The Garbage Project – the background to our family experiment

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

neighbourhood bags of garbage not mine

We live in The city of Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and recently the City of Red Deer has started to work toward passing a policy for “waste limit reduction”. The policy aims to reduce the garbage picked up at the curb from 5 units to 3 units with a unit equaling a 100L garbage bag.

The city indicates that they took a survey, a survey I was never aware of ( but that is besides the point….but possibly along the same lines as the bike lane survey….and we know how that went!), and 77% (taken from the City’s own press release) of those surveyed supported the initiative.

Now this may seem all well and good until you think about how a “one size fits all” limit on households does not make sense. Take a look at your neighbourhood, take a look at how many small households there are. For example on our block there are 11 households , 10 of which are small households.

Occupancy Per Household On Our Block

0 occupants – 1 (former heroin house)
1 occupant – 2 households
2 occupants – 5 households
3 occupants – 2 households (one multi-generational family, one communal living)
7 occupants – 1 household (ours)

Average this out and the 77% support rate makes sense as it is pretty easy for one or two people to meet the limits, or perhaps a family of three, but this is not the demographic that all Red Deer households are.

I wrote to the Red Deer City Council members voicing my concerns, the email reads:

Concern Over Waste Limit Reduction

April 13, 2016

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to voice my concern over the proposed waste limit reduction.

This proposal victimizes large families, multi-generational families and those who choose to live communally.

This policy is only feasible for small households which explains 77% of residents supporting the proposal. It is easy for 1, 2 or even 4 people to produce only 3 bags of garbage a week. However, how can a large family possibly be expected to live within the same restraints of garbage production as a single person? It is impossible.

Large families are already living more environmentally. Per person we use less fossil fuels for heating and electricity, fewer fossil fuels for travel as we always carpool, we consume less as we share items and use hand-me-downs, and we use less square footage per person for housing as it is 7 people in 1200 sq. feet compared to 1 person for 1200 square feet. We ARE doing our part, but expecting 7 people to produce the same amount of garbage is not feasible.

I think this policy needs to be fair. This policy needs to be based on household size (number of occupants). The city does a census so that they know the number of occupants per home. Base the limits on household size, otherwise you are discriminating against large families, multi-generational families, plus those who choose to live communally for social or economic reasons.

One size fits all makes no sense in this scenario. This proposal needs to be re-evaluated.

The short version is the limit, in my opinion, should be based on occupancy rather than one blanket limit. The city knows how many people are in each household, they take a census. Larger households stop urban sprawl, the city should support larger households rather than penalize them. Our neighbours,  three adult gentlemen, share a house of about 1100 sq. feet, they could easily be occupying 3 separate houses but instead share accommodation. A few houses away is a multi-generational home where again home sharing reduces environmental impact and urban sprawl. Our city should be encouraging larger households such as home sharing and multi-generational housing rather than victimizing it , and putting a blanket limit on garbage victimizes those who are already putting a smaller environmental footprint on our city.

neighbourhood garbage not mine

neighbourhood garbage not mine

Now let me continue. I sent the email to the City Council at 4:28 pm yesterday, and received a phone call from a councillor championing the reduction limits at 4:31pm. The message on the phone was to call him back to “talk me down from the tree”. Tied up with several commitments, my husband called back first and then I was able to join in on the call. While it is nice to have a conversation with an elected member of your municipality, this conversation left me with more doubts and concerns than I had before.

In explaining our concern with regard to household size, and mentioning we are a family of seven, the councillor responded with “you breed like rabbits” (this same councillor has expressed the same thought to me twice previously, it is a bias, not a joke). Well thank you very much for being scathing of our sexual identity, orientation and family values. My husband tried to explain it will also be hard for those sharing homes communally like our neighbours, and the response was to the effect that they wouldn’t care and would just pay the bill………this councillor has NEVER met our neighbours but felt free to make such a judgemental call. There was just no understanding as to the fact that Red Deer has a diverse range of households, in fact there was no respect for the diversity.

…..and then there was the councillor’s suggestion that neighbours should “share” garbage allotments. Yes indeed, after having a heroin house down the block from me (and the councillor truly knows about that house, trust me) why on God’s green earth would I dream of “sharing garbage”….yeah, I want to be implicated in that.

Now this response really made me start to think “What is the policy for a new waste limit really about?” or better “Is this just a typical left wing version of taxation in the disguise of environmentalism?”.….. you see, they allow you to pay $1.00 per extra bag……….

There are a few holes in the City of Red Deer’s garbage/recycling program that leaves me wondering about the true intent.

  1. garbage bags are not a standardized size, who is judge and jury on 300L of garbage?
  2. the City has expanded the recycling program but little information has been sent to households. If this situation was about reducing waste and saving the environment there should be posters and information regarding this in every school, grocery store and public building. Stickers of what can be recycled could be put on our recycle bins on pick-up days. Every time the city sends out an email, Facebook post or tweet there should also be the information and a link. The recycling information should NOT be buried deep in the City of Red Deer website. If they aren’t openly sharing the info and reaching out to the residents of the city, the policy for reduction is just a cash cow.

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Here is the thing, our family is fairly “green” thinking. We compost. We recycle. We line dry clothes in good weather. We grow our own food. We don’t water our grass. We re-use. We use hand-me-downs. We walk to do errands. Our house at approximately 1250 square feet, houses seven people, that is 178.5 square feet per person, we are not the issue with urban sprawl. However even with our green tendencies, I do not believe a one-size-fits-all approach to waste limits makes sense. The limit should be based on household (note, household, not family) size.

Fact of the matter is most garbage comes from non-recyclable food packaging and unnumbered plastics from other consumables; items where consumption increases proportionately to household size. If the answer is a large family has to reduce use, which three kids are to skip a meal so that we produce less packaging “garbage”?

The other flaw in the whole blanket approach is that it is only the vast minority that will need to reduce waste. A single person can still pump out 300L of garbage a week, and they will, they do not have to make any adjustments to their lifestyle. I walk our neighbourhood a lot and often comment on how single people have more garbage bags than us. So small households will continue to pump out garbage at the current rate while larger households have to either alter the way they live or be fined…..because the charge is a fine. If the city wants to reduce the quantity of garbage reaching the landfill they need a policy that makes the majority reduce their production of garbage, and the only way to do that is based on household size. Only when small households are also required to proportionately reduce waste will the policy be fair and effective. If a household of 7 is allowed 300L of garbage per week, that means a household with a single occupant should only be allowed 42.8L per week and anything after that should be fined. That is what is fair. That is what would be effective. Isn’t being left and socialist, like our City Council is, about fairness for ALL? Well it should be about fairness for all. Any other system is simply an unfair cash grab.

