Monday, April 30, 2012

Issues for North Surrey Town Hall Meeting

I have selected the following posts to help illustrate some issues with garbage and graffiti that some residents of Surrey would be interested in discussing.  If you randomly click around my site, you may become overwhelmed and glaze over at the sheer amount of garbage to be seen. So I'm trying to focus on just a few.

Tagging / Graffiti
The Problem of Graffiti Part 1
The Problem of Tagging Part 4 - Rated R

Garbage on the side of the streets/ poor maintenance / urban ditches
I went for walk today Dec 16 (garbage is still there)
Walk This Way
Surrey Ditches so Trashy

Dumping over fences, into parks, ravines, natural areas, empty lots, train tracks and unattended spaces.
A Green Ravine in Surrey
Everything and the Kitchen Sink
With my own two hands
Saturday Morning in My Surrey

There are so many more examples.
Transit Shelters not Bus Stops
Mayor Dianne, we have a problem
     ( I would like to tell the lady at the meeting last night who was commenting on the sewer smell on 114, that here on February 26 I blogged about that issue on 125a. I also reported it to the city, as had another resident earlier. I would like to know if it's the same location, and if the city is really going to do anything about it)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Woe is me.

Ever since I heard Down With Webster was going to be at this year's Party for the Planet, I've had their song "Whoa is me" running through my head. Amusing play on words, but now it's running continually through My head,  and in my mind it's  'Woe is me.' Is it funny or ironic that their video starts with a discarded cup on the pavement?
I'm really trying to get excited about the Party for the Planet. Woe is me, but I can't help but be cynical and comment on the fact that we are partying for the planet on a parking lot, surrounded by buildings, in a city of litter that is cutting down hundreds of trees for development while we all generate garbage and everyone pretends this is a good way to celebrate nature. Yes, yes, I understand we'd all be standing in a soggy mess if we tried to hold it in a park. Yes, I know that some people will learn things and hopefully take the message home and actually put it into practice. But let's be honest, it's not really about the planet is it? It's about fun and food and music.
We've been to many, many of the free events the city has had to offer and thoroughly enjoyed them all. When our daughter was really young it was especially great to have somewhere close to go to experience the world.  I love how when you go to any of these free events in Surrey, it's as if the whole world has come together to have a good time. The patchwork quilt that includes people of every nation and color is part of what I like about Surrey.  I'm already looking forward to the Fusion Festival
I also wonder how many of the people that need to hear the environmental message actually get that from these kinds of events. It might be fairly easy to miss the whole point of an event like this with all the glitz and fluff it's wrapped in. 
 What I know is that while we are partying for the planet, Justin Beaver is busy cutting down his own trees at the beaver pond in North Surrey. You can see the black garbage bag and discarded drinking cup that he's working around. This is real nature at work, but no-one will be thinking about him during this Party for the Planet.
I should be upset at the beaver because it just cut down a huge old weeping willow. There really isn't enough land or trees to support the beaver down here. The city came in and removed his dam and all the logs he used to build it, so I guess the beaver figured it needed to cut down a really big tree to try to recover. Plus how could one resist all those fresh spring time tree shoots.

Woe is me.  It was a really big huge old tree and it was beautiful. I somehow feel partially responsible because I brought attention to the beaver, so all the activity at this site was accelerated, even though I probably had very little to do with it. The cleaning up has yet to be done, there's still garbage strewn through the whole area.

Nearby the air is filled with truck exhaust. They've re-routed the trucks around the Fraser Perimeter Highway construction, so now they all come to a stop at Scott Road and 103 A, then roar to life belching out fumes when the light turns green. It makes my dog sneeze, every single time a smelly vehicle drives by. We don't walk this way much anymore and I wonder how much of those fumes are wafting up by my home.
The trucks fill the landscape and obscure the mountain view.

Fences are nothing more than gathering spots for garbage, until it escapes into a nearby ditch.

It's hard to see hope for the planet when you look around this area. 

 Months have gone by since I first mentioned this property. I've heard the city is sending letters, getting tough on owners to clean up dumping. It doesn't seem to be working.

Wildflowers are blooming now though. This is lunaria annua, also called the honesty plant or the money plant. Seems there's not much honesty left in the world, it's all about the money.

Woe is me, I really am trying to keep a bright outlook and focus on the positive. It's just so hard sometimes.

Now I'm going to go spend the day focusing on nature to lift myself up into a party mood for tonight.

See you at the Party for the Planet!

