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September 25, 2020, 3:37 am Advertisments

The Naked Truth

Don Pitcairn

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

Ann Landers


The content and expressions written and published in The Naked Truth Are solely those of DON PITCAIRN



It's a Boat Time

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Lyrics to Row, row, row your boat, children's nursery rhyme.

After enduring over ten days of smoky haze, it was a blessed relief to finally see a sunset, which is what happened on Saturday evening as I drove down Crescent Road.  With plenty of low-level clouds, I thought there might be an opportunity to take a picture for the front page of the WR Sun.  Wheeling into Elgin Heritage Park, I got to their dock in time to take some pictures of the sun setting behind the moored boats.  I also got to meet several members of the Nicomekyl Rowing Club ( as they pulled their sleek sculls up to the dock at the end of the day.  This got me thinking about my little row boat that recently came out of hibernation fifteen years after I salvaged it on the shores of Crescent Rock Beach.

It's funny how the world works but when you are looking for something it invariably finds you, something called the universal law of attraction.  I was looking for a small boat, preferably one with a hole in it to use as a planter for a banana grove next to my hot tub and cabana.  It was in October when I took my two kids for a walk to the beach south of the Christopherson Steps and when we rounded the point, there was an 8 ft. long fiberglass Livingston dingy washed against the shore.   At one point in time it was a tender for a boat named Shatzi from Oregon, something that was obvious from the large lettering on the underside.  While in too good of shape to be used for a planter I thought it would be nice to have a small boat for fishing and trips to the lake.

The problem was how to get this dinghy home, since I was the only adult there and there was no way I was going to get it up the 190 steps of the formerly named 101 Steps staircase.  I quickly figured out my best bet was to get it to Crescent Beach and bring a friend and my truck to retrieve it.  Plunking my two girls into the seats of the Livingston, I rolled up my pant legs, took off my shoes and proceeded to walk in the rather chilly fall water back towards Crescent Beach.  While I realized it made for a rather strange site, a grown man towing two young girls along in dinghy, I was rather pleased with my find and decision on the best course of action.  That was until I got near Crescent Beach and saw an RCMP officer walking down the beach with his eyes fixated on me.

It seemed that one of the neighbours along the waterfront had decided the kids were obviously in peril from the lunatic dragging them towards certain death in a watery grave.  The police officer was very polite, first asking how I was doing to which I responded "Not good, my feet are freezing, thank you very much."  Then came the big question, "So, is this your boat?" followed by my quick reply, "It is now."  The cop was rather amused by my answer and after asking what I meant, I told him, "I found this American dinghy washed ashore just down the coast and am claiming it under the Canadian Mariner's Rights in Salvage.  I will be reporting my find to the Receiver of Wrecks at the Canadian Coast Guard who will attempt to contact the former owner so that I may be compensated for my salvage and storage costs."

The confused look on the officer's face was simply priceless.  I actually had to repeat what I had already told him and explain the legal framework of salvage rights on the open seas.  When he said he would have to confiscate the boat, I told him that he needed to understand the dinghy was now in my possession and I would not be relinquishing ownership to the RCMP.  Well he got on the radio with his precinct and after about 15 minutes of explaining the situation and saying "uh-huh" about a hundred times, he finally put down the microphone and said "You're right, how the hell did you know this stuff?"  I told him, "Well officer, when you live down by the beach, you never know when your ship is going to come in."   He bid me a good day and it wasn't long before my two daughters and new dinghy were safe at home.

The Canadian Coast Guard was never able to find the registered owner even with the name and number from the dingy and I became the legal owner.  After the initial rush of finding the Shatzi had worn off, it has spent most of its time leaning up against the north side of our house.   With COVID BS, camping was back in vogue this summer and we decided to take it out on our latest trip to Harrison Lake.  Washing off a decade of algae revealed that the letter "I" in the name had peeled off and we rechristened her the "Shatz", which everyone thought was hilarious (think shatz your pantz).  Having it fit in the back of a pick-up truck means no trailer is needed and while the oars work well, we are looking at both an electric and a small gas motor for next year.   

I never got the small boat to use for a planter but I do have two large banana groves in the yard and a very sturdy dingy that is unsinkable.  My now grown up kids still remember the day they thought their Dad was going to get arrested for finding a boat at Crescent Rock beach.  Forget Jimmy Pattison's Nova Spirit yacht, every time I go the the beach in the Semi-pen I'm keeping an eye out for the Eclipse or the Azzam, mega-yachts that are almost two football fields in length costing $600 million.  Something tells me I might get in trouble for tying one of these floating palaces up to the White Rock pier but chances are I could afford the fine from my salvage fee.  For more info about maritime salvage rights and abandoned vessels in Canadian waters, check out the following two websites

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



September 14, 2020

Holy Smoke!


This week's TNT headline has nothing to do with the Holy Smoke Coffee Company that used to occupy the tee-pee on the KGB in south Surrey who roast some of the finest coffee I've ever tasted.  No, it has everything to do with the appalling pall of smoke from US wildfires in Washington, Oregon and California that has recently crossed our COVID-19 closed border.  On Friday morning I stepped outside and could actually smell smoke in the air even though the sun was still shining bright.  This weekend though things took a more ominous turn with the great outdoors looking much like a foggy day in November and the sun blotted out from the sky. 

For two out of the past three summers we have had smoky days here in the Lower Mainland because of fires burning in BC that westerly winds pushed out from the Interior into our corner of the world.  The fires now burning up and down the west coast of America are unprecedented in size and destruction with unseasonably dry weather combined with strong winds creating perfect conditions for firestorms.  Until fall rains arrive it is unlikely that many of the fires now burning out of control in Washington, Oregon and California will not be controlled or put out.  As long as the prevailing winds are heading north, we can expect the smoke to linger.  If you think its bad here, my buddy in Corona, California had this to say on Sunday about their air quality, "It's terrible here, my lungs hurt."


Since Sept. 8th Metro Vancouver has been under an Air Quality Advisory due to the smoke levels and find particulate matter known as PM2.5 that can easily enter homes due to their small size.   Environment Canada issued the following health warnings in response to the very high levels of smoke that are currently sitting at 200 micro grams per cubic metre.   "Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Exposure to PM2.5 is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and/or diabetes, individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women and infants, children, and older adults."


Our Provincial government has a BC Air Quality website that shows the current air quality readings in real time.  This includes Air Quality Health Index readings (AQHI), several readings for both PM2.5 and PM10 plus ozone, nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide, plus total reduced sulphur compounds (TRS).   The AQHI is based on a scale of 1-10+ and reports on the health risks associated by a mixture of particulate matter, ground level ozone and nitrogen dioxide.   As you might have guessed with all the coughing and wheezing, we have been at the 10+ level for several days across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley since the smoke arrived.  You can check out the data this very interesting website contains which is refreshed every hour at:


A little closer to home the City of White Rock has installed an air quality sensor at the remodeled Memorial Park next to the famous pier.  Powered by a laser beam, a fan draws air through this beam with any suspended particles reflecting the light onto a detection plate where these pulses of light determine the size and number of particles.  As I wrote this TNT the sensor was hovering just under 200 with the one day rate at 178.  You can check out this real time data at .   The smoke and associated particulate levels are supposed to decrease on Monday and hopefully drop to near seasonal levels on Tuesday with an approaching front forecast to bring showers to this region followed by sunny weather.

This air quality sensor in White Rock links to the Purple Air website ( which records readings from sensors across North America and the world.  If you think the air quality is bad here, imagine living near Portland, Oregon where the PM2.5 Air Quality Index is around 500.  In Northern California one sensor is currently showing readings of 774, four times higher than our daily average.  One look at the very high readings from southern California to northern Washington State shows just how massive this wild fire and air quality problem really is:

Dare I say, it really takes your breath away.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 07, 2020

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Last week I settled down in the evening to relax and watch a movie, choosing "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", a 2016 fantasy film that is a prequel to the Harry Pottery film series based on books by J. K. Rowling.   I'm not generally a wizard movie kind of guy but found it entertaining and the computer-generated beasts rather bizarre and interesting.  It got me thinking about the rare and exotic species that I have stumbled upon in our region and I have decided to share them here.   These are all animals, amphibians and insects I have only ever encountered once in my lifetime that is rapidly closing in on six decades.

My wife Sheryl and I were recently walking down a trail in a Langley Park one evening when we stopped to admire the sunset that coincided with a rising full moon.  As if that wasn't magical enough, a very small brown weasel ran out of the bush only a meter away.  It stood up on its hind quarters revealing its dappled white belly while looking straight at us.   As soon as we moved it raced away only to reappear soon after in the same spot, once again standing up on its back legs.  By strange coincidence I told a gardening friend of mine who lives in Mission about this critter and her cat had recently killed an identical one in the basement of their house.  She identified it as a Least Weasel, the smallest carnivore in the world at only 20 cm in length that feeds on mice, volves, insects and frogs in the nighttime, likely explaining while sightings are rare.


Two weeks ago I was working and spotted a hard-to-miss insect buzzing around my feet in Tsawwassen.  It was a brilliant metallic blue hornet, the likes of which I had never seen.   Freaked out from years of getting stung by yellow jackets, bald faced hornets and European hornets, I quickly dispatched it with a stomp of my boot.  Examining it closely after giving it the kick of death, I realized that I'd never seen one of these insects before.  Thinking it might be an invasive species I decided to try and identify it once I got home, thinking there probably were not that many metallic blue waspy bugs on the planet.  Sure enough, a quick Goggle search revealed pictures of the Blue Mud Wasp or Blue Mud Dauber.  Native to the US and parts of Canada, these wasps are well- known for preying on black widow spiders.  While the blue mud dauber feeds on flowers for energy, they sting and immobilize spiders, placing them in common mud dauber nests along with an egg that they lay on the dead arachnid.


On a nature hike in July along the Little Campbell River in south Surrey at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club I spotted an old bucket along the edge of the waterway that had likely washed downstream onto the property.  Braving a soaker, I walked out into the soggy bank to attempt to retrieve this floating litter.  The bucket was half full of water and some silt and I used the handle to pull it out of the mud and carry it to the trail.  I proceeded to dump the silty water out onto the grass along the trails edge when this huge aquatic bug came out with the water and started flipping around.  To me it looked like a Giant Water Bug, which I learned is exactly what its called.   Found in ponds, marshes and the banks of streams, this bug commonly kn​own as the "toe biter" has front fore limbs that look like giant pinchers.  It feeds on insects, crayfish, tadpoles and small fish, injecting them with digestive toxins before sucking their prey's juices like a big mosquito.  If that isn't scary enough, these 5-6 cm. long bugs fly around at night looking for prime feeding grounds.


Several years ago on a rifle range in Chilliwack I stopped my truck to check out a holding pond that collected run-off water from a nearby hill.   While the small waterfall was attractive, it was the only thing I found interesting until I looked into the deep crystal-clear water.  At the very bottom of the pound was what I first thought was just an odd-looking stick until I realized there were two of these strange objects in close proximity.  It was only because of previously reading about them that I realized these were the elusive Pacific Giant Salamander.  Growing to a length of over 30 cm., Canada's largest salamanders eat beetles, slugs, snails and other amphibians.  When disturbed, these salamanders can make barking noises to help avoid predation.   Definitely a rare find, these salamanders only exist in BC in the Chilliwack Valley along slow-moving streams.  At the time, I reported my discovery to the Stream and Riparian Research Laboratory at UBC who are studying this red-listed species.

Though I did not find it, I have to give my sister Lee-Anne credit here for locating and dispatching an Asian Giant Hornet in March of this year.  She was outside in her formal English garden pruning a dwarf boxwood hedge when this 2.5 inch long orange coloured hornet crawled out of the plant she was working on.  Describing it a "WTF moment" she responded to her sighting like I do and promptly stopped this nasty looking insect into the ground.  She did not keep the dead bug but later that night spent time on her computer trying to identify exactly what type of wasp or hornet queen it was.  It was not until she read a TNT about these invasive bugs and saw a picture that she realized the world's biggest hornet had been hiding in her yard.  What makes this noteworthy is that she does not live down by the border where Canadian Agricultural inspectors have been looking for them coming north from Whatcom County.  Instead her home is in Langley's Strawberry Heights near 248 St. and 56 Ave. not far from the Krause Berry Farm & Estate Winery.   Let's hope she killed the only queen in the Lower Mainland as we don't need these foreign pests attacking the honey bees that do much of our crop pollenization.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 01, 2020

The Princess and Empress of White Rock

Don Pitcairn

For the longest time a very large and broad princess tree (also called an empress tree) graced the west side of the stairway from Marine Drive to the promenade directly across from the iconic White Rock pier. When Memorial Park was being redeveloped in early 2018, the plans were that this stately shade tree with its large leaves and beautiful light purple spring flowers would be saved. Unfortunately, these trees are known to have shallow spreading roots and it was discovered that due to the extended root zone and damage from excavators this tree would have to be cut down. The City said the decision to remove the tree was not an easy one, and that “we do acknowledge how difficult and emotional this news may be for some in the community.” A promise was made at that time that this tree would be replaced; it was with an oak tree that has since died.

What many people failed to realize was that a smaller princess tree was also growing on the east side of the stairs near the pier washroom. This tree was also under threat of having to be removed in the fall of 2018 due to work around the bathroom structure and fears the tree could topple onto the BNSF Railway tracks. Due to the public uproar about the loss of the first princess tree, an independent arborist was hired to examine this second tree, examine its health and to stabilize it. Even with root pruning to remove decay and other remedial actions the arborist noted that "the tree may continue to decline and die within the next few years." The last princess tree does not appear to be thriving with much smaller leaves than are usual and several dead branches hanging from it. 

The Princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa) makes a great shade tree for a number of reasons. First are the huge heart shaped leaves 15-40 cm across that easily block out the sun to create a blanket of shade. This tree also grows 10-25 m tall and 5-20m wide, reaching this size in a very short number of years. Acknowledged as the world's fastest growing hardwood tree it absorbs twelve times more CO2 than any other tree and on commercial plots soaks up over 100 tonnes of CO2 per acre. Princess trees originate from China and require full sun for proper growth but are tolerant of pollution and can grow in many soil types. In the spring this tree has very fragrant flowers that emerge before the leaves do, leaving it festooned with 10-30cm long panicles covered with lavender coloured flowers that resemble foxglove.

When these trees first sprout from seed they resemble sunflower plants and it is not uncommon for even experienced gardeners to tell the difference until the fall when the tell-tale sunflower inflorescence fails to appear. Once these trees have a footing in the ground they grow in the second year at an amazing rate, often reaching 5 m tall by the end of two seasons. I found one of these plants growing against a wall in White Rock several years ago and thought that one of the owners had planted it in its warm and sunny location. Even at 6 feet tall it was a battle to dig it out of the ground up against the perimeter of the building. Princess trees are known to emerge out of cracks in concrete and the Charlie Don't Surf restaurant on Marine Drive now has one growing at the front of their building.

I currently have a princess tree growing out of a landscaped bed in a courtyard four stories off the ground in Richmond. It is now above the balcony of the fifth story unit and the time has come to chop it down or remove it. I thought that this young tree could possibly be planted at Memorial Park where an oak tree that was selected to replace the original princess tree has since died. This request was forwarded through the proper channels at White Rock and I was informed that the City only buys certified nursery stock from recognized nurseries and that they do not accept plant or tree donations. While I can understand their point, I thought the price tag of $Free would appeal to them. Heck, I would have delivered and even planted it for them, fresh topsoil and tree stakes included. 

Since the surviving princess tree is not thriving and with the replacement oak tree at Memorial Park now dead, maybe the time is right for White Rock to plant a new princess tree to replace the one they cut down that everyone loved. After all, the artist renderings posted of what Memorial Park was going to look like when finished clearly shows two princess trees near the staircase leading to the pier. Of course, maybe City Hall is are more concerned about views of the ocean from across the street than the comfort of the residents and visitors alike who appreciated the shade the old princess tree used to supply on hot sunny days. My offer of a free five metre tall princess tree for Memorial Park still stands and the upcoming fall season is the perfect time for transplanting.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



August 24, 2020

Weedy White Rock

It wastwo o and a half years ago when White Rock hired arborists under the cover of darkness to move onto Johnston Road and cut down many mature street trees to facilitate upgrades related to tower construction in the uptown area.  After the sawdust had settled the roadway from Thrift to North Bluff saw a major facelift with new trees, curbs, sidewalks and landscaped beds.  While this area is quickly becoming a bit of a concrete canyon with condo towers sprouting everywhere, the new trees are growing well and the hanging baskets look amazing .  Unfortunately, the landscaped beds in this prime portion of White Rock look terrible, are overgrown, infested with weeds and pose a serious traffic hazard.

The main problem with these new landscaped beds is that the landscape architect decided that Canada goldenrod (solidago canadensis) was a good choice to be planted in these areas that see high levels of both pedestrian and vehicular traffic.  Goldenrod is a herbaceous perennial plant from the family Asteraceae that is native to northeastern and north central North America.  It grows in moist or dry fields, along the edges of forests and clearings. beside ponds streams and swamps plus as a weed in cultivated fields.  You can find it along the waterfront in the Semiahmoo peninsula where its golden yellow feathery flowers are prominently displayed during the summer months.  In other parts of the continent it is considered an invasive plant, including in both Asia and Europe.

Along Johnston Road these beds were obviously filled with good quality organic topsoil and the goldenrod has flourished in this location.  It spreads by underground rhizomes and is taking over vast swaths of these landscaped areas.  Probably due to an abundance of nitrogen in the soil plus irrigation, the goldenrod has yet to flower and has grown very dense and tall.  These thickets now block the vision of drivers trying to turn out of parking lots and streets onto Johnston Road.  In a one-hour window I had employees of 3 Dogs Brewery, the Wooden Spoon restaurant and a notary corporation complain about these plants and how they were blocking sight lines of traffic creating a hazard.  Even worse, they all claimed to have reported their concerns to White Rock City Hall many times yet nothing had been done about this safety issue.


Even though the goldenrod is soon going to flower it should be cut down immediately to a manageable height allowing drivers to see oncoming traffic on Johnston Road.  Sometime this fall this vigorous and tall growing plant should all be dug out of the beds all along Johnston Road and replaced with something that is lower growing, less invasive and more manageable.   The three-foot-tall weeds growing in these beds also need to be removed, something that seems to have not been put on anyone's work schedule at the Parks Department.  The Johnston Road beautification project has been mainly positive but these new landscape beds are in need of a major redo before next spring.  If nothing is done these plants will spread out even further exacerbating an already dangerous situation. 

The goldenrod isn't the only weed on Johnston Road that people in White Rock need to be aware of.   On Saturday, the A Little Bud dispensary at 1484 Johnston Road had their official opening as White Rock’s first and only licenced non-medical cannabis retail store.  A Little Bud was selected by White Rock Council as the sole licensed retailer of non-medical cannabis for the City By The Sea, beating out industry heavyweight Choom and even the government run BC Cannabis stores.  Headquartered in Abbotsford by owners Randy Tingskou and his wife Kaleigh, they have worked hard with their management team Martin & Jeremy to get the doors opened after being given the green light back in February.   The store sign has been slightly delayed but you can find them kitty-corner across the street from 3 Dogs Brewery and WR Beach Beer.  A Little Bud follows strict COVID-19 health protocols for staff and customers safety but should you want to shop online you can do so at their website:

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn




August 17, 2020

Talking About A Heatwave


The heat is on, in the street
Inside your head, on every beat
And the beat's so loud, deep inside
The pressure's high, just to stay alive
'Cause the heat is on

Lyrics to "The Heat is On" by Glenn Fry from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack

There is nothing quite like getting an absolute cooker of a day falling on the weekend.  Sunday morning I was up at dawn and out soon after for a nature hike in a local park, glad that I had brought along plenty of ice water since it was surprisingly warm.  I cut my trek short when I realized I was sweating to death especially when the sun started to climb higher into the sky.  When I arrived home just in time for breakfast I got my first look at the forecast for the day that included not one but the following two special statements from Environment Canada.

Special weather statement in effect for Metro Vancouver:Brief Hot Spell for the Lower Mainland region.
A ridge of high pressure has been building over southern BC this weekend with temperatures peaking today and then gradually declining as the week progresses.  Today will be the hottest day with daily maximum temperatures reaching the mid-30s, particularly in Howe Sound and the eastern Fraser Valley. Overnight temperatures will be in the high teens.
Temperatures on Monday will remain high, however weak inflow from the Pacific Ocean will prevent temperatures from reaching the values expected by late this afternoon.  Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada. To report severe weather, send an email to or tweet reports using #BCStorm.

Special air quality statement in effect for Metro Vancouver:  Hot and humid weather conditions are creating elevated pollution levels.

High levels of air pollution have developed. A special air quality statement is in place due to high levels of air pollution. Hot and sunny conditions have resulted in increasing ground-level ozone concentrations in the above regions. High risk AQHI values are expected to persist for 1 to 2 hours.
An air quality advisory has been issued by Metro Vancouver for eastern sections of Metro Vancouver as well as the Fraser Valley due to high concentrations of ground level ozone. These high concentrations are expected to persist until Monday and potentially longer as the hot weather continues.  Exposure to air pollution is particularly a concern for children, the elderly, and those who have underlying medical conditions such as lung or heart disease.

These alerts coupled with the forecast temperature of 30 degrees for White Rock made for an instant change of plans and we decided it looked like a great time to hit the beach.  Making just a few phone calls we rounded up several family members and a few friends who all wanted to beat the heat.  Since the Ocean Park staircases are still all closed and with one of our group having mobility issues, we drove to Crescent Beach just after noon.  Never in my life had I ever seen so many people and cars in the back roads and alleys.  We were fortunate to locate an empty spot right near the walkway, helping us to limit the distance we had to traverse.  While it appeared that most were social distancing, there were a huge throng of people at Crescent Beach.  

Crescent Rock beach was no different with barely any place left to put down a blanket.  Fortunately, one of our friends had saved us a spot that also featured some shade from a shoreline alder tree.  Due to the high UV rating, we brought along not one but two beach umbrellas, plenty of SPF 50 and a couple of coolers packed with ice and liquid refreshments.  Most of the regular beach goers were there along with plenty of other folks happy to escape the heat and possibly try to put COVID-19 stress behind them for a couple of hours.   When the tide came ripping in the water it brought was bathtub warm from the super-heated sand it had just covered.  As the tide continued to rise up onto the rocks the water did eventually cool down and people flocked into the ocean to get wet and go swimming.

When you live in the Semiahmoo peninsula, in order to get the most out of life and enjoy all of the natural attributes of this area there are several things you have to watch like a hawk.  You need to closely follow a quality weather forecasting service so you know on an hourly basis what kind of conditions you should expect to encounter.  One with doppler weather and futurecast modelling is important so you'll know what to expect, which clothes to wear and when it is time to go home.  Tide charts like the one posted in the WR Sun are also essential so you'll know how far the water will be from shore, at what time the tides are changing and the direction of the current.  This is vitally important if you are planning a trip on a paddleboard or kayak so you are not fighting against the force of the ocean that can turn a leisurely paddle into a major work out.

So enjoy the remaining heat on Monday as our high-pressure ridge will quickly deteriorate leaving us with seasonal temperatures and rain forecast for this Friday.  Not too surprisingly really as the PNE was to have started next Saturday and with the Fair usually comes cooler weather and a good chance of showers.  For all those people who bought new canoes, kayaks and paddleboards this year, better get out on the water and use them while you can because by the end of September beach days here are usually over.  For those sun-worshippers who love a day at the beach, the long range forecast shows this will be the last hot day in August and likely the last heat wave of the summer.  

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



August 10, 2020

Garbage Goofs


I'vealways loved the great outdoors and have respect for the natural world and the environment we live in.  When I go out for a walk in a park or a hike in a wild area, I pick up and dispose of any litter I find along the way.  This can sometimes include stubby beer bottles from back in the 1970's that I occasionally come across.  When I go camping (usually in a wilderness location, not a BC Parks site), I bring along a rake and shovel to ensure that my campsite is cleaner than when I found it and spotless when I leave.  Unfortunately the problem with idiots, morons and goofs leaving garbage in the bush has now reached the stage that my newest camping supplies are litter tongs and industrial garbage bags.


Last weekend my wife and I decided to head up mid-week to Harrison Lake where we have camped plenty of times in the past.  We used to head up into the hills on the east side of the lake to visit the Clear Creek hot springs but after finding it trashed multiple times by drunken young people, we found it easier to simply relax in the hot tub at home.   This time we headed to a jetty beach by Silver River that we have visited in the past as it affords some relief from the mosquitos that are often present when the Fraser River is running high.  This was the week after the BC Day long weekend so there were very few people around and lots of peace and quiet.  While the view of the lake was fantastic, the shape of the waterfront camping spot we had selected was far from pristine.

(cleanup complete)

When we drove out onto the parking area at the end of the jetty there were multiple tarps flapping in the breeze from where they had been left from someone's camping enclosure.  Next to these was a large deflated air mattress and a couple of busted lawn chairs.  All around the jetty were multiple campfire spots, most of them containing burned broken beer bottles.  Note to the uninitiated or dimwitted; cans are light weight, do not break and can be crushed to take up less space when leaving the woods.  Why anyone would want to bring glass bottles up camping is simply beyond me.  At one particularly littered camp site there were dozens of blue latex gloves on the ground, showing someone was concerned about catching COVID-19 but not about cleaning up their possibly contaminated mess.


There were even worse things left lying on the ground throughout this beautiful camping area.  Several cannisters of used up bug spray, some spray paint and empty propane cannisters had been left in one of the fire pits.  Some of the logs and rocks had been tagged, allowing some low-life to leave his mark so everyone would know what a loser they are.  One of these camp fires had not been properly extinguished and was still smoking with hot coals when we arrived, posing a serious fire threat to the nearby forests in strong winds.   A large pile of safety glass had been left on the beach, likely from where someone had locked their keys in their vehicle and had to smash one of the windows to gain access.  Needless to say that by the end of our time in this beautiful spot, all of the mess and garbage was magically cleaned up.


The caretaker of the nearby logging camp that I have known for almost 20 years came down to say hi and marvel at the condition of our rather large campsite.  He told us that he used to clean up after all of the pigs but had finally given up after ten years of playing campground custodian,  He went on to inform us that during the long weekend a large group of young people had been partying on the jetty and had shot a red-headed turkey vulture.  These are a protected species in Canada because they clean up carrion and dead animals from the forest, roadsides and shorelines.  There had been a large flock of ten of these majestic birds of prey that would circle at the end of Silver River every day but now there are only nine due to the selfish idiocy of someone who decided to use one for target practice with a high-powered rifle.


When we drove out of the bush chock-a-block full of other people's garbage, we drove past the Cogburn Recreation site.  It is clearly marked for people to take their garbage with them and yet there were literally hundreds of bags left over from the long weekend party that went on there.  Many of these bags had been ripped open and the contents strewn around, likely by black bears attracted to the feeding frenzy.   We got home in time to watch the news with Global TV featuring a report on partygoers using the Harrison River as a garbage dump that included a fully set up beer-pong table.   All of this reminded me of Elgin Park and Earl Marriott grads who trashed park grounds four and six years ago respectively and then got trashed on social media for their disgusting anti-social behavior


Forest Service Roads are always patrolled by Conservation Officers, Fisheries officers, Fire Protection Wardens, the RCMP, park rangers and campsite managers.  Since it takes a vehicle to access these wilderness campsites, I think it is time that these protectors of our forests start taking pictures of all the licence plates of cars and trucks at wilderness campsites.  If partygoers decide to leave a mess in the bush then police should be able to have their vehicles towed or have ICBC cancel their insurance until heavy fines are paid.  At the very least, having those in authority taking pictures of licence plates and camp sites might make these morons think about the consequences of their selfish actions.  I believe that if this problem is not tackled eventually we are going to start seeing many of our back roads closed to the public camping in order to protect the ecosystem along our lakes and streams.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



August 03, 2020

Bitter About Quitters

You know you are possibly crazy when you run for public office with only a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting elected.  I should know, I've done it myself not once but twice.   That being said, there are political ideologies that need to be represented in a democracy and voters that wish to cast their ballots for the parties that they believe in.  If you are well known in the community, are bright and articulate plus well liked, you might even run as an independent and get elected but I wouldn't count on it.  At the end of the day, whether civic, provincial or federal, those running for public office do so to serve their constituents in their riding to the best of their abilities.  It should come as no shock to anyone that this job comes with a mandate of four year's time, less if an election is called early or the governing party fails in a confidence vote.


So what gives with the South Surrey White Rock riding and the quitters we elect to represent us?  This started back in 2015 when Dianne Watts decided not to run for re-election as Mayor of Surrey and announced she would instead be seeking the Conservative Party of Canada nomination to replace retiring MP Russ Hiebert.  Watts won this riding in October of 2015, the only Conservative candidate elected in Surrey with the others electing Liberal candidates.  Unfortunately for Dianne, Steven Harper's Conservatives were defeated by the resurgent liberals and their new poster boy Justin Trudeau.  Instead of getting a plum cabinet position, Mrs. Watts found herself as a backbencher in the ranks of the official opposition.  Less than two years into her role as our Member of Parliament, Mrs. Watts resigned in order to run for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party, which after five rounds of voting went to Andrew Wilkinson.


In May of 2017 the last BC General Election was held and BC Liberal Tracy Redies prevailed to become the MLA for this riding.  As with Dianne Watts, she bet on the wrong horse to win the race with the BC NDP taking over the reins of power.  It was announced last week that Mrs. Redies would be resigning her set in the legislature on August 31st, three years into her first term.  It turns out that the former President and CEO of Coast Capital is quitting her MLA job to take on the job as CEO of Science World in Vancouver.   Now I understand that Mrs. Redies has had some serious health concerns after suffering heart failure from a virus she contracted in Brazil last year.  Her wish to be closer to home and family rings a little hollow when she doesn't resign for health reasons but jumps into another CEO position.  If my health was a concern and I wanted to spend more time with friends and family, I would retire and do just that, not seek a high pressure job managing a high profile building such as Science World whose budget is in shambles from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Premier John Horgan now has six months to call a by-election for the Surrey - White Rock riding, that is if he doesn't call for an early election to take advantage of the NDP's increased popularity due to their handling of the pandemic in this province.  The big question is who will want to step forward and throw their hat in the ring?  Keep in mind that this riding has voted Liberal for the past seven elections, with Mrs. Redies winning by a large margin in 2017.  There is a chance that Gordie Hogg could consider coming out of retirement yet again to represent us but I would think that would be highly unlikely and his wife Laverne would probably kill him.  The scuttle buttle on the street is that Dianne Watts might consider running as the candidate with the goal of toppling Andrew Wilkinson as a leader who already has knives pointed at his back.  I've also heard rumors that former White Rock Councillor Grant Meyer may be interested in trying to get the Liberal nod, while well-known environmental lawyer Pixie Hobbie has to be considered for either the NDP or Green candidate.


The big issue I have with people quitting from their elected position (usually when they find themselves on the opposition side of the floor) is they stick the taxpayers with the tab for the by-election.  Elections Canada has estimated a federal byelection will cost an average of $892,000 per riding in 2020.  I couldn't find a price tag for a provincial by-election but I will be asking Elections BC for a cost estimate.  If politicians quite their jobs and trigger costly by-elections, then I believe they shouldn't come sniffing around trying to get their nose back in the public trough.  Proper morals, ethics and etiquette means that if the job isn't what you had imagined, you serve out your term and don't run again.  The only silver lining in the resignation of Tracy Redies is that it has been announced that Stephanie Cadieux, the Liberal MLA for Surrey South, will handle constituency business and field questions and concerns related to the Surrey - White Rock riding until a new MLA is elected.  Truly a class act and certainly not a quitter, it's great knowing we can count on her about issues affecting residents of the Semiahmoo peninsula.


Naturally yours, 

Don Pitcairn



July 26, 2020

Fatten The Curve

So summer is finally here, we are in a heat wave and Environment Canada has posted a Special Weather Statement for Metro Vancouver warning of temperatures into the mid 30's for the next few days.  Normally such forecasts would mean that the local beaches would be packed with sun worshippers and those trying to escape the heat.  Unfortunately during a global pandemic, large crowds of people packed tightly together on public beaches is something that should be avoided at all costs.  If you don't believe me, simply look at Italy, Spain, Florida and California to see what can happen when health warnings are ignored and beaches are packed.  

This weekend Surrey closed off access to Crescent Beach when the Blackie Spit parking lot filled up and crowds of people descended onto the public beach there.  White Rock continues to control beachgoer numbers by restricting parking on Marine Drive, limiting parking time there and keeping the pier and nearby parkade closed to the public.  The Peace Arch Park parking lots remain closed with no access to the waterfront at this corner of the bay.  Can someone please explain to me then why the Semiahmoo First Nation parking lots behind the WAG were packed with vehicles, the gates to the Semiahmoo beach were open and thousands of people were packed onto the shoreline this weekend?  Here is the bulk of the April 8th SFN Press Release about their local state of emergency declaration regarding parking lot and beach closures due to the threat of COVID-19.



The Semiahmoo First Nation is announcing a community wide Fire Ban, as well as the closure of public parking lots and Beach Access located on Semiahmoo Lands.  Semiahmoo First Nation has declared a state of Local emergency in response to COVID 19.  Semiahmoo First Nation is aligning with the Federal and Provincial directives for people to stay home and reduce the risk of the COVID 19 transmission.
The following parking lots will be affected:
• The large parking lot behind Washington Avenue Grill will be closed tonight, Wednesday, April 8th , 2020 at 8:00pm and remain closed until further notice;
• The large parking lot at Peace Arch Park (behind the Peace Arch Duty Free store) will be closed from Thursday, April 9th, at 8:00 AM, and remain closed until further notice as Peace Arch Park is closed to public;
• The parking lot at the Western end of Semiahmoo Reserve on Marine Drive across from the Promenade Hotel will remain closed until further notice;
• Semiahmoo Park Beach access gates will be closed until further notice;

• No beach access from Peace Arch Park until further notice;


Several friends of mine saw the crowds on Semiahmoo First Nation's land on Sunday.  One who drove by reported that the gravel lot was completely jammed while the nearby baseball field was three quarters full.  He estimated there were 700-800 cars and said it reminded him of when they used to hold the Show-n-Shine there.  My other buddy who walked along the sand flats from East Beach told me he had not seen crowds of that size in that location since the old Sandcastle days.  He told me the there was nowhere to place a blanket, no social distancing was taking place and that it was "chock-a-block" full with thousands of people.  Some quick math based on the parked car number estimate means the haul from the gate behind the WAG would have been over $5,000 for SFN coffers from only one day.

We are in the middle of our first summer heat wave and people are going to continue to descend on any open beach in droves.  The Semiahmoo First Nation did not announce on their FB page that they had planned to reopen both the parking lots and waterfront to an unrestricted number of visitors.  To do so threatens to help fatten the curve of COVID-19 infections instead of flattening it.   BC Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry is always asking everyone to do their part to help control the spread of this virus.  The Semiahmoo First Nations were doing exactly that but have now apparently done an about face and decided that crowds of people at the beach are suddenly okay.   I'd like to think that the collective health of our society and that of SFN elders is more valuable than the money raised by having parking lots full of cars during a pandemic.


Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 21, 2020

Nude Beach a Distant Memory

A friend of mine gave me a rather unusual gift last week, something she had kicking around in the junk drawer for around 30 years. It is a brass key tag for locker 28 at the Sunshine Acres Nudist Camp. Now I must admit I'd never heard of the place and an internet search turned up nothing so it was likely long ago before the age of computers. The closest thing around here to it was the Sunny Trails Nudist Club situated in what is now Metro Vancouver's Tynehead Park in north Surrey. With my new antique key tag now being used for my work truck, I thought it would be worthy giving out the grim news about accessing the clothing-optional Crescent Rock Beach here in south Surrey this summer.

When the COVID-19 crisis first hit, the Christopherson Steps in Crescent Heights, 1001 Steps staircase plus the Olympic trail in Ocean Park were still open with people utilizing them as a mini-Grouse Grind. It did not take long for the City of Surrey to close these trails because of a lack of width under the 2 metre safe limit. Unless you know some of the really hidden goat trails or are lucky to have stairs of your own from the top of the bluff, it is now very difficult to get to Crescent Rock Beach. With the Coldicutt Ravine closed due to landslide damage and unstable terrain, Crescent Rock is now accessible from either end. You can reach it from the west end of West Beach in White Rock or by heading south from Crescent Beach past the metal pedestrian overpass. When the tide is not miles out, some enterprising nudists and naturists bring boats, kayaks and paddelboards down instead of taking the long rugged walk. This also means that leaving is a snap during high tide when much of the beach disappears under the water forcing people to scramble on the rip-rap boulders that protect the rail corridor from erosion.

I had been asked by several people as to when Surrey was planning on reopening the stairs to Crescent Rock. Since we are in Phase 3 of the re-opening plan, there was some hope that Surrey would take some of the pressure of Crescent Beach by reopening the staircases to the shoreline between White Rock and Crescent. I contacted the Surrey Parks Department on Monday and was told that due to social distancing measures still in effect (the 2 metre spacing) that the staircases were still considered too narrow for people to safely use. I asked if they had considered having people going downwards stick to the right side, folks climbing up on the opposite side, with those heading up stopping on the level platforms giving way to those heading down the steps. I was informed that different scenarios had been looked at but with some health nuts formerly utilizing the staircases for exercising and others failing to yield to people on the stairs, it was decided it was best to keep the gates locked shut with no opening planned.

Wreck Beach in Vancouver is part of the Metro Vancouver Pacific Spirit Regional Park and they have developed a novel approach to keep access open at this time. What they have done is to mark Trail 6 for only going down to the beach, with nearby Trail 4 and 7 reserved for only going up. This means that one of the world's top 10 nude beaches that normally attracts visitors from over 150 countries and generates an estimated $60 million in tourist revenue annually can still remain open to the public. Of course the 2 metre social distancing rule is still in effect at this time and for the foreseeable future at Wreck Beach. Unfortunately such a scenario would not work at Crescent Rock because of the distance between the staircases and the proximity of the BNSF Railway tracks that attract people to walk on its level surface. With the hidden curves along the waterfront and quiet Amtrak trains, it is a dangerous place to take a hike and is considered trespassing with fines issued by the RCMP costing $115 for a first offense.

For now there are a couple of options if you want to try nude sunbathing, skinny-dipping and to get rid of those pesky tan lines. You can take a shoreline hike from West beach in White Rock approximately 1.5 km to past the closed Coldicutt Trail where you will find the shoreline outcrop known as Hermit's Haven. It really is amazing how far you have to go these days to get some peace, quiet and freedom. The other option is to walk in from Crescent Beach in south Surrey. This means biking, taking a bus, or parking in the village if it is not closed to visitors because of crowding. Parking along Bayview St. is a good idea since it is before the tracks but finding a spot there is sometimes difficult. A unique way of bypassing these problems is to visit the Crescent Heights neighbourhood near Seabrook Drive and take the Sandy Trail that winds down the bluff from the corner of Crescent Drive (Not Crescent Road) and Cedar Drive. This trail empties you onto Bayview St. at McBride Ave. across from the train crossing. From there it is about a 15 minute walk south on the shore until you pass the Crescent Rock boulder and start to meet people relaxing in their natural state.

As a final note, please stay off the BNSF tracks and check the tide tables before you go to Crescent Rock beach. Take plenty of fluids and sunscreen plus a beach umbrella for high UV days and make sure you pack everything out with you.

For more information about Surrey's legal clothing-optional beach visit the Surrey's United Naturists website at this link:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 13, 2020

Showing a Little Tact

Have you ever been walking the streets and wondered what the yellow Lego-like mats placed into the concrete where sidewalks ramp into intersections are all about? I had assumed they were better grip in icy conditions in winter or possibly to provide better traction for the tires of wheelchairs. It turns out that neither of these ideas was correct and after a little sleuthing on the internet, I had the answer to this puzzle. Talking to an elderly man at the White Rocks Farmers Market this weekend who was carrying a white and red cane and suffering from macular degeneration really helped to open my eyes to their purpose.

These sidewalk bumps are known as "tactile paving" or "braille blocks" that is used to alert people with vision impairment of approaching streets, grade changes or hazardous areas. The textured ground surface indicators are also known as tenji blocks, truncated domes, tactile tiles and detectable warning surfaces. These tactile tiles are formed from everything from plastic to concrete and available in a wide variety of colours beyond the usual yellow with maximum visibility compared to the surrounding environment the most important factor. Developed in Japan by inventor Seiichi Miyake in 1965 who created them to help a visually impaired friend navigate around town, they were first installed in Okayama city and spread from there to countries around the world.

There are many patterns associated with tactile paving, each with their own unique message that can be sensed with a cane, felt underfoot or even understood by a seeing eye dog. Blister tactile with rows of small raised domes are utilized for pedestrian crossing to mark where the sidewalk ends and the roadway begins. Offset blister tactile with rows of raised dots spaced offset to each other is used as a platform edge warning surface, indicating drop-offs on rail platforms, light rapid transit platforms and subways. So-called lozenge tactile consisting of rows of long thin bumps is used for marking the platform edge of on street light rapid transit platforms, with this warning device set back at least 50 cm. from the edge. Corduroy hazard warning tactile with a series of parallel bars running across the direction of travel warns vision-impaired people of the presence of steps, level crossings or where a path joins a shared route. Direction tactile with bars running in the direction of pedestrian movement are used to help guide the visually impaired follow a safe route, often through mass transit facilities.

Yellow is the standard colour used in most tactile paving but as long as the colour and materials make for good contrast with the surrounding pavement almost any colour can be utilized. In some jurisdictions nearby companies will install tactile pavers that coordinate with the colour of their building or corporate logo. The only two colours mandated for a specific purpose are red, which is used only with blister tactile to mark a controlled pedestrian crossing, and buff blister tactile that is dedicated for use at uncontrolled pedestrian crossings. If the pavement around these areas is red or tan, then a contrast strip needs to be placed around the blister tactile to make it visible. The newly painted crosswalk at five corners in White Rock may be rainbow coloured but the tactile paving leading the way from sidewalk to roadway is still only yellow.

With only 3% of visually impaired people being totally blind, tactile paving can help those with vision issues improve both their mobility and safety in the urban environment. Besides the various tactile pavers currently available, powered light sources and ones charged by ambient light are also now entering the market, making night time movement safer for pedestrians who still have their full vision. Photoluminescent or glow-in-the-dark tactile paving are also options for use in sub-way stations in the unlikely case of a power outage. Now that you are aware of what the "Lego-like mats" are really for, keep an eye out for them on your travels and imagine how they would improve your walking safety if your eye sight was a long ways from 20/20 or the lights were to suddenly go dark.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


July 06, 2020


" Being Open Is A Wonderful Thing "



The Covid-19 pandemic has caused tremendous economic problems and shut down many businesses, some that are still closed and others struggling to make ends meet with health restrictions in place. Financial institutions were allowed to remain open but with reduced demand, people using online banking and distancing measures in effect, it was not surprising to learn that just like other businesses, some banks had decided to lock their doors.

A friend of mine who lives in the Semiahmoo peninsula does his banking at VanCity, where he has been a customer for 35 years. Obviously he must have been happy with their services or he would not have been such a long and loyal customer of this credit union. Well since Covid came to town, he is now no longer of a fan of Van City. The reason for this is that for the past three months both of the branches in the Semi-Pen, the Semiahmoo Community Branch at 1790 152 St and Morgan Creek Community Branch at 15795 Croydon Drive have been closed. This has meant no face-to-face banking for their members from this region. Why both of these branches were shuttered leaving no physical presence in south Surrey remains a mystery.

The issue for my buddy is he does not do online banking with VanCity because of a data breach back in October of 2018 and another incident where his account was pilfered of $800 without his knowledge and consent. So for the past three months he has made the long drive out to Langley to use the Langley Community Branch located at 20055 Willowbrook Dr. He told me about having to stand in long line-ups with pissed-off business people from the Peninsula who have had to resort to driving to Langley to do their banking. Due to an equipment breakdown on Friday, I drove by this branch on the weekend on the way to the repair shop. Just like the picture my friend had earlier sent me, there was a long lineup of people, spaced at six feet apart down the sidewalk, waiting to do their banking.

The problem with this is that even though they were open the hours had been reduced and the branch could not handle the overflow crowds driving out from south Surrey and White Rock. Making matters even worse a sandwich board advertising the branch hours of 9:30 am to 3:00 pm also stated "We regret that we cannot serve members waiting outside after 3:00 pm." The average time that my friend spent in line to do his banking was 40 minutes, not counting the driving time there and back. Really rubbing salt in the wound, Van City recently started a television ad campaign with the slogan "Being OPEN is a Wonderful Thing." I'm rather surprised after spending time after time running out to Langley to cash his cheques that he did not put his foot through his TV. 

Fortunately these long delays will hopefully become a thing of the past as 26 of VanCity's shuttered branches across the Lower Mainland are set to finally reopen this week. The Semiahmoo Mall location will be opening on Tuesday till Saturday with the same 9:30 am to 3pm hours a the Langley Branch. The same cannot be said for the Morgan Heights branch that will continue to have no teller service and safe deposit box access by appointment for only a two hour window, 1-3 pm from Tues to Sat. This comes a little late for my buddy as he has already began to cut his financial ties with VanCity and is in the process of moving his money and insurance services to another financial organization.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


June 29, 2020

Covid Rock

I remember the first time I ever lined up for tickets to a concert. I went to the Concert Box Office at the corner of Georgia and Richards in Vancouver and sat around on the sidewalk all Friday night waiting for a chance to purchase Foreigner tickets. In the days before computers if you wanted front row seats, this is how you got them. It was a pretty eventful night, met a new girlfriend and picked up eight tickets in the second row. After finding out how much fun it was seeing a concert from up close, I was a regular at the CBO buying tickets for many concerts including some where I had the coveted front row center seats. I'll never forget lining up for a concert sale at Willowbrook Mall only to find out that I was the only person there to buy tickets when the kiosk opened. Hard to beat the Tragically Hip at the Town Pump in Gastown for the heady price of only $13.50 a ticket. An absolutely historic show and if you don't believe me, just ask WR Sun editor Dave Chesney as he was there too, many years before we first met.

Technology has certainly changed the music and recording industry over the years and the COVID-19 pandemic is now causing seismic shifts in the way that music is performed, produced and distributed. Launched two years ago in Vancouver, Sessionwire ( allows musicians and recording personnel to collaborate live in real time with anyone across the world plus mix and record music integrating various recording software. For a starving artist who is having trouble finding a gig, the world is now their oyster with bands available across the planet. Not only does this mean a huge decrease in travel and associated costs, it also provides unlimited access to clients with a broader range of talents and musical skills than what might be available in the local market. Of course right now in the midst of a global pandemic this software tool means people don't have to meet face to face, eliminating the change of infection. Sessionwire already has over 5,000 clients including Randy Backman (Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive), Chris Baseford (Nickelback, Shinedown, Rob Zombie) and Kevin Killen (Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, 8 time Grammy Award Winner). You can watch Global TV's Squire Barnes interview Colin Wiebe about Sessionwire at this link:

If you watch the above YouTube video you will likely notice it was recorded inside the famed Blue Frog Studios in uptown White Rock. With Covid restrictions this music production studio was closed for some time but as with many businesses has reinvented itself and found a way to once again bring music to the masses. Starting last Month BF has been holding "virtually live concerts" with artists performing without a live audience but having their shows streamed live to those who have purchased tickets to view these shows. Full Covid-19 protocols, social distancing and cleaning are done at the studio to keep artists and crew members safe and healthy. The next gig on July 4 features the legendary blues master Jim Byrnes, followed a week later on July 11 by the Kingpins and on July 18 by Ladies Sing The Blues. You can support live music, enjoy these shows from the safety and comfort of your couch while drinking the beverage of your choice, all for only $14.50 for the early bird price. In case you missed a show or want to watch a performance from their extensive catalogue then Blue Frog TV is your answer, giving you access to their video trove. Record World recently gave Blue Frog kudos as "Canada's first & only produced LIVE-streamed concert series with premium production, incredible acoustics and stunning visuals."

Canada Day this year will be missing many of he large public attractions that we are used to with virtual celebrations being held online instead. Once again it is Blue Frog Studios to the rescue with The Washboard Union headlining performing courtesy of the City of White Rock. You do not need to purchase tickets or sign up for Blue Frog TV for this show as it will be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube. You can check the following link for details of this show that is available online from 7-9 pm on July 1st: With the regular Canada Day celebrations in Cloverdale being cancelled, the City of Surrey has also joined the virtual Canada Day celebrations with an online celebration hosted by hockey great Haley Wickenheiser that is live from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. for the kid’s and senior’s segment, and regular programming from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., broadcasted on Facebook and YouTube Live ( While Said The Whale, Mother Mother and The Beaches have recently pulled out have pulled out of the event as a political protest over efforts to combat systemic racism, this show still headlines 54-40, Bif Naked and Colin James.

I do love live music and always like going to see a concert but I must admit that watching a live show from the comfort of the new couch with built in recliners that is being delivered to our house tomorrow sounds rather appealing. No traffic jams, no crowds, no pushing one's way to the front of the crowd plus being immersed in the clouds of BC bud being smoked. It is likely that online concerts with viewership in the millions might become the wave of the future, allow us to stay home and "help fatten the curves" as I now love to say. As far as the deafening firework shows that always end Canada Day celebrations, I wonder how long it will be before these smokey affairs that scare the bejesus out of our pets get replaced by colourful 3-D animations done by clouds of autonomous drones packed with colour changing LED lights. I you think this sounds like far-fetched science fiction, check out this video of a drone show in China that was part of their 2019 International Big Data Industry Expo: Now imagine such a display above the White Rock pier on a starry night with calm seas in the bay and the show matched to music being performed live from Blue Frog.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



June 23, 2020

Steps To A Solid Foundation


When COVID-19 closures began the various staircases and trails down the Ocean Park bluff remained open, providing access to the shoreline for those seeking a more remote beach than the public marine parks of White Rock and Crescent Beach. Unfortunately these staircases attracted a crowd including people intent on using them as their own personal Stairmaster when the gyms were also closed. With widths of less than 2 metres except on the various landings it did not take long for the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave. and the 1001 Steps at the west end of 15A Ave. to finally be closed on April 8th. In White Rock the Coldicutt Trail was already closed because of landslide damage and unsafe slopes resulting from a severe rain storm at the end of January. Interestingly, the Olympic Trail on 13 Ave. near 131 St. in Ocean Park was not originally closed, likely because very few people except neighbourhood residents know of its existence, but it is now locked.

Regardless of the global pandemic, the Christopherson Steps were going to be closed to the public this spring. King tides combining with waves from winter storms along with large logs that acted as battering rams had seriously eroding the base of the elevated metal walkway at the beach. The original Steps had been made of steel with a thick concrete base but after the foundation was smashed, temporary repairs were made with thick wooden timbers put in place to help support the staircase and ensure it was safe for pedestrians to use. When the large "Renovation of Christopherson Steps" sign was erected by Surrey earlier this year, I wondered if the foundation repairs would be completed during the COVID-19 closure. Fortunately it turns out that this was indeed the case and we now are only waiting for the pandemic restrictions to be relaxed and the stairs unlocked.

The problem with fixing the Steps was access for equipment, removal of debris, plus delivery of the tonnes of rebar, concrete and boulders that would be necessary to complete the needed repairs. Bringing all of this material down the stairs would have been impossible and using trucks on the beach would put people at risk while possibly damaging the environment. Fortunately the BNSF Railway tracks run right behind the Christopherson Steps and the railway was enlisted to help with repairing this structure. Crews first brought in protective fencing to keep the public away from the work area and removed the temporary wooden shoring. Once this was done they excavated a wide area all around the original slab to hold the new footing for the steel staircase. Wooden forms were brought to the scene and installed with cages of rebar steel wired into position within the hollow. The concrete was again brought in on the train tracks and poured into position where the construction workers gave it a smooth finish.

After giving the concrete time to set all of the forms were removed revealing the huge concrete block that is double the size of the original. Once all of the construction materials and debris was removed large flat stones were positioned to act as steps leading to the top of the block, something that was sorely missing from the original design. Lastly rip-rap boulders similar to the ones that line the railway from Crescent Beach to White Rock were placed around the new foundation to help it from getting damaged from future storms. One look at the completed repairs left me wondering why this important support structure was built so small in the first place, especially in such a vulnerable location. Even with global warming and sea level rise, the new Christopherson Steps foundation should protect the staircase for years to come.

There are other trail systems and older homeowner built staircases on the Ocean Park bluff but because of the steepness of these trails and the dilapidated state of many of the stairs, I will not be commenting on their locations and do not endorse their use. Since Crescent Rock Beach can at present only be reached safely from either White Rock or Crescent Beach, many people looking to visit their favourite spot on this clothing-optional shoreline are now walking on the tracks instead of the shore. The BNSF have stepped up patrols with ride-a-long RCMP officers who are handing out $115 tickets to many people for trespassing on the railway. I was at the Crescent Rock boulder on Monday and saw two people waking on the tracks get stopped and fined. Since it is likely to be a while until the staircases are reopened, make sure to check the tide charts posted daily in the White Rock Sun before heading to the beach so you'll know when the tide is out and there is shoreline to walk on.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



June 15, 2020

Party on the Patio

Those patio lanterns
They were the stars in the sky
Those patio lanterns
Lighting up our lives
Those patio lanterns
They were the stars in the sky
Those patio lanterns
Lighting up our lives
Oh, those patio lanterns

Lyrics to "Patio Lanterns" written by Kim Mitchell, Shaking Like a Human Being album, 1985

How many times this year have you heard the Covid-19 rallying cry "We are all in this together"? Well just like how some people can catch the Corona virus and not even show symptoms while others suffer a wide assortment of ailments leading to death, businesses are also affected (infected?) differently. By far the most damaged sectors of our economy are travel, hospitality, entertainment, bars and restaurants. Some of these businesses may never be the same, others will be lucky if they recover and many more will have to close their doors forever. Now that Covid-19 restrictions are slowly being lifted it makes sense that businesses that have born the brunt of the economic shutdown are given the most help to get their doors open, people rehired and cash flow back on track.

Many restaurants closed their doors to customers coming in for a meal but have managed to stay afloat by delivering food or having customers come by and pick it up. Now they get to reopen to the public but with social distancing in effect, meaning that many have to cut their interior tables by over half. In order to make up for lost seating, many restaurants are looking to enlarge their patio spaces for the summer months to improve their customer capacity. Cognizant of the difficulties facing the restaurant sector, many cities are waiving fees and expediting the processing of enlarging patios onto sidewalks, parking lots and roadways. The City of Vancouver has waived fees for this process, the City of Delta has recently done the same and the city of Port Coquitlam is offering restaurants there grants of up to $50,000 to help expand patio areas. Unfortunately this is not the case in the big city of Surrey whose helping hand is still reaching for cash.

With reallocating privately-owned parking spaces at commercial properties, no more than half of the stalls can be used for queuing or patios. Accessible parking stalls cannot be repurposed or relocated. The parking to patio application necessitates a simple sketch plan of the proposed outdoor space being converted along with landowner approval, proof of insurance, and an indemnification waiver. There is also a $200 application fee for this, however other permit fees for using roads and obstructing traffic will not be charged. Tables and chairs, patio umbrellas, propane heaters, moveable planters and fencing are allowed but businesses cannot build or install structures requiring a building permit. Already we are starting to see the transformation from parking lot to patios with the venerable Ocean Park Pizza and Village Pub south Surrey turning tables on their competition with a spacious parking lot patio at the rear of their building.

If a restaurant wishes to expand their patio onto city owned sidewalks or roads, then the cost quickly gets prohibitive. Besides the same $200 application fee there is a $500 damage deposit, a $500 traffic safety cost for both local and low-traffic roads. If the area in question is an arterial road of high-traffic collector road involving the installation of heavy concrete jersey barriers to safely separate people from traffic then the cost has been estimated at a whopping $1,400 per parking stall. It remains to be seen if these fees stop restaurateurs from expanding their patio footprint. The recently formed Surrey Economic Recovery Task Force, comprised of the Surrey Board of Trade and a number of business improvement associations across Surrey and White Rock, believes that these costs are prohibitive to most businesses and want to see them reduced or eliminated. In total the SERTF represents a total of 9,500 businesses in the region including Surrey's 1,120 restaurants.

Look for these contentious fees imposed by the City of Surrey to come up on this week's Council meeting at Surrey City Hall. Councillor Linda Annis who voted for the Parking to Patios initiative is now concerned after becoming aware of the fees being charged by Surrey. In a Global TV interview she stated “I feel that all fees should be waived. … We need to make it easy for these people that are struggling so much to get back into business. It becomes a real problem because they aren’t paying business taxes then, people have lost their income, people are struggling with employment issues right now - we need to get them back in working.” This all sounds great to me because as much as I would love to see our local restaurants ssucceed, I'm really looking forward to sitting down with friends, ordering a wonderful meal, and getting away from this so-called "new normal."

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



Surrey, B.C. (June 15, 2020): Councillor Linda Annis will introduce a notice of motion at today's virtual council meeting to cancel city fees associated with creating restaurant patio spaces, all part of helping local restaurants survive the economic impact of COVID-19.

"When council approved the idea of helping restaurants create more space by establishing patios, I questioned why we were charging city fees when we knew our restaurants were hurting due to COVID-19," said Annis. "We want our restaurants back in business and that means giving them the chance to open patios as a way to social distance. The fees need to go and the red tape at city hall needs to be cut if this good idea is going to get real traction with our 800 local restaurants. We should be doing everything we can to help our city get back on its feet and that includes giving our restaurants a fighting chance against the economic impact of the pandemic. Most restaurants are having really tough go and the last thing they need to worry about right now is having to pay fees to city hall to save their businesses."

Annis said she will also introduce a second notice of motion today aimed at giving Surrey's neighbourhood Business Improvement Associations a portion of their funding this summer, rather than having to wait until city hall has collected all of the city's property taxes.

"Our local BIAs are an important part of our economic development and we need them intact to help our city recover. BIA revenues are tied to property taxes and because the city is allowing people to defer taxes due to COVID-19, the city wants to defer paying the BIAs," said Annis. "I believe that rather than not paying the BIAs anything at all, we should pay out a portion of what we owe based on what we collect by the normal tax date of July 2. In other words, if the city has collected 70 per cent of taxes by July 2 then we should pay the BIAs 70 per cent of what we owe them, rather than making them wait."

Annis said recovering from the economic impact of COVID-19 means being more flexible and creative, including doing things differently at city hall.

"City hall needs to be a real partner in Surrey's economic recovery," said Annis. "It means working closely with our business community to make sure we get local businesses and people back to work as quickly as possible."



June 08, 2020

8 Min. 46 Sec. That Shook The World

The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers that sparked anger against racism and police brutality across the world has even brought protest to our little corner of the world. On Sunday I witnessed three ladies standing at the corner of 152 St. and 32 Ave. holding up Black Lives Matter signs with passing drivers honking horns in support and giving them the thumbs up. This impromptu demonstration obviously paled in comparison to the 1,500 people who showed up at Centennial Square in Victoria or the 5,000 strong throng in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery last week. That being said, I thought their grass-roots display of support for this cause in south Surrey was heart-warming and deserved to be noted.

In Canada we like to think that we do not have a problem with police brutality and racism against people of colour by the RCMP and other police forces. Unfortunately the record here is not exactly lily white if you pardon the rather uncomfortable pun. Fortunately for incidents involving police forces across BC that result in serious injury or death, since 2012 these are investigated by the Independent investigations Office (IIO) that was modeled after Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, and Serious Incident Response Teams in both Alberta and Nova Scotia. Complaints that do not involve serious injury or death are handled here by the BC Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP or the Military Police Complaints Commission. Check out Wikipedia's list of excessive police force incidents in Canada at the following link:

There is now a public push to have the RCMP and other Canadian police forces wear body cameras that record both sound and audio. These would help to bring extra evidence to criminal proceedings and clarification as to whether police actions were justified and legal. There is a online petition titled "Require the BC RCMP to wear body cameras" that to date already has over 20,000 signatures. The goal of the petition is to “have the Solicitor General of B.C. (and other provinces) change the requirements around body cameras to protect those most at risk of police mistreatment.” Over 70,000 people have signed a petition to have Halifax police wear body cameras and a similar petition in Toronto has generated 80,000 signatures. Some police forces are already making this change with Calgary police and Ontario's Peel Regional police supplying their officers with this new technology. The head of the IIO, Ron MacDonald, recently stated "At this point in time, it’s my view that all front-line officers in this country should be equipped with body cameras.”

Mayor Doug McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition seems to be trying to ride the tide of public disgust with racism and police violence, sending out tweets and running Google ads with anti-RCMP messages. Last week they distributed links to a Globe and Mail story that ran in November of 2019 under the title of "More than one-third of people shot to death over a decade by RCMP officers were Indigenous” Of course this story does not delve into the fact that that the RCMP patrol many smaller towns across Canada and over 600 First Nation Reserves, likely skewing these results. That said, criminologists have voiced concern over studies that show Indigenous people are seriously injured or fatally shot by police forces across Canada at much higher rates than other visible minorities. This is not just an RCMP problem, it is an issue for all Canadians concerned with the treatment of First Nation peoples.

The Safe Surrey Coalition smear campaign against the RCMP was plainly visible with a tweet and facebook post accusing several RCMP members of murder and evidence tampering. The post read “Poorly trained RCMP murder a defenseless man and then delete video evidence to cover up their crime.” This was in reference to an IIO release recommending charges against five RCMP officers in Prince George in connection to an arrest in 2017 where a man died after being pepper-sprayed. The Safe Surrey social media accounts were quickly cleansed of the inflammatory comment but not before the damage was done. Mayor McCallum claimed he did not know about the tweet and that it was posted by a staffer without his prior approval. The officer-in-charge of the Surrey RCMP, Brian Edwards, emailed his members that he was "deeply disturbed that the Safe Surrey Coalition would endorse such a communique and that this type of commentary is unfair to all RCMP members.”

Pretty tough time to be a cop in Surrey. People are looking at the police with mistrust, branding them as racist, violent and untrustworthy because of the death of George Floyd and the resulting media shit-storm over protests and riots. Now we have had two incidents of the Safe Surrey Coalition taking pot-shots at the RCMP on their social media sites, likely in response to the Keep The RCMP In Surrey signs sprouting up on boulevard lawns across the city. I personally find it ridiculous for the Mayor and his team to be bashing the RCMP when they hope to hire these same members to staff their new Surrey Police Force. I know a few front-line officers at both the RCMP and VPD and they tell me they would not be interested in working in Surrey with the poisoned political climate and a mayor who has the RCMP in his cross-hairs.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



June 01, 2020

Shooting Off About Surrey

Baby, close your eyes and listen to the music
Drifting through a summer breeze
It's a groovy night and I can show you how to use it
Come along with me and put your mind at ease
A little less conversation, a little more action, please
All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark
Lyrics to "A Little Less Conversation", performed by Elvis Presley in the 1968 movie "Live a Little, Love a Little."

Put a pan of cold water on the stove and turn it onto high. As the temperature starts to increase you will notice small bubbles begin to form on the surface of the metal. When the water gets hotter they will get into a more agitated and excited state, bubbling wildly before the water finally starts to boil. This is about where my blood was at last week when I found out about the following two Surrey stories.

Amicable: relating to behaviour between people that is pleasant and friendly,

The Abby Lane Amica seniors complex in south Surrey on 16 Ave. recently hired an Elvis impersonator to perform for the the residents of this retirement and seniors complex. This show was part of Amica’s national #SmilesForSeniors campaign aimed at combating feelings of loneliness and isolation for seniors who are housebound and isolated due to restrictions from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ersatz Elvis performed Elvis's greatest hits in the courtyard with residents on the balconies above enjoying the fresh air, the music, and a chance to be entertained. Unfortunately a few of the elderly residents in the apartment building across the 16 Ave./North Bluff Rd. divide in White Rock objected to the amplified music and oblivious of the many smiling faces on the balconies at Abby Lane, complained about the noise to Surrey city hall.

I should note here that the same Elvis impersonator also performed for seniors at the Amica complex in North Vancouver without any disparaging discourse from their neighbours. Last month Mark Donnelly, aka Mr. O'Canada from White Rock sang the national anthem for residents of Abby Lane with residents joining in on the singing. No word on if neighbours Jacqueline Lewis and Ellen Canesso from across the street in White Rock complained about this display of Canadian patriotism. Abbey Lane has also provided their residents with aerobic instructors in the front courtyard with music and moves to residents on the balconies so they can get stretching and exercising during the COVID-19 pandemic. I would think that with freedom of movement basically curtailed inside of Abby Lane and all efforts focused on keeping residents healthy, that people would applaud such moves.

Surrey's loud-music bylaw states "No person shall play or operate any radio stereophonic equipment or other instrument or any apparatus for the production or amplification of sound either in or on private premises or in any public place in such a manner as to disturb the quiet peace rest enjoyment, comfort or convenience of the neighbourhood or of persons in the vicinity." Surrey Bylaw officials have written Amica's head office in Toronto to warn them to stop or face fines between $100-$2000 a day. Because of this, all outdoor activities in the courtyard have now been cancelled including a planned upcoming Canada Day celebration for the seniors. I guess White Rock will soon reciprocate by banning all future Wings over White Rock, Canada Day fireworks plus Concerts at the Pier when the Covid crisis is over.

Hello Surrey bylaws department, why are you bending over backwards for a bunch of withered whiners from across the street in White Rock? You should serve the people that pay your bills in Surrey, not those who pay property taxes to another city. A smarter idea would have been to tell this old biddies to make their complaints to the bylaw department of White Rock. Considering the enjoyment the performances have brought to retirees at Abby Lane during the Covid crisis, common sense should have prevailed, the music been toned down and the performances allowed to continue. I have had people make complaints to me regarding my services and when I find out they are not from the properties I work on, I quickly tell these squeaky wheels in very undiplomatic terms to get lost and find another hobby.

Flushing $44 Million Away

When Safe Surrey was campaigning there was little talk about the cost of some of their election promises, such as ditching the RCMP for a private police force or changing from LRT to elevated Skytrain. We now know that the Surrey Police Farce will cost us millions for even less cops on the street, resulting in "Keep The RCMP In Surrey" signs sprouting like mushrooms on lawns throughout the city. Now comes word on the change from LRT to Crimetrain will cost Surrey $44 million just to get back to ground zero.

On May 28 the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation released the Surrey Compensation Agreement Update with the details and costs associated with the change from Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT to the Surrey-Langley Skytrain. The agreed to value covering the costs associated with this change was pegged at $39 million with an additional $5 million dependent on the selection of the future rapid transit option for King George Blvd. The proposed compensation sources include the city owned property needed for the project pegged at $11.4 million, lands dedicated by city purchase at $5.5 million, park & ride spaces at 12.8 million and $9.3 million of Surrey taxpayer dollars. If this sounds like a lot of money to you, consider that TranLink spent $54 million to plan the original LRT system in Surrey.

Now for the kicker. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum confirmed that this agreement had been approved between the City of Surrey and Translink, characterizing the money thrown away as "not unusual for a project of that scale." He is on record as saying "It's pretty standard in big projects that this amount of money has to be given to get the right-of-ways and so forth." Instead of 27 km. of at-grade rail corridors build on three major corridors, we are now looking at four stations and 7 km of Skytrain reaching to Fleetwood with further expansion to Langley planned for the distant future. There currently is no timetable for the repayment of the money owed to Translink but this will be established once the Skytrain extension project goes out for tender.

The total amount of money spent by Translink on the LRT plan was $54,000,000 or the equivalent to $100 for every man, woman and child living in Surrey. Look around your home at how many people are living within your walls and imagine throwing a $100 Borden bill into the toilet for every person and hitting the flush button. It's easy to spend money when its not coming out of your wallet and unfortunately the promises made by Doug McCallum and his dwindling Safe Surrey Coalition come at a big cost for the residents of Surrey. For a look at the Surrey Compensation Agreement Update and the details it contains please visit the following Translink link:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


May 25, 2020

Don Pitcairn

Surrey Politics Make Strange Bedfellows

When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime
But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
When you're lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time
Lovers in a dangerous time

Lyrics to Lovers in a dangerous time, written by Bruce Cockburn, performed in isolation by the Barenaked Ladies "selfiecamjam" below.

Allison Patton/Doug McCallum

I get to hear a lot of scuttlebutt on the streets of the Semi-pen about the behaviour of elected officials but generally I have found that the more grandiose the gossip, the more unlikely that it is true. When you start hearing the same basic story from multiple sources across the community, your radar starts to ping and you begin to question if there is a kernel of truth behind the vitriol. With a disclaimer posted on this column due to issues related to the previous White Rock Council, I don't want to put my head on the chopping block or spend copious amounts of money defending my freedom of speech against frivolous lawsuits. Then comes the day when someone braver, more connected and with deeper pockets throws a big rock in the pool and starts making waves. In this case it was legendary free-lance journalist Bob Makin who on April 30th in posted his opinion piece titled "When the personal intersects with the political, the public has the right to know" at the following link:

This must read article begins with "What is the status of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's relationship with Councillor Allison Patton? Are they merely members of the majority caucus on Surrey city Council? Or is there more to it?" In it Mackin reveals what I had been told from multiple sources, that McCallum and Patton have allegedly been witnessed leaving each others personal residences together. The rumour mill here has been churning up the belief that these two, besides being members of the Save Surrey slate have a professional business relationship or possibly a more personal one after separating from their spouses. Now while I realize this sounds like a twisted version of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" 70's sitcom but once you become aware of the other bizarre news concerning these two, stuff that hasn't received any ink in the Surrey Now or PAN, you really start to wonder what is fact, and what is fiction?

Surrey mayor's office spokesman Oliver Lum provided no details twice earlier this year when questioned about the "McPatton" partnership, offering up the identical response of "The personal affairs of the Mayor is outside the scope of this office." What makes this more galling bordering on nauseating is that Surrey recently passed a new Code of Conduct only last month on April 20th.(

Click here to read the Code of Conduct)

This Corporate Report plainly states "A Council Member shall rigorously avoid situations which may result in claims of pecuniary interest, conflict of interest or bias" and that "Council Members intend to demonstrate their leadership in ethical behaviour and to promote the principles of transparency, accountability and civility through their decisions, actions and behaviour." Ten days after the new Code of Conduct was accepted things really went off the rails for McPatton as word of the weirdness at the Wellness was leaked.

Besides being a Surrey Councillor, Allison Patton is a naturopath who operates from the Mountainview Wellness Centre next to the Semiahmoo Mall. Yes, the same one who was fined and suspended for misusing "physician" title and more recently under fire for posting naturopathic COVID-19 claims. On the evening of April 30th Surrey RCMP officers were called to the front entrance of this business for a "breach of Peace" complaint. Video footage obtained by Postmedia shows McCallum and Patton arguing with a group of people including one of her former business partner Galina Bogatch telling them they are trespassing. Even more interesting is Doug McCallum saying to a uniformed police officer "We just signed a lease here." I should note here that the third naturopath in their former partnership was Caleb Ng, Allison Patton's husband who no longer works at at Mountainview and has announced he is opening up a new business called the west Coast Centre for Regenerative Medicine, only a stone's throw away from his old clinic.

Just when you thought this sordid soap opera couldn't get any stranger, on May 1st the South Surrey and White Rock Chamber of Commerce was holding a COVID-19 update webcast on Zoom. This included Allison Patton from an office inside the Mountainview Wellness Centre adorned in a plastic face shield. In the background a door opens and the head of a man who appears to be Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum enters the room crashing the video call. Mrs. Patton's microphone was muted at the time but she turns and talks to the man who partially retreats out of view before leaving and allowing her to resume her video call. You can check out this so called "Zoom bombing" posted at the bottom of the following column: You be the judge if that is Doug McCallum appearing to play Mayor whack-a-mole, which then begs the question to be asked "What the hell is he doing there?"

There are lots of questions regarding exactly what is the relationship between Mayor Doug McCallum and Councillor Allison Patton and nobody is saying anything with the "Mum's the word" protocol in effect. Unfortunately this story is not going away anytime soon with Dan Fumano writing about Surrey's latest power couple in this weekend's Province and Sun newspapers (see links below plus a Youtube video of the RCMP talking to McPatton). If it really is nothing, then it is time they issue a plausible public denial. If the rumours are true, then some transparency is in order especially when considering the public perception of now these two might vote together at city hall. In this province we have had Gordon Wilson and Judy Tyabji, Gordon Campbell and his Maui wowie, Gregor Robertson and Chinese pop singer Wanting Qu, and Grey Halsey-Brandt who as Mayor of Richmond had both his old wife and new wife as councilors at the same time. Time will tell if we can add Doug McCallum and Allison Paton to this lovely list.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May20, 2020

Devil in the Details


With property tax time upon us in the midst of a global pandemic and forced economic recession due to Covid-19 restrictions, I was glad for the opportunity to once again have the Province of BC pay my property taxes to the City of Surrey. Ever since I turned Freedom 55, I have taken advantage of the ability to not pay my property taxes even though I was financially able to do so. What made this program so appealing and lucrative was the interest rate, set at 0.7% per year and only charging simply interest instead of having it compound. Instead of paying my property taxes, I simply used the money to top up my Tax Free Savings Account or TFSA. The idea was to pad the TFSA and pocket the dollar difference between the TFSA investments and the government's low interest rate.

But whoa Nelly, put the brakes on, hold your horses for one darned minute, not so fast mister. It turns out there was a fly in the ointment that nobody was really advertising and that the interest rate being charged could fluctuate and vary widely. When I first became aware of property tax deferment, the interest rate was 0.7% with the all important simple interest charged along with ultra low yearly fees once the account was set up. This went on for a couple of years while I gleefully rubbed my hands together, paying myself instead of the bean counters at Surrey City Hall. Then a couple of years ago things started to change. In April of 2018 the rate jumped half a percentage point to 1.2%. Six months later in October the rate went up again to 1.45%. While this is not a large number it was a doubling in the interest rate charged in only half a year.

You can probably guess where I am going from here. If you figured that the rate jumped again you would be correct with it now sitting at 1.9 percent. How high can it go, well lets say that the sky is the limit. The rate is based on prime minus 2% and with Ottawa printing money like it was the Kruger mill pumping out toilet paper, who knows how high our interest rates might get. Looking back into the historical rates charged in this program, the lowest rate was in 2009 with a minuscule 0.25% with the highest rate a year before in 2008 at 2.75%. From the lowest to highest rates, this equates to an eleven fold increase, something people might want to think about should rates go on a run like back in 1981 when the prime rate hit 19%. Who was Prime Minister of Canada at the time? None other than Pierre Trudeau, Justin's father.

Now when you consider the average life expectancy in Canada is 81 years old, it would be very easy to rack up a $125,000 property tax debt using an average of $5,000 per year, a figure that may be low for many of the properties in the Semi-Pen. If the stock market tanks (any further), interest rates soar or real estate collapses like a house of cards, the outstanding property tax deferral may eat up a sizeable chunk of the retirement income that people hope to pull out of their homes. Life is full of risks and without having a crystal ball or the Amazing Kreskin forsight, property tax deferment may come back to bite you in the ass over the long haul, especially if the prime rate continues its upward trajectory. At 0.7% interest, getting involved with this program was a no-brainer, if rates hit 7% even simple interest would start adding up quickly.

With the 2020 due date for property taxes in Surrey now pushed back to July 2 it should give residents a little more breathing room and time to consider whether property tax deferral is the right choice for them, especially now in rather uncertain economic times. I'm still going to hedge my bets, using my property tax money to invest in other areas knowing that I can make payments or simply pay off this account at any time, whether we plan to sell our humble abode or not. While our house may be our home, it generally is most people's largest lifetime purchase and should always be treated as such. I still believe that over time the compounding interest of the investments bought with property tax money should greatly surpass the simple interest charged by the BC Property Tax Deferment program.

For more information about property tax deferment in BC, please visit the following links that include a variable interest calculator.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 11, 2020

Stop the Asian Invasion

Being a guy who loves the great outdoors and spends plenty of time outside and in the wilds of British Columbia, I have a long and painful history with yellow jacket wasps and both European and bald-face hornets. This began when I was only in Grade 2 getting swarmed by black and white bald faced hornets after damaging their basketball sized nest. When I was 10 years old, I went to put on my slippers in the fall and was stung on the big toe by a queen bald-faced hornet that I quickly dispatched. Once while building a fort in the bush as teenagers, myself and two friends had to run for our lives after disturbing a huge yellow jacket nest under a rotting log. I even have a permanently damaged quadriceps muscle in my leg that tore while running to escape a black and white cloud of bald faced hornets. On Sunday while pruning a butterfly bush a queen bald face hornet flew out of the branches and stung me in the forehead. All of this is nothing compared to the threat from our new alien invader, the Asian Giant Hornet (Vespa mandarinia), the world's largest hornet.

Here are the background facts about the Asian giant hornet taken from the Invasive Species Council of BC website:
- Asian giant hornets are large headed and can vary in colour from different shades of orange, yellow and brown. Worker hornets are approximately 3.5 centimetres in length and queens can be up to four to five centimetres in length, with a wingspan of four to seven centimetres.
- Four species native to B.C. — the bald-faced hornet, yellow jacket, elm sawfly and northern horntail — are commonly mistaken for Asian giant hornets.
- These Asian giant hornets only nest in the ground, unlike other species of wasps or bees that build nests and hives in trees and/or buildings.
- It is not known how the hornets, which are widely distributed in parts of China, Korea and Japan, arrived on the Island. It is possible they were transported with personal or commercial goods.
- Hornets are generally not interested in humans, pets and large animals. They hunt insects for food, are not attracted by pollen or nectar and only attack when threatened or if their nest is disturbed.
- People who notice a hornet’s nest on their property are advised to avoid it and get professional help in removal.
- If people have allergies to insect stings, they should avoid any contact and carry an epinephrine autoinjector (such as an epipen) during the summer season.
- If a pet is stung by Asian giant hornets only once or twice, treat it the same way as other insect stings — apply cold compresses to reduce swelling and itchiness. If a pet is stung multiple times or has a severe reaction, seek immediate veterinary care.
- The Invasive Species Council of BC is a registered charity committed to reducing the spread and impacts of non-native species within B.C. To report invasive species, a "Report Invasives" mobile phone app is available for download or visit:

The following Information Report about Asian giant hornets was released recently by the BC Ministry of Agriculture:

Be on the lookout for Asian giant hornets this spring and summer

Residents along 0 Avenue (pronounced as "Zero Avenue"), from Surrey to Aldergrove, are asked to report sightings of Asian giant hornets (Vespa mandarinia) that may emerge from their nests in the coming weeks and months.
In December 2019, two specimens were found near Blaine, Wash., and a single specimen was found in White Rock in November 2019. These findings indicate a probability that nesting hornets are overwintering in the area. Wooded habitat, like areas near the Canada-U.S. border, offer suitable hornet nesting grounds.
Residents along 0 Avenue may be the first to notice them.The provincial apiculturist will place hornet traps in the area and distribute pest-alert notices to 0 Avenue residents in the coming weeks, along with information and pictures of the Asian giant hornet and the steps to take if you spot the insect.
Asian giant hornets are large compared to other hornets, with noticeably large orange heads and black eyes. Worker hornets are approximately 3.5 cm in length. Queens can be up to 4 cm to 5 cm in length with a wingspan of 4 cm to 7 cm.The Asian giant hornet is classified as a serious honeybee predator.
Asian giant hornets hunt insects for food and generally are not interested in humans, pets and livestock. When their nest is disturbed, they will attack with painful stings, which can be hazardous to people͛s health.
British Columbians who think they may have seen an Asian giant hornet can report their findings to the Invasive Species Council of BC at 1 888 933-3722, via the council's "Report Invasives" mobile phone app or online:
The Asian giant hornet was first found in British Columbia in August 2019 in Nanaimo. The single nest was located and destroyed.

Now for the bad news. I met up with my sister at my parent's place on Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day, with proper social distancing and no hugging or kissing might I add. I told them about getting stung earlier in the day, showing the still red bump on my forehead and the conversation quickly went from bald face hornets to the Asian giant hornet. It turns out that my sister who lives in Strawberry Heights in Langley near 56 Ave. and 248 St. had an encounter with this huge orange and black insect. She was out pruning her boxwood hedge in late March while the weather was still cool and a giant orange and black hornet measuring over 2 inches long fell out of the foliage and began crawling on the ground. As she described, "It was an oh crap moment" before she stomped this scary looking bug to death. Unsure of what she had seen, she later went online looking at queen wasps and hornets, finding nothing that looked similar. It was only after reading the New York Times article posted in the WR Sun last week about so-called "Murder Hornets" (a sensationalized fabricated nickname) that she realized what she'd destroyed. Her home is 7 miles north as the crow (or hornet) flies from the US/Canada border.

In Japan the Asian giant hornet kills an average of 30-40 people a year, many who inadvertently disturb the ground nests they create, often using old rodent burrows or rotting tree roots for their home. Their quarter inch long stinger delivers a painful sting with a poison that can kill red blood cells and damage living tissue. By far the greatest danger the Asian giant hornet poses is to honey bee colonies and the subsequent reduction of plant pollenization and decreased agricultural yields. To get an idea of the ferocity of this large hornet, watch the following YouTube video below showing how 30 Asian giant hornets kill 30,000 honeybees in only three hours before pillaging the hive. Please take the time to become familiar with what these invasive bugs look like and when gardening or hiking, if you see one or come across a nest, report it right away to the phone number or email address listed above. If we can't stop these Halloween Horror Hornets (my own fake news name), we may be stuck with them forever.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


May 04, 3030

Gunning for Trudeau


So here are are in the middle of a planet wide pandemic, borders and international flights shut down, people told to stay home and the economy indicators dropping faster than a lead balloon and what is our Liberal federal government doing? You would think that their sole focus would be on the COVID-19 virus, ways to control it and keep Canada safe and re-open our battered economy. Instead Prime Minister Turdeau, his Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and the Liberal party decided this week it was time to enact the immediate ban on 1,500 rifles in Canada as a way to make the country safer. Gee, and I thought washing hands, wearing face masks and praticing social distancing would have been a higher priority.

Now I realize that a mad-man with a fake police car, real RCMP uniform and weapons including a stolen RCMP pistol shot and burned his way in a trail of destruction across Nova Scotia. Unfortunately the RCMP there have refused to reveal what type of firearms were used in this spree or how many people were shot or died when their homes were set ablaze in the middle of the night. It has been widely reported that the gunman was prohibited from possessing firearms and that the weapons involved were allegedly purchased in the USA and smuggled back to the Maritimes. What does any of this have to do with 2 million law-abiding firearms owners across Canada who use firearms responsibly and legally?

To make matters worse the ban and confiscation of these firearms was not debated about or voted on in Parliament. Instead it was enacted by an Order-In-Council without question, without debate, without consideration and without any of the other parties in Parliament having any input. It doesn't matter if you are or not a firearms owner, the fact that this confiscation of Canadian's personal property is taking place with the stroke of a pen should be extremely concerning. We are supposed to live in a democracy and yet we suddenly become aware that the Liberals and Turdeau believe that Canada is now a dictatorship. History lesson folks, the first thing the Nazis did once gaining power in Germany was to ban firearm ownership. There is nothing a totalarian regime fears more than an armed citizenry.

Did I mention that this property grab is already estimated to be priced at $600 million dollars? If you believe that is the final cost, I have some swampland in Bridgeview for sale for you. It was the Liberals that brought in their vaulted long-gun registry in 1993 with a price tag of $2 million. When the Conservatives finally killed this social-engineering debacle in 2009, the final price tag was $2 billion, that's BILLION or a thousand times the original Liberal cost estimate. Meanwhile the Libs have announced a paltry $65 million a year to combat guns and gangs and a measly $17 million a year to combat the smuggling of guns across the Canada/US border, the number one source of crime guns. I believe they need to take aim at the real problem instead of attempting to control law-abiding citizens.

Our illustrious leader had this to say about his proposed gun grab. "These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time. There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada." Unfortunately he does not seem to realize that many of these firearms are not military weapons and can be used for legitimate sporting purposes. He might also be surprised to learn that previously I have competed in the BC Service Rifle Championships held at the DND Vokes Range in Chilliwack. In that time I took gold twice in the BC Service Rifle Championsip and won two golds and a silver in the BC Service Conditions Championsips through the BC Rifle Association. When I first started shooting service rifle, BCRA members were able to sign out an FN rifle for six months from Base Chilliwack. Should I bother to mention that these rifles were all used in a safe manner by the law-abiding members of our association?

Here is what the oldest shooting club in Canada had to say about the Liberal's dictatorial firearms ban and planned confiscation of private property.
For over 150 years the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association has operated under the mandate of promoting marksmanship and the safe handling and use of firearms across Canada. Like all Canadians, we are saddened, shocked, and angered by gun violence in our communities. We understand the government's need to take steps to limit the illegal use of firearms, and support them in achieving that goal. Today's action by the government of Canada has unjustly and disproportionately affected our members and the law-abiding gun owners of Canada who are are statiscially among the least likely to be involved in criminal activity. It also ignores the legitimate sporting use of semi-automatic rifles for target shooting competitions. Since the late 1970s we have safely conducted National Championships alongside our partners in law enforcement and the Canadian Armed Forces that include the civilian use of rifles that as of today have been deemed prohibited under the nominal aim of increasing public safety. As an association we are actively working to examine our next steps and to ensure that the safe and legitimate practice of our sport can continue.

Meanwhile handguns, the firearm of choice for gangbangers, which have been legally registered since 1937 in Canada were not mentioned in this firearms grab. I should point out that handguns are much easier to hide than a long gun plus they hold double the number of rounds of a semi-automatic rifle, ten rounds versus five. Considering the timing of the Liberals firearms confiscation, the fact it was not debated in parliament and the other parties in this minority parliament were not notified, I believe it is time for a non-confidence motion to bring down the Trudeau government.

If not that, then the Liberals racking up more debt than any other Canadian government that didn't fight a world war or endure a recession during the past 125 years needs to be considered, and that was before 2020 with the $150 billion in costs for the COVID-19 crisis.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 27, 2020

Big Love


I've got big balls
I've got big balls
And they're such big balls
Dirty big balls
And he's got big balls,
And she's got big balls,
But we've got the biggest balls of them all!

Lyrics to Big Balls by AC/DC, Back in Black album, 1980

Of all the meeting places in White Rock, Five Corners is the one location where you are most likely to see people you know or make new acquaintances. This was the case this week when after bumping into my daughter I met the most loving lady in White Rock, Allison Voth. She was kind of hard not to notice, what with the five foot diameter blue ball, three foot white ball and two foot pink Big Love Balls plus wearing a fuscia sweatshirt emblazoned with LOVE. She had a couple of friends helping with carrying them around uptown taking pictures of shuttered businesses, those lucky enough to still be somewhat open, and even the rainbow crosswalk.

It turns out that Allison like many others found herself out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Turning lemons into lemonade she decided to hit the roads of White Rock in order to help spread some love in these rather dark times with her Big Love Balls. While at first concerned about the reception she would receive, our "Local Love Enthusiest" quickly found out that she got back as much love as she was putting out there. Everywhere she went people wanted to say hi, get their picture taken and share a smile with some love. Looking to share some love with our first responders she has stopped by the Peace Arch Hospital (where a stressed out security guard did not show much love), the White Rock RCMP detachment and the White Rock Fire department, both of who took the time to pose with the collection of Big Love Balls.

The creator of the Big Love Balls is Wendy Williams Watt, an artist from Vancouver whose optimistic mission is to include and uplift humanity with her functional conceptual art. The slogan that best explains her strategy is "A moment. A movement. A monument. A momentum." Mrs. Watts has this to say about the experience,“I created Big Love Ball for countless reasons. But simply put, it’s what I feel inside. It is a physical expression of a feeling I have when I interact with people who are genuinely opening their hearts. The positive reaction I receive every day is more than I could have imagined. Over the past six years, I have had the immense privilege of sharing this with my friends and family. And if that is not enough, I witness those I’ve never met sharing that same sentiment with their loved ones. I see every photo and read every comment attached to Big Love Ball and I am moved to tears often.”

You can check out Wendy's website if you want to be inspired. Best of all it includes an online store that features Big Love and Stay Home t-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies. You an order Big Love Buttons in numbers from 10 to 100 in a rainbow of colours for use in weddings, marketing, or to just spread some love. There is a fine assortment of very cool greeting cards and a Big Love poster available. Best of all is the Big Love Balls themselves. The massive five footer is on sale from $44.50 - $89, available in 7 different colours. The three foot diamater ball is $22.50 - $45, also available in 7 colours down from 12 originally. The two foot are only $12.50 - $25 in 10 colours, while the one foot is $6 - 12, in 6 remaining colours. I should note that the one and two foot balls have a standard beach ball valve and can be blown up by mouth, while the 3 and 5 foot are inflated by a electric air mattress blower that can blow up the 5 footer in only 8 minutes.