The other factor City Council is failing to consider are young families and families with elderly members or family members with health conditions. I will be blunt here, but diapers, baby sized or adult sized, create garbage. If council members have never had children or been hands on with the care of their children they have no idea how much these life stages impact garbage production. Are we also to victimize young families, elderly people, those with health issues? And before we hear the crunchy words “cloth diaper”, let’s see the statistics on the environmental impact they create which includes a lot of electricity and water for washing, nothing is without environmental impact it is just how well you can hide it. I also highly doubt you will find caregivers to change and launder adult cloth diapers.

City Council is blinkered, they have no idea of their population and the diversity of households. Diversity is “not their circus and not their monkeys”; we are all to be 1-4 people living in suburbia with our matching tract houses, and our matching attached garages, and and our matching SUV’s ……basically city council thinks the only families that exist are the ones that exist in emoticons (which maxes out at two adults and two children).  City Council is out of touch. I strongly suggest the members of City Council take the time to get to know their neighbours, and get to know their electorate, rather than simply pass lefty loonie blanket policies because it makes them seem “progressive”. Fact of the matter, it is simply another fee, a cash cow, a way to meet budget in the disguise of being environmentally caring.


So what to do? We’ve decided to embark on a project to get an answer on the feasibility of this policy.

blog garbage compost

Yes, this IS MY compost container. Yeah me!!!

The Project

We have decided as a household to embark on a project tracking our garbage, recycling and compost production for the next few weeks. We are going to track our real production, not an idealized version in one way or another. Throughout the week I will track how many small compost buckets are filled, how many garbage bags we fill, plus our curbside recycling (cardboard, plastic, paper, glass, tin, etc.). Each Tuesday I will document our production with pictures (garbage/recycling day is Wednesday). I have no idea how much we produce, but this is one way to find out.

I invite you to check back next week for the first tally.

I will also share in future posts what we have encountered in other municipalities where we have owned with regards to garbage, recycling and how residents respond to “difficult” policies regarding garbage.


And just for those interested in what the City of Red Deer offers regarding garbage and recycling, here is the LINK. (I get a LOT of emails asking for information and opinions on Red Deer and what  Red Deer is “really like” so adding links helps the readers! 🙂 )









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93,951 Views Of My Open Letter And Still Receiving Hate Mail

News flash…….. the election is over. The votes have been counted, the decision has been made. Isn’t it amazing, the election has been over for days yet the hate mail continues.

As of 5 minutes ago my open letter had been viewed 93,951 times, and still continues to be viewed hundreds of times each day. The number of views is significant, however beyond the readership numbers I am getting an inside look as to the mentality of a certain portion of Canadian society.

Let me share what I am discovering. First, there is an absolute HATE by the political left for stay-at-home parents.

Evidently we are living in the lap of luxury, lounging on the couch eating bon-bons all day while our servants run around cleaning our house and dusting our bottoms due to our lack of activity. Unfortunately they are wrong. The fact is we bought our house for land value and renovated for years. We chose to stay at home after arriving to our baby sitter and finding our toddler had been left with her ten year old son while the babysitter went shopping. We choose to raise our own children and run our own lives rather than outsource all aspects of our lives. We choose to have a marriage that is a partnership. We choose to be responsible and self sufficient and hard working. We choose to make our own path for success rather than blame others for our lack of foresight, hard work or ambition.snowshoeing at riverbend - red deer, alberta, canada

When the election results came in my husband asked me my thoughts, so as I am still getting hate mail (clearly people have a lot more free time than I do) I may as well share them here:

The Environment – anyone who really knows me, knows we are environmentally conscious. Yes it is shocking, but not every person that leans to the right believes in raping the earth. Check back in the blog and you will find an ambitious fight (and win), spearheaded by us, to save a nesting ground, including door-to-door canvassing with our five children. We walk the talk on a daily basis. The other political parties were quick to point their fingers at the “nasty, nasty” Conservatives, yet all their environmental talk was nothing but babble. Neither the Liberals, Greens or N.D.P. had a firm plan in place, it was all political babble. These political parties are clueless. They like to blame the oil industry but emissions are an issue nationwide not just in Northern Alberta.

If these parties had any clue they would have promoted feasible plans, what they needed to do is so simple. The two nationwide polluters and users of fossil fuels are our homes and our cars. This is where the fight to improve the environment needs to start. It is so simple, kill the commute and put solar and wind in our homes. The solution isn’t a carbon tax, it is changing the way we live.

Killing the commute is quite simple. All that would be needed are government incentives to move industry and large employers to smaller towns and areas with dwindling populations. By moving industry and business into areas like this jobs are created in areas that are usually economically struggling, housing is affordable, and the drive to work is 5 or 10 minutes rather than an hour and a half. It is a winning situation. It is a simple situation to reduce vehicle emissions. However it takes a creative forward thinking government willing to work WITH business,  not a government that just wants to tax business.

Putting solar and wind in our homes is another concept that is beyond simple. The technology is there, and has been for decades. It is time for our homes to be run on cleaner power. Solar power has been an interest of mine for years, we have investigated the possibilities and walked away on numerous occasions. The price is too high to get your investment back and it is difficult to learn all the ins and outs of what is really needed to switch your home over to a sustainable form of clean energy. As long as it is only a minute fraction of the population using solar and wind, this will never change. For change to happen government needs to intervene and give incentives; incentives not to the homeowners, but to big business.

The place to start is with diversification of the energy sector. The energy sector is just big business. The government needs to talk to them about the form of power they produce. Would they be interested, with the aid of government incentives into moving into producing clean power options as well? Businesses diversify all the time, they don’t care about the product the produce, they care about guaranteed profit. If there is money at the end of a venture, business is interested. Building factories that produce solar panels, equipment for wind power and storage batteries. Retraining some of their staff for these factories and as installation technicians. All of this can be done up at Ft. McMurray just as easily as the tar sands operations are now. But a government promise has to go a bit farther to make this feasible, they need to provide a sure-fire need for the green technology produced. The federal government will have to work with provinces and municipalities to revise building requirements and building codes, and make all new builds powered by a certain percentage of green energy. This creates a demand for the product, and the demand for the product is what will bring the price down to an affordable level. As the price comes down homeowners will retrofit their homes. A whole new industry is born, new jobs are created nation-wide as installers will be needed coast to coast, and our country begins to wean off fossil fuels in our homes. So simple. So effective, but again it takes a creative forward thinking government willing to work WITH business,  not a government that just wants to tax business.

