September 17, 2004—Letter expressing the Vancouver Natural History Society’s great concern about development plans for Cape Roger Curtis, describing VNHS’s long history of fields trips to the Cape, and advocating CRC’s protection because of its special botanical features.
Vancouver Natural History Society
P.O. Box 3021
Vancouver, BC V6B 3X5
September 17, 2004
Lisa Barrett and Members of Council
Bowen Island Municipality
981 Artisan Lane
Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G0
Dear Mayor Barrett and Members of Council,
Re: Cape Roger Curtis
I am writing on behalf of the Vancouver Natural History Society (VNHS) to express our great concern about development plans for Cape Roger Curtis. We are aware that this 649-acre, privately owned, forest and coastal bluffs property was recently sold. We understand that the new owners plan to divide it into 64 ten-acre lots for future residential development, and expect to develop ten of these lots in the near future.
VNHS is a 900-member Lower Mainland organization with a long-standing interest in Cape Roger Curtis. Our Society was founded in 1918 by John Davidson, the University of British Columbia’s first botany professor and BC’s first provincial botanist. Since the early 1920s, VNHS members have made numerous field trips to the Cape and have advocated its protection over many years because of its special botanical features, which result from its southern exposure in the rainshadow of the coast mountains.
In 1991, Mr. Terry Taylor, one of the Society’s most knowledgeable members, volunteered to prepare a botanical survey of the area at the request of a local citizens’ group. He found that Cape Roger Curtis, in particular its coastal seepage slopes, contained more botanical diversity than any other such coastal site he had visited along Howe Sound. A recent trip to the Cape confirmed his view that the Cape probably contains the greatest botanical diversity of any site on Georgia Strait’s east coast. lt should be noted that Mr. Taylor is regularly hired by consultants to do botanical surveys because of his special expertise in this field.
Dr. V.C. (Bert) Brink, UBC Professor Emeritus of Agriculture and VNHS’s honourary president, also submitted a report in 1991, recommending protection of these fragile, ecologically unique coastal bluffs. He commented recently that, as a result of development, Cape Roger Curtis represents the last opportunity for Lower Mainland residents and visitors to see this type of Dry Coastal Douglas-fir habitat in our area. In this context, it should also be noted that an April 3, 2001, Conservation Data Centre report stated that “The Shore Pine-Douglas-fir/Cladina plant community with Rocky Mountain juniper found there is provincially ranked 52 (red-listed).“
We understand that the Bowen Island Municipal Council is aware of community concerns about the future of Cape Roger Curtis, and that municipal staff and the Advisory Planning Committee (APC) have been requested to make recommendations to Council at its October 4 meeting regarding the implementation of an environmental protection bylaw, revised development cost charges and other growth management tools. We would be pleased to meet on site with Council, staff, APC members and the developer to point out the Cape’s ecologically important areas so that their protection could be taken into consideration in any development plans for this land. We hope it will be possible to find ways to protect significant portions of the Cape for their intrinsic value and the public good.
Thank you for your consideration of our comments. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-922-7949 if you would like to discuss our offer to meet on site.
Katharine Steig, Chair, Conservation Section
Vancouver Natural History Society
cc: Mr. Wolfgang Duntz, developer, Cape Roger Curtis
Ms. Sue Ellen Fast, Chair, Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society