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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

Disclaimer

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

 

TNT The Naked Truth

June 3, 2024

Border Disorder


The Semiahmoo peninsula has always had a close relationship with our American neighbours due to history and proximity.  Nowhere is this more prominent than at the two Surrey border crossings into Blaine, Washington; the Blaine-Douglas crossing (aka Peace Arch crossing) and the Pacific Highway crossing (aka Truck crossing).  The Peace Arch monument boldly declares "May these gates never be closed" but in fact the border is getting squeezed tighter by the day.  I'm old enough to remember when all you needed to cross the border between Canada and the USA was to show your BC driver's license.  That changed of course after 9-11 with passports being needed plus a variety of screening devices installed including nuclear detectors.  Then came the COVID-19 pandemic when cross-border traffic was severely restricted and only essential traffic allowed to pass through the border.   Recently, there have been several changes and heightened security that will likely lead to the border between our two countries resembling what we now see down at the US/Mexico border.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently announced new rules for dog imports into America starting August 1, 2024 in order to keep rabies out of the country.  For years all you needed to take your dog into the states was to show a proof of rabies vaccine when at the border.  The CDC has now mandated you will need proof of that signed by a veterinarian within 30 days of your crossing with an estimated price of $200.  The animal will also need to be at least six months old and microchipped for identification.  This order will not only apply to Canadian dogs but also will cover American dogs returning home, including service animals.  You can expect chaos and confusion at the border over this change that has little scientific evidence it will help control rabies.  From 2009 to 2018, 25 cases of human rabies were documented in the USA, seven of which were contracted outside of the country. This equates to less than two people per year catching rabies.  Wild animals account for over 90% of reported cases, with bats (33%), raccoons (30%), skunks (20%), and foxes (7%) most often carrying the disease.  Somehow the CDC does not realize these animals cross the border at will without checking into US Customs.

Do you remember during the COVID-19 pandemic how the Peace Arch Park on the American side east of the crossing was used as a meeting point with Canadians being allowed to cross a ditch into the States from Zero Avenue for conjugal visits that included marriages and the fields lined with tents?  This was due to the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812, with a loophole in this treaty allowing Canadians and Americans to mingle in this 49th parallel park without technically crossing the border.  Well, that little freedom has also gone the way of the Dodo, with US Customs and Border Protection now closing this area and directing people to the nearby Canadian portion of the park on the west side of the border crossing.  The U.S. Border Patrol has seen a large increase in illegal border crossings through Peace Arch Park plus surrounding areas and are vowing to "preserve the legacy and traditions of Peace Arch Park while also preventing transnational criminal organizations from exploiting the park to gain illegal entry into the United States."  U.S. Customs Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency officers along with the RCMP will continue to monitor the park and keep human smugglers out of the area.

Peace Arch Park isn't the only conduit for human smuggling at the US/Canada border that has recently been exposed.  It turns out that the adjacent BNSF Railway is also being used to help ship migrants into the US from Canada.  Charges were laid in Washington State last week by the US Dept. of Homeland Security against two American men who helped to facilitate the smuggling of mainly Mexican and Indian people into the United States.  In August, 2023 a freight train being X-rayed in Blaine showed a series of anomalies that further investigation revealed were 28 Mexican nationals and one Columbian identified as the human smuggler being paid to facilitate their illegal entry into the US.  This incident was followed by the interception of another train with a further 13 Mexican nationals in November, 2023.  In both of these incidents, migrants were allegedly picked up in the Lower Mainland, driven to a rail yard and told to "climb aboard the train and hide in the natural voids within the rail cars of the freight train."  The human smuggling group was obviously aware of the train schedules as they needed to pick the right train in Canada plus have loading and off-loading points prearranged with transport for their paying clients.

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

Don Pitcairn

May 27, 2024

Locke-d in a Battle


Last week was a pivotal time in the Surrey police transition from the RCMP to the fledgling Surrey Police Service as the City of Surrey lost their court case to quash the order from Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Oct 19, 2023 mandating the changeover.  On Thursday B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Loo gave his ruling on whether the Police Amendment Act 2023 infringed on Surrey residents' right to freedom and expression as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.   In explaining his judgment, Kevin Loo had this to say:  “I have concluded that although voting is undoubtedly a protected activity, the ‘result’ or ‘mandate’ arising from the 2022 municipal election are not activities which fall within the protected sphere of conduct guaranteed.  Regardless of whether the July decision was reasonable or within the Minister’s authority, the provincial legislature’s exercise of its authority over the City in respect of policing, through its enactment of the PAA, was valid.”


Needless to say, Surrey Mayor Locke who ran her Surrey Connect election campaign on a promise to keep the RCMP in Surrey was not happy with the verdict.  She believes the court case showed multiple problems with the police transition on many levels that put policing in Surrey in question.  As was previously the case, Mayor Locke reiterated her financial concerns about the transition stating "The true cost will have an extremely onerous impact on the City of Surrey and especially Surrey taxpayers.”  There has been no decision on whether the City would appeal this decision or abide by it, with Locke putting the 7% increase on Surrey property taxes squarely on the costs for the police transition."  It was previously revealed that without the costs associated with changing the Surrey Police of Jurisdiction (POJ) that there would have been no increase to property taxes in Surrey for 2024.

Whether this is the end to this long-running legal saga remains unclear as Mayor Locke has not revealed if the City will continue fighting over this forced decision that dates back to when Doug McCallum was elected Mayor of Surrey back in 2018.  Brenda Locke has not said if she will challenge or accept the NDP government's offer of $150 million to help fund the transition.  Mike Farnworth has said the SPS will replace the RCMP as Surrey's POJ on Nov. 29, 2024 with the transition expected to be completed and fully staffed by the fall of 2026.  Surrey's Mayor is now planning a budgetary review that will likely take place in September so that taxpayers know what the costs, including that of the police transition, will be for the 2025 budget.  Brenda Locke is on record as saying  “We know the cost implications are worse than we thought so we want to make sure our residents know and are prepared and they know who is imposing this.  That’s important because it is certainly not any of the Surrey MLAs that stood up for the taxpayer in Surrey.”

In case you missed that cannon shot across the bow, Surrey's budget review will happen in the fall before the 2024 B.C. General Election on Oct 19th.  Currently there are 9 seats in Surrey with the NDP holding 7 of them.  An additional riding will be added in Surrey for the 2024 election, bringing the total to 10 seats up for grabs.  You can bet that with the timing of the promised Surrey budget review and the costs forced on Surrey taxpayers for paying for the police transition that Mayor Locke will use the numbers to torpedo the NDP election chances in Surrey.  Several of the current NDP MLAs in Surrey have already poo-pooed the idea that the forced transition from the RCMP to Surrey Police Service will hurt their re-election chances.  I would expect them to focus on cost of living, housing, health care, education and transportation, while ignoring the police transition boondoggle and public safety.  Unfortunately for them, the 32.5% increase in Surrey property taxes that will happen over three years, born mainly on the costs related to financing two police forces, will hang from their necks like a dead albatross.  

So enough with the nautical terms, let me get down to brass tacks on this issue.  The "Keep The RCMP In Surrey" (KTRIS) group with tens of thousands of members who supported their referendum will likely become politically active to fight the change towards the SPS.  I would expect the B.C. Conservatives to use the POV fight in Surrey against the NDP since the ridings here represent over 10% of the seats in the Legislature.  With the tides of change swinging to the Conservatives in Ottawa, it favours the growth in the B.C. Conservatives here, while the United Party (aka Liberals) continue to decline.  In fact, a survey from Research Co last week showed that 42% of respondents favour the NDP, with the B.C. Conservatives in a strong second place at 32% and the Greens and United Party now tied at 12% each.  Even more revealing, 39% of decided voters aged 18 to 34 said they would vote B.C. Conservatives, with 34% supporting the NDP, 16% for the B.C. Greens and a lowly 9% for the B.C. United.  This is a shocking demographic shift away from the NDP, especially in Surrey that has the highest youth population of any city in B.C.

With these numbers I'm starting to think that the B.C. United Party may be going the way of the old Social Credit and headed to political ruin and obscurity.  If the NDP think that Surrey is going to be a cakewalk and that they will easily win back the seats they already hold, they might want to take a hard look at the polling numbers.  The real fly in the ointment has to be Surrey's Mayor Brenda Locke and the Surrey Budget Review that likely will come out a month prior to the vote.  With high cost of living and public safety being tops in the minds of most people living in Surrey, will voters want to support the NDP for forcing the police transition ahead regardless of the costs to residents here?  We are still a long way from the provincial election and anything can happen in the next five months but I think the NDP will have a fight on their hands over the bully tactics they've used against the RCMP and Surrey City Hall.  

Expect the "KEEP SURREY RCMP - KICK OUT NDP" lawn signs to sprout like mushrooms here in the fall.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

TNT The Naked Truth

June 3, 2024

Border Disorder


The Semiahmoo peninsula has always had a close relationship with our American neighbours due to history and proximity.  Nowhere is this more prominent than at the two Surrey border crossings into Blaine, Washington; the Blaine-Douglas crossing (aka Peace Arch crossing) and the Pacific Highway crossing (aka Truck crossing).  The Peace Arch monument boldly declares "May these gates never be closed" but in fact the border is getting squeezed tighter by the day.  I'm old enough to remember when all you needed to cross the border between Canada and the USA was to show your BC driver's license.  That changed of course after 9-11 with passports being needed plus a variety of screening devices installed including nuclear detectors.  Then came the COVID-19 pandemic when cross-border traffic was severely restricted and only essential traffic allowed to pass through the border.   Recently, there have been several changes and heightened security that will likely lead to the border between our two countries resembling what we now see down at the US/Mexico border.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has recently announced new rules for dog imports into America starting August 1, 2024 in order to keep rabies out of the country.  For years all you needed to take your dog into the states was to show a proof of rabies vaccine when at the border.  The CDC has now mandated you will need proof of that signed by a veterinarian within 30 days of your crossing with an estimated price of $200.  The animal will also need to be at least six months old and microchipped for identification.  This order will not only apply to Canadian dogs but also will cover American dogs returning home, including service animals.  You can expect chaos and confusion at the border over this change that has little scientific evidence it will help control rabies.  From 2009 to 2018, 25 cases of human rabies were documented in the USA, seven of which were contracted outside of the country. This equates to less than two people per year catching rabies.  Wild animals account for over 90% of reported cases, with bats (33%), raccoons (30%), skunks (20%), and foxes (7%) most often carrying the disease.  Somehow the CDC does not realize these animals cross the border at will without checking into US Customs.

Do you remember during the COVID-19 pandemic how the Peace Arch Park on the American side east of the crossing was used as a meeting point with Canadians being allowed to cross a ditch into the States from Zero Avenue for conjugal visits that included marriages and the fields lined with tents?  This was due to the Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812, with a loophole in this treaty allowing Canadians and Americans to mingle in this 49th parallel park without technically crossing the border.  Well, that little freedom has also gone the way of the Dodo, with US Customs and Border Protection now closing this area and directing people to the nearby Canadian portion of the park on the west side of the border crossing.  The U.S. Border Patrol has seen a large increase in illegal border crossings through Peace Arch Park plus surrounding areas and are vowing to "preserve the legacy and traditions of Peace Arch Park while also preventing transnational criminal organizations from exploiting the park to gain illegal entry into the United States."  U.S. Customs Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency officers along with the RCMP will continue to monitor the park and keep human smugglers out of the area.

Peace Arch Park isn't the only conduit for human smuggling at the US/Canada border that has recently been exposed.  It turns out that the adjacent BNSF Railway is also being used to help ship migrants into the US from Canada.  Charges were laid in Washington State last week by the US Dept. of Homeland Security against two American men who helped to facilitate the smuggling of mainly Mexican and Indian people into the United States.  In August, 2023 a freight train being X-rayed in Blaine showed a series of anomalies that further investigation revealed were 28 Mexican nationals and one Columbian identified as the human smuggler being paid to facilitate their illegal entry into the US.  This incident was followed by the interception of another train with a further 13 Mexican nationals in November, 2023.  In both of these incidents, migrants were allegedly picked up in the Lower Mainland, driven to a rail yard and told to "climb aboard the train and hide in the natural voids within the rail cars of the freight train."  The human smuggling group was obviously aware of the train schedules as they needed to pick the right train in Canada plus have loading and off-loading points prearranged with transport for their paying clients.

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

Don Pitcairn

For years the Crescent Beach Ratepayers have pushed back against any bars in their neighbourhood.

That is all about to change.


CLUB 240 the "Rockin' 240" Legion - Now Open to Everyone



The Crescent Beach Legion #240 has been a fixture in our community since 1954 and at its present location of 2643 128 St. across from Crescent Park since 1975.  The Royal Canadian Legion's mission is "To serve Veterans, including serving military and RCMP members and their families, to promote Remembrance, and to serve our communities and our country."  With both of my parents serving in the RCAF and the time I spent in Cadets and on DND ranges, I have a connection to the Canadian military and both myself and my wife are card carrying members of the Legion.  We support our local Crescent Beach Legion, attend other Legions in Canada and are proud to help them either financially or through volunteer-ism.  Here is what the Legion does for you, taken from the legion.ca website (https://legion.ca/home)

The Legion serves all Veterans

The Royal Canadian Legion was founded by Veterans and for Veterans. We advocate for the care and benefits for all who served Canada, regardless of when or where they served. The Legion also provides representation and assistance to Veterans, including currently serving Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families, and access to our services is available to them at no cost, whether or not they are Legion members.  The Legion helps thousands of Veterans each year and makes significant positive changes in their lives. 

The Legion exists so that Canada never forgets

The Legion understands the importance of honouring past sacrifices and acknowledging the courage of those who served and still serve today. Through Remembrance Day ceremonies, the Poppy campaign, commemorative activities, youth education programs and more, the Legion helps Canadians to honour and remember.

The Legion serves our communities and our country

Legion Branches are the cornerstone of communities across Canada, and provide one of the largest volunteer bases in the country. With 1,350 Branches from coast to coast to coast, our members provide local services and supports to build a stronger Canada. Whether helping local Veterans, supporting seniors, providing youth sports programs, raising funds, volunteering to help those in need, or simply offering a place to gather for fun and celebration, Legionnaires provide essential services in their communities.

Since 1954 the Crescent Beach Legion #240 has operated with a Liquor Primary Club License that carries with it special rules and conditions as follows.

• Must only sell liquor to members and their guests. 
• Must not advertise to the general public.
• Must keep a guest register for any non-member who will be in a service area when liquor is sold or served. 
• May permit members to store personal liquor they have purchased from the club in a locker at the club establishment. 

Obviously these rules are rather controlling and antiquated, especially the one about not being able to advertise.  Trying to attract a younger clientele to their club, the Crescent Beach Legion began the process last year of applying for a Liquor Primary License.  You can read all about this in the Surrey Planning and Development Report that was necessitated by this license change at https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/planning-reports/PLR_7924-0020-00.pdf .  The biggest change with the new license is that it will allow the Legion to serve the general public as in a bar or pub.  No membership is required, even though as the saying goes, membership has its privileges and does help to support the club.  It is interesting to note that the Legion hours will not change, the RCMP and city's By-laws had no concerns and not a single comment was received from the community about this change after signs were posted and letters sent to nearby property owners.


On Friday, the Crescent Beach Legion #240 received official notice that their liquor license application had been successful and they could now operate as a bar or pub.  I would like to note here that the White Rock Legion #8 at 2290 152 St. also completed the same liquor license change last year allowing anyone to stop in, enjoy food and drink, or take in a show.  I would like to invite the public to visit the Crescent Beach Legion that is becoming legendary for its live music shows, which have earned it the nickname of the "Rockin' 240."  On Wednesday it is the Blue Grass Jam starting at 7 p.m., Thurs. is spaghetti dinner $5 before/$10 door at 5:30 p.m. with the Happy Hour band followed by bingo, Friday night is the Lynard Skynard tribute band Longriders at 8:30 p.m., tix $20 before/$25 door, and on Sat. night it's a 80's and 90's double header with Three Times More Handsome band along with Supercramp for only $10 starting at 7:30 p.m.  An upcoming show you will not want to miss is the Wailing Walker band on Friday, May 31st for $20 featuring rockin' rhythm and blues..

Please visit the following websites, Instagram and Facebook pages for more information on our local Legions.  Make sure you check out their events pages to see what is in store for the summer months.  Above all, follow the Legion's battle cry of "Join us - We're on a mission to have fun and support veterans."

Royal Canadian Legion

https://legion.ca/home

Crescent Beach Legion #240

https://www.club240.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/CrescentBranchLegion/

https://www.instagram.com/rcl_branch240/?fbclid=IwZXh0bgNhZW0CMTAAAR3sgPPL2ahWYDjdWFAV5w5XO1wV26qG7Ydam2bCBgEU4y7yd8PigK_mmIE_aem_AX7qM17imrU7S5-Jbw1Qg7B3WauMgXRd08E15nzaIvErJA6xPscFWnxQGb2V5wxx1MEHiLEUvrWpeMdv9iA0j1fZ

White Rock Legion #8

https://www.legion8whiterock.ca/

https://www.facebook.com/p/Royal-Canadian-Legion-008-White-Rock-100063467025348/

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

May 13, 2024

Life's a Beach

Don Pitcairn

The main reason why I originally moved to the Semi-Pen was to be closer to the beach. The fresh air, better weather and warmer temperatures were definitely part of the decision.  As  a kid I loved to go to the beaches here, especially the rugged, secluded and less traveled areas where there was more wildlife and less people.  Not much has changed over the years with the White Rock weather and White Rock tide forecast being the sites online that I frequent the most. This last weekend was a textbook beach weekend with sunny skies, well above normal temperatures, extreme low tides in the middle of the day and even northern lights at night. To be quite honest, I thought it couldn't get any better.

We had planned on heading down to the south facing portion of Crescent Rock beach until an unscheduled shelf collapse in our hutch due to faulty shelf pins rained glass, broken crystal and smashed china down on our dining room floor. After taking pictures for insurance, picking up the pieces and moping up the blood (mine) we decided to simply walk down to the west facing shoreline south of the Crescent Rock boulder. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen more people on the naturist beach, with folks sunbathing for as far as I could see towards Kwomais Point. All of the regulars were there, some folks who I have not seen since last year and plenty more new faces happy to not have to drive to the far reaches of UBC to avoid tan lines. It has become quite the community down there with peace loving naturists using it to get away from it all or congregate with like-minded people.

After seeing fata morgana mirages many times last year I tend to keep an eye on the horizon for anything strange or out of place. Looking out across Mud Bay towards Ladner, I spotted what appeared to be the start of a waterspout down at the surface of the water. It happened a few more times and then I suddenly realized what I was seeing was actually a whale spout. If i had my SLR camera, tripod and a telephoto lens I could have taken shots of tail lobbing and breaching plus the misty spouts blown high into the air. As it was, I managed to capture some of the back lit spouts on my cell phone from a whale that was so far north into the bay it would have been almost due west of Crescent Beach. I posted about this on a community Facebook page and a member replied that they had been kayaking in the area at that time and saw two grey whales feeding together in the bay.

When the tide finally turned from the half metre low height, it came roaring back along the shore headed north towards Crescent Beach. All along the sand flats and beach edge was a carpet of thick brown bubbly foam. With extreme low tides these days and warm sunny weather combined with a mile of exposed sand baking in the heat, when the water does come back in it often brings a layer of sea foam or surf scum with it.  This is a natural phenomenon from algae and organic matter on the sand breaking down in the sun and then being transported to the shore with the incoming tide. It normally is non-toxic and is often an indication of a productive ocean ecosystem.  Most people will not walk through it as it looks like something you would expect to find at a sewage pipe outflow. Shortly after the water passed by, the foam began to quickly dissipate allowing folks to go skinny-dipping and cool off in clear water.

When we finally decided to head home for dinner we left the beach and climbed the Christopherson Steps that we use for our regular route. Heading out  onto 24 Ave. I noticed a dark Ford Explorer SUV parked illegally with the engine running at the entrance to the park. I had heard sirens earlier and thought it might be RCMP or Surrey Police responding to a call at the beach. Much to my surprise, when I approached the window I realized there were two Department of Fisheries and Oceans female officers sitting inside. I engaged then in conversation and asked if I could be of assistance, learning they were there looking for fishers leaving the area. I reported to them I had not seen anybody fishing or harvesting shellfish but had seen a man who had been crabbing. The best part about that was I had talked to him about his catch and he showed me the two large male dungeness crabs he had caught for dinner. The officers thanked me for the information and added that they had never seen Crescent Beach so busy.