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“Generation Entitlement” – “Generation Entitlement” was my second thought regarding the election results. They are the new generation of voters, and the left wing parties recognized the fact and ran with the concept. Undoubtedly the generation that thinks that their parents should pay for their college educations, their cars, their vacations, and a coat “when they are sad” (true story!) are going to need to vote in a government who will “take care of them”. Mommy and Daddy have been giving “hand outs’ all their life, and now they want the government to do the same. This is the same generation that still think of themselves as “kids” at the age of 30. This is the same generation that feel they deserve the big house and fancy car “right now” rather than work for it. This is the same generation that is on CBC Radio every few weeks complaining that there are no middle management jobs for when they get out of college, and that the older generation is staying in their jobs for too long and not retiring. Newsflash “kids”……..the old folks are staying in their jobs longer to pay for your education, holidays, cars and coats when you are sad. They will be staying in their jobs even longer if they are taxed higher by a government with a “hand out” mentality. The tactic may have voted in the Liberal’s, but I suspect four years from now “Generation Entitlement” will be exactly where they are now, complaining with their hand out.

A Campaign of Hate – Hate is what ran this election. “Harper Hate”. Hate for people who blog their opinion. Even after the election the hate continues, which is quite remarkable. I’m still receiving hate mail. hate mail is everywhere on social media. We live in a hateful society. We have made a few observations through people we know in person and have interacted with online. Generally the “hate” seems to be a way people either respond in jealousy to other people’s success, or is a reaction regarding their own lack of ambition or regretted choices. I am not talking about people who have truly had unfortunate incidents happen to them in their lives, in fact I have not received or witnessed “hate” from a person in this circumstance.

We personally know a person full of “Harper Hate”. This is an educated person from a comfortable upbringing with a lot of emphasis placed on material items; a person who migrated to Alberta a few years ago from an easterly province. Interestingly  this person’s employment  is somewhat dictated by the oil industry in Alberta. They are a one income family, his hours were cut, yet he still spouted “Harper Hate”. His livelihood is hanging in the balance yet he would prefer to spout hate and vote in a government where their energy policies could leave him unemployed. He would prefer to be jobless and homeless. The “hate” is blinding people.

I find it amazing that the hate continues after the election. What is the point? The votes have been cast, the decision has been made. We watch and see what happens. The “haters” too have cast their votes, they should be happy, but the hate continues. This is troubling. It shows the election results do not reflect an informed population, it just reflects a hateful society. If the hate had been in an effort for change, the haters would now be silent, but they are not. They continue their personal attacks. They continue their social media attacks. The Liberal’s may have won the election, but evidence shows (and continues to) that they won on hate and not policy, and that is pretty sad.

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Yesterday my husband commented how quickly I have moved on from the election. I said to him “It’s a done deal. This is the vote. This is the decision. Now we watch.” ( I also may have said “Thank goodness our oldest has a job and by the time our second oldest needs a job another government will have been voted it.” …..but back to the post.)  He also asked “Are you not angry?”, and I replied that I am not angry at all but rather amused.

I am amused. Year after year all we have heard in the media is people blaming Harper and the Conservatives for everything that has gone wrong with their lives. Now I get to sit back and watch. Now I get to sit back and watch the same people, continue to live the same lives, with the same problems under a different government. Now I get to watch the circumstances, that these people blamed on “Harper”, remain under Trudeau. What these people do not understand is that hand outs do not move people forward, added taxation does not help a country, and legalized pot does not make everything better. The fact of the matter is that the only thing that can truly improve one’s plight in life is to make wise choices, be responsible, self sufficient and hardworking. Each person  chooses to make their own path for success, and blaming and hating others for their own lack of foresight, hard work or ambition will get them nowhere.

I am amused because four years from now the “haters” will be exactly where they are now. However it will no longer be “Harper’s fault”, it will be their own.






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Water Pumps, Frogs and Memories of May 2013

blog cabin family

At the cabin October 2014.


So I have been watching the stats for my blog over the last 12 hours and noticed significant interest in our water situation. I even noticed a few people looking back to a cabin post from May 2013 where we were talking about setting up the water system for the season.

It was really fun to re-read the post and step back in time, so this post is going to be a little reminiscing and a little bit of comparison.

blog water pump

The water pump.


As I re-read that post from over a year ago I was thinking, I bet most people on municipal water have no idea what a water pump looks like for a cabin. So I thought I would share a picture. Luckily  on October 4th I had taken a picture of the pump .

The pump sits in the pump house, a tiny room connected to our cabin yet accessed from the outside. The pump sits on a metal grate so if there is ever any leakage the water goes down into a pit below. The incoming water comes from an external 1250 gallon tank through the water line you see on the right. The water then goes through the pump and goes into the cabin through the water line on top. A little different to just turning on the tap for municipal water.

blog empty water tank

The external water tank.


I would like to thank whoever was reading that post for reminding me of it. I was really fun re-reading it and having the chance to think about cabin life and how it changes from year to year. The post from May 2013 discusses my husband hooking up the pump and fixing 4 leaks. As I look at the picture of our pump it tells the story. Look at how overdone the clamping is on our pump on the top section. Three clamps. This is the story of that weekend. That weekend while he re-hooked up the pump after winter, he would hook up the pump and it would leak at that junction. He would re-hook it up and another leak. Did it again at another angle and the pressure popped the tubing from the fixture. So after four attempts he said “forget the one clamp system”, clamped a longer section with multiple clamps and he never had a problem again. I am sure anyone who has ever set up one of these pumps is laughing at the number of clamps, our “security measure”, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

view from the club house

May 2013


May 2014 – no water in the back field


The picture above is also from that blog post of May 2013. This is the area behind the cabin beyond our fence. Our yard is raised about 2-3 feet from the area at the back that becomes wet in the spring. Looking at that picture I started to think about how the various years are different at the cabin. Actually the first thing I thought was “this year we had no frogs in our yard”. When we first owned our cabin we had tons of frogs in the spring; the kids would chase them, and hold them, and there were really big ones living in our wood shed. I am not sure if we even saw one on our property this year, quite sad really. I know we saw frogs in ponds at the Wagner Natural Area west of Edmonton, and frogs in Gaetz Lake in Red Deer (Alberta, Canada), but none at the cabin.


Frog in Gaetz Lake, Red Deer, Alberta. May 13 2014.


I mentioned this to my husband as I re-read that blog post and then another thing hit me, the post talks about the septic holding tank, that is buried deep in the ground,  filling with groundwater in the spring. This is a real “thing” in our area. I remember many years ago, going through many of pump outs in the season. Once my husband asked the pump out company if it was normal, and they laughed and said it is happening to everyone and that they couldn’t keep up with the work load. This evening, after reading the post I turned to my husband and said “How many pump outs did we have this year?”. He wasn’t sure so we went back through our cheque book. In our true geeky style we decided to look back over a few years. In 2011 we had three pump outs. In 2012 we had four pump outs. We can’t find the 2013 cheque book at the moment, obviously in a “safe place” or filed with my business receipts. In 2014 we only had ONE pump out.


Cabin marigolds 2013.


