along the Nicomekyl river in south Surrey going from sea level to bluff top and back down again.  Along the way there are eighteen curves you have to navigate along with several changes in elevation for a length of approximately 5 miles.   With no traffic lights and only one stop sign (at 128 Street) to slow you down from the King George Blvd to Crescent Beach, it is a magnet for high-speed driving and serious crashes that include injuries and deaths.

Unfortunately, the engineering and construction of this road is rather dated as it goes back over 100 years.  A quick visit to the website historical section has the following description for this heritage roadway.

"Crescent Road was constructed beginning in 1883 and later between 1910 and 1923, following the natural contours of the landscape, on the south side of the Nicomekl River, connecting the Elgin area to Crescent Beach. The name, Crescent Road, was in use by 1909, possibly earlier."

The picture posted with this online listing shows a dangerous corner at the north entrance to Crescent Beach where an out-of-control driver crossed fully into my lane while I was driving home in my Jeep YJ.  I took evasive action, swerving off the roadway onto the grass and sliding to a stop where the engine stalled since I had no time to hit the clutch.  That's just my own personal experience with speeding drivers on Crescent Road but I have plenty of other stories about crashes that I've witnessed, driven by or seen the results of.

In the past two months there have been three serious crashes on Crescent Road.  Two of these occurred on the south side of the road a couple of blocks on either side of 140 St where out of control vehicles smashed into the front gates of several homes, demolishing the heavy brick and concrete posts that once stood there.  The last wipe-out was where a vehicle failed to negotiate the corner at 144 St., slid across into the oncoming lane and took out about 40 feet of split-rail cedar fencing meant to protect pedestrians on the sidewalk.  This happened in an area that is posted at 30 kmh because of the pedestrian crossing and location of the Elgin Road Esso gas station.  I should note that this is now the second time that this fence has been driven into since it was erected a few years ago.  I'm thinking that some large concrete curbing might be more appropriate since drivers routinely ignore the low speed signage for this dangerous stretch of road.

Since I got on my little TNT soapbox about this issue, the Surrey Engineering Department has made some changes along Crescent Road.  They put up several of the yellow "Curve Ahead, 40 kmh" warning signs at many of the corners where crashes were routinely happening.  Up the hill west of Elgin Park, they posted three large yellow and black chevron signs indicating a sharp corner that has had the desired effect to slow traffic in an area where four people have previously died in car crashes.  The cats-eyes reflectors that used to line the middle of the road and the shoulders were taken off by snowplows a few years ago and unfortunately were never replaced.  This long stretch of road is rather poorly lit, especially in the curves where crashes happen repeatedly.  Except for the pedestrian crossing near Elgin Road that is part of the Semiahmoo Trail and the removal of all passing areas, Crescent Road remains basically unchanged since I started driving on it over 40 years ago.

The City of Surrey needs to look at the ongoing high-speed crashes on Crescent Road and take some concrete action to reduce speed for the Autobahn of south Surrey.  In the 30 kmh zone near the Elgin Esso station, speed humps should be installed, just as they are at all 30 kmh elementary school zones.  As I proposed to them before, some concrete curbing along the Semiahmoo Trail sidewalk and to protect the Esso gas pumps should be installed.  Centre islands with concrete curbing need to be placed at many of the sharp curves to help separate traffic and slow people down.  Traffic circles at 140 St., 136 St., 132 St. and 128 St. would help to reduce traffic speed plus help move people in and out of Crescent Beach in the summer.  Some "SLOW DOWN" and "SPEED KILLS" signs might give drivers something to think about, plus having brightly lit radar signs showing vehicle speed would be an asset.  Whether its RCMP or SPS, some actual speed enforcement on this long windy stretch of road both during the day and at night will show how pervasive dangerous speeding is on Crescent Road.

To get an idea of how serious a problem bad driving is in Surrey and the deaths and injuries that result, take the time to visit the Vision Zero Surrey on the City of Surrey website (  The focus of this program is to lower both deaths and injuries for drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians in Surrey.  They are attempting to get to zero by "focusing efforts on Surrey's Victims of Harm, Location of Harm, and Perpetrators of Harm as identified through data analysis and community partnership."  The data this site contains is rather sobering with the numbers for the various KSI collisions (killed, serious injured) that happen every year in this city.  You might be surprised to learn that:

  • Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists account for half of Surrey’s KSI collisions

  • 65% of Surrey’s serious crashes occur on just 5% of our streets

  • 80% of Surrey’s KSI collisions occur at intersections

  • High risk driving behaviours are a contributing factor in two-thirds of Surrey’s KSI crashes

I was almost in a head-on crash on Crescent Road that I narrowly avoided.  My wife was passed by a speeding car that failed to negotiate the next curve on Crescent Road and crashed into the trees.  I was on scene for a collision where a new driver speeding in Daddy's Jaguar sedan crossed the centre line and plowed into a Mazda 3, shattering the young lady's legs and trapping her in the car.  I visited the fatal crash site where a young man named Tony Blackburn died on Valentine's Day after his friend lost control on Crescent Road and spun sideways into a telephone pole.  When you experience these things and many more, it makes you want to help improve this historic roadway and that starts by getting upgrades to ensure it less of a race track and more of a safe arterial road.  With assistance from the new mayor and council, hopefully the Engineering Department can make this happen instead of leaving Crescent Road in its current state for another century.

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People




December 05, 2022

The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Hatching a Plan

Last Saturday was the Annual General Meeting of the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club located in the historic Hazelmere Valley of south Surrey where it has resided the past 65 years, while operating a salmon and trout hatchery for the last 45 years.  Besides the regular run-of-the-mill organizational information relayed to the membership and reports from the various directors, there was a very important topic on the agenda.  It is my pleasure to report to you that a vote to allow the SFGC executive to continue with plans for Phase 1 for the construction of a new fish hatchery to replace the rather antiquated and flood prone Little Campbell Hatchery (LCH) passed with a unanimous vote by all of those in attendance.

Last year was an extremely trying time for the SFGC volunteers who help run its Little Campbell Hatchery.  The atmospheric river that targeted the south portion of B.C. in November caused extensive flooding in and around the hatchery building.  The fish fence that is used to count spawning salmon was inundated with gravel and logs, sustaining serious damage.  The hatchery itself had two feet of water flowing through it, making for the second time in one year that the building had been flooded.  A power outage associated with the flooding knocked out pumps and aerators resulting in 30,000 coho eggs in the nursery being destroyed.  On top of that, floodwaters inundated the coho rearing ponds with adult spawning salmon replacing many of the young fish being raised there.  In short, it was an unmitigated disaster for the club and its hatchery.

With a new President and Board in position, the executive opened talks with Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) advisers and started touring other fish hatchery facilities in January.  They were looking at the possibility of rebuilding the antiquated hatchery with a more modern design in an area out of the Little Campbell river flood plain.  Using construction templates for modern fish hatcheries and with guidance from the Pacific Salmon Foundation, several local construction companies were approached for preliminary quotes for a complete rebuild.  It has been estimated that a Phase 1 design stage will cost $70,000-$75,000 and that an entirely new building and its salmon support systems will likely cost in the neighbourhood of $1,800,000.

The B.C. Salmon Restoration and Innovation Fund (BCSRIF) has announced federal and provincial co-funding of $200 million for supporting protection and restoration activities for Pacific Salmon and other wild fish stocks.  Their focus is on innovation, infrastructure and science partnerships, their priorities are for salmon ecosystems, habitats and sustainable fisheries and their fundamental projects include improving salmon stocks, mitigating climate change impacts, plus incorporating Indigenous participation and knowledge.  Fortunately, the SFGC and its LCH tick many of these boxes with letters of support from Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, South Surrey MLA Elenore Sturko, South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerri-Lynne Findlay, The Semiahmoo First Nation plus LaFarge Canada Inc.  Having an existing fish hatchery, available land and a knowledgeable volunteer base is definitely a bonus.

The DFO gave the SFGC $35,000 from its Salmon Initiative Strategy on top of the $8,000 it pays annually to the hatchery to help support its normal operations.  A further $35,000-$45,000 will be needed from various funding sources and approved grant applications to complete the Phase 1 plan by the end of January 2023 time frame for this project.  It is hoped by that time that working drawings of the proposed facility will be submitted to the City of Surrey with the likelihood of receiving a building permit within one calendar year.  Current projections for this massive undertaking are for $300,000 to be needed by March of 2023, $1,000,000 by March of 2024 and a further $500,000 for completion of the buildings and infrastructure by the spring of 2026 when the new hatchery should be up and running.

Just like when the original fish hatchery was built on the banks of the Little Campbell river 45 years ago, services in kind, volunteering and donations to the building fund will be gracious accepted once government grants are received, building permits issued and the construction contracted.  At the end of this ambitious and much needed upgrade of the hatchery complex, the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club will have a brand-new state of the art salmon hatchery.  Getting volunteers to help capture, count and raise salmon in the hatchery should not be a problem as membership in the SFGC has blossomed this year with over 750 members now in attendance.  With COVID rates declining, everyone is looking forward to classrooms of children returning to the SFGC property to view the hatchery operations and explore the riverside nature trails. 

If you would like to help fund the club activities and contribute to the funding for Phase 1 of the new hatchery plan, the SFGC is once again holding its Christmas tree chipping event on January 7 & 8 at 1284- 184 St. by donation.  Please mark this date and address on your 2023 calendar if you are planning on having a real tree this holiday season.  The club will also be taking applications for new memberships, hoping to eclipse 1,000 members in 2023 as excitement for a new modern salmon hatchery on the Little Campbell river builds.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



November 28, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

You Be The Judge

Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum's trial on Public Mischief ended last week and he was found not guilty in the Surrey Provincial Courthouse.  As I noted in my TNT Extra, you can read the Reasons for Judgment by Judge Reginald Harris on the Provincial Court of BC website at the following link:  Before delving into the following TNT, it is advisable that you read the evidence and judgment in detail in order to better understand what I am going to reveal to you today on this historic Surrey criminal case.

I was in courtroom 101 for the start of McCallum's trial and also attended on the final day when the judge explained his reasoning and gave his verdict.  I was rather surprised that the judge ignored McCallum's statements about being pinned to his car, having his leg run over or that the Mustang in question tore away at a high rate of speed, all which were proven false.  In video footage outside of Save-On-Foods and the Peace Arch Hospital, Mr. McCallum appears to be walking fine without any presence of a limp, this after allegedly having his foot run over by a tire carrying over 900 lbs of weight.  On the question of whether Mrs. Debi Johnstone ran over Doug McCallum's foot, the Judge believed this to be true and gave his many thought-felt reasons to find Mr. McCallum not guilty of Public Mischief.

Leaving the Surrey Courthouse, I decided to visit the Southpoint Save-On-Foods (SOF) to see the area for myself where this alleged hit and run had happened.  Of interest was the landscaped traffic island bed and its relation to the CCTV footage that was taken from a camera mounted at the top of the right front door as you enter this grocery store.  I had viewed the CCTV footage once it had been released in court but bushes blocked the view of Mr. McCallum's feet in relation to Debi Johnstone's Mustang car.  This traffic island also contains several boulders that make standing in it basically impossible, meaning her belief that Doug McCallum had stood there during their heated discussions was erroneous.  I took detailed measurements of all of the obstacles and roadway widths from the area plus plenty of photographs concerning lines of sight from the position of the nearby CCTV.

There are four disabled parking stalls adjacent to this area, with the ones closest to the store being 12 feet wide and the next two being 9 feet wide.  They are all 19.5" long, or 39 feet in total, with the 12-foot-wide ones having a disabled parking sign located in the middle 6' from the curb.   The north/south driving lane where Debi Johnstone stopped her car to harass Doug McCallum is 12' wide, while the east-west driveway in front of SOF lanes are 14' and 13.5' or 27.5' in total.  The landscaped bed in question is just over 12' wide with curbing that is 4.5 inches tall.   There are several rocks at the end of the traffic island with one 21" tall leaving only 11" of space between the rock and the edge of the curb.   The painted yellow stop line is 5' from the corner of the traffic island next to the disabled parking and the pinch point of the large boulder is 3' from this same curb corner. 

By plain crazy luck, my wife drives a silver Ford Mustang convertible, similar to the one owned by Debi Johnstone.  This car is 188.5" long, 74" wide and 56" tall with a 107" wheelbase, a turning circle of 33.4' and weighs 3,500 lbs.  I'm not going to bother you with horsepower, torque, 0-60 speed or any other performance details but it is fun to drive, especially with the top down where you have increased visibility and can easily yell obscenities at local political figures, which comes in handy.  By far the most important measurements with relation to this case are the distance from the front bumper to the middle of the front seat which measures 5' when my wife is driving.  The distance from the driver's seat to the middle of the rear wheel is only 3' and the closest you would ever stand next to the side of this vehicle when it is running would be 2" away, and likely further if you were concerned for your safety after being publicly ridiculed.  

Now it is time to dissect the CCTV video of the alleged hit and run incident with a 2:08 minute clip posted on CBC at .   It starts with Debi Johnston's silver Mustang driving left to right through the two disabled parking spots that are 12' away from the traffic island (0:07-0:19 sec.).  At centre screen Doug McCallum can be seen walking away from his car putting on a surgical mask (0:18-0:22 sec.).   As the Mustang turns right and pulls up at the yellow stop line, he turns and walks back alongside the car stepping up into the traffic island and then down into the vacant disabled parking spot (0:23-0:32 sec).  Mrs. Johnstone's car is slightly angled away from the traffic island and there is a yellow sign and tree just above Mr. Mccallum's head and a reflector at his left shoulder.  Just over a minute into this video, Mr. McCallum steps back and to the left away from the Mustang with the reflector disappearing from sight (1:05-1:08 sec.).  They continue to converse until at 1:28 seconds the Mustang begins to pull away driving straight ahead then turning wide halfway into the oncoming lane at regular parking lot speed.  As the car pulls away Mr. McCallum begins to turn his body and as the car passes he proceeds to walk back towards the grocery store, this time not stepping up onto the traffic island.

X marks the spot!

Now, here is where all of the measurements and the picture of the area where this interaction happened all come together.  When Debi Johnstone turned and parked her car in the laneway the Mustang was slightly angled away from the traffic island with her car stopped near the front of the yellow stop line a couple feet from the curb.  Mr. McCallum walks over to her car, stepping up onto the corner of the traffic island as visible from his head motion and down into the disabled parking spot before turning to face the car.  The distance from the stop line to the corner of the curb is 5' and the Mustang is 8" from bumper to driver, meaning he would be standing 2.5'-3' feet from the north side of the traffic island.  Stepping up, onto and then off this island reveals that his forward progress would place him at least 1' behind the corner of the curbing that the car was stopped well away from.  Comparing lines of sight from the position of the CCTV and vegetation in front of Mr. McCallum plus the trees and yellow sign behind him reveals exactly where he is standing, which is where I placed a yellow X in the photo you see.  Unlike the judge in this case, I don't believe Mr. McCallum had his foot run over in this incident unless he is Surreyman.., I mean Superman.  When the Mustang drives away, Mr. McCallum walks out into the laneway area and turns right to return to the front of the SOF store without stopping, looking down at his feet, or limping.

Had the RCMP and prosecutor taken all of these measurements, shown the details of the traffic island and explained Mr. McCallum's motions in relation to the CCTV and his positioning besides the Mustang, this trial could have had a different verdict.  There were also two CCTV cameras on the nearby Rogers store that may have offered a different view and vantage point but it is not known if this footage was ever secured or revealed the interaction in question.  With the judge finding Mr. McCallum not guilty and believing that his foot was run over by Mrs. Johnstone, does that not mean that the shoe is now on the other foot?  Could charges of vehicular assault, dangerous driving and leaving the scene of an accident now be filed against Debi Johnstone for using her car as a weapon?  The photos, measurements and explanation in this TNT might then be used to clear her name, proving that not only did she never pin the former Mayor against his car, she didn't ran over his foot either.  Somehow, I don't think the RCMP will be pursuing this as aggressively as they did charges against the man trying to replace them with the Surrey Police Service.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

TNT Extra:
  Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was found NOT GUILTY on his charge of Public Mischief.  Judge Reginald Harris delivered his verdict on Monday morning in the Surrey Provincial Courthouse, saying he was satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that McCallum had his food run over by a Mustang in the Save-On-Foods parking lot during a verbal confrontation with a KITRS supporter.  Judge Harris acknowledged that several statements made by McCallum were inaccurate but did not believe he was lying to police investigators, blaming the fear and stress McCallum was experiencing for these discrepancies.  You can read the reasons for judgement on the Provincial Court of British Columbia website at the following link:

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



November 21, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

The Magnificent Surrey Seven

It took the removal of Doug McCallum from Surrey City Hall, the end of the Safe Surrey majority on council and a big change of heart from City Hall for "The Magnificent Surrey Seven" to receive an apology for the treatment they have endured.  Late last year, Surrey Council voted to ban seven Surrey residents, Annie Kaps, Debi Johnstone, Colin Pronger, Ivan Scott, Merle Scott, Marilyn Smith and Linda Ypenburg from attending council chambers.  They were members of the Keep The RCMP In Surrey (KTRIS) group that were a serious burr under the saddle of then Mayor Doug McCallum and his efforts to bring in the Surrey Police Service.   The new Mayor Brenda Locke had this to say about this assault on civic democracy, “As mayor of the city of Surrey I want to extend our sincerest apologies to the seven individuals who were prohibited from attending council meetings in person by a council resolution adopted on Sept. 13, 2021.  As mayor of the city of Surrey I want to extend our sincerest apologies to the seven individuals who were prohibited from attending council meetings in person."

The City of Surrey hired Lidstone & Company Law Corp. to file a petition to the BC Supreme Court on Oct. 18, 2021 asking that the seven be prohibited from "physically attending City of Surrey Council and Committee meetings in person, until Council determines otherwise.”  These seven residents hired their own legal team and filed a petition in BC Supreme Court on Dec. 14, 2021 to have the ban on them attending council chambers overturned.  Feeling the public heat and likely realizing they did not have a legal leg to stand on, council then rescinded the ban six days later without offering an apology for the pain and suffering the Mag 7 had endured.  Now that the new Surrey council has rectified this past mistake by issuing a formal apology, maybe it is time to put their money where their mouth is.  In order to fight City Hall, "The Magnificent Surrey Seven" had to hire lawyers to represent them, which racked up a $50,000 legal bill.  If Surrey taxpayers can pay for Doug McCallum' legal dream team with Richard Peck to fight his Public Mischief charge that involved several members of KTRIS, then City Hall should buck up and reimburse them for their legal costs.

On the subject of Doug McCallum, three of his 4'x8' Safe Surrey election signs are still posted up on 16th Ave. in south Surrey (the photo is from 172 St.).  These signs should have been removed no later than two weeks after the election as per Surrey sign bylaws and here we are over a month past the election date.  Knowing of Doug's penchant for eliminating election signs from boulevards and city property plus directing the Bylaw Dept. to confiscate Surrey Connect election signs before the civic election, I decided that turnabout was fair play.  I reported these signs to Surrey Bylaws and received word a file had been generated for an officer to investigate and hopefully issue fines.  McCalllum's election slogans were "Doug gets it done" and "Doug delivers."  Well, it's time to get your sign clean up DONE and DELIVER them to the dump.  Just because you lost and were kicked out of office doesn't mean that the bylaws don't apply to you.  I have run for public office twice and been the sign manager for both a Surrey mayoralty candidate and a South Surrey-White Rock MP.  In all of these cases, the election signs were collected within three days after the ballots had been counted.  

Maybe Doug McCallum has not bothered with this cleanup because his foot was still sore from where one of "The Magnificent Surrey Seven" Debi Johnstone allegedly ran it over with her Mustang at a KTRIS event.  I don't believe a word about what Doug McCallum had to say to the police about this incident and CCTV footage in the Save-On-Foods parking lot shows the former Mayor never looking down at his feet and walking briskly without a limp after their encounter.  By chance, Monday, Nov. 21st, the day this column was posted, is verdict day at the Surrey Provincial Courthouse.   Judge Reginald Harris will be announcing his decision based on the evidence that was presented at trial, an explanation of which should last about two hours.  Special Prosecutor Richard Fowler had this to say to the judge about Doug McCallum, “This is not a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum's foot was run over.  This is a trial about whether or not Mr. McCallum, with the intent to mislead, made false statements to the police, with the intention of causing Ms. Debi Johnstone to be suspected of having committed offences she had not committed.”  It will be interesting to see if the high-priced legal team that Surrey taxpayers are footing the bill for manages to get Doug McCallum off the hook.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


November 14, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


There are approximately 550,000 residents now living in the City of Surrey.  That is a lot of eyes and ears, many boots on the ground and plenty of people from various backgrounds, with different ideas and individual personalities.  I am but one small cog in the big machine that is Surrey, but we are all responsible for how our city grows and develops into the future.  Now imagine if every person living in this town were given the opportunity to help make Surrey a better place to live, to recommend improvements and help promote livability in this region.  That is the basis for an idea I call "BETTER SURREY" that could be used as a sounding board for residents to make individual recommendations that would make Surrey a better place to live.  

The concept is to have an email address available on the website or possibly even a BETTER SURREY Facebook page where folks can pass along their suggestions to City Hall.  With over half a million people and a very large municipality, I believe it makes sense to reach out and allow residents of Surrey their say on civic improvements based on their experiences and concepts they may have.  These recommendations do not have to be on the monumental scale such as a 60,000 seat stadium, building a system of canals, or even a Ferris wheel in Bridgeview.  They could be just small-scale suggestions based on each person's individual experiences and their knowledge of their neighbourhood.  There are places in Surrey I know little about but I am very familiar with my little corner of the world that those in City Hall should be aware of.  Using people's personal knowledge and insight, together we can make Surrey a better place to live.

I'm kind of cheating here since I already have this long-standing soapbox to rant from but here is a list of community improvements that I could submit to BETTER SURREY if this concept is put into motion.   Some of these have been covered as previous TNT topics but I think that collectively they show the level of insight that residents have of their communities.  In no certain order, here are ten of my suggestions that I believe would make for a BETTER SURREY.  Trust me when I say I probably could have written fifty of these ideas but I didn't want to be up all night or possibly bore my readers to death.  Not to mention, I don't think my editor Dave Chesney would be very happy having to proof-read a TNT of biblical proportions.

  1. Sandy Trail connects the neighbourhood of Crescent Heights to Crescent Beach and yet there are no signs at either of its three entrance points giving its historical name.  It also does not appear on the City website, meaning that many people do not even know of its existence.  This dark gravelled trail could use some pathway lighting as it is extremely dark in the woods at night

  1. The shoreline of Crescent Beach needs to be cleaned every spring of extra logs that float into Mud Bay and get deposited on the shoreline.  The pathways should be cleared and the logs arranged for maximum public benefit and relaxation area.  This log sorting operation is done on other beaches throughout the Lower Mainland and it is time that it was done here in Surrey.

  1. The Christopherson Steps (formerly 101 Steps) at 24 Ave. and 1001 Steps at 15A Ave. need to have street signage pointing to these Crescent Rock beach access staircases, along with names at both the top and bottom of these stairs so that people know what they are called and where to direct emergency personal in case of an accident at the shoreline or on the train tracks.

  1. The muddy shoreline between Blackie Spit and the BNSF train trestle at the Crescent Beach Marina should have "Danger Quicksand - Keep Out!" signs posted on the areas that saturate with incoming tides where people have become trapped in the mud and needed rescuing by the Surrey Fire Service. 

  1. The Ocean Park staircase at 13 Ave. and 131 St. needs to be properly named and signed at both top and bottom, on nearby streets and also placed on the Surrey website.   Its real name is the "Olympic Trail" as it looks south at the Olympic Peninsula from what used to be Olympic Road.  It is not called "Pot Point", "Stoner's Point" or the lame "13 Ave. Lookout" name that has recently surfaced at City Hall.

  1. Christopherson Road north of 24 Ave. needs to finally be paved.  It is still a graveled street in an area with an ocean view and homes valued at $5-10 million.  The west end of 24 Ave. is no better with a surface of asphalt oiled gravel dating back at least 80 years.  Somehow these streets have become the roadways that the Engineering Department has forgotten about.

  1. Crescent Road is a windy roadway that stretches from KGB to Crescent Beach with only one stop signs and no traffic lights.  It is used as a high-speed racetrack resulting in constant wipe outs into the gates of the many high-end homes along this street.  Traffic calming islands, chicanes, roundabouts, or speed humps are needed to lower the crash rate and deaths on this dangerous road.

  1. Colebrook Road along the bottom of Panorama Ridge was repaved earlier this year but it is extremely dark and needs overhead lighting installed at the t-intersection at 160 St. where two cars have already plowed through the guardrail, and on either side of the BC Railway overpass for the KGB.  More lighting for the notorious dump spots might also decrease illegal dumping.

  1. The unused Surrey Park & Ride lot on the west side of KGB could be turned into a neighbourhood garage sale on the weekend during the summer months.  People simply rent the stalls they need from Translink and sell merchandise out of their trunks or put up tables and shelters.  This would be a fun community event and also help generate revenue for Translink.

  1. There is no mention of Crescent Rock beach on the City of Surrey website and no sign-age informing people to its 75-year history of clothing-optional use.  If Surrey wants to champion diversity and inclusion, this shoreline that is to Surrey what Wreck Beach is to Vancouver should be listed on the Parks and Recreation section of the City website.  Sign-age leading to and from the beach would help to educate and inform.

There you have it and I didn't even mention building Skytrain to Newton, keeping the RCMP in Surrey or Elon Musk launching Space-X rockets here here to help celebrate Diwali.  I certainly don't have all of the answers as to how to make this a BETTER SURREY but if we all put our heads together and help direct those at City Hall whose job it is to make civic improvements, just imagine how collectively we could change this city over time.  If every person in Surrey had ten suggestions as to have to create a BETTER SURREY, we would have 5.5 million ideas worth considering.  I do realize that the City has a budget and not all improvements could be made but at least we would have a community forum where these ideas and concepts could be discussed, considered and possibly implemented.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


NOVEMBER 07, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

\Don PItcairn

"So-Called" Journalism

I watch, listen to and read a large variety of media news and am constantly surprised by the misinformation, bias, and outright fabrication that I have seen when it comes to fair reporting these days.  I believe that much of this is likely due to media of all forms becoming more centrally controlled and corporation dominated.  Throw in the political and religious leanings of those involved not to mention big money advertisers plus government funding and the news of the day can often become slanted or even tainted.   When you get your news from a variety of sources it is amazing how the story can change depending on what channel you are watching, what station you are listening to or what newspaper you are reading.  Simply check out Fox News and CNN in the United States to see the difference in reporting.

That being said, there is a dedicated media smear campaign in Canada that has been on-going for most of 2022 that is unfortunately continuing to this very day.  It is the use of the "so-called" tag that is used when journalists and editors are reporting on the "Freedom Convoy" protest.  Ask yourself how often you have read or heard the term "so-called Freedom Convoy" in the last year?  What is interesting is the people in the trucking industry who originally decided to bring a rolling protest to Ottawa gave their movement a name and it was the "Freedom Convoy."  Whether you agree with their motives, their protest, their actions in Ottawa or the use of the Emergencies Act against them, the Freedom Convoy (note the lack of quotation marks) is the name of this movement.

A simple Google search of "so-called meaning" quickly shows how this is an insulting and degrading term.  The Oxford dictionary defines so-called as "used to express one's view that a name or term is inappropriate."  The Cambridge dictionary lists so-called as "used to show that you think a word that is used to describe someone or something is not suitable or not correct."  If you search "Is so-called a negative word?" you will find that "'so-called' has negative connotations, with the implication that the item you are referring to is not actually the thing that it is called."  Search "Is so-called an insult?" and you will find the following from Wordpress:  "In many cases, so-called is intended, in no uncertain terms, as an insult.   If that's your intent - to deride or insult - feel free to use this phrase.  But if your goal is to remain neutral or objective, or simply to present information, then you should avoid this phrase."

Another internet search of the term "so-called Freedom Convoy" will show you countless media stories from around the globe using the "so-called" insult to describe the Freedom Convoy protest.  These include the CBC, CTV, Global, City News, Toronto Star, BBC, Reuters, Forbes and even Al Jazeera that usually has high levels of journalistic reporting.  It was interesting to note that the Washington Post and Euronews, instead of utilizing the negative so-called term, listed them as the "self-styled Freedom Convoy", the only time I have seen this factual term used.  It is noteworthy to realize that the Wikipedia post for this protest is not listed under "Freedom Convoy", but instead is named as the "Canada Convoy Protest" a name I'd never heard it called before.  While they do note it was called the Freedom Convoy, they don't stoop to invoking the so-called smear before the actual name.

Having media slander groups by describing them in insulting terms only opens them to further abuse, including by those in power.  One only needs to look at how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the Freedom Convoy members to realize not only did he not accept their demands to repeal vaccine mandates, but would not bother to meet with them to discuss their concerns.   Instead, they were called "a fringe minority with unacceptable views, racists, misogynists, and accused of being violent.  All of this rhetoric of course ended up with the Canadian government invoking the Emergencies Act, using police force to violently quash the protest while ignoring Canadian Charter Rights and Freedoms.  The ongoing Emergencies Act Inquiry that is currently ongoing will hopefully show if the declaration was needed and if the measures taken under it including freezing Canadian's bank accounts were legal.

I often listen to City News (AM 1130) for their traffic reports and got rather tired of hearing supposedly professional journalists keep on using the slanderous so-called term in their broadcasts.  I found their team online a that listed email addresses and telephone numbers for their employees and called their manager editor Peter Wagner to let him know my views on the so-called smear.  Even though I explained in detail why this was not respectful or proper journalism, CityNews kept on broadcasting the same worn-out tag to slander the Freedom Convoy.  If you now realize this is a media driven smear campaign, feel free to contact their managers either by email or by phone.  I will be sending them a link to this story so they realize how inept they now look, plus I will be filing a formal notice with the CRTC about their broadcasting practices (see  In the end, journalists need to report the news, not slander those that the federal government has an obvious agenda against.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


November 01, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

It's Salmon Spawning Season - Finally!

The last year has seen remarkable weather that has seriously affected the Little Campbell River that runs through the Hazelmere valley in south Surrey, which includes the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club (SFGC) and the Little Campbell Hatchery (LCH) that operates on the same property at 1284 184 St.  First was last year's punishing atmospheric river that unleashed records amounts of water onto the southern part of BC resulting in washouts, landslides and devastating floods.  Then came the extreme winter cold with temperatures hitting -20 C in the Lower Mainland that is not equipped for regular Canadian winter weather.  After that we had one of the coldest and wettest springs we've had in years followed by a hot and dry summer that stretched well into the fall with almost no precipitation from August into October.  While the weather was great for going to the beach, we had high forest fire danger coupled with level 5 drought until last week.

Last November's extreme precipitation event sent a surge of water down the Little Campbell River that submerged the Little Campbell Hatchery in two feet of water, inundating the building where salmon eggs are hatched and smolts raised into juvenile salmon.  The power going out in the flooded building contributed to a loss of many salmon eggs that had already been harvested for the next year's brood stock.  Spawning salmon were swimming throughout the flooded property including across the submerged driveway making for some rather interesting photos at that time.  Unfortunately, the flood waters affected the coho retention pond where much of the young salmon were washed out of this enclosure into the river making for an early uncontrolled release.  When the floodwaters subsided, SFGS and LCH members worked diligently to recover salmon left high and dry in nearby fields or trapped in ponds on the property.

The wet and cold spring we endured was more of a problem for farmers than fish but the high heat and extreme drought we experienced throughout the summer and into the fall seriously strained the river systems throughout much of the province.  Most residents of BC saw the video of tens of thousands of dead salmon trapped in a dry river bed in Bella Bella, Haida Gwaii in early October.  While the larger tributaries here did not completely dry out, they were running at very low water levels stopping salmon from returning to their spawning grounds.  As of two weeks ago, not a single salmon had appeared at the fish fence crossing the Little Campbell River at the hatchery, something that had never happened before.  Concerns were growing that without rain the fish might not be able to spawn in time, or else all frantically swim upstream at once and compete for limited spawning sites.

Last week's rainfall appears to have come just in time and it is my pleasure to report that the Little Campbell Hatchery is once again receiving a variety of salmon breeds at the fish fence.  As of last Friday, volunteers had counted a total of 561 Chinook (419 wild, 142 hatchery fish), 194 Coho (159 wild, 35 hatchery fish) and 11 Chum.  Fifteen pairs of Chinook were retained for breeding purposes and members of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans removed and fertilized 60,000 eggs that will be raised in large tanks inside the hatchery.   While not yet posted on the yearly count board that is next to the fish fence, staff were excited last Friday that the first cutthroat trout of the year had been counted along with one lonely Sockeye salmon that had made a surprise appearance in a river that does not support a run of Sockeye.  In fact, the last Sockeye seen in the Little Campbell River was 15 years ago way back in 2007.

The latest atmospheric river to lash the coast will ensure plenty of water for the salmon to swim upstream and fill all of the smaller tributaries off the Little Campbell that are rich spawning and rearing grounds.  You can expect large numbers of salmon to pass through the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club property this week and it is a perfect time to go do some salmon spotting.  The SFGC property where the Little Campbell Hatchery is located also includes 30 acres of property located on both sides of the river with walking trails following the river.  The grounds are open to the public from dawn to dusk and now is the best time of the year to see volunteers in action counting the passing fish and to marvel at this yearly natural spectacle.  While there, you might consider taking out a membership in the SFGC and joining the band of volunteers that run the club and hatchery.  With large bills for running the fish hatchery, tax deductible donations are always greatly appreciated.

For more information on the SFGC and LCH or to help with the volunteer not-for-profit club, please visit the following:

Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club:

Little Campbell Hatchery:

Hatchery donations:  Please call 604-535-8366 or send an email or E-transfer to

Have a safe and happy Halloween,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



Monday October 24, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn 

Did You Miss Time Change?


I would have thought by now that time change away from Daylight Savings Time would have been a thing of the past.  Yet thanks to a Chinese manufactured laboratory virus and NDP Premier John Horgan not having the testicular fortitude to do so,  we are still stuck with twice a year time change similar to the western states of the USA.  It is interesting to note that during the same world-wide scamdemic, our neighbours to the north in the Yukon somehow eliminated the twice-yearly time change in March of 2020, sticking to DST after a public survey showed overwhelming support for eliminating this relic that dates back to WW1 over 100 years ago.  In case you were wondering, time change in BC this year is on Sunday Nov. 6 where we get to "fall back" at 2 a.m. and get an extra hour of partying in, with the "spring forward" date of March 12, 2023 where we lose an hour of sleep contributing to societal fatigue and car crashes.

BC isn't the only jurisdiction that sticks to arbitrary and outdated time changes, which make no sense in the modern world or in the realm of common sense.  Case in point is the closing times for the three staircases in south Surrey that lead to the shoreline of Crescent Rock Beach, namely the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave., the 1,001 Steps at the west end of !5 A Ave., and the Olympic Trail (aka "Stoners Point" on 13 Ave. at the south end of 131 St.  In case you missed it or never bothered to read the signs heading down to the beach, here is the information that the City of Surrey has posted.


Feb 12 - Apr 15  8:00 pm

Apr 16 - Aug 26 10:00 pm

Aug 27 - Oct 15  8:00 pm

Oct 16 - Feb 11  6:00 pm

If locked in, contact security contractor

Now I do realize that the main reason for locking these steps is to keep nocturnal party-goers at bay (good one), especially during the summer season.  With the BNSF Railway corridor at the bottom of the Ocean Park bluffs, we want to keep people away from the train tracks at night as history has unfortunately shown.  What is asinine about the dates and times of these changes is how arbitrary they are and how the times listed fail to take into account the moment for both sunset and twilight.  First thing wrong with this is the dates are relatively arbitrary with odd dates selected instead of picking either the 15th middle day of the month for changing the closure times, or the end and start of months, eg. the 31st and 1st.  Is there anyone who actually remembered that Oct 16 was the dates the time changed for the stairways to the beach to be locked?  Wow..., you hear that..., crickets.

Now here is where the selected dates and times start to get ridiculous.  On Feb. 12 in White Rock, sunset was at 5:28 p.m., so the gates were then locked at 8 p.m. almost 2.5 hours after the sun had gone down and two hours after dusk.  On April 16, sunset was at 8:07 p.m., again almost two hours before the gates were locked.   On Aug. 27, sunset was at 8:07, close to sunset but long before dusk when people could be expected to be at the waterfront during summer vacation.  On Oct. 16, the gates went backwards from 8 o'clock to 6 p.m., a full 20 minutes before sunset and almost an hour before dusk.  It makes no sense for these draconian changes that lock the gates before sunset some times of the year and hours after the sun has gone down months later.  

Case in point, being a sun-lover I often go down to the beach at any time of the year to watch the sunset.  A week ago, my wife and i ventured to Crescent Rock beach, took in the light show and the Christopherson Steps were still open when we left.  A week later and we did the same thing but this time the stairs were locked shut down at the beach and at the top of the trail, almost half an hour earlier than the week before.  This was not a big obstacle for us as we can simply walk home through Crescent Beach but if you live in Ocean Park, the gates and fences at the staircases there pose a serious obstacle.  The signs say to call a security contractor but that doesn't help if you don't know the number that is not even posted!

Now, here is where it gets amazingly stupid.  While the times the gates get closed are posted on the stairs, they do not correspond to the times given on the City of Surrey Parks Department website.  The 1001 Steps is listed as being open from dawn to dusk but that certainly is not the case.  The same goes for the Christopherson steps that are listed as being open from dawn to dusk on the website but with different times on the staircase signage.  Interestingly the Olympic Trail, aka Stoner's Point that some in the Parks Department now bizarrely refer to as the "13th Avenue Lookout" is not even listed on the Parks Department information.  in neighbouring White Rock, the Coldicutt Ravine staircase leading to the waterfront where people had to cross the BNSF Tracks was never fenced off and locked before last year's atmospheric river caused landslides that closed it permanently.

What is the point of living near the ocean if the city restricts access to it before sunset let alone into twilight when the colours become their most intense?  Can you imagine not living in the area and getting locked in with no way to escape and no phone numbers posted?  These ridiculous times and how they change throughout the year need to be taken down and a simpler system enacted.  How about Surrey locks the gates at dusk throughout the year, just as they are already listed on the Parks Dept website?  This should be a no-brainer even for bureaucrats when you realize that the gates are unlocked by Securiguard contractors at dawn each morning.  The opening times for Surrey parks throughout the Semiahmoo peninsula is dawn to dusk and access to these beach staircases should be the same.

in closing, I leave you with a photo I took at Crescent Rock beach that would not have been possible if the gates were closed before the sun went down and the sunset colours blazed across the sky.  

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn 

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Monday October 17, 2022


TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Done With Doug

Once again Doug McCallum is a one term wonder with him losing the Mayor's chair to former Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke.  This election was anything but a cakewalk for Locke's Surrey Connect team that came together to defeat McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition.  In total 118,908 residents of Surrey cast a ballot in the 2022 civic election, a little over a third of the eligible population that equates to 34.54% of the voters.  Locke won with 33,311 votes (28.14%) to McCallum's 32,338 (27.31%), with only 973 votes separating the front runners.  White Rock's Gordie Hogg came in a relatively close third with Surrey First garnering 24,916 votes (21.05%).  Former MLA Jinny Sims and former MP Suhk Dhaliwal collectively received 25,524 (20.71%) for their respective Surrey Forward and United Surrey slates.

Considering the anti-democratic behaviour shown by Mr McCallum, his treatment of anyone involved in the Keep The RCMP In Surrey (KTRIS) group, his silencing of the Surrey Ethics Commissioner, his adulterous affair with another Safe Surrey Councillor or his pending criminal trial on Public Mischief, many thought that his being voted out of power would be a forgone conclusion.  That was far from the case on election night where for reasons unknown Global News declared that Brenda Locke was the new Surrey Mayor with only 59% of the polls reporting and the total votes relatively close.  As time went on, McCallum chipped away at Brenda's lead to the point that with one poll left to report, there was only 500 votes difference between the two bitter rivals.  It took the last poll results to give the win to Mrs. Locke in what became a nail-biting finish.

When Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition were elected in 2018, it was the infighting between members of Surrey First that led to the splintering of their slate and the splitting of the votes between mayoral hopefuls.   In that election McCallum won 45,323 votes (41.08%) defeating Surrey First’s Tom Gill who received 28,304 votes (25.74%) and Integrity Now’s Bruce Hayne (formerly with Surrey First), who received 27,798 votes (25.31%).  Some quick addition shows that if all of these 56,102 votes for second and third place had gone to one of these candidates and not two, Doug McCallum would have never been voted into power.  As it was, he won in a landslide with 7 of the 8 councillors being Safe Surrey Coalition members. 

In the 2022 election there were eight mayoral candidates in Surrey featuring five with political pedigrees and name recognition.  With a hard-core group of supporters including several of Surrey's well-known developers, the Safe Surrey Coalition played it safe knowing the numbers game with vote splitting between multiple rivals might return McCallum to power.  If you add Hogg's, Sims' and Dhaliwal's votes together, they tally 41.76% of the ballots cast, just slightly higher than what Doug McCallum received in the 2018 election.  There were even unsubstantiated rumors in the Surrey Connect Camp that developers financing the Safe Surrey Coalition campaign were also donating to one of the other mayoral candidates in an effort to siphon off votes away from Brenda Locke.  When the financial records are released by the candidates involved in this year's election, we will find out if this is actually true or not.

So we now have a new mayor in Brenda Locke and a controlling vote in Council with the four Surrey Connect Councillors (Harry Bains, Gordon Hepner, Rob Stutt and Pardeep Kooner), who were all elected.  With power comes great responsibility and this grass roots funded campaign needs to realize a very important numerical fact.  Of the 344,262 Surrey residents who were able to cast a ballot in the 2022 election, Mrs. Locke received 33,311 votes that equates to 9.67% of the total eligible voters.  It is results like this that make it extremely important to engage the citizens of Surrey and involve them in the municipal political process that has such a profound effect on their day-to-day lives here in Surrey.  For those people who decided to sit on their hands and not participate in our local democracy, you cannot blame the politicians for their decisions if you could not be bothered to make your mark and cast your ballot.

Surrey was not the only local city with the incumbent mayor being shot down in flames.  In the City By The Sea, Megan Knight knocked off Darryl Walker to take the White Rock Mayor's chair.  Knight received 2,001 votes (37.67%), ahead of Walker’s 1,811 votes (34.09%) with a total of 5,339 votes being cast for a voter turnout of just under 31%.  This result came as a bit of a shock to many as it was perceived that Walker's job was safe but in-fighting among Council members was obviously perceived as a problem by residents.  In the end it likely was Mrs. Knight's well-run campaign that saw her knock on many doors throughout the beach-side hamlet allowing her to engage with residents and win their vote.  I would be remiss to not note here that Dave Chesney, the Editor of the White Rock Sun was voted in again as Councillor for the third time since he first won in White Rock back in 2014.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.




Tuesday October 11, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Fall at Hall 12


Fire Hall 12 that is home to the Surrey Fire Service members in Crescent Beach/Ocean Park is a rather unique building constructed in 1958.  This fire hall was the last operational volunteer fire department in the City of Surrey.  It still has its original air siren horn mounted on the roof along with the break glass and push button activation box next to the front door.  The siren was used to summon fire department volunteers way before the age of beepers and cell phones.  If you had a fire and needed help, you could activate the siren yourself by breaking the glass and pushing the big red button inside the box.  The button is no longer operational but the siren is still functional and plays an integral part in retirement ceremonies before the party for the person leaving work moves across the street to the Crescent Beach Legion #240.

Sitting tucked into the west side of Crescent Park on 128 St., the Hall 12 building blends into the forest with its cedar siding and dark brown paint.  It exudes rustic charm with an antique hose reel apparatus sitting on the lawn and a carved Surrey Fire Hall 12 bench placed near the front door.  In the early 1980's the top of a western red cedar tree at the front corner of the property snapped off in a wind storm.  At that time, it was decided that instead of cutting the rest of the tree down that the trunk would become a signpost for the fire hall.  It was sawn flat on the top and the side facing the street and the words "Hall !2" carved into the wood vertically.  A couple of coats of bright red paint onto the letters finished the job and this sign instantly became part of the Crescent Beach and Ocean Park charm.

I'm sorry to report that this iconic and now old sign has finally succumbed to the ravages of time, not to mention fungus and wood bugs.  It had been leaning for a few years with woodpeckers carving deep holes at the bottom searching for grubs and insects.  Several weekends ago gravity finally won the battle and it crashed to the ground adjacent to the Fire Hall driveway.  The base of the log had completely rotted out on the ground and when it fell portions of the log splintered from its sides.  Likely because of the red paint on the lettering, they remained intact when the signpost fell to the ground.  I was driving by on the way home when I saw the sign laying on the front lawn and went to the hall to give my condolences to the crew of firefighters.

It seems that the firefighters at Hall 12 are as attached to the old log sig n as the rest of the community.  Rather than simply cut the rest of the log up and dispose of it, they have an emergency rescue plan in place.  The idea is to pick up the remains of the sign and transport it to a friend who has an Alaskan mill.  Once there, the log will be run through the mill, trying to carve off a slab of the log that has the iconic HALL 12 carving.  If it does not work as planed or if the slab breaks, a secondary option is to cut off the pieces of the log that have the letters on them.   If either of these two options works the plan is to treat the wood and repaint the sign, then attach it to the outside of the hall between the truck bay roll up doors and the front door entranceway.  If the sign never reappears, you know that it si n the history of the Crescent Beach/Ocean Park Volunteer Fire Department.  Volunteer bucket brigades by residents to fight structure fires like the W ood's Dance Hall fire in 1931 lead to the formation of the area's first volunteer fire department in 1947.  Soon after that the first Crescent Beach Fire Hall was built on what is now Heron Park on Beecher Street not far from the railway tracks.  The webpage has the history of the various chiefs, equipment upgrades, training improvements and the formation of the women's auxiliary.  The most entertaining section is the "summation of typical fire calls" which are anything but typical.  These include a fire from a mooonshine still, a home on fire filled with loose poisonous snakes, a hang glider rescue 40 feet up in a tree and a fire fighter's home being hit by lightning. 

You can read all about at this link:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.



Monday October 03, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Surrey Stealing Signs

Over the past few years Surrey Council has made changes to the sign bylaw in the city that are an affront to the democratic process and are blatantly meant to stifle opposition to the slate currently in power at City Hall.  I have run for public office twice in the Semiahmoo peninsula under the Green Party of BC banner and was also the sign manager for Gordie Hogg when he won a by-election to become the Liberal MP for South Surrey - White Rock.  The use of signs to help inform people that there is an election, what candidates are running and who supports them in our community is an essential component in civic elections that already suffer from lower voter turnout and apathy towards the electoral process.

Last Week Surrey bylaw officers were busy roaming the streets of south Surrey pulling out election signs, most that supported Brenda Locke for Mayor, her Surrey Connect Team and even the Keep The RCMP in Surrey Signs.  Surrey has changed the political sign bylaw to only allow election signs on private property and not on public boulevards (where real estate signs are apparently okay). So even if you mow your front lawn and the city boulevard, the signs must be back 28.5 feet from the middle of the roadway.  In conversations with Surrey bylaw officers it was revealed that they had been "ordered" to pick up these signs and that it was a "priority" for the department.  

This is not a new low for City of Surrey employees tasked with enforcing their master's bylaws.  In 2018 the bylaw goons grabbed over 500 election signs at the beginning of the campaign, some within 25 metres of an intersection, others encroaching on public property.   These signs are stored at the works yard for 72 hours and then destroyed, or they can be picked up by the rightful owners for a charge of $25 per sign.  What this means is that the small election signs are never picked up as they cost a fraction of that amount to produce.  Unfortunately, it appears the bylaw teams are conducting selective enforcement that really is an abuse of power and nothing short of bullying the residents of Surrey.  

The former Chairperson of the BC Green Party, Murray Weisenberger, taught me plenty about election signs and how to make them cheaply and post them where they would be most effective.  On his former property near Crescent Road and 128 St. I recently took it upon myself to post election signs with the blessing of the current owners.   These were put in line with their cedar hedge along the front of their acreage, more than 25 metres away from the nearby intersection and just inside the property line as outlined by the Surrey COSMOS mapping system.   This did nothing to stop the bylaw officer from stealing these legally posted signs that should not have been touched.  They even had the gall to take an election sign from the front of former Mayor Bob Bose's yard in Ocean Park that was far from the roadway and front graveled parking space.  

Fortunately for them they did not take election signs from the front of my property as I have zap-straps at the ready for making a citizen's arrest if they try to take them from my private property.  Not only is this an invasion of my privacy it is hampering my democratic right for political self-expression which in itself is a human rights abuse.  Surrey's signage bylaw needs to be rewritten to reflect how election signs are an important part of our democratic process and they should not be getting removed while real estate signs all across the city are blatantly ignored.  Simply drive across the borders into Langley or Delta and you will see the difference in how these municipalities tolerate political signage for their civic elections.

To avoid being the victim of arbitrary Surrey bylaw officer political sign confiscation, I suggest you do the following.  First is to visit the Surrey COSMOS mapping system, finding your property and putting on the aerial photo tab so you know exactly where the property line is.  It's posted on the website at .  One you have done this, place your sign at least a metre back onto your property so there can be no question of whether the sign placement is legal or not.  Call me distrustful but I would also take the steps to rope or chain it to the nearest tree or fence post so that It cannot be easily removed.  Lastly, if you have security cameras, make sure that one is pointed at the sign so you have a record of who has taken it as bylaw officers do not leave a letter or calling card notifying you of your loss.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


Tuesday September 27, 2022

Tarantulas and Alligators of BC

As someone who has spent a large portion of their life outside for both work and recreation, I often come across creatures that most people in BC know little about.  Last week was no exception with yours truly coming face to face with a tarantula and then an alligator, both of which are native to BC.  Don't be worried, neither of them are as scary as you might imagine.

Tarantula moth, Antheraea polyphemus 

We were working in Richmond last week when my lead hand noticed something odd on the ground.  Blending in with thousands of green oak acorns that had fallen down was this massive green caterpillar.  He picked it up and brought it over to me for identification, not being surprised at all that I knew what it was.   The brown head and small red spots meant it was none other than the tarantula moth, Antheraea polyphemus, one of the largest moths in BC.  These caterpillars can grow to 3-4 inches in length, usually feeding on oak tree leaves.  They are a member of the family Saturniidae or giant silk moths with an average wingspan of 6 inches or 15 cm.  They get their name from the Greek myth of the cyclops as they have two large purple eyespots on its two lower hindwings.  

I found a tarantula moth caterpillar years ago and brought it home in an ice cream pail for my kids to see.  They were quite impressed with the size of it and wanted to show their friends.  In a matter of days though, the caterpillar spun a thick cocoon and started its metamorphosis into a moth.  When it finally hatched, they got to see this huge moth emerge and fan out its wings before we released it back into nature.  I had my own encounter with a tarantula moth as a young kid in Victoria when I went into a darkened bathroom cubicle late one night.  I was standing in front of the toilet when I looked up and saw something weird on the wall.  When I leaned forward to see what it was, the moth that had been clinging to the walls with its wings closed suddenly opened them up flashing its big eye spots.  Not only did I pee all over when I jumped back, I also hit the back of my head on a coat hook attached to the back wall for good measure.

Northwestern alligator lizard, Elgaria coerulea principis.

My wife and I were walking our dogs down at Crescent Rock beach one evening when one of the regular beach goers came up to me and told me about a bunch of lizards he had seen warming themselves on a rock in the sun.  Lizards down at sea level was a new one for me and I followed him to the spot where I took the attached picture of a northwestern alligator lizard, one of only five lizard species that live in Canada.  There had been several adults plus a bunch of small young that are born live, but only one was visible when I was there.  This medium sized slender lizard grows to 27 cm or 10 inches in length, half of which is tail.  They eat a diet of slugs, beetles, spiders and even baby mice but these ones are likely feeding on the variety of beach bugs that live in the washed-up eel grass present on the shoreline.

If you ever see a northwestern alligator lizard, please do not try to catch it.  They are not dangerous and don't bite but if you try and grab their tail you are in for a nasty surprise.  This lizard has the ability to self-amputate its tail as a self-defence mechanism known as autotomy.  When grabbed by a predator the tail severs and wriggles wildly, distracting the predator and alowing the lizard to hopefully escape.  The break happens at a fracture plane in the tail that separates from a reflex muscle spasm with no blood loss.  Over the next six months to a year, the lizard grows a new tail from a row of cartilage that emerges from the tail bone with new muscles that grow along with it.  I am all too familiar with this escape mechanism as several times when I was a child, I tried to capture one of these lizards and both times ended up with a wriggling tail in my hands while the lizard made good its escape. 

So when you are out in the wilds of BC, keep an eye out for these and other interesting organisms that call our province home.  Make sure you tell people that BC has tarantulas and alligators living here and check out their reaction.  Fortunately, our tarantulas and alligators and harmless and while neither are endangered, they are not regularly seen by most people because of their camouflage colouring, nocturnal lifestyle and the habitat they occupy.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Sept 19, 2022

Locke In Your Vote

Tuesday night saw the Surrey Connect team's kick-off at Northview Golf & Country Club with a packed room of supporters and donors.  Starting with a land acknowledgement to First Nations, Surrey Mayoral candidate Brenda Locke promised to bring ethics, integrity, public safety and fiscal responsibility back to Surrey City Hall.  Her vision for Surrey is a city that is modern, diverse and liveable with fairness at city hall and doing the right thing for residents.  

Brenda then went on to introduce the eight other Surrey Connect candidates that she hopes will be the future Surrey City Council.  In total the Surrey Connect candidates speak six different languages and have twelve different cultures.  They are the only party backed by residents, not developers or special interest groups, and noted that unlike Safe Surrey none have ever been arrested and charged with a criminal offence in reference to Doug MacCallum's upcoming trial on public mischief.  here are the great eight:

• Harry Bains,

• Gordon Hepner,

• Ramona Kaptyn,

• Wil Kwok,

• Pardeep Kooner,

• Rochelle Prasad,

• Sebastian Sajda

• Rob Stutt

Brenda Locke made the following promises if elected as the new Mayor of Surrey.  She will stop the change from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service that is a money pit and which has failed to meet all fiscal and staffing objectives to date.  The $25 million transfer from the federal government that will be saved by this equates to $500 in tax savings for every family.  For the Surrey Fire Service she wants to get back to regular staffing levels that are falling far behind the population growth.  Every town centre in Surrey deserves their own arenas, sports centres, community centres and pools and she will make this a priority.  She promised to work towards a six-week time period for building permits in single family homes and for renovations.  Lastly, she voiced her support for a co-op truck park in Surrey, to bring back the Ethics Commissioner and to add whistleblower protection for both residents and staff.