Of course the main attraction at the beach this weekend was the intense northern lights on Friday night that were visible overhead from almost everywhere in the Lower Mainland. With the gates to the stairways being locked, I thought about driving down to Crescent Beach to take in the show. A call to a friend in the neighbourhood made me think twice as they reported a huge traffic jam of people trying to get to Blackie Spit to watch the lights. I guess I was not the only one who figured out this dark north facing beach would be one of the best viewing areas around. I have seen the aurora half a dozen times over my lifetime but there has never been a light show like the one on Friday night. The colours were amazing even at our house but I would have rather viewed them over the water with the mountains in the background. I hope you got to see it as I was likely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for people living in the Semi-Pen.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

Monday May 06, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

The Best Things In Life Are Free



This TNT is really the tale of two cities, with two public beaches and two different ways to deal with parking.  White Rock has always had issues with huge waterfront crowds, traffic jams and a lack of parking in summer.  Compounding this problem is the over half million dollar a year lease paid to the BNSF Railway for using the railway corridor land for parking lots, paying Metro Vancouver their parking lot tax plus upkeep and maintenance along the promenade.  With all of these costs in place that need to be recovered, the City of White Rock now charges $4.50 an hour for their summer rate from 10 a.m. to midnight.  All parking east of Oxford Street is limited to 4 hours maximum, excluding the parkades, which have a daily rate of $16 for those wanting an extended stay at the beach.  At the far end of East Beach behind the Washington Avenue Grill or WAG, the Semiahmoo First Nation operates a parking lot on their land that charges a flat rate of $8 per day.

Meanwhile over in Surrey, the parking at Crescent Beach is free, attracting budget conscious families to this waterfront on warm sunny days.  Unfortunately the Blackie Spit parking lot and gravel overflow lot are often packed solid with cars, with much of the streets throughout this tiny seaside hamlet lined with vehicles.  A study last year by the City of Surrey revealed there were over 400 parking spots that were either marked with illegal no parking signs, illegal tow away zone signage, or where parking areas had been claimed by residents with fencing, hedges, boulders and obstacles.  Since that time some of the Crescent Beach residents have realized the road frontage is not their private property or personal domain and have removed much of this signage.  I drove through Crescent Beach prior to writing this TNT and counted over 80 no parking or tow away zone signs that are still posted.  Some of these are so old the red printing has faded to white and the towing companies listed have been out of business for decades.

It is not the end of an era and there are currently no plans to start charging for parking in Crescent Beach, but changes are coming.  Surrey Council has recently approved a number of Crescent Beach parking and safety improvements that will take place over the next three months.  Here are the changes as posted on the Surrey.ca website at https://www.surrey.ca/renovating-building-development/engineering-infrastructure/capital-construction-program/crescent-beach-improvements .

  1. Review, amend and update existing on-street parking signage to ensure a consistent approach (whether angle or parallel parking is required), adequate sight lines and parking hours, which will include two-hour parking on portions of Sullivan Street and Beecher Street that are in proximity to commercial areas;

  2. Increase way-finding signage to the Blackie Spit parking lots (including gravel overflow) at the entrance to Crescent Beach, as well as within Blackie Spit;

  3. Minor modifications to the existing gravel overflow parking spaces in Blackie Spit to improve turning movements;

  4. Adding on-street parking fronting the vacant City Lot/Park at 12254 Beecher Street (McKenzie Road);

  5. Completing sidewalk connections for missing “gaps” along Sullivan Street, particularly west of Kidd Road bus stop and Alexandra tot-park area, to improve accessibility access to the beach area;  

  6. New accessible walkways on Wickson Road, Target Street and Alexandra Street;

  7. Pilot temporary "No Parking” on one side of McBride Avenue (north) for summer 2024; and

  8. Develop concept plans for pathways along McBride Avenue (north) and Kidd Road, between Sullivan Street and Gilley Road to improve walking and access to Crescent Beach and Alexandra tot-park.

These changes should make a marked improvement to the vehicle parking issue at Crescent Beach while improving pedestrian access and safety.  Unfortunately BNSF trains blocking Beecher Street will continue to add to traffic woes either in the morning when crowds of people are headed to the beach or at the end of the day when they are going home.  The idea of a railway overpass at Beecher Street is still sitting on a drawing board in the Engineering Department and the concept of a railway underpass at Bayview Ave. and McBride Ave. has yet to be considered.  If you do make it out of Crescent Beach without hitting a train, the 4-way stop sign at Crescent Road and 128 Street is still creating traffic jams.  I want to report that the City of Surrey is working to install a roundabout in this location that will likely be ready sometime in 2025.  Personally, I would love to see Translink provide a direct bus from the unused section of the Park & Ride lot in south Surrey down Crescent Road to Crescent Beach.  Not only would it get people out of their cars, it would be a lot shorter than the hour it currently takes to ride through White Rock and Ocean Park.

For more detailed information on the upcoming parking changes to Crescent Beach, please visit the following links:

Corporate report R223, Crescent Beach Parking Update, Dec. 2023:

Post Card on road allowance education, January 2024:

Open House presentation boards, March 2024:  

Corporate Report R075, Crescent Beach Parking and Walking Enhancements Update, April 2024:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

TNT Extra: 

While access is somewhat limited to the remote stretches of Crescent Rock Naturist Beach in South Surrey, at least the parking on top of the Ocean Park bluff at the stairways is free and will likely remain that way.  If stairs are a problem, you can simply walk along the shore from White Rock or Crescent Beach, ensuring you check out the tide forecast beforehand.  If you plan to visit the world famous Wreck Beach in Vancouver, there is very limited free parking along Marine Drive, plus a free gravel parking lot at Acadia Beach that leads to Tower Beach.  At UBC parking costs $4 an hour, max of $20, with the same hourly price after 6 p.m., max of $10.  Weekends are also $4 an hour but with a max of $10 for the day.   

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

 

 

Monday April 29, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Bad Engineering Kills People


The title for this TNT is a simple statement I use often and usually for very good reason.  For those people who have followed this column for over 15 years, you know that the state of public roadways and the safety of the travelling public are rather high on my agenda.  Behind the scenes I'm often in contact with the Transportation Ministry, Mainroad Group, local MLAs, ICBC and the police to bring dangerous road conditions to their attention.  Locally, this has included a campaign to have median cable barriers installed on Highway 99, that eventually went from 80 St. in Delta to the Peace Arch border crossing.  A TNT and email about a failed guard rail on the Serpentine River bridge that drowned a young lady led to an extensive investigation that resulted in 18" concrete dividers being used to protect the unsafe mounting posts on similar bridges throughout B.C.  The Hwy. 10 hill headed towards 120 St. got widened and separated because of my concerns, which I had first made a year before a deadly crash that killed two 17 year-olds.  The old Bailey bridge was closed to truck traffic and an announcement made about its replacement immediately after a TNT with photos revealed the extent of the decay on this 50 year-old temporary bridge.

That is only some of the larger and more dangerous road safety initiatives I have taken on over the years.  One of the others was at the interchange of Hwy. 91 and Hwy. 99, in particular the on ramp from Hwy. 91 southbound heading onto Hwy. 99 southbound.  The curved portion of the on ramp is not properly engineered, is not banked steeply enough, has a decreasing radius and originally did not have the tall concrete no-post barriers at the end of it.  This made it possible for an out-of-control vehicle to cross into the southbound traffic at an almost 90 degree angle.  I became aware of this problem when this is exactly what happened, with a multi-car collision resulting in several serious injuries.  After that crash I fired off a few emails about my safety concerns on this dangerous on ramp and how the no-post barricades ended far too early.  It wasn't that much longer before an even larger accident occurred at the very same place but in this case it involved a semi-truck and trailer.  It failed to negotiate the tight corner and drove straight across the southbound lanes, through the centre median and halfway into the northbound lane of Hwy. 99, fortunately without killing anybody.  After another "I told you so" email, more no-post dividers were finally installed to stop these cross-over accidents.

Even with all of these upgrades, the on ramp from HWY 91 southbound to Hwy. 99 southbound remains an accident waiting to happen.  The decreasing radius on ramp has not been changed, ensuring that drivers going too fast, vehicles with bald tires, cars hydroplaning in the rain or trucks with shifting loads fail to negotiate the corner.  The last lamp standard on the curve has been knocked over many times before, with it being put up again in the very same spot, which dare I say drives me crazy.  The worst portion of this entire interchange is where the on ramp ends and you have to merge into traffic on a bend in Hwy. 99 under the Hwy 91 overpass.  It is pretty basic physics that the mirrors of a vehicle attempting this maneuver will not show the driver the traffic beside and behind due to the curve in the road.  Throw in the overpass above, changes in light and shadow, changes in precipitation along with roadway conditions and you have a recipe for disaster.  A quick check of ICBC crash statistics shows that in the past four years there were 232 crashes in this area.   It is no surprise to me since I often use this for my route home and am constantly caught in massive traffic jams from accidents in this location. 

So here is where the rubber hits the road.  Last Monday traffic was snarled for hours on the Hwy. 99 southbound when a semi-truck and trailer flipped over at the end of the HWY 91 on ramp onto Hwy. 99.  It rolled over and slid across both lanes of the highway with the trailer getting caught by the median cable barriers.  This is the exact same spot where another transport truck lost its load several months ago, dropping a large slab of pre-cast concrete onto one of the southbound lanes of Hwy. 99.  In this area more concrete-no-post barriers are needed to protect the traffic on Hwy. 99 from those losing control on the on ramp curve.  The Hwy. 91 on ramp needs to be rebuilt to eliminate the decreasing radius corner and increase the angle of the road to stop truck roll-overs and vehicles losing control.  I should mention here that the street lights need to be moved away from where they keep getting hit by skidding cars.  As far as the merge lane, it needs to be extended several hundred metres south of the Hwy. 91 overpass and to only allow traffic to merge once past the overpass where the road is straight.  You don't need to be a genius to figure this stuff out, you just have to watch the pattern of repeated crashes, rollovers and dumped loads in this location.  Anyone who has been stuck in the traffic chaos at this spot while trying to get home to south Surrey and White Rock knows how a simple commute can turn into an hour's long ordeal.

So that's this week's TNT.  Where the fun begins is on Monday when a link to this column gets emailed to the NDP's Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming.  The South Surrey-White Rock MLA Trevor Halford, who just happens to be the United Party's Shadow Minister for Transportation and Infrastructure, will also get a copy in his in box.  North Delta's NDP MLA Ravi Kahlon and his counterpart for South Delta United Party MLA Ian Paton will definitely be CC'ed. Delta Mayor Rob Harvie and Delta Councillors, plus Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and Surrey Councillors will be on the receiving end too since this problem affects many of their constituents on their daily commutes.  The contacts I have at Mainroad Group and the Insurance Corporation of B.C. will also be notified so they are also aware of these problems and the simple remedies on how to fix them.  Lastly will be Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord and Delta Fire Chief Guy McKintuck as it is his emergency services crews that are constantly called in to clean up the mess at this intersection of two major highways in Delta.  I might also share the information in this column with other media outlets in the Lower Mainland so that if nothing is done about this problem, the next time a truck barrel rolls across Hwy. 99 or somebody gets killed, I can stand in front of the cameras and microphones and scream "I told them it was dangerous and they did nothing!"  

Naturally yours,

Don PItcairn

TNT Extra:  A serious crash on Hwy. 99 only 50 metres away from Hwy. 91 at 4:15 on Sunday morning was the result of a driver going the wrong way.  According to officers from the Surrey RCMP who attended the scene, a 68 year-old woman was driving a late model Ford sedan into oncoming traffic.  The Ford struck a Mercedes sedan with two passengers heading southbound resulting in significant damage to both vehicles and leaving the driver of the Ford with serious injuries.  It is believed that alcohol and a per-existing medical conditions were contributing factors to the collision.  The design issues and safety concerns of the Hwy. 91 and Hwy. 99 interchange had nothing to do with this latest crash in this location. 

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

Monday April 22, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Make Every Day Earth Day


Welcome to Earth Day!  In case you were not aware Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd.  With it falling on a Monday this year I thought it would be appropriate for this TNT to delve into the day dedicated to preserving our beautiful blue and green planet.  Earth Day was first observed in 1970, making 2024 its 54th anniversary.  This world-wide event was conceived by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson and a Harvard student Denis Hayes who were both concerned about environmental degradation in the United States following a large oil spill off Santa Barbara, California from an offshore drilling platform.  The very first Earth Day attracted over 20 million people to take part, making it the largest one-day protest in the history of mankind.  This year's Earth Day celebration is expected to attract over a billion people to take part in environmental events in nearly 200 countries.    

Every year has a different theme and this year's is "Planet vs. Plastics."  The people at EARTHDAY.ORG are committed to ending the production of plastics that are fouling our planet, polluting the environment, plus poisoning wildlife and mankind.  Their lofty goal is to have a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by the year 2040.  They advocate for education about the environmental and health risks of plastics, calling for a rapid phase out of single use plastics, the need for a binding United Nations Treaty on Plastic Pollution, and an end to what is called fast fashion (aka trash fashion or garbage garments).  April 22nd is the day meant to "reaffirm our commitment to protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and ensuring a healthier and more resilient future for all life on Earth."

So how does Earth Day get celebrated in White Rock?  Unfortunately there is nothing to show on the city's website for 2024 but in 2023 they asked residents to "Celebrate Earth Day Everyday" by adopting 5 basic habits.

1.  Fill your green bins with food scraps and yard trimmings for composting. 

2.  Learn how to properly dispose or recycle your waste on the city website.

3.  Think thrice about your clothes:  reduce, repair, reuse to minimize waste.

4.  Let's rid our environment of waste and plastic pollution and ditch the plastic water bottle.

5.  Reduce paper waste and switch to online billing to receive notifications from City Hall.

Surrey kicks it up a notch with what they bill as B.C.'s largest Earth Day celebration, being held this year on Sat., April 27 at Surrey Civic Centre from 11a.m. to 7 p.m. Activities there include the following: 

Food trucks, an expanded sustainable marketplace, Indigenous cultural sharing, kids activities and much more.  

Free live entertainment by local musicians, dancers, and environmental educators.   

Shop environmentally-friendly, artisan products made by local, small businesses from Surrey and the Lower Mainland.

An environmental event for all-ages, Surrey Parks plant sale, a tomato plant giveaway, kids activities, and much more.

No tickets required!  Experience Western Canada’s largest, free Earth Day event in the heart of Surrey City Centre.

Saving the world and protecting the environment comes down to you and personal choice.  There are many local environmental organizations you can join, such as White Rock and Surrey Naturalists, Burns Bog Conservation Society, Surrey Environmental Partners, Friends of Semiahmoo Bay, A Rocha, SNAP and more.  For hands on experience, consider following the Lower Mainland Green Team on Facebook that organizes environmental cleanup of invasive plants from local parks and nature preserves with one planned for next weekend (https://www.facebook.com/LowerMainlandGreenTeam/).  The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club with its Little Campbell Hatchery is always looking for volunteers to help with club activities, grounds and trails maintenance and keeping the baby salmon healthy and happy (https://www.sfgc.info/).  Looking after the environment and being outside experiencing nature is always a rewarding and refreshing experience.

For those who prefer being the lone wolf, there is nothing stopping you from being an independent environmentalist.  I pick up trash wherever I see it and even have a couple of litter tongs I keep in my vehicle and take to the beach.  Besides doing regular shoreline beach cleanups at Crescent Rock beach, I've personally removed the debris from several abandoned homeless encampments there.  Every few years I'll take on the task of doing a shoreline cleanup from Crescent Beach to White Rock, liasoning with the BNSF Railway to pick up bags of debris left beside the tracks.  You can act as the eyes and ears for a variety of government agencies whose job it is to look after the environment.  The B.C. RAPP line, (Report All Poachers and Polluters) is good to know as is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) for anything salt water related.  Having the Parks Dept and Engineering Dept email addresses for both Surrey and White Rock is a good way to report environmental issues that they need to know about.

For more information about Earth Day please visit the following websites:

For information on Surrey's Party For The Planet visit:

Naturally yours

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

 

Monday April 15, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Residential, Not Racetrack

Surrey and South Surrey traffic crashes  ICBC.

The City of Vancouver is considering a rather novel idea, putting a 30 km/h speed limit on their residential streets.  This is due to the alarming statistic that just over half of all crashes involving pedestrians occurred on residential streets or at an intersection involving a residential street.  This idea is being supported by Vision Zero Vancouver, a community traffic safety group who bring attention to the 50 km/h default speed limit that is deadly to pedestrians.  Their research shows that a person being struck by a vehicle travelling at 30 km/h has a 90% chance of survival, while those struck by a vehicle doing 50 km/h has only a 20% survival rate.  This is the reason why school and park zones both have a 30 km/h speed limit, it keeps children alive.  For narrow residential roads with houses, families, kids and pets, the current 50 km/h speed limit is a death sentence.

It is not like this is a new concept for communities in the Lower Mainland.  Delta has been leading the charge with a variety of traffic calming measures and the use of 30 kmh speed limits at neighbourhoods in Tsawwassen and Sunshine Hills in North Delta.  Surrey has also been looking at this idea, with their Surrey Slow Streets: Residential Speed Limit Reduction Pilot looking at changing driver behaviour by lowering speed limits to 40 km/h or 30 km/h.  This project ended back in Dec, 2022 and unfortunately the slower speed signs have all been removed.  The six test areas showed that regardless of signage, vehicle speeds in residential neighbourhoods were consistent.  Interestingly, a reduction to 30 km/h from 40 km/h did not translate to a significant lowering of vehicle speed.  It was for this reason that the City of Surrey chose to advocate for the provincial government to set a default speed of 40 km/h for all residential roads across the Lower Mainland.  Even White Rock considered a 30 km/h speed limit for all their residential streets but chose instead to monitor similar projects in Saanich and Victoria. White Rock also cited the cost of putting up 30kmh signs on each street in White Rock as being very costly?

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) sets default speed limits of 50 km/h in municipalities and 80 km/h on highways outside of a municipality. The legislative authority for default speed limits in this province is the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA).  The Union of B.C. Municipalities requested in 2019 that municipal default speed limits be set at 30 km/h for local streets.  The province however, did not support this motion and noted that municipalities can set speed limits on individual streets by posting signage at each end of the street.  Instead of a blanket 30 km/h limit, this would create an unnecessary proliferation of street signage that would be costly to install and also add to continual signage maintenance over time.  It was estimated that the cost for posting 30 km/h signage across the three square miles of White Rock would cost the city $125,000.  Of course, they do have 30 km/h zones for all parks and schools plus along the strip of Marine Drive and Johnston Road from 5 Corners to 16th avenue that often has large crowds of pedestrians attracted to the waterfront.  If you have ever been to the beach on a sunny weekend, you know that driving at 30 km/h would be impossible because of the traffic.

If you want a stark visual representation of how bad the residential crashes are in south Surrey and White Rock, ICBC has statistical information and maps available to the public at https://www.icbc.com/about-icbc/newsroom/Statistics. Simply visit this page, scroll down to the "Interactive Tools" tab that shows crash data by region.  Click on "Lower Mainland" and the first thing you will see is the map of the City of Vancouver that is nearly saturated with areas showing vehicle crashes.  Enter a year and the city you are interested in and it will give you the crash map for that region.  It was actually shocking how many accidents happen on small residential streets throughout the Semiahmoo peninsula.  At the closest corner to our house in the quiet little corner of Crescent Heights, there were two crashes in two years, one that involved my neighbour who had an elderly gentleman run a stop sign and hit his SUV.  Of course I had to look at Marine Drive in White Rock that had 102 collisions over 4 years, most of these that happened in the 30 km/h zone.  In White Rock the most dangerous corner is North Bluff and Johnson Road at 152 crashes, while in South Surrey, the intersection of 152 St. and 32 Ave. Diversion clocks in at 364 crashes.

