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The Naked Truth


Don Pitcairn

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

Ann Landers



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



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 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



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 RCMP case 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

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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 beach last week showing a black-tailed deer strutting her stuff along the shores of the naturist beach. This was from an area just south of the Christopherson Steps at the west end of 24 Ave., just out of sight from Crescent Beach. The deer trotted north, cut across the BNSF tracks and made its way into the ravine system at the end of Bayview Ave. that feeds up into the Crescent Heights neighbourhood. Considering the people still on the beach at 7 p.m. when the photo was taken and the dogs that folks often bring to the beach, seeing a deer here was a weird yet wonderful sight. While I'm sure this was a relatively rare occurrence, as development has continued across the Semiahmoo peninsula, black-tailed deer are becoming masters at navigating the greenways and ravine corridors into places you might not expect them.

When I first moved into the Semi-pen, I must admit that I chuckled when I saw the deer jumping warning signs on 24 Ave up near Softball City in the Sunnyside Acres Park, thinking the deer had been ran off years ago. Imagine my surprise when several years later there was a small traffic jam in this area as everyone slowed down to see a female black-tailed deer dead at the side of the road after it was killed by a passing vehicle. Ever since that time I now drive much slower through this forested area, especially at night when I have frequently seen deer feeding on the lush growth along the ditch that is pumped with well water that fills local creeks during the hot and dry summer. Since then, jumping deer warning signs have spread into the neighbourhoods across south Surrey, usually followed by red circular stickers for a Rudolph nose by some joker not named Don. These signs are real, the deer are definitely here.

The Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest is surely the focal point for the local herd of black-tailed deer with its 130 hectares of forest providing a base camp of sorts for excursions into more urbanized areas. What most folks don't realize is that the southwest portion of the park along 20th Ave. close to 140 St. is a dedicated "Wildlife Refuge Area" that is fenced off and posted with signs showing a black-tailed deer. These signs instruct people to "Please keep out of this area to protect that animals that live here" and to "Call 604-501-5050 for more information." If you visit the Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society website at you can see the effect on how urbanization has affected south Surrey and why these wildlife area is now so important (click here Simply scroll over top of the picture to check out how vast swaths of farmland and forest have become subdivisions around the park in the past 50 years.

With no bears, cougars or bobcats to prey on them, habitat destruction, deaths from vehicles and possibly coyotes eating young fawns are the factors limiting black-tailed deer numbers here. A couple I know who live near the intersection of 128 St. and Crescent Road reported seeing a doe and two small spotted fawns several days ago crossing from Crescent Park to the Surrey drainage park across from 129 St. that feeds into the Nicomekyl River greenbelt system. With deer sightings becoming commonplace across many places here, we have to realize that you can possibly have a Bambi experience at any park, greenway or bluff forest throughout the Semiahmoo peninsula. This goes to show the resiliency of nature and how the protection of habitat hubs and green corridors through development areas is important for biodiversity preservation in south Surrey. If this means that my flowering plants may occasionally get nibbled on or that the veggie garden gets raided, so be it.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


July 17, 2017

A Rough Walk In The Park


Many people like to go out into local parks to get their exercise, commune with nature and enjoy some fresh air. I tend to avoid these areas because the only wildlife you will see are people walking their dogs and crows feeding on the food scraps and garbage they leave behind. To see and enjoy nature, you have to visit wild areas where people don't go and the only trails are those left by the deer and coyotes. This weekend I decided to explore a little bit and check out what eventually will be south Surrey's newest park at what was once the Riverside Golf Course at Crescent Road and King George Blvd. I must admit that while I loved the natural beauty of the place, I was rather shocked by how wild it had gotten in only a short amount of time.

I have previously written about this property back on Oct. 19, 2015 (scroll down to read it) titled"The HUB-bub at Riverside Golf" when the City of Surrey was expropriating the golf course and driving range from the family that had owned it for 50 years. I talked this weekend to Ken Poirier, the former owner who informed me that their legal action against the City of Surrey for allegedly short-changing them on the sale price is still ongoing. The sign posted out front says "FUTURE NATURE PARK - This 6.4 hectare park will have a pathway system through open spaces and natural areas with an opportunity for the community to connect to the Nicomekl River." Rather interestingly, the website the sign directs you to for more information ( does not list this new park or the development plans that were to include a freshwater marsh. I for one hope the folks at City Hall rightly name this area "Riverside Park" to pay historical homage to the half century it was a golf course and driving range.

Old netting from driving range

The road building where the driving range and office buildings once stood has now been completed but it has yet to be opened to the adjoining development property. The driving range has now had all of its tall poles and nets taken down but it is still lined with trees, easily showing the old perimeter. For some strange reason a large ball of the golf ball netting was left in place, providing a nice comfortable seat. The heavy and incessant rains this winter and spring flooded the driving range for months, drowning out much of the grass in the centre of it. It was only recently that you could walk through this area without getting soaked or stuck in the mud. In the little more than a year and a half since it was taken over, the rest of the golf course has reverted to thick lush grasslands that make finding the tees and greens almost an impossible task. If you have ever seen what the rough on a "links" golf course looks like, that is what the Riverside Golf Course has now become.

The course is now quiet and devoid of human visitors but my wife Sheryl and I found plenty of evidence that the wildlife were continuing to use it as they had before when it was still a golf course. There is coyote scat just about everywhere you look, especially on the dyke that they use to cross the property. In fact we saw a lone coyote running across the driving range in the middle of the day. Several water hazards were getting very low but the mud held the hoof impressions of many black tail deer and their tiny new fawns. Several hawks flew by, their whistling screams letting us know that they were not happy with our intrusion into their private hunting grounds. While we did not see any owls, I did find several regurgitated pellets by a big pine tree showing they are around at night. Being directly next to the Nicomekl River, it is likely there would be plenty of migratory waterfowl to check out during the spring and fall, especially if the large marsh goes ahead as planned. An unfortunate inhabitant was a grove of invasive Japanese Knotweed that had been staked out by Surrey crews for removal.

The following are pictures of our hike and the sites we had the pleasure to witness. You may want to wait until this area is developed as walking through the tall grass is difficult and nearly impossible to see hidden tripping hazards.

Completion of this new park is scheduled for 2018/2019.

Two views of the Nicomekyl river taken from the dyke

View of the old Bailey bridge above the Nicomekl

View of the old Bailey bridge above the Nicomekl

The Nicomekl looking north towards Highway 99

Diifferent fairways with plenty of rough - Manicured fairways reverted into wild pasture land


I hope you enjoyed the photos, especially if you had previously golfed at this local course that was part of our community for half a century. For those who miss the great deals at Riverside Golf, know that they need your support and are still open in Vancouver at 1366 S.W. Marine Drive or you can shop online at


Naturally yours
Don Pitcairn



July 10, 2017

Save Water, Save Money

While White Rock's water woes have been well reported, not many people know that the City of Surrey is sending out a team of post secondary school students this summer to educate and inform residents about not wasting precious H2O. Last weekend we received a hand delivered letter from the City of Surrey titled "Saving Water to Save You Money" alerting us to the presence of the newly formed Water Conservation Education Team (WCET). This is a City of Surrey initiative formed to help property owners and residents conserve water, particularly in the hot and dry summer months.

The WCET members will be in neighbourhoods throughout Surrey from May to August to meet with property owners and residents and provide tips and tools to help reduce water consumption and decrease utility bills. They will offer free helpful advice to assist with water-wise lawn and garden care, potentially reduce high water bills and to support a sustainable city that is growing in leaps and bounds. The letter from Surrey's Water Conservation Team promised that the students will:
- Assist you with programing your irrigation system to avoid overwatering
- Review your lawn's health and soil profile to assist in suggestions for watering recommendations specific to your lawn and soil
- Introduction to species used for xeriscaping (drought tolerant/resistant plants)
- Providing you with a free rain gauge to help you assess your watering needs
- Teach you how your water meter can be used to detect leaks.

With Metro Vancouver watering regulations in effect ( it is important to know how you can reduce your demand for water. Taken directly from the City of Surrey website dealing with water conservation ( here are some ways to dramatically decrease your water usage.


Save water inside your home

Turn off the water when shaving, brushing teeth, and washing dishes. This can save 10 to 40 litres/day.
Check for leaky toilets and replace older bathroom faucet nozzles.
Install low flow toilets - they can save 6 to 14 litres per flush (around $75/year on your utility), while low flow showerheads can save 8 litres/minute.
Flush only toilet paper down the toilet.
Wash produce in a pan half-filled with water instead of using a strainer. Use this water for household plants.
Run the dishwasher and washing machine only when you have a full load.

Save water outside your home

Use a broom instead of a hose to clean the driveway and sidewalk. A hose uses 23 litres/minute.
Use a bucket of soapy water to wash your car and use the hose only for rinsing.
Wash your car using soap and water from a bucket. The hose uses 23 litres/minute, but using a bucket saves you at least 2 minutes' worth of water (46 litres).
Water the garden during early morning or evening hours when temperatures are cooler to avoid evaporation.
Grow the grass at least 2 to 3 inches. Taller grass shades new growth and reduces evaporation.
Water your lawn only when it needs it. An hour of sprinkling uses about 1300 litres of water. Position the sprinkler so that water isn't wasted on the cement; this can save 10 to 35 litres/minute.
Keep to the water sprinkling regulations between May 15 and October 15.
Use a rain barrel to water your garden and plants.

Other innovative ways to save water

When you’re craving a cool glass of water, don’t run the faucet until the water gets cold. Try keeping a jug of water in the fridge. This way you can have a cold glass of water whenever you like!
Remove weeds in your lawn and garden. This reduces competition for water while making the rest of the yard look great!
Plant a water wise garden, which contains plants that need little water and can cope with long dry spells. Placing mulch in your garden is also a good way to conserve water. It reduces erosion and discourages weeds. Spread grass clippings or other mulch materials around the base of plants and shrubs.
Reduce your shower by 5 minutes. This can save up to 100 litres of water and up to $100 per year in energy bills!

We have five 45 gallon food grade plastic barrels on our property that I purchased for $10 each, which allow us to collect rain and water our gardens and lawns whenever we want. While not mentioned in their water saving letter, I found out that the City of Surrey sells modern systern rain barrels to Surrey residents to help with water conservation. These units that are made up of 50% recycled plastics and hold 55 gallons or 208 litres of water. They can easily be added onto existing downspouts with the overflow water either connected to additional barrels or directed away from the building. There is a fine mesh screen on top to keep out mosquitoes and leafy debris plus a handy dandy spigot at the bottom, eliminating the need for an electric pump. At only $49.36 plus tax each, these are a great deal and can be purchased at either City Hall (13450 104 Ave) or the Operations Works Yard (6651 148 St). Check them out on the Surrey website at

I must admit that I am one of those fools who fertilizes and waters his lawn in the summer, ensuring that I have to constantly mow and trim it when I should be relaxing down at the beach. That being said, with the planting of shade trees around the yard, topdressing of the lawn with organic matter and overseeding in the spring, plus cutting at a high setting during the summer months means it takes very little water to keep it lush, cool and green. For those who are not so anal or ridiculous about their grass, the motto "Brown It, Don't Drown it" should be used by Metro Vancouver and the City of Surrey to encourage residents to allow their lawns to naturally go dormant in the summer, knowing it will green up and grow again with cooler temperatures and rain usually beginning at the time the PNE opens up in mid-August.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


July 04, 2017

Break A Leg Dianne

You may have seen the picture that Dianne Watts recently tweeted from the Peace Arch Hospital showing her laying in a hospital bed with her right leg heavily bandaged and elevated. On Sunday, June 18th, our Conservative MP was heading out to walk her dogs in the morning wearing flip-flops on her feet and took a nasty spill down the front steps of her residence, breaking her ankle in the process. The damage was serious enough that the break required surgery instead of just simple immobilization. No word on how long it will be until Mrs. Watts is back on her two feet again but I wish her well and offer to be one of the first people to sign her cast.

This is not the first time that Dianne Watts has ended up in the news with injuries sustained in an accident, in fact it is the third time that she has required hospitalization in the past seven years. The last time that Dianne was seriously hurt was on July 23, 2011 while on vacation near 100 Mile House. Out horseback riding with her two daughters and some friends, the horse she was on bucked her into the air and she came down hard on the saddle, hearing a loud crack in her back with instant stabbing pain. Taken to Kamloops hospital, tests revealed that she had suffering two broken vertebrae in her back that fortunately for her did not result in any paralysis. This accident happened when Mrs. Watts was still Mayor of Surrey but the timing of the injury meant that she did not miss any Surrey Council meetings.

By far the most serious accident Dianne Watts has been involved with was the April 23, 2010 car crash that happened late on a Friday night in south Surrey near Crescent Park. In this accident involving the Watts Cadillac Escalade and another lady's Chrysler 300 sedan, Diane received a cracked rib with her and her husband suffering various soft tissue injuries. The woman they t-boned in the intersection received much more severe injuries, suffering a broken collar bone, ribs and injuries to her head, neck, back, abdomen, lungs, knee, spleen and pancreas. While the woman driving the Chrysler 300 was ticketed for the crash, she launched a civil suit against the Watts, who then counter-sued with the entire case being settled out of court in May of 2014 with non-disclosure agreements ensuring this entire messy affair was swept under the rug. If you want to read the details of this event, scroll in to the TNT archives to check out the April 26, 2011 "Car-nage On The Streets Of The Semi-Pen", August 8, 2011 "Watts Courting Trouble" and the May 12, 2014 " Watts Really Happened With The Mayor's Car Cash?"

Now maybe Mrs. Watts is just unlucky or possibly it is true that bad things actually do come in threes. Three accidents involving injuries and hospitalization in only seven years leaves me wondering if Dianne needs to "Have a word with yourself." If that phrase sounds familiar, you have probably seen the TV commercials by The Committee Against Preventable Injuries who are online at Their basic goal is to make people aware that sometimes bad things can (and do) happen to good people. It turns out that more than three million Canadians are seriously injured every year, costing our health care system over $20 billion, with the care and rehabilitation of the victims of preventable injuries taking a huge chunk out of provincial budgets. If this doesn't hit close to home with you, consider that over 400,000 British Columbians suffer a preventable injury every year with 1,200 dying as a result. Preventable injuries also claim the lives of more children in our province than all other causes combined and are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 1 and 44 years old.

Hopefully this will be the last time that we hear about Dianne Watts being injured or see pictures of her from a hospital bed. We need her up and about representing our community, not having to heal and rehabilitate from injuries. For the constituents of the Semiahmoo peninsula, take a minute to realize that accidents like those that have plagued Mrs. Watts occur all of the time and can easily happen to you. Instead of that little voice inside your head saying "It won't happen to me", it should be saying "Be careful, bad things can easily happen to good people." Consider the personal consequences when you catch yourself doing something foolish, stupid or downright dangerous. Sometimes it only takes a moment of inattentiveness to cause serious injuries with long-term effects that can last a lifetime. Becoming aware of your own personal safety and taking responsibility for staying safe is the first step to a long and healthy life without hospital stays and the pain associated with the injuries that brought you there in the first place.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



June 26, 2016

The Buzz About The Nude Beach

Until recently, the idea of visiting the secluded and idyllic shores of Crescent Rock Beach between White Rock and Crescent Beach to do some sunbathing or skinny-dipping seemed like a pipe dream. Record amounts of rain this spring with cloudy skies and below average temperatures ensured that the beach was empty except for the many birds and wildlife that frequent its rugged shores. As soon as the clouds finally parted and the sun shone through, sun worshippers descended in droves to Crescent Rock, the world famous Wreck Beach in Vancouver and Brunswick Beach in Lions Bay that was recently in the news with nearly 200 cars parked up onto the Sea-to-Sky highway.

A few weeks ago one of the regulars who has frequented Crescent Rock for several years texted me to say there has been a rather disturbing new development at the nude beach. Several times in the middle of the week, he reported that a drone was seen flying over the area frequented by naturists and nudists who were relaxing au' naturel enjoying the simple pleasure of being at the beach free from textiles. Getting buzzed at the beach is nothing new with small planes, ultra-lights, paragliders, news copters and even the RCMP helicopter passing by well below the 500" ceiling level they would have to observe over residential areas. On the water you will also get passing boats, canoes, kayacks, paddleboarders and a couple of times even the Coast Guard hovercraft which always attracts a crowd whether on a training or rescue mission.

Having planes or boats pass by is to be expected and I believe that most people at Crescent Rock Beach really couldn't give a damn if someone want to sneak-a-peek. The issue with the drone is that it did not zip by at a high altitude but came in low over the main nudist area and simply hovered for a long period of time directly over top of nude sunbathers. Modern drones carry highly sophisticated video cameras that can take HD video, beaming it directly to the user holding the control unit. As to whether the person flying this drone was filming nude people on the beach and what was done with the footage remains to be seen. It is somewhere between creepy and weird that someone would do such a thing but this happened several days in a row so it was no fluke and certainly no accident.

What was interesting was that before these incidents were reported, I had met a young man down at the beach with his friends when my wife and I were out walking the dogs one cloudy and cold evening. He had one of these new drones and was zipping up and down the beach, showing off the incredibly detailed shots to his teenage friends. I went over to check it out and he explained that the quad-copter he was flying had cost $1,500, contained a 12 megapixel 4K ultra HD video camera with a range of 5-6 km. With on-board flight stabilization and hover control, GPS guidance, obstacle avoidance programming, automatic flight return and lithium ion batteries giving it 25 minutes of airtime, even a kid could fly one which was the case. To get an idea of how detailed the filming can be, check out White Rock's Christian Leblanc's video from the frozen Serpentine Fen a couple of winters ago posted on YouTube under the title MOST AMAZING DRONE VIDEO! (HD) at If you watch it to the end, the final few seconds of this video shows the Ocean Park Bluffs, the BNSF Railway Tracks and a deserted part of Crescent Rock Beach from high above.

The issuing with filming naked people up close and personal at a nude beach with a drone is that it constitutes voyeurism under section 162 of the Canadian Criminal Code.
162. (1) Every one commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes — including by mechanical or electronic means — or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy, if:
(a) the person is in a place in which a person can reasonably be expected to be nude, to expose his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or to be engaged in explicit sexual activity;
(b) the person is nude, is exposing his or her genital organs or anal region or her breasts, or is engaged in explicit sexual activity, and the observation or recording is done for the purpose of observing or recording a person in such a state or engaged in such an activity; or
(c) the observation or recording is done for a sexual purpose.
Printing, publication, etc., of voyeuristic recordings
(4) Every one commits an offence who, knowing that a recording was obtained by the commission of an offence under subsection (1), prints, copies, publishes, distributes, circulates, sells, advertises or makes available the recording, or has the recording in his or her possession for the purpose of printing, copying, publishing, distributing, circulating, selling or advertising it or making it available.
(5) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1) or (4)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

If you were to walk down Crescent Rock beach openly taking pictures of naked people, it is highly likely that if you did not delete the photos your camera or cellphone would end up in the saltchuck. Whoever is responsible for flying a drone over nudists and naturists needs to know that this little stunt is actually a criminal act that could land them in Canadian Federal Prision for up to five years. If you are at Crescent Rock Beach and a drone hovers above you, report it immediately to the Surrey RCMP by calling 911, telling them a pervert is video taping people at the nude beach. For myself, besides bringing a water bottle, sunscreen and a towel, my beach bag now contains some new equipment; a Wrist Rocket slingshot and a couple of heavy duty zap-straps should the owner try and retrieve their expensive toy that I will try to bring down.

