Community

To Mayor and Councilors,

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Originally published November 4, 2015 written by Edna Thomson

Our recent past council focused their attention on Lot 2 of the community lands.  They succeeded, just immediately before a new election in November 2014, in gaining bylaw approval for Land Use rezoning to change from  “village/residential/institutional” to “village/commercial/institutional” for the area.
Their purpose for doing this was to accommodate sale of Lot 2 for subsequent development for an extremely extensive and density-ambitious proposal.
Lot 2 provides many important ecological functions:  it is a wooded area that the wildlife, the birds, and the children benefit from.   Lot 2 is land that lies next to the school campus, and as well, it has a very steep slope at its eastern border.  The many trees provide a root system that acts to absorb water, and hold the bank, while their branches provide the carbon sink that keeps the air fresh. That steep slope is also directly behind about 12 properties that benefit from the sound buffer provided by the trees.  Similar, and some, ecological benefits apply to Lot 3.
Recently, November 2014, islanders elected a new council with the expectation of full and transparent planning and inclusion of public input in accordance with democratic principles of government for and by the people.
Our current council took immediate steps in addressing many previously expressed concerns of the good citizens of Bowen; and good things began to happen.  As for example, Council declaring, “The right of local residents to a healthy environment.”  Part of that decision states, “…the rights of every resident to participate in decision making that affects the environment.”
That sense of security, resulting from those commendable steps taken, seemingly announcing  ‘participatory democracy’ in action on Bowen, has been disappointingly damaged though, by the summer ‘charge ahead’ approach.  Unexpectedly, this was evident in the proposal for, first, a new fire hall complex, AND then, ALSO a parking lot; all on Lot 3.  Disturbing evidence of that approach has been the immediate “site suitability testing” for the Fire Hall complex, (mid July).
Equally astonishing, and while discussion was still taking place regarding a parking proposal on Cardena Dr., work was seemingly started at the proposed entrance site for the proposed parking lot in Lot 3.  Entrance and exit in-roads that are in the design, (as posted recently by council) to go on either side of the mailboxes off Miller Rd. would require moving the mailboxes.  This actually WAS DONE on September 17th. . No signage was provided at Lot 3, as was done at Cardena.  Why?
A “BIM Plan Park Update,” recently introduced, when eventually effective, would of course, be too late to have Lot 3 of Crippen Park given the consideration it deserves, if it isn’t left standing!
Here is my belief: First, it is that the principles of democratic governance must take precedence over any development proposals, and thus council needs to provide adequately for fair and complete opportunities for public input.   Second, it is for acknowledgement of the concerns already expressed in two letters put to council regarding development on Lot 3. And, 3rd, it is for signs that show the plan!
In those letters, the concerns expressed are regarding the two proposals under consideration. Should either or both be adopted, it would really mean the eventual loss of possibly the entire Crippen Park park.  The number of trees that would have to go down for construction, promises that, by extension, others would follow simply through a weakening via the loss of their root systems and complimentary structural support systems, and through probable damage to the root systems of trees left standing during the construction period. And, there would be subsequent predictable loss through the advent of windstorms, and heavy snow falls on those left-standing, weakened trees.  All of those forces, and simply ‘over use’ of a damaging potential, would complete the rest of the destructive process that will have been set in motion.
I request the application of fundamental equality in the observance of citizen’s rights. And, it is for serious, open discussions as to how the benefits versus impediments to Bowen’s future would be affected by the developments proposed for Lot 3.
I ask that Council please open up to the community of Bowen, adequate discussion opportunities as to the the worth of Lot 3, as a carbon sink and an important service-providing intact natural environment of enormous eco-value, a wildlife sanctuary, and a thing of beauty and enjoyment at the entrance to what many describe as a living, breathing island paradise.
What we need now is less pandering to outdated concepts of how to ‘develop’ in the Cove. Now it is important to get educated and more able and ready to meet the new challenges of a changing climate. Equally important is embracing input from the larger community into ALL development planning that would so dramatically affect the island entrance area.  In the interests of a healthy environment that supports the rights of citizens to that environment I’m asking that, now, more than ever, the concept of the Islands Trust mandate to protect and preserve be our banner.

