Our work

We work on multiple projects throughout each year. There are also various issues that we are either involved in, or monitor, since they affect us on Bowen Island.

Metro Vancouver’s proposed Regional Park

Metro Vancouver has proposed the creation of a Regional Park, including up to 100 campsites, on the undeveloped lots at Cape Roger Curtis.

In the Fall of 2022, the Conservancy met with some Metro staff to discuss the proposal and to hear more about how we might collaborate on the initiative. Following our initial meeting, we wrote to Metro Vancouver in October 2022, expressing some concerns with their proposal.

We also received a referral from the Bowen Island Municipality concerning Metro Vancouver’s Rezoning/OCP Amendment Application (required to enable camping) and responded in April 2022.

Marine Atlas Project

In January 2019 the Bowen Island Conservancy and its partners launched a project to publish a Bowen/Nexwlélexm Marine Conservation Atlas to foster public awareness of, and engagement in, local marine conservation issues, and to celebrate the recovery of our marine neighbourhood. We published the Atlas in the Spring of 2020 and it has become a valuable resource for the community.

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Nature Reserve Management

Fairy Fen and Singing Woods

We manage two Nature Reserves, Fairy Fen and Singing Woods, for the Islands Trust Conservancy, which owns the properties.

We conduct improvement and restoration activities, including maintaining and upgrading trails, and planting new trees where appropriate. We also monitor the Nature Reserves to ensure that they remain undisturbed and that the ongoing health of the local eco-system is maintained.

If you take your dog to a Nature Reserve

We want all visitors to enjoy themselves in our Nature Reserves. You must maintain control over your dog at all times, and keep it in view. One of our Directors has been bitten by an off-leash dog in Singing Woods, and jumped upon by an off-leash dog on the way to Fairy Fen. We don’t wish to see this kind of behaviour.

Note that dogs are not permitted at all in the Wild Coast Nature Refuge.

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Communications with Council

From time to time we speak at council meetings about important issues, or we write letters in connection with island matters.

2012: Our position on extending Thompson Road

Residents in the Tunstall Bay and Whitesails Drive areas requested consideration of building an alternative access to the Cape Roger Curtis lands from the end of Thompson Road. We are sympathetic to their concerns, but also very sensitive to any action that could have negative impact on Fairy Fen and the Huszar Creek watershed.

Accordingly we wrote to Council concerning this issue.

2012: Protection of our beaches

In view of the ILMB approvals of the applications submitted by the owners of lots 11, 13, 15, and 6 of the Cape Roger Curtis lands, the Conservancy submitted to Council 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.

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Speaker Series

Each year we put together a “Speaker Series” where we arrange presentations on a variety of conservation-related topics, featuring informative speakers from on and off the Island. These sessions are very well-attended and generally run from September to April each year.

Our past presentations are listed on our Speaker Series page.

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The Georgia Strait herring fishery

Herring stocks are in decline generally, and since herring are a critical link in the marine food web between plankton and larger fish, marine mammals, and birds, it is fundamentally important to take steps to avoid further decline.

We formed a committee to focus on this issue, and use arguments based on science, economics, and culture to pressure government to eliminate or drastically reduce the commercial fishery. As well, we are collaborating on this issue with the Hornby Island Conservancy, and other organizations around the Georgia Strait.

  • Learn why we oppose the commercial herring fishery
  • We participated in the HELIT TŦE SȽOṈ,ET (Let the Herring Live) meeting in November 2019.
  • In December 2020 we sent a letter to the Regional Director of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), seeking assurance that there will be no commercial herring fishery in Howe Sound in the near future.
  • In late 2021, the DFO issued a draft plan for the commercial herring fishery in the Salish Sea. It had no regard for the potential consequences of that fishery to herring stocks in Howe Sound: in fact, it put those stocks at risk. We wrote to the DFO Minister, asking for a moratorium to be placed on the commercial Herring fishery in Georgia Strait until stocks recover to healthy levels throughout the area, including Howe Sound (in our view, healthy levels should be interpreted having regard to past abundance of herring in Howe Sound). We received a reply but it failed to address, or even acknowledge, the points made in our letter.
  • In 2022, the DFO Minister announced the closure of most of BC’s Pacific herring fisheries, as well as a reduction of the harvest rate in the Georgia Strait from 20% to 10% of the spawning biomass. Although good news, whether the 10% harvest is precautionary enough, given changing ocean conditions and increasing needs of a wide variety of marine species, remains in question.
  • In January 2023 we tried again, with another letter to the DFO Minister. We pointed out that we concur with the views of many scientists, dozens of environmental groups and conservancies, and thousands of citizens, who recommend a much lower harvest rate and a true application of the precautionary principle throughout the planning process.
  • We wrote another letter to the DFO Minister in December 2023, pointing out the need for a moratorium on the herring fishery in the Georgia Strait until stocks recover to healthy levels.

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Motorized use of Mt. Gardner trails

We are monitoring and are involved with efforts to ensure that Mount Gardner, a block of Crown Land in the centre of our island, be designated as off-limits for the recreational use of motorized vehicles. Such a designation would acknowledge the need to protect natural ecosystems, foster
individual well-being, provide recreational opportunities and support the island economy. To our dismay we (along with our Municipality, other community organizations, and island residents) are continually ignored by the provincial agencies responsible for the area in question.