In order to lower the number of accidents on residential streets, reduce crash severity and save pedestrian lives, it would be very easy for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Hon. Rob Fleming, to simply acquiesce to the Union of B.C. Municipalities and make any municipal residential road that does not have a painted centre line a 30 km/h zone.  If all of the residential roads in all of the cities across the Lower Mainland and possibly even the province had this speed limit, it is likely that drivers would quickly adapt to driving slower in these areas.  If people want to drive like a-holes and speed in their neighbourhood, they'd better get used to residents yelling "SLOW DOWN" as they roar by.  Our street is traffic calmed with a series of speed bumps and we still get idiots roaring through here, racing from bump to bump in their high end sports cars, oblivious to the fact that they are driving like idiots.  Nothing like hearing the crunch of their undercarriage and seeing a shower of sparks off the bumps to bring a smile to my face.  Driving responsibly and a little slower won't kill you, but being reckless and speeding increases your odds of both a crash and injury.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

Monday Aprill 08, 2024

 

Naked Cash Grab

I'm so old I can remember the glory days of the Surrey Credit Union.  Unfortunately, like most Credit Unions they seemed to want to be more like banks and changed their name to Surrey Metro Savings (SMS).  Around 30 years ago I looked after the grounds of nine SMS locations including their head office in Guildford, along with several Bank of Montreal branches as well.  In 2002 Surrey Metro Savings merged with Coast Capital Savings as they spread their wings beyond Surrey's borders.  It was about that time the gardening contract was then given to a large trans-national landscaping company based in England and all of the independent janitors let go for a large conglomerate cleaning company to maintain all of the buildings.  My first mortgage was with Surrey Metro Savings but they lost me years ago because of their change in corporate structure and behaviour.  We still have accounts with Coast Capital and because of this we are members with a right to vote in their elections.

Last week we received notices in the mail from Coast Capital informing us they are having an Annual General and Special Meeting (AGSM) plus Board of Directors election with four resolutions being voted on.  A ballot was contained with the vote for the Board of Directors, appointment of Auditor, Vice Chair Retainer and one rule change.  Credit Union (yes, I still like to call it that) members can vote on these four questions either online or by mailing them in with the self addressed postage paid envelope.  There were several things that really raised my eyebrows and hackles about this part of the process.  First off, the trust company in charge of the vote was TSX, based in Toronto, Ontario.  It would have been nice if a local company could have been found but at least they got one located in Canada.  Voting closes on April 18, so you have to ensure your ballot is mailed early enough to get delivered to Ontario.  There is also a change in that members cannot drop off ballots at the branches as was previously done, something that made voting very easy for many people.  

How would you like to participate in an election where you are told who to vote for and where to mark your X on the ballot?  It certainly doesn't sound democratic and more like something you would find in China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, all authoritarian regimes.  Well, the Coast Capital ballot does just that for the Board of Directors with four of the six candidates being "recommended" by the Governance and Nominations Committee.  Of course the chosen four names were arranged alphabetically in one line, with the two other candidates getting listed alphabetically on another line, fortunately without having a "not recommended" label placed under their names.  For the Appointment of Auditor, KPMG LLP was the only choice with the current Board of Directors recommending members vote YES.  It was the same for Director Remuneration: Vice Chair Retainer with the Board of Directors again recommending members vote YES to add a further $10,000 to the pay rate previously rubber stamped in 2022.  The one rule change of note calls for the Board Remuneration Aggregate Cap to rise from $825,000 to $1,500,000.  That is a shocking increase of almost 82% at a time when inflation is approximately 3 percent annually.

Coast Capital is currently advertising their new Elevate chequing account, using the slogan "Feel The Earn."  At the same time they acknowledge "Nearly half (47%) of Canadians indicate they are living pay cheque-to-pay cheque and nearly a third (33%) report not making enough money each month to cover their bills and debt repayments."  Recently, the City of Victoria Council wanted to vote themselves a 25% raise that was put on hold, while Kelowna Council is voting to give themselves a 30% raise with an option to opt out that was put in because of public pressure.  With an 82% raise in the remuneration cap supported by the Board of Directors, Coast Capital credit union members are now "feeling the burn."  The estimated total pay range for a Coast Capital director is estimated at $145K - $165K per year.  In 2023 the director remuneration payments were $789,000, or $31,000 under the spending cap.  As to why it now needs to be hiked by $675,000, that is anyone's guess but it might have to do with the high cost of living and the huge increases in mortgage payments that even credit union Directors have to pay.

Coast Capital members need to be aware of this shocking cash grab and to vote NO before the deadline of April 18 at 5 p.m, Pacific Time.  Now is not the time to give Directors the power to increase their collective salaries.  This rule change requires two-thirds support to pass or nearly 67 percent of ballots marked yes.  Members also need to realize that voting is online (coastcapitalsavings.com/election) or by mail with ballots no longer being dropped off at the branches as was previously the case.  If you mail your ballot, you have to consider the delivery time, which Canada Post currently pegs at four days for national mail.  This means your letter should be sent out on or before the morning of April 14 or else it may not be delivered in time.  On Thursday, April 25 the Coast Capital AGSM is being held in the ballroom of the Civic Hotel  at 13475 Central Ave., Surrey.  Doors open at 4:00 PT with the AGSM starting promptly at 4:30 p.m.  It will be interesting to see how members vote, especially on this unnecessary and enormous change to the cap on total salaries for Coast Capital directors. 

For more information and details on the upcoming Coast Capital AGSM vote, please refer to the following links:

Naturally yours;

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

TNT

April 2, 2024

101 Steps, 1001 Steps, 10001 Steps, 100000 Steps


The front page photo on this week's Peace Arch News  titled "Spring Steps" contained incorrect and misleading information.  The caption read as follows, "Christopherson Steps is always a popular springtime activity for many in the Semiahmoo Peninsula.  With sun forecast for the Easter Long Weekend, this spot, also known as 1,001 Steps, will likely be busy."  The stairs shown in the picture were indeed the Christopherson Steps, located at the west end of 24 Ave. leading to Crescent Beach.  They were originally called the 101 Steps before the name was changed to honour a local pioneering family who lived in Crescent Heights.  This was done because of these steps being confused with another shoreline staircase a mile to the south.

The 1001 Steps are located at the west end of 15A Ave. near Kwomais Point in Ocean Park .  It has not had its name changed but the 1001 Steps and 101 Steps confusion obviously still remains to this day.  This is a serious issue with emergency services being directed to the wrong staircase to deal with problems at the rugged coastline or the BNSF train tracks.  The last time this happened, a woman broke her leg at the 1,001 Steps and the Coast Guard hovercraft instead went to the Christopherson Steps (previously 101 Steps) to aid in her recovery.  For train crashes, sinking boats, forest fires, drownings and injuries on the rugged boulder strewn shoreline, these delays could have serious ramifications.

The old numerical staircase names both need to be eliminated from use to put an end to this decades long problem.  The 1001 Steps should be renamed the "Stevenson Steps" after the Stevenson family that sold the railway corridor to the Great Northern Railway for $1 over a century ago, allowing the rail corridor to be built.  The pedestrian tunnel under the tracks in Ocean Park was a prerequisite for the land sale allowing for safe beach access under the tracks in perpetuity.  Paying homage to early settlers would help teach people some of Surrey's history, while finally putting the staircase confusion of 101 Steps and 1001 Steps to rest.

Another nearby staircase also has a name problem.  Located at 131 St. and 13 Ave., the Olympic Trail has a wooden staircase leading to a mid-bluff viewing platform that looks south towards Washington State.  It is also locally known as Pot Point or Stoner's Point, with the City of Surrey recently taking to calling it the rather boring "13 Ave. Lookout."   With 131 Street formerly called Olympic Road before the names went numeric, these steps that are not even listed on the Surrey.ca website need to have their historic name recognized and added to the Park inventory.  To say it is a local secret would be somewhat of an understatement, with many people completely unaware of its existance.

The City of Surrey would be wise to fix all of these names, put up proper signage at the top and bottom of the staircases plus post road signage on nearby thoroughfares pointing the way to these shoreline access points.  As it is, Surrey doesn't even have the simple blue and white "To The Beach" signs pointing the way to any of these stairs.  Instead they have them far away on 16 Ave, pointing the way to White Rock beach.  Even in the seaside hamlet of Crescent Beach, some signage pointing the way to Blackie Spit would be a good idea and a simple thing to do.  With Crescent Beach being one of two marine recreational areas for almost a million Fraser Valley residents, proper signage should have been installed long ago.

While on the topic of beach signage, there used to be a large green and white sign on 24 Ave. at Crescent Park Elementary that pointed the way to Crescent Beach.  It was taken down several years ago when new curbing was being installed to make student drop-off and pick-up safer.  Unfortunately when the construction was completed, this sign was not reposted on the boulevard.  Now people heading to Crescent Beach drive into the Crescent Heights neighbourhood that is surrounded by a seaside bluff, several ravines and many dead ends.  Putting  this sign back up would save a lot of headaches for frustrated drivers including those towing boats looking for the Marina.

Here are the links to websites for both Christopherson Steps and the 1001 Steps staircases but unfortunately the Olympic Trail is not listed under any of its four different names.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

Monday March 25, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Men In Black at Pink Palace


On Friday afternoon I was driving down King George Blvd. headed towards 8th Avenue when my passengers alerted me to men dressed in dark clothing carrying what they said looked like assault rifles.  This was in the parking lot between the Chartwell Crescent Gardens Retirement Community and the Hilton hotel commonly known as the Pink Palace from its former paint job.  Since I was focused on driving, I did not see the men or rifles but found this all rather concerning considering the recent gangland machine gun attack in White Rock.  Knowing the hotel has frequently been used for filming, I asked them if there were any movie trucks on site and they told me there were none.  I then asked them if they had seen any police vehicles or officers in uniform and again they told me they had not seen any.

Having not witnessed any of this and not wanting to initiate a "man with gun" call to 911, I decided it was best to return and see for myself what was going on.  Pulling over at the entrance to the Pink Palace I found several traffic delineators with caution tape strung between them across the roadway.  A small sandwich board placed facing the road read "Police Scenario Training - Keep Clear of Area."  Nearby was an old stop sign that was faded from red and white to two different shades of grey.  In the parking lot were a number of cars, plus trucks and SUVs that I quickly identified as undercover ERT vehicles with specialized canopies and discrete antennae on their roofs.  There was nobody present by this time, no security guards on site and no badged police cruisers or officers in regular uniform.  I actually never got to see the men in question or the rifles they were reportedly carrying.

Amazingly, when the Surrey RCMP Media Liaison officer was contacted by the White Rock Sun for information, they knew nothing about this tactical exercise.  Because of the vehicles parked on scene, it most likely was the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team (ERT) that consists of RCMP and municipal police services, which is run out of the BC RCMP Headquarters in Tall Timbers Park.  The RCMP website states "The Emergency Response Team deals with situations where extreme danger/firearms are above the ability of detachments or other policing partners.  Team members are highly trained and are specialized experts in weapons and a variety of tactics.  ERT members can provide expert advice to fellow police on weapons."  For more information on the BC RCMP ERT here is the link:  https://bc-cb.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=23&languageId=1&contentId=5611

The problem with this police exercise is that men dressed in black carrying assault rifles were in a public parking lot walking into a hotel that was visible to neighbours, passing motorists and the residents of the retirement home.  This resulted in a number of "man with gun" calls to E-comm 911 from people concerned about what they had witnessed.  The vehicles with weapons could have easily been backed up to the hotel entrance and the firearms discretely transferred into the building, possibly blocking the area from view with the large Suburban that was on scene.  The parking lot should have been barricaded instead of simply being taped off and signage placed facing traffic in both directions.  Instead of using all undercover vehicles, a couple of marked RCMP squad cars manned by auxiliary police in uniform should have been at the parking lot entrances.  Having men walking through the parking lot with long guns plainly visible was very unprofessional and completely unnecessary. 

I have witnessed RCMP officers walking across parking lots at their headquarters in both Richmond and Langley with shotguns and AR-15 carbine rifles.  Nobody should be concerned or confused by this since the locations are well known, fenced off and obviously packed with uniformed police and squad cars.  When training in a visible area such as the Pink Palace, the public should be notified, the area properly contained and security patrols established.  When movies are filmed at the Pink Palace, I can assure you that any firearms are kept secured and not displayed outdoors unless they have permits from the police and the public and neighbours have been notified.  At the local Semiahmoo Fish & Game club, recreational shooters keep firearms locked in cases as they are transferred from vehicles to the indoor rifle range.  Even the Surrey Police Service who have used this range would not openly carry guns across the club parking lot into the building. 

I understand that the Emergency Response Team has to train for dealing with serious crime arrests, hostage rescue, close quarter combat and barricaded armed subjects.  When holding exercises in leased or rented locations such as the PInk Palace, they cannot simply walk around in public with assault rifles while using unbadged vehicles and dressed in combat fatigues or black clothing.  There have been far too many gangland shootings in BC involving people dressed in a similar fashion with these attacks happening both day and night.  Paintballers and airsoft enthusiasts know they cannot be seen dressed in camouflage and carrying weapons without it being reported to 911 and initiating a serious police response.  Recreational shooters and hunters know they cannot simply walk across parking lots carrying rifles held high.  Those officers in charge of ERT training need to realize that their scenarios cannot panic the public and create nuisance calls to 911.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


March 18, 2024

The Word For The Day is "Beddian"


I have been a bit of a "word nerd" before it even became a thing on Google or prior to the book being written by Susan Neilsen.  For any writer or word-smith, words are like paint on an artist's palette that can go from mess to masterpiece.  At work we regularly have the "$5 word of the day" for anyone pulling a word out of the hat that amazes and possibly mystifies the crew.  I actually know the lyrics to the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from the 1964 Mary Poppins movie and did not have to look up how to spell it.  It's not very often that a word comes to my attention that I have never heard before and when one does I'm always keen to learn the definition and also where it was derived from.  With all of that said, the word for the day is "Beddian."

What is interesting about this word is that my wife Sheryl came across it because of numerology and a rather unique upcoming event in my life.  In case you don't know, numerology is defined as "an ancient study that draws meaning from different numbers, number combinations, letters, and symbols in your life that tap into the underlying patterns of the universe and reveal new truths about who we are."  Now many of us are aware of our golden or champagne birthday when your birthday matches the day you were born.  This once-in-a-lifetime event happens to everyone before they reach the age of 31 and it can be a fun reason for some extra celebration.  For those 19 years and older (18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec) champagne is definitely on the menu and the gift list.

I was born way back in 1962 (before the Beatles first album I like to say) and later this month I will be turning 62 years old.  It occurred to me years ago that if I lived long enough I would get to celebrate this rather interesting birthday.  It was only recently that I began wondering if this birthday actually had a name, which turns out is a "Beddian birthday."  Nobody I have talked to about a Beddian birthday knew anything about it.  Unfortunately for many people, theirs had already passed without this milestone being recognized.  My parents, both born in 1938, would have had their Beddian birthdays in 1976 when I was a young teenager and I know it was never mentioned or celebrated.  My sister and a good buddy who are a few years older than me were pissed when I told them about it, never realizing it was numerically significant and missing theirs.  My daughters are choked as being born in the early 1990s, they will have to live to be over 90-years-old to celebrate their Beddian birthdays.

So how did this statistically interesting birthday get its rather odd name?  I found this interesting explanation from a birthday cake website (where else?) that involves a NYFD firefighter, a New Yorker magazine journalist and a New York University physicist.

"On November 5, 2007, The New Yorker published an article written by Lizzie Widdicombe entitled, "The Firefighter'sTheorem."  This article recounts a story about Bobby Beddia, a New York firefighter, and his now-famous birthday observation.  On a sunny August Saturday, Bobby chatted with Rhonda Shearer, a visitor to his fire station, about his great luck in getting to live during his birth year.  When asked to elaborate, he explained that he was born in September 1953, so his age in 2006/2007 matched the final two digits of the year in which he was born: 53.  This phenomenon happens to everyone, but only once in a lifetime, and Bobby Beddia was thrilled to be experiencing his.  Tragically, later that day, Bobby was killed in the line of duty."

"As a tribute to her friend, Rhonda decided to investigate this birthday observation, and the result was some pretty fascinating math—if you’re into that sort of thing.  She reached out to her physicist and mathematician friends for more insight, and the “birth year” eventually came to be known as a Beddian year.  Richard Brandt, a former NYU physicist, observed that Beddian birthdays will only ever happen in even-numbered years.  That’s because, mathematically, the event is essentially a doubling.  Think of it this way: if you were born in 1960, your Beddian year is 2020, the year you turn 60.  1960 + 60 = 2020.  If you were born in 1953, your Beddian year was 2006: 1953 + 53 = 2006.  Do you see the doubling effect?  One of the most basic math concepts is that the result of doubling any number is always an even number; hence Beddian birthdays are strictly an even year occurrence."

So enjoy your Beddian birthday if you live that long.  For those born in 1963, your year is 2026.  For those born in 1970, it comes around in 2040.  For those folks from 1980, it's 2060 if you make it that far.  If you were born in 1990 and are now 34 year old, your Beddian year is way off in 2080.  For those born in 2000, you have to live to be a centenarian in 2100 to celebrate both living to be 100 years old and your Beddian birthday.  Hopefully I have now given all of these people something to live for when they finally reach their golden years.  For our three grandsons born in this century, they will all have their Beddian birthdays when they are teenagers and unlike almost everyone else will actually know about it and get to celebrate the occasion.  All of this because of Bobby Beddia and the Fire-fighter's Theorem where numerology and etymology (look it up) combine.

You can read more about Robert C. Beddia on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Roll of Honor at this link:

https://www.firehero.org/fallen-firefighter/robert-c-beddia

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 

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

 

 

March 11, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Fish School at SFGC


Like all organizations, the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club (SFGC) had to weather the storm when COVID-19 emerged and lock-downs were put in place to help deal with the spread of the virus.  The archery and firearms ranges were all closed, hall rentals and weddings were cancelled and public gatherings ended.  Through these trying times volunteers running the salmon hatchery managed to keep separated and ensure that the salmonids were kept healthy until they could be released back into the Little Campbell river.  Unfortunately the "Salmon in the Classroom" program run by the Department of Oceans and Fisheries (DFO) with help from the hatchery at the SFGC were also cancelled during COVID along with school tours of the Little Campbell hatchery.  Now that everything has returned to normal, both of these important educational programs that highlight the importance of salmon hatchery operations are back up and running.

Last fall volunteers manning the fish fence on the Little Campbell River netted 3,700 Coho (of which 350 were hatchery fish), 950 Chinook and 350 Chum, all of which were counted, sexed and released.  Under the watchful eye of DFO officers, salmon were selected to provide brood stock for future hatchery operations.  Currently there are two eight foot wide tubs with 38,000 Coho and another set of tubs with 52,000 Chinook swimming in them.   Outside in the large rearing pond, a further 20,000 Coho are being raised for release into the Little Campbell River in the near future.  Besides all of the salmon being raised at the hatchery, the DFO outfits classrooms with specialized aquariums so that students can experience hands-on the life-cycle of salmon.  Eyed-eggs from the Little Campbell Hatchery are distributed by DFO from the Little Campbell Hatchery to schools in Surrey, Delta and Richmond in January where they are raised for release in the spring. 

In total the SFGC has booked students from over 80 schools this year to visit the Little Campbell hatchery.  This generally involves groups of 25-26 children plus teachers and parents.  Between now and spring break, it is expected that 650 kids will be visiting the property to see first hand what is happening and how the young fish are kept safe and healthy.  The $100 booking fee is quite affordable and helps the Club pay for salmon hatchery operations.  A team of eight veteran guides (with several more in training) assist with classroom instruction and the tours of the hatchery, outbuildings, the Little Campbell river and the neary 30 acres of property.  Currently many of the children are arriving in buses or by mini-van convoy with the fish they have raised in the classroom.  It is expected that before the March spring break that all of the salmonids raised in the classrooms will be released by the kids into the Little Campbell where they then begin their epic four year migration.  It is interesting to note that of the 55 eggs delivered to each classroom, 51-55 salmonids are returned and released into the river.  You can find more information on the SFGC's Little Campbell fish hatchery school tours at:  You can find more information on the SFGC's Little Campbell fish hatchery school tours at: https://www.sfgc.info/copy-of-a-volunteer-s-fish-tale 

The SFGC's Little Campbell hatchery is run by a contingent of knowledgeable volunteers who make everything possible.  This time of year the tanks with the salmonids must be cleaned on a daily basis and of course the fish need to be fed and monitored.  Besides the educational school tours, members of the SFGC recently teamed up with other salmon hatcheries to run the Fishing For Kids booth at the BC Sportsman Show in Abbotsford.  Over the upcoming spring break the young Chinook currently in the rearing tanks will have their adipose fin removed marking them as hatchery fish.  At that time the DFO will supply a pinning machine that inserts a coded wire into the nose of the fish that provides information on health, growth, travel and morbidity when the fish are caught or collected.  The 52,000 Chinook will take twelve people a total of eight days working seven hours a day to complete this task, with the Coho marked and tagged soon after that.  When the salmon are running in October, it takes a total of 450-500 hours for volunteers to man the fish fence, net the salmon and perform the count.  If you want hands-on experience with helping both hatchery raised and wild salmon survive, the Semiahoo Fish & Game Club is waiting for you.

