On this page you'll find information on project activities that are currently underway, or issues that the Conservancy is working on.
- Delegation to Council: Protecting public use of our beaches
- Heron nesting on Bowen Island
- Dissolution of the Greenways Committee
- Extending Thompson Road
- NAPTEP: your support is needed
03 Dec 2012: Delegation to Council concerning protection of our beaches
In view of the recent ILMB approvals of the applications submitted by the owners of lots 11, 13, 15, and 6 of the Cape Roger Curtis lands, the Conservancy has submitted a recommendation and set of proposals for changes to the Land Use Bylaw to ensure that public use of Bowen Island's beaches is protected.
29 Jun 2012: Heron nesting season is now over on Bowen Island
Today Canadian Wildlife Service biologist Laurie Wilson came to Bowen for her third species-at-risk monitoring visit of the year. Alan Whitehead and I met her and we visited the various nesting sites together.
Heron nesting season is over on Bowen for 2012. We located nests and some eggshells but no herons. No chicks appear to have fledged from Bowen nests this year.
Thanks to Metro Vancouver Parks for installing the attractive heron protection signs, and to those of you who reported your sightings.
Sue Ellen Fast
Bowen Heron Watch
A joint project of the Bowen Island Conservancy and the Nature Club
Coastal herons are a blue-listed species in BC, considered vulnerable because human activities, especially urban and rural development, are resulting in the loss of suitable nesting areas and disturbance during their breeding season. Predation by bald eagles is also a factor. This is probably why Bowen herons usually choose to nest in Snug Cove, as our herons are more tolerant of people than the eagles are. Heron populations are declining in the Pacific Northwest. We could easily lose our herons, as Salt Spring has.
On Bowen, usually five or six nests are established each year. The most-frequently selected nest site is the Old General Store/Library site in Crippen Regional Park, which has been used every year for past six years.
Any of the following known nest sites could be active during nesting season, or new ones may be noticed:
- Old General Store/Library: 3 active nests in 2011, then abandoned
- Snug Point: last active in 2009
- Davies Creek: last active in 2008
- Deep Bay/Lagoon: 2 active nests in 2011, then abandoned
- Deep Bay/Senator Rd: last active in 2010
- School Trail/Catholic Church: last active in 2006
- Explosives Creek/Tunstall Blvd: last active in 2010
- Sealeigh Park: some signs in 2011 but no nests found
- Galbraith Bay: 1 active nest in 2011, new.
2011 summary: Probably 2–4 chicks fledged from a new nest at Galbraith Bay. Challenges included tractor work and tree removal near the other active nests, and predation by eagles. One young heron died after being struck by a car in September.
2010: Probably 2–4 chicks fledged from the 4 active nests at Old General Store/Library, Deep Bay/Lagoon, and Deep Bay/Senator Rd nest sites.
2009: Probably 1–2 chicks fledged from the 2 active nests at Old General Store/Library and Snug Point nest sites. Challenges included general eagle predation and tree removal on Snug Point.
2008: Probably 1 chick fledged from 8 active nests at Old General Store/Library. Challenges included an early event in the Festival Field and general eagle predation.
2007: Probably 5+ chicks fledged from the 5 active nests at Old General store nest site. Challenges included tree cutting, demolition, earth moving and construction under the main nest tree on Snug Point. Some juveniles were trapped by fences and high retaining walls on route to seashore.
2006: Probably 1-2 chicks fledged from 8 nests at Lagoon/Davis, Terminal Creek/Old School Trail and Old General store nest sites. Challenges included tree cutting, blasting and construction on Snug Point and eagle predation.
2005: Probably 1-3 chicks fledged. Challenges included were filming-related: bright lights at night and a loud night-time explosion on Snug Point.
10 Apr 2012: Our letter to Mayor and Council concerning the dissolution of the Greenways Committee
Mayor Adelaar's resolution
At the Special Council Meeting on 10 April 2012, Mayor Jack Adelaar made the following recommendation regarding the dissolution of the Greenways Commitee: “That staff be directed to prepare a repeal bylaw of Bowen Island Municipality Greenways Advisory Committee Establishment Bylaw No. 216, 2008 for Council's consideration.”
Our position on this issue
The Conservancy Board wrote the following letter concerning this resolution:
Mayor and Council
Bowen Island Municipality
981 Artisan Lane
Bowen Island, BC, V0N 1G2
Dear Mayor and Council:
We write to register our strong support for the continued retention of the Greenways Advisory Committee. The Bowen Island Conservancy opposes Council's proposed resolution to repeal the Greenways Advisory Committee Establishment Bylaw. Our position is based on the following grounds:
- The Greenways concept embedded in the OCP is a vision of cooperative stewardship to conserve Bowen's natural assets, connecting wildlife habitats to each other, and connecting people to nature. The rationale for establishing the Committee in March of 2008 has not changed, it still makes sense today for Bowen, and is consistent with the Conservancy's own mandate.