In closing Mrs. Locke said "it's Surrey's time, it's our turn" asking surrey residents to "vote for integrity" in the Surrey Connect team that is "grass roots from the ground up."

For more information, to read the party platform, get to known their candidates, order lawn signs or make a donation please visit the following:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Locked Out Again

Sunday morning started with blue skies and not a cloud to be seen, beckoning sun worshippers to make their way down to the beach to enjoy the final days of what seems to be a never-ending summer.  Unfortunately for myself, heading to the shoreline to soak up some rays was a non-started with having to deal with estate issues concerning the death of my father.  Instead of relaxing in the sun or taking a canoe ride down the Nicomekyl river as we had originally planned, I was stuck in the basement packing up goods being shipped as far away as PEI and England.

At 1:30 in the afternoon a friend of mine called me to report that the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave. were locked.  This staircase plus the 1001 Steps at the west end of 15A Ave. and the Olympic Trail on 13 Ave. and 131 St. in Ocean Park are supposed to be opened by the City of Surrey's security contractor at 6 a.m.  Halfway through the day and the gates were still locked and my buddy was left standing there with ten other people wondering what the heck was going on.  In talking to the assembled throng, he learned that the 1001 Steps were also locked and I have no doubt the Olympic Trail was chained shut too.  So, who do you phone?  Who is the security contractor?  You won't read it on the signs but it is Securiguard.  Their phone number is 1-888-801-0222, something you should add to your phone contact listings.

This is not the first time that the gates to the beach have been left locked closed.  Along with reporting this problem several times I have also had to phone Securiguard and email the city of Surrey Parks Department about Blackie Spit, Dogwood Park and Elgin Park gates being locked in the middle of the day.  Securiguard is under contract to have these gates opened and then locked at set times of the day and night.  If they are not doing their job and ignoring the terms of their contract, there should be financial penalties or the risk of not having their security contract renewed with the city.  Even though I reported the gates being locked, it took until after 4 o'clock for someone to finally unlock the gates, effectively closing off access to 6.5 km. of shoreline on a beautiful Sunday.

Now you may think this is not a big deal and that people could always walk south from Crescent Beach along the shoreline.  Well, when we went down to the beach at 5:30 p.m. to relax and watch the sunset, we met a couple from White Rock with their special needs teenage son.  They told us that due to his hip issues, he can easily walk up and down the staircase but trudging along the uneven and rocky ground for long distances is very difficult for him.  He asked that I inform the Surrey Parks Department that not opening the gates put a special needs youth in an uncomfortable situation.  For the able-bodied people who turned away after finding the gates locked, they missed out on the last Sunday of the summer, with Crescent Rock beach being almost deserted today.

This unfortunate situation does not have to happen when we look at how Surrey used to deal with this situation.  Previously Surrey entrusted neighbours living near these gates to open and close them at the set times, giving people keys for the locks.  As the city grew it probably became somewhat of a nuisance for staff and it was decided to pay a security company instead.  Sorry to say but what is the point paying someone who is not doing their job when we could have volunteers doing the work for free?  I'd love to know how often parks and staircases across Surrey are not being opened or closed as per contract specifications.  I have personally witnessed this many times in the past few years at parks across the city.  One time we even had to climb over the Christopherson park gates and pass our dogs over the top when they were locked an hour early.

I will be checking to see if the staircase gates are opened Monday morning when they are supposed to be.  The Manager of the Parks Department, Laurie Cavan will also be hearing from me again on this subject.  If it continues to be a problem, people might want to considering helping the city by bringing their own locks and chaining these gates open.  Does it really have to get to this point or will Securiguard actually start doing their job and ensuring that their employees actually perform their duties as specified?  The tax-paying public needs access to the parks and recreational property that we all need for exercise, relaxation, fresh air and mental health.  If the City of Surrey can't figure out how to deal with this constant problem I have the answer for them.  Give me a damn key!

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

 I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People




TNT The Naked Truth

Don Ptcairn

Sept. 6, 2022

Crescent Log Beach

Instead of joining the highway horde taking off for the long weekend we did a vacay staycay and hung out at home for the long weekend.  This allowed us to see three very different sunsets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights plus we had time to spend on the shores of both Crescent Beach and Crescent Rock beach.  It was an eye opener to see what a huge mess Crescent Beach was, which came as a rather big surprise.  I'm not talking about litter, bags of dog poo or any man-made debris that might be left by the crowds that frequent Crescent.  I'm wondering why nobody is cleaning up after Mother Nature, with the shoreline of Crescent Beach looking more like a log sort yard than a public marine park.

Crescent Rock beach

At nearby Crescent Rock beach the shoreline is rough and rocky withthe features of this secluded beach changing every winter with storms depositing new logs and moving out old ones.  In the spring the naturists and nudists who frequent this area start to pick up the pieces and make improvements.  Rocks are cleared from the path, logs are moved around for backrests and privacy plus "beach beds" are raked out for less rock and more sand to lay on.  In the thirty feet of cobbled beach between the shoreline and sand flats, people take the time to clear paths through the rocks in multiple locations, allowing easy access to the water instead of tripping over rounded algae covered rocks.  Halfway to Kwomais Point, some very industrious folks have created raised sandy beds placed high in the rip-rap boulders where the winter waves are not able to reach them.  This is all like-minded individuals working to transform the shoreline into a usable recreational beach. 

Crescent Beach is a marine park that Surrey controls and maintains.  The walking trail along the shoreline is a dyke that helps protect the homes of Crescent Beach from being inundated with flood waters.  In 2014 Surrey replaced the wooden groynes in the waterfront from Beecher Street to Blackie Spit with composite materials that would not rot or be damaged by floating logs.  The purpose of these structures is to help retain beach materials and prevent erosion of the dyke by dispersing wave energy.  They do work well but also act as log traps, helping to keep and hold floating debris that the wind and current move along the shoreline.  These logs need to be removed as they take up the limited beach space that is available to folks and families looking to unwind at the waterfront.  It is not very comfortable trying to lay down on a raft of big logs, especially when they are rough and rotting.

In White Rock logs are removed from the waterfront in the spring to clear the beach and remove the threat of them acting like battering rams on the rip-rap boulders and the pier piling supports.  The area in front of the White Rock boulder is a notorious log gathering point with the limited beach there being buried by large amounts of washed-up tree trunks.  This was particularly bad after the storm that destroyed part of the pier in 2018 and again this winter after the atmospheric river that flooded much of southern BC washed vast quantities of wood and debris into the ocean.  Just as at Crescent Beach, both East and West Beach are part of a marine park operated by the city, but the difference between them and Surrey is that White Rock works to clean it up and keep Mother Nature at bay.  Whether its Semiahmoo Bay or Mud Bay, floating logs piling up on the shoreline is a constant problem that needs to be addressed.

In nearby Delta, Metro Vancouver maintains Centennial Beach and they remove and control the number of logs that are left on the beach.  The same goes for Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver, home to the world-famous Wreck Beach where log placement and removal is a bone of contention between park managers and nudists.  In Vancouver the public beaches at Kitsilano, Jerico plus 2nd and 3rd beaches in Stanley Park are cleaned of some logs and the rest organized.  Several years ago, the Port of Vancouver removed thousands of trapped logs from Mud Bay along the Delta Dyke Trail as an environmental improvement project.  The problem of logs and wooden debris on Lower Mainland shores would be far greater if not for the Fraser River Debris Trap located between Agassiz and Hope that removes between 600 and 2400 logging trucks full of woody debris during the spring freshet.

The City of Surrey needs to give the shoreline of Crescent Beach the care and attention that it deserves.  Besides being the main marine recreational beach for over half a million Surrey residents, it also is the favourite beach for many others from across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.  The large collection of old and rotten logs on Crescent Beach needs to be thinned and organized, leaving more space for people to sit or lay out a blanket for family gatherings.  Several of the beach entranceways are currently blocked by a number of logs, making it impossible to access for those with mobility issues.  While photographing the log jam, I talked to a couple who were having difficulty finding a way off the beach with their child in a stroller.  They were not impressed with the situation and hoped I would make it an election issue, which is exactly what I'm doing here.

With this TNT focusing on moving logs in water, I leave you with a link to this rather unique animated Canada vignette released by the National Film Board back in 1979, The Log Driver's Waltz). 

Hopefully Surrey Park Board crews will be humming along to this rather catchy tune while they work on clearing the log jam on the shores of Crescent Beach.  The jewel of Surrey's shorelines needs to be a place where people have space to relax instead of it looking like where a log boom has washed ashore.  It is hard to fathom that not far away, Crescent Rock Beach is maintained by a small band of volunteers and beach regulars, while the waterfront across Crescent Beach is strewn with a large collection of logs that have been forgotten and left to rot.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn  

 I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Tuesday August 30, 2022

Surrey Place Farce

We have a saying here at the White Rock Sun that the six months before a civic election should be called "silly season" for all of the political hijinks and outrageous  promises rolled out by those trying to get elected.  Well this week, Surrey's Mayor Doug McCallum took outlandish and foolhardy to a whole new level, announcing his ambitious plan to build a new 60,000 seat stadium in the city of Surrey.  Making this claim even more bizarre, he went on to say that he wanted this massive building to be surrounded by parkland and not be accessible by cars.  There is another saying we use quite often in the WR Sun, "You can't make this s**t up."

At first I figured that this meant building the new stadium near the Skytrain but with one of his previous ideas, maybe Mayor Mischief wants to surround it with canals and have it accessible only by gondolas.  Heck, we could even throw in former Mayor Linda Hepner's concept of a giant ferris wheel inside it to act as a tour attraction.  It seems that our Mayor has not been to BC Place lately to watch the BC Lions or Vancouver Whitecaps playing to small crowds that cannot even fill the lower portion of the stadium.  Unless the Seattle Seahawks decide to move north and become the Surrey Seahawks (I like it), this plan is nothing but a pipe dream filled with some high quality ganja.  

I wonder if the mayor has done any homework to find out what a 60,000 seat stadium would cost to build?  Well, the renovation of BC place finished in 2012 was supposed to cost $100 million, which ballooned to $365 million and ended up costing over half a billion dollars.  That is for an existing building on prime downtown real estate, that received a new retractable roof and interior upgrades.  The NFLs Buffalo Bills have announced plans for a new 60,000 seat open air stadium of their own and the price tag is estimated at $1.4 billion in American greenback dollars.  Tottenham Hotspur soccer club in Britain are currently working on a new 60,000 seat stadium in London that is expected to cost one billion pounds, which works out to over $1.5 billion in Canadian funds.  

I would love to see a business plan that this epic decision was based on but I doubt one exists unless it is written on the back of a slightly used napkin left over from the brain storming session where it was concocted.  We don't need a tax-payer funded white elephant stadium in Surrey unless it is aptly named the Toilet Bowl where we can continually flush taxpayer money down it.  Most likely this concept was hatched as a way to take attention away from Mayor Mischief's legal problems and his Public Mischief court case that his taxpayer funded lawyers delayed till just after the fall election.  Throw in the costly police transition, his attacks on democracy and the ethics commissioner plus his sordid romance with Safe Surrey councillor Allison Paton and you have someone unfit for public office.

If you haven't had enough of this sorry excuse for a Mayor, look no further than his latest expensive election promise.  Surrey residents cannot afford another four years with Doug McCallum at the helm.  With six candidates now running for mayor there is a huge threat that the vote will be split as it was in the last election and Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey developer lapdog crew could actually get re-elected.  I believe this would be a disaster for the city of Surrey and is something that needs to be avoided at all costs.  What Surrey voters need to do is to review all of the candidates, their message and promises and decide who would be the best for the residents, not just special interest groups or crony friends.  We need to come together as one to GET DOUG GONE.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

 I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



August 22, 2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Keeping Track on the BNSF Railway

On Saturday night the sun was dropping in the sky and the cloud cover looked like it might afford a wicked Crescent Beach sunset.  Since you don't know unless you go, I jumped in the car at the last minute and headed down to the southern end of the beach.  Unfortunately, a thick band of clouds at the horizon turned off the light show I was expecting but up on the train corridor I noticed a hi-railer truck parked on the tracks.  These are special railway wheel equipped trucks that BNSF employees use for track work, doing safety inspections and looking for trespassers.  I made my way back to my vehicle and proceeded to drive home, meeting the hi-railer truck at the end of Bayview Ave. as it pulled off the tracks and proceeded to turn around.

I decided to stop and chat with the people on board knowing full well from past experience that the truck likely contained both a RCMP officer and BNSF special agent.  Sure enough, the two policemen were there and I took a few minutes of their time to find out how their track patrols had been going.  With kids out of school and plenty of warm dry weather the number of people using that beach had skyrocketed since the beginning of July.  They told me that the area east of East Beach by the Semiahmoo First Nation parking lot was always a problem with people walking down the tracks.  Ditto for the area west of west beach and south of Crescent Beach in the area frequented by naturists.  On these railway patrols the officers give out warnings and trespassing tickets costing violators $115. 

Although tempting, the train tracks in the Semiahmoo peninsula should not be used like a shoreline nature path.  In North America more people are struck and killed by trains while trespassing on rail corridors than in motor vehicle collisions with trains at highway rail crossings.  There have been over 30 fatalities on the local BNSF tracks over the years, many that involve the Amtrak passenger train.  Anita Lewis, the jogger hit crossing the tracks in White Rock in 2013 did not notice the blue and silver locomotive whose colours blended into the blue and grey colours of the ocean, beach and sky.   It was her death that led to the installation of all the new pedestrian crossings along the White Rock waterfront, which seem to be working.  The officers told me they have even caught people walking naked on the tracks along Crescent Rock Beach.  I didn't bother asking what these folks used for identification.

Trespassing on the tracks was not the only problem that the officers were looking out for this weekend.  Since August 4, there has been a campfire ban in effect across the southern portion of the province including the Coastal fire region.  Amazingly, people are still lighting beach fires, especially near the Semiahmoo FN lands and around Crescent Beach.  In the past these fires have spread across the tracks onto the Ocean Park bluff where fighting them is extremely difficult and hazardous due to the steepness of the terrain.  Anyone found on the beach with an open fire can be issued a ticket for $1,150, pay an administrative penalty up to $10,000, be fined up to $100,000 and receive one year in jail.  If a campfire starts a wildfire, the person responsible can be ordered to pay all firefighting and other costs.  There is a saying that "you can't fix stupid" but you certainly can fine them and hopefully smarten them up.

The newest problem that the railway cops are having to deal with is mob parties advertised on social media.  These events bring large number of young people to the beach with open drinking, fighting and loud disorderly conduct being commonplace.  To date this summer there have been large organized gatherings at Blackie Spit and to the White Rock waterfront and pier.  These parties are proving problematic for the small contingent of police in our area to deal with due to the number of people involved.  The last thing we need are large numbers of drunken youth gathering around the train tracks, which is a recipe for disaster.  The 2018 death of 15-year-old Jack Stroud near Crescent Beach involved intoxicated youths playing an apparent game of chicken on the tracks that ended with this teen's death after he was struck by the Amtrak train. 

So enjoy the summer, enjoy the beach, and for railway enthusiasts enjoy the passing BNSF and Amtrak trains.   For everyone's safety, please stay of the train tracks and the railway corridor.  If you see people walking on the BNSF tracks, ask them if they saw the "No Trespassing" signs and let them know the police are actively patrolling the area and passing out tickets.  With beach fires during this hot dry spell, if you see fires or smell smoke, you can report this to the Surrey Fire Service non-emergency number at 604-543-6700 or the White Rock Fire Department at 604-541-2121.  Please do not call E-Com 911 as this is not an emergency and they are already understaffed and overwhelmed with calls.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.



August 16, 2022

Targeted Risk

I know the police have a tough job to do with investigating all of the tit for rat-a-tat-tat-tat gangland shootings that are continuing to take place across the Lower Mainland.  It seems hardly a day goes by when we hear about another targeted hit, houses getting shot up, or getaway cars on fire not far from the shooting location.  While I'm unfortunately getting quite used to these reports and the headlines about another gang-banger found shot dead, there is one thing that is going on that really gets my goat.  It is when the police announce after the latest murder that 'Investigators believe the shooting to have been targeted and do not believe there is any further risk to the public'.

I'm sorry but when people with little to no firearms training are firing semi-automatic weapons including pistols with silencers on them in urban areas, the public is indeed at risk.  Even when the latest volley of shots is over and the blood is still running in the streets, people are at risk from gangsters running amok with unlicensed and often restricted firearms that in most cases are smuggled up into Canada from the United States.  These assassinations are getting more brazen, are happening in broad daylight and have even spread to vacation spots such as the Whistler/Blackcomb resort.   Gangsters are continually hunting members from other gangs and sometimes even hiring hitmen to do the dirty work, spraying bullets wherever they find their intended victims.  We are all at risk from this continued gang violence.

Having spent plenty of time gun ranges in Canada and abroad, I can tell you that safety is the number one issue when organized shooting matches are taking place.  Firearms must only be handled at approved times when commanded by a range officer who is responsible for safety.  In some jurisdictions, the ammunition is controlled and only issued at the firing point and all brass and unfired cartridges must be turned in with your score card.  With target rifle shooting, you cannot close the bolt on a live round unless the barrel of the gun is first level and pointed at the target.  When firing is complete, shooters, scorers and range officers check to see that the rifles are clear.  In many countries, the bolts are removed from the rifle for this inspection and in Australia, they are kept separate from the gun except for on the range when it is time to shoot.  All of these safety controls are designed to ensure that no accidental discharges occur on the range or anywhere else.

Rifle ranges use danger area templates to create safety areas far beyond the boundaries of where shooting takes place.  For a .308 rifle, they are used frequently to shoot to a maximum distance of 1,000 yards.  They are considered lethal for distances up to a mile away, or 1760 yards.  Depending on the loaded speed and the bullet selected, a .308 bullet could travel 3,500 to 4,000 yards in total distance.  Now you understand why rifle ranges are usually found in rural areas up against mountains and far from urban neighbourhoods.  For military ranges, heavier bullets and fully-automatic fire often with tracer ammunition calls for even greater safety templates and fire prevention controls during hot and dry summer weather that includes ranges closing when the risk of ignition is too high.

The National Rifle Association says that the 9 mm is the most popular handgun calibre in the United States.  Unfortunately, it also appears to be the favourite gun used for gangland assassinations here in Canada.  A 9 mm bullet usually leaves the barrel of a handgun at 370 metres per second.   Drag from the atmosphere will slow it down and eventually bring it to earth but trials have shown that when fired at a 45-degree angle, 9 mm bullets can travel 2,300 metres.  When used in gangland shootings, these bullets can fly into nearby vehicles, and houses or ricochet off hard surfaces and basically fly anywhere.  I actually had a new-miss from a bullet once that came from a nearby range, flying over our heads like an very angry bee at very high speeds.   Since that incident and others like it, large berms were constructed to keep shooters safe from stray bullets.

There have been plenty of innocent bystanders killed in gangland shooters here in the Lower Mainland.  An attempted hit on the Bacon brothers back in 2015 resulted in a nearby neighbour, a 74-year-old grandfather being shot and killed.  in 2018, 15-year-old Alfred Wong was a passenger in his family vehicle that was passing by a gangland murder scene when a bullet flew into their car and fatally shot the young man.  That was the same year when Paul Bennett, a Peace Arch Hospital nurse and hockey coach was shot and killed at his Cloverdale home in a case of mistaken identity.  In early 2022 four innocent bystanders were wounded by bullets meant for someone else during gun-play (there's a sick term) in the Lower Mainland.  

The police have issued multiple press releases explaining they are doing everything they can to combat gangland shootings here in BC.  They are constantly trying to reassure a frightened public that they are not in danger from these targeted murders that often leave the scenes littered with countless brass cartridges and vehicles riddled with bullet holes.   Having a crazed gunman on the loose targeting random people as recently happened in Langley puts people at risk and generated an emergency warning.  Gangsters locked in a war of attrition with their rivals and constantly shooting at their adversaries wherever and whenever they find them puts us all at risk.  With the distances that bullets can fly, you may want to think about looking out the window the next time you hear firecrackers in case it is actually live rounds being fired in your neighbourhood.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.



August 08, 2022


TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

A Crappy Time for E.coli in White Rock

Fraser health performs weekly water tests at beaches across the Fraser Valley while Vancouver Coast Health does the same thing for beaches around Vancouver and surrounding municipalities during the spring and summer months.  This is done to monitor the water quality with respect to bacteriological counts to confirm whether a beach is in compliance with the Guidelines for Canadian Recreational Water Quality.  Beaches that are considered unsatisfactory for physical, chemical or biological reasons will be closed with warning signs posted that the water is possibly hazardous.  

Escherichia coli, better known as E.coli is tested for at both marine and fresh water beaches throughout the Lower Mainland region.  They test in areas where people will have their "whole body or the face and trunk frequently immersed or the face is frequently wetted by spry and where it is likely that some water will be swallowed."  This includes swimming, surfing, waterskiing white water canoeing/rafting/kayaking, windsurfing or subsurface diving.  A satisfactory rating means an average of less than 200 E.coli bacteria per 100 ml. of water sample.  A reading of more than the average of 200 E.coli or a single sample result that exceeds a maximum of 400 E.coli bacteria/100 ml sample will result in swimming and recreational water sports not being recommended.

The results for water quality readings at Fraser Health beaches was posted online on August 5th.  In Abbotsford Mission, Chilliwack and Hope areas the geometric mean or average was around 15 with the highest being 52 at Harrison Lake Rendall Park.  For single samples, Roley Lake was the highest at 105 with many beaches only registering 5 E.coli/100 ml.  In Burnaby, Port Moody and Maple Ridge areas, the geometric mean was also an average of about 15 while the highest single sample at Belcarra Park registering at 152 E.coli/100 ml.  For Centennial beach in South Delta and Crescent Beach in South Surrey, both average and single sample rates hovered around 10 but White Rock was a completely different story.  For the geometric mean, East beach was 41, while West beach was 36.   What really stood out were the single sample ratings from East Beach at 1,043 and West Beach at a whopping 6,131 E.coli/100 ml.

In layman's terms, the fecal coliform found in a sample of water on East beach was 2.5 times the limit for recreational use standard while the one from West Beach was 15 times above the allowable limit.  These beaches were not automatically closed but have been marked with a yellow question mark warning on the beach map showing that resampling is in progress at one or more sites.  These extremely high results when compared to the rest of the region should be of serious concern to the City of White Rock that prides itself on its public beach that draws crowds of visitors to its shores.  You can check out all of the recent water quality results online at this direct link:

I am left wondering if the samples with high readings were taken from the two outflow pipes that carry storm drain water from the White Rock hillside.  I know that in the past these pipes were given a failing grade with dog excrement and bird poo washing into the drains being named as a possible culprit.  In other jurisdictions, cross contamination from leaking sanitary sewers or pipes from dwellings being incorrectly joined to collection systems have led to E.coli issues.  One thing is for sure, the source of this contamination needs to be ascertained and the problem corrected.  We do not need toilet water draining into Semiahmoo Bay that has been closed since 1977 to bivalve shellfish harvesting due to high levels of E.coli contamination.   

We will now have to wait for the results of the further testing being done at East and West beach to be posted by Fraser Health.  White Rock City Hall should find out exactly where the high levels of contamination are coming from and if anything can be done to address this crappy problem.  The last thing White Rock needs is to have its public beaches closed during the summer due to water contamination in the ocean.  For those who caught it, the sign in the photo above was posted by the Amity Police Department in the movie Jaws.  While not as scary as a giant great white shark feeding on swimmers, E.coli needs to be taken seriously because of the health threat it poses and the damage it can do to a city's image.

Vancouver Coastal Health beach conditions

E.coli symptoms and causes

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.




Tuesday August 02, 2022 

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Carving up Semiahmoo History

With the worst of last week's heat wave behind us, we decided to do something different this weekend and on the holiday Monday we went for a walk on the wild side, heading west from West Beach in White Rock along the bluff shoreline of Crescent Rock. To be honest it has been a few years since I had been on this particular shoreline for simple recreation, ever since the Coldicutt Ravine staircase was seriously damaged by a series of landslides in January of 2020. The last time I set foot there was at dusk when I raced along the beach to video the BNSF Gradall excavator clearing landslide debris from the tracks. 

Parking near the boat launch and putting $12 into the meter for three hours of play time, we ventured out onto the foreshore heading in the direction of Kwomais Point. The tide was out so there was plenty of sandy areas on the first part of our journey, interspersed with rocky areas, tidal pools and random boulders. Once we were past the area where the houses on Marine Drive disappeared from view the beach started to narrow and the walking became more treacherous. Finally, on the shore near the Coldicutt Trail all sand disappeared and we were left walking along the cobbled beach shoreline between the water and the rip-rap boulders that protect the BNSF Railway corridor. 

Our goal was to reach Hermit's Haven, a small knoll of beach that that got its name from the White Rock resident Ira Warren who lived in the ravine in the 1950's and frequented that area. It is the only section of shoreline facing south towards Semiahmoo Bay that has blackberries, shrubs and a few trees, offering it some privacy from the tracks above, making it a prime retreat for naturists. We were just about there when I looked down and because of the angle of the sun saw this amazing carving on one of the boulders. At first glance I thought we had discovered an indigenous petroglyph, apparently of a salmon. With the long First Nation history of this area and several petroglyphs identified on the shoreline, this would not have been a surprise.

At Hermits Haven we met Ron who has built an interesting shoreline shack and cleared a path through the rock-strewn beach down to the water for easy access to swimming. Telling him of our find, Ron told us that a local named Jim who lived on the hillside above had informed him the carving was at least 80 years old, since it was there when his family moved into the neighbourhood while the railway still delivered mail. Returning to the salmon inscribed boulder, the carving done into granite rock seemed too intricate and the lines far too deep and wide to be of indigenous origin. Also, there was an inscription in the rock below the tail that looked like initials, either a W or two Ls. The carving is definitely old as it is showing signs of weathering from the waves but compared to known petroglyphs from around the Semiahmoo peninsula, it likely was done with modern tools by an unknown artist in this remote location.

There are actual indigenous petroglyphs on the beaches in White Rock and south Surrey. One that was on the shoreline near 136 Street was noticed on the beach in the 1920s and recovered by the Great Northern Railway before wave action and erosion erased the carving. With help from the Surrey Museum Historical Society and a grant from Surrey Municipality, the granite boulder adorned with a series of circles and pick holes was moved and relocated to Herron Park at Beecher Street next to the BNSF line. A plaque was installed and this petroglyph was officially unveiled on July 16, 1974 by Surrey Mayor Bill Vanderzalm at the former location of the Crescent Beach train station. The plaque presented by Surrey Museum Historical Society President Jack Berry reads "PETROGLYPH - Symbols were carved into the rock by prehistoric inhabitants of this area." I'm thinking the plaque could use an upgrade that is more modern and historically accurate.

There is an indigenous petroglyph that still remains on the Semiahmoo shoreline. It sits on Crescent Rock beach south of Crescent Beach in the main area favoured by naturists and nudists. The eroded carving is of a man's face shows large lips, small nose, round eyes and hair above. Unless the sun is in the proper position overhead casting shadows, it is very difficult to notice. This area of shoreline is not far from the Crescent Rock boulder that was used as a navigational aid and canoe beaching area by First Nation peoples. The Indian Fort that was located on top of the Ocean Park bluff is only a few hundred metres away also. There may be more petroglyphs laying undiscovered on the 6.5 km. of rocky shoreline between Crescent Beach and White Rock. If you are brave enough to take this long and rugged walk, keep your eyes peeled and you may find a ancient piece of indigenous history along the way.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

 I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People



Tuesday July 26, 2022

The Naked Truth

AKA the Bisley Bulletin

Surviving Surrey

The last time I was a member of the Canadian Rifle Team to Bisley, England in 2018 we suffered through a heat wave during the National Rifle Association UK Imperial Matches.  I distinctly remember the headline in the Daily Telegraph that screamed "Friday Furnace".  It hit a scorching 37 degrees, which was a new all-time high temperature record for Great Britain.  If we had been sitting in the shade of a big oak tree while sipping on an icy lemonade or TEA (Traditional English Ale), it might be bearable.  Instead we were lying on hot baked ground in the full sun while wearing thick leather jackets, shooting three people to a target.  Not surprisingly, I ended up with a bit of heat stroke from being out too long in the roasting sun.

After that extreme weather event the UK health authorities instituted a heat emergency rating like what BC did after our deadly heat dome.  It was expected that it would take to the year 2050 for the red alert heat level to be reached, but instead it topped out over 40 C last week, triggering dire warnings across Great Britain.  The NRA UK administration were so concerned with the forecast that they reduced the number of shots fired for the matches from 10 to 7 and 15 to 10.  This gave shooters, range staff and the workers manning the targets time to fine shade and rehydrate before overheating.  I fired a 1,000 yard match when it was 43 C but thankfully it was with relatively low humidity.

Rifle issues and equipment breakdowns early in the Imperial meant that I had to switch to my backup firearm.  While they should be identical, the second gun did not handle the issued GGG ammo and fired large groups making high scores impossible.  I was also dealing with an elbow injury from a nasty fall I experienced early this spring when a pruning ladder collapsed under me.  For these reasons, i was  left off the first two team matches and thankfully assigned to other duties.  Fortunately, gunsmiths were able to sort out my rifle problems and with my #1 gun back in operation I got back in the game, shooting good groups and getting much better scores.  I ended up making the coveted Queen's Prize finals yet again with five other members of Team Canada finishing in the top 100 including Jim Paton from South Surrey.

In the St, Georges Match, David Luckman outgunned over 800 shooters to win the coveted gold cross badge.  The Grand Aggregate went to Surrey Rifle Club member Parag Patel who also had previously won the Queens and many Commonwealth Games medals.  In this years Queen's Prize, 23 year-old Cambridge University student Alice Good was true to her name, beating some of the world's best marksmen to become the third woman to win the premier match at Bisley.  Nichols Rossignol was the top Canadian in the Queen's and  Jim Paton was top Canuck in the Grand Agg.  In the short range Kolapore Match, Canada finished in third place five points behind the stacked GB team.  In the twelve man MacKinnon long range team match, Canada came in second behind Great Britain by fourteen points with myself firing the high score for our team.    

Alex Good

With the matches behind us and a huge amount of antique silver trophies having being awarded, it was time to party and the Queen's Prize winner arrived at Canada House carried through the front door by her Cambridge University team members.  There she retrieved a white Stetson hat and a rose from the bison head that graces the main entranceway.  As is tradition, Alice then fired the blaçk powder cannon along with our high scorer in the Queen's Nicole Rossignol and high under 25 in the Grand Agg Daphane Bries plus shooting legend and Order of Canada Member Alain Marion.  After a circuitous route of all the Bisley Clubhouses, the chair finally arrived the Surrey Rifle Club where the crowd got into raucous sing-along that went on till the wee hours of the morning.

With the shooting competition over, Team Canada came together for our farewell dinner on Sunday evening with a five course meal and trophies adorning the tables of our dining hall.  When dessert was finished, myself and BC roomate Tristan Dahlin jumped in a golf cart and made our way to the Stickledown 1,000 yard firing point on a rather somber mission.  The clouds broke at sunset and lit up with colour as I sprinkled a bottle of my recently departed father's ashes onto the front of the firing point as per his final wishes.  We toasted his long and storied life with a glass of Aberlore scotch, leaving him with a view of the historic range where he was twice the Bisley Grand Agg champion back in the early 1960s.

For more information on fullbore target rifle shooting and the long history of this sport, here are some websites you can visit for competitions in BC, Canada, UK and the ICFRA World Championship that will be held next in South Africa in 2024.  I've also posted several videos to Youtube of the 2022 Queen's Prize chair ride and the cannon being fired in front of the Canadian Pavillion in Bisley.  If you are looking for a life-long sport where age, gender and disabilities are not an impediment to performance, target rifle shooting allows you to compete across the globe and make life-long friends from around the world.




Imperial Meeting 2022 results:


YouTube videos, Queens final chair ride and cannon shot:  search "Don Pitcairn channel" on Youtube

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.



Monday July 18, 2022

The Bisley Bulletin (aka Tnt The Naked Truth)

The Other Surrey

Imagine living in White Rock and going on vacation to White Rock Beach in Ireland, something I alluded to in last week's TNT.  Well, I'm doing something similar, going from Surrey, BC to Surrey, England.  It's not that I wanted to visit my hometown's namesake, but the County of Surrey is home to the famed Bisley Range in Brookwood, Woking.  The National Rifle Association (NRA UK) is holding the 153rd annual Imperial Meeting target rifle championships.  This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association (DCRA) sending a Canadian Team of marksmen to compete against the best shooters from Britain and around the world.

It is also the 125th anniversary of the Canadian Rifle Team's home away from home, the McDonald Stewart Canadian Pavillion.  It was constructed back in 1897 from materials shipped in from Caanada, so unlike the many brick and stucco buildings found on the Bisley Camp, it is a large wooden structure with a shingled exterior and varnished interior walls.  It was originally named "The Diamond Jubilee Memorial Canadian Pavilion" in honour of the 60 year reign of Queen Victoria.  During WW2 the building was used by the Canadian Army as an administrative centre and Canadian Armed Forces shooting teams still stay there when competing in the Service Conditions Matches.  You may have even seen Canada House as it is often called as it was recently featured in the popular Netflix series "The Crown."

The week before the matches were to begin, we wondered if there would be a rifle range to shoot on.  On July 4th, smoke was spotted in the commons behind the 600 yard Century range.  Spreading quickly through low dry brush, it rapidly spread across the range danger area and even burned onto the famed 1,000 yard Stickeldown range.  Surrey Fire & Rescue Service crews attacked the  blaze and finally stopped its advance with many number boards getting cremated but the targets were thankfully all saved from burning. The Bisley Camp was spared the flames but thick clouds of smoke hung over it for days causing sore eyes and  respiratory illness.  Match Rifle and F-class Target Rifle were unfortunately cancelled while repairs to the range were quickly done by NRA UK staff and a small army of local volunteers.

This year's team consists of 33 members from provinces across Canada including six from BC.  There are even two people from South Surrey, myself and Jim Paton who has represented Canada at Bisley for the past 34 Imperial Meetings.  Jim also holds a gold and three silver medals from the Commonwealth Games in 1998 at Kuala Lampur, Malaysia and 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.  In case you think this is a man's sport, there are five women on the team including the Adjutant who keeps everyone on line and everything running smoothly.  As of the day before this column was written, the top Canadian in the Grand Aggregate was Nicole Rossignol from Quebec City, Quebec who shot with my father in the last Commonwealth Games in Australia followed by Daphnee Brais, also from Gatineau, Quebec and Catherine Choquette from Ottawa, Ontario.  The difference in age from our youngest shooter to oldest member is a whopping seven decades.

There are plenty of individual matches fired at 300, 500 and 600 yards on the 110 target wide Century range, plus at 900 and 1000 yards on the 50  target wide Stickledown range.  These are then grouped into a wide number of aggregate that include the Grand Agg, the St. George's Agg and the Queen's Prize, which includes a chair ride for the winner along with global recognition.  Later in the week, it is time to get down to business with the Kolapore short range team match and the MacKinnon long range team match that will have teams from as far away as Kenya and Australia competing for fame, glory and medals.  For those with a steady hand, sharp eye and keen skills, fullbore target rifle shooting is like sports alchemy; you can turn lead, copper and brass into bronze, silver and gold.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.



Tuesday July 12, 2022

White Rock Nudist Beach

Now before you get your knickers in a knot, know that there is more than one White Rock beach in the world.  In fact our car has a license plate frame that reads "Crescent Beach - Village by the Sea", which a friend brought back home from the coast of Florida.  The same goes for Green Lake and Mosquito Creek, they are everywhere.  Take it from me, don't go skinny-dipping at Mosquito Creek or Leech Lake for that matter.

Where this story started was when I received an email forwarded to me from Judy Williams, long time patriarch of the Wreck Beach Preservation Society.  It turns out there is a White Rock Beach in Dublin, Ireland that is promoted for nude use by the Irish Naturist Association (  They learned that there was a nude beach near White Rock BC and were looking for more information about it.  I replied to their queries about Crescent Rock beach giving them the website address and Facebook listing so they could learn more and possibly add it to their website. 

As with Crescent Rock beach, White Rock beach in Ireland sits at the base of an oceanfront bluff that makes access difficult.  For some strange reason, naturist beaches are often hard to reach and very secluded.  Just like Crescent Rock beach, White Rock Naturist Beach has a railway running along it with jagged rip-rap boulders lining the corridor.  The engineers on passing freight trains usually wave at all the naturists while they take in the beautiful view. 

What makes White Rock beach in Ireland so unique is the hard rock mine it has.  There is an old shaft that is visible at low tide on the north end of the beach. The mine extends under the hill to a total length of some 350 metres. The mine has a long history and was fist recorded back in 1751. It was known them as the Mount Mapas Mine.  It was closed in the late 18th century with the lead mined there transported by barge to Liverpool in England for making paint.

The mine extends under the hill to a total length of some 350 metres. The mine has a long history and was fist recorded back in 1751. It was known them as the Mount Mapas Mine.  It was closed in the late 18th century with the lead mined there transported by barge to Liverpool in England for making paint.

It turns out that Ireland has plenty of places where you can get back to nature and work on an all over tan.  The Ireland Before You Die website lists the 5 best nude beaches in Ireland and it doesn't even include White Rock beach.   (

The photo above is from Dog's Bay in Galway, not of a deserted tropical island.

As luck would have it my flight to England last weekend took me directly over Ireland and with a window seat I was able to look down at the coastline.  I'm sorry to say that exploring Ireland's remote nude beaches might have to wait for my next jump across the pond.  I have other plans that don't involve relaxing in the sun along the Atlantic Ocean.  More about that in next week's TNT...


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


Monday July 04, 2022

Order In The Rock

I hope everybody had a wonderful Canada Day here in the Semiahmoo peninsula.  I think the celebrations were still a little subdued with lingering COVID-19 fears and a general distrust of large crowds from the past two years.  Others might have avoided flying the Maple Leaf over the dark history of residential schools in this country or the treatment of Freedom Convoy members rallying around the Canadian flag.  It turns out that this Canada Day was very special to our little corner of the Great White North with not one but two of our local residents named an Officer to the Order of Canada for their contributions to society that have enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country.

Started in 1967 on Canada's 100th birthday, the Order of Canada is one of this country's highest civilian honours.  There are three levels to the Order of Canada, Companions, Officers and Members who live up to the motto of the Order:  Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam - "They desire a better country".  Acknowledging outstanding achievement, dedication to their community and service to the country, the Order of Canada has been bestowed by the Governor General on over 7,600 Canadians since its inception.  You might recognize the iconic red and white snowflake medals in the photo above that recipients often wear on their lapels as a small but coveted pin.  The silver maple leaf is for Members, the gold for Officers and the red for Companions, the highest level.  It is possible for Members to also be promoted to the higher levels within the Order of Canada, which happened to a local recipient this year.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon announced the 85 appointees to the Order of Canada last week from fields that included music, film, academics, science, sports, culture, business and politics.  In total there were 17 people from BC who were invested in the order, including some names you will likely recognize.  Former TV broadcaster Deb Hope who has been locked in a devastating battle with early-onset dementia became a Member for her contributions to journalism and volunteering before her illness took her from public view.  Notable actor and famed bluesman Jim Byrnes was nominated as a Member to the Order for his contributions to the arts as well as his charitable work.  Across Canada, film and TV actress Sandra Oh who was a star on Grey's Anatomy and Killing Eve was named an Officer to the O of C for both her stage and screen prowess.  The fastest man in Canada, Donovan Bailey, who still holds the Canadian 100 M. record from the 1996 Olympic Games was named an Officer for his track and field exploits and dedication to youth and amateur athletes.

It is nothing short of amazing that two residents from the Semiahmoo peninsula would be named as Officers to the Order of Canada during the same ceremony,  Local Haida artist Robert Charles Davidson (Guud Sans Glans) from White Rock who carves and creates masterpieces on the Semiahmoo First Nation and in Massey, Haida Gwaii, is now an Officer of Canada for “his continued excellence as an artist and as an advocate of Haida culture.” He was originally inducted as a Member in 1997 with the following passage from that time describing his accomplishments.   

"Wood, silver, gold, bronze and paint are some of the artistic mediums he has used in his works of art which hang in museums and private collections in Canada and abroad. He has developed his own technical skills and creativity in an astonishing variety of paintings, sculptures and totem poles that transcends culture and speaks to a universal humanity. Through his work, he has joined the past to the present and extended the rich traditions of Haida art into the future."

Another White Rock resident, Dr. Donald Arthur Enarson, who unfortunately passed away suddenly at the beginning of June was made an Officer for his work in science and medicine involving lung health and tuberculosis control.  A post from the prestigious Mayo Clinic reads "A scientist, professor and physician with a strong sense of social justice, Dr. Enarson revolutionized the control of tuberculosis and lung disease around the world. His 1970s work with one of Canada’s top tuberculosis researchers revealed the high rate of the disease in indigenous and Inuit populations and, for the first time, made the connection between tuberculosis and poverty."  Throughout his lifetime, Don published over 400 scientific papers, was a public health advisor in 42 countries, lectured in 72 countries and coordinated training courses in 15 countries.  His mentoring of promising young physicians in lower-income countries around the world likely contributed to the saving of millions of lives from lung disease.

Recipients of the Order of Canada will be presented with their insignia at a later date at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, depending on their availability.  For a more detailed look at what made Robert Davidson and Dr. Don Enarson Officers of the Order of Canada recipients, take the time to visit these links to get a more detailed appreciation for these men, their amazing lives and legacies plus their notable contributions to this country we call Canada.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


Monday June 27, 2022

Crescent Rock Rescue

CCGS Hovercraft in the water off Ocean Park

On the weekend the arrival of warm sunny weather brought people to the beaches of the Semiahmoo Peninsula in droves especially after our rather dismal spring.  We waited until the afternoon to venture down to Crescent Rock beach, finding a prime location just south of the Christopherson Steps in south Surrey.  We brought along our dogs, a picnic basket, beach chairs and a large umbrella to help provide some much needed shade.  What we didn't realize when we were setting up our spot was that we would have a front row seat to a rather unique marine visitor that rarely is seen in the waters of Mud Bay.  

At approximately 7 p.m. as the temperature was beginning to cool down, things really started heating up on the water with a deep droning sound coming from far off in Mud Bay towards Point Roberts.  Having heard it many times before from working on the banks of the Fraser River in Steveston, Richmond, I immediately knew that it was the Coast Guard hovercraft from the Sea Island Base.  While it does appear at Wreck Beach in Vancouver all too frequently to deal with people who cannot manage to climb the stairs, this was only the third time that I have seen it at Crescent Rock beach.  The first time was on the first annual Crescent Rock Beach Day when the "boat" was on a training mission and the other time was to help rescue an elderly lady who had fallen onto rocks when trying to get down from the train tracks.

The hovercraft drove straight at the main beach favoured by nudists and naturists then turned and ran parallel to the shoreline to the elevated Christopherson Steps walkway at the end of Crescent Beach marine park.  Unfortunately, due to the sun's glare I could not tell if the vessel was the CCGS Moytel or CCGS Siyay, the two boats at the Sea Island base.  The craft then turned and reversed course, driving along the rocky shore much to the amazement and delight of the sunworshippers relaxing on the beach.  It continued towards Ocean Park and stopped north of Ocean Park in a very rugged area lined with jagged rip-rap boulders.  Realizing it was likely there to help with rescue attempts for someone injured, either on the tracks or along the shoreline, I decided to go for a hike to see if I could get some pictures and a TNT story.

While White Rock and Crescent Beach have long sand flats, the 6.5 km. of shoreline between them is rocky, secluded and hard to access, making it perfect for a nude beach.  Even the hike that I went on was difficult since the tide was in and waves were lapping against the rocks and boulders that line the BNSF Railway tracks.  I made sure to focus on each step as I didn't want to slip on the algae coated rocks or seaweed that had floated in with the tide.  By the time I hiked nearly a mile to where the hovercraft was, it had already pulled away from shore and was slowly making its way out to sea.  A man walking the tracks told me that a 40-year-old woman had fallen and broken her ankle, initiating the rescue mission.  As I started to walk back, a BNSF hi-railer came reversing up the tracks with several paramedics and a person's feet clearly visible in a rescue litter at the back of the truck.   When I asked if they were okay, several of the men gave me the thumbs up and they continued rolling down the tracks.

That is all I have to report on this incident since my calls to the Hovercraft base and the Surrey Fire Service for more information went unanswered on Sunday as one might expect.  This incident goes to show that a trip to Crescent Rock beach can be fraught with more dangers than an all-over sunburn.  The footing is treacherous and you really should be wearing hiking boots and not flip flops when walking along the shore.  It is also a good idea to check out the tide tables before venturing to this rather secluded area as the walking gets much tougher when the tide comes in.  With all of the twists and turns in the tracks, it is very dangerous to be walking on the rail corridor with passing trains and if the BNSF or RCMP Police catch you on railway property you can expect a $115 ticket for every person there.  

For more information about the CCGS hovercraft, check out the Wikipedia pages for both of these amazing vessels from the following links:

I have posted a YouTube video taken from Crescent Rock beach of this vessel passing by heading towards Ocean Park that you can watch online at:

Any more information I learn about this accident, the technical rescue mission and the condition of the injured party will be posted as a TNT Extra.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

The Surrey Fire Service revealed some of the details of the technical rescue that happened north of Ocean Park on Saturday evening.

A heavy set woman in her early 40's was trying to climb from the Crescent Rock shoreline up onto the railway corridor.  She slipped on the boulders, jammed her leg between the rocks and fell backwards breaking her femur bone, not ankle as previously reported.  

Rescue personnel from Hall 5, Hall 12 and others descended the 1,001 Steps in Ocean Park and walked to her location with climbing equipment, ropes and rescue gear.

After stabilizing her injury she was attached to a backboard, strapped onto a litter and raised onto the railway corridor.

The BNSF Railway had stopped their trains by this time and a hi-rail truck was used to transport the victim by rail to the end of Beecher St. In Crescent Beach where an ambulance was waiting.  Because of shoreline boulders it was decided not to use the hovercraft for the extraction.

The lady will be off her leg for a while but should fully recover from this painful experience on what was the hottest day of the year to date.




Monday June 20, 2022

A Bridge Too Far

Definition - "A bridge too far":  A step or action that is too ambitious; an act of overreaching

It was a hallelujah moment when it was finally announced that the venerable bailey bridge and other King George Blvd bridge were finally going to be replaced with a new modern concrete and steel structure.  The bailey bridge was put in as a temporary measure back in the 1970's and after doing my own inspection of the structure several years ago I refused to drive over it for good reason.  You knew it was shot when large trucks and buses were redirected to the other side that was built back in 1959.  It really was amazing that with all of the development and growth in the Semiahmoo peninsula that these dilapidated structures were allowed to remain in place for so long.  Construction is expected to reach completion by late 2022 or early 2023 with a construction zone speed limit of 30 kmh.  During this time, drivers are urged to consider alternate routes due to the anticipated traffic delays.

Meanwhile only 750 metres south of the KGB/Hwy. 99 interchange, rehabilitation work has begun on the four-lane bridge where Hwy 99 crosses the Nicomekyl River.  This project is a seismic retrofit of the existing Nicomekl River Bridge southbound on Highway No. 99 that will build new jump spans extended on both ends of the southbound bridge.  The project includes installation of new connection brackets between the timber piers and concrete deck, installation of drilled steel pipe casings with infilled concrete close to north and south abutments, excavation of existing fill behind abutments, placement of backfill and roadway construction.  This project has seen a complex traffic diversion put in place with one of the southbound lanes now driving in the northbound lane and that traffic pushed further east with a construction site speed limit of 50 kmh or half of regular highway speed.  This project should be complete by late 2022 or early 2023 as well.

A further 750 metres south on Hwy. 99, a third highway interchange improvement project is already underway at 32 Ave.  This project will add an extra entry and exit ramp to the existing ones to facilitate improved merging and traffic capacity.  Thankfully the Hwy. 99 southbound exit ramps will also be extended to provide more queuing capacity during rush hour to keep traffic from backing onto the highway as has happened since this faulty interchange was first built.  Wider travel lanes on the 32 Ave. diversion are being constructed and an additional westbound lane under the Hwy. 99 overpass is being built to improve traffic flow to and from the highway in this notorious bottleneck location.  A protected multi-use pathway on the south side of 32 Ave under Hwy. 99 will be provided to improve pedestrian and bike traffic.  You can expect this area to receive the cone zone treatment with traffic control and reduced speed limits that will be complete by the summer of 2023.

It is wonderful that that all of these highway improvement projects are finally being addressed after years of south Surrey highways being ignored by the BC Highway and Infrastructure Ministry.  The big question I have to ask is WHY DID ALL OF THESE PROJECTS WITHIN 1.5 KM OF HIGHWAY NEED TO BE BUILT AT THE SAME TIME?  Did nobody at the Ministry think that this might cause some rather extreme traffic congestion for people travelling through this rather small geographical area?  Did nobody in the Engineering Dept at Surrey City Hall believe these three projects lumped together might cause traffic chaos?  As it currently sits, if you want to consider alternate routes to avoid anticipated traffic delays, then 16 Ave. is your closest option.  If everyone went there to avoid the traffic on King George Blvd and 32 Ave., it would surely snarl this interchange as well.  Of course, no matter what, these travellers would still have to drive through the Nicomekyl bridge repair located midway between the two interchange projects.  

I started this TNT with a definition and I would like to end it with a couple more that are rather similar and certainly on topic.  The first one is the word "SNAFU" that is described as "a confused or chaotic state, a mess."  This word comes from a slang military acronym born during World War 2 that summed up the chaos and madness of war from a soldier's perspective.  Another closely related military acronym from the same era that is similar and often used in conjunction with SNAFU is "FUBAR" that is defined as "to break something or severely damage, to make a mess of something - usually used in passive constructions."  If you don't know their true meanings and have never hung out with soldiers at a rifle range, simply Google search them for yourselves.  Expect a long summer of traffic jams trying to get in and out of the Semi-pen because of all this construction, especially the summer beach crowds leaving Crescent Beach that should clog Crescent Road to 140 Street every hot sunny day.

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn


I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


Tuesday June 14, 2022

Chemtrails or Contrails?

Fly Boys Making Noise

During the last long weekend, I spent many hours working in my yard doing landscaping, maintenance and finally planting our vegetable gardens.  I was routinely surprised and somewhat disturbed by the large number of commercial aircraft that are now flying in the airspace above Ocean Park and Crescent Beach.  What burns my butt about these planes and their accompanying noise is that they are not supposed to regularly be flying over these residential neighbourhoods and the beaches of south Surrey.  When flying on visual approach or SIDS (Standard Instrument Departures), pilots are to direct their planes through the middle of Boundary Bay as they make their approach to the Vancouver airport (YVR).  Over time it would appear that Nav Canada air traffic controllers working in Newton have forgotten about this requirement.

The whole issue of commercial airplanes flying over south Surrey and White Rock dates back to May 10, 2007 when Nav Canada changed the approach routes for YVR without any consultation with the communities that would be affected.  People immediately noticed the change from airplane noise pollution that even had commercial jets winging through the heart of White Rock.   Eventually, Nav Canada and Transport Canada responded to the complaints that included Mayors and Councils of Delta, Surrey and White Rock, making alterations to the flight paths.  We were left with the GRIZZ STAR where planes follow a GPS route across Boundary Bay during times of peak commercial air travel, flying north along the west side of Boundary Bay before banking and flying east before turning up through Surrey and getting onto the glide slope towards Richmond and the YVR airport.

To give you an idea of the negative impact of the flight path changes, noise complaints to YVR Noise Management staff rose almost 500% in 2007 from the year before and over 850% when compared to the average of the four years before.  The City of Surrey formed the Mayor's Nav Canada Working Group on Aircraft Noise that I was a member of.  A community group SCANNS was formed (Surrey Citizens Against Aircraft Noise) who put pressure on Nav Canada, Transport Canada and federal MPs including south Surrey-White Rock Conservative member Russ Hiebert to move planes away from residential neighbourhoods.  The Richmond Airport Noise Citizen's Advisory Task Force was also formed in a city that is used to commercial aircraft travel and resulting noise.  Delta also had ANOID, which I believe stood for Aircraft Noise Overhead In Delta.

In the end Surrey was added to the YVR Aeronautical Noise Management Committee in 2008.  Ground based noise monitoring stations were installed throughout the region including one at Ocean Park in south Surrey.  YVR added WebTrak allowing citizens to monitor flights and the resulting noise pollution that is online at  Two new noise monitoring stations have recently been installed in Ladner and Sunshine HIlls in North Delta to monitor increased jet noise in that community with changes to YVR flight paths being considered again.  If you see commercial jets flying over south Surrey, note the time, check out the plane on WebTrak and contact Surrey's Mayor and Council ( ), Nav Canada ( and YVR ( to report an increase in the level of disruptive aircraft noise throughout the day or night. 

While on the subject of planes over Boundary Bay, a buddy of mine was relaxing at Crescent Rock Beach last week when he saw what he described as "three wide-bodied military planes flying in formation at high altitude leaving long contrails/chemtrails behind them."   He took the pictures you see in this TNT on Wed., June 8 at 7:15 P.M. looking west towards Ladner over Mud Bay.  I have never seen anything like this with the triple cloud tracks they left reaching from horizon to horizon.  Zooming into the pictures shows these planes had four engines each, with large lingering clouds forming behind them.  When I went onto WebTrak to see what they were, oddly there were no planes to be seen matching the ones that flew over.  It was then that I found the disclaimer, "Sensitive flight operations, such as law enforcement and military flights, are not displayed." 

Make of that what you will.


Courtesy ANTHONY MANNING White Rock councillor and airport employee

They were three USAF KC-135s (ancient 707s converted into tankers) enroute from Alaska to the Lower 48.  I know because it generated considerable chatter in a YVR FB group I follow. 

Odd that they would flying in formation, considering all that's going on in the world today and considering their main mission is to refuel other aircraft in flight. 