With plans for a new fish hatchery to be constructed currently at the building permit stage, there has been a big increase in interest in the happenings at the SFGC and the Little Campbell hatchery.  It was only a few years ago when it looked as if the property was going to be given to the CIty of Surrey but from those days the club has made a remarkable comeback.  Memberships can be purchased at $110 for the year with $50 for seniors and a family rate of $140.  For this you can get involved in one of the only fish and game clubs that has a fish hatchery on their property.  The SFGC is always looking for volunteers to help lessen the workload on older members who devote much time and energy on the hatchery plus club operations.  With indoor and outdoor archery, a basement firearms range, 200 seat hall and plenty of outdoor activities on the wooded property there is always something going on.  You can check out the club website at https://www.sfgc.info/ or drop by at 1284 184 street in the Hazelmere Valley of south Surrey.  The property is open to the public from dawn to dusk and the walking trails beside the river are always a nice place to connect with nature

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

 

February 05, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


A Hump in the Road


It is not my job to notice issues affecting our roadways.  I do not get paid to do safety checks on bridges and highways.  I didn't go to Engineering school to learn how to build roads.  I do not work for a road maintenance company, the Ministry of Highways or one of the many cities in this province.  I could go one ranting further but instead I'll stop here and say that our traffic infrastructure here is third world.  I can basically drive down any roadway and point out problem after problem with everything from signage, lighting, layout, paving, painting, etc.  Some of this stuff is rather mundane, others are dangerous, and some have actually killed people.  The government could hire me to simply cruise around to make notes and take pictures of deficiencies on any roadway in the province.  It would be like the movie Groundhog Day with the same repetitive crap day in and day out without end leaving one hoping for death.

The closer you get to home, the more you drive.  It is because of this simple observation that 50% of all car crashes happen within five miles from home.  Going a little further, 70% of crashes happen within 10 miles from home.  These two stats tell me that people do most of their driving within the limits of their city, unless of course they live in White Rock that is only three square miles or 5 square kilometres.  Living in the big city of Surrey, I realize that most of my driving occurs within the 316.4 square kilometers of Surrey.  Heck, if it wasn't for so many good craft breweries spread across the Lower Mainland, I don't know if I would ever leave the Mother ship.  That being said, when you are constantly driving on the mean streets of Surrey, you tend to see the same old problem over and over again.  Like a burr under your saddle, you may not really care at first but after miles of riding that little burr can light a flame under your butt that is going to need a fire extinguisher to put out.

The City of Surrey is guilty of doing something here that is lazy, stupid, dangerous, and just like that burr is a big pain in the ass.  To make matters worse, they seem to be the only town in BC that somehow missed the memo on how to deal with this very simple problem.  Jurisdictions all across the province will put large speed humps in roadways to help slow traffic.  You no doubt have seen these in school zones, where they sit slowing traffic for 24 hours a day even though it is only a 30 kmh zone from 8 am. till 5 p.m. on school days, a little over 20% of the time.  These large asphalt mounds are painted with two large white triangles facing traffic to make them more visible.  Yellow/orange diamond warning signs showing what looks like a flat round hat are posted beside these speed humps to alert motorists that they are there.  Some places even go a step further, putting warning signs up that there are speed humps ahead.  For areas where a series of speed humps have been installed to slow traffic, "speed control zone" signs are usually posted on both ends of the road.


The problem with the City of Silly, oops of course I meant Surrey, is that they put speed humps on the road but don't install the warning signs adjacent to them as is normally done everywhere else.  In our Crescent Heights neighbourhood, from 124 St and 24 Ave to 128 St and 25 Ave. there are seven speed humps in this area used by transit buses, with only two of these speed hump signs properly posted.  The other two are at the entrance ways to this rough ride area on flat stretches of road.  The nearby 22 Ave from 128 St to 124 St. is the same with four unmarked speed humps.  Now this may not sound like a big deal but I have seen several boats almost come off their trailers after getting sent airborne when unsuspecting drivers drove over these unsigned humps at the speed limit.  I usually don't get to see delivery vans, you simply hear the massive crashing noise as everything in their vehicle flies in the air and then falls to the floor.  Landscaping and carpenter trailers fair equally as poorly with tools and equipment going airborne only to come smashing down.  The buses don't fare any better with passengers getting launched constantly.

Speed Humps are always marked with signs for driver safety.  In the winter when visibility is difficult and the roads can be covered in snow, speed hump signs often give drivers their only warning to their existence.  Flying off one of these humps in icy conditions can quickly turn into an uncontrolled skid and a crash.  It also allows snow plow operators to lift the blades when they drive over these bumps.  Not only is this easier on the snow moving equipment, it  ensures that the painted white triangles remain on the speed humps.  Often in Surrey you see this safety marking scraped off because the plow operators do not have x-ray vision.  Even worse is the many speed humps used in elementary schools with no marking signs.  The Crescent Park Annex at 124 St. an 24 Ave. that is not used as a school has speed humps on these arterial roads that are not marked.  I have heard vehicles crash over them with such force I thought it was an accident at the intersection.  Ocean Cliff Elementary on 20 Ave in Ocean Park has three speed humps that are not properly marked while Jessie Lee Elementary on 154 St. near 20 Ave. has two of these dangerous speed humps with no signage.

Over a city as large as Surrey the number of speed humps not properly signed could be in the thousands.  In our little neck of the woods this number sits at 13, which doubles to 26 with signs needed on both sides of the road.  The Surrey Engineering Dept. needs to look at their maps and drawings to figure out where all of these speed humps are and ensure they are properly marked.  To all the parents of young kids reading this TNT, please ensure the Principal of your elementary school is aware of this problem and gets the School Board to do something about it.  It is rather embarrassing that cities all around Surrey install speed humps correctly with the proper signage, but the Engineering Dept. here has obviously dropped the ball on this issue long ago. 

The remedy is really quite simple; install proper warning signs or remove the speed humps.  I know from server activity out of both Surrey and White Rock city halls that the content of this column does get reviewed by staff.  Hopefully this will be enough to get some traction on this issue but if not, you can always report this lack of safety signage to Surrey's Report-A-Problem line at https://www.surrey.ca/services-payments/report-problem-or-submit-request .

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

Monday January 29, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn


Ivan Knows a Villain

Surrey Talk Radio's IVAN SCOTT


In a radical departure from my regular weekly column here in the White Rock Sun, I am inviting a guest writer to contribute to The Naked Truth. 

This is the first time this has ever happened but depending on the subject, copy and person involved, it may not be the last.  The following is a letter to the editor that Ivan Scott, founder of Keep The RCMP In Surrey (KTRIS) and the "Voice of Surrey" from Surrey Talk Radio, sent to the Peace Arch News (PAN) and various local politicos.  His diatribe was in response to three different letters published in the PAN disparaging Mayor Brenda Locke and the Surrey police transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.  While the PAN was more than ready to give ink to one side of this story, they neglected to print this letter from Mr. Scott.  I feel it is important for a two-sided public conversation on the police transition that will shape the future of law enforcement in Surrey and citizen's property taxes.  Without further ado (not adieu), here is Mr. Scott's letter titled "Who is the villain here?" that I have slightly edited for form and function without changing the context.

  

Letter To The Editor

Dear Editor,

What is it that Ed Hird, Charles Broderick and Willy Van Dongen (PAN, Jan. 11, 2024) do not get?  Mayor Brenda Locke is not the villain here and I will elaborate with the following facts:

I am the man who started the KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY CAMPAIGN (KTRIS) in 2019 in response to then Mayor Doug McCallum's edict that a Surrey Police Service (SPS) must be changed to from the RCMP as our municipal police force.  This was done on his election promise and justified by him as: 

  • Surrey is the only city in Canada with a population greater than 500,000 that does not have its own municipal police force - Surrey does have its own municipal police force and it is called the RCMP, which has been doing a fine job here for the past 70+ years.

  • Surrey residents "deserve their own police force"  - Surrey does deserve to have the best police in the world and we have it; it's called the RCMP.

In 2019 KTRIS garnered more than 50,000 signatures in favour of KTRIS (20% South Asian) that was then delivered to Premier John Horgan and which he promptly ignored. 

In 2021 KTRIS assisted with the SURREY POLICE VOTE petition for a referendum requested by Darlene Bennett, which resulted in 43,000 signatures being obtained in favour that was again ignored by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. 

In 2022, KTRIS endorsed and assisted Brenda Locke and her slate, Surrey Connect (SC) in the municipal election, who gave the election promise that they would keep the RCMP in Surrey and cancel the SPS if elected.  SC was elected as Council with a 64,000 total vote majority. The B.C. Government again ignored this fact when it came to the Surrey Policing question.


Mayor Brenda Locke and SC promptly informed the B.C. government that Surrey was canceling the transition to SPS as was its legislative right to do.  This was based on the reasons that: 

1.) The people had spoken three times, finally confirming this in the municipal election. 

2.) The transition was going to cost Surrey taxpayers at least $50 million more per year than keeping the RCMP, resulting in huge tax increases forever.  

3.) The transition "business" plan was not a viable plan at all, in that after five years with an inept police board and inept "chief-of-police" had gone millions of dollars over budget and had only progressed 30-40% of the way. 

4.) Public safety was not an issue by retaining the very experienced RCMP in Surrey but it would be if a fledgling SPS with no record or any experience was brought in as Surrey's police force.

As can be seen, three referendums have been done already and there is no point in holding another.  In this time of ridiculous inflation, there is no reason to accept the B.C. Government's dictatorial edict and immoral changing of the Police Act to force Surrey to pay for the most expensive proposed police service in Canada.  Mike Farnworth does not care, he does not live in Surrey and will not personally have to pay the taxes that he wants to enforce on each of us.  If he did care about Surrey, he would cancel the SPS.  This is exactly the reason why Brenda Locke has gone to court and she is following through on her promise to keep the RCMP in Surrey and save us huge millions of dollars.  My hat is off to her.

So to Ed Hird, no to a referendum and yes to a change in B.C. government.  To Charles Broderick, we already have the policing service and municipal government we want and deserve.  To Willy Van Dongen, the waste of money is if we are forced to put in the SPS.  How many people are you assuming to speak for, one?  I have the support of at least 50,000 to about 100,000 residents of Surrey.

Doug McCallum is the villain here, not Brenda Locke.

Sincerely,

Ivan Scott

Founder, KTRIS

Voice of Surrey, Surrey Talk Radio

Here are links to the three letters posted in the PAN that Mr. Scott was unable to address on their opinions page.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

 

 

Monday January 22, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Pump and Dump


Before taking our winter vacation, I decided to do some snooping for a TNT story after getting snowed out of work in North Delta.  Since I was already in the neighbourhood, I went to see if I could find traces of diesel oil pollution in East Delta, wondering if the fuel I had seen in waterways south of the BNSF derailment site next to Hwy. 91 had migrated through to Mud Bay.  You can read the rest of what is now a train wreck trilogy by scrolling down to the Nov. 20, 2023 TNT titled "BNSF Off The Rail" and the related Jan. 8, 2024 column titled "Droning For Oil."  Just as crap flows downhill, the ditches and streams from East Delta all flow south to the City of Delta pump station at the south end of 112 St. that empties drainage water from there directly into Mud Bay.

Delta pump house holding pond oil slick.

Parking next to the dike gate, I made my way to the massive pump house complex that the City of Delta uses to keep its farmlands from flooding and returning to a bog.  Interestingly, the area is not fenced off and you can simply walk around the complex including on concrete sidewalks and metal catwalks over the adjacent holding pond.  I was not really surprised but still couldn't believe my eyes when I immediately found a thick oily slick floating on the water just to the side of the massive pumps.  There were no oil containment booms or absorbent booms in this area even though an accumulation of floating oil in this location a few kilometers away from the recent BNSF train wreck site should have been anticipated by both the City of Delta and the Railway.


Delta pump house outflow into Mud Bay.

The problem with this pump house is that it uses large mechanical screws to lift water up out of the holding pond where it then flows in a large pipe under the dike and discharges onto the shoreline area of Mud Bay.  Because of this basic design, the screws skim off the top layer of water taking any floating debris or possible contaminates with it.  Leaving the pump house and crossing over the dike pathway, I found the outflow area where the pumped water flowed into the ocean.  It was covered with a thick layer of white foam that was noticeably brown on top.  The wind was blowing briskly from the northeast at that time and there was none of this same foam visible upwind along the shore east from the outflow area.

The shoreline downwind and due west of the outflow was a completely different story.  A thick sudsy layer of the same white and brown foam covered the rocks and logs that lined the shoreline directly across from the pump house  Some of it measured an estimated two metres out from shore and up to 20 cm. deep.  Further west from there the shore turned into several small bays and this ugly foam sludge was piled up against the shoreline even browner than at the outflow.  As nasty as this material looked, even worse was seeing the hundreds of ducks resting just offshore from the foam lined beach.  With cold arctic outflow conditions last week, Boundary Bay that is part of the Pacific Flyway would have been lined with huge flocks of ducks as all of the freshwater inland ponds were frozen solid.

Shoreline of Mud Bay with accumulated foam and flock of ducks.

Because of travel preparations and other chores, I was not able to return to get water samples of the pump house oil slick or the dirty cappuccino foam lining Mud Bay.  I did send out my pictures in a news release to local environmental groups, political contacts and other media organizations.  Just like the original oil I witnessed in Delta farmland ditches south of the BNSF train crash site thanks to HiPics Drone Services, I reported what I had seen to the BC Environment Ministry, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the RAPP line for polluters, plus the City of Delta's Environmental Manager.  I have yet to be contacted back from any of these even though they all received the same pictures you see posted here.

City of Delta's 112 St. pump house

As to what the pump house foam is from, it may be naturally occurring and biological in nature with a rational scientific explanation.  It could also be possibly related to the locomotive diesel oil spill and any dispersal agents applied to the BNSF train crash scene to help with the environmental cleanup.  Considering the visible oil slick on the pump house holding pond, I have reason to suspect it may be the later.  Water quality testing and chemical analysis of the pump house oil slick could explain this mystery but this is the job of multiple government agencies whose mandate is to investigate spills and protect the natural environment.  If they continue to do nothing, I'll be back at the pump house to collect my own samples of the dirty foam and oil slick for lab testing.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

January 15, 2024

The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

A Short Walk on a Long Pier


Not many living here in the Semi-pen will ever forget the events of Dec. 19, 2018 when a Pacific storm system with high winds during a king tide hit White Rock.  In a howling gale, large waves tore apart the dock that had sat for years behind the breakwater, pushing it towards the shore with sailboats from the White Rock Sailing Club.  The southwest winds rammed the dock into the pilings below the middle of the pier with the waves pushing the bobbing boats underneath the structure.  The waves then lifted the boats up into the support beams and decking, where in only a matter of seconds the 104 year-old structure was quickly torn apart, leaving a 100 foot gap.

Of course, several brave (read foolhardy) folks had decided that the weather made for great storm watching conditions and they'd made their way out to the end of the historic pier where waves were crashing over the breakwater.  One of these was former RCMP officer turned professional photographer Tim Shields who was there to take pictures and videos of the storm with his daughters in tow.  Seeing the dock come apart and a large portion drifting away with a flotilla of sailboats, he started to video record the event.  When the boats began to smash against the pier, he realized the danger his family was in and they managed to run underneath falling masts and riggings only moments before the pier broke in two.  His amazing video of this disaster and their miraculous escape quickly went viral and was seen by millions around the world (https://globalnews.ca/video/4783771/dramatic-escape-from-collapsed-white-rock-pier).

This was not the only harrowing pier escape of the day as one man had not been so lucky and was left stranded at the far end surrounded by sinking boats, churning seas and a pier that continued to come apart.  First responders arriving to this crisis realized that a boat rescue, even by the Coast Guard, would be impossible in the conditions.  A call was sent out to the Royal Canadian Air Force for a helicopter to perform an aerial extraction.  Flying in from the Vancouver Island through the storm, they reached what was left of the pier and hovered above it while a throng of people watched the unfolding drama from the promenade.  A rescuer was dropped by a cable, put a safety harness around 42 year-old Oren Perry and the bright yellow Cormorant helicopter quickly lifted both men to safety.

Much has happened to the White Rock pier since that fateful day.  The structure was rebuilt and reopened eight months later with repairs costing $4.3 million.  After much bizarre infighting at City Hall, the historic White Rock pier measuring 1,542 feet or 470 metres was finally declared "Canada's Longest Pier."  A new archway erected at the pier entrance proudly declares this fact and one of the boardwalk planks also has this message carved into it.  It was decided that because of the danger, the dock where the White Rock Sailing Club had moored their sailboats for years would not be rebuilt.  I should note here that while repaired, long lengths of the pier still need to be replaced with the new steel and concrete standard that is topped with a wooden walkway.

Unfortunately, there continues to be a glaring safety issue with this antique pier.  Last Tuesday morning, fully aware of high tide warnings, flood warnings and wind warnings all happening at once, I decided to visit the White Rock pier, arriving shortly before dawn.  Venturing onto the promenade I was met with strong winds, churning seas and high waves.  The waves would hit the rip-rap boulders with water splashing up and over the tracks onto the promenade where people were walking.  I made my way onto the pier only as far as the archway sign.  A raft of logs washed in by the storm were beating on the support pilings like a drum.  You could hear the deep thuds and feel the jolting impact underneath your feet.  As I turned around for safety, I'll never forget the man who jogged by me with a crab trap in hand headed out onto the pier oblivious to the danger.

I understand it was later that morning when City of White Rock work crews finally arrived to put up barricades and close the pier.  Considering the weather and tide forecast, this should have been done the night before.  Unfortunately there are people who would simply duck under or push these out of the way and enter the pier when unsafe to do so.  It is for this reason that actual metal gates, which can be closed and locked, need to be installed at the shore end of the pier.  Most of the pier was rebuilt nearly 50 years ago and a walk underneath at low tide shows plenty of temporary repairs done after damage from the Dec. 2018 windstorm.  The City of Surrey has gates on their three waterfront staircases that can be closed in times of "adverse weather conditions."  White Rock needs to follow their lead and keep storm watchers and thrill seekers off the pier during severe storms for their own safety and protection.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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


January 08, 2024

TNT The Naked Truth

Drone-ing" For Oil


In my Nov. 20, 2023 TNT titled "BNSF Off The Rails", I examined the crash scene of two BNSF freight trains in North Delta along Highway 91 that included  several locomotives off the tracks along with a bunch of cars and two oil tankers.  The BNSF Railway engineers and track workers descended on the scene along with hazmat workers to clean up the mess and clear the tracks.  It took only a few days for rail traffic to resume but the cleanup has been ongoing ever since with hazmat trucks remaining on scene.  I thought this story was basically over until I received a call from the owner of a local drone company who let me know there was plenty more to see if you had a bird's eye view.

(click here for aerial view of crash and clean up site)

John Easton

John Easton from HiPics Drone Services (https://hipics.ca/wp) normally uses his UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for mundane tasks such as rooftop inspections, construction planning, insurance reports, property management or agriculture inspections.  Upon hearing about the BNSF train crash not far from where he lives, he decided to use his Transport Canada certified drone and its various thermal and infrared filters to record the extent of the damage.  Time and time again he went back to the well so to speak, showing the progression of the track cleanup and repair plus spill response.  It did not take him long to realize that he was seeing things with his drone from the air that the people on the ground were either missing, or totally ignoring.  


After meeting with John and seeing some of his detailed drone footage, the two of us went to the train crash site for a visual inspection.  Amazingly, while the Metro-Vancouver walkway along the tracks was closed to the public, there was nothing stopping anyone from parking at the truck pullout and walking to the nearby crash scene.  Once there, John showed me a large mound of excavated material covered with thick tarps that he described as being contaminated soil dug out from the worst of the spill areas.  Oil containment booms and absorbent booms were strung across the ditches with absorbent pads floating in many areas soaking up petroleum residue.  In the ditches was a pervasive oily sheen with a brown sludge covering much of the vegetation below the surface of the water wherever petroleum contamination was present.  


Even with the presence of the various containment and cleanup materials in place, it was obvious that some of the oil had escaped from the area.  Heavy rains after the train crash had flooded the Met-Van walkway and the normally grey gravel surface was a mottled brown wherever the oil had been.  A swail beside the highway and the Met-Van forced sewer main had water in it for a long distance past the crash site and it too was covered in oil.  There was evidence that much of the vegetation that had been in contact with the oil was now dying.  Making matters worse, there were a number of culverts that pass from alongside the Watershed park to the south side of Hwy. 91 draining water from the bog at the bottom of the hill.  We saw the oily water and brown sludge disappearing into these large pipes that were pointing south-west to the farm fields on the other side of the road.