Look for Allison and her Big Love Balls across White Rock and Surrey in the coming weeks. She dropped into the Surrey Golf Course recently where her three foot white sphere was a big hit with the golfers, making for some great photos on the tee. Mrs. Voth has also approached White Rock's Mayor and Council with the idea of them posing with the Big Love Balls in front of City Hall on Monday before the five o'clock Council meeting is held. With plenty of exposure on social media through ExploreWhiteRock and SouthRockBuzz, Helen Fathers contacted her and the White Rock's Farmer's Market will be welcoming the 5 foot blue Big Love Ball on May 3rd when it opens for the season. If you are going to attend for a selfie with "Big Blue" please ensure not to touch the sphere and to observe proper social distancing.

That was going to mark the end of this TNT when I received the following email from Allison Voth explaining her reasons for bringing a whole lotta love to White Rock and Surrey. She said it was okay to edit it before publishing but I think that its worth reading in its original full version. If you wish to contact Mrs, Voth you can find her on Instagram or by email at I hope you enjoy this TNT extra posted below.

Love you all,
Don Pitcairn


TNT Extra: "The Burden of Love" By Allison Voth

Today marks day 7 since I have taken this symbol of my love outside for my Community to witness. My close family & friends know I collect heart-shapes rocks from my beach walks. Hearts find me everywhere, so when I discovered we became the perfect match
My Love of local Community extends to this Vancouver company. An Artists vision to share the very essence we are made of. LOVE. It's the very thing that bonds us together within our unique expressions of it. My passion is to serve our global family within our common-unity. That common unity it unconditional love. Talking about it, liking memes about it, poems, songs. Stories of heartache, pain, loss, grief, trauma, rage, anger, fear. It's not enough. We must forgive what we co-created and change it to what we want to see, feel & experience. Our trials & tribulations prepare us for the day we must act on it. It becomes the very platform & foundation to build upon.
Day 1, I began with an idea. I felt squeezed, pressured and limited to express my heart with the world, alone, laid-off I felt deflated. I thought, "I just have to be more creative". Creativity is my favourite energy to be in, playful, free, unlimited. It is best expressed as co-creation. With you, with our love. I'm overjoyed that this ball found me. How simple that it's message instantly incites smiling, laughter, playfulness, joy & kindness.

The RCMP came outside for photos. The Firehall were exceptionally kind. The local news reporter happened to see me on the rainbow crosswalk at 5 corners. He said "This is the best story going on in White Rock right now, we need this". What he really meant is that we need to see the Love. Keep expressing it. Don't suppress it.
Day 1, as I dressed & brushed my teeth I was filled with thoughts of fear. People will judge me. They will say I shouldn't be outside. They will think it's unsanitary. They will come too close me...feeling the tension build, I said "NO!" to those thoughts and affirmed with conviction that I am stepping outside to do this. Those thoughts aren't me, they are a program of fear operating in the background. Ctrl+alt+delete. A jogger ran past me that very morning and said "Great job, there's too much depression" as he flew by me. Nervous & anxious to get my photos over with early in the morning to avoid people, he filled me with more Love to give.
I'm healing from my own pain with witnessing the effect of love. Hearts in the window. A world of hearts. All inspiring avenues for people to touch the most painful place that we spend the most time avoiding, the depth of your heart. Stay there, don't close.
I can no longer shrink from this challenge, I will not let this change in our society crush me. The hug I so desperately need is within the air of this symbol of my affection for my little City. It is bigger than that. My Love for humanity expressing so many hearts fill me with awe and I feel a sense of waking up in my dream.
Never do I want re-experience a collapsed lung. I had it three times and emergency surgery years ago for it. I know the risks. I am scared too and that's okay. I'm human. I embrace both the polarity that teaches us. The catalysts.
And yet, I carry this burden within me, on my back, lugging around a 5ft beach ball and wonder when I will feel a hug. It's all in the unknown. I exist now. The burden isn't mine. It's in every heart across the globe. The heaviness, the fear, anxiety & stress. Let's embrace the unknown with courage in our hearts.
I carry this for you, so you too know you are not alone. I got you. We got this. For all those who can't walk, breathe, fight, leave the house, pay their rent, keep their family safe or buy food. For the tragedies still occurring. It's not about me, it's about us rising up together as one.
My breath is your breath, my heart is your heart, my tears, your tears, my smile your smile. My gratitude to do something, anything, isn't yours vs. mine. It just is. It's LOVE, pure & unconditional. That's the glue. It transcends space & time. Feel it. You are it.
Help me carry this burden.
Maybe I have to let go first…




April 20, 2020

Gander a Gaggle of Geese


How about some trees so the birds
Won't have to sit upon the ground, uum
How about some wings so the
Birds won't have to walk to get around
And how about a bird bath or two
So the birds will all be clean
How about some feathers so their
Underwear no longer can be seen
How about a chirp so the birds
Won't have to whisper when they sing
And how about some common sense so they
Won't be blocking traffic in the spring

Lyrics to "Tennessee Bird Walk" by Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan, 1970

Enjoying the great outdoors as much as I do, you get in rhythm with the seasons and the ebb and flow of mother nature. One of the most visual changes is the arrival or departure of migratory birds, in particular flocks of Canada geese, snow geese and sandhill cranes that due to their large migratory numbers are hard to miss. Last month the Canada geese arrived back in the Semiahmoo peninsula and began pairing off preparing for mating season. As usual there are a honking large number of them that have set up shop atop the many flat roofs in the Everall Street region of uptown White Rock. Nests are being prepared and eggs will soon be incubating under downy plumage. Once the eggs hatch and the goslings get bigger they will descend from their rooftop nests and families of geese will begin walking around, seemingly oblivious to their surroundings.

This will be when the problems start, especially on the border between White Rock and Surrey. For years now I have watched gaggles of geese cross back and forth on 16 Ave./North Bluff Road. The prime crossing corridor takes them from the Everall Street region in uptown White Rock to the Southmere Village Park in south Surrey. The attraction at Southmere are the large fields of grass (like butter lettuce to geese) and the two large holding ponds located in this park. After the goslings hatch the parents take their goslings to the water to feed almost immediately after birth. In the brooding area these young are raised communally with other families in a group called a crèche. Because of this behaviour, the numbers of geese crossing 16th/NB can be substantial and literally stop traffic cold.

If you live in the Semiahmoo Peninsula it is likely that you have encountered this gaggle of geese and chances are you anticipate their arrival every spring. Unfortunately this four lane road is used by a large number of drivers from around the region including commercial trucks that tend to not stop on a dime. If drivers don't see the geese entering the roadway, there is the possibility a bunch of them will become speed bumps, which literally gives me goose bumps. Also drivers slamming on the brakes may end up getting rear-ended by other drivers behind who cannot see the geese jay-walking across this section of 16th/NB. Since this geese crossing often gets used multiple times a day, it is time that the cities of Surrey and White Rock work together to ensure the safety of both the geese and passing motorists.

There is a very easy fix to the fowl problem. Simply post "Geese Xing" signs with the silhouette of geese and goslings on either side of the road. The City of Chilliwack does this "Watefowl Crossing" signs on Vedder Road in an area with meandering streams and ponds that is a haven for ducks and their brood. Taking it one step further, in the spring when the area is busy with plenty of ducks and ducklings they attach temporary safety flags to the top of the signs, further alerting motorists to the danger. Drivers are always on the lookout for the lines of ducks and ducklings with all four lanes stopping at once to allow for safe passage. Sometimes when the ducks simply take over the road, you can watch as drivers leave their cars to gently shoo parents and their babies out of harm's way. I have also recently seen "Duck Xing" signs at Beach Grove in Tsawwassen so this is not a new idea.

Canada geese mate for life, return every year to their old breeding grounds and lay between 4 to 9 eggs per mating season. I have witnessed gaggles of geese on 16th/NB numbering over 30 birds, both adults and goslings. Just like the peacocks in Sullivan heights, I don't think this problem is going away anytime soon so I believe proper signage alerting motorists to this rather amusing wildlife dilemma is a must. Now I realize that city halls are not operating at peak efficiency these days and this will require both Surrey and White Rock to work together but this is something that could be done quickly and easily. It would also make for a feel-good news story at a time when we are all suffering an overdose of doom and gloom every time we turn on the TV, radio or computer. Lets hope these "Geese Xing" signs can be posted before the flocks of geese families start crossing 16 Ave./North Bluff Rd. in May.

Happy 4:20 on 4/20

Don Pitcairn




APRIL 14, 2020

Easter Very Long Weekend


In my last TNT I warned that the Christopherson Steps in Crescent Heights(west end of 24 Ave.) and 1001 Steps in Ocean Park (west endof 15A Ave.) were creating issues with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. My guess is that by-law officers reported to Council that the stairs were well under the 2 metre width required for safety plus some people were using them like the Grouse Grind with gyms being closed. With the Easter long weekend approaching it was decided on Thursday to finally shut these staircases down. The warning on the website read: "Effective immediately the 1001 Step and Christopherson Steps are closed to all public use. The closures are in effect until further notice." The only problem with this edict was the lack of public notice that ended up causing its own health problems and public relations nightmare.

The issue with this closure was that nobody used common sense on how it should properly be done. These staircases all have gates that are locked every evening and opened up early in the morning. Some bright person at Surrey Hall decided they needed to be closed right away and they were locked up in the middle of the day after people were already at the shoreline. This meant forcing anyone at Crescent Rock Beach to walk for miles on the rocky shore or trespass on the BNSF train tracks. Case in point, an acquaintance I know from the beach made his first trip of the year to Crescent Rock after spending much of the winter cooped up at his home with a series of health conditions. When he went to leave after enjoying the peace and solitude of the beach, the stairs were shut down with his car parked at the top. Not knowing the local shortcut maze, he walked to Crescent Beach, up Crescent Road to 128 St., across to 24 Ave. and finally down to his car. This walk took him 2.5 hours because of a total lack of planning or common sense shown by the Surrey Parks Department. Any reasonable person would have simply not opened the gates up in the morning, ensuring nobody was trapped at the beach.

You can plan on the Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps to be closed for some time but regardless of COVID-19 the Christopherson Steps were going to be closed this spring for repairs anyways. Along with the "STAIRS CLOSED" signs linked to, there was a newly erected 4'x8' sign boldly announcing the renovation of the Christopherson Steps. In a previous TNT I had alerted to the foundation damage done by logs battering the footings during winter storms at high tide and how the base of the metal elevated walkway had been shored up (pun intended) using wooden beams. Well a permanent fix is finally being done, hopefully this time using construction forms, concrete and rebar. The message on the sign reads "Construction will begin in spring 2020 to repair damage to the foundation of the Christopherson Steps railway overpass caused by winter storms and king tides. The Steps will be closed during construction. Learn more by calling 604-501-5050 or by emailing," There is no actual date given for the start of construction or when it might end.

Access to Crescent Beach was also limited this weekend to help ensure proper social distancing of folks on the beach and walkway. For this the City of Surrey seemed to actually plan things well with signs and cones everywhere at the corner of Crescent Road and 128 Street at Crescent Park plus several side streets. Traffic control personnel were waiting to shut down public access at a moments notice if and when the Blackie Spit parking lot was filled to capacity. Bylaw officers, the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team and RCMP officers were on site in Crescent Beach this weekend, alerting people to keep their distance and not congregate in groups. I talked to several of them and they were actually pleased with the public response and lack of problems. All of these measures apparently had the desired effect since it was not necessary anytime during the Easter long weekend to divert visitors away and only allow access for Crescent Beach residents. Of course maybe people were paying attention to the simple homemade signs posted on the boulevard across from Crescent Park that had the following message: PLEASE, STAY, HOME.

It was a quiet weekend in White Rock with the iconic pier being closed, waterfront parking lots and parkade being off limits and for the long weekend the promenade being shut down to the public. The Semiahmoo First Nation also put their lands on lock down, closing parking lots being the WAG and Peace Arch Duty Free, closing the Semiahmoo Beach gate access plus banning shoreline access from Peace Arch Park. With the beautiful dry weather we are strangely experiencing in April that is drawing people to the beach, the band Council also instituted a fire ban with no camp fires, beach fires or even briquet bbqs allowed. Besides keeping fine smoke particulates from the air during a respiratory infection crisis, the Semiahmoo Lands lack fire protection, leaving their homes at risk and making this extra step necessary. Hopefully some of these restrictions across the Semi-pen may be relaxed over the next two weeks where the long range forecast shows plenty of sunshine and only the small risk of showers for a couple of days. Unless there is a large change in the BC COVID-19 outbreak trajectory in the near future, you can likely expect the same kinds of controls and closures for the Victoria Day long weekend in the middle of May.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn


April 06, 2020

Crescent Beach Covid Blanket Bingo

Every lad and every lassie
hanging out at the shore
looking smart and looking classy
ever learning the score
Beach Blanket Bingo
Beach Blanket Bingo
Beach Blanket Bingo
That's the name of the game!

Theme song for the movie Beach Blanket Bingo, Donna Loren, 1965


So here we are in the middle of a global pandemic, many people are laid off from work, schools are closed down and the weather is cold and crappy. Then the sun comes out, the temperature climbs into the double digits and everybody wants to go outside to get some fresh air, stretch their legs and regain some sanity. Unfortunately with the herd mentality, everybody looks for someplace nice to go for a walk. In this time of social distancing to help stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus, that is where the problems start.

As most people in White Rock already know, the amount of visitors to the City By The Sea depends on two things, sunlight and warm temperature. This has always been the case but during a pandemic it can be an invitation for some spit swapping with rather deleterious effects for an elderly and sedentary population. After wall-to-wall people descended into the White Rock waterfront several weeks ago, cramming onto the pier and sidewalks along Marine Drive, White Rock Council took measures to turn the tide of people away. Not only did they block off Canada's Longest Pier, they also took the extra step of closing the large beachfront parking lots and new parkade, loss of revenue be damned. Needless to say with no where to park and not many people wanting to jump on a bus these days, things have quieted down along the promenade with social distancing now easier to manage.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Crescent Beach. It has constantly been featured in TV news broadcasts over the past few weeks and not in a good light. Several weeks ago it was crowds of people at Blackie Spit, on the pier and on the walkway, plus a beautiful couple and 50 of their closest friends having a wedding not far from the point at the middle of the beach. Last week it was a replay but without the wedding with locals complaining that too many people were coming to the waterfront and that the Blackie Spit parking lot should be closed to the public. Fortunately the cold weather we experienced this week coupled with cloudy weather helped to keep crowds to a minimum but Crescent Beach was still busy, with Surrey by-law officers in the area taking counts of people and watching for adherence to safe social distancing.

The Rocky and secluded shores of Crescent Rock Beach between Crescent Beach and White Rock also has its own challenges with respect to Covid-19. There are now signs at the top of the Christopherson Steps (24 Ave.), the 1001 Steps (15A Ave.) and the Olympic Trail staircase (130 St.) in south Surrey posted by the City of Surrey. These inform people "DO NOT ENTER if you have any of the following: fever, cough, sneezing, sore throat, difficulty breathing" with more information about social distancing and the BC Centre for Disease Control. While you are instructed to stay at least 2 metres away from other people, these staircases are only 1.5 metres wide. Fortunately there are resting platforms where people can maintain their space but some people seem oblivious to the intricacies of the metric system and simply march on by.

Here is what I witnessed on a trip to Crescent Rock Beach on Sunday afternoon, using the Christopherson Steps for access. At the top of the stairs I met a Surrey bylaw officer who was there doing a count of the persons on the stairs, including looking for people using it for exercising and not just beach access. Hard to believe that during a pandemic people trying to stay healthy are breathing hard and sweating profusely passing other folks in a confined space. At the shoreline there was a group of six young Indo-Canadian men who were having a few wobbly pops and sitting closely together on a log. There were a few couples and some families sitting on blankets with other people simply walking the beach. We sat down enjoying the late day sunshine noting that those at the clothing-optional beach were all dressed for the elements.

The by-law officer I'd met informed me they were sending a report on crowds and social distancing at Crescent Beach to Surrey Council. With the weekly negative television news coverage on crowds drawn to Crescent Beach I would not be surprised to see changes coming that would limit either parking or only allow access to residents. With White Rock doing their best to discourage beach visitors, it puts more pressure on Crescent Beach, which already has its loyal share of followers. I should note here that Metro Vancouver has closed off parking lots to Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen for crowd control. Other local nature areas here that are seeing a huge upswing of visitors are the Serpentine Fen and the Mud Bay Park trail, with parking lots at both of these areas often being full.

The long term forecast for next Sunday is sunny, high of 12 degrees and with 11 hours of bright sunshine. In a regular spring this would be a great day for doing spring clean ups, working in the yard or going to the beach. Let's hope that something is done before then to help flatten the curve of those who might want to drive down to Crescent Beach to catch a few rays, feel sand under their feet or maybe dip their toes into the waters of Boundary Bay. With nearly 550,000 people living in Surrey, Crescent Beach will likely be overwhelmed by people tired of being cooped up in their house or looking for something to do to keep their children happy and occupied. The Covid-19 epidemic can only be stopped if we keep large numbers of people from congregating and Surrey needs to follow White Rock's lead on this issue.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



March 30, 2020\

Canada Against Covid

Oh land of blue unending skies, Mountains strong and
sparkling snow, A scent of freedom in the wind, O'er
emeralds fields below.
To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams, For thee we stand
together, our land of peace, where proudly flies, The Maple
Leaf forever.

Lyrics to "Maple Leaf Forever", written by Alexander Muir in 1867, the year of Canada's Coronation.

Sung in recent times the Closing Ceremonies for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics by Michael Buble.


One of the things I like to always have on hand is a hockey stick with a Canadian flag taped onto it. I prefer real wood, either a Sherwood or Coho, with a flag I pick up for free from my local MP's office. It really is amazing the times when you can pull it out of the closet, wave it around or put it in the back of the ol' pickup truck before going out for a rip. The Canada Day long weekend is a natural, the Summer and Winter Olympics, International ice hockey games, concerts, camping trips, journeys to the USA and political rallies are always good times for the Maple Leaf. In fact my last Canadian flag Coho combo went missing at a rally in north Surrey for Justin Trudeau before he was first elected Prime Minister. I loaned it to a Liberal supporter who wanted to wave it around at the back of the room and when the event ended he was nowhere to be seen. Only in Surrey, I should have known better than to trust a fellow politico.

I recently had a birthday that was rather anti-climatic considering the party was cancelled with friends and family told to keep their distance due to COVID-19. While that had me down in the dumps, it quickly turned around when my wife gave me my birthday present. There nicely folded and wrapped in shiny cellophane was a brand new Canadian flag. Now this wasn't your dollar store variety or even the cheap "Made in China" ones the Federal government gives out (I kid you not), this flag was the real deal. Made of thick material that is actually sewn together with a triple seam and the Maple Leaf having a wide embroidered border, it measures a true 3' tall x 6' long. For a guy who takes a Canada flag on vacation everywhere he goes that is proudly hung from hotel room railings or adorned on the back window of a bus or van, it truly was an awesome gift.

Now I figured it would likely be a while before I got to finally use my new Canada flag since July 1st is a long way off, its too cold for camping and we are basically house bound. Watching Prime Minister give out his daily address to the nation in front of his home at Rideau Cottage, I was surprised to see that the backdrop did not include a single Canadian flag, just a couple of spruce trees on either side of the doorway still adorned with Christmas lights. Then I got to watch on the news as more and more people went onto their balconies in the west end to applaud and bang pots in support of front line health care workers, a trend that is growing in neighbourhoods across the Lower Mainland. It was then that I thought that since as Justin says "We are all in this together" and "We are all members of Team Canada" that it was time to use the good old red and white to inspire Canadians to do their part to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The idea was to rebrand my old "Canada Flag Day Holiday" Facebook page from 2011 as "Canada Against Covid" encouraging Canadians to put up Canadian flags, plug in red and white Christmas lights plus wear Canada shirts and jockey jerseys as a show of national support. This thought got a great boost when I rolled into the Royal Oaks strata complex in Tsawwassen on Friday. With lots of seniors including some aging war vets, the residents there always put up a great show on Canada day with Canadian flags hung throughout the property. Imagine my surprise when I realized they had beaten me to the punch, with Canada flags flying everywhere and red hearts attached to some of the doors. It turns out that someone there had the same idea as myself and had told their neighbours to sport the red and white as a patriotic display during these dark and deadly days.

You can find the "Canada Against Covid" Facebook page at The cover photo shows my brand new Canadian flag attached to our front railing with a string of red and white lights strung across it and me wearing my classic red and white Team Canada Olympic hockey jersey from 2006. The page description reads: "Canadians from coast to coast across the great white north need to come together at this historic time to fight against the COVID-19 virus. Show your support by putting a Canada flag outside your home or in a window. Put Canada car flags on your vehicle. Brighten the night with red and white Christmas lights. Wear Canada apparel including Olympic hockey jerseys. Together we can take the necessary steps to help stop the spread of this disease. Join the fight, put up the Maple leaf and show off your red and white."

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



March 23, 2020

Social Distancing Disgusting

It's no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in
That book by Navokov
Don't stand, don't stand so
Don't stand so close to me
Don't stand, don't stand so
Don't stand so close to me

Lyrics to "Don't Stand So Close To Me" by The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta album, 1980.


Watching the news this weekend reminded me of the classic scene from Cool Hand Luke where the Captain of Road Prison 36 talks about inmate Paul Newman. "What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it; well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men." With daily public health warnings going out from the BC Health Ministry and Dr. Bonnie Henry plus plenty of information about the COVID-19 pandemic from around the world, you'd think people would start to take the risk seriously. Unfortunately this does not seem to be the case as we continue to double in coronavirus infections every 3 days; the same rate that has led Italy to over 5,000 deaths so far.

I have avoided people like the plague over the past few weeks, which included cancelling a family birthday party so that all of my family members including my two octogenarian parents would remain safe and healthy. It was actually an easy choice since my father is currently holed up in his basement man cave only 4 days into his 14 day self-isolation after returning home from California. Nobody is dropping by for a visit, we have not gone out to see anybody else and all communication with people has taken place at a distance that could be measured with a 10 foot pole. We decided not to visit Crescent Rock beach this weekend since we realized with many public facilities closed it would likely be a magnet for people, especially with the nice weather. The other issue with going to our beach is that it is accessible only by narrow staircases at the Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps, or by walking south from Crescent Beach on a strip of shoreline that can be very narrow when the tide is in. No problem, the sun deck was nice and warm and we got plenty of early spring cleaning and gardening done.

Unfortunately it looked to us as though many people did not receive he memo or decided that their well being was more important than the health of society and our elders. I guess a lot of pot peddlers have decided to stay home so the Indigenous Bloom dispensary on Semiahmoo First Nation land was very busy. While staff only allowed a small number of people into the store, folks were lined up waiting outside right next to each other seemingly oblivious of the two metre social distancing rule. This weekend TV news stations on multiple channels showed large crows of people visiting the White Rock pier to enjoy the sunshine and warm temperatures. The promenade was also a hot bed of activity with crowds of people making social distancing all but impossible in the middle of the day. By far the most nauseating display of callous disregard for public health had to be the two love-birds who got married with a large throng of their friends and family on Crescent Beach. No word on whether their vows included "In sickness or in health." Across the Salish Sea in Esquimalt, VicPD broke up a raucous house party jammed with young adults who believed their youth made them "immune" to the virus. Absolutely astonishing ignorance.

I have to admit that I was rather taken back by the polar opposite views that I saw on Global TV on Sunday night. After watching story after story regarding the COVID-19 pandemic it was time for a well needed commercial break. Onto the screen came an ad for Molson Ultra, formerly Molson 67 that is a low calorie light beer. The spot featured a bunch of younger people with plenty of women in close contact to each other. It went on something like "We know about apres ski, and apres yoga, and that apres weird cardio jazz class so why not apres together with Molson Ultra? It turns out that in the worst marketing timing ever, Molson has just launched a national advertising campaign for their light beer, "aimed at drinkers interested in health and wellness." The two ads they are airing feature 25-35 year old women enjoying a Molson Ultra as a social reward for completing health-related activities. These ads need to be pulled immediately as the best health related activity these days is staying home and away from other people, not hanging with your friends.

As much as I would like to think that people will follow orders and do the right thing, in the end the idjits and morons among us will ensure that the coronavirus continues to spread and the death count soars. I believe it will take an absolute lock down and "test, test, test" as recommended by WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to slow this pandemic. With President Trump declaring California a major disaster area due to COVID-19 and Everett in Washington State directing residents to "shelter in place" it shows that some jurisdictions are putting health concerns ahead of civil liberties. Here in Canada this weekend, Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency while Northwest Territories shut its borders to people who are not residents. Our Federal government has both the Quarantine Act and the Emergencies Act they can use to help stop this pandemic before it is too late. I suspect it will only be after the morgues are full and our health care system is swamped that Justin Trudeau will use these extraordinary powers to quarantine the Canadian population and hopefully stop the COVID-19 spread.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


March 16, 2020



I had to watch in utter dismay as people faced with reports of increasing Novel Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) infections resorted to panic buying. Now I can see why people would want sanitary masks, disinfectant and hand sanitizer, but toilet paper? News flash folks, there is no need to be hoarding toilet paper unless you are brainless sheeple (sheepel in the USA). Images of citizenry lining up by the hundreds outside of Costcos, Walmarts and other big box stores shows us all the media created paranoia involving Covid-19. You have to wonder what is going through people's heads when you see them leaving a store with enough toilet paper to build a fort in their living room. This may be the "Me Too" era but these fools are showing us they live in a "Me First" reality. What is next, people lining up outside of Cabellas and rushing in to buy guns and as much ammo as their pick up trucks will hold?

The run on toilet paper by many in our society only goes to show the effect that the news and social media has on our daily lives. Unfortunately the fear that has been created by reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic has led to rash purchasing decisions that have nothing to do with reality. People who are now sitting at home with stacks of toilet paper they do not need should take a long look in the mirror and realize the bigger the A-hole the more toilet paper is needed. The Newton Costco sees a rush for toilet paper every morning when they open the doors. The local Wal-Mart and Super Store in South Surrey have had their shelves cleaned out like a babies butt. I'm sure that the Save on Foods and Safeway have seen similar panic buying happen and I really don't care. We have our usual stash of ass-wipe and I'm not going to join the herd mentality and fill a buggy with something I don't need just because some other morons thought it was a prudent thing to do.

What is interesting is that most people fail to realize that we have our very own toilet paper plant here in the Lower Mainland just off Stewardson Way in New Westminster. That is where you will find Kruger Products ( that is Canada's largest producer of tissue paper products. You will likely know many of the brand names they produce, Cashere and Purex bathroom tissues, the White Swan line of products plus Scotties facial tissues and Sponge Towels. With the increased demand due to COVID-19 panic buying, Kruger has responded and is now running three shifts a day to up their production. Sorry to say but in a pinch you can use facial tissues, serviettes, or even pieces of paper towel to clean up after a #2 bathroom break. Almost every public washroom has large industrial rolls of toilet paper (made by Kruger) and nobody is counting how many sheets you use or take. For anyone who has camped in the great white north, old-school newspaper works in a pinch as does the old standard, a hand full of leaves.

While COVID-19 makes all the headlines the season influenza strains are packing morgues across the planet without raising a headline. I know a couple of guys who recently contracted it, one threw up so hard he blew the blood vessels in an eye turning it bright red. The other dry heaved for so long he was left with a forehead and eye lids that were red, looking like he had a sunburn. For the 2019/2020 influenza season the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) estimates in the US the flu has caused 34 million sicknesses, 350,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 deaths so far without causing any panic buying. If you really want to be scared, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates roughly 1.35 million people die annually due to traffic accidents with 20-50 million people getting injured. Even with these numbers, I don't see governments calling for roads to be blocked and for cars to be kept in the garage.

That being said, the COVID-19 virus is nothing to be sneezed at, especially if you are older. The infections have now leveled off in China but are rising worldwide to a total so far of over 135,000 with Iran, Italy Europe and the United States now seeing significant growth in this disease. Early data shows that the Corona virus is much more virulent than the flu causing death in 2.3% of all cases in Wuhan China, vs. 0.1% for the seasonal flu. Where COVID-19 really gets scary is with the elderly that see a 6% fatality rate for those aged 60 and above, with 18% death rate for people over 80. Social distancing and preventive measures should reduce peak infections and hopefully not exceed health care capability to deal with the outbreak. More than wearing masks or hoarding toilet paper, properly washing your hands, not touching your face, avoiding crowded conditions and close contact with other people are the best way to stay healthy. If you do feel sick, STAY HOME and self quarantine, good advice whether the COVID-19, the flu or the common cold.

In case you are not familiar with them here are the main symptoms of a COVID-19 infection as experienced by those infected in China. Please note that the coronavirus rarely causes a runny nose easily distinguishing it from the common cold.


If you want to keep track of the COVID-19 outbreak and see data on its spread and control on a worldwide basis them check out the rest of the detailed scientific data posted on the Our World In Data website at It uses daily data from the World Health Organization to help track this new illness in countries around the globe. In case you were wondering, Canada's COVID-19 infections have doubled in the past three days alone with 244 total and 68 new cases just on March 15, while the USA doubled in four days to 1678 cases with zero new cases on Sunday, a number that sounds rather suspect. Worldwide COVID-19 infections have doubled in 24 days with approximately 135,500 reported illnesses including nearly 11,000 new cases on Sunday alone. Amazingly they have no information on how huge stockpiles of toilet paper will keep you save from this disease.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


The Naked Truth - March 9, 2020

What The Truck is Going On?


'Cause we got a great big convoy
Rockin' through the night
Yeah, we got a great big convoy
Ain't she a beautiful sight
C'mon and join our Convoy
Ain't nothin' gonna get in our way
We gonna roll this truckin' convoy
'Cross (all of Surrey)

Lyrics to "Convoy", song by C.W. McCall, Black Bear road album, 1975

I have to admit I have a fine collection of cheater roads that make crossing from one end of Surrey to the other a breeze even in rush hour. I'm not going to itemize them here lest they become jammed with commuters who learn all of my driving secrets. The one I will share is Colebrook Road from King George Blvd (the KGB) to 160 St. This rather antiquated roadway that is covered with an anti-slip coating due to the road angle allows you to miss the 8-way traffic light at 152 St and #10 Hwy. Unfortunately it can also mean you occasionally get stopped by a train on the CN tracks but even these can be watched for. I can put this cheat in my TNT because the word is certainly out on this little short-cut with a non-stop string of cars using this road to get from Cloverdale down to Hwy 99 or the Semi-pen.

With this former farming roadway floating on peat bog, Colebrook Road is probably the worst road in Surrey to drive on. It is full of bumps and dips and in the winter gets pockmarked with potholes, some big enough to flatten a tire or dent a rim. The Surrey road maintenance crews try their best to patch up Colebrook but with the vehicle traffic it sees these days this is a never ending chore. The road is also off limits to large truck traffic with a 10,000 Kg limit for vehicles traveling down a road so notorious the Mud Bay Blues Band even did a song about it. You would never know about this weight limit by the large amount of semi-truck traffic that rolls unimpeded down Colebrook every morning and evening. The reason is that several farms in this region have apparently been turned into illegal truck parks on farm land.

The Agricultural Land Commission does not allow the following on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) property:
Fill placement or removal of soil on ALR land;
Aggregate extraction;
Parking or storage of commercial or industrial vehicles;
Operating a commercial business unrelated to farming;
Construction of buildings other than a principal residence without a permit;
Impacting/obstructing a watercourse.
Unfortunately with several ALR properties south of #10 highway and north of the Serpentine River from 157 St. to 160 St. land owners are flagrantly disregarding the rules over farmland use. You don't have to be a detective to see this, simply go to Surrey's Cosmos mapping system that includes satellite imagery at
By far the worst case of flagrantly ignoring the rules on ALR usage not to mention ripping up the asphalt on Colebrook has to be the home at 5192 157 St. The latest image off Cosmos shows 32 trailers stored on the property plus a large number of the tractor trucks that tow them. It is interesting how all of these trailers got to the property off roads not allowing vehicles with GVW over 10,000 Kg. Just south of there at 5050 157 St, another graveled farm has 6 more truck trailers parked in a gravel lot. Nearby at 15832 Colebrook Road, a mansion with a massive graveled parking lot has 7 more trailers and several tractor units.

Why the Surrey By-laws and the ALC are doing nothing about these properties remains a mystery, especially with the damage from heavy trucks being inflicted on Colebrook Road. I realize the RCMP are busy in Surrey but I think if they put even one squad car on Colebrook for several hours in the morning and evening they would be able to ticket multiple semi-trucks for being on this rural farm road. If you believe as I do that farmland should be farmed and growing food, these delinquent properties can be reported to the ALC at the following website:

On that page is a tab to download the Compliance and Enforcement Land Use Activity Report Form in order to get these properties on the radar. Check out the Cosmos site on the website to get a grasp on the size of this problem in only this half mile square piece of Surrey.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

The ALC responds to information brought to its attention that may involve activity that contravenes the ALC Act. If you witness, are aware of, or have concerns over any activities on ALR land that appears to be unauthorized, consider if the activity may be permitted under the ALC Act or ALR Land Use, Subdivision and Procedure Regulation. If you believe that the activity is not permitted and you would like to submit a report to the ALC C&E team, the Compliance and Enforcement Land Use Activity Report Form must be completed and submitted to the email address:


March 3, 2020

Barking Up The Wrong Tree

I don't have a problem with authority, it's stupid bureaucracy that drives me nuts and why I usually try to avoid dealing with governmental departments at all levels. Unfortunately sometimes this cannot be avoided and so you grit your teeth and control your temper while having to deal with the pencil pushers and all of their asinine ridiculous rules that give them the sense of control and validate their pathetic existence. That being said, let this TNT begin.

In my yard in South Surrey I have planted over 60 trees in the past decade on top of the ones that were already here including five that are now covered under Surrey' s tree protection bylaw. Recently I had two trees that needed to come down; a cherry planted just outside my front door and a diseased maple at the side of the property. While the maple was not protected the gnarly cherry needed a tree permit issued by City Hall. I was well aware of this fact and started the process by making my online application.

While that was painless, I had to drive all the way to the Whalley city hall to pick up and pay for my tree permit. This cost $517 including a $400 deposit for tree inspections once a replacement tree had been planted and a year later to confirm the tree was still healthy and growing. No problem, cost of doing business I told myself plus the tree work would all be on the up and up. My arborist buddy from D&S Tree Care came over, we quickly turned the trees into cordwood and stuffed the branches into the chipper. A little later my friend The Stump Doctor dropped by with his machine to grind out the stumps. Total cost for this work was $735 not including the permit.

Of course I still had to plant my replacement tree but had been preparing for this moment once I decided years ago that the cherry that allowed squirrels onto the roof of the house had to go. I had come across a Ginko tree sapling five years back and transplanted it into my back yard with the idea of moving it into the front yard when it was big enough. This living fossil dating back 270 million years had already grown to over 6 metres in height. With help from a friend we dug it up with a big root ball and managed to move it into the front yard for planting. The spot I picked for it was at my side yard where the rotten maple had been removed from. We installed the Ginko with organic topsoil, bone meal and lots of water. Happy with the job I took a picture of this tree and forwarded it back to the city for their approval and to get my first 200 bucks back.

That is where the problem started. Surrey's tree inspector came out and reported that the tree was too close to the property line plus too close to my "parking spot" a gravelled area beside my driveway that I use as a storage and work area. I had missed the rules about how the tree could be no closer than a metre from the property line even though it was in the same spot as the diseased maple that had been cut down. The best part was finding out that any reinspection would cost me an additional $200, something not mentioned anywhere on the website.

So now the fight begins with city hall. I could have told them the Ginko tree in the back yard was newly planted, thrown some topsoil around it and had it passed. As it sits, I will probably have to dig out the Ginko from its new home, drag it back into the rear of the property, plant it where it came from then move it in a year's time. There is no other space in my yard that will accommodate a mature Ginko down the road. The other option is to rip the 20' tall Ginko out, throw it in the back of my truck and dump it at the front doors of city hall with a note telling them to take my $400 and shove it.

What is ridiculous about their one metre rule is that all of the trees in my yard are planted at or near property lines. This ensures maximum light, maximum space, plus improves their survival when the house is bulldozed and a new mansion is built. With new development, trees away from property lines all get bulldozed, something they need to take into account. I talked to my neighbour about all of my tree plans before starting this project and he was thrilled about having a new Ginkno tree to enjoy at no cost to him. It apparently makes no difference to Surrey that the new tree is planted where the old maple was, rules are rules you know.

Another weakness with Surrey's tree replacement rules are the list of reccomended replacement trees. They are only guidelines, you can plant anything you want but they control where you can put it. If you want to plant a native Douglas fir that can hit over 150 feet tall, go for it. Want to plant a fast growing but soon dangerous poplar or cottonwood, have at her. What is really hysterical is that one of the recommended trees over 20 m tall is the Giant Redwood. These are the largest trees in the world, reaching up to 380 feet tall and with names like Stratosphere Giant, Hyperion and General Sherman. I'm not sure why they are worried about trees closer than a metre from property lines when these massive trees can grow to 30 feet across.

Who knows where this lunacy will end but hopefully my Ginko tree can stay where it is after I talk to the people in the tree department this week. If not, maybe I'll rip out the banana grove in the middle of my front yard and plant a nice big Redwood. The neighbour across the street planted one when he moved in that was only two feet tall. It was 40 feet high when we moved in and has now doubled to at least 80 feet. Sorry to say that if I knew what a big pain in the butt this was going to be I would have quietly pruned off a branch at a time from my old cherry until it died a death from a thousand cuts. I would have saved a lot of money and still had my Ginko tree where I wanted it to be.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 24, 2020

Keep Our Beaches Clean - Dump On The BNSF


When I first moved to the Semiahmoo peninsula I became aware of the danger posed to passing BNSF trains by landslides originating from the Ocean Park bluffs. Walking from Crescent Beach to White Rock I got to inspect multiple slide sites along the way and how hilltop residents were cutting trees for views while also draining run-off water onto the slopes above the tracks. My biggest concern was the passing BNSF freight trains, often laden with tankers of petroleum products and hazardous chemicals running next to the waterfront that is lined with large jagged boulders. Depending on the product being carried, a derailment along the BNSF tracks here could have a ruinous effect on the Semiahmoo Bay marine environment.

Year after year starting in 2003 I visited our local train tracks during wet and stormy weather to inspect landslide sites, climbing the steep hillside of the Ocean Park bluff to check out the slide origin. Often these started at the edge of peoples yards where trees had been cut on BNSF property and with big-o drain pipe sticking out of the very top of the slope failure. I have seen many slide sites and became aware that the BNSF Railway simply dug out the mudslide debris from the corridor and placed it on the seaward side of the tracks. Being mud, it would then flow outwards onto the rocky shoreline between Crescent Beach and White Rock. Sometimes these debris fans were several metres deep and covering large areas, with volumes often between 10 and 100 dump truck loads of fill.

At the end of January we had a pineapple express, now renamed as an "atmospheric river" take aim on the south coast delivering copious amounts of rain to an already saturated region. I knew there would be mudslides onto the rail corridor and was not surprised when it was reported that the tracks were closed due to slides. Unfortunately due to recent knee surgery I could not visit the slope failures located just south of Crescent Beach. The knee is now healed, the stitches removed and I'm much more mobile, allowing me to do things like take the dogs for a walk or go to the beach. When I finally made it down to the shoreline south of the 101 Steps, I really was not shocked to learn that the BNSF Railway is continuing their behaviour of dumping landslide debris onto the shoreline of Crescent Rock Beach in south Surrey. 

There are three slide zones just south of the 24 Ave. Christopherson Steps staircase (aka 101 Steps) south of Crescent Beach. The largest one measures 15 x 7 metres in size by 1 metre deep or the equivalent of 7 dump truck loads of fill. To make matters worse, this slide material was dumped in the very same area as another slide on Jan 10, 2018 that was also excavated onto the waterfront. It covered a large portion of the beach frequented by naturists and made it unusable for beach recreation for two years until storm waves eventually washed this muddy debris away. This is an area where sandy beach is at a premium and the burying of this spot once again means it will likely be unusable for another two years. It is unknown how many other new slide dump sites there are on the 6.5 km. of shoreline between Crescent Beach and White Rock.

I always report this illegal dumping to BC's RAPP line, DFO's Observe Record Report line, the RCMP and Ministry of Transportation, there appears to be no consequences to the BNSF Railway and no court action has been taken against them. For some historical perspective, this comes after a March 2007 DFO investigation found the BNSF in violation of the Fisheries Act for this type of dumping and a March 2009 slide near Kwomais Point that was excavated into the ocean where a dead sea otter was found directly next to the debris field. I have reported slide debris excavated onto shoreline here used by sand lance and surf smelt for breeding to the Department of Fisheries (DFO) twice over the past two years but have never been informed of the results of their investigations.

I'm left wondering what it will take to stop the BNSF Railway from using the shores of Semiahmoo Bay as their private dumping ground? Besides writing about this in the White Rock Sun, I sent a news release with slide photos to the major TV stations, radio stations, Vancouver Sun and Province plus Black Press. Our former MP Gordie Hogg, the new MP Kerry-Lynn Findlay, MLA Tracy Reddies plus Mayor Doug MacCallum and the entire Surrey Council know about this latest slide dump next to the tracks. The same goes for the Federal Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau and the BC Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena plus BC Environment Minister George Heyman. I've also shared my information with Chief Harley Chappell of the Semiahmoo First Nation and the Friends of the Semiahmoo Bay Society. 

What we need are pissed off people to start making a big stink about this illegal dumping onto our beaches. I know if I were to show up with dump trucks of muddy fill and start dumping them on the public beaches of White Rock or Crescent Beach that the RCMP would show up and arrest me in a matter of minutes. Why do we tolerate an American railway dumping debris from their train tracks onto our beaches, especially when it often contains garbage consisting of drain pipes, landslide detector fence and poles, used car tires and old household debris? Do we need to follow the indigenous people's lead and blockade train tracks to bring some attention to this problem? I certainly hope not, there are better ways to protest or make a point without being an a-hole.

You can help by taking the time to report illegal dumping from the BNSF Railway onto the shores of Semiahmoo Bay. It can be reported as an environmental crime to the RCMP through Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477. The DFO ORR line can be reached toll-free at 1-800-465-4336, 604-607-4186 in Greater Vancouver or by email at The latest incident that happened on January 31 has three areas of mudslide debris burying the beach 200-400 m. south of the 24 Ave staircase south of Crescent Beach. This material that damaged fish habitat was excavated off the tracks by BNSF crews as reported by their spokesperson Gus Melonas. Please take a minute to make a phone call or send an email. It is 2020 and its time that this illegal dumping was stopped.

Over the past 10 years I have written a number of articles on rail safety and slope stability here in The White Rock Sun. I will continue to monitor and report on the situation until someone, does something.
April 15, 2019 - Freak Sliding Away
March 19, 2018 - BNSF Burying Crescent Beach
April 3, 2017 - BNSF Buries Nude Beach
Jan. 10, 2011 - Calling the BNSF's Bluff
Dec. 20, 2010 - Muddy Tracks Lead To Trouble

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 18, 2020

Slip Slidin' Away


She said a good day
Ain't got no rain
She said a bad day's when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been
Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away
Lyrics to Paul Simon's song Slip Slidin' Away, 1977.



It has been nice to finally have a reprieve from the gloomy wet weather we have been experiencing much of the new year. January saw 22nd consecutive days of precipitation with 245 millimeters of precipitation falling, 55% above the monthly average of 158 mm. This figure also included 34 cm. of snowfall during the month with much of that coming during an arctic outflow period. In total the precipitation that fell was the fifth highest ever recorded in January for this region. An "atmospheric river", aka pineapple express that struck at month's end dumped much more precipitation on February 1st onto the Semiahmoo peninsula where the ground was already saturated. Combined with strong winds that caused trees to sway putting pressure on soaked soil, it was inevitable that landslides would result. 

Not surprisingly the steep hills of the Ocean Park bluffs were once again on the move with several mudslides falling from the hillside onto the BNSF Railway corridor. The largest of these buried the tracks over 1.5 metres deep just south of the Christopherson Steps pedestrian overpass and the western end of 24 Avenue in South Surrey. BNSF crews went to work removing the debris from he railway and performing geotechnical inspections of the slope failures to ensure the hillside was once again stable. Normally after slide events such as these I take the time to perform a "Track Watch" inspection of the 6.5 km. of rail between Crescent Beach and White Rock. Unfortunately due to recent knee surgery I was in no shape to go for such a long grueling hike on uneven and challenging terrain.

It turns out that the Ocean Park bluff wasn't the only hillside in the Semiahmoo Peninsula that was the site of a major slope failure. A friend of mine out paddling on the Nicomekyl River reported he had seen a large slide from a residence located just west of Elgin Heritage Park on Crescent Road. While he did not snap any pictures, he described a large slide from the top of the hill very near the house that tore down the hillside to the river, clearing all of the trees in its path. A series of wooden steps that had been built on the hillside were destroyed and left in shambles. He reported that long pieces of large black plastic hose could be seen in the muddy debris, likely Big-O pipe draining water from the yard above onto the hill. While I have yet to talk to the owners of this property, the house was already close to the edge before the slide and it is unknown if this slope failure has endangered the safety of the dwelling.

White Rock didn't go unspared by the heavy deluge this rain event brought to the City by the Sea. The Coldicutt Ravine was seriously damaged by multiple mudslides covering the trail connecting Marine Drive to the waterfront. Some of these slides covered the trail and buried steps while whole trees and hillsides washed down into the water channel at the bottom of the ravine. This popular beach access point is now closed and blocked off and likely will be this way for some time into the future because of all the damage. The ravine heading down from the from Ruth Johnson Park at Centennial Arena also was severely damaged by this storm. The trail nearest the Eva Bene Butterfly Garden was the scene of multiple slope failures that covered the trail and destroyed wooden stairs that had been built there. As with Coldicutt, this trail is now closed and will likely stay that way for some time. 

Amazingly even with all of the rain the deforested Hump hillside between west and east beach still held its own and the slope in this region remained stable. It is not as though this hillside is not a concern to the City of White Rock. There have been multiple previous slope failures the last time this slope was cleared over a hundred years ago. The retaining walls and cracks in the pavement on Marine Drive have been studied for ground motion and possible structural failure affecting the city services under the roadway. In order to ensure slope stability in this area, the city is planning on putting pilings deep into the ground along Marine Drive this year to hold everything in place. No word yet on when this work will start, how much it will cost or what impact it will have on traffic along Marine Drive.

Predicting landslides in the Semi-Pen is not rocket science, all you need is a rain gauge set out in your back yard. If the ground is already heavily saturated and we receive two inches of rain in a 48 hour period, you can guarantee that mud will be flowing from the hills around here. Draining water onto steep slopes, having drain fields at hill top and the cutting of trees for views all greatly increase the risks of causing slope failure. These landslides pose a risk to anything below including BNSF trains along the Ocean Park bluffs plus can literally leave a home hanging on the edge with massive slope remediation bills or the building being condemned. If you think the danger is not real consider that back in the early 1960's an English gardener living in a cottage along Crescent Road was killed in a mudslide that covered his home. 

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 10, 2020 

Trudeau's True Doo

"I see you've got your list out, say your piece and get out
Guess I get the gist of it, but it's alright
Sorry that you feel that way, the only thing there is to say
Every silver lining's got a touch of grey
The shoe is on the hand it fits, there's really nothing much to it
Whistle through your teeth and spit 'cause it's alright
Oh well, a touch of grey kinda suits you anyway
And that was all I had to say and it's alright
(Lyrics to "Touch of Grey", Grateful Dead, 1987)


The Naked Truth usually revolves around subjects of a local nature and importance to the residents of the Semiahmoo Peninsula but this week I thought I'd let my hair down and broaden my horizons. One of the reasons for this is that I'm sitting here feeling sorry for myself with my wonky knee bandaged and stitched after undergoing arthroscopic surgery. It wasn't like I did something to hurt myself, Father Time simply came up and kicked my butt with my body breaking down due to old age and years of abuse. Add to that my long curly locks are gone, the thick dark brown hair is fading being slowly replaced with silver and grey plus a rapidly receding hairline. Something tells me it might be time to update the TNT photo of myself taken on a white sand beach at Cayo Largo, Cuba a decade ago.

Enough about me, its time to talk about the heir (hair?) apparent, none other than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Let's face it, the younger Trudeau's locks have been the focal point of plenty of discussions throughout the years, including the flattering "Nice hair though" comment used in a Conservative attack ad. When he first took over the Liberal Party in 2013 at the age of 41 his boyish good looks and flowing locks garnered him the title of "World's Hottest Leader." Since that time his stylist has gradually shortened his hair so that he now beginning to look more Prime Ministerial and less GQ Model. If you check out photos of him online you will notice there seems to be a wide variation of hair colours over the years from chestnut brown to damn near black but silver and grey are never seen his head.

The start of 2020 heralded a new page in the on-going saga of Trudeau's hair but this time it was a stubbly beard that was unveiled to the public in the first week of January. Fresh off the Christmas holidays it looked as if our PM decided the Millennial beard look was in and he decided to join the hipster crowd. Don't get me wrong, I regularly grow a beard in the winter because it keeps my chin warm during cold weather and allows me to save money on expensive Gillette blade refills. What was fascinating about Trudeau's beard was not the length or chosen style, it was the fact that it was salt-and-pepper colour. Now when father time started to show up on me, it began with my hair on top, worked its way into my beard and is now slowly working its way south to the nether regions (TMI?). If the curtains were to match the carpet, Justin should have some grey hair on top, leading me to suspect our leader uses the dreaded brown shampoo.

In the case of father-like-son, Pierre Trudeau had plenty of grey hair plus a receding hairline when he became Prime Minister at the age of 48, the same age Justin is now. To see how the stress of being leader puts the years on a person, check out how Stephen Harper went from having light brown hair with some grey at age 47 to almost totally silver Phil Donahue look-a-like in only nine years as P.M. Barack Obama went from almost black to nearly white (hair that is) in his two terms as US President that began when he was 47. It was Obama who gave Trudeau some hair advice nearly four years ago saying “I indicated to him that if, in fact, you plan to keep your dark hair, then you have to start dyeing it early. You hit a certain point when “it’s too late. You’ll be caught.” In fact only Donald Trump seems to not be going grey but varnish tends to yellow as does fiberglass with epoxy coating.

Now we have all seen the pictures of Trudeau from the past changing the colour of his skin to a much darker tone, so is it such a jump to believe that the Prime Minister dyes his hair? These days getting rid of grey is as easy as grabbing a box of Just For Men, Clairol Natural Instincts For Men, Redeken For Men 5 Minute Camo plus countless others. If you are an older Canadian you likely remember Montreal Canadian's Maurice "The Rocket" Richard commercial for Grecian Formula 16 where Jean Bellevue opens the penalty box door telling him "Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good." We might have to revamp Clairol's famous slogan "Does she or doesn't she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure" and change the "her" to 'him" for Justin. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to be the first columnist in Canada to openly question how Trudeau is keeping his youthful hair colour while sporting a greying beard?

I can't be bothered dying my hair as it is getting to the point that I'm just glad there is still some there to cut. I've noticed at the barber shop the cut hair on the floor is noticeably darker than what they leave on my head. I'm becoming living testament to the saying "If you live long enough you'll start to resemble your father." Given enough time its amazing how many men end up looking like a sad-sack Santa. I figure there are easier ways to look younger than dyeing your hair anyways. I simply put on a ball cap from any major sporting team and I lose ten years right away. Turn the hat sideways and I lose another ten, pull it over my ears and I'm almost half my age. No creams, no dyes, no plastic gloves, no instructions needed. Throw in a thick gold chain, a couple of tattoos plus a nose ring and I might even be cool again.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


February 03, 32020

What The Tuk-Tuk?

I must admit that in my limited time in Asia including a four-day stop in Hong-Kong and a one night stay in Bangkok, Thailand, I never got to ride in a tuk-tuk. For the uninitiated they are a three wheeled trike also known as an auto rickshaw that is a motorized version of the traditional man-powered or cycle rickshaw. There are many version but the regular style has a steel frame with sheet metal sides covering a small front cabin for the driver with handlebar controls a sloped roof with or without drop-down side curtains and a cargo/passenger area at the rear. Propulsion in early years came from small 2-cycle gas motors with LNG and electric motors now becoming commonplace, especially in congested cities. They are commonly used as a form of urban transportation in subtropical or developing countries, both as a taxi and for private use.

Now imagine my surprise when I parked near the London Drugs at the Peninsula Village Mall recently and I saw this strange looking vehicle tucked (pun) against the far side of the lot. I went up and checked out this bizarre tricycle that was teal in colour with brown seats and room for a driver and lots of cargo or passengers. Unfortunately nobody came out of the store while I circled this rather unique vehicle and it was still there when my shopping was done. I left a White Rock Sun business card tucked into the handlebars with a note that I was interested in talking to the owner about this rather unusual mode of transportation. If I had been on the ball I might have asked the manager of London Drugs if he knew who owned the tuk-tuk parked outside the store as it turned out it was an employee who contacted me several days later.

Dave Thiele lives in the south Surrey area not far from the Semiahmoo Mall. In 2012 he was diagnosed with brain cancer which caused him to lose not ony his full-time job but also his driver's license. Looking for another way to get around he purchased an electric two-wheeled bike but suffering from focal seizures, he ended up falling down on the side of the road and getting injured. Going back to the drawing board, Dave researched other modes of transportation and located an electric tuk tuk on the Alibaba website. Manufactured in China it seats up to 6 people, weighs 250 Kg., has a 80 Km. range and is powered by 3 car batteries. His tuk tuk has a maximum speed of 35 Km/h and handles surprisingly well without spending any time on two wheels instead of three. With the tuk tuk being only one metre wide, it easily fits into local bike lanes that measure 1.4-1.8 metres across.

This tuk tuk was purchased off the website and custom built to specifications for around $2,500. Getting it into Canada was no easy task since it does not fall neatly into the parameters for electric personal vehicles or electric bikes. By the time the tuk-tuk was delivered, shipping costs and Canadian taxes nearly doubled the overall price. The savings on gasoline and insurance plus little to no maintenance or repairs means that this vehicle will pay for itself in he short term while giving Dave freedom to move around the peninsula in the network of bike lanes. To say that Dave's tuk tuk draws a crowd would be an understatement as people often stop him on his travels to learn about his 3-wheeled electric bike. He has become a big of a celebrity known as "Tuk Tuk Dave" since he has the only vehicle like in it in the Semi-Pen. There are only a couple more in town, one in Vancouver being utilized to shuttle between food kiosks and another on the North Shore being used by someone with mobility issues.

It has been 20 years since the Motor Assisted Cycle Regulations have been changed in the province of BC. In that time we have become worried about global warming and climate change, carbon pollution and getting drivers out of gasoline powered vehicles. Uber and Lyft have now finally started operations, years after they have opened up in cities across the planet. As we move into the future with electric vehicles leading the charge (ha-ha), we need to ensure that we do not exempt two and three wheeled vehicles from our roads due to outdated and onerous regulations. Currently in BC tuk tuks would not be able to be used as a taxi vehicle, even in high tourist areas or crowded city centres. With E-tuks as they are known now being sold in cities in the US, South Africa, Europe and south-east Asia, it makes sense that plan for their use here and in Vancouver that wants to be the greenest city in the world by 2020.

For more information on zero emission tuk tuks and their multitude of uses, please visit the following links:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 27, 2020

Freezing My Tail Feathers Off




Heading off to Mexico for a mid-winter vacation always means plenty of preparations before finally boarding the plane. You make lists and try to think of everything so that hopefully the world will not end and you will have a home to return to. We were lucky to have a family member live in our house during our holiday, looking after our dogs plus keeping an eye on the place. When we left the long range forecast did not look great but after only a short time away outflow winds and deep freeze temperatures were called for. Sorry to say that I had not planned for Alberta type weather and there were things that got overlooked. A quick WhatsApp phone call ensured that tropical palm trees and succulent cactus were hauled into the house from their makeshift greenhouses on both of our sun decks. Then I had to ask my long-suffering mother if she would look after feeding the hummingbirds.

For years now we have been feeding Anna's hummingbirds here near Crescent Beach, which unlike the Rufus hummingbirds that migrate to Mexico in winter (smart), now stay in the Lower Mainland year round. It is believed the proliferation of hummingbird feeders, increases in average temperature plus the introduction of winter flowering plants have spread this purple throated hummingbird's range so that they are now been taking up residence in the interior of the province. These tiny birds use nectar or sugar water as an energy source plus forage for small insects that provides them with protein and essential minerals and amino acids. For most of the year it is a simply job of mixing the 1/4 cup sugar into one cup of water to create the syrup (with no red dye) and ensuring that the feeder is scrupulously clean and free of mold or mildew.

The issue is what to do when the weather turns cold and the feeders begin to freeze just as the hummingbirds need energy the most. There are plenty of ways to deal with this problem but most require you actually being home to deal with them. The easiest way is to bring in feeders at night and put them out before daybreak when hummers as we call them first start to feed. Of course this means you need to be up early every day, weekends be damned. Frozen feeders can have any metal parts removed and be put in the microwave for thawing, taking care they are not hot when put outside. Some folks have several feeders, rotating them throughout the day to ensure that the hummers are not only well fed, but have warmed food for their cold little bodies. During the day a thick thermal sock pulled over the feeder helps to retain heat.

When cold snaps happen while I'm home, I move the feeder from in front of our kitchen window to a nearby porch light that I leave on. The lamp has an older incandescent 60W light bulb in it providing heat and the feeder is wired on so that it sits next to the glass. My folks use a similar system, hanging an older model automotive work light with a 100W rough service incandescent bulb under their feeder. Outdoor incandescent Christmas lights can also be strung in a ball below feeders with their collective heat keeping the syrup from freezing in the feeder. A buddy told me their friend wires an empty essential oil diffuser under their hummer feeder and the small heater unit provides enough warm to keep the syrup flowing. By far the most inventive method I've heard of is customers of mine who taped Hot-Shot chemical hand warmer pads to the bottom of their pan styled feeder. You can now buy commercial feeder heaters including Hummer Hearth if the $50 price tag doesn't scare you away.

During the recent snowmageddon the Wildlife Rescue Association reported they had received over 75 calls from people who had found frozen or starving hummingbirds. In their medical building they had over a dozen hummingbirds at once that people had dropped off to be nursed back to health. Last week my friend at work came to me with a small Anna hummingbird that he had found laying on the ground. The little bird was soaked with rain with its tiny feathers clinging to its obviously dead body. I put a dime next to it for scale and took the picture that you see just above. For a person who had just brought a beaded hummingbird ornament home from the beach at La Manzanilla I see top of TNT), it was quite a sobering moment. Our yard is full of winter flowing shrubs for Anna's to forage on and our feeder is always kept thawed. If you want to feed overwintering hummingbirds you must keep your feeder warm and available or you risk killing the very birds you are trying to help.

For more information about Anna's hummingbirds and how to safety feed them in winter please refer to the following links:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




January 20, 2020

Digging Your Own Snowy Grave

As usual when we travel in January, we arrived home to find that the Lower Mainland had been turned into a winter wonderland. After both of the last two winter pilgrimages to warmer lands down south, the taxi that brought us home from the airport had to park on the street because there was too much snow in the driveway. My mother was staying in the house dog-sitting and at age 81 I had instructed her not to shovel any snow and instead asked the neighbour to simply carve a path from the road to the front door in case of significant snowfall. After trudging our luggage inside and unpacking, the very first job I undertook was to dig out the yard. With six inches of the white stuff plus plenty by the roadway from passing plow trucks, it was a heavy arduous job.

Even though I am in good physical shape and accustomed to digging, I know that snow shoveling can be dangerous due to the sheer weight and volume of snow, especially when it is allowed to build up, which was the case in this instance. Back in the early 1970's our neighbour was a nice Dutch man in his eighties named Mr. Kohey. He lived across the road with his wife in a home that had a large semi-circular driveway. While this meant you could always drive forwards, it also ensured there was twice as much blacktop as any other home in the neighbourhood. After a heavy snowfall, Mr. Kowie went out to clear his driveway, armed with a push shovel consisting of two foot square of plywood screwed onto a five foot length of 2x4. He managed to clear nearly two thirds of the snow before suffering a major heart attack and dying. I never forgot this incident and as I get older take extra care myself now that I'm above 55 years old.

I usually talk to people about taking care when shovelling after a heavy dump of snow, which is tough to do when laying on a beach with a margarita in my hand. One of my good shooting buddies Oliver who is my age and lives in White Rock never got the memo from me about the increased risk of heart attack from shoveling snow. Last week after the outflow snows he went outside to clear walkways, stairs and parking areas around his property on Columbia Street. His wife went off to work and was there when she received an urgent call from Peace Arch Hospital. It turns out a Transit driver had spotted Oliver laying in the snow near a bus stop with his shovel beside him. The driver stopped and administered CPR while 911 was called. Unfortunately even with help from emergency services and hospital staff, Oliver could not be resuscitated. It is believed he succumbed to a heart attack related to the exertion from shoveling snow.

A study in the Canadian Medial Association Journal found that from November to April, the snowfall months, among men a third of all heart attacks occurred the day after a snowfall. If there were two or three days of snow, the heart attack rate was even higher. The scary thing was they found this was true regardless of the person's age, cardiovascular risk, blood pressure or other health conditions. Women did not have this same link, likely because they avoid shoveling snow or perhaps use smaller shovels. The simple act of lifting snow creates a Valsava maneuver where people hold their breath during exertion. This can lower blood pressure and cause blood clots to form in coronary arteries, triggering a heart attack. Also when shoveling the arms are in motion while the body stands relatively still and in cold weather blood vessels can constrict, increasing the risk of clots. While no accurate data has been collected, it is believed shoveling snow is related to a hundred deaths across Canada each winter from heart attacks. Snow clearing is believed to be so dangerous that many medical sources tell men to stop shoveling when they hit age 50.

Here is an edited list of snow shoveling safety rules that was recently published in Canadian Family ( that I believe is worth sharing:

Get Ready

Before you head out to shovel, avoid smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and large meals.
Drink plenty of water before, during and after shoveling.
Dress in layers and wear boots designed to keep you from slipping.
Warm up! This is exercise and you should stretch before starting, with a special focus on your back. Do it again when you’re done.
Have the right shovel on hand. Studies have proven ergonomic shovels reduce muscle strain. Test shovels, paying special attention to how your back and wrist feel when you use it. To avoid heavy loads, a shovel should be 25-35 cm (10-14”) wide.
Scoops are fine to get snow out of the way, but using them for shoveling (lifting and throwing) is dangerous. You should be able to stand upright when using your scoop, with your arms bent at a 90° angle.

Get it Done

Wear safety glasses in windy conditions or when using a snowblower.
Safe snow removal should be done early and often. If possible, clear the snow as it accumulates if you’re expecting a lot.
Proper snow shoveling is done with your feet placed about hip-width apart. Face the snow you are about to shovel. With your weight on your front foot, use your leg to push the shovel. Shift your weight to the back foot, breathe in, lift and keep the scoop of snow close to your body. Bend your knees, keep the back straight, tighten your stomach muscles and lift with your legs. Walk to where you want to dump the snow.
Never twist. Face the snow you want to shovel and face the direction you’re throwing in.
If the snow is heavy, push it to edge of the dumping area and throw it out of the way from there.
Shovel no more than 15 scoops per minute and take a break every 15 minutes or so. If there’s someone around to help, you can each take 15 minute shifts at doing the heavy lifting.
At a rate of 15 scoops per minute, each shovel load should be no more than 5-7 kg (10-15 pounds). At a rate of 10 scoops per minute, the weight of each shovel load can be increased to about 11 kg (24 pounds).
Snow should not be thrown higher than 1.3 meters (approximately 4′), nor thrown further than 1 meter (about 3′).
Take it easy if snow is wet and heavy. A 5 x 9 meter (about 16 x 30 feet) driveway covered in 30.5 cm (one foot) of wet snow, equals approximately 3628 kg (four tons) of snow!
You should be able to stand up straight behind a snowblower. Maintain full control by moving slowly. If you have to push it, stay behind it as opposed to pushing sideways. NEVER use your hands to clear chutes or blades. Be sure to read the manual and use the machine as the manufacturer guidelines suggest.
If the plow blocks your driveway with a pile of snow, get on it ASAP. The longer it sits there, the harder it will be to remove.
Be aware of signs of strain or heart attack and never ignore these signals. Using a snowblower does NOT eliminate the risk of heart attack.

If you’re a senior citizen and/or have health conditions, consider hiring someone for snow removal or asking neighbours for help.
The long range forecast for the Lower Mainland does not show any below freezing temperatures for the next two weeks but we still have several months of winter ahead and the high probability of yet another snow event. With the elderly demographics here in the Semiahmoo Peninsula, I hope that this information can help keep people safe when clearing snow. This column is dedicated to my friend Oliver, a really great guy who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I ask you to remember what happened to Oliver when it snows and you are getting ready to go clear your property. As the picture used in this TNT states, snow shoveling is not for the faint of heart.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - January 6, 2020

Pearl of the Peninsula

My wife and mother were walking the dogs the other day in the neighbourhood above Crescent Beach when they encountered a large and beautiful bird. While we are used to seeing bald eagles and various owls in the region, spotting a peahen, the female version of peafowl (males are peacock) was definitely a first. The peahen was strutting around the side of the road pecking away, seemingly oblivious to our two dogs that were yapping up a storm over this strange looking bird. While not an invasive species, peafowl are considered an introduced species that Conservation officers do not respond to.

Another woman out walking her dog also stopped to check out the peahen and engaged in conversation about the new arrival. She informed the ladies that the bird had shown up in the past few weeks and could be found meandering from yard to yard in this heavily treed neighbourhood. It has already been such a hit with the residents that they have given her the name "Pearl". Rather interesting, she revealed that folks in the neighbourhood believe that Pearl was trapped and relocated from Sullivan Heights and let loose on Surrey Mayor Doug MacCallum's property not far away by a disgruntled resident.

For the past decade wild peafowl in Sullivan Heights numbering up to 100 birds have been ruffling feathers due to the messy excrement these large birds have been leaving on sidewalks, patios and roofs. It is believed they originally lived at a local farm that was developed into a subdivision and have now adapted to their new suburban environment. While many residents love the big colourful birds, others see them as a nuisance, especially in the spring breeding season when males can become agitated and aggressive. Besides threatening people and pets, the males peck at their reflection in windows and shiny vehicles, often damaging the paint.

Over the past year Surrey has been trapping the Sullivan flock to reduce their numbers with these peafowl relocated to the Vancouver Zoo in Aldergrove or adopted out to distant farms. In 2018 one Sullivan resident upset over the flock roosting in a large Douglas Fir above his house finally resorted to cutting the tree down without a permit to end the problem, receiving a $1,000 fine. Currently Surrey only traps nuisance peafowl here after receiving complaints from the public. It is believed there are still 40-50 birds living feral in the Sullivan area with people receiving fines of $250-$450 from Bylaws for feeding or harbouring them.

So far only the one peahen has been spotted in Crescent Heights but if a male peacock is also dropped off they will likely find each other with their loud cries and start breeding in the area. Unfortunately it only takes one person to cry fowl over these birds for the City of Surrey to begin to take action against them. There is no way of verifying whether Pearl was dropped off at the Mayor's house as claimed but it is a rather interesting rumour. Personaly I kind of like the idea of a few peafowl bringing some colour to the neighbourhood. Hopefully nobody will squawk about them and we can enjoy the company of these brightly feathered birds.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



December 30, 2019

TNT Year in Review 2019

To help celebrate the end of 2019, here is the TNT Year in Review that also is a quick reference to stories you may want to read.

January 7, A Long Walk to a Short Pier: A pictorial of the shoreline damage from Crescent Beach to the Semiahmoo Reserve of all of the damage inflicted by the windstorm that severely damaged the White Rock Pier.
January 14, Sobering Thoughts: An in-depth look at the changes to Canada's drunk driving laws that now allow the police to demand a breath sample without any signs of impairment.
January 21, Hobnobbin With Hobbits: We take you down under to New Zealand where the Canadian Rifle Team arrives to compete in the ICFRA World Long Range Championships.
January 28, White Rock Sun closed for vacation.

February 4, Shooting Kiwis in New Zealand: A week of target rifle shooting with the world's best marksmen is detailed with fullbore target rifle shooting being fired at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards.
February 11, Palma Sunday: The Holy Grail of international target rifle shooting is held with the Australian team beating out six other countries to capture the coveted Palma Trophy.
February 19, Tracking Surrey's Snow Plow Tracker: After coming home to a foot of snow I give details on how Surreyites can watch snowplows in action on city streets on an online map.
February 25, Dingy Dock For White Rock: After the pier was destroyed, a look at the possibility of installing a marina in front of White Rock or a dingy dock to replace the sailing club dock.

March 4, Cinderella Story, Fairy-tale Ending: The Semiahmoo Totems girl's basketball team wins the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls AAA Basketball Championships for the first time since 1953.
March 11, Ditch The Switch: It was time to look at getting rid of the twice yearly time change and efforts on both sides of the US/Canada border to ditch the switch.
March 18, It's A-boat Time: After the White Rock shoreline being strewn with wrecked sailboats, a column on changes to the laws covering derelict vessels in our waterways.
March 25, Another Day, Another Bluff Clearcut: Yet another story about millionaires cutting trees for views on unstable slide-prone slopes above the BNSF Railway tracks, this time near the 1001 Steps.

April 1, News of the Day: On April Fool's Day a tongue in cheek article loaded with hard to believe stories including Donald Trump revealing that "fake news" is actually real news.
April 8, Auto Crime Prevention Notices Preventing Nothing: Instead of Surrey RCMP staking out the crime prone South Surrey Park and Ride, the lot is littered with ICBC flyers.
April 15, Freak Sliding Away: With heavy rains another mudslide roars onto the tracks from the Ocean Park bluffs stopping rail traffic until the mess is dumped yet again onto the beach.
April 22, Pitcairn Not Going Postal: Imagine an important package taking longer to be mailed than it would take to walk to Ottawa. Best part it was returned to sender by Canada Post.
April 29, Reach For The Beach: A trip to Crescent Rock Beach quickly yields five different stories from this clothing-optional shoreline that are fill this revealing TNT.

May 7, Someone Stole SURREY: Crime gets personal when someone steals the highly prized SURREY personalized license plate from my ride while visiting a Surrey park.
May 13, Ratatouille on the Menu: Rats running roughshod around a White Rock restaurant and what Fraser Health environmental health officers are doing about it.
May 21, Feel the Buzz: A swarm of honey bees makes for a sweet story about the business (bee's nest?) of beekeeping that is alive and well in Surrey.
May 27, Steal Your Love: An attempted dog-napping of a Pomeranian named Love near Earl Marriott Secondary school leaves me barking mad.

June 3, The Plain Facts About Plainfin Midshipman Fish: Read about this humming toadfish where the male is the one who looks after the eggs and young brood.
June 10, Giant Hogweed vs. Giant Parsnip: With media alerts about Giant Hogweed, I detail how to tell this nasty invasive plant from its smaller native cousin.
June 17, WAG - We All Go (for weed that is): After months of prior knowledge, I finally get to reveal what I know about the Indigenous Bloom marijuana store.
June 25, Busy as Beavers: Illegal tree cutting on the Hump in White Rock plus unauthorized tree trimming along the Nicomekyl River in Surrey are explored.

July 2, Zamboni Skate-A-Thon: A history lesson about BC's first Zamboni ice resurfacer that spent time at Centennial Arena before ending up at the BC Sports Hall of Fame.
July 9, Seeing Sea Stars: A day outing to the shoreline at Kwomais Point finds a sea star massacre where 48 of these creatures are left to die on a rock in the hot sun.
July 16, "I Want To Walk In My Own Two Feet": John Jefferson's long road to recovery after a motorcycle crash is chronicled including his successful talus bone replacement.
July 23, White Rock South in SoCal: San Clemente California is visited yet again, giving people from White Rock ideas on how to run a thriving seaside community.
July 30, ...And Then I Snapped: A very short piece on the day when the meniscus of my knee ruptured, leaving me on the disabled list and waiting for orthoscopic surgery.

August 6, Green For Cash Grab: The new red light and speed intersection cameras have me seeing red about this blatant cash grab with hard to see warning signs.
August 13, Riverside on the Riverfront: Surrey residents are given the chance to have their say about the land the city expropriated from the Riverside Golf Course.
August 20, "Smart" Meter My Ass: After years of bullying, threats and fines, BC Hydro finally installs a so-called smart meter on our home despite continued protests.
August 26, Surrey Sharpshooters 1st and 3rd in Canada: Fullbore rifle shooting again takes the stage with matches in BC and Ontario and Surrey shooters leading the way.

Sept. 2, A Short Walk Around a Long Pier: For those people who hadn't seen it, the substantial repairs done to the White Rock pier are revealed in story and photographs.
Sept. 9, 40th Avenue Fiasco: After yet another fatal crash at 176 St., three dangerous intersections along 40 Ave in south Surrey are examined in deadly detail.
Sept. 16, Colebrook Park: Surrey's latest park on Colebrook Rd. west of the KGB is explored including pictures of the zany boardwalk that criss-crosses the bog there.
Sept. 23, Federal Election Primer, S. Sry-WR: Everything you ever wanted to know about the five people who want your vote in the upcoming Federal election.
Sept. 30, Taking The Tour: The Peninsula Art Tour allows people in the Semiahmoo Peninsula to epose themselves to art.

Oct. 7, Cloverdale Cockfighting Corner: After yet another cockfighting ring is busted near the corner of 168 St. and 50 Ave., this rural area gets put under a microscope.
Oct. 14, From Guns to Laser: Tri-Cities Washington is featured with a record score at the Rattlesnake Range and info about the LIGO deep space gravitational observatory.
Oct. 21, Battleground British Columbia: On election day, the website is chronicled including polling data that shows Gordie Hogg will lose his seat and the Liberals form a minority government.
Oct. 28, Crosswalk Your heart and Hope Not to Die: After yet another scooter related vehicle crash, crosswalk safety is looked at including ways to improve pedestrian safety.

Nov. 4, Dog Gone Dangerous Driving: Dogs flying out of the back of vehicles and being injured or killed is examined with some extremely vivid personal stories.
Nov. 12, Digging in Dinotown: Of all of the interesting things I've ever discovered at work, the fossilized dinosaur egg I dug up while landscaping in Surrey takes the cake.
Nov. 18, Beer For The Pier is Here: The Semi-Pen's resident hop-head takes a look at the fundraising efforts for the White Rock pier including craft beer from local microbreweries.
Nov. 26, Try to Finish The Rugby Field House: The new rugby clubhouse will already be old before it ever gets finished at the snail's pace of construction.

Dec. 2, Tighten Your Belts, Hold Onto Your Wallets: Good advice for Surrey taxpayers before the public open house on the Draft Five Year Financial Plan with the costs for the new Surrey Police Department.
Dec. 9, All Hail The King of Surrey: Surrey football star Jonathan Kongbo who won a Grey Cup ring with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is now headed to the NFL after rehabbing his injured knee.
Dec. 16, Not My Mayor: Surrey's Mayor Doug MacCallum's election promises, decisions and ideas are examined along with the call for a referendum on the proposed change in policing.
Dec. 24, Christmas Gift List: The annual list of naughty and nice gifts we hope Santa left under the tree for the movers, shakers and decision makers from the Semiahmoo peninsula.
Dec. 30, TNT Year in Review 2019: In case you didn't notice, you're reading it.

There you have it folks, the titles and topics for another year's worth of The Naked Truth in the White Rock Sun.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


December 23, 2019

Christmas Gift List 2019

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.

Jennifer Brooks and family - For the mother and family of Judson Brooks who waited four years for justice before finding out the BC Prosecution Service had dropped all charges against the RCMP officer who shot Hudson outside the south Surrey precinct, a lifetime supply of Kleenex and a copy of Al Green's soulful ballad "How do you heal a broken heart"

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor - For the man who can be seen cruising around town in his vintage 1966 Ford Mustang fastback in candy apple red paint, a fresh 289 Ford engine to make his baby purr once again. As a stocking stuffer, still waiting for a "Mustang Parking Only" sign for his stall at City Hall.

Brian Edwards, Chief Supt. Surrey RCMP - For the officer now in charge of the Surrey RCMP a gift card to the Army & Navy annual shoe sale where he can go to get more boots on the ground since no new cops will be hired in Surrey once again. What he really wants from Santa this Christmas is a referendum on the police transition question.

Helen Fathers, WR Councillor - For this veteran White Rock councillor an ocean kayak to enjoy the smooth sailing and calm waters now that she is working with a much more respectful and competent Mayor and Council since the former slate was wiped clean.

Kerri-Lynne Findlay, Conservative MP for SS/WR - For the Conservative lady who took on good ol' Gordie Hogg for the second time and came out victorious, a DVD copy of the 37th season of NBC's reality series "Survivor - David vs. Goliath." As a stocking stuffer, Queen's News of the World album featuring the hit single "We are the champions."

Gordon Hogg, former Liberal MP for SS/WR - After decades of public service and 17 election campaigns, a Lazy-Boy recliner and a fine bottle of Caribbean rum so that Gordie can now relax a little without worrying about the needs of an appreciative public. For his long-suffering wife Laverne, our sympathies now that Gordie will be home full time.

Doug MacCallum, City of Surrey Mayor - Fresh off the disaster of a council meeting where Surrey's 5-year budget including millions for the new Surrey Police Dept. but no new cops or firemen were rammed through without any questions or discussion, a copy of Robert's Rules of Order manual. As a stocking stuffer, a paperback version of Mein Kampf.

Gus Melonas - BNSF Railway Spokesperson - For the railway mouth piece a toy train under the tree for the work he does keeping us informed about railway issues here in the Semi-Pen. For billionaires Warren Buffet and Jimmy Pattison, a lump of coal in their stockings for contributing to rising CO2 levels and ocean levels by sending coal to China.

Traci Reddies, MLA for Surrey-WR - After suffering from heart failure and acute hepatitis from a virus she picked up while on holiday in Brazil, a "staycation" here in BC that hopefully won't result in hospitalization from serious health problems that almost gave her constituents a collective heart attack.

Semiahmoo First Nation Council - For Chief Harley Chappel and Councillors Joanne and Genine Cook, a hot-line direct to White Rock City Hall now that the two Councils are talking again. As a stocking stuffer, a new sign changing Totem Park to Bernard Charles Plaza, something that somehow got missed 10 years ago.

Darryl Walker, Mayor of White Rock - For White Rock's Mayor, an ugly Christmas sweater to replace the worn out Mr. Rodger's sweater he invariably shows up wearing for White Rock's Council meetings. For a stocking stuffer, a gift card to The Men's Wearhouse.

Dianne Watts, political talking head - For the former Mayor of Surrey and the former MP for south Surrey-White Rock who now gets to pontificate on TV, radio and print media on any topic deemed political in nature across this region, a box of soap.

The White Rock Pier - For the second year in a row, this inanimate object and not a person makes the Christmas list for Semi-pen movers and shakers. For Canada's longest pier that reopened in August after major repairs, a boat load of money to complete the rebuild of the remaining structure.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year planning your safe ride home.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


December 16, 2019

Not My Mayor

In the United States the movement #Not My President is giving Americans a way to focus on the actions of President Donald J. Trump. I'm starting to think we need the same type of campaign here in Surrey to deal with our Mayor Doug MacCallum whose decision making process and unsubstantiated claims in the media are under public scrutiny. I understand that the Surrey Safe coalition ran for election under a party banner and platform, winning the Mayor's chair plus nearly sweeping the seats in Council. This victory was made possible by the splitting of the Surrey First slate and the desire by the Surrey electorate for change. There are 337,289 eligible voters in Surrey of which only 101,588 cast a ballot in the 2018 civic election or a lowly 35.3 percent. A total of 45,564 people voted for Doug MacCallum amounting to only 13.5% of the electorate, hardly a ringing endorsement for the man who once again is the Mayor of Surrey.

Ridesharing with Uber and Lyft has been long promised by the Provincial government yet it doesn't seem to matter whether it's the Liberals or the NDP, their arrival has been repeatedly delayed. It is embarrassing that Vancouver is the last major metropolitan city in North America that does not allow ridesharing firms to compete with established taxi companies. Even more embarrassing to the City of Surrey is that the Translink Mayor's Council voted last week to fast track a regional business licence for ridesharing companies, with Doug MacCallum being the only voice of opposition. Asked to explain his vote he said, "Again, a large amount of our residents in the city of Surrey do not support ridehailing." The exact opposite appears to be true with a July 2019 Mainstreet Research poll finding that 78% of Surrey residents supported ridesharing with a further 74% wanting it implemented "as soon as possible." The Surrey Board of Trade surveyed 6,000 Surrey businesses in May of 2019 with 90% saying they strongly supported having ridesharing services in Surrey.

The replacement of the Surrey RCMP with a new Surrey Police Force was one of Doug MaCallum's Save Surrey election promises. Unfortunately this campaign plank did not give many details as to the cost, length of transition, number of police officers plus the effect on the city's budget. If the people in Surrey knew this adventure was going to cost $130 million to implement, result in the cutting of many planned capital projects, have no new police or firefighters being hired for two years and result in over 38 fewer officers for $19 million more a year, I wonder who would have voted for Safe Surrey? Less cops for lots more money doesn't equate to better crime-fighting by my math at a time when Vancouver is hiring an additional 25 officers this year. Unfortunately the Province has ruled out holding a referendum on the policing change in Surrey, ignoring a public petition on this issue that now has approximately 35,000 signatures and counting towards its stated goal of 50,000.

While marijuana has been legalized across Canada and retail stores operated by the Provincial government and private enterprise continue to open, pot dispensaries are not being allowed to open in Surrey. Mayor MacCallum is against cannabis stores and production facilities in BC's second largest city “until we get crime under control.” What is ridiculous about this statement is that keeping legal marijuana shops from opening only allows the black market to continue to flourish across Surrey. There are multiple "green-line" delivery services easily found online that will deliver your choice of marijuana flowers and concentrates directly to your door. This allows for gangs to continue to control both the production and delivery of marijuana products while ensuring the government sales and tax dollars dwindle. The Indigenous Bloom dispensary on the Semiahmoo First Nations does thank Mayor MacCallum for the defacto monopoly they have been given in legal retail sales in Surrey.

I had to save the best for last, Mayor MacCallum's desire to build a "wandering canal" in Surrey running from the Fraser River to south Surrey along “a street that’s not used that much.” While this vision was first thought to be a joke when it was revealed in July but again it made waves in November when the Mayor suggested it would be possible in the Bridgeview area. With the 5-year plan diverting millions for the Surrey Police Force and budgets being cut across the board, it is nonsensical to even consider floating such a bizarre plan. MacCallum is on record as saying “The idea certainly came to me when I noticed that in Qatar, when I was there, that shopping centres had canals instead of walkways in a lot of their shopping centres. But if you look at other places, like Venice, they have canals that they use for transportation.” News bulletin for the Mayor; Bridgeview isn't Venice and in case you missed it, Venice was just devastated by historic flooding.

It would be nice to see Mayor Doug MacCallum representing the residents of Surrey instead of causing such turmoil and spreading blatant mistruths. It is time he stop supporting the taxi lobby and their donors and work with mayors across the region to bring ride hailing to Surrey. The transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Force should be put to the people and a referendum held on this important topic that will have ramifications in the city for years if not decades. Business licences need to be granted for retail pot shops and the green lines closed down to take money out of the hands of gangsters. As far as the concept of a Surrey canal, forgettaboutit; they need a new ice area in Cloverdale a lot more than Bridgeview needs another water-filled ditch.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




December 09. 2019

All Hail the King of Surrey

Most people know that the Mayor of Surrey is Doug McCallum (once again), others believe that Dianne Watts is the Queen of Surrey, but but few realize that Surrey has a King. He is no other than Jonathan Kongbo, aka "King Kongbo", a 23 year-old Surreyite who now appears destined to join an elite list of Canadians who play in the National Football League.

Jonathan Kongbo was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, but his family moved to Canada when he was 5 years-old to escape the civil war that threatened their safety. Fortunately his father had a degree in Agricultural Sciences and found work as an inspector for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Growing up in Surrey Kongbo was a multi-sport athlete attending Holy Cross Regional High School. Excelling in basketball, he was persuaded by his coaches and the Holy Cross principal to try out for their Crusaders football team in Grade 12, believing his impressive size and speed would better suit that sport and increase his likelihood of a US college scholarship.

It turned out they were right as Johnathan quickly attracted attention of football scouts, becoming the top junior college prospect in the United States. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming where he was a redshirt in 2014, meaning he participated in academic work but did not actively play for the Cowboy's football team. In 2015 Kongbo transferred to the Arizona Western College in Yuma where he was a Junior All-American with the Matadors, getting 49 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and 9.5 quarterback sacks. Moving on from there he played college football for the Tennessee Volunteers in 2016 and 2017, again adding to his impressive resume of tackles. In his senior year Kongbo moved to linebacker and after only six games tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in October 2018 during a game against Auburn and did not play at for the rest of the season.

Even with his injured knee that needed surgery and rehabbing, Kongbo entered the Canadian Football League Draft and was at one time ranked the number one prospect by the CFL Scouting Bureau. He was eventually taken 5th overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, signed to a 3-year contract on May 17, 2019 and put on their 6-game inured reserve list. His rational was to play football in Canada rather than taking a year off to rehab his damaged knee. Jonathan finally got into his first professional football game in Canada on August 1st against the Toronto Argonauts. In the 12 regular season games he played for the Bombers this year, he recorded 12 tackles and 1 sack, helping Winnipeg to make the CFL Playoffs. Komgbo played in all of the Bomber's playoff games this fall, including the 107 Grey Cup against the Hamilton Tiger Cats where Winnipeg won their first Grey Cup Championship in 29 years.

In a stunning move last week the Winnipeg Blue Bombers released their all-star defensive end to pursue work in the National Football League. In a club statement Bomber's GM Kyle Walters revealed "He (Kongbo) chose to sign with our organization rather than wait for a season to continue training. This agreement came with the understanding that if he received any NFL interest, we would work with him to help him pursue those interests. Jonathan is a great young man and deserves the opportunity to explore all avenues in his career. We wish him the best and certainly will welcome his return if nothing comes to fruition in this regard." It has not yet been revealed which NFL team or teams is looking at acquiring his services but obviously the US scouts have not forgotten about the 6'5" tall, 255 pound Kongbo who will soon be sporting a Grey Cup ring from his rookie season.

This rising football star looks to now be ready to hit the gridiron back in the States in the near future. Currently there are 16 Canadians under contract with NFL teams with 10 of these playing on active rosters. There are even two Canadians in the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Arnie Weinmeister, a defensive tackle for the New York Giants (1950-1953) inducted in 1984 and Bronko Nagurski, a fullback for the Chicago Bears (1930-37, 1943) plus multiple time World Heavy Weight Champion wrestler inducted in 1963. If Kongbo is signed with an NFL team, he will be the first person from Surrey to play professional football in the United States. I'm kind of hoping it is the San Francisco 49ers or Seattle Seahawks who have shown interest in Jonathan Kongbo but regardless of what team he ends up playing for, I will be cheering for the King of Surrey. You can follow his foray into the NFL on his twitter feed: @King_Kongbo

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


December 02, 2019

Tighten Your Belts, Hold Onto Your Wallets

Monday is going to be a special day in the history of Surrey with the Finance Committee holding a public meeting at City Hall to consider the Draft Five Year Financial Plans. This meeting will allow Surrey residents to give their thoughts on the proposed budget, starting at 1:00 p.m. in Council Chambers at 13450 104 Ave in Whalley. With changes made by Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Councillors, I would expect a large capacity crowd for this event that will proceed the Monday night Council meeting where the Budget will receive first, second and third reading. You can find links to the 2020-2024 General Operating, Capital Program, Utilities and Self-Funded Programs, plus City Grants for 2020 corporate reports on the website at

It is worth while noting that last year's 5-year budget plan axed $136 million in capital projects that Mayor McCallum said was needed in order to reduce city debt levels. The 2020-2024 budget's main focus is on paying for the transition from RCMP the new Surrey Police Department. Surrey will spend $700,000 on a police transition project office and over $25 million to pay for costs for the new SPD. Over the five years it is estimated that the additional operating and one time costs for the police department changeover will total $130 million. In 2019 Surrey will spend a total of $186 million for police services plus civilian support staff, which includes the 10% federal subsidy for the RCMP and additional revenues. By 2022 when the transition is complete and the RCMP contract cancelled, Surrey anticipates paying $205 million a year for policing costs.