Naturally yours,

Don Pitcairn


June 19, 2017

Open House, Closed Mind, Empty Wallet


With my interest in rail safety here involving the BNSF tracks, there was no way that I was going to miss the Rail Safety Open House put on by White Rock last Thursday evening at the historic train station. While it was supposed to be held out front of the building, strong winds and pelting rain from "Junetober" forced the meeting inside the rather confined quarters of the station. I'm not sure if it was the inclement weather or a lack of interest from the community but attendance was sparse with White rock and BNSF employees easily outnumbering the residents and Surreyians who showed up to take part. Not surprising, former MLA Ken Jones who is president of the local community rail safety group Smartrail was on hand to provide his expertise in rail safety matters and discuss the expensive safety upgrades ordered by Transport Canada plus White Rock pet projects.

While there was lip service given to rail safety tips and train whistle cessation in White Rock, the star of the show was definitely the informative displays showcasing the proposed changes to the six at-grade crossings along the waterfront plus an elevated pedestrian walkway. Plans are for Finlay St., Ash St., Balsam St., Cypress St., the Bay St. boat launch and the WR Pier to all have flashing lights, bells and crossing gates installed. Engineering and design work are currently underway that should be completed by August of this year with construction beginning in September 2017 on the Fir, Bay and Balsam street crossings plus at the Pier by June of 2018. As far as funding goes, the Canadian Federal government is paying for 50% of this project, the BNSF Railway is on track to pay 37.5% of the bill, with White Rock shelling out 12.5% of the cost. The total price tag for this project is estimated at $5.8 million with Transport Canada contributing $2.3 million, the BNSF $1.3 million and WR $2.1 million. If you caught that this match doesn't jive with the previous percentages, it is because White Rock is on the hook to pay $1.7 million for the pedestrian overpass, Transport Canada paying half a million bucks and the BNSF not paying a penny for this elevated feature.

That is not the only pile of tax money that politicians want to dump on the waterfront. Plans from WR City Hall are to extend the promenade 1,000 m. west to the Coldicutt Ravine staircase which is where the new pedestrian overpass is to be located. This $4-5 million project is endorsed by WR Councillor Grant Meyers who was on hand at the open house to show off his new baby. The Memorial Park Project by the Pier has been approved with construction pegged to start in the fall of 2017 with the planned spring 2018 opening valued at a further $5 million. Add to this WR Council's plans for a four or six story concrete parkade at the foot of Victoria Ave, likely to be in the $4-6 million range depending on final height. Add them all up with the crossing fixes and you quickly get around $20 million or $1,000 spent for every resident of White Rock to complete all of these upgrades. With taxation rates already a third higher than surrounding Surrey, there appears to be no appetite for reducing spending and decreasing property taxes. When residents have no bread left, it wouldn't surprise me to hear the phrase "let them eat cake" emanate from City Hall.

I understand the need for safety upgrades along the waterfront after the last pedestrian fatality there in July of 2013 involving White Rock jogger Anita Lewis who was killed by the Amtrak. Putting some high-viz reflective striping on the front of locomotives would be cheaper but I don't see anyone other than yours truly trying to change the almost camouflaged colours of the Cascades engines to make then look like the rear of firetrucks. Instead, gates, lights and bells will hopefully keep people off the tracks when trains are passing by, something that is needed with increasing rail traffic and today's distracted society. I was down in San Clemente, California several years ago and they use a similar system to what is being planned here and it works very well in a beachfront area with large crowds and lots of passing commuter and freight trains. Since it is Transport Canada who is pushing this grade crossing project forward and paying the lions share of the cost, there is nothing that White Rock can do except for cough up their part of the bill. As far as some of the other costs associated with this project, I believe they need to be seriously looked at whether they are needed or simply a bad idea wasting millions.

I have to be the one to ask the question, "Does the promenade really need to be lengthened?" Currently the historic pier is 1,592 feet long making it the longest wooden pier in Canada. I don't hear anyone demanding that we extend the pier further into Boundary Bay! The promenade comes in at 7,199 feet or 1.36 miles from the east end of East Beach to the west side of West Beach that act as nice bookends. I have been up and down the Coldicutt Ravine many times and have never met anyone else on the trail there, with most people being unaware of its existence or unsure of its location. Indeed there is little signage on Marine Drive or Terry St., with nothing to mark it next to the tracks except for a few worn steps and a notch in the landslide detector fence allowing pedestrians passage. If built, the promenade extension would basically be a path to nowhere, other than making it easier for nudists to get to the Hermit's Haven naturist beach only a couple of hundred metres down the shore. As far as keeping people off the tracks, there would be nothing stopping folks from climbing up the rip-rap and going for a hike on the rails all the way to Crescent Beach as currently happens.

What is perplexing about this plan is they want to build the pedestrian overpass at the base of the Coldicutt Ravine where the extended promenade would terminate, allowing people access to the rocky beach there. Considering its high cost and the small number of people that would ever use it I see this as a great waste of tax-payer money, the bulk of which would come straight out of White Rock coffers. Where a pedestrian overpass is badly needed is directly in front of the White Rock pier where the vast majority of pedestrian traffic is located. It could come off the top of the stairs level with Marine Drive, go over the train tracks and then come down beside the promenade next to the pier. If designed as a ramp it would allow strollers and possibly even wheelchair access during times when trains are on the tracks. In the event of a mile long coal train stopping on the waterfront, a pedestrian overpass in this location would allow crowds of people to enter and leave the pier and beach area safely without cutting through or under the train as is now currently the case. Building such an elevated walkway at Coldicutt makes as much sense to me as extending the promenade into an area with no beach when it is high tide.

One of tproposed railway overpasses at Coldictutt Ravine

I think that the promenade extension and the Coldicutt trail overpass are both white elephant projects that should be scrapped as a waste of time and money. Unless we can install a proper trail system all the way to Crescent Beach if the tracks are ever relocated (pipe dream I say), there is no point in building either. Transport Canada needs to rethink its two options for the pedestrian overpass and instead design option three, building one where it is sorely needed in front of the White Rock pier. As to why this wasn't considered as part of the Memorial Park Project, another unnecessary and questionable waste of cash in my opinion, maybe they didn't think about how people would get over the tracks with ever increasing rail traffic and longer trains. If you live in White Rock, you may want to ask your Mayor and Council the same questions I have brought up here, along with talking to them about reigning in out-of-control spending by City Hall on projects with little benefit when the water system obviously needs major work. As of Monday, June 19th, the information revealed at the Rail Safety Open House should be posted on the city website for your perusal at I strongly suggest you take a look at these plans plus their associated costs and not allow yourself to get railroaded into paying for unneeded vanity projects.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

(click here to view the City of White Rock's material presented at the Open House on Rail Saffety.)


June 12, 2017


Raising a Black Flag in Surrey

I live in Surrey by choice. There, I said it and. I'm glad I said it. I grew up in Delta, lived in Burnaby, Vancouver and Langley before making my way into the "City of Parks" as the old Surrey slogan used to be. With the way things are going in White Rock these days, its almost fair to turn the tired mantra around and say that "Living in Surrey means never having to say your White Rock." That being said, it is not like everything that the City of Surrey does is well thought out or approved by the public at large. It defies comprehension how those in charge at City Hall can constantly make idiotic decisions that defy comprehension, no matter which of these cities you live in.

It was back in 2007 that I complained to the City of Surrey about the dreadful condition of the "Welcome to Surrey" signs at all of the highway and freeway entrances. These were sandblasted wood, painted in green, yellow and white featuring the iconic beaver on the top, with peeling paint and plenty of dry rot. Instead of refurbishing these historic signs, in 2008 City Hall decided to instead replace them with steel and aluminum monoliths resembling a real estate developer sign with a couple of concrete highrises, a little strip of vegetation and the ubiquitous slogan "The Future Lives Here." Without a whisper of public consultation the iconic beaver was exterminated, replaced with a cheap knock-off of the City of Toronto logo. Check out these links to both Surrey and Toronto to see if you notice a striking resemblance between the two.
City of Surrey logo, click here
City of Toronto logo, click here

I'm all for preserving heritage in Surrey that is quickly disappearing under the excavator shovel and bulldozer blade. While heritage buildings are left to rot, fall down, or be burned by vandals and the homeless, you would think that the signage for heritage roadway names would reflect the past of this town formed in 1879. Unfortunately modernization seems to have caught up with our new heritage signs. Until recently the heritage signs pointing out the old street names were in an easy to read yellow orange background featuring the Surrey coat of arms and the rather green logo "The City of Parks." Several years ago a replacement program was launched featuring new signs in a brown background with reflective white trim and lettering, something that was quickly abandoned when someone noted these signs quite literally looked like crap. If you thought the recent rebranding of the City of Vancouver that copied the 2011 logo change for the City of Chilliwack caused a stir before it was recently cancelled (click here) then you might want to keep an eye out for the new heritage marker signs posted throughout Surrey.

The new heritage marker signs in Surrey feature old road names have a black background with reflective white lettering and thin white trim. They are devoid of colour, city logo or slogan, simply stating "City of Surrey" at the bottom. Now maybe they thought this was nostalgic, taking us back to the good old days of early movies or black and white TVs. Possibly someone thought this resembled the previous era of black and white photography before Kodak brought us Kodachrome. It could be that they imagined this would link to old-fashioned newspapers that were printed in black and white until Canada's first internet newspaper, the White Rock Sun, appeared on the scene ruining everything. Whatever the reasoning or rational, I can't help but think that these boring, hard to spot, monochromatic signs resemble the black and white ISIS flag every time I drive by one. It's gotten to the point that I'm starting to yell "allaha akbar", "jihad" and "death to America" as I drive by each one, wishing I could hit the IED detonator button and blow myself straight to Allah.

If the idea was to preserve heritage in Surrey, they should have used a reflective white background with green and yellow print, the same colour scheme of the old Surrey freeway signs plus also used on the watercourse and hill signs, printed in white, green and yellow, that are also being replaced. Delta utilizes an easy to spot bright yellow background for their heritage markers along with the Corporation of Delta logo, plus the same stream naming signs formerly used in Surrey. The City of Langley also uses a bright yellow background for their heritage roadway signs, along with their corporation crest. If Surrey wanted to give a nod to their heritage, they should have used the old beaver logo, possibly incorporating the previous "City of Parks" logo. This shouldn't have been too hard to imagine since I created a Surrey Retro t-shirt years ago featuring many of these same attributes. Having a black sign with no logo, no slogan and not even the new twin towers in Whalley design is a disservice to the residents of Surrey and its long and storied past. Absolutely Orwellian and devoid of any charm or thought, likely similar to those who dreamed up this bland uninspiring design.

It remains to be ascertained what this heritage exercise is costing the City of Surrey but there are thousands of these new ISIS inspired signs popping up on every main roadway throughout Surrey. Whoever thought this was a brilliant idea should meet with White Rock City Manager Dan Bottrill who believed it would look good to paint the light standards and safety railings along the beach a ghoulish black instead of the nice sea blue they formerly were. There is nothing wrong with a little colour as it is easy to see, pleasing to the eye and does not resemble the flag of a terrorist state. Of course, it does go well with my black pajamas, black balaclava and my wife's nice burka and hijab. Remember that one man's terrorist is another one's freedom fighter and I think this terrible idea of black and white heritage signs needs to be reversed and those who came up with the concept be tested for colour blindness. Unfortunately it is more likely these terrible signs will stay in place because as it is often said, "once you go black, you never go back."

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


June 05, 2017

Art Knapp Gives a Hoot

Barn owl building at Panorama Park near Colebrook Road in Surrey.

I first met Marty Vanderzalm at the south Surrey Art Knapp located at 4391 King George Blvd. directly south of the Serpentine Wildlife Area, aka the Serpentine Fen, when investigating a story about Ducks Unlimited. Several years later after learning about some special barn owl buildings that had been built in Surrey, I decided to visit Marty and ask him about the concept of building barn own nesting boxes and erecting them around the Fen. Imagine my surprise when he said, "Now why would you want to do that? You're standing in barn owl central!" Little did I know at the time but the Art Knapp was way ahead of me with conservation efforts to help one of the prettiest owls in Canada that is under tremendous environmental pressure here. Taken directly from the website, here is their Conservation Commitment and information on the lovely barn owl.


Art Knapp is situated immediately adjacent to the Serpentine Fen Conservation Area. As part of our commitment to helping preserve and maintain our heritage and indigenous wildlife species, we have undertaken an owl repatriation project right on our own property. We are proud to be recognized as one of western Canada’s ‘Owl Hot Spots’. Have a look up toward the back of the Garden Spot and you’ll see 3 of our newly erected ‘Owl Barrels’. They add to the nine we currently have on the property, for a total of twelve owl houses - which house a large number of barn owls.

Barn owls nest, on the pellets that they regurgitate, in barns where they find shelter and protection from the elements and possible predators. Barn owls and farmers have a unique, symbiotic relationship in which the farmer provides roosting, foraging, and nesting areas for the Barn owls, and in return, the owls supply very effective mouse traps–themselves! A family of hungry barn owls can consume as many as 1,000 mice per year! In the spring the female may lay five-seven eggs, laying one egg every second or third day. Because barn owls lay their eggs over a few days time, the older ones get stronger more quickly and have a better chance of survival than the ones born last. Quite often, from five hatchlings, only two will survive. The ones that do survive to mate and have young are usually the strongest and their owlets inherit that strength from them. Although barn owls can be found almost worldwide, they are considered “vulnerable” by COSEWIC (Committee On the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada) and are disappearing from many parts of Canada.

Barn owls have experienced a steady decline due to loss of nesting sites (fewer wooden barns and more barns made of aluminum) and habitat (wet meadows and undisturbed grasslands to forage for food). Barn owl box programs in the Fraser Valley and other regions of the province help provide nesting sights for these owls.
For more information on barn owl habitat restoration efforts and information on our resident owls and and other British Columbian owl species (Barn owl, Barred owl, Boreal owl, Burrowing owl, Flammulated owl, Great Grey owl, Great Horned owl, Long Eared owl, Northern Hawk owl, Northern Pygmy owl, Saw-Whet owl, Screech owl, Short Eared owl, Snowy owl and the Spotted owl) go here: Northwest Wildlife - Owls of BC
And for anyone who finds an orphaned owl, be sure to contact the folks at OWL Canada (just down the highway off of Mud Bay): Owl Canada
Ask us how you can be involved in helping to restore lost habitat for these wonderful creatures.

As wonderful as their work has been to provide nesting places for these owls, Art Knapps is now bringing them to Canada and the world, putting video cameras into some of the boxes and streaming them over the internet on their "Live Owl Cam” which can be seen by going to their website and clicking the yellow Owl icon While this has been done in many other countries, I understand this is a first for Canada. Barn owls are the most widely distributed species of owl and also one of the most widespread of all birds found everywhere in the world except polar and desert regions, but they exist in this country in limited areas with a small pocket of five mated pairs in southern Ontario with the bulk of the population here in southern BC. Earlier this year you could watch their crazy mating ritual on the Art Knapps Live Owl Cam that resembles someone dancing to disco music. Then came the mating season and being nocturnal, they did it with the lights off oblivious to the infared cameras that allow us to see at night. Obviously their pairing was successful as there is now a clutch of four eggs in one of the Art Knapps nesting sites that the female sits on incubating them while the male forages in nearby farm fields and ditches for food. If everything goes well, these eggs will hatch shortly with the fuzzy little owlets likely becoming an internet sensation across Canada.

I've been rather fortunate to have had plenty of close encounters with barn owls over the years. When the Alex Fraser Bridge was built, Hwy 91 cut the Delta Golf Course in half with their old barn clubhouse being left vacant as that side of the course went fallow. One day my friend and I decided to check out the loft of this rather unique building that resembled an upside down boat with no posts or beams inside. When we entered through an open hay door, we discovered a pair of barn owls that were not too happy with our intrusion and they flew circles over our heads until we beat a hasty retreat. When living on a farm in Langley, we had barn owls in several of the outbuildings that you could often see in the day resting in the rafters or hiding in a dark roof corner. You had to be careful not to spook them for they have a rather nasty habit of bombing you with their feces if you forced them to fly, something I found out one day while checking for a that coyote I had seen enter one of the buildings. For those people who think that getting crapped on by a bird is good luck, obviously they have never been painted white by a barn owl.

For more detailed information about barn owls and the challenges they face, visit the Government of Canada Species at Risk Public Registry at the following link: A recent article in The Star featuring commentary by Wildlife biologist and local barn owl researcher Sofi Hindmarch who works with the folks at Art Knapps on their conservation efforts is also worth a read at: This story hi-lights the dangers barn owls face from their low level flying that makes them vulnerable to being hit by vehicles, something my wife Sheryl unfortunately recently witnessed with a barn owl getting killed by the car directly in front of her. Keep an eye on the Art Knapps Live Owl Cam at for the baby barn owl chicks to arrive, something that will also be announced in the White Rock Sun as we recently did for the Hancock Wildlife Foundation Ocean Park Eagle Cam when this year's eaglets hatched.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


MAY 29, 2017

The Plane Truth

The month of May has basically been "Mayhem" for me with long days of 11-14 hours and not a single day off to rest, relax and recuperate (and you thought the 3 R's were reding, riting and rithmatic). ignoring the call to shoot at long-range rifle matches in either Kamloops or Chilliwack with the B.C. Rifle Association, I finally took a day off, looking forward to relaxing on Sunday, the traditional day of rest. I normally get up to take on the day before 6 a.m. so getting to finally sleep in was a blessed relief and with the nice weather we decided to sleep with the window open to enjoy the fresh air. After staying up late on Saturday night, I was still in bed when a commercial jet airliner woke me from my dream state at 8:26 a.m. in the morning. Not quite as irritating as forgetting that your alarm clock was still set for work or getting an early phone call from a telemarketer but certainly not the way I want to be raised from the dead.

Because of my work and play schedule, I am generally not around the house for an entire day but Sunday proved to be an exception with cleaning up the yard duties in the morning, patio party time mid-day and a few hours at the end of the day at Crescent Rock Beach where we took in a nice sunset. At 10:53 a.m. another plane flew above the Crescent Beach/Ocean Park region of south Surrey, another around dinner time at 5:51 p.m. and two night time intrusions at 9:32 p.m. and 11:24 pm. Checking our YVRs WebTrak online noise monitoring website at that allows you to track these planes, it showed that these planes were mainly variants of the Boeing 737 or an Airbus 320. The annoying part about these commercial jets is that they are not supposed to be flying over south Surrey when on visual flight paths, which is what was happening today in the clear sunny weather. The flight corridor is in the "middle of Boundary Bay", 5-6 km. away from the peninsula and the now busy shoreline at Crescent Beach or the naturist Crescent Rock. I'm pretty sure that the last time I looked at a map that Ocean Park, Crescent Park and Crescent Beach were not an island in the middle of Boundary Bay.

This is not the first time I've written about this problem with the last TNT on this issue available if you scroll down to Nov. 7, 2016 titled "Time For A Change, In Clocks And Planes." Interestingly, it was a noisy jet at 8:25 a.m. on a Sunday morning that woke me on that day so I guess I should be happy about getting an extra minute of sleep this time. Concern about airplane noise pollution in south Surrey and White Rock became front page news a decade ago when Nav Canada (with offices in Newton beside Costco) changed the YVR flight paths without telling anyone, even the Mayor of Surrey who was Dianne Watts at the time. The City of Surrey and Delta worked together with local area MP's including Russ Hiebert to force Nav Canada to alter the flight paths, putting the GPS track on a route far away over Boundary Bay and ensuring that planes flying on visual would not overfly the peninsula. Over time, there seems to be an issue with this information being shared with new air traffic controllers and inbounds to YVR flying over the Semi-Pen is becoming more and more common, especially when the weather is nice and skies are clear.

