Docks and wharves
At the Monday, December 10, special council meeting, several speakers and delegations spoke about the need to protect Bowen Island’s shoreline, especially in light of the application to build docks and wharves at Cape Roger Curtis that has gained provincial approval this fall.
Bill Newport of the Bowen Island Fish and Wildlife Club presented a document entitled District of West Vancouver Shoreline Protection Plan. “It is a comprehensive document and it covers shoreline rehabilitation as well as guidelines for future growth and planning,” Newport said. “I think this is what Bowen Island requires - it could be an Official Community Plan (OCP) for the shoreline.” Newport said that it is a “living document” where changes and new information can be incorporated on an ongoing basis. “It would give us a valuable tool to protect and enhance one of our greatest natural assets,” Newport said, adding that he would like council to view the document in light of the issues that are currently on the table.
During the public comment part of the meeting, Trisha Beaty and Dee Anderson also spoke about foreshore protection. “I’ve lived on Bowen since my pre-teens and know about the difficulty the municipality has over controlling the foreshore,” Beaty said, suggesting that the municipality obtain more tools to deal with applications that affect the foreshore as well as interfere with public and private access. She added that she envisions modifications in the bylaws to that effect and a moratorium on current applications until the structure to deal with them is in place. Anderson added that the moratorium should include the docks that have recently been approved.
Everhard van Lidth de Jeude spoke on behalf of the Bowen Island Conservancy (BIC), presenting options to protect the public use of Bowen’s beaches. “We recommend that council instruct staff to examine all possible options that ensure Bowen’s public beaches, i.e. all beaches with beach access points, are protected from the construction of docks for private moorage or other purposes,” Van Lidth de Jeude said, adding that the Conservancy board suggests implementing a provision in the OCP that states that the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) will set out detailed parameters related to siting, setbacks, size, configuration, width, materials and projections for private moorage. Van Lidth de Jeude also listed potential additional conditions and stipulations and added that examples can be found in the Saltspring Island Land Use Bylaw. Until such measures are in place, the BIC board proposes a moratorium on municipal approval of any water lot applications.
The applications at Cape Roger Curtis were recently granted approval by the B.C. Integrated Land Management Bureau (ILMB) but are “subject to terms and condition that need to be met before tenures are issued,” according to a letter by ILMB, that also states that “the clients need to consult with BIM prior to constructing their private moorage to ensure that their facility designs are in compliance with BIM’s bylaws.”
The BIC board requested council to direct staff to enforce the restrictions set out in the land title act covenants that put limitations on construction, excavation and plant removal within the covenant area. Van Lidth de Jeude added that as part of the subdivision approval, the owners were required to provide expanded street end accesses and that a public walkway was negotiated by the owners in lieu of the 20-metre-wide beach accesses that were required every 200 meters by the legislated requirement under the land title act.
Mayor Jack Adelaar drew attention to the question of jurisdiction. “When dealing with docks and wharves, the granting of licences comes from the province,” he said. “We understand where you are coming from but we have very little ammunition.”
Van Lidth de Jeude replied, “Let’s change that so we have more ammunition.”
Councillor Andrew Stone explained that the municipality has to issue building permits for the docks and this process could ensure a measure of control if the Land Use Bylaw included the relevant guidelines.”If you look at our Land Use Bylaw, it’s almost open season,” he said. “Going forward, we need to put measures in place.”
Councillor Cro Lucas said that the issue of the moratorium was raised and he wasn’t certain that BIM had the authority to impose such restriction. CAO Kathy Lalonde promised to look into the matter. Lucas added that the municipality has considered taking control of the foreshore but that the process could take 10 years to complete. Councillor Wolfgang Duntz referred to a letter council had written to the province in regard to the CRC water lot applications. “We did our best to advise the province and proposed a number of conditions,” he said. “But the province granted the application and at this point, we don’t know if what the owners want to build would violate the covenant.” Councillor Daron Jennings said that he understood that the docks were a “hot button issue” for the community and that the CRC owners were made aware of that fact.
At a later part of the meeting, Stone talked about the issue of foreshore stewardship from his perspective as Metro Vancouver director and Islands Trust trustee. “What’s happened is that everyone has started to realize how important marine stewardship is,” Stone said, adding that various governments have put in place bylaws, policies and regulation to protect and also to recreate habitat. Stone explained that the aim is not to prevent private owners to build docks and wharves, but to protect habitat. He mentioned the example of the Britannia Mine area rehabilitation that has led to a return of dolphins and herring. “Eelgrass and mussel beds are parts of the food chain and it is important to protect shallow areas that ultimately feed the whales, dolphins and fish,” Stone said, adding that he believes that Bowen Island needs to establish what Bill Newport called an “OCP of the foreshore.”
Duntz said that he also sees the issue as much larger than just dealing with dock applications as it directly relates to rising sea levels. “Rising sea levels will cause more erosion and there are serious repercussions and financial consequences,” he said, suggesting to refer the issue to the planning department. Lalonde added that staff will report back to council about the existing tools to deal with docks.