– Edna Thomson

Peace Needs to be Felt

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Originally published September 23, 2016 written by Bawn Campbell

“At the end of the day, we have very simple needs, and on top of the list has always been to feel contentment. Peace is not the absence of war. Peace is a fundamental human need that needs to be felt from within.”

After last year’s September 21 “Peace Day at the Art Gallery at Artisan Square” I felt inspired by the 25 people who showed up to watch the Video “Peacemakers with Jeremy Gilley (Founder of Peace One Day, Ted Talks, filmmaker) and Prem Rawat (Ambassador of Peace for Italy, Brazil, European Parliament and Peru). I volunteered to write this article, god help me. First off I am not an expert I just I know that when I feel at peace everything around me feels good.

Words are just symbols to which some personal meaning is attached. Your meaning and mine are not always the same. How often have you expressed something that is misinterpreted and resulted in conflict?  My hope is that you reflect upon peace within your life.

There is little doubt in most people’s mind that our lives are moving too fast. Choices are being made without enough forethought about the implications of those choices. We seem to be living in a world gone mad for acquiring money, power, possessions and experiences. How can we break this spell?

The constant bombardment by ads convincing us that newest aftershave, perfume, car, TV, IPhone will bring us happiness. If we just own those things our lives will be better; the opiate of possession. It is hard to stop it. It’s hard when all around us are promoting it.

This happiness that we assume comes from “owning” something, where is it located? The feeling of happiness resides within, inside ourselves. Happiness is a feeling, love is a feeling, Joy is a feeling. Contentment is a feeling. Somehow we need to break the “opiate of possessions” hold on us, we need to find a way to feel happy within ourselves. The world cannot sustain this process of acquiring.

There are over seven billion of us on this planet that is hurtling through space around the sun at 107,200 kph and spinning at 1,600 kph (remember that when you are stuck in traffic); Too often I forget what is important in my life. I forget that I am alive. That, right now, this moment will never happen again.

Most of us have heard the quote attributed to Albert Einstein that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. We go to war again and again and again. War has never resulted in real peace only in profit for a few. How can we stop this insanity?

At some point we are going to realize, as an individual, that our time on this planet will end. We do not live here forever.

The UN study of average life expectancy puts the world at 70.7 years or 25,806 days. In Canada the average is 82 years or 29,930 days. We don’t have that many days to waste. Each day is so precious. Too precious to waste in anger, frustration and guilt.

My family sometimes is concerned with my focus on how many days I may have left to live but I do it to remind myself that this day, this moment, is more important to me than tomorrow or yesterday. It is in this moment that I want to experience happiness.

I don’t know about you but I do know that I like feeling good. I like clarity, appreciation, love, contentment and the feeling of being at peace. I don’t like confusion, disregard, hate, anger, guilt and the feelings of restlessness and inadequacy.

Somewhere, somehow I came to the realization people matter to me. That we have value and that we are not just some data point in a database.

So how does Peace enter into this essay? When I feel clarity, appreciation, love, contentment the feeling of being at peace is not far behind.

The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO declares that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed“.

In order to build those defenses of peace some shift needs to take place in how our lives are lived, we need to see that Peace is as fundamental to us as is water and air, love and joy.

Ultimately it is our own personal experience of peace that we want, not an idea of peace but the experience of peace in our individual hearts. When we have that experience it is easy to see the value of those around you and to know how valuable life is. To see the value of life in your friend and in your foe. Life is the most valuable thing we have. It is the miracle we have waited for.

“Knowing is better than Believing”, know peace.

Practice Peace, change your world.

– Bawn Campbell

Bowfest 2015

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Originally published September 9, 2015

2015 set the record for wettest Bowfest EVER, quite an impressive feat considering this marked the 40th anniversary of our island’s end of summer festival. Unfortunately the weather took that too literally and Autumn was lapping a little too close to Summer’s heels for comfort. Nonetheless, Bowfest 2015 will go down as a success. Vancouver may have shut down for the day, but Bowen partied on!

Many thanks to all the parade entries, Anne Smitton for your traffic warden expertise, Pam for another year of organization, and of course the diligence of this year’s judges: Barb Wiltshire, Ann Silberman, Nancy Lee, Paulina Keoplin and Georgia.