Besides waking people up on the weekends and disturbing them when relaxing in their yards, the overflights above the beaches that are a destination for up to a million Fraser Valley residents should not be forgotten. Many people go to the beach to escape the heat, enjoy the sunshine and have some quiet time. While I love to visit the Abbotsford Airshow in August, I really don't want to watch a parade of commercial jets on decent to YVR flying above me at the beach. It is bad enough having freight trains roll by or ocean racing boats at full throttle heading out from the Crescent Beach Marina, we don't need the added airline noise disturbing the peace. I'd much rather listening to the wind, the waves against the shore, the cackling cries of majestic bald eagles and the songs of the many birds and ducks that frequent this area. If these planes were directed to the middle of Boundary Bay as has been the case for many years, this topic would not keep reappearing in the White Rock Sun. Being born on a Canadian Air Force Base and having lived in Richmond not far from the airport, when I purchased our house, being away from flight paths was an important consideration.

Surrey's old mayor is now our MP and even though Dianne Watts is a Conservative and part of the opposition, it is her job to represent the constituents here on federal issues which includes aviation transportation. Since she played an instrumental role in stopping the commercial airplane fly-overs of this region almost a decade ago, it is now time for her to tackle this issue again to ensure that the flight controls that were put in place are adhered to. It probably would not hurt for our new MLA BC Liberal Tracy Redies to add her voice to this conversation, letting Nav Canada know that planes flying on visual are to be in the middle of Boundary Bay. Trust me, all pilots have detailed maps of this region and they are quite aware of which body of water is Boundary Bay so there is no excuse for them to be flying anywhere over the Semiahmoo peninsula. A copy of this TNT plus the one from November will be forwarded to both of these ladies and hopefully they can find the time to remind Nav Canada of their own rules. If you have been noticing a gradual increase of jet planes here or are bothered by their noise when down at the beach, please email them your thoughts at telling them to give pilots on visual approach to YVR instructions to steer clear of here.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 23, 2017

Cowboys, Carnies, Creep Catchers, Cops and Cloverdale

After all of the wicked weather this year with one of the snowiest and coldest winters followed by one of the dreariest saturated springs, it really was amazing that the Victoria Day long weekend saw sunny skies, warm temperatures and not a drop of rain. It left me wondering who at the Cloverdale Rodeo Association had sold their soul to the devil to ensure the storm clouds would part and the sun would make its long awaited appearance. My wife and I worked at the Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair again selling our Surrey apparel and I must admit that is now seems we are becoming part of the show. We have settled into a great location next door to Lemon Heaven across from the food court that always attracts throngs of onlookers. Hawking souvenirs for five years at BC Place comes in handy while now bellowing out "Surrey Shirts! We Cover Surrey!" thousands of times over the long weekend, much to the chagrin of our neighbours from London Drugs in the booth next door. I must admit, it was Sheryl who looked after the customers, completed their transactions and looked after stock and inventory.

With our forth year under our belts, you start to recognize VIPs, dignitaries, RCMP members, and people from all walks of life. Of course we are now on a first name basis with almost everyone from the Cloverdale Rodeo Association, mainly because we are often viewed as an intemperate child that needs to be controlled and scolded for our edgy Surrey designs. Former Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer and former Surrey-Cloverdale MLA Ken Jones were both at the rodeo as usual sporting their styling Cloverdale Rodeo jackets that they appear in annually complete with cowboy hat. Staff Sergeant Dale Carr plus many officers we now recognize from the Surrey RCMP were in attendance and we made sure to keep them entertained complaining about their hi-viz vests while pleading for uniformed officers to arrest those members wearing the red serge for looking too good. Many of our repeat Surrey Shirts customers came by to visit or stock up on merch (yup, that's now a word) and show us their new Surrey tattoo they had inked in the last year. We always pay plenty of attention to anyone with physical or mental challenges, giving out stickers for scooters and wheelchairs, getting to meet the indomitable Jean this year who lost her left arm and right leg due to an adverse reaction to the blood thinning drug Heparin.

There are plenty of interesting characters that you meet along the way, with many coming out of the woodwork every rodeo season. The Big Red Machine Hell's Angels members are always present, some sporting club colours, most dressing down for the event, but many interested in our wares involving anything linked to motorcycles. In total we met four people who operated marijuana dispensaries who were quite open and candid about the work that they were doing providing medical grade herb to clients approved by Health Canada, one even buying our leafy "Home Grown Surrey" t-shirt. Many professional and amateur skateboarders we have met over the years rolled on by after taking part in the World Freestyle Skateboard Championships, with several leaving sporting Surrey stickers proudly displayed on their boards. The Sinclair family from Newton all got hugs from us, with Tammy being the lady in front of Sinclair Motorsports who was attacked with acid in February 2014 after an attempted abduction on their son, both crimes that have never been solved. By far, the most notorious personality who dropped in to visit was our good buddy Ryan LaForge , President of the Surrey Creep Catchers (SCC), who shared a post about Surrey Shirts being at the rodeo with his 25,000 Facebook followers.

Mr. Laforge's visit to the rodeo on Friday may have been purely for pleasure but he was back in Cloverdale at the fairgrounds on Sunday night on official SCC business. His crew of internet sleuths had been communicating with a man online who was allegedly trying to meet up with what he thought was a 13 year old girl for sex. The meeting was streamed live on Facebook on the SCC page ( where it has been viewed over 55,000 times with the main action starting at the 13 minute mark. The target of their sting was the West Coast Amusement (WCA) operator of the Zipper ride apparently named Johnathan whose job entailed opening and closing the door to the Zipper ride to thousands of children a day, including many scantily clad young teenagers. Shortly after confronting the alleged perpetrator, Mr. LaForge was told to leave the Rodeo grounds by the RCMP or else be considered to be in breach of his bail requirements for keeping the peace related to several assault charges. No word on whether the WCA employee is under police investigation for child luring but an RCMP officer at the rodeo informed me on Monday the man had been terminated from his position.

This information has since been confirmed with the following post since appearing on the West Coast Amusements FB page.
To all concerned,
We appreciate last night's episode was brought to our attention. West Coast Amusements prides itself in the fun and safety of all who attend and under no circumstance do we allow or condone the illicit acts of our employees.
Once this matter was brought to our attention this employee was immediately dismissed.
The memories of going to the carnival are to be enjoyable and fun and this is what West Coast Amusement strives for.
Thank you from management and staff.

We have had the opportunity over the years to meet with the hardworking men and women who work for WCA and it is sad that this incident will likely perpetuate the myth of carnies being untrustworthy scammers. Imagine working 14 hour days in the blazing sun and pouring rain, living out of a small trailer while traveling from town to town across Western Canada. It is not a lifestyle I would ever attempt and I applaud the folks doing this grinding work, allowing us to blow off some steam and have some thrills. If evidence confirms the SCC's accusations, let's hope the RCMP lay charges for child luring against this individual, taking one more predator off the internet and keeping the Cloverdale Fairgrounds a place where children can be safe and fond memories continue to be made.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

Editor's Note:

You can check out the full line of Surrey apparel and merch at



May 15, 2017

Driving Me Crazy

Warning: This column contains coarse language and strong opinions that may be objectionable to some and not suitable for all family members. Accordingly, reader's discretion is advised.


One of the joys of writing this weekly TNT column is having the ability to get things off my chest that are really pissing me off. I've been sitting on this subject for quite some time and like a burning itching hemorrhoid, it has finally gotten to the point that it is no longer a minor annoyance but is simply a bloody pain in the ass. I'm taking the time to call a spade a spade, call a jerk a jerk and call an idiot an idiot. If any of what follows happens to describe you and your actions, then its time to look in the mirror and change your evil and stupid ways. What has really got my gall is how atrocious the driving has gotten here over time, and I'm not talking about traffic jams or rush hour. I'm talking about the clowns, morons and goofs who seemingly are driving on our streets with their heads stuck firmly up their butts.

I'll start with the mundane that drives me insane. Is it too much to ask people to signal their intentions when driving? Too often I've been sitting at an intersection waiting for a car to pass when finally at the last second, they turn on their blinker or turn without having one. For these people, I now give them a last of the horn and the thumbs up salute or even a round of applause. I find this more entertaining than giving them the "Salmon Arm Salute" made famous by former PM Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Even more annoying are those folks that never ever signal a lane change as they weave back and forth through traffic. When I catch up with these idiots at the next red light I like to give them the roll down the windows signal and then tell them their signal lights are broken and they should get them fixed before they cause an accident. Not one person has ever admitted they are too lazy and ignorant to bother with this common courtesy, usually thanking me for bringing it to their attention.

Intersection idiots are a major source of rectal burn for me. I can't believe how often I see morons who do not come to a halt within one metre of the stop line, as you are supposed to according to the Motor Vehicle Act. Stop too far back or too far forward, you will fail to trigger the traffic signal light sensor buried in the roadway. I have lost track of how many times I have driven up to a light that has been red for blocks to find someone far from the sensor and waiting forever for the light to change, sometimes with a long line up of people behind them. I often will turn right, turn around and then carry on my way, watching in the rear-view mirror as they continue to sit there oblivious to the problem. If I cannot turn, I then get out of my vehicle, walk forward and give them a quick driving lesson about the sensor circle near the stop line. It is amazing to me that this simple driving tip is apparently unknown to a wide portion of the population, many who appear new to the country and apparently unfamiliar with our traffic laws.

Freeway driving often makes me reach for a tube of Preparation H to get ready for those people who should have an L sticker on their car to match the ones on their forehead. My favourite are those people who are so unsure in their ability to drive at 100 Kmh that instead of simply merging onto the freeway, they slam on their brakes and skid to a halt on the on-ramp. Not only does this exponentially increase your odds of being rear-ended by the following driver, it makes it nearly impossible and often life-threatening to now enter the flow of traffic. If you think its tough at 90 Kmh, try it from a stand-still during rush hour. These are probably the same folks who once on the freeway drive in the fast lane at low speed or beside a large commercial vehicle matching its speed, ignoring the cars behind them who are flashing their lights to get the hell over. Lastly, it is on darkened freeways that I often see drivers at night with only their daytime running lights on, unable to figure out why it is so hard to see or why people keep flashing their hi-beams at them all the time.

Living near Crescent Beach and frequenting White Rock I'm not a real fan of the trains, but the one I really hate is the slow poke leading the long car train as it slowly makes its way through town. What I'm talking about is the clown out for a leisurely drive, possibly looking at real estate for sale, or who is on the cell phone engrossed in conversation and not realizing they are driving nowhere near the speed limit. Often they appear to be completely oblivious to the long line of traffic behind them, while having miles of open road ahead. It is almost as if the rear view and side mirrors are on their vehicles for decoration only, since they never look at them to realize they are seriously impeding the flow of traffic. These morons are also assisted by engineers at City Hall that have been removing nearly all passing lanes, only adding to the misery of people already dealing with the second worst traffic in North America. If you ever get behind some Sunday driver on Crescent Road or on 16 Ave. anywhere east of Hwy. 99, you'll have experienced this first hand.

I'm not sure why but the number of times I have seen people passing when unsafe to do so is dramatically on the rise. I have been passed on painted traffic islands while traveling through school zones doing 30 Kmh, usually by someone in a Range Rover or Audi, as if being able to afford one of these vehicles exempts you from traffic laws or common sense. On Old McMillian Road through Panorama Ridge, I've had a handful of drivers in the past few years pass me on a double solid line into blind corners on this narrow and twisty road, while I was already driving above the posted speed limit. The worst one was actually a Translink shuttle bus who I reported to Translink and I never heard a word back from them, telling me they ignored this incompetent and dangerous bus driver. The latest game for those who do not follow the rules of the road is to pull into the left lane at an intersection and then hit the gas and go straight through, putting themselves in front of traffic while endangering everyone around them. These a-holes don't just need their license taken away, they need a punch to the head to reset their one-cell brain functions.

By far, the most concerning behaviour on our roads that I am frequently witnessing is the dangerous driving. I don't mean those people who make an honest mistake, screw up and make a complete idiot of themselves. I'm talking about those drivers who show no consideration for others safety, have a total lack of respect for the rules of the road and who treat the streets like their own private racetrack. Anything 40 Kmh over the speed limit can get your vehicle impounded but I am frequently seeing people driving at double the speed limit or higher. On Sunday night I watched a car with one headlight zig-zag through traffic on #10 Hwy (without signaling of course) and head into Cloverdale at over 100 Kmh in a 50 Kmh zone. In Chilliwack last week I saw a guy in a Dodge truck driving on the parallel road at speed 30 Kmh faster than I was doing on the freeway that was 110Kmh, which makes it 140Kmh in a 50 Kmh zone or nearly three times the limit. He passed a family in a minivan at warp speed and ended up sitting at a red light off Lickman Road where I passed him while he talked openly on his cell phone. I really could go on and on and on about the constant dangerous driving I witness on a damn near daily basis.

The lack of police presence on our roads seems to be a big contributor to this problem but there is a way of fighting back. If you see someone driving like an absolute douche-bag, realize that dangerous driving can be reported to the police. You can dial 911 and legally drive, just like in the old days, to help them direct officers to the offending vehicle. Having the plate number, colour and make of the vehicle, a description of the driver are paramount, plus speed and direction of travel. I've already helped take a couple of these road-warriors off the street, as has my mother out in Chilliwack who had a red sports car she saw racing impounded for a week. Whether its drunk drivers, street racers or dangerous drivers, I believe we all have a duty to get these idiots off our roads before they kill someone, possibly someone you love, or maybe even yourself.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


Editor's Note

Canada Road Safety Week.

Abbotsford cops released this dangerous driving video too.


May 08, 2017

Your Vote Is Your Voice

Well here we are, only one sleep to go before the we know the results of the 2017 BC Provincial election. We have learned that polls are not to be trusted, that the electorate can be a fickle bunch, and in the end it is likely we will have a majority government elected by far less than fifty percent of eligible voters. While I may not be able to predict the outcome of the entire election, I'm going to go out on a limb and say with great certainty that Gordon Hogg will not be the MLA for Surrey-White Rock when all of the ballots are counted. In the end, the only person who could stop Mr. Hogg from winning here was the man himself when he announced back in October last year that he would not be seeking re-election. Five times Gordon was elected as our MLA, putting in two decades of public service, on top of his time spent as Councillor and Mayor in White Rock. To say that he will be missed as our representative in Victoria is an understatement but I suspect you will still see his smiling face around town at many civic events in the future.

Hogg's departure leaves this riding up for grabs and this election will show whether this is indeed a Liberal riding or simply a Gordon Hogg riding. In the last election four years ago Gordie was easily re-elected, beating the NDP candidate Susan Keeping by a wider-than 2:1 margin (58% to 27%). Back in 2009, Hogg won by an even greater margin of victory over the NDP's Drina Allen (62% to 27%). If you think those numbers are huge, imagine running as the BC Green Party candidate here in what was a Godzilla vs. Bambi battle. I know what it was like, signing up for the slaughter that saw me receive 8.87% of the vote here in the last election, up marginally from the 8.69% back in 2009. Knowing about the three strikes and you're out law, I was actually happy when White Rock realtor Bill Marshall stepped up to represent the Greens in this riding. To celebrate this weekend I spent time disassembling my stash of old election signs that I'd kept for eight years, many that were actually from former candidates dating back sixteen years with a new name plate attached to them. The stack of coreplast awaits recycling in the near future once this election is over.

In Surrey-White Rock, it is Tracy Redies for the Liberals, Niovi Patsicakis for the NDP, Bill Marshall for the Greens and Tom Bryant as an independent. Redies chairs the University of Victoria Board and is the former President and CEO of Coast Capital Savings. Mrs. Patsicakis is a retired teacher who tirelessly advocates for public education and social justice issues, running previously in 2014 for Surrey School Trustee. As previously noted, Bill Marshall is a White Rock realtor who previously ran for the Greens in Delta North in 2013. Not one of the south Surrey regions ridings will have an incumbent, with several playing a game of musical chairs and switching ridings. In Surrey Panorama, the Liberals will be represented by Puneet Sandhar, the NDP by Jinny Sims, Greens by Laurel Greer and Liz Galenzoski for the BC Refederation Party. Over in Surrey-Cloverdale, Marvin Hunt who was the former incumbent in Surrey-Panorama will again be running for the Libs, Rebecca Smith for the NDP, Aleksandra Muniak for the Greens and Peter Poelstra for the BC Libertarians. The newly created riding of Surrey-South will be hotly contested and features Stephanie Cadieux for the Liberals who vacated her seat in the Cloverdale riding, Jonathan Silveria for the NDP, Pascal Tremblay for the Greens, Josh Barrett for the Libertarians, Fabiola Palomio for Your Political Party and two independents, Gary Hee, and Peter Njenga. With seven people running for this seat you can't tell the players without a program, which is what this candidate listing is all about.

No matter who you want to represent you in Victoria for the next four years, the crucial part is to get out and actually vote. Many people took advantage of the six days of advance polls offered by Elections BC, with this past Saturday being your last chance to cast your ballot early. In what I hope is a good sign for voter turnout, over 614,000 people voted in advance of election day, a total of 19 percent of all registered voters. This is a marked increase from 2013 that saw almost 366,000 cast their vote early, or 11 percent of the registered voters. Ten ridings this year have seen voter turnout over 10,000, including six on Vancouver Island where the Green Party is making inroads. The top riding in the province was Saanich North and the Islands, with 12,380 early voters in this riding that is expected to be a tight three-way race. Closer to home, in Surrey-Newton where Harry Bains of the NDP is the incumbent, fully 25.26 percent of eligible voters cast their ballot before election day, the highest number recorded in BC. In Surrey-White Rock, 9,337 people cast an early ballot, a surprising 22.5% of registered voters.

It is important to keep in mind that only 57% of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots in the last election, meaning that if the 43% of non-voters had cast ballots for the "None-of-the-Above Party" or even the old anti-establishment Rhinoceros Party, they easily would have won the election. While it seems that political parties get elected and then flagrantly disregard their constituents for four years, election day is when they can finally be held accountable. This is your time to decide if the ruling government party has been doing their job or if the winds of change are blowing and it is time to let someone else take the reigns of power (I know its "reins" but "reigns" seemed more appropriate). So take the time, make your mark and ensure that you are part of the democratic process. Considering how the decisions that governments make can affect your life, I view not exercising your right to vote as an abdication of your personal responsibility and freedom.

Will Christie Clark and the Liberals continue their dynasty, stretching it to 20 years? Will the NDP under John Horgan finally get back into power after being shut out since they were decimated in 2001 and went from the ruling party to only having two seats? Will climate change scientist Andrew Weaver and his upstart Green Party get more than their leader elected to the Legislature this time? Will someone get elected as an independent, with Vicky Huntington in Delta South stepping down as the first one since 1949? When I went to the Magic 8 Ball website at and asked "Will the Liberals win the 2017 election" it answered back "Without a doubt." The same question but with the NDP winning instead resulted in a "Signs point to yes" response. Of course I had to ask "Will the BC Greens win more than one seat" and the Magic 8 Ball told me "Outlook not so good." For answers a little more concrete and scientific, tune in on Tuesday night to see the final results of BC Election 2017.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



May 01, 2017

Fit To Be Tied

"Ooooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you
Lyrics to "That Smell" by Lynyrd Skynyrd

It's amazing how time flies when you are having fun! It was in the spring six years ago when the BNSF Railway last installed new creosoted railway ties across the Semiahmoo peninsula, up through Delta and onward to New Westminster. At that time I wrote three The Naked Truth columns on this contentious issue and they are still available online for your viewing pleasure simply by scrolling down to the following dates: May 9, 2011 - "All Fired Up About Pollution", April 4, 2011 - "Creosoaked" (part of Fantastic Four) and March 28, 2011 - "The Ties That Bind". While bang on with the TNT column content, I must admit I seem to have a one track mind and a predilection for cheesy story titles. At that time, a total of 22,000 sleepers as the wooden ties are called by those in the railroad business were being replaced.

