As our community informs themselves about the proposed dock application at Ecclestone Beach, they’re making their views known to Mayor and council – loud and clear. No private dock on our beach in exchange for a pathway across the bottom of 1160 Ecclestone. The proposal put forward by the property owners would be to the detriment of the community, not its benefit.
Up to Monday evening, May 10, 63 letters and 16 public comments voiced in opposition to this proposal for a private dock, to our Bowen council – requesting council deny this DVP and uphold the existing requirements. By contrast, not counting letters from the applicants themselves, there have been five letters in support of the dock. Some submissions are from the same individuals. One of the parties in favour of granting the DVP has themselves erected deterrents on a right of way to another public beach adjacent to their property, preventing the community from accessing that beach.
The applicants have now submitted a lengthy letter from a lawyer they’ve hired, claiming that the so-called “solution” offered by them would benefit everyone. This letter is tone deaf to the truth of what our community is actually saying about their proposal, which is, that it doesn’t align with the values of the community and it’s not supported. Further, the letter contains no compelling argument that their client is in any way entitled to a private dock DVP on our neighbourhood beach. Our zoning bylaws say, if you meet the requirements, you can build a dock, and their proposal clearly does not. If a property with a dock is a priority for the applicants, there are other properties on Bowen where a dock would be permitted.
In the meantime, our community has come out strongly in support of an alternative option to secure public access to Ecclestone Beach via the creation of public staircase leading from Ecclestone right-of-way down to the foreshore. Currently we’re in discussion with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development to acquire the necessary permits. It’s important to note that the siting of the proposed private dock on the foreshore potentially impedes the public access route to the beach via the public staircase.
So the professionals retained by Friends of Ecclestone Public Beach can complete the staircase design and cost estimates, Mayor and council have, with the support of the planning department, granted us an extension on the dock DVP decision until June 14. So it’s not too late for members of our community to let their views known to Mayor and council. In fact, it’s absolutely essential that we continue to let council know how deeply we care about the protection and preservation of our public beaches on Bowen Island.
Gillian Darling on behalf of the Friends of Ecclestone Public Beach