Unfortunately money doesn't grow on trees and planned residential property tax increase Surrey residents need to realize that even with the increase is policing costs, it does not mean more boots on the ground. There will be no increase in the number of RCMP officers in 2020 until the time that their contract is terminated. When the SPD is finally up and running, the Surrey Police Board will then make decisions on staffing numbers. The Surrey Fire Service will feel the pinch of the police force transition with no new members being added even though Surrey is growing by an average of 1,000 people a month. The police Chief has assured Council that not increasing fire-fighting capability would not compromise safety in Surrey but more people and buildings increases the demands for the SFS.

Capital spending on the arts in Surrey is playing second fiddle to the cops with a measly $850,000 budgeted for five years, which corresponds to 32 cents for every person living in Surrey per year. There is no new money for the postponed Grandview Heights Community Centre or the new ice arena in Cloverdale. There is $10 million budgeted for the Cloverdale Arena in 2024, which might have to be spent on changing the refrigerating system away from dangerous ammonia. Just as in 2019 there is no money for increasing staffing levels even though the report notes that "this is not a long term sustainable strategy." If you thought the roads in Surrey weren't great, the budget calls for no increase in the Roads & Traffic Safety Levy for the years 2020-2024. Fortunately there was nowhere in the budget where money was allocated for Mayor McCallum's zany canal idea, aka "Dougie's ditch."

Unfortunately due to a mechanical breakdown on my truck that I will be getting fixed on Monday afternoon I will not be able to attend the meeting at Surrey City Hall. If you do not want to make the excursion up into Whalley to be part of the proceedings, please realize that you can watch them live. They are available on the website at where you hit the blue "Watch Council Meeting Live" tab. A simple Google search of "Surrey Council Meeting Live Broadcast" will also take you there. We now know how much the police force transition will cost us, what remains to be seen is whether it improves the policing services we receive in Surrey and helps reduce the crime problem that has plagued the city for far too long.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 26, 2019

Try To Finish The Rugby Field House

In south Surrey at the SW corner of 148 St and 20 Ave are two immaculate playing fields used for rugby by the Bayside Rugby Football Club (, aka the Bayside Sharks. In existence since 1988 Bayside RFC promotes kids rugby grades K-7, junior rugby U14-U19, men's rugby in 3 divisions, women's rugby, SOB's over 35 and summer co-ed touch rugby. Many years ago the idea of a clubhouse with changerooms and washrooms was first conceived and in 2013 the Bayside RFC began formal discussions with the City of Surrey on forming a partnership to build a facility for field users, host teams, community groups and private functions.

The basic agreement was for the City to base build the washrooms and changerooms below plus the roof and exterior with the Bayside RFC providing the funding and construction of the interior of the upstairs clubhouse plus an outside deck. To sweeten the deal, many of the players and directors of the team provided donations in kind, providing building materials plus performing various construction tasks at a reduced rate. The total budget was approximately $2.3 million with the City paying $1.4 million for their part, and Bayside spending $600,000 to $1,000,000 for tenant improvements.

Bayside RFC worked hard to finance their portion of the build doing fundraising in the community with many rugby connected people donating to the cause. Their "Build-A-Wall" fundraiser sold bricks for an interior wall for $500 engraved with memories of dearly departed, family names, company names and corporate donors. They held their Field House Lottery this summer with over $40,000 in prizes and a sizeable 50/50 draw. Donors to the Rugby Field House are eligible for a tax receipt through the Canadian Rugby Foundation. If you wish to join the Bayside Builders you can donate via cheque, Paypal or Interact to the Bayside Athletic Association, or request an engraved name on the wall to builders@baysiderfccom.

The issue about the Rugby Field House is the slow pace of construction. Shovels first hit the ground in May of 2018 with a completion date of April 2019. Unfortunately the building is far from complete and not even at a lock up phase as we head into the second winter of the building being exposed to the elements. The construction is so far behind that the sign advertising the April 2019 completion date was finally removed this summer. Currently the lower level had the doors on, the roof has been built but only covered with membrane and the upstairs doors and windows are missing. I took the pictures in this TNT of the building in the first week of October and it still looks relatively the same today.

Talking with Bayside RFC executive Stephen Black, he explained that a lack of a construction schedule was hampering getting the building completed. Many rugby players running construction companies had complained of a lack of advance notice in order to line up their crews to complete their tasks. The club cannot begin to complete the inside of the clubhouse and the deck until the windows are installed and the roof is completed. This project is moving ahead so slowly that there now is no set completion date, seven months after the job was to have been finished. This building is being overseen by the City of Surrey Parks Department with Project Manager Rudi Booiman supervising the rather lengthy construction.

I should point out that the Bayside RFC has had a great relationship with the city and appreciates the top-notch fields that they consider the best they've ever played on. The issue is that the construction delays are hurting fundraising, while players are still being forced to trudge over to the South Surrey Athletic Park for changerooms and washroom facilities. With the roof not completed and upstairs windows and doors not installed, wind can blow rain and snow into the building, possibly causing damage before it is ever completed. There is an upcoming meeting scheduled with Tim Neufeld, the city’s park development services manager, and it is hoped that the building delays will finally be addressed and a proper construction schedule created so that the Rugby Field House can get back on track.

On a final rugby note, I leave you with the Semiahmoo Old Boys Rugby Football Club's theme song "We are SOB's", sung to he tune of "Sweet Molly Malone" in the key of G, website at

Verse 1
We come from South Surrey, and White Rock, and Delta
We run helter-skelter against other teams.
We're all a bit older but shoulder to shoulder
We still play great rugby, at least in our dreams.

We are SOB's the scourge of all ruggers
We are SOB's

Verse 2
Our hair is much thinner, our waistlines are fatter.
But that doesn't matter, we'll play win or lose.
We'll fumble and stumble but no one will grumble
Cos after the game we'll be into the booze.

We are SOB's etc.

Verse 3
And when at last our playing days are all finished
we won't feel diminished, we've had some good years.
But for all sorts of reasons we've just run out of seasons.
So get up to the bar, boys, and down some more beers!

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




November 18, 2019

Beer For The Pier is Here

I've been a avid specialty beer drinker for years that started with my airline Captain father's travels that exposed him to plenty more than generic Canadian lager. Unable to purchase locally made beers matching those he found on frequent overseas trips, he started home brewing his own using recipes he dug up years before the Internet. I followed his lead, making ales of my own, often carrying carboys into the Watershed Park in Delta to fill with artesian well water that was chlorine free. When the microbrewery revolution began, I started enjoying Old Yale Beer from Chilliwack who won Canada's best IPA three times before taking the Canadian Brewery of the Year award in 2014. Since that time I have visited countless Craft breweries and definitely have my favourites including some only a short distance from home.

When the pier was seriously damaged in last year's winter wind storm, many in the Semi-pen community banded together to help fund repairs. The White Rock Friends of the Pier Committee have played a vital role in collecting donations, selling planks on the repaired pier, plus planning events and fundraising ( It did not take long before local brewers realized that "pier" and "beer" rhymed and this summer White Rock Beach Beer and 3 Dogs Brewing, both on Russel Ave. near Johnson Rd., collaborated to produce the Pier-Fect beer that was sold in house and on tap at select restaurants. Partial proceeds from this collaboration were then donated to the coffers at Friends of the Pier.

Not to be outdone, Trading Post Brewing in Langley stepped up to the plate to also help with pier restoration. Not only did they have large production volume, they also have their own canning line and distribution across BC through the BCLB. They now produce their "Beer FOR The Pier" featuring a label with the White Rock pier, setting sun over Boundary Bay, plus the lamps and archway overhead. I was in Trading Post recently and was very surprised when I saw the iconic pier motif on cans in their cooler. The label reads , "Together with the "Friends of the Pier" committee, we created this light, easy drinking Kolsch using local Lumberjack hops to remind you of good times strolling the pier with friends." It goes on to say, "All proceeds from this "Beer For The Pier" will go towards repairing the historic White Rock pier so more memories like this can be made for year's to come."

Don't think I missed the "can be made..." reference on the label. Instead of growler fills, being able to purchase cans allows for a much broader market for this fund raising beer. I have to admit the label is pure White Rock and anyone who has visited the City By The Sea would easily recognize the pier on the front of the can.

If you are in Langley, drop by the Trading Post brewing and tasting room located at #107-20120 64th Ave., Langley, BC. You can also find the four packs of 473 ml. tall cans that are 5% ABV and 18 IBU at local liquor stores. Nothing like having a beer and helping to pay for Pier restoration with $2 million in donations needed to reach their final goal. In the time it took to write this TNT I got to enjoy a Beer For The Pier and rather enjoyed it.

Too bad you can't have one when at the beach, I guess we'll have to wait for next year's White Rock Craft Beer Festival for that opportunity.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 12, 2019

Digging in Dinotown


It really is amazing what you can find if you keep an eye open as you go through the world. Over the years I have had the good fortune of finding many valuables while at work. I cannot count the number of wallets and purses I have located, all which were either returned to their owners or delivered to the police. Once while working in downtown Vancouver I found 5 wallets in one day that I gave to a startled VPD officer sitting in a squad car on Granville Street. Not to be outdone, my wife Sheryl once found two wallets on the snowy slopes of Whistler in the same afternoon, both of which were returned to their very thankful owners in the Village with cards and cash intact. I've come across plenty of jewellery too, with the most notable finds being a one carat diamond gold men's ring and a hand cast custom 14 K gold chain, both found in parking lots.

This year myself and my crew have come across over $8,000 worth of treasures laying in the street. One was a tablet bag or "murse" that was empty except for a few mundane items. The man that found it looked at the Prada name badge and guessed it was a cheap Chinese knock-off. Upon further inspection it became clear that the handbag was actually the real deal, with a quick internet search revealing a retail price of $3,200. A month ago while driving down an alley I spotted a buffet that had been discarded next to a dumpster. A quick pit-stop revealed that it was made from Honduras mahogany wood in New York prior to 1920. We loaded it for a furniture restorer friend in White Rock who figures it will be worth $3,000-$4,000 when properly refinished. Just last week the latest find was a set of four BMW mags and X-ice radials put out for disposal that we quickly turned into $550 cash on Craigslist. Truly, one man's garbage is another man's gold.

Sometimes it it not the value but the age that is the most significant factor in a find. One day I was working with shovel in hand when a rock came out of the hole I was digging. No it wasn't a big gold nugget or massive gem, it was just a rock not much different than the millions I have moved over my lifetime. What caught my eye was not the colour or even the texture, but the rather interesting oval shape. As I picked it up I said to my guys, "Hey, I think this is a dinosaur egg." Needless to say, they all had a good laugh at my expense, as we were landscaping on a property in Surrey. Even with the ribbing I was taking, I kept it because to my untrained eye, it looked exactly the same as ones I had seen at rock and gem shows in the past. It even sat in the work truck for a while until I finally brought it inside and gave it a very careful cleaning.

Once the dirt was off it, the preserved details of this rather unique find became very clear. Measuring 9 cm. long by 6 cm. wide and 5 cm. tall, this oval shape rock showed a smooth outer casing that appeared to be fossilized egg shell. While missing in about 60% of the surface, enough was left spread about on the top side on a thin layer to show that my rock had once indeed had a complete covering of this material. What I surmised would be the egg white was hardened rock, very rough and quite different from the surface layer. Turning the rock over onto its bottom flat side revealed a round flat circle of very smooth rock that curved up into the surrounding substrate with loose edges you could easily stick a knife tip into. What I was looking at was the fossilized yolk, which was the final revealing point that I had actually stumbled across a real dinosaur egg.

Of course once I realized what I had, it was time to hit Encyclopedia Google to check out images and descriptions of other dinosaur eggs. While I thought my specimen was really unique, I suddenly realized that dinosaur eggs with embryos baby dinosaur bones were far more interesting. Another revelation was that most dinosaur eggs are round and not oval, with circular eggs being laid by herbivores and oval ones by carnivores. Intact nests of dinosaur eggs are also more highly coveted by paleontologists and collectors than single random finds. What makes my dinosaur egg special is that I wasn't digging for bones in the Alberta badlands that is known for fossils, but simply planting shrubs in Surrey. Some people may think it looks like a giant turd but I can assure you that from research I now know that dinosaur dung looks quite different.

There are still many mysteries surrounding this egg. I have no idea how old it is, what type of dinosaur laid it, or how it happened to be deposited into Surrey soil. I also do not know the value off this egg, not do I really care. What I do know is that it was free to me and I have no intention of ever selling it as it's the most interesting thing I've ever found. The egg now occupies a prominent position on one of our shelving units that contains collectibles, blown glass and indigenous baskets. I always get a laugh when people visiting our home look at this shelf and ask, "What's that rock doing there?" When I tell them to grab it and take a look (It's a fossilized rock, you can't break it) they almost always respond with "Hey, is this a dinosaur egg?"

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 04, 2019

Dog Gone Dangerous Driving

Last week the BC Williams Lake SPCA released information about an accident in October involving a German Shepherd cross puppy who fell out of the back of a moving pickup sustaining a serious leg injury. The dog named Chilli was in the box without any form of restraint which is illegal under Section 72 of the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act and Section 9.3 of the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. As someone who previously had a German Shepherd for a pet and companion, the picture of Chili now minus a front leg, was truly heartbreaking. You can read the full details of this story on the Williams Lake Tribune at

I was once following a friend's truck heading home from camping at Chilliwack Lake that had a young Rottweiler sitting in the back. Near the tight S curve at Tamahi Creek the dog climbed onto some camping gear and then was thrown out of the pickup on a sharp corner. It first landed on the asphalt at 60 kmh before sliding onto the gravel shoulder and down into the surrounding forest. I quickly stopped and made my way into the bush, following the sounds of wimpering and yelps to find the dog some twenty feet down from the hillside. I gently carried the badly injured dog back up to the road and reunited him with its frantic owner who eventually had turned around. The Rottweiller survived his near death experience with extensive veterinary help and a very large bill.

Unfortunately this was not my only experience with animals flying out of vehicles. Years ago I was driving past the intersection of KGB and 152 St with my friend who was an ambulance attendant when we heard a large crash. Cutting through the then Mazda dealership parking lot, we came across a scene of destruction, a Ford F250 that had rear-ended three cars waiting at a red light. This so-called accident happened at just after noon and involved a drunk driver, with many irate motorists ensuring he did not leave the scene. The people in the car that had taken the brunt of the crash seemed okay but my friend Ian told them to stay put and began to check for injuries. I walked forward towards the next car and spotted what I thought was an infant dressed in a white sleeper laying on the street in death throws and covered in blood. It took a moment for me to realize it was not a child but someone's small dog, leaving me wondering how it had got caught up in the carnage.

I approached the driver's door of the car in front of where the dog laid dying and encountered an elderly woman behind the wheel who appeared to be uninjured. I asked her if she was okay, she responded "I think so" and then asked me if I had seen her dog, a small white Bichon Friese that had been sitting above the back seats near the window. It was then that I realized the broken rear window was the result of this lady's pet being ejected from the car by the force of the crash. I went back to check on the dog that had since stopped moving and found it dead from head trauma, either from hitting the car behind or the asphalt. I had the unfortunate task of informing the driver that her dog had broken through the rear window and had not survived the crash. I'll never forget the look on her face when I gave her the bad news before moving on to check the condition of the occupant of the last car involved in the chain-collision.

At the very least dogs should be tethered in the middle of the front of the truck box so they can't jump out. Even better is to crate them and secure with tie downs, the method I used to transport my German Shepherd to obedience class. Unrestrained pets inside a vehicle can be ejected in car crashes through windows or when vehicle doors fly open. If you like to drive with your dog on your lap keep in mind that if the air bag doesn't kill them, the impact with the dash likely will. Our dogs travel in the rear seat with safety harnesses that attach to the seat belts for maximum protection, or crated in the back of our SUV for long trips.

Many people say their dogs are like their children so I suggest we treat them as such and keep them safe. You wouldn't drive around with kids running around the back of a pickup truck or have them in the car without seat belts would you? Think about that before a car crash that you survive without injuries becomes a death sentence for man's best friend. I'd like to close out this TNT with a quote from comedian and author Louis C.K.: "You know the only thing happier than a three-legged dog? A four-legged one."

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



OctobEr 28, 2019

Crosswalk Your Heart and Hope Not to Die

CBC Vancouver picture

On Saturday morning at 11 a.m. a red pick up truck struck and seriously injured a person driving a mobility scooter in the crosswalk at 56 Ave. and 177B St. in Cloverdale. The mangled scooter was wedged under the front of the truck that ended up partially parked on the sidewalk just beyond the crosswalk. On Global TV a resident told their reporter this was the second accident at the crosswalk in recent times and that the lack of a left hand turn light for traffic southbound on 177B St. was putting pedestrians at risk. Persons riding scooters are less visible to drivers than someone standing tall plus many of these machines move quickly once put into gear. The mobility challenged people that I know who operate these scooters all have waving flags attached to them and wear hi-viz vests when traveling because of the risk from inattentive motorists.

While scooter operators can put on gear to make themselves more visible, I believe it is our antiquated crosswalks that are adding to the pedestrian accidents on our roads, increasing costs to ICBC and Medicare. At almost all intersections you have a thick white stop line and then two thin lines across the road separated by several metres marking the crosswalk boundaries. At crosswalks away from intersections, thick white bars called "zebra bars" are painted onto the roads along with white "walking man" pedestrian signs posted on either side of the roadway. All of this is not only inadequate, it is downright dangerous, especially when you see what is being done in other jurisdictions and countries to improve pedestrian safety with innovative paint schemes and improved signage.


The white crossing man pedestrian signs used across Canada are a joke as they are hard to see in an urban environment and almost invisible in foggy or snowy conditions, weather that we often receive here in the Great White North. In the USA, they utilize the same walking man signs for crosswalks but they are made with a high-vis yellow background, the most visible of all colours to the human eye. Going one step further, these signs are placed on either side of the road, are double sided, plus have sideways arrows pointing slightly downwards below them. In some places they even have yellow flags attached to the sign post that pedestrians can use to catch motorists attention when crossing the road, especially at night. It is not like our traffic engineers have not seen them as high-vis yellow pedestrian crossing signs are used at airports in Canada including at YVR and Winnipeg.

The borders of the pedestrian zones. Regardless of for a pathway or intersection, other countries now use thick yellow zebra bars across the roadway to signify all crosswalks, something I believe should be done here instead of having nothing on the asphalt at intersections. The province of Quebec that has had an issue about motorists failing to yield to pedestrians for some time has a new TV commercial that has recently gone viral showing these yellow stripes popping up from the ground and forming a barricade for pedestrians to travel behind. If you look carefully at the picture you will see the white walking man signs on either side of the street with a downward facing arrow underneath, that you likely would not have noticed had I not pointed them out.

The rainbow crosswalk is extremely easy to see and no matter what your thoughts on the LGBTQ communty and inclusivity, at least they are visible as the crosswalk at 5 corners in White Rock has shown. Elsewhere in Canada, cities are addressing their crosswalk safety problems with innovative new solutions. Earlier this summer, Beaumont, Alb. became the first city in western Canada to paint several 3D crosswalks, similar to ones used in India, China and Germany in an effort to slow drivers down and improve pedestrian safety. Barrington Mass. has crosswalks painted with red and yellow bars plus the words STOP, LOOK, WAVE as you step off the sidewalk. In New York they have crosswalks painted with the stars and stripes and the motto "Live For Today 911." Iceland is now using 3D pedestrian schemes utilizing the traditional white bars with yellow ends and blue sides. In Spain local artists are invited to add patterns of colour between the regular white zebra markings for extra visibility and street beautification.

With so many ways to mark crosswalks, what we need here in Canada is a plan for maximum safety visibility and improved pedestrian safety that can be implemented from coast to coast. My suggestions are as follows:
The white "walking man" pedestrian signs should be changed from white to a high-vis yellow background.
The playground "boy running after ball" signs should also be changed from yellow/orange to high-vis yellow background.
With school signs already high-vis yellow, all pedestrian related signage will then be one consistent easy to see colour.
Sideways arrow signs with high-viz yellow background should be placed under all "walking man" pedestrian signs as per US Transport regulations.
All zebra bar crosswalk markings need to be painted with high-vis yellow instead of white for greater visibility, especially at night and in winter.
Intersection crosswalks should be painted with wide high-vis yellow borders, including high-vis zebra bars in high pedestrian traffic locations.

Once Kerry-Lynne Findlay gets sworn in as our new Member of Parliament for South Surrey-White Rock, I'm hoping she can assist me in addressing these proposed safety improvements for Canadian crosswalks with the Minister of Transportation Marc Garneau and the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC). It is about time that the crosswalks in Canada got a much needed upgrade that will reduce accidents and help save lives. To stick with white pedestrian signs and empty crosswalks with little to no markings is only inviting a continuation of the crashes that happen on our streets on an all to regular basis.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 21, 2019

Battleground British Columbia

.338 Calibre, 338Canada, 338 House of Common seats


Welcome to October 21st, 2019, the 43rd Canadian Federal election day! I always look forward to exercising my right to vote so I can punish those politicians for their lies and deceit, reward those who are honest and straightforward and to consider alternative policies from other parties. When it comes down to who to vote for, I always look at what I call the 4 Ps; Person, Party, Platform and Prime Minister. I don't usually preach who to vote for, telling people to get educated and to make an informed decision based on their motives, life experiences and personal situation. What does annoy me is people who say they will not vote for a certain political party because they claim it would be a "wasted vote", or in other words the candidate has little chances of winning. I say that the only time you waste your vote is when you don't take the time to make your mark at the ballot box.

It turns out that much of my family are politicos who follow the ins and outs of the political scene in Canada, especially during election time. My father has used his 81 years of experience to create his own theory about voting patterns in Canada at both a Federal and Provincial level and how they change over time relative to each other. Last week my mother forwarded me a scathing letter-to-the-editor for my perusal before sending it to the Province newspaper. I told her to not change a thing and simply push the send button, while realizing my writing skills might actually be inherited. My two daughters who are in their late 20's are busy with school, work and their millennial personal lives but amazingly I discovered recently that they are also deeply involved in following political drama and are extremely well informed about the parties and the players from their local ridings all the way to Parliament Hill. Needless to say, I'm so proud of them.

As a marksman, the number 338 for me corresponds to the .338 Lapua magnum rifle cartridge that was developed as a high powered long-range bullet in the mid 1980s for military snipers. Imagine my surprise when I found out from various family members that 338 is the number of federal ridings across Canada, with 170 seats needed to secure a majority in Ottawa. It was then that I learned about the 338Canada project, which is a statistical model of electoral projections based on multiple opinion polls, previous electoral history of Canadian provinces and demographic data. The very detailed and interesting website is the creation of Philippe J. Fournier, an astronomy and physics professor from Montreal. For a great side read, check out this MacLean's article from May 2019 about this election modelling whiz:

If you read this TNT before heading out to cast your vote, you might want to consider looking at the data found within 338Canada. Since the writ was dropped, members of the Pitcairn clan have been following this website on a daily basis, looking at trends in ridings across Canada that they find interesting. They now have me hooked and I follow at least half a dozen ridings, none more than here in South Surrey-White Rock. In the odds of winning the most seats across Canada, the Liberals have almost always been ahead of the Conservatives but they were in a dead heat earlier last week, finishing on Sunday with the Libs at 59.6% and the Cons at 39.7%. 338Canada has the odds of a CPC majority at 2.5%, the LPC at 21% and with both parties in a dead heat of near 38% for plurality or getting the most number of votes but not enough seats for a majority. In the popular vote projection, Libs finished at 32.2% +- 4.9%, the CPC just behind at 31.6% +- 4.5%, the surging NDP at 18% +- 3.7%, Greens and the Bloc back at around 7% and the People's Party far off the pace at 2.5%.

Closer to home we can check on British Columbia and the 42 seats up for grabs here. The 338Canada popular vote projection has the CPC at 30.1%, LPC at 26.5%, NDP at 25.9%, Greens at 13.6% and the PPC at 2.7%. The graph showing these statistical changes over time reveals that the NDP numbers have grown from 18% to nearly 26% ever since the federal leaders debate on October 7th, with much of this coming at the expense of the Liberal and Green support. As far as seat projection in BC, 338Canada has the CPC pegged at 15.6 +- 8.1%, the NDP at 14.1 +-6.4, Liberals far back at 9.8% +- 6.9, and the Greens at 1.9 +- 1.9. Of interest is the riding of Vancouver Granville where Jody Wilson-Raybould's chances of winning her seat as an independent after getting turfed from the Liberal Caucus because of the SNC Lavalin affair have her slightly ahead of Liberal challenger Taleeb Noormohamed. Once again, according to 338Canada, there have been large swings in the BC seat projection graph since the leaders debate showing its importance.

And now without further adieu (drum roll please), here are the 338Canada polling results for the South Surrey-White Rock riding and its 104,050 residents (census 2016). Remember that this riding was a Conservative stronghold for decades until the last federal by-election in 2017 where long-time White Rocker Gordie Hogg won it for the Liberals by 1,617 votes over Conservative Kerry-Lynn Findlay. According to 338Canada popular vote projection (PVP) the riding is leaning CPC with Conservative Kerry-Lynn Findlay leading with 42% +- 7.6%, the Liberal's Gordie Hogg running second at 36.4% +- 7.3%, with the Greens and NDP far back at 9 and 8 percent respectively. According to the PVP graph, the Cons have had a lead over the Libs for months, with their numbers coming together just after the leaders debate before the CPC built up their current lead. In the odds of winning, 338Canada has Kerry-Lynn Findlay at a whopping 78% and incumbent Gordie Hogg at a distant 22%. If 338Canada is correct, our riding will swing back to the Conservative fold on Monday.

It will be very interesting to see how these numbers from 338Canada compare to the actual voting results. I'm sure that the main parties are all acutely aware that the votes cast in B.C. might crown the victor in the 2019 Federal election. How else do you explain that for the first time in history, the four leaders of the most popular political parties, Trudeau, Scheer, Singh and May were all campaigning in B.C. on the final day before voting? For a change it looks like the Canadian election will not be decided east of the Rockies before our polls close. If a minority government is elected, it might be the NDP or Greens with their seats from B.C. that are able to form a coalition with the lead parties and advance their political agenda. Remember that while the BC Liberals won the last provincial vote, it was the NDP and BC Green Party teaming up to govern together in Victoria, something they have done successfully now since May of 2017. Time will tell if a similar coalition government scenario occurs on Parliament Hill in the near future.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


The 338Canada post-election report: We called it

Philippe J. Fournier: In every region the 338Canada projection was on the mark, and correctly identified the winner in 299 of 338 districts

(read the breakdown)


October 14, 2019

From Guns to Lasers

Sun turnin' 'round with graceful motion
We're setting off with soft explosion
Bound for a star with fiery oceans
It's so very lonely, you're a hundred light years from home
Freezing red deserts turn to dark
Energy here in every part
It's so very lonely, you're six hundred light years from home

Lyrics to 2,000 Light Years From Home, the Rolling Stones, "Their Satanic Majesties Request" album (1967)

The Naked Truth usually deals with events taking place within the confines of south Surrey and White Rock but as I travel the subject matter often follows. This column is coming to you from Richland Washington and then on a journey 1.3 billion light-years from home. If that sounds a little unusual, ready yourself for a TNT ride from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation to the deep corners of the known universe where black holes collide together and dying stars explode on a regular basis.

The Tri-Cities area of south-eastern Washington including the towns of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco are home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. With plenty of wide open space, it is also home to the Tri-Cities Shooting Association (TCSA) and their dreaded Rattlesnake 1,000 yard rifle range. As a member of the Canadian Fullbore Rifle Team I attend matches there several times a year at what is regarded as the third windiest rifle range on the planet. To give you an idea of how difficult the conditions are at this range complex, there has never been a perfect Palma Rifle Match score fired there in 20 years. This consists of 15 rounds shot at 800 yards, 900 yards, and 1,000 yards for a total score of 450 points. The closest anyone has ever gotten was Emil Praslick from the US Army Marksmanship Unit who fired a 448 several years back, unfortunately shooting an 8 on his final round of the day. I know how it feels having gotten a miss on my last shot in the Washington Long Range Championships earlier this year to go from first to fourth place with one trigger pull.

Several times I have gone "clean" at the 800 and 900 but with daytime heating and desert winds, I've never been able to complete the trifecta of getting a perfect score at the 1,000 yard that features a 20 inch bullseye and 10 inch X-ring used for tie breaking. On Sunday with cloudy weather and light rain showers, I managed to get through the two morning shoots without dropping a point in over 30 rounds fired. At the 1,000 yard mound, I began the final 15 round match of the day and by round 10 had not dropped a single point. It was at the moment that I realized it was possible in the light winds to set a new range record. With adrenaline levels slowly rising I fired a bullseye followed by three Xs, leaving me a final bullet. With heartbeat now racing, I focused all of my attention on releasing a perfect shot. When the target came up, there it was, a bullseye 10 and a total daily score of 450-21X. Needless to say it was a Tiger woods moment with a war whoop and lots of fist pumping. With my score from the Saturday I finished a respectable third in the match, picking up a bronze to complete my set of NRA medals, having won the gold and silver in previous years.

The danger area of the Rattlesnake range extends far into Hanford Reservation lands with the nearby nuclear power plant there releasing a steady thick cloud of steam towards the horizon. The property is home to America's plutonium processing plant where atomic warheads are armed and decommissioned under extremely high levels of security. It is also an area where nuclear waste is stored and atomic generators from submarines and battleships are buried. I knew about all of this radioactive related activity from the locals but it was not until I met an elderly couple at our hotel that I found out Hanford is also a central place for deep space exploration. From a scientist who worked on rocket motor noise suppression systems for NASA, I learned about the existence of the LIGO Hanford Observatory. While my father Bob (aka "The Legend") and I were in Richland firing our guns, these two married folks from Seattle were in town for the free monthly tour of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.

LIGO aerial view

This scientific and engineering marvel is unlike more commonly known space observatories featuring rotating white domes with telescopes perched on mountains or arrays of large satellite dishes pointed up into space. LIGO consists of two 4 m. long laser interferometers that have 1.2m wide steel vacuum tubes with mirrors arranged in an "L" shape and covered by a 10 foot wide by 12 foot tall concrete shelter. Protected from the elements and vibration, LIGO can search for gravitational waves from distant astronomical events including when stars supernovae or black holes collide. Such violent events cause ripples in space-time as per Einstein's General Theory of Relativity and when these reach earth they can be measured, changing the laser signal in the arm length by the order of one ten thousands of the charge diameter of a proton. To ensure these events are not seismic activity registering from anywhere on the world or vibrations from vehicles on nearby roads, there is a second LIGO facility in Livingston, Louisiana almost 2,000 miles away for result comparisons. Other gravitation wave observatories are also now running in Italy and India with data being cross-referenced to the US LIGOs.

The original LIGO observatories were built in 1998 and operated by Caltech and MIT with $400 million in funding from the National Science Foundation. They first went operational in 2002 but detected no gravitation waves through to 2010. In 2008 the Advanced LIGO Project was conceived to enhance the original LIGO detectors with support from 1,000 scientists in the UK, Australia and Germany plus 440,000 Einstein@Home users who contribute computer power to the data calculations. Restarting in 2015 after a $200 million upgrade the new and improved sensors LIGO began searching the heavens and in 2016 it detected the first gravitational waves originating from deep space. By the end of 2018 LIGO has made a dozen detections of gravitation waves including ten from double black hole mergers and the collision of two neutron stars at a distance of up to 1.3 billion light years away. Scientists believe the data that LIGO collects may greatly increase our knowledge and understanding of gravitation, relativity, astrophysics plus particle and nuclear physics. I should note that the Nobel Prize in physics went to three LIGO and VIRGO (Italian interferometer) scientists in 2017.

All of this made for a rather exciting Canadian Thanksgiving weekend down in the States and I thought I would share it with the readers of the White Rock Sun. The next time I go away to south-eastern Washington for long-range fullbore target rifle shooting, I will try to make sure it coincided with the monthly tours of the LIGO complex. Obviously the LIGO project is extremely complex, hard to explain fully and totally grasp in only a few short paragraphs. If you wish to further explore what LIGO is revealing, check out the following websites that should give you a much greater understanding of the complexities involved. I must warn you that while the subject matter is fascinating, it can be a rather heavy read with plenty of scientific jargon. I have a pretty good grasp of applied ballistics but as can be expected with distant space research, there is plenty of rocket science involved.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 07, 2019

Cloverdale Cockfighting Corner

On Saturday SPCA officials and Surrey RCMP offers executed a search warrant on a farm in Surrey that SPCA spokesperson Marcie Moriarty later confirmed was related to allegations of cockfighting. The farm in question with "No Trespassing" spray painted on the side of a barn along with the crude outline of an AK-47 rifle is in the 16600 block of 50 Ave., only blocks away from the Surrey SPCA Education and Adoption Centre at 16748 50 Ave. No live birds were found at the targeted property but other evidence was discovered and taken away for analysis. In the early stages of this investigation nobody has yet been identified, arrested or charged with offences related to animal cruelty. Cockfighting is a notorious blood sport where agitated roosters equipped with razor sharp blades fight to the death in pits while gamblers place bets on the victor.

This is not the first time that farmland south of Cloverdale has been the subject of SPCA and RCMP raids related to cockfighting. in 2008 an operation linked to organized crime was taken down with evidence being seized at three different locations, the two largest in the 14800 block of 168 St. and 16300 block of 150 Street. A total 1,270 birds were seized and destroyed in that investigation that also found five fighting pits, spurs and gaffs, betting sheets and steroids. At that time the SPCA's Marcie Moriarty claimed during a Georgia Straight interview that some of the roosters were being exported internationally back to the Philippines. Five BC men were eventually charged with animal cruelty in this case and in June of 2009 charges against three of these were stayed with the other two receiving fines of $750 and one year probation. At that time, the maximum penalty for animal cruelty offences related to cockfighting was six months in prison or a $2,000 fine and a two-year ban on owning animals.

The 2008 cockfighting ring arrests in BC were instrumental in changes to Canadian animal cruelty laws and the dismal sentences being handed out to those convicted of these crimes. After no changes in 115 years of Canadian animal cruelty laws, Bill S-203 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (cruelty to animals) was passed by Canadian parliament and enacted to law several months after the first Cloverdale Cockfighting Corner take down. Of the many changes, it increased the maximum penalties handed down under the PCA Act from $2,000 to $5,000 and up to $10,000 for a second offence. in 2011 after the cull of 56 sled dogs in Whistler that received world-wide attention and condemnation, the BC government made changes to their Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, increasing fines to a maximum of $75,000 and jail terms up to 2 years, up from the former maximum of $10,000 and six months in jail.

Most of us know MP Jody Wilson-Raybould as the former Justice Minister who blew the lid off the SNC Lavallin scandal, before being turfed out of the Liberal caucus by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and now running as an independent in the riding of Vancouver Granville. It was Mrs. Wilson-Raybould who sponsored Bill C-84 last year that expanded existing animal cruelty laws and animal-fighting provisions to cover a broader range of activities and animals, which were passed into law in June of 2019.
Bill C-84 amends the Criminal Code to:
(a) define “bestiality” to encompasses any contact for a sexual purpose between a person and an animal
(b) expand the scope of the offence of encouraging, aiding or assisting at the fighting or baiting of animals or birds so that the offence
(i) includes promoting, arranging, receiving money for or taking part in the fighting or baiting of animals or birds, and
(ii) also applies with respect to the training, transporting or breeding of animals or birds for fighting or baiting; and
(c) expand the scope of the offence of building, making, maintaining or keeping a cockpit so that the offence applies with respect to any arena for animal fighting.
Under the new law a person convicted under a summary offence faces a maximum $10,000 fine and up to 18 months in prison. For a second offence, the jail time increases up to five years and offenders may receive a lifetime ban on owning birds or animals and living in the same premises. In addition to these changes, those convicted of bestiality will now be added to the national sex offenders registry, recognizing the correlation (known as the violence link) between animal cruelty, crimes of domestic violence and child abuse.

With Surrey cockfighting seemingly entrenched in the rural area surrounding 168 St. and 50 Ave., it will be interesting to see where the police investigation goes into the most recent raid and if criminal charges are brought against those involved. The changes to both the Provincial and Federal laws governing animal abuse should mean for much tougher sentencing should anyone be charged and convicted of crimes involving battling roosters. With top fighting cocks worth up to $1,000 and bets of up to $5,000 reportedly being wagered, it is not surprising that underground cockfighting continues to this day. What is truly amazing is the close proximity of properties allegedly associated with cockfighting to the BC SPCA offices in Cloverdale. It makes me think that those people involved in cockfighting must truly be bird-brained.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 30. 2019

Taking the Tour

Sandra Tomchuk and Alyson Thorpe

Most of us are familiar with the Tour de White Rock bicycle race but it is not the only game in town. This past weekend the Peninsula Art Tour was in full swing with 32 artists opening up their studios and showing off their wares at 18 different locations across south Surrey and White Rock. This was the 10th year of the Tour that is supported by the Yarmoshuk Reedman Financial Group and sponsored by CIBC Wood Grundy, Private Wealth Management, White Rock Branch. This year's Tour included artistic works in oil, watercolour, acylic, mixed media, pottery, blown glass, mosaics, turned wood and jewellery.

If you noticed any of the various signs posted around town this weekend inviting you into an artist's studio, for next year you need to know that the Peninsula Art Tour 2019 had a downloadable map on their website. Printed brochures with the map were available at the various studios plus at CIBC, creating a location based game somewhere between the Amazing Race and geocaching. I happened to run into one of the tour signs near Peninsula Village where I met up with local artists Sandra Tomchuk and Alyson Thorpe who gave me details on the Peninsula Art Tour and showed me their many works of art available for sale.

If you missed the Tour, not to worry for here are the lists of the various studios, the artists and the artwork they are producing.
14639- 17A Avenue: Nicole Carrie - acrylic, watercolour, mixed media. Rich Schmid - wood turning. Peter Klemm - Oil. Georgia Johnstone - acrylic.
1523 Stayte Road: Jess Rice - watercolour, acrylic, oil. Angelio Morrissey - watercolour, acrylic, oil.
2330 152A Street: Sandra Tomchuk - abstract. Alyson Thorpe - watercolour.
12557 26 Avenue: Jeanette Jarville - oil, acrylic, mixed media.
#1 - 15168 22 Ave.: Audrey Bakewell - watercolour acrylic, jewellery.
2653 Country Woods Drive: Bruce Kleeberger - stone and wood sculpture. Joanne Carter - glass torch work.
14778 Gordon Street: Coleen Lumb - mixed media.
1872 136 Street: Constance Glover - high fired soda glaze ceramics and mosaics.
14336 18 Ave.: David Klassen - charcoal, conte, coloured pencil, acrylic oil.
#201 14855 Thrift Ave., intercom #011: iRMA Bijdemast - contemporary abstract artist
15369 36A Avenue: Doris Anderson - abstract in acrylic. Thomas Anderson - sculpture. Daniel Strathdee - oil and acrylics.
13798 24 Avenue: Nicoletta Baumeister - acrylic, watercolour, oil. Emily Vincent - sterling silver, gold, gems. Mac Grieve - acrylic.
#23 15099 28 Ave, intercom #23: Gail Nesimiuk - abstract, jewellery, art furniture.
13550 13A Avenue: Lee Caufield - contemporary works in mixed media. Gary McDonald - acrylic.
2944 Kidd Road: Lisa Samphire - blown glass. Sid Samphire - grogged stoneware. Adele samphire - wheel thrown stoneware.
12255 Sullivan Street: John Wright - stoneware and ceramics.
1055 Fir Street: Sylvie Peltier - Paintings in acrylic. Gabrielle Strauss - acrylic and mixed media.
14823 Prospect Avenue: Lori Chambers - acrylic, abstract, semi-abstract.

What is really user friendly is that the website has images of art pieces for all 32 artists that you can click on taking you to their websites so you can examine the projects they are working on plus contact information should you want to pick up a piece or have art commissioned. Contact information for the artist is also listed, making communication a breeze. The Peninsula Art Tour also has a Facebook page with postings from the various artists showing pieces of their works and if you like art make sure to LIKE their page. Check out the listed artists, their masterpieces and help support the creative geniuses living and working here in the Semi-pen.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

TNT Extra: if you liked the well known poster used with this TNT, here is some information gleaned from Wikipedia on its origins that might be of interest.
"expose yourself to art" was the name of a poster which featured Bud Clark, future mayor of Portland, Oregon, seen flashing an abstract bronze artwork. Titled "kvinneakt" ("female nude" in Norwegian) it is Norman J. Taylor's sculpture of a nude woman located on the Transit Mall of downtown Portland, Oregon. The poster and Clark himself, at the time a bar owner in Goose Hollow, became widely known. Clark appeared to be wearing only a raincoat, but it was later revealed that he was wearing shorts and a T-shirt under his raincoat.
The photo was taken by Mike Ryerson in 1978, then a staff member of The Northwest Neighbor. Ryerson and Clark originally intended to create a poster for the Venereal Disease Action Council until a reader submitted the caption "expose yourself to art". With $500, Ryerson printed posters, then sold 800 for one dollar each by manning a booth at Waterfront Park. By 1984, the year Clark was elected mayor of Portland, Ryerson had sold more than 250,000 posters, with profits supporting The Northwest Neighbor. Following the election win, Clark sold autographed copies of the poster to eliminate his campaign debt. This now iconic poster is still being printed and widely available online from multiple sources for $9.59 U.S.



September 23, 2019

Federal Election Primer, S. Sry-WR

l-r Poulin/Findlay/HOgg/Hobby/Crozier


We go to the polls to vote in the next Federal election on Monday, October 21, 2019. While much of the headlines and political intrigue in the campaign to date has involved the leaders of the major parties across Canada, it is time to start looking at the people closer to home who want your X on the ballot. The close of nominations for candidates is Mon., Sept. 30, 2019 and the complete list of confirmed candidates will be available on Wed., Oct. 2, 2019. Here in alphabetical order are the bios and websites of the five previously announced candidates that want the all-important job of Member of Parliament for the South Surrey-White Rock riding.

Stephan Crozier, New Democratic Party
A teacher for 30 years, Stephen is fighting to leave a better Canada for the generations to come. He’s seen how families in White Rock and South Surrey are struggling in the housing crisis – and he knows government can do more for families by delivering better public services.
Stephen is President of the New Westminster and District Labour Council and Democracy Direct Society, the organization's community wing which worked to elect those to City Hall who represent the voices of everyday people in White Rock. As part of local and national campaigns, Stephen helped bring strong progressive voices, like Jagmeet Singh and former BCGEU President Darryl Walker, to government. Stephen is standing with the NDP for real solutions that make life more affordable. He’s fighting for universal pharmacare, affordable housing, and bold action on the climate emergency to create a brighter future in Canada.

Kerry-Lynn Findlay - Conservative Party of Canada
Kerry-Lynne grew up primarily on Vancouver Island, graduating as a boarder at Crofton House School in Vancouver, and started UBC at age 16. During her 7 years of study at UBC in History, Political Science, and Law, she also served as President of her AGD Sorority Chapter and chaired Law School committees. Kerry-Lynne then established a successful law practice in downtown Vancouver in civil litigation, family and employment law, aboriginal land issues, and mediation appearing in all levels of Court including the Supreme Court of Canada. She currently practices in these same areas, serving clients primarily from Surrey, Delta, Richmond and Vancouver with her own firm, KFindlay Law Group, on 152nd St at 17th Avenue across from Semiahmoo Mall.
She was appointed a Queen's Counsel in 1999 after having served as the elected President of the 10,000 member BC Branch of the Canadian Bar Association.
Kerry-Lynne is a BC India Business Network Advisory Board member, and Past President of the Little House Society, a house of support and healing for those touched by substance use disorder. She also serves as Treasurer of BC & Alberta Guide Dogs, providing service dogs to the blind, and support dogs to kids with autism and veterans with PTSD.
She is an active member of Rotary International, (2018-19 Club President), South Surrey White Rock Chamber of Commerce, Surrey Board of Trade, and the Canadian Bar Association. In the past Kerry-Lynne has served as a BC Government appointed member of Delta Police Board, providing civilian governance, accountability and oversight to the Delta Police Department.
In 2011, Kerry-Lynne was elected as the Member of Parliament for Delta Richmond East, a riding that no longer exists. She was appointed by the Prime Minister as Minister of National Revenue, and previously as Associate Minister of National Defence, and Parliamentary Secretary to Justice. She also served as a member of several high profile Cabinet committees including Treasury Board. Among other achievements, she was awarded the Golden Scissors Award in 2015 by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) for leadership in cutting red tape for Small Business.
Kerry-Lynne lives in South Surrey with her husband, Brent Chapman, a locally based actor and director, often called upon to MC special events. They are the parents of four children, and grandparents of three small boys. All four of Kerry-Lynne and Brent's children are UBC graduates.

Beverely "Pixie" Hobby, Green Party of Canada
I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and grew up in the Gatineau Hills just outside of the city. Most of my childhood was spent outdoors in the natural environment of the Gatineau Park, cross-country skiing and skating in the winter and swimming, hiking and canoeing in the summer, fall and spring. As a young adult, my love of and concern for the natural environment led me to become an environmental and social justice activist while attending university. After graduating, I attended law school with the goal of practicing environmental law.
I joined the federal Department of Justice where I gained several years of courtroom experience before representing Environment Canada. There, I worked on climate change issues, management of toxic substances, and the development of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Recruited to work on environmental issues on reserve lands, I soon became involved in a number of Aboriginal self-government initiatives, including the development of the First Nations Land Management Act and the Inherent Right to Self Government policy. It was this challenge that brought me to Vancouver in 1995.
​Since then, my career has been focused in the area of environmental assessments of major development projects, including DeltaPort Container Terminal Berth 3, Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project, New Prosperity Gold and Copper Mine and the Site C Clean Energy Project. When I am not working on environmental or social justice matters, you can find me practicing yoga or playing the violin with other musicians. I get a kick out of experimenting with raw food recipes, and I enjoy kayaking in Boundary Bay, working in my organic veggie garden, and singing with the Soul of the World Choir. I love sailing with my son, hiking in the forests of the Semiahmoo Peninsula or strolling along the beach, and sharing Reiki healing with friends and neighbours.
​In 1997 I authored The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act: an Annotated Guide published by Canada Law Book, which I up-date every year. In 2014, I left the federal public service, and continue to practice environmental law from my home in Crescent Beach. Last summer I combined my passion for social justice with my experience in environmental law and represented a group of citizens in White Rock, Ocean Park and Crescent Beach in the Canadian Transportation Agency’s arbitration process in relation to the environmental and health issues resulting from BNSF’s trains carrying thermal coal from the US through the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

Gordie Hogg, Liberal Party of Canada
Gordie Hogg is an accomplished community leader with a proven record of public service, and was elected as the Member of Parliament for South Surrey—White Rock in October 2017. Having served as Mayor of White Rock, as a BC Cabinet Minister, and as a Member of the BC Legislative Assembly, he understands what it takes to create good jobs in South Surrey—White Rock, and he has been working closely with Justin Trudeau to grow and strengthen our middle class.
Gordie and his family have deep roots here in South Surrey—White Rock, where his father also practiced as a prominent physician. He and his wife are proud to live here, and to have raised their son here. He served on White Rock council for 20 years, 10 of which he was mayor. He has been a board member of more than 15 committees and non-profit societies, including the Peace Arch Community Health Council and the Peace Arch District Hospital.
Gordie recently completed his PhD at Simon Fraser University, and has acted as a board member on more than 15 committees and non-profit societies. He has also been a foster parent and little league coach.

Joel Poulin, People's Party of Canada
It's exciting to announce the candidacy of Joel Poulin to become the MP for South Surrey White Rock, representing the People’s Party of Canada. A passionate and hard-working individual, Joel looks forward to making a difference in the riding and being a presence of change at the federal level.
Joel and his wife Sharaya have been married for 4 years and live in the West Beach area of White Rock. As a tower crane operator Joel has worked on many interesting projects all over British Columbia including the one billion dollar, Forrest Kerr, hydro-electric infrastructure project in northern B.C. Another project was the Audain Art Museum, a 56,000 square foot steel and concrete, original design building in Whistler, B.C. as well as many residential high rise developments across the lower mainland. Last year, after completing his Real Estate Trading License at UBC Sauder, Joel transitioned full time into his new career as a Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Little Oak Realty.
With the creation of the PPC, Joel found the perfect opportunity to represent White Rock, South Surrey at the federal level, hoping to ensure that each segment of the community is listened to and represented fairly. The People's Party of Canada is a new yet dynamic party led by Maxime Bernier. This robust, new party stands for the values of freedom, responsibility, fairness and respect. The PPC is about action and applying practical solutions to problems that Canadians face. The party’s goal is to make Canada stronger by applying fiscally responsible policies, reducing provincial trade barriers and protecting people's freedoms. The values and proposals put forward by the People’s Party of Canada are what drew Joel to represent them in South Surrey White Rock.

This TNT should help broaden your knowledge of the candidates vying for your vote. Make sure you educate yourself on the platforms of the various political parties and the promises they are making so you can make an informed decision on election day. Please be aware that:
You can vote in person at any Elections Canada office in Canada, any time before 6:00 p.m. (local time) on October 15.
You can vote by mail if you apply no later than 6:00 p.m. (Eastern time) on October 15.
You can vote at your advance polling place on October 11, 12, 13 and 14 with the address of your polling place on the voter information card that you will receive in the mail.
You can vote at your polling place on election day, Monday, October 21, 2019, again with the address of your polling place on the voter information card.
You can also find the address of your polling station on the elections Canada website ( after September 24th.

Make your mark, get out and vote!

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn







September 16, 2019

Don't Fear Colebrook

Colebrook Road..., the name always brings with it a sense of apprehension and dread. Years ago when I was growing up in Delta and Surrey Colebrook Road had a reputation as a place that you should avoid when the sun went down. Used as a drag strip, dumping ground and quiet vicinity for illegal activities, this dark stretch of pavement running east to west across the bottom of Panorama Ridge was always notorious. Then in 2013 four people were found murdered during a six week period, with all of their bodies found within a 50 meter stretch of the dead end close to Hwy. 91. Things got so bad that the Mud Bay Blues Band even wrote a song titled Colebrook Road warning about its lurid and dangerous history. The addition of LED lighting west of 125 A Street plus installation of HD video cameras has certainly lowered the crime rate for this lonely road that parallels the BC Railway train tracks. Fortunately I now have some good news about Colebrook road that should have people interested in spending time there.

Most residents do not realize that there is a very large Surrey park along Colebrook road west of King George Blvd. The City of Surrey added this land aptly named Colebrook Park to their park inventory years ago but development of this 175 acre parcel has been slow to say the least. With the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor project, Colebrook road was realigned with a new road being built north of the tracks west of Birdies and Buckets. Because the new roadway took up valuable parkland that was environmentally sensitive, a large meandering waterway was installed in this area as habitat compensation. Several years ago an area was cleared at 14311 Colebrook road and a heavy white metal gate installed to deter illegal dumping. Earlier this year work began on creating a large gravel parking lot behind the gate plus trails were pushed into the woods heading north and west. With a grant of $250,000, contractors began work this summer building new walking trails.

Most of Colebrook Park is very wet, even during the relatively dry summer months. The fields east and west of the parking lot are choked with swamp grass that is impenetrable in the spring and summer and saturated in fall and winter. Small streams and ditches criss-cross the flat portion of the park with many ponds and swamps present. Because of the constant high water table, trail building at Colebrook Park is not an easy endeavor. There is now a gravel trail that heads due north out of the parking lot with a small bridge that crosses the field edge ditch. It goes through the forest them up the hill, connecting with the trail running west to east along the bottom of Panorama Ridge that is a right-of-way for the Metro Vancouver sanitary sewer. Other than the tell-tale orange sewer grates, you would not know that a huge sewer trunk line runs through this area as it has been buried and the area remediated to a natural setting.

By far the most interesting trail is the one that heads west from the parking lot. It is gravel up to the trees where it changes to raised wooden platforms that meander at odd angles through this boggy woodland area that is full of large western red cedars. This boardwalk goes for hundreds of metres and includes a metal grate for traction when it will be frosty in the winter. Because of the environmental sensitivity of this area and the fact you would likely end up with a soaker, it is advisable to stay on the boardwalk and not explore through the swampy forest. As with the north trail, the west one goes up the hill and also meets up with the Met-Van right-of-way completing a loop. If you look down from the railway overpass on the KGB, you will see a large back-filled area that will become a future dog park, which will also be connected to the Colebrook Park trail system.

These new trails are only the beginning of what is being planned for the near future. I've been told by Surrey Parks staff that phase two will likely begin next year with a multi-use trail heading west from the parking lot through the forest. Other nature trails are also planned along with a pathway that will parallel the large ditch that runs along Colebrook Road plus pedestrian access points for neighbourhoods in Panorama Ridge. It is interesting to note that there is a log house contained within the northern edge of the parks boundaries that may eventually be open to the public. Wildlife enhancement areas plus planned wetlands will provide more habitat for waterfowl and wildlife. You can check out the long range plan for Colebrook Park at .

While there is no word yet on an official opening, the trails are accessible but you will have to park outside of the locked gate on Colebrook Road and walk in. The best thing about Colebrook Park now is that it is deserted since nobody is aware of the interesting trail systems that have been recently constructed. My wife and I took her dogs for a walk throughout the trail loop and did not see a single soul. It is not very often that you get a 175 acre park to yourself in a city of over half a million people. Once this park is put on the map and the gate is opened, you can expect it to attract plenty of visitors. If you are planning a trip to nearby Mud Bay Park and the Delta Dike Trail, make sure your outing includes some time to explore Colebrook Park.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 09, 2019

40th Avenue Fiasco

On Thursday morning I heard that 176 Street (aka Hwy. 15) in south Surrey had been closed because of a fatal vehicle crash that happened just before 7 a.m. Because the closure went from 32 Ave. up to 56 Ave. I surmised it was likely because of yet another crash at the corner of 40th Ave. Taking 184 St. to get around the closure, we met an RCMP cruiser blocking 40 Ave. and then encountered another car crash just a few flocks north where a passenger truck had plowed into the back of a Porche that was stopped while attempting to turn left into their driveway. This blocked all southbound traffic and severely impacted northbound travel. Coupled with 192 Street being closed for construction and paving, north-south traffic in south Surrey was basically gridlocked all the way from 168 St. to 200 St. in Langley.

When 176 St. was widened by the B.C. Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, 40 Ave. became the only road from the border to Hwy. #1 without a traffic control signal. Even the lowly 20 Ave. at least has a pedestrian demand light to go along with its very light traffic volumes. The 40 Ave./Hwy. 15 intersection has four through lanes plus two left hand turning lanes measures 35 metres across. The speed on Hwy. 15 in this area is 80 kmh but drivers on this dedicated truck route often drive at 90-100 kmh. I should also point out that this is in the flats in a boggy agricultural area that is conducive to fog formation which lowers visibility. There is now a roadside memorial for 23 year old "Belly" who died at the scene of a two-car crash that also injured the other driver. According to family members, Belly was headed east on 40 Ave. through the intersection and was hit by a car northbound on Hwy 15. A sign on a nearby hydro pole seeks witnesses and has family phone numbers on it.

This meat grinder of an intersection has needed a traffic light for years. While 40 Ave. is not considered an arterial road, it offers the only east west connection from Hwy. 10 down to 32 Ave. There are already calls to now block through access on 40 Ave, making it a right turn only onto the divided Hwy. 15. This will only make traffic worse, pushing cars onto the already plugged Hwy. 10 and 32 Ave. connectors and large detours for drivers. Instead of restricting traffic flow, it is high time that the City of Surrey and the B.C. Ministry of Transportation remove impediments to mobility and look at opening the boondoggle and bottleneck that is 40 Ave. We don't need another fatality to show us how dangerous the corner of 40 Ave. and Hwy. 15 already is. I know several people including a Surrey Planner that refuse to drive through this intersection on 40 Ave. because of the risks involved in crossing a designated truck highway.

The rest of 40 Ave. is also what I kindly refer to as a shit-show. For years the east end of this once-upon-a-time farm road has been blocked around 190 St., eliminating its use as a traffic connector to 192 Street that is now being widened and repaved. Its dead-end road designation attracts undesirables and criminal elements and this is where two Surrey teens were gunned down in June of 2018 in an unsolved double homicide. The roadside murder memorials are there should you care to visit, drop off flowers and pay your respects. Traveling west through south Surrey, 40 Ave. is blocked again at 152 St. after a Surrey Engineer was seriously hurt in a crash there years ago. This corner allows traffic on 152 St. to turn left each way but traffic on 40 Ave. can only turn right, meaning that past this dogs-breakfast of an engineering marvel, people constantly perform dangerous u-turns to get back on 40 Ave. A neighbour there pointed out to me that with bus stops on either side of 152 St. pedestrians have to jump the double concrete curbing to get across this 27 metre wide road that does not have a crosswalk.

Not quite as deadly but certainly dangerous, 40 Ave. terminates at King George Blvd. after swinging around the Peace Arch RV Park. While turning right onto the KGB to head northbound is usually quite easy, turning left to head south is a sphincter clencher at the best of times. At either rush hour you are basically taking your life into your hands trying to squeeze into traffic. Because of lengthy delays, people take chances and I constantly see near misses at this dangerous T-intersection. A tactic some drivers use from 40 Ave. is to cross the northbound KGB lanes, using the wide median to park in while they wait for a break in the southbound flow. The problem here is that often the front end or back corner of their vehicles are left hanging into oncoming traffic. I have seen multiple bad crashes at this site and the asphalt was heavily damaged by a vehicle fire from one of these spectacular wipe-outs. Only metres south of this location, the off-ramp from Hwy. 99 northbound experiences the identical driving challenges.

So here are my proposed fixes for the 40 Ave. fiasco going east to west. From 192 Street, remove the barricade at 190 St and widen this country road to arterial standards like nearby 184 St. At the corner of 40 Ave. and Hwy. 15, install a traffic light before someone else is killed, something that should have been done when 176 Street was widened. At 152 St., remove the stupid barricades that block through traffic for 40 Ave. and install another traffic light that would also address pedestrian safety. I would suggest that the Hwy. 99 northbound off-ramp terminate at a three way intersection located at the corner where 40 Ave. now turns north, with a 3-way stop or traffic light. This would incorporate the off-ramp and 40 Ave. traffic, meaning only one and not two roads entering King George Blvd that are currently only 150 metres apart. At the current 40 Ave. and KGB intersection, install a final traffic light there allowing for safe left hand turns on the KGB. The final result is removing all blockages to allow traffic to flow, while installing traffic lights for safety at dangerous and busy intersections. It is important to note that some of these changes would be Surrey's responsibility, some the B.C. Min. of Transpo., and others the cost would be shared.

I've been informed that Belly's family will be starting a petition to have a traffic light installed at 40 Ave. and Hwy. 15 once they have the RCMP collision report. I've talked to them about the issues with the entire length of 40 Ave. and they agree that something needs to be done. Stephanie Cadieux is the MLA for the Surrey South riding that encompasses the 40 Ave. fiasco. Let's hope that she will be able to help with upgrades at Hwy. 15 and near Hwy. 99, while Surrey City Hall looks at the multitude of problems on this one stretch of roadway that has been neglected for decades. It is time that 40 Ave. stops being treated like a local farm road and is given the classification of "arterial road", which is what people utilize it for. If you have your own thoughts on this matter, Mrs. Cadieux's email is, the Surrey Engineering Department's email, or feel free to contact Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, his Safe Surrey councillors or the remaining councillors who may be able to help address this long standing problem.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


ICBC statistics reveal there have been 63 collisions in the uncontrolled intersection of 40 Ave and Hwy 15 between 2013 and 2017. In those crashes there were a total of 31 casualties. No word yet on the total cost for vehicle damage repairs and body injury claims arising from this carnage.



September 02, 2019

A Short Walk Around a Long Pier

With the iconic White Rock pier now open, I decided it was time to go down to the waterfront and check out the repairs. Unfortunately I waited until the holiday Monday on a nice sunny day, ensuring that I was not alone. While the work at Memorial Park is something to behold now that it finally has been completed, it was the size of the crowds taking the walk on the 1540 foot long pier that really was impressive. I must admit, it was great to see all of the happy smiling faces of people who obviously were enjoying to set foot onto the pier after it as seriously damaged in the windstorm on December 20, 2018. When you think White Rock, it is the pier, promenade and boulder all come to mind. At long last the trilogy is complete again and lets hope that White Rock has smoother waters for a while.

Crossing the BNSF tracks at the end of the pier I was discouraged that the large metal archway with "White Rock, BC, Canada" on it did not have a banner below proclaiming it to be "Canada's Longest Pier." My disappointment lasted only a couple of seconds when I saw that one of the plank boards had been heavily carved with this slogan running from one side of the pier to the other. It was nice to see that after the former administration had fought against this slogan, mainly because Dave Chesney had the audacity to suggest it, that saner heads at City Hall now recognize the value it adds to this historic landmark. Speaking of history, there is a brass plaque at the pier entrance that states, "White Rock Pier, original structure built by Federal Govt, 1914-15, designated a heritage monument April 26, 1982." Fortunately it did not get stolen like the one commemorating the construction of the White Rock promenade that disappeared last month.

Joining the horde I meandered down the pier to check out the repairs and rebuilding with the barge from the construction crew still moored not far offshore. All along the way there were new boards and railings installed periodically to replace ones either damaged or rotted. It was noticeable that the railings which once had been very straight now were out of alignment, no doubt from the pounding the structure received from the loose dock and the sail boats that crashed into it. Getting to the section where the gaping hole had once been, there were thick new deck planks 12 inches wide and sturdy railings, all in pressure treated wood to withstand the elements. It was interesting to note that the repaired section is out of alignment with the old portions of the pier, likely so that the new pilings did not line up with the old ones. I took along my trusty rolling measuring tape and discovered that the replaced section measures 102 metres long, consisting of deck 291 planks.

For a guy who has spent plenty of time around and under local bridges, I could not wait to check out the damage and repairs done to the support structure of the pier. Descending from the walkway on the concrete stairs that lead to the beach, the first big change I noticed was under the pier head where the entire area had been boxed in with large planks bolted to the pilings. At this point the beach rises, decreasing the area between the sand and the pier, making it susceptible to damage from logs and debris during high tides and wind storms. The planks are placed close enough that there now is no access, which is good in case someone decided it would be a good spot to light a campfire from all the driftwood. It appears that steps have been taken to protect the pier from both Mother Nature and morons too.

Walking out onto the sand flats, I had to marvel at the number of repairs that had been made to the old structure. The pilings were noticeably leaning in many areas with large black metal collars bolted onto damaged pilings to help hold them together. In other areas brand new wooden pilings with metal caps had been added to give more support to the decking. New creosoted cross beams have been bolted onto the pilings throughout the old structure to help give it more rigidity and strength to combat against wind, waves and debris. While these repairs may last for a while, there is no doubt that the pier was really standing on its last legs and would have eventually have needed to be replaced in the near future. Considering what happened last winter, I would suggest that the pier should be closed to the public during periods of high winds and large waves until it is all rebuilt.

The replaced section is a marvel of new marine construction techniques. Instead of creosoted wood, the pilings are steel pipe covered with a thick black coating for salt water corrosion resistance. The pilings are spaced three wide and there are 22 rows of them. On top of these are long reinforced concrete rectangles holding the row of three pilings in place. Large concrete slabs sit atop of these with heavy wood deck planks above that. To say that the new section is built like a proverbial brick shit-house would be an understatement. When walking the pier on top the two sections look relatively the same but the underneath support structure is now night and day. When funding from Ottawa is finally secured this federally built historic site should be completely rebuilt so that it can withstand another hundred years without being damaged or destroyed. With a federal election looming this fall, lets hope for a funding announcement when the pier is officially reopened on Saturday, Sept. 21st.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


August 26, 2019

Surrey Sharpshooters 1st & 3rd in Canada

David Calvert, now shooting for the English Rifle Team 

.......won the MacDonald Stewart Grand Agg by one point over South Surrey's Jim Paton

Once again I find myself finger pecking a TNT on my tablet at 10,000 metres, this time jetting home from Ottawa with my dad Bob Pitcairn (aka "The Legend") sitting beside me after yet another major 
fullbore target rifle championship.

Three weeks ago we started our summer of shooting attending the B.C. Rifle Association's (BCRA) Fullbore Target Rifle Championships, this year held for the first time in Kamloops instead of its usual location at the DND Vokes range in Chilliwack. Besides the usual local yokels, the 14 man Wales Rifle Team also joined the fray with plenty of top calibre shots. After 3 days of close competition, Wales supporter David Calvert won the B.C. Open by V-bulls (center bullseyes), I took the B.C. Target Rifle Championship as the Province's top marksman, and my father Bob and I tied outright for the Lt. Governor's Prize. Using old age, tretchery and years of skill, The Legend added to his storied range history, beating me in a 5 round sudden death shoot-off to secure a chair ride from the firing point.

Only three days after that provincial match I boarded a jet bound for Ottawa to compete in the 137th Dominion of Canada Rifle Association's (DCRA) annual Target Rifle Championships. This event attracts international teams and "hitters" from across the globe including the Welsh, English, Channel Island, USA and even Jamaica rifle teams. The Canadian Cadet National Rifle Team was there in numbers, Canadian and English under 25 teams plus many women competitors in what years ago was a male dominated sport. In total there were four people from South Surrey competing, including 17-yr-old cadet Karen Chen from the 2947 RCACC based in Richmond who was my junior/senior match partner.

After settling into rustic army barracks accommodations with my Dad as roommate, we began several days of warm-up matches, getting used to the ranges peculiarities, wind flow patterns and noting sight zeros for the various ranges of 300, 500, 600 yards plus the long range 800 and 900 metres. After the first day of competition, yours truly found himself in the early lead for the Grand Aggregate. Unfortunately for me my 81-yr-young father went on a tear, going clean and not dropping a single point for three days, leading the Grand for several days himself. In high temperatures and thick humidity with thunderstorms present, he faltered in the heat allowing other marksmen to jump into the lead.

After eight days of intense completion, David Calvert, now shooting for the English Rifle Team won the MacDonald Stewart Grand Agg by one point over South Surrey's Jim Paton, arguable one of Canada's finest marksmen. The Governor General Prize went to Jon Underwood of the Surrey Rifle Association in England after shooting a perfect 300 that included two lomg range matches. Three shooters finished two points back including myself who placed 4th due to v-count missing out on a coveted bullion badge. In the Canadian Target Rifle Championships, Jim Paton once again reigned supreme for the 5th time winning the gold with Fazel Mohideen from Pickering, Ontario taking silver and another Surrey sharpshooter, Don Pitcairn getting the bronze for third place. In the Under 25 Team match Canada won by a handful of points, while in the Commonwealth team match, Canada was golden followed by the USA and Britain.

In a historical note I found out that DCRA Hall of Famer Sam J. Perry, who won the King's Prize at the Bisley ranges in England in 1904, was from Vancouver, BC. When he returned home he received a hero's welcome as the Commonwealth's top shot and a parade was held in his honour. It was Perry, who after being given the victor's chair ride in England, decided that the Governor General Prize winner should be chaired in Canada. In 1914 he commissioned the construction of the elongated wooden chair that is still used today to hoist aloft the winner on the Connaught ranges in Ottawa. When Sam Perry retired, it was in the quiet seaside hamlet of White Rock, as revealed by legendary Vancouver Sun journalist Lee Straight in a column he wrote years ago on this very subject.

For full details and match results visit the following rifle association websites:

Naturally yours
Don Pitcairn



August 20, 2019

"Smart" Meter My Ass


Capitulation: the act of surrendering or ceasing to resist an opponent or demand.

It has been a long and valient fight against a relentless foe with an army of thousands, unlimited wealth, tenacious perseverence and government backing. Unfortunately with nowhere to turn and no political support from the weak kneed NDP/Green alliance against corporate trespassing onto our property, we have finally given in to BC Hydro and join the other serfs who were forced to have a so-called "Smart meter" installed on their homes.

This protracted battle against having one of these wireless digital units installed on our house goes back to 2011 when our omnipresent electrical Crown corporation decided to spend almost a billion dollars to put them into service across BC. Due to health concerns, house fires from faulty units, reports of overbilling compared to analog meters, loss of meter reader jobs plus the billion dollars wasted, we opted out of their stupid program.

What ensued was years of bullying tactics, trespassing on our property, relentless corporate terrorism and high monthly charges of $32.40 to keep our analog meter. It was so bad at one point that we made threats against their installers and contemplated extracting revenge on their executive officers and infrastructure. Of course this never happened but sometimes we felt like we were prisoners in our home trying to keep the wolves at bay. Government controlled monopolies are never people friendly as they don't have customers, they have users who are forced to utilize their services, no matter how terrible or expensive (hello ICBC and NavCan).

in the latest and final gambit, BC Hydro wrote to explain that our analog meter had expired and needed to be replaced. Workers found that the meter was covered with a wooden board courtesy of the former owners tired of drafts around the unit. A picture was provided of our meter along with yet another threat of disconnection, directing us to the website Of course they explain that BC Hydro no longer stocks analog meters and your choice is a smart meter or a dumbed down one that does not transmit data. For this later hunk of junk that we still don't want you must pay an additional $20 a month on your bill.

We decided to rip the cover board from our meter, something I will now have to replace. Eventually I expect these digital units will be used for time-of-use billing as our world becomes more electrified. Until then realize that the old dependable analog meters were cheap and lasted for up to 40 years. BC Hydro estimates that this year 40,000 faulty or failed units will have to be removed, along with another 48,000 getting pulled to check accuracy and for overbilling. Industry experts in Canada believe and that Smart meters will be obsolete within 6-10 years when they need recertification and the US Congress has been informed their lifespan is 5-7 years, not the 20 years BC Hydro has announced.

I predict that in the near future the so-called dumpster fire at ICBC will be a candle in the wind when compared to the money being burned by BC Hydro. With Site C dam building costs and overruns, obscene run of river electrical contracts, infrastructure replacement including dams and generating stations plus their dumb meter program, I expect the red ink to flow from their corporate headquarters like the 3,000 gallons of fake blood that poured from the Overlook Hotel elevators in the movie The Shining. If you think your Hydro bills are high now, just wait a few years.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



August 13, 2019

Riverside on the Riverfront

Before I get going with this week's TNT I have to point out that an important milestone in the White Rock Sun was recently reached. July 20 was the 10th year anniversary of yours truly penning my first The Naked Truth column. If you scroll down, hit the archives tab and scroll way down again, you can read my very first TNT about Surrey's clothing-optional shoreline, Crescent Rock Beach. During this time I have written over 520 TNTs from such locations as Australia, England, New Zealand, and across the US and Canada. Some have been penned in airplanes but this one is being written while driving home on the Coquihalla Hwy. 

Last week the Surrey Parks Dept held their second open house about their ideas for the proposed Riverfront Park on the south shore of the Nicomekyl River between Elgin Rd. and 40 Ave. I dropped by the Elgin Hall on Crescent Road after work and was pleased to see the parking lot full of vehicles and the building packed with people. Surrey Parks staff were out in force answering questions from residents, many who live near this future park. There were photo-boards throughout the walls of Elgin Hall explaining much of the park's design process. 

These included the following:

Public Open House #2
Existing land uses & circulation
We asked you
Park planning principles
Public art
Climate change and sea level rise
Park concept plan
Madden mill
The Oxbow and Creek
The floodplain, the meadow & ravine
The bluffs
Proposed features
Share your thoughts with us

There is no way that I can properly condense the information contained in these 16 boards but they are now posted on the City of Surrey website for your viewing pleasure. Since this will be Surrey's longest waterfront park, I feel it is important for Semi-pen residents to have a look at the plans at;

When you are done reading this column, please take the time to visit this site to fully appreciate what is being proposed.

Surrey is looking for resident's inputs and questions with an online survey at the above web address, email at, or by phone at their office at 604-501-5050, Doug Merry at 604-598-5778 or Mickella Sjoquist at 604-592-7033. To date this project has attracted 14,000 views on social media, over 600 responses via phone and email plus a large number of folks replying to their online survey. Your ideas and contributions can help guide the planning process for this new exciting park.

The elephant in the room was that there was nothing at Elgin Hall regarding Surrey's rather rushed 2015 expropriation of the Riverside Golf Course that makes up the bulk of the west end of this new park. Personally I find it highly offensive that they do not call the new park "Riverside" instead of Riverfront. I talked to Ken Porier, the former owner whose family ran the golf course, driving range and golf centre for 60 years about the new park. He informed me his lawsuit against Surrey will begin this Oct. in BC Supreme Court as he tries to receive fair compensation from the City for his land.

It may not be the Venetian canal that Surrey mayor Doug McCallum was looking for but this park on the banks of the Nicomekl river should be an amazing new green space for people to enjoy and explore. Take the time to get involved, check out what is proposed and have your say. From what I've already seen, the Nicomekl "Riverside" Park should be a jewel for South Surrey residents to enjoy for generations to come.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


August 6, 2019

Green For Cash Grab

Now that I am back on my feet with my knee working again, it's time to put the boot to John Horgan's NDP and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about their new red light & speed intersection cameras. Five of these went live last Monday, three in Vancouver, one in Maple Ridge and one in south Surrey at the corner of King George Blvd and 152 St. It won't be long before a total of 35 intersections will have these new units that will be used to issue tickets for running red lights and speeding. With my interest in road safety, I decided to go check out the KGB/152 St. cameras. What I saw turned me from a supporter of this new initiative to one of the growing list of people screaming "CA$H GRAB."

The Dippers promised that all of these radar cameras would be posted so that drivers knew of the intersection locations. Unfortunately they could not have chosen a worse colour for these signs, making them hard for motorists to see. They consist of a white background with a black camera logo and text reading SPEED & RED LIGHT in a rather thin font. In order to grab driver's attention, the border of the sign is alternating white and green. To say that they are barely noticeable in the natural environment where green is the predominant colour would be an understatement. Nestle them up against a boulevard tree in full leaf and these signs effectively disappear.

Road signs come in many different colours with each signifying something different to drivers and are as follows:
Black and white: Posted regulations (speed limits) telling drivers what they can or can't do on the road.
Red: Stop, Yield and Do Not Enter are all this colour, giving drivers crucial information and actions.
Yellow: Signifies warning, alerting drivers to take caution, slow down or to be alert for possible hazards.
Green: This colour is used for guide signs, street signs and those telling you where you are, where to go, and the distance.
Blue: Also used for guide signs telling you about available services like rest areas, hospitals, gas stations and hotels.
Orange: Is reserved for construction and maintenance projects, including areas where workers may e directing traffic.
Brown: This colour is reserved for parks and recreation signage.

From an early age we are all taught that red means stop and green means go. Red is also used to signify danger while green means safety. The former red light camera intersection signs at least had a large red dot on them for visibility. Red is one of the easiest colours for the human eye to see because of its long wavelength, not so for the colour green. The Kelly green that is used on the new red light/speed camera signs is the same as what many municipalities (including Surrey) use for their road signs. Green is also synonymous with American greenbacks plus Canadian one dollar and twenty dollar bills printed in green, the colour of cash.

With the world's main check for colour blindness being the D-15 Farnsworth color test, I'm now wondering if our own Mike Farnsworth is colour-blind. I certainly cannot rationalize why the NDP would use the green and white border for the red light/speed camera signs over one that was, oh let's say red and white. A red and white border would make these signs much more visible leading to safer driving behaviour in crash prone intersections. Also having one of these signs posted on the traffic light standard between the lights above the roadway would also help to alert motorists to the possibility of having their picture taken and an expensive ticket mailed out.

The other issue I have with this program is that the BC Government is keeping secret the speed over the posted limit where a driver will receive a ticket. My guess is the reason for this is so that over time they can progressively lower the number as more and more of these cameras get mounted. When asked what the speed limit would be, Farnsworth would not state numbers, saying instead, “If you drive like a normal person, you’re not going to get a ticket. Drive like a self-entitled jerk, you’ll get a ticket.” If this program wasn't a cash grab, then Minister Farnsworth should have been truthful and given the number to the driving public instead of acting like a jerk himself. Keep in mind folks that even 1 kmh over the limit is still defined as speeding under the Motor Vehicle Act.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 30, 2019

...And Then I Snapped.

Hey ya'll prepare yourself for the rubberband man
You've never heard a sound
Like the rubberband man
You're bound to lose control

When the rubberband starts to jam

Lyrics to "The Rubberband Man" by the Spinnerrs


This TNT will be short and sweet for reasons I will soon explain. After attending friend's of ours wedding reception last night, I awoke with my left knee feeling sore. I'm not sure if it was The Macarena, The Chicken Dance or The Twist but I thought maybe I should have limbered up before limboing down. Thinking little of it, I went about my list of weekend chores expecting the discomfort to eventually recede.

At the end of the day my wife asked me to walk with her to the beach so her dogs could have a swim. We live only a few blocks from the water and the knee was feeling ok. We went to Crescent Rock beach for a couple of hours, cooling off and giving the pooches some fun in the sun. Ready for dinner, we made our way up the Christopherson steps (190 of them, not 101 as advertised) and headed for home with nothing wrong.

Halfway back to the house we crossed the road and I was walking on a boulevard lawn when there was a loud snap and my left knee immediately buckled. Sheryl immediately asked "Oh my God, was that you?" I stood there in disbelief at the instant searing pain in my leg, wondering what had happened. When I tried to walk, I could not put any weight on my left leg without excruciating pain. Walking home was suddenly not an option.

Fortunately one of my friends who is a beach regular had left just after us and as he drove by I flagged him down. Explaining my medical situation, Gord helped me to his truck and drove me the last block to the house. Once there he lent me his shoulder to get inside where I then bum scooted up the stairs, needing his help to make it to our family room couch. I've been here ever since with ice packs on my elevated knee that feels like crap.

Needless to say my TNT topic went out the window, with this column being typed on my tablet and not our laptop as I can't make it to the office. I don't know what happened to my knee but if nothing changes overnight I will have to pick up a set of crutches tomorrow morning and go see my doctor. As to how this injury could happen without a misstep or trauma is beyond me but as of now I only have one good leg to stand on.

Naturally yours
Don Pitcairn


July 23, 2019

White Rock South in SoCal

We decided to take a break and head down to Los Angeles to visit a friend who lives in nearby Corona, California for an extended weekend of fun in the sun. Part of the itinerary was a trip to the coast to spend some time at the beach in San Clemente, a quaint little seaside village that I like to call White Rock South. The town is built onto a hill facing the water with fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and amazing sunsets. A railway line runs along the edge of the beach with Amtrak commuter trains, just like in White Rock. The final thing that makes San Clemente a home away from home to anyone from the Semi-pen is the 1,296 foot long wooden pier that is a little bit shorter than Canada's longest pier.

Our getaway was booked to coincide with the 45th annual San Clemente Ocean Festival that was held that weekend. Leaving my friend's giant Suburban at his home, we hopped on board a commuter train that took us on an hour long ride from Corona directly to the beach entrance. From there we walked out onto the pier to check out the collection of vintage Woody automobiles including a new Mini that had been Woodyized with old-school surfboards on top. We grabbed a bite and a pint at one of the two restaurants at the pier end before hitting the beach. This all reminded me of the good old days when you could take the train to White Rock, cars were allowed to drive on the pier and a restaurant was at the pier entrance.

The San Clemente Ocean Fest is quite the spectacle and it attracts very large crowds to participate in the many events, watch the athletes, try some food and shop from local artists. California lifesavers and ocean athletes compete in a total of 9 different events for both men and women that put their rescuing and survival skills to the test. New for this year was the Junior Lifeguard events for future lifeguards aged 9-17. Catering to the kids they also held the annual Dolphin Dash for ages 4-6, 7-9, and 10-12 with varying start times and distances of 0.5, 0.75 and 1 mile in length. As to be expected, surfing and boogie board contests were also held for juniors plus women and men, wrapping up Saturday's activities.

The ocean events did not slow down on Sunday starting in the morning with a 5K beach run/walk. This was followed by an open ocean paddle contest for men and women over a 5.5K course outlined by large buoys tethered in the water. The ultra athletes then took over with a biathlon consisting of a 1K swim and 5K run. That was followed by a one mile ocean swim with a mob of competitors all wearing orange swim caps numbered for safety. A run-swim-run race of 200m, 300m and 200m was held for those with a little less energy while SÚP sprint races and splash and dash relays ended the athletic competitions. By far the most fun was the rubber duck charity race featuring bathtub toys bought for $5 that were released from the pier with the first to shore winning a hefty cash prize.

All of this athletic prowess, fun times and family friendly entertainment in San Clemente left me wondering if something like this could be held in White Rock with the beach and pier being used for viewing. Of course some of the events would have to be altered, with boogie boarding instead of surfing for example. Ocean kayak and paddle board races could start on one side of the pier, race out around the breakwater and then back to shore ending in front of the White Rock boulder. A rubber duck race on an incoming tide would be a sure-fire hit with all ages. A running race down the centre of the 1,572 foot long pier followed by a 1K ocean swim would be great fun to watch.

I don't have all the answers or details but I believe that the city of White Rock could learn more than a thing or two from San Clemente. This is the second time we have visited this town and our first chance to see the San Clemente Ocean Festival. If White Rock wants to revitalize the City By The Sea and fill empty storefronts along Marine Drive, what better way than providing a series of fun ocean themed events bringing crowds of people to the shore. It would be very easy to emulate the success that San Clemente has with their Ocean Fest by simply contacting their organizers and gathering together corporate sponsors (visit


I still think the White Rock Sandcastle competition should be revived in some form plus a sand art weekend using rakes to create intricate designs would bring the sand flats alive. If you have any interesting ideas on how to bring more ocean fun and crowds back to White Rock, please forward them to the mayor and council. The other option is to send them to the WR Sun editor Dave Chesney where they might be posted in his forward thinking "Good Idea" spot. Great timing, I just finished this column as my ears popped as we descend to YVR. Yet another TNT written in a commercial jet as we wing our way back home!

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


July 15, 2019

"I Want to Walk in My Own Two Feet!

Perseverance def: persistence in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.


I first met John and his wife Shannon at their home near Five Corners in White Rock that had a temporary metal ramp going to their front door. John was in a wheelchair, stuck in a house with stairs and multiple floors leading to a rooftop patio. I learned that on June 25, 2017 John and his wife were traveling south of Osoyoos in the USA when a deer jumped out of the woods into the path of their motorcycles. With no time to react, John struck the deer, causing to him to lose balance and control, laying down his bike that then skidded into a guardrail. The impact seriously damaged his right leg extruding his talus bone, one of the main bones of the ankle, out onto the gravel at the side of the road. Fortunately his wife insisted that the EMTs take the bone to the hospital on the possibility it could be salvaged and his foot saved.

At Harborview Hospital in Seattle, surgeons cleaned the bone in an iodine wash and placed it back in his ankle, warning him of possible future infection. After 18 days in Harborview and a further 12 days in Peace Arch Hospital, John was allowed to finally go home. It was only a few days later when his wound began to weep and open that they realized an infection had set in which required three times daily intravenous treatments and further plastic surgery. By Christmas of that year and into January of 2018 John began to walk around the house and start physio rehab. By the spring the ankle began to swell and get sore, putting him back in a wheelchair. Throughout all of this the word "amputation" was frequently used by doctors as a remedy to his ongoing medical issues. Finally in August of that year his dead talus bone was removed and the joint packed with antibiotic cement.

Not wanting to lose his foot and mobility, John started researching talus bone replacement using 3D printed replacement bones that orthopaedic surgeons at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina and Mercy Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland were pioneering. John sent this information to Dr. Alistair Younger at Footbridge Foot and Ankle Clinic in Vancouver. He met with Dr. Younger who determined that John was a perfect candidate for this procedure. Dr. Younger applied to Health Canada for permission to perform John's talus bone replacement but was denied twice as he was told it was experimental. Dr. Younger kept pushing and after 8-9 months of delays, approval was finally given and the surgery scheduled for the first 3-D talus bone plus total ankle replacement ever done in Western Canada. On May 24th it took only two hours for Dr. Younger and his team at St. Pauls Hospital to fully repair John's ankle (visit Providence Health Care News, for details).

Post-operative x-ray of John's surgically repaired ankle

It has now been seven weeks since the operation and on Sunday John met with Dr. Younger for a post-operation follow up consultation. The surgeon and his entire team were thrilled with the outcome of his surgery and recovery, with x-rays used to clear him for walking and driving. On Monday John will begin physiotherapy to regain his strength and muscle mass after spending most of the last two years in a wheelchair and losing 45 pounds in the process. With the success of John's ankle surgery, Dr. Younger expects the use of 3D printed talus bones to save thousands of unnecessary foot amputations and prosthetics, with many new patients already stepping forward. The cost of the replacement talus bone is $12,000 or 10% of the cost for a custom fitted artificial foot, reducing medical costs while keeping people intact and mobile.

Throughout this lengthy and painful experience John refused to agree to an amputation of his damaged right ankle, looking for a remedy to repair it so he could walk again. His wife Shannon provided her total and unconditional support to him during this two year medical odyssey for which he is eternally grateful. His battle cry of "Don't give up! Be your own mentor!!" could be adopted by many people facing their own daunting medical challenges. John will be working to regain his strength and agility, hoping to be able to get back in the saddle and ride off into the sunset on his motorbike again. As he explained to me "You don't park the car just because you've had an accident." After more than 40 years of safe biking across North America, John is looking to putting his two feet forward and getting back on the road of life.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

Editor's Note: So that he can focus on his recovery, John has asked that his last name not be made public at this time.


July 08, 2019

Seeing Sea Stars

On Canada Day my wife and I wanted to take a break from the crowds and go to the beach for a little R&R. Knowing that the shoreline near the Crescent Rock boulder south of Crescent Beach would likely be packed with naturists, we decided to visit a rather remote beach near Kwomais Point. Going down the 1,001 Steps staircase at the west end of 15A Ave in Ocean Park, we crossed under the BNSF tracks and proceeded south to the Point where there is a private spot sheltered from view of the trains by several alder trees and a patch of scrub. The shore is very rough and rocky in this area and the beach consists of small pebbles with little to no sand. What it lacks in comfort, it more than makes up for with its stunning views, incredible wildlife displays and quiet privacy.

We performed a little "beachscaping" on our selected spot, leveling the pebbles, clearing it of small rocks and bringing in a log from down the shore that we could rest on. Laying down a blanket and towels, we broke out our picnic supplies and began enjoying the fruits of our labour. After a few hours of sun tanning I decided to go for a walk a little further down the beach as this was an area I had only ever seen while doing railway corridor inspections after reports of landslides onto the tracks. I knew there was not much beach past Kwomais Point as heavy wave action and the addition of big rip-rap by the BNSF Railway meant the area was a boulder garden. Little did I know my hike would end shortly and suddenly with a heavy heart.

I had not walked far when I came upon a sight that I could barely comprehend. On a large flat boulder were the remains of a large number of common purple starfish known as ochre sea stars.



July 02, 2019

Zamboni Skate-A-Thon

One of my buddies is Bill Kendrick who sells a line of heavy duty equipment through his company Kendrick Equipment. Last year he purchased Crocker Equipment with the goal of adding Zamboni ice resurfacing machines to his fleet of specialized industrial and municipal equipment. Along with the inventory, Bill acquired an extremely rare vintage Zamboni Model F that has a rather unique local history. With space at the business being at a premium, Bill Kendrick recently decided to donate his early Zamboni to the BC Sports Hall of Fame. At 5,630 pounds in weight and standing 7 feet tall and 13 feet long, it is the heaviest of all the 25,000 artifacts that the Hall has acquired to date.

What makes this vintage Zamboni so interesting is that it was the first Zamboni ever used in B.C. It was bought in September of 1956 for approximately $10,000 by the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) for use on the Forum ice sheet in the pre-Coliseum days. In the mid-1970s this same machine (serial number 56) was sold and purchased by the City of White Rock for use at the Centennial Arena. Apparently delivery back then included driving it on roadways all the way from Vancouver to White Rock that included a trip over the Pattullo bridge. The first Zamboni in White Rock faithfully serviced the people and skaters of White Rock for years and was eventually put out to pasture and sold. A new all-electric version with a coveted serial number 11,000 now clears the Centennial ice sheet while keeping the air clean inside.

