Are the CRC supporters trying to stop development?
No. The Official Community Plan (“OCP”) forecasts that the population will increase gradually to over 8,000 from the existing level of about 3,200. We expect that will happen over time. The issue is where development happens on the Island, how it happens, and what community benefits are created. Not many people know that the OCP parks plan was based on a plan submitted by the Bowen Island Parks and Rec Commission in 1994 which stated “At least an additional 400 acres of natural park is required to protect special features on land which could otherwise be developed. Although a number of passive areas currently exist in Regional Crippen Park, at least one more passive park is needed at the south end of the island as well as more public areas to support existing beaches”.
Aren’t all new developments required to dedicate land for public use and provide water access? If so “why worry”?
Yes. The norms are about 5% for park/public use and beach accesses 20 meters wide every 400 meters. These public amenities are good but they are small. If the property is developed with 10 acre lots, as permitted under the current zoning, it is not clear if even 5% needs to be dedicated. Also many of the beach accesses in practice are very little used and do not give any public access to the headlands above the highwater mark in the areas adjacent to the access.
How much park does Bowen have now and how much public access is there to the shoreline?
Here are the statistics we have gathered:
The conclusions from this are:
- Yes, Bowen has a lot of public land (about 40%) but this includes much steep inaccessible land in the watersheds, and the ecological reserve which is not open for public access. We estimate that only about 16% of the land area is truly accessible.
- If, however, one looks at the access to the shoreline then the picture is very different, with only about 5% of the island’s shoreline easily accessible to the public. Most of this is in the areas of Crippen Park close to Snug Cove. There is no other significant area of beach headland access and certainly none with the expanse and beauty of CRC.
Won’t a new park be too expensive? Can the island afford it? Don’t we need more tax revenues, not less?
The Park we envisage would be a low impact regional park just like Crippen Park is now. The costs of running such a park are relatively low and we expect would be borne by the GVRD or a similar agency and thus shared with lower mainland taxpayers. In the long term tax revenue would not be affected since the total population would be the same (but with more density in the Snug Cove area and less in CRC). In the short term additional tax revenues from the one third portion of CRC that would be developed would be in excess of $200,000 per year. In addition it is very likely that the Municipality will have to increase its development charges very substantially to pay for the effects of developments on all aspects of infrastructure (right now they are in the $1,000 per lot range while those in places like Whistler are $20,000 plus per lot).
Wouldn’t a park would bring thousands of additional visitors to the island? Some people claim it would bring millions of additional visitors. We don’t want that.
The park we envisage would be a low impact day park with walk in access only and would be very similar to Crippen park in that respect. Yes it would bring more visitors to the island but even if the existing Crippen Park visitor numbers were doubled it would still be thousands, not millions, of additional visitors per year. Many Bowen businesses would benefit and we hope that most Bowenians would be happy to share such a beautiful place with their fellow citizens provided that the park is appropriately designed and responsibly operated.