Letter to Cape Roger Curtis Joint Venture Owners

February 17, 2006 –  A letter requesting the Joint Venture to take the community’s strong desire to protect this precious jewel, very seriously. Cape Roger is “a unique, surviving natural ecosystem, quite likely the only one within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (“GVRD”), and possibly in the whole southern Gulf Islands”. For Bowen islanders it is the last large undeveloped accessible coastline on the island.

February 17, 2006

Mr. Don Ho
Fax: 604-681-4056
CAPC Holdings Ltd.
1147 Homer Street
Vancouver BC V6B 5T5

Mr. Edwin Lee
1863 W63rd Ave
Vancouver, BC V6P 2H9

Dear Mr. Ho and Mr. Lee:

We have been asked by the directors of the Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society (“CRCTS”) to inform you of the latest efforts to save Cape Roger Curtis lands for the public and for conservation.

In the Fall of 2005, we had a brief conversation with Mr. Ho at a meeting sponsored by Mr. Duntz at Cates Hill Chapel. At that time, we asked if he had been kept informed of the community’s strong interest in saving the Cape. He did not reply directly. This letter is to try and convince you to take the community’s strong desire to protect this precious jewel, very seriously. To quote two well known naturalists, Beltz and Brink, it is “A unique, surviving natural ecosystem, quite likely the only one within the Greater Vancouver Regional District (“GVRD”), and possibly in the whole southern Gulf Islands.” For Bowen islanders, it is the last large undeveloped accessible coastline on the island.

On August 22 ,2005, we wrote to Mr. Duntz’s consultant, Catherine Berris, on behalf of the CRCTS. In this letter we attempted to make Ms. Berris aware of the community interest in preserving the Cape, as Ms. Berris had pleaded ignorance of this desire when asked at a previous meeting. A copy was sent to Mr. Duntz; you may have seen it. It contained a documented history of the community’s efforts to save at least a good portion of Cape Roger Curtis lands, starting in 1921 with a recommendation by the Vancouver Natural History Society’s recommendation to preserve the Cape. This effort has not been restricted to Bowen Island. A petition supporting a conservation donor’s offer to buy a portion of the land, which we sent to Mr. Ho and Mr. Lee in an earlier letter, contained over 700 names from all over the region as well as the continent and many other countries. The Cape draws many diverse people to enjoy its uniqueness, beauty and natural attributes.

On November 2, 2005, during a meeting called by Mr. Duntz, titled “Planning Alternatives,” he provided the following responses to some of the questions from the audience:

1. He would “rather sell to a conservancy group than to a private buyer”

2. He “can give the community time”

3. “Let’s take a year to explore.”

Mr. Duntz also indicated that he would be prepared to support the involvement of the GVRD.

CRCTS made several environmental reports relating to Cape Roger Curtis available to Mr. Duntz. These were compiled by reputable environmental consultants. The environmental assessments conducted for Mr. Duntz, as part of his development permit application, were carried out only in the Summer. Our advice from botanist Mr. Terry Taylor is that a complete study would entail observations in every season over 2 years.

In October 2005, Bowen Island Municipal Council, further to the resolution supporting the protection of Cape Roger Curtis, resolved to send a formal letter to the GVRD advising of possible future involvement of the GVRD in securing a large natural area at the Cape.

Prior to the municipal elections in November 2005, at All-Candidates Meetings, every one of the elected Councillors supported saving at least a portion of the Cape.

An application made by your representative for access to the Cape from Thompson Road through Block #6 of Crown land has affected the Islands’ Trust Fund Board purchasing this ecologically important land for conservation. The marsh involved has provincial status as a significant wetland ecosystem, rare in the Islands Trust area. Also, the Official Community Plan for Bowen Island states (page 36, section 3.9.4) that “Crown land should not be used for road access …”. This application is another blow to the public’s interest in preservation of our sensitive lands.

The only current legal access Mr. Duntz has applied for would be an extension of Whitesails Drive. The Whitesails residents are very angry about the possible disruption of the lives of people living along that road. And the people living on Thompson Road are upset at the prospect of increased traffic along their road. Of course any development affects the whole Island – roads, schools, transportation, and the general well-being of a quiet community.

On December 19, 2005, a motion was introduced in Council by a Councillor, setting forth in very strong terms the public interest in saving Cape Roger Curtis. This motion subsequently came before Council for approval at the February 13, 2006 Council meeting and was passed.

At the request of a Bowen Island resident, a poll conducted in November 2006 by McAllister Opinion Research bears out the contention that it is in the public interest to preserve Cape Roger Curtis and the natural setting of a rural community. (The results of this poll and the questions used are available at the Municipal Hall.) Over 70% of Bowen residents support the Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society’s Plan to protect at least 50% of Cape Roger Curtis lands in their natural state and preserve shoreline for public access. This Plan will protect the whole southern portion of the land, with sensitive coastal areas protected by keeping trails higher on the slopes.

The poll finds that nearly half of the 300 Bowen residents, contacted at random, mention development / over-development as a top-of-mind concern. Conserving natural areas and public coastline are important to 90%. These results define the public view that too much development conflicts with the desire for peace, quiet and access to nature.

In closing, we appeal to you as the owners of the CRC lands, working with your representative on the Island, to provide leadership on behalf of all Bowen Islanders. We ask that as you work through the rezoning framework laid out by Bowen Municipal Council, that the plans you put forward reflect concentrated and limited development, and that you work co-operatively with the organization on the island ,such as the Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society, the Bowen island Conservancy, the Bowen Island Parks and Recreation Commission and others in conjunction with Council and its planning department, to create a large, contiguous and wild coastal preserve.

Yours sincerely,

Marion Moore and Jean Jamieson

on behalf of the Cape Roger Curtis Trust Society

Posted in CRCTS-Letters