The early models of Zamboni ice resurfacers were built on a army surplus Jeep frame with all wheel drive capabilities and a tight turning radius. Because of this, a transmission repair company in Surrey purchased the Model F machine from White Rock, stripped it of many of its one-of-a-kind ice making parts and began using it to transport transmissions in a muddy lot behind their building. Years later, Earl Vorath who worked for Crocker for over four decades, found out about where the #56 Zamboni had gone to and decided to restore it to its former glory after trading a metal lathe for it. Fortunately the mechanic shop had kept the body panels and machinery parts so rebuilding this vintage piece of ice cleaning equipment was still possible.

What makes this a fascinating story for White Rock is that the Kinsmen helped to finance the purchase of #56 by holding a "Zamboni Skate-a-Thon" on March 27, 1976. Bill Kendrick found a brochure/sponsor sheet numbered 342 in the Crocker archives and passed it along to me. It reads as follows:
The Skate-a-Thon has been organized to raise funds for the purchase of a Zamboni Ice Resurfacer. The skater who is asking for your support will skate laps at the White Rock Centennial Arena. Prizes will be awarded to the teams and individuals skating the most laps and raising the most money. Teams can win prizes.
You are asked to pledge on a per lap basis. The skater you have sponsored will return after the contest with a card certifying the laps covered so that he can collect your donation. NOTE: SOME OF THE SKATERS MAY BE ABLE TO SKATE AS MANY AS 100 LAPS OR MORE IN THE TIME ALLOTTED. All cheques made payable to the Zamboni Skate-a-Thon.

It is interesting to realize that not that long ago, purchases of machines for use by the city were financed by community donations and not by taxes. Unfortunately the used sale price of the #56 Model F Zamboni is unknown along with the total amount of money raised in the 1976 Skate-a-Thon. The brochure/sponsor sheet did have enough room for 60 sponsors and the rules noted "If you skated 50 laps at 2 cents per lap, the sponsor will pay you $1.00." The brochure that I now have will be donated to the White Rock Archives along with a copy of this TNT column. If you decide to visit the BC Sports Hall of Fame, when you see the blue and white antique Model F Zamboni there, stop and think about the years of service this machine spent doing circles on the ice of Centennial Arena and how a Skate-a-Thon helped to pay for it.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


June 25, 2019

Busy as Beavers

Recent citizen vegetation control

In the nearly 10 years that I have been writing my TNT for the White Rock Sun, tree cutting on the Hump hillside between East and West beach has been relentless. In fact, next to landslides from the Ocean Park bluff threatening the safety of trains on the BNSF tracks, it unfortunately is likely my second most visited topic. If you were to delve way back into the TNT archives you would see the Hump hillside covered in first growth forest, with plenty big leaf maples, red alders and wild cherry trees, many with trunks over 3 feet wide. Over the years pictures in my TNT of new clearings and stumps continued to be posted as gradually the tree canopy was reduced as the creme de la creme on Marine Drive called for unobstructed views of the White Rock pier and Boundary Bay.

Often the City of White Rock, apparently with the blessing of the BNSF Railway were behind the clearing, with misinformation from City Hall obscuring the amount of tree cutting and the size of the trunks being felled. The culmination of all of those years of clearing was the nearly complete razing of the Hump hillside in 2016 under the guise of "vegetation control" so engineers could better see retaining walls at the top of the hillside. Apparently no one realized it was the engineers in the passing trains, and not the ones working for White Rock who would have the unobstructed view of these small walls. Along the way White Rock replaced the safety railings and sidewalk along Marine Drive that had leaned 10-20 degrees from vertical towards the ocean due to slope movement.

I think the final desecration, the nearly complete logging of the Hump was the final straw that broke the Coalition's back with Councillors Grant Meyer, Lynne Sinclair, Bill Lawrence and Megan Knight getting kicked out office. If former Mayor Wayne Baldwin has not decided to jump like a proverbial rat from the sinking ship, I believe he would have been ousted by an electorate looking for payback for a laundry list of transgressions including the clear-cut Hump. What was once a beautiful green backdrop behind the gleaming White Rock boulder now looked like an ugly flattened battlefield with the tree trunks piled up like cord wood at the base of the hill waiting for disposal. The proposed replanting with dwarf shrubs never materialized and nature in all its glory has taken over, with new trees springing up into the sunny void.

Last month White Rock Council was informed by staff that they were going to do some more "vegetation control" on the Hump at the bequest of owners in condos living along marine Drive. This idea was quickly shut down, with nobody even asking what the hell White Rock was thinking in considering to cut trees down on BNSF property that is a known slide threat. Apparently that idea did not sit well with two men who decided they would take matters into their own hands on Sunday and do their own clearing, White Rock politicians and residents be damned. Of course this is a rather high visibility area and these fellers were reported to White Rock By-Laws and the RCMP who attended and stopped their hatchet job. If past history is any indication, I expect nothing will happen to these hack and slash artists, since if White Rock can clear-cut the entire hillside, what's wrong with cutting a few saplings, right?

(see above photo)

I decided to take a close look to see what had been cut and headed down to the area just east of the Pier. A narrow trail had been cut down into the blackberries that snaked down onto a steep zone that is part of a 150 m. wide slump slide that happened around 1900 when the Hump was cleared of its large firs. This was an area that was last cut for the fine folks in the Top Of The Rock development. There were wild cherry and maple saplings up to two inches across sprouting from the old stumps, which had been sawed through several feet off the ground and the branches pulled down. The overall effect looked like a punji stick boooby-trap that someone did not have time to properly conceal. Now that the trail through the blackberries is there, It would not surprise me to see someone from the condos across the street sneak in under the cover of darkness to finish the job.

Nicomekl clearing

This problem is not confined to White Rock as residents from Surrey as just as guilty at chopping at green spaces to improve views. in the Southport neighbourhood near the Elgin Road Sea Dam crossing the Nicomekl River, there is a green way that has been repeatedly mowed and pruned even though it is environmentally sensitive parkland. I wrote about this back in December and alerted the City of Surrey to the problem. They promised to contact the neighbours and consider putting up signs or fencing to stop illegal clearing. After viewing the Hump hacking, I drove by Southport to find that while the grass is no longer being mowed, the native trees and shrubs have once again been power pruned down to several feet, resembling bonsai trees. A letter has gone into Surrey Parks Department, calling for some real action on this problem of people who think their view is more important than our parkland or important riparian habitat.

The Hump hillside needs to be left in a natural state as a green oasis along the beach and no tree cutting except for those endangering the BNSF trains should be allowed. More than anything this is to help stabilize the hillside, which growing cracks in the pavement on Marine Drive tell me is still moving to the pull of gravity. This property should be classified as "Ravine Lands" to ensure it is not logged again or possibly expropriated from the BNSF Railway and turned into a natural park. People caught cutting trees in public green spaces need to have the book thrown at them with their names and faces made public. The folks cutting down the greenspace at Southport in Surrey at 142 St. should be identified, the area be replanted by Surrey and the cost added to their property taxes. Hopefully these self-centered idiots would then get the message that these natural areas belong to all of us and the wildlife that lives there.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




June 17, 2019

WAG - We All Go (for weed that is)

So here we are eight months after the legalization of marijuana and we still have no recreational dispensaries in Delta, Surrey, White Rock or Langley. In fact, the local governments in Delta, Surrey and Langley voted not to allow pot shops to set up shop. Well the genie is finally out of the bottle with the long awaited opening of the Indigenous Bloom Medical Hemp and Cannabis Dispensary in partnership with the Semiahmoo First Nation behind the Washington Avenue Grill restaurant at #7 - 15782 Marine Drive. They now have a monopoly on marijuana sales south of the Fraser in this region, akin to being the only liquor store for this gigantic area. I was not able to attend the grand opening on Saturday attended by SFN Chief Harley Chappel, Chief Robert Louie, MP Gordie Hogg, MLA Traci Reddies and White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker. I did drop by on Sunday for Fathers Day and was very impressed by the new storefront.

You first enter the store into a reception area where you are warmly greeted by the staff who welcome you to Indigenous Bloom and check your valid photo ID to ensure that you are 18 years old. Once the formalities are complete the electronic door opens and you are ushered into the spacious and bright sales floor with likely the best oceanfront view of any dispensary in Canada. There are two identical countertops stocked with the same products, showing that they expect large crowds and brisk sales in the near future. What makes Indigenous Bloom and their 6 locations unique is that unlike the legal recreational pot shops that only sell flowers, Bloom carries a wide assortment of marijuana products most stores currently do not offer.

Indi-Bloom stocks 18 different strains of marijuana bud, each with different flavours, strengths and genetics. All samples are in small clear plastic boxes on the counter allowing customers to view the flowers through magnifying glasses and also smell the product through a series of air holes. The names of the strains are quite creative and in no particular order they are Skiskaberry, Jedi Kush, Death Bubba, Chemo, Blue God, Bubba Kush, Darth Vader, Grand Daddy Purple, Blu Nuken, Space Cookies, Duke Nukem, Pink God, 4 Star General, Scout Master, Moby Dick, Strawberry, King Tut and Laughing Buddha. Most of these flowers sell for $12-15 a gram with discounts for quantities up to an ounce (28 grams) and all are dispensed in child-proof containers. Most importantly, there is no sales tax charged because you are on Reserve land.

Besides bud, Indi-Bloom also carries a wide assortment of medicinal products created from marijuana. This includes the concentrates shatter and live resin that is pressed directly from flowers. They have tiny bottles of tinctures containing both CBD and THC in various ratios that are used to treat a variety of ailments. The Bloom Body Rub with both CBD and THC in Shea butter sells for $60 and I know people who swear by it for helping with sore joints and arthritis in the hands. While the Federal government just released new recreational pot edibles guidelines on Friday, they will not come into effect till Oct 17, 2020, a full year after legalization. You do not have to wait at Indi-Bloom as they currently stock cookies in various flavours and strengths, brownies and gummy candies, again in both THC and CBD varients. Fizzy infused bath bombs are available along with rolling papers and lighters that you won't find in recreational dispensaries.

For those people who are afraid that this store will be a magnet for crime, it follows all of the health Canada guidelines for security. This includes strong doors and windows, alarm systems and video monitoring with cameras covering every square inch of the premises. The Indigenous Bloom office contains a large secured vault for storage of flowers and products, deterring anyone intent on trying to steal their pot products. In fact the White Rock RCMP came down to the store to check out the security apparatus before it opened and were impressed by what they found. They had originally planned on increasing night time surveillance around the building once the Indigenous Bloom store was operational but it was decided that extra visits would not be needed.

No matter on your stance on marijuana or whether you use pot or not, this new storefront is definitely worth a peek to see where the future of weed retail is going. For myself it was a rather unique experience and I found the staff to be friendly and knowledgeable about the products. It is doubtful Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum would ever allow marijuana dispensaries to open in Surrey, with illegal green-lines running across the city instead. Councillor Dave Chesney told me he expects a recreational dispensary to open in White Rock in the next six months, eventually giving Indigenous Bloom some competition.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


June 10, 2019

Giant Hogweed vs. Cow Parsnip

You may have read the story printed in the White Rock sun this week titled "Look but do not touch" about giant hogweed plants growing everywhere in the Semiahmoo peninsula. The truth be told, the giant hogweed that can blind eyes and burn skin is relatively rare while its native cousin the cow parsnip is widespread. Since they are both topped with a large umbrella of distinctive white flowers that open in June, it is important to be able to tell the difference. 

Cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) shares the family and genus of giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and therefore have several notable traits in common. Both have prominent white flowers arranged in umbrella like clusters, known as umbels. Both are large showy plants with leaf bases that form sheaths and wide leaves divided into 3 leaflets. These plants are easy to spot in the native landscape because of their height and the mass covering of white flowers. It is when you see them up close that the big differences between them become apparent.

I spotted what I thought was giant hogweed growing in a Surrey Park last week. When I went for a hike to reach it, I found out that it was cow parsnip. Both of these plants are very striking but while the cow parsnip can grow to heights of 2-3 metres tall, the giant hogweed dwarfs it, towering up to 5 metres. The leaves are also a tell-tale sign, with cow parsnip spreading up to half a metre and the giant hogweed spreading up to 1.5 metres. While both have 3 lobed leaves, the cow parsnip ones are rounded and hairy underneath while the giant hogweed has sharply pointed lobes with a smoooth underside. The stalk of the plants is the easiest way to tell these species apart, with cow parsnip being 2-3 cm wide and green, and the giant hogweed 5-6 cm across and having red mottled spots.

It is the giant hogweed stem hairs and leaves that are dangerous, containing a toxic sap that when it contacts skin can cause burns, blisters and permanent scarring. If you do find a giant hogweed, please be aware that WorkSafe BC has issued a toxic plant warning for it, requiring water resistant gloves, coveralls and jackets to be worn along with eye protection for safe removal and disposal. Giant hogweed should be removed as each plant can produce an average of 50,000 winged seeds that can survive for up to 15 years. To report this plant along City of Surrey roads, boulevards, ditches or in park land, please call their service request line at 604-501-5050.

The cow parsnip is is not as hazardous as its larger more famous cousin, but it can cause phytophotodermatitis reactions like hogweed and should be avoided, especiallly if wearing shorts or having exposed skin. Both giant hogweed and cow parsnip are part of the apiacaene (carrot) family that contains some of the most deadliest plants on the planet. This includes poison hemlock and water hemlock where eating even a small portion of these plants can cause death. Others are rather tasty, including parsley, cilantro, dill and carrots that lack the furocoumarin chemicals found in the sap of cow parsnip and giant hogweed. 

I have only seen the giant hogweed twice in Surrey and reported it to City hall where crews were dispatched to deal with it. I actually drove by the plant on 184 St. in Cloverdale when it was being removed and the workers were less than half its height. It is interesting to note that due to its toxicity and persistent seeds, this plant is disposed of in the garbage rather than put into green waste. The cow parsnip is quite common and even though it looks big, it is half the size of giant hogweed that looks like it came out of a Jurassic Park movie set. 

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



June 03, 2019

The Naked Truth 

The Plain Facts About Plainfin Midshipman Fish

Now is the best time of year to head down to the nude beach and check out the wildlife. No, I don't mean the many naturists and nudists quietly soaking up the sun along Crescent Rock beach. If you want to see massive numbers of Bald eagles and Great Blue herons in close proximity as they battle over a seasonal banquet, May and June is the Plainfin Midshipman fish breeding season. This is also when birds of prey descend onto the beach between Christopherson Steps and 1001 Steps to try out their fishing skills and thievery as they attempt to rob each other of their prize catch.

The Plainfin Midshipman (Porichthys notataus) is a member of the toadfish family. In the spring they emerge from the depths of the Pacific ocean and arrive on rocky beaches in mass to breed. The males dig burrows under rocks in the intertidal zone, excavating nests in the mud and sand. When the breeding chamber is complete, males hum loudly to attract females to lay their eggs on the bottom of the rocks at the roof of the excavation. The plainfin midshipman is a great father as after the female lays her hundreds of eggs, it is the male who tends to them for three months, cleaning and guarding his brood that can number up to 1,200 eggs. 

Caring for fish eggs in an intertidal zone is complicated as the environment goes from wet to dry several times a day with the tides. Water and oxygen levels drop dramatically when the tide is out while the temperature rises in the nest, leaving the doting fathers as a proverbial "fish out of water" for hours. Toadfish have developed the ability to endure long periods of exposure to air and to tolerate extreme swings in temperature. Because the Plainfin Midshipman breeds in such an extreme environment, climate change with possible warmer water temperatures, higher sea levels and beach erosion may reduce their survival rates in the future.

When the Plainfin Midshipman breeding season is in full swing, it is a banquet for the birds. At Crescent Rock Beach several years ago I counted 120 Bald eagles on the shore (many more were in the trees) plus over 150 Great Blue Herons. The herons sit on the rocks and ambush the fish while the eagles swoop down and grab the toadfish as they swim in shallow waters. You can get eagles fighting herons for fishing spots and for fish, eagles chasing other eagles who have made a catch, plus crows swooping in to steal toadfish that have been dropped on the rocks. It makes for quite the aerial display with plenty of loud squawks from the agitated herons and the warbled cries from the eagles. 

If you go down to the beach to watch the display, please try not to disturb the birds as the fish they catch are being used to feed ravenous young back at their nests. The same goes for the Toadfish, now is not the time to be turning over rocks at the beach. This can result in the males getting crushed, the burrows collapsing and the eggs being destroyed. Enjoy the show and the huge number of raptors that are attracted to Crescent Rock beach every spring during Plainfin Midshipman breeding season. McMaster University has a detailed article about our Toadfish that was researched near Crescent Beach including some great photos of the fish and their eggs. Check it out online at:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


May 27, 2019

Steal Your Love

You ain't about to give it up for no one
I'm gonna have to steal your love
I don't need a knife, I didn't need a gun
I know how to steal your love

Lyrics to "Steal Your Love" by Lucinda Williams, Essence album, 2001.


The following notice came across my wife Sheryl's Facebook page last week from her friend Robyn Squire. I thought I'd print it here in full for its raw emotion and serious public warning. More details are below on this attempted dognapping in south Surrey.


My friend Michelle and I were up on my deck just above the street planting some flowers when my phone rang and I stepped inside for two seconds to grab it.
I looked back for some reason and saw a woman stop her SUV in the middle of the street, jump out, run over to my dog on the grass, GRAB HER, then took off her leash and threw it in the backseat and was just quickly jumping into her front seat with her under her arms football style when I yelled:
STOP.... OMG.... THAT IS MY DOG.... PLEASE STOP.... STOP.... WHAT ARE YOU DOING? She didn't stop or turn around and she definitely heard me as I was just a few feet away at that point.
I ran up to her and literally grabbed her back out of her arms. I was stunned and speechless with adrenaline pumping through my veins and I thought I was going to hit her. I just turned around, glanced at the license plate number, saw the vehicle type and make, noted she is about 45ish with black hair to her shoulders and creepy looking. Sooooo creepy looking.
This woman had no intentions of asking who's dog is this or oh ohhh someone's dog is here without its owner, no no noooo this was nothing like that. This was a full on attempt to steal someone's pet in mere seconds and she's definitely a pro acting with purpose and swift intent.

This incident happened last Wednesday, May 22nd at approximately 4 p.m. in the 1700 block of Lilac Dr. near Alderwood Park in south Surrey not far from Earl Marriott school. The dog in question is an 8 month old purebred Pomeranian named Love who is worth $2,000. If Robyn had stayed inside to answer the phone, her puppy would have definitely been stolen. As it was, the alleged dognapper roared away the scene after tossing the dogs retractable leash, collar and harness into her back seat. Amazingly the alleged thief never spoke a single word during this incident or as Love was taken from her hands. Unfortunately the license plate was not recorded, though it is believed the vehicle was a navy blue Ford Escape approximately 4-5 years old. The RCMP were notified and have asked Robyn to seek video footage from around the neighbourhood of this attempted pet abduction. She has been driving around the area looking for the suspect vehicle and its caucasian lady owner, so far without success.

This attempted dognapping is far from normal behavior. Last week my wife was driving home and saw what appeared to be a dog loose in our neighbourhood. Turning around her car she went back, located the beautiful young Boxer she had seen and told it to go home. The fun-loving animal gladly obliged and went to the front door of a house just down the street. She rang the doorbell and a teenage girl who obviously had been crying answered the door very glad to see the family dog that had previously bolted from the yard. Most people look at dogs as family and will try to find their home, while to thieves they are simply money. Dogs should not be left alone in an unlocked area, never tied up outside of stores and it is important to tattoo or microchip them for identification. Unfortunately thefts of dogs are treated as a property crime with no consideration for the psychological effects losing one's pet has on the owners.

If you have any information about this attempted dognapping, the woman in question, the dark blue SUV, or possibly have dash cam video or home surveillance recording from the Alderwood Park area last Wednesday afternoon, please contact the Surrey RCMP at the 604-599-0502 non-emergency reporting number.

Surrey Police File # - 2019-73648

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 21, 2019

Feel The Buzz


And I'll be taking care of (bee's nests) every day
Taking care of (bee's nests) every way
I've been taking care of (bee's nests), it's all mine
Taking care of (bee's nests) and working overtime, work out

Altered lyrics to B.T.O's "Taking Care of Business" with apologies to songwriter Randy Bachman.

So there I was in Surrey last Thursday walking down a fence line at one of my customer's properties when I suddenly noticed that I was surrounded by a cloud of thousands of flying insects. One look led me to believe they were wasps that I may have innocently disturbed, likely by walking on top of a subterranean nest. Since I have been attacked by both wasps and hornets many times over the years, I immediately ran for shelter, ducking into a neighbour's garage. Not being stung and still unsure exactly what I had seen, I cautiously ventured back towards the end of the driveway where the bugs were thick as thieves. It was then that I realized this mass of insects was actually a swarm of honey bees that had chosen a cedar tree at the end of the driveway to set up a bivouac surrounding their queen.

This was only the second swarm I had ever seen actually land and take up residence, the last time over 40 years ago at my parent's property in North Delta. In that case a swarm of bees landed in a Berberis thorn hedge separating my parents property from the yard next door. A gentlemen named Mr. Mills who was a well known community beekeeper was summoned and he collected the pile of bees, shaking them into a pre-built wooden hive box. He did this will little fanfare and even less protection, informing us that the swarming workers were full of honey and not interested in defending the hive, only following the queen on her search for a new home. In an absolute stroke of fate, his son Richard who I've known for over 40 years is now working with me and I quickly called him over to check out the spectacle.

With advice from Ric I phoned the Honeybee Centre at the corner of 176 St. and Fraser Hwy. looking for their help in contacting a bee keeper. Getting only a message, I then called the BCB Honey Farm located on King George Blvd. near Hwy. 99 in south Surrey, also getting an answering machine. Not long afterwards, I received an excited phone call from Eric Jennings of the Surrey Beekeepers Association who had been alerted to my swarm report. He informed me that the SBKA has a list of experienced beekeepers who would relocate the swarm at no cost. With swarm season of May to June in full swing, Eric told me the club was now collecting 2-3 swarms per week. Giving him the address and exact location of the swarm, he told me he would be on site in 20 minutes to deal with the bees in a sustainable manner.

When Eric arrived it really was show time as we all stood in amazement checking out the estimated 20,000 bees that had assembled into the small cedar tree. They were only seven feet off the ground and easily accessible with only a step ladder. The bees were so docile you could put your hand directly up against the ball of swarming bees with them vibrating and tickling your palm, without getting stung. Eric put on a white bee-proof jacket with hat and veil and shook the mass of bees down into a "bee box" specifically made for transporting swarming honey bees. The queen fell with the bulk of the insects and finding preformed wax slabs ready for colonization they immediately set up shop in their new home. Releasing pheromones, more and more bees flew or crawled into the transport box and within 45 minutes the lid was on the hive and it was off to its new home.

I get to experience a lot of nature in my work and private life but it was pretty amazing to be involved in a swarm capture. I should note here that a girlfriend of mine years ago kept bees and I helped her work them, so I have had some previous experience with beekeeping. Our European honey bees are a gentle insect and when treated kindly it can be an interesting and rewarding experience. Besides pollinating all of our fruits and crops, they also give us sweet honey and aromatic beeswax that is far superior to paraffin for candles. For anyone wanting to take up beekeeping as a hobby, you should know that the City of Surrey allows four hives per lot to be kept within city boundaries. Depending on the beekeeper's diligence and the food supply available to the hive, this can result in 5-10 gallons of honey produced per season. Now ain't that sweet!

For more information about bees and honey in Surrey and White Rock please visit the following:
Honeybee Centre, 7480 176 St, Surrey, website:
BCB Honey Farm, 4121 King George Blvd., website:
Surrey Beekeepers Association, website:
(Note: the SBKA meets on the third Wednesday of every month except Aug. at the Honey Bee Center from 7-9 p.m.)

If you encounter a swarm of honey bees and want it safely removed, please visit the website clicking on their "Swarms" tab where you can read up on proper honey bee identification and find Eric Jenning's phone number at 604-314-0785.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 13, 2019

Ratatouille on the Menu

"Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat."
Martin Sheen as Capt. Willard in the movie Apocalypse Now.
"It's pretty hairy in there. It's Charlie's Point", to which Lt. Col. Kilgore confidently replies, "Charlie don't surf!"
Robert Duval as Lt. Col Kilgore in the movie Apocalypse Now.

After those two quotes from Apocalypse now its time to crank up Wagner's instrumental "Ride of the Valkyries" and get into the guts of this TNT. If you are not familiar with this music used in the soundtrack from the the "Charlie's Point" scene in the Oscar Award winning movie, you should check out the edited version in the YouTube link listed above.

Some close family friends decided to go down to White Rock for a romantic evening last week and got more than they bargained for. Walking along Marine Drive in West Beach on Thursday night they settled on the Charlie Don't Surf restaurant for dinner. Since the weather was warm and it was still light out, they decided to sit on the patio where they could enjoy the breeze, the view and the people. What they did not expect was to be sharing their meal with wildlife..., and vermin at that.

Sitting near the east side of the patio they watched in amazement as a rodent started to climb the wall just behind the last table where two ladies were sitting. "Look, there's a mouse" he said, with his date yelling "That's no mouse, that's a freaking RAT!" He told me it climbed up alongside some conduit pipes and mesh a foot behind this one ladies head, making its way to the awnings above where it ran across the beams above the tables covered with food. They told me that the rat did not appear fazed by the people below and that it looked very comfortable with its surroundings, likely sizing up later dining opportunities. While this incident was oddly entertaining, they found it rather uncomfortable to be eating under a rat as it crossed over their heads. The rat was witnessed by many of the people on the deck and according to our friends nobody was offered any compensation by staff for having to eat dinner with a big rodent.

Our friends decided that their rat experience should be reported and contacted the Fraser Health Authority with their story. It was then that they learned Fraser Health environmental health officers complete routine, follow-up and complaint inspections. Inspection reports and violation tickets can be viewed online at:

Here is the inspection report from Charlie Don't Surf on February 25, 2019 that resulted in a "High" hazard rating for this establishment. It is interesting to note that having rodent infestations is listed as a "noncritical" hazard. It could be death to a business as happened in Vancouver after a rat was allegedly found in soup at the Crab Park Chowdery, with the loss of customers causing it to close.

Critical Hazards: Total Number: 2
301 - Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces not maintained in sanitary condition [s. 17(1)]
Observation (CORRECTED DURING INSPECTION): Tongs and other utensils are being stored in water by the grill. During the inspection, the water was dirty with food debris.
Corrective Action(s): Tongs and utensils are to be washed, rinsed, sanitized, and air dried every 2 - 4 hours. If storing in water, replace with cold water every 30 minutes.
Violation Score: 5

302 - Equipment/utensils/food contact surfaces not properly washed and sanitized [s. 17(2)]
Observation: Glassware washer was run 3 times and there was no final sanitizing rinse (maximum water temperature inside of the machine was 43C and there was 0 ppm chlorine measured after the final rinse). The main dishwasher was run 4 times and there was no final sanitizing rinse (54C water temperature and 0 ppm chlorine measured after the final rinse).
Corrective Action(s): All dishes and utensils must be washed, rinsed, sanitized, and air dried. The glassware and main kitchen dishwashers must have a final sanitizing rinse. For low temperature dishwashers using chlorine, 50ppm chlorine must be detected on the dishes after the final rinse. Provide test strips and check chlorine concentration daily.
Violation Score: 25
Non-Critical Hazards: Total Number: 3
304 - Premises not free of pests [s. 26(a)]
Observation: Rodent (rat) droppings were found on the floor in the dry food storage area, under the prep sinks, under the glassware washer, on shelves in the dish rack storage area, and in the walk in cooler. Mouse droppings (and mice) were found in the laundry room. Operator has a contract with licenced pest control and has provided a copy of a recent invoice.
Corrective Action(s): Premises must be kept free of pests. Check all food storage containers. Discard any food that may have been contaminated. Today, food appears to be in bins with lids. Consult with your pest control expert.
Violation Score: 15

305 - Conditions observed that may allow entrance/harbouring/breeding of pests [s. 26(b),(c)]
Observation: Pests are entering the building. The operator has been working to seal all entrances.
Corrective Action(s): Continue working to seal all entrances.
Violation Score: 9

306 - Food premises not maintained in a sanitary condition [s. 17(1)]
Observation: Food debris and rodent droppings noted on the floor. Prep coolers require cleaning.
Corrective Action(s): Thoroughly clean all food storage, dishwasher, laundry, food preparation, washroom, and main kitchen areas. Eliminate all food and water sources for pests.
Violation Score: 15

Several inspections since that time have listed ongoing work with a licensed pest company to solve this problem plus keep the establishment rodent free. The last routine inspection on May 10th yielded a low hazard rating but this was also the day that our friend's rat encounter was being reported to Fraser Health. I know from first hand experience that the Semiahmoo Peninsula is overrun with rats and it is not surprising that they are along the White Rock waterfront. That being said, now that I know I can check Fraser health Inspection Reports of any restaurant, I think I'll check out their history before making a reservation for dinner.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 07, 2019

Somebody Stole SURREY


I'll never forget the time when the thought first occurred to me. We had been camping on Texada Island, the largest of the gulf islands. When we drove to take the small ferry back to the mainland, we lined up behind a truck with the personalized BC license plate TEXADA. I talked to the gentleman about his plate while waiting for the boat, telling him I thought it was a great idea. After the short voyage and long drive to Sechelt, we boarded the Queen of Surrey to take us back to Horseshoe Bay. Up on the observation deck there were orange lifesaving rings marked with the ferry's name and I had my wife Sheryl pose for a picture with it while wearing her hot pink "Surrey Girl" t-shirt. Suffering from Surrey overload, I quickly realized that SURREY might be available as a personalized vehicle plate. Cue the flashing light bulb hanging over my head.

When we were home, a search of the ICBC vanity plate database revealed that SURREY was indeed available. We filled out the necessary paperwork and applied to get the license plate along with paying the $100 charge. Originally we were turned down which was hilarious as ICBC will not issue personalized license plates that may be interpreted as" vulgar, indecent or offensive." After talking to a manger and promising a Global TV exclusive on the story, he capitulated and wisely gave us our SURREY plate. We attached it to our Surrey Shirts Jeep with extra heavy bolts using several different size heads to make removing it difficult. Even we realized that though we had plenty of Surrey merch and swag, the one-and-only SURREY plate was the best souvenir that we had. For Surreyites, we did make a version of our plate available to the public in sticker form.

The custom SURREY plate was a heck of a lot of fun. I can't tell you how many times we have had people honk and wave as they passed us (the Jeep was rather slow), plus people taking pictures of our vehicle while stopped at traffic lights was constant. What I can tell you is that I was pulled over three times while driving in Surrey by RCMP officers who all wanted to know how I had got the SURREY plate and asking if they could take a picture. I really didn't mind as these encounters were always plenty of fun and the officers were excited about hearing the story and getting their photo. There was even a wealthy Surrey developer who inquired about purchasing the SURREY plate, and he could not understand why I would not sell it even when the offer got rather inflated. He shook his head when I told him that to me having the SURREY license plate was priceless.

Well the Jeep got older and even slower and after 12 years of ownership it was time for a change. My wife had driven it as our winter vehicle for years and was tired of zip-up windows, standard transmission and complete lack of frills. We decided it was time for an upgrade and began our search looking for something with a little more room and plenty of bells and whistles. After months of searching and sleuthing, I finally got to live my boyhood dream and bought a Cadillac. No, not the behemoth Escalade but a lightly used SRX4 SUV that ticked all of the boxes on our wish list. We put the Surrey plate on our new ride along with a "I Love Surrey" custom license plate frame. While the Caddy is our new corporate vehicle for Surrey Shirts ( we decided to forgo much of the vinyl lettering that covered the Jeep, keeping the SRX's classy look.

Unfortunately during all of the excitement of having a new vehicle, we overlooked the security measures for the plate we had taken with the Jeep. I had meant to visit Home Depot and pick up some stainless steel screws that would be impossible to remove without the proper tools. Instead the bolts were simple slot head screws making the license relatively easy to remove should someone think the SURREY plate would make a great souvenir. Well our greatest fear was realized this weekend when somebody decided that they needed the SURREY plate more than we did and stole it off our SUV. I did not notice it was gone and was driving home when a car stopped beside me and the driver said through his open window, "Hey dude, do you know you don't have a license plate?" When I told him it was our personalized SURREY plate he responded, "Bummer, only in Surrey eh?" before driving off.

Kicking myself for not welding the plate to the bumper, the ordeal of dealing with this problem began. It was the back plate that was stolen so this had to be reported to the Surrey RCMP, who found it rather ironic, if not hilarious. Secondly the plate had to be cancelled and regular boring license plates put on the Caddy making it look like any other SUV. Thirdly we have had to order new SURREY plates at a cost of $100 again, along with the $40 yearly cost of having a vanity plate. In the long run it's still worth it to me to have the SURREY plate paying homage to the second largest city of BC. I should mention I'm not the only homer around as I have seen a SUV in Ladner sporting the DELTA plate. The only difference is that I doubt the DELTA plate would ever get stolen unless they came to the dark side and crossed Scott Road.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 29, 2019

Reach for the Beach

It is not exactly summer yet, what with heavy hail reported in Langley and Abbotsford plus snow this weekend in Hope, but after chores galore we decided to grab the beach bag and make our way down to Crescent Rock beach on Sunday evening. With a keen eye and inquisitive mind, it did not take me very long to pull together a number of related stories from the waterfront to fill this TNT.

The City of Surrey was forced years ago to build the metal pedestrian overpass at the Christopherson steps, located at the west end of 24 Ave., due to liability concerns from people crossing the BNSF train tracks. Large concrete bases were pored to secure this steel structure that is coated with zinc to stop the salt water spray from rusting it away. Unfortunately an overpass is only as strong as its foundation and there is a rather interesting repair that has recently been done to this structure. At the last set of stairs, a thick wooden brace consisting of two large beams has been installed with more wooden beams surrounding a new concrete pad. This is only a metre away from the concrete base for the steel upright that has been seriously eroded from last winter's storms. While the wooden support looks strong and robust, it is not steel and I bet a heavy log being tossed by large waves would snap it like a toothpick, just like sailboats hitting the pier. It is interesting to note that while the BNSF Railway uses mountains of rip-rap to protect their rail corridor, apparently nobody at Surrey has considered placing protective boulders around the base of this structure to reduce the force of wave erosion or stop log battering rams.

The BNSF Railway has been busy rebuilding their waterfront rail corridor throughout the Semiahmoo Peninsula after it was almost washed off the map by severe wind storms last December and January. This included resetting the rails at Kwomais Point, replacing ballast stone and bringing in trainloads of rip-rap boulders to strengthen their wave defenses as I have previously documented. Unfortunately next to the Christopherson Steps and in nearby areas the boulders had been dumped from above and rolled down covering large areas of sand on the shoreline. This is unfortunate for two reason, first the sand is breeding ground for feeder fish like Sand Lance and Surf Smelt, secondly this strip of beach is prime recreational property for people in the summer. It is hard to lay your beach blanket down on jagged boulders and there is little sandy beach in the Crescent Rock Beach region already. In fact much of the 6.5 Km. of shoreline from White Rock to Crescent Beach is now covered in boulders, creating a cobbled beach where waves strip sand away instead of creating it as would normally happen. If you ever go to Lily Point in Point Roberts and see how our shoreline would have looked before the railway, it will bring a tear to your eye.

Only meters away from the Christopherson Steps I could see two large shiny steel poles on the other side of the tracks. I knew that the BNSF Railway had finally extended the Landslide Detector Fence to near the end of Bayview Avenue but I was surprised I could see these from the beach. Climbing the bank for a look I discovered that while the LDF usually consists of poles that are five feet tall, these ones looked to be almost double that with the detector wires going high into the air allowing easy access underneath. The reason is that there is a sandy slope in this area where kids have been playing and climbing for many years. Instead of trying to restrict access, they have actually made an opening to allow for pedestrian access. What is bizarre is that trespassing on the rail corridor is illegal and dangerous and yet the BNSF has made it easy for people to access the sand hill. If the top of the hill were ever to let go, the height of the LDF in this spot would mean that the detector system would likely not be triggered. Hell of a way to run a railway I say.

Only metres from the sandy hill was a monument to the dangers of encouraging people to play in the vicinity of a busy industrial railway. A rudimentary cross with the name LUNA and R.I.P along with flowers had been placed on the hillside next to the tracks. I do not know the details but I would assume that someone lost their dog to the train in this spot. This area is almost across the tracks from where Jack Stroud was recently hit and killed by the Amtrak passenger train. While people getting hit by trains here always makes the news, pets getting mowed down by trains almost never gets reported. If you are wondering how often this happens consider that in my last two Semi-pen homes, I have had neighbours with dog/train stories. One lady almost got killed while trying to get her dog off the tracks and fortunately neither was hurt. My current neighbour had one of their dogs hit by a train with it loosing a leg from the impact. In both of these instances, the event happened within spitting distance of the Christopherson Steps overpass, with one directly in front of the sandy hill. I'm surprised I don't have whip lash from shaking my head so much.

When we did finally make it to a sheltered spot out of the wind at the beach, we found it deserted of people but full of wildlife. Bald eagles flew by above, great blue herons congregated on a slowly emerging sandbar looking for their evening meal, and seagulls relentlessly dropped clams to break them on the rocks. Watching all of the action and taking in the amazing view, I saw something make a big splash far off in the waters of Boundary Bay. I immediately pointed to the spot and it took only a moment for two large grey humps to emerge from the water with tell-tale spout of water spray. While it has recently been reported that grey whales were near the pier, on Sunday they were in Boundary Bay not far from Crescent Beach. This is not the first time I have seen whales in the bay and is why we always carry a small pair of binoculars to watch them. Unfortunately South Koreans have yet to put a telephoto lens into my Samsung cell phone so this pix I grabbed off the internet will have to do. When he packed up and left the beach due to the cool weather, we met people who were standing on the top of the Christopherson Steps walkway watching the whales from this high vantage point. The Kwomais Park view point is another great spot for spotting whales.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn





April 24, 2019

Pitcairn Not Going Postal


Going postal is an American English slang phrase referring to becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment. The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder. Between 1970 and 1997, more than 40 people were killed by current or former employees in at least 20 incidents of workplace rage. Between 1986 and 2011, workplace shootings happened at roughly two per year, with an average of 12 people killed per year.


Source: Wikipedia.

I must admit I do not regularly use the services of Canada Post. If I want to send someone a message I simply text, email or pick up the damn phone and give them a call. Most of our bills and banking is now done online and very rarely do I have to send a letter unless it is a cheque to one of my suppliers. I recently learned a very valuable lesson about Canada Post. If you have documents that are important or time sensitive, do not send them through regular mail channels, especially if the envelope is non-standard size and has to be processed by humans instead of by machines as in the case with regular envelopes.

Case in point, I competed in the Dominion of Canada Rifle Association Winter Postal Matches where marksmen from across Canada fire .22 rifles at very small targets from 20 yards. Stickers are sent from the DCRA offices in Ontario, attached to the backs of targets, and when the six competition targets are completed, they are then returned to the offices for scoring and awards presentations. I have worked very hard the past couple of years to try and shoot a perfect score of 600 and managed my best personal score of 599 this year that was likely gold medal worthy. I finished my targets in mid-March and mailed them to the DCRA offices in a 9.5 x 13 inch manila envelope with the required $1.90 postage.

Imagine my disgust when my wife sent me a text more than five weeks later with a picture of the very same envelope I had previously mailed. The address was scribbled out in black felt, marked "Return to Sender" and "RTS" in two more areas plus a "Moved/Unknown//Demenage Ou Inconnu" glossy sticker attached. Somehow they had actually managed to deliver my envelope back to me using the home address I had written in the upper left hand corner. Why it had taken so long to actually return my envelope remains a mystery but I know that a letter sent by boat to Australia generally arrives in a couple of weeks. I am waiting to find out if my targets that I couriered back with UPS will actually still be accepted as they are now late.

When I purchase items from Amazon, it generally takes two days for my parcel to arrive, usually free of charge. Because of their fast and efficient delivery system, they have become one of the largest retailers on the planet. Canada Post on the opposite hand continues to shrink in the amount of mail it delivers and their profitability. Mail delivery has been cut in half since 2006 or the equivalent of two billion letters. With regular stamps no longer showing their value, few people realize that the price for a regular letter increased to $1.05 this January, up from a loonie. Other mail within Canada increased between 10 to 35 cents, US bound mail going up 7-20 cents and overseas mail a further 15-20 cents. Meanwhile Canada Post has announced they expect to finish 2018 with a financial loss after rotating strikes before Christmas.

I will no longer trust my documents and parcels with Canada Post, using one of the many Courier companies to make the delivery even if I have to pay more. As the FedEx motto states, ""When it Absolutely, Positively, has to be there overnight." While I do not usually require this level of service, I expect mail to be delivered to the stated address, or promptly returned, something that Canada Post failed miserably to do. In the end this fiasco may cost me an engraved DCRA gold medal for the best smallbore shoot of my life. Learn from my mistake and avoid this Crown corporation that can't manage to do the one think they are entrusted to; deliver the mail.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


April 15, 2019

Freak Sliding Away

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

Lyrics to Slip Sliding Away, Paul Simon, 1977, Greatest Hits, Etc.

No, the Greeks don't want no freaks
Said, the Greeks don't want no freaks
Just put that monster smile on them rosy cheeks
'Cause the Greeks don't want no freaks
No, the Greeks don't want no freaks

Lyrics to Greeks Don't Want No Freaks, Eagles, 1979, The Long Run.


I must admit, I was surprised by the announcement last week of yet another mudslide from the Oean Park bluffs onto the BNSF Railway tracks. Usually it takes two inches of rain in a 48 hour period to get landslides moving around here but this is not always the case. Often illegal drains from hilltop properties, people emptying swimming pools, or tarping off large areas of land during rainy periods can cause slope failure with even modest amounts of precipitation. Though we did not have a deluge last week, there has been plenty of rain falling as is usual in April on the West Coast. While the other local newspaper showed you a stock photo of a BNSF freight train rolling along the beach with their slide story, that was not good enough for the person who wants to investigate the causes of these mudslides that are often "out of sight, out of mind."

Hearing that the most recent slide had happened "eight kilometers north of White Rock" made me wonder if this was a mistake because by my math that would be in the vicinity of the Crescent Beach Marina. On Sunday afternoon I once again donned my hiking boots, hard hat, reflective vest with road flares, and went out searching for the latest mess on the tracks. I figured it would likely be somewhere near Crescent Beach but all of the slides there were ones I had previously inspected. When I got to the 1001 Steps near Kwomais Park, I realized that the location was completely wrong and that the latest mudslide could be anywhere. After miles of very tough walking, I was on the beach not far from the Coldicutt Trail when a BNSF coal train rolled by. It wasn't until I took a picture of it that I realized I was sitting right next to a wide muddy debris field. Two kilometers west from White Rock at the mile 124 track marker, I had finally found what I was looking for.

To be quite honest, this slide was pretty routine for around here. The slope above the tracks had failed where one of the many rivulets coursed down the slope from the hillside above. While it was not raining, the amount of water draining from the bluff was considerable and constant for kilometers. I found no evidence of man-made causes for this slope failure and it was likely that the bank simply got saturated by water that had fallen in the past two weeks and been draining down to the ocean. The figures of 1.5 m. deep and 20 m. long that BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas reportedly provided were not far from my measurements. To call this a "freak slide" as he suggested was a stretch because I have seen slides from the Ocean Park bluffs onto the tracks at many times of the year and from various causes. As I often warn people, if you cut trees for views and have pipes draining water onto the hillside, you can expect landslides threatening the BNSF rail corridor below.

Once again the BNSF has apparently used the shores of Crescent Rock Beach as their personal dumping grounds, excavating the trees, soil, rocks and muck onto the shoreline. They have been warned in the past to keep debris confined to the rip-rap areas alongside the tracks but as you can imagine with mud this is rather difficult. Instead of bringing in a railway dump car to take the debris away, they dug the muck from the ditch side of the tracks and dumped it on the ocean side where it then ran down covering a large area of shore, burying any living creature in the vicinity. It was at one of these dump sites several years ago near Kwomais Point that I found a dead sea otter laying directly next to the piled debris. I thought the BNSF would have cleaned up their act on this issue after burying a long stretch of sandy beach at the Crescent Beach marine park last year but that seems to still not be the case.

Anyone can report this track-side excavating to BC Conservation officers or the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The RAPP line (Report All Poachers and Polluters) has an online form at or they can be called on their 24 hour hotline to report a violation at 1-877-952-7277 or *7277 on the Telus Mobility Network. Since this impacts habitat of sand lance and surf smelt that are food for salmon, it can also be reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) at 1-800-465-4336 for investigation. You can also ask our MP Gordie Hogg why the BNSF, an American railway, apparently gets free reign to use our waterfront as their private dumping grounds without criminal charges ever being laid of fines imposed. Imagine what would happen if someone were to dump truck loads of muddy fill onto the public beaches of White Rock? I'm sick and tired of the double standard and big business flaunting environmental laws here in Canada without any repercussions.

Check out the pictures of the crud excavated onto the beach from this latest slide. If this annoys you as much as it does me, take a minute to file a report with the proper authorities. Remember the mudslide happened on Wednesday, April 10th around noon and was cleaned up by BNSF crews by 4:30 p.m. The slide came from the Ocean Park bluffs in south Surrey onto the BNSF Railway tracks at the 124 mile marker about 2 kilometres west of White Rock. The debris field on the beach covers an area 20 metres long by 6 metres wide and over a metre deep. Don't forget to tick the "Dumping" and "Fisheries" violation boxes. The more people who report this incident, the more likely that with a history or repeatedly burying the beach in the Semiahmoo peninsula, the BNSF might actually be held accountable for their actions. I have made my reports to both the RAPP line and DFO, please take the time to make yours.

RAPP line online:
RAPP line: 1-877-952-7277 or *7277 on the Telus Mobility Network
DFO: 1-800-465-4336

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


April 08. 2019

Auto Crime Prevention Notice Preventing Nothing

With the arrival of Spring and a new employee who uses transit, we now circle through the south Surrey Park & Ride lot in the evening to drop him off so he can catch his bus. We rolled to a stop and as he was collecting his belongings I noticed that there were slips of paper about the size of a parking ticket under the windshield wiper of every vehicle. Noticing how many had been thrown onto the ground by motorists who had obviously already left, I had to look at what they were figuring it was likely some cheesy advertising flyer. I quickly picked up over a dozen of these from the pavement, some of which had already been run over.

I was much closer to the mark with my guess that they were tickets from the police. It turns out they were "Auto Crime Prevention Notice" slips left by "A police officer or community volunteer (who) checked your vehicle as a potential target for auto crime." From the hand writing on the slips, it was obvious that two people had gone through the lot checking out hundreds of automobiles. Here is the list of what they were looking for taken from these papers:
1) Your vehicle has an anti-theft device (such as an alarm,immobilizer or steering-wheel lock) in use (Y/N).
2) There are personal belongings in plain view (Y/N).
3) Your windows or sunroof are open. (Y/N).
4) You have an expired decal or decal buildup (Y/N).
Comments: ________________________________

I am fully aware of the crime problems at the south Surrey Park & Ride. My other employee avoids the place like the plague and refuse to park there. The reason is that he had his mint Chevrolet Malibu stolen from this lot and the thieves then vandalized the interior by pouring oil over it and attempting to light it on fire. After this incident, thinking that the nearby Park & Pool lot might be safer, he parked there (for free) but had someone break his windows of his replacement Honda Civic. Both of these incidents happened during the day while we were at work. Since that time he has parked in a south Surrey neighbourhood and we have a regular meeting point within walking distance. The south Surrey Park & Ride lot is also where a husband and wife I know drove separately to it, got on a bus to go downtown and when they came back after their show, both of their vehicles had been stolen.

The auto crime prevention tips on the pseudo ticket are worth considering but also worth questioning. They are as follows:
1) Secure your vehicle every time you leave - day or night.
2) Keep your spare key in your wallet not on the vehicle.
3) Remove all your belongings.
4) Don't leave anything in view, including spare change.
Now I think locking your vehicle obviously makes sense, as does not not leaving a spare key but with the size of the new keys that also double as clickers, who wants to have one of these in your wallet? As far as removing all your belongings, I can see "valuables" but highly doubt that "charger wires visible" or "empty lap-top box visible" written in the comments section really count as things a car thief can exchange for his next fix. Many vehicles were marked for having "decal buildup" but yet I've never been told about this problem by any ICBC insurance broker. Because of this only two of the dozen slips I picked up received a check mark on the coveted "You've taken care to prevent auto crime. Thanks!" section.

Instead of wasting time and paper plus contributing to littering, if ICBC and the Surrey Crime Protection Society really wanted to crack down on auto theft at the Park & Ride, I can recommend a much better way. There is a small hillside near the KGB that provides a birds-eye view of the lot; simply have someone sit in a beach chair with a pair of binoculars and monitor that behaviour and activity of the people who come and go. If they spot something suspicious, call the RCMP to quickly attend and hopefully make an actual arrest. The most glaring security issue with the South Surrey Park & Ride is that there are no CCTV cameras in use like at almost all other Translink lots. When the government was wasting $4.5 million to build the second lot on the other side of the KGB that acts mainly as a driver training course, they should have included video cameras for the lot that actually gets used.

If there were CCTVs and actual police patrols of the South Surrey Park & Ride, I'm sure a lot more people would park there and take transit. If this were to happen, maybe the white elephant lot that won a Teddy Waste Award in 2014 from the Canadian Taxpayer Federation might actually be used and help generate income. Instead, there are plenty of folks that refuse to use either the Park & Ride or Park & Pool lots because they are a magnet for criminals who know that people will be gone all day and because they are not monitored or patrolled. The Auto Crime Prevention Notice slips will do little to reduce crime; catching and convicting thieves who target these areas is the auto crime prevention notice that I'm posting.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 01, 2019

News Of The Day

New Westminster Mayor Jonathon Johnny X Cote

In the City of White Rock, with an estimated $5 million dollar bill for pier repairs and no Provincial or Federal funding yet announced, consideration is being given to bridging the 100 foot gap that now remains after storm damage late last year. It has been apparently decided that the cheapest repair would be to build a small section of suspension bridge, tying the two pieces together. White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker is rumored to have been overheard saying this about the plan, "The Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver and if a suspension bridge works at the pier, then we can then charge people for going onto it. As a bonus, if any more boats get blown loose in a storm, they can simply float right underneath, win-win!" Installing the cables and planks is a quick and easy fix and should be ready for the summer tourist season. It should be wheelchair friendly allowing access to White Rock's many elderly residents.

In Crescent Beach, they have taken note of the upcoming changes in White Rock allowing dogs to be walked on the Promenade beginning this Fall. Not to be outdone, I've heard the Crescent Beach Property Owners Association is teaming up with Surrey Council to also make themselves more pet friendly. For years you've been able to have your dog at Crescent Beach from Sept 15th to May 15th. Since the summer months are off limits to dogs, it has reportedly been decided that this would be the purr-fect time to allow people to bring their cats to the waterfront. Just like at the White Rock, owners will have to ensure that any cat poop is cleaned up so the beach doesn't become a giant kitty-litter box. I've been informed each garbage receptacle will be equipped with little feline poop bags and a kitty litter scoop to make clean up a breeze. I'm pretty sure that White Rock Councillors will be hacking up a hair-ball when they realize they've been licked by a bunch of pussies.

Today I also learned from unknown dark web sources that the Cowichan First Nations have applied to Aboriginal Affairs Canada to have their Great White Rock returned to Vancouver Island. According to legend, the Sea God had a son who fell in love with the Cowichan Chief's beautiful daughter. After having their union refused a blessing by first the Sea God and then the Cowichan Chief, the Sea God son took the huge white rock from their beach and tossed it across the Salish Sea. "I will hurl this tone over the water! Wherever it falls, there we will make our home and establish our tribe" he said. Falling sixty miles from Cowichan, the rock came to rest on the shores of the Semiahmoo Bay where the two lovers made their home and established the Semiahmoo tribe. After seeing footage of wrecked sailboats being pulled from the White Rock beach onto a barge, Cowichan elders allegedly decided the same could be done for their sacred white rock and now want it back.

The Semiahmoo First Nations have been in the news lately for the water infrastructure project that will finally see an end to the boil water advisory they have been under for the past 15 years. While this will provide clean and fresh drinking water for members of the tribe, it also means they can finally move forward with their long rumoured shoreline water park on the empty playing field behind the WAG. This idea was apparently shelved for years due to lack of water availability from the City of White Rock plus concerns over how arsenic and manganese might stain the slides and swimsuits. Now with pure water getting ready to be piped in, the band's wild dream of a water park might finally become a reality. There are unsubstantiated reports that the Chief and Council are considering the name Whalley World, similar to the Walley World park featured on the National Lampoon's Vacation film, since the water will be flowing in from Surrey.

With the success this weekend of New Westminster's Mayor Jonathan Cote (a.k.a. Johnny X) and his first-ever wrestling match during the Royal City Rumble, look for other local Mayors to soon follow suit. It is believed that Surrey's Mayor Doug McCallum, who like any Surreyman is not afraid of a fight, is now considering stepping inside the octagon for an upcoming MMA match. It has been reported to me that someone resembling Mayor McCallum has been seen attending training sessions at the Surrey Masters Martial Arts, located only two blocks from City Hall. Speculation has been running rampant ever since it was realized that McCallum has the letters "MMA" in his last name. Word on the street is that Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald has challenged Mayor McCallum to a grudge match and if Surrey's top cop wins, the RCMP won't be replaced with a municipal police force.

On a final note, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed this morning that what he calls "fake news" is actually real news. Of course nobody believed him since he tweeted this out on April Fool's Day. If he was serious does that now mean that real news is actually fake news? When it comes to anyone named Donald, you just don't know what to believe these days..., I mean this day.

Jokingly yours,
Don Pitcairn


March 25, 2019

Another Day, Another Bluff Clear Cut


A friend who lives in Ocean Park recently forwarded me pictures taken from near Kwomais Point that reminded me of the Hump hillside after "vegetation control" was done so that some retaining walls could be seen. As we know this led to the final razing of the Hump hillside, apparently to provide pier views to a select group of folks living on or near marine Drive. This was done with the blessing of the BNSF Railway, even though Transport Canada had warned both them and the City of White Rock that tree cutting for views on the steep bluff hillsides was the number one cause of landslides onto the waterfront tracks.

After reviewing their pictures, I put on my best camo and hiking boots and made the journey to the Ocean Park bluff close to the 1001 Steps at the west end of 15A Ave. After descending the maze of stairs that reminded me of famed graphic artist M.C. Escher, I followed a trail up into the bluff and found what had so infuriated the person who alerted me to the Semiahmoo's latest logging show. Close to the base of the hill was a massive conifer stump with rounds cut from it that were in excess of three feet across. The area on the hill above the giant fir had obviously also experienced a landslide recently with lots of fresh soil that magically had Big-O drain pipe sticking out of it. It should come as no surprise that Transport Canada listed old or improper drain pipes as the other major causes of mudslides from the bluffs.

Following the trail upwards, I saw even more areas where trees had been cut to the ground or hacked level to the ground only a few meters high. The hillside below multiple houses in a row on Ocean Park Road had obviously been cleared of trees multiple times so that now the only thing growing on the bank are blackberries and even these have been brush-cut down to allow for a completely unobstructed water view. The fallen cordwood had even been lined up along the hillside like giant lawn edging. When I got home, checking on the Surrey Cosmos site showed that the area in question was far beyond the property line, past the City of Surrey Easement and way onto BNSF Railway property. Aerial views from a year ago show the giant fir that had once stood in the middle of the hillside clearing extending its shadow across the manicured lawns. Now like the rest of the forest, it is gone and all that remains is a barren hillside.

If I can look at the Surrey Cosmos online mapping site ( and see where people are extending their lawns and gardens onto City property or clear-cutting BNSF lands on the steep bluff hillside above the tracks, why does City Hall and the BNSF ignore such activities? It is not like the City of Surrey does not realize that much of the landslides from the Ocean Park bluffs are often related to illegal logging done for views. After seeing what the BNSF allowed White Rock to do to the Hump, I really can't imagine them giving a damn about what a hilltop homeowner does to the trees above the tracks, unless a slide actually hits a train or delays train traffic. The complete lack of accountability or responsibility is absolutely appalling, especially when one considers it was likely commercial arborists who did the tree cutting.

It is my understanding that the person who sent me the original photos is going to be contacting the City of Surrey to report this tree cutting and determine if permits had been issued. I will make sure that Gus Melonas from the BNSF Railway gets the photos of the tree clearing on their property plus the addresses for the homes involved. At the end of the day I certainly won't hold my breath waiting for anything to happen as past history has shown that often little to nothing is done and arborists get only a slap on the wrist for illegal logging. It should come as no surprise that hilltop homeowners would risk paltry fines and the possibility of causing landslides for an unobstructed million dollar view.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



March 18, 2019

It's A-Boat Time

With Bill C-64, the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act about to become law across Canada after receiving Royal Assent several weeks ago, boat owners will finally be on the hook for the proper disposal of their old boats. Until now, un-seaworthy boats were often abandoned, left to rot on pristine shores or kept anchored until they finally sunk, creating environmental, safety and navigation risks. You do not need to go far to see some of these boats, there are several on the banks of the Nicomekl River and others anchored not far from the Elgin Road Sea Dam that look like floating garbage containers. The new legislation will increase boat owners responsibility and liability, with individuals facing fines of $50,000 and businesses up to $250,000 for derelict vessels. For the full details on this new Act, please visit:

The Boating BC Association ( has a large portion of their website dedicated to proper boat disposal. They give information about what to do with unwanted boats, how to know when its time to retire a boat, possible boat donations, disposal and recycling options plus costs, and environmentally sound practices for vessel disposal. Also when boats are retired they have to be de-listed from the Boat Registry and or have their Pleasure Craft License removed and BC Boating has detailed information about this process. With an aging automobile that no longer runs or is unsafe to drive, you cannot leave it on the side of the road and are responsible for having it towed to a salvage yard. Marine vessels can no longer be left to rot on our shores where they are an eyesore and environmental hazard.

This new Legislation coincides with the Federal governments Abandoned Boat Program (ABP) at Transport Canada and the Small Craft Harbours (SCH) Abandoned and Wrecked Vessels Removal Program at Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Abandoned Boats Program has been running almost a year and will end at the end of March after spending $1.3 million to deal to with the removal of abandoned, wrecked and hazardous small boats. The Small Craft Harbours program will spend $1.325 million over five years to remove or dispose of abandoned or wrecked boats in waterways owned by the Dept of Fisheries an Oceans. Recipients can receive up to 100% funding for gaining legal possession of a derelict boat and up to 75% for the work needed to remove and dispose of the wrecked vessel.

I have had hands on experience with dealing with a wrecked boat here after an old pleasure boat ran aground years ago near Kwomais Point. The owner, a man from Saskatchewan, simply abandoned the destroyed vessel, leaving locals to deal with the diesel soaked garbage and flotsam that covered the shore all the way to Crescent Beach. On February day with light snow we picked the shore for litter and debris, piling what we could carry next to the train tracks. The BNSF Railway helped clean up the piles we had left for them, depositing it in a Super-Save bin near Crescent Road that Surrey had paid for. In the end, all that remained were the vessels main beams and two large diesel engines that the Coast Guard drained of fuel. While the owner promised to help and bring friends to assist with the cleanup, he never bothered to show up. With the new Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act, he would have to clean up his own mess.

It has been estimated that there are over 600 derelict vessels ranging from small recreational boats all the way up to giant commercial ships abandoned and polluting Canadian waterways. Since the City of Surrey can apply for funding to deal with abandoned boats, now would be a good time to survey the shores of the Nicomekl and Fraser rivers to take inventory of derelict vessels and get them cleaned up. Hopefully some of the garbage scows anchored in the Nicomekl can finally be towed away to the dump. At the end of the day, when you decide to purchase a boat, you had better have a plan on how to deal with it when its days are done. Thankfully the sailboats damaged by the Dec. 20th windstorm have been salvaged from the beaches of White Rock and no longer pose a threat to the public.

Naturally yours
Don Pitcairn


March 11, 2019

Ditch The Switch

I don't know about the rest of the residents of the Semi-Pen but it didn't help me having to wake up on Sunday morning and get to deal with yet another ridiculous time change. I have written about this debacle several times previously, the last time on Nov. 7, 2017 when at least we got an extra hour sleep instead of being robbed of an hour. This time it was for the switch to Daylight Savings Time, meaning we don't get an extra hour of sunlight, we just get to enjoy it a little later with the sun setting on Sunday evening at 7:08 p.m. Why we have to put up with this twice yearly change in the time is absolutely beyond me and something that should have been abolished decades ago, if politicians had any backbone or mental fortitude.

On a personal level, here is what my morning routine involved. Resetting two alarm clocks, changing the time on the stove and microwave, reprogramming the time on the alarm pad and electronic furnace control, changing the time in two of our three automobiles (fortunately the convertible doesn't go outside in the winter), resetting three watches, reprogramming several antiquated electronics, fixing three timers and adding an hour to four clocks located throughout the house. That is a grand total of 20 clocks and timers, either digital or good old-fashioned moving hands that needed to have my hands make this change. By the time I was done I was ready for a nap having lost an hour sleep on top of after staying out past my regular bed time. Its not just me who wants the time change abolished, read this petition for reasons why it should be put into the dustbin of history:

Last fall BC Premier John Horgan made it clear that he would not support getting rid of the time change even after receiving thousands of letters on the subject. He is on record as saying, “Certainly our trading partners in Washington, Oregon and California have no interest in changing the time, that was made clear to me.” Well it is amazing the difference four months makes as last Saturday the Washington State House passed a measure voting 89-7 to stay on Daylight Savings Time year round. This has to next be cleared by the the State Senate, which currently also has its own bill on the subject. If ratified, they will only take effect if Congress in Washington DC votes to allow individual states to stay with DLS on a year round basis. There are currently 26 States considering legislation to stop the twice yearly time change, with California voters passing a ballot last November to stay on DLS full time and Oregon considering putting this change to their voters.

In the past week Premier Horgan sent a letter to the governors of Washington Oregon and California that stated, "A change in our time zone would have significant impacts on British Columbia. It makes sense to me that we move in unison on this matter." Unlike any of the US States, BC could pass its own legislation to permanently stay on DST as it would not need approval from Ottawa. It would be nice if our Premier had the courage and conviction to play a leadership role to end the yearly time changes and let the coastal States follow our move instead of being their lap-dog. It's not like he would be setting a precedent as the Peace River region, the little town of Creston and the entire province of Saskatchewan do not bother with changing their clocks. They all believe in the "Set It And Forget It" philosophy which works for then and for me.

Sorry to have to cut this TNT a little short but I have to be up early tomorrow morning and even with my little nap on Sunday I'm already thinking of hitting the hay. I think that by the second Sunday in November 2019, if the politicians have not figured a way to get rid of the twice yearly time changes that people simply refuse to move from Daylight Savings Time, leaving our so-called leaders behind. We don't need legislation, we don't need Congressional approval, all we need is for people to stop buying in to this ridiculous practice that should have been mothballed long before I was even born. You don't need to be sleep deprived sheeple any longer. Lets hope a "Set It And Forget It" Facebook page pops up soon to help end this twice yearly insanity.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


TNT Extra: It seems that I'm not the only Donald who is sick of time changes. On the day this TNT was posted, U.S. President Trump tweeted "Making Daylight Saving Time permanent is O.K with me!" It's nice to know "The Donald" reads the TNT in the White Rock Sun. Too bad the Democrats will now stonewall efforts to make this change.


March 04, 2019

Cinderella Story, Fairy Tale Ending


When people here think about the Semiahmoo Totems, it is usually the two totem poles on East Beach at the Grand Chief Bernard Memorial Plaza Within Lions Lookout Park, better known locally as Totem Park. This weekend that all changed with the Semiahmoo Totems girl's basketball team winning the B.C. Secondary Schools Girls AAA Basketball Championships at the Langley Events Centre on Saturday beating out the Walnut Grove Gators by a 72-61 score. It was not like this was unexpected with the Totems going undefeated in their season and throughout the playoff games finishing with a perfect 40 wins - 0 loss record. This was the school's first senior girls AAA basketball banner since way back in 1953.

It was not like the finals were a walk in the park. While the Semiahmoo Totems were the number one seed, their rivals the Gators were the number two team and at one point in the second quarter held a 17 point lead. Foul trouble kept Faith Dut, the 6 foot 3 inch tall Totem guard on the bench for most of the first half with only 4 points and 4 rebounds up to that point in the game. At intermission it was the Walnut Grove Gators holding a 7 point lead, 28-21. The second half was a different story with Dut finding her stride and finishing the game with a team high 23 points and 13 rebounds. An interesting note to this story, the grade-12 student Dut has been recruited by the University of Florida Gators women's basketball team so she will soon go from beating Gators to playing for them.

Look for the Semiahmoo Totems to likely retain their top seed rating for the next few years as their point guard Deja Lee played stellar B-ball during the playoffs and was named the Championship Player of the Game and the Tournament MVP. In the final game on Saturday Lee had 19 points, 6 assists and 4 steals, great numbers for a young woman who is only in grade 10. There are a further five other grade 10 regular players in the Totem rotation so much of their lineup will likely remain unchanged going into the future. This is the second year in a row that the Totems have gone undefeated in regular season play, showing how this resilient group can get the job done both on offense and on the defensive side of the ball. In 2018 they finished 4th in the playoffs after getting beaten by the Kelowna Owls who went on to win the Provincial Championships.

The ace up the Totem's sleeve has to be their legendary basketball coach 59 year-old south Surrey resident Allison McNeil who works with her co-coach Lori Pajic at Semiahmoo Secondary. McNeil's basketball coaching resume is beyond impressive having started coaching at several high-schools before becoming the head coach of SFU's women's team for 13 years. In international competition, she coached Team Canada over 16 years to several World Championship and Olympic appearances, the last being the 2012 Summer Games in London where Canada was beaten by the US in the quarter-finals before their team went on to win the gold medal. Since officially retiring in 2012 Allison has volunteered her amazing talents to coaching young women on a variety of local teams including at Elgin Secondary and Semiahmoo where she has mentored the girls there for several years with the results speaking for themselves.

Monday should be a rather chaotic time at Semiahmoo Secondary with the Totem girls meeting their classmates and getting accolades and praise for their accomplishment. No word yet on when the Provincial Champions banner will be hoisted up into the rafters of the gymnasium but you can bet it will be an exciting time to be a Semi student. I would like to be the first one to start the chant of "Two more years!.., Two more years!" The Semiahmoo Totem girls basketball team are on a roll and with their core players plus Mrs. McNeil's tutalage, I would not be surprised to see more championship banners added to their collection before these girls graduate from high school.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 25, 2019

Dingy Dock For White Rock


We all know the wise old proverb that states, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." The damage to the White Rock pier and the dock that used to hold the sailboats belonging to the Lower Mainland Yacht Co-op (LMYC) now gives the City of White Rock the ability to make changes to how the docking system works at the end of the pier. The City owns the west wharf that is operated by the White Rock Harbour Board. Seeing the damage caused to the pier by the out-of-control sailboats during the Dec. 20th windstorm, you have to question whether (weather?) keeping boats permanently moored in this location far from shore and protected by a small rock breakwater is a good idea. For now it is a mute point as the pier is out of commission, the west wharf is in shambles and the Co-ops boats have been wrecked.

A friend of mine who lives in the Semi-Pen was the Water Sport Responsible who looked after 17 Club Med resorts across the Caribbean for 15 years. Needless to say, he knows a thing or two about boats, marinas, sailors and tourists. He was recently telling me that he thinks White Rock should rebuild the west wharf and allow visiting yaughts and sailboats to dock for the night inviting the captain and crew to wine and dine in the seaside restaurants along marine Drive. Further to that, tethered moorage balls chained onto concrete pedestals stopping anchor damage to any eel grass beds could be used for additional boats with both the dock and moorage balls generating docking fees for the City. The east wharf could then be advertised as a "Dingy Dock" allowing boaters to moor their boats, jump in their dingy and take a short walk on Canada's Longest Pier into White Rock. He does not believe the LMYC year-round control over the west wharf is in the best interest of the City of White Rock, especially after trying to join them and reviewing their limited operations.

Now might be a good time to once again consider the idea of building a marina in White Rock's front yard. It would be interesting to know how many people who live in White Rock have their boats in facilities miles away from the City By The Sea. In neighbouring Blaine they have 629 state-of-the-art boat slips for commercial and pleasure boats with permanent moorage plus 800 feet of visitor moorage. Try to imagine the economic impact of all of those boats with their owners and crews descending into the sleepy hollow of Marine Drive. Point Roberts has a large marine resort with all the amenities a boater could ever want and hundreds of slips that are always packed. White Rock's loss is these two neighbouring city's gain as they reap the rewards of catering to people wealthy enough to afford a nice boat. For those worried about environmental impacts, both Blaine and Point Roberts are Blaine Harbor are 5-star Envirostars and Certified Clean Marinas.

With the pier in shambles and many businesses closed along the Drive, it would be wise for White Rock to do something to attract people to the waterfront. There is now free parking at the White Rock waterfront until the end of March but this fact needs to be advertised so folks across the Lower Mainland know about it. I believe the opening of the promenade to leashed dogs during the off-season was a good start, but why not do it now instead of waiting for next October? How about some signage along Hwy. 99 alerting visitors from the US to the White Rock beach? Surrey has a great big "Welcome to Surrey" sign on Hwy. 99 at 8th Ave. but nothing pointing the way to the White Rock waterfront, the beaches or Canada's longest pier. The 16 Ave. exit is the same with nothing alerting people about the nearby town of White Rock. There needs to be signage pointing the way to the beach at both of the land crossings at the US/Canada border.

When the pier is finally rebuilt, I would still love to see a zip-line attraction from the top of the Hump hillside all the way to the end of the pier, a distance of around 1,700 feet. Besides attracting daredevils to take the ride, the pier and promenade would make excellent viewing vantage points to watch the fun. Not only would it be the longest zip-line over water in Canada, I believe it would be the only one going over the ocean. With awesome views of Boundary Bay and Mount Baker, this year-round attraction would help to put White Rock on the map again. Of course, it would likely generate a hateful response from the usual "NIMWR" crowd (Not IN MY White Rock) who never want anything to change in their cherished little seaside town. City Hall needs to alter their corporate slogan to "Revitalize, Rejuvenate, Invigorate" and put some excitement back into White Rock. Any or all of these fresh ideas proposed in this TNT column might be a good place to start.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


February 19, 2019

"Tracking Surrey's Snow Plow Tracker"


It was really nice taking a break from the winter doldrums to go to New Zealand in the middle of what is their summer. Unfortunately it appears we should have extended our trip to avoid the winter weather that was waiting for us when we arrived. While we were flying home the Lower mainland was receiving a large dump of snow after shivering through a week of outflow conditions. I stepped off the plane wearing shorts and a t-shirt, sporting a nice tan even after wearing SPF 50 for three weeks. When the taxi took us home the driver refused to go into our driveway because of the fear of getting stuck. I agreed since there was almost a foot of snow that we had to trudge through with our max weight luggage. Before emptying my bags, I found the dusty snow shovels and went to work clearing the driveway so our AWD car could make it to the street and people who didn't have snowshoes could reach our front door.

I used to live in a house on a cul-de-sac not far from our current home in Crescent heights. It was nice and quiet but as I found out the first winter, there was no snow clearing done by the City of Surrey. After one particularly heavy snowfall, the only way any of the neighbours made it to the connector street was because I took my 4x4 Ford truck and drove back and forth to ensure that everyone had a path to drive their cars in. Other times with less snowfall, it would melt and turn to ice, making the the road a proverbial skating rink. It was a great way to get to know the neighbours by helping them to push their vehicles around the street. The house we now live in was selected in part because it is on a main road with local bus service, ensuring that we receive prompt snow clearing and salting by Surrey. I don't even mind or complain when the plow fills my cleaned driveway with the slop from the street.

After years of being somewhat lacking in the snow removal business and after the dreadful winter of 2010, the City of Surrey has upped their game with 63 snow clearing vehicles now at the standby when snow starts falling. These include salters, sanders, plows and brine trucks to all help remove snow and keep ice from forming. New for this year is a specifically designed machine dedicated to plowing sidewalks in the central core of Whally around the skytrain and SFU university. Surrey uses an average of 8,000 tonnes of salt in a regular winter, with their new salt shed holding a mountain of 17,000 tonnes of rock salt. Even with all the new gear, the coolest think about their snow clearing operations is the new "Surrey Plow Tracker" website available online at .

This mapping system shows the highways and byways of the City of Surrey, hi-lighting which roads are regularly plowed. This of course includes busy connector roads, areas around schools, senior centres and steep hills. What is amazing about the Surrey Plow Tracker is that it shows you the actual location of snow clearing vehicles on the streets using GPS technology plus colour codes the roadways allowing you to see how long it has been since the roads have been plowed. It is broken into four colours, green for <2 hours, orange for 2-6 hours, pink for 6-12 hours and grey for >12 hours. Instead of phoning the Works Department to ask why you are snowed in, you can simply check out the Plow Tracker system to see when plows are heading your way. I'm not sure how much of Surrey's $3.7 million snow removal budget was used on this tracking system but I think it is priceless.

Depending on the severity of the snowfall, priority is given to the main roads to ensure they are kept clear and traffic flowing. The Surrey Plow Tracker shows you the roads of the city and whether they are priority or secondary roadways. You should know that the City of Surrey doesn’t normally do residential road clearing because the weather here usually warms up or rain melts the snow. Vehicles help to move the salt from main roads onto side streets, ensuring that the snow on these streets will melt without the help of additional rock salt. If snowfall is significant and the temperature does not warm up the plows will finally tackle residential streets but this is an even more rare occurrence around here than heavy snow. If you have questions about road clearing or feel the need to request plowing, the City of Surrey’s service request line can be reached at 604-591-4152,Mon-Fri (except statutory holidays) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Before doing so, I would recommend to check out the Plow Tracker site to see how crews are dealing with the latest storm. Sorry White Rockers but Surrey's system does not extend into the hillside community of the City By The Sea.

Tuesday should be a great day for you to check out this latest innovation from the City of Surrey. A snowfall warning was issued by Environment Canada at
21:43, Monday, 18 February, 2019 that reads as follows:
SNOWFALL WARNING IN EFFECT. 5 to 10 cm of snow for Metro Vancouver eastern suburbs and Western Fraser Valley on Tuesday.
A frontal system will cross the south coast on Tuesday. Snow will begin Tuesday morning. The snow may become mixed with rain Tuesday afternoon and early evening before changing back to snow Tuesday night. The eastern suburbs of Metro Vancouver and Western Fraser Valley can expect snowfall accumulations of 5 to 10 cm through Tuesday night. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow. The snow will taper off early Wednesday morning.
Adding to the fun more another 5 cm of snow is expected at the end of the week. It looks like I'm not getting back to work anytime soon so tomorrow I'm going to grab a hot coffee, sit by the fire and go online to watch the Surrey snowplows to their stuff during the next winter storm. If that doesn't warm the cockles of my heart, there's always the covered hot tub out back.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 11, 2019

Palma Sunday

It seems that writing my TNT while couped up in the confines of a Boeing 777 flying at 35,000 feet is becoming common place. Combine the white noise of the jet engines with non-stop turbulance and the music of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of The Moon album compliments of Air New Zealand makes for a rather unique writing environment. This column was penned while flying over the Pacific Ocean between Samoa and Tahiti, a little west of Pitcairn Island that was made famous by the mutineers who took over the HMS Bounty several centuries ago.

My third ICFRA Long Range World Championships is now over. While you were bundling up from the outflow winds and blowing snow, myself and wife Sheryl aloong with the members of the Canadian Palma Rifle Team were heading to the sunny Seddon Range not far from Wellington, New Zealand to take on the best riflemen on the planet. Last week began with the long range individual matches that were opened with a shot being fired from a .303 rifle that was awarded to Kiwi hero Sgt. L. Loveday back in 1916. Even from 800 yards the shooter, 82 year old NZNRA patron Barry Geange who has shot in 60 NZ Championships, managed to hit the 20 inch bullseye at 900 yards.

The competition was fired Palma style, that is 15 rounds on score shot at 800, 900 and1,000 yards repeated 3 times. Day 1 featured only one 800 yard range in the afternoon due to the opening ceremonies. Day 2 and 3 were shot at 900, 1,000 yards in the morning with the 800 later in the day when daytime heating created plenty of wind to deal with. The final day of the match featured the 900 and 1000 yard ranges with the top ten reaching the final where they shot for gold and glory in front of a large audience. In extremely difficult wind conditions only two shooters managed to keep all of their shots on the 34 inch wide black aiming mark. S.M. Negus of Australia managed to keep his lead and win gold with 20 year-old fellow Aussie Mitch Bailey taking silver and David Luckman from Britain coming from far back to grab bronze. Johan Sauer from Vancouver managed to win silver medals in two matches, the only Canadian to bring home any of these highly coveted medals. The top Canadian in aggregate score was yours truly, Don Pitcairn, who finished back in 67th position.

The end of individual matches led us to the holy grail of international team rifle shooting, the Palma Match. The first competition was back in 1876 when the Great Centennial Match was held in New York, contested by the USA, Canada, Ireland, Scotland and Australia with the Yankees winning the 7.5 foot tall Palma trophy produced by Tiffanys. Since that time there have been 29 Palma matches featuring a total of 30 different countries from around the world. The modern Palma was shot yearly from 1966 onward until the 1976 Bicentennial match in the US where it was then changed to a 3 and now 4 year cycle. The team size has been standardized to 16 shooters plus 4 coaches, head coach and team captain plus assistants.

On day 1 the USA dropped only 4 points in total at the 800 yard, taking an early two point lead over the heavily favoured Australian team. By the end of the 900 and 1,000 yard ranges the Aussies had built themselves a sizeable 22 point lead that included lots of centre v-bulls. Day 2 showed their dominance with their team "going clean" and firng a perfect score of 1200 points at the 800 yard. From there it was all Team Oz as they continued to add to their lead. When the gun smoke had cleared, Australia took gold with a score of 7028-773v with Great Britain winning silver 77 points back and the USA getting the bronze 29 points behind the Brits. Of note, Brandon Green and Nate Guerney of the US had the top individual scores dropping only 3 and 5 points respectively out of 450 total. After that the rest of the top 10 shooters were all Australians. The host New Zealand finished in 5th place place while Canada was well off the pace at 6th position out of 7 teams.

Our plane lands soon in snowy Vancouver with many of our teammates heading off on connecting flights to eastern Canada. With lessons learned we will begin to train towards the next Palma Match that takes place in South Africa in 2023. Hopefully my Dad who had qualified for both the Open Team and Veteran Team this year will join us after he unfortunately had to withdraw for a much needed knee replacement. That is one of the beautiful things about target rifle shooting, you can be competitive from a teenager up until your eighties as long as the body, mind and eyesight allows. It also means you can travel the world meeting people and making friends with marksmen from around the globe, renewing old acquaintances every four years.

Naturally yours,
Don Picairn



February 4, 2019

Shooting Kiwis in New Zealand

After touring around Auckland the Canadan Palma Team loaded up the van and made our way towards Wellington arriving at the Silverstream Retreat in Upper Hutt near the Seddon Range in Trentham. We met up with the other members of the team that had come in on different flights, guys and girls from the Under 25 junior team, the Open team and the Veterans team. With shooters, coaches, Captain and Adjutant plus spouses and supporters we numbered 45 people strong. Most of the large USA rifle team are staying with us in the buildings that were originally built as a hospital by American Army during WW2, then extensively renovated with modern amenities.

Target rifle shooting is the oldest competitor sport in New Zealand and with plenty of real estate and large farms still attracts plenty of people from both the country and cities. The first New Zealand Championships were held in 1869, two years after Canada was formed. The ICFRA (international Confederation of World Long Range Championships) Championship attracts teams from around the planet, with strong contingents from Australia, Great Britain, America, Canada, South Africa, and of course the host country of New Zealand. Smaller teams from Japan and the Channel Islands off France are also here with Germany, Switzerland, Kenya and the Caribbean unfortunately missing this year.

We got in a couple days of both individual and team practice last weekend, getting wind zeros for our rifle sights plus elevations for the different ranges that are set in yards instead of metres like at home. The team coaches spent time with their shooters learning how to read the large yellow and red flags that show the Seddon range's notoriously fickle and often strong winds. Matches began on Monday with the Wellington Rifle Association Championships, the New Zealand Match team shoot, the Masefield aggregate followed by the Overseas Club Match. You can follow the action on National Rifle Association of New Zealand at .

The week of competition started with very warm weather and lots of strong wind that flicked back and forth from side left to right. The hard shooting A. DeToit from South Africa came in first place in the Wellington Rifle Association Match that included ranges fired at 300, 600, 900 and 1000 yards. Even in ferocious winds that shredded most scores, he dropped only one point and that was at the long range. Surrey's Al Katona was the top Canadian five points back of the winner and a long way from the medals. The rest of the week shooters competed shoulder to shoulder in the Masefield Cup that features a series of belt matches at both short and long ranges. Jim Bailey from Australia who I had the pleasure of shooting with walked away with the gold, winning by five points over last years champ John Snowden from New Zealand with South Africa's A. DeToit taking third place. High Canadian was yours truly back in 41st place.

The young and old got into the action on Saturday with the completion of the ICFRA World Individual Championships for Under 21, Under 25 and the Veteran's Aggregate. In the Under 21, L. Rembler of the USA took 1st place, in the Under 25, C. Schwebel of Australia took the gold, and Mark Anderson of Australia who I shot with in Bisley won the top award for those over 60 years old. To finish the weekend, the Under 21 Team match, the Under 25 Team match and Veterans Team match were all won by Australia, showing the strength of their shooting program.

Next week is the ICFRA World Long Range Championships followed on the weekend by the international team Palma Match. All of these 15 round matches are fired at 800, 900, and 1,000 yards. Winds are forcast at 30 gusting to 50 kmh which should make things interesting. Sorry to hear its cold and snowy in the Semi-pen, I'll think of you when putting on the SPF 50 sunscreen before heading to the rifle range to battle the world's best marksmen.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 28, 2019 

Hobnobbin With Hobbits


This TNT comes to you from 11,747 km away from the beautiful island nation of New Zealand. Every four years the Canadian Rifle Team makes their way to the ICFRA World Long Range Championships, this year being held in the town of Upper Hutt not far from Wellington. Here Canada's Under 25 Team, the Senior Team plus the Veterans Team will compete with the world's best marksmen from across the globe on the Seed in range. Myself plus two other shooters from South Surrey are on the team with several more from around BC. 

The tour started with getting dropped off at the airport long before our flight ensuring there were no lineups at the NEW Zealand Air check-in counter. When you consider how tight security is when flying with conventional lugge, try to imagine travelling with high-powered target rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. You need Canadian government export permits, New Zealand Police import permits, Firearms cards plus your passport. Everything has to be inspected, cross referenced with serial numbers plus the ammo has to be weighed and checked for proper safety packaging. 

After meeting up with another eight team members and saying good-bye to our shooting friends who came to the airport to wish us good luck we passed through security where I basically had to disrobe to clear the metal detector. I guess a Canada pin is a dangerous object in the cabin, while .308 rifles and 10 kg of bullets are okay in the belly of the plane. Of course that was just my portion, I don't even want to add up how much other firearms and ordanance were on board, all with the blessing of Transport Canada. For all of the pain it is flying with restricted goods, you have to laugh that you can't bring nail cutters on board but a sniper team can pack plenty of rifles and gear as long as they comply with government and industry regulations.

After clearing security we encountered a rather large group of people at our gate who also looked like another team in transit. I'm not sure of it was the Tilley hat, my team blazer or the Statesmen eyeglasses from Sight For Sore Eyes in White Rock (shameless plug) but I was chosen to take their photo. After doing my best to cram them all in and take a couple of snaps, I found out they were Aboriginal youths and their chapparones . The 11 teens that were the focus of this expedition were heading to New Zealand Paddling Beyond cultural exchange program with the native Maori indigenous people. I had plenty of time to learn about this program on the 15 hour flight, including their plan to visit Hobbiton where the Lord of the Rings was filmed.

After a restless night crammed into economy seats we landed in Auckland where a rented bus was waiting for us. Our team Captain, Fazel Mohideen from Ontario, took the wheel after we had packed all of our gear, taking care to stay on the left side of the road. Using a GPS app on his phone we navigated through Auckland to the President Hotel with its Watergate restaurant. From there the next few days were spent enjoying the city, bonding as a team and checking out the local tourist traps. There was little jet lag for us with NZ being a day minus 3 hours ahead of us but the folks from Ontario and Quebec needed some time getting used to summer heat after escping from -25 cold and snowy weather.

Before the big drive South to Wellington, we spent several days touring the beautiful NZ countryside and its many attractions. After a major hike exploring a valley with limestone cliffs carved by water with cave upon cave, we went underground to visit a glowworm cave ( These amazing little creatures glow 24 hours a day in complete darkness, using their green glow to attract insects that fly into the cave and it's many unique formations . Also on the itinerary was a stop at an active Mauori viĺlage in Rotorua perched above an active geothermal sight with multiple geysers, hot springs and thermal vents (

That's all for week one as we head South for the range and practices with the rest of our team before the main matches begin. 

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


Monday January 14, 2018

Sobering Thoughts

When cannabis was legalized on October 20, 2018 getting high became as socially acceptable as having a drink to relax at the end of a hard day. What many failed to realize was that while weed was finally becoming legal, impaired driving laws were being tightened. With marijuana legalization on the horizon the Canadian government took steps to strengthen the criminal justice system to deter all kinds of impaired driving. Part one of the former Bill C-46 came into force on June 21 of last year dealing with drug-impaired driving, while part two of this Bill became law almost a month ago on Dec. 18 focusing on alcohol impaired driving.

The big change in the DUI laws was that they implemented mandatory alcohol screening in Canada that authorized police to demand a breath sample at the roadside from any driver they encountered. In the past the police need a reason to pull you over and then have suspicions of alcohol impairment to ask for a breath sample. Now that is simply not the case and already police departments who no longer have to deal with marijuana possession laws are taking to the streets targeting anyone they think might have had a drink. The government championed that "Mandatory alcohol screening will authorize law enforcement to demand a breath sample at the roadside from any driver that has been lawfully stopped." What they did not explain was that the police can pull you over without any violation or indication of problematic driving, akin to them going on a fishing trip.

It did not take long for this change in the law to start showing some rather extreme changes in police tactics. In Mississauga a man bringing in a bunch of beer and wine bottles to a recycling depot after the Christmas holidays was stopped by an officer when leaving and asked for a breath sample early on a Saturday morning. He passed the test but was pissed off afterwards, taking the OPP to task about their profiling based on the number of empties being returned. Personally I have been the victim of this type of profiling when I was pulled over by an Integrated Safety Unit (IRSU) officer after purchasing a six-pack of craft beer on a Friday afternoon last summer in Langley. Having written several columns about the IRSU I was quite aware of who they were and saw their undercover vehicles in the liquor store parking lot. The excuse given for pulling me over was "You almost hit a curb back their with your trailer", which was a complete fabrication. After calling his bluff and flashing a White Rock Sun reporter card he quickly turned tail and left me alone with the IPA I had bought for the weekend. Funny to think that I actually thought buying beer in BC was legal!

The police here are now using these new powers and specifically targeting drivers leaving establishments that produce or serve liquor. A friend of mine was at a craft brewery on the weekend when he was followed from the parking lot by an undercover cop car. While his driving was perfect, he did not speed, he signaled his lane changes and broke no laws, he was pulled over because of where he had been. He was asked to provide a breath sample by the officer immediately after giving him his license and registration. Unfortunately for my friend he had tasted several flights of beer, with many of the winter brews featuring higher than normal alcohol content, and this on an empty stomach. He failed the roadside screening device test even though he did not feel intoxicated and the officer agreed that he could not notice any kind of impairment. He was given an immediate 90 day license suspension, his car was towed and impounded with storage fees for 30 days. Next up is big fines plus major ICBC rate increases. The worst part is he was to start his new job on Monday but without a license he is now unemployed.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not condone drunk driving but am concerned about our rights and freedoms and civil liberties. If we can have police pulling people over for no legitimate reason and giving them a breathalyzer, why not do a strip search for weapons and a cavity search for narcotics while they are at it? I know that possession is 9/10ths of the law and with marijuana now legal and drug possession charges way down, the cops need something to do since they can't be busting hippies for a joint any more. These new DUI laws have given the police powers to harass any and all drivers without suspicion of any law being broken. I expect this new law to be quickly challenged as it will likely not survive a constitutional challenge. Of course here in Canada, this court case will likely take years before making its way to the Supreme Court.

