In February 1996, Des Kennedy, the Denman Island author, was invited to Bowen Island to talk about his consuming interest in gardening and to introduce his latest book.
Several Bowen Islanders who were aware of his background and involvement in the Denman Conservancy Association asked him to stay overnight in order to speak to a group of interested Islanders about the conservancy movement, and how it might apply to Bowen Island. So, on a Sunday morning in late February 1996, 22 Bowen Islanders had the opportunity to hear him speak. He touched on the legislative framework under which conservancies work in BC, the successes and difficulties of the Denman Island Conservancy, and the connections that can be made to provincial, national, and international bodies. He underlined the necessity for a conservancy organization to work out its particular goals and to develop a program suited to its island or area.
Following this session, the group formed a steering committee to explore and act on setting up a Bowen Island conservancy organization.
Through the Spring of 1996, people contacted a number of Gulf Island conservancies, including the newly-formed Gambier Island Conservancy. Samples of their constitutions were obtained. In addition, the role and activities of the Island Trust Fund was explored at a meeting with the chair of the Fund Board.
Then began the process of developing a draft constitution for a Bowen Island Conservancy. This required consideration of the work of existing organizations with some element of conservation in their roles: especially the Forest and Water Management Society, the Bowen Island Eco-alliance, and the Bowen Nature Club. After contact with representatives of those groups, it was clear that there were important roles for a Bowen Island Conservancy. These included the ability to work formally with the provincial and federal conservancy bodies, to educate Bowen Islanders about the advantages of protection, and to prioritize areas for protection on the Island. Of particular note was the existing Crown land on Bowen and the Island-wide opinion that some of that land might be better protected. In addition, people felt that a Bowen Island Conservancy could play a role in supporting research into conservation activities on the Island, and allow interested individuals to tap into the continuing flow of ecological and forestry research grants.
With a draft constitution in hand, and some sense of what roles the Conservancy might play, the steering committee began the process of identifying interested individuals to serve on the initial Board. At the same time, the Bylaws and a Constitution were registered with the BC Government, and the Bowen Island Conservancy was introduced to the public.