I knew the pump out bills were way down, and that I had to water the flowers a lot more, and that we had no frogs, but it is really quite surprising when you put it all together. The question is, was it a “dry year” or is it actually “climate change”? It is a little surprising to compare the years, to see the flowers struggle more for water and to see the frogs disappear, but when you realize the groundwater issue (even for a tank buried so deeply) has also disappeared that is interesting and worrying.


I truly  thank he person that brought my long ago blog post back to my attention. I love looking back but I am also now thinking to the spring. I wonder if we will have frogs…..I certainly hope so……..but the trend isn’t looking so good.

empty road

The Bashing of Alberta…….a new popular sport

Late October sunset on Highway 20 , "somewhere" south of Breton, Alberta, Canada.

Late October sunset on Highway 20 , “somewhere” south of Breton, Alberta, Canada.

I sit here on January 17th, 2014 and realize there are reasons not to make a New Year’s Resolution, quite honestly because they can’t be kept. After 2013 I surely should have made a resolution to avoid controversial issues; that was the year that we fought for habitat, fought against a development, fought by-laws being broken, and a shoddy school system. Granted, if you look closely you can see small changes that happened through all the jumping up and down, but still at this point a normal person would probably just give up and hide under a rock. Truly I did try to stay hidden under my rock, but glimpses of the “Q” interview with Neil Young (by Gian Ghomeshi) last night regarding the Alberta oil sands followed by the statement by Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo that I read today confirmed I could no longer stay silent.

I will never understand why “celebrities” do not stick to the business they know, but they don’t. Now admittedly I might have a teeny tiny bit of my personality that could be labelled “cynical” but one does have to wonder why these two gentlemen have ventured to be vocal in the arena discussing the oil sands of Alberta. What do they have to gain? Now one of the gentlemen, Jim Cuddy, has a cross- Canada tour happening with his band Blue Rodeo, so it is pretty safe to say what he has to gain is publicity. You know what they say….”there is no such thing as bad press”. Pretty tacky. It isn’t as if the oil sands are “new” news so jumping on the bandwagon now hoping to sell a few extra concert tickets and three more t-shirts is just plain cheesy. Neil Young, who knows, but I won’t be surprised if we see a “new” “BEST OF NEIL YOUNG” album released in the coming months.

I’ve decided to tackle this post in this order, first discuss each of these two “spokes-people”, then discuss their approach, then just for fun throw some numbers at you (because statistics are the new sexy!).

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Let’s start with Neil Young. Let’s start with one basic fact. According to Wikipedia Neil Young has lived in California since the 1970’s. Ahem, yes you read that right. CALIFORNIA. Now last time I checked not only was California not in the province of Alberta, but it also wasn’t in the country we know as Canada. Evidently he is still a “Canadian Citizen”. Evidently by having a little blue passport with the word “Canada” on it it entitles him to toddle up north of the 49th parallel and start spewing hate against one of the more significant industries and employers of our province. Now this man jumped ship in the 1970’s. He said through his actions that I choose to live in the U.S.A.  over Canada. I choose the U.S.A. over Canada. Period. Nice patriotism dude. Yes this is a guy that truly has Canada’s back….not. He kept the passport for the ease of travel. Obvious. As everyone knows there are nice perks to travelling as a Canadian compared to travelling as an American. Ever backpack Europe?I have. It is comical to count the Americans that sew a Canadian flag on their backpacks in hopes of being treated better. Neil Young did the same by keeping his citizenship. Shameful.

“Using” his citizenship is shameful enough, but now let’s talk hypocrisy. First we will revisit that Neil Young lives in California. I just didn’t want anyone to forget that fact. Evidently there are no environmental issues in California. None. A perfect little Disney utopia. Pristine pollution free air in California so Mr. Young feels the need to come to Canada to find an environmental issue. Has anyone been to Los Angeles, taken their life in their own hands and risked breathing? Just breathing, nothing else. And don’t you just love the gobs of black snot that form inside your nose from the pollution. Memorable. But remember all the environmental issues of North America are in the oil sands of Alberta. Let me share this experience with you, in California there is this lovely (truly it is stunning, no sarcasm) little spot called Joshua Tree National Park that we visited a few years ago. As you drive through the park it is mile after mile of stunning scenery and at one spot there is a viewpoint for the San Andreas Fault. You reach the viewpoint, look off to the distance and all you can see is smog. Thick smog. Smog is pollution. Smog too is killing this earth.

A word of advice to Mr. Young…… if you want to save the earth start by solving the problems in your own backyard. Your backyard called California is a cesspool of pollution. Fix that first before spouting off in MY COUNTRY and MY PROVINCE.

(Okay I also just have to ask, what everyone thinks of Neil Young’s sense of dress? How does everyone feel about the whole buckskin and fringe jacket he has been rocking on T.V.. Now I know he is trying to work the whole aboriginal angle, but do you think that Neil Young thinks he is “blending” with the aboriginal community with his clothing choice ? Do you think that his thought process is “buckskin” is what “aboriginals” wear in “Canada”. Now we live in an area with a decent sized aboriginal population and a reserve up the highway to the north, and Neil I am sorry to say if that is your intent you have it so wrong, if you want to blend buy a hoody and a pair of jeans. Lose the buckskin, we aren’t living in a Lone Ranger movie up here in CANADA.)

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Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo

( link to Cuddy comment )

I find it incredibly ironic to be writing this post as only a week ago I wrote a glowing blog post about the Blue Rodeo concert held in Red Deer, Alberta. Yes I was at that concert and it was good. Remember that concert Jim? The one where you commented on the security guard doing chin ups and that he was nicely silhouetted (just a little reference that will confirm I was actually there if Mr. Cuddy happens to come across this blog post). Now Mr. Cuddy does actually live in Canada which gives some validation in having an opinion compared to Neil Young. Mr. Cuddy is also on a cross-Canada tour with his band Blue Rodeo. Yes indeedy all the way from British Columbia to Newfoundland. Anyone ever look at a map of Canada? This country is pretty big. Did you know that sometimes our country, Canada, actually takes up two whole pages in an atlas. Shocking. Want to know something even more shocking? That bus that Mr.Cuddy and his gang will be travelling on will be running on fossil fuels. FOSSIL FUEL kids …..FOSSIL FUEL. So this gentleman who decided to jump on the “Neil Young Bandwagon” of “bad fossil fuel production, evil, evil oil sands” is actually burning a massive amount of fossil fuels touring this country with his band all with the sole goal of filling his own pockets with cash. Ahem. Yep. This is a pretty big freaking country and Blue Rodeo is going to burn how many thousands of gallons (sorry, litres…metric eh?) of gas touring the country? This guy thinks he has the right to speak out against the oil sands and say they are “visually grotesque” yet burn up fossil fuel as he travels the country to promote his own fame and fortune?  What a crock of s**** (come on, I live in Alberta, we have cows here too ya know!)