Until that time you can expect the police to run rampant over individual rights and freedoms, turning law abiding people into unwitting criminals as Canada drifts towards a police state. Planning on going to a bar or brewery in the near future for even one drink? I would park nearby and walk to the establishment to avoid being targeted. Did you get a gift card for the Keg or Cactus Club that are known to serve premium cocktails? You'd better have a designated driver and still might be pulled over for nothing. Around the Semi-pen, I would expect to see cops watching the Sandcastle Bowling Alley, Softball City and restaurants along the White Rock strip. Patrons heading to pubs and bars such as the the Town Hall, Sawbucks, Baselines, Ocean Park Village and Browns Social House should make for easy police pickings. I would not expect the local Canadian Legion branches or Elks Hall to escape the attention of the RCMP. With Three Dogs Brewing now located next door to the White Rock Beach Beer Company, Russel Avenue should be a mecca for any cop wanting to find people to randomly pull over for a breathalyzer.

It will be interesting to see what kind of chilling effect that police enforcement of the new DUI laws has on food and beverage establishments here, many that are just scraping by. Until this unjust law is overturned, I will avoid bars like the plaque, have water when eating at restaurants and get growlers filled at craft breweries for home consumption. I resent being treated like a criminal when I've done nothing wrong and this new law gives the police way too much powers that can also be used to target visible minorities. For those reading this TNT, keep in mind that an extra glass of wine, another pint of beer or that double high-ball may cost you a heck of a lot more than the drink itself.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


The Naked Truth - Jan. 7, 2019

A Long Walk to a Short Pier

Almost everyone is aware of the damage sustained to the White Rock Pier during the Dec. 20th windstorm, mainly due to Tim Shields' viral video of sailboats on a broken dock slamming into Canada's longest pier. What few realize is the pounding that the shoreline and the BNSF Railway received during this nasty storm. On Boxing Day I put on my hardhat and high vis vest and went on a "Track Watch" journey from Crescent Beach, through White Rock, to the Semiahmoo First Nation Reserve. This TNT, which is more of a pictorial than a column, should open up a few eyes to the damage Mother Nature inflicted on shores of the Semi-pen.

One of the good things to note from the storm is that the previous landslide debris deposited onto the shore near Crescent Beach that had blocked shoreline access during high tide has now washed away, leaving behind the Big O drainage pipe behind that initiated this slide.

Crescent Rock nude beach got seriously eroded by the waves but on the bright side it looks like there will be plenty of sand there next summer. The memorial for Jack Stroud who was hit while on the train tracks last year was obliterated but fresh flowers had already been laid at the spot where he died.


The erosion of the rip rap boulders that line the shore and ballast stones which hold the ties in place are evident in this photo from near Kwomais Point that shows how close the waves came to the tracks. I was passed in this area by a BNSF freight train carrying 100 tankers of crude oil, and another with 70 gas tankers plus cars of ammonia and hydrochloric acid.

This shot shows an area not yet repaired where waves pulled down the rip-rap boulders and water washed the ballast rock away exposing the ends of the sleepers. I've been told by BNSF employees that more rip-rap and ballast stone are coming in the near future to repair all the damage.

Approximately 200 metres of Kwomais Point took the full force of the storm and the tracks and ties were apparently hanging suspended in several locations. The BNSF has installed tonnes of new rip-rap boulders to shore up the bank and deposited train-car loads of ballast stone on the rails throughout this area.

Most of the tracks heading towards White Rock have been top-dressed with tonnes of crushed ballast rock, covering the ties and the track side facing the ocean. On the places not buried in stones, driftwood lies in between the steel rails in many locations.

Closing in on West Beach, it was not until I got near the houses on Marine Drive that the amount of logs began to suddenly increase, plus sailboat wreckage first appeared. On West Beach by the Boat Launch, the lawns looked like a logging show with tonnes of debris.

All of West Beach was a disaster zone with logs and flotsam everywhere. The Promenade was fenced off and posted "Permanently Closed Until Further Notice." Climbing the Hump I got to watch a mini-excavator on a barge try to pull one of the damaged sail boats off the beach, with the hole in the pier as a backdrop.

Arriving in East Beach, I witnessed a sailboat smashed up onto the rocks with rudder and masts gone and a gaping hole in its side. It was obvious that this boat was completely destroyed by the waves and logs pounding it onto the rocks at the shore.

Of all the wreckage scattered along East Beach, this float likely from the busted sailboat dock was rather unique. It was sitting squarely on the promenade bricks without any damage to the nearby fence or lamp post. The wave that dropped it there must have been huge.

As bad as West Beach was, it seemed that East Beach had even more logs and debris. It was easy to see why the White Rock Polar Bear Swim had to be cancelled as the shoreline would have been dangerous for anyone to access.

The Semiahmoo beach by the WAG and the SFN parking lot got seriously washed with the vegetation mowed down and logs pushed back to the bottom of the tracks. It was here that I found a "Sensitive Shellfish Harvesting Area" sign from Drayton Harbor in Blaine along with a piling from the WR Pier.

There you have it folks, 12 pictures that should give you some insight to the power of Mother Nature and the damage from this historic storm. You should have seen the other two dozen photos that would not fit into this first-of-its-kind TNT pictorial. Kudos to the BNSF employees who worked diligently to repair all of the damage done to their rail line that was closed for 48 hours. It will take a while to remove all of the logs and debris from the beaches in White Rock and preliminary estimates are that the pier will not be repaired until August at the earliest.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth, Dec. 31, 2018

TNT Year in Review 2018


What did you manage to do last year? To help celebrate the end of 2018, here is the TNT Year in Review

Dec. 24, Christmas Gift List 2018: Often naughty, sometimes nice gifts left under the Xmas tree for the Semi-pen's movers and shakers.
Dec. 17, Bailey Bridge Boondoggle: Repairs are done on the old Bailey Bridge over a year after this relic was already to have been replaced.
Dec. 10, Geezer madness: A look at how local governments are using land zoning and business licenses to thwart recent marijuana legalization.
Dec. 03, Shoreline Strippers: A green space along Nicomekyl River by the Sea Dam has locals ripping out the riparian area for water views.

Nov. 25, Chantrell Creek Gets Back to Nature: Pictures and information on how Surrey rehabilitated a section of Chantrell Creek back to a natural state.
Nov. 19, What The Firetruck?: What word starts with "F" and ends in "uck"? How about a story on two firetrucks for sale at Crescent Road and KGB.
Nov. 12, Path to Destruction: Expose on logging occurring at the Elgin Heritage Park with healthy 150 year old Douglas Fir trees getting the axe.
Nov. 05, Monday Night Political Football: The civic election is over and plenty of new faces sit down for their first Council meetings in Surrey and White Rock.

Oct. 29, The Best Defence is a Landslide Detector Fence: After 10 years, the BNSF finally extends the LDF through the Crescent Beach slide zone.
Oct. 22, Its Time For Change: A look at the civic election results where Surrey First and the White Rock Coalition were shown the door by voters.
Oct. 16, Speed Kills, Duh: In reversing a deadly Liberal mistake, John Horgan's NDP lower speed limits on BC highways to reduce crashes and deaths.
Oct. 09 Bananas About Basjoo: Banana groves flourishing in Crescent Beach? You bet your sweet bananas there are, with photos to prove it.
Oct. 01, The Number's Game: A preview of the local elections and the huge number of people who are running for Mayor and Council.

Sept. 25, Tracking Our Politicians: Rail safety and rail relocation are always hot button topics before an election, too bad the BNSF and Transport Canada don't care.
Sept. 17, Wrecking The Rock: From Uptown to the waterfront, White Rock is a massive construction zone with the crane and loon fighting to be the official bird.
Sept. 10, BNSF's Behaviour Simply Of-fence-sive: Column on the BNSF trying to extort $225,000 per year from Surrey for a free safety fence meant for the railway.
Sept. 04, Gunning For Mayor: A marksman puts the cross-hairs on gun violence in Surrey and efforts by the RCMP and mayoralty hopefuls wanting to stop it.

Aug. 27, Skimboarding Getting Kayotics: Tofino may have surfing but Kayotics Skimboards in White Rock is taking skimboarding to a whole new level.
Aug. 20, Smogust: BC is burning, temperatures are on the rise and air quality here in the Semi-pen is worse than breathing the air in Bejing China.
Aug. 13, Red Light Runners Beware: New red light cameras are coming to a neighbourhood near you, now running 24 hours a day instead of 6 hours like before.
Aug. 06: Shooting Stops in Surrey: A wrap-up of the Canadian Rifle team's visit to Bisley England with kudos to south Surrey's Jim Paton for placing 2nd.

July 23, This Surrey Shooting Scores a Bulls-eye: A look into the UK NRA Target Rifle Championships held yearly at the Bisley ranges in Surrey, England.
July 17, TNT Time in Britain: A Donald from White Rock goes to Jolly old England the same time that The Donald from the USA flies in with Air Force One.
July 9, Railing on About Track Safety: A dark story about the death of 15 year-old Jack Stroud who was hit and killed by the Amtrak train near Christopherson Steps.
July 03, Glimpsing a Petroglyph: Native rock carvings abound here in the Semi-pen if you know where to look including at the clothing-optional Crescent Rock beach.

June 25, A Line in the Sand at Border Beach: A call for a beach border marker next to the Peace Arch after a jogger ends up in the USA and hot water.
June 18, Disposal Ban With No Disposal Plan: Metro-Van bans styrofoam packaging from the waste stream but has no recycling system in place.
June 11, Dying To Get In There: Problems at the corner of 192 St. and 16 Ave. cause 3 deaths in 10 years as drivers crash into the Hazelmere Cemetery.
June 04, Crime of the Week: RCMP are still looking for information about the murder of 15 year-old Dario Bartoli at Bakerview Park in 2014.

May 28, Musseling Into Our Territory: An interesting expose of the work being done by the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program to stop invasive species.
May 21, Land of the Free: How to avoid paying Washington State sales tax when you cross the border to go shopping in the United States.
May 14, Mighty Fraser Might Flood Surrey: A 10-day high streamflow advisory for the Fraser River peaks interest about the possibility of flooding.
May 07, Habitat Schmabitat: A story about the Art Knapps store and how they are doing their part to help the environment and build more habitat.

Apr. 30, Rock is Dead - Long Live Rock!: A very blue look at the life and times of guitarist Jason Buie who helped form the WR Blues Society before passing.
Apr. 23, Weed Em And Reap: The invasive and toxic Laurel Spurge is put under a spotlight as it spreads uncontrolled in yards, green-spaces and parkland.
Apr. 16, Mayor If You Dare: An overview of all of the people with aspirations to be the next Mayor as Linda Hepner and Wayne Baldwin bow out.
Apr. 09, The "Legend" Continues: A 79 year -marksman named Bob Pitcairn represents Canada at the Commonwealth Games setting a new record.
Apr. 01, April Fools For Fools: April 1st has become "Tax Increase Day" and this year is no exception with a laundry list of government gouging.

Mar. 26, Preaching From the Chappell: Meet the new Semiahmoo First Nation Chief, Harley Chappell, who answers many questions about the Reserve.
Mar. 19, BNSF Burying Crescent Beach: Landslide debris from the BNSF tracks gets dumped onto Crescent Beach leaving the railway with mud on its face.
Mar. 12, Overpass Opens Before Passover: The severely damaged 152 St. overpass above Hwy. 99 opens early after being hit by an over-height truck.
Mar. 05, A Clear-Cut Job: Arborists roar into action under cover of darkness to cut down boulevard trees all along Johnson Road in uptown White Rock.

Feb. 12-26, White Rock Sun closed.
Feb. 05, Lights Out For Watts: Dianne Watts loses her bid to lead the BC Liberal Party to Andrew Wilkinson after she quit as South Surrey/White Rock MP.

Jan. 29, Super-Blue-Blood-Moon Rising: A super moon, blue moon and blood moon and happen at once in this extremely rare astrological event.
Jan. 22, Taking Tax Relief For Granted: House prices rise stratospherically, property taxes rise dramatically, but the home owners grant never changes.
Jan. 15, Muddying The Waters: A look into operations at the Border Feed Lot and Ecoli contamination of the Little Campbell River watershed.
Jan. 08, Clearing The Air: Soggy manure piles turned over at the Border Feed Lot cause neighbours living downwind to raise a stink.

There you go folks, a full year of TNTs condensed down into one short column. If you see anything here that catches your eye, simply scroll down to read what you missed. If you hit the archives, every The Naked Truth ever written going back to June 20, 2009 is still posted online in the electronic pages of the White Rock Sun for your viewing pleasure.

Happy New Year,
Don Pitcairn



December 24, 2018

Christmas Gift List 2018

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.

Wayne Baldwin, former White Rock Mayor - A DVD copy of the comedy movie "The Boss" featuring Melissa MacCarthy. As a stocking stuffer, free downloads of every song that Bruce Springstein has ever recorded plus the Ramones song "Glad To See You Go" from their 1977 "Leave Home" album.

Jennifer Brooks and family - Just like Tim Shields below, the Brooks family got their Xmas present early on Dec. 20th when they learned that that RCMP Const. Elizabeth Cucheran, charged in the shooting death of Hudson Brooks at the south Surrey RCMP detachment in 2015, has been ordered to stand trial in BC Supreme Court early in the new year.

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor - A"Mustang Only" parking sign for in front of his stall at City Hall for his vintage 1966 Ford Mustang fastback in candy apple red paint making Dave hard to miss as he rolls by on the hard streets of White Rock.

The Coalition - For the group of Councillors including Grant Meyers, Bill Lawrence, Lynne Sinclair and Megan Knight who transformed much of uptown White Rock into a concrete jungle against the wishes of the people before they were soundly turfed from office, a roll of sod with instructions "green side up."

Democracy Direct - For White Rocks newest councillors, Erica Johanson, Scott Kristjanson, Anthony Manning and Christopher Trevelyan who said they would actually listen to the wants of their constituents, expect to find hearing aids and aural trumpets for all of them under the tree at City Hall.

Helen Fathers, WR Councillor - The beautiful Snover Gill was crowned 2018 Miss White Rock but the lovely and talented Helen needs a trophy for her mantle proclaiming her as "Mrs. White Rock" after receiving the most votes of any Councillor who was elected.

Rodderick Louis, social provocateur - For the highly opinionated, extremely vocal, thorn-in-the-side critic of White Rock Council, a free travel package. Unfortunately it's likely to be an escorted trip out of Council chambers by the RCMP after turning yet another public meeting into a one man gong show.

Kerri-Lynne Findlay, Conservative member - A DVD of the made for television movie The Comeback Kid starring John Ritter. This Conservative candidate will be back for round two, likely taking on Liberal incumbent Gordie Hogg once again to be the MP for the south Surrey - White Rock riding.

Gordon Hogg, MP for SS/WR - A new pair of running shoes as "Good Ol Gordie" gets ready to run again for MP of South Surrey - White Rock in what should be his 16th election campaign over his many years of public service. As a stocking stuffer, a really fun and colourful pair of socks to match his personality.

Doug MacCallum, City of Surrey Mayor - Back in the saddle after a 13 year hiatus, Cowboy Doug gets a bullet-proof vest in case of friendly-fire from the Surrey RCMP he wants to replace. Since he's been such a good boy this year, Santa also brings him a model Skytrain set to play with plus an extra billion dollars to help fund it over the LRT.

Semiahmoo First Nation Council - For Chief Harley Chappel and Councillors Joanne and Roxanne Charles, a clean Metro Vancouver water connection that ends their boil water advisory on the Reserve in place since 2005. Just like last year, some gifts are a long, long, long time coming.

Tim Shields, Master Photographer - Christmas always comes 5 days early for this former RCMP inspector and avid photographer. On Dec. 20, 2017 he was found not guilty of sexual misconduct charges involving a civilian employee in the workplace. This year on Dec. 20 he took the amazing video of the sailboats crashing into the WR pier, just before he and his family made a mad dash to safety. Not bad for the guy who also won the 2018 International Nature Photographer of the Year award (visit

Darryl Walker, Mayor of White Rock - For White Rock's new Mayor a framed copy of Democracy Direct's election promises including open and transparent governance of the most secretive City Hall this side of North Korea. As a heartwarming stocking stuffer, the knowledge that he knocked another DW, the once formidable Dianne Watts, off the Christmas List.

The White Rock Pier - In a TNT first, an inanimate object and not a person makes the Christmas list for Semi-pen movers and shakers. For Canada's longest pier, which was heavily damaged by boats in a strong wind storm on Dec. 20th, Santa is leaving a pile of new boards and fresh pilings hoping that an army of elves can put this heritage site back together again by summer.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year planning your safe ride home.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



December 17, 2018

Bailey Bridge Boondoggle

This TNT got its start back in September of 2017 when the Nicomekl Bailey Bridge was closed for extensive repairs. I did a bridge inspection of my own at that time and wrote a TNT titled "Bailey Bridge Blockade" that revealed rotten timbers, truss corrosion and beam repairs that looked like a Jenga game. Emails to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transportation with questions about the closure and pictures of the bridge structure quickly led to signs going up on the structure with a load restriction of 10,000 Kg. and an announcement that bridge inspectors had noticed components that needed repairs and they closed the Bailey Bridge as a precaution until an assessment could be done by structural engineers. Three weeks after my TNT appeared in the White Rock Sun, the Ministry announced the "Bailey Bridge in south Surrey will undergo full replacement" with details about a steel superstructure, new deck plus approach and abutment works. Drivers were advised that the one lane crossing would be closed for 6 weeks starting Oct. 16, for crews to complete the replacement. Scroll down into the TNT archives to read this mini-TNT dated Sept. 25, 2017 for the intimate details and to check out the pictures of the rot and temporary repairs.

Anyone who still dares to use the Bailey Bridge crossing will tell you that the planned replacement never happened and this antiquated relic remains in place. In November of 2017 the Ministry of Trans announced that the new bridge had been deferred until the New Year while they waited for an environmental approval from the Province. This statement also included information that the current 10,00 Kg. load limit that forces commercial truck traffic and transit buses to avoid the span would remain in place until the replacement of the Bailey Bridge. The new year came and went and nothing was done about the bridge replacement but finally in October of 2018 it was reported that the Ministry "intends to move forward with the project" promising more information by the end of this year. Their statement also revealed the delays were also because "The plan is still being discussed with the City of Surrey in light of their future long-term transportation plan." I thought this was rather rich since this temporary bridge has become a long-term fixture in these parts, one that is dangerous and well beyond its expected life-span.

Last month the Ministry of Trans announced that "Crews will be repairing the single-lane Bailey Bridge crossing of the Nicomekyl River in south Surrey and northbound traffic will be diverted onto the adjacent two-lane structure from Nov. 19 to Nov. 26, 2018." This work went ahead as planned focusing on the south end of the bridge that had already seen extensive temporary repairs. For most of the week there was heavy equipment on site, Mainroad Group trucks and their crews plus piles of debris left under tarps. This weekend I went back to the Bailey Bridge to see the extent of the repairs. This time around the decking was removed, over a dozen of the cross beams replaced plus most of the wooden abutment was rebuilt. Once again, even with these extensive repairs the 10,000 Kg. load limit remains in place for this crossing. It has now been 14 months since the old Bailey Bridge was to have been replaced and they are still throwing good money at bad, putting lipstick on a pig, putting a bandaid on a gaping wound, and trying to fix something that should have been torn down years ago.

Here is the statement I received this week from the Transportation Ministry about this ongoing saga: "The Bailey bridge in South Surrey is an older bridge, and it was always meant to be a temporary crossing only. While the bridge remains safe for travels, it needs a permanent, long term solution. At this time, ministry staff are still in discussions with the City of Surrey on a future replacement project that fits into the region’s long-term transportation plan. We hope to reach a consensus soon, and get to work on a replacement, to benefit people who live and work in this area." The issue I have with this PR spin is that the Bailey Bridge is NOT safe for travel. Northbound heavy commercial trucks and transit buses that usually stay in the right lane must now change into the left lane to go onto the other crossing and then once on the other side of the Nicomekl river, they have to force their way back into the right lane. There is a very short distance from the bridge to the Park and Ride lot and buses are always changing lanes on this curve. It does not help that the highway signs in this area are worn out, illegible and completely invisible at night, likely having not been replaced since the Bailey Bridge was first installed in the early 1970s.

When I walked down King George Blvd. to check the bridge on Sunday, I was amazed at how many broken bits of cars littered the road from previous accidents. Obviously the Bailey Bridge is not fit for heavy vehicles which puts the travelling public at risk if a transit bus driver were to mistakenly cross it. The solar powered highway warning sign flashing the 10,000 Kg. limit has often gone dark, something that is happening way too often on these rainy and cloudy days. Most worrisome is the bridge deck itself that gets notoriously slippery when there is frost, something that happens often this time of year especially at this location near the water at the bottom of a hill. The bridge deck used to be covered with an anti-skid coating, similar to what is currently being used on Colebrook Road from 152 St. to 160 Street. It has now flaked off in all of the areas where vehicles travel, leaving tires rolling on polished wooden planks. This deck coating should have been replaced when it began to wear and the Ministry along with Mainroad Group are responsible for allowing the deck to deteriorate to its current slippery state. A friend who was at our house this weekend told me his wife almost lost control of her Mustang recently when crossing on a particularly frosty morning. I would recommend that if you have to cross the Bailey Bridge when it's icy, do not touch either your gas or brake pedal until safely on the other side.

Slippery When Wet

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Ministry of the Environment plus the City of Surrey should stop dithering on this project and get the old Bailey Bridge replaced asap. Considering the current state of this dangerous relic, I would suggest closing it off completely to vehicle traffic until that time. There were never any backups or congestion when it was closed for repairs and this would likely be safer than leaving it open with all of the problems I have noted here. If they wish to leave it open, I would suggest a 30 Km. speed limit plus the anti-slip coating would need to be reapplied to the slippery wooden planks, especially with winter on the way. I would like to invite an ICBC manager to inspect this antiquated and dangerous bridge for themselves plus check out the rotten and worn out highway signs that are contributing to accidents at the KGB/Hwy. 99 interchange. Maybe they can use flames from their so-called dumpster fire to put some heat on the asses of those whose job it is to ensure we have safe roads and bridges.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



December 10,2018

Geezer Madness



October 17, 2018 was the official "Weed Freedom" day in Canada when the recreational use of marijuana was finally legalized. While the Federal government under Justin Trudeau's Liberals legalized the purchase of marijuana for recreational purposes, it was not without a staggering number of legal hurdles and regulatory process limiting production and distribution of a wide variety of marijuana products. Three days later we had civic elections throughout our province with politicians and their slates vowing to stamp our marijuana dispensaries and growing facilities like invasive weeds. Many of these people grew up in the prohibition era of "Reefer Madness" and the propaganda campaigns and anti-drug crusades that stigmatized cannabis use. Simply search "reefer madness" on your computer and check out the wild images associated with it and slogans that include the following: the smoke of hell, devil's harvest, assassin of youth, Satan's cigarettes, drug crazed abandon, and weird orgies - wild parties. Fortunately some people saw through this smoke screen and wrote a musical satire about this subject that was later produced as an off-Broadway play.

The first legal recreational cannabis store opened up on Oct. 17th in Kamloops at the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch’s first "B.C. Cannabis Store." Since that time three more stores have been approved by the Kamloops Council and are now up and running serving a (dare I say) growing market. The BC government also utilizes the LDB to provide online sales through their where many of their products are "Out of stock" or "Limited quantity" due to lack of product availability and the sheer number of orders being placed. This weekend we found out that Shoppers Drug Mart has now received a license to sell medical cannabis over the internet including dried cannabis, fresh cannabis, plants, seeds and cannabis oils. They even have a website ( that states "As a leader in health and wellness for Canadians, Shoppers Drug Mart will soon be your trusted source for medical cannabis from a variety of producers." In case you were not aware, Shoppers is part of Loblaw Companies Ltd., run by Galen Weston Jr. of the Weston family that has a net worth of over $8 billion. I guess that they and all of their 135,000 Loblaw employees across Canada will now be banned for life from entering the USA since they sell pot.

In White Rock Surrey and Delta, there has not been one recreational cannabis dispensary allowed to open even though marijuana is legal. In Delta there are many large commercial greenhouses that have ripped out their tomatoes and are now growing cannabis with the government's blessing. These include Emerald Health Theraputics, Village Farms International and the massive BC Tweed greenhouse, which has 1.3 million square feet of production space that is now generating skunky smell complaints along Hwy. 99. Of course there has been plenty of gnashing of teeth about ALR land in BC being used for pot production instead of food production. It is interesting to note that nobody is complaining about fields of tobacco, grapes being grown for alcoholic wine, non-edible crops such as flowers and Christmas trees, or the use for growing grass at golf courses. I even know of one nursery in Surrey that told me they had been approached to change their business focus from nursery plants to marijuana. When I asked who had approached them they told me "the government" before revealing that they had turned down their offer.

In the big city of Surrey, new Mayor Doug McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition members are on record as being opposed to cannabis retail stores and growing facilities. Prior to the election he stated "Surrey is at a crossroads with out-of-contol crime and gang violence. We need to get crime under control first. My biggest concern is that local cannabis stores and production facilities put another layer of uncertainty onto our city when residents already feel unsafe." What he does not comprehend is that gangs and organized crime have utilized marijuana production and their distribution system to create vast wealth and power. In the past large amounts of cannabis were smuggled south into the US, with cocaine and guns flowing north, adding to the epidemic of gangland murders that continue to plague Surrey to this day. Not allowing brick and mortar cannabis retailers to operate in the city only ensures a continuation of the black market because many people do not want to buy their pot online from government sources and then wait for Canada Post to deliver it. The Safe Surrey Coalition policy on pot will only serve to help further finance the very gangs he wants to eradicate.

It is not like you cannot already get cannabis flowers and related products delivered to your door in Surrey even if you don't have "a guy." The Weedmaps ( weed finder app for any cell phone lists a dozen mobile delivery businesses operating in the city that include Cannamobile, Premium Budz, Cheap Bud Canada, Bud2Go, Green2go and plenty more. Most of these have an online ordering platform with product pictures and pricing lists that you can peruse before ordering, just like when you ring Dominos for a pizza. There is even a delivery service listed for little old White Rock for those seniors who want some fresh herb without leaving the comfort of their homes. As to who owns and runs these "green lines" as they are called, nobody knows as its not like they can apply for a business license from City Hall. In Surrey it is doubtful that the outstretched and overburdened RCMP have the staff or the heart to go after these budding entrepreneurs who make house calls. With McCallum wanting to ditch the RCMP in favour of a municipal force, it is likely the cops want nothing to do with his trying to block lawful retail cannabis sales in Surrey.

There were many people that voted for the Liberal Party in the last Federal election because they wanted to end decades of pot prohibition. It is sad to see many of the elderly mayors and councillors from around the province using their local powers over land use and business licenses to stifle the legal retail sale of marijuana. It really makes me wonder what the hell these people have been smoking; probably too much state controlled tobacco I reckon. This "geezer madness" has to stop and hopefully when they realize that their cities can actually profit from legal cannabis sales, as Kamloops has quickly figured out, they might come to their senses. If not, just as Canadians voted in a young Justin Trudeau to end prohibition, it might be time to vote in civic elections for those with less grey hair and a little more common sense about cannabis.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


The Province newspaper's front page story on Monday reveals how local governments are also using zoning powers to stop legal medicinal grow operations receiving microcultivation licences from Health Canada, which adds to the current lack of recreational cannabis supply and supports the continuation of the black market.



December 03, 2018

Shoreline Strippers


People often ask me where I get my story ideas from for my weekly The Naked Truth column. It really is as easy as keeping your eyes and ears open as you traverse about our little corner of the world. A month ago I suddenly had multiple topics all bordering on Crescent Road in south Surrey. This will be the last of a four part series from Crescent Road, showing that you don't have to go very far to find something worth writing about in your local newspaper. This quadrilogy began on November 12th with "Path to Destruction" about tree cutting in Elgin Heritage Park, "What The Firetruck" with its focus on a pair of firetrucks for sale at CWL Auto, "Chantrell Creek Gets Back to Nature" revealing Surrey's rehabilitation of the creek bed and finally "Shoreline Strippers" about greenbelt gardening near Southport by the Elgin Road Sea dam. I'm sorry for not revealing this before but I didn't want to let the cat out of the bag until the series was complete. Now, onto this week's TNT to bring this Crescent Road quartet to its stunning conclusion.

Many people heading towards Crescent Beach or Ocean Park from Highway 99 often take the Elgin Road Sea Dam Bridge over the Nicomekyl River as a short cut to Crescent Road. Most people give little thought to the history of this area as they travel through Port Elgin, on parts of the Semiahmoo Trail, over the Sea dam that was built in 1911 which was the earlier site of a wooden bridge constructed in 1874. Just west of the Semiahmoo Trail cairn is the waterfront community of Southport that it nestled beside Nico Wynd Estates and its 9 hole golf course. When this neighbourood was developed a walking trail and green space were installed allowing pedestrians to access the waterfront that also connects to the dike trail going around Nico Wynd and public trails connecting to Elgin Heritage Park. It is a fantastic place to go for a stroll, enjoy the banks of the Nicomekyl River and take in views of the North Shore mountains. Unfortunately it appears to also be a place where water views trump environmental protection, with little to nothing being done about damage to natural park lands.

There are story boards posted by the City of Surrey's Heritage Advisory Committee throughout the Southport section of the greenbelt giving interesting historical perspectives on River Routes, Trails and Roads, First Nations Settlement, Early European Settlers, Elgin Families and Community Life. The last of these signs concerns Riparian Areas and I will repeat here for you exactly what they have to say.

The planted spaces between the river and the pathway are called "riparian areas." Riparian areas are important components of the river's total ecosystem. The vegetation provides habitat for small mammals, birds, and other wildlife. It filters the sediments and water that flow towards the river and provides nutrients and food to plants and animals that live both beside and in the river. Without riparian areas the riverbank might erode or collapse, thereby allowing sediments and pollutants to enter the river.
The Nicomekyl River's riparian areas have changed considerably over time. Agricultural activity and urban development have resulted in much of the area's original vegetation being destroyed. Today, environmental awareness and partnerships between the City, community and private sector have resulted in the protection of riparian areas and replanting of native plant species.

Now this might have sounded wonderful when Southport was first built but soon after people began to move into their houses, the greenbelt began to come under attack. A resident of Southport told me that neighbours have pulled out shrubs, cut down native bushes and taken to mowing the areas between the remaining shrubs to improve their water views. It is important to realize that this is an environmentally sensitive riparian area protects the bank of the Nicomekyl River while providing habitat for wildlife. It is outside of the footprint of Southport and is not owned by the residents with houses overlooking the greenbelt. A quick visit to the Surrey COSMOS site reveals that this greenbelt is classified as Surrey nature park land. The level of gardening seems to change almost from lot to lot with some being completely cleared of plants except for grass. Nowhere on this entire stretch of river are the plants left in an unaltered state until the very last property at Southport where it borders on Nico Wynd. The following two pictures show the view looking west and then east from this boundary. On one side the plants are mature size, woven together and unpruned. On the other side they appear somewhere between an Edward Scissorhands topiary and a Japanese bonsai plantation.


Riparian area towards Nico Wynd in natural state


Surrey natural park land towards Southport cleared and pruned

The person who informed me about the greenbelt gardening in this area told me he had contacted the City of Surrey and the Department of Fisheries multiple times about the removal of native plantings, the heavy pruning of shrubs and the creation of lawns between the remaining vegetation. He felt that the illegal gardening should stop, the pulled out shrubs be replanted and the area left for wildlife and bank stabilization as was originally planned. I would go a step further and say that signs like at the corner of the Nico Wynd property that reads "KEEP OUT - Environmentally Sensitive Area" be posted along this now razed green belt at Southport. Other signs reading "NO Cutting or Removal of Vegetation, Report Offenders to Police" should be added and if residents don't get the message, a page wire fence like what is used along the Boundary Bay Dyke Trail should be installed to keep these shoreline strippers at bay. The City of Surrey also needs to alert residents of this riverfront enclave that destruction of the greenbelt plants or heavy pruning along Southport will not be tolerated. It never ceases to amaze me how many people are all for trees and the environment but only as long as they don't interfere with their view. How self-centred, short-sighted and selfish to damage natural park land for their own egocentric needs.

Greenbelts are not private property, they are public lands usually set aside in environmentally sensitive areas as natural park areas. People should be thankful that these small tracks of greenery have been left and leave them in a natural state. In the winter the leaves fall off the green belt vegetation and the water is visible from Southport homes ground floors. The rest of the year I'm sure that the view from the upstairs windows is amazing, even without the greenbelt plants being hacked or mowed down. Left alone, this shoreline green space area would attract plenty of song birds, rabbits, river otters and possibly black tailed deer using it as a wildlife corridor along the banks of the Nicomekyl. It is time that Southport's shoreline strippers are held accountable and this natural park land be restored to its original post development condition. If you agree, then give the Surrey Parks Department's General Manager Laurie Cavan a call at 604-598-5760 or pop her an email at plus the generic address about nature areas in the City of Surrey being mowed down by narcissistic neighbours.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

UPDATE December 20

Good afternoon Don,

Thank you for your interest in the riparian area along the Nicomekl River just west of the Elgin Road sea dam. Laurie Cavan asked me to follow-up with you on the below concern.

The park (presently referred to by Parks staff as “102G-Greenbelt”) was originally planted in 2011/12 as part of a riparian restoration plan related to a strata development directly to the south of the greenbelt. Parks staff have been working with the adjacent residents over the years to ensure that new riparian vegetation is established. As you have observed, there is still unauthorized work occurring in the area. In early 2019 staff plan reach out to the adjacent neighbours to discuss the concern and determine next steps. As you suggest, better signage and/or some form of fencing may be part of the solution.

Please let me know if you have any further questions about this site.


Manager of Parks




November 25, 2018

Chantrell Creek Gets Back to Nature


Fish heads, fish heads
Roly-poly fish heads
Fish heads, fish heads
Eat them up, yum

Lyrics to "The Fish Head Song" by Barnes & Barnes, Voobaha album, 1980

For the past few months you might have experienced traffic stopped by flaggers on Crescent Road with strange looking bucket dump trucks crossing from the Elgin Heritage Park parking lot to a driveway across the street leading to 13568 Crescent Road. With little fanfare the City of Surrey has been undertaking the rehabilitation of a 150 metre section of Chantrell Creek. I am pleased to announce that after substantial delays due to heavy rains in September, it appears that the bulk of the work has been done and the Elgin Park parking lot cleared of most of the heavy equipment with fresh gravel laid down.

This project got its start back in 2015 when the City of Surrey Engineering and Parks departments purchased this unique property with several drainage ponds, two fish ladders, concrete spillways and a large concrete outflow structure. I was aware of the land purchase and issues with the ponds and fish ladders from around that time, having worked on an adjacent property. According to neighbours, the drainage system was originally installed by a property developer years ago at Surrey's request to allow for upstream development in the Chantrell Heights area. In 1999 the City of Surrey took over maintenance of the drainage system out of concerns over liability, likely to do with flood and fisheries. According to the City, the drainage system was deteriorating over time and they found it expensive and difficult to maintain due to limited access. The ponds were designed to collect sediment from the water but due to their design they limited fish passage to the upper reaches of Chantrell Creek. It was decided that the ponds and related structures should be removed and the creek's natural drainage system restored.

Phase one of the project began in the spring of this year with tree removal from the areas to be excavated being performed at that time to meet both federal and provincial regulations to not interfere with bird nesting. Unfortunately some of the mature trees that were to be preserved were mistakenly cut down, taking away shade from the creek and opening lines of sites between houses on both sides of the creek that had previously had very private yards. Phase two which was the excavation of the existing structures and reconstruction of the creek bed began in August to meet government regulations for in-stream works. At times there were two hi-hoe excavators working in tandem on the site to reconstruct the stream bed and grade the hillsides for replanting. While it was hoped this work would be completed before fall rains to avoid the impact of sediments washing into the stream, heavy rainfall in September delayed the work far beyond the 50 work days that were originally scheduled.

Having seen the original property with its large ponds and concrete structures, I must admit I was amazed at the transformation I witnessed when I went for a walk to the site this weekend. Except for the small existing foot bridge at the top of the work area, the stream bed and riparian areas on both sides of Chantrell Creek look surprisingly natural with no evidence of man-made materials. The new creek bed was lined with small rocks and large boulders to mimic the upper and lower sections of the natural waterway. The trees that had originally been cut down to allow for excavation were stored on site and have been placed into the waterway to enhance the habitat and help control erosion. The banks away from the creek had been covered with organic top soil and planted with thousands upon thousands of naturally occurring plants and shrubs that you would normally find growing in a ravine drainage system. Not surprisingly, I found several dead salmon carcasses rotting in the rocks and back eddies of Chantrell Creek, a sign that spawning salmon are already returning to this restored habitat.

Most of the work is now complete but there will be a three to five year monitoring period for the new stream system until the plants grow in and it fully recovers from the dramatic changes. While owned by Parks, this section of Chantrell Creek is part of Surrey's Natural Areas and it will not have walking paths or public access. Instead of a constant parade of people and dogs, it will revert to a natural state and be left for the salmon, aquatic creatures, birds, deer and other wildlife. Enjoy the pictures in this TNT as human intrusion will likely be limited to environmentalists ensuring that the plants have all grown and the creek is flowing as planned.

For more information on this ambitious waterway restoration project please visit the website, searching "Chantrell Creek Rehabilitation" or go to direct to the following link: A Corporate Report for Surrey in March of this year revealed the work was awarded to Western Watershed Designs Inc. at a tendered price of $1,530,632 including GST. If you have questions concerning this project, they can be answered by Project Manager Tindi Sekhon ( who can be reached at 604-591-4765.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



Monday Novmber 19, 2018

What The Firetruck?

Q. What word begins with "F" and ends with "UCK"?
A. Why "Firetruck" of course.

Now who doesn't like a firetruck? As a kid we all loved to play with ty versions of them, driving our parents crazy with loud siren noises. Getting older the guys all admired them as they brought the brave firemen to fight fires, and the girls all loved them because they brought the life-saving firemen featured in the "Hall of Flame" calendars. While driving on the road, everyone politely pulls over and stops to let the firetruck go past with its lights flashing and horn blaring. Now what if I told you there was something in south Surrey that was twice as much fun as a firetruck? You'd probably say, "What the firetruck is he talking about?"

Several weeks ago I drove up Crescent Road to King George Hwy (that's KG Blvd for the newbies) and at the City Wide Luxury Auto dealership ( on that busy corner I spotted not one but two shiny firetrucks sitting next to each other, one bright red, the other flourescent yellow. I knew that CWL specialized in luxury pre-owned vehicles with their lot usually full of Lexus, Mercedes, BMW, Range Rover, Cadillac and high-end sports cars. I originally thought these fire fighting vehicles had likely been purchased locally and were simply being stored there for shipment down into the States as is common with our low Canadian dollar. When these firetrucks were still on site a week later, my rampant curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out what the story was about their appearance at a luxury dealership.

Talking to "Brand Ambassador" Darcy Heisler and owner Blair Morrison, I found out that CWL Auto had indeed recently purchased these two vehicles as in the past they have had success in finding them a new lease on life. It turns out that firetrucks are retired from various Fire Departments based on the age of the vehicle and not their mechanical shape or even the mileage. Purchasing a new Fire Apparatus as they are known is an expensive proposition, with new units costing an average of $850,000 to $1 million. When older units are sold, they often have far less than 100,000 km on as they usually venture only short distances from the Fire Hall. They can be purchased by small communities or groups of homeowners who do not have reliable fire control services or often none at all. Some are bought to have the firefighting gear removed and repurposed as work trucks because of their strong engines and heavy frame. Folks who rent vehicles to movies are always in the hunt for them and some folks just want a firetruck to call their own.

The bright yellow firetruck is a 1980 International Pumper Truck with a Detroit 6V-71 diesel engine. It has 77,000 km on the odometer and only 2,092 hours on the time clock or the equivalent of 87 days of running time. Its hard to imagine that this firetruck that is described as in "mint condition" and "bullet proof" has a pre-owned price tag of only $21,995. It came from a Fire Hall on Vancouver Island where it was bought new and spent its entire time being carefully maintained and fully serviced. The big red fire truck beside it is a 1992 Volvo from the Coquitlam Fire/Rescue with a 6.6 CAT diesel that has only 34,000 km on it (21,000 miles). I was told that Fire Chief Jay Ogloff was not happy to see her put out to pasture, with it now sitting outside overnight in the rain for the first time since it was new. It has an internal 8,000 gallon water tank that pumps out 1,050 gallons per minute, It also has two foam tanks allowing it to put out Class A regular fires and Class B oil fires. As a bonus, the 35 foot long ladder with 10 foot extension is included in the $49,995 price tag. That's a lot of truck for not a lot of bucks.

Besides the conventional uses I have detailed above, a flashy fire truck is also a great promotional vehicle. I was told that someone paid a whopping $15,000 to have their son driven to Southridge School in a fire truck as a fundraiser there. A local craft brewery has expressed interest in having one of these emergency vehicles that they could turn into a rolling beer dispensing truck for festivals. I asked and was told that no, it was not Red Truck Brewing from Richmond which made perfect sense to me. These two fire trucks brought me into CWL for the story and last weekend I purchased a new SUV for myself that was sitting not far from the two firetrucks. I should have bought the red Volvo, it had half the mileage of my new-to-me pre-owned vehicle. Unfortunately my wife doesn't like red trucks and I doubt it would have fit in the garage anyways. Still, it would have been great for watering the lawn in the summer during Met-Van sprinkling restrictions.

To end this light-hearted piece I would like to leave you with a link to the hilarious "Firetruck" song by Smosh that is posted on YouTube with over 23 million views. Check it out at as it directly relates to the joke at the start of this TNT column. See if you catch the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reference: "Now I wanna take a moment just sit right there I’ll tell you how you can say the word firetruck everywhere." I must warn you, you will never say the word "firetruck" again without thinking about this zany music video.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 12, 2018

Path to Destruction

It was only a couple of weeks ago that I drove down Crescent Road near the Elgin Heritage Park in south Surrey and saw an arborist crew working on some trees near the tidal pond that is located at 35A Ave just west of 140 Street. I must admit I really didn't pay much attention as it looked as if they were simply clearing some fallen branches from the forest. This weekend I managed to drive by the same location during daylight hours and I could not believe what I was seeing. The first thing I noticed was the sudden expansive view of the tidal pond connecting to the Nicomekyl River, with the North shore mountains visible in the distance. I then realized why the view was suddenly there, the tall evergreen trees along the trail were gone!

I turned around a little further down Crescent Road, returning to the part of the Elgin Heritage Park that suddenly had the new water views. I was shocked by what I saw once I exited my vehicle and took a walk down the path that follows along the roadway. There was a long line of wide wooden stumps plus cut up logs that looked to be healthy evergreens consisting of mainly Western Red cedar and Douglas fir. The tree had been cut so they fell into the pond where the branches were then sawed off and removed from the shoreline. Some of the larger trees with massive trunks had been cut into several pieces and left scattered on the ground to decompose in the future. The largest of the fallen trees was a huge Douglas fir that was four feet in diameter. I quickly counted the rings and came up with approximately 150 years of growth. This means this gentle giant had been growing on the property for around 25 years when the Stewart Farmhouse was built in 1894. Unfortunately why the Stewart House is maintained and carefully preserved, the biggest Fir tree in the park that looked structurally sound has now been mowed down along with plenty of its neighbours.

It did not take long to discover the reason for such devastation. As I walked down the trail counting over 30 stumps, many of them large evergreens, I came across a posted sign that read as follows:

NOTICE- Elgin Heritage Park Hazard Tree Work
Please be advised that the City of Surrey will be removing hazard trees at Elgin Heritage Park October 29 - Dec 10, 2018.
The hazard tree work consists of the removal of dead, dying and diseased trees that pose a high risk to the public.
Please be aware of the work zone signage and barriers within the park. Expect trail closures while crews are working.
(A listing of four safety warnings for the public).
For any questions, please call the City of Surrey at: 604-501-5050
While this explained the work that was being done, I saw little sign that the line of evergreens that had been mowed seemingly to improve the view were "dead, dying and diseased." The trunks of most of these fallen trees were outwardly and inwardly healthy and solid with trucks supporting multiple healthy branches and little to no sign of interior decay. I did find an online notice for this tree work on the Elgin Heritage Park section of the City of Surrey website at but there was no arborist report listed.

All of the park-goers I saw on Remembrance Day while surveying the latest chainsaw massacre in the Semiahmoo peninsula were simply aghast at what had happened. They wondered why this had been necessary and questioned why so many seemingly healthy trees had been cut down all in the row along the pond. Someone had already laid greenery and flowers on the largest of the stumps as a memorial to its loss, similar to the flowers that sprouted from the stumps along Johnston Road in White Rock when they were all sawed down earlier this year. I walked west along the pathway and when I got past the historic Stewart Farmhouse, I found several other sections of the park that resembled logging shows with stacks of logs and seemingly healthy trees that had been turned into wildlife refugee stumps. In some spots it looked as if this was done more to clear space for existing trees and not to remove trees that were unhealthy. In defense of the city, there were trees that obviously were dead and or rotten that had been cut down, lying next to the healthy ones that I am concerned about.

With the Remembrance Day holiday falling on Monday, Surrey City Hall will not be open for business until Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. I suggest you take a drive down Crescent Road to check out the damage for yourself and then call the City of Surrey on Tuesday at their posted 604-501-5050 number to get an explanation as to why so many apparently healthy trees were cut down in this Surrey Park. New Mayor Doug MacCallum lives near Crescent Beach and drives by this scene every day on his way to work so hopefully he will also question why all of these majestic evergreens on city property were cut down. Too bad the Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw 2006 "does not apply to tree on City owned property that are cut or removed by the City or its authorized agents in accordance with approved City operations". At the very least these trees should have been marked before removal so that people would have had a chance to check their health and possibly question the removal order. It remains to be seen how many more trees will be chainsawed to the ground before the December 10th deadline, likely altering the Elgin Heritage Park forever.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 05, 2018

Monday Night Political Football


Monday, Monday, so good to me
Monday mornin´, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Monday mornin´, Monday mornin´ couldn´t guarantee
That Monday evenin´ you would still be here with me

Monday, Monday, can´t trust that day
Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday mornin´ you gave me no warnin´ of what was to be
Oh Monday, Monday, how could you leave and not take me


Lyrics to the song Monday, Monday by The Mamas and the Papas, 1966

Armchair quarterbacks will be stuck in their Lazy-boy chairs watching the NFL Monday Night Football on Nov. 5th featuring the Tennessee Titans at the Dallas Cowboys. For armchair political quarterbacks, the real action will be at the inaugural Council meetings at both Surrey and White Rock. Unfortunately they are both scheduled for approximately the same time, making the decision on which historic meting to go to all the more difficult.

In White Rock the first meeting of the new look Council will take place at 7:00 p.m. Standard Time in Halls A/B/C of the White Rock Community Centre at 15154 Russell Avenue. It is a safe bet that they won't hold an In-Camera meeting beforehand as the former White Rock Coalition was so fond of calling. Councillors Helen Fathers and Dave Chesney will make their triumphant return with new Mayor Darryl Walker and fellow Democracy Direct members Scott Kristjanson, Erica Johanson, Anthony Manning and Christopher Trevelyan filling out the rest of Council. It does not appear that any constructive work will be done on the first night but and it will take some time to turn the good ship White Rock around. Lets hope the Question Period is quickly revived for at the beginning of Council meetings but replaced with a Question and Answer Period instead. It will be interesting to see if former Mayor Baldwin and the four horsemen of the apocalypse Grant Meyer, Bill Lawrence, Lynne Sinclair and Megan Knight bother to show their faces on Monday night. For a peek at the Agenda that features the singing of O´ Canada and a First Nations blessing by SFN Chief Harley Chappell, visit .

The focus of the night has to be up in Whalley where starting at 6:30 p.m. Doug MacCallum finally gets his old job as Mayor back, albeit with a bigger office and a nicer view than his old one. The real fireworks will be in two weeks when Cowboy Doug is planning on giving the Surrey RCMP their walking papers, replacing them with a Surrey Police Force in two years time. Not long after that MacCallum plans on axing the LRT for Skytrain regardless of the howls of displeasure from the Mayor´s Council. The Safe Surrey Coalition certainly put the boots to the Surrey First dynasty (die-nasty) who only elected one Councillor Linda Annis, with all of their incumbents getting shown the door by the people of Surrey. The Safe Surrey Councillors are Doug Elford, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial, Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Steven Pettigrew, who will forward their agenda. For political intrigue, you have to wonder if mayoralty nope-fuls (my new word) Tom Gill and Bruce Hayne will be there to take in the festivities or if Dianne Watts might be in attendance trying to figure out if she can beat MacCallum for a second time in four years from now. You can watch what should be a historic Surrey Council inauguration live on the website at the following link and then clicking on the Watch Council Meeting Live tab:

With so many new faces on the civic scene, you almost need a program to know all of the players. The Inaugural Council Meetings with their swearing in ceremonies are your opportunity to get to know the folks who will represent your community for the next four years. Hopefully they were the people you voted for and you are looking forward to them fulfilling their platform promises. Monday night is your chance to watch history in the making and to be part of what should be over-flow crowds of well-wishers. If you don´t think civic politics matter, simply look at how those in power in both White Rock and Surrey were swept from office after forgetting to serve the people who voted for them. I´m really glad to see the changing of the guard in these two cities and hope that the communities are now better represented instead of the interests of unscrupulous developers and foreign buyers. If you get a chance, plan on attending either of these two City Hall ceremonies for a glimpse into what the future holds for your home town.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 29, 2018

The Best Defence is a Landslide Detector Fence

I could not believe my ears last week when I got a call from a member of SmartRail, the local community rail safety group, who informed me about changes the BNSF Railway has recently made to the rail corridor near Crescent Beach. I went to the south end of Bayview Avenue on the weekend and there it was all shiny and new, the extension to the landslide detector fence (LDF) that I've been waiting ten years to be completed. While it has been said that the wheels of justice turn slowly, it would appear that steel railway wheels move at a pre-climate change glacial pace. What was so frustrating to me was that it took so long to have this important safety apparatus put in place after multiple mudslides onto the tracks in this area.

This story goes back more than a decade ago when a strong Pineapple Express in 2007 deluged this region with heavy rains, saturating the land and turning hillsides into mud. There were eleven slope failures from the Ocean Park bluffs onto the BNSF Railway tracks between White Rock and Crescent Beach at that time, bringing freight and passenger rail service to a standstill on frequent occasions. This was also the last time that a mudslide here actually hit a train, with slide debris impacting a BNSF freight near Crescent Beach that was stopped for an even larger slide just past the Christopherson Steps (formerly 101 Steps at 24 Ave.). The slide that hit the stopped train originated from a home being extensively renovated on Christopherson Drive and a long forgotten big-O pipe that drained water from this yard onto the bluff. The scary thing about this slide was that this steep hillside was not protected by the landslide detector fence that runs at the base of the hill next to the tracks from West Beach in White Rock to just south of Crescent Beach.

The LDF is a fairly simple system comprised of metal poles placed in the ground and strung with two pieces of wire. When there is ground movement, the soil, rocks, shrubs and trees snap the wire that has a low current and the system then activates stop signals all along the tracks. Before the LDF was first installed (I believe it was in 1957) there were nine train derailments along the Semiahmoo peninsula tracks. Since that time, there has not been one derailment on this shoreline tracks, something the BNSF will gladly tell you. Surprisingly, the LDF stopped well short of Crescent Beach, leaving a 500 foot section of the bluffs closest to Bayview Ave. unguarded. The BNSF, Transport Canada and even the City of Surrey were well aware of this fact as it was reported to them by many members of the community. Even though the risk was well known, the BNSF did nothing to remedy this known safety problem that had an easy and inexpensive fix. Ditto for Transport Canada who even though they toured the tracks in the spring of 2018 did nothing to change the status quo. Surrey issued a Corporate Report about the problem but again nothing was done.

Fast forward to this year and it was yet another slide onto the tracks just south of Crescent Beach in February from the same property on Christopherson Street that finally got some attention paid to the gap in the LDF system. Having a new MP in Gordie Hogg likely helped to get the BNSF and Transport Canada to fix this glaring safety problem with landslides that had repeated in the same spot, though this time without hitting a train. I was informed that members of the BNSF and Transport Canada were going to tour the slide area this spring plus examine the debris pile left on the shores of Crescent Beach by the railway excavation crew. No doubt my March 19 TNT titled "BNSF Burying Crescent Beach" plus signs with contact information for reporting illegal dumping likely had something to do with it. While the new LDF extension has been installed, the huge pile of muddy debris and logs from the slide onto the BNSF tracks that was dumped onto the beach remains, blocking pedestrians from walking down the shore. At high tide, people walk up onto this muddy mess and then along the tracks before returning to the beach at a nearby trail. Again, so much for rail safety.

It may have taken ten years but Crescent Beach is now safer with the LDF extension complete. Unfortunately there is another steep slope in White Rock that now needs its own LDF due to an increased slide threat. This is the Hump hillside between East and West Beaches that was clear-cut on orders of the outgoing White Rock Coalition, which enhanced views to properties along Marine Drive. The last time this steep slope was logged it resulted in multiple landslides plainly visible in a 1920 pictures taken from the pier that is available in the Archives building. Not only does the lack of a LDF in this affect rail safety, it also poses a serious risk to pedestrians on the promenade. You only have to watch the video of a derailment on BNSF tracks in Everett Washington several years ago to understand the danger ( While there were promises to replant the razzed hillside, nothing has been done in over three years. A LDF needs to be installed along the base of the Hump, the hill should be planted with native trees capable of stabilizing the slope, then his steep hillside should be classified as ravine lands and left in a natural state. Now to see if this common sense idea takes another decade to actually happen.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 22, 2018

Time for Change

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

Several choice verses from Bob Dylan's 1964 song "The times they are a-changin'."

All Saturday I wondered how the civic election results would turn out in White Rock and Surrey. In the end my prayers were answered and my wildest dreams came true with nearly the exact results I was hoping for. In White Rock where former Mayor Wayne Baldwin had already jumped from the sinking ship, the rest of his merry Coalition members were made to walk the plank. In Surrey the result was similar with Surrey First headed by mayoral hopeful Tom Gill going down in flames with all of their incumbents kicked to the curb and only one council member elected. How did this happen and what does the future now hold after a dramatic change in local governance in both of these cities?

In The City By The Sea, public angst against Baldwin and the White Rock Coalition councillors had been increasing for years. Water quality concerns, OCP changes along with the rubber stamping of residential towers, garbage service cancellation without consultation, ending of question period, secretive in-camera meetings, the clear-cutting of the Hump and the devastation of Johnston Road all infuriated the masses. Long before the election writ was dropped, this anger and the belief that City Hall was tone deaf to complaints from residents led to the formation of the political group Democracy Direct ( Refusing donations from developers and special interest groups this grass-roots organization was financed by the candidates and small donations from the electorate. Their platform of community orientated development, an approachable City Hall, environmental protection, support for local businesses and sound fiscal management obviously resonated with voters who had seen enough of the White Rock Coalition, even without Wayne Baldwin who decided not to seek a further term. Democracy Directs Darryl Walker was elected as Mayor with 30.2% of the vote, followed by independent candidate Mike Pierce and the Coalitions Grant Meyers far back in third place. The two independent incumbent councillors, Helen Fathers and Dave Chesney (the editor of this paper) retained their seats, finishing one and two in voting followed by four Democracy Direct candidates Chris Trevelyan, Erika Johanson, Scott Kristjanson and Anthony Manning. The WR Coalition was left in tatters with all of its candidates going down to defeat. Of note, White Rocks Laurae McNalley received nearly 80% of the vote for Surrey School Board Trustee.

In Surrey where they say The Future Lives Here, the electorate also made it clear that they were ready for a change. Surrey First who had dominated Surrey for years including taking every seat in Council and School Board in 2014 started to show cracks in their association. First is was Mayor Linda Hepner announcing she would not run for Mayor again after only one term, stepping aside before she was pushed from her throne in a coup. Of the many who wanted to lead Surrey First, it was Tom Gill that was selected as their choice for Mayor. Unhappy with this decision, Councillor Bruce Hayne then split from Surrey First, taking Barbara Steele and Dave Woods with him to form Integrity Now. With the electorate concerned over gun and gang violence, levels of policing, transportation issues, rampant development and housing affordability, the split up Surrey First oligarchy suddenly became vulnerable. Former Mayor Doug McCallum started Safe Surrey ( with a strong public safety platform including promises to dump the RCMP in favour of a local police force plus suspending the LRT for an extended Skytrain. When the ballots were counted it was obvious that his message resonated loudly with voters who wanted a new direction at City Hall. Doug McCallum took back his Mayors chair with 48,484 votes, followed by Surrey First Tom Gill at 28,475 with Bruce Haynes nipping his heels close by at 27,951. For the eight council positions, seven went to Safe Surrey candidates, Brenda Locke, Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Jack Hundial, Allison Patton, Steven Pettigrew and Mandeep Nagra. The only one stopping a complete sweep for Safe Surrey was Linda Annis from Surrey First who kept Bableen Rana from joining her Safe Surrey teammates at City Hall. I should note that for School Trustees, Surrey First Education took the top 6 spots, followed by two candidates from Surrey Students Now.

There is a famous quote often wrongly attributed to Mark Twain that goes “Politicians are like diapers: they should be changed often, and for the same reason.” In the case of both White Rock and Surrey, political dynasties that thought they could ignore problems in their communities and treat people with contempt found out the hard way that the winds of change were blowing. I for one am not a fan of political slates, especially those financed by large donations from developers or any other well-funded special interest group. Personally, I was glad to see the WR Coalition and Surrey First slates removed from power by the electorate as I felt both were out of touch with the needs of the community. It will be interesting to see if the new Mayors and Councils will be able to keep the concerns of their constituents in mind and make good on the promises they made during the election campaign. One thing is for sure, if they follow the same path as their predecessors, it will only be a matter of time before an upstart political David rises up to slay the proverbial Goliath as happened in this case.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

TNT The Naked Truth is the sole responsibility of the author Don Pitcairn


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October 16, 2018

Speed Kills, Duh


I'm glad the B.C. (Beyond Corrupt) Liberals were kicked to the curb by the NDP/Green coalition for a large number of reasons. More than anything it was their out-of-the-blue decision to increase speeds on rural highways throughout much BC that was number one in my book. Back in the summer of 2014, then Transportation Minister Todd Stone announced they were increasing speed limits on 1,300 kilometers of rural highways throughout the province, most by 10 kmh. This was supposedly done to put the speed signs in line with the flow of traffic, which is often 10-15 km above the posted limit. Somehow Mr. Stone believed that raising the limit would not cause an actual increase in traffic flow stating "Experience from other speed changes undertaken by the ministry show that this will not mean everyone will automatically drive 10 km over the new speed limit." Sorry to say, but what a crock of bull from a blithering idiot. At that time I wondered what kind of delusional planet Mr. Stone was living on. You should know that these changes were done over the objections of the RCMP and the BC Association of Chiefs of Police who I guess know nothing about the link between speeding and crashes.

It did not take long before the raised highway speeds resulted in increased crashes, injuries and deaths. Two years later the BC Liberals ended up rolling back speed limits along two sections of highway where speed limits had been increased. Highway 1 from Hope to Cache Creek was returned to 90 km/h from 100 km/h and Highway 5A from Princeton to Merritt was lowered to to 80 km/h from 90. At that time is was revealed that government staffers had found that crash rates had increased in 14 of the 33 sections of highways with the new raised speed limits. The Transportation Minister ignored these findings, saying at the time that "increasing speed limits was not a mistake." At that same time UBC professor of engineering Tarek Sayed studied the data on highway crashes and found accidents were up 11 percent along sections of highway where the speed limits had been increased. The higher level of carnage on B.C. highways led to increasing costs to the public insurer ICBC that turned into a so-called "dumpster fire" during the LIberal's watch.

This story was back in the headlines last week when Doctors and Engineers at UBC revealed research suggesting the number of fatal crashes had doubled on highways in BC where the speed limit was increased. The study titled "Road Safety Impact of Increased Rural Highway Speed Limits in British Columbia, Canada" was published in the Journal Sustainability at this link:
Researchers examined crash and insurance claim data taken from the sections of highways that had seen the 10 kmh speed limit increases back in 2014. Their findings showed that fatal crashes more than doubled to 118 percent (equaling 15 more deaths), injury claims rose by 30 percent and injury payout jumped by 43 percent. This was no surprise to me considering I was taught in defensive driving years ago that the force of a crash doubled for every increase in speed of 10 miles per hour. The video showing staged car collisions with crash test dummies at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 mph reinforced this message. A quick physics lesson will tell you that the faster you drive, the more likely you are to be in an accident causing injury or death. No one gets killed in a 5 kmh bumper kiss but your chance of surviving a roll-over crash at 160 kmh are rather slim.

Amazingly the now ex-Transportation Minister Tod Stone has come out publicly against this report and its findings, reportedly stating to several news organizations that it "full of gaps and analysis challenges" along with calling the findings "irresponsible" since they didn't take weather conditions and the effect of distracted driving into consideration. Maybe instead of listing to the speed demons at SENSE BC ( and talking non-sense himself, Mr. Stone should instead try some common sense and admit that he made a mistake that apparently killed over a dozen motorists. Since he questions the validity of the results of his own highway speed increase experiment, I suggest we roll the speeds back to where they were and see if there is a corresponding decrease in the accident rate on these sections of highways. My money says it goes back to the crash levels seen before Mr. Stone's unnecessary and ill advised speed increase.

I just got back last night from four days down in the USA and paid attention to their road safety signs. It is interesting to note that they have two speed limits on their highways, one for passenger vehicles and one for trucks and buses. This might have helped stopped the multi-vehicle crash here last February on the Coquihalla involving two buses, two transport trucks and two passenger vehicles that injured 29 and shook up 135. Seeing the speeds that folks here drive in adverse weather conditions, I think we should have two signs, one in white with black lettering showing the higher maximum speed during the day and dry conditions, the other below in black with white lettering showing the lower maximum speed during the night and wet conditions. Along with improved speed signage, maybe its time to start looking at re-testing so-called good drivers every 5 years to ensure they actually know the rules of the road and safe driving techniques.

Years ago the BC Ministry of Highways and local municipalities installed light blue "Speed Kills" diamond shaped signs showing a crumpled car on them. These have gradually been replaced with the orange-yellow diamond signs featuring the same "Speed Kills" message and crashed

car. The picture at the top of this column is from 16 Ave. near 200 St. in Langley at a high collision intersection that has been the scene of several fatal collisions due to speed. I believe that a pair of these signs should be installed at either end of the road that Mr. Stone now lives on so he could see them every day when he leaves and arrives home. Maybe then he could understand that his decision to raise highway speeds across this province was not just irresponsible, it was dangerous and if the numbers are correct, downright deadly. Mr. Stone is still the MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson and his constituents should hold him accountable for the increased carnage and ICBC insurance rates his unwarranted decision has apparently caused, along with failing to accept his failings during his time as B.C.s Transportation Minister. Hopefully we will soon see our highway speeds put back where they belong by the new Transportation Minister Claire Trevena.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 09, 2018

Bananas About Basjoo

Having been born in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba and marrying a girl from Winnipeg makes you appreciate living in Canada's Banana Belt here on the West Coast. Even in the Semiahmoo peninsula there are areas lower in elevation than others and more protected from winter outflow winds, allowing some rather interesting plants to be grown here that you would not expect to normally see. With a passion for tropical plants, over the years I've grown a wide assortment of palms and bananas in our yard, most that did not survive our arctic blasts of weather, or didn't adjust from indoors to outdoors after a long winter inside. Many people are now quite used to seeing the Chinese Windmill Palm with its furry trunk that provides winter insulation used in Lower Mainland landscapes. What turns most people's heads is seeing a large banana grove taller than the roof of a two story house. Even more bizarre is finding out that they actually produce bananas here in south Surrey.

The banana in question is the Musa Basjoo, known commonly as the Japanese banana, the Japanese fibre banana, or the hardy banana. Originally believe to have originated in southern Japan, it has been traced back to subtropical southern China in the Sichuan province. This tall and beautiful plant is commercially grown for its fibre used to produce textiles known as banana cloth. It began to be grown as an ornamental plant in the late 19th century in western Europe where it then spread to the more temperate regions of the United States and Canada. The thick trunks or pseudostems and long leaves only cope with a light freezing but the underground rhizome or root zone is winter hardy as long as steps are taken to protect it. I have had neighbours do nothing to their bananas and seen them regrow even after cold winters here, even though they were rather small. With a few tricks anyone can have a large and lush banana grove simply by following a few easy steps.

You can purchase your own Musa Bajoo from almost any garden centre in the spring, heck even Costco sells them for only 20 bucks. They can also be picked up free of charge from anyone looking to reduce their grove size by dividing the roots. When planting, dig the largest and deepest hole possible planning for future growth and filling it with well drained compost rich topsoil These bananas like to be warm and protected so the south side of a building away from easterly winds is usually the best location. During the summer I keep mine well watered and supplied with fertilizer and high nitrogen manures to promote rapid and long leaf growth. These plants have a three year life cycle so after a few years the largest of the plants will form a large flower that grows into inedible small bananas with white pulp and lots of black seeds. Once that stalk has flowered it will die so it can be cut down to allow new shoots room to grow.

It is the care during the winter months that will affect the size of the banana plants in the next growing season. In October I start piling lawn clippings around the base so the heat from their decomposition will later warm the ground. Instead of raking up leaves for disposal, pile them all around the base of the bananas in a thick mulch layer at least a foot deep to keep the rhizomes warm. When frost finally arrives, usually in November, use shears or a machete to chop down the leaves and layer them on top of the mulch pile to hold it in place. By far the most important step is to protect the pseudostems or stalks from freezing as if kept healthy they will not have to restart growing from ground level the next spring. There are a lot of ways to do this, many that are easy with one or two stalks but bordering on impossible for large groves.

With small plants, it is easy to wrap the stalks with any kind of insulation. Cheapest and readily available is best, whether old fiberglass bats covered in plastic, old blankets and towels, chunks of cardboard or even sheets of bubble wrap. As the grove gets bigger and bigger you will need more and more insulation to the point that you'll have to build a shed just to store all of this stuff. For cheap and easy I like to use lumber wrap since it comes in long pieces and is free from any lumberyard. When the individual pseudostems are covered with several layers, the entire grove may then be wrapped up in these free tarps. Lastly, it is best to purchase a large green tarp to cover the entire grove since the regular orange or blue are tacky and detract from your yard and neighbourhood. Tie with rope to keep in place and anchor with metal spikes or heavy rocks for the winter.

To ensure that the stems don't freeze if we get outflow temperatures of -10 to -15 degrees for days on end, some gardeners introduce supplemental heating inside their banana tents. In the past I have used a small 150W outdoor halogen light that is waterproof and provides lots of heat. While this works, it also has the undesirable effect of causing the bananas to grow and start to lift the tarps off the ground. The safest and most effective heating tool is the plumber's friend, electrical heat tape that is usually used to thaw frozen pipes. Simply wind the tape through the grove before wrapping up for the winter and leave the plug exposed. When temperatures dip to below -4, which fortunately isn't very often in these parts, simply plug in with an outdoor rated extension cord to a GFI protected plug. As soon as the cold snap is over, ensure to turn off the heating tape to stop unwanted growth.

When the spring finally returns, simply unwrap all the grove and remove all of the old leaves and mulch pile that protected the roots during the winter. If you have properly protected the pseudostems from freezing, coils of yellow banana leaves will soon start emerging from the tops of them, turning green as they unfurl. Definitely an interesting and unusual plant for the garden, it is worth the extra work to ensure they are as tall as possible. Banana plants make the WR Sun's motto "Where you can vacation and be home the same day" certainly ring true. Sitting next to them in a lawn chair with sunglasses on and a margarita in hand makes you believe your home is a tropical paradise. In the United Kingdom with weather similar to ours, the hardy banana has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit signifying its new found home in the English garden.

By far the most rewarding part of growing bananas is waiting until the fall then sending pictures of them to friends back east in Canada who are digging out from the first dump of snow. I did this to a buddy in Calgary last week after 40 cm. of the white stuff fell there paralyzing the city. Worst part about it for him is that he's originally from south Surrey. It was way more fun than bugging him about the Flames hockey team.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


October 01, 2018

The Numbers Game

Something very strange is happening in the world. It seems after Donald Trump got himself voted in as President of the United States that suddenly everybody wants to run for office, likely thinking "Well if The Donald can get elected, I've got a chance." Having ran for the Green Party of BC twice myself and participated in other's election campaigns, I tip my hat to anyone with the gumption to run for public office. That being said, the sheer number of candidates seeking the Mayor's chair and Councillor seats locally this year is absolutely overwhelming. Just like going to a sporting event, it is now at the point that you need a program to know the players.

White Rock is a prime example of how civic elections are now becoming a gong show with slates, parties, independent coalitions, groups and individuals all vying for your vote. With Wayne Baldwin jumping ship, there are a total of 6 candidates who have thrown their hat in the ring for Mayor. Councillor Grant Meyer is now running for the top job with the White Rock Coalition slate, along with Darryl Walker for Democracy Direct, and four independents, Tom Bryant, Judy Higginbotham, Mike Pearce and Gary Wolgemuth. It will be interesting to see how well-known "Higgy" does considering that she is actually from Surrey (gasp!). For a town of 20,000 residents to have so many people running for Mayor shows that civic politics is becoming more of a participation sport than one for armchair quarterbacks.

The six Councillor seats up for grab have attracted an even larger throng of candidates with 22 people declaring their candidacy. The White Rock Coalition has a full slate that includes three incumbents, Democracy Direct has fielded four candidates, while independent incumbents Dave Chesney add Helen Fathers are back for another kick at the can. I'm not going to waste time and space writing all of the other independent candidates here except for Zachary Johnson who like Judy Higginbotham is an outsider looking in from Surrey. I hope for once that at the all-candidates meetings we don't hear the question, "Who here is from White Rock" with the obligatory show of hands. How tacky, elitist and small-town minded. Of note, there are even two people running for the position of Surrey School District #36 Trustee with one of these actually living in White Rock (double gasp!!). How about a show of hands there too while I slowly shake my head. For the full list of candidates, please refer to the following White Rock City website link:

Since White Rock's population is 20,000 and Surrey's is 540,000, the same level of interest in Surrey's Mayor chair as that in the City By The Sea should yield a total of 162 candidates looking for the job. Fortunately that is not the case and with Linda Hepner ducking out after only one term in office there are 8 people running for the coveted penthouse office in downtown Whalley. Two of these, Tom Gill and Bruce Haynes, are former councillors but no longer slate running mates. Former Mayor Doug McCallum is back trying to reclaim his old job that he originally lost to Dianne Watts back in 2005 after 9 years at the helm of the good ship Surrey. Six of the mayoralty candidates are members of political slates, in alphabetical order they are Integrity Now, People First, Progressive Sustainable, Proudly Surrey, Safe Surrey Coalition and Surrey First. Should you prefer an independent mayor, you get to flip a coin between Francois Nantel and John Wolanski.

There are 48 candidates running for the position of Councillor in Surrey a total of 6 people for every one of the 8 seats available. This includes those aligned with the six slates listed above plus a couple of others, GreenVote and IVSA Adding to a ballot that will likely be as long as a roll of toilet paper, a further 27 are running for the position of school trustee with two more slates, Surrey Students Now and Act Now Surrey. To vote responsibly and know what each candidate stands for, it basically becomes a research project involving hours of tedious homework. I'm not going to try and alter the election results or tell people how to vote, but on Oct. 20th, make your mark at the ballot box for who you would like to see run (or possibly ruin) your city. For a full list of all candidates for all positions plus to view information about each of them, visit the following link at the website:

It is not only in White Rock and Surrey that Civic elections are becoming political events involving a throng of candidates. In Vancouver there are 21 people running for the Mayor's job, including one candidate who appears topless in her bio picture (sorry but you're going to have to find the link yourself). There are a whopping 71 Councillor candidates, 33 for Park Board Commissioner, and an additional 33 for School Trustee. Now quickly folks, add the total number of candidates up in your head. I'll save you the brain ache and with the help of my trusty dusty Texas Instrument TI-503 calculator, that gives you 158 choices to vote for. For those of you who thought Lotus Land was already a bit crazy, the ballot selections for 2018 are going to be mind boggling, especially without the candidates being listed alphabetically as before.

Don't be disheartened by the surge in candidates we are seeing this year and wondering who to vote for. Up the coast in the village of Lions Bay the local Mayor and Council must be doing one hell of a job, for their Mayor Ron McLaughlin and four Councillors were the only ones nominated, and were acclaimed on Sept 24th for another four years at the jobs in City Hall. No need for an expensive election, plethora of lawn signs or a bunch of candidates on a mile long ballot. Of course, the population of Lions Bay is only 1,550 but to have a Mayor and Council be unopposed shows the constituents must be happy with the work they are doing. In White Rock and Surrey, this appears to not be the case and it is likely we will see the winds of change blowing as we get a little further into Fall.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 25, 2018

Tracking Our Politicians

I must admit I've become somewhat of a rail safety freak after living near the tracks in Crescent Heights and viewing first hand how the BNSF runs their railroad through the Semi-Pen. When I heard that there was yet another rail safety forum being held, I decided once again to skip out on work to go see if anyone would show up, especially on a Friday afternoon. Imagine my surprise when I entered the White Rock Community Centre to find a standing room only crowd of approximately 200 people in attendance. The whos-who of Surrey and White Rock politics was impressive with MP Gordie Hogg, MLA Tracey Redies, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin and others in attendance including former Surrey Mayor Doug MacCallum. For all of the dignitaries at the head table, the many White Rock councillors in attendance, and all of the folks who came out, it was who was not there that spoke volumes.

I came to the meeting with several questions to ask to members of Transport Canada and the the BNSF Railway. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I found out that neither had sent a representative to take part in this meeting. It was not like they were not invited, I asked event organizers and was told that both had been officially invited and decided not to partake in the meeting. It is telling and disturbing that a railway that supposedly prides itself on its safety record fails to attend a public meeting concerning their railway and the well-known dangers it poses to this community. Even worse, can someone tell my why Transport Canada could not sent even one employee to observe and report back to their superiors? Either they need more tax money to hire more personnel, or they should be fired and their budget axed due to gross incompetence.

It was not like there was nothing to learn from this latest rail safety meeting. A week before, Surrey Council had unanimously passed a motion to contact both Transport Canada and the BNSF to ask for trains to reduce speed to 10 MPH from south of the Christopherson Steps at 24 Ave to the Crescent Beach Marina. This is due to 14 instances since 2014 where a train stopped on the track due to decoupling or mudslides blocking emergency personnel from reaching the beach. The latest blockade of the two Crescent Beach entrances was on July 21 where a BNSF coal train decoupled, blocking access for 2.5 hours, far beyond the mandated 5 minute maximum blockage.
This is not a new story, since it was back on Feb. 25 in 2015 when "Surrey City Council endorsed a resolution to call for freight speed restrictions from 30 miles per hour (mph) to 10 mph leading in and out of the Crescent Beach area, from the existing Nicomekl railways swing bridge to 24th Avenue." Unfortunately the BNSF and Transport Canada did nothing then and I expect they will continue to do the same, regardless of the lives they endanger every time a broken down train cuts off the island of Crescent Beach.

I did find it rather strange that the Mayors of both Surrey and White Rock, both who are not running in the next civic election in less than a month's time decided to be front and centre at this meeting. The odds of them being able to accomplish anything in their last month in power is negligible, especially with the BNSF and Transport Canada being tone-deaf to their demands. You would think that these lame-duck Mayors would have ducked out of this latest railway safety meeting since they have seemingly become somewhat of a dog and pony show with plenty of promises but very little action. Still, the idea of relocating the tracks and improving safety along the waterfront is obviously of high importance to many of the people who live here. I wanted to ask Transport Canada why they forced White Rock to fence off their waterfront yet cannot force the BNSF to allow Surrey to build a safety fence to keep pedestrians off their property at Crescent Beach without a $225,000 yearly lease payment? It looks like it might be time for me to pay their offices in New West a visit again to try and get some answers.

By far the most informative guest speaker was Mike Armstrong who is running for White Rock Council. He brought along information about how the BNSF is planning another round of creosoted sleeper tie replacement across the waterfront. Several years ago it was 22,000 ties, this time the number is believed to be 5,000-6,000 ties. Research from Switzerland in 2000 by Kohler reveals that a new wooden railway tie holds 15 Kg of creosote, with 5 Kg of this B1 human carcinogen leaching out into the environment over their 20+ year service life. According to the Alberta government "Creosote-treated wood should never occur indoors and should be avoided in outdoor areas frequented by people, specially children or animals." Hmm..., like maybe down at the beach or along the White Rock promenade? Creosoted ties have been banned in Europe where concrete and steel ties are used. The latest tie installation will mean the BNSF is effectively dumping a further 25,000 Kg of carcinogenic pollution into Semiahmoo Bay. Just one more reason why you can't eat shellfish harvested from its contaminated waters.

As always, talk of railway relocation and high-speed rail from Seattle to Vancouver dominated the conversation but talk is cheap and building new railways is expensive. It is rather telling that to date, Surrey and White Rock have not been able to secure funding from the Provincial or Federal governments to study rail relocation in this region. While I would love to see the BNSF tracks ripped up and turned into a shoreline walking path like Vancouver's famed Seawall, the reality is that the railway has been here for over a hundred years and will likely be here for quite a while to come. The longer that nothing is done, the more expensive the project will become and eventually it will become financially impossible if it is not at that point already. My bet is that you are going to see even more safety fencing and blocked access to the beach every time that someone else gets hit and killed on the BNSF rail corridor, usually by the killer Amtrak. The problem as always is that industrial freight trains, silent but deadly passenger trains and crowds of people down at the waterfront simply don't mix. Hold all the rail safety meetings you want, you're not going to change that.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 17, 2018

Wrecking The Rock

Christy Fox photo

I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was break me
Yeah, you wreck me
Lyrics to "Wrecking Ball" by Miley Cyrus

I must admit it really did take my breath away when I drove down North Bluff Road and turned to look at what had become of Johnston Road. Barricades with road closed signs crossed the main roadway entrance to uptown White Rock with construction crews, excavators and dump trucks all working feverishly to rip up the roadway, traffic islands and sidewalks. Taken directly from the city website the following passage gave no notice of a complete closure of Johnston Road from North Bluff to Russel Avenue: "We are striving to minimize public impact over the long term and will take this opportunity to simultaneously upgrade the critical water, sewer and street infrastructure which will help increase capacity and improve the reliability of the existing older water-mains, sanitary sewers and storm sewers to better serve this growing neighbourhood." Of course the neighbourhood they are referring to is all of the concrete towers sprouting from the ground throughout the uptown with still plenty more to come.

On Sept. 4th, there was a Johnston Road Project Update posted on the White Rock website warning of a temporary road closure to vehicle traffic the following week.
To accelerate this stage of the construction, the City of White Rock is permitting CLCS (the project’s Prime Contractor) to close vehicular traffic access on Johnston Road between North Bluff Road and Russell Avenue (see map below).
The closure starts at 5:00AM on Monday, September 10, 2018 and ends at 7:00PM on Saturday, September 15, 2018.
CLCS will increase crew attendance and activity on site to accelerate project completion.
Vehicle access will be limited to only business delivery vehicles and emergency vehicles.
Traffic Management will be in place to lead out vehicles to alternative routes. There may be some traffic delays in this area.
Transit routes will be temporarily redirected. Please check with TransLink when planning your trip to learn about changes to the transit route you take.
There was only one problem with this plan. With the glacial pace of work on this project, crews did not get the required work done in the time frame allowed. I'm surprised they did not have crews working double shifts in order to get it finished with the least amount of disruption. After all, it was the City of White Rock that allowed arborists to beginning chainsawing down trees along Johnston under the cover of dark at 4:30 a.m. in the morning. It really should come as no surprise that late last week the City announced they would extend the closure of Johnston Road for a further six days. While they brag about significant progress, it is also taking significantly longer to get this work done than anticipated. "After the current temporary road closure of Johnston Road, CLCS (Canadian Landscape and Civil Services Ltd – the project’s Prime Contractor) has made significant progress to upgrade critical water and sewer infrastructure, installing soil-cell structures for the new trees, and addressing sidewalk safety matters on Johnston Road. In order to continue making significant strides, the City of White Rock will extend the Temporary Road closure from September 15, 2018 to September 21, 2018." Significant delays, significant disruption, significant obstruction, significant inconvenience, significant loss of business for local merchants, and significant reasons to stay the hell away from uptown.

It is best for residents and visitors alike to realize that this road closure is just phase one of a long term plan. Next up will be the stretch of Johnston Road from Russell Ave. to Thrift Ave., then Thrift to Roper Ave, and finally Roper to Buena Vista Ave. at Five Corners. Whether the City will block off all of Johnston and rip it from curb to curb as is presently being done or possibly do one side of the street and then the other allowing for some through traffic remains to be seen. My guess is if they can tear up the entire street where the proposed White Rock Gateway Feature was to have been built, it is highly likely they will allow CLCS to close off White Rock's main street to expedite the infrastructure improvements needed to service all the high-rises they have approved. What is interesting about this project is that a posting on the White Rock city website proclaimed it was scheduled to be completed "October 2018." Anyone care to place a bet on whether this work will be finished in time for the upcoming civic election on Oct. 20th? My money says Christmas time is much more likely.

The Johnston Road revitalization project is not the only White Rock beautification project experiencing significant delays that are a burden to residents and visitors alike. The Memorial Park and Pier Washroom Upgrade seems to be taking forever with this prime public area by the Pier being turned into a construction zone for the entire summer. Believe it or not, construction of Memorial Park was to begin in Fall of 2017 with the dream of having a Summer 2018 opening. Unfortunately the City decided to not include the Semiahmoo First Nation in plans for excavation along the waterfront, leading to a three month delay until a provincial archaeological permit was received weeks before Christmas 2017. Work began in January of 2018 but the construction company awarded the contract appears to be taking a very long time to get the work done, with very few people reportedly seen working on the site. To date, the widening of the lower Promenade was completed July 1st, the western portion of Memorial park was completed August 31 and the eastern portion is scheduled to be done in early 2019. An entire summer was lost on this vanity project with the bathrooms still needing their major upgrade. For a detailed look at the delays plaguing this project, visit the following link on the City website:

I don't believe that when White Rock Mayor Baldwin and his Coalition cohorts approved all of the major construction projects for their little City By The Sea, they paused one moment to reflect on the disruptions and inconveniences they were going to cause. You can expect the uptown area of White Rock to resemble one huge construction sight for years to come with noise, traffic disruptions, cement trucks, dump trucks and the like. Now might be a good time to proclaim the official bird of White Rock, similar to how the Nootka Rose was selected as the city flower.

I would think that the crane would be a perfect fit. No, not the robust Sandhill crane or majestic Whooping crane, the modern construction crane that can be seen towering above White Rock. Either that or the common loon.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 10, 2018

BNSF's Behaviour Simply Of-fence-sive

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
Gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
Can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in
Lyrics to "Don't Fence Me In" written by Cole Porter in 1934 and performed by Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Bing Crosby and others.

It was only four years ago that the City of White Rock installed black chain link fencing across the waterfront in an effort to improve pedestrian safety and reduce locomotive whistling in their seaside community. They put in 230 metres of new railing and 1.5 kilometers of chain link to try and keep people, children and pets off the BNSF tracks in East and West Beach. The city paid for this work in exchange for the BNSF Railway paying for the cost of the East Beach pedestrian crossings upgrades. All of this work was done to placate Transport Canada over pedestrian safety concerns after a female jogger, 42 year-old Anita Lewis, was hit and killed by the Amtrak passenger train while crossing the rails wearing ear buds in East Beach a year before.

White Rock is not the only community in the peninsula suffering with noise pollution from the 150 dB horns on the BNSF locomotives. Crescent beach has two vehicle crossings (McBride Ave. and Beecher St.) and people living a stone's throw away from the tracks who are subjected to blaring train horns both night and day with the frequency increasing in relation to rail traffic. Since 2017 the City of Surrey had committed to paying for the design, installation and maintenance of a pedestrian fence along the BNSF rail corridor from Beecher St. to the south end of Bayview St. as part of a whistle cessation project. Portions of the fence were proposed to be installed on BNSF property after gaining their permission to do so. Not a bad deal for the Railway if you ask me, you get a free fence paid for by taxpayers, free future maintenance and the added benefit of improved track safety that would decrease illegal trespassing onto the corridor.

Unfortunately the Railway is a business and they are obviously shrewd about bilking local governments out of tax-payer dollars, for example the half-million bucks White Rock shells out to the BNSF for lease payments on the parking lots at their beach. When approached by Surrey about the city putting a secure safety fence on their land along Crescent Beach, the BNSF proposed a yearly lease payment reportedly to be $250,000. From Crescent Beach Property Owners Association minutes it was revealed that in February of this year the BNSF Railway decided to stand firm with their lease requirement but would be willing to negotiate the amount of the lease. The lease price was then dropped by 10% to $225,000 per year, a still staggering figure considering the Railway would directly benefit from its construction and long-term pedestrian safety improvement.

Fortunately it seems those in Surrey City Hall were not wanting to follow White Rock's lead of perpetual payments to the BNSF and decided to instead install the fence on the City's side of the rail corridor property line parallel to Bayview Street. The issue with this concept was that while it would help towards their whistle cessation plan that has already been 10 years in the making, the construction of this 6 foot tall fence would mean a loss of the highly prized public parking spots along Bayview Street. Residents on the street voiced concerns about difficulties in exiting their steep driveways on this narrow road and the loss of turn about areas on a road that does not terminate in a cul-de-sac. I know that these public parking areas are also used frequently by naturists with mobility issues who cannot climb the 190 steps of the Christopherson staircase at the west end of 24 Ave. to access Crescent Rock Beach.

It now appears that with the BNSF's refusal to waive the annual lease payment from Surrey and local resident's opposition to the loss of parking areas on Bayview that the Crescent Beach rail corridor fencing plan has been shelved. A friend with his ear to the rails in Crescent Beach has informed me that it will soon be announced that this ambitious safety plan will not be moving forward as was hoped. We should find out more this week when the CBPOA holds its AGM on Wed. at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Beecher Place. What really pisses me off about this whole fence episode is that it was on a section of BNSF tracks in Crescent Beach where 39 year-old Henry Kools was hit and killed by the Amtrak in 2000. He was walking on the rails wearing ear buds in similar circumstances to the woman hit on the tracks in White Rock in 2013 that saw level pedestrian crossings and fences installed there.

Maybe Transport Canada needs to consider this information and force the BNSF Railway to pay for the fence along Bayview Street that the City of Surrey would have gladly built them for free if they were not so damn greedy. Billionaire Warren Buffet who owns Berkshire Hathaway which controls the BNSF, formed The Giving Pledge in 2010 as a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to giving back. For the world's third richest man valued at $84 billion who turned 88 just over a week ago, how about doing something for the community of Crescent Beach, like making it safer and a whole lot quieter by paying for your own pedestrian fence and turning off the air horns on your locomotives.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


September 04, 2018

Gunning for Mayor

It was five years when I created t-shirt designs for Surrey Shirts focusing attention on gang violence here involving guns. One was directly aimed at the Surrey Six massacre, with the slogan "Better Safe Than Surrey" surrounded by six bullet holes. The other targeted the City of Surrey and the criminal lifestyle here involving illegal handguns used by gangsters where the new Surrey logo featuring Whalley high-rises was altered to look like a Glock 9 mm handgun and the city slogan "the future lives here" changed to "the future dies here." City Hall's response to these t-shirt designs that constituted freedom of expression was to file a "cease and desist" order against Surrey Shirts for using parody to focus attention on the gun violence in Surrey. I guess it was easier for them to try and shut down Surrey Shirts than deal with the gang problem plaguing BC's second largest city. In the end the city backed down, Surrey Shirts went viral, it continues to sell Surrey merchandise and apparel and unfortunately gun and gang violence is still alive and well with people continuing to be shot dead on our streets. For those keeping count, Surrey saw 59 shootings in Surrey during 2017, 61 in 2016 and 88 in 2015.