Gus Melonas, the spokesperson for the BNSF Railway in this region called me last week to give me the details on this new round of tie replacement. I had noticed that the tie plates holding rotten and cracked ties had recently been marked with orange spray paint and knew that tie replacement was once again being done. When I last went to the beach, stacks of fresh creosoted ties had been dropped by the side of the tracks in preparation for the upcoming maintenance. Mr. Melonas informed me that this time 13,000 ties were being replaced from the border up to New Westminster. This work will commence this week with the arrival of a 40 person tie crew this week, operating a host of machines including a tie extractor/inserter. He expects this safety upgrade will take up to three weeks, with up to 1,500 ties being replaced within a six hour window of free track time. It is expected that the total cost for this track upgrade will be in the $2.5 Mil to $3 Mil range and that's in US dollars, not the Canadian peso.

Of course, there are issues with using creosoted ties here as I have already wrote about. Taken directly from the three previous TNT's on this subject back in 2011, here are the dangers and what to possibly expect from the last time that thousands of sleepers were installed here.

Creosote chemical hazards and health problems - The Ties That Bind.
Creosote is a witches brew of various chemicals derived from the distillation of coal tar that has been used since the 1800's by industry to protect telephone poles, marine pilings and railroad ties from wood-boring insects, foul weather and rot. Exposure to creosote can cause a wide array of serious health effects and eating food or drinking water contaminated with this compound causes a burning in the mouth and throat along with stomach pain and vomiting. Contact with skin results in first degree chemical burns while getting it in your eyes can damage the cornea. Accidental poisonings are known to cause mental confusion, convulsions, kidney and liver problems, unconsciousness and even death. The vapours can cause burning of the respiratory tract along with skin rashes and increased sensitivity to sunlight. Skin cancer and cancer of the scrotum have also resulted from long exposure to low levels of creosote, especially through direct contact with the skin. Both the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have identified coal tar creosote as a probable human carcinogen.

Creosote leaching into the environment along the tracks and Semiahmoo Bay - Creosoaked.
Worms and insects have surfaced from the ground and died in the toxic footprint of the new ties, leaving piles of dead bodies entangled with the yellowing vegetation that is also dying. After only one rain, the new ties have leached creosote oil four to five inches laterally out from the wood so that crushed ballast rock between two fresh ties is completely saturated. As to how far this fresh wood preservative has penetrated into the ground, I`m sure a test dig by geologists would quickly give results. What many people fail to realize is that the BNSF Railway was originally built on the intertidal zone of the beach here, ensuring that any chemicals released from the wooden ties will likely be washed down onto the shore and into the ocean waters. The old ties are now awaiting pickup next to the rails, also stacked neatly in drainage ditches next to the tracks. You`ve got to look on the bright side - you won`t need to bring sun tan oil to the beach this summer and the creosote will give your skin a dark brown colour that won`t easily wash off! As the delusional Charlie Sheen would say, "Winning!"

People burning old ties for firewood along Semiahmoo and Crescent Rock beaches - All Fired Up About Pollution
Besides polluting the air, land and sea, burning creosoted railway ties also exposes people standing near these fires to many of the dangerous chemicals that they contain. While railroad ties have weathered by the time they are retired by the railroads, the U.S. EPA recommends wearing long sleeves, pants and gloves when handling them and washing these separately from other clothing. Long-term, direct skin exposure to the coal tar creosote in railroad ties has been linked to cancer of the skin and scrotum - not exactly the type of stuff you want laying around at Surrey's nude beach. The EPA also cautions against burning old railroad ties which can release toxins in the air that can be dangerous to respiratory health. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are among 300 chemicals in creosote and are the same as those contained in cigarette smoke, a known carcinogen.

Unfortunately with having an industrial railway running alongside the main marine recreational site for over a million people means that those coming to the beach this spring will have to deal with the smell of the fresh creosoted ties. That is simply the price we must pay for the decision of our forefathers over a hundred years ago to move the tracks from their original inland route near 176 St. in Hazelmere to the flat shoreline route across White Rock and Crescent Beach. With an average of 3,500 railway ties per mile of track, this means the 14 km. of track from the Peace Arch to the Crescent Beach trestle holds a little over 30,000 sleepers. Throw in the remaining BNSF tracks to New West, the multiple sidings that have been installed along Colebrook Road and the Watershed Park, all of the CN Tracks along Panorama Ridge plus the SRY line through Surrey and you get an idea of how many of these toxic ties are in our region.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


April 25, 2017

White Rock Craziness - It's The Water (Part 3)

The very first The Naked Truth I wrote for the White Rock Sun way back in July of 2009 was not surprisingly about Crescent Rock Beach and the Guinness Book world record attempt for most people skinny-dipping. The second column was titled "White Rock Craziness - It's The Water", a tongue-in-cheek piece about how questionable decisions from City Hall were likely due to exposure to the presence of the dangerous chemical dihydrogen monoxide (DMHO) found in the EPCOR water system. In case you missed the joke folks, that's H2O. This TNT is still posted for your viewing pleasure if you scroll down to the very dark cellar of the WR Sun archives. It ends with the line "When people ask you to explain 'What the hell is going on with politics in White Rock?' remember to tell them, 'Its the water!'." Little did I know at the time how often the issue of water quality and its delivery in the City By The Sea would become an ongoing story. As the famous French journalist Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr said in this translated quote, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

By far the most contentious water issue was the purchase of the White Rock water distribution system from EPCOR in 2015 for an undisclosed amount of money and a non-disclosure agreement by both parties to not release financial details about the sale until ten days after the next civic election in 2018. It was this secrecy over one of the largest asset purchases in White Rock history plus hiding of the agreement until far in the future that really set off alarm bells in the community. Mayor and Council all voted for this in a closed-door meeting, something that has unnerved and upset the residents of White Rock as many felt this was not an issue that should have warranted an in-camera meeting in the first place. With an advance $14 million payment that was finally revealed and the true cost still to be determined by future arbitration, the civic debt resulting from for this deal and questions about whether it was a logical business choice remain. Since that time, this decision has been the focus of numerous Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to the City of White Rock by various residents and appeals to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) when information was withheld or heavily redacted.

In a stunning decision issued on April 12th by OIPC adjudicator Chelsea Lott, The City of White Rock has been ordered to release information to White Rock resident Ross Buchannan on its decision to purchase the city water utility from EPCOR. The OIPC gave the City until May 29th to give him access to all withheld records pertinent to the inquiry. This fight began in April of 2015 with a Freedom of Information Request seeking information on the City's decision not to tap into Metro Vancouver water supplies and instead purchase the private water system already in place in White Rock. The City did supply some records to him but refused to disclose information because of claimed local public body confidences, harm to financial or economic interests of a public body, harm to third party business interests and solicitor client privilege under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). The information in dispute from 2013 was an agenda for an April 4 Metro Vancouver Utilities Committee meeting, minutes of a Feb. 28 Met-Van UC meeting, a three-page staff report to Mayor and Council dated June 10, and a staff report on the business case for acquisition of the water utility that included purchase price and estimated costs. In her final decision, Mr. Lott required White Rock to give the FOI applicant access to all of the requested information it had previously withheld from him.

Even more shocking was the decision about whether the EPCOR purchase decision should have been made behind closed doors in the first place. White Rock argued that the OIPC lacked the jurisdiction to decide the lawfulness of a public body's decision to close a meeting to the public. This came from the most secretive local government in the province that I've been told has held an in-camera meeting before every Council meeting. The OIPC disagreed and looked at whether Council had the authority to close the June 10, 2013 meeting to the public. Since White Rock submitted no meeting minutes or evidence from the participants about the conduct of the meeting, plus no mention in the Corporate Report to its existence, it was found that they did not have the statutory authority to close the meeting to the public. While it is heady reading, you can check out all of the 18 pages of legaleze and the devil in the details on the IOPC website ( regarding this case and the decision at the following link: You should note that White Rock could hold its cards to its chest and appeal this decision instead of releasing the requested documents by the end of May.

In case this story wasn't enough for you, it will get even more absurd at Monday night's scheduled Council meeting when Greg St. Louis, White Rock's Director of Engineering and Municipal Operations, gives his Corporate Report to Council titled Water Quality Secondary Disinfection in the Distribution System. In my Dec. 28, 2015 TNT titled "White Rock Craziness - It's The Water (Part 2)", I outlined the dangers of chloramine being used as a disinfectant, and that was before well known environmental lawyer Erin Brockovich linked its use to outbreaks of Legionnaires disease from public water utilities. While WR Council voted down the use of chloramine in January of 2016, Mr. St. Louis will announce that ammonia will soon be added to the Oxford reservoir, combining with the chlorine disinfectant to produce chloramine. You can read all of the details of this report on the White Rock city website ( at the following link, scrolling down to page 37 to find it:

The real bombshell in this report is that the chlorine added to the Merklin reservoir has combined with naturally occurring ammonia present in the well water there, producing chloramine ever since 2010. They hope this will improve the water aesthetics but it will unfortunately render the tap water toxic to aquatic life and possibly cause skin and respiratory irritation for some of those using it. For more information about chloramine and its use as a public water supply disinfectant, go to Citizens Concerned About Chloramine (CCAC) at

If the water quality issues, continued secrecy from City Hall and questionable decisions from civic leaders have you ready to move out or wanting to rejoin Surrey, you may want to attend the next Democracy Direct meeting, April 26, 7 p.m. at the White Rock library. Don't be surprised if I happen to show up dressed in my "Support White Rock" t-shirt to gauge the mood of the public and champion for open and transparent government. I'll be bringing my own pure, clean and clear Surrey water with me. Ahhh..., now that's refreshing!

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 18, 2017

Psst..., Hey Buddy..., Wanna Buy Some Farmland?

Green acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out,
so far and wide
Keep Manhattan,
just give me that countryside.

"Green Acres" theme song lyrics by Vic Mizzy

After seeing how real estate speculators, foreign investors and real estate tycoons have driven up residential and commercial real estate prices here, I decided to take a peek around the farming areas of Surrey where new Mc-mansions are constantly popping up to see if farm prices reflect the reality of crop production costs in the Agricultural Land Reserve. It is wise to remember that the Agricultural Land Commission was formed to preserve the 5% of land in BC that is arable, with property tax breaks going to those land owners whose land is classified as farmland. While generally taxed on values of $10,000 - $20,000 per acre, it is not uncommon to see smaller parcels selling for $150,000 to $200,000 an acre, still peanuts compared to lots in a residential subdivision.

In the city of Richmond, their Council is currently contemplating what to do about mega-mansions being built on farmland where properties are often being sold for nearly ten times their property assessment that is based on soil conditions for crop production. A Globe and Mail study done last year found that nearly 60 percent of ALR properties in Richmond were being purchased by investors or speculators, not farmers, driving the price for these lands to stratospheric levels. Houses of 10,000 to 25,000 square feet have been popping up like a crop of mushrooms, often with no one living in them or sitting empty most of the year. Demand is also spiraling out of control since properties of more than two acres can keep their farm status and accompanying tax breaks as long as they sell a minimum of only $2,500 worth of agricultural products per year. Not surprisingly, a quarter of farms in Metro Vancouver only meet those minimum requirements, including a friend of mine with two houses on ten acres who pays $800 in property taxes per year because of land he leases to a neighbour for hay production.

With most single family lots in surrey costing between $750,000 and $1.5 million, it is amazing how much farmland you can buy with plenty of room for your large house. Fortunately back in 2012 Surrey placed controls over the size of the building lot and its location with it Farm Home Plate bylaw. Now you are limited to half an acre of land for house and yard and it must be close to the street, ending the practice of long driveways cutting farms in two and creating drainage problems. Even still, it is amazing to see the grand palatial homes that have been erected on ALR lands in Surrey. Using Surrey's COSMOS site ( with it aerial photographs to locate properties, you simply take the address and then feed it into the e-valueBC website ( to check out property and house sizes plus the assessed values. Here are some places I know about from my travels around Surrey with some of the rather surprising if not shocking values tied to these properties.

15832 Colebrook Road: 11 acres valued at only $204,000, featuring a 7,700 sq. ft. house with 8 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms at $734,000. As a bonus, it features a large truck park on ALR land, something that I've been told is not allowed yet it has been on site for years. Surrey's spy satellite image on COSMOS shows 6 tractor trailer rigs with a total of 17 cars parked outside and no one working in the fields.

4609 152 Street: Room to grow on this parcel measuring 49 acres plus room to relax with a 9,750 Sq. Ft. house featuring 6 bedrooms and 11 baths. The land is valued at $446,500 (under 10 grand an acre) with the stylish abode worth a whopping $3,786,000. You may have marveled at this hotel-like house that features many bright led lights all along the soffits of the building that are tough to ignore at night while driving.

5228 157 Street: On a little side street south of Panorama Ridge, this 7 acres of flat farmland is valued at a paltry $127,000. With this savings, you can build your dream home which is what happened with a massive 10,200 sq. ft. home on this property featuring 11 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms valued at $950.000.

15454 Colebrook Road: The best of the bunch in my estimation, this farm features a long tree lined driveway and a house built on the banks of the Serpentine River. The 21.4 acres of well tended and manicured blueberry bushes is valued at only $61,500 ($2,875 per acre) with a 6,200 sq. ft. home featuring 4 bedrooms and 7 baths at $718,000. A beautiful home and farm that looks well maintained and professionally run.

5330 160 St. This years price increase winner, it's land value last year was a measley $14,600 for 6.8 acres of land with a mow-down house that has recently been razed. Due to a recent $1,510,000 sale, its new evaluebc rating is $1,428,000 for a mind-boggling increase of 4,728% in one year because it lost its farm status by not being utilized. It makes the 40% increase seen by most single-family dwelling owners in Surrey last year seem like chicken feed.

With the breaks that farm owners are receiving through much lower property taxes, I would hope that the folks who choose the country life work the land and keep up with food production for the masses. It is great to have lots of land and a big house but if you are going to buy farmland, it should be with the idea of actually producing an agricultural commodity, ensuring better food security in the future. For those who choose to let the land sit fallow and unproductive, prepare for your property taxes to reflect the change in land use and your tax rates to increase substantially. With the Lower Mainland having some of the best arable land in Canada, it is a shame to see it wasted by those with little or no interest in actual farming.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


April 10 2017

Creeping Me Out

SCC President Ryan Laforge confronting alleged sexual predator Kelly Bhatti

I must admit that I get a warm sense of satisfaction every time I turn on Global TV and see another report about the Surrey Creep Catchers (SCC) confronting yet another suspected pedophile. The reason is that the SCC graphic that they use on the news reports was one that I created for the group with their logo and bars with the "Support Surrey Creep Catchers" proudly displayed. This was provided free of charge since I had a similar design for a Surrey shirt for many years based on motorcycle gang colours as in the TV series Sons of Anarchy. It was my little show of support for the underground work this dedicated and fearless team of crime-fighters (some say "vigilantes", not me) has been accomplishing that includes the arrest of Surrey RCMP officer Const. Dario Devic for two sex crimes late last year.

Last week marked a new low for the trolls who plague internet chat rooms looking for sex with underage teenagers or children. In case you missed the sickening news coverage, last Monday evening the SCC were able to lure a man to a meeting under the pretext of having sex with a mother and her six year-old daughter. Even the SCC staffers were shocked as this is the first time they have encountered this twisted scenario in all their time searching for online predators. One of their head baiters, a lady named Nicole Hunter, met with the man in question in a fast food restaurant at a local Surrey mall to seal the deal that had been arranged for a measly fifty bucks. While I choose not to reveal the methods the SCC uses to catch these bottom-feeders, it took a week of online communication to lure this predatory fish in out of the shadows.

You may have seen edited snippits of the last take down on TV news coverage but the entire 21 minute video of the confrontation and citizen's arrest is posted for all to see on the Surrey Creep Catcher Facebook page ( You have to scroll down to the April 3rd date to watch the entire event that includes the citizen's arrest of the man in question and the arrival of the RCMP officers. I must warn you that some of the language would make a sailor blush and comments made by Nicole Hunter about the man offering to purchase lubricant for the child are extremely disturbing. With media attention on this story and social media spreading the news, this video titled "Goof pays for sex with 6 year old girl" has been viewed a remarkable 229,000 time and counting when I wrote this piece. Showing their level of community support for their cause, the Surrey Creep Catchers have over 20,000 likes, with myself, my wife Sheryl, plus many of our family members and friends included.

The suspect at the centre of the video was arrested because of evidence provided by SCC member's cell phones in the way of videos and chat logs. On last Thursday Kuljinder Singh Bhatti, (also known as Kelly Bhatti) a 35 year-old man from Burnaby was charged with child luring and making an arrangement with a person for a sex offence with a minor. It has been reported that Mr. Bhatti is married with no children and that he worked as a realtor with Sutton Centre Realty on Boundary Road where he has since resigned from last week. Surrey Creep Catcher President Ryan LaForge was also arrested and is being investigated for assault after the confrontation with Mr. Bhatti for pushing him as he tried to leave the scene. He was released on a promise to appear and it is hoped that no charges will be filed before his next court date once the video of the citizen's arrest is reviewed by Crown Counsel. Considering the seriousness of the allegations against Mr Bhatti, I believe that Mr. LaForge and other SCC members there showed great restraint in holding him until the police arrived.

I contacted Ryan Laforge via FB Messenger since the RCMP had once again taken his phones for evidence and we chatted online about this SCC bust, the disgusting details of this latest sting, and how maybe it was time for the RCMP to accompany them when meeting these alleged online predators. Because of all the pending court action he had little to state on the record and I would not want to write anything here that would jeopardize any future legal proceedings. I should note that while Mr. Bhatti has been charged by Surrey RCMP’s Special Victims Unit, he has not yet been convicted of any sex crime. When I asked Mr. Laforge if he had something he wanted to say to the readers of the White Rock Sun, he wrote back the following: "For all those who keep telling us how to do our job... until you do something, better support or keep quiet. And for those who support and wish to help make a difference, we have a fundraiser and need you to attend."

The SCC fundraiser is on April 28th, 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia, home of Lafflines Comedy Club at 530 Columbia St. in New Westminster, followed by an evening of live music at the nearby Magnetiq Club Lounge at 27 Church St. with Split2nd, Chunky D and Boss Records providing the entertainment. Details are on the SCC Facebook page with tickets available by phone at 604-343-5882. Come out and meet the brave men and women who are devoting their time and energy to making the streets of Surrey a safer place for our children by exposing online sexual exploitation. Make a donation, buy a t-shirt or hoody, sign up for the silent auction, or get lucky in the toonie toss. More than anything, relax and have a good time with the SCC folks who need to unwind and have a little fun after dealing with the worst that the world-wide-web has to offer.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



April 3, 2017

BNSF Buries Nude Beach

Tuesday's rain event in Vancouver broke a record set in 1956 for the most precipitation for March 28th, with nearly 30 mm falling at the YVR airport. When the month ended we had 26 days of precipitation, nearly double the average rainfall total and the third wettest March on record. Here in the Semiahmoo peninsula, over 50 mm of rain fell in a 48 hour period on ground that was already near saturation levels. I keep a rain gauge on our patio because after ten years of inspecting mud slides onto the BNSF tracks, I've come to realize that anything over 2 inches or 50 mm of rain in a two-day period is likely to initiate ground motion on the Ocean Park bluff above the railway tracks. Checking the gauge on Wednesday morning with it still pissing outside, I called WR Sun Editor Dave Chesney to let him know that slides here should be expected. It was no surprise when he phoned me near lunchtime to report that several mudslides had already happened and that the tracks were presently closed to rail traffic.

