Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The best view in the lower mainland

It was one of those clear sunny days when the mountains were touched by snow and you could see the great panorama of beauty the lower mainland has to offer. I went down to the bottom of Scott Road today where there is the park with the beaver pond I've visited often.  They are now developing the land near the park for a new Fed Ex facility.

From here you are still able to see the whole panorama of mountains stretched out across the horizon. It really is so much better in person. I've been able to wander freely around the pre-loaded sand dunes for a long while now and I'm sad to see the open spaces go.
I hope there will still be a place to see over the warehouses and enjoy this beauty after they've built the Fed- Ex building, but it won't quite be the same with trucks coming and going and parking all the time. 

It had such an open majestic feeling before the machines came.

The beaver pond has been partially drained. The new dam the beaver was making has been cut through.
All the water has gone back into the stream bed leaving behind embedded garbage.
All that dam building work Justin (what we call the beaver) did for nothing, but it's probably best the beaver wasn't here at all. The middle of a growing city isn't really the place for a wild animal anyhow. 

As I make my way out past the garbage in the underpass I realize my walks with my dog out in the fresh air aren't really cheering me up much, even on a sunny day. Thankfully tomorrow I am meeting with someone  to see about getting a cleanup going of the waterways here in South Westminster, or The Flats as I call it. I look forward to cleaning some things up now, instead of just pointing them out.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mayor Dianne, we have a problem.

I've seen a fair amount of garbage the last 2 months, but today was perhaps one of the grossest days, cause it went beyond just plain garbage.
This morning fellow pedestrians pointed me to Bridgeview to take a picture of an election sign that has sat on the side of the road for 3 months now. When you follow along this ditch on 125a Street where this other old piece of Mayor Dianne was, you first come to water with a slick that smothers the surface of the water with it's deceptively beautiful colors. 

You come across the usual garbage in the ditch, but then the colors change to a sickly orangey brown. Similar to the iron oxide which oozes out of the peat bogs that  I've seen elsewhere but this has a funky smell to it.

There's oil on the surface and it's just nasty looking water. There was a young boy in the neighborhood, he told me he had seen poop in the ditch and he didn't like it much. Rather an understatement.
 It was the street his home was on. I wondered if it was just his imagining that he saw raw sewage, but his mom said when the days get warm you can smell it.
 There are ducks swimming in the ditch past that upside down plastic bin.

But then I realize it really looks like raw sewage, floaters moving lazily along past the houses where residents area trying to make a happy home for their kids.  Yep, just like the third world countries, we have open sewage flowing right through this Surrey neighborhood. 

Mayor Dianne!!!
Hang on now, let's be reasonable. It can't be like that here in Canada!

So I went back the next day to double check what I had seen. It maybe wasn't a piece of poop, since there's dead clumps of bulbous algae floating as well. The ditch was still disgusting looking and how one would one tell poop from the yucky clumps of vegetation, I don't know.
In the mind of that 7 year old boy though, if it looked like poop and smelled like poop, it was poop. He won't feel different about his community until something is done to take away the smell and the appearance. The picture came from the ditch in front of this park. At least the park was nice and green and the mountains were beautiful.
Right across from Bridgeview Park and the Community Center is this house (12541 114 Ave.) facing the park.
Doesn't help much if the park is clean and across the street is this mess. The total effect isn't really a clean neighborhood or city.
It has the broken windows, the dumped mattress, the household garbage added on top of everything. 
They said it's been this way for months. The city knows about it, but have as yet to do anything like actually clean it up. The by-law department for some reason has a difficult time just cleaning up and collecting their fees on bylaws that already exist. When the owners are foreign investors with many properties they are sitting on, there should be a way to clean up a property so the community can feel pride in their neighborhood.  I guess the city knows about the ditch too, if it was near my house I'd want them to fix it right away and having it left like that, is a bit disturbing to me.

The original election sign that brought me here? Blown up against a fence along King George, with bits of plastic and beer bottles. Mayor Dianne Watts smiles up at a Pattison ad on the monstrous electronic billboard while residents of Surrey are putting up with dumped garbage and the smell of open sewage around their houses. I think the city needs to concentrate on the basics first.
Mayor Dianne, we have a problem, a real problem you should take seriously.

(Update: On April 3rd this sign was still by the side of King George Hwy. Read that post here. I picked it up and took it home, otherwise I'm sure it would still be there. I guess she didn't get the message.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

I've got good news and bad news

 I went to see Brownsville Bar Park today for the first time in a long while. The good news is I  was  pleasantly surprised at how clean the park was. It is probably cleaner partly because it's winter and not many people are using it. The park is under the Patullo Bridge and Skytrain Bridge. There's river beach access and green spaces and big trees. In the past we've come down here in the summer with my daughter, played on the beach and launched our homemade boats. It's a lovely spot, albeit difficult to get to right now with all the road construction related to the South Fraser Perimeter Highway. I didn't get a good picture of the park, but here's one I found to give you an idea what it's like.
Photo by Damien Beatty
Of course there is graffiti at the base of the bridge and an old rusty shopping cart. But it's not directly on park land so the I don't think the parks department has the mandate or authority to clean it up. I think I am going to look into organizing some large scale wall painting in my section of Surrey.  There's a few large cinderblock walls just crying out for art on them.
There's a nice sign at the entrance of the park now that includes information about the history of the area and more. Now for the bad news. After I looked at the sign, I turned around and looked the other direction.
 That's when I saw the tossed TV, baby gate (the second one in this area), broken glass and this colorful collection of bottle caps,  battery, rocks and plastic.