With civic elections happening this fall, it suddenly seems to be fashionable to call for a ban on all handguns within the city of Surrey in order to stop gang violence. Surrey First Councillor Tom Gill who is now running for mayor had this to say about how to stem gang violence. “We have a gang problem in Surrey that’s devastating families. We owe it to those families to make changes. A handgun ban is part of that. This is an opportunity to take away the tools of the trade.”
Surrey First councillor Dave Woods who is a former RCMP officer abruptly quit the Surrey First slate over the handgun ban proposed by Gill stating "Gangsters haven't registered their guns." Adding to the Surrey gun control hysteria over something that is actually Federal jurisdiction, former Mayor Doug McCallum who is running for his old seat back is suggesting that handgun owners move out of Surrey stating “People who want to have registered handguns should use them in rural areas, not in big cities.”

It is almost comical after years of gun violence and nothing being done to stop it that it suddenly becomes a political hot potato for those seeking to be elected to Surrey Council. Handguns have been restricted in Canada since 1937 and if you want to purchase and shoot one you have to take government firearms safety courses, clear extensive police background checks, belong to a gun club that is certified for their use plus follow safe transport and storage laws. Most pistol shooters I know have a locked secure room in their house with a heavy gun safe bolted to the wall and floor plus an alarm for their home. Guns and ammo are stored separately and when hand guns are taken to and from ranges they are locked securely with ammo in a separate locked container. Legally registered law-abiding firearms owners follow all of the rules in order to own and use handguns in a safe and controlled manner.

The criminal element in Surrey including entrenched gang members do not give a damn about our silly laws and carry illegal handguns with impunity, killing rivals and innocent civilians on an all too regular basis. Google search "shooting in Surrey" and you receive 12,500,000 results, many which are media accounts of gangland murders in Surrey going back for years. Gangs that make their money by smuggling and selling drugs can easily acquire hand guns from criminals in the USA. The four land crossings we have into the Lower Mainland from Washington State allow for a constant flow of weapons from America into Canada, with gang members arming themselves for protection. Border agents I have talked to admit that intercepting hand guns is a difficult job, especially with many pistols being dismantled and the parts then hidden in multiple vehicles. Gangsters also have friends and acquaintances who are not under police scrutiny legally purchase guns and then sell them into the black market. Lastly the theft of hand guns from legal owners is a third source of guns that too often end up in the hands of gangsters. You should note that all of this is criminal activity giving gang members access to illegal guns.

The only way to combat gun violence in Surrey is to focus police resources on those people involved with gangs. Seeing how neighboring Delta does not seem to have this problem makes me wonder if a more pro-active local police force would be better equipped to deal with this problem than the RCMP. Our judiciary needs to stop plea-bargaining away gun charges and I believe that identified gang members caught with illegal firearms should be given heavy prison sentences plus serve consecutive sentences for gun crimes. For all the years that Surrey First has done nothing to stop our gun crime epidemic, it is hypocritical for Tom Gill to target legitimate firearms owners as a way to combat Surrey's gang violence problem. Former mayor wanting to be mayor again Doug MacCallum should have gang members banished from living in Surrey, instead of wanting legitimate hand gun owners to move out of town. Better yet, maybe its time for "Cowboy Doug" to saddle up his horse and mosey on to greener pastures.

Targeting firearms enthusiasts may be politically expedient but it does nothing to control the growth of gangs, the spread of illegal guns on our streets and the violence we are enduring. It is actually political pandering and using a knee-jerk reaction to a complex problem to take the focus away from their own failings. Everyone also needs to realize that firearms legislation is Federal jurisdiction, not a local civic issue. I think that the 208 shootings in Surrey over the past three years show that Surrey First is actually "Surrey's Worst" when it comes to curbing gun violence in our town. If Tom Gill wants to put the cross-hairs on anyone, he should look a little closer to home as far too often it is young Indo-Canadian males who are the ones either getting shot or caught for pulling the trigger in Surrey. Instead of calling out legitimate shooters over their legal sport, politicians hoping to be the new mayor should target the gangs creating the violence on our streets.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




August 27, 2018

Skimboarding Getting Kayotics

Earlier this summer I was down on Semiahmoo Bay checking out some remote shoreline that I hadn't explored in years. I followed a narrow trail through the blackberries and undergrowth leading to the water. Only metres from where I emerged onto the beach, I found a stash of strange ramps and tubes hidden in the bush and cable locked to a thick tree. While most people would have wondered what this odd collection of plywood and polyethylene pipe was all about, I immediately realized that they were ramps and obstacles for skimboarding. With its long flat sand beach and abundant tidal pools, White Rock is a perfect place for skimboarding and obviously someone was taking this relatively old past time to a new level. Unfortunately there was no one there that day but with the tide out it was easy to imagine the spot being a skimboarding mecca.

Fast forward to this week when I dropped in on my buddy Lesen, a world famous artist I've known for years with a flair for street art, extreme graffiti and a love for anything that rides on rails. There in his carport was a ramp and rail system similar to what I had earlier seen tucked away down at the beach. The only difference was that instead of the regular combination of lumber, plywood and plastic pipes, he had painted the entire surface of the ramp in psychedelic colours in a pattern that only a mad artist could have imagined. Lesen told me they were being dressed for a local skimboarding group and that he was doing another piece the following day. I told him about seeing the various skimboarding aparatus tucked into the beach bush and he confirmed they were from the same people. Intrigued, I dropped by again a few days later and a second ramp was also expertly spray painted, this time with a setting sun theme complete with silhouettes of palm trees, a beach hut on stilts, and the website address, home of Kayotics Skimboards & Lifestyles.

Kayotics Skimboards was the brainchild of founder John Minns back in 2001 on the shores of Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen. As with most kids back then, he fashioned his own skimboard from a piece of plywood with some varnish and sand sprinkled on top. The first run of 50 boards was made in a small shed and sold to friends in the flatland skimboarding community for use in local tidal pools. They changed sport forever one night when on the way home from a party found a 10 foot piece of PVC pipe at a construction site. The next day they drove it to the beach, stuck it in the sand and had Minns take the first test run. John ran at the rail straight on, hopped his board from the water into the air to hit the pipe and with arms waving rode the entire length of the rail, landing cleanly in the water on the other side. Since that time, pipes have led to rails, ramps, tables and other apparatus resulting in complex tricks similar to what goes on in a snowboarding park but at the beach instead. Videos of their tricks, exploits and travels spread through social media have allowed Team Kayotics to become well known to a growing world-wide audience and sell their boards and apparel internationally. Here is a link to one of their YouTube videos:

While the original skimboards were glorified pieces of half inch thick plywood, Kayotics have taken skimboard construction to a whole new level. All are designed in Vancouver with modern construction methods being used and refined for over 10 years. They use pressure moulding systems with laminated cross-band plys of wood to create perfect shapes with lots of flex that still hold their form. Taking a page from skateboard and wakeboard manufacturing Kayotic boards have a blended 3-stage rocker making for a clean ride, maximum pop and smooth transition on and off rails. The top and bottom of their boards are dressed in high-pressure laminate sheets that resist dents and damage from apparatus. The sides are coated with marine grade polyeurathane to ensure that water stays out and the wood layers are protected from the elements. To stop heel bruising and improve traction, the top surface of their skimboards is covered with adhesive backed EVA foam for a great grip with soft cushion. You can check out these beautiful modern boards at where half of this year's models have already sold out.

Spreading the upgraded sport of skimboarding to the masses, Kayotics runs skimboarding camps during the summer in White Rock, Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen and Spanish Banks in Vancouver. In the past decade they have taught thousands of Lower Mainland kids the art of flatland skimboarding. They teach ages 6-13 about board maintenance, safety riding with more involved lessons on riding rails and performing advanced tricks. When camps are not available, Kayotics has group lessons where you can learn flatland skimboarding with a small group of friends or associates. Kaytonics also offers private lessons with one-on-one instruction for those not comfortable with the group setting or who want personal teaching. Even better you can book a 3 hour skimboard party for groups of 10 or more with several Team Kaotics instructors which would make for a great birthday at the beach in the sunshine trying out this fun sport that is rapidly growing in popularity.

To learn more about Kayotics Skimboards & Lifestyles please visit their website at and check out the following social media sights for a full appreciation of how far skimboarding has advanced and evolved from its humble beginnings.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




August 20, 2018



The weather forecast for White Rock on Sunday was sunny with highs of 26 C, a UV index of 6.0 or high and sunset at 8:21 PST. The rest of the week calls for sunny and hot with clear conditions overnight. Now I don't know what planet weathermen live on these days but I think its time that they get a dose of reality and possibly open the window for a first hand look at eye-witness weather. The smoke that never really left is back in force from forest fires near Harrison, across BC, down in Washington State and even Vancouver island adding to the pall. The thick haze of smoke has delayed dawn, made the weather appear cloudy, and dramatically dropped UV values and daytime temperatures, clearing the beaches of sun-worshippers. While the sun did not actually set on Sunday evening, I can tell you that the faint red orb in the sky finally disappeared at 5:55 P.M. when it vanished into the smoke nearly 2.5 hours before it was supposed to go down.

I can remember long ago when B.C. meant "Before Christ" before it became synonymous with the province of British Columbia. Over time and with over-taxation, it then was tied to the term "Bring Cash" that is a well known saying from anybody visiting from other parts of Canada. With the Provincial Liberals turning a blind eye to duffel bags of cash being carried into casinos and real estate being purchased with offshore money from dubious sources, BC then became equated to "Beyond Corrupt." Now that we are into the second record wildfire season with no end in sight, I think that the moniker BC now stands for "Burnt Crisp." Currently there are 546 forest fires burning in the Province with almost 600,000 hectares being charred so far with the cost of fighting these fires already over $250 million. It is no surprise that the fire danger rating has risen to high or extreme in nearly every corner of BC including here in the Semi-Pen, with the B.C. government recently declaring a province-wide state of emergency to help deal with the fire threat.

On the west coast of Vancouver Island around the surfing tourist mecca of Tofino, there is a persistent weather pattern in August known as "Fogust" when the marine fog rolls in and seems to linger most of the day. Here in the Lower Mainland, I think we now need to call the ever present wildfire smoke "Smogust" since the meteorologists seem to ignore this condition that blocks out the sun. When we flew back to Vancouver this summer, there was a noticeable brown line in the atmosphere when we descended about Whistler headed into Vancouver. Since that time, forest fires have doubled and greatly increased in intensity, with the Richmond bog fire and the scrap car barge that burned in the Fraser River near the Pattullo Bridge only adding to the air quality problem. It is not like this is new since last year 1,300 forest fires ravaged the province burning more than 12 million hectares, costing $564 million to control. With little rain in the forecast you can expect the present two week window for the state of emergency to be extended, realizing it lasted for a record 10 weeks in 2017.

It is not like hot summer weather is a phenomenon isolated only to the province of BC. When we visited England in July temperatures were in the high thirties with the newspaper headlines screaming "Friday Furnace" the day after I suffered heat stroke. We currently have family visiting from Winnipeg where the summer has been unusually hot again with temperatures of 37-39 Celcius with a humidex reading of 44-45 degrees. A friend of mine named Larry is currently in town from Prince George that currently resembles Hell with all the fire and smoke there that has turned his car a light grey from the ash that is stuck to it. I contacted my buddy Chris in Corona, California to ask him if the wildfires there were having an impact on where he lived and he quickly sent me pictures of the sun being blotted out by smoke and of a plume of red fire retardant being dropped from a plane onto a local hillside that was ablaze. When I texted back to ask where and when he had taken the pictures, he told me they were from his back yard only minutes before. With heavy smoke and ash falling from the sky, he told me that coming down to sit by the pool was out of the question with a layer of ash covering his house and yard. Hopefully the fires will be stopped before they roll into his neighbourhood that is tinder dry from years of continual drought.

Because of the smoke from all the fires there is an Air Quality Advisory in effect for much of BC including the Lower Mainland. Here is the warning issued on Sunday by the BC Ministry of the Environment for this region:
Metro Vancouver is continuing an Air Quality Advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter due to smoke from wildfires burning in British Columbia and the western United States. Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are expected to occur over the next few days. Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.
Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres (µm) or less. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size. Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, follow the advice of your healthcare provider. As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution. For more information on current air quality visit

Don't expect much of a reprieve from the heat the next few days as yet another heatwave is expected to roll through with daytime temperatures of 32 expected. We may get a break from the smoke later this week with cooler temperatures forecast and actual rain expected next weekend but that is still a long ways off. With our parched forests and pine beetle killed trees still standing on laying on the ground in many areas, expect uncontrolled wildfires to burn until the weather finally cools and rain returns to to finally extinguish them in the fall. With what appears to be two record fire seasons in a row, it looks like this may be the new normal so expect more "Smogust" in the future with hazy conditions for your summer vacation. On the bright side, at least you can leave the sunblock at home and not be worried about getting a burn with the smoke blocking out the sun.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



August 13, 2018

Red Light Runners Beware

You probably heard the news released last week from the BC NDP government that they are increasing the number of red light cameras that are operational in the province. In total there will be 140 of these devices installed in 26 communities across BC as part of the Intersection Safety Camera Program. Last year there were 350,000 crashes in BC, an all time high, with 60 percent of these occurring in intersections.
Site selection for red light camera installation is based on the frequency, severity and type of crash based on data compiled by ICBC. The majority of the cameras are at intersections in the Lower Mainland, with the others on Vancouver Island and in cities in the Interior. Signs are posted on roadways before each intersection, informing drivers that the red light cameras are in use. A ticket will be issued against the owner of a vehicle only if there is clear photographic evidence that their vehicle entered an intersection on a red light.

While red light cameras are nothing new, they will now run 24 hours a day instead of the 6 hours per day that they were previously operational. Quick math should tell you this will generate four times the tickets and resulting fine revenue. What most people do not realize is that many of these cameras in the most crash-prone intersections have been recording speeds of vehicles that get photographed with no speeding infraction ticket being issued. You can expect that to change in the near future with the number and location of the speed-activated cameras likely to be announced sometime this fall. Imagine the double whammy a driver will get when he runs a red light while speeding. There is no word yet on whether vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit by 40 Kmh will be tracked down and impounded for excessive speed as is currently the case if you are caught by the police.

You can find a map showing the locations for all of the intersection safety cameras on the ICBC website at There is not much to worry about here in the Semiahmoo peninsula as only one intersection, that at 152 St. and King George Blvd. was deemed dangerous enough to warrant a red light camera. I could think of a few more spots that could use one of these devices but this location likely has the highest traffic volume of any local intersection and I have already attended three horrible crashes at this corner just after they occurred. The next closest locations to home are Scott Rd. and #10 Hwy. plus 152 St. and #10 Hwy. There are no cameras at the gigantic KGB and #10 intersection but King George has the highest concentrations of red light cameras in Surrey at 10 in total. The Nordell Way/88 Ave. connector with its extreme rush hour traffic flow comes in second with 8 red light cameras from the Alex Fraser bridge to Fraser Hwy. In total there are 39 red light cameras in Surrey now taking pictures of red light runners 24/7/365. Make sure you smile and that the cameras get your best side!

There will be those people who complain that this is nothing but a cash grab and a different version of photo radar. Sorry to say that I am not one of these people as the more tickets we hand out to people who flagrantly disregard the rules of the road the better. Hopefully this will slow people down and help put out the dumpster fire still smouldering away at the ICBC headquarters. What I witness driving on an almost non-stop basis is people speeding, not signalling turns or lane changes, running red lights, talking or texting on phones, blah, blah, blah. The biggest issue I see is that there is almost no traffic law enforcement (except for speeders at the bottom of hills) so people drive with impunity, getting away with their stupidity. Put me in an unmarked police car and I doubt if I could drive a block without pulling over someone who deserved a traffic ticket. I had to laugh this weekend when I came upon a car on the freeway with only one working brake light, so I changed lanes to avoid them, getting behind yet another vehicle that also had only one functional brake light. No wonder there are so many crashes in #1 Hwy. in the Fraser Valley these days with cars like this on the road.

Unfortunately with only one red light camera up and running in the Semi-pen, people here can continue to drive around here ignoring something as simple as when traffic lights turn red. I would suggest everyone be careful at the 152 St. and 16 Ave intersection (Johnston Rd. and North Bluff Rd. for those from White Rock) as I was a witness for a young woman who was t-boned there by somebody who ran a red light there last year. If you decide to drive into the heart of Surrey, Burnaby or Vancouver that have many of these cameras, you had best keep in mind that running red lights will cost you a $167 ticket plus have future affects on your insurance rates. Somebody has to pay for the mess that the previous Liberal government left us with and I hope it is the bad drivers and not just tax-payers who get stuck with the bill.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



August 06, 2018

Shooting Stops in Surrey

As promised this TNT is being written aboard a Westjet 767 high above the Atlantic somewhere between Iceland and Greenland as we make our way home to Surrey, BC from Surrey, England. The 149th NRA UK matches at Bisley are now over and while they always end with a bang, this year was one for the record books with the weather taking center stage in the fullbore rifle competition. For the week when most of the main matches were fired, England and much of Europe were stuck in the middle of a major heat wave with temperature records being broken and health warnings issued to the masses to stay indoors and out of the sun. Unfortunately the only weather that stops competition at the Bisley ranges is lightning so the marksmen still had to shoot their .308 rifles laying in the full sun while wearing thick leather jackets. This led to yours truly suffering from the effects of heat stroke on Thursday that lingered for several days.

When I wrote my last TNT, I mentioned that someone from South Surrey was currently leading the Grand Aggregate that contains the scores of most of the matches fired. I have to admit that it was not me jockeying for top shot but another well known Canadian rifleman. White Rock's loss is Surrey's gain as Jim Paton and his wife Anna recently pulled up roots in the Rock and moved into Country Woods subdivision in the Semi-Pen. Attending his 36th Bisley Prize meeting in a row, Jim dropped very few points "going clean" as they say, shooting many "possibles" or perfect scores. He even won the dreaded 1,000 yard Corporation match outright with an amazng 50-8v, meaning that all of his shots hit the 24 inch bullseye with 8 of the 10 rounds being in the middle of that. When the gunsmoke had cleared after a week of competition, Jim tied with Britain's Jim Corbett having the identical score of 742 points but finishing in second place only two centre v-bulls behind (102
to 100). For this efforts Jim Paton was awarded the Silver Cross and won a total of 9 different matches and aggregates, taking home a large haul of trophies to the Canadian Pavilion where we were staying.

While the Grand Aggregate at Bisley is highly prized, the Queen's Prize match is possible more coveted with the winner being chaired from the firing point on the shoulders of their teammates. It is fired in three stages, Q1 being 7 rounds shot at 300, 500 and 600 yards. The top 300 competitors then make the second stage and Q2 is shot the next day, this time with 10 rounds at 3, 5 & 6. The top 100 make the Q3 or Queen's Final, the Q1 scores are dropped and they go "over the hill" to the Stickledown long range where 15 rounds are then fired on the final day of competition at both 900 and 1,000 yards. Stickledown is well known for treacherous and difficult winds but this year with the extreme heat and a large cold front moving in, the winds reached speeds of 15-25 miles per hour with frequent strength and direction changes. In the middle of a raging sandstorm, Britain's David Luckman, a former Queens and Grand Aggregate winner, prevailed taking Her Majesty's Prize by somehow firing a 68 out of 75 at the last 1,000 yard range. In all 5 Canadians made the Queen's Final including myself, with 24 year-old Catherine Choquette from Ottawa finishing as the top Canuck in 10th place.

With all target rifle shooting complete, it was time for the party to begin with the Queen's Prize winner David Luckman being put in a chair with rails under it and carried from the 1,000 yard firing point with a military brass band leading the way. At the NRA offices, prize presentations were held with amazing silverware, some almost 150 years old awarded to the match and aggregate winners. From there Mr. Luckman was carried from clubhouse to clubhouse around the Bisley Camp all evening long as is tradition there. At the Canadian Pavillion he was taken inside chair and all where he grabbed a white Calgary Stetson cowboy hat off the Buffalo head mounted high above the fireplace plus a cigarette dangling from its mouth. After a few drinks it was outside to fire the 4 foot naval cannon five times plus a smaller cannon made from used brass ammo cartridges. The final stop was the Surrey Rifle Association clubhouse for a raucous sing-along party that included six previous Queen's Prize winners including our Jim Paton hitting the stage to belt out a song together. We left at 3 a.m. and heard the bar finally closed long after dawn.


I hope it does not take another 38 years for me to return to Bisley as my wife Sheryl and I really enjoyed our time, the experiences and friendships we found there. Not to mention, I would think by that time my shooting days would likely be over if I'm lucky enough to actually live that long. I should mention that Team Canada came within a point of beating Britain for the historic Kolapore short range team match with many countries cheering on the upstart Canadians against the always strong English team. I would like to thank the many members of Team Canada for their support and comradery, with a special tip of my hat to the three other BC shooters plus team Commandant Dave Adams from Mission plus team Adjutant Peter Dobell from Chilliwack who unfortunately could not make the trip to Bisley due to a last minute medical concern.

I leave you with a picture I took from the cabin of our plane high above the coast of Greenland with its massive ice sheet flowing to the coast and calving off icebergs into the North Atlantic Ocean. It was quite the sight to see but I must admit that the sheer number and size of lakes and rivers plainly visible on the top of the giant glacier was of grave concern, especially with the extreme heat we endured during our stay in England. This should give you something to think about when you're spending time along our beaches during high tide.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 23, 2018

This Surrey Shooting Scores a Bulls-eye


Perish the thought that I have anything to do with the constant shootings and gangland murders that have plagued Surrey for years. I'm in the other mother Surrey..., Surrey, England that is, near the town of Woking at the NRA UK Fullbore Rifle Championships being held at the historic Bisley Range. I am a member of the 22 person strong Canadian Rifle Team sent here by the Domininon of Canada Rifle Association ( that is now competing against some of the best marksmen on the planet. To give you an idea of the size of the estate, the 300-600 yd Century range features 108 target bays, while the famed 900-1,000 yard Stickledown range features 50 long-range firing positions.

This is not the first time I have had the pleasure of shooting for Canada at Bisley. Way back in 1979 when I was a BC Regiment army cadet, I made the Canadian Cadet Rifle Team and came here with a very strong shooting team. Half of the 18 boys and girls who qualified were from BC and had taken part in the rifle course held in Vernon. Of particular pride for me, the entire BC Regiment shooting team that I was a part of all made the rifle team, ensuring I had plenty of good friends along for the trip. We shot very well, winning the Alexander Graham Bell junior shooter team match for the first time in years and I made the top 100 in the Queens Prize and top 50 in the St. George's Match, both coming with highly coveted prizes.

Since that time life really got in the way of myself competing at international fullbore rifle matches where 0.308 single shot centrefire rifles are fired from the prone position at targets 300-1,000 yards away. I finally returned 38 years later, this time with the senior team for the 149th prize meeting held at Bisley. This August will be the 150th DCRA rifle championships in Ottawa, Ontario, showing the history and longevity of rifle shooting competition world wide. We are staying in Bisley at the McDonald Stewart Canadian Pavillion, a large two storey colonial design featuring a broad veranda that was constructed of wood imported from Canada in 1897. For 120 years it has been Canadian shooting team's home away from home when competing in England.

The social aspect of international target rifle shooting is an important part of any meet with chances to renew old friendships with people from any of the 18 countries participating. Many of the English shooting teams have clubhouse on the NRA property including the Surrey Rifle Association that we naturally gravitate to. On Sunday night we opened our home to many of the overseas team's with over 300 people attending the largest party of the meeting. It is also a chance to say goodbye and pay respects to old friends with former DCRA Governor Jim Thompson who passed away earlier this year having his memorial service and ashes scattered at the top of the 1,000 yard Stickledown range. This included the field cannon that normally resides next to the Maple Leaf flag at the Pavillion being fired as a final salute.

Since shooting began at Bisley, Canadian marksmen have fared very well for the size of our population. Ìn the Grand Aggregate that consists of scores from the bulk of the matches, we have scored Gold Crosses a dozen times and Siver Crosses nine times. Of special note is Alain Marion from Quebec who won silver in 1973 & 1980 before winning the gold in 1990 and BC native Bob Pitcairn who won gold in 1965 and silver in 1981. In the hotly contested King's/Queen's prize,
Canadian have won gold a total of 15 times, shooting for silver a further 8 times. The last Canadian Queen's prize winner was Jim Paton from White Rock in 2005. Amazingly, the only person who has ever won both of these major aggregates in a single year was Canadian D.T. Blair in 1929 and he had to shoot off against fellow Canadians to win gold in both.

That's all the news about shooting in Surrey except to tell you that currently a Canadian who lives in South Surrey is currently leading the Grand Aggregate by a whopping 6 points. More on that in next week's TNT that will likely be written on a Boeing 767 at 35,000 feet somewhere over Greenland and the Great White North.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 17, 2018

TNT Time in Britain

It's been a long while since I made my way across the pond to jolly old England, the last time being when I was 18 years old as an army cadet with the Canadian Rifle Team. I would have thought with flying into Britain from North America with a name like Donald that people would have been at the airport in droves to protest my arrival. Fortunately this was not the case and we landed safely with no fanfare and breezed through customs. This was not the case a day later later when a very different Donald sporting a rather unique hairstyle came into town on Air Force One.

US President Trump left a NATO meeting in Brussels and then flew to the UK, landing at the Stansted Airport before flying by helicopter to Winfield House that is the home to the US Ambassador in London. By chance we were on the flight path and had our sporting event cancelled for an hour and a half due to airspace concerns with The Donald flying over. I must admit it was rather interesting to see several V-22 Ospreys accompanied by rather menacing looķing Blackhawk helicopters going past. What made this fly-by even more eventful was that not long before Mr. Trump flew by, a Russian MIG-29 fighter jet blasted directly overhead, leaving many wondering if WW3 was starting or if Putin was making sure that POTUS arrived safely before their summit. My buddy Tom Walters from Saxon Aerospace in Surrey (BC, not England) who identified the fighter jet correctly assumed it was heading to Farnsworth for Europe's biggest air show.

Leftists and Liberals from across the country took to the streets in mass to protest the arrival of USA President Trump and his policies that many on that side of the political spectrum strongly oppose. There were literally hundreds of separate protests across the UK but none was larger than the one that took place in Trafalgar Square not far from the Parliament buildings which attracted an estimated 200,000 people. Besides all of the political banners and protest signs bashing Trump, the most visible had to be a huge ballon in the shape of baby resembling a crying Donald Trump including a hock of blonde hair and diaper. We visited Trafalgar Square the next day when the crowds had thinned out but evidence of the protesters remained with anti-Trump posters littering the ground around the Canadian Embassy located next door to the famous fountains with its four large bronze lions.

When we came out of the National Art Gallery, our plan was to visit the Parliament buildings and Big Ben before crossing back over the Thames River on the London Bridge to visit the gigantic Eye of London ferris wheel. Instead we saw a large crowd of 2,500 people gathered around the middle of Trafalgar Square singing loudly and waving flags including many of the old red and white English cross. With the FIFA World Cup still ongoing we thought it was a soccer match warm-up and decided to check out the throng that by this time were lighting red smoke bombs that filled much of the air. When a half-dozen police officers on horseback arrived along with large continent of bobbies on foot, we realized that we had inadvertently joined in some kind of a pro-Trump right-wing street protest that had nothing to do with what they call football.

The singing from the crowd resembled what you might hear at a soccer match, with everyone chanting "Tooommmm-y, Tommy-Tommy-Tommy-Tommy Rob-in-son." Not wanting to get involved, we left and headed towards the Big Ben tower that was covered in scaffolding and costruction mesh for a major renovation. The crowd left Trafalgar and poured in our direction shouting "Who's streets? Our streets. Free speech! Our Streets." Talking to many protesters and several cops, we learned that a right wing activist named Tommy Robinson had been secretly jailed for 13 months for violating a court order exposing three immigrants charged in a gang rape of an English national. Reading into the story on our smart phone, it did seem that this heavy handed decision was politically motivated, which incited the march we once again found ourselves caught in.

Nearing the English parliament buildings, we found the streets barricaded off and ringed with riot police. A half block away, counter protesters stood behind another barricade with another line of cops dressed in black with yellow high -viz vests. The police were quite friendly with us, likely because they easily identified us as tourists with our Canada shirts and no alt-right tattoos. Amazingly they even answered questions after I gave them my White Rock Sun card, not like our RCMP at home who robotically refer you to a media officer that then ignores you. With two more trailers full of riot team horses showing up and scuffles breaking out, we decided to go check out more historical sites instead of staying for the fights. In the end, the police helicopter hung over the battle zone for three hours, five police were wounded, several people got arrested, and Tommy Robinson was not freed.

I'm sorry that this TNT was a little late but my activity and social calendar the past week left little time to pen this column. For those wondering, we did stand proudly outside the gates of Buckingham palace, but didn't receive an invite from the Queen to join her for tea. This was probably for the best as I would have referred to her Majesty as Liz or simply Queeny for shits and giggles. While I'm away on vacation, there is no holiday from the White Rock Sun and I will do my best to keep you informed of our journeys and exploits in the Mother country. Until then ta-ta and cheeri-o. Oh blimey, I'm already sounding like a Limey!

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 09. 2018

Railing On About Track Safety

I was organizing a few things for the net work day just after 10 o'clock on Wednesday night when I heard the firetruck from Hall 12 in Crescent Beach roar towards the end of 24 Ave in Crescent heights with sirens wailing. Moments after that a paramedic vehicle also headed towards the Christopherson Steps at the end of the road. Following this was an almost non-stop parade of RCMP cruisers and ambulances speeding towards the area where the elevated pedestrian stairway goes across the BNSF tracks, giving people safe access to both Crescent Beach and Crescent Rock beach. With school just out for the summer I figured maybe it was an after-grad party gone sideways and with the large emergency services response, I thought it would be wise to check out what the heck was going on in my normally sedate neighbourhood.

Just around the corner from my house, I met a group of a half-dozen teenage males walking away from the kaleidoscope of red and blue lights at the end of the road. When I asked them if they knew what had happened, they told me in stammering voices that they'd been at a beach party beside the tracks with other students from Elgin Park. They admitted that it had been an alcohol and drug fueled binge with around 50 people taking part in the festivities. What they told me was that some of the boys had decided to sit on the tracks and play chicken with an oncoming train. It turns out this was not a slow moving BNSF freight train but the northbound Amtrak passenger train heading towards Vancouver. While most of the young men managed to get out of the way in time, one did not move fast enough and was struck by the AmTrak, sending him flying 20' through the air into the bushes and rocks below. They described in graphic details his serious injuries that included a large gaping head wound and refused to speculate on their school mate's condition.

Heading down into the tangle of police, ambulance and fire vehicles, it was almost surreal that no first responders were on scene next to what locals used to call the 101 Steps, with everyone being down at the beach. As small groups of crying teenagers made their way up the stairs out of the darkness, they were met by panicked parents who had drove to the site and were running down the roadway cell phones in hand to meet and console them. I came across several groups of teenage girls who told me the same story as the boys up the street, including gory details on what they had seen. They identified the young man who had been hit by the Amtrak as 14 year-old Jack Stroud who had recently completed grade 9 at Elgin Park Secondary School. When I asked about his condition they admitted they didn't think his chances for survival were good, with emergency CPR being performed on him at the beach. Two young ladies near the entrance to the stairs told me the same kid was carrying a large bottle of open liquor just before the accident described him as being very drunk. A young man was then basically carried up the stairs by several friends and he collapsed in the middle of the road sobbing repeatedly about losing his friend. By that time I had seen enough and with a Global TV cameraman showing up to roll tape, I decided to make my way back home. In the morning the Surrey RCMP released that 15 year-old Grade 9 Elgin Park student Jack Stroud had been hit and killed by the late night Amtrak train.

By Thursday night a waterfront memorial just south of the Christopherson Steps had been erected by Jack's friends and classmates, complete with a white cross, numerous bouquets of flowers, pictures, momentos and rocks with tributes written on them in indelible ink. My wife and I went by while walking her dogs and joined the many teary-eyed teenagers gathered there exchanging hugs and giving each other support over the loss of their friend. Showing how this latest death apparently has changed nothing, when we were coming down the metal stairs three men in jeans with their shirts off came walking down the tracks as a BNSF freight train went past. The engineer horned the heck out of these morons and yelled at them to get off the tracks as he rolled by. Instead of leaving the corridor, these idiots decided it would be fun to grab at the ladders on the box cars and take a small ride down the tracks on the train. This was how a guy I went to school with years ago lost his leg mid-thigh to a BNSF frieght train in North Delta. All I could think from this show of idiocy was that you can't fix stupid. This idea was reinforced on Sunday night when my wife and I again went for a walk on the beach at sunset and found that the Crescent Rock boulder and many large rocks on the beach near the memorial had been spray painted with graffiti linked to Jack Stroud's passing. After the mess that grads left at Chehalis Lake two years ago, I'm surprised that Elgin Park students would apparently trash Crescent Rock beach in Jack's memory.

I spent time in the Surrey archives years ago researching the number of accidents on the rail corridor in the Semiahmoo peninsula and believe that the "BNSF Hit List" as I call it is now up to 22 people killed on the tracks here. Unfortunately the Amtrak train is involved in an disproportionate number of these fatal accidents. When passenger rail service was restarted in 1975, the Amtrak ran over five people in the first five years before speed limits were lowered here. The sleek looking locomotives, quiet engines, smaller lights and smooth running suspension means that people misjudge the Amtrak's speed or fail to respond quickly to the danger that it poses to people trespassing on the railway. The paint job also is basically camouflage with the engines either being white with brown and green, all natural colours, or blue and silver grey, the predominant colours found at the beach. The BNSF freight trains with their loud engines and Halloween paint job are big, slower and noisy, with most people taking notice and getting the heck off the tracks when they see one coming. At the end of the day, no amount of education, signage, pedestrian crossing, bells and whistles or even terrible deaths will keep people from using the tracks as a walkway to reach their favourite part of the waterfront. The only way to stop this slow-motion massacre will be to eventually move the tracks inland to a safer location away from what is the main marine recreational site to over a million Fraser Valley residents.

On a railway related note, I just learned that the CN Police recently cancelled their policing contract with the BNSF after 20 years of service. The BNSF Railway have now hired their own officer who patrols the tracks along with an RCMP member from the Peace Arch to New West. You can now expect to see much more trespassing enforcement with this change in policing that will focus on people on the tracks in the Semiahmoo peninsula. I talked to the new BNSF cop about the Semiahmoo First Nations parking lot behind the WAG that was the topic of an unflattering video recently shown on Facebook. He assured me that those simply crossing the tracks in this location to access the beach would not be ticketed but those walking on the tracks near the Reserve could expect a $115 fine. Don't be surprised to see a level pedestrian crossing like those in White Rock installed at this location in the near future to improve rail safety as I understand from a reliable railway source that negotiations between the SFN, BNSF and Transport Canada are already underway. Lastly, near Crescent Beach, the City of Surrey is looking to erect a six foot tall chain link fence along the rail corridor from the crossing at Beecher St. to the end of Bayview Street as part of a whistle cessation program. Plans are now to put it on city land as the BNSF bean counters wanted a whopping $225,000 a year lease payment for a free fence that would keep people off their train tracks. You'd like to think they would be more concerned about rail safety than trying to extort taxpayer money from Surrey. What a sickening display of corporate greed from an American based railroad owned by one of the world's richest men who appears morally bankrupt.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 03, 3018


Glimpsing a Petroglyph

Crescent Rock beach located at the base of the Ocean Park bluffs was forever altered in 1907 when work began on the Great Northern Railway track realignment that brought freight trains to the shores of Semiahmoo Bay. The tracks were built above the intertidal zone of the beach and the rail bed fortified with rip-rap to protect the corridor from winter storms and crashing waves. While these boulders have continuously washed into the surf for 110 years, many of the rocks on the beach are there from natural erosion processes that have occurred since the last ice age (the Pleistocene Epoch) ended an estimated 11,700 years ago. In fact, both the White Rock boulder and its smaller cousin in Surrey, the Crescent Rock boulder, are glacial erratics carried here on ice sheets from far away mountain ranges, with both being composed of identical white granite.

For centuries before Europeans arrived in these waters indigenous people used both the White Rock boulder and Crescent Beach boulders as navigational aids. The Crescent Rock boulder in Surrey near Crescent Beach can be seen with the naked eye from Centennial Beach in Tsawwassen and the White Rock boulder is visible from Lily Point in Point Roberts. If you look at the shore directly in front of the Crescent Rock boulder, you will notice two lines of big rocks running perpendicular to the beach and separated by roughly 100 feet in distance. It is believed that these rocks were moved into place to create a safe landing zone for First Nation canoes and to help trap sand, similar to the groins that have been placed at the Crescent Beach marine park. Further south from the Crescent Rock past Indian Fort Drive that was named after a First Nations defensive position on the bluff, there is another of these protected shoreline areas lined with heavy boulders. They can easily be viewed from the comfort of your home on Google Earth or Surrey's COSMOS mapping system.

While the presence of the Coast Salish people here is well documented with archelogical evidence easily found widespread across the coast of Boundary Bay including Crescent Beach, not many are aware that centuries old indigenous art work can easily be found if you know what you are looking for. This weekend a friend of mine who I know from the beach sent me photos of a petroglyph he had located 300 yards south of the Christopherson Steps staircase (formerly 101 Steps) just beyond the main beach area favoured by naturists. A buddy of his had told him about the existence of three of them in this area but he did not locate the other two. I must admit that I have walked this beach countless times and done shoreline cleanups from Crescent Beach to White Rock before without noticing anything unusual in the shore boulders. In the future I plan on spending less time admiring the view towards the San Juan islands and focus on looking for centuries old Indigenous art.

In case you are not familiar with the word, petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings made by aboriginal people by chipping and abrading rock surfaces with stone tools. This should not be confused with pictographs, which are paintings applied to rocks with sticks or fingers using pigments often made from powdered minerals. In British Columbia over 500 petroglyph sites have been located, more than in any other province in Canada. The locations for petroglyphs usually mark unusual natural features such as waterfalls or caves plus village sites or trails. For unknown reasons, many petrogyphs here were carved on intertidal beach boulders that are submerged by the tide, appearing only when the tide receeds. This was the case of the Crescent Rock beach petroglyph that features what appears to be the face of the man adorned with some kind of a headdress. Carbon 14 dating techniques are rarely helpful in determining the age of rock art sites but it is believed that due to erosional forces which eventually destroy them, most petroglyphs in BC range from 100 to 3,000 years old.

It is not like this is a new discovery here in the Semiahmoo Peninsula. In the 1920's a petroglyph was spotted on the beach near the south end of 136 Street, showing a series of circles and holes on a large granite boulder. The Surrey Historical Society was notified and took steps to rescue the boulder from erosion that was destroying the art work. After getting permission from the Parks Branch, they enlisted help from the Burlington Northern Railway who used a crane to pluck it from the water. The rock was them moved into Crescent Beach proper, finding a final place in Heron Park at the site of the old Crescent Beach Train Station, located next to the tracks on Beecher Street. It was officially unveiled in 1974 by them Surrey Mayor Bill Vanderzalm and is marked with a plaque that reads "PETROGLYPH - Symbols were carved into the rock by prehistoric inhabitants of the area." I'm thinking this could use updating to remove "prehistoric inhabitants" and instead read "the Coast Salish people."


Petroglyphs are protected in BC under the provisions of the Heritage Conservation Act. You can learn more about petroglyphs by visiting the archaeology section of the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. Their direct website link is If you find other petroglyphs in south Surrey or White Rock, please contact the Archaeology Branch directly by telephone at (250) 953-3334 to report their location and possibly provide a photo of the ancient indigenous rock art. When I find the other two rock carvings that are south of Crescent Beach, pictures of them will be added to this story in the future as a TNT extra.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



June 25, 2018

A line in the Sand at Border Beach

The story broke last week about a 19 year-old French girl who inadvertently crossed the US/Canada border into Blaine and was arrested. Roman Cedella was in Canada visiting her mother in North Delta when she decided to go for a jog at the White Rock waterfront on May 21st. Heading south past the Peace Arch Park she ran only meters into the United States, turned to take a picture with her cell phone, then jogged back up the beach. She was apprehended by two US Customs and Border Security agents only steps from the crossing and when they found out she was a foreign national with no ID, she was promptly arrested. They then transferred her to the US Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington and held for two weeks while bureaucrats on both sides of the border sorted out her case before finally releasing her back to her mother in Canada on June 6th. Simply Google "French jogger US border White Rock" to read the many news reports about this border incident.

When you drive down Hwy. 99 towards the US, it is impossible to not realize that you are entering a border crossing area. There are plenty of signs along the way, the giant Peace Arch monument, crossing booths for both Canada and the US, not to mention long lineups of vehicles all crawling along or sitting stuck in traffic. I went down to the beach south of Peace Arch Park in an area that I now call "Border Beach" to check out for myself how someone could mistakenly jog across the 49th parallel at BC's largest land crossing. Beforehand, I made sure to call ahead to the US Customs and Border Protection offices in Blaine so I could let them know I would be in the vicinity taking pictures for this column. The supervisor was quite helpful, taking down my description to pass onto border guards and telling me to bring a business card plus passport, which I thought was very good advice. I like spending time in the United States, but prefer a nice comfy hotel room to a jail cell.

Parking at Peace Arch Park, my wife and I along with her two dogs walked south along until we paralleled the cars lining up for inspection heading into the US, finally stopping directly west of the Peace Arch monument. At this point is a four sided concrete marker about four feet high that reads "International Boundary" on two sides with "Canada" and "United States" on the other. Other than this weathered grey post, there is no signage to let you know you are crossing the actual border. About 50 feet away is an old metal sign in black and white, approximately 8' long by 1' tall, that reads USA CANADA BORDER which is streaked with rust. The "No Trespassing" sign below it that has been vandalized to now read "assing" lists the BN RR or Burlington Northern Rail Road as the owner. This railway became the BNSF when Burlington Northern and Sante Fe railways merged in 1995 so this sign is at least 23 years old and now partially obscured by scrubby trees and blackberries. If you have not noticed it before, its because it is not visible to traffic heading south.

Not far from this location we found a dirt trail leading through the undergrowth, out across the tracks and down onto the shoreline. I have to admit that in all of the years I have lived in this region, I have never set foot on Border Beach. It is rather spectacular in its rugged beauty with not a soul to be seen anywhere. Facing due West it looks out across the expanse of Semiahmoo Bay, making it a great place walk in tidal pools, skim-board, or take in a sunset. Heading back south to where I knew the border was, it became obvious why Roman Cedella had accidentally jogged into the United States. There is nothing on the beach to mark the 49th parallel boundary and the trees and vegetation between the beach and tracks, plus the tracks and Hwy 99 completely block the view of the crossing. Even the Peace Arch Monument that stands 20.5 metres tall is almost totally obscured by the bushes. There is no signage, no monument, no fence, no concrete curbing, no wall, not even a line drawn in the sand. In this day and age with paranoia rampant in the US and politicians so fixated on border security and protection, having no boundary markers at the beach is ludicrous.

In Tsawwassen and Point Roberts, at least there is something to alert you to the presence of the world's largest unsecured border of 5,525 miles. On both the Tsawwassen Beach and Centennial Beach sides of south Delta, the waterfront at the international boundary has the same concrete monument that sits next to Hwy. 99. When the tide is in and the beach is reduced to a small strip, there is a chance that you might actually notice them. Again, there is no signage, fencing, wall or anything else to alert you to crossing the border. Since Point Roberts is surrounded by water and with many Canadians owning property in this enclave, there seems to be less interest in enforcing the border along the beach and both Canadian and US residents meander back and forth with virtual impunity. That is not the case at the Peace Arch where US Border Customs and Border Protection agents watch the sand flats west of Hwy. 99 with spotting scopes looking for anyone taking a few wrong steps into the United States.

If we are to have a defended border with the US, it is time that we post some proper notification at the 49th parallel so that people know when they are running into trouble. There needs to be large visible signs down at the beach printed on both sides so that folks from the US and Canada know where the border actually is located. I would suggest a low concrete barrier or curbing at the beach so people actually have to step over it when the tide is in. Out in the sand flats, a piling with signage some distance from shore would also be useful to stop inadvertent crossings. Personally I would like the US and Canada to follow Europe's lead and get read of this relic, focusing instead on continental security and opening the border. Unfortunately with the other Donald running the White House and immigration being such a hot-button issue in the land of the free, it is doubtful that this would ever be considered. If you want to visit Border Beach to check it out for yourself, I'd suggest sunglasses, some tanning oil, your passport and the possibly the phone number for a good immigration lawyer.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



June 18, 2018

Disposal Ban With No Disposal Plan

You have to love it when non-elected governmental officials make decisions that affect almost everyone they have been chosen to represent, which place ridiculous and onerous burdens on the people who pay their bloated salaries. Case in point is the decision by the Metro Vancouver GVS&DD Board to ban the disposal of expanded polystyrene, commonly known as styrofoam, from the garbage disposal stream in two weeks time starting July 1st, 2018. Never heard of the GVS&DD Board? Neither have I but it turns out it is the Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District who have passed this edict. Here is the info on this ban taken from the Met-Van website:

Metro Vancouver will start levying a surcharge against customers who dump expanded polystyrene packaging, commonly known as Styrofoam, at regional disposal facilities effective July 1. The move is aimed at encouraging more styrofoam recycling by creating a financial deterrent to throwing the material in the garbage. A surcharge amounting to 100 percent of the tipping fee will be applied to garbage loads containing more than 20 percent expanded polystyrene packaging at Metro Vancouver and City of Vancouver transfer stations, the waste-to-energy facility or the Vancouver Landfill.
The ban applies to white expanded polystyrene that is used for protecting and distributing products but excludes food and beverage containers, packing peanuts and expanded polystyrene that is painted, soiled or treated. Disposal Ban Inspectors have been educating customers about the upcoming requirements since January.
Expanded polystyrene packaging can be reused in local styrofoam manufacturing processes, or it can be recycled into products such as picture frames, crown moulding and fencing. Residents can drop off expanded polystyrene free of charge at designated recycling depots, and businesses can send it for recycling at local facilities for a fee. A list of drop-off depots and recycling facilities is available at

Now don't get me wrong, anything we can do to divert products out of our waste stream and away from landfills or incinerators is a good thing. According to Met-Van 10,500 of tonnes of EPS are disposed of every year in the Lower Mainland, representing one of the largest material categories in the waste stream without a disposal ban. Our household has already been recycling styrofoam for years, saving up clean packing styrofoam in large clear plastic bags and taking them to Mansonville Plastics on 56 Ave in Surrey just east of 192 St. in Surrey, where this product is ground up and turned into polystyrene building blocks and sheets of board insulation. We collect all of the various styrofoam food and beverage containers that enter our home, cleaning and storing them before taking it to the White Rock Encorp Return-It Centre on 24 Ave., the only place in the Semi-Pen that apparently accepts this product at this time. Fortunately we have lots of storage space at our house with the garage sometimes looking much like a Return-It centre, with bags of plastic film, glass jars, packing styrofoam, food packaging styrofoam, plus beverage containers with deposits on them. For people in apartments or townhouses where storage is at a premium, we wonder how often these products simply get tossed in the trash because they are not picked up with curbside recycling.

At issue here is Metro Vancouver banning styrofoam from the waste stream without having a collection system in place to properly deal with this rather bulky problem. If you go to the website it asks you "Are you a business or a resident" and "What are you recycling today." Picking resident and polystyrene, yields a surprising low return of only three facilities, Fleetwood Waste Systems in Vancouver, Brad's Junk Removal in Richmond and the Maple Ridge Transfer Station in you guessed it, Maple Ditch. I decided to try entering styrofoam into their system expecting the same result since it is the same product and the search results yielded eight locations with nothing in Sur-Del-Lang. Strangely two of the three locations in the first search did not show up in the second query. Now I know that residents of Surrey are often treated as second-class citizens but not having a listed drop-off location for half-a-million people seems beyond belief. The Encorp Return-it website at lists only a polystyrene beverage cup that is accepted for a 5 cent deposit with no information given in the "What they are recycled into" box. Surrey does not collect styrofoam in their recyclables and the website is little help, directing people to the Metrovancouver recycles website or to call the Recycling Council of British Columbia Hotline 604-732-9253.

If Metro Vancouver and the City of Surrey wants to get serious about recycling, they need to put in place an easy to use collection system or else styrofoam will continue to be thrown into the trash. Since glass jars that have no deposit fee were banned from the big grey recycling totes in Surrey, I know that many people simply toss these containers into the garbage, increasing landfills one jar at a time. The same fate awaits styrofoam if there is no easy way for this product to be collected and recycled. Metro Vancouver, City of Surrey and Encorp Return-it websites all need to be upgraded before July 1st to deal with this new change that the bureaucrats have implemented. They have two weeks left and I would suggest that they get this done immediately before the Recycling Council of BC hotline get overwhelmed with calls from bewildered or pissed-off residents looking for answers. All of those Return-it ads you see on TV with the angry looking beverage containers have the music soundtrack that goes "dumb-dumb-dumb", which perfectly describes how this styrofoam recycling program is being rolled out.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


June 11, 2018

Dying To Get In There

It was a pretty rough week in south-east Surrey with two teenage boys being gunned down last Monday night on 40 Ave between 184 and 200 Street, followed soon after by reports of two burning cars that are becoming common after gangland executions. In the early hours of Sunday morning, two men allegedly driving in a truck stolen from Langley apparently headed south on 192 St. and failed to realize that the road ended in a T intersection at 16 Ave. The F-350 crossed 16 Ave. at considerable speed just missing the road end marker, plowed through a cedar hedge, crashed into a thick stand of maple trees before rolling and coming to a stop in the Hazelmere Cemetary, narrowly missing several gravestones. There were no skid marks visible on the asphalt from either heavy braking or an attempt at a sharp turn. A neighbour told me the truck was folded in two with the roof ripped off and the men's bodies trapped inside.

Now I realize that there will be many in our community who are tired of criminals in our midst who might say that these two men, both known to the police, got what they deserved. I'm not going to be drawn into the argument of whether auto theft warrants a death sentence, but instead want people to know that regardless of their motives or method of transportation, the corner where these men lost their lives is dangerous and has killed before. On May 8, 2010, 26 year-old excavation operator Arron Breaks made the same mistake of driving straight through this very same intersection. His white Honda cut a 100 foot swath through the bush before crashing into the Little Campbell River ravine beside the cemetery. Aaron was found by his brother who went looking for him several days after he failed to return home from a friend's place. A welded metal cross featuring a yellow excavator now marks the spot where his car left the roadway, while Aaron Tyler Breaks was laid to rest in the Hazelmere Cemetery, something I learned from the website

The corner of 192 St. and 16 Ave. is now a very busy intersection with plenty of truck traffic. For those heading south on 192 St., there is no signage warning that they are approaching a T intersection. There is a small road end marker across the street and a traffic light that simply goes green, instead of having two arrows facing both left and right. If a mistake is made or one's judgement is affected by alcohol, drugs or fatigue, or if a driver is distracted and a vehicle drives through this light, the waiting ravine and heavy trees pose a deadly threat. There needs to be a line of heavy concrete dividers painted bright yellow placed across from this intersection, with two road end markers lined up on the two lanes that approach them. This would be more visible and stop vehicles from zooming off into the trees or ravine. To lessen any impact, large yellow barrels filled with sand could be placed in front of the concrete, similar to what has been done at the T intersection of Knight Street and Westminster Hwy. in Richmond after several bad crashes there years ago.

Further up the street on 192 St. there are several other improvements that could reduce or eliminate the possibility of one of these off-road accidents happening again in the future. While there are arrows painted on the roadway, there needs to be signage indicating that the road terminates and drivers must turn either left or right. It might be worth considering having rumble strips installed to help bring attention to the road ending ahead. Also on the pole that holds the traffic light, black and white lane turning arrows should also be installed on either side of the light. All of these changes should greatly reduce the chance of a repeat accident but one other safety upgrade also needs to be made on 16 Ave. There is a long row of large concrete dividers on the south side of the road just east of the intersection protecting cars from going into the Campbell River ravine. For reasons unknown, there is a 100 foot section of these tall safety curbs missing, likely from being damaged by a heavy truck in the past and never replaced. The gaping hole in this important road safety system needs to be plugged.

When Aaron Breaks died in 2010, I visited the crash scene and saw the temporary roadside memorial his friends and family had left at that time. When the iron cross was later installed, I stopped by to check out the metalwork and pay my respects. While I knew of the dangers at this intersection, I never took the time to notify the City of Surrey as to how they could easily be eliminated. Now that two more people have died, bringing the death toll to 3 people in 8 years, I will ensure that the information you read here is forwarded to the Surrey Engineering Department this week for their perusal and consideration. As I have said in the past, bad engineering kills people and this busy corner needs to be upgraded before anyone else dies as a result of bad signage and lack of a protective barrier. The old joke about the cemetery being the most popular place since people are dying to get in there, quickly looses its humour when you have walked down the tire tracks in the dirt and seen the heavy impact marks on the thick trees where people have lost their lives.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn



June 04, 2018

Crime of the Week - the Murder of Dario Bartoli

BC Crime Stoppers has taken the step of listing the 2014 homicide of 15 year-old Surrey teen Dario Bartoli as its "Crime of the Week" that began on Sun., June 3rd. Let's hope that the extra publicity about this now historic homicide will loosen some lips as somebody in our community knows the details about this heinous crime and the murderer or murderers who are still walking our streets instead of being locked away in jail.

Just after 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 15, nearly three and a half years ago, Surrey RCMP were notified that two boys aged 14 and 15 had ran to a home in the 15600 18 Ave. after being swarmed by a group of four to five people at Bakerview Park, located at the NW corner of 154 St and 18 Ave. The 15 year-old who was later identified as Dario Bartolli was taken by ambulance to the Peace Arch Hospital in critical condition, bleeding profusely after reportedly being badly beaten with a weapon. His family were contacted and went to the hospital to be with their son with assistance from the Surrey RCMP Victims Services. Unfortunately the south Surrey teen who was a student at Earl Marriott Secondary succumbed to his injuries around 10 a.m. with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team then taking over what became a murder investigation. The 14 year-old was uninjured in the attack and was able to go home after giving a statement to the police.

The house where the two boys escaped to was located approximately three blocks from where the assault is believed to have occurred. At that time investigators put up crime scene tape around the south-west corner of the Bakerview Park with evidence markers placed at several beer bottles left on the grass in the park. While steps were taken to help identify who was responsible for this deadly crime, to date this case has not been solved and no one has been charged in Dario's death, which police have described as an “alcohol-fueled altercation that turned tragic”. It is believed that Dario was allegedly murdered by a group of men from outside the South Surrey area. It is hoped that the new publicity about this homicide may jog people's memories and possibly loosen lips on who was responsible for this senseless killing.

After Dario's death his friends and family organized an event in his memory named "Dario Jam" that was created by teens at the South Surrey Skate Park where Dario liked to spend time skateboarding and riding his BMX bike. On the first year of Dario jam, the Youth Engagement Team raised over $8,500 that was donated to Sources Community Resources Youth Programs and the Peace Portal Alliance Church Youth Programs. A website in Dario's memory is online with information about the Dario Bartoli Movement ( that is about "Cameras, Lights, Action" looking to put cameras and lights in parks, CCTV cameras at major intersections and key points of entry. In a recent website update, it was noted that Surrey has recently added 75 more traffic management cameras to the 250 already running, with 14 in south Surrey/White Rock including at the corner of Bakerview Park plus the key points of entry for south Surrey.City of Surrey has approved 75 more traffic management cameras adding to the 250 they have through out Surrey.

In November of 2016, Dario Bartoli’s mother, June Iida, filed suit against the Province and a 911 dispatcher, alleging that negligence on their part caused or contributed to the death of their son. According to the notice of claim, incorrect coding of the 911 call combined with delays in responding to police calls for an ambulance led to an 11 minute delay in paramedics arriving at the house the boys had taken refuge at. Allegedly calls from the RCMP dispatch centre for ambulance service were twice put on hold and the 911 dispatcher erroneously entered a Code 2 response, which is for a non-life threatening patient condition. It is claimed that the proper Code 3 response was requested multiple times by the Surrey RCMP dispatch before this was finally put into the EHS system, resulting in a 20 minute, 32 second delay in the ambulance arriving on scene. None of the allegations have been proven in court, with Iida seeking general and special damages as well as costs.

I think the time has come to consider renaming Bakerview Park to Dario Bartoli Park as a way to honour his memory and possibly bring closure to this case and for his grieving family. To understand the hurt his loss has caused I ask you to read the heartfelt explanation of what happened on the night of Dario's death as posted by his Mom at It begins with the following: " I never imagined in a million years that I would be planning my 15 year old son's funeral a week before Christmas. Dario my only son, the center of my universe, the reason why I woke up every morning, the reason why I did anything in life; He was my drive, my life....all that was taken from us in a matter of minutes and our lives have forever changed." Heavy stuff that comes with this warning "This does not happen in our Community...but it did."

Anyone with information on the case, no matter how small it may be, is encouraged by Crime Stoppers to contact the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) at 1-877-551-4448 , or to remain anonymous contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn




M ay 28, 2018

Musseling Into Our Territory

On the weekend I happened to be at a local gas station filling my truck and grabbing a much needed coffee when I noticed this rather official looking truck parked near me. I was rather surprised when I read the lettering on the door that said "Invasive Mussel Defence Program". Talking to the driver, Conservation Officer Jason Gayton, I learned that they were part of a special force dedicated to stopping the spread of aquatic invasive species into BC fresh waters. Not being a boat owner I knew nothing about this program that began in 2015 with stations across BC where boats are transported. While their primary focus is Zebra and Quagga mussels, they are also on the outlook for the following plants, Brazillian Eladea, Hydrilla, Parrot Feather Eurasian Watermilfoil, Knotweed, Yellow Flag Iris and Cordgrass/Spartina plus these other marine creatures, Northern Snakehead, Rusty Crayfish, Asian Clam, Northern Pike and European Green Crab.

The goal of the B.C. Invasive Mussel Defence Program is to prevent the introduction of Zebra and Quagga mussels into BC waters. This is done by inspecting watercraft at weigh scales and access points across the province to look for high-risk boats traveling from infected areas. Conservation officers involved with this program also monitor lakes to ensure that these invasive mussels have not made it to our province. Part of their mandate is to outreach and educate boaters to promote their message of clean, drain, dry that will kill the mussels and stop their spread. In 2015 when the program was launched there were six mobile decontamination units, 12 watercraft inspectors plus lake monitoring for what they call ZQM. The following year there were 32 auxiliary Conservation Officers at 8 watercraft inspection stations located along southern and eastern border locations. Last year the program was expanded to 65 inspectors and two new stations, with 9 of these operating dawn to dusk and the Golden station on Hwy 1 operating 24 hours a day. In 2017 There were 35,500 watercraft inspected with 2,071 high-risk inspections, 260 decontamination orders, 180 quarantine periods and 25 mussel fouled boats. Industry is very concerned about this problem with BC Hydro, Columbia Power Corporation, Fortis BC, and Columbia Basin Trust helping to expand this program that helps to protect their infrastructure.

Why are Zebra and Quagga muscles such a problem you ask? These tiny mollusks were introduced by ocean going freighters dumping ballast water from the Baltic Sea into the Great Lakes in 1988. Since that time they have been spreading throughout North America catching a ride on watercraft transported between fresh water lakes. The tiny juvenille stages can easily be overlooked when attached to a boat or its equipment. Microscopic larvae can survive for up to 30 days in standing water on boats or in coolers or even waders. What makes them so difficult to control is their reproduction rate of 30,000 to a million new muscles a year. These can reproduce at the age of one year and have a life span of four to eight years, meaning one zebra mussel can produce up to 8 million offspring in their short lifetime. Zebra muscles cling to every surface available to them, clogging hydro power stations, agricultural irrigation pipes, municipal water supplies and fouling recreational boats. They take over and exclude native mussel populations, filtering water to the point that all plankton is removed affecting the entire ecosystem. On the beach their sharp shells can cut people's feet plus cause an offensive odor when they die off in large numbers due to water or weather conditions.

For those heading out of town with their watercraft, be aware that there is a check point near Hope located and the truck weigh scale. It is mandatory for all watercraft including motorboats, sailboats, car toppers, canoes, kayaks and even paddleboards to be inspected. If you do not stop you can be heavily fined or be reported by other motorists to the Rapp (Report All Polluters Poachers) line at 1-877-952-7277. All watercraft launched in BC waters should follow the "Clean, Drain, Dry" protocol to avoid the spread of invasive species. This means cleaning off all plants parts, animals and mud from the boat, trailer, outdrive and equipment before leaving the boat launch. All water needs to be drained onto land from bait buckets, live-wells, pumps, motors, bilges plus drain plugs have to be pulled before leaving the body of water. All of these items must be dried completely before taking your watercraft into another body of water to avoid spreading these problematic pests With high-risk watercraft and equipment that has been in a ZQM contaminated area, they should be examined by trained provincial personnel who will decontaminate it or quarantine the vessel until the threat of spreading zebra mussels is over.

For more information on this problem, visit the BC Invasive Mussel Defence Program website at;

,,,,, along with the Don't Move A Mussel website at



Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 21, 2018

Land of the Free

I often travel to the United States of America for sporting purposes but rarely do any shopping there except for a bottle of cheap duty-free booze when crossing back into Canada. I know there are deals to be had even with when using the Canadian Peso but I really can't be bothered spending the day traipsing around one of the many mega-malls or outlet store zones that dot the US retail landscape. On the long weekend I was down in Richland at the dreaded Rattlesnake 1,000 yard range, spending time there competing with some of Washington State's best marksman. My retired parents were also there living it up in their RV along with their two aging bengal cats. While the boys were getting blown away by 20 mile-an-hour winds up on the plateau, my Mom and the other shooters wives saddled up their ponies and moseyed off into the Ti-Cities region in search of bargains. When they returned, their glee over not paying a penny of sales tax beat out any deals they had found.

If you are confused by this, you are not alone as it was the first time I had heard about a non-resident exemption from Washington State's 6.5% sales tax that can sometimes hit 9.5% with local taxes. My mother and her friend stumbled across this great deal when exiting Costco and the sales clerk noticed from their card that they were BC residents and gave them the sales tax break that both of them had never even heard of. Armed with this knowledge and looking to try it on another retailer, they cleaned house at Macy's and when finalizing their bill asked for and received the same tax break, simply by producing their BC driver's license and having it registered in a book. Several smaller stores also granted the tax exemption on their purchases with little or no paperwork. At the end of their shopping day, the ladies got the same tax break on all their purchases excluding alcohol. If you are buying goods in Washington State to take home, make sure you ask for this 6.5% savings.

Now that I have your attention, here is the devil in the details straight out of the Washington State Department of Revenue.
A sales tax exemption exists for certain nonresidents of Washington State on purchases of tangible personal property, digital goods, and digital codes, that will be used only outside of this state. This exemption is only available to residents of states, United States possessions, or Canadian provinces where:
There is no retail sales tax, use tax, value added tax, or gross receipts tax on retailing activities, or similar generally applicable tax, or
The retail sales tax, use tax, value added tax, or gross receipts tax on retailing activities, or similar generally applicable tax is less than 3 percent.

Only residents of the following provinces of Canada qualify:
Northwest Territories
Yukon Territory

The law provides an exemption for sales that meet all three of the following criteria:
The sale is of tangible personal property, digital products, or digital codes.
The purchased item(s) will be used only outside of Washington State.
The purchaser can establish resident status in a qualifying jurisdiction.
The exemption does not apply to charges for services that are included within the definition of the term "sale at retail" or sales of articles substantially used or consumed within Washington.

This includes, but is not limited to:
Lodging at hotels or motels.
Repair services (except vehicle repairs where the parts portion is not taxable to qualifying nonresidents).
Laundry or dry cleaning services.
Automobile towing or parking.
Amusement and recreational activities such as golf, bowling, and charter fishing.
Personal services such as tanning, tattooing, and dating services.
Meals or refreshments prepared for immediate consumption.
Abstract, title insurance, or escrow services.
Articles sold to:
Persons in the military stationed within Washington.
Nonresident students attending schools in this state.
Any other nonresident temporarily residing in Washington.
Being the Evergreen State, marijuana sales to nonresidents are subject to retail sales tax. Sales of marijuana, useable marijuana, and marijuana infused products, including marijuana concentrates, are excluded from the limited nonresident sales tax exemption. Beer, wine, spirits, tobacco products and gasoline/diesel also are excluded from this sales tax exemption.

Now those reading between the lines would have realized that BC is not on the exclusion list for Provinces plus we have a sales tax currently at 7% that is far above the 3% listed in the rules. Back in 2010 Washington State was going to add BC residents to the tax exemption list when the HST kicked in but on Canada Day it was shot down by an American judge after the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County mounted a last minute legal challenge. It would appear that over time the details of who should receive the tax break have been forgotten and BC residents have slid under the radar onto the favoured list. This was a six hour drive away from the border so businesses in Blaine and Bellingham might be a little more on the ball about this tax savings. One thing is for sure, if you don't ask for the break, the answer will always be no and you will have to pay the 6.5% tax. Simply tell them you're from out of state and want the sales tax exemption.

If you now plan to go on a Washington State shopping spree, remember the following rules from the Canadian Border Services Agency about personal exemptions or the duty you have to pay coming home might trump the sales tax you pay in Washington State. For full declaration details, please refer to the CBSA website at
Absence of less than 24 hours

Personal exemptions do not apply to same-day cross-border shoppers.
Absence of more than 24 hours

You can claim goods worth up to CAN$200.
Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages are not included in this exemption.
If the value of the goods you are bringing back exceeds CAN$200, you cannot claim this exemption. Instead, duty and taxes are applicable on the entire amount of the imported goods.
Goods must be in your possession and reported at time of entry to Canada.
A minimum absence of 24 hours from Canada is required.
Absence of more than 48 hours

You can claim goods worth up to CAN$800.
You may include alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, within the prescribed limits. Refer to sections Tobacco Products and Alcoholic Beverages.
Goods must be in your possession and reported at time of entry to Canada.
If the value of the goods you are bringing back exceeds CAN$800, duties and taxes are applicable only on amount of the imported goods that exceeds CAN$800.
A minimum absence of 48 hours from Canada is required.

So there you have it folks, affordable gas, cheap milk and cheese plus the possibility of not paying sales tax on purchases await you across the line in the land of the free. If you thought those cross-border lineups were bad before, they might get noticeably worse after this TNT gets printed in the electronic pages of the White Rock Sun.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




May 14, 2017

Mighty Fraser Might Flood Surrey

How high's the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Five feet high and risin'
Well, the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can't come back till the water comes down,
Five feet high and risin'
Well, it's five feet high and risin'
Lyrics to "Five Feet High and Rising",

Johnny Cash, 1974

Watching the local TV news these days and the main story is always about the ongoing flooding in the interior where the winter snow-pack was at 260% above normal. Unseasonably warm temperatures coupled with heavy rainfall are releasing copious amounts of water there turning small creeks into raging torrents. Closer to home, we have a snow-pack at 150% above normal and a trip up to the Chilliwack River last weekend showed it flowing at a dangerously fast rate. What is interesting is that while folks in places like Grand Forks are saying the flooding was way worse than back in 1948, nobody in the news is talking about the possibility of widespread damaging flooding from the Fraser River in the Lower Mainland.

Here is a historical description of Fraser River flooding that happened on May 28, 1948. "Heavy snowpacks and a sudden hot spell caused the Fraser River to rise dramatically and the resulting flood killed 10, destroyed or damaged 2,300 homes and left 1,500 homeless. The disaster lasted a few weeks, forcing 16,000 evacuations. The Fraser peaked at 7.6 metres at Mission and ran at 15,200 cubic metres per second — more than 3,000 cubic metres per second faster than a typically big flow. The water broke through dikes and flooded more than 50,000 acres, about one third of the Fraser Valley floodplain area. The flood severed two railway lines, washed out the Trans-Canada Highway and flooded areas in Matsqui, Chilliwack, Agassiz, Rosedale and parts of Mission. Herds of dairy cattle left standing in soaked fields with their udders under water ended up dying from hypothermia. Damage was estimated at $20 million, or $210 million in today’s dollars."

The BC River Forecast Centre has issued a 10-day high streamflow advisory for the Fraser, warning that water levels could reach 6.5 metres by late next week at the Mission Gauge, and possibly higher after that. there warning is as follows:
Persistent warmer than normal temperatures across British Columbia for the past three weeks has led to a much earlier than normal runoff period for the Fraser River. Many of the gauge locations along the Fraser River are at or above their historic flows for this early in the freshet season. Warmer weather earlier this week has increased snowmelt runoff across the basin. Rises through the lower reaches of the Fraser River are expected to continue into the weekend. Flows at Hope are expected to reach up to 10,000 m3/s over the weekend (water levels at Mission up to 5.5 m). Over the weekend and into next week, high pressure is forecast to dominate the weather pattern across British Columbia, with warmer temperatures late-weekend, and hot temperatures forecast across the Interior early next week. Ongoing accelerated snow melt is expected to lead to ongoing rapid rises on the Fraser River throughout next week. Current modelling is indicating the potential for flows in the 12,000 m3/s range at Hope (gauge level at Mission of approximately 6.0 - 6.5 m) by late next week, and potentially higher over the May 19-22 period.

Surrey is certainly aware of the risks and their Drainage and Environment Manager Carrie Barron is likely to be a very busy lady over the next few weeks when the freshet begins to arrive. On Friday the City of Surrey sent letters out to residents and businesses in Bridgeview and South Westminster warning people to start making preparations for the likelihood of flooding there. While they are part of the Island Trust, both Douglas and Barnston Island will likely need to be evacuated including the livestock that lives there. Any low-lying property near the Fraser is at risk with some experts believing the existing dykes in Surrey may not be high enough or strong enough to control the volume of water heading our way. With above temperatures in the forecast for the next week plus high tides above 14 feet for May 16-23, the potential for a 200 year flood event is becoming all too real.

The dykes along the Fraser River in Surrey are set at 4.4 m., yet most houses in the lowlands are built at only 2 m. Obviously if the water crests the dyke, undermines it, or breaches it entirely, there could be catastrophic flooding. If Bridgeview floods, the Patullo Bridge would be closed when King George Blvd. gets covered with water. Not many people realize that the South Fraser Perimeter Road is quite low in some locations and there are plans to use lock blocks at 136 St. to control flooding, which will close this now vital roadway for trucks. Close to Barnston Island the CN Thurston Docks sits in the flood plain, with flooding there capable of cutting off the tracks and stopping commerce. Across the road from there the S&R Sawmills are also in harms way should the Fraser reach historic flood levels. A little further downstream, the Fraser Surrey docks could also be inundated by the mighty Fraser. Most of the auto wreckers on Scott road could be a washout if flood waters enter this lowland.

The saving grace in all of this is that there will be 24 hours notice before any flooding takes place because of river measurements further upstream. This will give residents of flood prone regions time to pack up their valuables, belongings and animals and head to higher ground. Considering the threat, people living in low-lands anywhere along the Fraser River from Chilliwack would be wise to start preparing now instead of waiting for the last minute once warnings and evacuation notices are given. Pre-arranging accommodation with friends should be done now as it is likely all local hotels will be booked with those leaving flooding neighbourhoods. If flooding does occur, it may take some time for the water to leave as the dykes then act as moats trapping the water behind them plus the Fraser River would have to go down so there is somewhere to drain all the water.

For updated water levels and flood warning reports, check out the BC River Forecast Centre website at

Naturally yours,
Don PItcairn

UPDATE May 16, 2018

The Province of BC has issued a potential flood warning for the lower Fraser River. Surrey is currently in Phase 1 of Flood Preparedness.

Fraser River Freshet Prepardness Phases | City of Surrey

Educate yourself on Surrey's 4 flood preparedness phases, to see how our emergency response teams will react in the event of a Fraser River Freshet flood.



May 07, 2018

Habitat Schmabitat


Whenever possible I like to drop into the south Surrey Art Knapps and Way-to-Grow, not only to see whats new in this gardening centre on steroids but to catch up with Marty Vanderzalm to find out what his latest project is. Often you will find him in his workshop, where this self-professed gear head will usually be surrounded by sparks either from a grinding wheel or a welder. This time was a little different as it appeared the metal work had already been done and Marty was there with a paint brush in hand instead of the usual cutting torch. He was working deftly applying a bright green paint to a small wooden bird house that featured a corrugated metal roof. What caught my attention was not the birdhouse he was holding but the stacks of similar boxes, some painted, others still waiting for a coating of green, that were in piles around the shop.

I should let you know that when Marty decides to do something he generally goes big. This is the guy who has a military troop transport truck as one of his personal vehicles and who loves how overbuilt and rugged it is. If you scroll down to June 5, 2017, you can read a previous TNT titled Art Knapps Give a Hoot about the 12 barn owl boxes (actually oak barrels) that are on their property, many with breeding pairs. With all of the barn owl nesting sites they have provided, the Art Knapps has the distinction of being designated an Owl Hot Spot plus they have an owl cam with night vision where you can watch the newly hatched chicks and their proud parents at

I asked Marty why he was making so many bird boxes, wondering if possibly they were meant for sale. He told me that he had constructed 150 of these green bird houses with the plan being to place all of them around the Art Knapps property as a way to provide habitat for all of the song birds that need nesting spaces. Think about that for a second and try to imagine the work involved with cutting and drilling all the boards, nailing them all together plus cutting and then attaching the metal roofing before sealing with paint. Then there is the extra job of actually going around the property and putting all of the boxes up in out of the way areas usually reached by a ladder. This latest project will not help the Garden Centre generate more sales, it is simply being done to help wildlife adjacent to the Serpentine Fen.

AWESOME! I had the Art Knapps Owl Cam on another window of my computer while writing this column when there was suddenly a terrible screeching noise. The adult male barn owl flew into the nesting box and handed the mother bird a dead rat and she shrieked very loudly in excitement. The four owlets immediately jumped out from underneath their Mom and started squawking to be fed. She held down their breakfast (owls you might have heard are nocturnal) and began ripping it into pieces and feeding it to her young. I loved seeing this but our dogs ran from the room with their tails between their legs and concerned looks on their faces from the racket the owls had made. Just as I finished this TNT, the male flew in with another rat for his growing family.

Anyways, back to Marty and the 150 bird boxes. What he told me about his latest project is that many people with otherwise good intentions talk about providing habitat for wildlife but to him much of this is what he called "habitat schmabitat." He told me the Art Knapps sells trees but most are non-native and don't function as a forest with understory and canopy. With the rampant development in Surrey and vast areas of green-space being cut down on a weekly basis (hello Grandview Heights) he believes the birds are running out of places to live. Just as people are now moving into condos and townhouses, Marty is hoping to provide housing for birds with lots of units on a smaller piece of land, looking to reverse the downward trend in many songbird species populations.

If Marty Vanderzalm can build and install 150 bird boxes at Art Knapps, you have to ask yourself what you can do in your own back yard. While we have 16 trees on our property not including rows of hedging cedars, there is little in the way of nesting sites. I have a bird box I found at a job site that has been on a storage room shelf for some time and with Marty as my mentor I now plan on putting it up high on one of our trees. I also have a bat box that was given to me years ago and will try to find a suitable sunny location (they like it warm) for that to be hung. I should mention that the south side of the Art Knapps building near their soil and gravel piles is covered in bat boxes as well. We can all make our property more wildlife friendly as a way to help restore the habitat that is being lost on a daily basis due to development.

Marty Vanderzalm - Birdman of South Surrey

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 30, 2018

Rock is Dead - Long Live Rock!

TROOPER'S Ra Mcguire joins Cooler Wailers on stage

We Were There For A Good Time

A very good friend of mine
Told me something the other day
I'd like to pass it in to you
'Cause I believe what he said to be true
He said
We're here for a good time
Not a long time (not a long time)
So have a good time
The sun can't shine every day
And the sun is shinin'
In this rainy city
And the sun is shinin'
Oh, isn't it a pity
And every year, has it's share of tears
And every now and then it's gotta rain
We're here for a good time
Not a long time
So have a good time
The sun can't shine every day

Lyrics to Trooper's "Here For a Good Time" song from Knock Em' Dead Kid album, 1977, written by Brian Smith and Ra McGuire.

I first met Jason Buie when I was introduced to him by the WR Sun's editor Dave Chesney and often went to his shows at the Pink Palace, Blue Frog Studio or at White Rock beach to watch him play guitar. In 2007 he and Rod Dranfield co-founded the non-profit White Rock Blues Society (WRBS) as a way to actively promote blues artists from all over North Amercia. As Artistic Director of the WRBS Jason produced over 110 shows in the Lower Mainland, many in our own backyard. In January of this year he was the proud recipient of the Maple Blues Award for New Artist of the Year with his album Driftin' Heart. It was with much sadness and a heavy heart when I learned that he had passed away at his home in Esquimalt on March 22 at the age of 47, leaving behind three children. Jason Buie and I will now be forever linked in history as the day that I entered this world was the same one when he unfortunately left. I'll be thinking of him when I blow out the candles on my birthday cake from now on.

On Sunday the WRBS held a memorial fundraiser for Jason Buie's kids at the veritable Rumba Room at the Pacific Inn, better known by locals as the Pink Palace. It was almost a miracle that this event got booked for this venue as the hotel has been bought by the Hilton chain and they had plans to close it for renovations. With a delay in building permits, the Pacific Inn not only allowed the fundraiser to happen, they provided the Rumba Room free of charge as a tribute to the man who had booked so many shows there plus the Toy Jam and Yuletide Blues fundraisers over the years. There were eight bands with multiple cameo appearances who played in the six hours of music, with everyone providing their musical services and talents for free. The sound, staging and lighting crews also worked and donated their labour and expertise. There were two 50/50 draws during the show, the first for $850 that was won by Jim Widdifield, keyboardist for the Cooler Kings and the second totaling $500 that was won by Gail Underwood, with both of these men contributing their good luck and winnings back to Jason's children Sophie, Jackson and Etta. It was announced that preliminary figures showed approximately $10,000 was raised for Jason's family.

The musical show started at 3 p.m. with WR Councillor and WR Sun Editor Dave Chesney MCing the event fashionably attired in a Wailin' Walker t-shirt and black fedora hat. First up was the Chris Thornley Band. Next on stage was the Ocean Park Wailers with their eight members featuring James Badger on drums, Jon Gale on Guitar with special vocalist Ra McGuire from Trooper. Their somber beginning for "Here For a Good Time" sounded almost like a hymn before it broke into the rocking version everyone knows. The Jo Kamel band hit the stage with the amazing Sean "Blues Puppy" Riqueme, doing the best version I've ever heard of ZZ Top's La Grange and an epic take on Jimi Hendrick's Voodoo Chile. At that point former weatherman Wayne Cox took over the MC duties from Dave Chesney, introducing the Saints of Swing with Brandon Isaacs on slide guitar and David Boxcar Gates on vocals and guitar. This was followed by the Gen Pearson Band with Bob Voytcheff and John Hunter, the James Shepherd Band with Laura Bacon singing, Arsen Shomakov with Al Walker and Sean Riquelme featured again, with Blue Voodoo and Dan Hare plus Steve Sainas both on vocals closing down the show.

It wouldn't have happened without these peiople - musicians and volounteers powered the day

This fundraising gig brought out some rather noteworthy personalities from the peninsula beyond those already listed. Kelly and Juanita Breaks, owners of the Blue Frog Studios, attended proudly sporting their Palm Spring tans after taking a break from our dreary weather for a vitamin D fix. Dave Gertz from Legion of Sound who is now running three different venues at the Flamingo Hotel showed up early to pay his respects and check out some of the acts. The always dapper Alex Browne, journalist for the Peace Arch News and leader of the swing band Alex Browne and the Boulevardiers cruised on in to show his support. Doug LeChance who originally penned The Night Owl entertainment guide before moving to Vancouver was in attendance with his trademark cowboy hat proudly displayed (small world, he was my sister's neighbour in Langley, Ive known Dougie for years). White Rock Beach Beer's Bill Haddow was on hand, likely wishing that he could get a really good craft beer to drink. Mudbay Slim stopped by to play harp and plug his "Medicine Show" at the Clydesdale Inn on May 19 during the Cloverdale Rodeo. Jason Buie's brother Chris Buie was there and took the time to address the crowd thanking everyone for their support. The most notable person in attendance had to be Rod Dranfield, Jason Buie's partner in creating the White Rock Blues Society.

If you missed out on the Jason Buie memorial fundraiser, fear not for another event is being planned for White Rock. The last time Jason Buie playedlocally was back in February at Blue Frog Studios, the event was video recorded and they still have the master copies in the vault. The concert will be shown on the giant screen and played through the world class sound system on Wednesday May 09. Doors 7 p.m. Showtime 7:40. David "Boxcar" Gates will be on hand to start the evening off with a few songs. Plan on attending Jason's last show, buying Mr. Buie's three CD collection, some Jason Buie limited edition artwork plus White Rock Blues Society swag. As with the show at the Pink Palace, all proceeds will go to Jason's kids who now have a trust fund set up for them. You can also look for details about this event on the WRBS website ( and Blue Frog Studio website (


Jason's guitar & hat sat silent side stage

I leave you with the final lyrics from the last song of the night performed by the band Blue Voodoo who played Bad Company's Shooting Star ballad about a musician who dies at the height of their popularity. I'm not sure if the band members of Blue Voodoo planned it but I thought it was very appropriate given all the love shown to Jason during his memorial fundraiser. Simply substitute Jason for Johnny and try not to cry

Johnny's life passed him by like a warm summer day
If you listen to the wind, you can still hear him play
Don't you know that you are a shooting star
Don't you know, ahhh
Don't you know that you are a shooting star
And all the world will love you just as long
As long as you are

Lyrics to Bad Company's "Shooting Star" song, Straight shooter album, 1975, written by Paul Rogers.


Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


April 23, 2018

Weed Em And Reap

As someone who has studied forestry, plant science and horticulture, it always comes as a surprise when you learn about something new. Nurseries are always bringing in exotic plants from far-off locations and breeding new varieties of old favourites. Around ten years ago I started spotting this interesting waxy leafed shrub that somewhat resembled a rhododendron but with clumps of yellow-green flowers in the spring that ripened to form black seeds in the fall. In Tsawwassen it seemed to appear everywhere, with some people planting them as part of their landscape. I've seen plenty of them in south Surrey and White Rock too, which is where I first heard of them referred to as Daphne. Soon after that I heard the name Spurge Laurel used, which I found odd because it didn't resemble either a laurel or a spurge. What I did know about them was that they seemed to spread like crazy and rooted very firmly so that even young plants had to be dug out with a spade. It was not shocking when I found out they are considered an invasive species but I was alarmed to learn they are deadly poisonous.

You can familiarize yourself with spurge laurel (Daphne laureola) as it is listed on both the Invasive Species Council of BC website ( The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Control Board website ( There is even a Toxic Plant Warning put out by WorksafeBC on this beautiful but deadly plant that is actually rather frightening. By far the best posting I found about the dangers of Spurge Laurel was from the Salt Spring Island Conservancy and I have included it below for your reading pleasure that I should warn you includes bloody diarrhea, weakness, coma and death. The CAUTION and FIRST AID sections should alert you to the toxicity of this plant.

There is even a Toxic Plant Warning put out by WorksafeBC on this beautiful but deadly plant that is actually rather frightening. By far the best posting I found about the dangers of Spurge Laurel was from the Salt Spring Island Conservancy and I have included it below for your reading pleasure that I should warn you includes bloody diarrhea, weakness, coma and death. The CAUTION and FIRST AID sections should alert you to the toxicity of this plant.

ALIEN PLANT INVADERS: The Scourge of Spurge Laurel
by Jean Wilkinson, Stewardship Committee, Salt Spring Island Conservancy
Spurge Laurel (aka Daphne) has become widespread throughout southwestern B.C. in recent years having originated from Britain. It is a rhododendron-like garden escapee with very toxic leaves and berries. It spreads rapidly through yards and nearby woods, creating dense stands and shading out all other plants. Spurge laurel is recognized as a serious threat to local ecosystems, particularly since it can grow in shady, undisturbed forest areas. It also poses a significant human health risk, especially to children, since eating just 7 to 10 berries can be fatal. Spurge laurel can be removed at any time of the year, but care must be taken to avoid spreading any berries that may be present.

Identification – (Daphne laureola) evergreen shrub 60-180 cm (24-72 inches) tall, living up to 40 years, looks similar to Rhododendron, with clusters of oblong, waxy leaves, light greenish-yellow flowers in early spring, green poisonous berries ripening to black by summer
Impacts – A serious public health risk due to toxicity of all plant parts. Spreads rapidly and grows densely in undisturbed as well as disturbed areas, shades native plants, thus displacing them and reducing biodiversity.
Found –in moist, partial to full shady areas and forest under-story, especially near urban and residential areas
Spreads – via seeds in the berries (distributed long distances by birds and rodents), and by underground lateral roots
Control – Remove plants before they form seeds if possible. Pull small plants out when soil is moist. Larger plants must be cut beneath the mineral soil surface, below where the brown stem changes to orange, or they will re-sprout. Often stems lie along the ground and need to be pulled up to find where they are rooted before cutting. Monitor sites yearly after treatment to remove seedlings and re-sprouts. Most seeds germinate within 2 years.
CAUTION: Wear gloves, long sleeves and goggles as many people experience skin irritation and blistering on contact with leaves or sap. Wash hands, clothes and gloves afterwards. Avoid transporting cut plants in enclosed vehicles as airborne sap droplets can cause eye and throat irritation. Symptoms of poisoning due to eating the berries or bark include burning in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, thirst, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, weakness, coma and death.
FIRST AID: If any plant part is eaten, induce vomiting and consult a physician immediately. If sap contacts mouth or eyes, flush with large amounts of water and consult a physician. If sap contacts skin, flush with lots of water. If a rash develops, treat with anti-inflammatory cream and if it persists, consult a physician.
Disposal – Put cut plants in tarps or bags to avoid spreading seeds and reduce irritation from airborne sap droplets. Take to landfill. Do not compost. Do not burn or chip plant parts as noxious chemicals will be released into the air.

White Rock's Park Department is attempting to clear all invasive plants from within the city limits including Himalayan blackberry, English Ivy and Yellow Lamium. My contact at the works yard informed me that spurge laurel was recently removed from the landscaped beds at Bryant Park. Considering the toxicity of this plant and its ability to spread and take over the natural environment, it is essential that if you have it growing in your yard it should be removed. Please follow all of the safety precautions above and ensure that it is properly disposed of. I shudder to think of how many times I have pulled these plants out by hand or thrown them into the compost bin for recycling. Fortunately the heat from decomposition at most modern organic composting facilities kills any and all seeds but from now on I will ensure this plant goes directly into the garbage.

Naturally yours

Don Pitcairn



April 16, 2018

Mayor If You Dare

It leaves me shaking my head to hear that Surrey First's Linda Hepner announced last week that she will not be seeking re-election as Mayor of Surrey. Could it be that she felt the tips of the knives scratching her back that were being wielded by other Surrey First members? As a one-and-done Mayor who was anointed by former Mayor Dianne Watts, it would seem that were many councillors from her party who wanted Linda gone and were ready to revolt against the Surrey First oligarchy. I must admit I'm glad to see her go after she voted recently for Metro-Vancouver's retroactive retirement fund while likely knowing she was going to step down. It leaves me wondering if Mrs. Hepner will follow in Mrs. Watts' footsteps and decide in the near future that she has had enough time for family and run as a MLA or MP at a Surrey riding near you.

Hepner's decision to vacate the Mayor's chair might signal the beginning of cracks starting to form in the Surrey First slate that has been around since 2007 and which took every seat in council and school board in the last civic election. From my sources inside City Hall, it has been rumoured for quite some time that many Surrey First councillors were eyeing the Mayor's office. To date, no one has officially thrown their hat in the ring but there are plenty of contenders and likely even more pretenders. Tom Gill is probably the person most likely to run but it remains to be seen if it would be as the head of the Surrey First slate or as an independent. Bruce Hayne is another well known Surrey First Councillor who is mentioned with aspirations to Surrey's top job and he has not denied he is thinking about running. Mike Starchuck also refuses to deny he is interested in the Mayor's chair but does admit that he will stay with Surrey First if he does not receive their mayoral nomination. As if this were not enough, even Surrey First newcomers Vera LeFranc and Dave Woods are considering a run for Mayor. More than half of the Surrey First slate want the Mayor's job and it remains to be seen if those not picked to run as their leader will instead run as independents or join another political party.