  • In June 2020 we wrote to Tom Blackbird, District Recreation Officer at Recreation Sites and Trails BC, requesting that motorized vehicles be prohibited on Mt. Gardner.
  • In the fall of 2021 we sent a similar request via email to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, and received a reply stating that a decision should be forthcoming in late 2021.
  • In February 2022 we wrote to the Minister of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, again requesting that the Mount Gardner Crown Lands be designated for non-motorized use only.
  • In June 2022 Recreation Sites and Trails BC announced that they would conduct a comprehensive planning process for the entirety of the “Mount Gardner Recreation Site” using a “Visitor Use Management Framework“. This process was to consider the current designation, while “also reviewing recreation use throughout the entirety of the site”. We participated in a “a stakeholder workshop” hosted by Recreation Sites and Trails BC, to discuss the use of Mount Gardner in more detail.
  • In January 2023 we wrote to our Mayor and Council, asking them to send a letter to the Regional Manager of Recreation Sites and Trails BC, with a copy to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, concerning this issue. We followed this in February with our own letter (see end of this paragraph) to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. We had earlier been informed that the Visitor Use Management Planning Process (VUMPP) work being done by Recreation Sites and Trails BC had been halted because of lack of resources: there are insufficient funds to conduct an archeological assessment of the area. Meanwhile, dirt bike and ATV users may continue to use the mountain trails, and potentially degrade whatever archeological values exist! We received a response from the Minister stating that no change in use of the Mt. Gardner trails will be considered until the VUMPP is completed, despite the potential for degradation of the area, because making such a change “could be seen to presuppose the outcome [of the VUMPP]”, or the final decision. Read both letters (as a single PDF document)

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Public events

We periodically hold public events, which are well-attended.

  • We hosted:
    • An exploration of Mannion Bay (also known as Deep Bay) in August 2020, with the Bowen Nature Club. We poked around the extensive tidal flats adjacent to the Lagoon Causeway and Sandy Beach, during an extreme summer low tide: the very best time to observe life on these biologically rich sands and muds. These flats are home to oyster, clams, small fish and crabs, and have been a centre for human activity on the Island, including shellfish harvesting by Squamish Nation peoples, a brickworks (during early settlement), and a recreation hub for Union Steamship holiday crowds.
    • A walk around Killarney Lake for the Elders Council for BC Parks in August 2015
    • A morning walk around Crippen Park with Collingwood Neighbourhood House in October 2013
  • We arranged:

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Work parties, trail building, and rehabilitation work

Making selected wild areas accessible enough so that people can experience them and learn about unique Bowen eco-systems is a hands-on task often involving tools and perspiration! Periodic maintenance is a must. We welcome volunteers for any and all of these projects!

If you are interested in volunteering, please send us an email message.

Conservation Covenants

We are sometimes involved with establishing Conservation Covenants to protect the natural environment of the Island. A Conservation Covenant is a voluntary agreement to conserve land or special nature features. It represents an agreement between a land owner and another organization or group of organizations that act on behalf of the community. We are able to provide advice and insight into the process of placing a Covenant, and we usually involve the Islands Trust Fund in the process. Some lands may be available for hiking or personal enjoyment, while other lands may need to be protected in order to preserve their unique features.

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Watching out for the herons

The Great Blue Heron is a very large bird, growing to over one metre in height. It has blue-grey body feathers, a white head, a yellow bill and a black stripe above each eye.

We have a number of heron nests on Bowen Island and it’s important that they be left alone and quiet. Great Blue Herons, their nests and their eggs, are all protected by the BC Wildlife Act, and by the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act. Their nest trees are also protected year round, on both public and private land.

Read more about herons.

A heron wading in the water
A heron wading in the water (courtesy Will Husby)

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The Howe Sound Conservation Network

Each year various conservation groups and other organizations around Howe Sound meet to discuss projects and exchange useful information about multiple initiatives.

We met on Gambier Island in December 2019.

Click on the image to see the full-size photo.

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Past projects and issues

We have been involved with:

  • The Bowen Biodiversity Census Project in 2021
  • Forage Fish protection from 2014 to 2016. In 2014, Conservancy members formed an Island team to conduct periodic surveys of select Bowen beaches to test for forage fish eggs. This project continued until December 2016, when we turned over further sampling surveys to the Sea Watch Society. Up to the end of 2016 no eggs had been found. There are several possible explanations for this:
    • Forage fish do not spawn on Bowen Island beaches (and we don’t know why), or
    • We’ve been looking in the wrong places on the selected beaches, or
    • We’ve missed eggs during collection of samples, or
    • Something else
  • The development of Headwaters Park, in 2009
  • The building of the Quarry Park Stone Circle moss garden, in 2009

We were concerned about the construction of the docks at Cape Roger Curtis, and in 2017 we closely followed and were outraged by the proposal to log Crown Land on the island.

We followed the National Park proposal for the island in 2010 and 2011, and commented on it when appropriate.