From Loon Lake Road – Budgets, birds and bullies herald Spring

Barbara Hendricks monthly column of community news and events from Loon Lake.

First flowers of the Spring

The first snowdrop has opened as I write this. It is a bit of a cheat as the snowdrops are growing on my porch where it just barely freezes; but they still are a sign that spring is about to come. Outside the ground is still frozen and a foot of snow covers most of the garden, and I do wonder what is happening under that snow right now. The winter has been a mild one and it leads me to ponder whether we can safely shift much of the Loon Lake Road gardening area into a Zone 4 growing category with some microclimates at Zone 5. It always seems that the most desirable plants grow in Zone 5 and higher. Plant-wise the situation is getting better with new, hardier varieties being developed, like the new Northern Lights series of azaleas which are hardy to zone 4b and some down to zone 3. Maybe one day we could even grow peaches here. Right now I am still working on getting an apricot bush to bear fruit.

New Transfer Station hours

Loon Lake Road residents will have to wait a month more this year for another usual sign of spring. In the past, the Loon Lake Road Transfer Station would be opening for summer hours at the beginning of March, however I see on the TNRD website that winter hours are now in effect from Oct. 1 to March 31 each year – so don’t go looking to use the station on a Saturday until April. It seems the TNRD can make any kind of changes they want to without consulting the taxpaying resident, however when the local residents asked the TNRD to change the opening hours at the transfer station, the TNRD had to conduct a time consuming and very expensive questionnaire to find out that the community really wanted what they had asked for. The current change in winter opening period was embedded in a footnote in an appendix of Bylaw 2389 passed by the Board of Directors on June 14, 2012.

Budget time for TNRD

It is budget time for local government. The TNRD has put forward a spending estimate for 2013 of just over $56 million. The TNRD is asking for input into the Financial Plan for 2013-2017 and I strongly urge everyone who can to go online to look at the plan and make comments regarding the propose tax increases for Loon Lake property owners. You can find the press release with links to the Financial Plan and input forms on line at https://tnrd.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=72765 . Or you can call your TNRD representative – Sally Watson at 250 456 2423 or Doug Rae, Chief Financial Officer at 250 377 8673.

Dangerous Dog bylaw

The TNRD directors are discussing a “dangerous dog” bylaw for the rural areas with the possibility of an additional cost to the areas, including ours, of somewhere from $130,000 to an estimated high of $400,000 per year – and yes, this will be added on to your property taxes. In discussion with TNRD Director Sally Watson she said she had yet not decided whether or not she would vote to include Area E in with the programme but would “consult” before making a decision. I do not believe dangerous dogs are an issue in rural areas like Loon Lake. Here there is plenty of room for people with dogs to avoid other dogs. Some residents have deliberately chosen to have larger guard dogs that do their job of watching and guarding their territory and such a bylaw could be misused to create problems for the owners.

On the other hand, if the TNRD were discussing ways of dealing with problem deer I am sure they would get a lot more support from residents of Loon Lake Road, where several dogs have been attacked and a local rancher had a cat killed in their yard by a deer not so long ago.

The world of birders

The annual Great Backyard Bird Watch was held on Feb 15-18. Here in my yard I observed 13 different species and a total of 41 birds. A flock of redpolls made up a great part of that number. The male redwing blackbirds arrived back on Feb. 15, earlier than usual and just in time to be counted. Many Loon Lake Road residents are taking an interest in local birds and bird watching and it is great to see the full feeders out in the yards throughout the winter. The groups that sponsor the various bird counts have announced a new programme on hummingbirds this year. They would like to have people from all over submit reports on what hummingbirds they see at what time of the year and what plants the birds are sourcing for nectar. Here in my yard hummingbirds are usually back the last week in April, often before anything is in bloom so it is a good thing they can also make a meal from small insects.

Stop bullying in all of its forms

February 27 was Pink Shirt day. This is an event organized to put the spotlight on bullying and the devastating effects that bullying can have. Last week this newspaper devoted a whole page to the issue entitled “Make some noise against bullying”. It is good to see that people are now getting organized to encourage everyone to speak out when they experience or see bullying. I was touched by the story of how the teens started the pink shirt movement.

This is an important message and one that brings to mind the period in late 2011 when some residents of Loon Lake Road were experiencing intense bullying from a small group of older Loon Lake residents who obviously have not got the message. It started with some perfectly legitimate questions about how local tax dollars were used and a request for more openness regarding the operations of the volunteer fire department. When some spoke up against the bullying, they were attacked for “airing dirty laundry” and threatened with reprisals. The group used intimidation and false information to spread fear in the community. They even tried to stop this monthly column from being published after their demand to censor what was written here was spurned. Many residents felt what was happening was wrong, however only about 20 residents spoke up against it at the time. Today many more have expressed regret that they didn’t say something then. Community life and well-being are poorer today because more residents didn’t “make some noise against bullying”. I can well imagine how very difficult it is for young people to stand up against it.

Hopefully, actions like the Pink Shirt Day will make more people aware of the need to stand together and make some noise when it is happening. To quote one of the messages on the page in The Journal last week “Courage is fire. Bullying is smoke.” Official pink shirts are available on line and at London Drugs as well as other outlets; have you got yours?

Trading seeds

Some members of the Loon Lake Garden and Creative Club travelled to Lillooet for the Seedy Saturday event on Feb. 16. It was a very good experience and the organizers deserve much praise to making it such an informative and rewarding day. There were many local gardeners available to answer questions, lots of specialty seeds available, information on saving and cleaning seeds and tables full of free seeds saved by local gardeners. Potatoes were also available with a local expert on potatoes ready for consultation and samples of recommended growing varieties given out. This growing season I certainly will be saving a lot more seeds for sharing next year. As the gardening season starts to pick up pace the Garden Club will be organizing more activities and if you are interested and not on the list already you can contact Barbara or Susan for more information.

Barbara Hendricks

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