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Opinions differ on path forward for Cape Roger Curtis park

Metro Vancouver, Islands Trust, & Bowen Island Municipality all involved in decision-making process
The ferry to Nanaimo can be seen in the distance from the southern shores of Cape Roger Curtis in February 2023.

Differences remain between Metro Vancouver and the municipality regarding next steps in the Cape Roger Curtis park proposal.

Metro’s plan for a 97-hectare park on the southwest side of the island requires changes to the municipality’s (BIM) Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land Use Bylaw, since the proposal includes 100 overnight campsites. The project passed a first reading of council last spring, but later that summer Islands Trust – who under the Letters Patent must approve changes to Bowen’s OCP – determined the plan violated 10 of their policy statements.

In the fall BIM followed up with a letter outlining their own additional conditions for a successful rezoning application, including funding of future portions of the Multi-Use Path and a reduction in vehicle-based campsites. The municipality also passed a resolution in October stating Metro must amend their application.

During a Regional Parks Committee meeting earlier this month, director Mike Redpath detailed Metro’s responses to these developments. A December letter from Metro to BIM said the current park proposal is in line with Islands Trust and municipal policies, and asked for more detailed reasoning on the Islands Trust policy violations and Bowen’s list of additional conditions, along with further general and technical feedback. As for BIM’s request for an amended proposal, the Metro letter said it was “insufficiently clear for Metro Vancouver to respond effectively.”

A response letter was given by the municipality last month. During the March update Redpath said BIM’s letter “failed to provide the requested clarity on the Islands Trust determination of non-compliance, formal feedback on the park concept and technical studies which were requested by Bowen Island Municipality, and a reply to Metro Vancouver’s response to the Municipality’s conditional requirements for rezoning approval which include the funding of infrastructure and execution of land transfers outside of the proposed park.”

During Bowen’s council last week Mayor Andrew Leonard addressed Metro’s position that the municipal response was insufficient. Describing BIM’s response as “comprehensive, complete, and educational” the mayor explained that “Metro Vancouver further stated that we didn’t provide them with any formal feedback on the park concept or technical studies, nor have we replied to their response regarding our conditional requirements… This (Metro Vancouver’s update) was provided to the (Regional Parks) committee without the letter (BIM February) itself that was sent from the municipality.”

“I had a follow up conversation with Metro Vancouver staff rather assertively correcting the record on some of these points, as I felt that it was a disservice to our staff, as well as our council and the effort that’s been put in on this… to put together a comprehensive response that did include an overview of the Islands Trust procedure, as well as made comments where it could regarding things like transportation, adaptive management, water supply, and provided questions and next steps,” continued Leonard.

“In my view it was a disservice to our municipality for a report like this to go out into the public realm… that did not address the breadth of what we’ve discussed already both at council and committees, and was distilled and put forward by staff. So that has been communicated to Metro Vancouver and we will see where it goes from there,” he concluded.