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Undercurrent Mailbox: March 16 Edition

Community Choir, Snug Cove House, and Cape Roger Curtis featured in this issue's batch of letters

Save the Date! - with BICC

Quite a few Bowen events have found their feet again after a pandemic pause. For the first time in three years, Bowen island Community Choir will present a Coffee House filled with local talent.

From singers, to actors to poets, come and be entertained by your Bowen neighbours and help raise money for our wonderful choir of 40 voices.

Save the date; Saturday, March 25. The show is at 7:30 pm at Cates Hill Chapel. Tickets are $20 and available at the door.

There will be tea, coffee and homemade treats. We hope to see many of you there.

We promise that you will smile, tap your toes, and maybe even shed a tear. Please join us for this wonderful and lively variety show.

- Lorraine Ashdown, on Behalf of the BICC

Progress made on the Snug Cove House front

To the Editor,

Ninety-one Bowen households have so far pledged $182,840 towards the construction of Snug Cove House. In just three weeks. Three more weeks and 1,633 households to go.

Please chip in. Every dollar that comes from every household tells a story -- that Bowen Island is not a community that throws away its seniors just when they most need help. Snug Cove House will be a haven for seniors that until now have had to leave the community they love to find supportive accommodation somewhere else. It’s important enough that island volunteers have been working for 27 years to make it happen.

Now it’s really close. It’s a good building, with good facilities, that will allow the most senior of our seniors to live actively in the community they’ve helped build.

Please fill in the form on the back of the Undercurrent and bring Snug Cove House to life.

With many thanks,

- The board of directors of Snug Cove House Society: Martine Sampath, Pernille Nielsen, Cindy Macleod, Graham Ritchie, Susan Munro, Rev. Lorraine Ashdown, Holly Mackintosh, Andy Powell-Williams

Forever is a Long Time

Mayor & Council,

I recently submitted my response to Metro Vancouver’s (“MV’s”) follow up questionnaire with the strong message of the need for them to listen closely to the concerns of all property owners/taxpayers, especially as to traffic & transportation (“T&T”) issues. I consider this email as an “interim report card” on the overall regional park planning process.

MV’s suggestion to date, of adding more shuttle buses, is a non-starter as to fully and properly addressing T&T concerns. It greatly concerns me their continued focus may only be on a transportation solution which includes more shuttle buses, and continuing to use our already overcrowded ferry, while I have heard it suggested by some MV representatives, “the access to the park will be via Whitesails Drive!”  

That does not seem very open-minded to me, especially in light of the fact MV’s professional T&T study has not been completed, has it?  This is a regional park, for which substantial regional (as in off-island) demands will be placed on our already over crowded, single means of transportation to & from the mainland, THE FERRY.

It is a broadly accepted fact, an alternative means of transportation to/from the island was recognized as being needed long BEFORE the change of zoning to the subject 24 Cape lots was a consideration/requested, likely even in the Vendor’s mind and certainly BIM’s, while I doubt Metro Vancouver was even on the radar screen!

The demands of a REGIONAL PARK, WITH 100% REGIONAL OFF-ISLAND VISITORS/USERS, further confirms the need for a creative, effective and likely very expensive alternate means of transportation to and from our quaint, quiet little island community, which will unquestionably subject us islanders to a substantial increase in on-island traffic. 

Contrary to what many would hope, or have us believe, the increased off-island “traffic” will  not be all pedestrian-only, cyclists or kayakers!  

I also reiterated my concern, and that of many others, for the loss of an immediate $104,000 in property tax revenues, which is NOT a “one-and-done” loss, it is a loss in PERPETUTIY, which due to inflation will grow, and grow. How is that to be replaced is a good question?

FURTHER, it is important that EVERYONE, especially Metro Vancouver, realizes the loss of tax revenue is a SUBSTANTIAL financial contribution by BIM, for a regional initiative that our municipality did not initiate. Like it or not, it is an unavoidable contribution, that should be acknowledged by MV and earmarked for off-site improvements, with the most important being TRAFFIC & TRANSPORTATION.

At the expense of being harsh, but factual, as BIM did not request the change of use/status from residential to a regional park, there should be no need for BIM to make any financial contribution to this initiative, but we will be forced to by way of the loss of tax revenue, revenue our small community can ill-afford to lose. A very expensive and “short-of-funds” Community Centre comes to mind, both as to the construction and operating budgets! The list of other capital needs for the community is very long and need not be noted.

While I acknowledge there is a large contingent of former Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society members who will be delighted with the change of use, proper care must be taken so as not to severely compromise the community’s well-being and quality of life, by council not being very firm with MV in addressing their demands and expectations for their rezoning.

If the municipality cannot get what we want and need, MV should not get what they want and need, it is that simple!!

My two (2) takeaways from the recent regional park COTW meeting and the March 4 MV open house were: (1) slow down the process, us taxpayers need much more information and satisfaction on our demands and expectations, and (2) “balance”, as between what is good both for the environment and property owners must prevail.

As a community we have only one (1) chance to get it right. That chance is NOW. The loss of tax revenue in perpetuity is bad enough, having to live with a band aid solution to T&T, when major surgery is required, will be intolerable because FOREVER, is a long time!

- Bruce Russell

Everything, Everywhere All At The Same Time

Perhaps Bowen Islanders might consider outlining their own choice of identity as opposed to only fighting proposals forced on us by outside cultures like Metro Vancouver. Why does everyplace, everywhere in BC need to accommodate every kind of activity, every kind of person and every kind of accommodation all at once?

For those of us who consider Metro Vancouver’s park expansion plan with 100 camp sites unworkable without massive infrastructure changes, and, on the other hand, essentially destructive to our country island with massive infrastructure, perhaps we need to consider some options that serve Bowen Island’s needs, and, at the same time, also provide greater access to the island for the greater, outside community.  

We could pursue a different course and actively create our own plan, our own identity, one that does not overwhelm ferries, leave school children stranded after school because of excess foot passengers, make commuting basically impossible, and fatigue our roadways and village with excess traffic. 

Could we not create a new identity as a ‘Day Visitors Sanctuary Island’ in which we could focus on expanding passenger service (designate one ferry for instance, 10:15 am for passenger only) in addition to more bus options on island to transport bikers, hikers, walkers, and bird watchers to the areas of the island they wish to explore? 

Tourists are what make our businesses possible. We can’t stop all change, but we could direct that change in a way that serves the interests of more people with a unique island that is accessible (20 minute ferry) where Country, Unspoiled Nature, and Unplugged Roadways still exist.

We would be a day experience where many, many, serious nature lovers could explore their passions in a real wilderness and at the same time support our local, country restaurants and businesses along the way. We would be an Island Sanctuary, accessible to everyone but not overrun.

You can’t be everything to everyone all the same time without spoiling it for everyone most of the time. You can’t be everything, everywhere all at the same time. Women have tried it and it doesn’t work.   

Are we Master of our destiny or not?   

- Penny Williams