It was good times with Down With Webster tonight. I enjoyed the show more than I knew I would. Sorry for the poor sound quality, but here's a short clip from Whoa is me. They played it as their last song.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

I went down to the bottom of Tom Hopkins Ravine again on Saturday, this time to a different section than last week. What should I find but the kitchen sink and more of everything.
 My daughter and I once hiked this ravine from the 99 Ave stairs, the whole way up to 96 Ave by traveling on the creek bed. In the late summer, there's hardly any water, but there's still lots of scrambling over logs and junk.

Make sure to avoid the Devil's Club growing here. It's got evil spines and if pricked, you may need tweezers, and it can cause severe skin irritation.

When I went a bit further, I found this scene.  The whole hillside in the ravine was littered with garbage. Looking up I could see a stove, a ottoman, construction buckets with leftover stuff in them, bottles and containers, a bag of clothes, flower pots, so much stuff.

And of course, toys.

 I climbed up the steep hill where there was more and more dumped garbage. Here I'm looking way down at the same stove far below in the ravine.

This area of Surrey is called Royal Heights. What a shameful way for a princess to end up.

When I got to the top there was a fence and the back yard of a large 3 story plaster box of a house.

I climbed back down through the ravine and found the front of the house. It's on a cul-de-sac with no road access to the edge of the ravine except through this house's driveway.  I'm sure they wondered what I was up to as they watched me walk up their drive way to look over the fence where I saw more stuff like a mattress, particle board furniture, this lawn chair and more. They will have to be involved in the clean up as there is no other easy access to this garbage except through their driveway. Technically it will be a difficult job, maybe with winches and large construction tote bags it will be possible. Whether they will be held responsible is up to the by-law department, but there probably isn't enough proof  or motivation by the city to take care of these issues.

Tom Hopkin's Ravine is a beautiful green slice of nature in Canada and should be respected. It's a privilege to live next to green space and if you do, you should be well educated on keeping it clean. I just don't understand the mentality of those who would fill it with garbage.  For more posts on Tom Hopkins ravine, visit here and here.

As I walked through the other cul-de-sacs and dead end streets in this area west of  Scott Road and 98 Ave,  I notice the same old garbage that has been dumped here from when I pictured it February 13, but more is being added on a regular basis to every unattended road end here. 

The abandoned umbrella looked like a large bright blossom blooming in the blackberries. The colors reminded me of the real thing I saw last week, and I try to hold onto those images as I make my way back home.

Earth Day may be over, but our earth still needs our help.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Volunteer Photographers needed.

Today is a bright sunny day and my tiny view to the mountains tells me it's a clear day. 
Please consider visiting this location this weekend and capturing Surrey's natural beauty and views. Sunset would be a great time of day to shoot.

Volunteer photographers needed to shoot panoramic landscape of North Surrey trees and metro-Vancouver North Shore mountains.

 I am not able to capture the beauty of this soon to be developed location with my small camera.

I have missed those clear sky days where you can see the mountains laid out behind the bridges.

The mountain views are similar to those pictured in these shots.

These were taken nearby in Tom Hopkins Ravine Park.

These were taken at Scott Road and 102 Ave. Telephoto lenses would be useful.

The location is 124 Street South of Old Yale Road. Coordinates 49.195461, -122.879870 124 Street is closed to vehicle traffic. The map shown is two years old and things have changed. There is a grass covered hill west of 124 Street which is the perfect location from which to capture this beautiful scene. 

Please Contact Me if you get good photos of this location. I would like to save some of this green beauty for future generations. Please visit for more information on this dream of mine.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

With my own two hands

"I can change the world, with my own two hands
make it a better place, with my own two hands..."
is from a song by Ben Harper and Jack Johnson (listen here)

On January 11, I stopped to photograph this mattress and boxspring. Every day as I drove my daughter to elementary school, I would notice it peeking through the trees. Now that summer is coming, the leaves are filling in and muting the image. But today I decided I was tired of looking at it.

I knew there was also an old TV, which made me sadder because it's in front of what used to be an old majestic tree. I had called the city asking to pick up the mattress, but this stuff was dumped on what is technically BC Hydro land as part of the train track easement. I'm not sure what happened to the request.

Once I started picking up things, I realized just how much was hiding in the underbrush. I had no idea there was this much stuff.

It continued along the tracks behind this recently cleared land. Another new house going in, and piles of ancient old garbage and new dumped garbage off the back of the property. The owner drove up in his car, talking on his cell phone and asked me what I was doing. I was happy to tell him I was cleaning up for Earth Day. He let me know it wasn't on his property, it was on the tracks. I said I knew, but I want Canada to be clean and I don't like looking at it every day. I don't think he quite knew what to do in this situation he'd never been in before.