Mr. Easton had shown me a map of the east Delta farm land that I was very familiar with from a time long before Hwy. 91 was built when I lived in North Delta.  On it he had noted various culverts, pipes, ditches and pump houses with each one numbered and linked to drone shots and videos he had taken.  We stopped by the culvert outflows west of Hwy. 91 and they were an oily mess, reeking of fuel and covered with rafts of the same brown sludge we had witnessed near the crash scene.  These dumped into a ditch at the edge of the highway that then flowed into farmers fields visible south of 64 Ave.  We drove from there to 112 St., the same road where the last overpass was struck, finding oil collected into many corners of the ditch.  All of the waterways and streams in this part of Delta eventually empty out into Mud Bay at the south end of 112 St. near where the old BC Packers Oyster Shucking Plant once stood.

The farmers at the end of the road who were now aware of the locomotive fuel spill had given John permission to enter their properties to check for oil contamination and for him to fly his drone.  The pictures I took of the ditches posted here don't do it justice nor do they convey the terrible smell but I will say it was enough to almost make me throw up several times.  The heavy rains had pushed the oil out into the corners of the blueberry field and a nearby corn field where it was now laying slowly soaking into the ground.  John informed me that when he first was flying his drone over the area there were ducks, geese, swans and beavers in the fields and ditches.  Now they were completely empty with even songbirds missing from the fields.  A later video he took showed a mallard duck in one of these oil covered ditches and when it flew away, you could see a circle of water that slowly closed up with floating oil.


What makes drone footage so important in oil spills is it is very easy to spot the telltale sheen and streaks in the water from above.  A quick flight can cover long distances of areas that normally would be difficult to access.  Having thermal and infrared ability is also important as different products have various levels of emissivity, which is a measure of how efficiently an object radiates heat.  After seeing for myself the night and day difference that having an overhead view makes for containment and cleanup after an oil spill, utilizing UAV's to track pollution and hopefully clean it up should be standard protocol in these unfortunate events.  As to how the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Transportation, and the City of Delta will clean up this mess is unknown but it looks as if the BNSF Railway was asleep at the switch as petroleum contaminants floated away from the train crash scene.

On a related note, I learned that on Dec. 22, 2020, A BNSF train carrying tankers of Bakken crude oil derailed with ten cars going to ground and three catching fire in Custer Wash.  This resulted in the evacuation of residents from a half-mile radius and the closure of the important I-5 Freeway.  This crash site was only 10 km from the US/Canada border, while the Delta crash site is only 15 km from the Peace Arch as the crow flies.  Doing the simple math, this means the BNSF has had two oil tanker train crashes in less than 3 years, just 25 km. apart.  Anyone living by the train tracks in the Semi-pen can attest to the substantial increase in oil tanker traffic here with the rail corridor being used as a pipeline on wheels to ship petroleum.  A derailment along the Semiahmoo waterfront would likely involve tanker cars falling onto jagged rip-rap boulders and then rolling into Boundary Bay.  If a small spill into a ditch can't be contained, a large spill into the ocean here could be devastating.

(click here to see more drone footage of spill site)

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

 

January 02, 2024

TNT Year in Review 2023


To help celebrate the end of 2023, 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.  A simple change this year is this listing now runs backwards from December to January so that the stories match up as you scroll down deeper into the TNT history.

Dec. 25, Christmas Gift List 2023:  One of the favourite TNT's of the year, this column gives out fun gifts we'd like to see under the tree for the movers and shakers of the Semi-Pen.  It's certainly a great way to find out who's naughty or nice.

Dec. 18, Pay For Your Propaganda:  Finding out the City of Surrey is spending half a million bucks on advertising the forced Surrey Police transition as an NDP Surrey Tax gets me hot under the collar for abusing taxpayer's dollars.

Dec. 11, Grin and Bear It:  With New Years fast approaching this TNT gives detailed information about ten different polar bear swims that are held across the Lower Mainland on Jan. 1st including three here in the Semi-pen with one that is rather cheeky.

Dec. 4, Beach Cam Conundrum:  I give kudos to White Rock about their online pier cam showing Memorial Park and Canada's longest pier, wondering why the City of Surrey with nearly thirty times the population does not have one of these cameras at Crescent Beach.

Nov. 27, Signs Of The Times:  I suggested that Surrey change the dates and times they lock the three beach stairways and they actually listened to my common sense ideas.  This TNT has everything you need to know to keep you from getting locked in.

Nov. 20, BNSF Off The Rails:  With petroleum tankers and chemical cars rolling on the BNSF tracks here, disaster finally strikes.  Fortunately it was in Delta along Hwy. 91 where a crash between two trains led to fuel oil spilling into the bottom of Watershed Park.

Nov. 13, It's Salmon Spawning Season:  With the return of the fall rains, four types of salmon swim up to spawn in the Little Campbell River and every fish is counted and sexed by a team of loyal band of volunteers at the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club.

Nov. 6, Surrey Shows It's True Colours:  The massive WELCOME TO SURREY sign along Hwy. 99 at 8 Ave. and its stunning array of LED lights that can create 2.43 trillion colour combinations is examined in detail in this illuminating TNT.

Oct. 30, Signs of a Strike:  After a litany of bridge strikes by commercial vehicles in B.C., I examine this issue in detail on how it relates to Highway 99, less than two months before yet another impact damages part of the 112 St. overpass in Delta.

Oct. 23, 11,000 Words on the Hump.  Rather than write about my disgust with continued tree clearing on the Hump, I decide to let pictures do the talking with a pictorial of 11 photos showing the continued damage and desecration to this waterfront green space. 

Oct. 16, Crescent Heights Coyote:  You never know where I might find a story and his one ran by on the road in front of my house.  Everything you want to know about coyotes and how to cohabit-ate with them safely in the Semiahmoo peninsula.

Oct. 9, South Surrey is Semiahmoo:  Just after National Truth and Reconciliation Day I look at our treatment of the Semiahmoo First Nation peoples and their heritage, suggesting South Surrey should be called "Semiahmoo", just as South Delta is called "Tsawwassen."

Oct. 2, Time off for good behaviour

Sept. 26,  Stink, Stank Stunk:  Long before Christmas, I lean on Dr. Seuss and the Grinch as I examine the proposed biofuel plant planned for the Semiahmoo First Nation lands near the Peace Arch border crossing and its environmental effects.

Sept. 18, Grassholes Among Us:  In the middle of a record drought and Metro-Vancouver watering restrictions, I look at how some people think having a green lawn is more important than preserving our water supplies and following the sprinkling bylaws.

Sept. 11, Seafaring Shanty Town Shut Down:  It was hard not to jump for joy when I learned the floating shanty town in the Nicomekl River was finally going to be dealt with and the flotilla of derelict boats removed from this Surrey waterway.

Sept. 6, Chopped at the Top:  In a south Surrey first, BNSF Police catch arborists and a south Surrey strata cutting trees on the Ocean Park bluff in order to improve their views regardless of the increased slide risk they are causing to trains on the tracks below.

Aug. 28, Don't Get Locked In-sanity:  This TNT on the bizarre beach gate lock times started the ball rolling at Surrey City Hall to have the dates and times changed, something I later wrote about in my Nov. 27 column, Signs Of The Times.

Aug. 21, Choke on the Smoke:  Summer is here and with it comes a blanket of forest fire smoke to our region with morons still lighting beach fires on the shores of the Semiahmoo peninsula regardless of the risks or large fines.

Aug. 14, Biking to the Beach is Out of Reach:  A look at Translink and their illogical Ride & Shine program that directed people to go to the "beach" at Camp Kwomais in Ocean Park featuring steep cliffs, trespassing on the BNSF tracks, to access a boulder strewn shore.

July 31, Not Weed The Knotweed:  A chance encounter with the invasive species Japanese Knotweed at Harrison Lake leads to me discovering that this weed species is growing out of control all along the BNSF corridor from White Rock to Kwomais Point.

July 24, Stop Stumping the Hump:  Yet again, another TNT on White Rock cutting trees on the Hump with new Mayor Meghan Knight acting like former mayor Wayne Baldwin.  It includes a photo of what the Hump looked like before the chainsaws cut it down.

July 19, More Stumps On the Hump:  Arborists hired by the City of White Rock are once again working on clearing the Hump for views, cutting down trees on old landslides sites and in front of Marine Drive where a new long crack in the asphalt is now visible. 

July 13, Strange Days at the Beach:  In a story that made Global News Weather Window and the most read story of 2023 in the PAN, the bizarre optical illusion known as a "fata morgana" is examined in this TNT that also features an amphibious airplane making a crash landing.

July 4, The $0.316 Million Dollar Man:  Surrey taxpayers are left holding the bag for former Mayor Doug McCallum after his high priced legal dream team gets him off the hook on public mischief charges with the judge believing his foot had been run over by a car tire.

June 26, Sure Sign It's June:  If you liked the brown and white striped caramel candies grandma used to give you, you need to read this TNT on the 10 Lined June beetles that emerge from the ground in the late spring looking for a mate.

June 19, Our Home on Native Land:  The Tolest Aleng Indigenous Learning House at Elgin Heritage Park has its opening ceremony and I use this opportunity to reveal the dilapidated state of several totem poles and native carvings in south Surrey.

June 12, Gaggle of Geese:  The tale of two cities with the City of White Rock putting up Geese Crossing signs on North Bluff Road, while Surrey refuses to do the same on their side of 16 Ave., endangering wildlife, pedestrians and drivers.

June 5, Time and Tides:  With a full moon and huge tides forecast, I explain why anyone wanting to explore the beach or hit the water in a pleasure craft needs to keep an eye on the tide chart for this region for their enjoyment and safety.

May 29, Land For The Band:  I take on Alexandra Neighbourhood House in Crescent Beach, asking them to return their 2.5 acre property to the Semiahmoo band if they really consider it "stolen and occupied."  Needless to say, I never heard back from them.

May 22, Tarantula Terror:  The gardener in me could not resist doing a story on BC's only tarantula related species, the Pacific folding-door spider that I found in White Rock.  This was the only TNT printed in 2023 that contained a reader warning for arachnophobes.  

May 15, Crescent Log Beach:  White Rock, Delta, Vancouver, and Metro Vancouver all remove rafts of rotten logs from their beaches every spring but for reasons unknown the City of Surrey continues to ignore the log jam taking up much of Crescent Beach.

May 8, Ramping Things Up:  The extremely short and dangerous on ramp to Hwy. 99 at Ladner Trunk Road is examined in detail and this TNT is then sent to the Highways Minister plus area MLA's with this accident waiting to happen getting fixed immediately.

May 1, The State of Police in Surrey:  The Never Ending Story that is the Surrey Police Transition is reviewed after BC Solicitor General Mike Farnsworth finally makes a decision for Surrey to stick with the Surrey Police Service over the RCMP.

April 24, Head-on Crash Course:  Imagine if you will, a major arterial road in south Surrey with no painted lines or markings at all.  Welcome to 20th Ave that was ripped up and paved repeatedly without any of the lines being replaced until after this TNT.

April 17, The Middle of the Road:  Bridge repairs on Hwy. 99 result in the cable median barrier safety system being taken down and not replaced until a column on this important cross-over collision avoidance system appears in the White Rock Sun.

April 10, Soldiering On:  I broke this story about the War Memorial cenotaph in Cloverdale being damaged and then pushed for the RCMP to release the CCTV footage they had of this crime.  This video resulted in Lukasz Paprocki being charged with two counts of Mischief.

April 3, Weapons in White Rock:  MLA Elenor Sturko kicking a knife away from a man outside of Laura's Coffee Corner focused this TNT on the proliferation of edged weapons and a rash of stabbings and murders in our region that is a must read.

March 27, Catatonic Over Cougars:  Cougars prowling in the Semi-pen and not just at Sawbucks Pub?  All kidding aside, a proliferation of cougar sightings reported on social media result in this TNT that looks at how to keep pets and small children safe.

March 20, Spring Break for the White Rock Sun.

March 12, The Disappearing White Rock (P-Qual's):  Photographic evidence and measurements show that the White Rock boulder is sinking into the beach and is 4.5 feet lower than 120 years ago.  Eventually it will likely disappear into the sand.

March 6, Any Day Can Be a Beach Day: From a dedicated beach bum are tips and advice on how to enjoy the beaches of the Semi-pen year round.  You don't have to wait for a sunny and warm day to enjoy a visit to the shoreline.

Feb. 20, The Case For Cold Water:  The RCMP holding their Surrey Polar Plunge in Crescent Beach as a fundraiser for Special Olympics BC leads me to look at the growing number of people going for cold water swims 12 months of the year here.

Feb. 20, Surrey - The Future Pays Here:  A "take out the trash day" media dump from the City of Surrey late on a Friday reveals that Surrey homeowners can expect a 17.5% increase to the property bills during a time of already high inflation.

Feb. 13, Follow The Money:  The financial disclosures from candidates in the last civic election are now posted with this TNT going through them with a fine tooth comb for the White Rock and Surrey candidates who ran for public office.  

Feb. 7, The Dirt on Mud Bay:  With temperatures increasing and sea levels rising, building higher dykes to hold ocean water back are becoming more important and this TNT looks at changes being made all around Mud Bay.

Jan. 30, Cops Fishing in White Rock:  The RCMP tailing people leaving restaurants, bars, craft breweries and even marijuana dispensaries then pulling them over to check sobriety sounds like a police state but it is happening in south Surrey and White Rock.

Jan. 23, Plane Truth 2, Train Truth 1:  The complex issue of Nav Canada changing flight paths again in the Lower Mainland is put under the microscope from the guy who was part of Surrey's Nav Canada Working Group.  A BNSF breakdown blocking Crescent Beach is also explored.

Jan. 16, The Plane Truth:  The history of flight path changes in the Lower Mainland and the new Vancouver Airspace Modernization Program (VAMP) are reviewed with plenty of links for more information along with contact information for feedback surveys.

Jan. 9, Skybridge Skyfall:  A heavy snowfall in late Dec. followed by freezing rain  brought down a Douglas fir tree onto the Christopherson Steps skybridge with this pedestrian structure leading to Crescent Beach lucky it was only a glancing blow.

Jan. 3, TNT Year in Review 2022

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

TNT The Naked Truth - Christmas Gift List 2023

(for the movers and shakers on the Semi Peninsula)

Don Pitcairn

 

The Naked Truth - Dec. 25, 2023

Christmas Gift List 2023


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 to not offend anyone.

Diana Barkley, Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club President - Funding for a brand new state-of-the-art fish hatchery placed high above the Little Campbell river flood plain.  As a stocking stuffer, everyone in the Semi-Pen to bring their Christmas tree to the SFGC for chipping by donation.

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.  As a stocking stuffer a vintage White Rock Sparkling Spring Water bottle featuring the topless fairy Psyche.

Rob Dixon, Staff Sergeant White Rock RCMP - His Christmas present came early as he was promoted from within the ranks of the WR RCMP to become the Commander of the detachment where he has worked for 5 years.  As a stocking stuffer, CCTV cameras for down at the beach to help curb crime.  

Kevin Falcon, United Party Leader - Sorry to say but the leader of the United Party plus the Official Opposition in the BC Ledge is no longer a mover and shaker in these parts, heading off to higher ground in North Vancouver in 2023 to better enjoy the doom and gloom.

Trevor Halford, S. Surrey-White Rock MLA - For the Shadow Minister for Affordability, Transportation & Infrastructure and ICBC, his present will come early in the New Years when I personally hand him a file I'm working on that will become a big news story to start off 2024.

Anita Huberman, President & CEO, Surrey Board of Trade - For the lady who has served as the head of the SBOT for 17 years and worked for them a total of 30 years, a gold watch is waiting for her under the tree.  As a stocking stuffer, a retirement party sometime soon maybe?

Brenda Locke, Mayor of Surrey - For the mayor who is locked in a battle of wills with Solicitor General Mike Farnsworth over the Surrey Police transition, a "Keep Surrey RCMP - Kick Out NDP" lawn sign.  As a stocking stuffer for the leader of Surrey Connect, a "Surrey Girl" hoodie from Surrey Shirts.

Michelle Partridge, White Rock Councillor - For this lady who voted with almost all of WR Council to have more vegetation control done on the Hump (read tree cutting for views) regardless of the slope stability risks to the BNSF Railway tracks below, a pear tree.  As a stocking stuffer, a lump of coal.

Mike Serr, Surrey Police Board Administrator - For the former Abbotsford Police Chief who was selected to run the Surrey Police Board after Mike Farnsworth sacked everyone else including Mayor Brenda Locke, the board game "Surreyopoly."  As a stocking stuffer, a holiday in Cuba.

Susan Smith, Clean Air Alliance White Rock - For the head of the group that is fighting the proposed bio-fuel plant on SFN land, a box full of surplus army gas masks.  As a stocking stuffer, a suitcase full of $14.4 million to match the money already put towards this project by the Government of Canada.

Sean Whyte, B.C. Lions placekicker -  After leading the CFL with a ridiculous 89.5 percent success rate last season, his gift would be the record for the highest career mark where he currently holds second place.  As a stocking stuffer, kicking to win the Grey Cup for B.C. in Vancouver, 2024.

Harley Xwopoton, Chief of Semiahmoo First Nation - For the leader of the local band that wants Andion Global to build a bio-fuel plant on Semiahmoo land, a home to call is own on the reserve instead of living in Chilliwack.  As a stocking stuffer, a case of Febreze Air Effects Ocean Spray air freshener.

Merry Christmas everybody and have a happy New Year!

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

 

Monday December 18, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

 

Pay For Your Propaganda


I must admit I was rather surprised last week when I was on Facebook and a sponsored ad popped up for the "NDP Surrey Tax."  At first glance I thought it might be something that the KTRIS group (Keep The RCMP In Surrey) was involved with since it was them who spearheaded a previous sign campaign and referendum against the Surrey police transition.  It wasn't until I had read through all of the ad that I realized it had been financed by the City of Surrey.  Instead of a link to a section of the city of Surrey website, this campaign has its own website (https://ndpsurreytax.ca/).  You can also find it on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ndpsurreytax), TPFKAT (The Platform Formerly Known As Twitter) now called X and Instagram as well.

It turns out that this "NDP Surrey Tax" campaign run out of Surrey City Hall will include social media posts (read ads), electronic billboard displays throughout the city plus a direct mail flyer sent to all the households in Surrey.  In total this education, indoctrination and brainwashing of Surrey voters will cost $500,000, which sounds better when you say it in your best Dr. Evil voice "half a MILLION dollars."  Amazingly this campaign was never brought up in open Council meaning it was either brainstormed during in-camera meetings that are kept secret or was developed by the City Manager, likely with help from the Mayor's office.  No matter how this advertising campaign was put together, framing the now forced transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service as an NDP Surrey Tax should be viewed as disingenuous and misguided political propaganda.

Here is the information taken directly from the NDP Surrey Tax website that is extremely short on specifics and written in a way to focus blame on the NDP.

The NDP are trying to force the City of Surrey to accept an expensive, disorganized police transition that will do nothing to improve public safety.

Expensive - The NDP Police Service will cost Surrey taxpayers nearly half a billion more over the next 10 years compared to keeping the RCMP.

Massive NDP Surrey Tax - A massive, double digit tax hike will be necessary to pay for the unfordable NDP imposed transition.

No Public Safety Benefit - Today 75% of the police in Surrey are with the RCMP.  Surrey has been given no plan for the transition.

Less Funding For Priorities - The NDP police service will mean less funds for housing, schools, hospitals, transit, parks, rec centres and other local priorities.

The big Pattison electronic billboard highway ads are a little more succinct and to the point.  I can hardly wait to see what the printed flyers will say.

NDP police transition WILL COST YOU MORE

$464 M MORE over the next 10 years

MASSIVE DOUBLE-DIGIT tax increase

LESS $ for schools, health and transit

If you are reading the Facebook comments, ensure you select "All Comments" that does not filter out posts like the "Newest" or "Most Relevant" tab.

The problem with all of this is that the NDP are not taxing Surrey, they are forcing them to continue with the police transition that Mayor Locke and the Surrey Connect councillors want to stop.  Currently, running two police forces in the city are costing tax-payers $8 million a month, with nothing noted about this waste of money.  The name chosen for this ad campaign was deliberately meant to obfuscate the public, kind of like me using the word obfuscate, when I could have used confuse or bewilder instead.  The $464 million number should be questioned and it does not include the $150 million payment offered to Surrey by the BC Government.  A massive double-digit tax increase could be anything from 11% to 20% but there is no mention of the actual amount.  Lastly, paying for housing, schools, hospitals and transit are the responsibility of the Provincial government, not the City of Surrey.  