Mr. Cuddy, sorry to say that no matter how well you play the harmonica you and your band are part of the problem. Your are using up a ridiculous amount of resources to tour with your band. If you are going to open your trap about your opinion on the Alberta energy sector you better be walking the talk. Tour ACROSS CANADA  is not “walking the talk”, you sir are using up a massive amount of resources and if you continue to use the resources in such a trivial way production in the oil sands needs to be increased and thus the whole of the production area expanded.

Ever hear the phrase “biting the hand that feeds you”? Pretty common phrase. Mr. Cuddy relies on “fans” to download albums, buy CD’s, attend concerts, buy t-shirts, etc. to make a living. It would be, in my opinion, Mr. Cuddy’s best interest to not offend the demographic that listens to his music. Now at the January 9th Blue Rodeo concert in Red Deer, Alberta it may just have been in Mr. Cuddy’s best interest to walk out the door of the Enmax Centrium and take a three second look at the parking lot. That three second look would have told Mr. Cuddy exactly the demographic that will pay for his music and his concerts. In three seconds Mr. Cuddy would have seen….truck…truck…truck….truck….truck…truckity truck truck truck. Not little trucks. Big “kick you ass” trucks. Mr. Cuddy would have then possibly thought “What buys these trucks?” The answer would be one simple word. OIL. Mr. Cuddy, like it or not, your audience is employed by the energy sector that you feel is so dirty and nasty. Every freaking dollar you took as profit from that concert came from the oil sands either directly or indirectly. Economies work on a trickle down effect. When the patch is booming so is EVERY other aspect of the economy. Oil money pays for houses, groceries, music lessons, a double-double at Tim Hortons and CONCERT TICKETS. By condemning the industry at Fort. McMurray you are biting the hand that feeds you.

blog blue rodeo 3

Statements and Approaches

I am going to begin by pasting Mr. Cuddy’s statement from  as it was his comment that prompted me to write this. In my opinion Neil Young has no credibility as he doesn’t even live in our country.


January 17, 2014 | « back

Jim Cuddy Issues Statement in Support of Neil Young

I believe that Neil Young is brave and articulate and very well informed about the oil sands.

Right now, Canada is at a crossroads between economics and the environment and we need to make a very, very brave choice. How much revenue are we willing to sacrifice to ensure that we have clean water, clean air and good health for the people and the planet?

To clarify, I was asked about the town of Fort McMurray, not the oil sands. My comments regarding the exaggeration of the conditions there were about Fort McMurray. The oil sands are as visually grotesque as described. Fort McMurray, on the other hand, is a thriving town whose people are directly affected by the issue of the expansion of the oil sands.

This is not a trivial issue and it is not a time for the media to do anything but provide clarity. This is an issue that is vital to all of our best interests. It is essential that we have an open dialogue about it and we force our government to listen.

Musicians and other celebrities do love the media. Everyone knows this. I do however wonder what inspired Jim Cuddy to write the statement above. Both of these musicians have taken the approach to use their popularity to be publicly  scathing of one of the largest industries in Alberta. Mr. Cuddy however is also about to receive the Order of Canada so one would expect him to have a bit more thought and a bit more tact.Class even.  It is very easy to be negative about a situation. It is easy to say bad things about the oil sands. It is easy to say they are “visually grotesque”. Easy does nothing. Easy isn’t a fix. Mr. Cuddy’s statement of  “It is essential that we have an open dialogue about it and we force our government to listen.” is pure babble. It is a P.R. line.

Mr. Cuddy , if you truly believe there is a problem get something done, don’t just talk about it. If you have an opinion that there is a problem, it is only a complaint unless you can offer a hint of a solution along side. So let’s start here. This is the point in the blog where I stop bitching about Mr. Cuddy’s statement and point to where focus should be put.

In  2011, Alberta exported about 1.3 million barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude oil to the United States (U.S.), supplying  15 percent of U.S. crude oil imports, or 7 percent of U.S. oil demand.  Total oil consumption for U.S. in  2011 was  18.9 million bbl/d.  Canada as a whole exported 2.23 million bbl/d of crude oil to the U.S., or about  25 percent of the U.S. total crude oil imports in 2011. link

Look at the above quote. If you want to stop expansion and lessen production this is the first place to start. Stop shipping to the U.S.A. . Quit feeding the American desire for fuel . Mr. Cuddy, this is where you take Mr. Young aside and say “if you truly believe this, you need to convince your countrymen to cut back their consumption by 7%”. If Mr. Young campaigned down in the U.S.A. and reduced the hunger for oil , there would not be the demand , and therefore no need for expansion of the oil sands.

October Sunset, Alberta, Canada

Now this leads us to problem number two. A decrease in production means a decrease in employment and a decrease in revenue and the trickle down effect throughout the economy. This is not an “Alberta only” problem. First of all, unemployment would affect the whole country, less contributing to income based taxes, a larger population claiming E.I. benefits, to keep everything ticking over taxes would have to increase. Can our country as a whole take the strain? Lowering production doesn’t just affect a few oil workers in Alberta, it will affect the whole country. What happens when Alberta goes from being a “have” province to a “have not”? Again are citizens of every other province willing to take on the sacrifice? Are you willing to have your own children paying 50% or more in income taxes just to keep the country running? What do you want their financial out look to be? Things to consider.

Let’s look at another statistic, this is the statistic for “Shadow Population” and specifically for the “Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo”.

Shadow Population

means, the temporary residents of a municipality who are employed by an
industrial or commercial establishment in the municipality
,for a minimum of 30 days within a municipal census year
The “Shadow Population” for this area breaks down as 1,755 for the urban area and 39,796 for the rural service area for a total of 41,551 people. Now I am going to break this down in plain English. There are 41,551 people from Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan…..pick a province, shipping themselves in to Fort McMurray to make a living to ship money back to their home province for their families to live. To feed their families and clothe their children and pay their rent or mortgage. I’ve known some of these families, the men usually have a wife and at least two children. The shadow population dependent on income earned  in the Fort McMurray area is in actual fact more like 166,204 (based on worker, spouse, 2 children), and this is money directly supporting the economies of provinces OTHER than Alberta. Can these provinces afford the loss?
Tough stuff. And to think a lot of celebrities come off sounding like the whole operation should be shut down. Imagine that devastation. Let’s look at this statistic next:
So if we shut down the oil sands how do we survive? We have a massive country where goods need to be transported coast to coast. We have a cold country and use fuel for heat. Even electricity in Alberta is coming from burning coal, we have huge mines out by our cabin. Being an activist is easy, finding a solution is not.
Here are a few more statistics of interest (link) :

About 10 per cent of the oil sands workforce is Aboriginal.

In 2011, the value of contracts between oil sands companies and Aboriginal companies was over $1 billion.

How do Neil Young’s aboriginal acquaintances feel about a $1 billion loss? You should really ask him.

