What. A. Week.
We started these week-end news-roundups near the beginning of the pandemic to catch islanders up with what may have been missed in the daily barrage of information. We then paused the round-ups as COVID pressures relaxed over the summer months. With recent events, we’re back. So here's what you need to know about Bowen Island this week:
There are new public health orders and yes, they apply to Bowen:
Tourism Bowen Island is asking visitors to postpone their recreational or leisure visits to the island as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has strongly recommended limiting travel into and out of Vancouver Coastal Health and Frazer Health regions to essential travel only.
Effective today, the BC Government announced new restrictions in the Metro Vancouver health regions in an effort to stop...Posted by Tourism Bowen Island on Saturday, 7 November 2020
Henry’s firm request Saturday came as, in the face of rapidly climbing COVID cases, she implemented new public health orders for the two regions. The orders are in place for two weeks: Nov. 7 at 10 p.m. to Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. and include Bowen Island (there was some confusion over this Saturday when Howe Sound had been listed in the ‘exempt’ category. Howe Sound is now listed as under the order).
The new orders include no social gatherings of any size with anyone outside of your household (indoor or outdoor), suspending group indoor physical activities with the requirement of revising COVID safety plans before reopening and enhanced workplace COVID screening and caution. See the orders here.
Daily COVID case counts are higher than ever before in B.C. Henry announced 589 new cases across the province Friday and 567 new cases Saturday. More than 100 people are in hospital and 31 are in intensive care.
Bowen businesses and community are responding: Kelly Konno Studios has gone exclusively online for at least two weeks and the Outdoor Meditation Circle cancelled its Sunday event.
West Vancouver-Sea to Sky flips
In an election twist north of the border, it seems that the mail-in ballots of the West Vancouver-Sea to Sky riding will carry incumbent MLA Jordan Sturdy back to Victoria. At the end of election night last month, Sturdy had been trailing BC Green candidate Jeremy Valeriote by just over 600 votes. At the end of the first day of counting the nearly 7,000 mail-in ballots Friday, Valeriote was ahead by more than 700. Saturday, Sturdy surged forward, taking the riding by just 41 votes. Because the results are so close, the riding is headed for a judicial recount. The B.C. Supreme Court conducts and determines the date of the recount.
Wednesday is Remembrance Day
The Legion has asked Bowen Islanders not to gather at the cenotaph. Instead, the Legion will pre-record a ceremony that will be aired in the late morning.
As is tradition, the Undercurrent asked islanders for their thoughts and memories of those who’ve served. We also profiled Roger Arndt. This August, Bowen Island lost the longtime islander and Vietnam veteran to cancer. Arndt was a staple at the (usually) massive Bowen Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Snow in the forecast
While the Environment Canada forecast calls for sunny end to the weekend with a high of 8, Monday's another story. The precipitation returns with snow or rain Monday and a high of 3 and a low of -2. A special weather statement is in effect for Howe Sound: modified Arctic air is to arrive over the South Coast Sunday and combine with the frontal system arriving late Monday afternoon, meaning there's potential for accumulating snow in neighbourhoods and roadways above 200 metres. The front is to pass out of the region Tuesday morning.
Story keep an eye on:
Bowen Island Municipality is to receive $1.27 million from the province (originating from federal coffers but provincially dispersed) for COVID-19 restart and recovery. All municipalities in B.C. are receiving the funding based on a sliding per-capita formula. (Basically, the smaller the town, the more money per capita you get, while still getting less money than the big cities). “This is because small municipalities often lack a diverse tax base and the economies of scale to easily restart their operations,” said a letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs deputy minister Kaye Krishna to BIM.
“It’s a really significant contribution,” said BIM’s chief administrative officer Liam Edwards. The grant is more than double what he thought it was going to be but it’s very welcome, said Edwards.
Council will discuss the money at Monday’s council meeting but Edwards said he’d be advising them to move slowly. “There’s no time constraint on the use of it,” he said, noting as well that this is a one-time grant and the future with COVID-19 is uncertain.
Yet, from a financial perspective, BIM has been sheltered from the effects of COVID-19 and hasn’t seen the tumbling revenue of larger municipalities that rely on non-taxation revenue.
So what will BIM spend the money on? The parameters are loosely laid out in the letter from the province and BIM is seeking more clarity, said Edwards, but with the 2021 budget process just getting underway, we may not know for a while where Bowen’s bonanza will land.
What else is coming up at council Monday:
BIM is set to issue two three-year temporary use permits, one to allow for the school use of a residential home at Cape Roger Curtis for Island Discovery Learning Community (IDLC), and the other to allow insurance office as a primary use of a building on Senior Rd.
While the public portion of the council meeting is scheduled to be uncharacteristically short, a few information items in the agenda package are interesting: BIM received a $10,000 grant for Eagle Cliff drinking water options; the Islands Trust December meeting schedule was set (the half-day meetings are virtual and the public can watch, apply to present to council and participate in the evening town hall); and the October fire department statistics are out (136 total incident hours and 200 total training hours).
Other BIM news:
In its Oct. 26 meeting, council awarded Urban Systems a $95,989 design and construction services contract for concept design of the Municipal Water System Improvements Project. The project is to look at the Eagle Cliff Water System and its potential link in with the Cove Bay Water System, as well as at improvements to the four west side water systems (Tunstall Bay, Bowen Bay, King Edward Bay and Blue Water Park).
Trunk Rd.’s westbound lane just above Senior Rd, could be closed for up to three days starting Nov. 9 (weather permitting) due to BC Hydro work. “Traffic control personnel will be on site to assist pedestrians around the work area, as well as to direct traffic around the affected area,” said the BIM news alert. The working hours will be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
With short-term rentals now legal across the island, BIM is holding an open house for those interested in applying for a licence to operate: Thursday, Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. BIM is also reminding island businesses to apply for their 2021 business licences.
Other island tidbits:
The pandemic has taken its toll on islanders' mental health, local counsellors say. The Caring Circle has a fund available for islanders who wish to seek help.
December is creeping up quickly. Light Up Bowen organizers are still hoping to pull off some sort of event, including a mini-Santa parade. For this, they need money and volunteers, and soon.
The farmers’ market ended last month but if you’re missing your weekly local shop, the winter market is running in the same time slot (Saturdays 10 a.m. to noon) though inside at Collins’ Hall.
Sign blessing: The documentary from this summer’s Nex̱wlélex̱wm Sign Blessing Ceremony is now available from B.I. Public Library and the Hearth. The organisations produced a 12-minute recap of and reflection on the historic event as it was not open to the public due to COVID-19:
From the deep: Howe Sound stars in the documentary Moonlees Oasis, now available on CBC Gem. The 44-minute film follows the “rag tag team of passionate people” dedicated to protecting Howe Sound’s very rare “living dinosaurs,” glass sponge reefs.
That's it for this week! Was this helpful? What did we miss? Let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Bronwyn Beairsto, editor