The September 7 issue of Bowen’s Undercurrent published a letter to the Islands Trust Executive committee signed by Nicholas Belluk, John Dowler, Jennifer Hall, David Hocking, Charles McNeill, Michelle Pentz and Shari Ulrich. This is a respected group, self described as being “committed to the preservation and protection of the fragile ecosystems on the Islands in the Salish Sea” as is the Islands Trust. This is a fact, not unlike the opinion of most of the resident population, and the reason many have chosen to live on Bowen Island.
This letter stated that some Islanders have “promoted fears as facts”. This may be partially true, as unfortunately we have not received any clear and critical answers from Metro Vancouver to many of our major concerns. The focus of this purchase seems to have been solely on preserving and protecting the proposed Park and its 97 hectares. What seems to be ignored, downplayed, or overlooked is the impact that this decision is having on the remaining 5,163 hectares of Bowen Island as our home, place we work, and place we play.
Park Access: Whitesails has been disrupted, changed and destroyed by the development of the Cape and access through the once quiet and peaceful neighbourhood. We have long been opposed to this access, but our voice has been ignored. With the announcement of the proposed Park there has been a steady increase in vehicular, bicycle, motorcycle and scooter traffic. A large percentage of this traffic has been disrespectful of the attempt to manage speed. This road was not built as a thoroughfare.
Fire Hazard: This is a well documented concern raised continuously by many opponents to the Park/Camp proposal. The recent fire at the Cape exacerbated this concern. Our full volunteer fire department was called to attend a small, but out of control beach fire. The need for the pumper trucks to hook up to the neighbourhood water supply caused a breach in the aging infrastructure of the primary artery of the Tunstall Bay Water System. Water broke through the roadway and ran like a river down Whitesails. This severely compromised the water supply as well as the fire fighting capabilities.
Ferries and Snug Cove: Who hasn’t had very discouraging ferry travel experiences this past summer? The ferry system has been inadequate for some time with long waits, cancelled sailings and with huge run overloads. Our ferry terminus in Snug Cove is another huge hurdle. Snug Cove is a small, congested village with the ferry line running right down the middle of our commercial center. How is the added attraction of the Park/Camping going to alleviate any of this? This question has not been adequately addressed.
I fervently hope and expect that this municipal council, in conjunction with Islands Trust and Metro Vancouver, will handle this situation with care, consideration and considerable planning to ease the burden that has been and will be imposed on our Island and lifestyle that this Park decision has created. I can’t imagine there are many people that are not in favour of preserving and protecting the Cape from further development, but the implications of doing so have great potential of ruining many other aspects of the life on Bowen that we treasure.
Please listen to the many concerned voices of Bowen with substantial concerns going way beyond the few I have mentioned.
- Dee Elliott