I could continue to throw out statistics showing beneficial aspects of the oil sands to Canadians, but I am going to cut to the chase as I am already nearing 3000 words.
snowy sunset over lake isle, alberta, canada
The FiX
Here’s the deal. If you don’t like what is going on and complain you’d better have at least a start to a solution. So here are a few thoughts:
1. Get on the government’s case to make green renewable energy affordable and available to the masses. We are burning coal in Alberta to make electricity. Why? We have sun. We have wind. But solar and wind power is too expensive for the average Canadian to install in their homes. We looked briefly at retrofitting our 800 square foot cabin. It would have taken us 20 years to break even on the investment. So we shelved the idea. Imagine the positive environmental impact of town after town running heat and power on sun and wind. The technology is there but the government is going to have to step up to the plate and make it affordable and accessible. It needs to become the norm and not a trendy oddity. Someone with a celebrity name could push for this. You could push for a fix. An ordinary person just comes off as a crazy tree hugger.
2. If you are going to push for lack of expansion of the oil sands or a decrease in production you had better have an industry for the men and women to work in. Here’s the thing, for Canada to continue running we need the resource of energy in some shape or form. Even man in its most primitive form used fires made from burning wood for heat and to cook on. Energy, fuel, whatever you want to call it , is a basic human need. So keep these men and women of the oil sands in the energy sector, but a new energy sector. Start new divisions within the same corporations running the oil sands projects to create the components for clean energy. Retrain. Create a new industry up in Fort McMurray creating en mass the components for wind power and solar, plus all the technicians needed to keep the systems running. Mr. Cuddy, you are about to have the Order of Canada, you can start to push for clean energy to take over .
snowy sunset over lake isle, alberta, canada
Realistically a certain portion of Canada will have to have some dependence on the oil industry for the foreseeable future. Electric vehicles are fine for singles and couples, but not for a family…..well at least my family with 5 kids. I have trouble imagining an electric semi truck going over the Rogers Pass fully loaded. Before being openly critical one should think of how far-reaching the situation is. Instead of shouting out to the media that the oil sands are “visually grotesque”, stop and think about the negotiables and non-negotiables. The negotiables are we CAN put green energy in our homes, the technology is there, we just need government to create a situation where the price point is affordable to all Canadians. The non-negotiables are we do need fossil fuels to move goods and people from “point A” to “point B” across this vast country, and we need employment for those working at Fort McMurray; we cannot have a situation that puts these men and women out of work.
If celebrities want to have a voice fine, but use your voice for POSITIVE ACTION rather than a complaint to the media in hopes of just some additional press.

Making Our World a Better Place –

I came across a fabulous initiative  while watching “George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight” yesterday evening. The initiative is called “My Giving Moment” . The idea for the initiative has come from Canada’s Governor General, His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.  The core idea is that if we all give a little, through time or talent or resources, that we can make our communities and country a better place.

lending a hand

Some of the ideas are big, but many are just little things that can make our communities a better place and in turn make our communities stronger. One of the easiest “moments” is to bring your neighbour’s garbage can back to their house for them on garbage day….it’s that easy. Under “Find Your Moment”  there are many suggestions of how to help out your community, and if you wish you can even add your own “moment”. There is even a fun scoring system if you wish to participate.

People helping out builds strong communities.

People helping out builds strong communities.

I really wanted to share the link as it is a fabulous idea. The more that participate the better our communities will be.

A Tour Through Lac Ste. Anne County Alberta

This should be a different style post for all my readers. I haven’t done anything journalistic on this blog before, however I have to admit it is an interesting way to shoot so it is possible many more of these styles of posts will be popping up in the future.

We were out at our cabin in Lac Ste. Anne  County (Alberta, Canada) on the weekend. With recent events in the area I thought taking a tour through the county might be a good idea. It has been a while since I had been out to see any of the developments in the County, and I wanted to see if my memory had recorded the situation accurately.

View over Lac Ste. Anne from the pubic beach at the town of Alberta Beach. Sunday June 2, 2013.

View over Lac Ste. Anne from the pubic beach at the town of Alberta Beach. Sunday June 2, 2013.

We decided to head toward the Alberta Beach area. Here we visited the development named “Windmill Harbour”. According to the County, Phase 1 was registered in 2009, which seems about right as the last time we were out there was about three years ago. It was as if time had stood still. We were greeted by welcoming open gates and a sign promising “new ownership”. I have heard rumours of the past of this development, but that really isn’t that important to this post, what is important is what we witnessed this day at the site. My husband, always one to be interested in real estate, decided to call the number. “Ring….ring…..ring………” No answer. No machine. Nothing.

So we progress in to see a closed Sales Office. This is Sunday afternoon. This is cabin country. This is when deals are made. If you are selling recreational property Saturday and Sunday are the days you make the sales….trust me…we own a couple of rec. properties.

At a closer look we see the sidewalk is shattered with no attempt for repair, trim is off the mobile used as a sales office and the development’s mail box has been thrown behind the mobile home. My observation is perhaps this development isn’t exactly up and running, even though it has been three years since I last drove past its gates.

I look down the deserted streets that are framed with flat bulldozed land. The land is decorated with weeds, poop and surveying flags. A lonely rusted fire hydrant stands at one end of a street with a suburban dream. An unfinished show home greets us with a ramshackle wooden walkway and a dumpster. My husband surmises as to what the fate of the show home was, he is in the construction industry. My observation is it isn’t finished. It isn’t open. It is as if NOTHING has changed in three years. Everything in nature was flattened for this “Florida-style” design. Habitat didn’t matter.

One person involved with a development just to the east of Windmill Harbour informed me that “birds will nest anywhere” and that he was the one with “logic”; apparently his deserted (kind of ) inland fake beach wasn’t attracting customers on this June afternoon….yet another well thought out development. I guess this is a consistent way that developers think, “birds will nest anywhere”, after all they have all the right in the world to annihilate the natural world in the pursuit of a fast buck. But my perception from this afternoon is the “fast buck” is perhaps not happening. Ringing out phone lines, closed sales offices, partially finished show homes (after 3 years!) and no sign of an actual customer’s home being built (again after 3 years) is not the sign of a development that is working. Was it really worth destroying the landscape and the natural world for this?

It’s funny, the first time we ever drove past this sign I knew the place would never make it. There was no way they were going to sell the lots. This is cabin country. People own out here to escape suburbia, to escape parking lots, to escape home owners associations, to escape a cookie cutter lifestyle. People in cabin country are there to watch nature, sit on a deck, listen to the birds, watch the stars and perhaps get away with wearing the ugliest t-shirt they own. I can not imagine what these developers are thinking. They have no clue of the market or why people are out in this area. They think “build and they will come”, but in Lac Ste. Anne County it isn’t exactly working out in favor of the developer. The fancy proposals and all their “tip toe through the tulips” wording really doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day it isn’t what people want. People don’t want the developments; it isn’t what this neck of the woods is about.