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


June 5, 2022

Spray Away Surrey

If you live near Grandview Heights it is likely you were woken up early on Monday morning by the sounds of low-flying aircraft buzzing the neighbourhood.  The BC Government is treating 108 hectares in this area along with five other Lower Mainland locations for Lymantria moths, formerly known as Gypsy moths until this bug's name got modern PC cleansing so as not to offend gypsies.  This will be the second aerial pesticide application with the first one taking place on May 13th and the final spraying scheduled for June 14, weather permitting.  The map above shows the treatment area and the 300 metre buffer zone located around the intersection of 32 Ave and 168 St. that was identified as a a Gypsy moth encampment.

The 2021 monitoring program trapped an above average number of male Lymantria moths in areas of the Lower Mainland, showing they were beginning to become established in the areas now being sprayed.  It is feared that if left untreated this invasive pest would threaten native trees, nut and orchard trees, ornamental trees plus food crops and fruit.  The Ministry is using Foray 48B that has Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstkaki (Btk) as its active ingredient.  This naturally occurring soil bacteria only affects the stomachs of caterpillars, being specific to their digestive systems.  It does not harm humans, mammals, birds, fish, plants, bees or insects and does not affect organic farm certification.  You can find out more information from the Ministry of Forests news release at this link:

Crescent Park Elementary all-weather field.

The Btk spraying is not the only industrial spraying going on in the Semiahmoo peninsula this spring.  I was driving past Crescent Park Elementary School and noticed that the vegetation on the gravel all-weather fields was dying, apparently after being sprayed with herbicide.  After seeing this I also visited nearby Elgin Park Secondary School and their gravel field looked identical to the one at Crescent Park.  As someone who has worked in the commercial horticulture business for most of their life, the pinky orange colour of the dead grass and drift patterns looked as if the systemic pesticide Glyphosate, known better by its trade name of Roundup, had been sprayed on these gravel fields.   From what I witnessed, I would suggest these fields were treated about two weeks ago, likely on the last long weekend.

It would not be a shock to me to learn that the Surrey School Board was still using herbicides on the all-weather fields.  While the use of Roundup has been banned in Surrey for cosmetic reasons, the City can still use pesticides when they deem it to be necessary.  From my inspection of the two gravel school fields, the entire playing surface had been sprayed, not just the areas around the edges where weed growth is problematic.  Of concern was that I did not see any notice of pesticide application signs, something that is required and evident both before and after the BNSF performs weed control on their tracks through White Rock and south Surrey.  Something tells me there will be a lot of unhappy parents if they find out their kids have been playing on fields likely sprayed with herbicide. 

Elgin Park Secondary all-weather field.

There are many ways to control weeds on gravel all-weather playing fields.  When I worked on the North Vancouver School Board 40 years ago, they had a machine that would rototill the top surface of the field while also removing any vegetation that was growing in the gravel.  It worked like a charm and left the fields looking like they had been freshly gravelled all the time.  An organic weed killer can easily be made by mixing a gallon of white vinegar with a cup of salt and a generous squirt of dish detergent.  Using horticultural vinegar with stronger acetic acid levels, a higher concentration of salt and Safer's Soap works incredibly well on hard surfaces especially when it is sunny and warm.  Steam or hot water kills weeds quickly and effectively as I found out when a customer drained their hot water tank onto their lawn.

Looking into what the Surrey School Board was doing for weed control on their play fields, I discovered that they have been using Western Weed Control for many years.  in 2021, they provided $117,096 in contracted services to Surrey Schools as detailed in their Statement of Financial Information.  Interestingly, the last company I ever worked for before starting my own business was the very same Western Weed Control where I was a sales representative.  As part of their integrated weed management, they provide their Western Heat System that can be used in riparian areas near water where chemical spraying is not allowed.  This system can also be utilized on all-weather fields and should be the preferred method for school play fields.  In my experience, the steam used turns the grass a bleached white and also kills dandelions and clover effectively, something I did not see on the two Surrey school fields I visited.

Stay tuned for more on this story as there will be a TNT Extra posted once I find out from the Surrey School District and Western Weed Control exactly what the prescribed weed management system is that they are using for south Surrey schools.  I should point out that the White Rock elementary school is managed by School District 36 Surrey so it is likely that the gravel field there receives the same treatment as the ones in Surrey.   If herbicides are being used as I believe, I would suggest they find a less toxic and more environmentally sensitive option.  At the very least, weed spraying on play fields should be delayed until the kids are not in class, something that happens in just three week's time.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.


Monday May 30. 2022

Keep Crescent Beach Open!  

Parking on the beach in Crescent Beach in the 60's

Surrey is now a thriving metropolis of over 550,000 people with plenty more on the way with constant development.  While it has plenty of park space, it has very limited access to recreational marine shoreline, aka the beach.  Crescent Beach is by far the best place to go for nice sandy beaches and a public walkway to boot along with a large free parking lot at Blackie Spit.  The Semiahmoo Bay beach east of East Beach offers a near White Rock experience but with an all-day parking pass on First Nations land setting you back $7 the last time I checked.  Peace Arch Park is still closed blocking shoreline access from anywhere near the Canada/US border.  Crescent Rock beach from White Rock to Crescent Beach is accessible via three high staircases, is very rough and rocky and situated next to an industrial rail line.  While it has spectacular scenery and privacy, the view does often include naked people skinny-dipping and sunbathing along this clothing-optional waterfront.

I don't live in Crescent Beach because of the summer traffic, crowds of people, train blockades, commercial jet noise (more on that soon) and the threat of flooding.  That being said, it still is a wonderful village consisting of 404 homes.  There is now an effort being made by members of the Crescent Beach Property Owners to bring pay parking to Blackie Spit and resident only parking for the residential streets of the village.  On warm sunny weekends a crush of traffic descends on Crescent Beach where the infrastructure remains as it has been for the past 50 years with several bottlenecks causing gridlock.  The many residents who post "No Parking" signs on City of Surrey property is certainly not helping the situation, along with Surrey Bylaw officers turning a blind eye to this problem that adds to a lack of parking spaces.  

In response to the petition being collected by the CBPOA, a petition titled "Keep Crescent Beach Open!" has already attracted over 2,150 signatures to keep the village open and reads as follows.  "Petitions are being circulated by a small group of Crescent Beach property owners asking the City of Surrey to bring in parking restrictions in the village.  They want pay parking introduced in the Blackie Spit parking lot and resident only parking for the residential areas of Crescent Beach.  These restrictions would seriously limit beach access for non-residents.  Crescent Beach residents have always welcomed visitors in the past and, despite heavy traffic at times, have resisted efforts to make visiting more difficult.  We need to let Council know that we oppose this effort by a group of frustrated and unhappy property owners to turn away Surrey families from this wonderful village.  Their short-term inconvenience should not end your long-term enjoyment." 

I would hate for Crescent Beach to go the way of White Rock and charge exorbitant fees for parking by families with children looking for an inexpensive outing and a way to beat the heat.  I believe it will take a multi-pronged effort to make the traffic flow better and to relieve the crush that Crescent Beach experiences in the summer.  Firstly, the proposed overpass above the BNSF Railway should be expedited since there are more and more trains and many exceed 100 cars in length.  Besides blocking all egress including to emergency vehicles, their frequent breakages on this curve can cause multi-hour waits.  The corner at 128 St and 24 Ave. either needs a roundabout, a controlled traffic light, or traffic personnel during high demand times, all of which have been utilized at Cultus Lake.  At King George Blvd the bridge work has restricted traffic turning left from Crescent Road to only one lane, something that needs to be immediately changed back to two lanes.

Now for a novel idea.  When parking at Crescent Beach has reached near capacity, I suggest that the City of Surrey close the village to more vehicle traffic as they often did during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They should then use the white elephant parking lot on the west side of the South Surrey Park & Ride lot as a staging point for a shuttle bus service (or the 351 bus) to the end of Beecher Street.  This would siphon off all of the vehicles from areas beyond the Semiahmoo peninsula plus encourage people to take transit to this hub location.  As a bonus, this asphalt wasteland that cost $4.5 million and is almost never used except for new driver training might actually get utilized.  Write the mayor,; write to the city manager,; and write to your Surrey councillors about keeping Crescent Beach accessible and affordable.  They say the best things in life are free and this includes visiting Crescent Beach.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn  

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People


Tuesday May 24, 2022

Garbage in, Garbage


Imagine my surprise when early on Friday morning a City of White Rock truck pulled into a townhouse complex I was at, filled with stacks of new recycling bins.  The two workers started dropping off these blue and red bins plus plastic yellow bags at the front of every unit and then taping letters to everyone's door.  I thought this was a little strange since the strata already had large blue roll-out bins from the City of White Rock for their recycling.  Collection services in White Rock were first privatized for multi-family and commercial properties back in Jan. 2015 and are now transitioning back to city services after the current Council voted to reinstate City collection of solid waste in Oct. of 2021.  

What I learned from the staff members was that White Rock had recently purchased two new recycling trucks that would not be able to collect the large blue totes.  Instead, they were transitioning back to the old system of a blue box for plastic and metal container recycling, red box for non-deposit glass container recycling and a yellow bag for paper, cardboard and newspaper recycling.  Meanwhile in Surrey, they have been using large totes for garbage, recycling and compostables since way back in Oct. of 2012.  With green waste picked up weekly and recyclables and garbage on an alternating two-week schedule it dramatically reduces collection time, especially with robotic armed trucks emptying the bins.

It would appear that the transition in the City By The Sea is not going as smoothly as one would hope.  I went into the garbage room at this complex and there were fluorescent yellow stickers from White Rock with the following note scrawled on them, "Sorry have house blue boxes and reusable yellow bags."  Well, I guess this had gone over like a lead balloon since the strata had responded with large notes of their own reading "Complex NOT formally advised by the city to change bins.  PLEASE COLLECT.  We are waiting to hear back about any changes.  Thank you!"   This made me wonder how many of the 252 multi-family and 96 institutional, commercial and industrial accounts across White Rock had not been properly notified of this upcoming change.

It turned out that the letters they were handing out were personally addressed to each and every resident of the strata complex.  I politely asked one of these people if I could have a look at the contents and she gladly let me sneak a peek (and take a photo).  The letter confirmed the purchase of the two new recycling trucks that would not be using the big blue roll-out totes and instead go back to the red/blue/yellow collection system.  It was interesting to learn that the city was instructing residents to hold onto their blue roll-out bins as "The City is currently in the process of converting the solid waste collection service to a City managed program and these totes may be used in the future."  There was no time date given as to when this possible change might occur.

If you live in a strata or have a business and were not properly notified of this change, you can do as the letter instructed and "Contact the White Rock Engineering and Municipal Operations Department at 604-541-2181 If you require further information or clarification."  You can also visit the website at for details on the upcoming changes.  There is also a very detailed material and description list of what materials go into each new bin or bag plus what not to do.  I would suggest printing off a copy and keeping it handy since it is two pages long and contains plenty of details on how to put your waste on a diet

One last thing, you will likely need reading glasses and a magnifying glass if you hope to actually read it.  The PDF copy I printed from the City website has titles in a readable sized font but the rest is so microscopic that it is likely illegible for anyone over 50 years old.  Since this covers a large number of the population of White Rock, it basically makes the PDF useless from an information standpoint.  This entire document needs to be changed so that when it is downloaded and printed, the average resident of White Rock can actually read it.  While you can zoom in on a computer, it only prints in two pages when it really should be four pages long to make it legible.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.


May 16, 2022

Forced Drive to Winnipeg

In the gulag formerly known as Canada, a family member of ours left home at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning to drive from Surrey to Winnipeg to visit their aged and ailing parents.  They would have taken an Air Canada flight from YVR late last month and been there in only a few short hours instead of being forced to drive to the heart of the continent.  Because they refused the experimental and now relatively ineffective COVID-19 vaccine for personal medical reasons, they are still not allowed to fly within Canada, or to leave the country for that matter.

They are now facing a gruelling 25-hour drive after waiting two weeks for it to finally stop snowing on the mountain passes and in parts of the prairies.  For safety reasons and fatigue concerns, this long trip will also require an overnight hotel stay in Calgary both going to Winnipeg and driving back home.  With luck, they will arrive in Winnipeg at 8 p.m. on Monday, 36 hours after leaving Vancouver on what is a 2,500 km trip with current road closures.  That is if everything goes well, the weather holds, they don't break down, get a flat tire, hit a deer, have roads flooded, or be involved in a collision.

A return flight to and from Winnipeg was only $435.  With record gas prices, it has been estimated the fuel cost alone for this forced journey by car will be $1,200 with plenty of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions along the way.  Including hotel and food stops, it adds up to $1,600 and that is without wear and tear on the car plus depreciation from this long drive.  My guess is the total cost for this government forced trip will be around $2,000 plus three days of highway travel in total.  Unfortunately, you cannot apply for government help with the bill even though it is their continued mandates that caused this expense.

Thank you Prime Minister Trudeau and your Liberal/NDP regime for ignoring fundamental Charter Rights allowing for freedom of movement within Canada.  They are so cruel that you can't even fly home to attend a loved one's funeral.  Of course, anyone can go to a hockey game and sit shoulder to shoulder with 28,000 drunken fans screaming at the top of their lungs "Go Leafs go!"   What a national disgrace when you realize Canada is the only country in the western world that still has this control measure that is not backed by science but meant as a continued punishment for those concerned with what they put in their own bodies.

I know several unvaccinated people that would fly out of this God forsaken country and never come back, except they can't leave because they are not allowed to board a plane.  The countries they want to escape to will welcome them with open arms but Canada is holding these people hostage for their personal health decisions.  This is even more ridiculous when you look at how the Omicron variant is spreading in people who have been triple jabbed.  I am personally aware of a dozen people who are currently sick with COVID including a couple who just came back from a cruise with this disease.  Ever wonder what happened to herd immunity?  I haven't heard about it for some time now as public health messages morph almost as fast as the new variants.

Does any of this sound like freedom to you?  More like North Korea, China or Cuba, all repressive non-democratic regimes with no concern for human rights.  That is what Canada has become in just two years' time with Trudeau using the Emergencies Act to crush dissent from folks protesting against vaccine mandates and for their fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter.  Is it any wonder why various Freedom Convoy protests like the one at YVR on Saturday are still being held across this country to bring attention to this ongoing travesty of 3.57 million Canadians finding themselves on a do-not-fly list for not being fully vaccinated.   I'd like to know at what point is this travesty going to end or will it become a life-sentence against further travel?  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.



May 09, 2022

Oasis of Green in a Concrete Jungle

With the rate that forests are being mowed down and converted to condos in Surrey, you wonder if there will be any green left in the city of Surrey in the future.  Indeed, when the Surrey logo was changed from a beaver and the slogan "The City of Parks" to a logo of a couple of concrete towers with a little sliver of green underneath and the slogan "The Future Lives Here" the writing was on the wall.  It turns out that this was not the only thing on the wall as several buildings in Surrey are prominently showcasing how nature can indeed exist in a concrete jungle given a little help from the ingenuity of mankind.

The Semiahmoo Public Library and RCMP station located at 1815 152nd Street in south Surrey is a location where you can view the work of Vancouver landscape design company Green Over Grey ( They design and install living walls, otherwise known as green walls or vertical gardens using a soil free hydroponic matrix along with a cascading watering system with liquid fertilizer that can transform a drab concrete wall into a lush garden tapestry, both inside and out.  There are many benefits to these green walls that purify the air, shield walls from the elements, dampen noise pollution, cut electricity bills and increase property values with a living work of art. 

In 2010 the Green over Grey designers installed the vertical garden on the south side of the library that has a 3,000 square foot wall.  This green wall featured more than 10,000 plants from 120 different varieties of ground covers, perennials grasses and shrubs.   This project cost $272,000 and at the time was considered to be the largest and most biologically diverse outdoor green wall anywhere in North America.  The multitude of plants with their varying flowering times creates a balanced ecosystem that attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds while providing nesting opportunities for a wide variety of songbirds.  The initial inspiration for this vertical garden is said to be based on art of the Coast Salish First Nations that includes the Semiahmoo people.


Since that time, Green Over Grey has been busy showcasing their living creations in other parts of Surrey.  Inside the Guildford mall there are a couple of living walls titled "Celebration (of Nature) that together measure 1,380 square feet of planted area with over 8,000 plants from 59 different species.  This was good practice for their massive "Mountains & Trees, Waves and Pebbles (MTWP) installation located on the exterior of the mall walkway and bus exchange overpass above 104 Ave.  Both sides of the mall measuring a colossal 10,150 square feet were covered with more than 45,000 plants from 110 different species.  Completed in 2018, to date it is the largest green wall ever built in North America as measured by both overall size and number of plants.

You can check out a tie-lapse Youtube video of the installation of MTWP (link below), which includes an aerial trackway that carries an elevated cart needed for workers to safely install the plants and perform routine maintenance above the busy 104 Ave.  Since this project was completed for the Ivanhoe Cambridge real estate company who manages the Guildford mall the installation prize has never been revealed but when compared to other large public works that were much more accessible, a price tag approaching a million dollars would not seem unreasonable.  One thing is for certain, this Green Over Grey installation on the Guildford mall overpass is a visually stunning piece of living art that showcases the unlimited possibilities of this technology for one of Canada's greenest companies.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.



MAY 02, 2022

Brown is the New Green

I hope you took the time to celebrate "Beltane" on Sunday May 1st.  If you have not heard about it before, Beltane is a Pagan holiday that falls halfway between the spring equinox and the upcoming summer solstice.  It is also the day when sprinkling regulations came into effect throughout the Lower Mainland.  Years ago, the GVRD, now known as Metro Vancouver, allowed peasants to water their lawns three times a week.  This was then dropped to two days a week with different days for odd and even house numbers.  After last year's deadly heat dome and record temperatures, there are big changes in store for this year that will cut allowable lawn watering dramatically and likely make your grass very thirsty this summer.  Here are the changes for 2022 as outlined by Metro Vancouver in an April news release.

Metro Vancouver is introducing enhanced seasonal lawn watering regulations for homes and businesses in order to better conserve the region's drinking water during the hot, dry summer months.  New this year, residents and businesses will be permitted to water lawns one morning per week during Stage 1 of the Drinking Water Conservation Plan, with designated days determined by property address and type.  Trees, shrubs, and flowers may be watered in the morning when using a sprinkler, or any time when hand watered or using drip irrigation.  Edible plants are exempt from the regulations.  Lawn watering regulations will be in place May 1 until October 15.  Anyone with automatic watering systems is encouraged to adjust them by May 1.  If there is a need to move to Stage 2 during the summer, lawn watering will not be permitted at all for residential and non-residential properties.

Metro Vancouver's water supply comes from rainfall and snowmelt in three mountain water supply areas that fill the Capilano, Seymour, and Coquitlam reservoirs.  Lawn watering regulations have consistently reduced outdoor water use during the summer.  Lowering demand for treated drinking water through conservation can defer the need to expand drinking water supply and infrastructure in the face of climate change impacts and continued population growth.  Listed below are the allowable lawn watering times for areas across Metro Vancouver in 2022.


  • Even-numbered addresses: Saturdays — automatic watering between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, and manual watering between 6:00 am and 9:00 am

  • Odd-numbered addresses: Sundays — automatic watering between 5:00 am and 7:00 am, and manual watering between 6:00 am and 9:00 am

  • Trees, shrubs, and flowers can be watered with a sprinkler any day between 5:00 am and 9:00 am, or any time by hand or using drip irrigation.


  • Even-numbered addresses: Mondays — automatic watering between 4:00 am and 6:00 am, and manual watering between 6:00 am and 9:00 am

  • Odd-numbered addresses: Tuesdays — automatic watering between 4:00 am and 6:00 am, and manual watering between 6:00 am and 9:00 am

  • Trees, shrubs and flowers can be watered with a sprinkler any day between 4:00 am and 9:00 am, or any time by hand or using drip irrigation.

These restrictions do not apply to the use of rain water, grey water, any forms of recycled water, or other sources of water outside the regional and municipal water supply system. Member jurisdictions enforce lawn watering regulations through local bylaw restrictions.  Metro Vancouver collaborates with member jurisdictions to plan for and deliver drinking water services to 2.7 million residents and businesses using a system of water supply areas, dams, treatment facilities, reservoirs, pump stations, and water mains. Upgrades are regularly made to the system to maintain the regional district's ability to reliably provide clean, safe drinking water.

What is interesting about lawn watering in the Semiahmoo peninsula is that White Rock has its own water supply system with water collected from wells that is stored and treated to remove arsenic and manganese.  As of last year, White Rock residents were allowed to water their lawns three times a week, ensuring that the grass was always greener on the south side of 16th Ave.  It may come as a shock to homeowners and gardeners in the City By The Sea that White Rock has seen fit to drop their watering days also, not to two days as one might expect but to a single day.  In fact, White Rock's watering times are now an hour less than the rest of Metro Vancouver even though they have an independent water system.  Below are the stage 1 watering restrictions in White Rock for 2022.

White Rock NEW Stage 1 Restrictions

  • Residential lawn watering is permitted one day a week. 

  • Automatic watering is allowed 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

  • Manual watering is allowed 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

  • Even numbered addresses: Saturdays

  • Odd numbered addresses: Sundays

These sprinkling restrictions only apply to lawns; watering of gardens, shrubs, trees and flower beds is permitted any day from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. if using a sprinkler, or anytime if hand watering or using drip irrigation. When washing a boat or motor vehicle, water hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut off device. Note: multi-family dwellings are considered even or odd according to the overall building number and not the unit number.

  • Non-residential lawn watering is permitted one day a week:

  • Automatic watering is allowed 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.

  • Manual watering is allowed 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

  • Even numbered addresses: Mondays

  • Odd numbered addresses: Tuesdays

These sprinkling regulations apply only to lawns; watering of gardens, shrubs, trees and flower beds is allowed any day from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m. if using a sprinkler, or any time if hand watering or using drip irrigation.  When washing a boat or motor vehicle, water hoses must be equipped with an automatic shut off device.

Once we reach Stage 2 watering restriction whether Met-Van or White Rock, lawn watering will be prohibited.  When Metro-Vancouver started advertising several years ago that "You only need to water your lawn once a week" I could have told you that allowable sprinkling times were going to be reduced to one day.  This weekend Met-Van ads hit the airways about this change including warnings about how to avoid being fined.  Now I see on their website they are advising residents "Don't judge a healthy lawn by its colour" and "Let your lawn go gold this summer."  I'm here to tell you that a healthy lawn is green and that brown drought stressed lawns will get infested with Chafer beetle grubs and then be ripped up by racoons, skunks, possums and crows looking for these tasty morsels.

With these new lawn watering restrictions that have cut sprinkling by half in south Surrey and two thirds in White Rock, now might be the time to consider digging up your lawn, adding some organic topsoil and putting in vegetable gardens.  At least this way you can water daily and grow your own food, which considering the price of produce, supply chain problems, the soaring cost of fuel and war in the world's bread basket, might not be a bad idea.  Also, you can avoid having to get up at the crack of dawn on your weekend to water the damn grass!  Otherwise, you might want to consider having artificial turf installed or get someone to lay new turf every spring.  Either way, I'm sure my buddy Ray at Mr. Lawn ( who specializes in turf grass and fake grass will be more than willing to help you out.

Here are the website links for both White Rock and Met-Van that includes information on stages 1, 2, 3, & 4 watering restrictions for 2022.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.



April 25, 2022

Crescent Park Pooch Poisoning

Driving down Crescent Road last week I noticed a home-made sign taped to the NW entrance of Crescent Park.  Ever curious about anything of interest in my community I decided to pull over and check it out.  What I found was a sign with a cute picture of a young dog and the statement "This puppy was poisoned in Crescent Park on Sunday, Feb 20th, 2022.  If you have any information, please contact the RCMP, SPCA or Surrey Bylaws (with phone numbers).  This is a threat to our dogs and to young children.  Please report anything suspicious."

Needless to say, I wish I had noticed this sign a couple of months ago.  This information was never relayed to the White Rock Sun and nor was it posted in the Peace Arch News so unless you are a regular visitor to the park you would likely not know about this incident.  It turns out the Crescent Beach Veterinary Clinic did post the poster on their FB page in March along with a warning to the community.  Other than the date and the photo of the dog, there is very little data about this alleged poisoning including what the material was, how the dog came across it, or what it was mixed with.  Most importantly was whether the dog actually survived the poisoning.  I know if it was one of our fur babies that we would have put as much information up about what happened plus our contact information.

It turns out this is not an isolated case and might be the work of a serial pet poisoner.  I found the following post with a photo of a black lab on Reddit in February of 2020.  "Our boy didn't die of natural causes, he was poisoned.  There is a person in Crescent Park who thinks the best way to punish owners of off leash dogs is to put out tainted foot and let them eat it.  That is what happened to Jagr.  Please, if you walk your furry friend anywhere, remember there are mean people out there who want to hurt them.  My dog didn't deserve to die the way that he did.  It was brutal, for him and the rest of us.  Hug your dogs tonight because I wish more than anything I could still hug mine."  If that doesn't hit a nerve, you might want to check your heart for a pulse.

There is also a warning on the A Dog's Best Friend mobile dog walking services Facebook page from January 2021, "Sadly, it seems more poisoned food may have been found in Crescent Park.  Please spread the word and stay alert when walking your dog." The responses to this post point out that there are many people who use the park as an off-leash area for their dogs.  With coyotes, racoons, skunks, possums, eagles and owls living in the park, not to mention dogs and children, who in their right mind would be putting out what is believed to be rat poison?  The answer of course is somebody who is sick and demented and needs to be identified, charged and punished for this senseless crime.

It is not just Cresent Park where the issue of dog poisonings is a problem.  In July of 2021 pieces of meat were found along the trails of Surrey's Tynehead Park over several weeks, leaving pet owners there fearful what the motive might be.  In June of 2018 a five-year-old golden retriever died soon after eating an unknown toxic substance in Alderwood Park in south Surrey.  In Oct. of 2015 a dog got ill after eating food laced with the depressant valium in the Clayton Off-leash Dog Park with several other incidents reported there at that time.  That's just the reported pet poisonings in Surrey over the past few years and there are plenty more when you look into this problem across the Lower Mainland.

With multiple poisonings at Crescent Park and tainted food left there, it is time that the City of Surrey puts up proper signage at the many park entrances warning of this serious safety issue.  People that frequent the park need to be vigilant about their pets and children and ensure they do not eat any food they happen to find.  Most importantly, the sick and twisted person responsible for this bizarre behaviour needs to be located and arrested.  If you see anyone you think is placing tainted food, take a photo or video of them and call 911 immediately.  If you have information about the dog poisonings at Crescent Park, please report your suspicions to the Surrey RCMP non-emergency line at 604-599-0502, the SPCA at 1-855-822-7722, and the Surrey Bylaws at 604-591-4370.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.




April 19, 2022

Trick or Treat on Oct. 31

With more proof that I am beyond a doubt the Canadian version of the Amazing Kreskin, I successfully predicted that Surrey Council would vote last week to suspend the Surrey Office of the Ethics Commissioner in a 5-3 vote with all of Doug McCallum's Save Surrey members raising their hands to stop any investigating of ethics violations until after the Oct. 15 vote.  On the same day, the SOEC was effectively muzzled, a court date of Oct. 31 was set for McCallum's trial for Public Mischief with the trial scheduled for seven days.  Yes folks, that is more than two weeks after the civic election where Mayor McCallum tries for a second consecutive term and third time as mayor of Surrey.  The irony of the date chosen should not escape anyone; it is a treat for Doug and a trick for voters in Surrey on Halloween.

There are a large number of possible legal maneuvers that could happen between now and then but lets say for arguments sake that Mayor McCallum gets re-elected, the case goes to court and Doug is found guilty of Public Mischief.  In this quite possible scenario we will have a convicted criminal running City Hall with no way of getting rid of him.  Currently McCallum is running the city and the Surrey Police Board after being charged with a criminal offence, refusing to step down and recuse himself after he was charged.  Now I realize this is Surrey that has a rather sordid history with questionable mayors, high crime rates and open gang warfare, but at some point I'm hoping that responsible government might actually take hold in this fair city.

As I stated in last week's TNT (No Ethics, No Morals, No Shame, April 11, 2022) The BC NDP have introduced legislative amendments that would force an elected civic official to take paid leave when charged with a criminal offence.   It would not be applied retroactively meaning that it would only apply to criminal charges filed once the legislation comes into effect.  Nathan Cullen, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, had this to say on Thursday before the bill was introduced, "Hopefully it will pass quite soon, so that we’re able to restore that public confidence that municipal leaders want and we all need."  This is a badly needed change considering the serious charges that several BC mayors have been found guilty of over the past few years.

While this is a good start, I believe that it does not go far enough.  With most politicians viewed somewhere between between amblance chasing lawyers and used-car salesmen, I believe there is plenty of room to try and clean up their tarnished image.  I'm going to be strongly suggesting to Nathan Cullen that the NDP put forth legislation banning anyone currently charged with a criminal offence from running for public office until their charges have been dealt with.  This would mean that anyone with outstanding criminal charges could not be nominated to run for civic office.  This is a common sense idea and would not have to to be done retroactively.  If you have criminal charges filed against you, your name does not go on the ballot, simple as that.

The City of Surrey website ( has information about the 2022 Municipal Election (Your City, Your Vote) available at this link: .  The vote will be on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. where residents will cast ballots for one mayor, eight Councillors and six School Trustees.  You can register in advance in August if you have moved in the past six months with this regislation closing on August 23, 2022.  Most importantly, nomination period begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, August 30 and ends Friday, Sept. 9 at 4 p.m., which coincides with the declaration of candidates.   Our civic election laws need to be changed to stop anyone with outstanding criminal charges from being nominated and running for office.  Surrey Doug..., I mean sorry Doug, but that would include you if your trial is still pending at that time.

It's a neat trick that would be a real treat to the people of BC and other towns across our province.  Combined with having elected civic officials having to recuse themselves until their criminal charges are dealt, it would certainly help to clean up Council chambers.  I personally believe this is an idea whose time has come and am rather surprised it has not been done sooner.  If you would like to support this idea of not allowing people facing criminal charges to run for public office, please feel free to share it with the NDP Minister of Municipal Affairs Nathan Cullen and the South Surrey-White Rock Liberal MLA Trevor Halford.  I wouldn't bother with Mayor McCallum, something tells me he wouldn't like it.

Hon Nathan Cullen:

MLA Trevor Halford:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.



April 11, 2022

No Morals, No Ethics, No Shame

Members of Safe Surrey digging their own political graves without steel-toed boots.

They are at it again.  Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey minions on city council just don't seem to understand that "No Means No!"  We have already seen this recently when the plan put forth to Metro-Vancouver to change the land classification to the South Campbell Heights area was defeated and quickly repackaged for yet another Met-Van vote less than a month later that went their way.  You can scroll down to read about that fiasco that was passed without proper consultation with the Semiahmoo First Nation in my February 28, 2022 two-part TNT titled "Busy Days in the Haze" with the first section titled "South Campbell Heights Rezoning Passed" dealing with this divisive issue.

It is hard to imagine but Surrey Council will be discussing yet another attempt to muzzle their very own Ethics Commissioner.  My rather blunt January 31, 2022 TNT titled "Silencing the Surrey Ethics Commissioner" covered Council's first attempt to shut down the office that investigates ethics violations at the City of Surrey.  In this first swing at the bat, they were calling for the SOEC to not investigate any new ethics violations for nine months before the next civic election on Oct. 15, 2022.  After an avalanche of emails, nasty telephone messages, media scrutiny and my rather pointed TNT the Safe Surrey Coalition blinked and withdrew this contentious item from the agenda.  Now they are back at it proposing a six-month muzzling of the Ethics Commissioner before the election, a full half a year without any ethics oversight in a town that needs it badly.

Here is a paragraph taken from my last TNT on this topic at the end of January.  "Attempting to shut down the Office of the Ethics Commissioner is a direct attack on freedom and democracy in the city of Surrey.  Surrey was the first city in BC with an Ethics Commissioner whose position was formed on June 10, 2019 by the very same people now trying to dismantle it.  It's a desperate attempt by tyrants looking to close down opposition to their abhorrent behaviour that is both outrageous and immoral.  I should mention that it's hard to believe Mayor McCallum is facing serious criminal charges about lying to the RCMP and is still the Chair of the Surrey Police Board.  The outlandish political games being played in Surrey by our so-called leaders are making us all a laughing stock and the butt of "Surrey jokes" yet again."   On some TNTs, I feel all that I have to do is simply change the date and give it a new title, kind of like White Rock and the Hump saga.

Last week the BC NDP government introduced legislative amendments that would force an elected civic official to take paid leave when charged with a criminal offence.   Unfortunately, it would not be applied retroactively meaning that it would only apply to criminal charges filed once the legislation comes into effect. This means that Mayor McCallum wouldn't have to step down from his duties as Surrey Mayor and the head of the Surrey Police Board while his current trial for Public Mischief is ongoing.   Nathan Cullen, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, had this to say on Thursday before the bill was introduced, "Hopefully it will pass quite soon, so that we’re able to restore that public confidence that municipal leaders want and we all need."  Hmm..., I wonder what the rush is and what municipal leader he was referring to?  

In what would likely be used as a definition of irony, Monday, April 11 is also the day when Mayor Doug McCallum's pre-trial conference is set for with the trial date expected to be five days scheduled for after the closed-door pre-trial conference is completed.  Rather bizarrely, the location of this PTC is not in Surrey but instead scheduled to be held in Prince George.  The BC Prosecution Service has revealed that Prince George is the home to the judge handling his public mischief case, the conference will be online with virtual attendees and the PTC is not open to members of the public.  A BC Courts information sheet noted, "Whether a trial is unnecessarily long is not something which can be measured solely by its length.  Some relatively short trials may be unnecessarily long while some very lengthy ones may be efficiently managed and reach an appropriate just and, in context, timely result." 

The partisanship, backstabbing, and mudslinging we are seeing out of Surrey City Hall has reached a level not seen since the last time we had Doug McCallum as mayor.  The most recent attack on the SOEC is yet another low, but I would expect even more underhanded and immoral behaviour as we rush into "silly-season" which is the last six months before an election.  My guess is the SOEC neutering will pass 5-3, regardless of public sentiment.  As to whether McCallum's Public Mischief trial will be dealt with before Oct. 15, that is anyone's guess.  If his legal dream team figures they can win, it will likely be before, and if the Crown's evidence including video is overwhelming then expect it to be repeatedly delayed unil after the fall election is long over.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.




April 04, 2022

Machete Kills

The naked truth is that I own a machete.  It is a beauty I purchased from the Otter Coop in Langley over 30 years ago for under $20, made by Barteaux & Sons in Portland Oregon.  It has an 18-inch blade that widens toward the angled end and a D-shaped handle to help protect your knuckles and hand.  I splurged when I bought it and even purchased the heavy-duty leather scabbard allowing it to be safely stored or worn from a belt.  The once shiny blade is now a dark brown patina from use and the years but the edge is still razor sharp.  I originally bought what is basically a cross between a sword and a knife for chopping down blackberries and cutting trails when on woodland hikes, where I put the whack in bushwhacking.  It is now my tool of choice for cutting off basjoo banana leaves and chopping down their thick trunks.

What I never use my machete for is as a weapon or self-protection.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for most machete owners living in urban centers across Canada.  The machete has now become the modern broadsword, allowing users to attack others at arms-length while inflicting terrible or fatal injuries.  Unlike a long-rifle, most machetes are easily concealed under a jacket or in a backpack.  The massive Bowie knife used by Paul Hogan in Crocodile Dundee ("That's not a knife,  that's a knife") had a blade measuring 12 inches long.  In the movie First Blood, Sylvester Stallone's character Rambo carried a military survival knife that only had a blade of 9 inches.  They say that size matters and that bigger is better and it seems that machetes in all sizes and shapes are becoming more prevalent on our streets.

You don't have to go very far to get your hands on one of these tools that can become a dangerous weapon in the wrong hands.  You can buy an 18" Shrade full tang machete at Canadian Tire for only $19.99.  Want to start the kids off young?  They sell the Gerber Gator machete Jr. with safety sheath for only $39.99.  I'm hoping this isn't the same Gerber that makes strained infant foods.  For something a little more edgy, try the Camillus Carnivore machete for only $44.99 or its slightly more lethal partner, the Camillus Carnivore Inject for $54.99.  Heading into East Van or simply purchasing online, Gorilla Surplus carries 53 different varieties of machetes with names like Annihilator, Raptor, Xtreme, and Combat ranging from $19.99 to $154.99 with blades up to 22 inches long for the double handed model.  Yup, there must be lots of brush to clear down in East Van.

You don't have to look very far to see the results of thugs carrying heavy long bladed weapons around in urban settings.  Simply Google search "Surrey machete" and check out the headlines that pop up.  "Machete attack sends two people to hospital", "Victim of machete attack in Surrey knew assailants", "Man waving machete shot by police in Surrey", and more with the same violent storyline.  Checking "Vancouver machete" leads to other stories about two people being attacked on New Year's Eve on Granville Street, a man having his fingers partially severed, and a machete attack at a Vancouver bar.   The latest local machete story involved two teenagers chasing a man in to the Burquitlam Skytrain station last month, swinging at him with a machete while he tried to protect himself with a traffic pylon.  He received a large laceration on his head that required staples to close and Transit police arrested the two suspects from Port Moody.

I'm starting to wonder why machete sales are allowed to young people or in urban centres.  I have my now vintage machete and I use it for its intended purpose, both gardening and in the wilderness.  Because of their inherent danger, I have to question why these tools that double as weapons are allowed on our streets?  Maybe their sale should not be allowed to youths without their parent's signing authority.  Possibly their sale could be blocked in cities where they have been used as improvised swords to terrorize and injure people.  I guess that the sales of machetes would be greatly lowered if people had to show ID and sign for them and the police were given these purchase records.  One thing is for sure, criminals looking to harm people and others trying to protect themselves will continue to buy machetes as fierce arms-length weapons.  Whether for gardening or gang warfare, the ownership of machetes truly is a double-edged sword.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.


March 29, 2022

Locke & Load

I realize that the political landscape of Surrey has become extremely acrimonious over the past few years with Surrey First splitting into various factions and Safe Surrey Coalition doing the same over a variety of issues.  Unfortunately, it seems that divisive politics that we have witnessed in the United States have swept across the border, not only into federal and provincial realms but even to the civic level.  I have often wondered why we need political parties or slates at the local level, believing competent individuals with varying points of view should be able to reach a consensus that is good for the community at large.  Instead, we are witnessing the polarization of civic politics fuelled by deep pocket donors looking for influence at City Hall with the will of the citizenry ignored with the exception of when elections are near.

It was with absolute disgust that I learned last week that Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke has been subjected to death threats that were apparently violent and sexual in nature.  In case you were not aware, Mrs. Locke left the governing Safe Surrey Coalition three years ago after realizing the coalition she had joined was being run more like an autocratic dictatorship.   Brenda added to the fray when announcing in 2021 that she would be running for the position of Mayor in the 2022 elections to be held this October.  On the Safe Surrey website and various social media platforms, Mrs. Locke has been the subject of what would best be described as an organized smear job, with her morals, ethics and ideas challenged and disparaged on a daily basis.  The acrimony associated with these attacks would make most people, including those with families, question whether running for public office in Surrey was a good idea.

So now this heated rhetoric has risen to the point that direct threats of sexual violence were made against Mrs. Locke.  This is the unfortunate by-product where people are constantly vilified and supporters of this form of propaganda are worked into such a frenzy that they believe death threats or acts of violence are justified.  The fact that these threats were made against a woman apparently by a man, makes them even more shameful and cowardly.   It has not been revealed how these threats were received but they were serious enough that the RCMP investigated and have made an arrest with the person not yet charged or their name released to the public.  Councillor Locke has this to say about the threats against her person, “This can never be tolerated. This is not civil. You can disagree with me, you can have peaceful protest, that’s all fair but to bully, intimidate, discriminate, and then also talk about physical violence? Completely, completely not tolerable."  I could not agree with her more.

Unfortunately, Brenda's predicament is not the first time that this has happened.  Councillor jack Hundial who like Brenda Locke left Safe Surrey Coalition (in 2020) was also subjected to death threats, not only for his political affiliations but his former employment as an RCMP officer.  Not content with threatening Mr Hundial, the same person also took aim at Prime Minsiter Justin Trudeau in the same social media post threatening to shoot them both.  This quickly attracted the attention of the RCMP who arrested a 42-year old man from Surrey, charging him with uttering threats.   Several other local politicos I know have been subject to various threats and harassment over the years, with White Rock south Surrey MLA Trevor Halford having his office broken into and trashed earlier this year in what is believed to be a politically motivated attack.  Most politicians do not want to report threats and haassement believing it will only make the problem worse.

I have had friends over the years from across the political spectrum at all levels of government ranging from local councillors to MLAs, MPs, Senators and party leaders.   Regardless of their political views, I have found they all have one endearing quality; an interest in helping members of their community.   It is one thing to complain about politicians or question their motives but threatening them with violence for performing their duties is makes me question the perpetrator's mental stability.  Politicians are kind of like the police, many folks don't like them, most would never want their job, but when you really need them, you're glad they are there for you.  Having ran for public office and worked on various election campaigns for other candidates, I have nothing but the utmost respect for anyone crazy enough to want to throw their hat into the ring.  

So when it comes to politicians you can bitch all you want, question their motives and ridicule their decisions but remember this.  There is no room for violence and threats in the political arena in an open and free democratic society.  If you think that you could do a better job or have brilliant ideas that could change the world then please get out of your armchair and consider running for public office.  I have to warn you right now though, the meetings you have to attend and hours spent working might make your cheque look rather small.   The ferry to and from Victoria sucks especially during storms and flying back and forth to Ottawa every week is brutal.  Make sure you know what you are getting into before actually signing up for this type of torture.   The job of a public figure is often hard on the person and their family and they certainly do not need to be the target of violent threats and hatred from bullies and crazies.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish peoples.



March 21, 2022

Views For Votes



Have you seen the movie Groundhog Day where Bill Murray wakes up every morning at 6:00 a.m. to Sonny & Cher's song "I Got You Babe" to find himself stuck reliving the same day time and time again?  Well, I feel that way when writing about so-called "vegetation control" on the Hump hillside.  Next to stories about landslides from the Ocean Park bluffs onto the BNSF tracks threatening rail safety, most of these slides initiated from the illegal cutting of trees for views, the death by a thousand cuts of the once forested Hump is a story that refuses to go away.  Once again this topic has raised its ugly head with the crem-de-la-creme of White Rock living along Marine Drive believing their unobstructed view of the pier is once again an important issue during an election year.  If you care to check it out this long-running saga, here are the dates and titles of all my TNTs dealing with this subject from the WR Sun archives.   I should note there are likely others but a four year chunk of the TNT achives was accidentally deleted.

Oct. 13, 2020 - From Hump Hillside to Stump Hillslide

Apr. 25, 2016 - The Poisoned Semi-Pen

Dec. 14, 2015 - $lope $tability $tupidity

Mar. 8, 2010 - Gone But Not Forgotten

Nov. 30, 2009 - Stopping the BNSF in their Tracks

Oct. 19, 2009 - Clear Cut Case of Negligence

Sept. 21, 2009 - Stumps on the Hump

In the latest Hump fiasco, residents Kerry Wray and Shelley Mare attended White Rock City Hall as a delegation last week to advocate for the trimming of the Hump as has been done in the past.  These women stated that they didn't want another clear-cut but that trimming the blackberries at the top of the hill and removal of saplings growing from the stumps was important.  Mare is on record as stating “We like greenery, but this foliage that is obstructing ocean and pier views is not in the right place for our City By The Sea."  It was moved and seconded that "Council directs staff to report back on the feasability of bringing maintenance of the hump greenery to pre-2019 leves including compliance to new policites in place as well as budget implications."   This motion was carried 6-0, with Mayor and Councillors all voting in favour and Helen Fathers likely rolling over in her grave.

Going way back to 2008, I first met WR Sun editor and current WR Councillor Dave Chesney when he climbed into trees along Marine Drive to stop tree cutting after being lied to about tree trimming on the Hump.  First it was 36 trees cut down, them another 40, with yours truly delivering a load of firewood to the BNSF offices in New Westminister with TV cameras rolling.   Next was the chopping down of many trees in front of the Top of the Rock development next to the pier on top of a former lateral slump landslide site.  The final desecration was the clear-cutting sold as "vegetation control" in 2015 where much of the Hump hillside was razed to the ground, with clear-cutting only halted when they discovered active slide sites on the slope closer to East beach.   All told, the City of White Rock has spent $320,000 clearing the previously forested Hump, on private land owned by the American BNSF Railway.

When the Hump was formerly forested 14 years ago its thick canopy attracted plenty of wildlife to the hillside, especially bald eagles that used the tall trees to perch while watching the shoreline below for their next meal.  Now with only a few trees left, even the so-called "Eagle tree" rarely gets visited by these magnificent creatures who despite their "bald" characterization do not seem to like the Hump clear-cut.  The Hump forest acted as a beautiful green backdrop for pictures of the White Rock boulder, views that have been replaced with what is best described as an ugly scar.  When people used to walk along the sidewalk on top of the Hump, the trees there provided shade and relief from ocean winds, both of which are now a distant memory.   It is sad that the residents of Marine Drive cannot enjoy the ocean view in the winter, the trees in the summer and the eagles that used to float on the wind.  Instead of seeing the beauty in nature, they sadly appear blinded by their views through the tangle of electrical wires at the concrete and steel pier.  

The main reason why tree cutting on the Hump should have never been allowed was to preserve slope stability above the BNSF Railway tracks.  In 2007 Transport Canada sent a letter to the cities of Surrey and White Rock warning that the main cause of mudslides risking a derailment on these waterfront tracks was the cutting of trees on the steep slopes for views.  Of course those in charge in White Rock ignore the OCP that states the Hump should be left in a "natural state", which I'm pretty sure never meant clear-cut.  You do not maintain slope stability on a steep slide prone hillside by leaving stumps, you maintain it by leaving healthy trees that have a network of strong roots that also help to remove water!  The sign that acompanied the 2015 clear-cut stated "The slope will be replanted to promote slope stability and beautification.  We appreciate your patence on its appearace as we go through this transition."  Well, its still an ugly mess seven years later and not one tree has been planted to replace the hundreds cut down.

It is also worth noting that the sidewalks along the Hump were replaced back in 2010 because the safety railings were leaning at a 10-20 degree angle towards the ocean, indicating slope motion downwards from Marine Drive.  Professsor John Clague, whose specialty is natural hazard research, sent an associate to inspect the Hump and he was alarmed by what he saw.  Besides the leaning railings, he also noted there was a crack and deformation in the Marine Drive roadway at the crest of the Hump hillside in an area that suffered slope failure back in the 1960s.  When the railings were replaced, soil motion sensors were then buried in the Marine Drive roadway to check for movement.  This was the same area where White Rock spent $1.1 million to place pilings into the Hump in 2020 to help support Marine Drive from falling onto the tracks, followed by a further $700,000 in 2021 for more stability work.  Amazingly even after all of this, WR Council still is considering cutting more trees on the Hump.  Truly amazing..., and amazingly stupid.

Mayor Darryl Walker and White Rock Council need to grow a collective set and tell the fat cats on Marine Drive "NO" to any so-called vegetation control on the Hump.  The BNSF Railway needs to tell WR City Hall "NO" to any tree cutting on their steep slide prone hillside.  Transport Canada needs to tell both the City of White Rock and the BNSF Railway "NO" to decreasing slope stability over the tracks by cutting down trees on the Hump.  The residents of White Rock need to say "NO" to their tax money being spent cutting vegetation and trees on private corporate property simply to improve views.  Visitors need to tell WR BIA and Council "NO" more cutting on the Hump so that the ugly scar above the beach will eventually heal.  Its time to re-classify the Hump as "ravine lands" once again and not allow any tree cutting or future development.  There are already not enough trees in White Rock and I believe its time they started planting some replacement ones at the Hump as was promised seven long years ago.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish peoples.


The delegation that appeared recently before White Rock council did not request any trees be removed from the humP. Their request was to trim back the blackberry bushes as well as the saplings that have sprung up from the tree stumps left from the clear cut. Staff will be returning to council with a dollar figure on how much it would cost to perform the sap-ling trimmeing.

I asked the delegation if they would be willing to pay the cost of the work. They not knowing the cost deferred until the report comes back to council.

David chesney

Editor White Rock Sun & White Rock City Councillor



March 14, 2022

Glossing Over The Facts

I was rather disappointed that the Safe Surrey Coalition four-page glossy election flyer did not get delivered to my door.  I'm kind of hoping that this was not on purpose.  I heard about it of course but had to wait until I found one laying on the ground in Clayton last week to actually read one.  Doing my part to clean up Surrey, I picked it up and instead of simply stuffing it into my garbage can, actually brushed off the dirt, dried it off and took it home.  I do find it rather odd that election advertising has already begin in Surrey with the next civic election eight months away.  With the costs associated with printing such a flyer and having it distributed across the city, it speaks volumes to how deep the Safe Surrey coffers must be, lined with donations from many developers operating here and other supporters.

The front page featuring Councillors Elford, Guerra, Patton and Nagra along with Mayor McCallum champions that the Safe Surrey Coalition is "Delivering results for a better future."  Not a bad start, it certainly makes you want to peek inside to see the "Investing in Surrey" goodies hiding there.  The first claim is that Surrey Skytrain is "two years ahead of schedule."  While this may be true, actual construction of the line reaching out to Langley has not started and my crystal ball says by the time it is finished it will be late and cost more than initially promised, much like most other government funded project.  "A local independent Police Service" is the next claim but the last time I was a crowd of cops at a Freedom Convoy rally, there were only a couple of Surrey Police in the horde of RCMP officers, showing that we are still dependent on the RCMP.   As for the "UBC campus coming to Surrey", this had nothing to do with City hall and caught the Planning Dept completely off guard.  The "New Newton (Yup, thats' New x 2) Community Centre is now underway, but the "Upcoming Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex" was originally halted back in 2018 to help McCallum pay for his prized Surrey Police Service.  

Page 3 is all about "Tackling Climate Change."  First up is the City of Surrey's bylaw banning plastic bags and single use items.  This will reduce plastic check out bags but means people will simply increase their purchase of garbage bags now that the free ones are gone.  Styrofoam containers changed over to hard plastics and compostable paper but people need to realize there is a 25-cent charge on every paper bag no matter how small and I wonder how long it will be before they follow Vancouver's lead on chargine 25 cents for a cup.  The Surrey Biofuel Facility is championed but it was first planned when Dianne Watts and Surrey First were in charge.  The flyer also gushes how the "City of Surrey is one of the Greenest Employers two years in a row" and that it is "recognized by the UN as one of only 59 Tree Cities" across the world.  Both of these claims are as advertised but anyone living in Surrey can attest to the rate that entire forested ecosystems are being mowed down and replaced with buildings, asphalt and a few small trees that will never match what has been lost.  Add to this the recent decision by Metro-Vancouver to allow Surrey to develop the 650 acres of South Campell Heights from rural to mixed use that will further acerbate climate change from habitat loss.

The back page of this flyer is the most interesting with a "Getting things done for Surrey residents" checklist.   The Surrey Police Service check should be much smaller with this questionable transition proving difficult and expensive.  UBC Surrey campus should not be checked as it had nothing to do with the SSC or city hall.  It is hard to believe they would check the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Arena after initially cancelling it once elected.  Planning permit delays reduced gets a check but I've been told this is not the case for most people.  Free parking at SMH got a tick mark but parking there is under the control of Fraser Health who are now charging again, with Surrey street parking limited to two hours.  Surrey's truck parking plan gets mentioned but illegal truck parks, some on ALR land, continue to plague the city.  By far the most egregious check mark has to be for the City Ethics Commissioner who SSC first voted for then recently tried to silence in an election year.  They also had the audacity to checkmark the indigenous carving centres at a time when the Semiahmoo First Nations were not being consulted about the South Campbell Heights development.  

The last portion of this flyer is a picture of Doug McCallum and the banner "We Want to Hear From You!"  Well, there you have it, I hope they enjoy their reading and hopefully in the future can back up all the claims they are making instead of trying to rewrite history.   The glaring omission from this election flyer is that it says nothing about the criminal court case currently before the BC Supreme Court where Mayor McCallum has been charged with Public Mischief for allegedly lying to the RCMP about getting his leg and foot run over by a vehicle at a south Surrey Save-On-Foods.   Needless to say, having Mayor McCallum still serving as Chair of the Police Board was missing from the "Getting things done" page  where I'm sure it would have also received a green checkmark instead of the big red X that it rightfully deserves.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.



March 07, 2022

Legends Never Die

Robert (Bob) Pitcairn, 
June 26, 1938 - March 4, 2022

It's with a heavy heart that I use this somber and subdued TNT column to let everyone know about the passing of my father Bob Pitcairn (aka "The Legend") on Friday, March 4, 2022 at the age of 83.  
My Dad died peacefully in his sleep the first morning after being admitted into the Cascades hospice in Chilliwack.  I visited him with my wife Sheryl on his final night for a lengthy visit before he climbed into the cockpit of a dreamy 747 and "Flew West" as former pilots say.  A broken collar bone that happened last year (on a rifle range of course) healed slowly and after a recent change in his health, Bob was diagnosed with multiple myeloma bone cancer that progressed rapidly, ending his long and storied life that included thwarting a CP Air hijacking while flying over Saskatoon in 1974 ( 

Bob's sudden passing will likely come as a shock to his many friends from his early years in the RCAF, his flying career with CP Air and Canadian Airlines, plus the Fullbore Target Rifle shooting community from countries around the world where he has competed for over six decades as a member of the Canadian Target Rifle Team.  I'm going to greatly miss my father and best shooting buddy but he had an amazing life, was a great man and I'm proud to be his son.  These were all things I told him while holding his hand and comforting him on that final fateful night.   Our times spend on rifle ranges together including two ICFRA World Long Range Championships in the USA and Australia ( was a blessing.


Our family consisting of his loving wife Kay, daughter Lee-Anne, grand-daughters Sarah and Denise plus myself and wife Sheryl with others gathered Friday morning to support each other and mark Bob's passing.  I ask those who knew him well to toast Bob's life with a glass of fine single malt scotch or a cold glass of India Pale Ale while remembering your time together.  A celebration of life for Bob will be planned sometime in the near future once the pain and loss from his sudden departure has subsided.  If you wish to send your condolences to Kay and our family or simply stay connected, you can reach out on my FaceBook page or send a message to

The following is an edited post from the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association website ( on Bob's sudden passing plus his DCRA Hall of Fame listing. 