On Saturday, I put on my hard hat, high-viz vest, steel toed boots, grabbed my cell phone, camera plus road flares and made my way to the slide zones to inspect the slope failure sites. There were four slides in total along the naturist Crescent Rock beach, the biggest two being 400 m. south of the Christopherson Steps (101 Steps) at the west end of 24 Ave. and the other 300 m. north of the 1001 Steps at the west end of 15A Ave in south Surrey. The one near Crescent Beach came down from a steep hillside that has been the scene of multiple slides over the years, while the one near Ocean Park originated from where trees on the slope had been severely topped for views of residents at the hill top. On the way to this slide, several tsarist were actively working illegally cutting trees on the railway corridor and dropping branches into the ditch next to the tracks, something I reported to Surrey Bylaws and the BNSF Police, initiating investigations by both on a property in the 1800 block of Ocean Park Road.

In their haste to clean and reopen the tracks, the BNSF Railway has once again excavated landslide debris from the base of the Ocean Park bluffs beside the rail bed and then dumped this material onto the ecologically sensitive shoreline of Crescent Rock beach in Boundary Bay with mud and trees covering the waterfront. Unfortunately the pile of trees and mud near the 120 tonne Crescent Rock boulder buried an area of sand used by naturists for nude sunbathing during the summer months, decreasing the already limited clothing-optional recreational spots in this popular area. These incidents were reported to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Habitat Division for further investigation, since it is illegal to dump debris of this nature onto the tidal areas. Imagine what would happen if you backed up a dump truck of muddy fill onto the sands of Crescent Beach or White Rock beach and dumped it. Besides being castigated in local newspapers and social media, it is very likely that you would be charged for damaging the marine environment by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO).

This is now the third time in the last decade that the BNSF has purposely buried the Crescent Rock beach in mudslide debris. In March of 2007 the Railway also dumped slide material onto the waterfront with a DFO investigation at that time finding the BNSF in violation of the Fisheries Act for habitat destruction. While the Railway was not made to remove this material as DFO feared it would only cause more environmental devastation, they warned the BNSF that this practice was unacceptable and to not dump debris from mudslides onto the tidal area of the beach. In March of 2009 the BNSF Railway repeated this pattern of illegal dumping, excavating slide debris from a large mudslide near Kwomais Point onto the shoreline of Semiahmoo Bay. A dead sea otter was found directly adjacent to the large pile of mud and trees, likely having been killed during the excavation. Even with garbage including old tires being part of the mess, no charges were laid or fines collected in this case, even with the previous warning.

The Department of Fisheries and Ocean has been notified of this third dumping incident in the past decade. I'm hoping that this time that if the BNSF is found in violation of the Fisheries Act for habitat destruction that charges will be laid. This is what happened in 2012 when the BNSF was charged for habitat destruction dumping tonnes of rock along Cougar Creek in North Delta, resulting in a fine of $75,000 several years later when this matter went to court. I will be monitoring DFO's response to ensure the BNSF Railway removes this latest landslide debris from the beach and is fined for its continued disregard for the marine environment of Boundary Bay. For those people looking to have these antiquated and dangerous tracks relocated to a safer inland location, this is yet another example of how landslides from the bluff threaten passing trains and shows the lack of environmental responsibility by this American railway for our laws and waters.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


March 27, 2017

Bird In A Cage


Spring has now sprung but you would hardly notice it by listening for the sounds of songbirds in our neighbourhood here in the Semiahmoo peninsula. Years ago you could rise in the morning well before dawn and hear a cacophony of songs from birds throughout the tree canopy with their varied songs mixing together like some absurd kind of symphony. While there are still a few shrill songs being sung, it is painfully noticeable that songbirds are experiencing a serious decline in this parts with many reasons being behind this steady drop in their numbers.

Since the 1960's there has been a mass depletion of songbirds in the Americas, with international birding experts believing that we may now have half the number of songbirds that flew in our skies only 50 years ago. The main case for this great loss is human interference from a wide variety of sources. More than anything, habitat destruction all along migratory routes is believed to be the main case of the alarming reduction in numbers. Pet cats allowed to roam free outside are taking a heavy toll as these well fed expert hunters practice their instinctive behavior. Tall high-rise buildings with walls of glass kill an estimated billion songbirds a year throughout North America. Neocolonialist insecticides are thought to be killing off beneficial insects that songbirds feed on, making successful breeding and feeding of their young less certain. Light pollution from buildings and industry affect songbird nighttime migrations, with many birds flying into lit buildings, greenhouses and even natural gas flares by the thousands.

With all of the new modern residential construction happening now in the Semiahmoo peninsula, there is a local problem here that is contributing to the songbird death toll. Last summer at our house we renovated our sundecks, replacing the sun-bleached vinyl and taking down the rotten wooden railings that were a bad accident just waiting to happen. We wanted a more permanent solution and looked at a variety of options, finally choosing standard aluminum bar railings that have been used in residential construction for some time. Relatively inexpensive, strong and sturdy, they make balconies and patios safe while needing very little care to keep clean. What we didn't pick was the more modern aluminum railings with glass panels that offer folks unobstructed views from inside their homes. The reason was that I know many people who have these railings and have found them to be notorious bird killers.

The issue is using these glass railings at the edge of the house where they appear invisible to birds flying through the yard. Even worse are patios extending out from the house where the entire corner is covered in glass with birds being able to see through the double panes of glass. I had a customer who got so upset at the number of dead birds they found on the corner of their house that they took out the glass panels and had them acid etched so they were visible to birds, ending this problem. If you have glass railings on your patio, the worst thing you can do is to clean the glass, especially in spring, making them impossible for birds to see. Also hanging bird feeders near them invites accidents from birds trying to fly at the seeds which have fallen to the balcony. For architects, builders and home owners, your view vanity may come with a heavy price for birds and the rather unpleasant job of having to deal with their small feathered bodies found near the glass on a frequent basis.

If you already have glass railings, don't worry if they get a little dirty as at least they are more visible. If you have bird feeders, simply move them off the deck and out into the yard where they can still be enjoyed without killing our feathered friends. Bird screen or netting can be hung from problem glass panels, improving visibility and providing a cushion should birds hit them. There are a variety of semi-transparent vinyl films from companies such as CollidEscape, Sunshieldpros and All Window Dressing Etc. that can be installed to dramatically reduce bird strikes while still allowing for views. Anti-collision vinyl decals can be purchased at the Wild Bird Centre but they need to be placed fairly close together to be effective (the hawk shape has shown to be useless). Strings hung like a curtain in front of glass panels deter birds and these can be purchased or easily crafted at home. Translucent bird tape can be applied in stripes to the glass making it visible. Decals, liquids and specially coated glass that reflect ultraviolet light, which birds can see but we can’t, are also available. For the cheapest solution simply use a bar of soap or tempera paint to mark stripes on the glass, no more than four inches apart vertically or two inches horizontally.

If building a new home consider using the more traditional bar railings like we did, or if you must have glass panels for whatever reason, get them shaded, etched, or UV reflective coated. If you already have standard glass panels on your decks, please take some steps to reduce the possibility of bird strikes. If you find dead birds by your glass, realize that it is estimated that only half die immediately, with the other half succumbing to concussions or broken bones soon after. For large plate glass windows in the house, keep blinds down but open for light or hang sheers, allowing light in but for the glass to be seen. When you look at new homes being built here and the amount of glass used in modern construction, you suddenly realize that when all of these houses are added up, there are acres and acres of glass waiting for unsuspecting birds to smash into. It is up to us as homeowners to ensure that our feathered friends are able to live to flight another day.

For more information on this problem and how to safeguard migratory birds, please visit FLAP Canada (Fatal Light Awareness Program) at where they have a counter showing the estimated number of songbirds that have died in window collisions across North America since you visited their website. In the time that it took to write this TNT, the counter was already over 100,000 birds and rising.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



March 20. 2017

Spring Has Sprung, BOING!

After enduring double our normal snowfall similar to the years 1996 and 2008, plus temperatures a full two degrees Celcius colder than normal, it is nice to put winter in the rear view mirror and finally say hello to spring. Not surprisingly the last day of winter had to go out with a bang, with snow falling throughout many of the high points of Surrey and Coquitlam on Sunday morning. Sorry to say but don't be surprised if you have to scrape the windows of your vehicle on Monday morning as it is likely to be frosty with clear skies and a low temperature of only 1-2 degrees forecast.

Monday, March 20 is the spring or vernal equinox (Latin for equal night) and if you had set your clock for 3:29 a.m. this morning when it occurred you would have awoken to dark night skies wondering what the fuss was all about. At the celestial equator, the imaginary line above the true equator of the earth, the sun would be exactly over that defined point at that very moment. Keep in mind that due to their being 365.242 days in the Gregorian calendar the vernal equinox can happen on March 19th, 20th or 21st, with the first day of spring varying accordingly (fall equinox this year is on Sept. 22). Most people believe that equinox is the day when the hours of darkness and light are the same but due to the tilt of the earth and refraction in the atmosphere, daylight is actually over 11 minutes longer than night in mid-temperate latitudes. The little known equilux where daylight and nighttime are closest to 12 hours occurs slightly before the spring equinox and just after the fall equinox, with this happening four days earlier on March 17 in White Rock. Sunrise today in White Rock is at 7:13 a.m. and sunset at 7:24 p.m. with solar noon (the highest point of the sun that day) at 1:18 p.m. if you want to get an early start on your tan.

With the arrival of spring, daylight is increasing at 3 minutes and 38 seconds every day, meaning longer days, warmer temperatures, the reawakening of plants and blossoms with migratory birds returning and others starting mating rituals. As a time associated with the change of season, many people celebrate the spring equinox by observing sunrise and sunset, celebrating our sun-star whether it is blue skies or cloudy. Others observe this important day by purchasing colourful flowers for the kitchen table to go with the brighter days of spring. For gardeners it is the first official day of spring clean-up for the yard and also a good time to consider planting early season seeds in containers that can sprout on a windowsill soaking up the sunshine. With spring closely associated with rebirth and fertility, the vernal equinox is a great day to make love with your partner, whether you're trying to get pregnant or just celebrating the day in a romantic way.

It is interesting to note that the sun will rise and set directly to the east and west today, allowing you to pinpoint local geographical references on the horizon that you can use the rest of the year to tell direction. Ancient civilizations took note of this with the Egyptians orientating the Great Sprinx of Giza so that it stares directly into the sun on the equinox morning. At Chichen Itza in Mexico, the shadow of the snake god is visible at the end of the day with shadows from the staircases of the El Castillo pyramid creating an undulating pattern known as the descent of Kulkukan leading to the large carved snake heads at its base. On mid-day of equinox at Macchu Picu in Peru, the sun sits directly above the Intihuatana stone (meaning 'hitching post of the sun') leaving no shadow, marking this celestial event. At Angkor Wat in Cambodia, the sun rises directly over the central tower spire when viewed from in front of the western entrance at equinox. Druids, Pagans and Wiccans are drawn to Stonehenge in England to celebrate the spring and fall equinoxes, plus the summer solstice when the sun rises over the distant heel stone when viewed from inside the circle of stones.

The spring equinox is also important to modern religions with this date playing an important role in Christianity. According to the Bible, Jesus's death and resurrection happened around the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first full moon after spring equinox. If equinox falls on a Sunday, then Easter is delayed a full week so as not to coincide with Passover. Because of this, Easter fluctuates more than a month with it being celebrated this year on Sunday, April 16th. Going off the modern western Gregorian calendar, Easter can happen as early as March 22nd and as late as April 25th, with the last March 22nd date occurring back in 1818 and the the next happening way off in the future in the year 2285, a span of an amazing 467 years. The latest date for Easter is April 25th with the previous one happening in 1943 during World War 2 and the next not too far away at 2038, a spread of 95 years.

For Greenies and environmentalists, the spring equinox also marks the first celebration of Earth Day, with the second held a month later on April 22. The celebration of Equinox Earth Day was first proposed by noted peace active John McConnell at the UNESCO Conference in San Francisco back in 1969. His concept was this special day would honour the planet earth and the concept of world peace. The first celebrations were held on the first day of spring in 1970 with an official proclamation signed by the UN Secretary General in 1971. The traditional observance of Earth Day on the spring equinox is the ringing of the Japanese Peace Bell in New York, a United Nations peace symbol made with coins donated from children in all continents, with other bells being rung in countries across the world. It is noteworthy to realize that both the spring and fall equinox dates in Japan are celebrated as national holidays in that country.

For all of the wonderful things associated with the spring equinox, there is one danger that you need to keep in mind. With the sun directly in line with our east/west streets, you can be blinded by the rising or setting sun or have it light up brake lights or traffic signal lenses making for dangerous driving conditions. Of course, this is the Lower Mainland and it likely will be cloudy with showers, rain, or this year maybe even a few lingering flurries but this hazard is something you should keep in mind if the sun does happens to show itself at either sunrise or sunset.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



March 13, 2017

Get The Funk Out


To be quite honest, I moved into south Surrey to be closer to the beach, get fresher air, plus enjoy more sunshine and the warmer temperatures that come with life in the Semiahmoo peninsula. As someone who has always loved attending live musical performances, it turned out that I got the double bonus with many locations in town offering a wide variety of acts to choose from. This weekend was a case in point with the Eagles Eyes tribute band playing at the Blue Frog Studio, Nearly Neil doing his Neil Diamond tribute act at the "Club 240" Crescent Beach Legion, and the Big Easy Funk Ensemble (BEFE) doing their thing at the historic Ocean Park Hall. While it normally would have been a "pick em" decision as to who to go see, it was the Ocean Park Hall where my wife Sheryl and I had our wedding reception with plenty of funk on the marital music menu, so deciding to go see BEFE was dare I say an "easy" choice.

This show was produced by the Legion of Sound ( who's motto is "we bring great music to small cities" that currently includes White Rock/South Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley. Saturday's show was the fourth one in the last month at the Ocean Park Hall, with more bands being booked for the upcoming weekends. They are building a concert program starting with a strong mailing list of guests who join their free subscription to receive concert alerts plus help drum up community support. You can join their team of promoters where you can help grow their fan base, make extra money, get free tickets to shows and other benefits. They even have an all ages club and corporate memberships with perks available for friends and staff of local companies. It was at the White Rock Beach Beer Co. where I first met their producer Dave ©eertz with tickets for their shows available at this craft beer lounge on Russel St., at the Sandpiper Liquor Store on Johnson Rd. and at Ethical Addictions Apparel in Ocean Park just across 128 St. from the OP Hall. Tickets were only $20, which includes one drink ticket valued at $5, making for a very affordable night of live entertainment.

The Big Easy Funk Ensemble was as advertised and they brought their refined New Orleans sound to the stage, mixing genres of funk, jazz and blues. This nine member band featuring the amazing Chris Berry (lead vocals) channeling everyone from Joe Cocker to Eminem, rhythm section with Reece Worth (guitar), Eric Stephenson (bass), Tyler Gibson (keyboards/organ), Ryan Davis (drums), and Jeffrey Kornblum (percussion). Filling out that Louisiana vibe was their horn section featuring Kevin Tang (trombone) and Ryan Naso (trumpet), with Andrew Benton (Sax) unfortunately unable to attend the gig. It really was like a big Mardi Gras party, complete with plenty of flashy beads but fortunately no ladies flashing for them. My friend Mike Markevich who played sax for years in a Club Med Band in the Caribbean was amazed at how tight these guys were as a group and wishing he had brought along his saxophone along so he could have joined them on stage to complete the brass section.

It was a rather interesting night in which to run into people from across the Semi-pen and beyond. The bartender was sporting an Off The Rail craft brewery hat and I quickly discovered he was the sales rep from my favourite Vancouver craft brewery that I try to visit whenever I'm in town. Besides the regular bottled beverages and liquor, West Beach Pale Ale from the White Rock Beach Beer company was being poured from growlers and their marketing manager Bill Haddow showed up to take in the festivities. After pumping up this show in the White Rock Sun and adding it to the Night Owl Entertainment Listings, it was not surprising to see Editor Dave Chesney arrive for yet another local concert. My long-time buddy Simon Marples from CanTrust Financial Services arrived with his music hound brother Darryl to check out the scene. Besides plenty of other friends and acquaintances in attendance, I have to tip my hat to Ken Butchko, who was my best man at our wedding the last time he set foot in the OP Hall over eight years ago.

The Big Easy Funk Ensemble performed two sets along with an enthusiastic encore to finish the night. Even with a wide repertoire of music, the funk was the glue that held all of the grooves together making for a great evening of music and dancing. My wife Shery and I hardly left the dance floor which might explain why we were rewarded with two BEFE t-shirts towards the end of the night. Heck, it's probably safe to say we haven't danced that much at the Ocean Park Hall since the night we were married. If you're tired of sitting around on Saturday night or sick of trying to find something to watch on Netflicks, consider taking in some tunes, cutting the rug and supporting live music in your neighbourhood. Your next chance to get the funk out of the house is on Saturday, March 18th when the Legion of Sound brings Freeflow out for the next show at the Ocean Park Hall. This well-known Vancouver band focuses on reggae, soul and rock n' roll, with their motto "melts in your ear, not in your hands" telling you everything you need to know about them.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


Next Show Saturday (18)

Live at Ocean Park Hall - March 18th

Doors open @ 8pm - Show Starts @ 9pm

Beer, wine & spirits available for purchase

Tickets: $20 (*includes 1 beverage)



get your tickets in advance - click here



March 07, 2017

Feeling house rich and cash poor?

..............let Don Pitcairn show you how to fix that.

My apologies to those who came to the White Rock Sun on Monday morning waiting to read the latest installment of the TNT that I had to put on hold until Tuesday. I hope that this column was worth the wait since it directly relates to the first TNT of the year titled "Alot For A Lot." In case you missed it, the January 2nd edition of The Naked Truth looked at the values given by BC Assessment for properties around the province, available on the e-valueBC website at Most of the properties in the Semi-pen rocketed upwards in price last year pushed by non-restricted foreign investment and rampant speculation, with increases of 40% in value being the norm. With the 42.4% increase given our property and a 22% City of Surrey property tax increase in the last two years alone, we decided to appeal the astronomical numbers in the assessment, especially after reviewing neighbouring properties and nearby sales which all pointed to our house and property being overvalued. Today was our date with destiny as we appeared before the BC Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP).

While the BC Assessment website boasts that less than 2% of BC property owners have appealed their assessments this year, obviously this number is way up in south Surrey and White Rock that saw massive gains. We were originally sent a letter stating that our appeal would be heard by the PARP at the Best Western Peace Arch Inn, located at 2293 King George Blvd. Unfortunately we did not call them immediately upon receiving this notification and when we contacted them to set up a time, we're informed that the day had been fully booked and we were instead told our appeal would be heard at the Town & Country Inn in Ladner by the George Massey Tunnel. When we drove to the hotel on Monday morning, we found out that there were only three appeals being heard that day, all involving properties in south Surrey. When our appeal was over we took the time to visit the south Surrey location held in the bowels of the building and found a harried Review Panel there that were pushing through appeals and strictly limiting everyone to a limited time frame in order to hear all of the property assessment appeals. In hindsight, we felt lucky to have been bumped to the Corporation of Delta where the schedule and process was quite relaxed.

At the Delta location, we met the three members of the BC Property Assessment Review Panel along with a Mr. Justin Kwan who worked for BC Assessment and another Surrey resident pleading his case (he got 100K off his property value). It turns out that these panels are all appointed by the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, which is interesting since they are dealing with real estate appraisals. Previous PARP experience, real estate knowledge, property appraisal skills, business experience and mediation skills are all listed as desirable backgrounds but anyone can apply for this position as long as you are available for two months in Feb. and March plus meet their rather extensive conflict of interest guidelines. Their mandate is to "perform an impartial, honest and fair review of property assessment complaints presented by property owners", with their decisions then used to produce an updated assessment roll for the Province. It's not a bad gig if you can qualify since it pays $375 per full sitting day or half that for a partial day plus transportation expenses. Not surprisingly two of the panel lived in Delta, one was actually from White Rock, with the BC Assessment appraiser coming to the meeting from North Vancouver, having not appraised any properties in our neighbourhood for 2016.