It would appear that this attack ad campaign is focused squarely on bringing the NDP government some political heat here in Surrey.  There is a provincial election upcoming in less than a year's time and there will be 10 ridings in Surrey with 7 that are currently held by NDP MLAs.  If the members of Surrey Connect really wanted to go after the NDP about the forced police transition, they should have done so directly and paid for it themselves with political donations.  I think a lawn sign campaign similar to what KTRIS did would have been easy, cheap and effective.  Instead of KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY that helped dispatch Doug McCallum from office, a new updated version should instead read KEEP SURREY RCMP KICK OUT NDP printed in saffron orange and dark blue.  I already had a few made up by my sign guy and paid for them out of my own pocket, with after tax dollars I might add.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

 

Monday December 11, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

 

Grin and Bear It

Don Pitcairn and Jamie Kwen in White Rock at the start of their 2023 Mad Hatters swim.

With Christmas and New year's Day both falling on successive Mondays to end the year, I thought now would be a good time to take an early look at the various polar bear swims planned for this region on January 1st.   Most people living here in the Semiahmoo peninsula know about the January 1st swim in White Rock but it is not he only game in town.  In fact there are at least 10 polar bear swims you can partake in across the Lower Mainland, including several that are of the polar "bare" variety.  Without further adieu, here are the list of swims, many purloined from Vancouver's Best Places at https://vancouversbestplaces.com/events-calendar/festivals-and-events/new-year-polar-bear-swims/


West Beach, White Rock, Polar Bare Plunge, 12 noon

In years when the event takes place, crowds gather to watch hundreds of brave souls in swimsuits and funny costumes celebrate the New Year by going for a first-day-of-the-year swim in the ocean.  The White Rock event typically attracts thousands of onlookers. It’s hosted by local Rotary clubs. The Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue Unit #5 is one of the sponsors.  The White Rock Polar Plunge is a free event to participate in. There is hot chocolate and coffee available by donation.  The plunge returned in its regular in-person format in 2023 after happening as a virtual event in 2022.  This dip in icy waters happens on Monday, January 1st in 2024, which marks the event’s 54th year. Registration is typically at 10:30 am and the plunge is at 12 noon.  The event is held at the beach just east of the pier right by the community’s landmark giant white rock boulder.


Crescent Beach, South Surrey, Polar Bear Swim, 1 p.m.

The neighbourhood of Crescent Beach holds an annual Polar Bear swim of their own on the north side of the village near the swimming area at the end of Sullivan Street.  This is not an organized event but it attracts a yearly crowd of around a hundred brave souls who mainly live in Crescent Beach or south Surrey.  Lots of free parking and not nearly as busy as the big swim in White Rock that happens an hour earlier.  


Crescent Rock Beach, South Surrey, Polar Bare Skinny-dip, 1 p.m.

The Polar Bare Plunge at Crescent Rock is a January 1st swim that’s different from all of the rest.  Hosted by Surrey’s United Naturists, it’s a polar “bare” swim because it’s clothing optional.  Crescent Rock Beach is a stretch of rugged and secluded shoreline located between Crescent Beach and White Rock in South Surrey. It can be accessed via the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24th Avenue.  Although this is a skinny dipping event, participants are also encouraged to wear costumes like Santa Claus toques, body paint and other accessories.  Footwear is also recommended because of the rocks on the beach. The Polar Bare Skinny-dip has been running for 15 years. On January 1st, 2024 it happens at 1:00 pm by the 120-tonne Crescent Rock boulder. 

 

Centennial Beach, Tsawwassen, Delta Polar Bear Swim, 1 p.m.

The Delta Polar Bear Swim takes place on Centennial Beach at Boundary Bay Regional Park at 541 Centennial Parkway in Tsawwassen. Registration for the city’s annual event is at noon and participants take the icy dip at 1:00 pm. In 2023 there was entertainment to enjoy starting at 11:45 am, including face painting, a drum circle and more. Hot chocolate was also available. At the Boundary Bay Polar Bear Swim there are prizes for top swimmers. Awards are usually given to the oldest participant and the swimmer traveling to the event from the furthest distance.


Brae island, Fort Langley, Polar Bear Swim, 12 noon.

The annual polar swim in Fort Langley is held at the beach on Brae Island Regional Park across the water from the village. The swimming usually starts at noon and finishes very soon after.  Unlike other similar events elsewhere in the Lower Mainland, the Fort Langley swim is pretty informal. There are no official sponsors, organizer, registration process, charitable beneficiary or fees. The swim is also in the river as opposed to the ocean, and in some years there has actually been ice on the water. The Fort Langley Polar Bear Swim began in 2014 with a group of friends wanting a New Year’s Day swim but without having to drive across the Lower Mainland to an official existing venue. The event has continued since then and attracts dozens of swimmers and hundreds of onlookers.

 

Rocky Point Park, Port Moody, Penguin Plunge, 1 p.m.

The Penguin Plunge is an annual event that takes place on New Year’s Day by the pier at Rocky Point Park at 2800 Murray Street.  The Port Moody Penguin Plunge is a fundraising event for the Pleasantside Community Association. The cost for swimming participants is $5 per person, or $10 per family, with proceeds benefiting the community.  This event was cancelled in 2021 and 2022, but returned on January 1st in 2023. Registration typically starts at 11:30 am and the swim happens at 1:00 pm.

 

Panorama Park, Deep Cove, North Vancouver, Penguin Plunge 2 p.m.

The Deep Cove Penguin Plunge traditionally runs from 12:30 pm until around 3:00 pm at Panorama Park in North Vancouver. The event there usually includes live music and family-friendly festivities, plus the traditional quick dip in the water.  It’s one of the Lower Mainland’s largest January 1st dips in the ocean. With its community bonfire and live band, the Deep Cove swim is also one of New Year’s Day’s most entertaining and family-friendly events most years.  Each year costume judging takes place at around 1:30 pm and the swim starts promptly at 2:00 pm.  Donations at the event benefit a local charity. including North Shore Rescue and the Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue.

 

Wreck Beach, Pacific Spirit Park, UBC, Vancouver, Polar Bare Swim, New Year's Day 

While not officially endorsed by the Wreck Beach Preservation Society or Metro Vancouver Parks, many of the people who frequent the world famous Wreck beach in the summer return on Jan 1st to brrr-ring in the New Year at Vancouver's clothing-optional beach.  There is no official start time but swimmers enter the water throughout the day, often taking this annual baptism in their birthday suits.  The most popular area is the large sandy beach at the bottom of Trail 6 off Marine Drive across from the Totem Residence buildings. 

 

English Bay beach, West End, Vancouver, Polar Bear Swim, 2:30 p.m.

The grand daddy of them all, English Bay Polar Bear Swim has been taking place in the icy waters of English Bay every year on January 1st since 1920. It’s one of the oldest and largest events of its kind in the world and it usually attracts over 2,000 participants most years and thousands more who come to watch.  The swim takes place at English Bay Beach which is located near the intersection of Denman Street and Davie. The Cactus Club restaurant is close by and its address is 1790 Beach Avenue in case you need the location for your GPS or want a nice place to warm up afterwards. The Polar Bear Swim at English Bay takes place on January 1st in 2024, from noon until 4:00 pm.  It’s a free event, although participants must fill out a registration form which includes a waiver of liability. In 2023 the actual swim started at 2:30 pm and there was live music, food trucks, warming tents and more on-site. 


Mad Hatter's Swim Club, the Triple Crown of polar bear swims, White Rock 12 noon, Surrey 1 p.m., Vancouver 2:30 p.m.

This rather elite club is reserved for those brave enough to complete the "Triple Crown" of local swims on New Year's Day at White Rock, Surrey and Vancouver.  The timing of the White Rock Polar Bear Plunge (at noon), the Polar Bare Skinny-dip at Crescent Rock Beach (1 p.m.) and Vancouver's Polar Bear Swim at English Bay (2:30 p.m.) allows for the 'triple crown' of polar bear swims to be completed in just 2.5 hours on New Year's Day.  The swim at Surrey's Crescent Rock Beach must be done in the nude, with photographic proof submitted from all three swims.  The original Mad Hatters, a pair of local women with one wearing a large top hat, first completed these three swims in 2008.  Jamie Kwen from Burnaby (see above photo) has completed a record six of the Mad Hatter's swims, doing 18 swims New year's dips in 15 hours total time.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

Monday December 04, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Beach Cam Conundrum


Being a lifelong beach bum, I'm always interested in anything involving the beaches here in the Semiahnoo peninsula.  I've done numerous shoreline cleanups from Crescent Beach to White Rock over the years including organizing the removal of a sunken and smashed 26' pleasure cruiser with help from the BNSF Railway, City of Surrey, Super Save Group and volunteers.  As a member of SmartRail, a local community rail safety group, I'm always concerned about BNSF Railway safety along our shorelines and I visit landslide sites from the bluffs to look for factors that lead to slope failure onto the tracks.  Throw in tree cutting for views, wave erosion of the corridor, plus oil spills from Cherry Point and you get an idea of the threats to our waterfront.

Of course, all of this is because I like going to the beach on a year-round basis including during winter storms.  I follow several weather forecasting websites (Environment Canada and the Weather Network) for our area plus the Tide Forecast that is regularly carried in the White Rock Sun during the summer months.  That gives you the weather, current conditions plus tide height but sometimes what you really want is a bird's eye view of the beach.  For this, online cameras or cams for short are indispensable.  By far, the best one here is the City of White Rock's pier cam available online at https://www.whiterockcity.ca/402/Pier-Camera .  It shows Memorial Park, Canada's longest pier, the wind on a Canadian flag plus water and wave height.  

This is all made possible by an Axis Q1798-LE network surveillance camera that is weatherproof, records in colour and operates both day and night with audio.  With all of the associated hardware, software and licensing, the unit cost about $3,500.  I was not able to get information about hits but was told by the City's IT guru that it is by far the most visited section of the White Rock website.  As if this wasn't enough, the City also has a wireless weather station by Intellisense Systems. All told this system cost a further $9,000 to install.  It shows temperature, pressure, wind direction and speed, peak wind info, dew point, wind chill and even lightning strike frequency and distance.  It is posted on the White Rock City website at the same address as the pier cam.

Hats off to the City By The Sea for their pier cam and weather station that is used by residents and visitors, especially windsurfers and kite boarders who visit on breezy days from Washington State.  Now you would think that if White Rock with a population of 22,000 has a waterfront camera showing the beach, that the City of Surrey with a population quickly closing in on 600,000 people would have a camera giving a view of Crescent Beach.  Unfortunately that is not the case with this seaside hamlet being all but ignored by City Hall.  Surrey does have a camera in Crescent Beach but it is at the Beecher Street train crossing where it is focused on the tracks to record how long traffic gets blocked by yet another broken down BNSF train.  Meanwhile, nothing is being done about a long promised new crossing, emergency vehicle access or removing the raft of rotting logs jamming the shore of Crescent Beach.

The naturists using Crescent Rock beach obviously don't want cameras on this nude-friendly shoreline but they do want to know what is happening before heading out for some fun in the sun.  It turns out that the naturists have a friend in naturalist David Hancock and his Hancock Wildlife Organization (hancockwildlife.org).  For years David and his volunteers have worked with Ocean Park residents in South Surrey to install cameras on bald eagle nests, beaming the images live onto the internet.  Besides checking out adult eagles and their young, these cameras give a birds-eye view of Mud Bay and Boundary Bay.  Wind speed and direction can be judged by the waves on the water and the movement of the trees.  The wide angle live stream also shows distant clouds and weather, which can be helpful when plans are being made for sunbathing.  You can see it live with audio at this link: https://youtu.be/or855zeZnm4

The City of Surrey has the perfect spot for a Crescent Beach camera on property they already own.  The Beecher Place Community Centre is centrally located on the waterfront facing west towards the bay.  The public walkway is directly in front of the building with sunsets over the water visible year round.  A camera mounted on the roof that panned showing a 180 degree view from north to south would show not only the sea and weather conditions but also any crowds on the walkway and beach.  In this day and age it is remarkable that Surrey does not not have a beach camera in place at their main marine recreational site.  I can save them money on a weather station; simply supply the link to Weather Networks Crescent Beach forecast that also gives times for sunrise and sunset, wind speed with direction and gusts, pressure, humidity, visibility and ceiling, plus air quality and UV rating.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

UPDATE DECEMBER 09, 2023

From: "Aven, Neal" <Neal.Aven@surrey.ca

Date: 2023-12-07 3:55 PM (GMT-08:00) 

To: whiterocksun <whiterocksun@gmail.com

Subject: RE: Crescent Beach cam 

Hello Don,
Thank you for sharing your idea on this topic.  At this time, the city does not plan to install cameras at Crescent Beach or any other park.

Neal

 

Monday November 27, 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Signs Of The Times


For those who like to take a walk on the wild side, the 6.5 km stretch of rugged Semiahmoo shoreline beach between Crescent Beach and White Rock is a nature lover's paradise. Access is limited to walking in on the beach from either end or by descending from the Ocean Park bluffs by a number of trails, staircases and stairways. Because of its remoteness, difficulty in access plus rough terrain, it attracts naturalists and naturists alike, with the beach functioning as Surrey's legal nude beach, just as Wreck beach is to UBC and Vancouver. If you go out of your way to get away from it all, you should not be shocked to find people sunbathing, skinny dipping, or even going for a walk au' natural when it is warm and sunny on what is known as Crescent Rock beach.

The shoreline walks offer the easiest access but this is dependent on the height of the tides. When it is high tide the water can be splashing against the rip-rap boulders that line the base of the BNSF Railway corridor and provide wave protection. At this point you either have to stumble through the algae and barnacle covered rocks or trespass on the railway property, which is very dangerous, considered trespassing and carries a $550 fine. Surrey has three staircases; the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave., the 1001 Steps at the west end of 15A Ave., plus the Olympic Trail on 13 Ave at the south end of 131 St.  White Rock used to have the Coldicutt Trail but it was destroyed by heavy rains and mudslides in the atmospheric river of 2021, with plans to put up fencing to close it permanently. There are a limited number of other trails but many are steep, unmaintained and dangerous so I won't be listing them here in order to keep people safe.

Because of the history of nocturnal parties on Crescent Rock beach including grad parties from our local high schools plus people being hit by passing BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains, Surrey locks the gates at the three stairways limiting access. All of Surrey's parks are closed from dusk to dawn, basically half an hour after sunset and half an hour before sunrise. The three staircases are all unlocked at dawn but instead of the dusk timing they have signs with selected dates and times that were installed decades ago. These signs at Christopherson Steps, 1001 Steps and the Olympic Trail read as follows:

Feb 12 - Apr 15 8 pm

Apr 16 - Aug 26 10 pm

Aug 27 - Oct 15 8 pm

Oct 16 - Feb 11 6 pm

The issue with these rather arbitrary times and dates is that they did not take into account the changing times of sunset, the dreaded twice yearly time change, or long weekends when crowds of people are at the beach. There were times when the gates were locked before sunset, let alone before dusk, so if you were at the beach taking in the light show, you would be locked out.  Without a name or number for the security contractor, people were forced to take a long walk on the tracks after dark, creating a very unsafe situation in an area where 34 people have already been killed by trains over the years.

To make matters worse, the city of Surrey website (surrey.ca) listed two of these trails as being open from dawn to dusk with no mention about the posted times and dates for lockup.  Strangely, the Olympic Trail does not have a listing even though it is now the only stairwell that provides access to the south facing shoreline between White Rock and Kwomais Point in Ocean Park. Adding to the confusion, at the top and bottom of the stairs, another set of signs welcomed people to the park and asking them to keep it clean also listed the opening times as being from "dawn to dusk." There is also a safety issue for security guards having to walk down the stairs hours after dark to lock the bottom gates at the beach, something I would be hesitant to do. Armed with all of these problems, I emailed the Manager of the Surrey Parks Department, giving them a full explanation of my concerns.

It did not take them long to realize that the times and dates made little sense and were blocking access to the beach unnecessarily. They considered all of the points I had made and decided to stick with times and dates but ones that actually made more sense in the real world. Here is the portion of the email I received back from Manager Neil Avens with the new dates and times for the various staircase access points to Crescent Rock beach:

Closing/Opening times for Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps

  • Daily closing/opening times are set out as follows:

    • Feb 9 Mar 16 8pm

    • Mar 17 Sept 21 10pm

    • Sept 22 Nov 9 8pm

    • Nov 10 Feb 8 6pm

  • We recently implemented the above times and I understand our change out in the signage was a bit delayed (as such, the posted times did not match the actual scheduled times). The posted times now match the above schedule. The standard “dawn to dusk” signage will be removed so as to not provide mixed messages.

  • The purpose of the seasonal closing/opening times is:

    • To ensure practical and efficient scheduling for staff (developing staff schedules that change by a few minutes each day is both inefficient and impractical)

    • To provide consistent times for the public (“dawn” and “dusk” change each day and each person may have a slightly different opinion on exactly what time that is)

    • To provide the public with opportunity to be on the beach to experience sunset (the above closing times above are all past sunset)

    • To provide an appropriate balance between access to the beach and the negative behaviours that tend to occur after hours

Closing/Opening times for 13 Avenue Lookout (Olympic Trail)

  • For the13 Avenue Lookout, we generally do not close access to the stairs/lookout platform. From time to time, there are exceptions when we do close this site (such as Halloween night, when we have experienced greater incidence of vandalism or fireworks concerns).

The end effect of these changes is we get an extra two months of 10 pm closures from the start of spring till the beginning of fall. The 8 pm closures in early spring and late fall drop from four months to three and the 6 pm closures in winter does the same. Unfortunately the new date and time signs posted at the staircases contained a mistake but it was spotted and has now been corrected. For reasons unknown, the Surrey website still shows Christopherson Steps and the 1001 Steps as being open from dawn to dusk with no mention of the date and times posted. Also the Olympic Trail that they are now calling the 13 Avenue Lookout is not posted in the Surrey Parks directory, just as Sandy Trail leading down to Crescent Beach is also not mentioned. Please keep in mind that the Crescent Rock beach staircases can all be closed at any time for hazardous conditions, which include snow and ice on the stairs, risk of falling trees in windstorms, king tides with high waves or during periods of extreme precipitation when the risk of landslides on the bluff is greatly increased.

Naturally yours

Don PItcairn

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

 

Monday November 20. 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

BNSF Off The Rails


On Sunday morning, a buddy of mine woke me up early and sent an aerial picture of a train wreck that happened in North Delta, which was being shown on Global News.  I instantly realized it was orange BNSF locomotives with a line of black tanker cars apparently tangled up with an adjacent freight train with plenty of cars off the tracks.  It did not take me long to get dressed and head out the door to check out the crash that happened along Highway 91 just north of the truck pullout between Highway 10 and 64 Ave.  On the way out the door, I made sure to grab my white hard hat and orange reflective vest so that I blended in with the crews dealing with this railway accident.  I learned long ago the last thing you want to do when checking out a story is to identify yourself as a member of the media.

Upon arriving at the accident scene, I found that two BNSF engines on a northbound train had gone to ground (derailed) into the ditch beside the Metro Vancouver walking trail that runs between the railway and the large forced sewer main line.  At least one of these locomotives was leaking diesel into the environment and the smell of fuel was very strong in the area.  The BNSF Railway already had plenty of emergency vehicles, hazmat response vehicles (mainly from Washington State) and three fuel transfer trucks on the scene ready to pump the diesel from the locomotives.  Behind the engines was a wrecked bulk carrier car that was likely empty, followed by a string of 60 fuel tanker cars stretching out towards #10 Highway.  The front two of these black tankers carrying "non-deodorized liquid petroleum gas" (aka gasoline) was fully off the rail bed with the next one off the tracks but still sitting on the ballast rock.

Next to the accident scene was another train that had been headed south with a mix of various freight cars.  This train appeared to have been impacted by the engines of the northbound train with six different cars being smashed, torn apart, stacked up and destroyed at the accident location.  I had brought my bike along and rode the length of this second train looking for hazardous goods and inhalation toxic tankers but was glad to find the most dangerous material on board were cars with liquid limestone slurry on them.  While on the walking track next to the train, I met a family out for a walk who lived at the bottom of Sunshine Hills that said they were woken at 2:30 am. on Sunday morning by a huge crashing noise that they correctly believed might have come from the train tracks.  I should note here that while Highway 91 remains open to vehicle traffic the Metro Vancouver walking trail along the west side of Watershed Park in Delta will be closed during cleanup efforts.