Like any large organization, each department in the city has it's defined area and role. For the parks, it means that the area directly outside the park is not necessarily maintained or beautiful.  I think this reflects poorly on the parks. It makes the public face of Surrey not quite clean enough to change the public's perception of our city.

The waterways at Brownsville ended in a brown swirling eddy of plastic bottles, garbage, styrofoam, cushions and shopping cart.

Garbage is dumped off the side of the road and stuck in the blackberries.  This is about only about 50-100 feet from the entrance of the park and from Brownsville.

Random garbage dump that at first seems mystifying. Old vegetables, milk and cream cartons, candy wrapper and McCafe. Perhaps a homeless person's leftovers after a freegan meal and cheap snack.
From Brownsville Bar Park I did a few minute drive down the river to Tannery Dog Park. Last time I was there, there was garbage dumped and junk in the parking lot, but since I had asked the parks department to clean it up, it was clean. The city usually does come and clean up if you call and ask. It's not the picking up of the garbage that's the real problem. It's the putting down of garbage and residents ignoring or tolerating it for months at a time that's the problem.
Tannery Park has interesting views of the bridges across the Fraser. If you haven't heard, they are seeking public input for the new Patullo Bridge to be built. My input is make it free or make it a tunnel.

Pussy willow  tree budding, a sign of spring to come.

A clean beach to enjoy. 

Now for the bad news.

This is the ditch immediately outside Tannery Park. I photographed this ditch before and the same stroller, same paint cans, same oil slick and plastic containers are here as before.

The yellow garbage bag at the top of the ditch is the color of the Adopt-a-Street bags, but this isn't one of them, nor was the black garbage bag next to it.  If we turn around...

It's the entrance to Tannery Park. The lines have been drawn and this is not the park.

There is good news to end with.  I'm meeting with a Surrey City Environmental Technologist next week about cleaning up the waterways in this area, so there will hopefully be more good news to report in the future.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Problem of Graffiti

I haven't taken many pictures of graffiti, because frankly, most of it sucks and has zero artistic merit. Much of what I see is poorly done senseless tagging. But it's everywhere, so more than a few pictures have made it into my blog. I didn't take pictures of the body parts graffiti, or most of the bad language. Or the one that says "Brown Power"  Most of these pictures are gathered from my other posts  over the last two months. 
This graffiti is at a traffic light intersection on 100 Ave that leads directly to the much touted Holland Park. By-laws state it's the owner who has to paint the fence cause it's their private property. Makes sense on the surface.  But this fence is the public face of Surrey, the one that everyone is seeing day after day.  This photograph is from December 9th. So for a full two months at least   bus drivers, teachers, RMCP officers, city employees, my husband (who didn't notice it), Telus and Shaw employees, mothers and kids, christians, muslims, sikhs and atheists have all been past this and no-one has done anything about it. (Update, this was painted over after I reported it, what if I hadn't, it would still be there. Am I the only one who knows or cares?)

You may be asking, why don't I report it all? Because if I reported all the graffiti and  picked up all the garbage I see, I'd be doing it all day, every day. Recently I did report the first batch of graffiti I knew about. Including that fence above. I found out that you need a box number if you want to report graffiti on electric or utilities boxes.  I learned that BC Hydro doesn't do a very good job at cleaning their boxes of graffiti.

I also learned that reporting a whole block of fences with graffiti is problematic and they want specific addresses. That means that I can't just point them in the direction of this stretch of fences on the path leading from the southeast corner of Moffat Park at 122 and 95 to  92nd Ave.  It's a very handy way to get to Kennedy Heights Dog Park, but I don't like the garbage and graffiti. If I really want to report it, I'm going to have to find out what these people's addresses are...then they will be asked to clean it up. Then... it will happen again. 


Never give up Hope

I ended up going back to this spot to video tape the length of fence. Video is in this post, Problem of Tagging Part 3

 I learned again that I really don't like reporting graffiti cause someone who isn't at fault will have to clean up after spoiled children and it will probably happen again and again at that location. So it's tempting to just give up and give in to the inevitable, a city covered in garbage and graffiti.

 Even Robson Park, touted for it's renovation last year, has sections which are not so picturesque..

Every other phone pole has been tagged along some streets.

Even the trees cannot escape at Kennedy Heights Park.

 On the way home from my dog walk, there was a whole new section of tagged fences, joining the already existing graffiti.

"leave my tags alone"
This wall is actually a prime spot for a nice large mural. The owners have obviously painted it over time and time again with no effect on the problem.

This is only a portion of the tagging and graffiti I have seen. I certainly don't know the solution, but cleaning it up is the first step I guess. I must admit I'm a bit discouraged at the prospect of reporting it all and having to describe all these locations.

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