From Loon Lake Road – Ethel Smith to receive BC Award

Barbara Hendrick's monthly column of community news and events from Loon Lake.

BC Achiever

The first day of spring was celebrated at Loon Lake Road, not because of the weather but because a very deserving resident, Ethel Smith, was named as a recipient of the 2014 BC Achievement Awards announced on March 20 by Premier Christy Clark and Keith Mitchell, Chair of the BC Achievement Foundation. This is a much deserved recognition of 37 years of service as the First Aid Post attendant who went well beyond the call of duty to care for Loon Lake residents and visitors. Many residents are very proud and happy that Ethel has been recognized by the province in this way. Many, many thanks Ethel for your contribution to the residents and visitors of Loon Lake Road over the years.

To illustrate the size of this contribution we can go back to the mid 1970’s, (where were you then?) when Ethel first realized the need for some form of first aid assistance for Loon Lake residents and visitors and then we can page through 37 years, one day at a time (over 13,500 days – longer than any life sentence), dealing with all sorts of injuries and medical problems, working to find the money to equip the first aid kits, get oxygen tanks and other necessities and to keep up the certification.

Ethel did all these things on a voluntary basis. This was not your average volunteer service on a local club executive for a few years after which the club votes you the “citizen of the year”. This was volunteering extraordinaire. To quote Premier Clark  “Thank you, … you make our province stronger with your commitment and generosity.”

Snowcapped spinach

Spring for gardeners is always the season of great anticipation even greater than at Christmas time.  Gardening here at Loon Lake Road poses some challenges that can perhaps be lessened with a bit of inventiveness and curiosity. Late last fall I decided to see what would happen if I planted seeds of spinach, radish, lettuce and other greens at the end of October and let the seeds be exposed to the full blasts of winter.  Well, this week as the snow receded from the garden beds – there was tiny spinach sprouts poking through the frozen ground. There is no way I could dig there now to plant the seeds but they have sprouted through the frost. I have rushed to cover the little plants with a plastic tunnel but I should have pressed the wire hoops into the ground last fall as pushing wire hoops into frozen ground is quite a challenge in itself.

Easy winter in comparison

It is sure nice to say goodbye to winter for another year and I am very glad that our winter was reasonably polite; unlike in Winnipeg where residents have been without water for three weeks now due to frost penetrating the ground deeper than usual. Also, my heart goes out to the family in Newfoundland who, on the first day of spring had to get up on the roof of their house and start excavating it from a snow bank where it was completely buried by drifting snow. The worst we had to deal with at Loon Lake was some treacherous icy walking conditions.

Squirrel stew

I read in the news recently about a restaurant in Montreal that has announced that it will start to feature more Canadian wild meats on the menu – especially squirrel. This article reminded me of a family story from the mid 1940’s. In those times, spring was a time when fresh meat was short supply as hunted game that had been hung frozen or put on ice was used up and one didn’t just take a trip into town for some meat. There were no electric freezers around then.

My father supplemented the farm income in the winter with a trap line and, as he had been bagging quite a few squirrels, my parents decided to try eating squirrels; it was meat right? My mother cooked up some and served them, and much to the disappointment of all, the dish was quite inedible as it tasted like eating fir needles. Perhaps a fir tip salad with pine nuts would have been easier to prepare and taste the same. The squirrels here of course live over the winter on the evergreens, eating both the seeds as well as young shoots.

Perhaps in Quebec where there are more oak trees the squirrels will be a bit more tasty – otherwise one would need to be really very hungry or desperate to be able to say they have eaten something unusual to go for the squirrel. Besides they are such cheeky and teasing characters who would want to eat them? For my tastes I enjoy the products of the Canadian wild like mushrooms, asparagus, nettles and fiddleheads and other greens and I would be thrilled to see these foods on local restaurant menus.

New off road rules

This spring and summer will likely be the last seasons at Loon Lake Road for the carefree, if not downright careless, riding of off road vehicles and dirt bikes on Crown Land and public spaces or across a public road. Legislation is being prepared and a bill will likely be introduced soon in the BC Legislature requiring all off road vehicles and dirt bikes using public property to be registered, display a license plate, drivers must have a license and must wear a helmet.

If the bill is passed in the spring the law will come into effect in the fall. The rules do not apply to use on private property. The intent of the bill is to reduce the number of injuries that occur as well as reduce damage to ecologically sensitive crown lands and forested areas. Fines have been increased to a maximum of $5,000.

I have one concern however and that is there should be provision for opportunities for young people to practise riding under responsible supervision even if they are under the age to get a driving license.  Learning at an early age to be a responsible user of the outdoors can become a life long habit and on holidays at Loon Lake could be a good place to begin.

Filming the area

On the TNRD watch, I note that the TNRD Film Commission is applying for a grant to make a short film vignette of the Bonaparte Plateau Electoral Area for the purposes of economic development and promotional purposes and that “stakeholders” will be consulted.

I always cringe when I see the word “stakeholders” as it is bureaucratic jargon for “only those selected people we want to talk to”. I have asked if they will remember that Loon Lake Road is part of the Bonaparte Plateau but have had no response.

Transfer station hours

At the transfer station there is ongoing confusion regarding the shift to summer hours.

On line it clearly states summer hours start on April 1, a change made by the TNRD without consultation with the users several years ago; but now I hear that the attendant has been told the station should have been open three days a week since the beginning of March. Who knew?

Let’s stick to March 1 for summer hours to start, please TNRD; it gives more time for yard cleanup.

Barbara Hendricks