Here’s to getting it right in ’16

“Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” – Oprah Winfrey.

Cindy Bouleau has a tree farm on Thornhill.

This year, she sent $820 from Christmas tree sales to the Blue Door Youth Outreach Society, a new group formed under the CEED Centre banner.

“I wanted to do something for youth this year,” Bouleau explained.  “Teesha Sharma is a lovely girl with a great cause.”

“I was overwhelmed,” said Sharma, Blue Door’s founder.

Homeless once, she knows what it’s like to feel hopeless, with nowhere to sleep.

A local doctor, she says, has offered her workspace for the peer counselor program she envisions.

Blue Door also hopes to provide troubled youngsters a shelter to replace the one in Maple Ridge that the former federal  government stopped funding last year.

Sharma’s hoping to get it right for local youth.

Getting it right in 2016 also means having more respect for local wildlife.

“In December,” hiker Joe Jurcich told me, “I found three carcasses – one large, and two small bears, sticking out from under a tarp near Pitt Lake. The fur, feet, and head had been removed.”

Jurcich dialed 1-800- 465-4336, the government hotline for environment. A receptionist promised to relay details to a conservation officer.

“But, after two weeks, nobody had phoned me back,” Jurcich said.

He took me to the spot. The carcasses were gone.

Was this an illegal harvest of body parts, or a hunter dumping offal?

Conservation should tell us.

“If you call the hotline, Joe” I advised, “ask for a file number, and a call back.”

That assures the ministry’s follow up.

Marian Schwaiger, of Maple Ridge, was walking the dike recently when she noticed an oil slick on the North Alouette River, along Neaves Road.

“Blobs of blue floating downstream. I checked the next day and there were more.”

Schwaiger called the Pitt Meadows fire department. It sent an officer to look.

“He thought it was an algae bloom,” said fire chief Brad Perrie. “Didn’t find any origin point a fuel spill could provide.”

Ross Davies of KEEPS thinks it been too cold for an algae bloom.

“My guess is iron oxide. People mistake it for oil. But, one of my wishes for 2016,” he adds, “is all residents consider fish habitat before sending stuff down storm drains.”

At least the fire department responded, and quickly.

However, it had to assume the role of investigator for the Department of Fisheries  and Oceans since its Habitat Protection Branch was replaced with an 800-number.

DFO’s trained pollution control staff have been sacrificed along with the will to protect our streams.

Pitt Meadows is planning to hire it’s own environmental protection officer.

“That’s what I want to see in 2016,” Coun. Mike Stark said.

Scott Magri, of the Katzie Slough Restoration Project, wants one, too.

He fished for trout in the slough as a teenager. An abused drainage ditch now, it’s a source of grief for Magri.

He’d like council to restore water flow so other kids can catch in it fish again.

Jurcich supports that dream.

“Restoring the slough seems a perfect project for Pitt Meadows,” says the volunteer who counts spawners with Doug Stanger of ARMS each fall.

Both also pick up trash others throw away.

“My wish in 2016,” Stanger told me, “is people stop leaving it in Golden Ears park.”

We’ll all get it right this time if our government shows respect for local streams again.

DFO monitored them, and counted spawners back to 1949. But, it’s abandoned the practice.

isheries Act, which protected habitat, while leaving 100 species of wildlife on a waiting list under the Species at Risk Act.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau –  getting it right this time – has directed Environment Minster Catherine McKenna “to enhance protection of Canada’s endangered species.”

 

 

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author

and environmentalist.

 

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