You can hardly see it in this picture, but I decided to spray paint keep canada on the mattress. Seeing as how I'm always complaining people are cleaning up without saying anything. When I got home I used the website reporting tool at  and told them what I'd done and asked them to pick up 68 Ave. near 138 Street.

I might have to do something similar here at this property on the corner of 128 Street and 88 Ave. that's been often mentioned on this blog.

What to do with Mr. Bajwa though? He's still lurking in the weeds. Maybe I'll have to repurpose this sign as a Keep Canada Clean Sign. I could always take it home and hold a political campaign sign party with Mayor Dianne.
Here's flowers to end with. This neglected corner is next to several new homes being built and before I took the close up picture I had to pull out quite a bit of junk.

The flowers are almost lost in the ivy and weeds, but they are enough reward for me for today.

I've changed the world with my own two hands.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Green Ravine in Surrey

A few blocks away from my home is a deep, green ravine with Delta Creek at the bottom. This time of year everything is just starting to explode in green foliage.
In order to get down to this point, it's a precarious scramble down a long steep slope.
When you look up, the height of the trees will impress you. Down here it's as if you are alone in the wilderness.
Except there is a couch, TV's, BBQ, bicycle wheel, dining room chairs and more.

As I look at the array of items I try to figure out the technical details of how one would drag this stuff out of here. How much has to collect before it matters? What would it be like if the ravine started filling up?

I try to take a nice picture and in every shot there is garbage of some kind. That sucks. There's tagging down here too on the rocks and trees.

This makes me think of playing pick up sticks.

The garbage is all tangled into the logs and vegetation and in some cases held down by the natural forest debri.

Shopping carts and blue tarps.

Did you know some trees have knees?

Abandoned soccer balls are everywhere in Surrey.

I originally started this whole project because when I went on my walks I couldn't remember all the spots where I had seen garbage. I thought that someday I would get around to reporting it all to the city for pickup.  Much of the garbage I have photographed remains where it was. Much of it is out of view of the average car driver around North and West Surrey.

Some of the garbage is a continually reoccurring event, like this site I photographed first January 5th.

The property owner has tried putting up fences to keep out the garbage with no success.

Even the neighboring property seems to think the fence is just for throwing things over.

This place is not like the ravine though, it's not hidden away.  The Vaisakhi parade route is the street right ahead. The streets which the city has been spending extra time cleaning up the last week. The city crews really went all out, pressure washing, street sweeping and shoveling, picking up garbage, mowing, weed eating, cleaning the grass from the sidewalk cracks even. 
The city does come and clean up if you call them, (if it's not on private property or BC Hydro land). I'm very grateful they picked up a few ditches in my immediate neighborhood before the grass overgrew it all.  Only problem is, they didn't talk to the neighbors about how they should be taking pride in Canada and keeping the streets clean.  So, the ditch is temporarily clean, but no-one was educated or informed or even told what was done. For all I know, the garbage in the ditch may have been the normal landscape for them and they didn't even notice if it was there or not there.
I haven't requested a clean up on this stretch of ditches on 90 Ave near Kennedy Heights Park yet. I don't think it's been picked up since the last time I called months ago. BC Hydro did clear the area underneath the power lines and empty the ditches on one side of the road recently.

But it's one of those regular dump sites, and the occasional cleaning up isn't really accomplishing anything.

Now the grass is growing here too and overwhelming the trash.

The closest Return-It depot is less than 2 blocks away from here. If they had known, would they have gone there? You'd think it would be just as easy. Maybe if there was a sign here, in multiple languages, telling residents in a simple way what to do with their items. Or a phone number. Or something.

That's only a portion of what is here. There is one lonely Do Not Dump Refuse! sign (Who uses the word refuse to refer to garbage? No one I know.)  What is needed is a clear message, advertising, or anything along this stretch to at least try to reach people where they are on the street. The big ads in the newspaper don't reach anyone who is actually doing the dumping here.  The newspapers don't  reach basement renters, they don't reach people who aren't fluent in English, they don't reach young people. A new way of communicating needs to be found. Door hangers on every door in this neighborhood, including the basement suite(s) would be a good start.

So we end with these Spring flowers. If my camera could do what my eyes do, you'd see the beauty of the mountains through the trees to add to this picture.

I so appreciate these folks with their most beautifully kept flowers. Every day should be Earth Day. Thanks for Keeping Canada Clean.
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