Monday, November 29, 2004


No time for proper updates these days, it seems. We've been on a bit of rollercoaster with the weather lately -- we get a dump of snow overnight, and I assume that my riding season is over. Then by three in the afternoon the snow is gone everywhere except the tops of the mountains, so I go out and ride and feel like I'm stealing one from mother nature. I spent most of yesterday working on my final paper for the course I'm in, but did sneak out for an hour and did this route on Rattlesnake Mountain. There was some snow around the back side, but it was perfect riding, followed by a nice Old English Porter. A few photos from the last while:
  • Ella is cute as a button these days, running around and causing havoc.
  • Is this the march of progress? We watched that machine take down a hundred-year-old house across from our place to make room for a "retirement village". I thought the photo captured the sign and destruction well.
  • I had promised a photo of Ivy's halloween costume...
  • I forgot to take a camera, but the Summerland Festival of Lights on Friday was unbelievable. This little town continues to amaze me with these things -- there must have been a couple of thousand people jammed into the two main streets, which were closed off to traffic. We celebrated at Cozy Bay and then enjoyed the Christmas lights on our walk back home. They even blasted some fireworks later to cap things off.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Letter to the Editor

Our local paper published my first letter to the editor. I stupidly sent two in the same day, and they didn't publish the one that criticized the paper itself for making no attempt to balance the views of our local politicians, but at least they posted this one:

Dear Editor,

This proposed golf course and residential development might be wonderful for Summerland's economy, tax base and property values. The mayor's initial cheerleading makes it sound like there couldn't possibly be any downsides to the plan. It appears that the decision to proceed has already been made and it's just a matter of selling the idea to a community that already has two golf courses.

The mayor is justifying his "mission" to southern California as necessary research, but a trip paid for by the company being investigated does not constitute due diligence. Instead of accepting freebies from a corporation trying to influence council's future decisions, why not commission unbiased research on this company, the potential environmental impacts of the proposal, and other development possibilities for the supposedly "useless" land?

I'm not opposed to this development and I like the idea of Summerland growing, but I'm not convinced that the most important questions are being asked at this point. I'm concerned about possible hidden costs for the community, both financial and environmental. A few more questions for the mayor's list:
  • What will the district be offering or giving up to attract this significant investment?
  • Can the aquifer support the considerable requirements of a golf course and suburban development?
  • Who stands to profit from the development, and how are they related to the people making decisions about its feasibility?
  • What about pesticides and herbicides from the course leaching through our sandy soils into both the aquifer and Trout Creek?
  • How will this type of development help people find affordable housing in our region?
Jeremy Hiebert

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Cultural Continuity

I almost never link to Chris Corrigan's writing even though I read it daily, but his post this morning sort of rocked my world. In the media, and in casual conversation, you often hear thoughtful people lamenting the condition of Canada's first nations communities. The problems seem insurmountable, particularly in urban areas like Winnipeg, where crime and poverty define both the reality and the perception. The study he references (pdf) correlates measures of cultural continuity and suicide rates in first nations communities. For example, communities that have had some success in establishing forms of self-government (their rights to controlling their economic and political independance) have an 85% reduction in suicide. The five other factors all play a role too, creating a blueprint for hope. It seems likely that personal and community histories could certainly help with several of those factors as well.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

New U2

U2 offers a free online preview of their new album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Instead of clicking each song individually, you can also listen to the whole album on the Webjay playlist I set up. Select "Windows Media Player" as your player and click the "play page" button. Or just try clicking this link. Not sure how long it will stick around -- probably a limited-time thing.

After listening to it all morning, I'm feeling like it's significantly better than their last effort, which I never could warm up to. It's no Achtung Baby, either, but a few standout tracks keep me coming back: Miracle Drug, Vertigo, City of Blinding Lights, Original of the Species...perhaps there will be others that will grow on me. Superfan Garth offers his take on the album along with handy links to lyrics, and Esther is busily being inspired.

Update: Fellow Okanaganite Jeffrey Simpson expounds on how to review a U2 album, and does his own track-by-track analysis. Considering that we both acknowledge Achtung Baby as the ultimate measuring stick in these matters, I was surprised that he liked the songs I didn't (and disliked the ones I love)...but he writes so well that I half expect his words to change my mind. I've also realized that I'm not a U2 fan in the same sense that these folks are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Local Politics

So Summerland is being courted for a half-billion dollar golf resort and residential complex. The mayor is busy cheerleading and of course there is no mention of the potential negative impacts of putting luxury golf greens in an arid region already suffering from water shortages and water quality issues. Meanwhile, our local paper gives the mayor, our MLA and our MP (sadly, Stockwell Day) their own weekly columns, with no editorial content to challenge their claims or policies! Whatever happened to the media balancing the power of the government?

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Conkle Weekend

We made it out on the Trans-Canada Trail a couple of times this weekend. On Saturday we took some homemade cookies and a thermos of chai tea to our favourite picnic spot (older photo) at the gazebo overlooking Prairie Valley. Ivy walked the whole way without complaint about fatigue or distance, even running entire sections for exercise.

Then on Sunday I spent some time exploring Conkle again on a blustery, damp November afternoon. Of course I was in my glory, first climbing for about 45 minutes to the top, checking out one of the edges of Trout Creek canyon, then cruising down through a great web of cow-trail singletrack on the north-facing slope, and finally spilling out onto the Trans-Canada Trail near the gazebo. As I hit the road at the end of the ride it was getting pretty dark and the lights of the town were already twinkling in the twilight.