While there is plenty of damage to the trains and infrastructure the BNSF has reported that none of the locomotive crews were injured in this accident.  The Railway dodged several bullets in this derailment, the first being that there was no fire involving the gasoline tankers that each hold 114,00 litres of 25,000 Cdn gallons of fuel.  The locomotives that went off the tracks ended up stopping near a switching box that contains electrical equipment which moves the rails allowing traffic to change from one track to the other, without doing any damage.  The lead locomotive came perilously close to the Metro Vancouver high pressure sewer main line that runs along the west side of North Delta and the south side of Panorama Ridge.  If there had been a fire, the switch box was destroyed and the sewer line was damaged, this would have been a major disaster and not just a costly inconvenience for the Railway.  Having the locomotive crews not get injured or killed was nothing short of miraculous.  


Looking at the photos of the wreck, it is easy to come to a conclusion as to what happened to cause this crash.  The southbound train was on the main line and should have had the right-of-way.  The northbound train was on the second set of tracks and from the impact into the middle of the other train, it looks as if the oil train did not stop in time to wait for the other train to pass.  I alerted former Cloverdale MLA and White Rock Councillor Ken Jones to this accident as he is the president of the community rail group SmartRail, of which I am a member.  While attending the crash scene he overheard BNSF employees talking who confirmed this hypothesis and reportedly stated that this was the second time the same engineer had been involved in a similar accident.  The TSB will investigate to ascertain that this was the cause of the crash but at 2:30 a.m., you have to wonder if the engineer was "asleep at the switch" as they say.

The BNSF Railway line will be closed to through traffic until the trains are put back on the tracks, the wrecked cars taken away and the damaged tracks repaired.  Already the Sunday night Amtrak was cancelled and it is likely there will be more before the tracks are once again operational.  Sitting on the BNSF tracks on the trestle bridge over the Serpentine River at Mud Bay is another BNSF train also carrying a long line of black tanker cars of gasoline, likely being delivered from the Cherry Point Refinery in Washington State.  The BNSF Railway along the waterfront of White Rock and south Surrey is always a concern because of these gasoline tankers trains, unit trains of Bakken formation crude oil heading to the Chevron Refinery, plus hazardous chemicals from the Canexus Chemicals Canada plant that include inhalation hazardous chlorine gas.

A train derailment in the Semiahmoo Peninsula carries its own element of risks.  Firstly, the BNSF Railway tracks run alongside the shoreline of Boundary Bay, where three locomotives over the past 115 years have already ended up on the rocky beach.  Any tanker cars rolling off the corridor will not land in a soft muddy ditch but will instead fall 3-5 metres onto large jagged rip-rap boulders that line the corridor.  With ever higher King tides, the tracks are subject to wave erosion during winter storms as has happened in the past.  The biggest threat is from landslides hitting passing trains, a risk that is exacerbated by hilltop residents draining water onto the bluff slope or cutting down trees for views.  Transport Canada warned the cities of White Rock and Surrey plus the BNSF Railway that they needed to work with residents to stop these practices.  Instead, nothing is ever done about the problem, with White Rock hiring arborists to chop down trees for views on the Hump hillside and the BNSF Police failing to lay charges against a Surrey strata recently caught red-handed having trees cut down for views.

I'd like to think that this train accident and derailment might serve as a wake up call for those living in the peninsula but from what I've seen in over 20 years of living here, this is not likely to happen.  I have seen the City of White Rock ignore the slope stability above the train tracks while cracks keep appearing in the roadway of Marine Drive.  I had to shake my head this week seeing a picture posted on their Opinon's page of the BNSF Railway being built near the Hump in 1905, with three landslides plainly visible on the clear-cut hillside.  I've visited hundreds of slope failures onto the BNSF tracks over the years including one that hit a train near Crescent Beach, which did not derail because it was stopped for an even bigger slide further down the corridor.  I have seen first hand the effect that tree cutting for views on the bluff hillside has in causing slope failures onto the tracks below.  If we keep playing railway roulette, instead of always dodging a bullet, one day the hammer is going to fall on a loaded chamber. 

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 

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

 

Monday Novembere 13, 2023

The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

It's Salmon Spawning Season!



With the heavy fall rains upon us, spawning salmon are once again running at the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club (SFGC).  Volunteers are at the fish fence netting every salmon for counting and identification before releasing them upstream in the Little Campbell River.  Select wild Chinook and Coho salmon, both male and female, are selected and retained for the breeding program overseen by officers from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  Fertilized salmon eggs are raised by the tens of thousands at B.C.'s first volunteer fish hatchery for release back into the wild once they have become salmon-ids with a greater chance of survival. 

The SFGC's beginnings date back to 1957 when the club was first formed by conservation minded outdoors-men in White Rock, Surrey and Langley to help restore the Little Campbell River after years of unregulated gravel removal and damage to fish habitat.  In 1979 a plot of land in the Hazelmere Valley with the river running through it was purchased by the club.  In 1983 the first all-volunteer hatchery in the province was constructed including the drilling of a deep well and a water filtration facility for the raising of salmon.  A fish fence was designed by a SFGC member and then built across the Little Campbell river with this becoming the standard for fish fences at future hatcheries built across B.C.

At the fish fence, salmon are identified as either Coho, Chinook, Pink, Chum or Sockeye, sexed as male or female and checked to see if they are hatchery raised (adipose fin removed) or wild salmon.  Every fish is carefully counted and a running total of the spawning salmon to date is kept on a large board just inside the window of the fish fence shack.  To date there have been 2,340 Coho, 905 Chinook, 14 Pink and 51 Chum.  Over 3,500 spawning salmon are counted at the fence annually and in a typical year the hatchery produces an average of 10,000 Steel head, 35,000 Chinook and 100,000 Coho salmon-ids.  If you are wondering why there are no Sockeye, these fish do not breed in the Little Campbell river but one stray was netted there in 2022 for the first time in 27 years.

The original hatchery was built close to the Little Campbell river and due to extreme weather events has flooded several times.  The atmospheric river that flooded much of southern BC in Nov. 2021 also flooded the hatchery and the adjacent Coho rearing pond, with 30,000 salmon eggs dying in the hatchery when the power went out and the water pumps stopped working.  Because of this event, climate change and planned upstream development in Campbell Heights, it has been decided that a new fish hatchery needs to be built on higher ground with modern technology and computer controls.  This project is already at the preliminary phase with building plans being prepared and a permit applied for at the City of Surrey.  You can expect fund raising efforts in the new future that will be looking to raise $1.5 million for the construction.   

The 30 acre property has several open fields and a large forested section with an extensive trail system running on both sides of the Little Campbell River.  This allows for observation of the spawning salmon in their natural habitat with several bridges crossing the river providing great viewing platforms.  Besides running the hatchery and looking after the buildings, maintaining the trail system requires work from many volunteers.  The weekend wind storm brought down trees in multiple locations plus left branches strewn around and the paths buried in leaves.  It took only a day before the trails were cleaned up and again open to the public from dawn to dusk.  Please note, if you wish to bring your dog for a walk, you have to be a club member and your pet must be on a leash at all times.

Plan on coming to the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club soon to see salmon spawning in action and the hatchery volunteers working at the fish fence.  Go for a walk through the trails, watching the river for tell-tale splashing as the fish work on moving gravel to create nests in which to deposit their eggs.  Keep an eye out for a variety of wildlife including black-tailed deer, raccoons, coyotes, martins, bald eagles, owls and other raptors.  There are colourful information boards along the trails with information on many of the plants and trees that can be found on the property.  Visiting the SFGC is fun for the whole family and kids love to see the salmon up close and learn about the four-year life-cycle of this amazing fish that plays a vital role in the marine ecology of the Salish Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

For more information on the SFGC and the Little Campbell River Fish Hatchery, hall and gazebo rentals or their archery and firearms programs, please visit the Club's website at https://www.sfgc.info/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/people/Semiahmoo-Fish-Game-Club/100063641257252/

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

Monday November 06,2022

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Surrey Shows Its True Colours


I never know when and where I'm going to come across a story for the TNT.  Case in point, I was driving on Hwy. 99 last Sunday looking for some extra details for my column on bridge strikes.  As I drove north from the Peace Arch towards 8th Avenue, I could not help but notice the huge "Welcome To Surrey" sign on the side of the freeway was bathed in an eerie red light.  I know this sign, its lighting and flagpoles very well from posting election signs and also taking pictures of it for the Surrey Shirts website.  I was surprised to see that the bright white halogen lights were gone, having been replaced by a series of LED lights mounted on five separate posts.  I took a picture of this sign that I surmised was lit up red for Halloween as it was way too early for Remembrance Day and decided to look into these lights through one of my contacts at Surrey City Hall.

A quick email to the Engineering Department got bounced to the Parks Department and I received the following answers to my questions regarding this rather dazzling light show. 

When were these lights installed? The Lights were installed in 2019

Who was the contractor and what was the cost? Firm costs are unknown, as the project was carried out in stages over a fairly long period of time as a joint effort between multiple departments and multiple contractors, each with their own expertise.

Was this the first time the coloured lights have been used?  No, colored lighting at the site has been used at different times in the past, such as on Canada Day (Red and White). 

How many colours are possible or is there a spectrum that can be used? There are over 300 colours that are programmable. 

Can the different light posts be set to different colours? Yes, each light can be programmed independently or in coordination with each other.

Are the lights set up so colours can change with motion or over time? The light system is activated by a photocell and turns on at dusk daily.

Can they still do boring old white and can the brightness be controlled? Yes they can illuminate white light. Brightness is fixed

How are the lights controlled, either by buttons, computer, cell phone or WIFI? On premise computer that is programmable.  Remote programming is an option, though quite expensive to set up.

Is there a calendar of different times and events set up for these lights?(ie. red for Nov. 11th). The lights are not set up on a calendar schedule. 

Is there a list of colour choices for the pre-selected dates like orange for Truth & Reconciliation Day The lights can be programmed to illuminate over 300 different colour shades.

Most importantly, has Langley Township done this with the "Visit Fort Langley" sign on the #1 Hwy.  If not, you need to contact them. I have no knowledge that Langley has a similar geographical marker sign. 

A day after I received these answers I drove by the sign again very early one morning long before sunrise.  Much to my surprise, there were no lights on the sign at all and it was completely hidden in the darkness.  Supposedly a photocell turns this display on and off as one would expect but for reasons unknown it was not working.  Preparing to write this TNT on Sunday night, I once again ventured down to check out the sign and was equally surprised to find out that it was once again bathed in red light.  I started to think that maybe those in charge of the programming felt they could just leave it red and cover Halloween and Remembrance Day together.  This didn't really make much sense, just like how there is nothing on the Surrey.ca website about this sign and its coloured light show.  I'm hoping to change this so the light can become a beacon for people living in Surrey and those visitors heading north into Canada from the U.S. 

As Surrey revealed, each of the five light poles are independent and can produce 300 different colours and shades.  This means that the total colour combinations of the lights is 300 x 300 x 300 x 300 x 300 which equals 2.43 trillion different lighting possibilities.  With this vast pallet of colours, I would think that orange, yellow, orange, yellow, orange would be a much better colour combination for Halloween.  Red certainly works for Remembrance day, which is coming up next Saturday, if of course, the lights are just not weirdly left red for another week.  Sunday Nov. 12 is the Diwali celebration, known as the festival of lights, with blue, red, green, orange and magenta being the five main colours, matching easily with the five light posts at the sign.  With the large Indo-Canadian population in Surrey and both Hindu and Sikh religions both observing Diwali, it would be a shame to not show the colours on this day. 

While the cost for the coloured light installation was not revealed, it obviously was not cheap and apparently is not being used to mark many holidays and observed days.  For Christmas it should be set on red, green, red, green, red.  The Ukranian New year (Jan 1) should be blue, yellow.  For Valentine's Day, red, pink, red, pink, red makes sense.  The Chinese New Year (Feb. 24) could be red, gold, red, gold, red.  April 22nd is Earth Day and I think that blue, green, blue, green, blue would be good colours to use.  St. Patrick's Day on March 17 should obviously be all green.  Easter is on May 5th and pastel colours like those used on Easter eggs can be displayed.  A no-brainer of Canada Day on July 1st with red, white, white, white, red.  Three days later on July 4th it is the USA Independence Day with red, red, white, blue, blue.  Heck, why not throw in Cinco deMayo with red, red, white, green, green and also Yom Kippur with blue, white, white, white, blue.  Truth and Reconciliation Day should be all orange, pink shirt day all pink, and a bright rainbow for Pride. 

I'm certain there are plenty of fun days where the coloured lights could be used that I have missed here.  Surrey needs to post information about this awesome sign and its light show on the city website.  There they could post the celebrations or days they were going to be using these lights and the colour combinations that were planned.  Having contact information listed for suggestions of days that should be marked and possible colours would be a great idea to help make it more interactive.  They only need to follow the lead of BC Place with their landmark Northern Lights Display (https://www.bcplace.com/the-stadium/the-roof/northern-lights-display).  One thing is for sure, the "Welcome to Surrey" sign with its trillions of colours is certainly a lot cooler than the similar "Visit Fort Langley" sign on the Trans Canada highway that is lit from above by three white halogen lights attached to the flag poles. 

 

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn  

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

 

Monday October 30. 2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Signs of a Strike


Bridge strikes by commercial trucks have become so commonplace in the province of BC that the government of BC even has a webpage for bridge strike data (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/transportation/vehicle-safety-enforcement/information-education/bridge-strikes-data).  In case you missed it, the last one was only six days ago on Oct. 24 when a Corrier Transport truck hit the CN overpass on Hwy. 1 near Glover Road.  This notoriously low railway overpass that fortunately is built like a proverbial brick sh%#house was also hit two months earlier on August 13th by Road Runner Freight Inc.  To date there have already been 15 bridge strikes in B.C. this year, with 5 bridge strikes on Hwy. 99 through Surrey, Delta and Richmond in the past two years.  One of these on July 18th seriously damaged the girders of the 17A overpass near the Deas Island Tunnel that will require extensive repairs, similar to what was done to the 152 St. overpass in south Surrey when it was hit by an excavator back in 2017.

With all of this in mind I decided to go look at our overpasses on Hwy. 99 and the associated height signage to see if I could understand why this has become such a prevalent problem.  I have to commend the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure who recently have installed advance height warning signs on both sides of the highway posted 200 metres before each overpass.  What I immediately noticed on the overpasses was that the height signs are small and difficult to read.  They measure 24" tall by 36 " wide but many of these are old and faded, losing their reflectiveness long ago making them invisible at night.  The other problem is that because there is a 10" tall arrow underneath the height numbers, leaving the metre number (4 or 5) only 8.5" tall with the centimeter numbers being only 6.5" tall and the meter letter m only 5" tall, or should I say small.  Imagine trying to read these signs while driving by at 100 kmh at night and trying to stop in time in a loaded transport truck when they are finally legible.

There are a host of other problems.  Most of these signs are attached to the bridge decks, not the large girders underneath where they would be protected from the elements and remain reflective much longer.  They are attached directly to the concrete and not angled downwards towards the highway where they would be more visible to approaching traffic.  Many of the overpasses are angled across the highway but there has been no attempt to attach these signs with brackets so that they face 90 degrees to oncoming traffic.  In many places these height signs are missing, were never originally installed, or are completely faded and non-reflective.  Also at night, the bridges are invisible because they do not have lighting even though there are mounting bolts and electrical outlets where lamp standards obviously existed when many of them were built back in the 1960s.  While the overpasses all have different heights, no one has considered putting "LOW" signs on the ones that are a problem and have been hit repeatedly by trucks.

Here is a detailed rundown of all of the overpasses on Hwy. 99 from the Peace Arch to Westminster Hwy. with information both north and southbound directions.  All overpasses have two newly installed advance height warning signs unless noted.  

8 Ave. N:  Two 5.25 m. height warning signs on girders.

8 Ave. S:  Two 5.84 height warning signs on thru lanes, nothing on exit lane.

16 Ave. N:  No height signs on bridge, 5.67 m. advance warning signs in place.

16 Ave. S:  No height signs on bridge, 5.59 m. advance warning signs in place.

24 Ave. N:  Two 5.0 m. height warning signs on girder.

24 Ave. S:  5.0 m. height warning sign.

Pedestrian overpass N:  5.5 m. height warning sign.

Pedestrian overpass S:  5.6 m. height warning sign.

152 St. N:  One 4.66 m. height warning sign on the replaced girder.

152 St. S:  4.34 height warning sign on right lane only, sign completely faded.

King George Blvd. N: Thru traffic height 4.84 m. on deck, entrance lane height 4.36 m. on girder, light standards removed.

King George Blvd. S:  Three height warning signs of 4.86 m., 4.56 m. 4.86 m. but all same level, signs old and faded.

Hwy. 91 N:  No height warning signs, thru lanes or bus lane, likely due to excess height.

Hwy. 91 S:  One 5.20 m. height warning sign on onramp.

112 St. N:  4.52 m. height warning sign, very old, light standard removed, impact marks.

112 St. S:  4.56 height warning sign, very old, impact marks.

BC Rail N:  5.04 m. height warning, sign old and angled, no lighting.

BC Rail S:  5.18 m. height warning sign, old and angled, no height warning on adjacent Hornby Road.

Ladner Trunk Rd. N:  4.64 m. height warning thru lanes (old sign), 4.66 m. height warning bus lane (new sign), impact marks.

Ladner Trunk Rd. S:  4.64 height warning sign (new), lamp standards removed, impact marks.

Hwy. 17 N:  No height warning signs on all 3 overpasses likely due to excess height.

Hwy. 17 S:  No height warnings on all 3 overpasses likely due to excess height.

Hwy. 17A N:  4.66 m. height warning sign on thru lanes, nothing on on-ramp lane from Tsawwassen.

Hwy. 17A S:  No height warnings on smashed bridge, no height warning on on-ramp from River Road.

Deas Island tunnel N:  Two 4.15 m. warning heading towards tunnel, nothing on actual entrance, no warning lights, impact marks.

Deas Island tunnel S:  Two 4.15 m. warning signs on overpasses into tunnel, nothing on tunnel entrance, no warning lights.

Steveston Hwy. N:  4.50 m. height warning sign (old), 4.55 m. height warning sign (new), no advance warning signs.

Steveston Hwy. S:  4.50 m. sign on deck, right and bus lane very old and non reflective.

Blundell Rd. N:  No height warning signs on thru lanes only large green direction signs, 4.54 m. height warning sign on bus lane only.

Blundell Rd. S:  One 4.44 m. height warning sign for three lanes, no right lane or bus, very old.

Westminster Hwy. N:  Two 4.70 height warning signs on thru lanes, 4.54 m. on bus lane, all very old.

Westminster Hwy. S:  One 4.64 height warning sign.

So here is where the rubber hits the road.  All of the overpass height warning signs need to be replaced.  Our highway speed limit signs are 30" wide by 36" tall with 15" tall numbers.  The new advance height warning signs recently installed before the overpasses are a good idea but the numbers are 8" tall for the metres and 6" for the centimetres because these diamond shaped signs have a large arrow on the top and bottom.  All bridge height warning signs on the overpasses need to be 3' tall x 5' wide and attached to the girders, not the exposed bridge decks.  They need to be mounted on brackets so the signs are 90 degrees to the roadways underneath and angled downward to catch vehicle lights at night.  Instead of having a huge wide arrow underneath the numbers taking up half the sign, put two thin ones on either side from top to bottom.  The height numbers need to be in a large bold font that is all the same size; currently using a height of 5.20 m. for example, the 5 is large, the .20 is medium and the m is small.  The actual current heights are 10" tall for the arrow, 8.5" tall for the metres, 6.5" tall for the centimetres and 5" tall for the m.  The numbers should all be at least 24 inches tall for maximum visibility and far distance.  

In addition to fixing all of the height warning signs, for overpasses 4.5 m. and under that keep getting hit by trucks, yellow and black signage reading LOW with diagonal hash marks should be placed on bridge girders alongside the big height signs.  In both England and New Zealand they paint diagonal hash marks on all of the bridge supports to make them more visible to drivers and this should be done here.  Most importantly, putting lighting back up on bridges where it was taken down or where there currently is none should be done.  Another good idea is to actually put lights on the girders and illuminate the overpass height signs at night so they can be seen.  This isn't rocket science, it's just a matter of creating bridge height warning signs that are big enough to read at a distance and ensuring that they are also visible at night.  Next time you are out for a drive on Hwy. 99 or anywhere else in BC for that matter, pay attention to our bridge signs and their dilapidated shape.  If we don't fix these antiquated signs and upgrade them, bridge strikes will continue to happen costing taxpayers millions of dollars to repair.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn  

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

Monday October 23, 2023

The Naked Truth

11,000 Words on the Hump

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so with 11 pictures of the most recent hatchet job on the Hump hillside and a look back to 2015, this TNT pictorial really says it all.  City Hall has once again hired arborists to cut down trees on the steep slope above the White Rock boulder, this time chopping down the trees growing from the stumps that remained from the clear-cut in 2015.  The largest of these was a maple tree that was a metre across with new sprouts measuring up to 20 centimetres in diameter growing out of it.  You can check out the most recent devastation for yourself with over a dozen piles of branches left waiting for the chipper along Marine Drive. 

