Report suggests moving forward at Seymour Bay
Keith Wahlstrom, the Bowen Island Municipality’s manager of development and operations, has examined documentation relating to the drain pipe construction and cut trees in Seymour Bay to find out whether Bowen Island Properties had proper authorization to do the works in the small municipal park. In his report to council on Tuesday, November 13, Wahlstrom said that he didn’t find an actual stamp of approval but he believes that, rather than spending more resources on finding out what happened, the focus should be on working with the developer on a remedial plan as well as improving municipal processes.
Wahlstrom said he went through a “host of files, papers and documentation” for his report but didn’t find anything conclusive. His report says that “a forensic review of all material has not been completed and such a review would take significant staff time and/or consultant time.”
What Wahlstrom found out is this: Drainage works in the Seymour Bay Municipal Park were constructed in 2011, with additional work in 2012. In 2002, an Official Community Plan amendment bylaw noted stabilization and erosion issues in relation to a passive park at Seymour Bay. An “overland flow outfall water feature” was shown in a 2004 environmental impact assessment document prepared for Bowen Island Properties and provided to the municipality. The park land was transferred to the municipality in 2005. In 2011, detailed engineering drawings showing the drainage works were submitted to the municipality. And municipal staff participated in a pre-construction meeting and an on-site review of the proposed works and contributed some monies for the removal of a number of alders at Seymour Bay that were specifically identified by municipal staff as posing a risk to the beach access route.
“I can’t find the paper that says, ‘yes, this is approved,’” Wahlstrom said. “Should [the developer] have had this paper? Yes.” On the other hand, Wahlstrom said that there is significant documentation to show there was always an intent to construct the works in the area and the municipality did not attempt to stop the developer from moving forward with it.
Wahlstrom also referred to a topic council discussed earlier in the meeting that focused on the municipality’s documentation and processes. “They are not at the highest standards they need to be,” he said and suggested that they should be improved.
The other question that Wahlstrom looked at is: “Has the developer met the expectation of what the site should look like now that the works have been constructed?”
He said, “Has it been reconstructed to standard? No, that hasn’t been done yet. This has primarily to do with vegetation. I spoke with the developer and he is waiting to work with us. This is where the parks and greenways committee can come in.” Wahlstrom’s report recommends “that council direct staff to work with the Parks, Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee and the developer to complete a park plan for Seymour Bay Park and have the developer plant vegetation as required in the plan.”
Councillor Cro Lucas said he had been a neighbour of that area for 35 years before moving to Bowen’s westside. “I was familiar with the fact that Seymour Bay had an issue with drainage,” he said. “What’s there now is directed outflow. I see this as a positive outcome.” Councillor Alison Morse also remembered having to wade across water to go to the beach. “A report from Julian Dunster said that the bank needed to be stabilized and it was never intended to be left as an eroding bank,” she said. “I think it is much more user-friendly as it is now. Let’s move forward and create an upland beach park.”
CAO Kathy Lalonde reminded council that the time frame for the Seymour Bay works coincided with many staff changes and limited resources. Councillor Andrew Stone wanted to know what can be done to improve municipal processes and Wahlstrom explained that a works and services bylaw will be drafted in the near future. Stone also asked whether the work has been done to standard. “The final product is different than the plans that were submitted but that is not an unusual thing,” Wahlstrom said. “The quality has been looked at by experts and it’s up to standard.” Wahlstrom added that the creation of a Seymour Bay Park plan is needed in order to complete vegetation replanting and amenity development. His report states: “What Seymour Bay Park should look like and what functions it should support for community park use has not been addressed. Bowen Island Properties have stated they are willing and anxious to work with the municipality and the parks and trail committee to develop a plan and help implement the plan.”