Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Regarding the removal of  oak trees from a Squamish trail area because bears were attracted to the acorns which seasonally fall.

From the District of Squamish

We have updated the original post with this message from the Conservation Officer Service and District of Squamish Wildlife Educator: The decision to remove non-native oak trees from the Discovery Trail was multi-faceted. We had to weigh the very real concerns of public safety along a District Safe Routes to School trail versus removing food from bears. 

There are certain areas within Squamish that are considered ‘no-go’ zones for bears. Safe Routes to Schools are one of these areas where we do our best to either manage attractants (cutting vegetation back to provide less food and improve sight-lines) or remove attractants to reduce the potential for conflict. 

The Conservation Officer Service has been called to this location many years in a row, some bears have been relocated and some bears have been destroyed. Removing the trees was the only solution for this location that would allow for the protection of both the public and the bears.

From me:

There is apparently no way to talk to a conservation officer...but then I cannot talk to God either! Perhaps you might pass this on: I strongly disagree with the decision to remove the native Garry Oak trees concerned here. 

The acorns are natural food for the they are not habituated to garbage or any man made attractant. We have encroached on their habitat. They should have closed the trail and let the bears move on. 

My dealings with Conservation Officers in the past was with an understanding that they are compassionate people...I guess times have changed. 

There is a mature oak tree at the entrance to Howe Sound Secondary...are we to expect that this tree will be targeted under the guise of safety? I surely hope not...but who knows? 

BTW, regarding compassion: Several years ago a conservation officer had to reluctantly shoot a habituated bear on my deck. The man was reduced to tears over this but he was well justified. I realize the difference regarding THIS case and so should you!

My final question here is, though is doesn't really have much bearing on the actual issue, if these oaks are "non-native" as stated by the Conservation Office, what species are they and where did they come from? All oaks are majestic slow growing species and are no threat to any other species here. They are definitely NOT invasive. Garry Oak is native.

Monday, September 17, 2018

To any prospective Squamish Mayoralty or Council Member. Please comment (More later):
(Note: NOT IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE...They are all important)

A Squamish Taxpayers peeves and druthers (more later):
1. Lack of Parking in town
2. Cars parked in the street when their garages are full of stored ‘junk’
3. Dogs off leash and no remedial enforcement of the Bylaw which is on the books.
4. Lack of affordable housing
5. Private land use Bylaws too restrictive…more latitude for innovative 'densified' houses (Lane-ways etc.)
6. Corner stores etc. in new subdivisions.
7. New zoning to allow residential cheaper housing in industrial zoned areas.
8. Speed up land rehabilitation (old gas station lots etc.)
9. Lobby for Roundabouts in all dangerous and congested intersections.
10. Real need for a new access road to the Highlands and Quest.
11. New public Boat launch soon.
12. Need for increased communication between Council and District Staff.
13. Need for more efficient planning for infrastructure and road maintenance. Do it when you say it will be done; from start to completion. An awareness of weather patterns is very important.
14. Need for more efficient and comprehensive snow clearing…more machinery needed for side streets and driveways.
15. Reduce whimsical expensive projects…’art is great, but money is precious’. Don’t plan projects that cannot be started until the next election!
16. Support secondary industry. (Like, don’t ship out raw logs exclusively).
17. Develop Intercity transit, with a regular, realistic timetable.
18. Develop some fixed penalties for problem violations.
19. Be vigilant regarding Nepotism in all Council business.
20. Fine tune waste management and ensure clarity of requirements and outcomes.
21. Pay much attention to our precious Environment in all actions.
(Any concerns about Education should be referred to prospective School Board Officials)

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Thoughts on the Housing Problem in Squamish, BC

  1. It is the type of housing development that is important. We need more lower cost rental buildings. The only way to do this is to dedicate rezoned land to rental only and to get some form of subsidization. Also loosen up the restrictions on land splitting for lane way housing and multifamily dwellings.
    Allow trailer parks in non-floodplain areas. 
    But there are also other ways of solving our problem too.We have a large industrial park but it doesn’t, shouldn’t, mean that we could not have some lower cost housing there too. Some people would not mind being close to Walmart or Home Depot. Look how close housing is to Park Royal. 
  2. Pardon me, but I have to say this: Look at our East Indian community. They don’t build a condo to house their multifamily members, they build a nice looking large house which looks like a single family dwelling but accommodates all their family, sometimes three generations…good on them! You may not like this next to your little house....But!
  3. We need some radical changes to our housing bylaws to help accommodate 'Densification' and availability to all ...not just the richer. And we need a closer look at our gross lack of parking. Any house which has a garage and has cars of its residents parking on the street should use their garage for at least one vehicle, not exclusively for storage. 