We are incredibly saddened to share the passing of Canadian shooting icon and DCRA Life Governor Robert “Bob” A. Pitcairn.

Bob’s illustrious shooting career spanned over 6 decades and saw him compete and win against the best on the provincial, national, and international stages.  Bob qualified for the Canadian Bisley Team over 40 times and won the Grand Aggregate at the NRA UK Imperial Meeting in 1965. A multiple time Canadian Target Rifle Champion, Bob also captained both the Canadian Palma and Canadian Bisley teams and was a past President of the BC Rifle Assoc. 

Bob is an inductee of the DCRA, PEI, and Canadian Armed Forces Sports Hall of Fame and has been listed in the BCRA Scroll of Marksmen on multiple occasions. In recent years, Bob became well known internationally as the oldest athlete to ever compete in the Commonwealth Games when at the age of 79 he represented Canada in Fullbore Target Rifle shooting at the Gold Coast Games in Australia in 2018.

Bob was not only a tremendously talented and dedicated shooter, but he also gave generously of his time to support marksmanship, ranging from commanding his local cadet corps to mentoring his fellow Target Rifle competitors.  He was a tremendous supporter of the BCRA Under25 program and worked tirelessly to help grow and develop new shooters through the BCRA and Mission Rod & Gun Club.

We’ll miss all of his amazing stories and that smile that would light up the room.  Bob was a fierce competitor, a loyal friend, and a true gentleman.  Our thoughts are with his family and friends from around the world.  We are greatly diminished.

DCRA Hall of Fame:  Robert "Bob" Pitcairn

Bob Pitcairn is one of the most successful shooters in our history.  He has qualified for the Bisley Team a record 41 times.  He has won the Canadian Fullbore Rifle Championship once and has been third once.  He took the Governor General’s Prize twice and came third twice.  He took the Grand Aggregate on one occasion and was second once.  At Bisley, he won the Grand Aggregate in 1965 and came second in 1981.  He has made the Queen’s Prize Final eleven times and has been in the top 50 of the Grand Aggregate five times.

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.




Febnruary 29, 2022


Busy Days in the Haze

The Hazelmere Valley in south Surrey is usually a peaceful and tranquil part of south Surrey with plenty of rural farms and green space on either side of the meandering Little Campbell River.  That changed this weekend when this area was under the spotlight for not one but two news stories occurring only miles apart.   Looking at both of these, I found it difficult to decide which one was more important, so instead I thought I would write this TNT on both of them.

South Campbell Heights Rezoning Passed

On Friday the Metro Vancouver board passed the City of Surrey's plan develop the South Campbell Heights area in the Hazelmere valley by a 69-65 vote.  This happened less than a month after the same board defeated this proposed amendment to the 2040 Regional Growth Strategy by a vote of 64-61, sending it back to Metro Vancouver staff for discussion of the concerns raised by Met-Van directors.  At this January 28th meeting, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum claimed "If you refer it, it gets stopped unconditionally", with other directors believing the vote would stop it for the near future.   Amazingly in less than a month and with minor tweaking it rose like a phoenix from the ashes and was once more presented to the Met-Van board members to allow the zoning on approximately 650 acres of land to be changed from rural to mixed employment.  

At the January meeting, concerns about contamination to the Brookswood aquifer, flooding of the Little Campbell river, environmental degradation, climate change and lack of public transportation were all cited as areas of concern.   By far the biggest sticking point was the lack of consultation with the Semiahmoo First Nation whose ancestral lands sit at the mouth of the Little Campbell river on Semiahmoo Bay.   Amazingly, in a time where reconciliation with First Nations it supposed to be at the forefront, both the Chief Harley Chappell and Councillor Joanne Charles asked Met-Van directors to vote this revised plan down, alleging they still had not been properly consulted by the City of Surrey.  In fact a council-to-council meeting has now been scheduled for March 14th, weeks after this plan was finally rubber-stamped by the board.  

It remains to be seen if after-the-fact negotiations between the City of Surrey and the Semiahmoo First Nation actually bear fruit.  The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) had been previously adopted by Surrey that calls for "prior consultation on any action that would affect indigenous people's futures."  That obviously has not happened in this case and its unclear what future face-to-face meetings might have on this plan still going ahead despite the SFN Council's well-documented objections to this zoning change.  It is worthwhile noting that the harvesting of bi-valve shellfish in Semiahmoo Bay has been banned since 1977 due to E.coli contamination and high pollution levels, much of it flowing from the Little Campbell river.  

Signs Of The Times

I have a file folder containing copies of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including a second sheet highlighting the four fundamental freedoms we enjoy.  In case you don't know them, everyone living in Canada has the following fundamental freedoms:

  • (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

  • (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

  • (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

  • (d) freedom of association.

Recently there have been freedom rallies centred around the rural intersection of Hwy. 15 and 8 Ave. in the Hazelmere Valley in support of the Freedom Convoy 2022 that was in Ottawa, and against the evoking of the Emergencies Act to deal with this protest.  Some of these rallies attracted thousands of people from across the Lower Mainland, many with vehicles adorned with Canadian Maple Leaf flags.  You need to realize that contrary to what you may have heard on various corporate media reports, these protestors only had a few vehicles parked near the Pacific Highway crossing for eight hours several weeks ago, with the RCMP blockading all entrances to the border for five days in total and still limiting access even today.

With yet another freedom rally planned for last Saturday, somebody at the City of Surrey decided it would be a good idea to post "Temporary No Parking - Tow Away Zone - Until March 6, 2022" signs in the area.  Not just a few near this normally quiet corner but a total of approximately 250 stretching a mile in length on Hwy. 15 from 8th to 16 Ave, and a further mile and a half on 8 Ave. from before 172 St. to 184 St.  These printed coreplast signs were done in two colours on a reflective background and bolted onto 4-foot-long 2"x2" stakes driven deep into the ground every 25 metres on either side of the road.  With no public transit in the area, it  was a blatant attempt to stop this political protest from happening, in direct defiance of most of the Charter's fundamental freedoms.

Now here is the really funny part.  You'd think that the Surrey Engineering Dept would realize that most of these roadways with their wide shoulders offering safe and ample parking were under the jurisdiction of the BC Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.   Only 8th Ave stretching from Hwy. 15 to 184 St. is under the control of the City, meaning that the bulk of these signs were not even enforceable.  Even worse, many were screwed onto BC Hydro utility poles, another big no-no as these are private property that city crews regularly remove other signs from.  These nonsensical signs did not deter the protestors who took great glee in promptly removing most of them from the protest site.  I heard that several men were arrested for this defiance but I informed the RCMP that since they were illegally placed and an assault on the Charter Rights, taking them down was like picking up litter from the side of the road.  I should note here that not one car was ticketed, not one truck was towed.

The big question is who at Surrey City Hall thought this was a good idea?  Did they not realize it was an overt attack on freedom of conscience, thought, peaceful assembly and association as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?  Did they not realize that Hwy. 15 plus 8 Ave from Hwy. 99 to Hwy 15 were not their jurisdiction?  Was this illegal signage done at the request of the Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service in a vain attempt to quash protesting by eliminating parking for a mile away from the rallying point?  Also, what did it cost to have these signs printed, purchase all the lumber required for stakes plus the labour of the crews needed to install them?  The person at the Engineering Dept. responsible for this debacle should be reprimanded, unless this stupid order came from higher up the chain of command.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.


February 22, 2022

Boots on The Ground

In last week's TNT titled "Love Your Freedom", I described the events of last week's border protest at the Pacific Highway crossing, calling it and other police actions "a giant goosestep towards a tyrannical police state."   It turns out that my vision of the dark Orwellian future for Canada was frightfully close to reality.  Stealing a line from US President Franklin D Roosevelt I have this to say, "February 21, 2022 — a date which will live in infamy."

Let me take you back a week to the Pacific Hwy. border protest.  On Valentine's Day evening, I had just finished a special dinner with my wife when the phone rang and a source informed me that police action had begun aganst the remaining protestors at the Gateway Plaza site near 4 Ave. and Hwy. 15.   Cancelling our plans for a hot tub and a quiet evening, we made our way down to the border area running a gauntlet of RCMP vehicles on the way.  When we pulled into the parking lot, there was a line of black clad policemen numbering approximately 60 lining the street that had been cleared, with the BC Freedom Convoy demonstrators getting ready to load their gear into pickup trucks.  In total twelve people had been arrested for a variety of charges, adding to the four already arrested over a week before.  While the protestors did an admirable job of cleaning up, I went back at first light on Tuesday morning and did an entire debris cleanup from the border to 12 Ave and a mile on 8 Ave that took three hours to complete with the police commmending me on this public service.

With the RCMP blockading the Pacific Border crossing area with rows of squad cars and even rows of large concrete medians stretched sideways across the blacktop, protestors and "freedom" yelling supporters continued to converge at the corner of Hwy. 15 and 8 Ave by the Campbell Valley Store for days.  While you may have heard that protestors had blocked the border, this was only for a few hours on the initial Saturday.  It was the police blockade that prevented any and all traffic, including transport trucks from making their way across this crossing in either direction, for a total of five days.  On Saturday, protestors angered about inaccurate media coverage blocked and swarmed several TV camera crews that were hastily escorted out by the RCMP.  For some reason I did not get the bums rush out even though I handed out plenty of cards for the White Rock Sun.  The last time that I dropped by the protest camp was early on Monday morning and there  was one lonely soul there trying to light a small campfire to warm up after a cold and wet night.  That being said, there was still a large contingent of RCMP cruisers in the area.

As we all know, chaos reigned supreme in Ottawa last week.  The embattled Ottawa Police Chief Peter Sloly resigned after failing to dislodge the Freedom Convoy 2022 demonstrators.  Interim Police Chief Steve Bell was hired promising swift police action to remove demonstrators and clear the streets of vehicles.  Barricades went up around the centre of Ottawa, limiting access and cutting off supplies of food for protestors and fuel for their trucks and other vehicles.  On Feb. 16, Ottawa police started warning demonstrators to leave to risk arrest, the seizure of their vehicles and cancellation of their licences.  The targeting of Convoy leadership then began on Wednesday with several of the high-profile organizers being arrested and charged with mischief.  More police from detachments as far away as Vancouver added to the growing police presence who started making mass arrests on Thursday using baton, rifle butts, arwen guns, elbows and knees shots, pepper spray and heavy horse.  By Sunday the streets had been emptied, matching similar police actions that cleared the Ambassador bridge in Windsor a week before.

The poitical battleground was no less busy and bloody last week.  The Conservative party's move to have the Liberal government end federal vaccine mandates and restrictions by the end of February was struck down on Valentine's Day.  The motion was defeated 185 to 151, with the Liberals, NDP and Greens mainly voting against it.  Then to the surprise of many, Prime Minister Trudeau decided to invoke the Emergencies Act to deal with the stubborn protestors who refused to leave Ottawa before the vacine mandates were lifted, citing a "Public Order Emergency."  This was the first time that the Emergencies Act had been invoked since it was passed back in 1988.  You can read all about this rather authoritarian legislation that was derived from the earlier War measures Act of 1914 at   This gave the police power to compell banks to freeze funds associated with protestors and possibly seize assets.  I know of two people, one in Langley, the other in Chilliwack who had their bank accounts frozen for giving small amounts of money to the Freedom Convoy's GiveSendGo page that was hacked and the donor information released.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Constitution Foundation  and Province of Alberta are all taking the federal government to court over the Emergencies Act invokation that they believe was not justified.

Once invoked, the  Emergencies Act has to be be debated first in the House of Commons and then the Senate to be ratified.  Parliament sat during the weekend to deal with this situation with voting finally scheduled for Monday evening , Feb. 21.  Having been around protests for the past few weeks and knowing that the NDP leader Jagmeet Singh had announced he was hesitantly planning on voting for the measure, I decided it was time to get involved with this fight.  Picking up an orange tarp, some poster board, jumbo markers and paint, I spent Sunday evening coming up with snappy political slogans and putting the word out on various social media platforms of my plan to hold a "Family Day Freedom" protest in front of Mr. Singh's MP office on Kingsway near Metrotown.  Adorning his office exterior with signs large and small, myself and others waved Canadian Flags and got our voices heard by his Burnaby South constituents, emailing photographs to Jagmeet's Parliament HIll office.  This protest by up to 50 people was done peacefully and without incident, keeping the roadway and sidewalk clear with the RCMP attending several times to ensure everyone's safety.  When it was over, everything was removed including the tape on the windows and left in the same shape we originally found it.  

Unfortunately with this vote being considered by some as a confidence vote, the NDP MP's toed the party line and voted with the Liberal government (regime?) on Monday night, 185 MPs voted in favour of the act, while 151 voted against the measure, the exact same number as a week before when mandates were being discussed.  This act will stay in place until mid-March at the latest and the Senate must also vote on the government’s request but it could be quashed at any time if support is withdrawn.  You may say my little rally made no difference but Jagmeet Singh's leadership is tenative with his polls down and our protest action seen across Canada on CBC National news.  It also might make constituents question his support for the Liberals and to traditional NDP working class values in a home riding that is seeing significant demographic change with development.   I strongly believe that those responsible for bringing in the Emergencies Act, described as "using a sledgehammer to smash a peanut" are a threat to the Canadian way of life and democracy as we know it.  This battle is a long way from being over because your freedom and that of future generations of Canadians is worth fighting for. 

I leave you with this final patriotic thought that I'd like you to share with your family, friends and neighbours.  When you're at a sporting event, inside a stadium, or any time you sing the national anthem of Canada, there is a way to voice your support for FREEDOM in this country.   When Americans sing the Stars and Stripes at Atlanta baseball games, fans put extra emphasis on the word "BRAVE!"  Ditto for baseball in Cincinnatti where they shout out "RED!"  In Dallas for hockey games, the fans there yell out "STARS!"   With this in mind, there are two verses of O'Canada that end with the word "FREE!"  The fourth line has already become a Canadian motto, "The Truth North strong and FREE", while the second to last line "God keep our land glorious and FREE" echoes this sentiment.  I say we sing the verses and yell "Free" at the top of our lungs with a defiant fist raised high.  Heck, we could even shout "FREEDOM!" at the very end.  It sure beats the hell out of "stand on guard for thee" three boring times.  Too much standing around guarding for my liking, I say its time for some freedom loving action. 


O' Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see the rise,
The True North strong and FREE!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and FREE!
O' Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O' Canada, we stand on guard for FREEDOM!

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.




February 14, 2022

Love Your Freedom

This TNT comes to you on Valentine's Day, synonymous with love, hearts and the colour red.  There was plenty of heartfelt love and people waving red and white Canadian flags on Highway 15 (176 St.) this weekend as the Freedom Convoy BC 2022 rolled into Surrey to show their support for the protestors surrounding the Parliament buildings in Ottawa for over two weeks.  The prior weekend the BC truckers and their supporters made their way from Langley to Vancouver with thousands of people lining the streets downtown with the only problem being a handful of folks who came out to protest the protesters.   While the Vancouver Police Department was receptive of the BC Freedom Convoy entering their fair city, the same cannot be said about the RCMP in Surrey whose conduct this weekend appears to have all but ignored the Canadian Bill of Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

I cannot see the future but I did predict that freedom loving protestors sick of government COVID-19 mandates, vaccine passports and the creation of second-class citizenry would likely descend on the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ont. and Detroit, Mich.  I also speculated that our local border crossings might be targeted for protests and while I did not specify it, believed the truck crossing on Pacific Hwy. made an obvious choice.  When trucks and people in cars adorned with flags and protest signs neared the Hazelmere area on Saturday morning, they were met with RCMP vehicles blocking streets within a mile of the border, attempting to thwart the planned protest in support of the truckers in Ottawa.  Some vehicles did manage to make their way around the phalanx of officers but many instead lined roadways for miles in every direction from 8th Ave. and Hwy. 15.  At one point a line of convoy vehicles led by a big military coloured vehicle went around the barricades, making a dash for the border before they were stopped by three police cruisers.

When things calmed down a bit the crowds continued to grow until and estimated 2,000-3,000 people including families, children and dogs were on scene, many waving signs and yelling "Freedom."  Many pop-up tents were erected by event organizers along with live music, free food stations, barbeques, plus port-a-potties that had been dropped off a day earlier.  Most of the vehicles that had made it onto the road leading to the border ended up parking just before the actual border crossing at 0 Ave., blocking all lanes leading to the American crossing booths that all showed closed signs.  With the protest on the Canadian side, American police also blocked off the roadway leading to the Canadian crossing.  From the time that I arrived on scene at 11 a.m. until I had to leave near 8 p.m., I did not see one vehicle crossing the border, only protestor's vehicles and cop cars squared off against each other in a stalemate.  At the intersection of 8th Ave and Hwy. 15 that turned into a defacto bhangra dancefloor, I counted a total of 40 police vehicles providing the disco lights.

Now here is where the truck rubber meets the road in Canada.  In the land of the great white north that we call home, we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that superseded the original Canadian Bill of Rights.  The Charter guarantees the rights and freedoms with only reasonable limits prescribed by law that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.  Under the all-important "Fundamental Freedoms" section, everybody has these four basic fundamental freedoms:

(a)  freedom of conscience and religion

(b)  freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication

(c)  Freedom of peaceful assembly

(d)  freedom of association

What is very scary and a giant goosestep towards a tyrannical police state is that the Surrey RCMP and even the new Surrey Police Service ignored the Charter and took it upon themselves to shut down a peaceful assembly for those protesting against government controls over their bodies, lives and freedoms.

By Sunday morning many of the protestors had vanished, likely back home to their comfy warm beds, leaving those with RVs and trucks with sleepers to continue the blockade.  The vehicles parked at the border had also pulled back during the night to the main encampment near 4 Ave.  The police had Hwy. 15 coned off at 16 Ave. in a "hard closure" not even allowing media in due to a line of protestor vehicles near 12 Ave.  There was a phalanx of RCMP vehicles at 8 Ave and Hwy. 15 including a line of eight squad cars from one side of the highway to the other several blocks away at the Campbell River.  More police were at 4 Ave., 2 Ave., and 0 Ave. as well as a number by the CBSA offices.   By noon more officers and paddy-wagons arrived and at 12:30 p.m. they formed a line 30 men (and one woman) wide and began moving towards the loose assembly of protestors, pushing and shoving the Maple Leaf waving crowd backwards.  Four people including the man known as "Freedom Dave" were arrested before a woman carrying a child was shoved and dropped their kid to the ground, causing a serious push back by the Freedom Convoy protestors in a clash of wills.   As of Sunday night, this line still held by the old Tudor Inn at 2 Ave.

It is difficult to comprehend how long this protest will continue or what plans the RCMP have for those people still parked on the highway.  It is interesting to note that police threatened those with children that their kids would be taken away from them, plus that those bringing propane or food would be charged with aiding and abetting.  Other protestors scared away by the confrontation reported that officers dressed in black, wearing masks and sunglasses with no badges or ID told them "You don't have any rights", "You are breaking the law" and most disturbingly "You will be charged with terrorism."  What I do know is that this kind of Orwellian behaviour can be challenged, and based on what I have seen, I believe that complaints should be filed against both the Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service with the Office of the Police Complaints Commission ( about their blatant Charter breaches.  I've been into the Surrey RCMP headquarters before to file paperwork and in their lobby is a large sign stating it is their duty to protect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  I guess they can't see if from behind the thick bullet-proof glass.

One last thing I'd like to pass along to my readers about this weekend's protest is the blatant lie told by corporate media.  In my previous TNT I complained about negative or non-factual mainstream media coverage of the Freedom Convoy 2022.  On Global BC TV's 6 o'clock Saturday evening news, Paul Johnson reported from near 20th Ave. that "The demonstration did not succeed in shutting (the border) down but they did cause major disruptions.  I think its safe to say that the status of the Pacific Border Crossing right now is tentative."  Nothing could have been further from the truth, with nobody crossing the border in either direction all day long.  Drive BC showed Hwy. 15 closed from 8 Ave to the border, with the highway cams also revealing no traffic in this corridor and thousands of flag-waving freedom fighters milling about.  So either this Global reporter never actually made it to the protest site or he was lying about the success of the illegal police operations.  Either way, don't believe everything you read or hear on mainstream media and question their motives after accepting millions of your tax-payer dollars in the form of COVID-19 relief payments from Justin Trudeau's Liberal government prior to the last election.

Happy Valentine's Day,

Don Pitcairn

Love Your Freedom



February 07, 2022

Convoying a Message

'Cause we got a great big convoy
Rockin' through the night
Yeah, we got a great big convoy
Ain't she a beautiful sight?
Come on and join our convoy
Ain't nothin' gonna get in our way
We gonna roll this truckin' convoy
Cross (C-A-N-A-D-A)


"Convoy" song by C.W. McCall, 1975

The Freedom Convoy 2022 that rolled from Vancouver on to Ottawa before setting up shop at Parliament HIll has certainly brought attention to the loss of freedoms, questions about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and the various mandates imposed by different governments to try and control both the virus' spread and the movement of people.  What it has also exposed is how politicians and police force commanders can get away with bullying and name-calling for those expressing their views that are protected by the Constitution of Canada in what many believe is still a democracy, not a dictatorship or police state.   Even more concerning is the message, or often the lack thereof, coming from large corporate media that appears to be following a closely scripted negative narrative of those involved with this protest.

The White Rock Sun is a true community media source that is not controlled by a parent company or media conglomerate.  It is not owned by shareholders or pension funds and does not take million-dollar government handouts (even though we could use the money).  As far as freedom of the press goes, I get to pick my stories, the perspective that I write them from and most times the language that I use.   Even this column's The Naked Truth name has to be taken with a grain of salt as anyone professing that they know "The Truth" always gets my ears up and my mind questioning their motives.  I'm worried about the concentration of media ownership, the control that mainstream media (MSM) has with their broadcasting availability, and the communication saturation of mass media.   Even worse is the government paying the media directly with CBC costing tapayers over $1.2 billion a year and other media outlets in Canada receiving $595 million in COVID-19 relief.  If you want to follow the media money, check out this listing:

Freedom Convoy 2022 and other associated protests across Canada are likely the largest demonstrations ever organized in this country.  The fact that corporate media is downplaying their numbers, ignoring masses of flag-waving Canadians on the streets, or omitting that these truck convoys are now springing up in countries across the world is simply outrageous.  When my The Province newspaper landed on my door on Sunday morning, I could not believe the ridculous story they had concocted about the truck convoy that rolled into Vancouver on Saturday in support of the Ottawa Freedom Convoy.  Instead of writing about the crowds of flag-waving Canadians at major overpasses or the thousands of people lining the streets of downtown with signs asking for freedom, reporters instead wrote about a handful of protestors who disrupted the route, showing a picture of one man lying on a roadway in front of a truck.  One guy, instead of thousands politely protesting to get their freedom back.  What is funny about this is how the MSM then smear the Convoy supporters as being "anti-media."  It would actually be funny if wasn't so damn pathetic.

Even worse are the words used in "big media" to vilify those in the Freedom Convoy that are using their Constitution of Canada right to peacefully protest.  The truckers been accused of being "white supremacists, dangerous, holding citizens hostage, racist, terrorists, occupiers, out of control, against minorities or LGBTQ, and of course misogynists."  One masked protestor was seen near the convoy carrying a confederate flag and was being challenged and chastised by the truckers.  The fact this man was masked should have been a clue but reporters did not confront him and instead used his presence to smear the work of Convoy organizers.  Others have called the Convoy a "threat to democracy" and a "national insurrection."  In fact, what we are witnessing is democracy in action that happens when government officials are not listening to the citizens who pay their bloated salaries and gold-plated pensions.   As the late US President John F. Kennedy said, "Democracy is messy, and it's hard. It's never easy."

Our esteemed leader Prime MInister Justin Trudeau has not done himself any favours during this crisis, calling the protestors "a small fringe minority, holding unaceptable views."  This bonehead statement went over like a lead balloon and is now being used by protestors for their signs and it is even available on t-shirts.  Obviously Trudeau was out of touch with the feelings of many Canadians who have had enough of government lockdowns, vaccine passports and wearing masks, while our US neighbours are open for business with football stadiums full of roaring crowds.   Justin's disappearance from both parliament and the public, after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19 after being triple vaccinated, came at a time that makes it look as if he is hiding from the Convoy protestors.  As soon as he has cleared his COVID curfew it would be wise for him to arrange for a meeting with Convoy organizers because it looks as if they are not going nowhere anytime soon, regardless of what the Ottawa mayor and police chief want.

One measure of the success of the Freedom Convoy 2022 was the amount of money people were donating to their GoFundMe campaign.  This fundraiser raised the second highest amount of donations in GoFundMe history, at over $10 million.  After the truckers received an initial payment of $1 million from this online donation company, GoFundMe suddenly decided to freeze the remaining funds in their account, claiming they had evidence from law enforcement that there were reports of violence, unlawful activity and that it had become an occupation.   After initially saying donors had to apply for their money back with any funds left over going to a charity of their choice, GoFundMe instead decided to directly refund all of the donations.  Several US Governors have called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the US based GoFundMe's "theft" of funds from the Freedom Convoy.  Personally I would never give a dime to this company ever again that many are now calling "GoFraudMe."  Those looking to donate to the Freedom Convoy 2022 can now do so at Christian based GiveSendGo ( ) where the new tally is already $4.2 million US as of Sunday night.  

For those who think the truckers will simply go away, I have some news for you.   If and when they do decide to leave Ottawa, you can expect them to show up at other destinations across Canada.  The trucker blockade at the Canada/US border crossing in Coutts, Alberta and a nearby highway blockade 20 km north of that location is likely an indication of how mobile and fluid this protest can be.  Remember that the Freedom Convoy 2022 originally started in response to the Canadian government banning truckers from crossing the border without being vaccinated.  There are over 100 land border crossings in Canada and all of these would make logical locations for protests and blockades by big rigs.  The Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit in Ontario is not that far from Ottawa and would be a temping target for the Convoy.  There are 13 land crossings between BC and Washington State, with the four local ones being Peace Arch, Douglas, Aldergrove and Sumas.  If the Liberal government refuses to talk to Convoy organizers or if Ottawa Police and RCMP attempt to dismantle their protest, it would not surprise me to see one or all of our local border crossings closed by truckers and their freedom loving supporters.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



January 31, 2022

Silencing the Surrey Ethics Commissioner

UPDATE - February 01, 2022

It looks like Mayor McCallum was feeling the heat from media and constituents on plans to muzzle the Surrey Ethics Commissioner.   Prior to the Regular Council Public Hearing, he introduced a motion to remove the bylaw that would have stopped new ethics complaints from being accepted and investigated from Feb 1 to Oct 22, 2022, the date of the next civic election.  In a statement Doug McCallum said “The work of the Ethics Commissioner is valuable and the misinformation circulating about the bylaw is unfortunate.  If the motion is approved by Council, I will ask the Ethics Commissioner to bring a report to a future open Council meeting for consideration on how to improve the bylaw.”  He also added, “The goal is to strengthen the bylaw to ensure the Office of the Ethics Commissioner is not used for partisan purposes during the election period.


It was with absolute disgust and dismay that I learned of the plan to effectively muzzle the Surrey Ethics Commissioner for the next nine months leading up to the fall civic election.  Last Wednesday in an in-camera meeting (behind closed doors), members of the Surrey Safe Coalition brought forth a bylaw ammendment that would cancel investigations by Surrey's Ethics Commissioner from Feb 1st to Oct 22, 2020.  The vote to pass this abomination will be held this Monday night, Jan. 31st at the Council meeting in Surrey City Hall.  For those with actual ethical convictions and high moral standards, halting the investigation of ethics violations against Surrey's Code of Conduct bylaw is a slap in the face for all Surrey residents.

I will be submitting a complaint to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner this weekend so that the members of Council who initiated and support this bylaw change can still be investigated concerning their conduct into this matter.  I believe that this proposed bylaw is a spineless attack on the Office of the Ethics Commissioner itself and is being done to ensure that future Code of Conduct violations filed February 1st onwards are never investigated until it is too late.   Whether this behaviour is actually a conflict of interest and not just an ethical violation is something that still needs to be decided.  I would expect the people living in Surrey to be outraged by this corrupt and self-serving behavior.

One of the core functions of the Ethics Commissioner is to "Provide advice and recommendations to Council regarding amendments to the Code of Conduct and other policies, procedures, or protocols governing Council members ethical behaviour."  I'm hoping that before Monday night's meeting, Ethics Commissioner Reece Harding lets Council members know that their proposed bylaw change is a violation of their "ethical obligations" to the residents of Surrey.  If Council does vote to silence the Ethics Commissioner at Monday night's Council meeting, I would expect him to resign from the position to protest his subjugation.  After all, Mr. Harding is not going to pocket pay for nine months without doing any actual work, right?  Dare I say..., that would be unethical.

Attempting to shut down the Office of the Ethics Commissioner is a direct attack on freedom and democracy in the city of Surrey.  Surrey was the first city in BC with an Ethics Commissioner whose position was formed on June 10, 2019 by the very same people now trying to dismantle it.  It's a desperate attempt by tyrants looking to close down opposition to their abhorrent behaviour that is both outrageous and immoral.  I should mention that it's hard to believe Mayor McCallum is facing serious criminal charges about lying to the RCMP and is still the Chair of the Surrey Police Board.  The outlandish political games being played in Surrey by our so-called leaders are making us all a laughing stock and the butt of "Surrey jokes" yet again.  

Those responsible for this bizarre debacle should hang their heads in utter shame and disgrace for this disipicable and cowardly act.  If we need to fill Council chambers on Monday night with freedom lovers and supporters of democracy to stop this vote from occurring, I say we do our best to make this happen.  I have never seen such a flagrant abuse of power and corrupt actions by elected officials and it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.  BC has a recall process for MLA's and I believe it is time they now bring in this power for people to remove civic officials who have failed their constituents.  Hopefully, many people will take the time to attend Council chambers in person to show their displeasure, voice their anger and hopefully end this debacle.  I'll see you there on Monday night!

Note:  If you wish to attend this Council meeting in person the public are strongly encouraged to register for in-person attendance.  Please call the Clerk's Office at 604-591-4132 to register.  If you cannot make the journey to Walley but still want to watch the proceedings which start at 7 p.m., they are on the website at the following web address with the live link located at the bottom of the page.  

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

I wish to acknowledge that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish Peoples.




Janujary 24, 2022

Historic Week For Surrey

This week is going to be a newsworthy time for the citizens of Surrey and you should mark January 25 and 28 on your calendars as being a historic day in the city whose official slogan went from "Progress Through Diversity" to "The City of Parks" and now "The Future Lives Here."  

Tuesday, Jan. 25th will be the first day in court for Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum who was charged on Dec. 10th 2021 by the British Columbia Prosecution Service with Public Mischief.  This charge is defined in the Canadian Criminal Code as "making a false statement that accuses some other person of having committed an offence, fabricating an offense, acting in a manner that makes one think a specific person committed a crime, or reporting a crime in a manner that makes one think a death has occurred."  In case you somehow missed it, this charge resulted from a run-in the mayor had with the Surrey Police Vote group who were canvassing for signatures in front of the Southpointe Save-on-Foods.  In an interview with Global TV, the mayor claimed a lady in a Mustang had hit his knee and ran over his foot causing injury, allegations that were reported to the RCMP.   Well, the only person charged in this incident has been Doug McCallum and Tuesday will be his first day in Surrey Provincial Court.

This case has brought a spotlight on the City of Surrey agreeing to pay legal bills for Mayor McCallum under section 7 of the city's bylaws, something that many people including present councillors and former mayors do not agree with considering the circumstances.  I have previously covered the mayor's legal problems in my Dec. 13th TNT titled Stang-on-Foot at Save-On-Foods Leads to Charges and a week later my Dec. 20th TNT titled Punt the Idea of Footing McCallum's Bill (scroll down to read them).   The spokesperson for the Surrey Police Vote, Bill Tieleman, is leading the charge to find out how much one of BC's most expensive lawyers will cost to defend the mayor and where the funds will come from.   If, and that is a big "IF", Surrey has to pay for the mayor's lawyers, they should be using one of the seven lawyers I have been informed the city has on staff or retainer, including several with criminal case knowledge.   If found guilty, Mr. McCallum should reimburse any taxpayer money spent on his legal defense.

Friday, Jan. 28th is the day the Metro Vancouver Regional District board of directors meets for their regular board meeting with an important decision on development in south Surrey on the agenda.  The Regional Growth Strategy Amendment Bylaw is going to be reviewed and voted on, which could push the Urban Containment Boundary in the Campbell Heights region south of 20 Ave. to 12 Ave. from 188 St. to 196 Street.  This area encompasses a total of 600 acres with Surrey wanting to change the bulk of this area's land use from "Rural" to "Mixed Employment."  There are concerns that development in this area will impact both the Brookswood aquifer and the Little Campbell River drainage basin.  Many of the Met-Van board members from cities across the Lower Mainland have also voiced concerns that the proposed changes by Surrey violates the "Metro 2040:  Shaping our Future" plan to constrain urban growth and protect rural areas.

Since it is likely that this proposed change would have serious consequences to those people living at the mouth of the Little Campbell (Tat-a-lu) river, I thought it would be wise to include the summary of concerns submitted to Metro Vancouver by the Semiahmoo First Nation who do not support the proposed amendment and "strongly recommend" the Met-Van regional board decline it.   

1. Semiahmoo understood the objectives of the MVRD Urban Containment Boundary, yet it is being modified. Semiahmoo was not consulted on amending the Urban Containment Boundary as it adds to cumulative impacts of industrial development on Semiahmoo Traditional lands and resources. Impacts include further disturbing archaeological sites and remains.

2. The South Campbell Heights area is agricultural land and vegetated lands. Rainfall has a chance to infiltrate into the ground and the aquifer, and filter naturally, and slowly drain into Little  Campbell River. The proposed Plan to develop "employment lands" (light industrial and retail lands) will increase the proportion of hard surfaces that direct rainfall directly into drainage rather than absorption into the ground and aquifers. The Little Campbell River and Boundary Bay are critical locations for food for Semiahmoo people. The area could receive increased run­ off rates and contaminants from the development of these lands. Currently, shellfish is unsafe to consume. The potential effect of development in South Campbell Heights will be to introduce more contaminants into Boundary Bay, thus setting back our efforts to reduce sources of pollutants so that we may safely consume the shellfish again. Areas for natural infiltration of rainwater into the ground has been continuously lost and the Little Campbell River and Boundary Bay receive the cumulative impacts of those changes.

3. Semiahmoo First Nation intends to work constructively with governments including the City of Surrey and Metro Vancouver on issues of economic development, community well-being, environmental conservation, and the opportunity for Semiahmoo First Nation to pursue its own economic future. This includes access to the same municipal services (sanitary, water, transportation) afforded other municipalities in Metro Vancouver Regional District. Semiahmoo needs to know that the services made available have the capacity needed to accommodate Semiahmoo First Nations members residential needs as well as the needed EconomicDevelopment for our community. Previously we have been denied access to the capacity needed.

Semiahmoo First Nation looks forward to advancing consultation and a collaborative working relationship with Metro Vancouver Regional District and the City of Surrey.  We are pleased to have had the opportunity to register our concerns and comments on the proposed Land Use Designation Amendment request from the City of Surrey - South Campbell Heights Area and look forward to the continued development of the working relationship needed for long term joint planning. 

HISKWE (Thank you)  

Respectfully yours,

Councillor Joanne Charles

If you care to delve into the weighty agenda for this Met-Van meeting it is available online at   Simply scroll down the left column to G3.3: Regional Growth Strategy Amendment Bylaw No. 1328 - South Campbell Heights, City of Surrey, where the action starts on page 769.  A little further down you can read the full scathing comments submitted by the Semiahmoo First Nation from pages 808-813.  Please note there is no opportunity for further public comment on the issue at the Jan. 28 meeting, which is scheduled to get underway at 9 a.m.  To watch the livestream, visit   If you want to see Doug McCallum's criminal court case in person, I would suggest you get to the Surrey Provincial Courthouse early if you want to get a seat to view the proceedings.  I'm not sure if the mayor will show up to make his plea in person but you can expect a large contingent of local media there to record the proceedings.  The address is 14340 - 57th Ave, Surrey, with Initial Appearance Court being held in courtroom 100 starting at 9 a.m.

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

I wish to acknowlege that the land on which I live, work and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo and other Coast Salish Peoples.




January 17, 2022

Hummer Bummer

The extreme cold weather we experienced during the holiday season turned roads into ice rinks, messed up Christmas holiday travel plans and made us break out the snow shovels and join the rest of Canada in moving tonnes of snow from sidewalks and driveways.  My parents were stuck in Chilliwack when a white-out blizzard hit there on Christmas Day with a snowstorm worse than anything they had ever seen, and they are from the Maritimes and spent years living in the Praries.  It seemed an almost perfect end to a disasterous year of weather we experienced here in the Province of BC with heatdomes, forest fires, atmospheric rivers and extreme floods.  Unfortunately our year-end cold snap only added to the death toll and misery we endured last year.

The smallest bird we have that now stays here year round suffered terribly in the snow and cold outflow winds.  The Anna's hummingbirds have expanded their range up into the Lower Mainland in such numbers that it was voted Vancouver's bird back in 2017.  The addition of landscape plants that flower in the winter and people leaving sugar syrup feeders out for them has caused this large increase in numbers.  Unfortunately I am sad to report that it appears that many Anna's did not survive the December cold snap where temperatures hit -20 C with the wind chills.  At just one property in Steveston in Richmond that I maintain, the caretaker found four of these tiny birds dead in the snow and another frozen solid on the side of the building.  We found another while working there, making six small feathered corpses at one location and there may have even been more we did not yet locate.

The biggest cause of Anna's mortality was likely people allowing feeders to freeze, eliminating the winter foot source for these tiny birds.  If you decide to feed these hummingbird you have to COMMIT to providing a steady supply of nectar that is always available to them.  The feeders have to be cleaned and disinfected on a weekly basis to keep the sugar syrup clean and free of mold.  Some people bring in feeders at night and return them outside half an hour before sunrise, or they have two feeders and rotate them as they freeze up.  Others attach hand warmers or incadescent christmas lights to the sides of the feeders to keep them from freezing.  You can purchase specially designed humming bird feeder heaters that attach at the bottom of some units, available online or from Wildbirds Unlimited.  These have a single bulb inside and do work well down to -8 C but can still freeze up from the wind chill. 

We mangaged to keep our Anna's male alive but it required some work.  The first step was to move the feeder from our deck near the kitchen window and put it under the eaves at a corner of our house that was protected from the north-easterly outflow winds and blowing snow.  I hung a 100 watt halogen flood lamp that is very warm and waterproof against the glass bottle that holds that sugar fluid, then put a cone of aluminum foil around both to help keep the heat in during the snowstorms.  The electrical cord from the light was strung sideways and wedged into the house siding, creating an area where the bird could perch and enjoy the warmth.  I also did the same to the feeder in the back yard that had two females visiting it regularly but the last time I saw them was on a bitterly cold night when they were both huddled together on the feeder trying to stay warm.   

To survive the cold, Anna's hummingbirds go a hibernation-like state callled torpor where their body temperature can drop from their usual 107 degree F down to below 50 F.  People finding hummers in this condition often think they are dead as they can be laying on the ground or hanging on a perch.  If this is the case, put bird and feeder in a covered cardboard box inside where it is warm until they come to their senses.  The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC reported that a record 15 hummingbirds were brought to its Burnaby shelter in one day late December.  Besides being hypoglycemic, many were suffering frostbite injuries to their feet from frozen perches and  injuries to their tongues from ice crystals forming in the small ports in the feeders.  Keeping the feeder thawed is one thing, the holes where the hummers feed also need to be kept ice free, which is why I use a flood lamp for warmth. 

January is breeding season for Anna's with their first brood eggs usually being laid in March.  Hopefully our surviving male can find a mate and possibly even allow it to eat at our feeder that it guards with a vengence.  I'd like to think I'm not the only person in the neighbourhood who ensured that their feeders were cleaned, thawed and protected from the elements.  Unfortunately I have not seen any other hummingbirds on our property in the past few weeks and have not been hearing their high-pitched tweets when I'm outside working.  Anecdotally I would think that 80-90 percent of the Anna's in our neighbourhood in Crescent heights were wiped out by the harsh cold.  There used to be a total of five hummers that would regularly visit our two feeders, with plenty of aerial combat over ownership of the sugar syrup.   Now there is only one who is living a lonely existance in the middle of winter.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

I wish to acknowlege that the land on which I work, live and enjoy is the traditional territory of the Semiahmoo and other Coast Salish Peoples.[


Jan. 9, 2022

Barking About White Rock's Tree Bylaw

The residents of White Rock got an early Christmas gift last year but with all of the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping and getting the turkey stuffed, it is likely that many missed it.  The City of White Rock has adopted a new Tree Protection Bylaw, 2021, No, 2407 whose goal is to preserve and increase the city tree canopy.  

Here is a clip from the City's media release on this topic.

WHITE ROCK, B.C.— White Rock City Council adopted a new Tree Protection Bylaw this week to protect more of its trees and ensure that City practices align with current environmental standards. Notable changes include reducing the diameter of what qualifies as a protected tree, improve requirements for replacement tree plantings and reinstating holly trees to protected status.  

Adopting this bylaw is an action item from Council Strategic Priorities 2021-22 and it serves to protect and increase the tree canopy and enhance greenspace in the community. “Careful environmental stewardship to preserve and protect the natural environment for future generations is a priority for our community,” says White Rock Mayor, Darryl Walker. “The Tree Protection Bylaw will help to make sure the city keeps pace with environmental best practices and is an important part of this stewardship.”

“Many thanks to the community members who sit on our Environmental Advisory Committee who were key in helping city staff create this bylaw,” says Councillor Erika Johanson, Chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee. “More trees are now protected which is good news for the future of our tree canopy.”

The updated Tree Protection Bylaw and Council's Strategic Priorities 2021-22 can be found on the City of White Rock’s website.

Here are some of the key changes associated with the new Tree Protection Bylaw (TPB).

  • The size of a protected tree has been reduced to 20cm DBH (diameter at breast height) from its former size of 30cm.

  • The crown raising of lower limbs to the extent that the live crown ratio (LCR) is less than 65%

  • Holly trees are no longer exempted from the Bylaw and have returned to being protected.

  • Replacement tree species must be a tree that:

  1. Contributes to the ecological diversity of the city’s urban forest.

  2. Native species and/or comparable to type of tree(s) removed. (ex. conifers removed cannot be replaced with deciduous only)

  3. Will thrive in the growing conditions of the location proposed. The right tree in the right place.

  • Only the City and its designated personnel may prune, remove or plant trees on City lands.

  • Definitions and guidelines have all been updated to reflect the current industry standards.

  • Tickets will be issued for excessive pruning, topping, removing more than 25% of the canopy at one time in one year, altering the LCR below 65% removing structural roots and any pruning not in accordance with sound arboricultural practices.

  • Any company found violating the bylaw will be fined no less than $500 and to a maximum of $10,000, your business license may be suspended and possibly cancelled without future opportunity to renew.


A lot of these changes bring White Rock's TPB into line with many of the other cities in the Lower Mainland.  The decrease in protected tree size from 30 to 20 cm DBH means that smaller trees can no longer be cut down, allowing them to grow into larger specimens. Raising the bottom limbs of a tree to less than 65% of the live crown prevents people "poodle-topping" for views and leaving only a small number of branches on top of the trunk.  Stopping excessive pruning that impacts tree health and causes sucker growth plus the topping of trees that encourages rot are also good controls to have.  The three new rules for tree replacement make complete sense, especially "the right tree for in the right space."  Tree species selection needs to promote ecological diversity while ensuring that the trees being planted are chosen with location foremost in mind for healthy growth.

I did find returning holly trees back onto the protected species list a bit bizarre.  Taken directly from the Invasive Species Council of BC website, here is their description of this tree: "English holly is known for its shiny red berries and dark green, spiny evergreen leaves. It is commonly used landscape ornamental often used for holiday decorations and floral arrangements. English holly has become a serious invasive because of its adaptability to grow in shade or sun, and how easy its seeds are spread by birds."  Also posted on this page is the warning that "English holly berries are toxic to humans and pets."  The berries are also a prime food source for rats, leading to increased numbers of this destructive pest in both urban and rural areas.  The holly seeds sprout profusely and every year I pull or dig out hundreds of these nuisance plants.  Holly may look nice in Christmas decorations but the City should be encouraging its eradication instead of preservation.

The Issue I have with any tree bylaw including this one is that the City is apparently immune from following it.  In the past we had arborists cutting down ornamental trees under the cover of darkness in front of the Ellerbeck's property on Royal Ave. simply because the neighbour wanted to improve his view at the the expense of their privacy and landscaping.  Then there was the chopping down of the boulevard trees on Johnston Road that started at 4:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning with chainsaws and chippers waking up everyone in the uptown area with the noise bylaw also being disregarded.  Of course, the worst example of the city ignoring its own tree protection bylaw was the clear-cutting of the Hump hillside, ostensibly so retaining walls could be inspected but more realistically for view improvements for residents along Marine Drive.  All of these trees were also cut down during bird nesting season from Feb 1st to Aug 31st in defiance of City policy. 

The Hump fiasco involved the removal of hundreds of trees including many that were 2-3 feet in diameter, a lot larger than either 20 or 30 centimeters.  There were so many tree trunks that the BNSF Railway had to bring in a train to cart them all away from the promenade, which resembled a log sort at a forestry operation.  I still remember the sign posted for this work that stated in part "This slope will be replanted to promote slope stability and beautification.  We appreciate your patience on its appearance as we go through this transition."  That was in May of 2015, some six and a half years ago and still nothing has been done to repair the damage done or to help stabilize the slope above the railway tracks.  I'm still waiting patiently for this work to be completed or for a landslide to fall onto the tracks because they cut all the damn trees down.

The City of White Rock maintains control over trees on its civic property through Policy #611, Tree Management on Public Lands.  You can find it online at   An interesting part of this policy is that White Rock residents can apply to have trees pruned, thinned or even removed in order to reestablish views from their property.  The tree must be within 30 metres of their property, they must have lived their for at least two years and can only apply for tree work every two years.  Neighbours within 30 metres must be notified in writing with 65% giving their approval for tree removal.  The homeowner must pay for the arborist and other costs including replacement trees that vary from $2,000 to $18,000 epending on the size of the tree to be cut down.  There are plenty of more hoops to jump through but at the end of the day, it seems views will always trump trees in White Rock with a million dollar ocean or Mt. Baker view more important than the biggest tree in town.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



TNT Year in Review, 2021



To help celebrate the end of a disastrous 2021, here is the TNT Year in Review that is also a quick reference guide to stories you may have missed, wish to share, or simply want to read again.  Once you have found a TNT column of interest, note the date and scroll down into the archives to find it.

Jan. 11, Arbutus Abundance:  Everything you ever wanted to know about the only native broadleaf evergreen in Canada, the Arbutus tree, including where to find them in the Crescent Beach area and beyond.

Jan. 19, Our Home on Native Land:  Questions arise over why Surrey can't acknowledge indigenous lands before Council meetings, leaving many wondering if the Surrey Safe Coalition members are incompetent, ignorant or just plain old racist.

Jan. 26, Knuckle Buster:  A chance discovery of a piece of broken train coupling on Crescent Beach shows how speed restrictions for the 115-year-old swing bridge are causing train breakdowns that end up blocking both entrances to the village.

Feb. 1, Taking the "Car" Out of Carnage:  Following up on the Sept 9, TNT titled "40th Ave. Fiasco", this article looks at safety issues at 176 St. and 40 Ave. where numerous crashes have occurred, leading to calls for roadway improvements.

Feb. 8, DPD, SPS TNT, WTF?:  It pays to know your anacronyms for this article about the Delta Police Dept, the fledgling Surrey Police Service and how the Delta Chief's wife hosing down a Surrey lady along their Beach Grove property causes a media storm. 

Feb. 16, Boardwalk to Nowhere:  A confusing look at the bizarre boardwalk at Blackie Spit that somebody at Surrey city hall thought was a good idea but that causes more problems than it ever solves while wasting taxpayer's money in the process.

Feb. 22, Border Disorder:  As if there aren't enough conspiracy theories about the COVID-19 pandemic, the sudden appearance of military trucks, tents and army personnel at the Douglas border crossing makes 2021 look a lot like 1984.

March 1, Night and Day - Day at Night:  After years of me complaining about the worn out, non-reflective and invisible at night highway signs at King George and Hwy. 99, the Ministry of Transportation finally installs new signage in this busy traffic corridor.

Match 8, Dikes or Dykes, Groins or Groynes?:  A look at the dykes that protect Mud Bay and Crescent Beach and steps to improve them long before the Sumas Dyke fails allowing Sumas Lake to reform in Abbotsford flooding valuable farmland.

March 15, Time For Change:  The fourth column I've written on the need to "ditch the switch" and end the unnecessary practice of changing our clocks twice a year, something that we still are doing while waiting for others instead of leading on this issue.

March 23, Semiahmoo Yes, Surrey No:  The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club's executive's plan to give away the 30-acre property, salmon hatchery and buildings to the city of Surrey is thwarted when its members vote not to approve the land transfer.

March 29, Open & Shut Case for Opening Shut Staircases:  The three Ocean Park bluff staircases to Crescent Rock Beach in Surrey are locked closed while the beach staircases in White Rock remain open throughout the pandemic, leaving me asking "Why?"

April 6, Douglas Fir McCallum:  If a tree blew down in your front yard would Surrey cut it up for free, at night time to boot?  Of course not, unless you were the Mayor of Surrey and co-owned a big piece of property on Crescent Road.

April 12, Surrey Real Estate Board:  I thought it was a joke when a friend sent me a picture of the board game "Surreyopoly" but after getting my own and writing all about it, I have to admit the old Monopoly game doesn't get used anymore.

April 19, Things That Bug Me Part 1 - Chafer Beetles:  In the first of a three-part installment on various bugs, I take a look at the invasive European Chafer Beetle that is infesting grass and causing crows and racoons to rip lawns to pieces.

April 25, Things That Bug Me Part 2 - Asian Giant Hornet:  A detailed look at the Asian Giant Hornet after finding out that Green Party/NDP candidate and environmental lawyer Pixie Hobby had a trap up for them in Crescent Beach.

May 3, Things That Bug Me Part 3 - Mason Bees:  Okay, mason bees don't really bug me but they do buzz around and this column gives insight into this native pollinator with plenty of help provided by David Hutchingson from Ocean Park.

May 10, Passing Over the Overpass Protestors:  Always ready to look at another person's opinion or position, I set up shop on the KGB overpass atop Hwy. 99 to check out what "freedom fighters" have to say about government COVID-19 policies. 

May 17, An Illuminating Perspective:  If you live next door to one of these new houses that are lit up all night, you will want to read this piece about light pollution that also looks at the new dazzling LED street lights being installed by Surrey.

May 24, The Dirty Dozen Revisited:  The twelve heritage site park benches along Crescent Road are a rotten broken disgrace that still remain in this dilapidated state well over half a year since this problem was first identified and reported here.

May 31, One-Way Ahead:  A look at the plan to change Marine Drive into a one-way zone plus the price tag with plenty of ideas and suggestions as to why this questionable concept might turn into an albatross down at White Rock beach.

June 7, Let's Talk Turkey:  No, not the kind with feathers and wing, the one with spores and mycelium.  After encountering a colorful cluster of turkey-tail mushrooms, in a friend's yard, I explain its health claims and use in eastern medicine for various ailments.

June 14, A Fox in the Dog House:  After reporting on foxtail barley in Richmond that harms pets, I go for a hike at Blackie Spit and find that this park area is infested with this noxious plant, including all around the off-leash dog park.

June 21, Lookout For Steps, Stairs and Staircases:  Everything you ever wanted to know about the three Ocean Park staircases to Crescent Rock beach including the most important part; that the closed signs are now gone and the steps to the beach are unlocked.

June 28, Putting the Breaks on Tax Hikes:  Imagine getting your business revenue cut in half and then having your property taxes suddenly double.  That's what happened to the owners of Blue Frog Studio who fought back against gut-punch taxation.

July 5, Let's Murder These Hornets:  After including Asian Giant Hornets in my April 25th "Things That Bug Me" TNT, it got really personal when one of these huge hornets was spotted by an employee of mine in Steveston, Richmond.

July 12, Quad Cops:  Just when you think you've seen it all at the nude beach, imagine my surprise when I see blue and red flashing lights and the Surrey RCMP show up on 4X4 quad bikes at Crescent Rock, patrolling for open liquor and fires.

July 18, Humm Dinger of a Bird:  A chance encounter at artist Helen Downing-Hunter's house in Crescent Beach and an Anna's hummingbird nest on her front porch leads to this TNT about the world's fastest bird for its body size.

July 26, Green grass, Brown Grass, No Grass:  During the epic summer drought and heat dome I explain what you can do to protect your lawn, make it healthier, or replace it with low maintenance drought tolerant ground covers.

August 2, Jeepers, Creepers, Where'd You Get Those Creepers:  Nothing like enjoying a quiet day down at Surrey's legal clothing-optional shoreline when the peace and serenity is broken by a pervert with a cell phone camera trying to get himself arrested for voyeurism. 

August 10, One-Way Border Disorder:  One the Peace arch are metal gates when the slogan "May These Gates Never Be Closed."  This TNT looks at why border is now open to Americans heading north but still closed for Canadians going south.

August 16, And They're Off:  With the Federal election called by Justin Trudeau, an in-depth look at the south Surrey-White Rock riding, the candidates, historical perspectives, previous results, polling analytics and an early prediction that I got wrong.

August 23, May These Gates Ever Re-Open?:  The COVID-19 rules continue to get crazier and make even less sense with flying being allowed, the land border only operating one way, Point Roberts people allowed only into Delta and no end in sight to the insanity.

August 30, Sumer Vacay:  It's hard to write my TNT when sitting on a lake with no electricity, no cell phone, no computer, no internet access, no campfire, smoky skies, extreme heat, melted ice, warm beer and mosquitos.  It still beats working though.

Sept. 7, Like Father, Like Son:  Looking at the fiscal mismanagement of the Canadian debt from when it started with Pierre Trudeau to where it now sits with his son Justin and plans to not balance the budget until the year 2070.

Sept. 13, Purple People Beater:  Being one who endorses democracy, I take great offence to an appointed board of cronies deciding to exclude PPC leader Maime Bernier from the televised Leaders Debate while the Greens and Bloc are invited.

