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Muni Morsels: Cannabis, houses and speed

This week's highlights at community council
The dynamic access symbol
BIM workers Jack Campbell, Ted Duffield and Maya Arreaga stand before the newly painted dynamic access symbol.

Bowen Island council met on May 28. The following are brief reports of some of the items they discussed.


No, you can’t start selling weed from the back of your VW: When toking up becomes as legal as swigging a beer later this summer, BIM wants to make sure that laws are in place to regulate cannabis production and sale on-island.

Council heard the second reading for a cannabis bylaw Monday.

In a proposal that’s already been okayed by the advisory planning committee and Islands Trust, council wants a blanket ban on the “cultivation, production, distribution, trading or selling” of marijuana on the island.

Retailers can still sell marijuana but they would first have to ask BIM to rezone their business to allow for distribution.

Exceptions (because they’re under federal jurisdiction) include farm use in the agricultural land reserve and Health Canada permitted home grown cannabis.

The bylaw is now heading to a public hearing, the date of which has not yet been announced.


Affordable housing – BIM, this is the beginning of a beautiful partnership: BIM is entering a partnership with Bowen Island Resilient Community Housing (BIRCH) to build accessible housing on community lands.

BIRCH executive director Robyn Fenton says that securing this partnership allows her the power to get funding from organizations such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Association (CMHC). 

The two-year-old non-profit organization will be pursuing a feasibility study to see what sort of accommodations the site they’ve tentatively chosen off Miller Road can hold.  Right now the target is 20 units. But that’s just a start.

“It’s simply assumed there’s a need [for housing],” said Fenton at the meeting.

B.C. Housing no longer requires districts to demonstrate the need for affordable housing, because they know it’s there, said Fenton.

While she’s ready for this project, Fenton doesn’t see time to rest anytime soon.

“In my mind it’s just a matter of what’s first,” she later said. “There’ll be more [projects].”

BIRCH gained a new board last week. Members include Marla Zucht, general manager of the Whistler Housing Authority, labour relations lawyer Anita Bleick, founder of the Whistler Housing Authority Tim Wake, real estate and residential developer Jack Resels, and entrepreneur and now mortgage broker Aaron Davison. The organization’s chair is now local business owner David McCullum, who also chairs the Bowen Children’s Centre.


Slow down, you move too fast: Bowen Island has one electronic traffic speed monitoring sign that manager of public works Bob Robinson strategically moves around the island. Most recently it was at Hood Point where the neighbourhood had requested a speed bump.

Because of the high cost of speed bumps — $4,000 —, and the relatively low cost of signs, the council opted to put up playground signs, making the speed limit 30 km/hr, and Robinson posted the speed sign. Councillors noted that it’s fairly common for neighbourhoods to request speed bumps without realising the monetary burden of building one.

Councillors commented that they’d received complaints that it was contractors who were speeding. However, the speed sign noted the highest number of speeders was in the morning between 7:30 and 9 when people were heading toward the cove and presumably the ferry.


Ready your pens for the ballot box (in October): When council was prioritizing summer projects, councillor Michael Kaile said it should also look at wrapping up projects.

“We should be doing some end-of-term housekeeping,” said Kaile.

Province-wide municipal elections will be held October 20, 2018. Hope Dallas is Bowen’s Chief Election Officer and Sophie Idsinga is Deputy Chief Election Officer.


Other BIM tidbits:

Training money for local businesses: It came to the attention of Bowen’s Economic Development Committee recently that local business owners can apply for money through Canada-BC Job Grants.

Support for employees’ technical training and apprenticeship is available, with the fund covering 80 per cent of costs, and the employer paying the rest.

Unemployed, underemployed and low-skilled workers can receive 100 per cent reimbursement for foundational training, up to $10,000.

Workforce training  funds are also available, with up to $5,000 available per participant.

Michelle Nelson, who sits on the committee, notes that with labour shortages on island, employer-subsided training could attract more off-island commuters. 


Dynamic access symbol: You might have noticed a new symbol in the accessible parking space in front of the Undercurrent offices.

Featuring a person wheeling their wheelchair rather than sitting passively, it’s Bowen’s first dynamic access symbol.

Paulo Arreaga asked BIM back in December to have the symbol introduced to Bowen Island. Part of his inspiration was his own five-year-old daughter, Maya, who walks with the help of a walker, and loves her trike. But when he first saw the symbol at a strip mall in Chilliwack a few years ago, it was unclear that Maya would ever walk.

“When I saw this [symbol], I happened to be thinking about all the things that she would be able to do,” Arreaga told the Undercurrent in January. “The sign motivated me.”

“Taking this on,” he said, “shows the world that we are forward thinking.”


If you’re not going to the Round Bowen Race: There will be a full-day workshop where participants discuss the use of community lands on June 9. Councillor Maureen Nicholson says that organisers would like a diverse collection of people; right now, registration is skewed toward residents who’ve been on the island for some time. Younger women who are new to the island are lacking. Nicholson says that BIM is providing child care for the day, if that helps attract the parent demographic.