We have to ask ourselves, “Was is really worth destroying nature to end up with empty streets, bulldozed fields, a broken Sales Office, shattered sidewalks, a half-finished show home and a rusted fire hydrant?” But this is development here in Lac Ste. Anne County where my lovely little cabin is.

End of the road.

End of the road.

We decided to carry on to the town of Alberta Beach which is just minutes away from the Windmill Harbour development. Again it has probably been about 3 years since visiting the town even though it is reasonably close to our cabin. Alberta Beach fell off our radar a few years ago when we decided to do a walk or hike each weekend we were at the cabin. Walking or hiking just doesn’t happen in our county so we head to Parkland County, Pembina Provincial Park, or even as far as Edson, Hinton or Jasper. We love to hit the trail and our children love interpretive walks so we try to find places to go that keep everyone happy.

Alberta Beach was a shock. Everything was for sale……..cabins, land, businesses, buildings. Sign after sign after sign. It summed up the economic activity in the area. It summed up that money wasn’t being spent. It really made me wonder ” Why is the County allowing huge amounts of natural land to be ripped up when it is obvious to anyone who walks down the main road of Alberta Beach that there is no money to be spent here?” Senseless. If people aren’t buying a coffee, people aren’t going to buy a luxury gated community home. It was so obvious.

The town was empty. Sunday June 2nd, 2013, middle of the afternoon. One lady sat on a bench  at the far end of the grassy public beach area, otherwise the whole area was deserted. The pier that I remember walking with my children no longer exists. Gone. Quiet. Empty. Sad. Confusing to think how anyone, developer or County, thought a development in this area could ever work. Well it didn’t….and the wildlife paid for such poorly made decisions.

My true highlight of the afternoon was the mini golf course at Alberta Beach. Perhaps it is the photographer in me, but there was something so enchanting yet sad about the mini golf course. Over grown. Speckled with weeds. Clearly no customers, no money, no hope. Why again are they building developments that are going to die in a place where no money is being spent?

We left Alberta Beach shaking our heads. A completely stalled development that appeared to my eye to be abandoned. A town for sale with no customers. A feeling that it will be at least another 3 years before we roam in this direction again. I wanted to see the development Windmill Harbour. I wanted to see if my memory had recorded it properly. My memory had clearly been wearing rose-coloured glasses. The way the development had wasted the landscape and then seemed to abandon all they had done was astonishing. Why start a project when the money in the area to spend is clearly not there? Senseless.

HWY 633

HWY 633

We carried on out of town and hit Highway 633, the road that runs almost directly from our cabin. I wasn’t expecting it, but we came across another development. (Okay I really wasn’t expecting it as my husband had to do a quick and fancy flip around turn when I shouted “Did you see that?……….STOP!!!” We have very different driving styles, but that is a whole different post, but I will say the score is equal when it comes to receiving out portrait in the mail.)


We stop in front of the sign and it says “Alberta Beach Estates”. We see bulldozed land, weeds, a pile of junk, a funky light post, a farm gate, a billboard and a show home located just next to Highway 633. The billboard shows a picture of a lake even though we are a considerable distance from the Lac Ste. Anne; the development is right on the side of the highway. No trees, no bushes, flat bald bulldozed land.

My husband can’t resist the temptation and instantly starts dialing on his iPhone. He is greeted by “Hello”. Nothing indicates he has reached “Alberta Beach Estates”, just “Hello”. My husband asks about details regarding the development, all he is given is that they will be “city sized lots with no overhead power lines”. No lot size is given. No price. No offer of a package of information. No request to get my husband’s details. Puzzling. At the end of the very quick conversation my husband is told the lots will be ready in August or September. That is in as little as 9 weeks. Wow. Surveying done and all utilities in, in as little as 9 weeks. I am amazed. It took six weeks to have a sub-floor, laminate and trim put in my basement, so I am stunned by the time frame. However my gut feeling isn’t so good. If people will not buy lots on a lake, why would they buy them right off Hwy 633? Why was this development given permission? More bulldozed land and another potentially bust development.

I am sure you are at this point thinking “What a weird way to spend a Sunday.”. You see there is a development proposed for our little cabin area so I wanted to do some research and see what success developments have had in Lac Ste. Anne County.

On May 16th, 2013 Lac Ste. Anne County sent a letter to us with a very brief description of the proposed development. The below map was also sent to us.

map from the county blogI knew that development on a natural lake was a bad idea, however I will just link you to my Western Grebe post if you want to get up to speed on that portion of the story.

However at around 1 a.m. on Friday May 31st, I was snooping around the County website where I stumbled across this detailed map of the development, plus all the details of the development.

island view resort map blogThere is a slight difference. None of the property owners (except for 3) that I spoke to had any idea of what was going on. Out of the three that knew, one was a real estate agent, one was selling their house with the agent I just mentioned, and one was a fellow that I could only describe as being explosively angry over the whole development. He was, shall we say , very, very unimpressed with the proposal.

Now I am not sure if you can see a slight difference between the two maps. I’ll give a quick outline. The top map shows three red dots. The detailed map shows 448 RV sites, 1.5 km of habitat ripped out, all dropped on the door step of the Summer Village of Southview , Alberta.

Now do you want to hear the punchline…………SOUTHVIEW WASN’T NOTIFIED. Convenient loophole to sneak something through…possibly…..but Southview wasn’t told because they are a “summer village” and not “county”. It doesn’t matter that they will be able to stand at the towns edge and see the RV park, hear the RV park, have their traffic diverted because of the RV park, have  taxes go up because of the RV park (sewer lagoon and roads, infrastructure is a real concern), plus a whole list of other issues.

Now at this point I must declare I don’t own in Southview, but I am appalled that this community was not notified of what was proposed for their doorstep.

I am going to provide a quick visual version of the proposal:

Field to be destroyed and turned into an RV parking lot.

Field to be destroyed and turned into a 448 unit RV parking lot.

Trees to be removed for a sandy beach and marina.

Trees to be removed for a sandy beach and marina.

Shoreline and vegetation slated for destruction upon proposal approval.

Shoreline and vegetation slated for destruction upon proposal approval.

The development's vision is beach to the left and RV parking lot to the right.

The development’s vision is beach to the left and RV parking lot to the right.

The road in to the proposed resort, also "Phase 1" which amounts to an RV parking lot right next to the highway.

The road in to the proposed resort, also “Phase 1” which amounts to an RV parking lot right next to
Highway 633.

Protecting their investment but not the environment.

Protecting their investment but not the environment.