When appealing a property assessment, it is critical to go into the review meeting armed with as much pertinent information as possible as to why you think their evaluation is off the mark. Most property owners are looking for a reduction to help reduce property tax while some who plan to sell in the near future can actually seek a higher evaluation leading to a raised asking price. I took along pictures of some of the rather glaring deficiencies about our 35 year old home since the appraisers have little to no idea what kind of interior renovations have been done to the house over the years. In our case, the drafty aluminum frame windows, t-bar ceilings in the basement plus original cabinetry in kitchen and baths worked in our favour to give us an evaluation similar to one of our nearby neighbour's rather rustic home. For the land I poured over property after property on the e-valuebc website around Crescent Park where we live, calculating square footage prices for land from similar properties that I felt worked in our favour. The sold properties from near July 1st when the assessments are made were scrutinized with several similar properties as ours giving us ammunition to take to the panel that we felt the appraiser would have difficulty in defending. If you ever plan to try a property assessment appeal, remember that all supporting documentation must be provided in multiples of five copies for those involved.

The PARP tribunal received our documentation, pictures, written explanation plus estimated house and land values, listening attentively and asking thoughtful questions while I made a verbal presentation about our decidedly low-ball price. The BC Assessment appraiser, who I must admit really knew his stuff about real estate evaluation, countered with a list of sold properties from last year that he felt were equivalent, quickly producing the assessment numbers for these homes. Believe it or not, the talk of Feung Shui in a market driven by foreign investment at that time was important in relation to the design of our home, the layout and age of construction. Being on a busy collector road also helped in our argument along with having little servicing in the way of sidewalks, curbs, light standards or buried hydro lines found in more modern districts. More than anything, it was the size and position of one of our neighbour's newly built monster home that received the most questioning from the panel. It was our position that if BC Assessment raises appraisals for properties with views, they should lower the price if unattractive nearby buildings or unkempt neighbouring yards detract from property owners enjoyment and privacy.

At the end of presentations, the three member panel excused themselves to another room to review the documents and our positions. After a fairly lengthy delay they came back to offer their us judgement. For our house, they decreased the value by $10,000 or a 12% reduction, mainly due to the graphic photos and age of the structure. The lot, which of course where most of the value is now from, was a much more difficult decision for them. Reviewing the information from both sides, the panel agreed to a modest price reduction based on the numbers presented, plus gave an additional amount off for the loss of privacy and relevant position of our neighbour's new mansion styled home that robbed our backyard and bedroom windows of privacy. In the end, we received over $150,000 off the lot assessment, which again was close to a 12% reduction in taxable value. The best part is these changes actually put us below the previous qualifying rate for the $570 Home Owners Grant, which was the plan when we first decided to appeal. With our now only 30% increase in value from last year, hopefully the anticipated 4.4% property tax increase in 2017 that the City of Surrey is planning won't hurt quiet so bad.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 27, 2017



Though governments routinely engage in propaganda, ministries with the word "propaganda" in their name have become progressively more rare since the end of World War ll, after the term took on its present negative connotation. Instead of using the word "propaganda", governments today often use the terms "public relations", "psychological operations", "education", "advertising", or simply "information".
Wikipedia listing for "Ministry of propaganda".

Hate the Nazis all you want, at least they didn't hide behind feel-good words and pretend to be something they were not. Case in point was Adolf Hitler's trusted friend and confidant Joseph Goebbels who was appointed to the high post of Minister of Propaganda and National Enlightenment for the Third Reich. Goebbels was a key cog in the Nazi war machine, utilizing the relatively new medias of film and radio to promote their party ideology to the uneducated masses, taking control over the news media, arts and entertainment plus dissemination of information in Germany. In the end when his twisted messages fell on deaf or dead ears and with Russians troops closing in on Hitler's Berlin bunker, Goebbels and his wife committed suicide after giving their six children lethal doses of cyanide. In the end, some would say he got his just desserts.

In this suddenly new era of "Fake News" and "Alternate Facts", people need to realize that propaganda is defined as "information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view". As much as I love to watch TV news including Global, I tend to do so with a jaundiced eye and am often left with a bad taste in my mouth. It is not the stories, reporting or editorials that I find so nauseating; it is the commercials pushing blatant propaganda that I take great offense to. If you are trying to sell me a product or service while keeping my cable subscription cost down, well that is the price I have to pay for watching. Unfortunately the airwaves have now been taken over with messages that are meant to persuade and deceive the public, passing themselves off as informative when they are corporate propaganda. I've even given these advertisements a new name, "propadganda", which I believe describes them perfectly.

It was the pipeline ads, both for Enbridge's Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion project that really focused my attention on this problem. While these projects were being reviewed, the public was inundated with commercial after commercial extolling the benefits to our economy, the jobs that would flow from them and the promised environmental protection and spill response. The Northern Gateway advertising budget was somewhere between $2-5 million, depending on whether you believe Enbridge or Greenpeace, with $500 million being spent to seek Federal government approval of the nearly $8 billion project. The Trans Mountain Expansion spots were running continuously on Global, sometimes with two ads running in the same commercial break. No word on the total amount of money spent on these prime time TV ads but their CEO admitted spending over $300 million on the $6.8 billion project seeking approval. To no one's surprise, these ads disappeared overnight after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dashed Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipe dream and green-lighted Kinder Morgan's doubling of their existing Trans Mountain pipeline into Burnaby.

Businesses blowing millions of shareholder dollars on their projects is one thing, the Provincial Liberal government throwing away tax-payer dollars to promote their ideology, especially in advance of this spring's election, is something else. Once again, if you watch the nightly news you will see non-stop advertising by the Provincial government about affordable housing, protection for seniors, blah.., blah.., blah. What is sick about this is that in December, the BC Liberals doubled their advertising budget to the end of the financial year, March 31, 2017. They now plan to blow $15 million, up from the $8.5 million in their budget. You can expect more government advertising before the May 9th election, with little or no controls over what many believe should be non-partisan advertising that is actually being used by the government to buy votes. This is nothing new as in the last election in 2013, the Liberals spent $16.4 million of tax-payer dollars to educate the public about the wonderful things they had been doing while in power. It is not too surprising to see them adopting this same strategy that helped them to defy the critics and win the last election in BC.

When you see these warm and fuzzy ads, recognize then for what they are and feel free to question the message and motives of those who feel justified in spending vast amounts of money to change public perception. Don't just take their message for the gospel truth, do your own research, check out alternative views and come to your own conclusions. For me, I'll vote for any political party that will ban partisan advertising utilizing tax-payer dollars, especially in the months before an election where this practice should be considered vote-buying. It is not just TV or radio where these ads will be showing up, you can expect to see them on Google, Facebook and Twitter in the near future. Joseph Goebbels used film and radio to put our his message of hate, Donald Trump is utilizing TV and Twitter to forward his Republican agenda, you can expect the Christy Clark Liberal government to utilize all "propadganda" sources to deliver their message to a receptive audience. Just remember each time you see one of these commercials that you are the one paying for it, instead of these funds being used for education, health care, or other needed services.

In closing, ask yourself if you have ever heard of the following ditty (or a variant of it) known as the "Colonel Bogey March". It was not dreamed up in a children's playground, which was where you probably first heard it, but was British propaganda created in 1939 for use against Nazi leaders. I don't know what it cost, but it's fair to say they certainly got their money's worth. That is the power of propaganda, created 78 years ago, if any of this information actually happens to be true.

Hitler, has only got one ball,
Goerring, has two but very small
Himmler, has something sim'lar
But Goebbels, has no balls, at all.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



February 20, 107

Mosquitoes Suck


You know that after the coldest and snowiest winter in decades here on the west coast, you'd think that the lousy weather would give us a break from some of the other crap we have to put up with here in the Great White North. Well, folks, make sure you put a big X on the calendar for the past Valentine's Day, which is synonymous with a big red heart because that is when mosquitoes once again put us blood pumping mammals living here in the Semi-pen back on the menu.

You would think that these pesky little critters would have been decimated by over two months with snow on the ground on the Lower Mainland but that is not the case. My wife Sheryl caught the first "skeeter" (good old Canadian term) on on February 14th, with two more being squashed against our walls over the next few days. Being a guy who is barely house-trained that likes to spend as much time outdoors as possible, being outside ensures you get feasted on by these blood sucking parasites for enough of the year already. While mosquitoes can be expected with warmer Spring weather, who expects to see them with over a month to go in winter? Now I must admit that neither of us were bitten, so it is possible they were only males that don't take a blood meal for reproduction, but still seeing them hanging on the walls of our home at such an early date was rather unsettling.

Over the years I've had some rather extreme encounters with clouds of mosquitoes. I've pulled into camping sites several times where nobody got out of the vehicle due to the hundreds of mosquitoes that descended onto the windows, waiting for the warm bodies to exit so dinner could begin. I mowed my parents grass once up on Chilliwack Mountain when the Fraser was flooding, with a large grey ball of mosquitoes numbering in the thousands dancing atop of the lawn mower engine, attracted by the heat and the noise of the motor. I've gone on nature hikes that ended up being a wilderness jog due to the large numbers of mosquitoes that were chasing me through the woods. Working near the Fraser River estuary, I've had co-workers put on rain gear in the middle of summer due to infestations of welt-inducing salt water marsh mosquitoes in Twassessen, Ladner and Richmond that were literally driving them buggy.

When you start looking into mosquito information, you can't help but to start feeling itchy all over. It turns out that mosquitoes (order Diptera, family Culicidae) have remained relatively unchanged for 100 million years, infesting areas from the tropics to the arctic tundra and filling niches from seashore and river banks to upper mountainous tree lines. There are 48 confirmed species of this annoying insect in BC and 82 types of mosquitoes in Canada, with 3,200 different species around the world.
Not surprisingly, Canada boasts the second oldest fossilized mosquito ever found in a chunk of nearly 80 million-year-old amber from Alberta's badlands. While both sexes feed on the fluids in plants for energy, it is only the female that needs blood for reproduction. After mating each female can lay up to 100 eggs in standing water or wet soil, with many being able to lay successive generations from only one breeding throughout the same year. Most of the mosquitoes in the genera Amopheles, Culex and Culistera living here in BC store fat and hibernate during the winter, while members of the largest genus Aedes have eggs that can survive freezing temperatures and hatch out of melting snow water. When you see the mercury rise a handful of degrees above zero Centigrade, it is not surprising to see mosquitoes appear as is now the case.

Mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting more diseases to humans than any other blood sucking insect with malaria infecting an estimated 500 million people a year. They also are a vector for a variety of other human diseases including yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Zike virus, filariasis and encephalitis to name a few that thankfully are not established in Canada. Dog heartworm is caused by a parasite spread by mosquitoes that can seriously hurt or kill your pet if left untreated. The best way to control mosquitoes is to eliminate their breeding grounds and drain standing water from clogged gutters, old tires, flower pots, unused pails or any other container that can hold still water. In the summer it is best not to water your yard on a constant basis because if it never dries out it can be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. To reduce the chances of being getting bitten, avoid being outside at dawn or dusk when their feeding is more prevalent, wear clothes made from close weave synthetic fibers that cover most of your skin, avoid dark coloured clothes that tend to attract them plus use mosquitoes screens and nets as barriers. Insect repellents with DEET or Avon's Skin-So-Soft work well along with Citronella candles, avoiding perfumes and soaps, plus possibly eating bananas and garlic.

I'm sorry for putting the bug in your ear but that's the buzz on mosquitoes. If you thought that our harsh winter would have wiped them out, unfortunately its more likely it will have no effect. Remember that these little creatures survived the demise of the dinosaurs and have also lived through successive ice ages. If global warming and climate change are real as has recently been challenged by US President Donald Trump on Valentine's Day when our first mosquito was spotted, chances are these pesky insects will only be increasing in numbers for years to come. That's all for now, If you don't mind I've go some serious scratching to do after writing this TNT.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


February 13, 2017

The Alternative to "Alternative Facts"


Last week's "No Ban, No Wall - Vancouver" protest planed for the Peace Arch Monument lawn was canceled due to the rather inclement winter weather we were enduring at that time and the resulting chaos on the roads and transit system. This event was organized on Facebook by French Immersion teacher Jean-Michel Oblette who recently became a Canadian citizen, swearing his oath to this country only four weeks ago. The event was renamed to "No Ban, No Wall - Vancouver - Relaunch" and was rescheduled for Sunday, February 12th, coincidentally the birthday of US President Abe Lincoln whose famous Gettysburg Address endorsed equal rights, liberty and democracy. With warmer sunny weather and the snow a thing of the past, about 300 Canadians from various ethnic, political and religious persuasions gathered around the Peace Arch. Starting with Semiahmoo First Nation Councilor Joanne Charles, guests got to hear speaker after speaker make their thoughts known about President Donald Trumps recent travel ban from Muslim countries and plans to wall off Mexico.

The Peace Arch that was dedicated in 1921 made for a fitting and rather poignant backdrop for this event with its freize inscribed with the motto "Children of a Common Mother" facing the US and "Brethren dwelling together in unity" towards Canada, plus the inscription "May these gates never be closed" found in the passageway. This event attracted known social groups such as the Coalition Against Bigotry - Pacific who are also participating in the International Day Against Racism March on Mar. 26th in Vancouver, International Socialists ( who were handing out their Socialist Worker newspaper. The White Rock Muslim Association ( were also in attendance, voicing their need for solidarity and acceptance following the recent Montreal massacre where worshipers at a Mosque were shot in the back while praying. Showing the mainstream medias interest in the anti-Trump backlash, three television cameras were on scene to film the protest for the nightly news. Interestingly, there were a total of six uniformed RCMP officers watching over the festivities, looking out for trouble-making professional protesters and ensuring everyone's safety at this peaceful event.

The only thing more diverse than the people in the crowd had to be the many signs that folks had been compelled to bring with them to the rally. Many were quite artistic, with plenty of colour, detailed drawings and eloquent slogans. I thought that their messages collectively spoke volumes about how these Canadians felt about some of President Trump's recent policies. I took pictures of most of them and here they are in no particular order for your perusal and consideration.


No ban, no wall. Build a longer table, not a higher fence. Not just your home! Peace, love, acceptance. We are all the same under our skin so why discriminate? When injustice becomes law, rebellion becomes duty. No ban, no wall, no ICE raids, no Islamophobia. Los muros destruyen suenos (walls destroy dreams). Our fight has just begun again and again. No one is free when others are oppressed. Tolerance does not mean tolerating intolerance. Hands off the Middle East. Stop war on immigrants. No ban on stolen land. Spread peace. Stand up for peace. Refugees welcome, fight racism and Islamophobia. No human is illegal. Alternative facts (with letters spelling "lies" in red). Unite & fight, blame austerity not migrants. Nazi Trumps f**k off! TRUMP - The Racist Un-American Misogynist Pig. Jesus was a refugee.

Last week, a U.S. Federal Court upheld a temporary stay on Trump’s ban of people from Iran, Iraqi, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Sudan and Yemen, suspending the order for the time being. The White House has proposed taking the case to the US Supreme Court or possibly drafting a new executive order to effectively put it back in place. No word on whether or not this topic will be part of the discussion when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, the day this TNT is posted. While trade, security and defense will likely be hot topics, it remains to be seen if these leaders polar opposite views on many refugees will be debated or considered.

If Donald Trump’s travel ban is reinstated, then the beautifully drawn poster I saw at the Peace Arch rally showing the Statue of Liberty crying while holding a young migrant girl in her arms becomes even more poignant.

Naturally yours,
Don’t call me "The Donald" Pitcairn



February 6, 2017

South of the 49th


For those of you with no interest in sports or NFL football in the United States, it might be time to grab the remote, turn on the big screen and tune in to see what you are missing. While I am a fan of three down CFL football and usually categorize the Super Bowl as the "Super Bore", this year's NFL Championship game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons lived up to its billing and was one for the ages. For the first time in 51 years of Superbowl history the game went into overtime and the Patriots, with quarterback Tom Brady at the helm, going on to record an epic 34-28 victory with 31 unanswered points that basically rewrote the Super Bowl record book.

Down 28-3 midway through the third quarter, at the start of the fourth the Patriots trailed by a score of 28-9 to the Falcons, looking like another blowout was in order. Instead the New England quarterback who had already won four Vince Lombardi trophies in his career went on a tear with the Patriots tying the game with 57 seconds left, setting a new record for 25 points as the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history that was previously held by three other teams at only ten points. Winning the overtime coin toss, the Patriots methodically marched down the field with running back James White scoring on a two yard run to cement the victory, adding his name to the record books by scoring two touchdowns while hauling in a record 14 receptions for 110 yards.

In the victory, Brady set a trifecta of Super Bowl record with 43 completions on absurd 62 attempts for 466 yards, destroying St.. Louis Rams QB Kurt Warner's record for most passing yards in a Super Bowl at 414 yards. On the way Tom Brady set the new record for most Super Bowl victories by a quarterback at five, the first quarterback with three forth-quarter Super Bowl comebacks, plus 10 game-winning drives in the post season that is the most of all time. He also set new all-time marks in the Super Bowl for number of completions (207), passing yards (2,071) and passing touchdowns (15). Not surprisingly, he was awarded the game's Most Valuable Player award, the record forth time he has been given this honor.

For those interested in bizarre statistics, Brady led his 51st game-winning drive in the 51st Super Bowl and even weirder, he has now played seven Super Bowls and never scored a single point in the first quarter of play. New England Coach Bill Belichick also became the league's winningest coach of all time, collecting his fifth Super Bowl ring with Brady as his QB. Quite simply, in the Super Bowl today you got to see the New England Patriots cement their legacy as a football dynasty and watch the NFL's greatest quarterback of all time win the most amazing game of his storied career.

North of the 49th

Ma & Pa Pitcairn in beautiful Chilly-Whack

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm starting to get a little tired of all the damn snow. Living near Crescent Beach it hasn't been that bad this winter with a maximum of six inches or 15 cm. of snow on the ground at any given time during the past two months. As anyone living away from the water or at slightly higher elevation can attest, a little distance or some extra height can make a serious difference with large amounts of snow being dumped onto the Semiahmoo peninsula and the Lower Mainland. We have basically had a snowfall on every weekend save one since the start of December with little time and rain to melt the snow already on the ground. That is the case here but further afield into the Fraser Valley and up in to the mountains the accumulating snowfall is getting worrisome.

If you have not been out to the Fraser Valley recently I suggest that you cancel any travel plans you may have. A friend of mine sent a picture of his front yard to me showing a snowdrift that I'm pretty sure has his car hidden in it. My parents reported an overnight snowfall of 16 inches, with environment Canada reporting an 80 cm. or around 2.5 feet of snowfall this weekend in Chilliwack. When I wrote this they were at -3 C temp. with strong outflow winds and plenty of snow in the forecast for this upcoming week. The snow reports from local ski hills are also noteworthy with Seymour, Grouse and Cypress all reporting over 300 cm. of base with Hemlock and Whistler averaging 270 cm. As the old saying goes, "what goes up must come down" and this relates to our rapidly escalating snow pack that will eventually melt and flow down hill.