 

All of this so-called "vegetation control" is being paid for by White Rock taxpayers on private property owned by the BNSF Railway.  It is being done in my opinion exclusively for the the views of hoity-toity condo dwelling folks living along the West end Marine Drive, regardless of the slope stability implications and slide threat to the BNSF Railway below. 

The East end of "The Hump" has been untouched supporting the theory the recent clear cut was for a select group of condo dwellers who appeared before council a few months back. The same group appeared before the previous council and their request for clear cutting was denied.

Recent delegation of Marine Drive condo owners which appeared before White Rock council requesting view improvements

Most of the recent tree clearing has occurred on a historic lateral slump landslide measuring 150 metres long east of the Pier that happened after this hillside was clear-cut in the late 1800s.  There is a photo available from the Archives taken from the pier in 1920 that clearly shows this slope failure and several more on the Hump.


With only blackberries holding the soil in place (plants that thrive in areas of soil disturbance), it will be interesting to see what happens in the future. 

I did notice there is a long crack on the Marine Drive roadway running along the area where most of the trees have again been cut down.

I could not resist the stacks of fresh cut maple sitting by the road and gathered up the larger ones to turn them into firewood.  I must admit, I was tempted to dump them at White Rock City Hall as a protest but didn't want to waste good wood members of the current council who seem to be following in Wayne Baldwin's footsteps who was acting mayor when the original moonscape clear cut/ vegetation control was done back in 2015.

One has to wonder when that tree planting to stabalize the hillside is going to begin?

 

BEFORE....2015

AFTER...... 2015

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn 

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

 

 

Monday October 16,2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Crescent Heights Coyote



When we bought our house 15 years ago in Crescent Heights we decided to live on an arterial road for two reasons, bus service and snow plowing.  What we didn't expect was that our road, which doesn't have sidewalks, would be a constant parade of people out for a walk, many of them with their dogs.  Of course they are all leashed and our neighbours do an admirable job of cleaning up after their pets.  Our two smaller designer mutts, known by their breed name of "cutie-pies", love watching the show and know many of the passing dogs and the humans they have mastered.  

I was rather surprised on Saturday morning to look out my kitchen window at 10 a.m. to see a beautiful dog with nice thick fur and fluffy tail trotting up the side of our street, alone and obviously off-collar.  It took me a second to realize that this was no stray husky, it was a wily coyote (Canis Latrans) out prowling through our neighbourhood looking for its breakfast.  Unlike many coyotes that you see which are thin and mangy looking, this one was actually magnificent looking and sporting a thick coat of fur.  What shocked me was seeing one of these animals cruising down the street that is often filled with people and their pets during daylight hours.  This was not normal behaviour, especially given both the pedestrian and vehicle traffic normally present that time of day.

While mainly carnivorous, coyotes have a wide diet that varies throughout the season.  Rabbits and squirrels are a key food source that they can catch with their blinding speed of up to 65 km an hour.  Moles, voles, rats and mice are easy pickings for these smaller relatives of wolves who also scavenge meat from dead animals.  Besides large insects like grasshoppers, they also eat wild fruits like blackberries and occasionally will bite into a ripe apple on the ground.  Unfortunately domestic cats have become a favourite food source and if you notice lost cat posters in your neighbourhood, it is likely from coyotes.  My parents had their 23 pound Maine Coon cat stalked and killed by a coyote when they lived on Chilliwack mountain.  Smaller dog breeds are also at risk of being attacked by a coyote, even while on leash.

Like many wild animals, coyotes can easily get habituated to human food.  Unsecured garbage bags or compost piles with food waste are a tempting target for these animals.  Even worse is people who actually feed coyotes, often with dog food, so they become dependent on this food source.  When this food suddenly stops, this is often when coyotes will start nipping or biting people who refuse to give them their next meal.  This was likely the case in Mission last month where nine people were bitten by a coyote in only five days.  In June a lady gardening in Prince George was attacked and bitten, while earlier in the year a two year-old and a six year-old were bitten in parks in Port Coquitlam and Burnaby.  Back in 2021 there were 45 coyote attacks in Stanley Park in Vancouver that resulted in 11 coyotes being euthanized.

If you see a coyote during the day, you should be careful as it may be habituated to humans. If you are approached by a coyote in the Semiahmoo peninsula, do not run away and instead keep eye contact, yell loudly, wave your arms and throw something at it.  Standing their ground, raising hackles, growling, showing teeth and barking are all signs of an aggressive coyote.  If you have small children or dogs be sure to pick them up to protect them until the coyote leaves the area. Remember that it is an offence under section 33.1(1) of the Wildlife Act to feed dangerous wildlife, which includes coyotes.  You can call the Conservation Officer Service (COS) at 1-877-952-7277 to report anyone that is feeding or intentionally attracting dangerous wildlife. If a coyote has acted aggressively or displayed aggressive behaviour towards a human or pet, please report it to the COS Call Centre as well.  

Here are some links to websites giving general information on coyotes and how to avoid conflicts with these wild canines.  


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn

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

 

Monday October 09,2023

TNT The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

Saturday, Sept 30th was the third annual National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Canada, with ceremonies in White Rock on the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and the Coast Salish people.  It was marked by a gathering of peoples at the Grand Chief Bernard Charles Memorial Plaza on East beach with a solemn walk along the promenade to Semiahmoo Park.  The crowd of thousands, many dressed in orange with the words "Every Child Matters", showed their support for the survivors of the residential school system that ran in Canada for over 125 years.  At the Spirit Stage in Semiahmoo Park speeches by Chief Harley Chappell, indigenous leaders and elders were voiced along with presentations by youth dancers and drumming groups entertaining those in attendance. 

One of the more moving speeches was delivered by the Chief's daughter, Kimora Chappell, explaining what this day meant to her.  I think it is important to share her words with you.

The Journey

Our word for non-natives is "Xwelitum" meaning "the hungry ones."

The original settlers came to our home for land and gold.

The governments made residential schools that were run by the churches.  My Grandma went to St. Marys Residential School in Mission B.C.

They were treated very bad at these schools and were forced to be somebody they were not and weren't allowed to practice their culture or speak their language.

Lot and lots of these children did not come home from these schools.

Today we learn about Residential Schools at our school to educate people about how others were treated to make room for everyone else.

My Dad works very hard to talk with governments about land and our rights.  It's a very hard job and sometimes he gets stressed out and crabby.

Reconciliation is important because others must learn about us as Semiahmoo people, to find ways to bring back our language and culture that was lost.

Reconciliation is important and we need to work together to make progress.

On June 19th, I wrote a TNT titled "Our Home On Native Land" that covered the official opening of the Totest Aleng Indigenous Learning House and carving centre at the Elgin Heritage Park on Crescent Road in South Surrey (scroll down to read).  Besides covering this ceremony, I took the opportunity to reveal the sorry state of the public art installation located on 20th Ave. and the South Surrey Athletic Park in the middle of the roundabout.  The Elder Moon and Double Eagle carvings by Semiahmoo First Nation artists Leonard and Leslie Wells were first placed there in 2009 and time and the elements had not been kind to them.  I posted photos and descriptions about their dilapidated appearance plus explained how the lighting, which is there for illumination and driver safety, was not working. I forwarded this to several of my contacts at Surrey City Hall and posted a link to this story on social media.  Well I guess it hit a nerve because several months ago the two carved disks were suddenly removed with signs posted that this indigenous art display was being restored.


As luck would have it on Friday, the day before Truth & Reconciliation Day, crews were at the roundabout with the two beautifully restored carvings putting them back up on display.  This work was done without fanfare, without ceremony, without speeches and without public notification.  I am thrilled that the City of Surrey saw fit to have these two amazing pieces of art restored to their former glory.  I was also quite impressed that they would work to have them installed in time for Truth and Reconciliation day.  What did disappoint me was that this restoration was done without anyone being told about it, other than a couple of small boulevard signs, similar to what you used to see springing up out of lawns at election time.  Considering the timing, it would have been nice to have had some official acknowledgment that these two pieces were being put back up in their prominent location.  I made sure that Mayor Locke and Chief Chappell knew about the return of the Elder Moon and Twin Eagles, sending them both pictures of the reinstalled artwork.  Hopefully they can work something out in the near future to properly commemorate this important event.


This small triumph marks two down and two to go.  The same TNT where I wrote about these carvings on 20th Ave. also revealed the terrible shape of the two indigenous poles at the White Rock Elementary School and the Ray Shepherd elementary School in south Surrey.  The White Rock carving stands next to Johnston Road but you can hardly see it because of the overgrowth of trees.  When the new White Rock school was built the pole was supposed to be relocated to the front entrance where a concrete base built for that purpose still stands empty.  The pole at Ray Shepherd sits directly in front of the office and yet it seemingly goes unnoticed as to what sad condition it is in (see July 19 TNT for photos of both). The Surrey School District and their Board of Trustees needs to step up to the plate and show these carvings the love that the City of Surrey put into the pieces carved by the Wells brothers.  If they really want to educate the youngsters that go to these schools, they could show that they care about reconciliation and actually repair, maintain and preserve these pieces of both art and history that were bestowed upon them.

My truth about reconciliation is that the community living here in this amazing corner of the Lower Mainland should consider how lucky we are to be living on the unceded traditional territory of the Semiahmoo First Nation and other Coast Salish People.  Much of Surrey is named after areas in England or colonial pioneers who were given large tracts of land without any thought to the indigenous people who had lived here for thousands of years.  Heck, even South Surrey isn't much of a name, it is more like giving directions on how to get here.  Most people living here realize it is called the "Semiahmoo peninsula", and in fact the White Rock Sun newspaper was originally named the Semiahmoo Sun.  With all of this in mind, I believe it is time we dropped the South Surrey moniker and replaced it with its proper name, "Semiahmoo."  If you think this is outlandish, consider that South Delta is known as Tsawwassen after the Tsawwassen First Nation.  If you search Wikipedia for "South Delta" you get nothing other than some listings for electoral boundaries.  If you search "Tsawwassen", you get the full description of the area due west of us across the waters of Boundary Bay.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn.

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

 

 

 

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 (https://www.andionglobal.com/) 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 https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/evaluation/exploration?search=Semiahmoo+First+Nation+-+Andion+Biofuel+Facility .  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 https://iaac-aeic.gc.ca/050/documents/p85705/153047E.pdf .  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
Email: Lee-Ann.Hamilton@sac-isc.gc.ca

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 https://vancouver.weatherstats.ca/charts/normal_rain-monthly.html 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 https://wildfiresituation.nrs.gov.bc.ca/map . 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

604-591-4370
Report a violation online

City of White Rock:

Call Bylaw Enforcement at 604-541-2146

Email Bylaw Enforcement at bylaw@whiterockcity.ca

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 https://my.surrey.ca/report-a-problem/home 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 surrey.ca 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 https://www.translink.ca/rider-guide/ride-and-shine .  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 https://bcinvasives.ca

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 https://pub-whiterockcity.escribemeetings.com/Meeting.aspx?Id=5c6efcd7-ff85-4d7b-8d7e-278b79e4470a&Agenda=Agenda&lang=English   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 whiterocksun@gmail.com

 

 

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.

EDITOR'S NOTE

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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fata_Morgana_(mirage) .  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 https://www.eoas.ubc.ca/courses/atsc113/sailing/met_concepts/10-met-local-conditions/10f-optical-phenomena/ .  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 https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/media/documents/2022-surrey-statement-financial-information.pdf   

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 https://whiterocksun.com/index.php?mode=naked_truth

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 https://www.surrey.ca/arts-culture/totest-aleng-indigenous-learning-house 

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 https://www.whiterocksun.com/

General Manager Surrey Parks
Laurie Cavan
Email: lacavan@surrey.ca
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 tide-forcast.com 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 surreyhistory.ca website about the history ot Camp Alexander and Crescent Beach Community Services by Donni Klassen.  You can find it online at this direct link:  https://www.surreyhistory.ca/campalexandra.html   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 https://www.alexhouse.net/ 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.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUa-Fc088NU

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: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Police_Model_Transition_Report.pdf

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 www.solvecrime.ca, 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 https://heritagebc.ca/war-monuments-memorials/cloverdale-cenotaph/

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: https://www.peacearchnews.com/home2/history-cloverdale-cenotaph-holds-nearly-a-century-of-memories/


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 https://www.warmuseum.ca/the-battle-of-vimy-ridge/

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

UPDATE APRIL 04, 2023

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.  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=429840315241481


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 https://wildsafebc.com/species/cougar/ .


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 editor@whiterocksun.com 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: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3229879827097843/

Cold Water Swimmers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nvcows/

Cold Water Club - Wild About Swimming: https://www.facebook.com/groups/309056485944248/

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:  https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/corporate-reports/F004%20CR%202023%20Five%20Year%20Financial%20Plan%20-%20General%20Operating.pdf .  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 clerks@surrey.ca 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:  https://www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/finance-committee-meeting

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 (https://elections.bc.ca/).  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:  https://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/LESearchResults.aspx?PFN=&E=(ALL)&FTK=0&FT=(ALL)&FN=(ALL)&EAK=236&EA=White+Rock&OK=0&O=(ALL)&JTK=0&JT=(ALL)&JK=0&J=(ALL)&STK=0&ST=(ALL)&EV=(ALL)

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: https://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/LESearchResults.aspx?PFN=&E=(ALL)&FTK=0&FT=(ALL)&FN=(ALL)&EAK=200&EA=Surrey&OK=0&O=(ALL)&JTK=0&JT=(ALL)&JK=0&J=(ALL)&STK=0&ST=(ALL)&EV=(ALL)

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 https://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/LEElectionSummarySearchResults.aspx?PFN=&E=(ALL)&FTK=2&FT=Elector+Organization&FN=(ALL)&EAK=0&EA=(ALL)&OK=0&O=(ALL)&JK=0&J=(ALL)&EV=2022+General+Local+Elections

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 https://webtrak.emsbk.com/yvr5 .


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:  https://www.navcanada.ca/en/air-traffic/airspace-reviews/vancouver-airspace-modernization.aspx


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  

omar.alghabra@parl.gc.ca

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

kerry-lynne.findlay@parl.gc.ca

 .  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 (https://webtrak.emsbk.com/yvr5).  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:  https://www.navcanada.ca/en/air-traffic/airspace-reviews/vancouver-airspace-modernization.aspx .  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:  https://www.navcanada.ca/en/vamp-east-southeast-and-south-communities.pdf .


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 consultation@navcanada.ca. or by completing their feedback survey at the following link:  \https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=52XfbTKSGUq7aKLb9epadAJdYvlbfZNLrrCEXXnYLJhURURFRllGSDBURUpPVTVaTjVVMDhKUkRUWS4u


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.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYBODY!

HAPPY NUDE YEAR EVERY-BODY! 

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 Surrey.ca 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 (https://www.surrey.ca/services-payments/parking-streets-transportation/vision-zero-surrey).  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:  https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/judgments.php?link=https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcpc/  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 https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2096677443609 .   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: https://www.provincialcourt.bc.ca/judgments.php?link=https://www.canlii.org/en/bc/bcpc/


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

BETTER SURREY

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 Surrey.ca 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 ahttps://vancouver.citynews.ca/our-team 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 https://crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/g8.htm).  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:  https://www.sfgc.info

Little Campbell Hatchery:  https://www.sfgc.info/hatchery

Hatchery donations:  Please call 604-535-8366 or send an email or E-transfer to SFGC@shaw.ca

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.

DON'T GET LOCKED IN

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: https://www.surreyhistory.ca/cbopvfd.html

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 Surrey.ca website at https://cosmos.surrey.ca/external/ .  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).

https://youtu.be/upsZZ2s3xv8 

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:  https://www.fraserhealth.ca/-/media/Project/FraserHealth/FraserHealth/Health-Topics/Recreational-Water/2022_BeachSamples.pdf?rev=6e365458295543a0938730a54f9f7a99&hash=5C04EA9D4E82D074BD62276F76643119CA8AE938

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.

BCRA:  bcrifle.org

DCRA:  dcra.ca

NRA UK:  nra.org.uk

Imperial Meeting 2022 results:  nra.org.uk/results/liveresults/

ICFRA:  icfra.com

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 (irishnaturism.org).  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.   (https://www.irelandbeforeyoudie.com/the-5-best-known-nudist-beaches-in-ireland-ranked/

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.
https://www.robertdavidson.ca/biography
https://www.dignitymemorial.com/obituaries/surrey-bc/donald-don-enarson-10780043

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.


Ic

 

 

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 https://webtrak.emsbk.com/yvr5.  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 (mayor@surrey.ca ), Nav Canada (service@navcanada.ca) and YVR (noise@yvr.ca) 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.

UPDATE:

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:  https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022FOR0030-000678


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 change.org petition titled "Keep Crescent Beach Open!"https://www.change.org/p/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, mayor@surrey.ca; write to the city manager, citymanager@surrey.ca; 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 whiterockcity.ca website at https://www.whiterockcity.ca/283/Garbage-Recycling 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 diethttps://www.whiterockcity.ca/DocumentCenter/View/4172/Recycling-Materials-Collected-Curbside-PDF?bidId=

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 (greenovergrey.com). 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.

METRO-VAN STAGE 1 RESIDENTIAL LAWN WATERING ALLOWED:

  • 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.

METRO-VAN STAGE 1 NON-RESIDENTIAL LAWN WATERING ALLOWED:

  • 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 (Mr.Lawn.ca) 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 (surrey.ca) has information about the 2022 Municipal Election (Your City, Your Vote) available at this link:  https://www.surrey.ca/city-government/2022-municipal-election .  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:  nathan.cullen.MLA@leg.bc.ca

MLA Trevor Halford:  trevor.halford.MLA@leg.bc.ca

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.

EdITORS NOTE:

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 (https://www.pressreader.com/canada/windsor-star/20141129/281706907999108). 


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 (ICFRA.com) 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 editor@whiterocksun.com.

The following is an edited post from the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association website (dcra.ca) 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 athttps://www.canada.ca/en/department-justice/news/2022/02/canadas-emergencies-act.html   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 - FREEDOM VERSIO

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 (https://opcc.bc.ca/) 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!'

"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:  https://www.canadaland.com/canadian-media-liberals-trudeau-government-funding-covid-cbc-erin-otoole/

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 ( https://www.givesendgo.com/FreedomConvoy2022 ) 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 Surrey.ca 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 http://www.metrovancouver.org/boards/GVRD/RD_2022-Jan-28_AGE.pdf   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 metrovancouver.org   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 athttps://www.whiterockcity.ca/DocumentCenter/View/651/Policy-611---Tree-Management-on-City-Lands-PDF?bidId=   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 Change.org 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:  https://www.change.org/p/city-of-surrey-bc-stop-the-city-of-surrey-from-paying-for-mayor-mccallum-s-legal-bills?utm_content=cl_sharecopy_31692438_en-CA%3A3&recruiter=816915472&recruited_by_id=aeb3d800-b620-11e7-835f-0b86ff1f96e3&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=psf_combo_share_initial
The following paragraph contains the full text contained in this Change.org 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.  

SIGN THE PETITION NOW TO DEMAND MR. McCALLUM PAYS HIS OWN LEGAL BILLS.

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 Change.org.  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 Change.org 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 https://globalnews.ca/video/8442680/surrey-mayor-doug-mccallum-charged-with-public-mischief

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: https://www.surreypolice.ca/resources/community-consultations   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 https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/corporate-reports/RPT_2008_R088.pdf


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: https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/corporate-reports/RPT_2010_R168.pdf

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 (railrelocation.ca).  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 https://www.surrey.ca/sites/default/files/corporate-reports/RPT_2015_R200.pdf   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 SFGC.info 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 Surrey.ca 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:  https://www.surrey.ca/services-payments/parking-streets-transportation/vision-zero-surrey/what-we-are-doing/safe-speeds/slow-streets

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 http://www.whiterockmuseum.ca//wp-content/uploads/2018/01/The-Legend-of-PQuals.pdf).  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 kevinfalcon.ca 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 (gavindew.ca), Michael Lee (joinmichael.ca), Val Litwin (vallitwin.ca), Ellis Ross (ellisrosscampaign.ca) and Renee Merrifield (reneemerrifield.ca).  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 (https://www.bcliberals.com/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BCLiberals/).

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 t