Sept. 20, The Vote Is In!:  No, not the Federal election, the results of the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club election are announced and the Friends of the SFGC are elected in mass with new president Diana Barkley putting an end to the club property giveaway to Surrey.

Sept. 27, Let's Go Falcon, Let's Go:  Election signs on an Ocean Park mansion lawn reveal that Kevin Falcon, the man who was the 12th Depty Premier of BC, is making a run for the provincial Liberal Party leadership, which will start on Feb 5, 2022.

Oct. 4, Danger - Quicksand!:  A parade of firetrucks gets me ambulance chasing to the Crescent Beach Marina where the Surrey Fire Service helps to rescue a woman who is stuck in quicksand and facing an incoming tide near the BNSF trestle bridge.

Oct. 12, Where Do I Live?  Semiahmoo:  In support of Truth and Reconciliation, I suggest that we stop calling this area south Surrey and simply use Semiahmoo, just as the area of south Delta is known as Tsawwassen after the local First Nation.

Oct. 18, Slow Streets of Surrey:  Surrey's Residential Speed Limit Reduction pilot project is explained with its efforts to to examine the benefits of lower speed limits in residential neighbourhoods and hopefully increase safety on streets.

Oct. 25, Keep Off My Lawn McCallum:  In an affront to democracy, Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition outlaw political signs on private property in the middle of the Surrey Police Vote referendum signature drive.  

Nov. 1, It's Salmon Spawning Season:  At the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club, the Little Campbell Hatchery is a busy place with fish counting, species and sex assessment plus breeding stock being selected by volunteers and DFO officers.

Nov. 8, The Bridge to Crescent Beach:  After multiple train blockages of Crescent Beach and years of political wrangling over how to fix the problem, a bridge over the BNSF tracks allowing unfettered access to the village is proposed by Surrey.

Nov. 15, Open Letter to Close The Tracks:  A train full of crude oil rolling along the BNSF tracks during the atmospheric river that floods southern BC leads me to pen a letter to the Councils of White Rock and Surrey about this dangerous U.S. corporate behavior.

Nov. 22, Save Surrey from Safe Surrey:  The fur starts flying in a cat fight between Safe Surrey Coalition and the Surrey RCMP after "Community Consultation Results" about the police transition in Surrey were fudged for political purposes.

Nov. 29, "Track Watch Videos to Watch":  After weeks of atmospheric rivers and multiple landslides onto the BNSF corridor, I go for a long hike to get pictures and videos of the BNSF Gradall working to clear mudslide debris from the tracks, posting them to YouTube.

Dec. 6, Chumps With Stumps:  Nearly four years after the "clear-cut job" on Johnston Rd, city crews finally return to remove the last of the stumps left from the cherry trees that were causing a huge tripping risk to pedestrians using the sidewalk.

Dec 13, Stang-On-Foot at Save-On-Foods Leads to Charges:  Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, Mayor Doug McCallum gets charged with Public Mischief for alleging to the RCMP that a car linked to the Surrey Police Vote had struck him and ran his foot over.

Dec. 20, Punt the Idea of Footing McCallum's Bill:  After Mayor McCallum hires an expensive Vancouver law firm with tax payers footing the bill, an online petition for him to pay his own legal bills quickly attracts over 15,000 signatures.

Dec. 28, Christmas List 2021:  The list of naughty and nice gifts we hope Santa left under the tree for the movers, shakers and decision makers from the Semiahmoo peninsula, listed alphabetically so as not to offend anyone.

That's the year in a nutshell folks.  Look for more of my "The Naked Truth" columns in the White Rock Sun in 2022.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

" I am honoured to live and work on the shared traditional territories of the Semiahmoo and other Coast Salish Peoples."


Tuesday December 28, 2021

Christmas List 2021

If there's one thing I love about Christmas it's the annual traditions and in the White Rock Sun this holiday TNT is always special.  Here's the list of naughty and nice gifts we hope Santa left under the tree for the movers, shakers and decision makers from the Semiahmoo peninsula, listed alphabetically so as not to offend anyone.

Linda Annis, Surrey Councillor - A Paul Bunyan sized axe to help her split the vote in the next Surrey civic election scheduled for October 2022, possibly giving Mayor MacCallum and the Surrey Safe Coalition a second term in power.  As a stocking stuffer for if and when Safe Surrey wins, a straight razor.

Wayne Baldwin, former WR Mayor - For the behind-the-scenes puppet master reportedly trying to assemble a dream team to take back city hall for "sensible development" (read "more ocean view high-rises") a marionette in a 3-piece suit plus a copy of Disney's Pinocchio movie.

Diana Barkley, Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club President - After Friends of SFGC took control of the board and stopped the proposed land gifting to the city of Surrey, the new president receives a fishing rod and reel, a bow and arrows, a rifle with ammo and lots of new memberships as the club rebuilds.

Harley Chapell, Chief of Semiahmoo First Nation - Last year Chief Chappell got the gift of the band lands finally being connected to a safe and secure drinking supply after years on  a boil water advisory.  Under the tree this year is an invitation to the ceremony when the last house gets its clean water.

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor - For the editor of the WR Sun and veteran WR Councillor, a pound of his favourite Holy Smoke Holiday Blend coffee beans.  Let's hope Santa also left him a fresh 289 V-8 engine for his red 1967 Mustang that need to be back cruising the strip this summer.

Kevin Falcon, Former Conservative MP - Kevin will have to wait for his Christmas present to be delivered by Santa when he runs for the leadership of the Provincial Liberal Party starting on February 5, 2022.   If he is successful, the Lib leader will be from Semiahmoo with a party name change likely in the near future.

Helen Fathers, WR Councillor - A speedy recovery from what turned out to be a difficult health year that was non-COVID related.  White Rock council and the City By The Sea need Helen back in the saddle leading the charge against the high-rise developer hordes that are knocking at the gates yet again.

Norm Lipinski, Chief Constable, Surrey Police Service - Santa and his reindeer couldn't drop off the $64 million and 600 plus officers that the SPS top cop had on his gift list to help with the transition from the RCMP.  Instead all he got in his stocking were the board games "Surreyopoly" and "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon."

Kerry Lynne Findlay, S. Surrey-White Rock MP - As the Conservative shadow Minister of Defence who will be fighting for the hundreds of women who served in the Canadian military only to be sexually harassed and assaulted by senior officers, a big pair of brass balls a she takes down the ultimate men's club with help from the police.

Trevor Halford, S. Surrey-White Rock MLA - As the Official Opposition critic for Mental Health and Addictions, Trev gets a treatment and housing centre in Semiahmoo for those individuals who are struggling with mental illness, including the man who recently attacked his MLA office with a length of pipe.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC Health Officer -  For the second year running, BC's top Doc who once again told us to avoid gathering with friends and family for the holidays gets some green face paint, green hair dye, yellow contact lenses and a copy of both Dr. Seuss's book and Jim Carrey's movie "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"

Gordie Hogg, Mr. White Rock - A big bottle of premium Barbados rum to sip on while contemplating if he will succumb to the pressure to run for mayor of White Rock again in 2022.  As a stocking stuffer, a shoe horn for this shoe-in who has held every elected position here over decades of service.

Brenda Locke & Jack Hundial, Surrey Connect Councillors - A two-seater bicycle to campaign on in the upcoming Surrey election in October 2022.  As stocking stuffers, copies of Nat King Cole's song "On a bicycle built for two", Queen's " Bicyce Race" plus a box of Tide to help get clean after all the mud-slinging.

Doug MacCallum, Mayor of Surrey - For the Safe Surrey leader who was recently charged with Public Mischief after alleging to police that his foot was run over by a car in a parking lot while out food shopping, a pair of steel toed running shoes plus a copy of Jim Carrey's "Liar, Liar" movie.  

Surrey residents - In a Christmas TNT first, all of the people of Surrey need to be given the gift of our low-life mayor paying for his high-priced criminal defence lawyer instead of getting taxpayers to foot his legal bills.  Amazingly, there are several lawyer offices only steps from Surrey City Hall instead of in downtown Vancouver.

Darryl Walker, White Rock Mayor - A box of going away cards for all the staff that has left White Rock City Hall for greener pastures in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Delta and Langley the past year.  The very least those cities could do is to send White Rock a Christmas card thanking them for training all their new hires.


Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year.

Natually yours,

Don Pitcairn



Monday December 20, 2021


Punt the Idea of Footing McCallum's Bill


"Foot the bill" definition:
Pay the bill, settle the accounts, as in "The bride's father was resigned to footing the bill for the wedding."  This expression uses foot in the sense of "add up and put the total at the foot, or bottom, of an account." [ Colloquial; early 1800s]

Last week's TNT on Dec 13th titled "Stang-On-Foot at Save-On-Foods Leads to Charges" dealt with Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's public mischief criminal charges over an incident at the South Point Semiahmoo Surrey Save-On-Foods grocery story where his foot was allegedly run over by a Mustang.  This column concluded with "It has not been announced yet if Mayor McCallum's legal fees will be covered by the City of Surey with tax-payers 'footing' the bill."  Well folks, it was announced last Monday that Surrey taxpayers are apparently on the hook for the mayor's legal expenses for his conduct while out grocery shopping and acting like an imbicile.  Of course not any lawyer would do and high profile (read very expensive) criminal defence lawyer Richard Peck who recently worked on Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's legal team has been been retained for his defence.  

It is interesting how Doug McCallum's reasoning changes when the shoe is on the other foot.  After being charged with public mischief allegedly for lying to police about being run over, Surrey's Mayor is on record as saying the following about cities paying for council member's legal bills,

“A lot of mayors and councillors have their legal bills paid for by the city for different legal matters.  It’s pretty common for all cities, to be honest with you, that the legal bills are paid for anybody that’s a member of council, in most cities, if not all cities."  What is interesting about this is that only six years ago when it was decided that the City of Surrey would pay for the legal bills for a civil court case involving then Councillor Tom Gill and public statements he had made to a local newspaper, McCallum had this to say at that time,

"I don’t think the taxpayers should be paying for that, because it doesn’t to me fall under ‘the performance or exercise of duties’ of the council."

Doug McCallum is not the first mayor of Surrey wanting the taxpayers to pick up the tab for their legal troubles.  It was back on April 23, 2010 that Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and her husband Brian were involved in a late night t-bone collision with Shawnene Redekopp at the intersection of 128 St. and 24 Ave in south Surrey.  Originally it was claimed by representatives of Surrey City Hall that the mayor was on "official duties" that night and that the city would pay for her legal bills.  When it was revealed that the "official duties" was a simple house party at a rather swanky Ocean Park mansion, Dianne Watts instead opted to pay her own lawyer.  This included being sued over four years later in civil court for driving without due care and attention when the crash happened and causing Mrs. Redekopp injuries that caused pain and suffering, loss of income and loss of potential future income.  This matter was settled out of court with the findings and any financial settlement being hiden by multiple confidentiality agreements.  

Surrey bylaw 15912 states that councillors should have their legal costs covered if the case is “in connection with the exercise or intended exercise of the person’s powers or the performance or intended performance of the person’s duties or functions.”  Going shopping for food and then causing a scene with members of the public legally collecting signatures for a referendum is not part of his duties.  Just as with Dianne Watts, Mayor Doug McCallum needs to be held responsible for his actions while on personal business.  In this case it was more of a dereliction of duties, with the focus on the word derelict.  Instead of allegedly having his food run over in the parking lot (which led to his being charged for public mischief), what if Doug mcCalllum had instead gotten into his own vehicle and ran down those people collecting signatures.  If the shoe was on the other foot, would Surrey taxpayers have to pay for his illegal actions?  Highly unlikely.

I'm not the only one who thinks that Mayor McCallum should pay for his own legal bills for this Save-On-Foods fiasco.  Surrey resident Dave Langlands started the online petition titled "Stop the City of Surrey From Paying for Mr McCallum's Legal bills shortly after it was announced that Surrey taxpayers would be paying for his high-priced Vancouver lawyer.  You can find it at this web address:
The following paragraph contains the full text contained in this petition concerning McCallum's legal bills and who should pay for them.

The City of Surrey has announced they will be paying the legal fees for Mr. McCallum on his recent criminal charge of Public Mischief. 

When the alleged incident occurred, Mr. McCallum was on personal business, which he clearly stated during media interviews.

As part of the decision to support Mr. McCallum, the City of Surrey announced: The Surrey Officer and Indemnification Bylaw from 2006 states that the “City will indemnify its Municipal Officials against payment of amounts required or incurred to defend an action, prosecution or claim brought against a Municipal Official.”

What needs to be made clear is that Mr. McCallum was NOT acting in an official capacity at this time.  He was doing personal shopping for groceries.  He could have simply walked on by and done his shopping and left the citizens alone doing what they had a right to do.

It is completely inappropriate for Mr. McCallum to use hard earned taxpayer funds to defend himself in court on a personal matter.  This is a total abuse of his position and needs to be stopped.  


As of Sunday evening after only six days online this petition had already received 13,848 signatures and at 15,000 signatures it will become one of the top signed on  The supporter comments are spot on and well worth reading; here are a few noteworthy samples.

"It's scary that this man 'allegedly' made false accusations against his own citizens who were simply exercising their right to free speech.  He's unfit to be mayor and needs to resign. It's pretty low to utilize taxpayers money to defend against actions that can not be excused. We need a complete audit done of his office."
"Angry that SPS is being forced through with no transparency. Now, you have a mayor who mislead the RCMP and is now charged. This mayor should pay his own legal fees, not the tax payers."
"Doug McCallum.. 1st - if you're going to "steal" taxpayers' money to pay for your illegal activities - use a public defender, not a $1500/hr lawyer. You were on personal time, harassing the KTRiS group. You're a liar, cheat, deceptive and in someone's back pocket. The "TRUMP" of Surrey, BC. Not only do I strongly hope that you are found guilty, both with the mischief charge, as well as the ethics committee!!!"

In case you were wondering, yes, I signed this petition as soon as I heard about it.  I encourage every Surrey resident to do the same and to inundate the Mayor and Council email accounts with personal correspondence on how these charges should be fought with Doug McCallum's personal funds and not be paid for with taxpayer's dollars for the best legal firm that money can buy.  Please spread the word about this petition and this TNT to your friends, family, colleges and those on your social media platforms.   As Frederick Boyd so eloquetly stated in my favourite petition comment of all, "He committed the crime, taxpayers shouldn't pay the dime."

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


December 13, 2021

Stang-On-Foot at Save-On-Foods Leads to Charges

Even for Surrey politics, the incident back on Sept 4th when Mayor Doug McCallum allegedly got run over by a Ford Mustang in the South Point Save-on-Foods parking lot in south Surrey seemed remarkably bizarre.  First you have the mayor getting into a verbal confrontation with workers asking for signatures for a referendum on the Surrey police transition from the RCMP to a municipal force.  Then the mayor allegedly has words with the Save-On-Food store manager about the legality of signatures being collected outside of the store and also threatening to call in by-law officers to have them removed.  Lastly Mr. McCallum claims a woman in a Ford Mustang boxed him in with her car, then hit his knee and lower leg plus ran over his foot before fleeing.  You can watch the mayor's version of events on Global News at

Mayor McCallum has stated that after this encounter he finished his food shopping then went to the hospital and had x-rays done on his swollen foot.  This incident was then reported to the Surrey RCMP who began investigating the matter and since Doug McCallum is Chair of the Surrey Police Service Board a Special Prosecutor, Mr. Richard Fowler, was appointed.  There were plenty of witnesses to these events plus there are security cameras outside of the grocery store facing the parking lot.  Global News was served a warrant for their unedited tape of an interview they had done with Mayor McCallum about this incident and his alleged injuries.  A little more than three months after all this strange occurence, instead of the woman driving the Mustang being charged with vehicular assault plus hit-and-run, the Mayor of Surrey gets charged with public mischief for providing false statements to the police causing an unncessary investigation.

I was always highly skeptical of McCallum's versions of events for several reasons.  The first is that I know someone who was clipped by a car in a Safeway parking lot and even though the speed was under 5 km/h, he ended up with serious knee damage since this leg joint is not designed to flex from side to side.   One of my wife's friends was out with several girlfriends for a night on the town when another lady accidentally drove over her foot with their car's tire.  That incident resulted in several broken foot bones that left the friend sporting a walking cast for over two months.  A Ford Mustang weighs an average of 3,600 lbs putting 900 lbs of weight onto each wheel and since the Mayor was wearing running shoes and not steel-toes work boots, he would likely have sustained serious injuries to his foot.

The maximum sentence for a conviction on public mischief charges can result in up to five years in prison.  After these charges were announced, Mayor McCallum released this statement to the media, “We are in the middle of changing from RCMP to the Surrey Police Service, and as this matter is before the courts, I will not be making any comment.”   Councillor Brenda Locke responded with a media release of her own shortly afterwards calling for McCallum to step down as mayor plus the chair of the Surrey Police Service.  

“This report is a damning indictment of behaviour that is completely unacceptable for a mayor or any elected official,” she wrote, adding

"Residents deserve better and to have confidence that their mayor is acting with honesty and integrity.” 

The public mischief charges are not the only legal headache that Mayor McCallum now faces over the "Stang-on-Foot" Save-On-Foods incident.  The Surrey Police Vote group that was collecting signatures for a referendum on Surrey's transition to a municipal police force are planning on filing a code of conduct complaint against Surrey's mayor.  This is because of Doug McCallum's refusal to step aside from his duties as mayor or to recuse himself from the Surrey Police Service board while his case is before the court.  The City of Surrey has an Ethics Commissioner, Reece Harding, who is a neutral, independent officer that oversees the conduct of elected officials at City Hall.  He has the power to investigate ethical misconduct by Mayor and Council, report his findings to Council and to make recommendations on sanctions or discipline.

As luck would have it, I was working for former Surrey Mayor Bob Bose on Friday, only hours after the public mischief charges against Mayor McCallum were announced.  When I asked "the soul of Surrey" about what he thought McCallum should do he was very unequivocal in his response, "He should step aside while the matter is before the courts and if found guilty of the charges should then resign."   Another former Mayor from the peninsula reminded me that everyone is innocent unti proven guilty and it could be that Mr. McCallum does not want to step aside because he believes that his version of events is the correct one which will be proved in court.   That process will start on Jan 25, 2022 when McCallum is scheduled to appear in Surrey Provincial Court, represented by high-profile defence lawyer Richard Peck who was recently on Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's legal team.   It has not been announced yet if Mayor McCallum's legal fees will be covered by the City of Surrey with tax-payers "footing" the bill. 

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


December 06, 2021

Chumps With Stumps

I want to take you for a trip down memory lane back to March 5, 2018 when I penned a TNT tiitled "A Clear-Cut Job." This column detailed the chain-sawing of over 50 Johnston Road street trees under the cover of darkness early on the Sunday morning of February 5, 2018.  You can scroll on down into the archives to read it but I must warn you that it may cause indigestion and a gag reflex.  This hatchet job followed the cutting down of trees on Royal Ave at the Ellerbeck's residence, the defacto clear-cutting of the forest on the Hump hillside for views, followed by the cutting down of the Empress tree at Memorial Park.  At that time, I warned "the city's administrators are doing a great job in ensuring that possibly everyone on the current White Rock Council connected to these fiascos will be out voted out of office on October 20th."   I believe these logging practices were mainly responsible for former Mayor Baldwin and the White Rock Coalition council members getting decimated in the polls and kicked out of office as I predicted.

At that time White Rock released a "Statement from the City on Tree Removal, Relocation and Replacement on Johnston Road." claiming in it that "the current street trees on Johnston Road could pose a risk to the public" due to the tripping hazard from raised bricks in the sidewalk.   As to their dubious claim "And, yes, trees will be replaced", you need to realize that they lied about the Hump clear-cutting back in 2016 and to date not a single tree, shrub or flower has been planted to replace the logging that was done. The trees on Johnston Rd. towards North bluff have been replaced as part of the redevelopment in this area but once past Russell Ave. it is another story.  I must admit that I drive through this area on a weekly basis and did not notice anything amiss but I think the last time I walked on the sidewalk in this uptown area was likely when the clear-cutting took place.  Now imagine my surprise when I learned from Facebook last week that the City of White Rock was finally getting around to removing the last of the stumps from the "Clear-Cut-Job" that happened three years and nine months ago.

When these six cherry trees were cut down it should have been job one to remove the stumps and level the brick sidewalks since if they were a tripping hazard when the trees were there, the risk and danger increased exponentially once the trees were removed and low stumps left on the pedestrian area.  Originally the stumps on Johnston Rd. were sprayed with day-glow orange fluorescent road marking paint with small orange traffic cones nailed on top for visibility.  Gradually most of these were taken out and replaced but for some reason those south of Russell on the east side of the road seem to have been forgotten.  Now I can understand how this can happen with officials getting ready for an election, then getting voted out of office and a new mayor and much of council installed to their positions.  Ditto for those working at city hall with people leaving and new hires maybe not aware of the previous history of this project or the fact these relics were still in place jeopardizing public safety.

I work in and visit various cities throughout the Lower Mainland and I have to tell you that pedestrian safety and level sidewalks are always of great concern.  When sidewalks sink they can be jackhammered out and replaced or raised using either pressurized concrete or expanding foam that is pumped underneath the slab.  When tree roots lift sidewalks, most cities use concrete cutting wheels to trim down the raised concrete so that the slabs are once again level.  Sometimes the entire slab will be lifted, the root cut out, plastic root barriers installed and the slab repositioned.  Another remedy I have also seen is asphalt used to build ramps on concrete sidewalks to help smooth out the surface.  From my experience it would appear that most cities inspect their sidewalks on a yearly basis, making repairs as needed.  For those tripping hazards that I have reported directly to various Engineering Departments, they tend to get corrected within a few weeks.  Only in White Rock would you find raised bricks left around sidewalk trees for years, let alone large stumps sticking out of sidewalks left to rot.

I am glad to report that the White Rock Parks Dept. was involved with removing the interlocking bricks around these six stumps on Johnston Rd. and that Bartlett Tree Service were the arborists who ground out the old stumps.  Now that the stumps are finally gone, the chips and dirt will need to be removed, a new layer of crushed gravel installed and compacted and the bricks replaced in their original position.  What I was not able to find out is whether new street trees will be planted at this time or if the holes will be bricked level with new trees likely coming during redevelopment.  Personally, I think it would be a waste of time and money to plant new trees in this area only to have them cut down again in the near future, pissing off White Rock residents yet again for no reason.  Besides, if it took almost four years to get rid of the stumps on Johnston Rd. so how long would it take for new trees to actually be planted?   A simple walk along the promenade between West and East Beach looking up at the Hump hillside should give you the answer of "likely never."

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



November 29, 2021

"Track Watch" Videos to Watch

Over time I've come to realize that when we receive rainfall over 2 inches, this threshold of precipitation is when we can expect to see landslides onto the BNSF tracks between White Rock and Crescent Beach.   Two weeks ago, the record rainfall of 6.5 inches in Semiahmoo resulted in several landslides that closed the rail corridor to freight train traffic, one near Kwomais Point in south Surrey, the other a kilometer west of West Beach in White Rock.  This came as no surprise to me at all considering the historical relationship that exists here between rainfall rates and slide activity.  

This weekend there was yet another atmospheric river, formerly known as a pineapple express.  Once again, the rain gauge went out and by Sunday at noon it registered over 3 inches of precipitation.  Even though this was half the rainfall amount that we received from the storm that flooded the Fraser Valley and damaged roads and bridges throughout southern BC, I knew that it was more than enough to once again cause problems on our local train tracks.  Armed with that knowledge, a walking stick, hiking boots, reflective vest and road flares I decided it was once again time to do a "Track Watch" inspection of the train corridor. 

I started this adventure at the Christopherson Steps (formerly 101 Steps) at the west end of 24 Ave. by walking down the staircase and onto the pedestrian overpass above the tracks.  It affords a great view of the railway without trespassing on the corridor or playing chicken with oncoming freight trains.  The area near the Crescent Rock boulder has been the scene of countless slides over the years but the Ocean Park bluff at this spot had held its own over the past two months when we have received double our regular rainfall.  Seeing nothing amiss after walking up and down the beach, I marched back up the stairs and drove the mile to the 1001 Steps staircase in Ocean Park where there had been a landslide onto the tracks two weeks before.

I'd just descended the 347 stairs of the 1001 Steps staircase when my phone rang and it was the White Rock Sun's editor Dave Chesney calling to let me know that there were flashing yellow lights visible on the tracks west of White Rock.  Knowing that this likely meant BNSF crews were working on the tracks, I immediately turned around, trudged back up the stairs and headed off to White Rock's West Beach boat ramp where I parked my car and headed to the shoreline.  Fortunately, the tide was on its way out so there was some beach available for walking on, even though I knew that the rail corridor was obviously closed to train traffic with vehicles parked on the railway.

In the roughly one-mile walk, I came across several new landslide sites from the storm two weeks ago where debris from the bluff had been excavated onto the waterfront.  Left hanging on the stripped hillside above plus trapped in the muddy debris below were the remains of trees that had obviously been butchered for views in the past, a practice that causes the tree roots to rot and retract.  Of course, the people living above on Marine Drive seem to not care about slope stability affecting safe rail operations or that the land in question is BNSF property.  I took pictures of the slides and debris fields along the way, drawn like a moth to the flashing lights on the far-away point.

I was almost at the spot where the BNSF crews were working when I came across the largest of the slide sites I had encountered.  I took some pictures and was shooting a short video when the BNSF crews, led by a Gradall excavator on railway wheels, came down the tracks and stopped directly in front of me.  After talking to the operator and ensuring him that I would stay well back, I shot another video of the last of the slide debris being scooped up and deposited on top of the rip-rap boulders that protect the tracks.  Because of the muddy consistency of this soup, it does pour down onto the shore covering the rough and rocky beach that exists in this area.

It did not take the Gradall operator long to finish this final cleanout and when done, the excavator and several support vehicles made their way down to White Rock, exiting the tracks at the boat launch.  Were it not for COVID, I probably would have asked for a ride but instead I had the long walk back into White Rock as darkness fell.  Needless to say, after tackling both staircases and about three miles of rough boulder strewn beaches in several hours, I was exhausted.  I have done the 6.5 km. Track Walk from Crescent Beach to White Rock many times in the past and would not recommend it to anyone, especially through the hostile terrain that exists around Kwomais Point.

Here are links to the Youtube videos of the BNSF Gradall in action at this slide site, listed under the title of "BNSF White Rock mudslides."   You can expect even more slope failures from the Ocean Park bluff and mudslides onto the train tracks on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.  That is when the next atmospheric river, the last of three in a row that saw Environment Canada issue a red alert for the very first time, will likely bring even more rainfall than the storm that hit us this weekend.  Let's hope that the BNSF Railway closes these waterfront tracks to freight train traffic during the next storm instead of waiting for the inevitable landslides to block the rails with trees, boulders, mud and debris that threaten a possible derailment.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


November 22, 2021

Save Surrey From Safe Surrey

It is absolutelyappalling to me the war on words that has suddenly erupted between members of the Safe Surrey Coalition members (Mayor Doug MacCallum an d the majority of Council) and the RCMP who still police Surrey. The fur started flying on Saturday, Nov. 20th when the Safe Surrey Coalition posted an ad to Twitter with the following caption "A new survey shows only 6% of #SurreyBC residents support keeping the @SurreyRCMP & their cardboard cutouts. In spite of the efforts of a bitter minority, it's clear that the city's anxious for a local, accountable & responsive police force.  It's time to move forward."  The posting included a photo of an RCMP officer holding up a radar gun along with the disclaimer "Cardboard cutout used by Surrey RCMP to deter speeding."  These cut-outs were part of the 2019 City of Surrey’s Vision Zero project along with ICBC to reduce speeding on city roads. 

Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards broke three years of silence on the higihly polarized subject of police transision in Surrey and issued the following statement on Sunday morning about the SSC posting, believing it undermined public safety in Surrey.  

“Recently, several communications have been released to the public, which I believe have been a deliberate attempt to undermine public safety in Surrey, by eroding public confidence in policing at the current time.” 

“Whether it is releasing inaccurate statistical data, or mocking current public safety initiatives, I will not allow harmful rhetoric, to jeopardize public safety.”

“It is essential, particularly as our Province faces yet another state of emergency that we continue to maintain a stable safety environment in Surrey, and the Lower Mainland Region. As such, we will be taking our concerns to the Provincial Government.” 

“I will not tolerate efforts to undermine confidence in policing in this city and disrespect to our members while I am in charge.”

“While we continue towards the policing transition, I can assure the public, the Surrey RCMP will maintain its leadership role, of providing stability and safety in Surrey.”

Later that same day on Nov. 21st, the Safe Surrey Coalition issued this media release firing back at Ass. Comm. Brian Edwards and the Surrey RCMP.

“Since the first day of our government’s term, where all Councillors were inaugurated and voted unanimously to cancel Surrey’s contract with the RCMP, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent to undermine the democratic mandate of the Safe Surrey Coalition and the legitimacy of the Surrey Police Service.

“These collective efforts have been carried out by the National Policing Federation led by Brian Sauve, the Keep the RCMP in Surrey group, as well as the Surrey Police Vote petition campaign.

“Yet for this duration of over three years of attacks and propaganda, Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards has remained silent.

“Suddenly the indignation that he has voiced today equally applies to these groups’ organized efforts to destabilize & demoralize our city’s incoming police force.

“The Safe Surrey Coalition’s message has been clear and consistent, and it was repeated on the graphic we released yesterday – It’s Time To  Move Forward.

“We hope that Mr. Edwards and the entirety of the Surrey RCMP leadership will join us in working to make this transition as smooth as possible in support of public safety and the will of Surrey residents."

Much of this brouhaha has to do with information contained in the "Comunity Consultation Results" that was published by the RCMP's rival Surrey Police Service on Friday, Nov. 19th.  Compiled by independent research experts Dr.Curt Griffiths and Dr. Eli Sopow, the Community Consultation project included a survey of more than 1,200 Surrey residents.  Here is what Surrey residents need to know where the SSC got their supposed 6% support rating for the RCMP vs. the SPS.

"The survey purposefully did not ask specific questions about whether residents were in favour of the Surrey Police Service (SPS) replacing the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as was/is the ongoing situation.  However, the open-ended portion of the question about policing priorities for Surrey was taken as an opportunity by some to offer such opinions.   In such a case, the results showed that 6% of residents who provided their opinion of Surrey policing priorities indicated their support for keeping the RCMP as the policing service for the city."  Imagine the response if this all-important question had actually been asked of those surveyed?

It is amazing to me that this scientific report ignored the elephant in the room, avoiding the most important question that should have been put to the 1,200 respondents. Even worse is to have Mayor Doug MacCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition misconstrue the results for their own political gains and agenda.  Considering the continuing soap opera battle with the police transition and the posts on social media that should be looked at as blatant propaganda, it really should not be surprising.  I say its time to halt this charade and that the residents of Surrey should be able to directly decide who they want to patrol their mean streets.  If Mayor MacCallum and the SSC think the people support this policing initiative, then prove it and give them the referendum they want.  If the SSC doesn't have the balls to do the right thing, they the NDP BC government has to power to call this important question to a vote.  What are you afraid of dictator Doug, a little grass-roots democracy

You can read the details in the "Comunity Consultation Results" for a rather in-depth and interesting look at how Surrey residents feel about policing and crime in their neighbourhoods on the Surrey Police Service website at this direct link:   Please note that it fails to reveal the percentage of people who took the opportunity to support the Surrey Police Service in the open-ended question about policing priorities in Surrey.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



November 15, 2021

Open Letter to Close the Tracks

The TNT this week features an open letter I've sent to the Mayors and Council of Surrey and White Rock plus the Chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation.  It's time the BNSF Railway stopped shipping dangerous goods and trainloads full of petrochemicals along our waterfront tracks during severe rain storms that are known to cause landslides from the bluff hillsides onto the rail corridor.  On Sunday during an "atmospheric river" the BNSF was shipping a unit train full of crude oil across the Semiahmoo waterfront when mudslides onto the track could be expected.  This is risky business that needs to be stopped.

Dear Mayors, Councillors and SFN Chief Chappell,

I am writing you on Sunday evening in the midst of the latest "atmospheric river" (formerly referred to as a "pineapple express") that is saturating the Lower Mainland with 75-150 mm of rain, equivalent to 3-6 inches.  Currently the #1 Hwy. is closed due to mudslides between Chilliwack and Hope.  The Coquihalla Hwy. is also closed to mudslides north of Hope.  Global News has just reported breaking news of 50 houses in Abbotsford being affected by flooding and slides.  I'm sure there will be more reports of flooding, mudslides and weather-related damage before this storm finally ends.

Living in the Semiahmoo region, I have had over a dozen years of investigating and writing about landslides from the Ocean Park bluffs onto the BNSF Railway tracks.  From my experience and utilizing a simple rain gauge, I have observed that 2 inches of rain in a period of 24 hours is the point where landslides onto the BNSF tracks in White Rock and South Surrey can be expected.  At 1 p.m. today we had reached the 2-inch level and by 6 o'clock we had already received 3 inches in total.  With heavy rain forecast for tonight, I would expect us to reach or surpass the 4-inch mark for rain from this storm.

When we are experiencing these extreme amounts of precipitation, mudslides off the Ocean Park bluffs onto the BNSF tracks are inevitable.  The Railway utilizes a landslide detector fence (LDF) system at the base of the slope next to the tracks but it would be ineffective if a slide event happened directly in front of a locomotive or into the side of the train while it was passing, possibly causing a derailment.  Any cars getting knocked off the tracks would fall onto the shoreline of Crescent Rock beach below that is lined with large jagged rip-rap boulders placed there to control wave erosion.

On Sunday at 1 p.m. my wife and I walked down the Christopherson Steps above the BNSF Railway tracks.  This was at a time when we had already received 2 inches of rain and when landslides from the Ocean Park bluff or even the cleared Hump hillside could be expected.  Much to my dismay, the BNSF was running a crude oil unit train along the tracks at that time.  These trains usually consist of 140-144 tanker cars of Bakken crude oil destined for the Chevron Refinery in Burnaby.   Please review the attached photos of this train we witnessed from the pedestrian overpass and at the beach.

While I realize these products need to get to the companies that have requested them, to attempt to deliver these goods during torrential storms through a corridor known for landslide activity triggered by heavy rains is dangerous.  Were one of these oil trains to derail into Semiahmoo Bay it would likely cause extensive environmental damage that would be difficult or impossible to clean up.   We have seen this on the shoreline of Semiahmoo Bay back in 1972 when a spill of Alaskan crude oil from the Cherry Point Terminal near Blaine washed ashore between White Rock and Crescent Beach severely polluting the shoreline.

The BNSF Railway should not ship dangerous goods and petrochemicals through this historically dangerous corridor along our shorelines during extreme precipitation events where slides are likely onto the tracks.  The blockages of Crescent Beach by BNSF trains also pose another risk and you should know that the last time a BNSF train was hit by a slide was back in 2007.  A southbound train had stopped for a large slide near the Crescent Rock boulder, blocking both entrances into Crescent Beach.  This train, carrying several tankers of hazardous goods, was hit by another smaller slide that originated from the Ocean Park bluffs, fortunately without causing a derailment.  

I do realize that railway safety is under the control of the Federal government but I also believe that local governments can put pressure on the BNSF to change their practice of what I call "railway roulette" to a safer model of transportation.  The operator of the swing bridge near the Crescent Beach Marina could easily measure precipitation and once it has reached the 2-inch level in 24 hours, radio for trains to be stopped until the rain ends and the bluff hillside is given time to dr​ain and stabilize.  I've attached a link to a HeraldNet story from Washington State with information about this problem in Puget Sound that includes a video of the 2012 Everett landslide and subsequent BNSF train derailment.  

If by Monday we have landslides onto the BNSF Railway tracks in the Semiahmoo region, it will prove that I can successfully predict the future utilizing only the weather forecast and a simply rain gauge.  If I am correct, this shows that the transportation of dangerous goods and bulk petrochemicals on this coastal rail line during extreme precipitation events should be curtailed until the slide risk has diminished by allowing the hillside above time to drain.  Having unit trains of crude oil on the BNSF tracks during an "atmospheric river" is risky business and the Railway needs to stop jeopardizing the safety of our environment for the sake of their schedule or profit. 

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


November 08, 2021

The Bridge to Crescent Beach

If you first don't succeed, try, try again.  This well-known proverb from American educator Thomas H. Palmer's "Teachers Manual" can be used to describe the various proposals put forward to stop BNSF trains from blocking access to Crescent Beach, sometimes for hours on end.  Here is the news release from the City of Surrey about this continuing problem and their shiny new idea on how to fix it. 

The City of Surrey met with members of the Crescent Beach Property Owners Association on Wednesday yesterday evening to share conceptual renderings of a Crescent Beach overpass that will allow vehicle traffic to flow during train crossings or stoppages.

Since 2010, there have been 16 incidents lasting from 10 minutes to 3 hours where all vehicle traffic going in and out of Crescent Beach was at a stand sill due to a train blocking the at-grade crossing. The presentation by city staff included solutions to monitor, reduce and prevent train blockages in the Crescent Beach neighbourhood.

“Without any other way for emergency vehicles to get in or out of Crescent Beach during an unscheduled train stoppage is a safety issue that has gone on for far too long,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Ensuring emergency vehicles have access to all neighbourhoods is essential. Until we have a bypass that allows vehicles to move regardless of train traffic or stoppages, there remains a significant risk to public safety. With Crescent Beach becoming increasingly popular over the recent years, it is long overdue that we find a solution to this chronic problem. Council and I are eager to move on advancing this much needed overpass project so we can create a safer community for both residents and visitors.”

The Crescent Beach community is located on a peninsula that is approximately 142 acres in area, containing 390 properties, most of which are single family residences. Access to and from the community requires crossing a BNSF rail line, which has been operating since the early 1900’s, connecting Vancouver to the US Border. Crescent Beach has two at-grade access roads which cross the rail line, with the primary crossing along Beecher Street and Crescent Road, as well as secondary access point on McBride Avenue.

This is not the first time Surrey has tried to address the problem of broken-down BNSF trains blocking the two road access routes to Crescent Beach.  In May of 2008 the Fire Chief tabled Corporate Report R088 titled "Railway Related Concerns in South Surrey" to Council.  It detailed how train blockage of residential streets is covered with the Canadian Rail Operating Rule examined that states no part of a train or engine may stand on any part of a public crossing for longer than five minutes when vehicular or pedestrian traffic requires passage.  Landslide threats along the BNSF Railway in South Surrey, access to Crescent Beach, and Crescent Road being blocked for an excessive amount of time were all examined.  You can read more at

Back in 2010 Corporate Report #R168 titled "Emergency Access to Crescent Beach Neighbourhood" detailed a plan to put an emergency roadway under the BNSF trestle bridge near the Crescent Beach Marina linking to a lane on the north side of the tracks.  A single roadway was $550,000 while a two-way paved road was double that at $1,100,00 along with a $50,000 a year insurance and additional insurance for risk covering bridge collision, damage, vandalism, loss of revenue and environmental clean-up costs.  Because this roadway was for emergency vehicle access only and with the large insurance exposure involved, this early plan was shelved.  You can read the details at this link:

Another way to possibly stop the Beecher Street blockade was examined when the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities was looking at rail safety in 2016.  The BNSF line through the Semiahmoo peninsula was investigated with respect to trains repeatedly blocking access to Crescent Beach.  A BNSF representative in Ottawa recommended that a tunnel on Beecher Street under the BNSF Railway tracks would be possible with a price tag of $35 million or more.  Of course, the Railway did not offer to pay any of these expenses and it is doubtful that he was aware of a Metro-Vancouver pressurized sewer line and pump station in the area plus the fact that Crescent Beach is on a flood plain that makes tunneling below the water table an engineering nightmare with rising sea levels.

Last but not least is the concept of relocating the BNSF Railway away from the Semiahmoo shoreline to an inland route and turning the rail bed into a walking trail.  The community rail safety group SmartRail has endorsed this proposal for many years along with the BNSF Rail Relocation group (  The last mentioned price tag for rail relocation was in the $350-400 million range but BNSF executives in Ottawa expected costs to be in the billions.  Surrey corporate report R200from October of 2015 has all of the details regarding South Surrey BNSF Rail Relocation at   Personally, while I would love to see the BNSF Railway moved, it will likely take rising sea levels, track washouts, prohibitive maintenance costs or a major accident and environmental catastrophe to relocate this rail line back inland from whence it came.

What was interesting about the latest bridge proposal is that there was no mention of the estimated cost for this project.  I'm wondering if that is really that important now that the residents of Crescent Beach have an ace up their sleeve.  It's interesting to note that Mayor Doug MacCallum has moved from his former home on Crescent Road into the village of Crescent Beach.  As much as I love the place, I would never live there for a variety of reasons, number one being the constant trains cutting off the two road crossings plus the infrequent but often long blockages due to train breakdowns.  I'd imagine that living there has given Mayor MacCallum an idea of how bad this problem can be and how dangerous it can be if there is no emergency services access for long periods of time.  Let's hope a bridge can be built to end this problem and that it won't break the taxpayer's bank to make it happen.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



Novembere 01, 2021

It's Salmon Spawning Season

The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club is quite different from most outdoor enthusiast groups that exist throughout the province of BC.  Besides having a large hall, indoor range and outdoor archery, the property consists of 30 acres in the Hazelmere valley of South Surrey with the Little Campbell (Tah-tu-lo) River running through it.  The true gem of this property is the Little Campbell Hatchery, the first all-volunteer fish hatchery in British Columbia built back in 1983 shortly after the property was purchased in 1979.  It is maintained on a continuous basis by members of the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club along with assistance from Department of Fisheries and Oceans personnel.  

The hatchery building contains multiple tanks where fish eggs are hatched and raised for eventual release back into the wild.  Outside of the hatchery are rearing ponds for Coho salmon, Steelhead and Cutthroat trout.  While situated on the banks of the Litle Campbell river, the large amounts of fresh water needed to maintain the fish brood is pumped from a deep inground well on the property.  In order to ensure its purity, the water is put through an extensive filtration system and aerated before being piped to the various locations it is needed.  As you can imagine, skilled commercial plumbers and electricians are always valuable club members due to the extensive mechanical systems in place.

A steel fish fence originally designed by a SFGC member and used throughout the province runs across the river directly in front of the hatchery.  The fence blocks the passage of the fish, funneling the into a trap where club volunteers and DFO staff can identify the species, determine their sex and count them before releasing the fish upstream into the river so they can spawn.  A selected number of wild Chinook and Coho salmon plus Steelhead trout are kept as breeding stock with their egg sacs and seminal vessels removed for later fertilization.  So far this year approximately 3,000 Coho and 1,000 Chinook salmon have already crossed the fish trap, with almost 60,000 eggs collected.

In an average year the Little Campbell Hatchery produces 100,000 Coho and 35,000 Chinook salmonoids along with 10,000 Steelhead and previously 15,000 Cutthroat trout.  The hatchery area and the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club property with its system of nature trails are open to the public daily from dawn to dusk.   You can drop by and view the spawning salmon in the river and if the hatchery is open watch as fish are counted and collected.  The bridge over the Little Campbell River makes for a great viewing platform and you can see salmon actively spawning in the gravel bars on the river that runs throughout the property.  If you have kids, they will love this experience and a chance to see spawning salmon up close.

Now until the end of November is a great time to view the bulk of the salmon run that happens close to home for many people in White Rock, Surrey and Langley.  Further salmon runs will continue to enter the Little Campbell River until the beginning of April next year.  The SFGC property is located at 1284 184 St and is marked with a large sign out front including a cast concrete salmon that is a metre and a half long.  The best fish viewing is the day after a heavy rain when river levels rise and the salmon make their way upstream.  One look at the long-term weather forecast tells me there will be lots of those days upcoming during the month of November.

For more information on the Little Campbell Hatchery and the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club, please visit the website or their page on Facebook.  Should you wish to join the club or volunteer, pro-rated memberships are available for this year and you can already sign up for 2022. The Little Campbell Hatchery now has charitable status and can issue tax deductible receipts for donations that help fund their important environmental operations.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn




October 25, 2021

Keep Off My Lawn McCallum

Having run for public office several times and also volunteered to put up election signs for a former MP, I have done my share of political sign posting in Semiahmoo (aka South Surrey).  It was only four years ago that the City of Surrey allowed political signs on both city lands and private property.  The first restriction brought in by Surrey Council was that election signs could not be within 25 metres of an intersection, with the rational of not wanting to distract drivers.  This resulted in over 1,800 signs being collected by city work crews in 2018 during the last civic election.  Then the sign by-law was changed in May of 2019 with Surrey Council voting unanimously to ban election signs on public lands and boulevards, doing a great disservice to independent candidates and democracy on the whole.  This meant that private lawns were the only game in town, ensuring well financed campaigns had an unfair advantage in promoting name recognition over independent candidates.  

Mayor Doug MacCallum and his Safe Surrey members used their slim majority on council last week to change Surrey's sign law yet again with respect to political signage.  The definition of "political sign" has now been changed to include signs related to political issues, referendums, plebiscites, petitions, plus those either approving or opposing candidates and issues.  Where this really gets disturbing is these are not only banned from public lands but from PRIVATE PROPERTY!  There is no doubt in my mind that this disturbing change was made in the middle of a citizen's initiative by the Keep The RCMP In Surrey and Surrey Police Vote group to force a referendum on the policing change away from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

It is obvious that Mayor MacCallum will do anything in his power and beyond to handcuff, muzzle and intimidate those trying to stop his police transition plans.  It was in June of 2020 that Surrey work crews began removing Keep the RCMP in Surrey signs from both public and private property under the guise they were somehow interfering with the Highway Traffic Bylaw.  Then came the Save-On-Foods incident on Sept. 4th where Mayor McCallum allegedly threatened to have referendum workers removed by by-law officers before he claimed to have had his foot run over by a car, leading to a public mischief probe against him by the RCMP.  Only a week later, folks collecting signatures for the police referendum at Dogwood Park were fined by Surrey bylaw officers for "advertising" by getting people to sign their Elections BC authorized petition drive.

The biggest problem I and most Canadians have with this change to the political signage bylaw in Surrey is that we have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The bylaw officers should not be acting like brownshirts by attacking democracy and going onto private property to confiscate people's possessions in what should be a free and democratic society.  We are guaranteed freedom of thought, belief and expression that includes freedom of communication and association.  This is vital to our democracy where people are free to discuss matters of public policy, criticize governments or provide one's own solutions to societal problems.  The changes to Surrey's sign bylaw are an attack on our freedom, an affront to democracy and the actions of a tyrant, dictator and despot.  Anyone caught trying to steal political signage from my lawn will find themselves face down in the grass with big zap-straps on their wrists and charges pending for theft under $5,000.

Here is why these sign bylaw changes are so disturbing, dangerous, vile and repugnant.  What if you wanted to put up a "Gay Pride" sign on your lawn along with a rainbow flag?  Would the bylaw thought police pull on their jackboots and storm over onto your property to confiscate them?  How about if you were a person of colour and put out a "Black Lives Matter" sign, which is a political statement.   I'm sure City Hall could round up a few caucasian officers to assist on the raid, trampling your sign along with your civil rights.  Don't you dare put up an "Every Child Matters" sign on Truth and Reconcilliation Day without bringing home threats and retaliation from bylaw goons.  The same goes for "Stop Clear Cutting", "Save the Whales", "Say No to Fracking",   "No Coal Trains", "No More High-rises" or the one I recently saw on the side of Crescent Road, "MacCallum Is A Bully." 

You have to wonder where this will go from here if this draconian sign bylaw is not confronted and challenged.  How long will it be before you cannot post any message on the windows inside of your own home without fearing a knock on your door and invasion by officers without warrant?  How soon until they ban flags and banners, except for approved ones which can only be flown where you live with a permit from City Hall?  Will bumper stickers or t-shirts with political statements be outlawed in our new fascist State of Surrey, in which case I'm seriously busted?  I haven't gotten involved in the police transition fight but I'm now firmly behind the Surrey Police Vote campaign because of the bylaw sign amendment Safe Surrey members voted for that directly targets their initiative.  

Do you feel as strongly about this attack on our democratic principles and personal freedoms as I do?  Make sure you send Mayor MacCallum plus his Surrey Safe Councillors Allison Patton, Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra and Doug Elford your thoughts on this issue and the draconian changes they voted for.  Rather than direct you to the website, here are their email addresses; simply cut and paste with your message about how the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is important both in Surrey and across Canada.  Hopefully they won't try to put forth a bylaw to censor me and the White Rock Sun after reading this TNT.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



October 18, 2021

Slow Streets of Surrey

In the middle of June this year the City of Surrey launched its Surrey Slow Streets - Residential Speed Limit Reduction Pilot project in six residential neighbourhoods.  Three of these saw speed limit reductions to 40 km/h and the other three were lowered down to 30 km/h.  The only one of these in the Semiahmoo region is between Rosemary Heights Crescent and 40 Ave, and between just west of 153 St/152B St and just east of 156B St.  The neighbourhood where I took the photo of the new street sign at the top of this TNT is located in Cloverdale between 56 Ave (Hwy 10) and 60 Ave, and between 180 St and 184 St.  Not surprisingly, the others are in Newton and north Surrey neighbourhoods with higher densities and a history of speed related crashes.

As a buddy of mine with plenty of driving experience always says, "The faster you drive, the harder the crash."  There are more deaths and injuries from car crashes in the summer than in the winter with much of this being attributed to the higher speed of driving in good weather.  Accidents involving pedestrians go up in winter due to decreased visibility from darkness and rain plus the wearing of dark clothes.  Road safety research has concluded that a pedestrian hit at 30 Km/h has a 90% change of survival, while speeds of 50 Km/h result in only a 15% chance of survival, much of this due to severe head trauma.  This explains why schools and parks have 30 Km/h limits, with reduced speeds near schools from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and park zones from dawn to dusk. 

From the surreyca website:  "The purpose of the Surrey Slow Streets pilot project is to study how lower speed limits affect driver behaviour, and ultimately the safety on our roads. We will also compare the impacts that 30 km/h verses 40 km/h speed limits have in neighbourhoods. Following the lowering of speed limits in the pilot project areas, we will monitor vehicle speeds, crashes and perceptions of safety among residents."  If after this one-year study the research shows an improvement in lowering vehicle speed, crashes and improved resident safety, it will likely be extended to other neighbourhoods.  This study should also lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce vehicle noise and increase feelings of safety for residents out walking the streets of their neighbourhoods. 

While this experiment plays out in select neighbourhoods, it seems that Surrey is not waiting for the results before making changes in other areas.  I live in Crescent Heights and several years ago Surrey installed speed bumps to put an end to rat-racing on our street that is also a bus route.  They do a good job of keeping speeds down but we have the tolerate the occasional crunch of a car from an idiot driver going too fast who failed to notice them in time.  Also, in the past month much of the roads in this area that are narrow or do not have street lights including Seabrook Dr., Cedar Dr. and Crescent Dr. were suddenly posted to 30 Km/h down from 50 Km/h.  This really was a no-brainer and I'm sure the residents of this neighbourhood welcome the change where walking is a pastime enjoyed by many.  

I have long believed that the blanket policy of 50 Km/h for most streets in Surrey needs an overhaul and should be changed to this easy-to-follow system.  Post freeways at 100 Km/h, highways at 80 Km/h, arterial roads at 60 Km/h (up 10 Km/h), residential roads with painted centre lines at 50 Km/h and residential roads with no painted centre lines at 30 Km/h (down 20 Km/h).  These speeds keep traffic moving while improving safety in residential areas with plenty of pedestrians, children and pets that often do not have proper sidewalks separating them from vehicles.  These are the speeds I usually adhere to and you will never catch me racing around in quiet residential streets, especially in the neighbourhood where I live.  

You can read the full details about Surrey Slow Streets pilot project on the city website at this link:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


October 12, 2021

Where do I live?  Semiahmoo

I have to admit, growing up in North Delta I always hated the name for that portion of the municipality.  To me, it's not really a name but more like giving someone directions on how to get there.  Even those directions are off base since it really should have been called East Delta, which is actually the name for the farmland region south of North Delta.  Interestingly, the village of Ladner has an actual given name after the brothers Thomas and William Ladner who first came to the area back in 1868 and set up farming and fishing operations there.  Though it sits on the western shore of Delta, nobody calls it "West Delta."  On the southwest corner of Delta, we have what is called South Delta but more commonly known as Tsawwassen, meaning "land facing the sea" in the Coast Salish language.  In fact, Wikipedia has a full dossier with everything you could ever want to know about Tsawwassen, but the listing for "South Delta" does not exist.

All of this brings me to my home here in South Surrey, once again not a real name but directions on how to get here (go to Surrey, head south, you can't miss it).  At least White Rock has an actual name that comes from the 460 tonne white granite boulder, which sits on the shoreline of Semiahmoo Bay.  Most people do not realize that this giant rock also has an indigenous name "P'Quals" and a lover's legend on how it got to its current resting place (see  White Rock of course, used to be part of Surrey until it separated in 1957 but it and the rest of South Surrey are collectively described as the Semiahmoo Peninsula, or my shortened version, the Semi-Pen.  The Semiahmoo peninsula is named after the Semiahmoo First Nation, just as Tsawwassen (aka South Delta) is named after their indigenous people the Tsawwassen First Nation.  In fact, the word Semiahmoo means "half-moon" describing the shape of the shoreline of Semiahmoo Bay.

On Thursday, Sept. 30, Canadians from coast to coast got to recognize the first ever Truth and Reconciliation Day, also known as Orange Shirt Day.  This annual statutory day is meant to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost, the survivors, families and communities affected by our colonial past.   In White Rock this was observed with the first ever Semiahmoo First Nation Walk for Reconciliation that started at the Grand Chief Bernard Robert Charles Plaza and ended at the SFN Spirit Stage in Semiahmoo Park.   Thousands of people, many wearing orange shirts and attire. showed up to support the Semiahmoo First Nation, Elders, youth and indigenous people.   Unlike our Prime Minister who embarrassed himself by holidaying in Tofino, many Canadians wish to address our colonial past and the treatment of indigenous people here and this crowd showed the level of community support for this cause.

So now it's time for me to do my part for Truth and Reconciliation and to help honour the people on whose ancestral land we now call home.   We live in the Semiahmoo Peninsula, with the Semiahmoo First Nation located on the shore of Semiahmoo Bay as they have been for generations.  We have the historic Semiahmoo Trail running from White Rock to the Nicomekyl River, the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club, the Semiahmoo Secondary School and even the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre.  Before the Peace Arch news and the original White Rock Sun, the first newspaper in these parts was called the Semiahmoo Sun.  So the big question is, why do we continue to call this place South Surrey?  Once again, this is only a directional name with no historical context other than it reminded a homesick Englishman of a county in South-East England.  Why not call it Semiahmoo, just as the folks across Mud Bay call their home Tsawwassen, after the Tsawwassen First Nation.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



October 04, 2021

Danger - Quicksand!