Our Fall was very wet but also warm with frequent Pacific storm cycles in November, but for the last two months we have seen Arctic air flood across BC with much higher than normal snowfall in southwest BC. The BC River Forecast Centre ( is reporting that these rates are typically 130-300% above normal for December. The numbers for this month have not been posted yet but there is no reason to believe that this has changed much during January when cold and snowy weather was the norm. While much of the province's snow pack is about average for this time of year, the huge amounts of snow accumulating on the local mountains are becoming a concern. If we have a rapid warming event in the spring, it is likely this could lead to localized flooding here on local rivers and if it combines with the freshet, there is a chance that we would see greatly elevated levels on the Fraser River flowing through the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland.

The Fraser Valley has experienced two major floods in recent history, the largest in 1894 and the second largest in 1948. Scientists predict that there is a one-in-three chance that a flood of similar magnitude will occur within the next 50 years. Considering these odds, it is safe to say that we are overdue for a major flooding from the Fraser that will have catastrophic consequences with the infrastructure that has been built on the flood plains including low lying areas of Surrey, Delta and Richmond. While not wanting to be a Chicken Little, it will be wise to keep an eye on the snow pack levels for the next few months to see if this unusual wintery weather has an effect once Spring finally arrives and we finally get back to being Lotus Land. For further information on this issue and the flood threat, check out the Fraser Basin Council website at the following link:

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 30, 2017

Driving While Blind


The issue of worn out, ineffective, unreadable and basilly invisible highway signage in this region has gotten to the point that I wonder if instead of living in the banana belt that we are actually in a banana republic. You see, we recently came back from a vacation at Punta Serena (gem of a resort) near Mazatlan, Mexico where the road signage there makes us look like a third world country. Their highways are beautifully signed and extensively marked for hazards, making streets a snap to find and curves in the road easy to navigate. When I look at some of the crap that we have for road signage that is at the intersections of our major thoroughfares, I have to wonder what our tax dollars paid for with every drop of gasoline we purchase are being used for.

All outdoor signage has a life span depending on the materials used. Years ago simple painted plywood sheeting was used as a backing and these quickly open up the rain and elements causing them to rot even though in an open and airy position. The modern ones now being installed use slats of aluminum joined together that should stand up to the weather for over a century. The reflective vinyl used on these signs has a lifespan of between five to eight years before it starts to degrade and end of use usually pegged at 15-20 years. With many highway signs throughout south Surrey and Delta, they are on rooting pieces of plywood and both the green backings and white lettering have degraded to the point that they are basically illegible during the day and absolutely invisible at night as they now fail to reflect any light from passing vehicle headlights. This is because some of these signs have been in place for at least thirty years with other possibly as much as forty, or double their intended lifespan.

The worse of this bunch has to be the highway sign heading eastbound on #10 Hwy in Delta that points the way to the on-ramp for Hwy. 91. This relic from the time of EXPO 86 is rotten on the edges and so worn out that the wording that points to "New Westminster/Surrey" plus "Route 91 South" is faded to the point that the green background is showing through where the white letters used to be. Remember that this is not for a simple intersection, it is to alert motorists to the junction of two major highways. A little closer to the Semi-pen, a series of these same large freeway signs at KGB and Hwy. 99 are also in similar shape. On King George Blvd (formerly KG Hwy.) heading northbound just past the Nicomekl river another faded and worn out sign is meant to alert motorists to the upcoming directions for New Westminster or Vancouver. Barely visible in daytime, it disappears at night with only the white posts visible in the darkness. At the actual off-ramp onto Hwy. 99 North a tall metal pole holds two large signs, one pointing to New West, the other to Vancouver, but even during the day the only thing visible is too small white shields with the highway markings for 99A and 99. Once again, at night they are completely black and completely invisible to passing drivers.

These signs are supposed to help guide motorists to finding their way around town and are especially important to visitors who have just crossed the border or who are not familiar with the roadways. Imagine driving down in Washington State and not having exits or directions listed off the I-5 freeway? That would never happen in the US yet that is basically what we have here with 30 plus year old signs that are way beyond their expiration date. Where this topic becomes deadly serious is that the lack of proper signage, or ones made invisible at night, drivers unaware of their surroundings make sudden decisions that can cause car crashes. On the KGB, I have seen countless vehicles make a quick hard right hand turn to avoid missing the on-ramp for Hwy. 99 north. I've also had to take evasive action several times to avoid cars where drivers suddenly figured they were in the wrong lane and drove straight onto the parking lane before swerving over to head north into Surrey. Again, these are highway interchanges with high volumes of vehicles where not everyone knows where they are headed. Trust me when I say that there are plenty more relics like these to be found once you become aware of this problem.

The other major safety concern with these faulty highway signs is that it makes drivers miss their turns, getting people lost and putting them in awkward situations where more mistakes then compound the problem. If you miss the faded sign at KGB and head onto Hwy. #99 by accident, then the next turnaround is miles away at either #10 Hwy. and Hwy. #91 or at Ladner Trunk Road and #10 Hwy. It is no wonder that before the median cable barriers were installed that drivers would attempt u-turns across the grassy median of Hwy. #99, often getting stuck in the process. People who are lost spend more time looking for road signs or at maps than paying attention to their driving, increasing the danger to themselves and others. I've seen folks backing up the shoulder of on-ramps after realizing they were heading onto the wrong freeway. I've witnessed drivers performing illegal and risky u-turns, seeing them then head onto on-ramps knowing they had originally missed their turn. Several times I've seen people turn the wrong way onto divided highways, driving towards traffic in the wrong direction threatening a head-on collision. If you don't think that these old ghetto signs we have here are a big problem, consider the risks that they pose just by confusing people behind the wheel.

It should not be the responsibility of the traveling public to point out to the Ministry of Transportation that there are highway signs that are worn out, ineffective, invisible and downright dangerous. I know of at least ten of these vintage signs on local highways that have needed replacement for years including one pointing the way to White Rock where the green background is now black at night. You would think that someone from the Transportation Ministry, the City of Surrey or even Mainroad would have noticed that many of them no longer reflect car headlights and need replacing. Come to think of it, maybe the problem is that because they are invisible, they never saw them! I certainly have noticed them as has a friend of mine who constantly harps to me about when I was going to do finally do something about them. Well the time is now, the cat is out of the bag and the folks getting paid for replacing them better start doing their damn job. I'm giving them four months until the end of May and if they're not replaced by then I might considering spray painting new fluorescent lettering onto them to see if that finally gets their attention.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


January 23, 2017



"Such behavior isn't Christian. In fact, its downright pagan and heathenish."
Quote from Ishmael in the 1956 film adaption of Herman Melville's "Moby Dick" novel.

When you think of what White Rock is famous for after its flat sandy beach, Canada's longest wooden pier and the 420 tonne granite boulder that sits near the ocean, fish and chips at the Moby Dick restaurant on East Beach would probably be next on the list. Why if you search "Moby Dick" on Google, you get the usual Wikipedia entry, several postings about the book published in 1851 by American writer Herman Melville, one about the 1956 movie starring Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab and in fifth spot the website for Moby Dick Restaurant that boasts "Welcome to Moby Dick - Famous Fish & Chips Since 1975." Not bad considering the search yields a whopping 19,300,000 results.

While welcome in White Rock, it appears that plans to open a second location in Vancouver on Denman Street near Coal Harbour have been scuttled. In May of 2016 the current owner of Moby Dick, Mr. Yuriy Makogonsky, tried to lease out a restaurant already located in the bottom floor of the building by Stanley Park that was floundering. According to two notices of civil claim filed on January 9th in BC Supreme Court, this move was torpedoed by the building's strata council resulting in financial losses to Moby Dick, Mengfa International Resources Inc. who owns the restaurant property and L&H Trading Corp. who sunk the previous restaurant. Court documents allege the strata took offense to Moby Dick's cartoon whale signage, the possibility of litter and debris, the prospective odor of deep-frying fish and chips, plus characterizing their name as "offensive."

Now you would think if anyone had a bitch about Moby Dick it would be the fine folks along Marine Drive in White Rock who often raise raise a stink about the smallest of complaints but that is not the case. White Rock Council and their wonderful by-law personnel don't seem to mind the restaurants rather gaudy exterior and nautical decorations including what appears to be (gasp) a white Sperm whale with liquid spouting from its bulbous head. In fact the Moby Dick restaurant is somewhat of a local landmark, being the second oldest restaurant on the strip next to the Cosmos Greek restaurant, the other blue and white dining establishment that has been in its location for an amazing 44 years. Likely the only problem ever encountered with Moby Dick in White Rock is the large crowds of patrons clogging the sidewalk as they wait for the best fish and chips in the Semiahmoo peninsula, winning a people's choice award for their chow and even the chowder for over a dozen years in a row.

Why Vancouverites living downtown near Stanley Park would complain about the Moby Dick name is somewhat of a mystery to me. I would think that many would be fans of Richard Melville Hall (stage name "Moby") who is a DJ, musician, songwriter and photographer well known for his electronic music, support of animal rights, veganism and bisexual lifestyle. As far as Moby Dick goes you would think they would know about the struggles of Ahab against the great white whale from either the classic American novel, the original 1956 movie or the recent In The Heart Of The Sea movie by director Ron Howard. Hell, I'm from Surrey and over the years even I've read the book, seen the old black and white movie and unfortunately watched the latest flick. As far as the last part of the restaurant name, I think it shows they don't know Dick but I'm hoping if the rather uptight strata members read this TNT column they might become more enlightened about the short name for Richard.

By far the most famous Dick has to be hall-of-famer Dick Butkus who played linebacker for the Chicago Bears and was named the most feared tackler of all time by the NFL. Dick Van Dyke (do you see a theme here) is an actor, comedian, singer, dancer, writer and producer with a career spanning seven decades including the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Race car driver Dick Trickle ran more than one million laps and won over 1,200 races becoming the best short track driver in history before winning NASCAR Rookie of the year in 1989. If you ever watched the TV show Bewitched, you probably know that Dick Sargent was the second actor who played the part of Darren Stephens but I bet you didn't realize he changed his name from Dick Cox. For American politicians there are plenty of Dicks including disgraced President Richard 'Tricky Dicky' Nixon, Texan Congressman Dick Army and former VP Dick Cheney, who many think was more of an a-hole than a Dick. For Canadians, I must tip my hat to Regina gas jockey Dick Assman who was made famous on the Late Show With David Letterman for his rather unique name. If you think that Dick is offensive, realize that there are over 500 slang terms for penis including the names Jimmy, John, Pedro, Peter, Rod, and Willy.

It is wise to remember that none of the stated claims have been proven in court and that the strata corporation has yet to file its statement of defense. It is interesting to note that this titillating fish flap about Dick has been covered in newspapers across North America including the Washington Times and New York Post. Time will tell whether they win their legal battle and get to expand into Vancouver but regardless Moby Dick is not planning on leaving White Rock any time soon. If you have never visited it, take a minute to check out their awesome website at that is full of over four decades worth of fascinating history, anecdotes, photos and secrets. When you drop by for White Rock's best fish and chips, don't be annoyed if you have to stand in line especially with all of the publicity about this whale of a tale.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

(click here)



January 16, 2017

Walk - Don't Run

The grahic video I saw on Global TV last week really got me thinking about crosswalks, pedestrian safety and the dangers of driving this time of year. In case you were lucky enough to miss it, the dash board camera from a stopped car caught the impact at the corner of Granville St. and Balfour Ave. that sent a 50 year-old woman flying down the road and onto the frozen pavement with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. You can watch in online at the following link but I must warn you that even though it is edited, its still quite graphic: In this case a car stopped at the centre lane where the lady then ran out onto busy Granville St. apparently intent on catching her bus that was pulling up on the other side of the road six lanes away. A car in the left lane had little time to react as she ran out from behind the first car and the impact sent her literally flying down the road.

While I realize she was in a marked cross-walk and had the right-of-way, it is called a cross "walk" for a reason. Running or jogging out into traffic reduces the stopping time for any driver who has failed to see you. Over the years I have had plenty of close calls and near misses from people who put themselves in danger by rushing into cross-walks. My favourite are the skateboarders and bicyclists who feel that the rules of the road don't apply to themselves and then seem to be amazed when the sound of screeching tires wakens them to the danger of using a crosswalk as their own little raceway. It was two ladies jogging out into traffic on a dark night several years ago in south Surrey that was partly responsible for them being involved in a hit-and-run since they ran onto the street from behind a driver turning left at night who was blinded by ongoing headlights in the rain. I guess no one told them that reflective clothing does not work until the headlights are upon you and often by that time it is too late.

Most of our pedestrian accidents occur during the winter months when skies are dark, roads are wet and visibility is limited. Making this matter worse, it is during the winter that dark clothing always seems to be in vogue and when black umbrellas are used against wind and rain, hiding facial features and blocking vision. Just as a good driver looks both ways before proceeding through on an intersection on a green light, it is important for pedestrians to realize how dangerous and potentially deadly it is to be struck by a car. Even with the right of way and the walk signal, I always ensure that all vehicles around me are at a complete stop and aware that I am crossing the road, making eye contact with drivers before stepping into harms way. I don't talk on my cell phone when doing so and certainly don't check text messages or do something as asinine as play Pokemon Go when crossing the street (seen it done). Taking out the ear buds and turning off the music are also important whether crossing the road or the train tracks as a woman jogger found out at White Rock beach several years back.

It really comes down to being aware of your surroundings and taking responsibility for your own personal safety. Vehicles are heavy and can travel fast, being capable of producing serious injuries even at low speeds. While car parts and be replaced with bondo and paint fixing most dents, being hit by a car can have devastating life-altering results. To see how widespread the problem of pedestrians being hit by cars is, take a moment to visit this ICBC webpage showing a map of crashes involving a pedestrian from 2009 to 2013 Simply unclick the Vancouver box and mark the Surrey and White Rock ones and it will show you how rampant this problem really is in our community. You can move the map by hovering over the right hand arrow at the top left corner and then selecting the four arrowed box that appears. Simply zoom into the intersection that interests you and click on it to see how many people have been mowed down by vehicles in only four years time. The numbers are somewhere between shocking and sickening.

In the main part of Surrey there is hardly a major intersection in any neighbourhood that does not have multiple pedestrian crashes during this time period. Scott Road near 72 Ave and all along into Newton is a hot spot of pedestrian accidents. Not surprising, King George Blvd. through Whalley is a major red dot zone with lots of traffic, pedestrians and people high on drugs. My wife and I actually witnessed one of these crashes near 108th where the person who was sent flying by a car after stumbling into traffic got up and ran away when told the cops were coming, adding a whole new meaning to the term "hit and run." All around Guildford Mall is a pedestrian death trap while in south Surrey 24th Ave from 152 to across Hwy. 99 has seen plenty of accidents. The Semiahmoo Mall is another place where you should be well aware of your surroundings as there are 3-4 crashes at every corner of the mall. Hitting close to home, I couldn't help but notice the one single dot at the quiet intersection only two doors away from our house from a pedestrian collision I never heard anything about.

In all of this gloom and doom there are some bright spots to point out. Many pedestrians out for a walk are now wearing reflective safety vests , carrying flashlights or donning head lamps. Most dark winter jackets now come equipped with strips of reflective material, including the Dakota jacket I bought last year from Marks. Pet owners are equipping their dogs with reflective coats and leashes, reducing the danger of them being hit as they usually proceed first into an intersection. By far the brightest person I've met in a while was the young man recently walking across the corner of 148 St and 24 Ave. using his cell phone's flashlight on strobe mode to attract each and every driver's attention near him as he crossed the road. I thought this idea was so brilliant that it should be shared here in the White Rock Sun and hopefully spread to a world-wide audience.

As I often say, you don't have to be a genius, you just have to know a good idea when you see it.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn



January 09, 2017

When We're Silent, ...We're All Victims

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

Chorus of the song "Signs" by the Five Man Electrical Band

This story has been on my radar for quite some time but it took until recently when it crossed the border of #10 Hwy. on the northern reach of the White Rock Sun that it finally has incurred my wrath. In case you have not yet seen it, the Pattison Outdoor sign company with the blessing of the City of Surrey has recently erected a massive digital display board next to the courthouse on land near the old city hall just east of King George Blvd. I went there and took pictures of this monument to stupidity, taking the time to measure the lit digital screen at approximately 10 feet tall by 20 feet wide. The Crimestoppers ad on it that read "when we're silent, ...we're all victims" could not have been more appropriate and got me motivated to write this TNT.

This is not the first of these flashing mega signs that has been erected in Surrey. They are already five others in place on the #1 freeway near the Port Mann Bridge, on Fraser Hwy. at 164 St., on King George Blvd near the Pattullo bridge and on Scott Rd. near Old Yale Rd., on 88 Ave. near Scott Rd. Basically they are on almost every major thoroughfare in the city and I imagine it is only a matter of time until there is one beaming its message to the masses on Hwy. 99 and at Pacific Hwy. 15 (176 St.). To see a map showing the locations of all of Pattison's signs, go to where you will be amazed by the number of them throughout the city of Surrey. It is noteworthy to realize that the City of Surrey receives a portion of the advertising sales that Pattison Outdoor collects that pads their tax coffers, with a "Surrey - the future lives here" sign proudly mounted on top of these brilliant billboards.

So here's the rub on these new digital signs. Unlike conventional billboards that you see that are mainly posted on Reserve lands like along Hwy. 99 at the Semiahmoo First Nations, these new signs are basically a large TV screen that is brightly lit, brilliantly coloured and constantly changing. They are a major distraction to anyone driving on these busy roads and highways. I have even seen them placed alongside of bridges including the curve entering the Queensborough Bridge in New Westminister where it poses a great hazard to the motoring public. Now I'm not allowed to look at my cell phone screen while driving as it might endanger my life and the fellow drivers around me but good old Jimmy Pattison gets to place these massive screens alongside busy city roads. By comparison, my Samsung cell phone screen measures 2.5" x 4.5" which is 0.078 sq. ft. or 0.04% of the size of the screen that Mr. Pattison's company gets to flaunt to the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The BC Government's website dealing with "Road Safety Rules & Consequences of Unsafe Driving" has a list of "Distractions While Driving - Cell Phones and Other Devices." You cannot hold, operate, communicate or watch the screen of a hand held electronic communication device. You cannot send or receive texts and emails on a handheld electronic device, tablet or computer. If you have a television screen in the vehicle within view of the driver it must only display pictures, information or date solely designed to assist the driver in the safe operation of the vehicle. Yet while there are all of these restrictions on screens inside of the vehicle, it seems that advertisers are immune from distracting drivers with their bright flashing message boards where tens of thousands of drivers are passing by on a daily basis. If we have rules about viewing screens for drivers, then why do we allow these advertising TV billboards to be installed distracting drivers on busy roads?

Effective June 1, 2016, the fine for a distracted driving violation ticket has more than doubled from $167 to $368. The number of associated penalty points applied to a driver’s record has also increase from 3 to 4 points. On a first infraction, this will also result in a driver paying a further $175 ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium, for a total of $543 for a first infraction. For a second infraction within a one-year period, not only does the driver have to pay another $368, but the ICBC Driver Penalty Point premium will increase to $520. Additional infractions will result in a further escalation of ICBC Driver Penalty Point premiums plus possible driving prohibitions for those drivers who incur two or more infractions within 12 months. Now since I can get a $167 ticket for distracted driving by looking at my 0.078 square foot screen, then I think Mr. Pattison should be fined accordingly with his 200 square foot screen producing a corresponding fine of $1,840,000 for every accident these electronic billboards cause. Something tells me that even Jimmy would feel the sting from this ticket.

