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Bowen this week: January 8

Happy 2021! While it’s been a tumultuous week in the world, our little island life keeps puttering along. Health centre news, cannabis rezoning, the Well closing: here's what you need to know about this week on Bowen Island
An eagle standing atop branches with its head tilted toward the sky and mouth open
End-of-year serenade: Fairweather’s resident bald eagle (reportedly) sings ‘Come All Ye Faithful’ on Christmas day.

Happy new year! It’s a resolution of mine to get to these weekly Bowen round-ups every Friday but being a newsroom of one sometimes means other priorities arise. We’ll see how it goes as we forge on. Ideas? Email me at

The rains have seemed endless since 2021 began but Saturday’s forecast calls for a mix of sun and cloud with a high of four. The rains return Sunday and stretch into the week ahead. Nice weather aside, Sea to Sky Search and Rescue is asking folks to ‘dial it back’ in the backcountry amid challenging conditions and a string of avalanches.

Environment Canada 7 day forecast for SquamishSeven-day forecast for Squamish. By Environment Canada


Looking over the past week(s)

End-of year statistics show that there were 454 COVID-19 cases in West Vancouver in 2020 (its district includes Bowen Island). “The statistics showed the North Shore had a cumulative rate of infection of between 600 and 900 cases per 100,000 people for the year,” reports North Shore News’s Jane Seyd.


The Polar Swim was obviously cancelled Jan. 1 but that didn’t stop some Boweners from taking to the water.

Folks in swimsuits at the beachThough the traditional Polar Swim at Bowen Bay didn’t take place this year, the McMillan and Mountain families still dove into frigid 2021 waters at September Morn beach. By Michelle Shaw


Bowen Island Health Centre Foundation officially owns its parcel of Lot 3 of the Community Lands. The sale closed Jan. 8, a year and a half after Bowen Island Municipal council accepted the foundation’s offer to purchase (subdividing taking up more time than expected). The foundation is planning to apply for a development permit next week and forge on, though the centre likely won’t be up and open until 2022-23 said foundation president Tim Rhodes. Watch for more on this next week.


The Well announced last month that it’s closing its studio for good, though online and outdoor classes and workshops will continue when and where possible. Pandemic conditions – two shut downs and limited class sizes – made the studio no longer viable, owner Chantal Russell told the Undercurrent. While she’s sad, Russell is at peace with the decision. “I did what I could, the best I could for the time that I could and then I was at an impasse,” she said.

Has your business closed because of COVID-19? We’d like to know –


BC housing assessments came out Jan. 1. The typical assessed value for single-family residential properties on the island is up nine per cent in 2020.

A Bowen Island home also busted into the top 500 most valuable residential properties – a 23-acre Smugglers Cove residence, valued at $10.5 million (though it’s for sale for $17.6 million), is the 476th most valuable property in B.C.


Back in November, Gillian Drake started as manager of recreation and community services at Bowen Island Municipality. She talks botanical gardens, rugby and community identity with the Undercurrent.


December’s RCMP statistics are out: files include assisting the fire department with a house fire last month and five impaired driving check stops. 


It’s budget time. Consultation for Bowen Island Municipality’s 2021 five-year financial plan (the budget) is open on the public engagement platform Citizenlab. BIM is likely to propose a 6.6 per cent tax increase in 2021 (here’s why). For those wanting more detail, there’s a virtual open house Jan. 14 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

In the video below, chief financial officer Raj Hayre offers budget 101:


Council’s back!

The first council meeting of 2021 is Jan. 11 and will be live streamed on YouTube. Here’s what’s on the agenda:

Pot rezoning: Staff is bringing forward a Land Use Bylaw amendment to permit “recreation cannabis retail as a retail use anywhere that retail use is permitted on Bowen Island."

The suggestion is to modify the prohibition on the “cultivation, production, packaging, storage, distribution, dispensing, trading or selling of cannabis” BIM imposed in 2018 (upon the legalization of cannabis in Canada). The move comes as Happy Isle Cannabis Company applied for a rezoning for its Dorman Rd. shop (which currently has a temporary use permit) but upon referral to municipal committees, the suggestion was for a broader rezoning.

The staff report said that over Happy Isle’s tenure, RCMP and bylaw services “have expressed no concerns and found no evidence of complaints or any calls of concern from the neighbourhood.”

New cannabis shops on Bowen would still need council’s stamp of approval to get provincial approval to open indicated the staff report.


A community heritage register for Bowen IslandThe initial register includes 10 local landmarks including the Old General Store, Lieben, Davies Heritage Orchard and Cottages. “Once listed on a Register, properties are listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Place (CRHP), which is a national online database of historic places,” reads the draft document. “After listing, properties are then eligible for alternate compliance provisions and other incentives provided for heritage places.”