Adding to the intrigue, Dianne Watt's' name is being bandied around as possibly making a comeback but she has thrown cold water on this idea. Still, she did resign as the South Surrey White Rock MP to run for the leadership of the Provincial Liberals, coming in a close second in the final ballot. The people who came in second and third place in the mayor's race in 2014 are also in the list of those who might throw their hat in the ring. Former Mayor Doug McCallum who was pushed out of the mayors office by Watts is likely still feeling the sting of his upset and might try to grab back the reins of power. Barinder Rasode was a former Surrey First councillor who ran unsuccessfully against Hepner the last election and who likely still has her flashy election signs in storage should she consider running again. Adding to the drama are two new slates, the Surrey Community Alliance (SCA) and People First Surrey, both who have yet to announce if they will even have a mayoral candidate. In an online community poll on who would make the best mayor, as of Sunday night Doug McCallum was first with 27% with Mike Starchuck second at 20% but the four Surrey First hopefuls together totaled a whopping 55%.

Then there are the dark horse candidates. The Surrey Creep Catcher's president Ryan Laforge has long fought on the streets of Surrey for law and order and legal reform to combat pedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors. His work catching creepers preying on children has given him a platform in the media and a large presence on social media. With all of the time he has spent being interviewed on TV cameras he is becoming a rather polished speaker who might be able to excite the young electorate base in Surrey to vote for him. I'm sure the thought would give the established developer financed Surrey First slate fits but it would bring plenty of positive attention to the SCC ( In the past Mr. LaForge has mentioned his political aspirations as a way to help facilitate change in the Canadian legal system. Just like all the other rumoured candidates, he has not yet announced if he has decided to run for mayor of Surrey.

I had to save the best for last and use this TNT to announce that I am considering running for mayor of Surrey. Now before you laugh or blow milk through your nose, consider the following. I've already run twice in South Surrey - White Rock for the Green Party of BC. I have been writing this column for the WR Sun for eight years with plenty of editorials in local newspapers long before that. I'm politically astute, been involved in a number of election campaigns and am both articulate and opinionated. I have a wide array of friends across the political spectrum and lots of media contacts from my various environmental and public safety crusades plus plenty of news releases and news tips. I've been told I come across well in both radio and TV interviews and love a podium in front of a captive audience. With the notoriety from our edgy apparel company Surrey Shirts (, many people already call myself and wife Sheryl the King and Queen of Surrey.

One thing is for sure, if I was elected Mayor, I'd have plenty of cool shirts to wear at City Hall.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 9, 2018

The "Legend" Continues

The Legend Pops Pitcairn

The Winter Olympics at Pyeongchang, South Korea received plenty of fanfare and tons of media coverage earlier this year with Canadian athletes Canada collecting 29 medals including 11 golds to rank third overall in the medal standings. I wonder how many people are even aware that the Commonwealth Games are being held at the Gold Coast in Australia with Canadian athletes already winning 32 medals and currently sitting 4th in the standings? You can check out all the action at www.gc.2018 or at the Commonwealth Games Canada website at You are probably asking yourself why this is important to me and how it relates to my weekly column in the White Rock Sun that usually focuses on local events and stories. At the same time that I was writing this TNT, my father Robert Pitcairn (a.k.a "The Legend") from Chilliwack BC was on the other side of the world shooting his .308 target rifle for Canada, competing in the pairs events of the Queen's Prize full-bore rifle at the Belmont Shooting Complex in Brisbane Australia.

Already several Commonwealth Games records have been broken but my Dad set a new Commonwealth Games record of his own even before the opening ceremonies. At the age of 79 years old, he is the oldest Commonwealth Games competitor of all times as I previously revealed in my September 5, 2017 TNT titled "A Shooting Star Summer." For historical perspective, he was born in July of 1938, the same month when the very first Superman comic was released. This has now gone unnoticed by reporters from around the world who have made him somewhat of a celebrity in the Athletes Village. Here are links to stories about him in the BBC, Guardian and Sydney Morning Herald that also include him being a hijacking hero in 1974:
When asked for his thoughts on being the oldest athlete to even compete in the Games, Bob had this to say, "I feel honoured to set this new record and am grateful that my health and athleticism have made it possible for me to compete in the Gold Coast Games." Bob Pitcairn will turn 80 this summer and many are looking forward to his birthday party that is likely to be held on a local rifle range.

What sets target shooting apart from many sports is the length of time that one can compete at an elite level. Bob started shooting Full-bore back in 1960 when he was still in the Canadian Air Force. He has been inducted in 4 sports halls of fame, made 49 Canadian Bisley Teams (a record), qualified for 14 World Long Range Championships (held every 4 years) shooting them 11 times. Over the years he has placed first and second in Bisley (out of 1700 competitors), won the Governor General Prize twice in Ottawa while winning gold and silver in the Grand Agg there. In BC he has his name engraved multiple times on almost every trophy, including 6 Lt. Governor Prize chair rides. This is his first Commonwealth Games, the closest he has gotten before was as spare in 2002 where he did not compete. He plans to stand alongside teammate Nicole Rossignol on the podium in the Fullbore Rifle Pairs fired on Monday and Tuesday, and then to climb back up there for the individual competition, which finishes on Saturday. Look for a TNT Extra added to this column next week to find out how he did and if he earned a medal for Canada.

While it is unlikely that I will never match the records of success that my father has compiled over the years, I'm continuing to follow in his footsteps. I will be competing as a member of the Canadian Rifle Team headed to the NRA UK Championships this summer at Bisley, England. A week after that competition is over I will be shooting at the BC Rifle Association's 134th annual provincial matches in Chilliwack. Next winter in 2019 I will be headed back down under to New Zealand to shoot in my third ICFRA World Long Range Championship and Palma Match as a member of Team Canada. While I have my sights set on plenty of personal goals over the next few years, I've decided to commit myself to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham England and attempt to win a medal of my own. One thing I know about sports, if you set high goals, work to be competitive and focus on winning, you will often succeed. By then I'll be 60 years old with over 45 years of competitive shooting behind me and with my Dad showing me the way, hopefully at least another 20 years still to go.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn





April 01, 2018


April Fools For Fools

I usually write this column on Sunday night which was rather special this year with Easter Sunday and April Fool's Day both falling on the same day. You have to go all the way back to 1956 for the last time this happened and hopefully live until 2029 to see it again. While April 1st is the best day for playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes and funny false news stories (White Rock boulder crushed to make cement), it is also symbolic with the government picking your pocket. This is no joke and when you see the increases in taxes and billings here, it might be enough to make you say "Jesus!"

As if the price at the pumps wasn't enough to already send you racing down Hwy. 99 to Blaine to fill up, BC's new carbon tax kicked in on Sunday, the first increase in seven years. Gas prices are expected to increase by 1.2 cents per litre, likely pushing already record high fuel costs over $1.60 L. by the end of the week. It is nice to remember that the Lower Mainland already has the most expensive gasoline in North America and the second highest fuel taxes with the Carbon Tax now pegged almost 8 cents per litre. It is good to know that this new tax will also mean similar one penny jumps on April 1st for the next four years. Lost in the hub-bub about the carbon tax, Victoria’s motor fuel tax also went up by two cents a litre on Easter Sunday. Here is what Premier John Horgan had to say about the NDP's latest tax hike, “I don’t believe that British Columbians begrudge that penny a litre when they know it’s going towards making sure that future generations have an environment that’s sustainable and a world that we can all live in.” Translation: Buy a Tesla or get on the bus you fools.

The carbon tax and gas tax increases aren't the only way that government is sticking it to the taxpayer. Do you remember when the NDP campaigned on having no BC Hydro rate increases for 2018? Well you can kiss that election promise good-bye with the crown corporation raising their prices a further three percent on April 1st. You can't really pin this one on the NDP since it was the BC Utilities Commission that sided with BC Hydro in rejecting a request by the provincial government to freeze electricity rates for the coming year. It should only increase everyone's electrical bill by $4 a month, but death by a thousand cuts is still a slow agonizing death. No word out of Victoria on when they will be dropping the onerous "Legacy Meter" charge for those folks who opposed the Orwellian state enforced "Smart Meter" and kept their analog meters. This costs BC residents $32.40 per month, but in Quebec the charge is $5 and you can also choose to opt out of the digital radio equipped meters.

Now if reading this makes you want to pour yourself a drink or maybe have a dart, you should have stocked up before Sunday. Alcoholic beverages were hit with a 1.5 percent increase in federal excise tax that is part of the Liberal Party's new “escalator tax” on beer, wine and liquor that puts in yearly tax increases linked to inflation. Smokers also will be hacking up a lung when they realize that Justin Trudeau's 2018 budget included not only an increase in the tobacco tax but also the same inflation increase as booze. Effective April 1, 2018, the BC tobacco tax rate increased by 2.8 cents to 27.5 cents per cigarette and by 12.8 cents to 37.5 cents per gram for all tobacco other than cigars and cigarettes. This increases total provincial tax to $5.50 per pack after already being jacked up 16 cents per pack back on Jan 1st. I called our local gas station and they are now selling the most popular brands for $13-14 a pack. As cigs become more expensive, look for government to start taxing vap fluids containing nicotine to recover lost tax revenue from smokers switching to this less lethal and more affordable alternative.

While the BC Liberals did nothing to stop real estate speculation and the laundering of billions of dollars of offshore funds from sources unknown, the NDP have put a 36 percent increase on home inspector licensing fees as of April 1st. This will be followed by 25 percent increases in 2019 and 2020 with the cost of a license renewal by April 2020 almost doubling from $525 to $1,025. By contrast, Service Alberta charges home inspector businesses with three or less inspectors $500 for a two year license. Needless to say, the head of the Home Inspectors Association of B.C is calling the Consumer Protection B.C. fee increases a "cash grab" whose cost will be passed on to the public. Last on the tax increase list was the province doubling the tax on high-end cars worth more than $150,000 to 20%, plus an increase to the Property Transfer Tax on homes valued at $3 million from 3% to 5%. Amazingly, BC ferry rates remained frozen for main routes, reduced 15% for minor runs and free for seniors on Mon-Thurs.

By far the most sleazy tax increase recently foisted on an unsuspecting public had to be the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board voting itself a big pay raise plus a retroactive retirement plan just over a week ago. In case you missed it, members passed this stealthy motion late on a Friday afternoon with it not appearing in the agenda. No record was taken of the vote, with only a reported six mayors and councilors voting no to this retroactive retirement program going back to 2007. Of note is that Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin reportedly voted for this package giving them each $1,100 "retiring allowance" per year of service. Since Baldwin has announced he will not run again, this gives him $7,700 on top of all of the money received for attending Met-Van meetings during the past seven years. The total cost to taxpayers is almost $500,000 to back date this allowance and a further $62,500 per year going forward. Too bad The Met-Van board could not have put off the vote until April 1st but they are greedy morons, not incompetent fools. Lets hope and pray that those who voted for this undemocratic maneuver are shown the door on Oct 20, 2018 when the next civic elections are scheduled. Jesus, I sure hope so.

Happy Easter,
Don Pitcairn



March 26, 2018

Preaching from the Chappell

Chief Chappell/Christy Fox photo


I must admit that I really hate working on my birthday. Being self-employed you would think that I could easily book off and have employees take care of things. Unfortunately with the work schedule ramping up and new workers fresh on the job, I once again found myself putting in a ten hour day. Fortunately it was all worth while since after dinner last Thursday I had a rather unique gift getting to listen to Harley Chappell, the head of the Semiahmoo First Nation speak at a Democracy Direct function at the Centennial Park Leisure Centre Hall. For those of you that could not make it to this standing-room-only event, here are the Coles Notes of Chief Chappell's presentation as summarized by Pattie Petrala and edited by myself:

Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell addressed 100 people sitting in chairs plus about 6 Democracy Direct White Rock organizers and 8 community people standing/coming and going, some sitting on the floor for a while. I observed genuine caring and interest that warmly beamed from the smiling faces of neighbours. There were a few folks recording the event with cell phones. Councillor Helen Fathers attended along with some coalition potential candidates with Cliff Annable or supporters. Former Councillors Doug McLean and Matt Todd were also present at the gathering.

Chief Chappell provided an opening welcome drummed song in regalia sharing why it is tradition to do so as well as the respectful value of other songs and traditions. He acknowledged his 68 year old father in the audience and long standing relationships of Coast Salish nations and more in B.C.. Cultural respect of elders wisdom and some of the sad history of the US/Canada border and damage done to his people was softly spoken as he moved on. The light concise oral history of the nation was fascinating as he explained how there were long houses on the Spit ocean side and facing Drayton harbour. The bountiful Harvest of the Bay and San Juan Islands - Mother Earth lends us all to survive and to respect and to care for the next generations. The local streams, rivers, forest and sea life provided for generations. At one time here were 14 reef net sites, bountiful herring and salmon plus clams and oyster harvested by thousands. When the tide goes out, the table is set. Excavation of mass graves and other places on archeological sites he participated on has revealed so much.

He noted - Our nation’s integrity to uphold and heal all that the creator/mother earth provides and renews is linked with mutual actions and vision of many cousins in Lummi and the “mish” family tree networks like Snohomish, as well as Kwalamuth (muth - of the earth). The traditional tribal names like Sto:lo were listed and as re-labeled by settlers and governments. The history of Treaties, decimation by disease, Indian Act, residential schools and betrayal were mentioned. Story of the White Rock boulder tossed to a site for our nation to live and sacred lands was told.

His father has witnessed the Peninsula change significantly over the past decades. Semiahmoo people have not laid any claim to resident’s lands. Provincial and Federal Land is part of the discussions with most nations. There is none left in the developed peninsula. Chief Chappell told the story of Sto:Lo Nations history since times of the gold rush. Communication breakdown from time of contact happened with misinterpretations and misunderstandings which went on for decades.

He stated: We have endured a boil water advisory on the reserve for over 15 year and seek to ensure reliable safe water, stable roads and improved infrastructure. As with all neighbours we face housing and social issue challenges. We could rehash the pain and dwell on wounds of the past, yet Chief Harvey would rather find the healing and common ground and move forward.

His learning curve as a 42 year-old aboriginal leader and not as a politician has been quick; he recognized local media coverage, with his blunt candor perhaps upsetting a few. Semiahma peoples have been silent far too long. Moving forward together the Band Council and broader community of about 43 on site and about 90 members off reserve now have a new voice. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and other government departments and elected persons appear open to discussion and collaboration. Noted there are 18,000 urban First Nation people living in Surrey, the highest population in all of Canada.

Relationships are the key, learning from where we have come and respect for each of our world view lens and culture will shape a better future. His hopes and aspirations are large. A leadership gig is hard and often may be misunderstood by uninformed or unexplained situations and perspectives. The Chieftain regalia has a headdress with feathers to help draw from ancestors and bring the wise words to mind and the blanket may act as a buffer of the bad and help one retain the warmth of one’s heart in all discussions and situations. Harvey aspires to find ways to rekindle their traditional language with a university.

Harley noted appreciation for the positive support he has received in person, via social media and on our streets in the community. He has respect for all leaders and those that step up to toss in their hat in the ring. Being gentle and kind is your responsibility to others. Semiahmoo and First Nations open their hands up and face open body to people, showing an open mind and heart with respect and non-violent gestures for dialogue.

He welcomed questions and responded gently to each.

Q. Drayton Harbour has been cleaned up on the American side, how do we clean up our act on the Canadian side of the border?

A: The American districts and process is different to Canada. The collaboration and work they have done has made significant change.

In 1979 the Government arrested two band members for harvesting in Semiahmoo Bay. By 1999 it was permanently closed and thus appears government did not feel a need to test or address anything since then. BC has one officer for the full coast to conduct testing for fecal and other chemical matter from any source.

Since January Chief Chappell has been working with the Little Campbell River, A Rocha, Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club and other community groups and champions to try to re-kindle the Shared Waters Group. All of the streams, Nicolmeckle and Serpentine Rivers and more are part of our environmental system.

Q: Can you explain the situation about the water on your land?

A: Recognized hard work on many things for 50 years by Bernard Charles and Harley’s Cousin Joanne. She may have a had sharp tongue sometimes and is aware the relationship with the City of White Rock broke down.

Changes underway were triggered by the termination notice letter to the SFN after the 5 Corners Fire. We experienced real problems with a trickle of water. Working with Surrey and our plans through the Federal funds and partners are progressing to hopefully have things in place this year 2018.

Q How can we help and support Semiahmoo Nation?

A: Show up - being here is great. Look for the silver lining when situations arise and push for action. In June the Band will welcome the Haida to help raise a welcome pole. Our future starts here and we all welcome a better start.

Q: At many events we hear recognition given to unceeded Sto:lo Lands”. Why say it if it is only words?

A: In Harvey’s short time he does not know. Yes I witnessed tokenism yet see we do acknowledge each other. Diversity and multiculturalism with respect and decency for each other is an evolving cultural value we accept. We have evolved - like in prior times of the ax felling trees, saw blades and now we use chain saws to build canoes and more. The acknowledgment is huge.

Q: Pattie Petrala asked - I appreciate the presentation and use of term world lens - as an immigrant from Finland and lived all over Canada, the cultural shape of me was formed from many places and peoples. SFN may want to have a web site and share links to learning, ways people can participate, and also things like I learned at Kla-How-Eya events and programs. SFN used to have a website back when I worked on Sea festival 1999 - 2004. The Public Library has materials, books and a neat artist who shows a model of a traditional village he made.

A: On it Pat.

Chief Chappel then offered a closing drum song. He stayed to chat one-on-one with many people and have photos taken with them.

I would like to personally thank Pat Petrala for providing this summation of the Harley Chappell speech for public dissemination. If anyone has a video copy, please post it on YouTube and provide the listing and address to the White Rock Sun so that we may provide this information. Chief Chappell seems to have quickly grown into his role of leader of the SFN and it appears that the years of being "too quiet too long" are over. His stated goal of "All I want to do is catch my community up" appears attainable with new water and sewer upgrades for the reserve being built this year. Hopefully the Semiahmoo people can help the rest of us respect the land of the peninsula and water of the bay, ensuring that what they have long cherished is not diminished or destroyed.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


March 19, 2018

BNSF Burying Crescent Beach

It was widely reported that mudslides from the Ocean Park bluffs at the end of January and beginning of February blocked the BNSF train tracks, cancelling the Amtrak passenger train for 48 hours due to safety concerns. What most people don't know is how the BNSF Railway deals with the muddy debris containing rocks and full-sized trees that ends up on their rail corridor. Quite simply, they bring in a excavator and shovel the muck onto the beach below, covering the sand and anything living in it while burying stretches of environmentally sensitive shoreline that is also a prime area for public recreation.

While I understand there were five or six landslides all along the peninsula tracks from winter rains, this TNT will focus on two slides closest to Crescent Beach. The first on January 30th was just south of Crescent Beach, approximately 150 m from the end of Bayview Ave. BNSF crews with a rail wheel equipped excavator dug the slide debris out and deposited it onto the seaward area of the tracks where it them flowed down onto the beach, burying an area 25m long x 5m wide x 1.5m deep or the equivalent of a dozen dump truck loads of dirt. It should be noted that the waterfront in this area is part of the Crescent Beach Marine Park and not only does this dumped debris now cover a large portion of sandy beach, it also blocks safe pedestrian passage when the tide is high and up against the hardened mud flow.

Another slide around the same time covered the BNSF Railway tracks just south of Crescent Rock boulder, blocking rail operations. This mudslide was 200m. south of the Christopherson Steps pedestrian overpass at the west end of 24 Ave. in south Surrey. The slide debris that included 25m tall trees was excavated by BNSF crews down onto the waterfront, measuring 17m long x 3m wide x 1.5m. deep. This beach dumping site was only 10 m. away from a similar sized deposit that was excavated there in 2017 by the BNSF after another previous slide. The end result is that 35 metres or 100 feet of Crescent Rock Beach utilized by naturists and nudists for legal nude sunbathing and skinny-dipping is now buried and unusable. Just like the slide closer to Crescent Beach, when the tide is high, the debris flow blocks access, forcing people to either slog through the mud or illegally trespass on the tracks above.

It is the larger slide closest to Crescent Beach that should set off alarm bells as this is not the first time this has happened in exactly the same spot. In March of 2007 a BNSF freight train hit landslide debris on the rail corridor in this location in a stretch of track that does not have any landslide detection fence. Most of the bluff from near the 101 Steps at 24 Ave all the way to west beach in White Rock has this two wire safety system that when broken signals trains to stop. The slide in 2007 was investigated by Transport Canada and was found to have been caused by drain water from a house under reconstruction at the top of the hill discharging water onto the slope. Their report concluded the following: The cooperation of the City of Surrey and the City of White Rock would be necessary to control discharge of surface water from houses above, to reduce or eliminate septic drainage fields of houses that contribute water to slopes, and to control tree cutting by residents in the area.

Seeing big-O drain pipe in the muck left dumped on Crescent beach, I climbed the slide zone to check where the slope had failed. To no surprise, I located a length of black drain pipe running down to the area where the slope collapsed.

What I could not believe is I followed it up to the top of the hill and it led to the very same house, now fully reconstructed, that had caused the original slide in 2007 that was hit by a BNSF freight train fortunately without it derailing. The house in question is at the very north end of Christopherson Street that currently sits vacant. A new drain line appears to have been put down, replacing the old one that ended up down on the beach 11 years ago. I will be reporting my findings to the BNSF Railway, the City of Surrey and Transport Canada. As far as the illegal dumping onto the Semiahmoo waterfront, this will be reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the provincial RAPP Line (Report All Poachers Polluters), plus Crimestoppers.

The BNSF Railway needs to be held accountable for the damage they have done and their continuing pattern of dumping mud, rocks and whole trees onto our beaches. I would like to see the BNSF Railway heavily fined for repeated dumping violations and be forced to clean up all of their debris piles that now sit on the shore of Crescent Beach, returning this waterfront to its former natural condition. Our new Liberal MP Gordie Hogg is aware of this issue and is addressing this problem in Ottawa that has jurisdiction over railways and oceans. While Transport Canada has in the past instructed the BNSF not to dump landslide debris onto the beach, their warnings are ignored. The DFO has only one person investigating environmental complaints in the province of BC and it is likely this dumping is low priority. With Crime Stoppers recently announcing they are looking for tips on environmental crimes in BC , hopefully the RCMP will be able to lay charges against railway executives for illegal dumping and damage to the marine environment along the shores of the Semiahmoo Bay.

If I were to dump twelve dump trucks of muddy fill and dead trees onto the waterfront at Crescent Beach, I could only imagine how harsh the fines and punishment would be, let alone the public outcry and vilification against such conduct. How is it then that an American railway with offices in New West is allowed to continue to bury our coastline with debris excavated off their property without any consequences? I have been harping on this issue for over a decade now and still the dumping of mudslide material and burying of our beaches continues since no one or any government organization ever holds them accountable. The owner of the BNSF, billionaire Warren Buffet who is the fourth richest man on the planet, can afford to have a rail dump car brought in to take away the mudslide debris for proper disposal. This is 2018 and it is time for the BNSF to stop using our beaches as their private landfill site.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


- March 12, 2018

Overpass Opens Before Passover

Imagine my surprise when I heard on Friday about the following news release from the BC Transportation and Infrastructure Ministry regarding the damaged 152 St. overpass in south Surrey:

The emergency repairs at the 152nd Street underpass are nearly complete, and the northbound lane on 152nd Street is expected to reopen in the coming days.
This will be followed by the reopening of both northbound Highway 99 lanes.
Remaining activities include finishing the reconstruction of the concrete deck, sidewalk and railings on the bridge, then reinstalling the cable median barrier on Highway 99.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure thanks motorists for their patience while lane closures were in place to ensure the safety of travellers and construction workers during this necessary repair work.

Back on December 4, 2017 when the bridge was damaged by an overheight vehicle driving below on Hwy. 99, I happened to drive by this area and took photos of the damage. I'm not an engineer but quickly ascertained that the damaged girders would need to be replaced because they were tensile concrete with cables instead of rebar. This was indeed the case and repairs were originally expected to last until April, seriously impacting traffic flow and businesses in the Southpoint area. The release from the BC government came as a welcomed notice, with repairs being completed weeks ahead of schedule. Since no time line for reopening was given other than in "the coming days", I logically thought we might see the northbound lanes reopened sometime this week as it would be doubtful that work would be ongoing during the weekend.

When my wife told me on Sunday that she had driven across the 152 St. bridge and that it was opened I was shocked and to be quite honest questioned her about what she had seen. When I drove there to investigate, the mobile traffic signs that had alerted motorists to the bridge closure announced "152 nd Overpass Now Open - Thank You For Your Patience". While Global TV and several A.M. traffic stations were aware of the upcoming reopening, none had been informed that the 152 St. bridge was now actually open in both directions. It is bizarre in this day and age that the media was not alerted to the opening considering the technically demanding repairs took 3.5 months. I would have thought that a major public announcement and possibly a photo-op would have been scheduled. As it is, the bridge will be open for commuter traffic on Monday, which is likely why it was quickly reopened without any fanfare.

This construction project is not completely over as there are still generators, lights, mobile offices and other equipment below on the side of Hwy 99. Northbound traffic is still only one lane at this time until traffic barriers are moved and the median cable safety system is reinstalled. Once all of the work at the 152 Street overpass is fully completed, the ministry has said it will begin work on replacing the Bailey Bridge on King George Boulevard crossing the Nicomekyl River. I wrote a TNT about this decrepit relic on Sept 25, 2017 titled "Bailey Bridge Blockade" that you can find posted below. Not long after this column was posted including pictures of the rotten timbers, the Ministry of Transportation issued the following release that included a tentative start date five months ago on Oct. 16th, 2017:

Bailey Bridge in South Surrey will undergo full replacement.
The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is planning to replace the Bailey bridge which crosses the Nicomekl River on King George Boulevard.
Crews will replace the temporary Bailey Bridge with a steel superstructure, which includes a new deck, along with the required approach and abutment works. The new bridge will provide improved reliability for travellers and a longer lifespan, and it will allow the ministry to remove the current 10,000 kg-weight restriction for vehicles using the crossing.
Drivers are advised that the one-lane crossing will close for approximately six weeks, tentatively starting on Oct. 16. This length of closure is necessary for crews to complete the replacement. Single-lane traffic in each direction will be maintained on the adjacent two-lane structure. Work will generally be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday to Friday. Drivers are reminded to obey posted signs and traffic personnel.
Motorists are advised to use alternative routes where possible, and to check for Twitter updates at: @TranBC

The White Rock Sun will keep you informed as to when the work on the old Bailey bridge actually starts. This is not the only bottleneck that needs to be fixed here in south Surrey. I would like to know why you cannot head north from south Surrey and turn onto Hwy 99 heading southbound? It would be easy to install lights and a left hand turn lane across from the Park & Ride allowing this to happen. Also on 152 St. at 24 Ave., why is there no access to Hwy. 99 southbound allowing those drivers heading north on 152 St. from zipping onto the freeway? There is plenty of room and even a large locked gate in the chain link fence at this location. Lastly, while the 152 St. overpass is now fixed, how long will it be until a four-lane bridge replaces the old two-lane bridge that still constricts traffic?

As a final note on this story, with the 152 St. overpass now open and vehicles flowing freely, please take time to visit and support the many merchants at the South Point Annex whose operations were disrupted by the road closure. This includes Cobbs Bread, Seven Seas Fresh Fish Market, Clancy's Meats, Southpoint Drycleaners, Kim's Farm Market, Tisol Pet Nutrition, Southpoint Liquor Store and more. If you have not visited the Show Shaa Modern Taproom directly beside the overpass (formerly Jimmy Flynns Celtic Snug), I would suggest putting this destination restaurant and bar with its amazing international cuisine on your to-do list. Check our their menu and story at

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

Editor's Note: If you liked Don's catchy TNT title and were left wondering, Passover 2018 will begin in the evening of Friday, March 30 and ends in the evening of Saturday, April 7.


March 05, 2018

"A Clear-Cut Job"

" Our man on the street" - Don Pitcairn

Since July 20, 2009 I have written a weekly The Naked Truth, never missing a single column in well over eight years. This included times when I was away on vacation, sometimes overseas representing Canada in Fullbore Rifle and Palma Team shooting. It has meant usually finding me sitting in front of my computer on Sunday nights, regardless of sickness, fatigue or family comm itments. I've even had the pleasure of typing them into my Smartphone when it was all that was available. It has now been exactly one month since the last TNT was published before the White Rock Sun was closed so that editor Dave Chesney could have a real holiday and take a much needed mental health break away from the lunacy at White Rock City Hall. No you would think that after such a long break that I would be chomping at the bit to sink my teeth into the latest TNT. Unfortunately, the latest round of clear-cutting in White Rock has left me with such a bad taste in my mouth I simply want to go and spit in disgust on the steps of City Hall.

With all of the construction as White Rock is transformed from a sleepy seaside town into an urban concrete jungle of towering high-rises, I usually avoid going uptown. On Monday Feb. 26 I had an appointment with Harley at Moody's Shoe Master and entered the City By The Sea off North Bluff, driving south down Johnston Road. Nothing could have prepared me for the chain-saw massacre that was visible on both sides of the road with not a tree left standing all the way to Russell Ave. Only the few trees planted several years back near the Bosa Towers and a few small median trees closer to Thrift Ave. remained. The flattened stumps had all been painted a hideous day-glo orange to make the carnage even more visible, plus to possibly hide the yearly growth rings. For the record, I counted a total of 50 trees removed across Johnston Rd. from North Bluff to Thrift on Sunday morning. Here are the numbers and the trunk diameters: 3 trees - 3 ft. across, 9 trees - 2.5 ft. across, 10 trees - 2 ft. across, 28 trees - 1.0-1.5 ft. across. The very next day small orange traffic cones were nailed to each stump to make them more visible for the serious tripping hazard they now pose to pedestrians and those with mobility challenges.

As has now been widely reported, city hired arborists moved in under the cover of darkness at 4:30 a.m. on the Sunday night prior, clearing all of these street trees for their Johnston Road Streetscape Revitalization plan. You can read the statement from the City about this latest tree slaughter debacle at the Latest News section of the website. Do not be fooled by the spin of this document titled "Statement from the City on Tree Removal, Relocation and Replacement on Johnston Road." While they claimed "the current street trees on Johnston Road could pose a risk to the public" the tripping hazards from raised bricks were due to the lack of maintenance in fixing this long ignored problem. With all of the low stumps now left in place, these are the main tripping hazard facing pedestrians. Cutting trees at night is not a new tactic for White Rock City Hall as it was previously used to hack down the Ellerbeck's trees from their home on Royal Avenue back in March of 2011 to avoid public protests. As to their dubious claim "And, yes, trees will be replaced", you need to realize that they lied about the Hump clear-cutting several years ago and to date not a single tree, shrub or flower has been planted to replace the logging that was done mainly to improve ocean views for Marine Drive residents.

To make this debacle all the the more surreal, you have to realize that the uptown tree cutting was debated at City Hall only six days before the tree cutting when Councillor Dave Chesney was still away on vacation. You can watch it at the following link: Simply hit the video tab for the Februrary 19th Council meeting and fast forward to 1 hr 8 minutes where the Johnston Road Gateway Update is discussed. It turns out that the project was put out to tender but only one or two bids were received and they were double the $4.5 million budget. The new director of Engineering and Municipal Operations Department Jim Gordon explains how it will be remarketed looking to reduce costs and that "We will let council know before we remove any trees." Councillor Helen Fathers, the only non-Coalition slate councillor in attendance states "What I really wouldn't like to see is the whole street, all of the trees taken down and then we don't get it together enough to get the tender in because I think that would be devastating for the entire community. Those trees are dear to many people in White Rock including myself." Not a word was mentioned about plans to cut down all of the trees in less than a week and I have been informed that Council was only alerted by email on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to the pending slaughter. When questioned by Councillor Lynne Sinclair about why it was important to do the tree work before the project had been tendered, Jim Gordon had this telling reply. "Anytime we can eliminate risks for a contractor and provide them with a clear-cut job, we will get better prices. A "clear-cut job", think about that for a minute.

As if this was not enough, a second statement then appeared on the White Rock city website with an apology for yet another hatchet job. For those of you that enjoyed the shade of the big Empress Tree beside the stairs at Memorial Park or its beautiful spring flowers, I am sad to report that it was reduced to a stump at 7:30 a.m. on March 1st. This story was big enough to be featured in the Province newspaper, bringing even more shame on the city with their apparent fascination with chainsawing. Here is the statement about one of the best known trees in White Rock:
March 1, 2018
We are sorry. We tried our best to save the Paulownia tomentosa (Empress Tree) in Memorial Park. We originally believed we could work around the tree, but unfortunately, the large shallow roots extended further to the downhill side of the tree than expected. What we learned from arborists once the roots were exposed, is that the tree did not have strong deep roots. Instead, the shallow roots extended downhill near the ground surface making relocation impossible and making the tree vulnerable to disturbance. Consideration was given to redesigning retaining walls around the tree; however, arborists expressed concern that this would still affect the long term viability of the tree.

Needless to say all of the recent logging has brought a rash of posts to local community Facebook sites such as No more HighRises in White Rock, White Rock Democratic Group, White Rock Voters Group and Save Our City By The Sea. Many are saying that White Rock should promote a "Tour of the Stumps" or an "Annual Tree Chopping Festival" followed by an "Orange Stump Festival" on April Fool's Day. As a political protest last weekend, flowers were placed in every one of the small orange traffic cones atop the boulevard stumps throughout uptown, either as a memorial to their destruction or as a much cheaper Johnston Road beautification project. I'm going to go out on a limb here and hopefully I'm not barking up the wrong tree when I say that 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. After that I would expect to see some of the city administrators be given their walking papers for their questionable decisions and abject failure to uphold the Vision, Mission and Corporate Values statement for the City of White Rock.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 05, 2018

Lights Out For Watts


It was quite the weekend to be huddled around the television watching an epic battle of wills as the combatants challenged each other for ultimate supremacy. In the nail-biting finish only one emerged victorious and they took to the podium to accept their prize for winning their hard fought struggle. No, I'm not talking about the 52nd NFL Superbowl where the Philadelphia Eagles prevailed over the New England Patriots by a score of 41-33. The real show was watching the BC Liberal Leadership contest where Andrew Wilkinson beat out Dianne Watts on the fifth and final vote to secure victory and take control of the party.

In what was a knockout election the six leadership hopefuls jockeyed for position after signing up new party members to help support their cause. Dianne Watts resignation as the Conservative MP for White Rock - South Surrey last year meant she came in as a party outsider even though poll after poll showed she was consistently a front-runner. It was a telling revelation to know that going into the vote, Wilkinson had the support of thirteen Liberal caucus MLAs (the most of any of the six candidates), while Watts had none. Still, Dianne was seen as a fresh face for the BC Liberals and with seven successful Surrey elections in a row dating back to 1996, a political force to be reckoned with.

In the first round of the election where there were 8,700 total points (4,351 needed for victory) Mrs. Watts took an early lead of nearly a quarter of all votes while former Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan received a measly 1.8% of the vote eliminating him from further contention.
Dianne Watts: 2,135 points – 24.54%
Michael Lee: 1,917 points – 22.03%
Andrew Wilkinson: 1,591 points – 18.29%
Todd Stone: 1,483 points – 17.05%
Mike de Jong: 1,415 points – 16.27%
Sam Sullivan: 158 points – 1.82%

Round two of the voting saw little change in the percentage of vote with Diane still in the lead and Mike De Jong finishing last at 1,436 points of 16.52% of the vote, dropping him from further balloting. It was the third round of membership voting where the tide started to turn for Wilkinson who was still in third place at that time. While he had an agreement with De Jong to encourage their supporters to make the other candidate their second choice under the preferential ballot system, Mr. Wilkinson obviously did not get all of those members support but did see a 7% ballot improvement. With only 20% support after losing 1,400 new memberships only days before the vote due to issues with consultants AggregateIQ., Todd Stone was dropped from the ballot.
Dianne Watts: 2,469 points – 28.83%
Michael Lee: 2,264 points – 26.03%
Andrew Wilkinson: 2,201 points – 25.29%
Todd Stone: 1,766 points – 20.29%

The forth round of voting saw a near dead heat with the three remaining candidates each getting close to a third of the vote. Dianne Watts still in the lead with 3,006 points, followed 144 points behind by Wilkinson who beat out Michael Lee by only 49 points, setting the stage for the final showdown between newcomer Watts and the old-school Wilkinson who is a doctor, lawyer and Rhodes scholar.
Dianne Watts: 3,006 points – 34.55%
Andrew Wilkinson: 2,862 points – 32.89%
Michael Lee: 2,813 points – 32.56%

In the final fifth round of voting after Dianne Watts had lead the entire way, it was Andrew Wilkinson who came out on top. Mr. Wilkinson is a longtime Liberal organizer and past party president who promises to promises to carry on the historical heritage of the BC Liberal Party, carrying on the work of former Premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. The margin of victory was 542 points or 53.1% of the ballots.
Andrew Wilkinson: 4,621 points
Dianne Watts: 4,079 points

Gracious in defeat, Dianne Watts released the following statement on Twitter after coming in a close second: "I would like to congratulate Andrew Wilkinson on being elected as our new leader. I am committed to doing everything I can to make sure we elect a BC Liberal government in the next election." For his part Wilkinson announced to assembled media that he was hoping to seek out support from Michael Lee, Todd Stone and Dianne Watts as the BC Liberals regroup to try and take down the NDP/Green coalition government.

While Mrs. Watts won as MP for South Surrey - White Rock, the Conservative party lost the election and she was relegated to opposition status far from the cabinet posting many believe she had been promised. Now she has come in second best in the hunt for what she likely hoped would eventually lead to the Premier's job. It is unlikely she will now run against Linda Hepner for her old job as Mayor of Surrey and while the position is available, hard to fathom she would throw her bonnet in the ring to run for Mayor of White Rock. Ever the political opportunist, I expect Mrs. Watts to run for the BC Liberals in the next provincial election that may happen much sooner than the scheduled date of May 11, 2021.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 29, 2018

Super-Blue-Blood-Moon Rising

I see a bad moon a-rising
I see trouble on the way
I see earthquakes and lightnin'
I see bad times today

Don't go 'round tonight
It's bound to take your life
There's a bad moon on the rise

Lyrics to Creedence Clearwater Revival's song "Bad Moon Rising", 1969.

Prepare yourself for an astrological event in these parts that has not been seen by anyone on the planet Earth for 152 years. On Wednesday, January 31st, plan on getting up early to view an extremely rare occurrence, a perfect trifecta of lunar oddities that include a super moon, blue moon and blood moon all happening at the very same time. Currently the weather forecast for this region is sunny with cloudy periods for Wednesday so hopefully the clouds will part and this celestial show will be visible from White Rock and south Surrey. If you miss it don't worry as the next one happens in only ten years, giving you something to live for.

For those who are not amateur astronomers, a supermoon is when the the moon is at its closest orbit to the earth. This causes it to appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than full moons that happen at the farthest point in the moon’s orbit. The effect is even more noticeable at moonrise when scattering of light through the atmosphere at the horizon make the moon look even larger. A blue moon has actually nothing to do with the colour of our closest neighbour, it is the second full moon that happens in one month, which will also happen in March of this year. The blood moon is actually a total lunar eclipse where the shadow of the earth blocks out the sun from the surface of the moon. Because of the diffraction of light through the atmosphere the moon will appear to be a reddish orange glowing orb, called a bloodmoon. The last bloodmoon here happened two years ago, with the full moon rising from the east in full lunar eclipse, making for quite the spectacle.

The best time to view a supermoon is at night right after moonrise when the moon rises from the eastern horizon. Those living in the Middle East, Asia, eastern Russia, Australia and New Zealand will get to watch the super blue bloodmoon actually rise. Unfortunately moonrise here is at 4:24 p.m. on Tuesday, January 30th, half an hour before sunset that day, which happens at 5:05 p.m. The maximum full moon is scheduled for 5:27 a.m. on January 31, but the real light show begins at 3:48 a.m. with the start of the lunar eclipse, reaching its maximum coverage at 5:30 a.m. The moon will then set that morning at 7:49 a.m., just after sunrise that happens at 7:42 a.m. Here in the Lower Mainland, we should be able to see a near total eclipse of the moon as long as the clouds don't interfere. Unlike the solar eclipse we witnessed last summer, the lunar eclipse can be watched without risk of eye damage. If you get up dark and early and find the sky obscured, you can watch the lunar eclipse courtesy of the rocket scientists at NASA on their live view website at the following link starting at 3:30 a.m. PST:

The last time there was a lunar eclipse here several years ago, I happened to be driving back into Canada on a Sunday evening after attending a sporting event in Washington State. As I crossed the border I saw the blood moon rising over Hazelmere and decided that the grassy hillside at King George Blvd and 8th Avenue next to Hwy. 99 would offer a prime vantage point. Unfortunately I was not the only person who figured this out and found the area lined with cars and packed with people, many with lawn chairs and blankets. This time with the moon already up for hours and the best eclipse from 5-6 a.m., expect the moon to be in the west/northwest portion of the sky. Any high point not blocked by tall evergreens should be okay but I prefer to watch these events over water meaning that Crescent Beach, Crescent Rock Beach, the White Rock Pier, plus stretches of the Nicomekyl and Serpentine rivers should be prime viewing spots. Please note that the 1,000 Steps staircase in Ocean Park and Christopherson Steps in Crescent Heights will still be locked during that time of the morning.

Make sure you dress warmly, wear bright or reflective clothes plus take along a flashlight for safety. A fold-up lawn chair and blanket along with a thermos full of tea or coffee will help to keep you warm in temperatures forecast to be 4 degrees. If you want to take pictures, try to have something in the background for size comparison, rather than just the bloodmoon alone in the night sky. For professional photographers, bring along your tripod, telephoto lens plus light meter and if you get an amazing shot of the super blue bloodmoon, please sent it along to the White Rock Sun for publishing.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 22, 2018

Taking Tax Relief For Granted

For the past 11 years I have celebrated New Year's Day by plunging into the icy waters of Boundary Bay in a Polar Bear Swim baptism. Nothing like near freezing water to wake you up, clear your head and shake off the cobwebs from any lingering hangover resulting from too much festivities the night before.

Unfortunately the hangover quickly comes back when you look at the property value numbers from BC Assessment that are posted online on January 1st of each year. With the continuing flood of foreign capital distorting our real estate prices far above what a working class family here could ever afford, assessments continue to go through the roof. For this year, the assessment for our house in south Surrey went up $186,000 or %16 in value. Combined with increases over the past four years, we have seen stratospheric gains of a combined 64%, for a property that was already high priced when we first purchased it.

We appealed our property assessment last year as being unrealistic and had $164,000 taken off of the assessed value. This was done originally to help get the estimated value under the $1.2 million Homeowner's Grant limit which was the number when we received our assessment. It turns out that we really didn't need to bother as the BC Liberal Government of the time raised the Home Owner's Grant limit to $1.5 million, ensuring we qualified to receive all of the grant. This year the NDP have followed suit, raising the level with ever increasing real estate prices to $1.65 million. It turns out that since 2003, the threshold has been raised eleven times. It is estimated that the Home Owner's Grant will result in almost $900 million in tax saving for BC homeowners this year.

Now here's the rub, when is the actual Home Owners Grant ever going to be increased? As long as I can remember that basic Home Owners Grant property tax deduction for homeowners living in the Lower Mainland or Capital Region has been pegged at $570 for the basic grant and $770 for those in rural or northern communities. Seniors are eligible to receive a further $275 additional grant deduction for a total of $845 with the elderly living in the sticks taking $1,045 off the property taxes for the homes they live in. With ever increasing property values and the Mill rate that cities use for property tax calculations allowing for ever increasing taxes, the Home Owners Grant is rapidly becoming insignificant as its less than $50 per month reduction becomes a joke.

Case in point, using our home as a reference we have seen our "Column B" basic grant rate in the City of Surrey rise from $2,840 in 2010 to $4,098 in 2017, or an increase of $1,258 in only seven years. This represents an increase in payable property taxes of 44% or 6.3% increase per year, well beyond the rate of inflation during this period. Of course, during this time the Home Owner's Grant has remained stagnant. When compared to the no grant tax rates, the $570 grant equates to a 16.7% reduction in property taxes for 2010, which slipped to only a 12% reduction in property taxes for us in 2017. If the Homeowner's Grant remains stationary, its effect when looked at a percentage tax savings will continue to further decrease over time. Couple this with the number of houses that are still above the new $1.65 million grant ceiling that get no deduction and Surrey is raking in lots of new tax revenue for their coffers.

It is time that the Provincial and Civic governments look at this issue and instead of only raising the Home Owner's Grant threshold, they also need to increase the actual grant itself to match the staggering increases in property tax that homeowners are being subjected to. I say we give bigger grants to those who actual live in their homes and stick it to wealthy foreign investors and those who purchase residential real estate property and simply leave them empty. If you want to get an idea of how many homes are vacant in your neighbourhood, simply watch who does not put out garbage cans every week or when it snows, which driveways are not shoveled and have no tire tracks. The number will likely surprise you once you start paying attention.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 15, 2018

Muddying The Waters

Headwaters of LIttle Campbell river @ Semiahmoo Bay

This was never supposed to be a two part series focusing attention on the Border Feed Lot in south Surrey (17256 8 Ave) but after last week's TNT titled "Clearing The Air" I received more information on the impact this agricultural business is having on the local environment. In last week's article I quoted from a decade old report on the Little Campbell Watershed that showed Coli-Form Units of 14,000 CFU/100 ml. H20 that were 70 times higher than allowable water quality guidelines in streams draining from this property. The paragraph on this topic ended with "It is interesting to note that this report was done well before large scale composting and topsoil processing began at this agricultural property. Whether steps have been taken to control manure run-off from the feed lot or the composting operations is not yet known." If you missed last week's TNT you might want to scroll down and read it for insight before carrying on here.

There are a variety of environmentally focused groups keeping an eye on the Little Campbell River that flows into Semiahmoo Bay/Boundary Bay at the Semiahmoo First Nation reserve property. One of these is the Little Campbell Watersheds Society (little whose mandate is to "focus on activities to preserve, enhance and restore fish, wildlife, water resources and green space within the Little Campbell River Watershed." Alarmed with the growing piles of manure and soil behind the Border Feed Lot barns, they were concerned that runoff from the soil and manure operations might be contaminating the Little Campbell River. Bacteriological contamination has been contributing to the shellfish harvesting closures in the waters around the Peninsula which have been off-limits since 1962. This includes the Semiahmoo First Nation peoples who traditionally have relied on this for both food and ceremonial purposes. Members of the Little Campbell Watersheds Society took it upon themselves to take samples from the tributaries south of the Border Feed Lot property on June 8, 2017 and submitted them to Exova Laboratories in sterile bottles placed in a cooler for analysis that day.

What test results revealed were two water quality parameter violations far beyond the 200 CFU/100 ml. limit for human health and livestock watering. Fecal coliform levels were measured at a staggering 360,000 CFU/100ml with escherichia coli even higher at 410,000 CFU/100 ml. This represents a violation approximately 2,000 times greater than the BC guideline limit for aquatic pollution and an exponential increase from the contaminated waters found back in 2005-2007 when the original Little Campbell River Watershed Water Quality Report was done. There were other major violations over the guideline limit including Organic Carbon at 9 times that background median, Nitrite at 5 times the long-term average to protect aquatic life, Phosphorus at 150 times the guidelines for lakes, Aluminum at 100 times the short-term max for freshwater aquatic life, plus high levels of Total Dissolved Solids. Further to these major violations, there were eight other parameters for everything from Arsenic to Cobalt that were above guideline recommended limits.

The test results were forwarded to the BC Environment Ministry through the R.A.P.P. (Report All Poachers and Polluters) along with a list of Agricultural Waste Control Regulations they believe were not being followed. These included the following:
3. Water quality results indicate that current agricultural waste storage practices do not prevent pollution.
4. Current operation collects waste from other farms which is not permissible.
8(2). Current operation has waste piles within 20m of the tributary that runs through their property.
9. From our observations, current operations do not cover field stored waste piles for any part of the year including Oct 1-April 1.
15(C) Water quality results indicate that current composting practices do not prevent pollution.
30. Water quality results indicate that current agricultural practices do not prevent pollution.
The Ministry of the Environment investigated the test results and allegations and sent an "Out of Compliance" letter to the operators of this agricultural operation in August informing them they were violating the Environmental Habitat Management Act in regards to waste discharge regulations. As to whether the Border Feed Lot and their soil operations are now in compliance, unless someone wants to pay for further testing it is not known if pollution from this property persists.

With the weakening of environmental protection laws by Harper's Conservatives when they were in power plus the gutting of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans budget and manpower, there is little enforcement against polluters plus little or no testing. In order to find strength in numbers, many local environmental stewardship groups are considering resurrecting the Shared Water Alliance that was originally formed in 1999 as an international working group focused on the water quality of the Canadian and US shared waters of Boundary Bay. You only have to look across the border at Drayton Harbour to see how concerted efforts to test water and identify sources of pollution can make an impact. With concerted efforts since 2001 our American neighbours were able to clean up the formerly polluted harbour to the point that the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company now operates and on Dec. 15th held their second annual "Shell-ebration" to mark the the one-year anniversary of lifted shellfish harvesting restrictions in Drayton Harbor. If they can clean up this Blaine shoreline, there is no reason to think we can't do the same here north of the border.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


January 08, 2018

Clearing The Air


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

Lyrics to the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch", written by Dr. Suess, 1966

It comes as no surprise that the composing operations at the Border Feed Lot located at the SE corner of 172 St. and 8 Ave. are being singled out as the source of the rotten egg stench that permeated neighbourhoods in south Surrey last week. A Metro Vancouver manger revealed that piles of composting manure and mushroom manure piles were turned over with the wind direction matching where odour complaints were received from. Unfortunately this is not a new situation that is likely linked to compost piles and topsoil production occurring at this agricultural location. The satellite view of Surrey's COSMOS online mapping system shows massive soil piles to the east of the cattle barns located there along with several hi-hoe excavators, a front end loader and soil screener that deal with manure from this site and mushroom manure, which I've been told by area naturalists is being trucked in.

When we have outflow conditions in the winter with winds from the northeast, any odours emanating from the feed lot and compost piles will drift into the Douglas crossing neighbourhoods that have been heavily developed over the past decade. This has resulted in the Border Feedlot becoming the second highest source of smell complaints to Metro Vancouver in 2017. Here is the list of the five worst offenders as recently revealed by a CTV investigation into Metro Vancouver smell complaints:
Harvest Power, Richmond - 3,408
Border Feed Lot cattle operations, Surrey - 163
Enviro-Smart composting facility, Delta - 92
West Coast Reduction, East Vancouver - 91
Chevron Oil Refinery, Burnaby - 46

The Harvest Power waste to energy composting facility in East Richmond has been in the news on a constant basis for many years since food waste began to be collected in 1999. Due to their large compost piles that treat food waste including meat, residents there have described the stench as "putrid, stinky, noxious, malodorous and unacceptable". Metro Vancouver receives twenty times more smell complaints about Harvest Power than the Border Feedlot, likely because of the facility's size and relative closeness to large urban areas. The Enviro-Smart composting facility in Delta by the Boundary Bay Airport also gets smell complaints but they have been working to cover their piles to control water content, improved air systems that aerate the piles plus turning the organic waste using custom pile turning machines instead of excavators. In case you did not know, Surrey's Organic Biofuel Facility in Port Kells has a state-of-the-art smell mitigation system that uses negative air pressure to contain noxious odours.

Smelly businesses make for infuriated neighbours, which has been the case across Metro Vancouver for years. The West Coast Reduction rendering plant processes animal waste including fish, fat, blood and feathers at their facility at the north end of Commercial Drive in Vancouver that has been stinking up East Van since 1964. This is the same lovely place where Willy Pickton disposed of the dismembered victims of his serial murder spree. I previously lived in Brookswood in Langley downwind from the Money's Mushroom compost plant near 44 Ave. and 190 St. where the smell in summer would best be described as a dead dog rotting in a ditch. In 1994 he GVRD Assistant Air Quality Director finally ordered Moneys to take steps to change their operations and control the stench. After years of appeals and legal wrangling, Money's finally closed the doors on their old composting facility in Surrey with plans to move it out into the Fraser Valley. By chance, they picked a new location at the base of Chilliwack Mountain, upwind from all of the residents living on the hill that also included my mother who was then Chairperson of the Chilliwack Ratepayers Association. With the knowledge of what had transpired in Bookswood, Chilliwack Council voted to turn them down and they went elsewhere.

Most modern composting facilities are in enclosed shelters allowing operators to control the amount of water in the decomposing organics. They also have vented grates across the floor with industrial fans pumping fresh air into the piles to promote aerobic decomposition where the bacteria present feed off the oxygen as they break down the organics. If large piles of manure are placed outdoors where they are exposed to the rain and not turned over frequently, the piles become saturated with water and then the rotting process turns into anaerobic decomposition that occurs without the presence of oxygen. This can produce dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas, a colourless, poisonous gas that smells like rotten eggs. Fortis Gas received many emergency calls from Douglas crossing residents last week complaining of a suspected natural gas leak that smelled like rotten eggs. Natural gas has no smell but the chemical mercaptan, which smells like rotten eggs, is added to make it detectable. No gas leak was found in the area so it is highly likely the rotten egg smell reported was hydrogen sulphide being released from wet manure piles that Metro Vancouver reported being turned over.

Stink coming from the Border Feed Lot is not the only environmental concern linked to this agriculture business. There are two small tributaries that drain water away from this property towards the Little Campbell River. These were tested by the BC Ministry of Environment and detailed in the Little Campbell Watershed Water Quality Report 2005-2007 that is posted online as follows:
Site 146-2, a tributary that drains a feedlot operation containing a very high density of bovines was found to have the greatest fecal coli-form concentrations, with results up to 14,000 Coli-Form Units (CFU) per 100 ml of water and geometric means consistently exceeding the 200 CFU/100 ml water quality guidelines. Geometric means ranged from 1102 to 7972 CFU/100 ml throughout the study period. Dissolved oxygen levels at the site were also found to be very low and well below the BC water quality guidelines for aquatic life in both the instantaneous minimum and 30 day average. Fish are unlikely to be present in this tributary, however the impact of this contamination may reach the Little Campbell River main stream.
It is interesting to note that this report was done well before large scale composting and topsoil processing began at this agricultural property. Whether steps have been taken to control manure run-off from the feed lot or the composting operations is not yet known.

If you live down by the border and smell rotten eggs or something foul in the air far beyond regular livestock manure, I would suggest you report it to the following:
Call Metro Vancouver's odour complaint hotline at 604-436-6777
Email Metro Vancouver's Make An Air Quality Complaint webpage at the following link:
Email the BC Government at
File an air pollution report with
Contact Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and her Surrey First slate of Councillors whose email addresses are listed on the website at the following link:

"Stop The Stink!" Facebook group in Vancouver was the community page created to bring awareness to the reek of death emanating from the West Coast Reduction Plant. "Stop the Stink in Richmond" Facebook group was formed to combat the vile stench from Harvest Power's vile compost piles. Something tells me it won't be long till we see "Stop the Stink in Surrey" Facebook page if rotten egg smells continue to waft over residential neighbourhoods in south Surrey.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 02, 2018

TNT Year in Review


With New Year's Day falling on a Monday, my wife Sheryl came up with the wonderful idea of looking back at last year's The Naked Truth columns. Without further adieu, here is the TNT year in review.

Dec. 26, Christmas Gift List: Gifts under the tree for those naughty and nice who made news headlines in 2017.
Dec. 18, Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures: A look at Conservative attack ads used in the final days of the Federal by-election.
Dec. 11, Injustice System: A look at failures in our so-called justice system and the "BC Judges Weakest Link" shaming campaign.
Dec. 4, Advance Warning: With advance polls open, this piece looked at how Elections Canada failed to open polling stations across the riding putting most in White Rock.

Nov. 27, Sign Of The Times: As someone who knows WAAYYYY too much about election signs, a preview of how the parties were staking their claim across the Semi-Pen.
Nov. 20, White Rock Star: PM Justin Trudeau comes to town, hangs out with SFN Chief Harley and WR Sun Editor Dave Chesney, getting the goat of Mayor Wayne Baldwin.
Nov. 13, A Time to Remember: Remembrance Day celebrations, Charlie's Tree memorial and the Friends of Old Canada are featured on this piece about Nov. 11th.
Nov. 6, Mark Your Calendars - Dec. 11 is Voting Day: Everything you needed to know about the upcoming by-election and the cast of characters who wanted to be your MP.

Oct. 30, My Gift to You - Beware of Pyramid Schemes: If you thought the Pyramids were only in Egypt, think again as the Gifting Circle scam shows up in S. Sry/WR.
Oct. 23, Speed Reading at Surrey Schools: The scoop on school roadway safety improvements across Surrey with the funky abbreviated name of ARS-ZAPP.
Oct. 16, Duck Feathers and Parrot Feathers: The draining of the Serpentine Fen is featured along with information about an invasive plant species that is not ducky.
Oct. 9, Right to Bare Arms: After the Mandalay Massacre in Vegas, a marksman's perspective on gun control in both the US and Canada.
Oct. 2, Beautiful, White & Deadly: Poisonous mushrooms found sprouting in my own front lawn were showcased with warnings about the Destroying Angel.

Sept. 25, Bailey Bridge Blockade: This triple TNT expose about the shape of the old Bailey Bridge across the Nicomekyl River that lead to emergency plans to finally rebuilt it, Dianne Watt's resignation and Seal Team actor AJ Buckley from White Rock.
Sept. 18, Fish On!: An insiders look at the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club and the Little Campbell Hatchery that volunteers run.
Sept. 11, Anchor's Away: Arghhh Matey, this TNT told the tale of the massive old anchor that now resides in Ocean Park.
Sept. 5, A Shooting Star Summer: I fired my own gun here with this piece on the Canadian Target Rifle Championships and time spent with father Bob "The Legend" Pitcairn.

Aug. 28, 21 & 14: A lengthy three part series about the history of Hall's Prairie in the Hazelmere Valley of south Surrey takes up most of the month of August.
Aug. 6, Semiahmoo Goes With The Flow: The boil water advisory at the Semiahmoo First Nation gets my blood boiling with White Rock threatening to turn off the taps.

July 31, Delta Mayor Pushes For Return of the Inter Urban: Lois Jackson leads the charge to have the inter-urban line rolling again on tracks that include the BNSF Railway here.
July 24, Doe..., A Deer..., A Female Deer: After a deer is seen on the shores of Crescent Rock Beach and this TNT looks at black-tailed deer living among us.
July 17, A Rough Walk in the Park: The Riverside Golf course and its return to nature is profiled with plenty of pictures.
July 10, Save Water, Save Money: In the heat of the summer, how to conserve water with help of Surrey's Water Conservation Education Team (WCET).
July 4, Break A Leg Dianne: Prior to stepping down as our MP, accident prone Dianne Watts takes a tumble down her stairs ending up in hospital yet again.

June 26, The Buzz About The Nude Beach: Drones are spotted over Crescent Rock Beach where filming people in the nude without their knowledge or consent is a sex crime.
June 19, Open House, Closed Mind, Empty Wallet: The costs for Rail Safety Improvements in White Rock and proposed Promenade extension are added up.
June 12, Raising a Black Flag in Surrey: The new black and white Surrey Heritage signs have me seeing red as they look too much like an ISIS flag.
June 5, Art Knapps Give a Hoot: Everything you need to know about the dozen barn owl boxes at the King George nursery next to the Serpentine Fen.

May 29, The Plane Truth: Commercial jets are still flying over the peninsula and I want to know why this is happening.
May 23, Cowboys, Carnies, Creep Catchers, Cops and Cloverdale: Surrey Shirts heads to the Cloverdale Rodeo for the Victoria Day long weekend.
May 15, Driving me Crazy: In this TNT I blow up about the many rude, dangerous or oblivious drivers out there and how we need more police enforcement on our roads.
May 8, Your Vote Is Your Voice: All you needed to know about the upcoming Provincial Election where Good ol' Gordie Hogg stepped down as MLA after 20 years.
May 1, Fit To Be Tied: The replacement of 22,000 creosoted railway ties across the waterfront and its ramifications is looked at in detail.

April 25, White Rock Craziness - Its The Water (Part 3): Secrets about the EPCOR water purchase by White Rock slowly leak out including the revelation there is now chloramine in the tap water.
April 18, Psst..., Hey Buddy..., Wanna Buy Some Farmland?: McMansions being built on farmland across Surrey are showcased in this real estate piece.
April 10, Creeping Me Out: The Surrey Creep Catchers and the work they do outing online sexual predators preying on children are spotlighted.
April 3, BNSF Buries Nude Beach: In a nude beach cover-up, the BNSF Railway dumps tonnes of landslide debris from the tracks onto Crescent Rock.

March 27, Bird in a Cage: The decrease in song birds attributed to glass strikes on buildings and railings is nothing to chirp about.
March 20, Spring Has Sprung, Boing!: The Spring Eqinox is looked at throughout history and from around the world.
March 13, Get The Funk Out: Live music in the Semi-Pen including the latest show at the Ocean Park Hall featuring the Big Easy Funk Ensemble are given centre stage.
March 7, Feeling House Rich & Cash Poor?: With real estate prices going through the roof, this TNT shows how to lower your assessments and property tax.

Feb. 27, Prop-ad-ganda: How much of today's advertising is not selling a product, it is corporate propaganda trying to sway public opinion.
Feb. 20, Mosquitos Suck: It's winter and yet we still can't escape from these blood sucking parasites in Canada's banana belt.
Feb. 13, The Alternative to "Alternative Facts": The "No Ban, No Wall - Vancouver" Donald Trump protest at the Peace Arch Monument draws a crowd.
Feb. 6, South of the 49th, North of the 49th: From Tom Brady's 5th Super Bowl win to Chilliwack's snowmageddon, this TNT touches down on both sides of the border.

Jan 30, Driving While Blind: he deplorable state of highway signs throughout our region is revealed, something that still has not been fixed.
Jan. 23, Dick-Heads: There was no way that I could ignore White Rock's Moby Dicks court battle with a Vancouver strata over their whale of a name.
Jan. 16, Walk -Don't Run: In the dark days of winter, dangers to pedestrians crossing the road are highlighted.
Jan. 9, When We're Silent..., We're All Victims: Massive electronic billboards on the streets of Surrey and the visual distraction they pose are looked at.
Jan.2, Alot For a Lot: Rapidly increasing real estate prices and increases in property assessments are revealed.

There it is folks, a full year of 52 TNTs condensed down into one column. If you see anything here that catches your eye, simply scroll down to read what you missed. If you hit the archives, every The Naked Truth every written going back to June 20, 2009 is still posted online in the electronic pages of the White Rock Sun. Happy New Year, I'm now off to the Polar Bare Plunge for the 12th time.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



December 26, 2017

Christmas Gift List 2017

Don Pitcairn getting ready to distribut his Christmas Wish Letters


If there's one thing I love about Christmas it's the annual traditions and in the White Rock Sun this holiday spirited 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.

Wayne Baldwin, White Rock Mayor - A 45 rpm record of Aretha Franklin's smash hit "Respect" after the Mayor of White Rock had his politicized letter to Prime Minister Trudeau regarding proper protocol leaked to the media during the by-election.
What you want, baby I got it
What you need, do you know I got it
All I'm askin', is for a little respect when you get home (just a little bit)

Kelly & Juanita Breaks, Blue Frog Studio owners - Carrying on with our musical theme, a copy of the Rolling Stone's album Steel Wheels from 1989 containing the song "Rock and a Hard Place" after White Rock Coalition members voted to allow high-rises to be built on either side of their famed recording studio.

Jennifer Brooks and family - After an agonizing wait of 29 months, the Brooks finally received some justice a week before Christmas with charges being filed against an RCMP officer who shot their unarmed son Hudson outside the south Surrey detachment. As a stocking stuffer, maybe the B.C. Prosecution Service can explain to them why charges of aggravated assault and assault with a weapon were filed instead of manslaughter in their teen's death?

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor - A public apology from the White Rock BIA director Susy Tucker for alleging that Mr. Chesney was the source of the leaked Baldwin letter, which the Peace Arch News should reveal was not the case. Could it be that someone was playing politics and trying to smear everyone at once? Only Santa knows who was being naughty or nice.

Ryan LaForge, President of Surrey Creep Catchers - His gift is proposed changes to toughen up federal child sex laws including a new offense making the grooming of youngsters by adults for sexual purposes a crime in Canada. As a stocking stuffer, a one-of-a-kind SCC Stealth carbon fiber hoody compliments of Sheryl & Don.

Laura Cornale plus Kathy Honeywell & Barb Howe - For the owner of Laura's Coffee Corner and the owners of the 5 Corners Cafe, picture frames for the selfies with Justin Trudeau that brought both of these White Rock restaurants national recognition.

Helen Fathers, WR Councillor - A "Vote Helen For Mayor" t-shirt courtesy of Surrey Shirts that she can wear around White Rock when not managing the Farmer's Market that keeps on being turned into a political minefield. For her family, a box of tissues to dry their eyes and hopefully a new puppy in the near future.

Kerri-Lynne Findlay, Conservative member - A parachute and a soft mattress for the former federal Revenue Minister who came a surprisingly close second to Gordie Hogg in the recent federal by-election. As a stocking stuffer, some Stim-Root rooting hormone powder that is famous for helping to grow deep roots.

Linda Hepner, Surrey Mayor - Same as last year, a model Light Rail Transit (LRT) train set for under the old Christmas tree. Unfortunately Santa's reindeer seem to still be having trouble getting this $2.6 billion gift off the ground. As a stocking stuffer, a bottle of "Watts-Away" bug spray should Dianne try to reclaim her throne at City Hall.

Gordon Hogg, MP for SS/WR - I was going to get "Good Ol Gordie" a gold retirement watch to mark his 40 years of public service but then he goes and gets himself elected as the new Liberal MP for South Surrey - White Rock. His gift will be a new office as I doubt Gord will want to stay in the sterile storefront that Dianne Watts has now vacated.

Semiahmoo First Nation Council - For Chief Harley Chappel and Councillors Joanne and Roxanne Charles, a clean Metro Vancouver water connection that ends their boil water advisory in place since 2005. Once again, some gifts are a long, long time coming. Better relations with White Rock would also be good but might have to stay on the wish list.

Andrew Sheer, Conservative Party Leader- For the Conservative's front man who visited this riding twice during the by-election, the last time visiting a potato chip plant near Cloverdale, some dip.

Tim Shields, Former RCMP Spokesperson - This former inspector got his Christmas gift early on Dec. 20 when he was found not guilty of sexual misconduct charges involving a civilian employee in the workplace. For this well known but maligned cop, a shiny new shield to pin to his chest when he rejoins the law enforcement community.

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada - A vacation to White Rock for J.T. and his family so he can do fun things like touring the new water filtration plant. He might want to actually pay their own travel bill after getting his knuckles rapped by the Ethics Commissioner for visiting the billionaire Aga Kahn's private Island in the Bahamas.

Dianne Watts, former MP for SS/WR - A tropical fish aquarium for the lady who bailed on this riding after realizing she was a small fish in a big pond back in Ottawa. Sorry but Santa can't promise that her leadership bid for the BC Liberal Party will be successful.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a happy New Year planning your safe ride home.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



December December 18, 2017

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

(screen shot of actual attack ad by Conservatives)

It was just over two years ago on October 5, 2015 during the last Canadian federal election campaign that I wrote a TNT column titled "Politics Make Strange Bedfellows". It was published with a picture apparently showing Jihadi John in bed with a cowering Dianne Watts. You can scroll down into the archives to read about how a Conservative party/Dianne Watts election flyer was delivered throughout the South Surrey - White Rock riding threatening "ISIS URGES JIHADISTS TO ATTACK CANADIANS. YOU WILL NOT FEEL SECURE IN YOUR BEDROOMS. WE WILL FIGHT JIHADIST TERRORISTS AT HOME AND ABROAD." I took umbrage with this blatant fear-mongering that was thinly disguised as election propaganda believing it was an attempt to Americanize our politics here in Canada.

With Dianne Watts stepping down as our MP not even halfway through her elected term we were forced into the recent federal by-election that ended with Gordon Hogg and the Liberals taking the seat that had eluded them for decades. It is interesting to note that the last time a Liberal was elected here, we were part of the New Westminster riding and Gordie was only 2 years old. During the very short campaign period leading up to Dec. 11th the mud-slinging was kept to a minimum and I believed that the parties were going to run positive campaigns focusing on the quality of their candidates and the strength of their policies. That was the case until the very final days when a blatant attack ad began to show up on social media that targeted residents of this riding starting on Friday, Dec. 8th and continuing through that weekend, stopping on Monday which was the election day. Unfortunately they are now gone and I cannot find a link to this video but I did manage to grab a few screen shots before they disappeared.

In case you missed it, the Facebook ad featured a slightly off-coloured backdrop of the Liberal government MP's in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill with music sounding like a funeral dirge and the following six frames of bold text:
The Ottawa Liberals voted UNANIMOUSLY against prosecuting ISIS fighters returning to Canada.
They voted UNANIMOUSLY against making the protection and security of Canadians their priority, rather than the reintegration of ISIS fighters.
They voted UNANIMOUSLY against condemning the horrific acts committed by ISIS.
As your MP, Gordie Hogg would be forced to vote the SAME WAY.
South Surrey-White Rock DESERVES BETTER.
The video ended with the Conservative Logo and "Authorized by the official agent of the Conservative Party of Canada".

Personally I see these types of negative attack ads as being un-Canadian. I have friends across the political spectrum and find parts of each party's platforms intriguing and worthy of discussion and consideration. I also believe that these attack ads do nothing to promote democratic values or to encourage citizens to become involved in the political process or to bother to vote. While I realize that by-elections do not usually attract the same number of voters as a General election, only 30,383 people out of a total of 79,359 eligible voters here cast their ballot, or a dismal 38.3%. In the end the Liberal Hogg beat our the Conservative Kerry Lynne Findlay by 1,545 votes or 5.1% in what really was a two horse race. You can view the entire results on the Elections Canada website at the following link:

This is the second time in only two years that negative attack ads have been used by the Conservatives to help scare up some votes. I was hoping that with Stephan Harper gone and Andrew Sheer at the helm, the Cons would stop stooping to such low brow tactics and instead focus on the positive attributes of their party and its platform. In the end the Liberals got their candidate elected because of his name recognition and deep community roots, the Conservatives decision to use a parachuted candidate, plus the riding being under-represented by years of lame-duck Conservative MPs. Having the Liberal party leader Prime Minister Justin Trudeau twice roll into town during the campaign with his rock-star persona certainly did not hurt their campaign. Depending on how the federal Liberals and our new MP Gordie Hogg conduct their affairs during the next 22 months, we will find out on October 21, 2019 which is the next fixed election date if this formerly Conservative riding continues its new love affair with the Liberals.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



December 11, 2017

TODAY, Monday, Dec. 11th is the FEDERAL BY-ELECTION for South Surrey - White Rock.
This is your opportunity to select our Member of Parliament to represent us in Ottawa.
GET OUT AND VOTE for the best candidate - Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. PST


Injustice System


I felt like a big weight came off my shoulders on Friday afternoon when the Crown Council from New Westminster phoned to let me know that my appointment with them on Monday had been cancelled and the court case I was to be involved with on Dec. 17 had been settled. This case revolved around a drunk driver who narrowly missed me speeding through a traffic circle, crashed his car and then sped off through Delta, New West and finally Burnaby before New West Police converged on us and arrested the driver of the Volkswagon TDI that was obviously impaired. As to what kind of sentence he receives for driving drunk and endangering my life, this remains to be seen but I dont expect much of a sentence or deterrent.

Elsewhere in BC, the impact of a Judicial system in turmoil became clear over the past few weeks with verdict after verdict punishing families and survivors while those charged with a variety or violent offenses got a slap on the wrist or charges dropped. By far the worst case had to be notorious gangster Jamie Bacon having his first degree murder and conspiracy charges dropped in the Surrey Six Massacre case on Dec. 2nd. It really was not a surprise 10 years after the murders and 8 years after charges were filed that this case was dropped like a proverbial hot potato. When you have RCMP having sex with a gangster's girlfriend, evidence being suppressed and years going by, eventually charges are going to be dropped, in this case with the real reasons hidden from the public by Justice Kathleen Ker. Nauseating, disgusting, abhorrent but not unexpected and still a shock to the Mohan and Shellenberg families whose loved-ones were unintended targets of the gang violence. You can read all about it on the following Vancouver Sun link which I would ask you to do. Of interest is the second comment from Jordan Guy who claims the following explanation is from a credible source:

What happened was the police used an investigative tactic known as PARALLEL CONSTRUCTION. Basically the cops got a tip that the Bacon's might be involved. Police then illegally wiretapped everyone that the Bacon's spoke to in the last 2 years. Every single number they dialed in the last 2 years was tapped. Friends, Family, Lawyers, GF's. EVERYONE!

They used section 184 of the criminal code, which is to be used for cases involving imminent bodily harm, without the need of a judges approval. That's why they were able to wiretap everyone they spoke to in the past 2 years. This is also known as an emergency wiretap and is only allowed to be used to prevent imminent threat of bodily harm. Such as when someone has been kidnapped and there isn't enough time to get a proper warrant for a wiretap and the police need to get the phone's location information to track down the phone to prevent harm. It can not be used to investigate a murder, after the fact, because there is no active imminent threat of bodily harm.

The law is clear under this section that all recordings must be destroyed if no imminent danger is identified. It can be used in terrorist cases as well. It also states that the recordings, transcripts and all police notes must be destroyed if there is no cause to show that imminent bodily harm is present. There is also no reporting requirement under the emergency wiretap laws to report the use of this type of wiretap to the public. Basically no one will ever know it even happened.

The police used this provision, then used the information they obtained illegally to rebuild the investigative trail so that they could present it to the court to obtain a conviction. They basically hid the fact of how their investigation started and evolved then lied to the court using confidential informants as the source of the information. The problem was that there was some information that the confidential informants could not have possibly known. That's when the whole case fell apart.

The reason they want to keep it all a secret is to prevent the public from finding out that the police acted illegally, wiretapped without warrants, used Stingray devices near the suspects homes and recorded all calls/sms from all cellphones within a 5km radius of their homes. They needed the Stingrays because the Bacon's had many prepaid cellphones (burners) not registered to their name.

Use of Stingrays on the general public along with wiretapping random numbers without warrants is the main reasons for the Stay of Proceedings. Police violated not only the suspects Charter of Rights to Privacy but the whole general public that lived near the Bacons or had ever been called by one of them. Lawyers, Doctors, car dealerships, everyone they ever dialed all had their phones tapped.

Expect the other 2 convicted to be winning their appeals real soon...

The way to avoid police wiretaps and Stingray devices is to install and ONLY use the Signal app by Open Whisper Systems. It lets you send text messages fully encrypted and make VOIP calls fully encrypted. Bacons and other crews have switched, so should everyone else!

I would also like to point out that Jamie Bacon's long-time girlfriend Madison Zoe Finn reportedly died of an accidental drug overdose in a Richmond hotel room a day before the court proceedings that quashed charges against Mr Bacon. You can read the rather sensational details at: It should be noted that she was a convicted drug trafficker who had been charged in 2012/2013 and sentenced to a year in jail. In 2014 she was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin and was still involved in ongoing charges relating to resisting arrest and impaired driving.

Only days before that on Nov. 30, Kelly Ellard who killed 14 year old Reena Virk in a savage swarming incident two decades ago where she was beaten and drowned by a bridge in Victoria, was granted conditional approval for day parole. You can read the details about this case at Having a baby conceived during conjugal visits with her boyfriend who is also is prison likely helped in her receive six months of day parole with a requirement to complete a residential treatment program for substance abuse during that time. Yet another killer allowed to walk free among us while the victim's family still mourns the death of their teenage daughter at the hands of a bunch of monster.

In Smithers Supreme Court on Nov 27th, Burns lake resident Albert Giesbrecht was who was charged with 1st degree murder of Raymond George Bishop in May, was granted bail with his release likely today on Dec. 11th. Besides adhering to 22 conditions, he had two people put up $75,000 for his release. Details on yet another sordid travesty of justice that can be found at You have to ask yourself if the community would have been better served by keeping this man in jail until his first degree murder trial began. Once again, the words shock and outraged are used by the public to describe yet another questionable judicial decision in our province.

It really goes on and on ad naseam. In Vancouver last week the long-suffering family of Luka Gordic heard that their sons killer Arvin Golic was sentenced to only seven years in jail for stabbing their son during a swarming in Whistler in 2015. His Mom fingered the accused before being ushered from the courthouse by bailiffs. Around the same time, the family of Amandeep Bath of Surrey who was fatally shot in 2004, were outraged that the man convicted of killing him was applying for supervised leave from prison just six months into his six-year prison sentence. Two days later the family of Bradley Dean, a cyclist who was killed in a crash involving a car in Richmond in 2016 were upset to learn the accused was only being charged with a motor vehicle offense, not criminal charges for driving involving his death.

All of these decisions are only more ammunition to the group behind the Facebook page BC Judges....stop The Revolving Door at You may have seen one of the thousands of vehicles proudly sporting their stickers with slogans such as BC Judges, Our Strongest and Weakest Link, Your Silence Lets It Happen, along with If Youre Not Outraged, Youre Not Paying Attention. This ad-hoc group that has a semi-trailer westbound on Hwy 1 just before the 264 St. exit adorned with their slogans is bringing attention to light sentencing and attempts to have judges elected in this province. If light sentences, early parole or dropped charges are eroding your faith in our legal system then join them to add your voice to those who believe there is no justice here in BC.

Naturally yours
Don Pitcairn



December 04, 2017

Advance Warning


Today marks the last day to take advantage of advance voting should you not be in town on Monday Dec. 11th or want to avoid long lines at your local polling station on the day of the General Election. If this sounds like an appealing idea, you may want to consider how far of a drive or transit trip it might be to make your mark in advance.

The South Surrey - White Rock federal election riding basically encompasses all of the area south of #10 Hwy, west of 192 St. and north of the 49th parallel. There are approximately 20,000 folks living in the City By The Sea and close to 70,000 living in south Surrey. With the shear size of the riding you would expect the advance polling stations to be spread far and wide to make it easier for people to vote early should they decide to do so. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Elections Canada does not even list the four advance polling locations on their website, you have to find yours by inputting a postal code. I'll save you the fun of searching out various postal codes from this riding an tell you that the locations are as follows:
White Rock Community Centre, 15154 Russel Ave., White Rock
Elks Hall, 1469 George St., White Rock
Star of the Sea Centre, 15262 Pacific Ave., White Rock
Seaview Assembly, 14633 16 Ave., South Surrey
Now I realize that many folks living in White Rock don't get around as easily as they used to but a 0.9 km walk or a three minute drive from the Star of the Sea to the Elks Hall doesn't really make much sense. Even worse, from the Elks Hall to the WR Community Centre is only 0.3 km, or 0.16 km as the crow flies, which even for a crow is a very short flight. Its not even far enough to even work up a thirst, which is a shame with the White Rock Beach Beer across the street from the poll. The only location in Surrey is on the Surrey border across from White Rock's Centennial Park. Once again, not exactly long distance at a mere 1.4 km or a leisurely 4 minute drive from the closest advance polling station in White Rock.

On election day, our local Legion that is stumbling distance away (trust me on this distance calculation) will be where we go to vote but the Seaview Assembly is our advance polling location at 6.2 km or a 9 minute drive. The only advance poll for this huge swath of south Surrey is not centrally located but instead on the very southern edge of town. It is amazing that Elections Canada did not secure a location west of Hwy 99 in the rapidly growing Grandview Heights area where rows of townhouses are being built as fast as Surrey First can rubber stamp these projects. I would imagine that Southridge School if it was available would have made a great location for people now living in this area. Hopefully for the General Election in a couple of year's time, this central location in suburbia can be booked in advance.

If you happen to reside in the Panorama Ridge region, you are basically out of luck when it comes to advance polls. It is approximately 16 km and an 18 minute drive by car, likely an hour each way if you wanted to hop on a bus. Even worse is the area of south Cloverdale that is part of our riding which is also 16 km away but a 24 minute drive. You would have to have an awfully good reason to spend this much time driving in order to attempt to visit an advance poll from either of these regions. At least the country folks in the eastern end of south Surrey have it easy as the Elections Canada office happens to be located at 19028 27 Ave. and they are open from 9 a.m. till 9 p.m., 7 days a week. I will warn you that the advance polls at the office location have a deadline of 6 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, Dec. 5 but that does give you an extra day to vote early.

The returning officer for Elections Canada, Mrs. Mary Wright had this say about the advance polls are being located in and around a small portion of White Rock: "We are certainly aware of how many of our electors live in the northern part of the riding. We tried to find a site in this area that was available for all four days of advanced voting. Unfortunately, none of them was available for all the days. Many of the sites we considered were already booked for Christmas activities on the weekend." Hopefully in the future they will be able to book areas that are more accessible to the bulk of the constituents and not crowd them into a small geographical area. Having all of the advance polls located in White Rock is a disservice to the constituents of this riding and does not help with encouraging everyone to vote. This is critically important in a by-election where voter compliance rates tend to be lower than a Canada wide election.

I should note that if you are travelling outside of the riding or don't want to visit a polling station, you can vote by mail as long as you apply before the Tuesday, Dec. 5th deadline by either calling direct or applying online. For those who cannot get to a polling station due to illness or disability, you can request to vote by special ballot which allows voting at home in the presence of an election officer and a witness. For more information about these alternative voting methods, consult the Elections Canada website at the following link:

Make sure you exercise your democratic right and vote for the candidate of your choice that you believe would best represent us in Ottawa. Keep in mind that regardless of the outcome of the by-election on Dec. 11th, we will be doing this all again in less than two years time no later than Oct. 21, 2019 when the next Federal election is scheduled.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



Movember 27, 2017


Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Lyrics to "Signs", Five Man Electrical Band, 1970

Well It is starting to suddenly look like a Federal by-election in the riding of South Surrey - White Rock with election signs sprouting like mushrooms in the fall rains. While they have been fairly similar over the years, if you look closely you can now see big differences on how the various political parties try to get their message across and candidate's names out into the public domain.

The Conservatives were the first out of the gate for Kerry-Anne Findlay, putting up their monsterous 4'x8' coreplast signs on heavily staked 2"x 4" frames that have now become a regular sight in elections in Surrey. There are no controls over the size of election signs or how many can be put onto public land so "bigger is better" and "the more the merrier" appear to have become campaign slogans. The issue I have with these signs is that they are basically a large sail ready to take flight and with wind storms common this time of year, they can easily get blown out of the saturated ground leaving the frames twisted and broken with screws and nails sticking out like quills on a porcupine. To make matters worse, one big sign is now no longer enough with several now being erected together, forming a sign 4'x16' or even 4'x24' billboard. There is three-sided Conservative party sign at the corner of 148 St. and 20 Ave. in south Surrey that if a roof was installed might make for a good homeless shelter. Kudos must be given to the Conservatives who have obviously stored many of their sign frames from the last election as if you look under multiple layers of coreplast still attached to the frames you will find older election signs for Dianne Watts and Russ Hiebert.

The NDP with their candidate Jonathan Silveira are trying to keep up with the Joneses, posting some of the bulky 4x8s themselves, using plenty of lumber to try and keep them from getting destroyed by wind or from idiot vandals. Their 4'x4" signs are similarly framed as they were in the past but now instead of using 2x4s everywhere, much lighter materials including boards cut into two, plus 1x2s and small stakes to hold it down. My guess is that somebody found out how hard it is to pound a 2x4 stake into the ground, especially on roadside boulevards that frequently are beds of crushed stone. Limiting the size of the wood being used also helps to reduce costs and make for easier storage, rather than buying new wood for each election and scrapping it once the vote has been taken. Considering the NDP's fairly low voter results in this riding going back many years I must say that I am surprised by the number of election signs they have posted, with most in excellent high visibility locations. The belief is that with Dianne Watts abandoning this riding that it is up for grabs and it might be a close affair on election day. While many believe that it will be a two-horse race, the NDP are definitely hoping for a 3-way split, apparently energized by the BC NDP taking power from the BC Liberals with help from the upstart Greens.

The Liberals in this riding have taken a very different strategy with their election signs from those used in previous years. Gone are the huge plastic signs and massive 2x4 wood frames of yesteryear. Their new look signs measuring only 48" wide by 32" tall feature a full-colour digital print of their candidate Gordie Hogg standing next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This is the first time that I can remember a political party having the picture of their candidate plus their leader on the same election sign. Obviously the Liberals believe they can take great strides by piggy-backing onto the public fascination with the young photogenic Trudeau. Judging by the big crowd that turned out at 5 Corners when the P.M. was in town, I'd say they might be onto something with this new look that uses much less plastic sheeting making it less susceptible to wind blow down. The frames have also undergone a radical transformation, with only two 2x3s being used to create the upside down L frame similar to the one that has been utilized for decades by real estate agents almost everywhere. If the Liberals are successful in getting Mr. Hogg elected, don't be surprised if their signage is copied by other parties in the next election scheduled for two years from now.

To date there are no election signs posted for the four other candidates running in this riding; Larry Colero of the Green Party of Canada, Michael Huenefeld of the Progressive Canadian Party, Rod Taylor of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada and Donald Wilson of the Libertarian Party of Canada. With only 4 days until the Advance Polls and a mere two weeks till the General Election Day, I would be surprised to see much more election signage hit the streets here. I know that Larry Colero is not a fan of election signs believing there are much less wasteful ways of getting his message across. Having worked on various election campaigns in the past, I must admit that not putting out election signs would save a lot of money, time and energy while eliminating a lot of waste. Driving through Surrey the other night, I found myself wondering why nobody had ever purchased bus shelter ads as they are protected, lit up at night and easy to read. Could this concept be the future of political signage in these parts? Its hard to say but I believe that all political parties need to evaluate the way they do election signage and get rid of giant billboards and boulevard sign carpet bombing that is such an eyesore.

On a final note about election signs, Section 325 of the Canada Elections Act states "No person shall prevent or impair the transmission to the public of an election advertising message without the consent of a person with authority to authorize its transmission". This does not apply to "the prevention or impairment, by a public authority, of an unlawful transmission if reasonable notice has first been given to the person who authorized the transmission; or the removal by an employee of a public authority of a sign, poster or banner where the posting of it is a hazard to public safety". For those people who think it helps their political party's chances or kids out at night pulling a prank, everyone needs to know it is a federal offense to tamper with election signs. Generally anyone who damages a sign could potentially look at a criminal charge of mischief, which is damaging property that is not your own. As much as I'm not a fan of election signage, I consider it an attack on democracy to vandalize or steal political signs. If you want one so badly, simply call the party office of your choice and they will gladly install one on your front lawn for free.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - November 20, 2017

White Rock Star

Sleepy little White Rock and quiet south Surrey certainly got shaken out of their doldrums last week with political heavyweights rolling into town as a prelude to the upcoming federal by-election. Without a doubt, the arrival of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in White Rock to give his support to Liberal candidate Gordie Hogg was nothing short of having a rock star show up with hordes of screaming fans; somewhere between Beetlemania and Trudeaumania from yesteryear. The Semi-pen's by-election even got the attention of the Province's political writer Michael Smyth in his Victoria's Secrets column this Sunday titled "Trudeau's Liberals aim to steal Surrey seat away from Tories" that you can read at:

While it was only announced the night before, word spread quickly that the PM would be dropping by to visit the 5 Corners region, with people already crowding into the area around noon to get a spot to see J.T. His motorcade with RCMP security detail first drove up Buena Vista Ave. at 1:45 p.m. stopping in front of White Rock City Hall where Trudeau exited a blackened Escalade without a blazer and with his sleeves already rolled up as he is known to do when pressing the flesh. Justin shook hands with Gordie Hogg and was welcomed by Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell and White Rock Councillor Dave Chesney. After introductions and pleasantries, it was photo-op time along Buena Vista for everyone before the Prime Minister and his entourage headed down the street to his waiting fans. Strangely absent from the scene was White Rock's Mayor Wayne Baldwin and the rest of Council even with Canada's leader showing up at their doorstep.

Laura's Coffee Corner was the first stop for the Justin Trudeau as he worked his way through the crowd estimated at over 1,000 strong, shaking hands, fist pumping, holding babies and having people take selfie after selfie of themselves with the Prime Minister. It was if everyone wanted to meet the man personally, take a photo to mark the occasion and be part of the high-energy atmosphere. For whatever reason, when J.T. shows up it is like a rock star walks into the room, with the only things missing being the mosh pit, crowd surfing and the mains of speakers. After getting to meet with the staff of Laura's, the PM worked his way down Pacific Ave to Five Corners Cafe where he was graciously welcomed by the Honeywells. I'm sure it won't be long till pictures of their meeting with the Prime Minister and Gordie Hogg are added to their wall of fame. It was not a total love-in as several activists were on hand to keep it real and remind the junior Trudeau of his father's promise back in 1972 to have the BNSF railway relocated from the waterfront.