Thursday, September 13, 2018

My feelings about Canada too

This is an open letter written by a Florida judge about the CANADA/USA relationships & history.

Robert Meadows (Circuit Court Judge, Florida) wrote:

Here is one American’s take on the growing trade war with the US and Canada.

"Have you ever stopped to consider how lucky we Americans are to have the neighbors we have? Look around the globe at who some folks have been stuck sharing a border with over the past half century:

North Korea / South Korea

West Germany / East Germany

Greece / Turkey

Iran / Iraq

Israel / Palestine

India / Pakistan

China / Russia

We’ve got Canada! Canada. About as inoffensive a neighbor as you could ever hope for. In spite of all our boasts of “American exceptionalism” and chants of “America first,” they just smile, do their thing and go about their business. They are on average more educated, have a higher standard of living, free health care, and almost no gun problems. They treat immigrants respectfully and already took in over 35,000 Syrians in the last two years.

They’re with us in NATO, they fought alongside us in World War I, World War II, Korea, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, Afghanistan, the Kosovo War and came to our defense after 9/11. There was that one time when Canada took a pass on one of our wars: Vietnam. Turned out to be a good call.

They’ve been steady consumers of American imports, reliable exporters of metals and petroleum products (they are the biggest importer of U.S. products from 37 states), and partnered with NASA in our space missions.

During 911 many aircraft were diverted to Newfoundland, an island province off Canada's east coast where Americans were housed in people's homes for two weeks and treated like royalty. In return for their hospitality, this administration slapped a 20% tariff on the products of Newfoundland's only paper mill, thereby threatening it's survival.

And what do Canadians expect of us in return? To be respected for who and what they are: Canadians. That’s what I call a good neighbor.

But the King of Chaos couldn’t leave well enough alone. Based on his delusions of perpetual victimhood, out of the clear blue, he’s declared economic war on Canada. On CANADA! And he did it based on Canada being a national security risk to the US! For no good reason, other than the voices in his head that told him it was a war he could win. So why not do it, then?

Trump went ahead and imposed his tariffs on aluminum and steel even though we have a trade surplus with Canada on those products! Trudeau retaliated in kind. And now this morning, the White House is preparing a new wave of tariffs in retaliation for Trudeau’s retaliation. This time he threatens a tariff on automobiles even though 70% of their components originate in the U.S.! It’s just a temporary spat, right? Except for that smile on Vladimir’s face in the Kremlin, as the NATO pact unravels a little more with each passing day.

Again, we’re talking about Canada. Our closest ally, friend and neighbor.

On behalf of an embarrassed nation, people of Canada, I apologize for this idiotic and wholly unnecessary attack. Please leave the back channels open. We the People of progressive persuasion stand with you.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

On the present State of the 'Garibaldi at Squamish' (a.k.a. 'Garibaldi Resort') proposal.

The Resort will be built in Phases over at least 20 years. That will mean 20 years of construction work and a chance to modify plans based on what is working best. BC’s Resort Development Guidelines ensure that Accommodation and Lift Capacity always remain in balance.
After the first phase is complete, only when the resort is shown to be viable at that level (via a formula called "BRC" or Balanced Resort Capacity that looks at lift capacity, hotel occupancy, and other factors) can the next phase begin construction.
This process repeats through all the phases, so accommodation capacity is always kept in balance with the resort facilities.

All this just a great endorsement of the value of 'Pressure Groups'. If it hadn't have been for them you would not be in the hopeful position you are now. Sure, you might be able to have a ski resort and a lucrative housing development...but without past resistance you would have created a water sucking, land grabbing, and District-dependent disaster. 

Good luck to you in your venture but never blame the pressure groups...we are the watch-dogs! We will continue to be vigilant!  

I am a little amazed at some of our 1st. Nations people...Don't get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for the majority. Some seem to be able to flip where ever it suits...whether it be for 'Trapping Rights' or for jobs or money! 

Never let it be said that our 'First Nations' have a 'Unified Stance'....But that's OK, I guess. "Chacun à son goût"! We do it all the time.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A reply to a post regarding the relevance of Private schools

The case for abolishing Private Schools  (Click on this link)

In both Canada and the UK there is the equivalent of Comprehensive Schools and Private schools. You have some Grammar Schools still; we do not.. 

In all the schools there is a 'mind set' about what might be called a "good" or "bad" school. And here it is where it gets interesting. 

All parents want to feel their kids are getting a good education whatever school they may attend. The directing factors in this are tied up with the quality of teaching and the money spent on the school facilities and resources. 