Coming up

BC Ferries has its draft Snug Cove Terminal Development Plan concept open for comment until Jan. 29. The plan includes short-term and long-term considerations including new washroom and waiting room, lane enhancements, berth alignment – watch for more on this!


The same evening as the budget open house: The Rotary Club regularly has speakers at its meetings (they’ve gone virtual since COVID-19 began). Topics have ranged from the Neighbourhood Emergency Response Program (NERP), to ending polio, to the aquatic life of Howe Sound, but rarely are speakers as famous as next week’s guest. Wade Davis, anthropologist, author and Bowen Islander speaks Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m.


In the community

Can you tell a licorice fern from a western sword fern? Me neither. But Bowen Nature Club’s Jen Ritchie can. She also shares that western sword fern tubers can be a good source of water in a pinch (all the better reason to be able to identify it).

Western sword fernsIs this a western sword fern or a licorice fern? Jen Ritchie has some tips for figuring that out. By Jen Ritchie


In a letter to the editor, Nerys Poole explains why the Official Community Plan is a critical part of Cape Roger Curtis’s future (and why its implications should be included in Undercurrent coverage of the issue). “The OCP is our guiding document for land-use planning on the island.  It is comprehensive; it considers the needs of the community and the future of our island from a high-level, island-wide perspective, considering community needs along with concerns about sustainability, the environment, and our responsibility in terms of climate change,” writes Poole.


A longer read

“When you live on an island like ours, there are rhythms that are like breathing. They come and go on cycles as short as an hour or as long as geological epochs," writes Chris Corrigan in 'Paying attention to the rhythms of breath.'

"As the ferry approaches, the intensity of traffic on my road increases, and the closer we get to sailing time, the higher the speed of cars racing to make sure they don’t miss the boat, or to deliver a sleepy bus-missing teenager to the dock. There is a period of stillness and then the flow reverses and the labourers from the city who have made an early start travel in their work vans and pick-up trucks through the arteries and capillaries of our island road system. As the ferry leaves, things become still and quiet again."

Read the contemplative piece on his blog. 


Pictures from our readers


Silhouettes of people standing at the Cape at sundownBowen Islanders at the Cape gazing at the “great alignment” of Saturn and Jupiter last month. If you look closely you can make out the two planets in the middle of the photo. By Rick Stringfellow


Orca breaching and two fins of other orcasA pod of orcas swim past Fairweather Christmas Day. By Haig Farris


Sam and Ethan playing violin.jpg Sam Florin and Ethan Harrison playing violin outside the Ruddy Potato to raise money for their community service work for their school (Island Pacific School) before Christmas. Their community service this year is to raise funds to purchase books for IPS that are more culturally diverse. Books specifically on racism and exploring different cultures. The objective is to build a more culturally diverse library.Their original objective was to raise $400… and they raised more than three quarters of that goal in their three days in Village Square! And so they are hoping to raise even more by their deadline in March.It’s not too late to “toss some donation into the violin case.” Sam and Ethan are accepting donations at They’ll return to Village Square on sunny weekends, now with a classical repertoire. Courtesy of Matthew Harrison


Moonrise over the north shore mountainsThis moonrise over the North Shore mountains enchanted Bowen Islanders Dec. 28. By Meribeth Fleetham



Cartoon - tugboat tugging away a flaming 2020Ron Woodall

A slow jog into 2021

If anyone else had a hard time Monday morning returning to ‘work mode,’ you’re not alone. I hid my work computer in my closet over the holidays and resolved to not answer any emails (and mostly succeeded – don’t talk to me about slow dancing and horseshoes) but the week swept by like days in isolation tend to do. (Ok, and regular holidays).

But I have been invigorated this week with the submissions – Chris Corrigan’s contemplative piece on breathing, Jen Ritchie’s fern break-down (I didn’t know there were two kinds of ferns on Bowen), Nerys Poole’s letter on why the OCP needs to factor into Cape discussions and coverage, former editor Meribeth Deen’s plunge into cold water. As Chris points out in his piece, we don’t have the social events that demarcate Bowen’s seasons nor the opportunities to socialize and we risk being set adrift from one another. 

As I sit at my computer screen, now retrieved from its isolation (no COVID for it), I’ll be thinking of ways to connect with community without these events, without our informal meetings in the grocery store or gym.

I welcome ideas, stories, thoughts, jokes, pictures or random pieces of “Bowenia” as we plod into 2021.

At the beginning of the pandemic, someone emailed me to remind me this is “a marathon not a sprint.” We’ve got at least months to go in this pandemic, so here’s to a slow jog into 2021.

-Bronwyn Beairsto, Bowen Island Undercurrent editor