Dianne Watts may have abruptly folded her tent and abandoned the constituents in south Surrey - White Rock but the Conservatives are still hoping to hold on to the seat that she narrowly won the last general election. Amazingly on the same day that the Prime Minister was in White Rock, the new Tory leader Andrew Sheer was in south Surrey at the Pacific Inn to lend his support to their high-profile Conservative candidate, former MP for Richmond - Delta East and Cabinet Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay. While not the high-octane reception the PM enjoyed at 5 Corners, there were 250-300 people at this event held for volunteers and supporters helping with the by-election machinations. With the Liberals pushing ahead with marijuana legalization, opponents were also on hand to deliver a 9,000 signature petition to the Conservative leader opposing the end to pot prohibition.

In case you missed it, Tom Saunders provided the following piece which was posted earlier last week in the WR Sun that I thought should be added here for prosperity because of its historical content. That's now six Prime Ministerial visits and counting for the City By The Sea.

Did you know that half of all Prime Ministers visiting White Rock have gravitated to Five Corners? John Diefenbaker spoke at the Star of the Sea Hall, Pierre Trudeau opened French Immersion at White Rock Elementary, and today Justin Trudeau visited Laura's Coffee Corner and Five Corners Cafe. The rest, of course, visited the beach - Brian Mulroney came in on a hovercraft for a sandcastle competition, Kim Campbell ate at Charlie Don't Surf, and Jean Chretien visited the White Rock Museum & Archives.

With the close of nominations for candidates in the S. Surrey-White Rock Federal by-election on Monday, November 20, the ballot is suddenly getting rather full.
Here is the full list of six candidates who have been confirmed as of Sunday night.
Larry Colero, Green Party of Canada
Kerry-Lynne Findlay, Conservative Party of Canada
Gordie Hogg, Liberal Party of Canada
Michael Huenefeld, Progressive Canadian Party
Jonathan Silveira, New Democratic Party
Donald Wilson, Libertarian Party of Canada

Unfortunately by-elections are often taken for granted with many of the electorate not bothering to exercise their democratic right to vote. In my opinion it has been a very long time since we have proper representation in the House of Commons or an MP that actually listened to their constituents. I believe that in this election we have a chance to change that and send someone to Ottawa that will be our voice on in Parliament. The Liberals won a record 17 seats in BC in the last election and want to break that with 18, sweeping all Surrey ridings. The Conservatives want to hold onto their formerly safe seat that may now be up for grabs. There are six candidates so do your research , get to know them and make an informed decision. No matter who you endorse, it is vitally important that you GET OUT TO VOTE! Advance polls are Dec. 1-4 and voting day is Mon., Dec. 11th. I expect this election will be very close so make sure to make you mark and pick your Member of Parliament.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



November 14, 2017

A Time to Remember


Living a stone's throw from the #240 Crescent Beach Legion, this is where I've gone in the past on Remembrance Day to pay my respects, honour those who have served our country and be part of the rather sombre festivities on November 11th. While my parents never served during times of war, they are both veterans of the Canadian Air Force, my Mom as a nurse and my father as a pilot. I've had plenty of exposure to the military over the years, joining the New Westminster Regiment and BC Regiment (Duke of Connaught's Own) as a cadet and being a member of the Seaforth Highlanders shooting team. On various military ranges I have met and competed against Regular Force and Reserve Force personnel from across Canada, getting to know them well and hear their stories about serving our country. The most recent stories from Iraq involving Canadian sniper teams fighting against ISIS insurgents were both inspiring and terrifying at the same time, with gruesome details from a senior officer that I will not repeat here. While I admire their dedication and service to our country, I must admit it is a hell of a dangerous way to make a living.

My friend and Carpadia Series author Mike Markevitch faithfully attends the White Rock Remembrance Day celebrations on a yearly basis, wearing his father's military medals and a navy beret to honour his Dad who passed away many years ago on Nov. 10th. Volunteering for Navy duty with three of his brothers in WW2, Mike's father spent five years aboard the Gatineau that was an escort ship for the many convoys heading across the Atlantic Ocean. Besides protecting the freighters, their job was to hunt and destroy German U-boats using depth charges. I decided to take Mike up on his offer to come join him at his regular position directly in front of the White Rock Cenotaph. If you have never spent Remembrance Day there before, make sure you mark it on your calendar for next year. The ceremony began with a window rattling fly-over by four Harvard aircraft in diamond formation. The 907 Black Knight Air Cadet Squadron was in attendance in numbers, featuring their marching band and honour guard. The Surrey Fire Department Pipes and Drums were also there to add their bagpipes to the spectacle, along with plenty of other emergency responders. White Rock's Mark Donnelly (aka Mr. O' Canada) gave a very stirring version of O' Canada that everyone in the large crowd sang along to. A lone replica Sopwith Pup from the Canadian Museum of flight in Langley slowly circled above City Hall as speeches were made and wreaths were laid. Fortunately the rain held off until the ceremony was almost over.

While there were plenty of other Remembrance Day celebrations being held across the Lower Mainland on Saturday, up in Guildford on the #1 Freeway, Nov 11th took on a new meaning with work being done a few weeks ago to preserve the history of "Charlie's Tree." As previously posted in the WR Sun, here is a short history:
The memorial was created by Charlie Perkins, a World War I veteran flight instructor who was the only returnee of his friends from The Great War. He planted ivy at the tree in a grove where he and his friends would spend their days as youngsters, as a way to honour them forever. When construction of Highway 1 in 1960 threatened to travel right in the path of his tree, Charlie stood his ground, resulting in that curve in the highway to preserve the reminder of his beloved friends.
The tree took on an even greater significance, as a reminder for those who fought for the freedoms that Canadians exercise each and every day. Over the years, Charlie’s Tree endured a lot: it was set a blaze and topped, but just like Charlie, the tree persevered and the memorial lived on and visitors decorated it with flags and flowers. In the summer of 2016 the tall stump that was left of Charlie’s Tree fell onto Hwy 1 blocking several of the east bound lanes.

The Friends of Old Canada Society, a volunteer not-for-profit group that helps to promote and preserve smaller Canadian history decided that Charlie's Tree memorial needed something more permanent than a rotten stump. In behind the Art Knapps store on the King George Blvd. in south Surrey, Ves Vukovic of the monument company Stonemarks ( put his talents as a master stonemason to work, building a new granite memorial dedicated to Charlie Perkins and his now fallen Fir tree. Working with several of the Vanderzalm family and other members of the Friends, they cleaned up the area around the old stump, created a new gravel and concrete base and positioned the large inscribed granite slab to have it ready for this year's Remembrance Day celebrations. To top it off, a Douglas Fir tree was also planted in the same spot as the original, with care to cut back the invasive English Ivy that had likely hastened the demise of the first tree. Written in stone in both English and French, here is the inscription on the rock: "CHARLIE'S TREE - The ivy planted at the base of a giant Douglas Fir on this site was a memorial to North American WW1 Royal Flying Corps pilots. The pilots were trained in Canada and the United States by lifetime British Columbian Charlie Perkins, the man behind the memorial. Circa 1918".

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of Charlie's Tree and thanks to the Friends of Old Canada, it is likely this new memorial will be around for centuries to come. As the years go by since the Great Wars and the survivors of these conflicts slowly dwindle in numbers, it is important to remember their sacrifices and their place in history, lest we forget.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn





November 06, 2017


Mark Your Calendars - Dec. 11 is Voting Day


It really is amazing how the dominoes tumbled to lead us to the political crossroads I witnessed on Sunday. First the BC Liberals run a lackluster campaign, losing their majority in the Legislature allowing the NDP and Greens to grab the reins of power in Victoria. Feeling the sharp tips of the many knives pointed squarely at her back, Premier Christy Clark resigns as the leader of the Party, initiating a leadership race for the BC Liberals. To the surprise of many, Conservative MP Dianne Watts resigns two years into her stint as the south Surrey-White Rock MP to run for leader of the BC Liberal Party, triggering a Federal by-election here. On Sunday it was made official at a Liberal Party of Canada meeting held at the White Rock Community Centre where Gordon Hogg presented himself to the gathered throng as their Federal Liberal candidate. In case you were wondering, it is only four days shy of six months since Mr. Hogg retired as the BC Liberal MLA for south Surrey-White Rock after two decades of serving as our MLA.

To top all of this off, it was announced that morning by Election's Canada that the by-election will be held on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017, a mere 36 days from now. By comparison, the 2015 election was the longest in Canadian history, an epic 76 days. If you remember, during the last Federal election in 2015 it was pro-pot statements previously posted on Facebook that caused the then Liberal candidate Joy Davies to resign only 39 days before the election. Her signs were hastily taken down while the Liberal Party brass looked for another candidate to take on the Conservative's all-star candidate, former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. Into the breach stepped the well-known if not often elected Judy Higginbotham whose hot-off-the-press election signs hit the streets only weeks before the Oct. 19 election. Even with being saddled with such a late campaign start, Higgy almost pulled off the upset for the Liberals, coming up only 1,500 votes short behind Watts who won by only 3% of the vote.

The meeting of Liberal minds on Sunday was a who's who of Semi-Pen politicos. Newly elected South Surrey White Rock MLA Tracey Reddies of the BC Liberals was there along with Federal Liberal MP Randeep Sarai from the Surrey Central riding. Former MLA and WR Councillor Ken Jones was on hand to welcome the other present White Rock councillors Helen fathers, Dave Chesney, Lynne Sinclair and Grant Meyer. The Semiahmoo First Nation were present with newly elected Chief Harley Chappell and Councillor Joanne Charles singing a welcome song written by Grand Chief Bernard Charles. For all of the recent issues that SFN has had with the City of White Rock, I must say that Chief Chappell was the most eloquent and articulate speaker of the day, asking everyone to "support our brother, our elder, our friend" Gordon Hogg. He had the crowd laughing when he equated his speech to talking to the groom at the wedding saying "Are you sure Gordie? There's still time to run!" Former White Rock Sun editor Vin Voyne, when commiserating about his long family history with the Hoggs had this to say about Gordon Hogg's recent Doctorate degree, "Should we call you Dr. Hogg the 2nd, Dr. Hogg Junior, or young Doctor Hogg?"

The Conservatives, New Democrats and BC Greens have yet to announce their candidates but whoever takes on Mr. Hogg are certainly in for a Bambi vs. Godzilla battle. I had the pleasure of running against Gordie in a Provincial election and know first hand what a class act and a fine man he really is. With his decades of public service and name recognition, it will be very tough to beat Gordon at the ballot box likely giving the Federal Liberals a clean sweep of all of the Surrey ridings The Conservatives could conjure up the spirit of John A. MacDonald, the NDP the dearly departed Jack Layton and I still think they would not have a ghost of a chance. Imagine what will happen if JT happens to pop into the riding in the next month to help Mr. Hogg with his campaigning? In case you missed the reference, that's what Liberal insiders call Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I learned this weekend that it was the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) that first inquired if Gordon Hogg was interested in joining the government in Ottawa when he was on Parliament Hill recently for World Health Organization discussions.

If and when Gordon Hogg becomes the next MP for South Surrey - White Rock there is one thing you can count on. After years and years of being underrepresented and all but ignored by our Members of Parliament, we will finally have someone in Ottawa who'll actually look after their constituents. As much as it pissed me off that Mrs. Watts would bail out of her duty to voters only two years into her mandate, it will be worth it if we can bring in someone with morals, integrity and a spirit of consensus and consultation. The person who should be cheering on Gordie's campaign the loudest must be Wayne Baldwin who likely heard the rumours of Mr. Hogg considering running for Mayor of White Rock next year. The person who should be campaigning for Watts to win the BC Liberal's leadership fight should be Surrey's Mayor Linda Hepner, since if Dianne fails in that quest, it would not surprise me to see the Queen of Surrey try to retake her marbled office at City Hall in civic elections in 2018.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 30, 2017

My Gift To You - Beware Of Pyramid Schemes!

I may be old fashioned but I believe the best way to earn money is to work for it. Imagine my surprise when I recently was told by friends that I could earn $40,000 tax free in a short period of time on an initial investment of only $5,000. Welcome to the "Gifting Circle", aka the "Birthday Circle", "Woman's Wisdom Circle" or "Birthday Girl" that first appeared several years ago in Calgary then in Fort MacMurray, Coquitlam, Abbotsford and is now in south Surrey and White Rock. Don't let the "Circle" name fool you as the only thing circular about it is the run around you will get when you lose your money. It doesn't matter what name they call it; it's a classic pyramid scheme that is illegal here in Canada and the US.

Let me explain how this scam works. There are 15 members placed into four levels; 1, 2, 4, and 8. Each member of the bottom 8 pays $5000 to enter as their gift. That money is then gifted to the person in the top position. After the “Birthday Gift” has been paid out to the top person, they exit the top level and may or may now buy back into the new bottom tier of 8 by gifting another $5000. The 2 from the second level now split, becoming the 1 in the top tier of each new group A and group B. The original 4 in the third level become 2 in group A and 2 in group B. The original 8 move up to the 4 positions in the third level and they must now recruit 8 new low level members for each group A and group B (16 in total) to keep the money coming to give as the next “Birthday Gift”.

As you can imagine, this scheme requires an ever increasing pool of suckers increasing at a rapid rate until it finally collapses like a stack of cards. While the gifting may allude to coming full circle, when you view the numbers of people laid out in their corresponding levels, ask yourself if you have seen this shape before, most likely near Giza, Egypt?
2 2
4 4 4 4
If you have a few grand to throw around and think this is harmless fun, realize that in the initial four tier pyramid, there is the equivalent of $75,000 in by-in money at all levels. It doesn't take very long before the splitting of the pyramids and increase in players result in a much larger base of people and money involved. If this scheme were to somehow continue to operate for only 20 levels, it would involve over half a million people, 524,288 to be precise, or more people that currently live in all of Surrey. By then the $5,000 by-in cost would have ballooned to a whopping $2.6 billion. Add only six more levels of suckers, the total number of people needed to support those at the top would be 33.5 million, or nearly everyone living in Canada.

A big red flag about the Gifting Circle is that there is no website, no written documents, no contracts, nothing to sign, and no contact information other than the person you know who sucked you into getting involved with this scam. Even more worrisome is that the players all use cute sounding fake names and email addresses with all meetings held in secret locations ensuring that you don't know the true identities of those involved or how many are getting fleeced. Unfortunately the main target of this pyramid scheme is often women, tricked into thinking this is somehow not illegal and how a small gift now will result in a larger gift eventually coming back to them in the near future. The sad part is that they often bring their friends and family members into this con game, not realizing it is likely they will never see their money again.

Its not like I'm the first one to ring alarm bells about this pyramid scheme. The Better Business Bureau or BBB sent out public warnings about Gifting Circles in August of both 2016 and 2017, stating that roughly 12-14% of those involved actually get the promised payout, leaving a high percentage of empty pockets.
The Coquitlam RCMP also had plenty to say about Gifting Circles in June of this year, with its Economic Crime Unit (ECU) investigators hoping to stop this new pyramid scheme.
Global TV has reported multiple times on the BBB and RCMP news releases about the Gifting Circles but this is the first time to my knowledge that this pyramid scheme has appeared in south Surrey and White Rock.

If you don't want to be one of the estimated 87% of investors that never see a dime back from a Gifting Circle, then feel free to join. Unfortunately under Canadian Criminal Code 206(E) pyramid schemes are an indictable offence in relation to lotteries and games of chance, with those caught liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. At the end of the day, the naked truth about gifting circles is is that they'll ruin your finances and friendships. If you have been a victim of a Gifting Circle, don't be embarrassed at being caught up in this scheme and report it to the Surrey RCMP non-emergency reporting line at 604-599-0502. If you read this TNT column and tell two friends about this scam, and they tell two friends, who tell their two friends and so on, it won't take long before everyone living in the Semi-pen knows that Gifting Circles are for losers.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 23, 2017


Speed Reading at Surrey Schools

As someone who is interested in transportation issues and also a dedicated safety nut, it was refreshing to receive a letter from the City of Surrey's Transportation Division last week informing us about the "Arterial Road School Zone Awareness Pilot Program." While this is a bit of a mouthful, and with the cheeky abbreviation of ARS-ZAPP not really helping much, it's all about improving safety and visibility in school zones and hopefully slowing drivers down. Here is the bulk of the letter that also included a full-colour aerial photo showing the location of the new safety measures planned for our local school.

Dear resident:

This letter is to advise you about a pilot project we will be implementing in the school zone for Crescent Park Elementary School on 24 Avenue and 128 Street in your neighbourhood. As part of our Safe and Active Schools Program, the City of Surrey is committed to improving road safety around schools and, as such attention is being given to speed management on busy roads in 30 km/h school zones.

For this year-long pilot program, the City will be installing and evaluating various speed mitigation measures including amber flashing beacons on school signs, highly visible road marking, and speed reader boards. These measures are being applied on busy arterial roads where traffic calming (speed humps) is not permitted. These additional measures are intended to draw motorists attention to the hours of operation of the school zone and to signal to motorists to slow down to the posted speed.

At Crescent Park Elementary School, on both 24 Avenue and 128 Street, we will be piloting a new type of pavement marking in fluorescent yellow-green that reads "SCHOOL". This will help increase awareness of where the reduced speed limit begins, encouraging motorists to slow down. Additionally we will be installing two speed reader boards, one on 24 Avenue and one on 128 Street. Speed reader boards use radar to measure traffic speeds and provide real-time feedback by displaying the actual speed being traveled, raising awareness and encouraging slower speeds. This initiative is supported by our community partners including ICBC and the Surrey RCMP.

If you have any questions about this pilot project, please contact ken Lee by email at or by telephone at 604-589-7910. More information about the ARS-ZAPP program can be found on the City of Surrey website at the following link:

The reason for these improvements is that according to ICBC data, an average of 253 children aged 5-18 are injured with 4 being killed in crashes while walking or cycling in the Lower Mainland. Shockingly even with lower speed limits, there are 42 children injured each year in school or playground zones. Besides the speed reading signs, flashing LED lights will be added to school zone signs and programmed to flash at school arrival, lunch and dismissal times when children are more likely to be on the streets. For Crescent Park Elementary, the high-viz pavement markings will be large square of yellow-green paint with the word SCHOOL stretched out to make it easier to see and read for drivers. I spotted the alternative elongated school zone sign newly painted on 184 Street in Cloverdale at Don Christian Elementary last week and stopped to take the picture you see above.

The ARS-ZAPP will be rolled out in two phases with eight Surrey elementary schools being part of this year-long pilot program from fall of 2017 to summer of 2018. During this time, the City will be conducting traffic studies on these schools and surveying the surrounding community to get their feedback on the effectiveness of the improvements. In the fall of 2018, the results from phase 1 will dictate how this program will be expanded to other Surrey school communities. The City of Surrey has invested heavily in safety, completed more than 700 projects from 2000- 2016 totaling $18.5M improving pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and pathways, signage projects, traffic calming and other road safety measures during that time.

A recent BCAA School Zone Safety Survey released in September showed that driving in school zones has gone from "bad to worse" with aggressive driving among parents including honking and swearing jumping almost 30 percent. Over 80 percent of respondents witnessed parents not following rules of the road including not stopping at a marked crosswalk (82%), driving over the speed limit (93%), with distracted driving also still increasing (82% to 86%). If you need an incentive to slow down, consider that if a vehicle traveling at 50 kmh strikes a pedestrian there is only a 20% chance of survival. If the vehicle is traveling at 30 kmh there is a 90% chance of survival. Remember that with our ever shorter days and nasty wet weather it is a 30 kmh speed limit in school zones from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on school days unless otherwise posted. Make sure you slow down, put your phone down, and keep our kids safe.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 16, 2017

Duck Feathers & Parrot's Feather

The Serpentine Fen Wildlife Management Area is always easy to view, usually without even stepping out of your vehicle. Its location in south Surrey alongside of King George Boulevard at 44 Ave. make it very easy to take in the various ponds, flocks of ducks and the water levels as you drive by. For years since it was first constructed, the Serpentine Fen has always remained a wetland during the summer months. The past three hot and dry summers have seen a rather startling change with much of the Fen drying out, leaving the remaining waterfowl crowded into dwindling puddles. While most people including myself thought this was simply from a lack of rain water, possibly linked to climate change, that is simply not the case.

Last week I was rather startled to see heavy construction equipment, men with hard hats, large plastic pipe and even a Chevy truck out on one of the small peninsulas in the Fen. I was not the only one who noticed these strange happenings as several people contacted me to ask if I had seen the work being done and if I knew what was happening. I had already stopped and taken a picture of the workmen and followed that up by contacting Ducks Unlimited who manage the Fen along with the Province of BC. While everyone I talked to had concluded the pipes were being installed to help control water levels, it turns out they were not for drainage. Ducks Unlimited are installing new larger signs further back from the KGB and the pipes were used to hold gravel that in turn stabilized the large posts placed in the boggy ground. The new signs should be posted in the coming weeks and expect an official unveiling of them in the near future.

What was interesting about my contact with the management at Ducks Unlimited was I found out that the drying out of the Fen had nothing to do with our unusually dry summers but was being done to help control an invasive species of aquatic plant. Taken from the Invasive Species of BC website ( here is the dirt on what they are trying to eradicate.

Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum) is an aquatic perennial that is currently impacted several areas within BC. This species is known to out-compete and replace native aquatic vegetation with its dense stands. These stands also create pools of stagnant water, leading on an increase in mosquito breeding grounds. Parrot’s feather is currently present in freshwater lakes, ponds, or streams in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley regions.
Named for its feather-like bright green foliage, parrot’s feather has both submersed and emergent plant parts. Intertwined mats typically have standing stems over 1.5m in length which are covered in submersed stiff leaves roughly 2-5cm long; limp emergent leaves range from 1.5-3.5cm in length.
Unfortunately, parrot’s feather is a popular aquatic garden species and intentional planting has spread this species into natural water bodies. Generally, all parrot’s feather plants are female and because of this they do not produce seeds; this plant spreads via underground stems, and plant fragments can be dispersed with water, animals, boats, and fishing gear.
Once established, parrot’s feather is a difficult invasive to manage. Due to its submersed and emergent vegetation, herbicides are difficult to effectively implement. Prevention is key with the species; be plantwise and please avoid using parrot’s feather in aquatic gardens or aquariums. Properly clean, drain and dry your boat and fishing gear before leaving an infected site.

Parrot's feather is not the only invasive plant species that finds its way into the Serpentine Fen. Himalayan blackberry loves to grow alongside ditches and disturbed areas where its seeds are spread by songbirds. Yellow flag iris and purple loosetrife are plants used by landscapers for water features that have escaped into wetlands where their ability to product large amounts of seeds has lead to wide distribution. It is not only the plants that are foreign to the Fen, there are plenty of animals that are also present which are not native. If you drive by in the summer you can often see red-eared slider turtles sunning themselves on the floating logs, likely after being released there as former pets. Voracious common carp that are found in many of the tributaries of the Nicomekyl and Serpentine River can access the Fen through water control gates. The American bullfrog is also a problem as a friend of mine who works at the nearby Art Knapps saw one attack a Mallard duck baby and drag it into the depths of a ditch there.

I could not get an answer if the draining of the Fen is a summer condition that will be continued into the future. Apparently it is having the desired effect to decrease the invasive Parrot's feather without mechanical control or herbicide use. I was informed that the yellow flag iris and purple loosestrife are simply pulled out by hand when they are discovered along the Fen's waterways. The heavy rains forecast for this week should start to refill the Fen and soon it will turn back into the wetlands that we are used to. I have to admit that I do like the Fen much better with water in it as it makes for amazing sunsets reflecting off its ponds as I drove home to the Semiahmoo peninsula down King George Blvd. If you have not been there, take the time to walk the Fen's 3.5 Km. trail with elevated viewing platforms allowing you to spot the over 100 birds that stop there during the year. If you take your dog along for a walk, make sure to keep it on a leash so as not to harass the wildlife and clean up after your pet.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



October 10, 2017


I just spent the weekend with my father down at the Tri-Cities Shooting Association Rattlesnake range in SE Washington State at a NRA sanctioned long range target rifle match. Being on the east side of the Cascade mountains it is a semi-arid region almost devoid of trees with plenty of grassland, sagebrush and tumbleweed. Because of the range's location on an exposed plateau above the Yakima River, it experiences tremendous winds making long range rifle shooting at 800, 900 and 1,000 yards extremely difficult, conditions that attract some of the top marksmen from across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. With a medium wind warning and blowing dust warning issued from the US Weather Service, we tried to hit a bulls-eye of 20 inches on targets only 6 feet wide in winds that varied from 25-35 MPH with quick angle and directional changes.

With the "Mandalay massacre" in Las Vegas fresh on everybody's minds, the issue of gun control in the US was at the forefront of lots of conversations on the range. In the US, the 2nd Amendment and right to bear arms is enshrined in their constitution. Of course when this document was signed, black-power muskets firing a single shot with a reloading time of roughly a minute were being used. Unfortunately many modern semi-automatic firearms including weapons of war are readily available for sale in the US including large capacity magazines and mechanisms that easily convert them into fully-automatic machine guns. It has been reported that the weapons used on the crowd in Las Vegas were firing 9-11 rounds a second in bursts up to 100 shots at a time. If a person can pass a background check, there is nothing to stop them from assembling a war chest of weapons and a mountain of ammunition. Long-range target rifle shooters use single shot bolt action rifles for extreme accuracy but there were still US shooters we met on the range that refused to consider gun control for rapid-fire high-powered weapons even after the latest mass shooting there.

In Canada after several mass shootings of our own, changes were made to take what I consider "weapons of mass destruction" out of the hands of the public. There are many firearms that formerly were available at your local sporting goods store that are now either restricted or prohibited. This included short barrelled handguns that were easy to conceal and a wide variety of military styled assault weapons. When I first bought an AR-15 for service rifle competitions in the BC Rifle Association, it came with 30 round magazines that could easily be piggy-backed or simply taped together with electrical tape to create the near equivalent of a 90 round magazine. While this may be attractive to a soldier on a battlefield who is fighting for his life, it is useless for any form of accurate shooting or competition. Since that time, magazines for these rifles have been limited to 5 rounds, which did not interfere with service rifle shooting since most of the matches require a compulsory magazine change to add to the degree of difficulty during snap or rapid fire shooting.

For those who are unaware, Canada has licensed the sale and purchase of handguns since 1934. They are heavily regulated, transported to and from approved ranges only and stored under lock and key in secure conditions. Needless to say, most of the handguns that local gangsters are shooting at each other with are purchased or stolen in the US and smuggled into this country. It is no surprise that Surrey, with the largest two land crossings into BC, also has the highest level of gun violence attached to gangs and the control of the illegal drug trade. Unfortunately with the proliferation of handguns in the US, it is unlikely that the flow of illegal weapons across the border will abate any time soon so we can expect targeted gun violence here to continue. For law-abiding citizens, you have to obtain a firearms license, either a PAL, POL, FAC or a minor's license, with the non-restricted long-gun registry being abolished in 2012. For an informative and comprehensive overview of gun laws in Canada, refer to the following Wikipedia link that by coincidence shows at stack of three AR-15 30 round magazines in a stack that have been pinned to only accept 5 rounds each:

On Wednesday of last week, the Peace Arch News printed an editorial on their opinion page titled "Weapons logic needs rethink" that you can read at As a long-time competitive shooter who has won awards in various disciplines and competed for Canada at World Championships, I would like to add my voice to those calling on our American neighbours to do a reality check finally take steps to limit access to high-powered weapons that allowed this latest mass-killing of innocents to take place. Having their citizens armed with army weapons designed to kill as many people as quickly and efficiently as possible will only ensure that the US continues to get war on its streets. You should be able to attend a concert, sporting event or any other public gathering without the threat of some madman or terrorist raining bullets down into the crowd.

President Trump, when pressed by reporters on the need for a discussion about gun control after the latest slaughter stated "Perhaps that will come,” but added it was “not for now.” I have to ask if not now, then when? How high does the body count have to go before saner minds demand safety of innocents over the desire of some people to create their own one-man-army? I believe that gun safety needs to be practiced more than just on the range. Banning weapons of war, large capacity magazines, items that can create fully-automatic weapons, plus enacting safe storage and transport requirements need to be instituted in the United States. With the exception of the ill-advised and useless long gun registry here that was later abolished here, I believe that Canada's gun control laws have resulted in a higher degree of public safety here while allowing firearm enthusiasts the freedom to pursue their sport of choice.

Recently Congresswomen and reporters protested on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, DC for their "right to bare arms", rallying in what was called "sleeveless Friday" against an outdated Congressional dress code. House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted that these rules had not been devised under his term and agreed it needed to be modernized. If the House of Representatives can work together to allow women to be comfortable and stylish in the summer heat, you would hope they could work together to ensure that people across America are free from being gunned down by a psychopath armed with machine guns. If Republicans and Democrats refuse to do anything about this deadly problem, it will unfortunately happen again with the next lunatic no doubt trying to increase the body count in order to put themselves in the history books.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


October 02, 2017

Beautiful, White & Deadly


You often don't have to go very far to find a story in your community. As a matter of fact, sometimes all you have to do is open the front door and step outside. This was the case last week when I basically tripped over a story that suddenly appeared in a line across my front boulevard lawn.

The City of Surrey did some sewer upgrades in our Crescent Heights neighbourhood a year ago, digging up the roadway, putting in new pipes and then relandscaping the road allowance in front of the yards on our street. As most landscapers are now using, they put down a mixture of organic compost and sand to use as a base for the grass seed they applied. This type of soil has become an industry standard with the organics coming from the large composing facilities that now recycle the food and yard waste that goes out in the green bins. While it works great as a growing medium, the high humus content and incomplete composing of the wood waste often results in mushrooms appearing not long after the soil is first put down.

That was the case with our front lawn but the mushrooms that suddenly appeared were hard to ignore. While there is a wide variety of mushrooms in the Pacific Northwest, coming in all sizes, shapes and colours, it is hard to not notice the Destroying Angel. It comes out of the ground, often alone or in small scattered groups, shining a bright clean white against green lawns or brown earth. When they first emerge and have not yet opened, they look like regular white button mushrooms that you can buy at any grocery store. As far as wild fungus goes, they closely resemble the white puffballs that grow in lawns and are edible. When the Destroying Angel has completely unfurled it is strikingly beautiful and easy to spot. The ones in my grass were not the first ones that I have seen this fall, with all of the others also growing out of newly landscaped lawns that were installed with fresh composted soil. As you should have guessed from the dangerous sounding name, they are deadly poisonous.

The Destroying Angel (Amanita Virosa) is part of the Amanita family of mushrooms that also includes the Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides), which also grows in this region. I have an Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms with superb pictures and detailed scientific descriptions that allows me to identify any mushroom or fungus that I come across in my travels. Their description of this mushroom is as follows: White mushroom with flaring to ragged ring on stalk, large sac-like cup about the base. Cap 2-5" wide, convex to flat with central swelling or nearly flat: margin smooth; tacky when wet, smooth, dull to shiny white, may discolour at centre of cap with age. Gills: free or attached, close, narrow to moderately broad, white. Stalk 3-8" long, 1/4-3/4" thick, sometimes enlarging downward to basal bulb: cottony to somewhat shaggy, white, with ring and sheathing cup. Veils: universal veil white: leaving large, membranous, persistent sac-like cup with free limb. Partial veil membranous, white: leaving large pendant, often torn ring on upper stock. Spores: 7-10 microns, nearly round to round, smooth, colourless. Spore print white. While descriptions such as this may not mean much to the layman, to the amateur mycologist they can literally be the difference between life and death.

Symptoms of poisoning by the Destroying Angel are similar to the Death Cap with vomiting, diarrhea cramps and convulsions, followed by kidney and liver disfunction that can result in the need for organ transplant or cause death. The chemical in these mushrooms responsible for the poisoning is amatoxin which inhibits RNA polymerase 2 and 3 in the body, enzymes that are essential for life and cell division. Symptoms do not appear for 4 - 24 hours after ingestion during which time the amatoxin may have already been absorbed and damage to the kidneys and liver becomes irreversible. It has been estimated that as little as half a mushroom cap from the Destroying Angel can be fatal if the victim of the poisoning is not treated quickly. For those who survive accidentally ingesting this mushroom, kidney dialysis and liver transplant are often the usual outcome if they actually survive. For a first hand account of the medical issues involved, read this article in the Cornell University Mushroom Blog titled "I survived the Destroying Angel" where the man who lived relates how the two other people who ended up in the same hospital that year both died.

To keep the spores from spreading, I picked all of these mushrooms, put them into a sealed plastic bag and placed them into our garbage can. Needless to say I made sure to wash my hands very well after handling them. It is always good to be able to identify poisonous Amanita mushrooms and remove them to help reduce the chance of an accidental poisoning. For those people who want to harvest wild mushrooms for consumption, make sure you educate yourself by taking a course on the subject, become familiar with using wild mushroom field guides, or join a mycologist group such as the Vancouver Mycological Society ( I simply find it interesting to see the wide variety of fungus that grows here and to be able to identify and read about the more bizarre and colourful ones that I find along the way. While I am able to identify many "choice edibles" I find in the wild, I'll stick with Shiitake or Portobello mushrooms that I pick up at the store.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn




September 25, 2017

Its been a busy weekend here with three shootings in Surrey including two in the Semi-pen, so I thought I'd do a little drive-by of my own with three mini-TNT's coming at you in rat-a-tat-tat-tat succession.

Bailey Bridge Blockade

On Tuesday last week I was heading northbound out of the Semiahmoo peninsula on the KGB when I found the old Bailey Bridge over the Nickomekyl River blocked by two Mainroad Group trucks with flashing lights and arrows activated. Later that day I drove home via the same route and saw the bridge heavily coned off with large traffic barrels plus barricades stationed at either end of the bridge blocking vehicle access. Putting on my hard hat, reflective vest and steel toe boots, I decided to go for a look to see what was going on with this temporary bridge that has been in place for decades.

I always wondered about the safety of this bridge since driving over it resembles being on the old wooden PNE Playground roller-coaster. The experience is no uncannily similar in both feel and sound that I almost want to throw my hands up in the air and scream when I drive across it. What I saw underneath the roadway was so disturbing that I vow to never drive across this relic again. The abutment on the south side looked to be held in place with a Jenga set featuring chunks of timbers, pieces of dimensional lumber and pieces of plywood. The metal supports were showing signs of corrosion and fatigue with creosoted posts along the shoulders of the bridge being so rotten that I would stick my entire foot inside one.

It took a couple of days after my email inquiries to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about the state of repairs for signs to finally go up on the bridge and a public announcement made about the closure. It turns out bridge inspectors were doing an annual safety inspection when they noticed components that needed repairs and they closed the bridge as a precaution until an assessment could be done by structural engineers. On Saturday, Mainroad crews were on site in force, welding the steel framework and hopefully doing something about the rot. The bridge opened on Sunday with a load restriction of 10,000 kg., eliminating large trucks and transit buses from using this crossing. Until it is finally replaced, I will use the double lane bridge next door that I now call the WW2 bridge since I found the date imprinted in the concrete showing it was built way back in 1939.

Naturally Yours

Don Pitcairn


Update October 12, 2017

Hi Don,Just making sure that you have received our updated information bulletin on the Bailey bridge?
If not, here is a copy. This is also posted on our Transportation & Infrastructure website too.


Lisanne Bowness
Acting Communications Manager
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Bailey Bridge in South Surrey will undergo full replacement

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is planning to replace the Bailey bridge which crosses the Nicomekl River on King George Boulevard.

Crews will replace the temporary Bailey Bridge with a steel superstructure, which includes a new deck, along with the required approach and abutment works.

The new bridge will provide improved reliability for travellers and a longer lifespan, and it will allow the ministry to remove the current 10,000 kg-weight restriction for vehicles using the crossing.

Drivers are advised that the one-lane crossing will close for approximately six weeks, tentatively starting on Oct. 16. This length of closure is necessary for crews to complete the replacement.

Single-lane traffic in each direction will be maintained on the adjacent two-lane structure. Work will generally be done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday to Friday.

Drivers are reminded to obey posted signs and traffic personnel.

Motorists are advised to use alternative routes where possible, and to check for Twitter updates at: @TranBC



Dianne Dominoes

As had been publicly rumored and heavily speculated for some time and to no one's surprise, Dianne Watts has now made it official that she will run for leadership of the BC Liberal Party. Many political pundits and journalists have already weighed in on this story but there is an issue here that no one has yet considered. What if she actually wins?

The problem is that if Dianne Watts leadership bid is successful and she is elected as the Liberal's new head honcho, it could trigger a domino effect of by-elections here in the Semi-pen. Firstly, Mrs. Watts will resign from her position as the Conservative MP for South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale. That will then mean that we will have to go back to the polls for a by-election to elect a new person to represent us in Ottawa, just over two years since Justin Trudeau's federal Liberals won. If you find yourself questioning why Dianne needed a new office with high-priced renovations, realize it is small peanuts compared with the average half-million dollar cost for a federal by-election.

Now here is where it gets a little tricky. What if just as Dianne decided to jump ship from being a member of the Opposition in Ottawa, that our newly elected Surrey-White Rock MLA Tracey Redies of the BC Liberals decides to step up to the big leagues and run for the vacant federal seat? Even without those political aspirations, Mrs. Redies could simply resign her seat here so that Dianne Watts could run in her natural home riding. As I told many candidates who ran in the last federal and provincial elections, best not to throw out those election signs and simply store them instead for use in the not-to-distant future.

White Rock SEAL Shooting

No, not another report of a harbour seal being found shot dead and washed up on White Rock beach as has already happened twice in the past three years. Instead check out Global TV's new fall lineup with former White Rock resident A.J. Buckley staring in a new CBS drama called SEAL team.

Transforming his body through a rigorous workout regime and strict diet, Mr. Buckley put on 35 pounds of lean muscle to break away from his nerdy role as Lab rat Alan Ross on CSI: NY and take on a lead role in this military action series about US Navy SEALS. Alan John (A.J.) plays Sonny, a member of the elite fighting force with plenty of brawn and more than a few anger issues. In a recent Los Angeles interview he explained his character like this, “They call him the knuckle dragger. He’s the big guns. He carries all the big weapons. I blow shit up.”

For more on this former White Rocker who has made the big time in Hollywood, read the following story from the Vancouver Sun that also includes him developing a trendy diaper bag for dads. You can also check out Mr. Buckley's rather impressive acting credentials in his Wikipedia listing. Make sure to program the PVR for Wednesday evening, 7 p.m. on Global to catch the first episode of this 13 part series that promises explosive action.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 18, 2017

Fish On!

Local fishermen are beginning to camp out alongside the Serpentine, Nickomeckl and Little Campbell River in anticipation of the fall fishing season.

The Little Club That Could On The Little Campbell

Finally after months of hot, sunny and dry weather the change of the season is upon us with the first rainstorm of fall hitting the coast on Sunday. While of relatively short duration, any precipitation is welcome to water lawns and plants along with trees plus our local parks and forests. Hopefully some of the wetness will spread into the interior of BC and Washington state to help put out the fires that have ravaged a record amount of forests this year. As more Pacific frontal systems zero in on our coast, local streams that have been low and dry for quite some time will start to flow again and the annual migration of various runs of salmon will begin into our local waterways including the Serpentine, Nicomekyl and Little Campbell Rivers. Very soon the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club (SFGC) in the Hazelmere valley will become a very busy place with its members working to improve salmon stocks on the Little Campbell River in south Surrey.

Protection of the environment and conservation of wildlife has been important to a wide and diverse collection of people from across White Rock, Surrey and Langley for generations. The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club was incorporated back in 1957 by outdoorsmen concerned about environmental damage to the Little Campbell River caused by years of unregulated gravel removal from the watershed. For over 20 years club volunteers worked to restore its banks and spawning grounds, improve water flow and plant trees and shrubs along the river and its tributaries. In 1979 a prime piece of property on the banks of the Little Campbell became available and the Club purchased 70 acres in the Hazelmere Valley, eventually selling off 40 acres of pastureland and retaining the grounds surrounding the river. With a place to call their home, club members in 1983 began construction of the first all volunteer fish hatchery in the province that included a deep well into the Hazelmere aquifer, an elaborate water aeration/filtration system, and a fish fence designed by a club member that was later used for hatcheries around BC. Over a decade later, their large Education/Club House building was constructed as a meeting place, wedding and celebration of life hall plus sporting facility.

The steel fish fence across the Little Campbell River directly in front of the hatchery channels spawning salmon and trout into a fish trap where SFGC volunteers count and identify all species of fish before releasing them to spawn further up river. Over 3,500 spawning salmon are counted at the fish fence on an annual basis. Wild Coho and Chinook salmon plus steelhead trout are retained as brooding stock being kept in large pools adjacent to the hatchery and constantly supplied with fresh oxygen rich water. Inside the hatchery eggs are harvested from the adult salmon and trout, hatched in specially built tube incubators and then raised in protected tanks. In a typical year, the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club hatchery produces 10,000 Steelhead, 35,000 Chinook salmon, 100,000 Coho salmon plus 15,000 Cutthroat trout. When the small salmonoids are raised to the fry stage of their life cycle, they are then released back into the Little Campbell River system, ensuring far greater egg hatching and survival rates. The hatchery located at 1284 184 St. in south Surrey is open to the public with the hatchery building also available for viewing provided that club volunteers are on site and not busy with its operation.

Besides protecting salmon stocks, the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club is in environmental partnerships with the Little Campbell Watershed Society, Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society, A Rocha Canada, Surrey Environmental Partners, Langley Environmental Partners Society and the Pacific Salmon Foundation. They also work closely with the federal Department of Fisheries (DFO) and Provincial Freshwater Fisheries that assist with issues related to the salmon and trout raised in their hatchery plus providing guidance on river restoration and protection projects. The City of Surrey liaisons with the SFGC, advising them of any developments within the Little Campbell watershed, allowing the club to work with city staff and developer engineers to eliminate or reduce issues adversely affecting the health of the river system and its aquifer. Focusing on youth, the SFGC has operated its "Salmon in the Classroom" program since 1983, allowing local elementary students to raise Coho salmon eggs in the classroom before they are returned to the hatchery for release back into the Little Campbell River.

The Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club has plenty of members but they are always looking for new volunteers to help out in the hatchery and the many jobs associated with maintaining the 30 acre grounds, buildings and ponds. With the fall salmon runs about to start, now is a good time to visit the club, check out their operations and decide if you can help protect the waters of the Little Campbell River. Their extensive and informative website is at and they operate the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club Facebook page. If you are an outdoors person, fisher, environmentalist or simply looking for something fun to do in your community, please check out what the SFGC has to offer. For more information about the hatchery or school tours, call them at 604-541-0495 or email at

If you have never experienced the magic of spawning salmon up close and personal, now is the best time of year to check out this amazing natural spectacle. Take a few minutes to enjoy this YouTube video showing the SFGC's grounds, buildings, hatchery, pathways, ponds and waterways at the following link:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 11, 2017

Anchors Away!

I don't own a boat or come from a family with a nautical history, but for some strange reason I've developed a fascination for anchors over the years. I think it started when I first turned my little cabana behind my house in Crescent Heights into a guest cottage with castaways theme decor that would best be described as Gilligan's Island on acid. Wallpaper showing a photographic scene of a remote tropical beach covered one wall with rolls of reed beach mats and bamboo on the others, complete with crab floats, Japanese glass floats, lots of shells plus a hula skirt and coconut bra for when company came over. When I moved into my present house in the same neighbourhood, our hot tub gazebo became the headquarters for my collection of flotsam and jetsam, minus the elusive anchor that I kept searching for. I finally got my anchor the old fashioned way, salvaging it myself a decade ago from a shipwreck off Kwomais Point where I was leading the cleanup of a 40 foot pleasure craft that had been smashed onto the rocks during a winter storm.

As luck would have it I met a man named Mike Simpson down near Crescent Beach years ago who told me about a similar interest in everything nautical, with his rec room and bar also done in a castaways theme. He went on to tell me about the gem in his collection, a giant anchor from an old sailing ship that was at a friend's yard in south Surrey. Imagine his surprise when I asked if it was the huge anchor next to the Glades Garden on 172 St south of 8 Ave. close to the Pacific Hwy. border crossing. He could not believe that I had actually spied it through the greenery while driving by on my way to a job site. Fast forward a handful of years and while cruising through Ocean Park last week I happened to look over and saw an equally massive anchor at a house on the NW corner of 18 Ave. and 127A Street. Stopping to take a closer look I realized that it had to be the very same anchor as it was highly unlikely there would be two similar ones on display in Surrey. A quick phone call to Mike confirmed that the previous property had been sold and the anchor recently moved to a good friend's home. How it got to its final resting place is a whale of a tale.

My buddy Mike told me he had been working on a tugboat years ago off Nanaimo in the Northumberland channel. Nearing Malaspina Point the tow rope attached to two chipping barges they were taking to a nearby mill dragged on the bottom and caught on something that was hauled out of the depths. When the tow line was winched up he first thought it was a tree stump but closer inspection revealed a big antique anchor, snagged by one of its enormous flukes. Like myself, Mike had been looking for a prized anchor, first finding a 1,000 pound Danforth, but nothing like the rusted and crushed behemoth they had just hauled up. He told me that his thought at the time was "Oh yes, you will be mine!" The Captain ordered him to use the winch to try to shake it off the line and when it flipped in the air, it caught on the rows of tires at the stern of the tug instead of returning to the depths. With the anchor now stuck onto the boat, they finally had to let their load drift free and pulled the anchor off using the hydraulics, with it dropping into 40 feet of water near the Gabriola bluff log storage. Vowing to return to claim his prize, Mike took coordinates of the area including bearings from local landmarks to know its exact underwater location.

It was a month's time before Mike planned on his return trip to salvage the old anchor. He hired a father and son dive team to go down and attach a cable to the relic with a locator float left on the surface of the water. A motorized barge with a crane that charged out at $300 per hour was also booked to visit the location to grab the anchor and then deliver it to a flat-bed truck that Mike had borrowed and was going to drive to the Island. His tug boat buddy heard about his detailed plans and did him a huge favour, picking up the anchor with his tug and then taking it to the Harmac Mill where longshoremen used a container crane to load it onto a barge full of wood heading to an offloading area on Mitchell Island on the North Arm on the Fraser River. In the end the job was done for not a lot of money and a case of cold beer, with the anchor then being driven into south Surrey, first residing at Mike's property on Zero Ave. before being moved to 172 St. and finally into Ocean Park where it it has been placed in full sight surrounded by river rock and landscape lighting for the community to enjoy. With the flukes (hook ends) measuring 9 feet across and the entire anchor being 14 feet in length it is rather hard to miss. The beautiful architecturally designed home where it sits is now locally known as "the anchor house."

Wanting to know more about the anchor that lady luck had delivered, Mike contacted nautical expert and former maritime museum curator Peter Sachs who researched his find. He believes the Admirality anchor as it is known was from around 1850 because of the design of the shackle, meaning it was from a tall masted sailboat commonly used in that era to ship goods back and forth to Europe. When the anchor first came up on the tugboat tow line, it was caked in mud, covered in foot long elephant muscles, giant barnacles and old fish nets. One of the top stalks had been broken off and interestingly there was no anchor chain attached to the large shackle on top, meaning it may have been abandoned after being damaged. Even with its age, Mr Simpson's interesting find was reported to the Receiver of Wrecks and posted in a salvage paper for a year before he was given official papers of ownership. When Mike first brought it home, the anchor was left under a sprinkler for some time to rinse away any salt and to stop the oxidation of the wrought iron. No one knows what it actually weighs but it took a 5 tonne HYAB crane truck to wrestle it into its current location.

The anchor is presently part of the "Mike Simpson Maritime Museum" collection as it jokingly refers to it. In the far-off future Mike may consider donating it to a nautical museum or for the big piece of antique iron to be put on permanent display at either White Rock or Crescent Beach. Until that time, if you're near Ocean Park or planning a trip to Crescent Beach, you may want to take a short detour onto 18 Ave from 128 St. and check out this gigantic old anchor, likely one of the biggest you will ever see in these parts. As neat as this relic is to see, the way it was found and the perseverance that Mr Simpson showed in recovering this tall ship anchor and then moving it from site to site in Surrey over time only adds its historic story. Of course, for me the worse part is always being reminded by him that "mine's bigger" whenever he sees the tiny anchor that I salvaged earlier from Boundary Bay.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



September 5, 2017

A Shooting Star Summer

Don "Dead Eye" Pitcairn

Nice to finally be back home comfortably sleeping in my California King bed. For most of August, I was away playing weekend warrior shooting full-bore target rifle in both the BC and Canadian championships. The fun started on August 10-14th with the BC Rifle Association ( holding their 133rd annual championships at the General Vokes 600m. military range in Chilliwack. The Great Britain Rifle Team, in fine form after competing at the UK championships in Bisley England, arrived with 18 of their finest marksmen. While I managed to give them some serious competition last year easily winning the Grand Aggregate, there was no stopping them this time as they shot perfect score after perfect score, winning nearly all of the individual matches, aggregates and team prizes. In the BC Grand Aggregate, won by Richard Shoulder with a 399-48v out of a HPS of 400-80V, the GB team placed in 17 of the top 18 places, including 1st to 15th. In the BC Lieutenant Governor's Aggregate in which the winner is chaired from the firing point on the shoulders of their teammates, Angus McLeod won with an amazing score of 349-42v out of 350-70v narrowly beating out their young woman shooter Chloe Evans by a single v-bull, a tie-breaking circle that is half the diameter of the bulls-eye. For the BC Target Rifle Championship, White Rock's Jim Paton, a multiple Commonwealth Games medal winner for Canada came first, followed by my father Bob Pitcairn from Chilliwack (more on him later), with myself placing a distant third due to rifle issues.

It was back home to stupid reality for a mere three days of work before I headed off to YVR to fly to Connaught ranges in Ottawa for the Dominion of Canada's ( Fullbore Rifle Championships that ran from Aug. 18-26. The Connaught ranges are a hotbed of shooting disciplines, holding this year's F-Class World Championships (like Fullbore but with optical sites, bipods and a 50% smaller bulls-eye), Canadian Black Powder Championships, National Service Conditions, followed by the Canadian Armed Forces Small Arms Concentration. In 2018, the DCRA will hold its Special 150th Canadian Fullbore and F Class Rifle Championships, showcasing the long history of this sport in Canada. After hours of flying including a stop in Edmonton, I arrived in Ottawa where I quickly grabbed my rifle gear and was whisked to the range by taxi. I knew the timing would be tight and after dropping my luggage in the barracks where we stayed, I made it to the 900m. firing point just as the command was being given to load for the Ottawa Regiment match. With a pounding heart and covered in sweat, I still managed a very respectable 74-12v out of 75-15v, with the one shot outside of the bulls-eye dropping me from 1st to 21st place, showing the high level of marksmanship at this national competition.

Pair Of Pitcairns

This DCRA meeting was extra special in that is was being used to select the two shooters who would represent Canada at the next Commonwealth Games being held in Brisbane, Australia in April, 2018. Scores from the 2015 and 2016 Canadian Target Rifle Championships were used along with an extra full day of shooting this year consisting of 10 rounds fired at both 500 and 600 yards plus a further 15 rounds each at 800 and 900 m. When the gun smoke had cleared, Nichole Rossignol from Quebec City came out on top with a score of 2031, followed by my father Bob Pitcairn from Chilliwack one point behind, with White Rock's Jim Paton coming third five points back as the spare for the team. Bob did it in style, shooting perfect scores the entire last day, "going clean" as we say, the only person of the eight still in the trials who did so. What makes this really amazing is that he is 79 years old and still shooting at an elite level. He has been inducted in 4 sports halls of fame, made 49 Canadian Bisley Teams (a record), qualified for 14 World Long Range Championships (held every 4 years) shooting them 11 times. Over the years he has placed first and second in Bisley (out of 1700 competitors), won the Governor General Prize twice in Ottawa while winning gold and silver in the Grand Agg there. In BC he has his name engraved multiple times on almost every trophy, including 6 Lt. Governor Prize chair rides. This will be Bob's first Commonwealth Games, the closest he has gotten before was as spare in 2002 where he did not compete. With this latest feather in his cap, Bob Pitcairn has been given a new nickname, "The Legend" which aptly describes his life-long shooting accomplishments.

This year's DCRA was full of interesting some rather interesting surprises. Fullbore rifle shooting involves being exposed to a variety of weather conditions including wind, rain and sometimes even snow. On Monday, Aug. 21st, I got to experience something completely new, shooting during the solar eclipse. Since Ottawa only at 71% blocking of the sun by the moon, there was still plenty of light to see the targets, even from 800m. It was actually a blessing as the decreased light intensity made it cooler than laying in the full sun plus the wind slacked off due to less ground warming. One of the shooters brought a solar lens for a camera to the range, allowing everyone to safely look at the progress of the moon as it crossed the sun. To be quite honest, if we didn't know about the eclipse, it is doubtful anyone would have noticed its effects. The same could not be said about the Tuesday weather we faced with meteorological warnings out for ping-pong ball sized hail and a tornado watch in effect. The rain we could have used in BC to help put out forest fires instead fell across Ontario in buckets as large intense frontal systems passed over Nepean and Ottawa, causing damage and flooding. Due to the extreme lightning risk and strong winds, shooting ended up being cancelled for the entire day. It was a blessing as nobody wants to shoot in rain that often looked like what Houston recently endured.

At the end of the individual matches, it was Ian Shaw from the United Kingdom who won both the MacDonald Stewart Grand Agg and Governor General's Prize, completing the elusive double win of the major aggregates. Ontario shooters fared quite well along with the contingent from the Maritimes and BC. It was a sweet sixteen year for myself, finishing in 16th place in both the Grand and Gov's. In the Canadian Target Rifle Championships, Fazel Mohideen from Pickering On. came first, Desmond Vamplew from Scarborough On. placed second and Geoff Woodman from New Harbour NL. finished third, all with the identical score of 818 separated only by v-bull counts. I was forth place four points back while "The Legend" Bob Pitcairn finished in sixth, a further four points down, ensuring we both made next year's Canadian Bisley team to England. In team shooting the GB Rifle Team won the Canada Match, with their 8 shooters dropping only 2 points the entire match of 10 rounds fired at 300, 500 and 600 yds, winning by 10 points total over Canada. In the long-range Commonwealth Match featuring 12 shooters per team firing 10 rounds each at 800 and 900 m. the Great Britain Rifle Team once again prevailed, dropping 10 points for the win with Canada 9 points back, yet surprisingly having a 9 point edge on centre v-bulls. Coached by Gary Bowman from Ontario, I was the top Canadian shooter on both team shoots and high score on the range in the Commonweath Match, never dropping a single point in either and firing a perfect 50-10v at the 800 M.

With being a member of the Canadian team to the Imperial Meeting of the National Rifle Association of the UK in Bisley England next year and a member of Team Canada going to the ICFRA World Long Range Championships at New Zealand in 2019, there will be plenty of practice in my shooting schedule for the next year and a half. With my father Bob qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Australia, his training schedule has already started since there is a warm up match being held in Brisbane this October. Considering his long history of competitive rifle shooting, it would not surprise me if he comes home with a medal to add to his overflowing collection. Bob Pitcairn will become the oldest Commonwealth Games competitor of all times, matching the age of Doreen Flanders from Team England who competed in lawn bowling at the age of 79 during the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glascow Scotland. Mr. Pitcairn will easily surpass Scotland's Willie Woods who competed in lawn bowling for a record eight Games appearances, his last in 2010 at the age of 72. For those who discount the idea of a senior and veteran from Canada winning a Commonwealth Games medal, you might want to think about the lyrics to the following country music song.

" Old age and treachery always overcomes youth and skill
Ain't too much that we won't do, what Waylon won't, Willie will
Even though we've spent our lives charging up the wrong side of the hill
Old age and treachery always overcomes youth and skill…"

Lyrics to "Old Age & Treachery" by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, 1991.


Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn



The Naked Truth - August 28, 2017

Semi-Pen Time Capsule

To show you the power of the Internet, I recently received the following manuscript from a man in Ottawa who frequently reads my TNT column and mailed it to my parents in Chilliwack. It is a history of Hall’s Prairie written by Margaret M. Stewart that was forwarded to him by Don Monroe, the Postmaster in White Rock in the 1950’s, who was his father’s close friend. As requested, a copy will be sent to Vin Coyne, the editor of the former White Rock Sun printed newspaper, with the original document then donated to the White Rock Museum. This will be a three part series detailing frontier life in the Semiahmoo peninsula. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time.

The Early History of Hall’s Prairie – Part 3

For quite a number of years, when we first lived here, there was no custom’s officer. The populace bought and sold across the line just as they pleased. Then Mr. Cantrell was appointed Canadian Custom’s Officer and I think his office was at the St. Leonard’s hotel but he was not often there. He was generally walking around Blaine trying to keep his eye on thru roads leading into Blaine. At this time when we bought anything in Blaine, we always looked around for the custom’s officer and if we did not see him it was all to the good and we just came home. If we met him, he asked what we had and charged duty, if any, and put the money in his pocket without any red tape.

In the early ‘80’s two young men by the name of Keith took up land near what is called the Brown road. They were heavy drinkers and their people had sent them out here to get away from drinking but whenever they got a cheque from home, they went to Blaine, bought lots of drink and carried a keg of cider home. They had a trail where the Pacific Highway is now and we used to see them lugging their keg home. They drank so much they suffered with delirium tremors and one, who ran out of his home and was never seen again, was thought to have sunk down in some boggy place and the other became insane and was taken to the asylum at New Westminster. So ended two wasted lives.

A year or two after the school started, Doctor Powel began to improve his land and hired a foreman A.M. Palmer, who fenced the whole section. We school children felt quite shut in our small school yard as we always played our ball games on the prairie west of the school. Before long Doctor Powel, sold the land to two young men from the Old Country, named Moggirdge. They built a fine house and then his brother looked after the place. A man came by one evening, rapped on the door, and when Mr. Moggirdge answered the door, the man shot him in the arm near the shoulder, went through his pockets and left him lying there bleeding. Mr. Moggridge managed to get upstairs and then fainted from loss of blood. When the foreman came for his orders in the morning, he was shocked and soon sent for the doctor, the police and my father who was justice of the peace. A clot of blood had formed in the artery otherwise he would have bled to death. The man was not caught but years afterwards, a man who was caught for some other crime, confessed he had shot Mr. Moggridge. The arm was so numb and useless that after a time, Mr. Moggridge had it taken off. The Moggridges lived there for several years until they sold out and went back to England. Their big house was burned down soon after.

There has been a good deal of tragedy just where the old railway track crossed the North Bluff Road. Mrs. John Morrison was killed by a black tramp about 1908 and a short time later two bank robbers and a custom’s officer were killed near the same place.

In the ‘80’s there was a smallpox outbreak. Land was open for homesteading near the Langley boundary and a widow and her five sons by the name of Wellworth took up land there which was known as the Wellworth settlement. One evening my brother, Will, and I were out getting our cows and we met two men on the road who asked us where the Wellworth Settlement was and we directed them. They were Billy Graham and Tom Fielding who brought in the smallpox. They stayed with Mrs. Wellworth and when they came down sick all the relatives visited them not knowing their sickness was smallpox and the relatives became infected. The disease was a very acute and virulent type,. Jim Wellworth, Mrs. Charlios Wellworth and Mrs. Van Luson, an aunt who came to help them, died with the smallpox. The government sent a doctor in to stay right there and the infection did not spread any further. But I remember when anyone from that direction came for their mail, father or mother would put some sulphur on the stove so that they did not stay long. It happened the same in Blaine when anyone from Canada went into a store, sulphur was burned on the stove. I remember one chap saying, it just smelt like Hades over in Blaine.

After our first school was built, church service was held in it on Sunday most of the time. At first there was the Reverend William Bell from Surrey Centre and when he left there was several ministers from Blaine who held services in it. When Cloverdale acquired a regular minister, Reverend McEllmon, he came and preached Sunday afternoons and after he left there were several student ministers who held service in the summer time.

At Christmas time there was always a tree and a good time at the school house. Someone would go around and collect money to buy candy and presents. Everyone came, old bachelors and all. There were always some dialogues put on by the older people besides the best the children could do. At that early date every school had its own trustees and at the trustee elections there were some lively times.

After Blaine became a town, two men by the names of Smith and Gurbage, thought it was time for White Rock to be a town too so the built a wharf out to deep water. There are a few remains of it yet. Then they started to build a hotel but their money ran out long before the hotel was pulled down by people who wanted some lumber and then the wharf went too. It was years and years before White Rock started to grow. At that time it was only a picnic ground. About the same time Mr. William Brown bought a sloop and took Mr.. Albert Bamford into partnership. They sailed over to Victoria and loaded their boat with staple groceries such as flour, sugar, tea, raisins and syrup. The sugar was in light weight barrels, a nice light yellow. The tea was in lead lined boxes of 10 to 20 pounds, the syrup was in kegs, fine thick liquid. But the raisins were lovely, I have never seen such nice ones since. They came from southern Europe, were large and full of grape sugar. My people bought a lot of Mr. Brown's groceries just in the cases they arrived in. His house was not built to handle groceries in small lots but he kept them in good shape and much better than he did later. After awhile there were more stores and it did not pay Mr. Brown to go to Victoria and so he quit.

As I mentioned before, Mr. H.T. Thrift had the contract to carry the Hall's Prairie mail. At first it was carried on horseback but later he started a stage to carry passengers and goods to and from New Westminster as well as the mail. The stage was driven for quite a time by a man Mr. Thrift hired by the name of Gilbert Anderson. Then any one of the Thrift family including the old grandpa and the girls and the boys would carry the bag of mail to our house and take the outgoing mail. About the time the Great Northern Railway came through, the Hazelmere post office was opened in Mr. Thrift's own house. After the trains ran my father carried the Hall's Prairie mail to the flag station called Hazelmere where the railway crossed the Hall's Prairie road. My father kept the Hall's Prairie post office for upwards of 25 years until he became too old to be bothered with it. The post office was then moved to a Mr. DeWinters home. Then some others kept the post office until it and all of the other small post offices were closed and the rural boxes installed with the headquarters at Cloverdale.

In the spring of 1903 or 1904 an evangelist by the name of Coleman pitched his tent at the corner where the North Bluff road crosses the Hall's Prairie road and held revival meetings. Many people came and several were converted. He urged the people to build a church and so after he left, my three sisters, the two McGinnis girls and some others went all around the district and collected enough money to build a church. Nearly everyone gave something. Mr. H.T. Thrift gave the site for the church where Mr. Coleman's tent had stood. The late Mr. Hamel was hired as carpenter and many of the men helped so the church was soon built. Many different ministers of different creeds have held services in it, and there have been many organists. My brother-in-law, the late John Clark, held that post the longest, 36 years with only two Sundays off. The church has been improved lately in the interior. It is called Hazelmere Church after the name of Mr. Thrift's farm. Many people call the district around the church Hazelmere, but by rights it is all Hall's Prairie school district. Calling it Hazelmere is something like a barnacle fastening itself onto a sea shell and calling itself the shell. Well I think I have told of a lot of the early happenings which I saw myself or heard first hand at the time it happened.

Margaret M. Stewart

Well there you have it folks, a blast from past detailing some of the early history of these parts. Mrs. Stewart was born in 1876 according to dates at the beginning of her article. With the dates concerning the Hazelmere Church from the end of the letter, I surmised it was likely typed in the 1950's or 1960's, long before the advent of computers and photocopiers. Now imagine my surprise when I decided at the last minute to Google Mrs. Stewart's name along with Hazelmere thinking it was unlikely I would find out anything about her and instead found the same manuscript I had been previously sent posted on the Surrey History website. I could have saved myself a few hours of typing the original manuscript in to my computer with a simple cut and paste! It turns out her handwritten letter was composed on April 9, 1959. It was later published by the Surrey Museum and Historical Society as a gestetner printed and stapled document, a copy of which I recently received. Mrs. Stewart died in 1965 at the age of 89 and is buried in the Hazelmere cemetery on 16 Ave. (formerly North Bluff Road) across from 192 St. with her gravestone reading "With Christ, which is much better."

If you enjoyed reading this snapshot of early life in Surrey and White Rock, you can learn more at or that even allows you to read archived copies of both the Semiahmoo Sun and the White Rock Sun from decades ago. If you prefer history that you can actually touch and feel, go to which is where I found the headstone picture for Mrs. Stewart, along with an aerial view showing her exact final resting place in south Surrey. If you find fresh flowers there, they are from me.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



August 21, 2017

Semi-Pen Time Capsule

To show you the power of the internet, I recently received the following manuscript from a man in Ottawa who frequently reads my TNT column and mailed it to my parents in Chilliwack. It is a history of Hall’s Prairie written by Margaret M. Stewart that was forwarded to him by Don Monroe, the Postmaster in White Rock in the 1950’s, who was his father’s close friend. As requested, a copy will be sent to Vin Coyne, the editor of the former White Rock Sun printed newspaper, with the original document then donated to the White Rock museum. This will be a three part series detailing frontier life in the Semiahmoo peninsula. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time.

The Early History of Hall’s Prairie – Part 2

After the Hall’s Prairie road was opened before Blaine had started to grow, Dave Millar drove a stage from across the Line to New Westminster, taking passengers, and any kind of produce he could buy cheap such as butter and eggs. My mother made quite a lot of butter and was well known for making good butter. One time father took mother’s butter and other produce to New Westminster, as was his custom, and the storekeeper said to him that his wife was making a lot of butter this summer. Father said, no but why? Well, he said, David Millar was in a few days ago with a load of butter and he said it was all Mrs. Brown’s butter. My father said that he had never sold Dave Millar one pound of butter. Dave Millar had a brother Al living with him and he loved to tell a joke. One day, Dave and his brother Al were out cutting down trees when Dave’ s axe glanced and cut his boot. He looked down and saw his red sock through the cut and thought it was blood and he made Al carry him to the house on his back. When they got the boot off they found the foot was not cut at all. Al told this story to everyone he could. Dave felt rather sore about this.

In the early 1880’s, Blaine started to grow and the settlers on this side of the Line did most of their shopping there. For quite a time there were no custom’s officers or anything to stop people coming and going. Before Blaine was there, the ruffled grouse were very plentiful. I have counted as many as 50 perched in a Cottonwood tree, eating the buds. The Campbell River was full of trout but the people of Blaine came across and cleaned most of them out. Blaine always made a great to do over the fourth of July for the first year or two when they set long tables in someone’s orchard and had free meals for all. I remember eating there once, but they soon discontinued this as too many Canucks, as they called us, came over. One attraction they always had on the 4th was to grease a pig and turn him loose on the sand flats, offering $5 to anyone who could catch the pig. This made lots of fun and quite a few tried to catch it.

More settlers came in and more roads were opened up. Reverent Alexander Dunn, an early Presbyterian minister, held service in our home a few times and baptised the seven eldest children of our family. We also had a visit from Bishop and Mrs. Sillitoe. They drove a horse and buckboard and I think that was the first horse I had seen. Everyone used oxen. Mother sat the visitors down under a shade tree and treated them to cake and glass of milk.

In the early ‘80’s there arose a great scare across the Line, a man by the name of Gilldy had shot down two men in cold blood. We were warned to be on the lookout for him on this side of the line. He was a queer chap that no one liked and he had tried to court some of the girls without success. There was a Miss Mayhood whom he had tried several times to call on. Her brother told him to stay off the place. A short time afterwards she and her brother were taking the clothes off the clothes-liine when Gilldy came out of the bush and shot her brother down. Their father heard the shot and came to the door to see what the shooting was about and Gilldy dropped him in the doorway. Miss Mayhood picked up the chopping axe and chased him off the place and he ran without shooting her. There was a price on his head dead or alive and a gang of men looking for him. A note was found which he had left somewhere, stating that he intended to shoot several more men, all fathers of young girls. Everyone was afraid for no one knew where he would strike next. But before he had killed any more, two men who were out looking for him early one morning, found him sound asleep behind a log. They both shot him so he never knew what happened to him.

More settlers were coming into our district such as the Johnson’s, Harts, and Roehart’s, almost enough to start a school and in 1884 when father was in the land office proving up, they told him there was a homestead to be taken up quite near him. A man by the name of Sundy had filed on this place years before but had never done anything with it. Father told Mr. Thrift about the place, he came and look at it, liked the place and filed on it. The family was living at Clovervalley then. The addition of their children in the district made enough to get a school started so in the Spring of 1885 the school opened in a log building that had been the home of the Heintz family. Hall’s Prairie was formed into a school district. The teacher’s name was J.C. McClellan. B.C. That summer the Government built a school house on a site given by Dr. Pirel of Victoria, the same site where the present Hall’s Prairie School stands. I attended that school, also my son, Alexander John and now his children, Of course it is not the same building today but the first school was cottage shaped, large enough for forty or fifty children. The teacher’s salary was $50 a month and he seemed quite contended with the pay. On the 24th of May 1886 our school picnic across the river was a good wagonbridge crossing the Campbell River at the foot of the Stayte Road where there is only a foot bridge at the present time. I remember clearly a Chinaman came past us and one of the men in our crowd started to nag him and told the Chinaman he had no passport. The Chinaman said he had and the man said let me see it. The Chinaman said he would not be looked over by the crowd but he would let theelderly gentleman see it and handed the passport to my father. The Chinaman spoke perfect English.

The only grocery store, that was nearer than New Westminster when we came, was at Semiahmoo spit. The store was kept by a man called Murran. Our father often went there for flour. Murray also ran a logging camp and had logged all around the bay on both side of the Line. He also sold whisky to the loggers. It was said he bought one barrel of whisky and made up to three barrels with water, acid and tobacco juice. It was called Murran’s Rot Gut and sent the men nearly crazy. One young man killed there in a drunken brawl. Murran had the name of the cheating his men when he paid them their wages. One man by the name ofg Shearer told Murray he had cheated him out of seven dollars and that he would get even with him. Murray always banked his money in New Westminster and one day when he stepped off the ferry, Shearer was waiting for him and knifed him seven time. A priest was sent for but Murran was dead before he arrived and so ended an evil life.

The St. Leonard’s hotel was built sometime in the ‘80’s a little north of where the Peace Arch stands today and it sold liquor. Our father did all he could to prevent the hotel being built there as it was a real deadfall. Just across the Line on the American side there was a row of shacks for immoral purposes. One day in winter a great storm of wind and sea blew in and carried the shacks away. The women fled for their lives and lost everything they had. The shacks were never built again.

An old man by the name of Billy Patterson lived in a shack on the American side of the line opposite the hotel. He had a very vile tongue which he had been using on the hotel keeper, Jack Atkinson and had him so angry he got his gun and shot the old man in the leg. Billy Patterson’s leg would not heal because, as he himself said, he had drunk too much whisky and he died in about amonth. There was a great to do about which country would tr4y the murderer as the shot started in one country and crossed into another. At last it was decided that Washington should have Mr. Atkinson and they sentenced him to a few years in the penitentiary. Some years later the hotel burned down which was a blessing.

About 1888 the Great Northern Railway started to build a railway from Blaine through the valley to New Westminster. Two gangs of men were employed, one gang of white men and the other Chinese. The white men’s camp was near the creek on the Bamford road. They graded up the railroad bed by digging out the earth from the sides of the right-of-way. They also build the bridge across the Campbell River. The laying of the rails was help up for some time due to a soft spot near Custer, Washington. They dumped in train loads of gravel and rock but all sank down. At last they put in brush to make a bottom and then the gravel and soon it was built up solid enough to bear the rails and train. They called in “The Devil’s Bread Pan”. All the gravel that balasted the track was brought from the American side of the Line. The gravel train engineer was a nice chap. If the gravel train came along the same time we children came home from school, he would stop the train and tell us to jump aboard and then he would stop and let us off at the foot of our hill. We had many such rides. At last the railway was finished and there was quite an affair driving the last spike at the boundary line on the 15th of February 1891. Many years afterwards, the railroad changed to run around the bay as it is at the present time.

To be continued…

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



August 14, 2017

The Early History of Hall’s Prairie – Part 1

Semi-Pen Time Capsule

To show you the power of the internet, I received the following manuscript from a man in Ottawa who frequently reads my TNT column and mailed it to my parents in Chilliwack. It is a history of Hall’s Prairie written by Margaret M. Stewart that was forwarded to him by Don Monroe, the Postmaster in White Rock in the 1950’s, who was his father’s close friend. As requested, a copy will be sent to Vin Coyne, the editor of the former White Rock Sun printed newspaper, with the original document then donated to the White Rock museum. This will be a three part series detailing frontier life in the Semiahmoo peninsula. I hope you enjoy this trip back in time.


The Early History of Hall’s Prairie – Part 1

As there are very few of the really early settlers alive at the present time, I thought I would record some of the early happenings.

My parents, Mr. & Mrs. David W. Brown, and their family homesteaded here in 1878. I was only two years old at that time. I do not remember coming but I can remember some of the happenings when I was three years old. My parents were married in Ontario in 1865 but they left Ontario and went to the State of Iowa where father had taken up a homestead. They did not like it there very well as the summers were so hot and the winters were so cold. Father had done a lot of travelling. I have heard him say he had been in almost every state in the USA, in Central America and the Panama, and had crossed the Continent twice by wagon train before there were any railways, once to the California gold rush and once to the Cariboo gold rush. So he knew something of what the west coast was like.

They decided to sell out and come west. It was quite a journey but there was a railway by that time and they came to San Francisco, took a ship from there to Victoria, Vancouver Island, from there in a smaller boat to Whatcom, now Bellingham, Washington, and then down the Nootsak River in an Indian canoe to Ferndale, Washington where we had friends. After staying there for some time, our Uncle Archie, who had come to BC earlier, told father there was good land to homestead in BC so father came and filed on the quarter section that I and my son and family still live on. Uncle Archie and three other young fellows had filed on four quarter sections adjoining. They built their cabin where their land all joined and each on sept on his own corner and worked on his land in the daytime.

Father had a lot of work to do before he could bring the family. He had to build a bridge over the Campbell River where it happened to be quite narrow, make a road for over half of a mile through dense timber and then erect a log cabin. When he had finished, father went for the family. There was a rough road from Ferndale to the Boundary Line. There was a road up the Boundary Line. It had been made some years earlier to bring in the iron posts to mark the Boundary Line, one for each mile. Another road wound across Hall’s Prairie which was a large open space. The only conveyance that could travel these roads was a long stone boat drawn by oxen and that was the way our family moved in.

Out cabin was built near a creek and the great firs were standing around it, some of them three hundred feet high. There was no city of Blaine when we came but this area was quite well homesteaded on the American side. There was the Cain family where the American’s custom’s office is now, Dave Miller’s next around the bay, Boblet’s and Kingsley, who became the first Sheriff of Blaine, and the Dexter’s where father bought our first cow. She was a little red cow with a crooked jaw as she had been caught in a barb wire fence when a calf. And there was Dick Richards, generally called Dick the ferryman, who had a boat and took passengers over to the Semiahmoo spit where there was a store. He had no landing for his boat but anchored in out in the water. If a man did not have hip boots on, he would take his shoes and socks off and wade out to the boat, while a woman, if alone, would be gallantly carried by Dick, to the boat. Once I crossed over to the spit with father and mother when I was three or four years old. Father carried mother and Dick carried me. Old Mr. Cain was a great bear and beaver trapper. He used to stay at our place and when he became too old to trap, he gave his bear trap to father. The trap is still in my garage.

Hall’s Prairie got its name from Hall who squatted on it with his Indian wife. They were chased from it by wolves one extremely cold winter in the 1860’s when the Fraser was completely frozen over. The prairie was covered with long grass and clumps of aspen poplar here and there. There was quite a lot of cattle grazing on, most of them from the American side. There were quite a few people homesteading around it. Where the Currie’s live it was homesteaded by people called Botell. The old man was a short broad chap and he loved to talk., He would come to our house and he would say my pockets are just full of news. Once he told father this story. He had a son William, who was 19 or 20 years old, and he thought his son ought to have a wife. One day he was across the Line and he saw a young woman who would just suit, he thought. She was already married but he did not seem to mind that. He tried to coax her to come and live with them. He went back the second time but her husband was home and he said if I ever catch you here again, I will shoot you. Botell said I heard him cock a pistol and oh how I did run.

Then there was the Heintz family, a bad lot. The father and son had two quarter sections on the east side of the Hall’s Prairie road from the North Bluff to the Campbell River roads. When they wanted fresh beef they would go and pick out a fat steer on the prairie and shoot him down. They had an old man living with them called Fritz Shinhart. He had given the Heint’z all his money to stay with them for life. When they had got into a lot of trouble, they were planning to leave but did not want to be bothered with old Fritz, several times after he had eaten, became very sick with terrible pains in his stomach. Tim, the young Heintz, said to my father one day, that if
Fritz should die suddenly, do you think there would be an inquest? My father said most likely there would be as he is no relation to you. Fritz had no more sick spells and they all fled across the Line shortly after.

When we came here there was only a trail to Clovervalley. In the summer of 1881 my father went to Victoria, when John Robinson was premier, and told him how shut in we were, so the premier promised to have the Hall’s Prairie road opened. The contract was let to William Shannon who opened the road and built a long bridge over the Campbell River which was quite wide as the result of many beaver dams. Mr. Shannon had his camp near the river. One day Mr. Shannon came and told my mother that his Chinese cook was making very poor bread and that he would like to send the cook and his yeast up for my mother to see and to improve his yeast. So the next day the Chinese cook came with a big pail of sour yeast on one end of a pole and half a sack of flour on the other end of the pole over his shoulder. I don’t know what mother did to his yeast, but he was the first Chinaman I had ever seen. He had a very long pig tail hanging down his back. I recall the date when the Hall’s Prairie road was opened because my father was away to Victoria and my mother made a cradle for my sister Agnes, who was born in June 1881.

And while mother was busy shaving and planning the boards for the cradle, Reverend Mc(illegible) came. He was travelling through the country visiting the settlers. He thought mother had made a fine job of the cradle and she had it for Agnes and my three other sisters. Years later he became the Presbyterian minister stationed at Cloverdale and he never forgot about the cradle and often mentioned it to my mother who was a grand pioneer woman. She could do almost anything and do it well. When my father wanted to go to Victoria, he looked at his hat which was old and faded and he thought he would have to walk into New Westminster to buy one as no sensible man went bare headed then. Mother said I will make you one and so she went down to the prairie and fathered a great sheaf of long grass which grew there. She braided the straw and made a fine hat, put it in a barrel full of sulphur fumes to bleach it white and put a black band around it and when father went to Victoria, his hat was admired and called a panama hat.

There was no post office in 1880 closer than New Westminster but not long after a post office was opened at Surrey Centre. Clovervalley and Hall’s Prairie, the latter in our house and father as postmaster with a salary of $25 a year. The mail carrier was Henry T. Thrift. The family was living at Clovervalley at the time but generally his son, young Henry carried the mail on horseback. Once he galloped his horse so hard it fell under him and died a quarter of a mile from our house.

To be continued…

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


August 06, 2017

Semiahmoo Goes With The Flow

It was in September of 2016 that White Rock sent a letter to the Semiahmoo First Nation threatening to cut off their water in a mere eighteen months. This was only ten months after the City purchased the city's water supply system for millions of dollars from EPCOR. The current agreement water supply arrangement is set to expire at the end of February, 2018, now only seven months away. While folks in White Rock may be complaining about discoloured water or levels of manganese and arsenic, at least their water has been judged safe to drink. This is not the case on the Semiahmoo First Nation lands where they have been under a continuous boil water advisory since 2005, a dozen years of not drinking water from the taps.

In a letter dated July 27, 2016 from White Rock's lawyers Lidstone & Company to the Semiahmoo First Nation band office (that I received through a Freedom of Information request) they stated that future water and sanitary sewer services for the reserve lands would best be provided by the City of Surrey. It went on to state the following: Accordingly, the City of White Rock is hereby delivering to the Semiahmoo First Nation formal notice that the City will terminate existing water and sanitary sewer services to the reserve within a reasonable time. Based on the tests set out in the "Tsawwassen Indian Band vs. Delta, 1997 CanLil 1097 decision of the BC court of Appeal," the City is of the view that the First Nation can make alternative arrangements for existing water and sanitary sewer servicing within reasonable time, being a period of 18 months from the date of this letter. We look forward to working with you and your client (and the City of Surrey) on this transition.

There is nothing like an imposed deadline, especially one threatening to cut off water and sewer services, to get people motivated to make some fast and much needed changes. First was the announcement on June 9th this year from Carolyn Bennett, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, that the Federal government was committing $338,000 for a new water distribution and wastewater sewer system for the Semiahmoo First Nation. Two weeks ago, Surrey Council received Corporate Report R158 from Fraser Smith, their General Manager of Engineering on the subject of "Servicing Agreements with the Semiahmoo First Nation. You can read all of the intimate details and history behind this water-logged controversy on the City of Surrey website at the following link: In a nutshell, City of Surrey staff are recommending that Surrey Council finally help the Semiahmoo First Nation (SFN) get fresh drinking water and sanitary sewers.

First Surrey and SFN have to set up municipal type servicing agreements between their two governments, allowing for a new water supply and distribution system using Metro Vancouver water. The failing septic systems that are contributing to the long-term boiled water advisory on the reserve need to be replaced by sanitary sewers leading back to the regional sewage treatment plant. Because of a lack of proper fire protection, agreements are also needed to install fire hydrants across the reserve to protect lives and property instead of relying on 1,000 gallon tanker trucks as is presently the case. Storm water outflow points from Surrey also need to be reduced with plans required for consolidation of these outflows and how they affect the waterways on the SFN lands. The Corporate Report also revealed that the SFN is interested in working with the City of Surrey to have future fire protection services and solid waste/recycling services for its members.

Currently Surrey already provides Met-Van water to several reserve residences south of 8th Ave. in the 16200 block. The Peace Arch Duty Free store by the border that is part of the SFN reserve receives both water and sanitary services from Surrey from an agreement between them dating back to 2001. The only areas of the SFN currently serviced by White Rock with both water and sanitary sewers are the businesses by Semiahmoo Park including the iconic Washington Avenue Grill. It is interesting to note that the Corporate Report on this topic reveals that the areas on the west end of the reserve are unlikely to be hooked up to either either water or sewer provided by Surrey because of their distant location. Let's hope that White Rock can make agreements to continue this servicing near East Beach while Surrey and the Federal Liberal government take steps to fix the reserve's water and sewage issues in the main residential area.

Councillor Joanne Charles is on record as stating that design drawings for the SFN water and sewer system are currently being put together, with construction of a new sewer system likely to start six months from now. If everything goes well, it is likely the reserve will be ready to connect to Surrey's water system by next summer. While this solves their long-term water supply issue, it does leave a rather large short-term problem. There is a half-year gap between when White Rock has threatened to turn off the taps and when the SFN starts to go with the flow from Surrey. I doubt White Rock will leave their next-door neighbours high and dry and it is in the best interest of all to foster positive ties between levels of local governments instead of engaging in acrimonious disputes using lawyers to do the dirty work.

It's about time that the Semiahmoo First Nation were afforded clean and healthy drinking water and proper sanitation for their 173 acres and the 43 indigenous people currently living on reserve. It has been an embarrassment that while real estate values and incomes have soared in both White Rock and Surrey, SFN residents have had to boil water before drinking it for over a decade. For those now living in the Semiahmoo peninsula, you should best remember that while it is your home, it is their native land. Think about that the next time you sing the very first verse of the Canadian national anthem.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



July 31, 2-17

I hear that train a comin'

It's Rollin' Round the Bend

..and I ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when

Johnny Cash/Folsom Prison Blues

Delta Mayor Pushes For The Return of the Inter-Urban

I have to admit that I have a warm spot in my heart for Lois Jackson who has provided the municipality of Delta with stable leadership since she was first elected as Mayor in 1999 after first becoming a councilor way back in 1973. She was Chair of the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors from 2006 to 2011 but now stands alone as the only regional mayor who supports the George Massey tunnel bridge replacement project. I must admit that I'm not particularly keen on the 10 lane bridge concept and its estimated $3.5 billion price tag and was wondering if Lois was out of touch with her colleges from across the Lower Mainland. The bridge project aside, Mrs. Jackson redeemed herself in my eyes last week when she proposed to have Translink study the possibility of a light-rail line from the Brighouse Skytrain station in Richmond, through Delta, into south Surrey and White Rock and out into the Fraser Valley terminating in Chilliwack.

To anyone trying to commute south of the Fraser, you know that vehicle traffic is becoming a nightmare as more and more people flood into this rapidly expanding area without the roads keeping up to demand. The Surrey LRT line is currently being planned but it will terminate in Newton and the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) link from Newton Exchange to White Rock Centre was quietly removed from City of Surrey plans last year, taking away 14 Km. of rapid transit service along King George Blvd. and 152 St. Rather than have vehicle traffic pour into Richmond where it will then clog up against the Oak and Knight St. bridges, Mayor Jackson envisions an LRT rail line on the bridge deck, taking countless cars off the structure. The idea of hopping on a train in White Rock to go to Richmond and beyond or as far as Chilliwack would be a godsend to many weary commuters who spend countless hours behind the wheel every week polluting our airshed.

At a meeting of the Mayor's Council on Regional Transportation meeting held last Thursday, Jackson made a motion that in year 5 of a 10 year plan for transportation in Metro Vancouver that a preliminary study be undertaken and a comprehensive plan formulated for this rail-line concept. The other Mayors, with their own ideas and agendas for Skytrain and LRT expansion in their backyards quickly shot down Lois Jackson's idea with some openly mocking and laughing at the concept. The only person who supported the motion was Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese who agreed that although such a project is likely decades away, the need for a well-connected transit system throughout the Fraser Valley simply can’t be ignored. Mayor Jackson's LRT idea is not dead yet as New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté who chairs the Mayors’ Council’s Funding Strategy Committee referred her motion to upcoming discussions about updating the regional transportation strategy for the next 30 years.

Lois Jackson also has a local ally in the federal government backing her call for a LRT line connecting communities south of the Fraser. Rookie Delta Liberal MP Carla Qualtrough who is the the Minister of Sport and Persons With Disabilities in Justin Trudeau's cabinet endorsed Jackson's commuter train concept while meeting with Delta Council earlier this spring. While the George Massey replacement bridge is not in the federal Liberal government's infrastructure plans, Mrs. Qualtrough believes this project could get assistance through Infrastructure Canada and Innovation with a new infrastructure bank. It never hurts having a federal cabinet minister in the riding and Lois Jackson appears to have Carla's ear on promoting light rail connecting communities SOTF (south of the Fraser). Being part of a gender balanced cabinet in Ottawa it is unlikely that Mrs. Qualtrough will easily be brushed aside as Lois Jackson who is on record as saying “You know I’m not part of the boys club, let’s put it that way and whatever I seem to be saying is falling on total deaf ears.”

For all of the talk over the years of relocating the BNSF tracks away from White Rock, they might play a vital role in connecting people living in the Semiahmoo peninsula to the proposed SOTF rail line. The BNSF has already done the heavy lifting by spending millions of dollars replacing the Little Campbell and Mud Bay trestle bridges with the Crescent Beach swing bridge next on the list. Safety improvements along the White Rock waterfront coupled with the continuous track, tie replacement, rip-rap additions plus culvert improvements have made for a smoother and faster ride for the Amtrak. Years ago there was a railway station at the base of Panorama Ridge where Station Road is and this area is still a junction point for rail traffic that would once again make a logical point for a passenger train hub. While her male counterparts may have scoffed at the idea for LRT from Richmond to Chilliwack, eventually it is an old-time idea that will one day have to be resurrected before the entire region becomes gridlocked.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


July 24, 2017

Doe.., A Deer..., A Female Deer...

Being a bit of a beach hound regardless of the season or the weather, you get to see plenty of wildlife along the Ocean Park bluff shoreline between White Rock and Crescent Beach. Birders can expect an aerial display with shorebirds, ducks, geese, great blue herons, bald eagles, and even ospreys being present. Many times I have met harbour seals taking a rest on the waterfront including one that was not at all interested in moving, making me actually step around it as it watched calmly with those deep seal pup eyes. I once came across a sea otter apparently killed by landslide debris near Kwomais Point, plus saw a skittish family of them hiding in a drain pipe under the BNSF Railway tracks when I was doing a shoreline cleanup along Crescent Rock Beach.

Imagine my surprise when a friend sent me a picture from the