It is sickening to me that money from outdoor advertising trumps driver safety but this is simply a case of do-as-I-say, not do-as-I-do. The rules that cover distracted driving should also be expanded to stop advertisers such as Pattison Outdoor from bombarding drivers with brilliantly lit messages that also reflect off wet roads further increasing their danger. The "Golden Rule" where those with the gold make the rules is firmly in place with the richest man in BC placing signage throughout the city of Surrey regardless of the danger that they create. It is time that the BC government look at controlling the size, colour and brightness of these signs plus their placement or consider banning them altogether. While I would love to chuck a big rock at them each and every time I drive by, instead I purposely look away so that I do not get blinded by the ad they are trying to deliver. For those of you that want to read every message they are flashing, do so at your own risk.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn


Reading through the current City of Surry sign by-law it would appear these large electronic billboards contravene the sign by-law in Surrey. Double standard?

(click here to read the by-law)



Janujary 02, 2017

Alot For A Lot

Happy New Year everybody, I hope you didn't wake up hung over on January first and maybe were fool-hearty enough to participate in the annual polar bear baptism. For lots of people it is a day to pack away Christmas trappings and have the tree chipped, while for others it is time to check out how their real estate holdings value changed during last year. You see, Jan. 1st is when the BC Assessments publishes their values of every piece of real estate in the entire province. These are available on the e-valueBC website available online at Simply zoom in to the neighbourhood in question or type in an address for any property to see how its value has changed in the last year. This allows you to compare assessments for adjacent properties and also give you an idea where your property taxes will be going later this year. Keep in mind that Finance Committee Chair, Councillor Tom Gill, has already announced that the City of Surrey is anticipating a 4.4% property tax increase in 2017, not including other fee and levy increases.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are well aware of the startling increases in property values in the Lower Mainland that finally forced the Liberal Government to impose a 15% foreign buyers tax on August 2nd of last year. To get an idea of the increases in value for properties in the Semiahmoo peninsula, I'd like to start with our very own rather simple abode in Crescent Heights in south Surrey. In the last two years it has gone up considerably, pushing up our Surrey property taxes by 22% over that time. In 2015 it was assessed at $941,000 which pales in comparison to the whopping $1,340,000 it is now assessed at for 2016. I'll save you doing the math, its almost $400,000 higher, equating to an increase of 42.4% in one calendar year. Too bad it's our home and not an investment as the RRSPs and TFSAs we own didn't even come close to this massive increase. Once again I catch myself saying that I should have stayed home instead of going to work as the house generated plenty more tax-free dollars in income than I made working my ass off all year.

I don't have to look very far to see similar increases. My next door neighbour to the south on 124 St. went up $410,600, while the neighbour to the north went up $497,000 to $2,379,000 even though the picture on the BC assessment website still shows the old war-time rancher that was knocked down for this Surrey monster house over two years ago. I wish I had kept the last two houses in lived in at Crescent Heights as the one around the corner went up $450,000, while the little rancher on a cul-de-sac only a few blocks away rocketed up $735,000 increasing from $875,000 to $1,410,000 for a 61% increase in a single year. That's my personal real estate history here in the Semi-pen but it easy to zoom around on cyberspace and find similar stories on almost every corner. A friend of mine on Ash Street in White Rock saw a half million dollar gain that equated to a modest 35% increase in value. The view properties on Ocean Park Drive in south Surrey and Marine Drive in White Rock now all have price tags of between $5-12 million. It is interesting to note that Lu-Lu Lemon founder Chip Wilson's Point Grey mansion that is the most expensive house in BC went up by nearly $12 million, going from $64 M to $76 M, a paltry 19% increase in value.

It is getting to the point that almost everyone with a single family residential property living in south Surrey or White Rock will now fail to qualify for the home owners grant. If your property has an assessed value of up to $1,200,000 then the home owners grant can reduce your property taxes by up to $570. Over the arbitrary $1.2 M ceiling the BC government has imposed, the grant is then reduced by $5 for each $1,000 in assessed value over the $1.2 M threshold. What this means is that the grant isn't available for properties assessed over $1,314,000, increasing your property taxes even further. We have a 35 year-old average house on a quarter acre gross density lot and this year will fail to qualify for the grant even though it is our permanent residence. The term "house rich, cash poor" is probably going to be bantered around a lot this year as folks look at possibly selling when the price of home ownership becomes too costly. With an upcoming Provincial election, increasing the ceiling for the home owners grant or possibly enlarging the deductible at the same time should become an election issue for all parties to give people relief from over-inflated real estate prices.

There is help available against property tax increases that are so onerous it makes home ownership impossible for those who are on pensions or have limited cash flow. The BC Government has a property tax deferment option allowing those people older than 55 years, surviving spouses those with disabilities and families with children to avoid paying property taxes until such time as the property is sold or transferred. Once you receive your property tax notice, simply apply to defer your payments with the BC government paying your taxes to the City of Surrey while providing you with a loan at 0.79% simple interest. If you think this sounds too good to be true, check out the details at Surrey also has information on their website about property tax deferment at Ask yourself where you can ever get a loan with this ridiculously low interest rate that is only charged against the outstanding balance, not the accrued interest.

As I now quality for this wonderful "Freedom 55" plan, here is what I am going to do about our property taxes this year. I will be applying to defer the taxes for our home, have the BC Government pay the City of Surrey, then put the money I would have spent into my TFSA account. I'm hoping to see a 5-8% return over time plus will invest a small portion of this total in high risk/high return investments hoping for a home run in this account that is capital gains exempt. Through the magic of compound interest, I should be able to pay off the owing property taxes while using their money for years to create tax-free capital. Even without this financial slight-of-hand, with our house more than doubling in value since we purchased it, paying off even years of outstanding property taxes would be minimal compared to the huge amount of upward change we have seen in property value in the past few years. Of course what goes up always comes down and we are now seeing a softening of the market but obviously returns of 40% per year are not sustainable, affordable or realistic.

If you feel that your property assessment is way too high and out of sync with your neighbours or reality, remember that you can file an appeal with BC Assessment's Property Assessment Review Panel (PARP) once you get your statement. A few years back my parents along with eighteen other people who lived on Chilliwack Mountain all appealed their 20-55 percent property value increases. With powers in numbers, these increases were all rolled back to exactly what they were the previous year with no change in property value for anyone. I'm not sure if this would work here in the Semi-pen but if everyone in south Surrey and White Rock were to appeal their assessments, it is possible these massive increases might be somewhat reduced. Please note that the deadline to appeal your 2017 Assessment is January 31 with reviews taking place from February 1st to March 15th. We are planning on appealing our assessment to hopefully quality for the home owners grant yet again. After all, this is not an investment for us, its our home.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

B.C. Assessment property valuations for 2017 are now available online.


Landcorp Data Corp. has announced they estimate that throughout Metro-Vancouver 206,735 homeowners will keep their home owners grant, while 213,412 will lose theirs due to huge increases in property assessments. No word how high this number will be in the Semiahmoo peninsula but it is difficult to find a detached house here under the $1.2 million threashold due to land costs.



December 27, 2016

Christmas Gift List 2016

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, WR Mayor - A year's free delivery of pure Canadian Springs natural mineral water to his City Hall office so he can avoid the tap water. This should help to wash down the Excedrin pills needed to stop the migraine brought on by the EPCOR deal, water pressure problems during the Ocean Ridge apartment fire, and water quality issues arising from chlorination.

Jennifer Brooks, Mother of Hudson Brooks - For this strong-willed woman dealing with the RCMP shooting death of her unarmed 20 year-old son at the South Surrey detachment in July of 2015, charges being filed by the Crown after the Independent Investigations Office police watchdog concluded an officer may have committed a crime.

Dave Chesney, WR Councillor - A copy of the hilarious frat house movie Animal House featuring John Belushi where he can have a laugh about being on "double secret probation" after being censured yet again by WR Mayor & Council. Also a download of the hit single "Two More Years" by the band Bloc Party from their 2005 album "Silent Alarm."

Helen Fathers, WR Councillor - A copy of the board game "The Gong Show" based on the 70's and 80's TV show of the same name so she can practice White Rock politics at home. Also a new fireplace mantle where she can put her two trophies for White Rock winning B.C.'s Farmer's Market Of The Year and her winning Market Manager Of The Year.

Andrew Hammond, Ottawa Senators goaltender - For this often injured NHLer from White Rock, some Cold FX, Buckley's Syrup, Echinacea and a surgical mask to stop him from being bitten by the injury bug. In case you missed it, after nearly two months off with a groin pull, the "Hamburglar" recently had to leave his first game back with an ankle injury after only seven shots.

Linda Hepner, Surrey Mayor - A model Light Rail Transit (LRT) train set for under the old Christmas tree. In case you were wondering, you can get a 1/150 scale beginners set for around $300, far less than the $2.6 billion (yes, BILLION) planned for the city of Surrey. As a stocking stuffer, a vintage bottle of Avon's Charisma perfume.

Gordon Hogg, MLA SS/WR - For his 40 years of serving our community as Councillor (10 yrs) and Mayor (10 yrs) of White Rock and MLA (20 yrs) for South Surrey/White Rock, a gold Rolex retirement watch as the now 70 year old "Gordie" steps away from Victoria. Santa tells me he also has a fine bottle of Caribbean rum on his wish list.

Bill Lawrence, WR Councillor - A karaoke machine so that the man with the best voice in the Rock can finally start singing since he now doesn't have to spend his nights running the Sandpiper Pub on Marine Drive any more. As a stocking stuffer, DVD copies of every movie has has ever worked as a stuntman in the last 20+ years.

Gus Melonas, BNSF Railway Spokesperson - Not that he's been a bad boy this year, but a big lump of US thermal coal in the stocking for the BNSF Railway spokesperson is just waaaay too easy. Santa said the high-speed rail line from Seattle to Vancouver that he wanted was just too expensive.

Grant Meyers, WR Councillor - A truck load of live Christmas trees that he can plant on the Hump hillside along the beach that was clear-cut for views of Marine Drive's "Creme de la Crime" which has still not been relandscaped leaving it prone to soil movement and mudslides onto the BNSF Railway tracks below.

Ken Overton, FOI Clerk WR - For the lawyer hired as a clerk to expedite the increasing piles of Freedom of Information requests at White Rock Hall, a shiny crystal ball to gaze into when folks ask for more transparency from the most secretive Council in the Province of BC.

Semiahmoo First Nation Council - For new Chief Harley Chappel and re-elected Councillors Joanne and Roxanne Charles, a clean Metro Vancouver water connection that ends their boil water advisory in place since 2005. In the spirit of giving, they reduce their bloated salaries spending less on the council and more on the band members.

Tracey Redies, BC Liberal Candidate, SS/WR - For this veteran business woman chosen by the BC Liberals to replace MLA Gordon Hogg in the spring election, Dr. Scholls insoles, orthopedic arch supports, wads of tissue paper and some thick wool socks she'll need if elected when trying to fill good old Gordie's rather big shoes.

Dianne Watts, MP for SS/WR - A flashy neon sign for the empty facade above her new office in the Peninsula Village mall so constituents can actually find it hidden among the retail stores. In case you missed it, as most people have, Mrs. Watts' office is located between Plum ladies fashions and Big Gary's Vacuums.

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

Don Pitcairn

December 19, 2016

White Rock'sWinter Warriors Winter Warriors

With the weather from the last two years and complete lack of snow you would have easily been lulled into thinking that global w

arming and climate change mean that even frost is a distant memory here. In case you believed that it still never gets cold here, it did hit -12 C last year allowing for the Serpentine Fen to freeze and White Rock travel vlogger Christian LeBlanc to shoot his "MOST AMAZING DRONE VIDEO!(HD)" that you can view on YouTube. Rather bizarrely, this major cold snap saw no snow but produced deep freeze temperatures that resulted in beautiful hoar frost on the trees and vegetation. The latest arctic outflow over the past two weeks and multiple snowfalls certainly came as a shock but there were folks here who prepared for this onslaught and fought back valiantly against mother nature to keep our corner of the world safe to travel in.

The hard working men and woman down at the White Rock Public Works Yard prepare for the ravages of winter weather, prepping an assortment of machinery to plow roads and place salt and sand to keep ice at bay and help with traction. While small in size, the hilly terrain and moist ocean air in White Rock combine to create icy street conditions so dangerous that some hills need to be blockaded to traffic until they are cleared and deemed safe. If you have ever driven on Oxford Hill leading from Thrift Ave. to Marine Dr., imagine being the person driving the truck who first has to scrape the snow off this steep 23% grade road. I don't know if they get danger pay but just the thought of doing this job is enough to pucker my sphincter, especially considering the nasty car crashes that have happened over the years during warm weather with dry conditions. Public Works utilizes four single axle dump trucks with plows and salt spreaders, a couple of backhoes and one lowly snow blower to help clear the city's streets focusing on major roads, bus routes, and emergency access to PAH. Before last Monday's snowfall, the City By The Sea had already utilized 120 tonnes of salt for de-icing roads and walkways, a figure that has likely doubled by now.

The gardeners working in the White Rock Parks Department don't get to go home and celebrate a "snow day" like most people in that industry. Instead they put down the landscaping tools and pick up the snow shovels, working on smaller pedestrian areas around the city. While contractors clear the snow off the promenade, it is the Parks and Rec crews who lay down the salt on White Rock's famous walkway along with the train crossings and stairs leading to the pier. These people also focus their efforts on the walkways around City Hall, community centres, pedestrian crossings and any high traffic sidewalks that have turned into skating rinks due to the unavailability of salt at local hardware stores. With the elderly demographics in White Rock, it is essential to make icy sidewalks as safe as possible as you do not want seniors to take a fall onto frozen concrete or asphalt, ending up at the PAH with broken bones. If you ever want to walk on the pier during ice and snow, you should know that it cannot be cleared due to its length and damage that shovels would cause to its uneven surface. It also does not receive either sand or salt because of environmental concerns, which is funny because I'm sure it sees plenty during the year from its seaside location and the bottom of millions of sandals and flip flops during the summer.

The City of Surrey Public Works crews have a much larger fleet of snow clearing vehicles but with the massive network of roadways throughout Surrey they have to prioritize their response and divide their streets into three different types. First priority streets are major roads, arterial roads, major collectors plus bus routes, steep hills, around schools and long-term care facilities. Second priority routes are local connector roads in residential areas over 200 metres in length that bring local traffic to aerial roads or major collectors. During short snow storms, second priority routes rarely receive service due to the time required to address first priority major routes. Third priority routes are all remaining local residential roads and you should know that the City of Surrey like most municipalities in the region does not service side streets unless there is an immediate safety issue. This is why many of the back roads and cul-de-sacs in south Surrey can resemble skating rinks which stay frozen during periods of arctic outflow. You can view Surrey's snow and ice route map at to get an understanding of the magnitude of the job and their attack plan when snow is forecast.

Speaking of "Winter Warriors", in what I'm calling a "sidecar sidebar" I had a chance meeting on Sunday with Ocean Park resident Jeff Ferguson near Kwomais Point who was driving his rather eye-catching 2015 Ural motorcycle. He had stopped to take a picture in the snow of his Russian bike called a Gear-Up that included a covered sidecar with both painted in urban camouflage colours. Made in Siberia, the sidecar features a rather unique powered axle, giving this motorbike two-wheel rear drive when selected allowing it to be driven in all weather conditions including off-road. Jeff explained that with its 749 CC engine, this unstoppable Soviet motorcyle drives like an ATV, something he proved when leaving his parking spot with both rear tires spitting snow and gravel. It looked like great fun and since this was the fifth Ural he has owned since 2007, its safe to say he enjoys being able to ride in all road and weather conditions. While the employees of White Rock and Surrey who clear our streets of ice and snow are the true winter warriors, I have to tip my hat to Jeff Ferguson for taking his very cool motorcycle out for spin this weekend. For more info on the Ural Gear-Up visit or contact Shail's Motorcycles in Langley who are the local dealer.


I do love the snow but I must admit that after two weeks of cold weather I'm getting a little tired of all of the white stuff over White Rock and am looking forward to the forecast warmer temperatures the next few days. Its gotten to the point that I might even welcome some of that dreary rain we had so much of in the months of October and November. After all, the silver lining to that dark cloud is that you don't have to shovel it. For those dreaming of a white Christmas, take heart knowing that colder weather is scheduled to arrive for the next weekend with the strong possibility of snow on Dec. 25th. Keep in mind that while we have already seen unseasonably chilly temperatures, winter does not even start till the Solstice on Thursday, Dec. 21st so it is likely we will see plenty more ice and snow if this weather pattern persists into the New Year. I'm starting to think that an ergonomic snow shovel along with a bag of rock salt might make a really great gift this year for those on Santa's list.

Naturally yours,
Don Pitcairn

Editor's Note: Make sure you visit the White Rock Sun next Monday for the much anticipated TNT Christmas Wish List!



December 12, 2016

White Rock - "My City By The Secrets"

Lorraine Adair


"Three may keep a secret, if two are dead."
Benjamin Franklin in Poor Richard's Almanac, published 1735, in a slogan made famous by the Hell's Angels MC

It was not that long ago in a more gentler time when civic governments would quickly and routinely respond to resident's requests for information concerning decisions out of City Hall. This is what is known as open, honest and accountable governance where they have nothing to hide and don't attempt to conceal the truth even when it is embarrassing. Freedom of Information (FOI) requests were supposed to streamline the process of getting answers from local governments. Unfortunately it would now seem that the FOI process has been hijacked to the point that the FOI acronym should instead stand for "F*** Off Idiot." Nowhere does this seem to be more so than in the City of White Rock whose motto "My City By The Sea" would be more appropriate if it was slightly changed to "My City By The Secrets."

It should be relatively straight forward for White Rock City Hall to cough up mundane reports, communications and letters on a wide variety of subjects. After all, it is tax-payer money that funds their endeavors and their operations should be open to public scrutiny. While the FOI act was meant to promote clarity in government, it appears that White Rock City Hall is instead utilizing it as a shield against unwanted attention and interference. I have submitted a variety of FOI requests over the past decade on various subjects of interest and in the beginning I must admit they were answered quickly and efficiently. Whether because of the doubling of FOI requests over the last two years, secret dealings and agreements kept out of the public eye, or a lack or human resources to answer these queries, answers from City Hall are now slow as molasses, incomplete or blacked out, and often as difficult to get as pulling teeth with a pair of tweezers.

Case in point was the one and only FOI I submitted this year with yours truly wanting to personally review the letter sent in mid-September to the Semiahmoo First Nations informing them of White Rock's intent to turn off their water in 18 months. This story blew up in mid-September with Chief Joanne Charles calling out White Rock over their perceived threat and Mayor Wayne Baldwin reportedly responding that it was a "possible outcome" depending on further negotiations. Throw in the boil water advisory SFN has been under since 2005, the recent White Rock purchase of their water system from Epcor, the fact that the reserve is Surrey plus rumors of a future commercial development on band lands and you have a tempest in a teapot that made me want to see the actual letter that lit the fuse of this media firestorm. Since Chief Joanne Charles and Mayor Baldwin had already openly discussed the contents of this letter with one seeing it as a threat and the other as it being misconstrued, I wanted to read the actual wording for myself since I have a reasonable grasp of the Queen's English.

I filled out my FOI request at WR City Hall on Monday, Oct. 25th asking for "A copy of the letter sent to Semiahmoo First Nations advising them about the possibility of cutting off White Rock water services in 18 months from the date of that correspondence." The next day I got an email confirmation from Communications and Freedom of Information Clerk Lorraine Sym stating they would respond to my request on or before Dec. 6, 2016. It has been all quiet on the western front until last Friday which most people know is the day when any government likes dump their garbage out. I received an email from the newly hired FOI Clerk Ken Overton stating "Please be advised that we are extending the time for responding to your request pursuant to section 10(1)(c) of the Act. An extension is necessary because more time is needed to consult with a third party before we can decide whether or not to disclose the requested record." The new best-before-date is January 17, 2017 a week shy of three months after my initial request. It is not like the existence of this letter is a state secret or that the contents are not known other than the exact wording. Why it would take three months to answer this simple request and why it would likely have