On Saturday afternoon around 3 o'clock I was headed east along Crescent Road when a large ladder equipped fire truck drove by with lights and sirens on.  I knew was not the one that runs out of Hall 12 near Crescent Park so this seemed rather odd to me.  A little further along Crescent another fire engine went by in full emergency mode piquing my interest even more as to what was going on in my little corner of the Semi-pen.  On King George Blvd I saw yet another fire truck heading in the same direction, this one with the words "Tactical Rescue" written on it.  It was about then that I decided my chore list would have to wait and when I hit Colebrook Road I looped around and headed back towards home. 

The problem I faced is that I had no idea where all of these fire trucks had been heading but thinking about areas where somebody might need a technical rescue, I drove into the Crescent Beach Marina driveway.  It turned out my instincts were correct for as I got to the end of the road there were half a dozen Surrey Fire Service vehicles on scene and around two dozen firemen.  I parked my vehicle and made my way to towards the BNSF Railway trestle leading to the swing bridge where a large group of firemen were walking out escorting out a woman caked with black muck up to her waist along with her son and husband who had noticeably dirty pants.  They directed the lady to sit on the back of a fire truck, assessed her injuries (a sore ankle) and started to clean her off with a trickling fire hose.

Talking to the lady and her husband I learned that their family had driven from New West to go explore Crescent Beach, including the Blackie Spit area.  They had crossed the grassy area by the train bridge and headed out onto the sand flats.  They told me that the ground seemed hard and sandy, similar to what you would expect along Crescent Beach.  The tide had turned and was coming in when their son ventured near the water and had the ground suddenly give way under his feet, getting himself stuck in the process.  The mother went to his rescue and managed to get him out of the sticky situation he had found himself in, but she also sank into the goo and also stuck.  Her husband then tried to free her without success and with the sea water getting higher, decided it was time to call 911 for help.

The firemen arrived on scene and after locating the woman reached her by placing sections of ladder onto the now muddy beach.  They walked out on top of the ladders and used shovels to dig around the woman's legs, releasing her from the quicksand hole she had fallen into.  The Fire Captain I walked to about this incident told me that when the tide recedes the sand flats drain and firm up but as the tide comes back in the beach saturates ahead of the advancing tide.  With the right mixture of sand, mud and water, the beach turns into pockets of quick sand that can quickly trap anyone unaware of the danger.  We did talk about the lack of signage around Blackie Spit warning of quicksand conditions and for people to avoid the foreshore and stay on designated trails.

It is not as if this is a new phenomenon on the shores of Mud Bay.  Three years ago, a youth in Delta not far from Centennial Beach sunk up to his waist in quicksand and had to be rescued by a quick-thinking Delta police officer using a piece of driftwood and a rope.  Delta Mayor had this warning after this incident, “Please stay safe and close to shore. There are muddy areas around Boundary Bay that can be just like quicksand."  In 2013 a man had to be rescued at Blackie Spit after he walked out to take pictures of birds and got stuck in mud over his boots during an incoming tide.  By the time Surrey Fire Services arrived and used a boat to reach him, the man was already up to his waist in water before being dug out. 

I have had my own Mud Bay experience, walking into the shorefront off the Delta Dyke Trail a couple of decades ago trying to access a small shelf island.  It was less than a hundred feet offshore and I only made it halfway there before turning back with my boots sinking deeply with every step.  Talking with friends this weekend I learned that my friend Kenny had gotten stuck in the waters off Blackie Spit years ago and needed help from a friend to free himself from quicksand he had sunk into up to his knees.  Another buddy of mine Ricardo told me a story of how his daughter got stuck in quicksand not far from Elgin heritage Park, losing her boots in the mud when he pulled her out.  I was also told a story about a man whose dog got stuck in the mud off Blackie Spit years ago and when he went to free his pet, both of them needed to be rescued.

If you do find yourself stuck in sinking mud or quicksand, do not panic and take the following steps to free yourself.  Move slowly and don't panic as quick motion leads to air pockets that can create suction and pull you down deeper.  Shed any extra weight such as backpacks of purses to make yourself as light as possible.  If your legs are stuck, you can free them one by one by wiggling them in circles to allow water to flow in and slowly pulling upwards.  Sitting down and leaning back while spreading your arms creates more surface area allowing you to float instead of sink.  When your feet are free slide horizontally across the quicksand until you reach firm ground.  You might get dirty but if stuck on a tidal flat, it's much better than drowning.

Rather than allowing people to blindly stumble into these dangerous and difficult situations, it might be advisable for the City of Surrey to post "DANGER - QUICK SAND - KEEP OUT" signage showing a person sinking.  These should be placed around the portions of Blackie Spit where muddy shores are prone to liquefaction, pockets of quicksand or where rescues have already happened.   Many jurisdictions around the world do this including the City of Port Moody who have posted signs around their estuary warning people to not venture onto the mud flats for their own safety.  When people come to visit Crescent Beach, we want them to have a good time and not get trapped, needing to be rescued to either the Surrey Fire Service or Coast Guard hovercraft.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



September 27, 2021

Let's Go Falcon, Let's Go!

The federal election is over, the Liberals are back with another minority government and slowly but surely candidate signs are being taken down or picked up from front lawns across the South Surrey-White Rock riding.  So, try to imagine my surprise driving through Ocean Park on Friday night when I came across a pair of newly posted election signs at the ritzy corner of Indian Fort Dr. and Ocean Park Rd.   I thought I was having a political flashback for there in both red and green (stop & go?) were signs endorsing Kevin Falcon who was the MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale for 12 years before exiting from politics in 2013.  During that time Mr. Falcon was the Minister of State of Deregulation, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Minister of Health Sciences, Minister of Finance, plus the 12th Deputy Premier of BC under Premier Christy Clark. 

It is said that you can't keep a good man down and on May 17, 2021 Kevin announced his candidacy for the 2022 BC Liberal Party leadership election that will be held on February 5, 2022.  Now unfortunately yours truly did not get invited to that evening's soiree but from the parade of high-end luxury vehicles leaving the property on Friday I believe it's safe to say that Kevin Falcon was on hand likely fundraising and getting people to join his leadership team.   You can find out plenty of in-depth information about Kevin on his webpage that is dedicated to his leadership run.  In case you were wondering, Mr. Falcon made the move from Cloverdale to South Surrey a few years back so if he gets elected as the new Liberal leader, we would have a local guy leading the opposition with eyes on becoming the Premier of BC in the future.

Mr. Falcon is the presumptive front-runner in this campaign but he will have plenty of competition for the job as the top Liberal.  There are five other candidates running for the Liberal party leadership:  Gavin Dew (, Michael Lee (, Val Litwin (, Ellis Ross ( and Renee Merrifield (  You can check out their bios and political platforms on their websites not to mention donate money, volunteer or sign up to become a Liberal party member giving you a vote on Feb. 5th.  If you want to check out these leadership hopefuls in action, the first leadership debate is scheduled for this Tues., Sept. 28 from 7-8 p.m. that is being live streamed on the BC Liberal Party website ( and Facebook page (

So, the question needs to be asked, "Are you ready to go with Kevin?"  Don't blame me, that is his campaign slogan, shorted to a simple "Let's Go!" for lawn signs and other promo material.  The MLA for Surrey - White Rock, Trevor Halford, is endorsing Mr. Falcon along with Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George MacKenzie (former Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General), MLA Ian Paton from Delta South, along with Kamloops - South Thompson MLA Todd Stone (former Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure).  The real heavyweight in Kevin's corner has to be former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts who was also the MP for South Surrey-White Rock and who placed second in the 2018 BC Liberal leadership election to Andrew Wilkinson.

If Kevin Falcon does win the Liberal leadership election, it is likely that the party which is a Conservative/Liberal coalition designed to keep the socialist horde (read NDP) at bay will opt for a name change.  This is not too surprising considering how the federal Liberals under Justin Trudeau do not enjoy a wave of support in the west, having just scraped together another minority in Ottawa.  There is no way the BC Liberals would rebrand under the Conservative banner either and the "People's Party of BC" is a non-starter.  I don't think the BC Dogwood party (think the Wild Rose party in Alberta) would work after the Dogwood Initiative public interest group in Victoria changed their name to Dogwood BC.  The return to the BC Social Credit party is also unlikely along with their old nickname, the Socreds.  It could be that the "BC Coalition party" name suggested by former Premier Christy Clark will become the new free-enterprise moniker.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

The Vote Is In!

No, not the Federal election even though the timing for this TNT is rather appropriate falling on the day that we get to cast our ballots for the party we hope will rule Canada.  On Tuesday last week the members of the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club got to vote for a new board of directors that many hoped would change the future direction of the club.  On Thursday the results were released and as expected The Friends of Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club took the bulk of the positions and votes, garnering 75 percent of all the ballots.  New club president Diana Barkley welcomes 12 new directors into the fold along with 4 former members, myself included.

If you have never been there, the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club (formed in 1957) sits on 29 forested acres with the Little Campbell River running through the property located at 1284 184 St. in Hazelmere, south Surrey.  The club operates a fish hatchery releasing hundreds of thousands of young fish into the Little Campbell every year.  There is a large hall with seating for 200 people that can be rented for weddings, meetings, dances, parties or a variety of functions.  They have both indoor and outdoor archery depending on the weather and season plus a basement range with a full ventilation system for both rimfire rifle and handgun shooting.  The jewel of the club is the many trails criss-crossing throughout the forested rear of the property along the idyllic river setting, which is open to the public dawn to dusk.

The reason for the dissension in the club was due to the previous board's proposal to donate the property to the City of Surrey due to less than rosy financial projections and future repairs and upgrades to the hall and hatchery.   The property transfer agreement was twice put to a vote and both times was rejected by the membership without a noticeable change in the board's attempt to give the club to the city of Surrey.  The board's failure to accept membership fees this year in a year when COVID-19 reduced hall revenues to zero plus cancelling most events, while spending money to have the range professionally cleaned riled the membership.  Many people, myself included, felt that after the land transfer was twice rejected, that the President and the Board of Directors should have resigned because of non-confidence in their continued guidance. 

So where does the storied Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club go from here?  First and foremost, will be to finally begin to sell memberships for 2021, something that I believe should have been done nine long months ago.  Secondly will be to solicit donations, apply for grant money, build corporate partnerships and look for any financial assistance to help rebuild the club's revenue stream, including opening up to hall rentals and events as COVID restrictions are removed.  Just as there is now new blood in the club's executive, there is hope that renewed optimism will results in a wave of new people signing up to be part of the SFGC as it moves into the future.  The SFGC is a volunteer organization and it requires its members to help complete tasks, do required maintenance, and keep the club running smoothly.

If you are an angler or environmentalist worried about the health of the Little Campbell River, please arrange for a visit to check out the hatchery, fish fence and ponds where the fish rearing takes place.  If you are an archer or are interested in trying your hand at this rapidly growing sport, contact the club to find out their fall schedule of events.  The basement range was used for rimfire rifle several days a week and handgun shooting on Wednesday nights and hopefully with the new change in executive, these will soon reopen.  Lastly, the Little Campbell River with its spawning beds flows through the property and the forested trails are a beautiful walk that is open to the public from dawn to dusk.  If you are a club member, you can even bring your dog along with you.

You can expect to be hearing from and reading about the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club plenty in the near future as they make their presence and history known.  You can find more information about the club at their website ( or the Facebook page titled Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club (  The Friends of Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club group that have now assumed control of the club's executive also have a website ( and operate a Facebook page as well (  The new President, Diana Barkley, had this to say about the future of the SFGC, "A key goal is to rebuild the club and stay true to the original founder's dreams.  We're up for the challenge."

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



September 13, 2021

Purple People Beater

Here we are with a week to go before we find out the results of the 2021 Canadian federal election.  The highlight of the campaign so far had to be the televised leader's debates last week that was held over two nights in both French and English.  It appears the election will likely go down to the wire with polls showing the Conservatives and Liberals in an apparent dead heat followed by the NDP, BQ, PPC and the Greens in that order.  As part of the democratic process, it is important to hear from the leaders of all of the prominent parties that are running candidates across Canada.  With this in mind, I am questioning the rationale behind the Leaders' Debates Commission excluding People's Party of Canada leader Maxime Bernier?

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Quebecois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and Green Party leader Annamie Paul all appeared in both leaders debate with the People's Party of Canada leader left outside in the cold, metaphorically speaking.  Now, I must admit I am not a fan of much of the PPC platform but to be honest i don't shoehorn well into any of the established party platforms either, choosing to vote strategically for what I believe will be the best outcome for Canada.  Love him or loathe him, Maxime Bernier, who came within a whisker of winning the Conservative leadership four years ago is a political animal to be reckoned with.  

Now I realize that the Bloc Quebecois are a political force in this country, holding 32 seats in the House of Commons before Parliament was dissolved for this election.  They are currently the third largest political party in Canada having regained official party status.  That being said, the BQ are a regional party, operating only in Quebec where the majority of Canadians cannot vote for them.  Even if they were to win all 78 seats in Quebec, they would never achieve majority status of 170 seats in Ottawa.  In the last federal election held in 2019 the BQ ended up with only 7.6% of the Canada wide vote but their leader still gets invited to both the French and English debates.  The Greens received only 6.6% of the vote and their leader gets invited to both debates, while the upstart PPC gets shut out and doesn't get to get to play ball with the more established parties, including the regional BQ.

In this election the People's Party of Canada has fielded candidates in 311 of the 338 ridings across Canada, while the Greens after much political infighting involving their new leader only managed to field candidates in 252 ridings.  The PPC have Gary Jensen as their candidate in South Surrey-White Rock, while the Greens do not have a name on the ballot this time around.  Current vote projections at have the Bloc at 6.7%, the PPC at 6.2% and the Greens way back at a measly 3.2% and yet Maxime Bernier gets excluded from both leader's debates?  The Leaders' Debate Commission decided to limit participation to the leaders of parties with at least one sitting MP, or 4% of the vote in the last election, or 4% support in polls 5 days before the writ was dropped.  In this case, it seems the lines were drawn purposely to keep the ultra-conservative People's Party out of the media spotlight.

Regardless of your political beliefs or affiliation, the exclusion of Maxime Bernier and his Purple Peeps Party from the leader's debate should be viewed as a travesty of the democratic process.  Whether you agree with their leader or any of their platform, they are a recognized political party that is quickly making inroads on the older established political organizations.  Excluding them on the whim of a faceless commission does not serve our democracy or the voters of Canada.  This decision apparently has backfired since support for the PPC has risen sharply since just before the leader's debates were held.  With only a week to go before the election and public discontent on the rise, it is possible for the PPC to receive more of the popular vote than the Bloc.  If the PPC is not invited to the next leader's debate, it will confirm their suspicions that the fix is indeed in.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



September 07, 2021

Like Father, Like Son


This federal election that nobody other than our Prime Minister and the Liberal Party brass wanted, has got me deeply concerned for the economic future of our country.  Unfortunately, it seems that there is no party to vote for that has a realistic plan for reigning in Canada's massive debt problem, which has ballooned to record levels due to lavish COVID-19 spending.  The Liberals under Justin Trudeau are completely ignoring the rising debt levels and are expected to put us further into the red by an estimated $381 billion this year.  The O'Toole Conservatives are talking about balancing the budget in 10 years but this means holding the reins of power for a decade to accomplish this feat.  The NDP platform is big on ways to spend your money but I have still not seen a costing of all of their promises.

No matter what the politicians are peddling, data recently released from the Parliamentary Budget Officer predicts that the federal government will not balance its budget until the year 2070.  This information was part of the most recent Fiscal Sustainability Report, which is a misnomer as this kind of fiscal planning is anything but sustainable.  By that time, I will definitely be dead and it is likely that my kids may have joined me in the after-life or be sitting in a rocking chair at the old folk's home.  I can guarantee by that then the days of record low interest rates will be long over and the servicing costs for the nations trillions of dollars of debt will be siphoning off much of our tax base that should be used for essential services instead of loan payments.  

I decided to look at the Trudeau family record of financial management going back to Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau who held office from 1968 to 1979 and then from 1980 to 1984.  In 1967 before PET took power, Canada had $27 billion in debt meaning a federal debt per person of $1,420.  By 1976 that had jumped to $55 billion or $2,600 per Canadian.  Amazingly with Pierre's "Just Society" spending policy, this number had jumped to a then whopping $90 billion in 1979 with the individual debt ramping up to $4,130.  After less than a year of the Conservative's Joe Clark running the country PET took over again ramping up Canada's debt from $98 billion up to $210 billion in this short time frame with the debt hitting a record 58.4% percentage of the GDP.  Personal Canadian debt in those four years rose from $5,000 per person to $9,570 in that time frame before PM Pierre Trudeau took his walk in the snow and retired. 

When son Justin was first elected in Nov of 2015 in a second wave of Trudeaumania, he promised to balance the budget by 2019.  To be quite honest he did a little better than the old man but continued to increase the national debt and ramp up spending in a time of economic prosperity.  In 2016 under the Liberals the debt jumped by $34 billion, increasing everyone's personal federal debt by $750 to $29,760 (as you can tell there had been plenty of deficit financing in a little over 30 years).  Our debt cracked the one trillion-dollar mark in 2018, climbing to $1,084 billion in 2020 thanks in large part to the beginning of COVID spending.  It is predicted to reach $1,453 billion in 2021 a nearly $10,000 increase for every man woman and child in Canada up to $42,000 per person.  The projected 73% debt to GDP ratio is also a new record high, or low depending on your viewpoint.

At some point in time our politicians need to address the elephant in the boardroom.  If i were to manage my household finances the way our political parties manage their budgets it would not be long before the bank would foreclose and I'd be forced to declare bankruptcy.  Heaping debt onto the younger generation that must pay these bills in the future is a form of fiscal child abuse.  Growing the economy and having the budget balance itself sounds so easy but it is not a stable economic platform since there are no spending or loan controls in place.  Canadians need to know that our government deficit has ballooned by the most of any G-20 country during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Hopefully this spending spree will stop once the virus has been controlled but I fail to see anyone on the ballot that is promoting fiscal prudence anytime in the future.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



August 23, 2021

May these Gates Ever Re-open?


It has now been two weeks since Canada reopened its land border crossings to American citizens, albeit ones that had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and possessing a recent PCR test showing they were free of the virus.  Strangely, on a shared border with two friendly neighbouring countries, the US government decided to hold off their border reopening with Canada until August 21, 2021.  As of last Friday, that date has now been rolled back by the US Department of Homeland Security to the final day of summer, September 21st, meaning that by that time it will have been six weeks that the land border crossings were open to Americans heading north, but not for Canadians heading south.  

You have to ask yourself how any of this makes sense?  While the border was closed to non-essential travel for 16 months, air travel continued as is the case today with Air Alaska selling return flights from Vancouver to Seattle for $268, requiring only a negative Coronavirus test taken at least 72 hours prior to departure.  You can fly to the land of the free in a packed airplane sitting elbow to elbow in cramped seats but not in the comfort of your own vehicle away from the great unwashed hoard with the windows open for plenty of fresh air.  Even more asinine is that Point Robert residents are now allowed to travel into Tsawwassen or Ladner without being vaccinated or having a negative Covid test and yet double vaccinated Canadians can still not head south to check on their properties there just across the line from Tsawwassen.

All of this is happening during the rise of the fourth wave of COVID-19 across America involving many of the unvaccinated (read Trumplicans if you wish).  To date only 51% of Americans have received their two vaccine shots, compared to 65% in the Great White North.  The Delta B.16 variant is now taking America by storm, accounting for more than 86% of new infections according to the CDC.  This should come as no surprise considering that the Delta variant has shown it is more than twice as contagious as the original COVID-19 strain.  Community transmission is now rated as "High" in all of the continental states except for the north-east states of Maine and Vermont.  Covid transmissions and hospitalizations in Washington state are at an all-time high according to their state’s Department of Health with transmission and hospitalizations at record levels from the Delta variant that is reported to be 98% of their new cases.

So, the Canadian land border is open to Americans experiencing a surge of COVID-19 related infections but their land crossings are closed to Canucks with higher rates of vaccination and much less Covid infections or community transmission.  Am I the only one who thinks that the situation at the US\Can border should be reversed with the Yanks allowing us down to the States but Canada not allowing Merikans to head north?  To be quite honest, I would not consider visiting the USA right now no matter the reason and the Canadian Government travel website continues to warn against non-essential travel to the US at this time.  I should also note that on Sept. 7th Canada will also welcome overseas tourist travellers to enter Canada provided they have been fully vaccinated and have a negative coronavirus test taken at least 72 hours prior to arrival.  

All of this brings us to a special upcoming date that you should circle on your calendars.  Sept 6, 2021 marks the 100th year anniversary of the dedication of the Peace Arch Monument at the Douglas land crossing.  Though a century old, this 67-foot-tall monument that was one of the first earthquake proof structures in North America, is in beautiful shape after being clean, primed, painted and fully restored last year.  Inscriptions on the Peace Arch read "Children of a common mother" and 

"Bretheren dwelling together in unity" but obviously this close-knit family has now become dysfunctional during the world-wide pandemic with one brother closing the door on the other.  Most ironic has to be the wrought iron gates with an inscription that reads "May these gates never be closed", which is what will have happened for 18.5 months if the opening date for the US border is not rolled back even further into the Fall of 2021 as I expect.

Unfortunately, just as many other activities and celebrations have been cancelled due to COVID-19 over the past year and a half, the Sept. 6th 100th year anniversary of the Peace Arch will not be honoured.  The Canadian side of Peace Arch Park is still closed and while the American portion is accessible to Canadians from Zero Avenue by jumping a ditch, it was decided to delay the festivities until September of 2022.  Information about this iconic monument can be found on the International Peace Arch Association website at, including plans to put two new 100-year time capsules into it that will be opened in 2121, barring any future global pandemic of course.   I'm thinking a surgical mask, bottle of hand sanitizer, roll of toilet paper and a MAGA cap would be rather fitting considering the historic times we continue to find ourselves in.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - August 16, 2021

And They're Off!

I knew that the rumors about the Liberals calling a fall election were true when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shaved off his grey beard, cut his famous flowing locks, got a new hair dye job and started rolling up the sleeves of his light blue shirt again.  Two years after being reduced to minority government status and with nationwide polling showing that a renewed majority might be within their grasp, the Liberals threw caution to the wind and rolled the dice, calling for the shortest allowable election campaign of 36 days.  You can review the entire Elections Canada calendar at the following link, with local Elections Canada offices opening here on Tuesday (day 34):

Call me jaded but there are some things I really hate about the federal electoral process.  The one that really burns me is the federal government spending taxpayer money hand-over-fist on program advertising pre-writ that should be viewed somewhere between election campaign material and plain old propaganda.  Case in point is all of the Liberal gun control advertising that has flooded both TV and radio over the past few weeks.  I can't even blame the Liberals because the Conservatives do this type of thing too when they are in power.  The fact that a Prime Minister can ask the Governor General to dissolve parliament at any time they chose during their four-year mandate only serves their political purposes, not the good of the country.  Do we really need a federal election during the 4th wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and at an estimated cost of a record $610 million (It was $540 million in 2017)?  Put these questions on a ballot and I will check NO and NO.

So now it's time to pull out the crystal ball and look at who might be the next MP for South Surrey-White Rock.  In the right corner wearing blue trunks it is the incumbent Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay who has been our MP for the past two years.  In the left corner sporting red trunks it's Liberal Gordie Hogg, our previous MP who lost his title to Kerry-Lynne in the last election.  In this grudge match of King Kong vs Godzilla proportions, it should be one of these two who is still standing when the ballots are counted for the fourth federal election here in the past six years.  The NDP who improved their third place standing last time still has to name a candidate and the Green Party EDA is debating on whether or not to even run a Green candidate given their discord with the governing council in Ottawa.

Here is a historical perspective on election results for the Semi-Pen going back for a decade.  In 2011 Russ Hiebert won the riding yet again with a commanding 53% of the votes, with the NDP and Liberals in a virtual dead heat at 19%, Greens at 6% and others at 3%.  Four years later in 2015 and with former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts taking over for Heibert, the Conservatives won with 44% of the vote (-9% from the previous election), the Liberals with Judy Higginbotham close behind at 41.5% (+22.5%), the NDP falling to 10.5% (-9%) and the Greens at 3.5%.  With Dianne Watts resigning two years after the Liberal majority win, a by-election was held in 2017 where with star candidate Gordie Hogg and help from Trudeaumania, the Liberals finally broke the Conservative decades of dominance taking 47.5% of the vote with Conservative Kerry-Lynne Findlay not far behind at 42%, the NDP way back at only 5% and the Greens at 4%.  In the 2019 Canadian federal election, Kerry-Lynne Findlay won back this riding for the Conservatives getting 42% of the vote (same level as in 2017), Liberal Gordie Hogg slipped to 37.5% (-10%), the NDP at 11.5% (+ 6.5%) and the Greens at 7.5% (+3.5%).  I should note here that the 2017 by-election saw only 30,250 ballots cast or 38% of eligible voters, while the 2019 election saw 58,000 ballots cast equating to 69.5% of eligible voters.

The polling\research website that has proven itself to be relatively accurate in the past currently has the Liberals with a projection average of 19 seats for BC versus 11 in the last election (2019).  The NDP are continuing strong at a projected 12 seats versus 11 they won here in 2019.  The Conservatives with new leader Erin O'Toole appear to be the big losers dropping from 17 seats to a projected 9 seats, with the Greens scraping up 1 or 2 seats.  The Federal vote projection in BC from 338Canada is 34.2% for the Liberals, 28.1% for the NDP, 27.2% for the Conservatives, 7.9% for the Greens and 2.8% for others.  By far the most interesting projection on their website for residents of the Semi-Pen has to be for the riding of South Surrey-White Rock as leaning Liberal Party of Canada.  Country wide on the first full day of the election campaign 338Canada projects 166 (+/- 38.1) seats for the Liberals, 108 (+/- 29.3) seats for the Conservatives, 35 (+/- 15.3) seats for the NDP, 26.7 (+/- 9.8) seats for the Bloc Quebecois and 1.8 (+/- 1) seats for the Greens.  It takes 170 seats to form a majority in parliament and with the large margin of error, these early results need to be taken with a big lump of rock salt.

One thing is for sure, this is likely to be a nail-biter of a finish here and with lots of mail-in ballots expected, counting them by hand will be a daunting job that will take time.  The official results may not be known on election night and Canada-wide it may take days for a final tally to be announced and a winner crowned.  In South Surrey-White Rock the Green Party EDA may actually play spoiler if they chose not to run a candidate and their voters show up to cast ballots for other parties.  The Greens got 4,458 votes in the last election or 7.7% of the total.  While I realize that some of these Green votes would likely flip to NDP orange, it is likely a large portion would also consider voting Liberal, who finished only 2,618 behind the Conservatives in 2019.  Based on historical election results, current voting trends, COVID-19 influences, party leaders and our local candidates, I believe a return back to the Liberals for South Surrey-White Rock is probable, just as 338Canada is predicting.  The funny thing is if this happens, Gordie Hogg would never qualify for the gold-plated MP pension; at 75 years-young he would be too old!

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 



August 10, 2021

One-Way Border Disorder

apologize for being a day late with this TNT but with my wedding anniversary falling on a Sunday when I normally pen this tome, well let's just say that some things take priority over this column.  It actually worked out perfectly since the topic was going to be the one-way opening of the Canada/USA border that closed to non-essential travel on March 20, 2020, for exactly 505 days.  With a 24-hour delay in this column, we got to see how things were actually going to work with American visitors and tourists once again welcome to cross into Canada as of 9 p.m. Sunday.  Unfortunately US President Biden has failed to reciprocate with an opening of the US border to neighbouring Canadians who are substantially healthier than those down south. 

Early Monday morning I ended up on 176 St, also known as Hwy. 15 heading north from Cloverdale.  It was truly remarkable seeing all of the US plates on vehicles, including one with a Washington vanity plate that read PMBRTON.  Now I'm going to go out on a limb on this one and say that I believe this gentleman was likely on his way north of Whistler to a property in Pemberton, aka Pemby to those who have spent time there.  The radio was also reporting that there were many full sailings crossing towards Vancouver Island and on a Monday my money says that plenty of Americans who crossed the border early in the morning headed directly to the ferry terminals with summer holiday plans.

Fortunately, Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) employees had agreed to a new contract on Friday that was hammered out in a 36-hour negotiation marathon, which ended an 8-hour work-to-rule campaign that snarled commercial truck traffic at border crossings across Canada.  This certainly helped on the first day of crossings after COVID-19 travel bans were lifted, even if things are still far from normal.  US citizens and legal residents have to provide proof of full vaccination plus have documents for a negative PCR COVID test performed within 72 hours of crossing.  Adding to the border burden, all visitors to Canada must also fill out the information required in the ArriveCAN app available online. The three lanes open at the Peace Arch Crossing were busy most of the day on Monday with wait times fluctuating between 30 minutes and several hours.  

For once, it seems that Point Roberts finally got a break from all of the COVID-19 controls that have crippled this enclave that relies heavily on Canadian visitors.  Since the start of the pandemic Point Roberts did not have a single case of COVID-19 in its residents, who have also received vaccinations in record numbers.  It was only recently that the first cases of this disease were detected, likely find its way to this bastion via boats entering the marina.  Even with COVID-19 now in Point Roberts, US residents and permanent residents, regardless of their vaccination status, can now enter Canada as long as they stay within the communities of Tsawwwassen and Ladner "to carry out everyday functions and access goods and services."  This information was released in an August 5th announcement by the CBSA with no explanation on how local shopping rules would be enforced.

It is expected that on August 21, Canadians will likely be allowed to enter into the USA for nonessential travel but with similar restrictions as Americans heading north.  A tentative date of September 7th has been announced allowing foreign nationals to enter Canada for discretionary travel.  It is going to be interesting to see what low vaccination rates across parts of the US plus the spread of the more contagious delta variant are going to do to these dates and plans.  Our American neighbours are barely above the 50 percent threshold for full vaccination with cases of COVID-19 now topping over 100,000 a day and hospitalizations along with deaths increasing steadily.  France and the UK are experiencing even greater new outbreaks of COVID-19 than America, making it likely that flights from these countries may be halted sometime in the near future.  My best travel advice is stay close to home and don't throw that face mask away just as it appears COVID-19 won't be over for some time.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn. 



August 2, 2021

Jeepers, Peepers, Where'd You Get Those Creepers?

On the BC Day long weekend we usually travel or go camping but with much of the Province ablaze and heavy smoke choking many towns we decided to hunker down and simply vacation in our own backyard.   This decision was reinforced when lightning started many fires along Harrison Lake, one of our favourite get-away locations.  So instead we packed up our beach gear, leashed up the dogs and headed down to Crescent Rock beach for some fun in the sun and well-deserved relaxation.  Saturday was a washout with clouds and even some blessed rain, keeping us away from the shoreline and focused on other pursuits.  On Sunday the sun came out tempered by the pall of forest fire smoke that fortunately took the edge off the sun's rays.  The holiday Monday was much clearer with blue skies and light winds but it did not take long for things to really heat up at the nude beach.

We were quietly relaxing near friends and new acquaintances when the peace and serenity was suddenly broken by the sounds of the woman lying near us angrily questioning a man walking by whether he was filming her with his cell phone.  Several other people in the vicinity who were watching this person believed this was indeed the case and many including myself started yelling at him that he was a pervert.  He mumbled that it was not illegal but quickly exited the area when told that what he was doing was considered voyeurism under Canadian law.  Having not seen the initial altercation I talked with the people involved and then followed this man further down the beach, alerting other people along the way as to his alleged antics.  After hearing complaints from several other people about this man's lewd behaviour, I decided it was time to call the Surrey RCMP.

After making my initial report to E-com, it was only about 15-20 minutes before an officer arrived on the scene looking for the person I had described to them.  Searching up and down the beach plus onto the nearby BNSF Railway tracks, she managed to find the skinny late 20's Indo-Canadian man dressed head to toe in black clothing.  He was stopped and questioned, agreeing to give the officer access to his cell phone and photo gallery, which by this time did not contain any images taken down at the beach.  Without any evidence to back up the many accusations made against him, the officer had to release this man without charges but promised that if he continued with these antics in the future that a charge of public mischief was likely.  I was told that my instincts about this man's deviant behaviour were spot on and that the police had interacted with him previously.

You have to understand that this clothing-optional beach gets plenty of looky-loos and people who are unaware its long history of nude use.  The folks who use Crescent Rock beach really do not care about so-called "textiles" since everybody arrives and leaves the nude beach with clothing on.   Where this gets creepy is when you have perverts using hidden cameras, cell phones or drones to film people simply relaxing on the beach in their natural state.   Voyeurs suffer from a mental disorder where they derive sexual gratification from the covert observation of others in a private or intimate setting.  The beach photographer's behaviour falls into the same realm as men who use their cell phones on packed buses or mass transit to take pictures up women's skirts or down their tops.   Done to minors it is considered pedophilia and passing along these images online constitutes child pornography.  

Here is the Canadian Criminal Code statute (162) defining voyeurism:

162 (1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if

    • (a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;

    • (b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or

    • (c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.

  • Definition of visual recording

    (2) In this section, visual recording includes a photographic, film or video recording made by any means.

  • Marginal note: Exemption

    (3) Paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a peace officer who, under the authority of a warrant issued under section 487.01, is carrying out any activity referred to in those paragraphs.

  • Marginal note: Printing, publication, etc., of voyeuristic recordings

    (4) Every one commits an offence who, knowing that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under subsection (1), prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording, or has the recording in his or her possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising it or making it available

The naturists and nudists who utilize Crescent Rock Beach have had enough of being targeted by those who feel they can get away with this type of sex crime.  You can expect to see a NO PHOTOS/NO PERVS sign at the start of the clothing optional beach plus another indicating its nude use.  Voyeurs caught filming people without their knowledge or consent can expect a visit from the cops and shouldn't be surprised if their phones end up in the ocean as often happens at Wreck Beach.  The voyeurs may get their titillating thrills from filming people at the beach but it will be interesting to see their reaction when they find out they are now the ones being watched.

Please visit the Canadian Department of Justice website for a detailed consultation paper that further explains and explores voyeurism as a sexual offence:  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



July 26, 2021

Green Grass, Brown Grass, No Grass

Whew, am I ever glad that is over!  We had a garden party wedding at our house this weekend and it was a wonderful time and a great success.  Unfortunately, this meant working to keep all of our plants and lawns lush and green, requiring constant watering.  Of course, mother nature has not been helping with the last precipitation we have seen falling way back on June 15th, a week before the official start of summer.  We are now at Stage 3 drought conditions, the fire danger rating signs are posted at extreme, and there is no rain in sight.  We stuck to Metro Vancouver sprinkling regulations but since we have a water meter and pay for what we use, we are looking forward to turning down the taps.

If you look around the Semi-pen neighbourhoods you will see that brown is the new green, with most lawns now fried to a light straw colour.  This is actually part of the grass lifecycle and you know that when the rains begin here in late August they will magically green up again.  The issue these days with drought stressed lawns is that it weakens the rooting system and provides an opening for invasive European Chafer beetles to lay their eggs.  These hatch into larvae that munch away on the remaining grass roots, becoming big, fat, and a tempting morsel for crows and every nocturnal animal we have.  A hungry family of racoons can easily rototill a lawn in one evening as they tear back the sod looking for these tasty grubs.  

So, If you have better things to do during the summer months than water your grass and have to mow it but still want a lawn, what is a homeowner to do?  The magic bullet these days is to introduce micro clover into your lawn.  Now this may seem counterproductive; why would somebody put weeds into their lawn?   What you need to realize is that before the 1950s when herbicides were invented to kill clover, it was considered an essential part of a healthy lawn.  Clover has a dark green leaf that retains its colour long after grass has turned brown.  Its thick web of roots also helps to hold a lawn together during drought.  Clover also has nodules in its roots that fix nitrogen out of the atmosphere, providing free fertilizer that won't wash into streams.   

Overseeding with hardy tall fescue grass in the fall will provide a much thicker lawn with deeper roots, making beetle or racoon damage much less likely.  I have had boulevard lawns in Richmond get absolutely torn apart by crows, opossums, skunks and racoons right own to dirt.  Adding a fresh layer of organic soil to help retain moisture, we reseeded with tall fescue and two varieties of clover seed.  The grass and clover mix filled in quickly and stayed green without any watering until very recently.  It still remains to be seen if it will be ripped apart again but considering the thickness of the new grass and the tangled web of clover it is highly doubtful this will happen.  Hopefully the hungry wildlife they will find greener pastures (with brown dead grass) somewhere down the street.

There are other low maintenance and drought tolerant ground covers that can be used in the place of lawns, something that is becoming more appealing after dealing with deadly heat domes and record temperatures.  Pink chintz creeping thyme likes full sun, needs little water and attracts bees to its salmon pink flowers in the spring.  Turkish speedwell is a similar groundcover with low water needs that provides an evergreen backdrop along with a carpet of blue flowers in the late spring.   If you want to really make a splash of colour, try goldilocks creeping jenny that has a bright yellow leaf.  In shaded areas a mix of various mosses works well where grass never properly grows.   Since these options are not as tolerant to foot traffic as grass, consider stepping stones or using them between flagstones in high traffic areas.

Even though we live in a temperate rainforest, we have dry summers here that thanks to climate change are forecast to get hotter with more drought and heat waves.  You can expect Metro Vancouver sprinkling restrictions to become much tighter in the future as water becomes a scarcer resource.  The water hungry landscapes we have today may need to be modified, replacing thirsty plant with those that can survive more arid conditions and warmer temperatures.  With low reservoirs and dwindling aquifers in California, it might be time to considering ripping up some of that prized lawn and planting vegetable gardens as produce prices rise and food scarcity becomes a global issue.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn




July 19, 2021

Humm Dinger of a Bird


"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time carrying our hopes for love joy and celebration.  The Hummingbirds delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation." - 


I don't consider myself a "birder" but I spent a lot of time outdoors and do get to see plenty of our feathered friends up close and personal.  Besides raptors of any kind, my favourite bird has to be the hummingbird simply because they are so unique.  In these parts Anna's hummingbirds will stay overwinter providing they have an adequate supply of nectar, especially when it is cold and freezing.  The Rufous hummers migrate here from Mexico usually appearing in mid-march and staying until late August when they begin their journey south.  We have two hummingbird feeding stations at our house along with a collection of handblown glass hummingbirds adorning the chain for our kitchen table stained-glass light.  

It is a very rare event to find a hummingbird nest simply because they are so small, they are easily overlooked.  They can also be found anywhere from a small bush all the way up to the top of a large tree.  The very first hummingbird nest I ever saw was when I was climbing a Douglas fir in Sunshine HIlls, North Delta at around ten years old.  Carefully perched on the top of a branch not far from the trunk was this miniature nest made up of wispy moss and lichen.  The inside of the nest was not much bigger than a toonie and lined with soft silky strands that I now understand consist mainly of spider webbing.  There was nothing in the nest but I left it where it sat, keeping its location secret so it would not be grabbed by one of my goofy friends.

Over the years I have found an old hummingbird nest here and there, usually in somebody's garden.  By far the most fascinating was the one I found was a couple of years ago only four feet off the ground in a photinia bush in Steveston, Richmond.  What made this nest so fascinating was not its design or construction, but the two small white eggs it contained that were not much bigger than Tic-Tac mints.  It was only mid-March when I first noticed the tiny nest and over several weeks I checked it but never saw an adult hummer sitting on the eggs.  I don't know what happened to the mother bird but the eggs never hatched and eventually they disappeared, likely being eaten by another bird (cue the music to Disney's "The circle of life").

So just when I thought I knew everything about hummingbird nests, my wife and I end up going for a walk in Crescent Beach and finding ourselves at the front door of local artist Helen Downing-Hunter who was holding an at home art show.  I commented to her on the beauty of her acrylic ink paintings including some very colourful hummingbird prints.  It was then that she pointed over to a hanging lamp in her porch by the front door, showing me where she got her inspiration.  Sitting on top of the metal cage meant to protect the lightbulb was a hummingbird nest, with two baby Anna's hummingbirds perched inside of it.  I did not have my cell phone to take a picture and when I went back the very next day the babies had already taken wing.  Helen was nice enough to provide me pictures of the chicks that a friend had taken that you see with this TNT.

We purchased a booklet from Helen that she had produced featuring prints of many of her hummingbird paintings plus a fascinating and informative story that went with it.  Rather than me regurgitate hummingbird facts gleaned from the internet, here is the storyline from Helen's book:

Over 300 species of hummingbirds make their homes exclusively in the Western hemisphere from Alaska to southern Chile.  In the wild hummingbirds live 3-12 years. The female can lay 1-3 jellybean sized eggs several times a year.  A day after hatching they will have enough feathers to regulate their body temperature.  At three weeks they will take their first flight!

It is remarkable that hummingbirds have the largest brain per body size of any bird!  They also have the largest heart size of any animal.  These amazing little birds have eyes that can see ultraviolet light and a third eyelid for protection when flying at speed.  Hummingbirds feed on the nectar from pollen, tree sap flowers and insects with tongues like elastic micropumps they can drink 10 drops of nectar in 15 milliseconds.

Amazing Facts:

Fastest bird in the world for its body size!

Can fly 385 times their body length in one second, 30 mph, 90 feet/sec

Can fly left to right, upside down, backwards, on their side and hover!

They are not so well-equipped for walking or hopping however as they have very weak feet, but they can shuffle sidewalks while perched.

Their throat colour is not the pigment of feathers but rather an incandescent arrangement of feathers.  

Hummingbirds have amazing memories!  They can remember the location of every flower in their neighbourhood and how long it takes to refill its nectar.  They will return to the same feeder every year.  Like our fine feathered friends on Agar Street in Crescent Beach, some will return to the same nest!  This beautiful little nest has been home to the same hummingbird "Honey" for three years.  Seven chicks (and counting) have been hatched here!  Helen Downing-Hunter.

You can reach Helen on Instagram or simply follow here at @helendowninghunterart where you can enjoy her paintings and limited edition prints that feature a lot more than hummingbirds.  The baby hummers may have flown the coop but the nest will remain above the front door waiting for Honey's return next year to add to her growing family that now stands at nine chicks and counting.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



July 12, 2021

Quad Cops

Crescent Beach is always a busy place with many modes of transportation passing by the shoreline on a constant basis.  There are the BNSF trains consisting of mixed freight, coal cars and crude oil tankers that are rolling by in ever-increasing numbers.  Since the US/Canada border was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions the Amtrak passenger train that formerly ran four times a day has unfortunately become a distant memory.  The airspace above Mud bay is very busy with small planes from Boundary Bay Airport, Canada's second busiest airport but commercial jets are still a relatively rare phenomenon.  Of course, the water is always full with a flotilla of various boats and watercraft, including the occasional visit from the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft responding to medical distress calls.   

Just when you think you have seen it all, you look up and realize there is a new kid on the block, this one flashing red and blue lights.  The RCMP does patrol the BNSF Railway, accompanying the railway's police officer in their white high-railer truck.  They are on the lookout for people trespassing on the rail corridor ($115 fine) plus those having beach fires ($1,150 fine) during a time when outdoor burning is banned throughout the Province of BC due to the threat of wildfires.  It turns out that Surrey RCMP officers have a new tactic for controlling fires and alcohol fuelled parties down at Crescent Beach.  The Surrey detachment has been utilizing Polaris 4X4 quads throughout the city core to fight crime and maintain the peace but now these all-terrain vehicles have made their way to south Surrey.  

I've been informed these quads have been seen around the Semiahmoo mall recently helping to combat auto crime.   Now imagine my surprise when quietly relaxing at Crescent Rock beach this weekend when I heard the unmistakable sound of ATVs on the shoreline.  I quickly got up out of my lawn chair to see what was happening and spotted two uniformed officers nearby turning their quads around on the beach in front of the Crescent Rock boulder that serves as a gatepost for the start of the clothing-optional beach.  They paid no heed to the elderly couple nude sunbathing near them and began driving back towards Crescent Beach.  At the spot where the Jack Stroud memorial is for the teen struck and killed by the Amtrak three years ago, they stopped to talk to several people and I managed to catch up to them.

The police officers were very engaging and obviously quite happy to be patrolling the beach where most people welcomed them and their machines.   These ATVs are equipped with emergency lights plus an onboard computer system allowing the cops to check ID's for outstanding warrants and criminal history.  The officers were nice enough to allow a lady to sit on one of their machines and have her picture taken with them.  I chatted the boys in blue up about their quads and they told me they would be doing beach patrols with them during the summer months looking for a variety of violations such as open liquor, public drunkenness and of course fires.  I asked whether they were patrolling White Rock and they informed me that while both cities have the RCMP, the two detachments do not share resources.  

Knowing they had turned around directly in front of a couple that were nude sunbathing not far down the beach, I asked the senior officer if he had asked the folks there to get dressed or move further along the shoreline.  He informed me that the Surrey RCMP was well aware of the clothing-optional beach and that it was perfectly legal under Canadian law.  This office also told me that a tourist had recently seen a naked man at Crescent Rock beach and reported it to E-Com 911 where it was mistakenly forwarded to the Surrey RCMP for investigation.  He questioned why the City of Surrey was so reluctant to put up signage indicating where the boundary for the nude beach was and alerting residents and visitors alike to its clothing-optional status.  He also indicating that the RCMP had contacted the City about this issue without the problem being addressed.

You only need to look at Vancouver to see how they sign the world-famous Wreck Beach.  Metro Vancouver has posted large green and yellow signs stating "Clothing Is Optional at Beach ahead" at the many trails leading down the bluff, plus "Clothing is required beyond this point" at the top of the trails for people leaving the beach.  Other signs read "Welcome to Wreck Beach, a clothing-optional beach in Pacific Spirit Park" along with several etiquette rules, "Please respect people's privacy, photos or video only with consent, don't stare and/or gawk."  These signs also implore people to "Please carry out all garbage" and to "Keep the beach safe and clean."  In Surrey there are two dilapidated signs near the Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps reading "Please keep your park clean, carry out what you carry in" but both of these were cut down years ago and are now simply laying in the bush.

I think that the addition of having police officers on ATV's patrolling the waterfront will greatly reduce the problems at Crescent Beach, especially after dark when alcohol-fuelled bonfire parties often happen.  It is a waste of police resources to have officers respond to reports of nude people at the clothing-optional Crescent Rock beach.  Proper signage for the buff beach in both Surrey and White Rock would greatly reduce nuisance calls about folks getting an all-over tan.  I simply do not understand why the City of Surey refuses to deal with this issue as with more people utilizing Crescent Rock as Surrey's version of Wreck Beach, those not aware there is a nude beach in south Surrey will continue to be in for an eyeful when they discover it.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



July 05, 2021

Let's Murder These Hornets

Sometimes you report the news, other times you are the news.  The later was the case last week when one of my crew sighted an Asian giant hornet in Steveston on the banks of the Fraser River.  Here is the story below by Richmond News reporter Alan Campbell who formerly worked at the Peace Arch News in South Surrey - White Rock.




Don Pitcairn, who runs Green Team Gardening, said one of his employees is convinced one of the hornets – the largest of its kind in the world and an invasive species – flew by him at a strata complex near the Britannia Heritage Shipyards earlier this week.  Pitcairn said he and his staff know their insects very well, having been stung numerous times even recently by all kinds of wasps and hornets.  And he said his employee, who was “freaked out” by the size of the hornet, watched as the two-inch long insect grabbed a honey bee from a flowering bush and took off.  "We’ve been looking out for this thing because I’ve heard reports of them being spotted a long way from the (U.S.) border, where they were first seen last fall,” Pitcairn told the Richmond News.  “My worker said the Asian giant hornet grabbed a bee and headed south towards Shady Island.  It was orange and black and about two inches long. It had huge jaws on it. I queried him on what he saw and he was adamant it was an Asian giant hornet.”

Two weeks ago, Pitcairn and his team ran into a nest of bald-faced hornets, getting stung multiple times, so “we know what they look like; and this wasn’t it.”

Pitcairn said they’ve alerted the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC), but were told that they need a visual or actual confirmation, either as a photo or alive or dead in a jar, before they can look into it.  “I’m going to make some traps out of pop bottles and hang them in that courtyard in Steveston to see if I can catch one,” added Pitcairn.  “I do not want them here. We’ve warned all the stratas we service in Steveston to be on the look-out for these insects.”  The News has reached out to ISCBC for more information.  

The Asian giant hornets are found throughout South and East Asia and were likely brought to North America accidentally on container ships, according to ISCBC.  They were first seen in B.C. in 2019 in Nanaimo and, following this discovery, the B.C. government and local beekeepers destroyed the nest.  Multiple individual dead hornets have been found in the southern Fraser Valley region in 2020, but no nests have been found on mainland B.C. as of November 2020.  In October 2020, officials destroyed a nest directly over the US-Canada border in Blaine, Washington.  Asian giant hornets typically nest in underground cavities, or above ground in tree stumps of forested areas.  They feed on insects and are particularly dangerous to honeybee hives.  If they establish in B.C., they may pose a serious threat to the local beekeeping and commercial pollination industries, which in turn will have serious consequences for B.C. agriculture.



The head is bright orange with large jaws and entirely black eyes. The thorax (where the legs and wings attach) is dark brown or black, and the wings are tinted a dark brown. The abdomen has regular black and orange horizontal stripes.  Depending on the bee caste (drone, worker or queen) the size varies between 2.5 cm to 5 cm.

To report a sighting, take a photo of the hornet and log onto

So, there you have it folks, my worst nightmare is coming true and it looks like we will add yet another flying insect to the list of those that love to sink their stingers into me.  I have made a half dozen Asian giant hornet traps (not "murder" hornets, a sensational name created by a New York Times reporter) that will be filled with orange juice and rice wine bait and hung this week in various locations in Steveston around where this huge black and orange hornet was seen.  I've been contacted by the ISCBC and provided them with the details of this sighting on Tuesday, June 29th so that it can be further investigated.  My suspicion is that these invasive insects have a nest either in the Britannia Heritage Shipyard or on nearby Shady Island at the mouth of the Fraser River.  

Please spend the time to become familiar with the appearance of the Asian giant hornet that has been seen in White Rock before and as far north as Strawberry Heights in Langley.  Keep an eye out for them, especially if you are near flowering shrubs or plants frequented by honeybees that these hornets are fond of feeding on.  They are a very menacing looking bug with a bright orange head, big black eyes and large jaws.  The usual reaction for most people seeing one for the first time is to scream, jump back and yell "WTF?"  I know it sounds funny but my sister and buddy had the exact same reaction to spotting an Asian giant hornet.  They both described their chance encounter exactly the same also, "It scared the hell out of me!"  When you spot one you'll know it, and if you do, please report it to the ISCBC and the news media immediately.  A photo, a dead hornet, or possibly a live one (scary) is needed for positive identification.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

June 28, 2021

Putting the Breaks on Tax Hikes

BLUE FROG owners Juanita Moffat / Kelly Breaks

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses to varying degrees since health orders began closing doors early last year.  While some businesses thrived, especially those in the online delivery business, others such as airlines, cruise ships, tourism plus arts and entertainment suffered huge losses of revenue.  The Blue Frog Studios in White Rock that records music and holds concerts was basically shuttered for the past 15 months.  Just as they prepared to open up at 50 percent capacity, they received their property tax notice from the City of White Rock that had jumped nearly 50 percent, from $18,000 to $26,800, an increase of $8,800. 


The reasons for this massive tax hike are numerous but they all added up to a bitter pill that Kelly Breaks, the President of Blue Frog Studios, could not stand to swallow.  Most of the property tax hike came from the elimination of a school tax subsidy that was implemented in 2020 when COVID-19 shut down much of the economy.  The loss of this tax break for 2021 resulted in an increase in the school tax from $2,685 to $9,590, a whopping 357 percent increase.  Metro Vancouver, who can never seem to hold tax increases to the rate of inflation, increased its municipal tax 12 percent, sewer and water taxes an further 12 percent, while taxes for Translink and regional libraries increased 18 percent.  The studio's property value only increased by 4 percent but BC Assessment had changed the studio's classification from residential-business to business, further increasing the taxes owing.

Dan Hill on stage @ Blue Frog

Mr. Breaks had reached his breaking point with this huge increase in the studio's property tax bill and he decided to fight back.  He sent out a news release to various media outlets about the plight of not only Blue Frog but other businesses receiving increases in property tax that they could not afford due to the effects of the pandemic.  Well. it turns out that the squeaky wheel does get the grease because on Friday after receiving inquiries from multiple media outlets, the City of White Rock quickly let Mr. Breaks know that suddenly his tax bill was being reduced by $5,220, leaving him with a new tax bill of $21,580 that represents an increase of close to 20 percent over what Blue Frog paid in 2020.  Kelly is much happier with this new property tax bill and the speed at which it was reduced but believes the tax increases for his studio are only the tip of the iceberg for businesses across BC.


This fear is shared by the Surrey Board of Trade that has been swamped with calls from businesses in surrey complaining about large increases in property tax bills.  The SBT did a survey of their members property taxes and found that a majority of manufacturing business were reporting 20 percent increases, most construction companies' taxes were going up 30% and the bulk of real estate businesses tax bills increased by 35 percent.  SBT spokesperson Anita Huberman is on record as stating that "Businesses should pay their share of taxes but facing such significant increases in one year is simply unfair" and equating it to "Gut-punch taxation."  They are planning a grassroots letter writing campaign next moth that will target local, regional and provincial governments about how their tax increases are negatively affecting many businesses bottom lines. 

It may be that a tax revolt is what is needed to let all levels of government know that they cannot be constantly jacking up commercial property taxes with impunity.  The distribution of taxes between residential and commercial properties needs to reflect the consumption of services and not just the whim of politicians hungry for more funds.  It remains to be seen if this will mean the return of giving business owners a vote in BC municipal elections, something that happened until 1993 when this practice was scrapped by the NDP government.  Politicians are always wary of large increases to homeowner's property tax bills and they might be more concerned about businesses if they had the power to influence elections.  The battle cry for this change should be the slogan used before the American Revolution; "Taxation without representation is tyranny."

