I am writing this letter for the Undercurrent to ask the Bowen community to join me in urging Council to restate, through another Council resolution, its commitment to securing non-motorized status for all of Mount Gardner.
On April 27, 2020 Council unanimously supported a resolution requesting staff to write to Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC) requesting non-motorized status for Mount Gardner. The response from RSTBC was that a public consultation process would be conducted, but the date was continually pushed into the future. Many of us felt that no consultation process was needed given the unanimous vote of Council and the overwhelming support from the Bowen community for non-motorized status.
In September 2021, without any public consultation, RSTBC sent a letter to Bowen Island Municipality with the following statement: “RSTBC with assistance from the recreational user groups will create a non-motorized recreation experience within the Mount Gardner Recreation Site, leading from a highway vehicle accessible trailhead to the summit of Mount Gardner. The summit ridge of Mount Gardner is to provide a non-motorized recreation experience”.
Now, over two years since the Council resolution, the province has begun the public consultation process with the first stakeholder meeting on June 1 in Collins Hall. The structure of the meeting did not invite open discussion of the pros and cons of non-motorized status, as one might expect. Rather the meeting was focused on exploring how motorized and non-motorized could co-exist on Mount Gardner. As an example, one topic of discussion was: where would be the best parking area for motorized vehicles wanting access to the trails?
I can agree with the RSTBC decision that there should be “a non-motorized recreation experience within the Mount Gardner Recreation Site” but firmly believe that such a recreation experience can only be achieved by securing non-motorized status for all of Mount Gardner. The impact of motorized vehicles - the noise, the trail damage, the disruption to wildlife and the natural environment is undeniable.
Mount Gardner plays a central role - both geographically and in the functioning of the natural ecosystems - on Bowen Island, an island in the Islands Trust, protected for the benefit of all residents of British Columbia. Mount Gardner is treasured by many, from on and off-island, for the peace and tranquility that can be found in its forests. Mount Gardner must be given non-motorized status.
I urge Council to restate this island’s commitment to securing non-motorized status for all of Mount Gardner. Surely the provincial government will support our Council and the overwhelming desire of the Bowen community.
- Rosemary Knight