Metro Vancouver bought Dorman Point but don't try to visit it yet

Metro Vancouver Regional Parks acquired the three-acre property for $2.7 million but until there's a management plan and a trail, they don't want people heading down there

As the story goes, in the early 1900s Jacob Dorman sold Dorman Point for a cow and a fish net. 

“I’ve never been able to figure out if he physically traded it for a cow and a fish net or he bought a cow and a fish net with the proceeds,” says Dorman’s great-grandson and local conservationist Adam Taylor. 

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Whatever the price, it was nothing compared to the $2.7 million Metro Vancouver Regional Parks recently paid to add the three-acre property to Crippen Regional Park. 

That being said for Taylor, the parks service and many Bowen Islanders the piece of land is worth the money. 

The response to the news, which hit Facebook last week, was “uniformly positive,” said Bowen Island Municipality councillor Maureen Nicholson, who sits on the Metro Vancouver Regional Parks Committee. “Which is terrific to see,” she said. 

Dorman Point has long been of interest to Regional Parks said Mike Redpath, Director of Regional Parks for Metro Vancouver.

“It’s a very prominent waterfront landmark at the entrance of Snug Cove. It offers great views East to the lions, to Cypress and Horseshoe Bay and even to Point Grey,” said Redpath. “It’s unique habitat for us in our park system––it has a rock bluff waterfront, outcrops with mosses and ferns and wild flowers and of course there’s a small beach there, which is rare for the region.”

“The acquisition was very consistent with our mandate to protect and connect people to the region’s significant ecosystems and protected areas,” said Redpath. 

Also of interest is that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans set up new marine refuges in Howe Sound in 2019, including around Dorman Point, to protect glass sponge reefs.

It’s reef, among other features of Dorman Point that has Taylor excited––the Dorman Point glass sponge reef is within municipal boundaries, 235 metres off the point. 

 Taylor sees the potential for educational and conservation activities, depending on Metro’s interest.  

“A webcam would be an amazing piece of educational outreach, both something nearer to shore like just a typical rocky reef habitat [or] if there was a way to run a cable out onto the sponge reef itself,” said Taylor. “It would be pretty special.”

“It’s a great opportunity and it’s a fabulous property,” said Taylor. 

Regional Parks bought the property as part of its land acquisition strategy.

Nicholson said that boosting the land acquisition budget has been a focus of the Regional Parks Committee of late.

“Over the past two years or so, we worked towards and committee was successful in convincing the [Metro Vancouver] board that it would be a good thing,” said Nicholson. 

“The usage of the regional parks is growing exponentially,” said Nicholson. “I think as more and more people in the region live in smaller homes with limited outdoor space, so the importance of the parks gets greater.” 

The annual land acquisition fund is $11 million and it’s Regional Parks’ practice to pay market rate for properties Redpath told the Undercurrent.

Part of the acquisition process was looking for potential park land that was extraordinary or filled a gap in the park inventory, said Nicholson. “Dorman point was both extraordinary and filled a gap.”

Nicholson also noted that there was concern that if the Crippen-adjacent property was sold privately, public access to the area would be lost. 

But if islanders were planning a hike to the new public space, they’ll be met with disappointment. Dorman Point isn’t ready for public access said Redpath and the property is currently fenced off. 

“We’re working on a management plan to create safe public access to the site,” said Redpath. “We decided to secure it right now, the former owner had some structures on the site that need to be cleaned up.” 

While there’s no deadline as to when the point will be publicly accessible, Redpath said Regional Parks is committed to having public access and hope to be working on construction of the trail later in the summer. 

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