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


June 21, 2021

Lookout for Steps, Stairs and Staircases

Last year on April 8, 2020, the City of Surrey closed the three staircases, Christopherson Steps at 24 Ave., 1001 Steps at 15A Ave., and 13 Ave. Lookout (Olympic Trail) at 13 Ave. and 131 St. that access the nude-friendly shores of Crescent Rock Beach.  This measure was reportedly taken at that time to minimize the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission on the narrow bluff staircases.  With the Coldicutt Trail in White Rock being damaged by landslides in Jan. 2020 and now closed permanently due to unstable terrain, this meant that the only access to the 6.5 km. of clothing-optional beach was by walking along the shoreline from either White Rock or Crescent Beach, or coming in by watercraft for the past 14 months

I have been in frequnt contact and dialogue with the City of Surrey Parks Dept. about their reopening plans.  Last week I received the good news from Neil Aven, Manager of Parks, that all three of these locked staircases would be open to the public again starting on Tuesday, June 15, 2021.  Sure enough, on Tuesday morning Surrey crews went through the neighbourhoods of Ocean Park and Crescent Park taking down the ridiculously large "Stairs Closed, No Access, Local Traffic Only" signs that included the one directly across from my driveway, which was a constant reminder of this issue.  Shortly after this was done the locks finally were taken down and the staircases were once again open to the public.  The word quickly got our and spread like wildfire and I received texts and emails from many people heading to the beach while I was stuck working.  

I have only been down the Christopherson Steps so far but it was obvious that Surrey had taken some time during the pandemic to make repairs to the staircase with many worn out treads and handrails recently being replaced.  The metal elevated walkway above the BNSF Railway corridor has really been taken over by the colourful clematis vine growing there that stretches 50 feet above the tracks.  It now looks to have been a victim of its own success with a large portion of it having recently fallen to the thick concrete platform at the bottom of the staircase.  I should note here that the repair and reconstruction of the concrete base of this staircase was done last year when the stairs were closed and featured in a TNT on June 23, 2020 titled "Steps to a Solid Foundation."

If you read last week's TNT "A Fox in the Dog House" then you are aware of the dangerous foxtail barley growing in and around the Blackie Spit Off-Leash Area.  I want to let people know this is not the only place where dogs can pick up spear grass heads.  It is growing along the west end of 24 Ave. at Christopherson Road, on the north side of the street adjacent to a new home under construction.  This includes the six metre no parking zone plus all around the stop sign at the end of 24 Ave.  Surrey crews mowed and trimmed the long grass at the entrance to the Christopherson Park leading to the stairs but unfortunately the foxtail barley was also in this area with the sharp dried seed heads laying all around this high traffic area.  If you are taking your dogs to the beach south of the staircase as is legally allowed, please avoid these two areas with this nasty noxious plant.

I thought I should mention here that the City of Surrey website is not up to speed with the recent changes to the locked staircases.   The Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps staircases both still carry the following notice on a red banner, "The (staircase) is closed to all public use to minimize the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.  The closure is in effect until further notice."  Where this gets rather interesting is the web listing for the "13 Ave. Lookout", a name I only heard of recently from Surrey City Hall.  I know it as the "Olympic Trail", with 131 Street formerly known as Olympic Street having a view of the Olympic peninsula across Boundary Bay in Washington State.  Other more colloquial names are "Pot Point" and "Stoner's Point" for the viewing and toking platform, but the 13th Ave. Lookout name was not listed on the website with nothing being found on a Google search either.  Personally, I find the new label this staircase has apparently been given to be bland and boring.

This isn't the only thing you will not find listed on the City of Surrey website.  There is nothing I could locate letting people know that there is a legal clothing-optional beach in the Semiahmoo peninsula.  I find this rather bizarre since hundreds of people are currently using it on a daily basis and I have met people from as far away as Brazil and West Germany relaxing there.  Also, there is nothing on the web pages for the three staircases that access Crescent Rock Beach to alert people that they might encounter folks nude sunbathing and skinny-dipping on this secluded shoreline.  Don't be too surprised by this since the City of Vancouver's website is basically the same with no listings for clothing-optional use at Wreck Beach, listed by CNN as the 4th best nude beach in the world.  Both Surrey and Vancouver may spout the buzzwords about diversity, inclusion, acceptance and culture but when it comes to naturists and nudists, they can still sit at the back of the bus.  Thankfully you can no longer discriminate on the colour of a person's skin, but when it comes to the amount showing, feel free to ignore and disregard with impunity.

One more important thing I should mention here if you are going to use any of these three Surrey staircases, especially if you want to take in a sunset this summer.  There are signs at the top of the stairs warning "Don't Get Locked In, park gates are locked at the following times:  Feb 12 to Apr 15 - 8:00 pm, Apr 16 to Aug 26 - 10:00 pm, Aug 27 to Oct 15 - 8:00 pm and Oct 16 to Feb 11 - 6:00 pm."  Unfortunately, the website lists the opening times for all the stairs accessing Crescent Rock Beach as "Dawn to Dusk."  Here we at solstice with dusk and 10:00 p.m. being relatively close but by August 26th, two months past the longest day of the year, it will be dark well before 9 o'clock.  This is a discrepancy that Surrey needs to address along with posting the name and number of the security company that can open the gates if you happen to get locked in.  That would be Securiguard in Guildford at 604-689-7588.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



June 14, 2021

A Fox in the Dog House

Several years ago, the Richmond News broke a story about how foxtail barley (hordeum jubatum), aka foxtail grass or spear grass, was injuring pets after they encountered this plant at the Dyke Trail Dog Park.  Foxtail has seed awns with sharp barbed needles that help it to burrow into the ground along with the seeds and this innovative adaptation helps it to prosper and multiply.  Unfortunately, these awns can just as easily penetrate into a dog's skin, usually in the nose, ears, belly and paws where they can cause serious health issues.  This invasive weed was causing such a problem with people's pets that the Island Veterinary Hospital issued a warning to Richmond residents to keep an eye out for this grass that is conspicuous by its light feathery seed awns in early summer.  For a detailed look at the medical problems this can cause your dog, Google search "foxtail barley pet danger" or visit this Dogheirs link:

Earlier this month I noticed that foxtail grass had infested an area along Westwater Drive in Steveston, Richmond next to a walking path that everyone and his dog literally walks down.  I reported this to former PAN reporter Alan Campbell who now works at the Richmond News plus sent an email to the Richmond Parks Department about my findings.  You can read Alan's recent article on this plant versus pet problem at   Richmond Parks Dept. quickly came to mow the offending weeds down but missed half of the grass that was waving in the breeze and also failed to collect any of the sharp seed heads.  On our next visit a week later, I cut down the remaining foxtail and carefully raked up all of the debris, filling two 6x8' tarps in the process.   Unfortunately, it will survive and grow new seed heads again next spring. 

Of course, after all of this I now have foxtail grass on my radar and am keeping an eye out for it in my travels.  I went to Blackie Spit this weekend sleuthing out another story (more on that in another TNT) and to check out a wildlife area that I must admit I am not really familiar since I'd much rather be relaxing at the beach.  Walking from the north-east tip of the park to the south-east corner I got some interesting photographs of Canada geese swimming through the pilings from an old dock along with reading signage from the City of Surrey pointing out that native cow parsnip is not giant hogweed.  Going back to my car I got to a place where several trails intersect by a very large mound in Blackie Spit park.  It was there that I noticed several clumps of foxtail grass with their dangerous seed heads waving in the wind.  A couple with a border collie was at the top of the hill and I went up to introduce myself and warn them about the spiky threat to their dog below.

From my vantage point I could see the Blackie Spit Off-Leash Area and knowing about the problems with the foxtail grass at the Dyke Trail Dog Park in Richmond, I decided to go check it out.  I really could not believe my eyes when I found foxtail grass growing all along the front fence separating the pathway from the dog park.  Heading to the entrance, I noticed the garbage can, which most people use for disposing of their poop bags, was circled with foxtail grass that was growing thick and long from the many dogs who had used it as a urinal.  Going into the double gated dog park entranceway I photographed foxtail grass on all four sides of this pinch point enclosure.  As if this was not bad enough, there were clumps of foxtail grass within the off-leash area that had obviously been trampled by running dogs.  Heading back to the parking lot in fading light, I noticed several other areas of Blackie Spit that had foxtail grass growing wild.

Obviously, I will be contacting the City of Surrey Parks Department first thing on Monday morning to report my findings and alert them to the contents of this TNT column.  With the risk to pets, I believe the Blackie Spit Off-Leash Area should be closed immediately until this barley plant and its needle-sharp seed awns can be safely removed.  Since foxtail barley is currently in seed, I think the best way to do this this would be to hoe or dig the grass out and collect all of the plant material from in and around the dog park for disposal.  For other areas of Blackie Spit the seed heads could be carefully cut off and the plants either dug out or fenced off and treated with herbicide.  Surrey still uses herbicides to control invasive or noxious plants such as Japanese knotweed and knapweed, marking these areas with signs.   Once the foxtail barley has been eradicated these spots could later be seeded with pasture grass or wildflower mix. 

City of Surrey crews need to be educated about this problem and be on the lookout for foxtail grass, especially when it is easy to spot with its light green feathery seed heads visible this time of year.  There are 14 off-leash dog parks in Surrey and all of these need to be checked to see if they are infested with foxtail grass like at Blackie Spit.  Parks Department grass cutting crews need to be educated not to mow this invasive plant down which helps to disperse its seeds to other parks.  I would suspect that the Serpentine Fen, with its long trails beside grassy meadows is another dog-friendly area that should be inspected for the aptly named spear grass.  The same can likely be said for the popular Mud Bay Trail that runs from Surrey into Delta along the shores of Mud Bay.  

If you are a dog owner who frequents Surrey parks with your four-legged friend, please familiarize yourself with foxtail barley's characteristics and report it with an exact location to any of the following contacts:  

Office phone, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm:  604-501-5050

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



June 7, 2021

Let's Talk Turkey

As someone who spends much of their time outdoors, I tend to find all sorts of interesting natural phenomenon simply by keeping my eyes open.  Case in point, last week I was visiting a friend of mine in south Surrey when I noticed a bizarre looking ring nestled in tall grass under some trees.  A closure inspection revealed what I instantly identified as turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor), likely growing on top of an old tree stump or a rotting root.  These were rather striking with the small cluster of overlapping fans featuring light cream edges with alternating rings of tan, brown and vivid shades of green that actually are algae.  My buddy was surprised to see such an interesting fungus growing in his yard and was even more impressed that I actually knew what it was.  I took a few photographs including the one posted with this TNT that I submitted for the coveted WR Sun front page photo.

I have often come across turkey tail mushrooms quite often as this common variety can be found consuming rotting wood in countries around the world.  Where I usually find it is growing on dead standing or fallen hardwoods but it can appear on the forest floor attached to any kind of decaying wood.  After taking my colourful photo of this fungi I went home to learn more about this mushroom, referencing my copy of The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms.  In case you are not familiar with these books, they are a great field guide to everything from spiders to insects, birds to mammals and trees to weather with 20 topics about the natural world in print.   While I may bring home chicken mushrooms, morels or chanterelles when in season, it was not surprising to learn that while not poisonous these tough as nail turkey tails are not a choice edible mushroom.

What is rather interesting about this beautiful polypore fungus is that it has been used in eastern medicine in many Asian countries including China and Japan.  It is consumed as a tea for cleansing and detoxifying effects, to boost the immune system and to promote general health and longevity.  Researchers have identified more than 40 different naturally occurring antioxidants in turkey tail fungus including baicalein found in thyme and used in hematological cancer treatments, flavonoids like in kale and strawberries believed to be heart healthy, phenols that promote anti-inflammatory response and quercetin found in green tea and red wine consumed widely as a supplement.  Taking note of the use of turkey tail in fighting disease across Asia, the Food and Drug Administration in the USA has funded research into its use for lessening the effects of cancer treatment like chemotherapy and to help control prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women.

There is a wide array of health claims posted on the internet about the benefits of turkey tail mushrooms, which I believe must be taken with a grain of salt.  That being said, there are thousands of turkey tail products available for sale including a wide variety of teas, powders, extracts, capsules, tinctures, gummies and even grow-your-own terrarium kits.  I'm hoping there is some truth to the health benefits associated with this very common fungus but for me, I simply enjoy finding them in the natural environment and checking out their concentric rings and vivid colours.  I have seen much larger colonies of turkey tails in the past but the one at my buddy's place in south Surrey only a block from North Bluff Rd./16 Ave. and Johnson Rd./152 St. was the first one I've ever taken a picture of.  I guess I could have collected it and chopped it up to make tea but it still remains growing slowly on the Semi-pen stump where I found it.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



May 31, 2021

One Way Ahead


Many jurisdictions across the Lower Mainland have taken steps to help restaurants expand their outside patio space to increase the number of tables available for diners with social distancing measures in effect.  Tents have been sprouting like mushrooms in parking lots, public walkways have been set aside for tables and parking areas have become patios in order to expand seating while indoor dining is restricted.  White Rock is about to take a page out of the Star Trek handbook and "boldly go where no man has gone before" by closing down one lane of their waterfront main drag, making it a one lane, one way street, so that local restaurants can dramatically increase their patio space.

Under this plan posted on the website, the formerly two-way traffic on Marine Drive will be one way from Vidal Street on the west side of White Rock to Maple Street on the east side.  There will be one lane of traffic heading eastbound from Vidal St. to the Little India Restaurant near the pier.  Across the Hump hillside traffic will be two lanes including north side parking but only in the eastbound direction.   Heading into East Beach, Marine Dr. will once again merge into one lane at Balsam St. near Moby Dicks Fish & Chips and stay one lane eastbound until past each beach at the start of the Semiahmoo First Nation land with traffic returning to two-way at Maple Street.  You can see proposed traffic change maps on the website at this link:

So, you're probably wondering how does traffic get from the east end of Marine Drive back to the west end for those cruising the strip or looking for a prime parking spot?  Simply go north on Maple Street then turn left onto either Victoria Ave. or Columbia Ave. heading westbound.  At Johnston Rd. Columbia veers south and joins up with Victoria at Foster St. and a block from there you turn left on to Vidal, rejoining traffic heading east on Marine Drive including that funneling down Oxford Hill or from Marine Drive heading east.  It is estimated that both Victoria and Columbia will see increased traffic volume of more than 250 cars per hour during peak times (read sunny weekends).  For anyone who has witnessed the Marine Drive traffic jam when it is two lanes, just try to imagine what it will be like when it becomes one way and single lane.

It was the White Rock BIA that brought forth this plan to assist the restaurants along Marine Drive with extra patio seating utilizing the westbound lane of Marine Drive until Covid-19 restrictions ease.   City Council made the decision at a May 10 Council meeting voting 6-1 to “direct staff to close the north lane of Marine Drive until September 2021."   The rental of the orange plastic water-filled barricades needed for this plan will cost an initial $50,000 to install and a further $40,000 a month for the three months they are needed.  Traffic control personnel will be needed for this temporary change, estimated to cost $1,000 a day or more while the one-way Marine Drive diversion is in effect.  Of course, much of the existing road signage will need to be changed or modified plus new signage created and posted with no word on these costs.

This plan carries some additional problems that have yet to be addressed.  First off, it has not been announced what they will do about Translink bus service across the waterfront and how public transit will operate with the proposed one-way zone.  How will city staff empty garbage cans, water hanging baskets and perform other work with nowhere to park and only one lane of traffic allowed?   While this concept is being driven by the need to help the restaurants along Marine Drive, they receive deliveries in the morning with large 5-tonne trucks blocking the westbound lane, which of course will now be occupied by patio space.  Most concerning is how this change will affect the response time for emergency services during what is likely to be gridlock during summer weekends, a public safety question that has yet to be answered.

I know from talking to various White Rock employees that many of them believe the one-way Marine Drive concept will be a fiasco, with words like "SNAFU" and "trucked-up" (or something like that) being commonly used.  Social media comments and online polls point to an overwhelming disapproval of this plan, especially from residents in White Rock.  I understand that members of Council are being inundated with emails and calls from people concerned about the direction that City Hall is taking on this issue.  I should note here that Councillor Dave Chesney who is also the editor of the WR Sun was the one lone dissenting vote when this motion was passed.  This matter will come before Council soon to pass a budget for this project and if costs balloon, maybe it will give those who originally voted for this scheme time for some serious reflection as to whether it's a good idea or not.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



 May 24, 2021

The Dirty Dozen Revisited

A few years back I had a plethora of story ideas I had accumulated from around the Semiahmoo peninsula, twelve to be exact.  Since none of them really jumped off the page at me I decided to hit the reset button and dump them all at once, penning the original "The Dirty Dozen" that was twelve short paragraphs on the various topics I had compiled.  With a cover picture featuring a dozen white and brown speckled quail's eggs, it made for one of the more unique The Naked Truths I have written over the past decade writing for the White Rock Sun.  This TNT does not feature twelve different topics, only one, but there are exactly one dozen similar items that will be the focus of this TNT.

Along the length of Crescent Road from King George Blvd. to Crescent Beach are a dozen old fashioned park benches featuring heavy concrete bases with green painted 2x4s bolted onto them.  You can find them at most of the bus stops with the majority of these benches positioned on the south side of the street and only a few on the north side.  They all sport a plaque with the old Surrey municipal logo featuring 5 stars for the town centres, a beaver and the peach arch plus the saying "Designated Heritage Site, City of Surrey."  I'm quite familiar with them as there is one in front of a friend's property not far from Crescent Beach that I see every time I stop in for a visit.  To be quite honest, other than reading the plaque and wondering how a street bench became a heritage site, I had never given them a second thought.

That changed last week when I headed off to work down Crescent Road as I often do.  There were several people standing next to the bench by Crescent Park and 128 Street and I realized that I had never seen anyone ever sitting at any of these benches.  Driving by I noticed that one of the concrete supports was leaning at a crazy angle and I wondered if the reason this one was never used was because it was unsafe.  As I headed towards King George, I quickly scanned the rest of the south side benches to check out their condition.  Even while driving it was plainly obvious that these benches had fallen into a serious state of disrepair.  Coming home that evening after a hard day's work I looked at the ones at the north side and was equally appalled by what I saw.

It wasn't until the weekend when I took the time to visit all of these street benches, check out their condition and take pictures that I realized these "Designated Heritage Sites" had been long forgotten by the City of Surrey.  Some of the concrete bases were not sitting level with one looking like it has been damaged some years ago.  The heritage plaques were either faded (on the north side) or covered in algae (on the south side) plus the bolts that held them in place were rusted.  Many of the 2x4 board (there are 7 on each bench) were rotten or broken on the lower portion that you actually sit on.  The once bright green paint was peeling from most of the boards or they were covered in thick green algae that you could see visible slug and snail trails on.  Besides having ivy and blackberries growing through them, the bench in front of the Elgin Heritage Park had thick grass growing up through the seat that was as tall as the back of the bench!

The 4.5 kilometre length of Crescent Road was constructed back in 1882 linking the original Peach Arch Highway and Semiahmoo Trail wagon road to the emerging community at Crescent Beach, more than two decades before the Great Northern Railway line was opened.  Crescent Road's heritage value was formally recognized in 1983 on the City of Surrey Heritage Register #7716 and placed on the Canada's Historic Places registry in 2005.  It is likely that the heritage benches were installed in the mid 1980's, which would explain their current dilapidated state after more than 35 years of being outside.  The original Heritage Marker sign for Crescent Road that was a yellowish orange was replaced several years back with the new white and black version.  For more information on Crescent Road and its heritage value visit this link on the website:

Currently these dozen benches are un-usable and possibly dangerous.  If you were to sit on any of them, you would get covered in green algae slime and flakes of paint and primer.  Worse yet, you might break one of the remaining rotten boards or possibly get a big splinter in your butt.  The only bench that is in reasonable condition is the one closest to Crescent Beach by Tulloch Road that has signs of a previous repair but it is greener than my lawn (and that's green).   The City of Surrey needs to address this issue immediately and I will ensure the proper department receives the 12 damning photos I took.  It is possible these could be rebuilt using green composite 2x4s (see that are extremely durable and easy to clean.  Another option is to simply replace them with new bus stop ad benches.  Of course, the vegetation around them still needs to be trimmed down on a regular basis since nobody wants to sit down on a blackberry.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


May 17, 2021

An Illuminating Perspective



So many nights I'd sit by my window
Waiting for someone to sing me his song
So many dreams I kept deep inside me
Alone in the dark, but now you've come along

And you light up my life

Lyrics to "You Light Up My Life", written by Kasey Cisyk for the song track album to the 1977 film of the same title.

Made famous as a cover song by Debby Boone, daughter of Pat Boone, becoming a No. 1 song for ten weeks, also in 1977.

I'm not sure where the trend first started but it seems that more and more new homes are being built with a stunning array of outdoor lighting.  This usually includes recessed soffit lighting often installed around the entire outside of the building, plenty of driveway lights, lights built into stairways and landscaping lighting.  There are now large homes throughout Surrey that are lit up at night like it was the middle of the day.  Making this obnoxious trend even more disturbing is the fact that these nocturnal light shows are usually tied to a light sensor so they remain on all night long.  When the McMansion was built next to our house, we lost all of our privacy in the back yard but fortunately they didn't ring their house with soffit lighting so our place fortunately still remains dark at night.


Light pollution from neighbours can become a serious problem, especially when one neighbour's lights illuminate their next-door property.  Case in point, a friend of mine had a hot tub in their back yard that they used without swimsuits under the cover of darkness.   This was not a problem for anyone until the neighbours placed a motion activated light on the side of their house to light up their walkway, equipped with a 100-watt halogen bulb.  The light shone over the fence and left the naked folks in the hot tub as exposed as a deer in the headlights.   Needless to say, they were not pleased with their loss of privacy and talking to the neighbours about this problem went nowhere.  My buddy eventually resorted to unscrewing the light bulb, which would be screwed back in again by the next night.  This led to the bulb mysteriously disappearing several times, culminating with the light sensor being broken by forces unknown.  

Darkness is a natural part of our ecosystem and light pollution can cause many problems far beyond never getting to see the Milky Way galaxy if living anywhere near an urban centre.  Light pollution poses a threat to nocturnal wildlife, confuses the migratory flights of birds and alters predator-prey relationships.   Humans also suffer adverse health effects with nighttime light affecting the circadian rhythm during sleep that reduces melatonin production, leading to sleep disorders, stress, fatigue and anxiety.  It has been estimated that lighting is responsible for at least one-quarter of the electricity used world-wide, wasting money and adding to our carbon footprint.  It is easy to reduce light pollution by shielding bulbs, only using lights when needed, using energy efficient bulbs and ensuring the colour of light and lumen output is not excessive for the job that is required.


The City of Surrey has been working to upgrade their street lights from yellow coloured high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs to the newer light emitting diode (LED) bulbs.   Because of the longevity and durability of the LED lights there is expected to be big savings in maintenance and the replacing of dangerous sodium bulbs.  Once the conversion is complete it is expected the switch to LEDs will save the city $1 million in annual costs and reduce energy consumption for road lighting by approximately 30 percent.  The focus on this program is to first upgrade areas with traffic signals and pedestrian crosswalks in order to reduce accidents.   To date almost half of the 38,800 city owned lights have been changed over to LED, including 16 percent of the lights in south Surrey.  You can check out their progress and compare the Semi-pen to other centres in Surrey (City Centre at 91%) at this rather enlightening website:


So here is where the street light changing program hits close to home for me.  While I live in yellow glow HPS neighbourhood that has not yet been converted to LED, my next-door neighbour's light was recently changed over after it burned out.  You cannot help but notice it for the dazzling bright light illuminates the roadway and front yards for 75 metres, showing colours that are not visible with HPS.  The problem I have with this new street light is that it is extremely bright and glaring, to the point that you cannot look directly at it.  (NOTE:  I had to take an overnight break from writing this TNT as the power went out while I was writing about street lights!)  Walking down the street I found myself squinting and wishing I had worn my ballcap with its trusty brim, either that or having brought along my sunglasses.  Sorry to say but I think the city could have saved more money on both the LED fixtures and power consumption by using lights that were a little less glaring.  The overall effect looks to be that they have turned night into day on the mean streets of Surrey.

In a TNT first, I leave you with a second set of musical lyrics that I think are rather fitting, this time courtesy of Canadian rocker Corey Hart with his song "I Wear My Sunglasses at Night" from the 1983 album First Offense.

And I wear my sunglasses at night

So I can, so I can

See the light that's right before my eyes

Oh no
I say
I wear my sunglasses at night
I wear my sunglasses at night
I wear my sunglasses at night


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



May 10, 2021

Passing Over the Overpass Protesters

" I asked my doctor today how long he thinks this COVID-19 thing will last.  He responded with "How the hell should I know?  I'm a doctor, not a politician."

I was heading to Art Knapps Gaden Centre on Sunday not thinking about it being Mother's Day and that everyone would be at this gardening superstore with huge lineups all day long.  Fortunately, the drive was not a rcomplete waste of time for as I went across the King George Blvd. overpass above Hwy. 99, there were protestors holding signs, waving Canadian flags and with large banners attached to the overpass railings.  This was happening directly across the street from the formerly empty Park & Ride lot that has been turned into a COVID-19 testing and immunization centre.  I must admit that I love a good protest and have done several over the years on highway overpasses and even at the same Park & Ride lot where I protested against the HST with a 50 foot-tall "NO" that was used on Global TV for almost a year.

The three people who were on the overpass sidewalk identified themselves as "freedom fighters" who were standing up to the government's COVID-19 policies enacted during the global pandemic.  While not affiliated with a particular group, they told me to visit the Action4 website whose homepage says it is "A grassroots movement reaching out to millions of Canadians and UNITING our voices in opposition to the destructive policies tearing at the fabric of this nation. Through Call To ACTION campaigns, we equip citizens to take action. We are committed to protecting…FAITH, FAMILY and FREEDOM."  I was also told they were followers of No New Normal ( website and facebook page.  This is where you can find the following passage: " Fear is the virus, Covid news is a lie, the pandemic is a scam.  We won't consent to the globalist agenda who is influencing the government and our medical officers.  Say no to mask, testing, contract tracing and vaccination. Turn off your TV and boycott mainstream media.  Be a critical thinker and do independent research."

Here is an assortment of the various signs and banners that were being displayed on the KGB overpass on Sunday.

"Leave our kids alone!, Covid fraud, Reject modernity, Depopulation 2030,  Try and see through the lies, Stop masking Trudeau Corruption, No experimental injection, and Covid is the Trojan horse."  I think you can likely understand where they stand on the Covid plandemic..., I mean pandemic, with no plans of joining the millions who have already taken their first vaccination of the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca shots.  Their signs were sending the same message as the placards we have seen at the Vancouver Art Gallery over the last year including "Hugs over masks, Facts over fear, We are all essential, Do you know anyone with Covid? and Hands off our guns", which I don't believe has anything to do with actually spreading the Coronavirus unless through surface contamination. 

What was really interesting about this protest was the reaction of the those passing by both on King George and below on Hwy. 99.  There was a literal symphony of car horns with about a 50/50 split of whether you would get a thumbs up or a Trudeau salute from drivers and passengers.  Some people would shout out their support and others would curse those standing on the sidewalk.  One woman stopped to admonish those on the raised sidewalk to the danger they were in until I pointed out that she was the one stopped in the roadway only feet away from passing cars.  While chatting to those involved, a pickup truck did an abrupt lane change, swerving towards the protestors and then tossing a liquid from their side window as they passed by, likely oblivious that their childish prank actually counts as assault.  Fortunately, it was just water and not battery acid, or as one of the men joked, "a bottle of urine."

Regardless of how you feel about these protestor's message, either completely misguided or righteously informed, you have to give them credit for standing up for what they believe and voicing their freedom of speech.  Standing on the edge of the road between two busy highways takes a lot of nerve and conviction, not to mention the cost to produce all of the banners and signs on display.  Don't expect this protest to go away anytime soon as the so-called "Surrey folks defending freedoms" are committed to being out every weekend at the 160 St. overpass above the #1 Trans-Canada Hwy. in north Surrey on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at the King George Blvd. overpass above Hwy. 99 in south Surrey every Sunday from noon till 2 a.m.  Something tells me the longer this "COVID-BS" drags on the more people we are going to see waving flags and placards opposing government efforts to stamp out both the infection and opposition to all of the imposed restrictions.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


May 03, 2021

Things That Bug Me (Part 3)-

Mason Bees


To be perfectly honest, mason bees don't bug me but sometimes when they're in my face I still wish they would buzz off.  My first encounter with this native North American bee that is a prolific pollinator was years ago at the front door of my house in Brookswood, Langley.  I had red brick at the front entrance and the mason who installed them decided that it would be interesting to top the doorway with bricks that had their drying holes facing outwards.  In the spring after I moved in, I noticed these large black flies all hovering around the entrance going in and out of the holes in the bricks.  I quickly realized that they were not flies at all but a small black bee that was busy filling up the holes with muddy plugs.  A little research introduced me to the interesting world of the mason bee that continued to colonize my front door bricks for years.


If you are not familiar with mason bees (Osmia Megachilidae), the first thing you need to know is that they do not make honey.  There are over 150 types of mason bees in North America and most of these are native species.  They are avid pollinators and less than 300 adult females can pollenate an entire acre of plants, bushes and trees more efficiently than honey bees.  Mason bees are solitary insects with females making their own nest and not producing workers as in a honey bee hive.  Eggs are laid on pollen rich masses in small cracks or dark voids that are separated with mud into chambers until they are full with female eggs laid at the back and male eggs at the front.  In the spring mason bees emerge from cocoons from their winter hibernation with males waiting at the nesting site for females to emerge.  After mating the males all die and the females begin building nests for the next generation, living 4-6 weeks.  

I went to visit David Hutchinson, a well-known medical marijuana advocate from south Surrey, who was looking for advice with his landscaping.  Near the front door of his house in Ocean Park was a box that I knew was a commercially produced mason bee nesting box.  To say it was a beehive of activity would be an understatement and a lively pun at the same time.  There were smarms of black female mason bees coming and going, working on filling up the many tubes in the box.  I should note that the males do not have a stinger and the females rarely sting and if they do it's like a mosquito bite.  Forgetting that I was there to talk about gardening, our conversation revolved around his bees and the necessary steps you need to take to have them every year.  Much to my surprise David gave me an older mason bee box that he was no longer using plus some of the larvae that he had overwintered in paper coin tubes placed in his fridge.  Eventually we got to talking about his garden but not before I had suddenly become an amateur apiarist yet again.


Arriving at home my first task was to inform my honey that I was now raising bees that did not produce any honey.  I found a sunny spot on our deck to place the nesting box and put the sleeves of mason bee cocoons in the fridge as I had been instructed.  David told me to wait a week or two for warmer weather then to put the packages of adults outside where they would hatch.  Well, the bees had different ideas and within a few days we noticed a black bee inside our kitchen and found another one crawling inside of our fridge!  Needless to say, all of the bees went outside immediately and by the very next day we already had bees going into the nesting tubes.  Once you get used to them buzzing right by your face, these busy little mason bees are quite entertaining and we already have over 10 nesting tubes filled with eggs.  As a bonus, our fruit trees plus raspberry and blueberry bushes should be very well pollenated this year, hopefully producing a bumper crop for us.


You can purchase mason bee boxes, also called bee hotels, at the local Art Knapps nursery or at Wild Birds Unlimited.  These stores also stock and sell mason bee cocoons in the early spring that you can buy to ensure you hotel gets occupied.  It is also easy to make a DIY mason bee box simply by drilling holes into a thick non-pressure treated piece of wood and ensuring that it is covered and out of the rain.  You will find plenty of ideas on the web plus lots of information about how to care for the many types of mason bees that live in Canada.  What I like about the box I got from Mr. Hutchinson is that the block of tubes can be easily taken apart for access the cocoons and for yearly cleaning and light sanding.  The easiest mason bee house has to be small sections of bamboo stalks 5 inches long closed at the back end, dried out and tied together with rubber bands.  Unfortunately, these bamboo tubes cannot be reused but if you have a bamboo grove with thin stalks, then you have an inexhaustible supply of nesting tubes. 

For more information about mason bees and their care, check out this article from the David Suzuki Foundation:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - April 25, 2021


Things That Bug Me (Part 2) - Asian Giant Hornet

Spring is in the air and it is time for the overwintering Asian Giant Hornet queens to emerge from their winter slumber and take up new nesting sites for this year.  In case you know them only as so-called "Murder Hornets" you need to realize that this name was first coined by New York Times reporter Mike Baker back in November of 2020 in a rather sensationalized article from the east coast written about these introduced pests here in the Pacific Northwest.   I wrote a TNT on May 11 last year titled "Stop The Asian Invasion" where if you scroll down you can read details about their background facts including a memo released by the BC Ministry of Agriculture how sightings can be reported to the invasive Species Council of BC at 1-888-933-3722, via the council's "Report Invasives" mobile phone app, or online:


At the end of last year, I was visiting with Pixie Hobby, an environmentalist lawyer from whose name you might recognize from previously running here in the Semi-pen for both the BC Green Party and federal NDP.   I popped in to her place in Crescent Beach to return some election signs and noticing her ripped up front lawn gave her a crash course about Chafer beetles, how to fix the damage and the steps needed to keep it from happening in the future (the same info as last week's TNT, Things That Bug Me (Part1) - Chafer Beetle).  What I found interesting was the two honey bee hives that Pixie was overwintering on the front patio of her house.   She informed me that the honeybee boxes are usually found at the Dunsmuir Community Garden in Crescent Beach to help with pollination and are kept at her house for safe-keeping and supervision during the winter months.  


I had a girlfriend years ago who was an avid entomologist that also kept honey bees so the subject was not new to me.  I had helped her keep her bees at the Richmond Nature Park, assisted with honey extraction and helped move and care for them during the winter months by feeding the hive with sugar water.  In all of the times when we had been working the bees, neither of us wore protective gear and I had never been stung.  The two times I have been surrounded by swarms of wild honey bees again I was never stung.  While I have been mauled many times by yellow-jacket wasps and bald-faced hornets after getting involved with their nests, the three times I'd been stung by bees was while accidentally crushing them into flowers as I walked by.  You can always tell it was a honey bee and not a wasp as their stinger rips out of their bodies and continues to inject venom after the bee flies off to die. 

What was of great interest to me at Pixie's place was the homemade "Giant Asian Hornet Trap" she had hanging from a tree only metres from the bee hives.  She informed me that the trap was usually at Dunsmuir Gardens and that community garden members were actively looking for these invasive hornets that can kill up to 30,000 honey bee workers in only an hour before entering the hive to steal the larvae.  Her trap consisted of a 2-litre pop bottle with 2 cm. openings cut into a sideways H pattern on three sides of the bottle near the top.  The bottom of the 2 cm. H is folded out with the top pushed in, allowing hornets to enter but not easily leave.  The trap is baited with 4 ounces of no-pulp orange juice (a lunch box size serving) plus a further 4 oz of rice wine (10-25% alcohol by volume).  An easier recipe is a cup of brown sugar mixed with a cup of warm water.   You can see an instructional video by the Washington State Department of Agriculture on Facebook about how to make and properly use one of these traps at

Officials in B.C. and Washington state are teaming up this year to battle this common enemy with plenty of traps, both installed and monitored by government employees and those built and installed by individuals looking to do their part in eliminating this threat.  The queens are likely to already have emerged from winter hibernation and begun looking for nesting sites for this year.  Catching queens in traps will ensure they do not get to make new colonies, while catching workers will let government officials know where Asian Giant Hornets are active so that their nests can be located and destroyed as happened several years ago in Nanaimo and in Blaine.  If this pest cannot be eradicated it poses a threat to our agriculture businesses by possibly killing bee hives that work to pollenate our fruits and vegetables, leading to reduced crops and decreased yields. Keep in mind that my sister squashed on of these queens in her Langley yard last March near 56 Ave. and 248 St. in Strawberry Heights showing that they can be found many miles north of the US/Canada border.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn





The Naked Truth - April 19, 2021


Things That Bug Me Part 1- Chafer beetle

Spring is in the air and by that, I mean the sound of lawn mowers being brought out of hibernation and grass being given its first cut of the year.  Unfortunately for some folks living in the Semi-pen, the winter has been cruel and they now don't have lawns to mow.  The main culprit is the European chafer beetle (Rhizotrogus majalis) that is an introduced species first discovered in the Lower Mainland back in 2001 in New Westminster.  Since that time they have spread and now can be found throughout the Lower Mainland including South Surrey and White Rock.  The larvae of these brown beetles are white grubs 1-2 cm. in length with brown heads that damage lawns by eating away at the roots of the turf, leaving brown or dead patches in lawns.  

The chafer grubs may damage grass but at least they don't rototill it down to bare earth.  These larvae are an irresistible high-protein snack that many of our native animals find irresistible.All of our nocturnal animals feed on chafer beetle grubs but it is the racoon with its size, strength and sharp claws that can tear apart and quickly roll back the turf while having a feast.   Opossums and skunks also have the keen sense of smell needed to locate chafer beetle larvae and they too can quickly dig multiple holes in a lawn in their search for these tasty morsels.  During the day crows descend on these damaged lawns and continue to rip them into smaller pieces by pulling on old synthetic turf netting that remains buried just under the ground.  

If your lawn has been torn to shreds, there are a variety of ways to combat this problem in the future.  The easiest method is to simply rake up the destroyed turf and reseed with a mixture of tall fescue and micro clover that are grub resistant and help hold the lawn together.  Usually, nutrient poor well-drained soil is part of the problem allowing chafer beetle grubs to overwhelm a lawn, so laying down a thick layer of organic topsoil before seeding is a definite improvement.  Should you really want to stop all creatures great and small from feasting on your lawn, landscapers can cut out the old grass, excavate the sub-soil, install new topsoil and re-turf.  If you are going through with this expense, an underground irrigation system is also a good idea.  Lastly, having artificial lawns installed or getting rid of lawns all together is always an option.


The easiest way to avoid chafer beetle damage is to keep your lawn healthy in the first place.  This means applying dolomite lime in the fall and overseeding bare spots in the spring once it is warm enough for the seed to germinate.  Aerating to relieve compaction, help control moss and provide air to lawn roots can be beneficial.  A comprehensive fertilizer program designed to help keep grass thick and lush will keep adult chafer beetles out and grow roots faster than the grubs can eat them.  Mowing at 6-8 cm. or 2.5 to 3 inches in height will make for a healthier lawn as will mulching your lawn and allowing the cuttings to build up the organic matter in the lawn instead of filling up your green bin.  Most importantly, in the summer when it is hot, do not mow your lawn, especially when it is sunny as this will put it into drought stress.  Water your lawn deeply when allowed to under Met-Van sprinkling regulations to keep grass green and healthy.

There are no pesticide sprays that can be used under municipal bylaws to help kill chafer beetles and do you really want to poison your lawn?  There are a few more natural ways to help control chafer grubs that are not toxic to pets, animals or the environment.  Beneficial nematodes, small parasitic worms that enter beetle larvae, can be purchased from local garden stores in the late spring and put onto the lawn in July once chafer beetle eggs have hatched.  These have to be watered in and kept moist and you can apply at City Hall for an exemption to sprinkling restrictions during this time.  Another natural alternative is Scots Grub-B-Gone MAX with the pet safe and naturally occurring bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) that infects the gut of underground larvae.   It can be used in spring to control over-wintering grubs, in July or August to control newly hatched grub larvae or in the fall to control new grubs hatched from eggs laid in the summer.  

Having a nice lawn is not rocket appliance, or something like that.  You simply have to follow the suggestions listed above, especially if you have had chafer beetle damage or racoon rototilling.   A healthy lawn does not take a lot of time for upkeep and with mulching instead of bagging, there is much less work involved.  The big trick is finding the right medium of watering and fertilizing where the lawn is thick and green without growing so fast that cutting it becomes a real chore.  These days with Covid-19 stay at home health orders and concerns about food quality and availability, many people are getting rid of their lawns and putting in vegetable gardens instead.  Not only do you get a bountiful harvest that you grew yourself, you don't have to worry about those damn chafer beetles.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



Monday April 12, 20231

Surrey Real Estate Board

I really could hardly believe my eyes when a friend sent me a picture last week of a new board game that a buddy of his had found at a Surrey Wal-Mart.  There in the toy section among the hundreds of different board games was one that stood out above the rest.  We are all familiar with Monopoly, a game first created in 1933 by Charles Darrow based on Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Well folks living in Surrey, B.C.'s second largest city, can now play their own version of Monopoly titled Surreyopoly created under license by Onset Media Games in Victoria (

This new board game released April 5th is totally Surrey.  The name even features a beaver in the middle (Surrey's old mascot) along with the slogan "A fun game celebrating BC's City of Parks!" and the Canadian maple leaf flag.  The GO corner space where you collect $200 for passing reads "Go Surrey!" along with a smiling arrow.  While the regular monopoly game's cheapest properties are the initial Mediterranean and Baltic Avenue in brown, in Surreyopoly they feature the 1001 Steps (in Ocean Park) and Crescent Beach, costing $70 and $80 respectively.  If only properties in this real neighbourhoods close to the waterfront in south Surrey were so cheap.  Further along the light blue Oriental, Vermont and Connecticut Avenues have been replaced by the Guildford Golf & Country Club, Morgan Creek Golf Course and the Northview Gold & Country Club.  At the corner where the Monopoly's jail is situated, the Surrey version has a Traffic Jam with a Detour taking the place of the Just Visiting.  

Three Skytrain stations, Gateway, Surrey Central and King George take the place of the purple St. Charles Place, States and Virginia Avenues.  Three of Surrey's parks, Surrey Bend, Darts Hill Garden and Bear Creek take the place of the orange St. James Place, Tennessee and New York Avenues.  The Free Parking corner that is used to acquire penalty money paid to the centre of the board instead features an "I Love Surrey!" with a big read heart.  Rounding the corner halfway through the board, the red Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois Avenue squares instead feature the Surrey's International Children's Festival, Surrey Vaisakhi Parade and the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair.  The regular yellow squares for Atlantic and Ventnor Avenues plus Marvin Gardens have been replaced by the Historic Stewart Farm, Barnston Island Ferry and the Museum of Surrey.  

The corner square heading into the final stretch features "Exit to Traffic Jam" instead of the "Go to Jail", which I think would have been much funnier if it was the Surrey Pre-trial jail.  The hoity-toity green squares of the high rent Pacific, North Carolina and Pennsylvania Avenues are instead the Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall, the Bell Performing Arts Centre and the Surrey Art Gallery.  Last but not least the royal blue of Park Place and Boardwalk (my favourites) are the South Surrey Arena and Downtown Surrey in the Surreyopoly game.  The four railroads that occupy the centre position on each side of the board are now highways featuring 176 Street, South Fraser Perimeter Road, Fraser Highway and King George Boulevard.  Lastly the utility companies Water Works and Electric Company are instead the Peace Arch Border Crossing and Surrey Memorial Hospital.  

Where this new game gets really interesting is the Contingency and Big Fun cards that have replaced Community Chest and Chance.  Contingency features "Placing first at the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair" with a prize of $100, "Walking your dog in Bear Creek Park" and "Performing at the Bell Centre."  The "You've been elected Mayor, pay $20 to each person who voted for you" card was funny while my favourite was "You ate too much lobster pot pie from Seahorse Grill! - Lose 1 turn to recover" about the local seafood restaurant in Crescent Beach.  The Big Fun cards contain a CRA Audit, Play The Lottery plus a Surrey Vaisakhi Parade card along with "You are crowned MISS SURREY, collect $100."  For the record I was elected Mayor while my wife was crowned Miss Surrey, costing me 20 bucks with my queen bee pocketed a hunny.

It is not only the City of Surrey that now has its own Monopoly styled board game created by Late For the Sky in Ohio that prints custom Monopoly versions.   Marketed by Onset Media and sold in Canadian Wal-Marts, versions for Burnaby, Chilliwack, Langley, Maple Ridge, Penticton, Port Coquitlam, Prince George and Richmond were released last week with 720 copies in each of these municipalities.  There is also Vancouveropoly, Saskatoonopoly, Whitehorseopoly, Trailopoly, Victoriaopoly, Edmontonopoly, Calgaryopoly, Oakvilleopoly and Canadaopoly with more towns across Canada on the drawing board.  If you cannot make it to your nearest Wal-Mart of want to buy one as a gift for distant friends or relatives, these games can be purchased online on the website.  

Visit the following link to learn some interesting facts about Monopoly that has sold over 250 million games and been played by over a billion people world-wide.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - April 6, 2021


Douglas Fir McCallum

A week ago Sunday, I was busy in my front yard doing my best impersonation of Paul Bunyan, chopping up logs into firewood and stacking it into a large pile of cordwood that we burn in our firebox to heat our home in the winter months.   The weather that day had already been all over the map with sun, rain, hail and wind, similar to a usual day in Calgary.  All of a sudden there was a distant roar and I realized the noise was wind coming towards our Crescent Heights home off Mud Bay.   It didn't take long for the big evergreens to start waving down by the beach and as the first blast of wind reached our property, I took shelter inside and watched the neighbour's Douglas fir frees shed branches and pinecones all over the roadway and our yard. 


This same freak windstorm was also to blame for a tree falling over several blocks away from a home sandwiched between Crescent Road and 28 Ave. not far from the Chevron gas station.  An evergreen just inside the white picket fence bent over and fell into the side of the road that is City of Surrey property.  Not exactly an emergency situation considering that the street isn't an arterial road and that it was not blocked to vehicular traffic either.  Normally in this situation it is up to the homeowner to deal with the fallen tree since it originated from inside their property.  At most the city might clear the road of tree debris and possibly put up a couple of traffic cones to alert people to the obstruction.  Where things get a little weird is when the home in question is owned by the City of Surrey's playboy mayor Doug McCallum and his estranged wife.


Neighbours across from McCallum's former family home told me that the tree in question was blown over during the same wind storm that chased me indoors from my hatchet job on Sunday afternoon.   At 11:30 p.m. on Sunday night arborist crews arrived on site and began chain sawing the tree that had fallen down, cutting off the branches and sawing the trunk into firewood sized chunks that are still visible in a pile in the Mayor's yard.  With all of the racket and unnecessary noise the neighbour's phoned 911 to reach the Surrey RCMP and were told to phone the incident in to the non-emergency reporting desk (604-599-0502, a number you should have on your cell phone).  The arborist work completed at 1:30 a.m. and later that morning a chipper trunk showed up to deal with the branches and clean up the mess.  I should note here that the neighbour did not identify whether the arborists were city crews or hired contractors.

Normally city crews or their hired contractors do not deal with trees that fall from private property.  The White Rock arborist told me that city crews will only clear trees and branches from city property, usually cutting them back to either the side of the roadway or edge of the sidewalk to not impede traffic or pedestrians.  Trees fell across our roadway on 124 St. a year ago and crews only cut them back to the centre lane, putting traffic cones around them where they stayed for almost a week before being removed.  Sunday's storm also felled a cedar tree onto Crescent Road near the Elgin Hall and it still sits there today a week later marked off with traffic cones.  A big leaf maple tree recently fell across 140th St just south from Crescent Road and while the road was cleared, the tree was left on either side, which is where I got the wood that I was chopping last Sunday.  It took almost two weeks for city crews or contractors to clean up what was left of this debris on what is an arterial road.


So, this leaves us with some rather interesting questions about why the evergreen falling out of Mayor McCallum's property necessitated a Sunday night response from arborists who were likely charging double or triple time for their nocturnal services.  I'm going to go out on a limb and ask why was this tree not left until the following morning since it was not blocking traffic and fell into a boulevard on a quiet residential street, not a trunk road?  It needles me as to who was responsible for ordering arborists crews to attend to this tree in the middle of the night, likely at a high cost to Surrey taxpayers?  On a similar branch of thought, why were arborists cutting down a non-hazardous tree after midnight in a residential neighbourhood when people were trying to sleep?  Most importantly, even though he reportedly no longer lives at this property, did Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum get preferential treatment and receive arborist services that would normally be the responsibility of the homeowner?  Well, an FOI request is going to be filed with these questions because I'm stumped and would really like to get to the root of this problem.  Hopefully I'm not barking up the wrong tree.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn




March 29, 2021


Open & Shut Case for Opening Shut Staircases

It wasn't long after the stair closures that the City of Surrey placed gigantic signs all through the western end of the Semi-pen announcing "Important Notice, Stairs Closed, No Access, and in bold print (for no apparent reason) LOCAL TRAFFIC ONLY.  What was really galling about this was that for years Surrey has refused to place signage pointing the way to any of these staircases or to Crescent Rock Beach.  You can find the 1001Steps and Christopherson Steps passageways listed online on the website but the only roadway sign is an antiquated and faded "1001 Steps" marker near these stairs that is small and almost invisible.  The Olympic Trail also known as Stoner's Point and Pot Point because of the large wooden viewing platform that is a popular smoking spot is also missing from the city's website.  The same goes for the Sandy Trail that runs from the Crescent Heights neighbourhood off Crescent Drive down the bluff to Bayview Ave. where McBride Street crosses the BNSF Railway tracks.   As luck would have it, I have one of these huge signs directly across from my driveway that serves as a constant reminder of the year-long closure of all these staircases.


Now when COVID-19 was first rearing its ugly head there were many restrictions put in place on the side of caution without much thought to whether they were actually needed or helped stop the spread.  As science on the pandemic virus has improved and we know more about how it operates and is transmitted, there have been changes to health orders that have been implemented as a hap-hazard patchwork across much of Canada.  Something that is banned in one community can be completely ignored in the jurisdiction right next door.  Case in point is the difference in staircases between Surrey and the City of White Rock.  I should note here that this comparison was brought to light when I realized that Sandy Trail leading to Crescent Beach has a wooden staircase that is the same width (less than 2 metres) as the 1001 Steps, Olympic Trail and Christopherson Steps staircases and yet it has amazingly been left open to pedestrians heading to and from Crescent Beach for the past year.


The City of White Rock has numerous staircases across the hillside that rises from Marine Drive towards uptown.  Many of these are the same size and construction as the wooden staircases in Surrey leading to Crescent Rock Beach.  There are five road-end staircases west of Oxford south of the Centennial Arena plus many more wooden stairs within the confines of Ruth Johnson Park that are all open to the public without restrictions.  Closer to the famed White Rock pier there are seven more city staircases open to the walking public plus twenty more above east beach allowing access to Marine Drive from as far up the hill as Royal Ave.  It would have been quite easy to block access to any or all of these stairs using temporary metal fencing as was done last year to close the pier and promenade to pedestrians.  I know several people living in White Rock who use these road-end staircases to exercise, something that the Surrey Parks Board used as justification to close the staircases leading to the rugged and remote Crescent Rock beach shoreline.


The new BC Public Health Orders list "going for a walk or hike" as their prime example of activities allowed under the order that is not considered a social gathering.  For outdoor gathering where up to 10 people can now get together outdoors, their example is "up to 10 people can gather at a park or beach."  Well in my neighbourhood it is hard to go for a walk or a hike when the gates to the ocean staircases are locked shut with now rusty chains making it impossible to gather with 10 of my closest friends at the beach.  Yet amazingly in White Rock, using staircases to go up and down the hill to and from the beach have been open for the past year.  Instead of closing down the staircases on the Ocean Park bluff, Surrey should instead have simply mandated the use of masks on the staircases since they are less than 2 metres wide and banned stairclimbing for exercising.  Of course, they could have followed White Rock's lead and with these stairs being outdoors having very low potential for COVID-19 transmission, simply kept them open.


Over the past year Canadians have been told to stay home and self-isolate to help "stop the spread" and help "flatten the curve."  With nowhere to go and public access to areas such as Crescent Rock beach being blockaded, people's butts have been spreading and they have been fattening their curves.  This of course leads to many other medical health issues not related to COVID-19, one of which recently put a friend's wife into Peace Arch Hospital.  The mental health aspect of having an entire society cooped up and isolated is being ignored too, something that could be greatly improved by allowing people the simply act of going for a walk at the beach and giving them some time in the natural environment to relax and take a break from all the COVID-19 hysteria.  It has been a year since the staircases were locked and it's time for Surrey to take a look across 16th Ave. into White Rock and see that having open staircases leading to the waterfront has not killed anybody or caused a COVID-19 outbreak among a population known to be a little long-in-the-tooth.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



March 23, 2021


Semiahmoo Yes, Surrey No



The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club has been a focal point for Semi-pen conservationists, environmentalists and nature lovers since it was formed back in 1957 on the banks of the Little Campbell River at 1284 184 St in the Hazelmere Valley.  It consists of 29 acres of land with accessible trails, a fish hatchery, club house plus both archery and gun ranges.  You can read all about the history of the SFGC, the Little Campbell hatchery, efforts to protect the Little Campbell river, its archery and range programs plus hall rentals at   I should note here that I have been a club member for a few years now and am also the director in charge of landscaping around the hall.  Because of this I have refrained from writing about the following topic for some time due to ethical and legal reasons.

With aging buildings and infrastructure, concerns started to be raised about upcoming maintenance bills that would likely have a major financial impact on the club and its long-term viability.  Further exacerbating financial concerns was the decrease in the number of weddings booked at the hall on a year-to-year basis, events that previously brought in plenty of revenue.  Even with a sizeable contingency fund, the club's executives began to worry about the long-term viability of the club that would threaten the hatchery and the hundreds of thousands of fish they raise every year.  This was well before the COVID-19 pandemic and with Dr. Bonnie Henry's health orders in place for a year, many of the activities and bookings that would normally have taken place were cancelled with 2021 memberships also being put on hold.


Since Sept. of 2019 the SFGC's executive has been in discussions with the City of Surrey about donating the property to the city and have them take over repairs, maintenance and operations.  An agreement was hammered out over lengthy negotiations and legal oversite, with new societies being planned to continue to operate the hatchery, a separate archery club and gun club.  Unfortunately, some members of the club felt that the proposal was short-sighted and did not consider other options, with little consultation or communication about the ongoing negotiations with the city on how the agreement would function and the time frame and rules for the various societies that would be using the facilities when they were transferred to the city.

Under the Societies Act, a special resolution vote was needed in order to facilitate the SFGC land transfer to the city of Surrey plus activate the agreement that would be in place.  Unlike budget votes where a simple 50% majority would pass, a two third majority of 66.7% was needed in order to allow Surrey to take control of the property and its operation.  With COVID-19 protocols making a regular meeting impossible, a Zoom meeting was held on Sunday, March 21st where 129 people voted on the proposal to give up control of the 64-year-old club.   Of the 129 SFGC members who voted, 76 voted yes with 53 voting no, resulting in 58.9% in favour, far short of the two third majority needed to approve the land transfer.