I look at all this beautiful landscape, the life filled habitats, and the rural fields that define this part of the world and realize we are facing Lac Ste. Anne County making one more bad mistake by allowing another failing development to proceed. The County will give permission, the bulldozers will destroy, everything will be gone, and then the developers will discover that they have no customers and that the project is over budget. Here will be yet another space resembling Windmill Harbour. Seriously, if Windmill Harbour thought they could have bailed themselves out by changing the vision and going the RV park route they would have. But they haven’t.

This is cabin country. This is not a resort. We do not have sandy beaches like Mexico or Florida or California here. We have a natural lake. I am tired of developers sitting in their little offices looking at Google Earth for an untouched lake to destroy….yes, the word is “develop”. I am sorry, our lake, Lake Isle, is nicely “developed” already. It is developed with habitats that support 100’s of species. It is a scummy, slimey, smelly, weedy lake and it is fabulous for wildlife. Wildlife and nature is why ALL of us own in this area.

Developers, the first thing anyone does when they start a business is they IDENTIFY THEIR MARKET. None of you are doing it. None of you get it. You will go bust. It is proven, look at all the photographic evidence above, and I barely touched the county.

Now I am going to pass on a little F.Y.I. to any developers (or smart assed real estate people) that come across this blog post. The people who own and will invest out here love nature, love quiet, don’t want to be regulated, often have been coming generation after generation. If they want to stay in an RV they park it in a friend’s or family member’s driveway, because being out here is about family, friends and the experience. They are not going to park their RV in something that resembles a Walmart parking lot. Everything the Island View development states in their proposal is completely against what the people who own and invest in the area stand for.

The water welcomes all swimmers.

The water welcomes all swimmers.

I met some wonderful people this weekend and I wanted to share some of the most memorable comments:

“Ewwwwww the water is so gross, I wouldn’t swim in that!”

“The blue-green algae should be back pretty quick…shouldn’t it?

“Remember the e-coli scare.” (fond recollections)

“It was so cool the year we had the total fish-kill, the mother bird brought the dead fish up on my lawn so the babies could eat. It was soooooo sweet!”

and my all time favorite (love this one!!!!!!!)

“Remember when all the cow shit washed into the lake! They’ve fixed it now……………….I think.”

Photographers…Love Your Birds!!!!

bird on lake isleEvery photographer loves to photograph birds. They are interesting. They are beautiful. But they are also fragile. We need to take care of our little feathered friends if we want to have them to photograph in the years to come.

I was recently  chatting with a biologist in Southern Alberta where a very sad event happened with an irresponsible “person with a camera” and a nesting area. He asked me to post the following information. It is always good to use common sense while out in nature.

birds - lake isle, ab

North American Nature Photograph Association – Principles of Ethical Field Practices

North American Nature Photograph Association (NANPA) believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant and animal, whether above or below the water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA’s belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that promotes good stewardship of the resource.

Environmental: Knowledge of Subject and Place



Learn patterns of animal behavior – know when not to interfere with animal’s life cycles

Understand which wildlife species are most sensitive to disturbance and when they are most sensitive to disturbance (i.e. nesting season)*

Respect the routine needs of animals – remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too

 Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals – if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens

 Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem – stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact

Social: Knowledge of Rules and Laws

When appropriate inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose – help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety

 Learn the rules and laws of the location – if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them

Understand the provisions of the Alberta Wildlife Act, and federal Migratory Bird Convention Act and Species At Risk Act related to the protection of wildlife and their habitats, including nests, dens and hibernaculum

Understand the setback and timing criteria for activities in the vicinity of key habitats of sensitive wildlife species in the prairie and parkland region of Alberta (


Understand the status of wildlife in Alberta as outlined by the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee ( , the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species, the

Alberta Wildlife Act and the federal Species At Risk Act.

In the absence of management authority, use good judgment – treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest

 Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events – avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps

Individual: Expertise and Responsibilities

Treat others courteously – ask before joining others already shooting in an area

 Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior–many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals

 Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities – don’t argue with those who don’t care, report them.


Violations of the Alberta Wildlife Act, Migratory Bird Convention Act or Species At Risk Act should be reported immediately to:

Report A Poacher (1-800-642-3800)

Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen – educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding


Adopted February 3, 1996 by NANPA Board of Directors

*Bolded sections added to make the principles more applicable to Alberta and Canada

bird - lake isle, ab

The Western Grebe – Saving A Nesting Ground

Ever have one of those weeks when opening up your mailbox changes the whole course of the week?

We had just been away for the long weekend. Just like most people, one of the first things you do once you get home from being away is to open your mailbox and go through the mail.  The stack of mail went like this: junk mail, junk mail, junk mail, thick envelope from Lac Ste. Anne County (Alberta, Canada), junk mail……..”wait, what was that thick envelope about?” was the first think to run through my head (followed by putting the junk mail in the recycle bin). We open up the envelope only to be greeted with bad news (thick envelopes are never good news), a resort development was being proposed for a location minutes away from our cabin on Lake Isle, Alberta. Even worse, it is proposed for an area along the shoreline where there are always a huge number of nesting birds. This resort would annihilate the nesting grounds.

Lake Isle, Alberta

Lake Isle, Alberta

After getting over the initial reaction of anger we decided to attempt to do something. After a bit of research we discovered Lake Isle is a nesting area for the Western Grebe. The Western Grebe has been listed as an “at risk” species and is showing declining numbers. Research we have read indicates Alberta only has 6 to 10 lakes where the Western Grebe actually nest and breed, so losing the breeding ground would significantly impact the survival of the species of the Western Grebe. Research also indicates that Alberta is home to 10-19% of the WORLD’S population of the Western Grebe, so protecting this bird and its nesting grounds is very important.

I have spent the last two days writing email after email to environmental and conservation groups, individuals involved in the environment, government offices and politicians in hopes of raising awareness in the importance of protecting the shoreline. I am hoping that if I can raise a very vocal community in support of protecting the habitat that the Lac Ste. Anne County will see that the habitat of an “at risk” species is more important than an RV Park with rumoured quadding trails.

Once this habitat is gone it is gone FOREVER. Once the species is gone, it too is gone FOREVER.

I feel it is so important to show the importance of this natural area rather than take the easy way out, stay quiet and watch it bulldozed.

If any readers are interested in speaking up as to the importance of protecting the nesting grounds please feel free to email me for further information. We need a loud voice to fight the bulldozers, RV’s and quads.

For those interested, the file numbers for the proposal are:

Files: 06REDST2012 & 07REDST2012

If you wish to contact Lac Ste. Anne County (Alberta, Canada) with regards to the proposal, I have listed the contacts below. ALL WRITTEN CONCERNS MUST BE SUBMITTED BY JUNE 6TH, 2013.

Mr. Matthew Ferris
Planning & Development Manager

Ms. Diane Burtnick
Development Officer

Any help we can get in keeping this natural area intact is greatly appreciated.