All too often, and more often recently, the latter are lacking in many school districts and individual schools. Some parents who can afford it, have in their heads that if they send their kids to a Private School they will be giving their kids a better chance. Some choose to still use the Comprehensive system but seek areas to live where they perceive that a better Socio-economic environment will exist to ensure their goals. Often this is hit and miss.I favour the Comprehensive system but realize that it is only an optimum choice if the schools involved are well funded, have competent teachers and good leadership, fostering good morale. 

All too often this is a Utopia and one which is increasing in its incidence. The notion of better schools being found under the umbrella of Private and Grammar schools may well be a myth or becoming so too. I have taught through my whole career in a Comprehensive ( 'High School') environment.....and so might be said to deserve a back-patting:-)....but I am mindful of the restrictive nature of under-funding, overcrowded classes and lack of adequate service to students with learning difficulties and poor home support.We also have a rising need for more ESL teachers. 

The never-ending 'tug-of-war' between the perception of 'privilege' verses 'universality' is tearing at the fabric of Education...and ,yes, this is driven by politics. And this will never stop all the while Private Schools are subsidized by the tax-payer.

In short there is no real easy answer...only one which serves the conscience.

And here is an opinion from one of my cousins:

I taught in a comprehensive school and a grammar school and think the comprehensive system gives the best chances for more pupils, and in some cases is excellent for the most able children as well. But I don't wish to set myself up as an authority because after 12 years I left teaching. 

Some of my best experiences were in Africa - where I had boys with very little science background, not very good English but great willingness to learn and enormous, sometimes unjustified, respect for me as a teacher.

 Here in Spain, with my wife, I sent my step-children to first a state school, then a private, Catholic, one. They will have their own opinions on which came out best, and I had better not tread on sensitive feelings on the matter. But I will say that the normal state school was perfectly adequate and my children were very well treated as immigrants, and given special language classes for quite a long time. 

I know this is not really relevant in the questions that Dave has raised, but it is part of my experience. I think that private education distorts and unbalances what can be offered, and getting rid of private schools would be a very good thing.

And from a friend:

Blended Learning and Flipped Classrooms may help provide some of the answers which may seem, currently, beyond the scope of both public and private education, more likely the former...for many obvious reasons. Technology enabled learning offers all children - with appropriate internet access - the opportunity to develop what appear to be the skills and competencies required during this phase of our ride upon the Tofflerian Scientific-Technological wave; where collaboration, critical reasoning and communication skills are ‘de riguer’....where curiosity, context, challenge and control become mantras for experiential student driven learning...where learners regardless of age can progress as fast and as slow as they are able....where learners of similar abilities globally pursue the challenge of surviving the anthropocene...where fact and fiction build on shared curricula...where structured and unstructured curriculum are also balanced...where expository and discovery learning are reimagined with hope, peace and love and temperance the driving impulses...where personal and personalized learning find expression...where learners are held responsible for their learning and their contribution to the prevailing social, political and economic dictates.

And my reply to him:

Good vision, but the situation is, so often, hobbled by 'politico-economic' barriers which inevitably drive this vision into the privileged sectors of societies. Research can unwrap the models but then they have to be accepted and paid for. Throughout the modern history of educational innovation we have seen a more prevalent acceptance of various experimental models turning up in the private, and sometimes restrictive, religious sectors.

Let us hope that this trend will change. Keep up the good work from your end Paul.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Improving the revenue from The Squamish Adventure Centre

 To Squamish Council regarding the need to increase revenues from The Squamish Adventure Centre

Just a thought: Has anyone thought about the access to this site?. ...Not user friendly in my opinion. One way North to South you have to go to the main (terrible intersection) and then turn back on yourself .  South to North you could go straight by. Do we need another external consultant to tell us that? My answer would be a definite "No". 

By “going straight by” I mean that if you happen to go through the intersection (Cleveland/Highway 99 )in the fast lane (which is quite likely if you end up there while waiting to go through at the lights and were not quite sure where you turn to the Adventure Centre) it is quite possible that you may not be able to move over to the right lane as the exiting traffic speeds up….Hey presto, you miss the turn! This is important to the issue. The hours of opening are also important, they have to be tailored to the public if you want the maximum remuneration. The facilities that you offer should range from basic information to the provision of souvenirs…and also to, perhaps, scheduled entertainment.

There is an auditorium on site, so show promotional material which highlights our town and environment. The possibilities are far reaching, but don’t frivol our money away on nebulous consultants, as has been done so much in the past. I actually care about this great town!

Idea: When we do get our public transit to Vancouver and Whistler sorted out....Make this the main bus terminus but still keep one stop Downtown!”  My argument for a Roundabout at Cleveland and Hwy. 99 still stands (See later Blog on this.).