Our position on the proposed moorage development at Cape Roger Curtis

We wrote the following letter concerning the proposed moorage devlopment.

March 7th, 2012

Senior Land Officer
Ministry of Forest Lands and Natural Resource Operations
200 – 10428 153rd Street
Surrey, BC V3R 1E1

RE: Applications for a Crown Land Tenure by The Cape on Bowen Community Development Ltd for Private Moorage purposes covering Property Lots: 11, 13 AND 15 (DL 1548, Group 1, NWD, BCP 43260, Bowen Island Municipality; Land File numbers: 2410700. 2410701, 2410702

The Board of the Bowen Island Conservancy opposes the above applications for the following reasons:

  1. As part of the subdivision approval for these lands in 2009, the owners were required to provide expanded street end accesses, with paved parking and turnarounds at the end of Lighthouse Lane (beside lot 15) and at the end of Roger Curtis Lane (between lot 11), for the public enjoyment of and access to the beaches and associated foreshore at each. As noted in the consultant planner's report submitted to the Bowen Island Municipality in September of 2011 (attached to this letter): “Each of the accesses was intended to facilitate public access to the ocean and the development of these accesses will be an instant draw to the public once they are open for use.” Included in this same report is the following recommendation: “In addition, the Municipality should apply for a Crown grant from the Province for the Cape itself and a foreshore reserve, for the use, recreation and enjoyment of the public, fronting the road end in order to facilitate management and use.” The proposed tenures would, if granted, preempt this action by the municipality.

    Anything that might limit public access and use and enjoyment of this beach is an important issue for the Bowen Island Municipality as a community within the Islands Trust, with its preserve and protect mandate. As an island, our beaches are very significant elements in our community's sense of place.

    Also as part of the subdivision approval process, a covenant was placed on each of the ocean fronting properties, including the prescribed lots. The covenant area for ocean fronting lands applies to those private and public lands within 30 meters from the natural boundary of Howe Sound. Within that area, owners are generally obligated not to build any structures, disturb soil, cut vegetation, plant any non-native species or use any deleterious substances such as pesticides on their land. The intent of the covenant is to keep the area along the oceanfront in a natural condition.

  2. A moorage of the size and width as proposed in these applications is not appropriate for an area intended to be used by the public as a beach. The size of these proposed wharves and breakwaters are completely out of proportion to any existing private moorage facilities on the island. The magnitude of what is proposed is completely contrary to the spirit and intent of the subdivision approval and the beach accesses. Pebbly Beach (in front of lot 11) is a popular spot used by many. Although the lot 10 application (file no.2410699) is not mentioned in the March 2 ad in the Undercurrent, it is included on your website. The proposed private moorage for this lot combined with the private moorage for lot 11 will make this small bay completely incompatible with its use as a public swimming beach. The beach areas in front of lots 11 and 15 are favourite pull-up access points for kayakers from all points in the lower mainland. The presence of these large moorage facilities will reduce or eliminate this opportunity for many kayakers and will certainly destroy the aesthetic element of the beach. There are few low bank accessible beaches on Bowen and this is one of them.

  3. As part of the subdivision approval process, the owners were also required to build a coastal walkway. This walkway runs through lots 11, 13 and 15 and is intended as a scenic walkway overlooking a wild coastal environment with the opportunity to view sealife and bird life. This wild aspect will be severely impacted by these proposed applications.

  4. An EIS does not appear to have been conducted to determine if the size and magnitude of these private moorages will have a serious impact on the ecological values of this foreshore area of Bowen Island. Local biologists have surveyed the bays at Cape Roger Curtis and have found them rich in eelgrass meadows, a critical habitat for young salmon, herring and other species suffering from habitat destruction in our oceans. Without the benefit of an EIS, moorage as proposed by these applications could negatively impact much of this sensitive ecosystem.

  5. The numbers of these private moorages along this foreshore is contrary to the statements in the Official Community Plan for Bowen Island Municipality – Policy 241 states: “The sharing of private docks among property owners is encouraged.” This policy is consistent with your ministry's policy of grouping private moorage facilities (as per your Land Use Operational Policy – Private Moorage).

  6. The Official Community Plan designates some of this coastal area of the Cape Roger Curtis lands as environmentally sensitive development permit areas. The map of these areas, Schedule B1, clearly indicates the coastal/inland bluff ecosystem along this foreshore. Objective 2 of the OCP states: “To ensure that new development incorporates a ‘no net impact’ strategy with respect to significant plant, wildlife, and fish habitats.” These proposed water lot applications do not meet this objective. In addition, section 2.11 of the OCP, Cape Roger Curtis Lands and Shoreline includes the following objective 40: “To encourage the retention of portions of Cape Roger Curtis in a natural state accessible to the public, including ecologically sensitive coastal bluffs, other sensitive ecosystems such as Arbutus and Douglas Fir Woodland, portions of the shoreline, archaeological features, viewpoints, and significant marine shorelines.”

  7. The Bowen Island Municipality Land Use Bylaw regulates water use zones and specifically designates this coastal area as WG1 zoning which includes as a condition of use the following: “Community dock, neighbourhood dock and moorage shall be located such that it will not limit use of or physically divide a beach or negatively impact eelgrass meadows, kelp beds, clam beds or mussel beds.” These are all present in the proposed bays for this moorage.

    The following is a quote from the Feasibility Assessment Report by Parks Canada (Bill Henwood, February 2010), as part of Parks Canada's assessment of Bowen Island for a proposed national park reserve:

    “The Cape Roger Curtis area is known for its abundant beds of eelgrass and blue mussels and, that, in turn, attracts numerous seabirds, particularly surf scoters and Barrows goldeneye. Coastal seabird surveys have observed up to 3,000 surfs scoters at one time. In all, 35 species of marine or shoreline birds were recorded during these surveys. Northwestern crows and bald eagles, both of which forage frequently in intertidal habitats, were also recorded regularly. These marine waters are also frequented by two red-listed fish-eating birds, the double crested cormorant and marbled murrelet, as well as great blue herons and the occasional blue-listed rhinoceros auklet (Bowen Island Conservancy 2007).”

  8. There are strong tidal currents and wave actions along the area of Cape Roger Curtis which will make maintenance of such large breakwaters and moorage facilities a challenge and a potential danger if they are broken up and become navigational hazards.

The Board members of the Bowen Island Conservancy strongly recommend rejection of the above applications for private moorage.

In anticipation of a group moorage application at some other location in the development,, the owners should be asked to conduct and submit an environmental assessment to determine the impacts on the foreshore environment, the sea and bird life and the ocean floor, a socio-community assessment to determine the impact on the public beaches and coastal walkway and an archeological assessment (there is evidence of Squamish First Nations use on these bays), prior to further consideration of a subsequent application.

Yours truly,

Bowen Island Conservancy Board members

Ellen Coburn
Peter Drake
Andrea Kaufman
Laura Koch
Owen Plowman
Nerys Poole
Adrian van Lidth de Jeude
Everhard van Lidth de Jeude
Alan Whitehead
Dave Witty

cc. Joan McIntyre
Bowen Island Municipal Council
Kathy Lalonde, acting CAO
Chair, Islands Trust Council
Squamish First Nation