The town has already approved the area above the TCT as a new park for their centennial project, which means it's a great target for some trail development. With a couple of short trail additions to make the climb more manageable, a 100-metre outlet trail on the main singletrack descent, and some basic cleanup, it could become a ridiculously fun (and popular) ride.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Aerial Map

Our regional district has an unbelievable mapping application on their site that even shows trails overlaid on aerial photos. I spent some time mucking with one that shows the main mountain biking areas around Summerland. The singletrack on Giant's Head and Cartwright are most developed, while the trails on Rattlesnake and Conkle are pretty rudimentary. But so much potential in all four areas! Roads are orange, trails are pink, and I plunked a big green bike sign in each main area.

History of Rossland's Trail Development

This page from The Kootenay Columbia Trails Society outlines how they developed Rossland's incredible trail network over a 10-year span. It's a blueprint for success that includes an account of the failures and obstacles. Some of the key points:
  • it takes time to develop trail systems
  • it takes a lot more time and hassle if landowners aren't consulted and respected
  • the involvement of the city/regional district is essential
  • insurance and legal access to land are a huge pain, but absolutely necessary
  • maintaining a high quality trail network requires consistent funding
So these are some of the lessons I'm taking to heart as I think about possibilities for trail development in Summerland. Now if only I had the time to really dig into this stuff...

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Campbell Mountain

After all my talk about developing local trails, this afternoon I explored another Penticton riding area called Campbell Mountain (pdf map). It's a mellow climb, with lots of old singletrack, as well as a downhill course and 4-cross course with sweet jumps and berms. It's also an active pasture, which meant running into numerous cows and having to wash the bike when I got home -- the Stinky was truly stinky. Seeing a few deer was kind of nice, and stopping by the Red Rooster Winery capped things off nicely. Just enjoying a Faceplant and getting ready to bring some pizza over to Faulder to celebrate Myron's birthday.

Summerland Trail Mecca

Summerland has the potential to be an unbelievable cycling destination. Nearly every town and city in BC has great trails and logging roads nearby, but not many let you stay in a small town with wineries, Trans-Canada Trail access, a working steam train, coffee shops, beaches and restaurants, while letting you ride to a half-dozen trailheads from your hotel or B&B. It's only a matter of time before visitors start figuring it out, and the idea inspires me to help speed things up. This article caught my attention this morning and helped me envision what it might take to help the process along: positioning your community for mountain bike tourism. It got me thinking that there might be three things to start working on:

Trail Development
There are four distinct riding areas on the edge of town (Conkle, Cartwright, Giant's Head and Rattlesnake mountains), and several others nearby (above Trout Creek, around Faulder and up Garnett Valley Road). Most have a hodgepodge of old logging roads, cow trails, motorcycle trails and horse paths that make for excellent cross-country riding with great views and fun singletrack. Doing any real work on the trails would require a fair bit of help, and I'm not sure whether there are enough riders here to do it. To really shine, each area would need:
  • Several short sections of connecting singletrack to link up loops and detour around climbs that currently require pushing. Downhill singletrack sections could detour current two-track sections.
  • Developing at least one technically difficult trail for more aggressive riders, preferably with safe jumps and well-built steeps.
  • Clear maps showing each area in relation to town, as well as main trails and junctions in each.
  • Basic, sturdy signage on the main trails.

Land Management
I believe that most of these areas are managed by the regional district, but it would be smart to find out which areas might not be. There's no point in building trails or maps of areas that turn out to be private property. Conkle and Giant's Head are regional parks, and Cartwright probably should be a park, but it isn't yet. The key here would be to engage the right people, ask good questions and work together. The potential economic benefits could help open doors. The local ATV association could potentially be good allies, but they're automatically associated with motorized issues. There's already some official awareness of the mountain bike community through the annual race held here every year, and the community's recreation master plan seems to align well with these goals.

Tourism and Promotion
This focus is on promotion and marketing for tourism, working with the chamber of commerce and local businesses. The goals would be to create package deals, provide maps and increase the profile of the community as a cycling destination. Although this would probably have to come after some trail work, it's a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg conundrum -- more early interest would make sponsorship and trail work easier to start. Rossland certainly provides a model for this approach. There's lots of potential for crossover marketing here too, with excellent touring cycling on the TCT and road-cycling routes...never mind mellow wine-tour pedalling circuits.

I'm thinking that the best approach would be to consider this project a community contribution to begin with and see where it leads. There's certainly the potential to make a sideline business out of it at some point, perhaps operating tours, rental business, small bike shop, or even a biking B&B.

Friday, November 05, 2004


It's been weeks since I updated this page. Now of course all of the missed days blur together, so this will just have to be a hodgepodge of random stuff:
  • Ivy adored every part of Halloween. I'll add a picture here later of her princess costume and general delight. Mom and Dad came out and took the girls trick-or-treating around or little neighbourhood, then stayed for stir-fry and wine. Pretty festive and cozy, like Christmas with ghouls.
  • Tannis played her second hockey game. We're still getting geared up, and it looks I'll be starting with my team next week.
  • Ella turned one as soon as we got back from Manitoba. She's really a going concern these days, toddling around and making ardent demands in long strings of gibberish. And she sleeps through the night since weaning, which makes us her biggest fans.
  • I was looking at a photo from March 11 this spring, which was probably one of the last early-season rides I did that still included some snow on the trails. This week I rode through the first scraps of late-fall snow at the top of Giant's Head, which I've been riding nearly daily. Oh yeah, and I decided to sell my forks.

Filming Friends

Over a year ago, my friend and co-worker Jim invited us to the premiere of his short film, Tomorrow's Memoir. Now it is online at iFilm, where you can watch the whole thing. It's dark and intense, with excellent cinematography and amazing attention to detail.

Meanwhile, it sounds like Angelo's feature-length adaptation of his award-winning Flickering Blue script is rolling toward development. Go Joe!


I love the internet. How else would I get to see new photos of Trev and follow along on his trip around the world? This is the Trev I knew in 1996.