Letter: When it comes to Cape Roger Curtis, stick to the plan

This letter is in response to John Dowler's May 16 letter online published as "Envisioning the future of the Cape on Bowen."

In the May 16 issue of the Undercurrent, John Dowler states that he is working with Candy Ho, executive officer of the Cape on Bowen, “to open channels of communication in person and online to hear and share everyone’s ideas about the future of the Cape,” with regard to “rezoning their 30-odd unsold lots.”

The letter ends focusing on “the lands that are still intact and how Bowen can best protect its natural heritage - ourlungs, our Ark.”

In order to accomplish that goal, the first all-important priority is for Mr. Dowler, Ms. Ho and her colleagues, as well as our Bowen councillors and their support staff, to review and become cognizant of all development- related aspects of our Official Community Plan. In conjunction with that full awareness, the next step is equally straight forward: to abide by the objectives, principles and legal provisions of our Official Community Plan as they may relate to Cape Roger Curtis. It is also important for Mr. Dowler to make Ms. Ho aware of the fact that the best way to minimize discord and controversy on Bowen is by adhering to the official, legal planning document for development on our island.

The Official Community Plan for Bowen Island has always stood as a grassroots, fully democratic model for the vision and creation of communities that protect their natural heritage, as desired by Mr. Dowler. It is a carefully conceived and moderate vision for sustainable, balanced and comprehensive development. It is also a document which is well ahead of its time, as it already incorporates the principle of “conservation development”––whereby higher density strata title development is allowed and available to the Cape on Bowen, as long as surrounding green space is provided and the entire development still conforms with the allocated, overall housing density provision in our community plan. The notion of “conservation development” should therefore not be seen or touted as a planning concept that is not already an integral part of our existing community plan.

The message Mr. Dowler needs to pass on to Ms. Ho is the same message Bowen Islanders have been giving developers since our community plan was created in the seventies. We have a legal Official Community Plan that oversees land use planning and democratically reflects the community of Bowen Island. Abide by the plan.

As well, it is important to remind Ms. Ho that our council’s land use policies and bylaws and our Official Community Plan are legally embedded in the Islands Trust, which is mandated by the province to protect our island’s natural heritage. Therefore, the combined legal provisions of our community plan and the legal oversight provided by the Islands Trust places a significant and particular onus on developers and our municipal council to abide by Bowen’s community plan.

Our long held tradition has always been to staunchly support and uphold our Official Community Plan, resolute in our knowledge that it represents our support for democracy itself and the common good. That common good stands above any personal or corporate vested interest. It is not a commodity to be bought and sold but the life blood of our island community.

In a world that has been bought and sold into an ever deepening environmental crisis, the underlying notion that “every person and every community has a price” has never had much traction on Bowen, as islanders care too deeply for their community and its natural heritage. Therein lies our enduring message to the rest of the world. As with our children, the Earth upon which we live is ours to love or lose.

Islanders have steadfastly supported our Official Community Plan since the seventies because they realize the extent to which it firmly stands on the right side of history, as it represents an exemplary process of democratic integrity, transparency and accountability in the full service of our entire community.

In the words of Robert Frost, our Bowen Island tradition reflects a people who chose “the road less travelled by,” “and that has made all the difference.”

— John Sbragia

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