It will now be back o the drawing board for the SFGC and it would not surprise me to see a number of the executive move on after their plan for the cub was defeated.  It did not surprise me that the motion to give the $4.5 million SGFC property at no cost to Surrey failed.   In February, PM Trudeau announced plans to introduce legislation allowing cities across Canada to ban hand guns.  In the 2018 civic election Doug McCallum said  “I fully realize (a ban) doesn’t do anything to prevent the gang violence that we’re seeing in Surrey because they operate with illegal guns no matter what you do."   Now in 2021, Major McCallum had this to say on the subject, "That is why I wholeheartedly support a handgun ban for the City of Surrey and I am directing staff to immediately begin work on a bylaw for Council approval as quickly as possible."


There are a lot of shooting sports enthusiasts who are members of the SFGC and considering Mayor McCallum's flip-flop on gun control, it is unlikely they would want to give the city of Surrey their gun range, knowing it would likely be shut down soon after the city took control of the facility.  It seems difficult for politicians to do anything about illegal guns and criminal gangs but law-abiding citizens with legally owned and registered firearms are always easy to put in the cross-hairs.   With a new lease on life and the COVID-19 pandemic near an end, there is hope that the SFGC can begin the process of rebuilding and finding new sources of revenue.  I would think that renting range time to members of the new Surrey Police Service for pistol practice is something to aim for.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



March 15, 2021

Time For Change

I awoke from my slumber on Sunday mornig like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day to face the prospect of yet another time change day, springing forward to Daylight Savings Time (DST), losing an hour of sleep, and spending time adjusting clocks.  I had hoped we would have put our twice annual time change into the dust bin of history but unfortunately COVID-19 reared its ugly sphere last year and suddenly governments around the world had more important things on their agenda.  This is now the fourth TNT column I've touched on this subject over the years, the last time being March 11, 2019 titled "Ditch The Switch" that you can scroll down for more insight on this timely topic.  It is getting to the point on this subject that I am now hoping I live long enough to see the day when we can "set it and forget it" as the saying goes.

There has been some movement on this issue with BC introducing legislation in 2019 to get rid of the season time change but only if the western states of Washington, Oregon and California all do the same.  These three states have passed bills to stay on Daylight Savings Time but these need to be ratified by the US Congress where bills have stalled due to COVID-19 and the 2020 US election.  Ontario passed legislation last year to stay on DST but following BC's shining example of leadership, only if Quebec and New York State joined them in doing the same.  Alberta Premier Jason Kenning announced last week that they are considering holding a referendum on the issue of time change after 91 percent of Albertans expressed a desire in a government poll to stay on summer time.   What a waste of time, just do it (apologies to Nike).


While other jurisdictions take their sweet time deciding what to do on this issue, our neighbours to the north decided to make their own move last year, COVID-19 be damned.  Following a motion brought forth in 2017 the Yukon government surveyed their residents and found that 93 percent wanted this archaic time change practice to stop, with 70 percent expressing their desire to stay on DST.  As of March 8, 2020, the Yukon ditched the switch, showing leadership on this issue and listening to the will of the people instead of dithering like many other jurisdictions.  It is interesting to note that the Province of Saskatchewan has not bothered with the bi-annual tie change since way back in 1959, keeping their clocks on Central Standard Time (CST) all year long.  

On the subject of time and change, I read an article on a well-known business news website this week about many companies now considering going to a four-day work week.  This started from COVID pressures and the huge increase in working from home.  Some businesses started giving their employees Friday afternoon off to deal with the stress from the pandemic and noticed an increase in overall weekly productivity.  Four-day weeks mean less commuting, less energy consumption, less transportation infrastructure, plus more time at home with loved ones.  The five days a week, 8 hours a day grind makes about as much sense as the antiquated twice-yearly time change when you start to look at how we can do business differently.  

My sister-in-law works at a manufacturing plant that has their unionized employees work an extra half an hour every work day but they get off every second Friday at noon, days that are also arranged to coincide with long weekends for an early getaway.  My son-in-law runs his landscaping company utilizing four ten-hour days per week, with one crew working Mon-Thurs and the other Tues-Fri.  This keeps his employees happy with a three-day weekend every week plus still operating during a 5-day work week to get all of his jobs done.  Other companies are now having employees take a mid-week break from Tues-Thurs as a way to reduce mental stress and fatigue, allowing them to work more effectively with limited time. 

For over 35 years now I have worked 4-10 hour days per week so this concept is not new.  This means an hour early to start and later to finish but it also means not getting caught in the worst of rush hour traffic.  Of course, the bonus is that every weekend is a long weekend, with Mondays being my extra day off.  Where this gets really interesting is on a real long weekend where the three-day holiday weekend suddenly becomes a four-day weekend, meaning no long lines of traffic coming home on Monday not to mention having campsites all to yourself on the Tuesday.  Often, we will work a standard two-day weekend before the long weekend (it really sucks), shifting our work schedule, taking off the Friday and enjoying a five-day long weekend.  The following week is then only a 3-day work period followed by the usual 3-day weekend.   Needless to say, employee retention at my business is not a problem with everyone loving the extra time off, while still getting in their 40 hours and a full paycheck.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 




March 08, 2021

Dikes or Dykes, Groins or Groynes?

The Mud Bay Village Art Knapps after dyke failure and flooding in Dec. 1982.

When I'm cruising around our little part of the world, I'm always looking for something different, something odd, something I've never noticed or something new that catches my eye.  Once something has piqued my attention then I usually try to find somebody who can explain the event, anomaly, circumstance or structure that I've discovered.  Case in point was the recent installation of a long length of orange snow fence placed around one of the farms south of Hwy. 99 along the Serpentine River between Mud Bay Park and the bridge over the river.  From the tractors and equipment that are often in this field, I knew that this land was worked by long-time farmer Stan Van Keulen who owns the dairy farm in Mud Bay with the bright orange buildings.   Stan is also the president of the Mud Bay Diking District so it was no surprise to learn that the fencing was not installed to stop snow drifts as is normal in the rest of Canada but to mark the safety zone for Surrey's Colebrook Dyke upgrades - 200 Series project

Ocean levels around the world are expected to rise by a metre in height by 2100.  The Lower Mainland with its thousands of acres of land close to sea level will be under severe risk of flooding in the future, with Vancouver raking 11th in the list of cities around the world most at risk from ocean flooding.   The City of Surrey is not oblivious to this future threat and with federal funding from the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF) and the Province of BC, they are taking steps to reduce the risks of coastal flooding.  The 7.2 km length of the Colebrook dyke has been separated into three different zones known as the 100 Series, 200 Series and 300 Series.  The 100 Series is from along the Mud Bay Trail adjacent to 125 A St. and Station Rd. not far from Hwy. 91., east to the BNSF Railway corridor.  The 200 Series runs from the train tracks eastward to Hwy. 99, while the 300 Series goes from Hwy. 99 to King George Blvd at the Serpentine River sea dam next to the Serpentine fen.  

Over the next four years the plan is to raise this entire dyke system to 3.9 metres elevation from its current height of 3.0 metres to conform with Provincial standards for a 200-year event that would include sea level rise, king tides and winter storm surge.  Work on this project is to begin this spring with Delta Aggregates being awarded the dyke raising contract for more than $4 million just for the middle 200 Series.  The eastern 300 Series is then planned for the Spring of 2022 and the remaining western 100 Series should begin construction in the Fall of 2022.  Due to the weight of the material being trucked in and deposited, the dyke raising will be done over a four-year period and staged over time to allow for compaction of the underlying soils.  Future contracts have yet to be tendered on the additional work but with the distances of dykes involved it is likely that this entire project will cost an estimated $12-15 million. 

This may seem like a lot of money but when you become aware of the damage that can be done when dykes are crested or collapsed you begin to realize the devastation that can result.  In Dec. of 1982 a king tide coinciding with a strong westerly wind pushed large amounts of water up out of Mud Bay into the Nicomekl River.  Not far from 140 St. and Crescent Road a dyke was breached and brackish water flowed into the Nico Wynd Golf Course where I had previously worked as a groundkeeper while attending UBC.  This water flooded the course with 4 feet of salty water, inundating the pro shop, club house and maintenance building.  It took a full crew of employees that included myself two weeks during the Christmas holidays just to clean up the mess on the golf course, with the buildings and turf equipment all needing major repairs.  I personally helped to build the new dyke that Nico Wynd installed alongside the road leading to the golf course parking lot, losing a set of keys in the process that are still entombed in that dyke along with many sheets of plywood and heavy vapour barrier plastic.

The damage from the storm that flooded Nico Wynd also hammered Crescent Beach and other exposed areas of south Surrey.  In response, the Provincial government along with the District of Surrey made repairs and upgrades to this region that are still visible today.  This included 0.5 km of rip-rap boulder beach protection placed along Crescent Beach between Wickson Road and Sullivan Street.  Timber groins were also added to help reduce beach erosion and retain sand, structures that were subsequently replaced with rot-proof composite materials in 2014.  At that time 1.2 km of dyke at Crescent Beach between Wickson Rd. and Maple St. were raised along with 2.4 km of dyke on the north bank of the Serpentine River west of King George to the Surrey/Delta boundary on Mud Bay, the same area that is again being raised.  I figure it won't be long till the Crescent Beach dyke gets raised again after a spring storm several years ago pushed water and debris onto the Shoreline Walk, leaving angled puddles on its gravelled surface that are still visible today.

For additional insight on this topic, please read the 2013 Province article by Glenda Luymes titled "Sea Change" that features Mud Bay, Crescent Beach, plus the cities of Delta and Surrey with the concept of "managed retreat" instead of continuously raising dykes to combat increasing sea levels.

A great historical perspective on dyking in Surrey including pictures of the 1982 storm that flooded the Art Knapps store on King George can be found on the website.

Naturally yours

Don Pitcairn 



March 01, 2021

Night and Day - Day at Night


Sign, sign
Everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery
Breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that
Can't you read the sign?

Lyrics to "Signs", The Five Man Electrical Band, 1971 and included on the
1990 compilation album "Made In Canada - Volume Three 1965 - 1974"

It took only a few trips to Mexico to realize just how horrible our road signage and safety systems really are here in the Lower Mainland.  With three members of my Mom's family perishing in automobile accidents and driving plenty of miles myself, I take road safety very seriously, especially after being at several gruesome crash scenes over the years.  I regularly send emails to various engineering departments, Mainroad Group and the BC Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry about glaring deficiencies I notice or safety recommendations that could save lives.  Case in point was myself campaigning for median cable safety barriers along Highway 99 through Delta and Surrey a decade past, which since installation have stopped cross lane accidents and the injuries and deaths that resulted.


A few years ago, I became aware that many of our highway signs around King George Blvd. and Hwy. 99 were in terrible shape.  These vinyl reflective vinyl signs have a 15-20 year lifespan in the elements and it was likely that many of these had been in place for 40 years or more.  Some of these had plywood backings that were rotting and falling apart, green backgrounds that were no longer reflective and white lettering that was now a mottled grey.  At night these signs were totally invisible, not helping any driver to find their way once the sun went down.  Where this gets dangerous is at places like on the KGB heading north crossing over Hwy. 99 and the right lane turns onto the cloverleaf heading towards the tunnel.  Often, I have seen cars suddenly swerve into the left lane, narrowly avoiding hitting other vehicles at the choke point.  This is not bad driving; it is non-existent maintenance of our road systems that is to blame for endangering everyone's safety.  

Needless to say, I took pictures of plenty of the offending signs, some of which were so rotten and faded it was a miracle they were still standing.  These signage pictures along with detailed photo explanations and signage locations were sent to Mainroad Group, the Ministry and local MLA offices since this is an area of Provincial concern outside of Surrey's jurisdiction.  Slowly but surely, I started to see some action on this issue starting with some of the more tattered blue information signs that were flapping in the wind being taken down from the side of Hwy. 99.  Still the big green and white direction signs had not been touched and rather than resend my previous emails, I decided that if these signs were not replaced by spring, I was going to run a "Sign Shame" program, attaching my own very visible signs with this slogan to the highway's relics to help draw people's attention and media scrutiny to this issue.

I am pleased to report that this will likely not be necessary now since last Monday I saw a number of Mainroad Group trucks on King George Blvd. near Hwy. 99 replacing some of the highway signs I had previously warned about.  In total six of the big green and white direction signs have now been replaced, with several of the rottenest signs finally knocked down and hauled away. If you look at the photos with this TNT, you will notice the night and day difference of these highway signs and that is during daytime hours.  At nighttime there are now direction signs that you can actually see and follow, whereas before you were basically driving while blind.  It is a shame this work could not have been done before the long nights of winter instead of at the end of this dark period but I'm just glad to finally see changes and upgrades being made.

Some of the wording on these signs has even changed.  At King George and the 99, the left sign had a small directional triangle pointing ahead to Hwy. 99A leading to New Westminster.  The Hwy. 99A name was decommissioned in 2006 and it is likely this sign was posted long before the Alex Fraser Bridge opened and that was in 1985 before EXPO 86.  The new replacement signage has a large straight-ahead arrow that points the way to "Surrey City Centre" that you might know formerly as Whalley.  Other sign changes are more subtle, like the one exiting from Hwy. 99 southbound onto the KGB that used to direct traffic to White Rock and Crescent Beach (with a previously blanked out Cloverdale) now being replaced with White Rock (ahead) and Crescent Road (right).   It will be interesting to note if any of this new signage is changed again when the new four-lane bridge over the Nicomekyl River is built.

Even though this problem has now been fixed in our neighbourhood there are still many highway sign relics that have lost their shine and are slowly fading away.  I have seen glaring examples that no longer glare at night in Delta, Richmond, Vancouver and Burnaby.  My favourite is the Hastings Street exit off Hwy. 1 heading northbound where the massive signage overhead is almost as bad as the ones just replaced at King George Blvd.  Keep an eye open as you move about the Lower Mainland and if you notice one of these relics, please take the time to report it to the proper authorities.  Close to home, the "White Rock - Next 5 Exits" sign southbound on Hwy. 99 before the Serpentine River corner fades from green to black at night since the background is no longer reflective.   It is hard to believe that this kind of thing is so common here, yet you never see it in Mexico where their highway signage is up to date, modern and easy to follow.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - February 22, 2021

Border Disorder

One of the craziest things about the COVID-19 pandemic has been the considerable conspiracy theories superspreading like a plague on anti-social media.  This "plandemic" has been blamed on 5G cell phones, Bill Gates' Dr. Evil-like plan to control the world, COVID-19's creation as a biological weapon, part of a scheme involving big pharma, the deep state and GMO multinationals, or my favourite that COVID-19 is not real apparently because you can't see it.  I used to laugh off many of these bizarre assertions that have no claim in science or fact, until I saw the TV footage of large green army trucks and tents taking up position at the Douglas border crossing eleven months after the world's longest unprotected border was first closed.


With an interest in oversized military trucks and army tents going way back to my cadet days and time spent on Department of National Defence property, I decided to venture down highway 99 to the once bustling land crossing between BC and Washington State.   I must admit, it was a pretty weird scene with no cars on the highway as I drove by Beach Road and the Duty-Free store with its signage now missing a few letters.  Pulling into the Canadian Border Services parking lot, there were 3 sets of modular olive drab army tents straight out of a military bivouac along with a very large six wheeled support vehicle and plenty of other trucks with Canadian military plates.  Throughout this area where plenty of men and women wearing green relish fatigues or black clothing sporting badges from their respective military units.

For a minute it looked as if Hollywood North was filming yet another sci-fi pandemic movie, which considering the times we find ourselves living in would not be a big stretch of the imagination.  It resembled scenes you might have seen in Contagion, Pandemic, Outbreak, The Andromeda Strain, I Am Legend, every zombie movie ever made, mixed in with Rambo First Blood.  The difference was that there were no cameras, no crews, no movie trailers, food trucks or overhead lights you would regularly find on a movie set.  Also missing were men marching with guns, soldiers with German Shepherds barking wildly and helicopters flying low overhead while orders blared from loud speakers.  Donning my black coat, black hat and black face mask in order to blend in and armed with a clipboard and pen to try and look important, I made my way into the enemy encampment.


The first two soldiers I met were quite personable, identifying themselves as reserve members from HMCS Discovery in Vancouver who were at the Douglas Crossing to support the installation of the army tents and associated materials.  Walking down the 50 metres long row of tents I made my way to the Canadian Border Service Agency offices where I was intercepted by two female officers who were also Canadian nice and chatted with me for a while as it appeared they were lonely and bored to tears.  Circling through the parking lot taking pictures I was met by a smiling man who introduced himself as a member of the Canadian Red Cross who was working with the Canadian Armed Forces and he put me in touch their Senior Communications Manager who helped fill in the pieces to this military mystery. 

The Public Health Agency of Canada has enlisted the Canadian Armed Forces to help establish a COVID-19 testing site at the Douglas border crossing and four other high-volume land ports of entry as of February 22, 2021 and eleven additional ports of entry as of March 4, 2021.  This is in response to new COVID-19 variant detections increasing and concerns over entry through land ports spreading the mutated virus.  Besides having to present proof of a negative COVID-19 molecular test result taken in the United States within 72 hours before entry to Canada, those who are not exempted must also now take a test using a self-swab kit.  The Canadian Red Cross personnel will be on scene to help provide information and guidance about these tests, manage traffic flow and deal with sample collection, storage and transfers.  A second self-swab kit will be provided so people can collect a second required test on day 10 of their 14-day quarantine.


There is one very big problem with the way the government is trying to tighten up testing for variants at our land border crossings.  Only a short walk away at the US side of Peace Arch Park, people are still meeting and mingling freely with over 60 tents pitched on the lawn at this park this weekend.  I saw four RCMP officers, two Canadian Border Services agents and several US Customs Service & Border Protection agents on scene, checking ID's of the hundreds of people entering and leaving this bizarre little enclave.  Multiple family gatherings are reportedly happening routinely at this park including birthday parties, romantic hookups and even weddings.  The western side of the park was closed to visitors back on June 18, 2020 so why is the eastern section still open eight months later and allowing cross-border intermingling of people during a global pandemic?

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Premier John Horgan, Governor Jay Inslee, Prime Minister Trudeau plus US Presidents Trump & Biden have all failed to properly address this issue.  If people are seen mingling with others in Peace Arch Park, spending time indoors in tents and hosting large gatherings without masks, when they cross back over the ditch into Canada, they should be taken on the short two-block walk up the street to the Douglas land crossing, tested for COVID-19 and forced into a 14-day quarantine like the rest of the people crossing the border.  It would take only a few hours to erect temporary fencing to secure the border at Peace Arch park and close this loophole that makes variant testing for people at the Douglas crossing a complete waste of time and money.   The federal Minister of Health Hon Patty Hadju who is responsible for the Public Health Agency of Canada and its $700 million budget needs to be held accountable by all Canadians for allowing this flagrant disregard of Public Health Orders to continue.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



February 16, 2021

Boardwalk To Nowhere

If you live in the Semi-Pen, I would suggest that you join the Facebook group "If you live in South Surrey / White Rock."  It is a great way to meet your neighbours, get answers to questions concerning this little corner of the world, learn what is going on in your neighbourhood and a place to add your two bits worth.  It is also where you can become aware of such things as a local dog poisoning with a cocaine and marijuana cookie, coyotes running wild in Dunsmuir Gardens and an unusual number of vertigo cases.  It was this posting by John Bogar with a rather interesting picture taken at Blackie Spit in Crescent Beach that really caught my attention.  "Can someone please explain to me why a boardwalk to nowhere was built on the previous section of beachfront at Crescent Beach??  This narrow obstruction cuts off the beach and the entire structure makes no sense??!  We all paid for this sadly with our taxes, but who thought it up and approved it???"  This post attracted 111 responses; this TNT now makes it 112.


There were plenty of explanations posted on this topic, many that actually made sense:  
- Perhaps to avoid nesting areas on the grass?
- I believe it is for those with wheelchairs and walkers.
- It's to keep people from walking behind the cars in the parking lot.
- Trying to protect the foreshore?
- It's for high tides. / King tides.
There were also plenty of negative comments about this structure and its placement:
- Kinda narrow for social distancing.
- Not very attractive, that's for sure!!!!
- Not needed, obstructs canoes and kayaks.
- It doesn't look wide enough for 2 wheel chairs to pass.

- What a waste. / Paint it green. / Make work project.

My favourite comment of all was compliments of Alex Kingston:

- Someone could place a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow and someone on Facebook would complain about it.


A quick search of the City of Surrey's website for Blackie Spit Park provided the following explanation for this project:  Construction is underway on a 107-metre boardwalk at Blackie Spit, which will provide an accessible route and a designated pedestrian corridor through the sensitive environmental area.  Armed with this information and a tape measure in hand, I made my way down to Blackie Spit during the weekend snowstorm to take a look at our tax dollars at work.  The boardwalk is past the Swim and Sail Clubs between the gravel parking lot and the entrance to the dog off-leash swimming beach before the entrance to the Spit and its environmentally sensitive foreshore areas.  Until recently this new wooden walkway was closed to the public but the gates at either end are now down and there are small arrow signs on the structure indicating one way travel west to east due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Not bothering to bring my measuring wheel with me, I will accept that the boardwalk is 107 metres long and mainly straight with four angled corners along the way.  My tape measure showed it is 51 inches wide with wooden planks and 4"x4" borders on each side.  The boardwalk is elevated with open space beneath allowing for water egress during storms or king tides and it sits 20 to 32 inches above the uneven ground below it.  There is galvanized mesh on one side of the boardwalk surface closest to the parking lot for traction during frost, snow, or when wet from rain or waves, plus 25 inches of bare wood towards the water providing a smooth walking surface.   The west end of this structure is approximately 25 metres from the end of the pavement heading towards McBride Avenue and 100 metres from the eastern end of the Crescent Beach Shoreline Walk.  The eastern end terminates adjacent to the entrance gate for the dog off-leash swimming beach not far from the entrance to the Blackie Spit environmental area.

So here we go, time for me to drop my drawers, bend over and take a big crap in that rainbow pot of gold.   While this boardwalk does provide an accessible route and designated pedestrian corridor from end to end, it blocks access to the shoreline from the nearby parking lot.  It also covers a large portion of the supposedly sensitive environmental area while cutting a swath directly through the middle of this already narrow grassy area.  People walking their dogs towards the off-leash area can still stroll along the grassed area as they head back and forth from the Crescent Beach Shoreline Walk.  Boaters hoping to go kayaking or canoeing will now have to walk around this structure or likely drag their watercraft over it to access the waterfront.   There is no fencing along the parking lot or on either end to stop people from walking on what was previously a flat lawn mowed down by the feet of thousands of people and their pets.

Currently, due to COVID-19 restrictions, access is only permitted from west to east on the new boardwalk but I have to ask what happens after that?  At 51 inches wide there is not a lot of room to maneuver on this platform for two people walking beside each other.  I measure 25 inches across shoulder to shoulder so imagine another gentleman walking towards me on this boardwalk; it does not leave any elbow room.  This will make people walk along the edge where there is an average of a two to a two and a half foot drop-off.   According to BC Building Code all decks/balconies that are higher than 600mm (24”) above grade must have guards to mitigate fall hazards.  In order to minimize the risk of children and pets bypassing guardrail assemblies, all openings must be designed to prevent the passage of a 100mm (4”) diameter object or must demonstrate that the opening in question is not hazardous.  You would think that city owned structures in public parks would have to adhere to the BC Building Code for safety.

I am bewildered that in an age where we are ensure access for those with mobility issues that this boardwalk is only wide enough for one wheelchair.  Most wheelchairs are 28-30 inches wide with the minimum width for one wheelchair ramp set at 32 inches and 75 inches to allow the safe passage of two wheelchairs.   Even the surface of this boardwalk does not make sense because it currently means that anyone in a wheelchair will have one set of wheels on bare wood and the other riding over wire mesh.  The same goes for anyone using a walker and if they take a spill, it could be a very hard landing two feet down on hard ground.  At the west end of the boardwalk it is 25 metres of gravelled parking lot to get to the asphalt pavement where a large speed bump awaits.  If a mobility challenged person wants to get to the Crescent Beach Shoreline walk from the new boardwalk, it is 100 metres on uneven gravel that slopes noticeably towards the shoreline

A much better option instead of this bizarre boardwalk would have been to extended the flat gravelled surface of the Crescent Beach Shoreline Walk the entire 200 metre distance alongside the parking lots behind the pollards and boulders that already protect people from cars.  This would have been cheap and easy to do, matched the existing walkway and connected the entire waterfront from one end of Crescent Beach to the other.   If Surrey wanted to protect the small grassy area near the off-leash dog-swimming beach, which is actually designated as a "park natural area" for some strange reason, it would have made much more sense to fence it off from people and pets.  As it is now configured there is nothing natural about this dangerous and skinny boardwalk that does nothing to protect the small grassy area between a busy parking lot and a popular shoreline.  


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - February 8, 2021


"Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord and his wife Lorraine"

I grew up in North Delta and let me tell you from experience that with the private police force in Delta and officers that lived and worked in the community, they were quick to know where problem areas were and to identify troublemakers plus known criminal elements.  No, not me, my social provocateur activities started much later in life, hitting stride when I started penning this column.  I've talked to members of the Delta Police Department (DPD) who believe that they offer a superior policing model to the RCMP, mainly because they are proactive with targeting criminals and gang members, either arresting them, forcing them to quit their lifestyles, or simply getting them to move to another jurisdiction (hello Surrey).


The problem with a municipal police force is that they often get a little too cozy with their positions in the community, believing they own the town and are untouchable.  Residents become known to police officers and can be relentlessly targeted for a variety of reasons with illegal vehicle stops and unwarranted searches becoming commonplace.  Corruption can slowly work its way into the ranks with money from organized crime finding its way into the hands of low-paid officers simply to look the other way on a variety of offences.  When police departments were investigating their own officers for misdeeds as happened in the past, it was not surprising that it appeared the cops never did any wrong.  Thank God we now have the Office of the Police Complaints Commission and the Independent Investigations Office to look into the misdeeds and criminal acts of those sworn to protect us.

All of this cop talk takes us back to June 6, 2020 when a Surrey woman, Kiran Sidhu, was walking along Centennial beach in south Delta during on incoming tide.  Coming across large rip-rap boulders placed along the beach for erosion control, she climbed onto the jagged rocks to escape the water, using the fence of the nearby house for support.  This led to an alleged confrontation with the homeowner who angrily warned her not to touch the fence.  After Mrs. Sidhu almost tripped on the rocks this woman reportedly said, "Ha, that would be so funny if you fell, but then again we have enough beached whales around here.”  To make matters worse Mrs. Sidhu alleged that this incident then escalated with the lady in the yard grabbing a hose and spraying Mrs. Sidhu in the face with water, after being warned that doing so would be assault.  The lady of the house was identified as Lorraine Dubord, the wife of Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord.


True to her word, Mrs. Sidhu, a Richmond teacher, filed a report with the Delta Police Department about the alleged statements and actions of Mrs. Dubord that summer day.   The case was apparently investigated and eventually Kiran was told that the case had been closed.  Undaunted and upset that the Delta cops had been tasked with investing their Chief's wife, she filed a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaints Commission (OPCC) and the file was then forwarded to the Surrey RCMP for review.  Investigators recommended that Mrs. Dubord be charged with uttering threats and assault but in September the BC Prosecution Service announced the matter would be resolved through "alternative measures" allowing Dubord to accept responsibility for the incident and make amends without a trial.  The OPCC has also asked the Vancouver Police Dept. to conduct an eternal review into whether any Delta police officer committed misconduct in this case, with results still pending.

As if this incident didn't stink enough already, it was recently revealed last week by Global TV that the Delta Police Force had hired a high-priced communications consulting firm to deal with this issue that also included accusations of racism.  The Freedom of Information request failed to reveal the name of the PR firm or the amount that had been paid, with Delta brass claiming the release of this information would be against the Protection of Privacy Act.  After several days of intense media, constituent and councillor pressure, the Delta Police reluctantly admitted that the total cost had been $42,000.  DPD Deputy Chief Harj Sidhu also revealed that the bill for this service had been covered by the 2020 operational budget.  You need to realize that the Delta Police Dept. already has a Public Affairs Manager whose job it would normally be to handle questions from the media and public.  Apparently since this incident involved the Police Chief's wife, someone decided to hire professional flim-flam artists to help massage the narrative. 

Now you may be wondering why this Delta story is so fascinating to myself and hopefully the residents of the Semi-pen and readers of the WR Sun.  Well, back in 2020 the unnamed high-powered PR firm related to this case was hired by the Delta Deputy Chief.  This was not Harj Sidhu (no close relation to Kiran Sidhu) but their former Deputy Chief Norm Lipinski.  If this name sounds familiar get used to it, he is the officer who Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum the Surrey Police Board hand-picked to hire as the Chief Police Constable for the new Surrey Police Service.  No word yet whether blowing $42,000 of Delta taxpayer money was Lipinski's decision alone of if he was acting on orders from his superior Delta Chief Police Neil Dubord, hubby of hose-happy Lorraine Dubord.  One thing is for sure, this issue will be front and Center in Delta City Hall chambers on Monday night.  With the fight over keeping the RCMP in Surrey, I would expect the same at Surrey City Hall with the new Police Chief apparently coming to town with some rather smelly baggage.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


TNT Extra:  The following piece on the above subject appeared on Global TV's Monday evening news broadcast.

Delta Police justifying hiring PR firm by tying it to a high-profile police killing in the United States.

On Monday, members of the Delta Police Force received a memorandum about the $42,000 of taxpayer money being spent on crisis management.  Officers were told in part "the department engaged external consultants to assist with a communications strategy during a period when there was widespread distrust with the police as a result of the George Floyd situation, mounting allegations of systemic bias within policing, and public demand for defunding police.


Members of the rank and file are not happy with the memorandum or the fact that it references George Floyd because the $42,000 was spent during Chief Dubord's wife Lorraine being investigated, allegedly for hosing down Surrey resident Kiran Sidhu.  Delta officers say that until now they have never been told why a PR firm was hired and they have not received any special training as a result.

Norm Lipinski, the former Deputy Chief of Delta and new Chief of Surrey also made the following statement:

While serving as the Deputy Chief of the Delta Police Department, I secured an external communications firm to assist in the matter surrounding Chief Dubour.  This was done to ensure the public was aware that all necessary steps were being taken to address this matter in an appropriate and transparent manner.  This course of action was taken with the full knowledge, support and consent of the Delta Police Board.


This sudden flurry of communications and the bizarre notion that the PR firms hiring was somehow done in response to the George Floyd killing makes me wonder if the professional spin-doctors are still in charge of this bizarre file.  None of this investigation was done in "an appropriate and transparent manner" as the new Surrey Chief Lipinski has stated.  Trying to equate the hosing of a Surrey woman by a police chief's wife at Centennial Beach to George Floyd being choked to death by a uniformed police officer on a street in Minneapolis is absurd, abhorrent and disgusting.  It looks like it is indeed time to defund the Delta Police since the $42,000 and the budget surplus they had for 2020 totalled almost a $1 million.  In the wake of this continuing scandal that is still being investigated, I would not be surprised to see Chief Dubord resign and for the Delta Police Board to be disbanded for incompetence.  Maybe it's time to bring the RCMP to Delta?



Fenruary 01, 2021

Taking the "Car" Out of Carnage


It's been a couple years of waiting but finally this week a big step is being taken in fixing one of the most dangerous intersections in this region.  On February 3rd, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will announce the contracting company that has been selected to upgrade the intersection of Highway 15 and 40 Avenue.  The planned changes and safety improvements should start in the spring of 2021 and hopefully end its history of violent and deadly crashes.  I previously explored safety concerns at multiple intersections along 40 Ave. in south Surrey in a TNT on September 09, 2019 titled "40th Avenue Fiasco" that is posted below in the archives if you wish to scroll down for some history on this subject. 

The quiet country intersection of 176 Street and 40 Avenue was not that dangerous until this roadway was widened, divided, and renamed Highway 15.  Coupled with ever increasing traffic and people from Cloverdale and Langley using it as a cut-thru to avoid traffic on 32 Ave. and #10 Hwy., this corner saw more and more accidents.  The road widening meant that the intersection with four thru lanes and two left-hand turn lanes became stretched to a 47 metres wide chasm.  The speed limit was also raised from 70 to 80 kmh, with many drivers flying by at freeway speeds of 100 kmh or even higher.  Add this together with the 3,000 commercial trucks that use the Hwy. 15 corridor on a daily basis and this corner became a proverbial meat grinder.

According to statistics from ICBC, from 2013-2017 there were 63 crashes at 40 Avenue and Highway 15.  About half of these resulted in death or injury; a rather sobering statistic.  The last fatal crash on Sept. 5, 2019 was an early morning accident in poor visibility that took the life of a young Surrey male named "Belly" and injured the other driver.   Not three months prior to this vicious collision, there was a roll over crash on June 25th at the same spot that injured both of the drivers involved.  Just three months after the "Belly" fatality, on Dec. 10th there was yet another bad crash at this intersection involving three people who were all hurt, with the roof of one car needing to be cut off to rescue the occupants.  Adding insult to injury, one of the vehicles ended up off the asphalt directly next to the roadside memorial left behind from the previous September crash.

I wasn't the only person who was aware of these dangers as here are a few comments posted online from people giving their thoughts on this wicked corner that is the only intersection on Hwy 15 still without traffic control:

"I drive 176 St. every day.  Often, I see drivers speed down 40th without stopping and if they see the way is clear, they zoom on through. Please, make 40th right turn only!!!"

"There have been quite a few crashes there.  It's a scary intersection they have to do something there before more crashes that are serious."

"I guess the politicians and ICBC will wait till there's a few deaths until they do something about that deadly intersection."

To her credit Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux, who was left with life-altering injuries she suffered in a serious car crash at the age of 18, responded to the concerns of her constituents and worked with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to finally address this dangerous problem. 

The fix that will soon be coming to this crash prone corner is to use concrete barriers to eliminate thru traffic on 40th Ave. along with left-hand turns onto Hwy. 15 from 40 Ave. heading in both west and east bound directions.  Vehicles heading north and south bound will still be allowed to turn off Hwy. 15 from the left-hand turn lanes that were previously installed.  The new intersection layout will allow motorists travelling in either direction on Highway 15 to turn right onto 40 Avenue as before.  The decision not to install a traffic light was made due to the poor roadway condition along the rural 40 Ave., which would have needed a major upgrade by the City of Surrey.  Not wanting to turn 40 Ave. into a commuter route, something it has been increasingly used for up until now, also factored into the final design decisions.

These changes, while eliminating cross traffic on 40th Ave. should greatly improve the overall safety for motorists at this Hwy. 15 intersection.  Now that this problem is fixed, the western end of 40 Ave. at King George Blvd. needs the same kind of upgrade.  A new four lane bridge is coming over the Nicomekyl River completing the four lanes of the KGB through this area.  The offramp onto the KGB from Hwy. 99 northbound needs to be re-routed along with 40 Ave. where it now ends in a T-intersection with an extremely dangerous left-hand turn to head south into the Semi-pen.  During rush hour it is almost impossible to turn there and an area that drivers are best to avoid.  The big burn mark into the asphalt left from a fiery crash in this spot should serve as a warning to motorists, engineers and local politicians to the danger associated with this other 40 Ave. intersection.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



January 26, 2021

Knuckle Buster


Over the years plenty of people have asked me where I get my ideas for he Naked Truth topics.  I usually respond that all you have to do is to keep your eyes and ears open for anything strange, new, or out of place.  Sometimes though, it is simply a matter of not watching where you are going and tripping over a story.  That was the case with this TNT where a walk down Crescent Beach, made possible only because the Christopherson staircase has been locked closed for 10 months due to COVID, led to my find of a rather unique hunk of rusted steel.

There are plenty of old chunks of rusting iron to be found down at the beach, most which are castoffs from the adjacent BNSF Railway corridor.  Old sign posts, tie spikes, tie plates, rail joints and even chunks of cut rail can be found on the shoreline or sticking out of the rip-rap boulders than line the shoreline between White Rock and Crescent Beach.  These are very common and when I find them, I usually pick them up and dispatch them into the nearest blackberry thicket where they can continue to oxidize and rust away out of sight.  This was not the case in December when on the south end of Crescent Beach where I literally stumbled upon a solid piece of forged iron with two holes through it.

I'm reasonably sure that most people walking on the shoreline would not have given this rusted relic a second glance but I immediately knew what it was from and likely why it was there on the beach.  With having worked at the CN yard in North Vancouver, doing stupid things like climbing on board freight trains as a kid, plus walking beside trains stalled on our tracks due to mudslides from the Ocean Park bluffs, I knew the metal was from part of a train boxcar coupling unit.  A quick phone call to a friend at Fraser Valley Rail confirmed that it was indeed what is known as a "knuckle" and the one I had found had been broken in two.

Today's standard freight car coupler is the Type E - Janney "clasped-hand" device that couples automatically when one or both knuckles on the coupler are open and the cars are pushed together.  Upon impact, the knuckle swings into the closed position and a lock drops in place, securing the coupling, connecting the cars and holding the train together.   If either of the two knuckles on the coupler are to fracture on the swing pin and break, the train will come apart between the two freight cars where the failure has occurred.   The only reasonable explanation as to how a broken knuckle ended up on the shores of Crescent Beach is that it came from a train on the tracks above that would have immediately stopped once the air brake line was disconnected.

BNSF freight trains breaking down and blocking the only two access points to Crescent Beach has been an ongoing problem for years.  In 2019 Doug McCallum was on record saying that there had been 5 train blockages of Crescent Beach in the preceding 5 years.  In the "An Update on Rail Safey" report on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities from 2016, White Rock was featured as a case study (along with the Lac-Megantic train crash disaster in Quebec) for glaring safety deficiencies associated with crossing blockages that had been ongoing here for years.  While the Railway is supposed to clear road blockages within 5 minutes as per the Stopped Train Protocol, BNSF freight trains have been stalled blocking Crescent Beach for hours at a time, with Surrey installing CCTV cameras to monitor the Beecher St. crossing.  

Having talked to railroad maintenance crews, train engineers and local BNSF staff, I understand the problem of stalled and broken-down trains at Crescent Beach is the large curve near the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24th Ave.  Coupled with a 10-mph speed restriction in place for the 114-year-old swing bridge at the Crescent Beach Marina, this corner puts extra pressure on the Janney knuckles connecting increasingly longer and heavier trains, causing them to crack and the trains to then come to a grinding halt when the cars separate.  The chunk of knuckle I found on the shoreline not far from the pedestrian overpass likely came from a broken-down freight train that in all probability was one of the ones that blocked off Crescent Beach in the last decade.

In the past, the construction of a tunnel under the BNSF tracks allowing unfettered access to Crescent Beach was considered but rejected by Surrey Council due to cost.  The same can unfortunately be said for an emergency road planned for under the BNSF trestle near the Crescent Beach marina that was also shelved.  Since nothing has changed with respect to the position of the tracks, the speed of the trains or the design of the couplings, it is likely that BNSF freight trains breaking down in this location and blocking the only two road access points to Crescent Beach will continue in the future.  This is one of the reasons why I do not live in Crescent Beach, preferring the Crescent Heights neighbourhood on the hill above with no train tracks.

"An Update on Rail Safey" report on the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities from 2016 is available online at the following link, with the White Rock and Crescent Beach portion on pages 21-24 under the heading "Rail relocation in urban areas and community impacts: Case 2     It is interesting to note that White Rock received plenty of safety upgrades along their waterfront including 8 new pedestrian crossings that led to whistle cessation almost a year ago on Jan. 29, 2020. 

The risk of a BNSF train breaking down and blocking all access to Crescent Beach in Surrey still remains the same as does the constant barrage of 130 dB train horn noise.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn




January 19, 2021

Our Home On Native Land

I received an email from a local elementary school principal after this TNT got posted and the following caption was included at the bottom of the message:   

I’m honoured to work on the shared, unceded traditional territories of the Katzie, Semiahmoo, Kwantlen and other Coast Salish Peoples.

If Surrey Schools can recognize the traditional lands of First Nation peoples, why can't Mayor McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition councillors do the same?

Don Pitcairn



Last Monday Surrey Council voted on a motion put forward by Councillor Jack Hundial before the Christmas holidays, for Surrey Council to include an indigenous land acknowledgement before each meeting.  This is to recognize that the City of Surrey is on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish; namely the Katzie, Kwantlen, Kwikwetlem, Qayqagt, Semiahmoo and Tsawwassen First Nations.  Such acknowledgements are becoming customary between governments and First Nations as a show of respect and in the spirit of reconciliation, especially since Canada's adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.   The actual narrative of the motion was to acknowledge "the land we are on is the traditional territory of the Coast Salish people."

Pretty tame stuff these days as we now usually acknowledge the people who lived on the lands of what is now British Columbia long before Spanish and English explorers arrived and colonization began.   This topic should have been discussed and quickly adopted, allowing Surrey to join with both the Provincial and Federal governments in acknowledging our historical neighbours and recognizing the role of indigenous people in Canada.  Instead, discussion on this motion quickly deteriorated with Councillor Lauire Guerra not supporting this concept because she has a "problem with legislating speech" and adding "...I don't think we should be forced to."  Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum did not support the idea either, later saying this about indigenous people, "we treat them better in Surrey literally than anywhere.”

When the time came to vote on what had suddenly become a contentious issue, the Surrey Safe Coalition members voted as one, defeating the motion 5-4 with Doug McCallum, Allison Patton, Doug Elford, Mandeep Nagra and Rableen Rana voting against, with Jack Hundial, Brenda Locke, Steven Pettigrew and Linda Annis voting in support.   After the meeting Councillor Hundial expressed his disgust saying he was "shocked and surprised" that the acknowledgement of the traditional territories was shot down, believing it is "just the right thing to do" and noting "six other communities in the Lower Mainland do a progressive acknowledgement of where we are today."  Surrey has a sizeable number of indigenous people living here, believed to be around 13,500 souls; 56 percent who are First Nations, 40 percent who are Metis and 4 percent who are Inuit.  Collectively this is about 2.6% of the Surrey population with half of this indigenous population under the age of 27.

It didn't take long for the SSC voting down of the territorial land acknowledgement motion to bring condemnation from First Nation leaders.  The BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) called the decision "disappointing and a further enforcement of systemic racism."  Regional Chief Terry Teegee said in a statement "If the city cannot acknowledge whose lands they work, how can Surrey be trusted to advance reconciliation and First Nations issues?  This is especially concerning considering the large Indigenous population in the City of Surrey, many of whom are young and starting families."  Chief Teegee has called on the Mayor and Council to consider revisiting Jack Hundial's motion and to accept it.  Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell said this about the topic when advised of Surrey Council's decision, "I find that land acknowledgments, they are good.  It is good that people acknowledge the territory they are on."

The City of White Rock, population of around 21,000 people and just over 5 sq. km. in size has been acknowledging their neighbours the Semiahmoo First Nation people at the beginning of every public meeting and all Council meetings for the past two years.  In 2018 at their inaugural Surrey Council meeting chaired by Mayor McCallum, there was an acknowledgement of indigenous territory then, but nothing since except for some outdoor civic events.  I was informed by Jeanne Kilby, the president of CUPE 402 that represents the unionized employees of the City of Surrey, that they acknowledge the territory of the Kwantlen, Katzie and Semiahmoo peoples at the start of every union meeting, something they have been doing now for five years.  If the union representing City of Surrey workers can show their respect to local First Nations, how come Surrey's so-called leaders representing the 580,000 people of Surrey cannot? 

Mayor Doug McCallum is on record as saying the City of Surrey is "a leader in dealing with First Nations, they welcome me a lot.”  Considering how the SSC shot down a chance to recognize First Nations, advance indigenous reconciliation and address race relations, I think it's safe to say that the chief politician in Surrey speaks with a forked tongue.  


Naturally Yours,

Don Pitcairn



January 11, 2021

Arbutus Abundance

Living in the Semiahmoo Peninsula surrounded on several sides by the waters of the Pacific Ocean, we enjoy a niche ecological zone where we get more sun, less rain and warmer temperatures that most of the communities in the Lower Mainland.  This allows us to get up close and personal with a rather unique tree, which is the only native broadleaf evergreen that grows in Canada; the Arbutus tree (Arbutus Menzeisii) also known as the Pacific Madrone, a close relative of the Spanish Strawberry tree.  

These beautiful and magnificent trees can be found in the dry areas of the southeastern part of Vancouver Island, throughout the Gulf Islands and in pockets of the Lower Mainland.  Covered in older bark that is often a smooth rusty red, it peels away as the tree grows revealing fresh chartreuse green bark underneath.  Their crooked and leaning trunks often divide into several twisting upright branches covered in dark glossy leaves that have a leathery texture.  They flower in the spring with thick clusters of white waxy flowers, which turn into small reddish-orange berries that attract many native songbirds.   These stunning and colourful trees are often the subject of local artists who incorporate them with ocean backdrops, including one painting done by Emily Carr in 1922. 


While the south-wst corner of BC is the northern end of the Arbutus tree's range, they are found along the west coast of the USA down to Mexico, giving them one of the longest north-south ranges of any North American tree.  It is often said that the Arbutus tree is usually found within five miles (8 Km) of the Pacific Ocean.  Besides a dry and warm climate, they prefer sunny open forests, well-drained and nutrient poor soils, often on exposed rocky outcroppings or next to a beach.  Because of their dense and strong wood, they are resilient against storm and wind damage, with wet heavy snow known to break branches off in the winter.  The bark of this unusual and visually striking tree can be used for tanning hides and it is prized by woodworkers for creating fine furniture or turning exotic wooden bowls.

Unfortunately, the Arbutus tree is slowly declining in numbers throughout its coastal rage in this province.  Development along the desirable shoreline where it likes to grow results in many of these trees being cut down to make way for large luxury homes and beachfront mansions.   Global warming with climate change is believed to be responsible for warmer dry winters that also lead to longer periods of drought in summer for trees that already prefer well-drained soils.  There are a number of funguses that are affecting their leaves, causing damage and leaf-fall along with branch death.  To make matters worse a root-rot fungus is now spreading throughout the Arbutus' range, weakening these amazing trees and causing their premature death.

The largest Arbutus tree in B.C. is believed to be one with a circumference of over 6 m. and reaching a height of 35.5 metres on Thetis Island scoring 398 AFA Champion Tree Points.   Another giant Arbutus with a circumference of 7.8 metres graces the front of the CFB Dockyards in Esquimalt on Vancouver Island.   Several years ago, I was camping on Texada Island at Shingle Beach and found a very large Arbutus growing next to an old cabin at the far end of this 2.5 km. long beach.  The tree was oval shaped at the bottom of the trunk measuring an astonishing 2 m. wide by 3 m. long.  It gradually tapered inwards and at half a metre off the ground split into two massive trunks that were 1.25 m. in diameter each.  I would guess it stood over 30 m. high and at least 20 m. across, covering much of the clearing where the cabin stood.   I will be measuring it the next time I'm there, hoping its the biggest Arbutus in B.C.


A little closer to home you can find two Arbutus trees growing in Crescent Beach, one at the south end of Maple Street just as you walk out onto the dyke walkway, one house away from the very last home.  There is an even larger example that is north of Beecher street at one of the waterfront houses on O'Hara Lane.  It is unknown if these trees were planted or occurred naturally, as Arbutus are notoriously difficult to transplant.  I understand that there are several Arbutus down near the water in West Vancouver in rather high-end neighbourhoods where viewing them is best done by boat.   Breaking the 5 mile rule, there is an Arbutus tree growing on the NW corner of 200 St. and 44 Ave. in Langley, 10 miles away from Crescent Beach.  It appears to be quite healthy and somehow withstandsthe icy out-flow winds that sometimes happen during our winters.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



JANUARY 04, 2021


TNT Year in Review 2020

To help celebrate the end of the horrific 2020, here is the TNT Year in Review that also is a quick reference to stories you may have missed or want to read again.

Jan. 6, Pearl of the Peninsula:  Meet Pearl the peafowl who now resides in the Crescent Heights neighbourhood, likely after being dumped there from the wild flock living in Sullivan, Surrey.

Jan. 13, NO TNT:  Time for our winter vacation pre-COVID as I actually take a week off from penning my TNT, using copious amounts of tequila and beachfront relaxation techniques to avoid writer withdrawal.

Jan. 20, Digging Your Own Snowy Grave:  Everything you need to know about the dangers of shovelling snow after I returned from Mexico to find out a buddy in White Rock had died clearing snow.

Jan. 27, Freezing My Tail Feathers Off:  How to safely feed tiny Anna's hummingbirds throughout the winter even during periods of freezing weather and falling snow.

Feb. 3, What The Tuk-Tuk?:  A chance encounter at a McDonald's parking lot started this TNT about a three-wheeled trike common in Asia but unknown on the streets of the Semi-pen.

Feb. 10, Trudeau's True Doo:  With PM Trudeau's new beard showing plenty of white, I decided to let my hair down and examine how Justin's world-famous locks still did not have a touch of grey.

Feb. 18, Slip Sliding Away:  Yet another TNT focusing on landslides from the Ocean Park bluff including multiple mudslides in the Coldicutt Ravine that still remains closed, possibly permanently.

Feb. 24, Keep Our Beaches Clean - Dump on the BNSF:  This article with plenty of photographic proof shows how the BNSF Railway continues to dump landslide debris from their tracks, burying our beaches.


March 3, Barking Up the Wrong Tree:  Surrey's tree bylaw and their policies of tree replacement is examined after they rip me off to the tune of $400 after I planted a tree where the dead one that was removed once grew.

March 9, What the Truck is Going On?:  If I can spot illegal truck parking on agricultural land using Surrey's COSMOS site, how come the City and the Agricultural land Commission can't?

March 16, Panic-demic:  The COVID-19 pandemic is starting to mount as I look at panic buying including the hoarding of toilet paper that is illogical when dealing with a respiratory illness.

March 23, Social Distancing Disgusting:  If you didn't get the memo about washing your hands and social distancing, you just might after reading this piece about COVID-19 protocols needed to stop the spread.

March 30, Canada Against Covid:  In the third TNT in a row focusing on the dangers of COVID-19, I champion Canadians to put up the Maple Leaf and wear red and white in a stand against the virus.

April 6, Crescent Beach Covid Blanket Beach Bingo:  The crowds of people at Crescent Beach including large weddings and people using the staircases for exercising are examined after White Rock closed up shop.

April 14, Easter Very Long Weekend:  The list of closures, bans and event cancellations happening across the Semi-pen is reviewed including the closure of the staircases leading to Crescent Rock beach.

April 20, Gander a Gaggle of Geese:  After a relentless run of TNT's on COVID, finally a refreshing piece on Canadian geese and their young crossing 16 Ave./North Bluff Rd. near 148 St./Oxford Rd.  

April 27, Big Love:  Meet Allison Voth, the lady with the biggest balls in all of White Rock who at a time when we need love the most, brings her Big Love Balls and an important message to the City By The Sea.

May 4, Gunning For Trudeau:  While the federal Liberals should be taking aim at COVID, they find time to ban legal firearms across Canada and I put the cross-hairs on this dictatorial decision.

May 11, Stop The Asian Invasion:  The Giant Asian Hornet is put under a microscope as they start to be found in the Lower Mainland.  Note, they are not "Murder Hornets", a fake name created by the New York Times.

May 20, The Devil in the Details:  If you are 55 or over and considering deferring your property taxes you might want to read this TNT that reveals it might not be the great deal you first imagined.

May 25, Surrey Politics Make Strange Bedfellows:  The relationship between Mayor Doug MacCallum and Councillor Allison Patton and their conduct is examined after mainstream media looked away from this power couple's antics.

June 1, Shooting Off About Surrey:  I give 'em both barrels in this TNT gunning for Abby Lane Amica who were being goofs to their WR neighbours and the $54 million cost to switch from LRT to Crimetrain in Surrey.

Jun 8, 8 Min. 46 Sec. That Shook the World:  The murder by police of George Floyd in Minneapolis makes me look at our police forces here in Canada regarding the use of body cameras plus the change from RCMP to Surrey Police Service.

June 15, Party on the Patio:  With COVID-19 protocols forcing people to stay far apart, restaurants respond by creating patio space in parking areas, where City Hall is waiting to pick their pockets.

June 23, Steps to a Solid Foundation:  The Christopherson Steps at the west of 24 Ave. may be closed to the public but contractors were there busy rebuilding the concrete base of the storm damaged pedestrian walkway.

June 29, Covid Rock:  With music concerts a thing of the past and other events being cancelled, I look at how virtual shows are stepping up to fill the void in our lives left by the pandemic.

July 6, "Being Open is a Wonderful Thing":  Van City gets a TNT treatment for their branch closures in south Surrey and White Rock while advertising that they are open for business as usual.

July 13, Showing a Litle Tact:  Tactile paving and brail blocks are explored by this insightful article about changes to our urban environment designed to help the visually impaired.

July 21, Nude Beach a Distant Memory:  The gift of a Sunshine Acres Nudist Camp key chain prompts me to look at how to access the clothing-optional shoreline of Crescent Rock beach with the stairs still being closed.

July 26, Fatten the Curve:  The Semiahmoo First Nation is scolded for keeping their pay parking lot and beach open to crowds of people while other beaches and parks are limiting visitors.

Aug. 3, Bitter About Quitters:  If you are going to run for office in south Surrey and White Rock, better plan on hanging around for your entire mandate, instead of sticking voters with the election costs.

Aug. 10, Garbage Goofs:  When you go camping, make plans to "Pack it In - Pack It Out" after a trip to Harrison lake reveals young people are treating the environment like their own garbage dump.

Aug. 17, Talking About a Heatwave:  How to survive a heat wave and keep your cool with tips from the president of the Surrey's United Naturists (SUN) about Crescent Rock beach.

Aug. 24, Weedy White Rock:  Johnson Rd. in uptown White Rock is overgrown with giant weeds blocking lines of sight and creating a traffic hazard, while a new weed store "A Little Bud" opens across from the Whaling Wall.  

Sept. 1, The Princess and Empress of White Rock:  When the Princess tree was chopped down in Memorial Park there was an uproar.  Imagine the mood when I reveal White Rock turned down my offer of a free replacement.

Sept. 7, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them:   Keep an eye open and you might notice some of this long list of bizarre and rare creatures I've managed to locate over the years. 

Sept. 14, Holy Smoke!:  No..., not the best coffee company in town.  This TNT looks at air quality readings from US forest fire smoke that wil