- The Committee's mandate, which is “to provide advice and input into future park, trail and outdoor recreation planning, land use decisions, eco-tourism and nature conservation opportunities on Bowen Island”, specifically in relation to Greenways, continues to be necessary and valid.
- Indeed, since well before its formal establishment, the Committee has worked within this mandate to improve the island environment, which has manifestly benefitted residents and visitors alike. Notable successes include the Committee's input to the establishment of Headwaters Park including its trails and wetland boardwalks; Evergreen Park and trails, and Cape on Bowen trails and beach accesses; and identification of existing municipal parks and public beach accesses.
- In light of the Committee's positive achievements, the notion of divorcing the Greenways concept from trails and parks, as discussed by some members of Council during the March 20, 2012 Special Meeting, does not make sense.
- The Conservancy notes that the Municipality's strategic plan for 2012 (on today's agenda) identifies under stewardship, “Community Health”. Surely, identifying greenways and trails on our island is a key strategic objective under this section. In addition, the strategic plan identifies “Development Lands” under the Community Lands section; again, the existence of a group of experienced volunteers to assist in trail identification and creation will be essential when the community reviews Council decisions on plans for the community lands.
- The Committee members have, for over four years of dedication and in good faith, provided valuable free services to the Municipality. This contribution, at the very least, deserves a public expression of appreciation by Council. It is also worth noting that (a) the work of the Committee is recognized in Section 6.1 of the Official Community Plan and (b) Committee Chair, Sue Ellen Fast, received the Islands Trust Community Stewardship Award in 2011, in recognition, in part, of her role in helping to establish the Committee and then successfully fulfill its mandate.
Council's proposed resolution to repeal the Greenways Advisory Committee Establishment Bylaw No 216, 2008 is ill-advised, in our opinion, because:
- Many of the recent public statements made by Council concerning the Greenways Advisory Committee reflect surprisingly little knowledge of the Committee and its work, or of the Greenways objectives enshrined within the OCP.
- No evidence has been presented to date by Council or Staff to the community that this establishment bylaw is somehow inappropriate or that the Committee has done anything improper or acted in any way to interfere with private property rights or impede any development proposal.
- Similarly, no evidence has been presented to date by Council or Staff to the community that the cost of operating the Committee has been excessive. To the best of our understanding, the Municipality's funding in support of the Committee has been limited to the provision of a minute taker, which is an indispensable and standard practice.
In short, no sound reason for dissolving the Greenways Advisory Committee or repealing its establishment bylaw has been presented to the citizens of Bowen Island by their elected representatives.
We strongly urge you, therefore, to act on your own unanimous resolution RES #12-049 during the Special meeting of Bowen Island Municipal Council, held Tuesday, March 20, 2012 and do away with the proposed rescission of this bylaw. Moreover, we recommend that Council preserve the Greenways Advisory Committee structure and, further, consider a more informed and constructive approach to determining the Committee's future status, such as:
- inviting the Chair of the Committee to publicly present a report to Council on the history, work and cost of the Committee to date; and/or
- instructing the Committee to suspend work for three to six months (i.e., until the present Council becomes better acquainted with the history and work of the Committee).
In closing, we wish to point out that the Bowen Island Conservancy is always ready to assist, initiate, lead, and use a creative and collaborative approach to the conservation of Bowen Island's natural heritage, while working work with Governments, landowners and the public.
10 Apr 2012: Our position on extending Thompson Road into the Cape Roger Curtis lands
Councillor Rhodes' resolution
At the Special Council Meeting on 10 April 2012, Councillor Rhodes made the following recommendation regarding access to Cape Roger Curtis via Thompson Road: “Whereas the current subdivision layout at The Cape on Bowen does not provide allowance for future access to Thompson Road; That Council direct staff to enter into discussion with the owners regarding the potential to adjust the current subdivision layout to provide allowance and ROW for future access to Thompson Road.“
Our position on this issue
The Conservancy Board has already taken a public position on this issue, in the Fall of 2011. We have now written to Mayor and Council, in light of Councillor Rhodes' recommendation, reiterating our position.
April 2012: We need your support to bring NAPTEP to Bowen Island
The Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP) is a property tax incentive program set up to encourage landowners to protect the natural features of their land. It provides a 65% exemption on property taxes for the protected portion of a property (land value only).
NAPTEP was launched by the Islands Trust and the Islands Trust Fund in 2005, and today, the only landowners in the Islands Trust Area ineligible for the property tax exemption are those on Bowen, Bowyer, and Passage Islands; these fall within the shared jurisdiction of the Islands Trust and Metro Vancouver Regional District.
If you would like to see NAPTEP brought to Bowen Island, please show your support by writing to the Metro Vancouver Regional District Board, c/o the Island Trust. You can send your letter by email to email@example.com, or by mail to:
Islands Trust Fund
200-1627 Fort Street
Victoria, BC, V8R 1H8
Your letter will be included in the Islands Trust's proposal to Metro Vancouver.
More information is available on page 3 of the Spring 2012 edition of The Heron, the Islands Trust Fund's newsletter (reproduced here by permission of the Islands Trust Fund).