We welcomed the return of crowd favourite Lip Sync competition. Many thanks to Kate Brew for organizing, Reforma Architecture for sponsoring, and all the contestants who took part. The popularity of this event was astounding, and maybe cause to extend the competition for 2016?

This year we also had the great benefit of a Bowfest first: Logger Show. We extend our gratitude to Gary Anderson of Metro Blasting for your initial push for this event, Bowen Island Properties, Black Bear Transport, J & E Backhoe, Frank Seaberly, Twin Island, and Dee and Fraser Elliott, Braedan Jolly for extended sponsorship of the event. The Logger Show really brought the community together, there are far too many people to thank! Congratulations to all the contestants, you will go down in Bowen history as being a part of this first edition event. Plans for next year’s Logger Show are already in the works!

Thank you to all the musicians who took part in Bowfest, special mention to Taunting Mable for doing us a super solid. Tony & John for organizing, Shephard Ashmore Insurance, Graham Ritchie for MCing, Bill Granger, Bruce Culver, Brad Bacon and David Wrinch for stage setup, electrical, and teardown.

Thank you to Hilary and Robin Butler for your selfless work with the Run for Rwanda, Sarah Haxby for another great Country Fair Tent. Bowen Building Centre, Knick Knack Nook, Bowen Island Municipality, and Bowen Credit Union for your continual financial support. Margaret at Artisan Office Services for supplying ALL our printing and much of our poster art work, Microdeck for our website revamp and Bowfest poster. Peter King and Cormorant Marine for providing transport to our acts and guests alike. Bowen Glass for your AMAZING lanterns, BIVFM for filling our dunk tank and the use of your materials, Dave and Louise of Bowen Island Waste for your year after year dedication, Tim Hausch for hanging our banner, Murray and Janice Skeels for helping set up, The Legion for hosting the beer garden, Mike and Andrea for taking on the upper beer garden, Bowen Choir for manning the gates, all our food, craft, and community vendors. THANK YOU everyone who helped and volunteered on Bowfest Day. Last but not least to the 2015 Bowfest Board: Jessie, Jagjit, Robyn, Tony, Linda, Pam, John, Lisa, Bridget, Nairn, and Adam (I know you are trying to leave, but just forget about it OK?) – we may have all been new, but GUUUURLLL we worked it!

Looking forward to Bowfest 2016 when we have twelve months, as opposed to two to plan this goliath of an event! With (at least) seven board members cemented the planning has already begun. That being said our quest for volunteers continues, especially volunteers who would like to host and run events for Bowfest Day.

Thank you Bowen for welcoming me to Bowfest 2015.

– Sasha Buchanan


Parade winners:

Best Individual: Ambassador and Mrs Canada

Best Group: Irish Pipers and Drummers

Best Community: BI Yacht Club

Best Commercial: USSC

Best Theme: BelTerra

Best Other: Cocoa West

Lip Sync:

First place: “I was made for Lovin you” –Kiss: Marie Pedley, Roxanne Pedley, Jade Atkinson, Kate Atkinson, Shelby Jennings

Second place: “Tell me what you want” -Spice Girls: Maya Grundy, Hunter Scarf, Grace Quarry

Third Place: “Time Warp Mashup”: Allison Nosek, Bianca Mueller, Danielle Wank Weiss

Logger Show:

Crosscut Saw

Ladies

  1. Jill Kenny & Alicia Hoppenwrath
  2. Nathalie Broderick & Sheila Wade
  3. Kelsey MacDonald & Kelly Miller

Men’s

  1. Clayton & Eric Hunter-James
  2. Robert Clayton & Dave Paulus
  3. Gary Anderson & Todd Pearson

Jack and Jill

  1. Kelly Miller & Calvin Hagge
  2. Courtnee & Gary Anderson
  3. Katie & Tony Mainwaring

Chainsaw Event

Ladies

  1. Katie Mainwaring
  2. Sheila Wade

Men’s

  1. Calvin Hagge
  2. Scott Moore

Choker Race Event

Ladies

  1. Joanna Quarry
  2. Sheila Wade

Men’s

  1. Shane Tweten
  2. Jonny Bacon

Axe Throw

Ladies

  1. Kelly Miller
  2. Sonja Kristinsson
  3. Courtnee Anderson

Men’s

  1. Mark James
  2. Gary Anderson
  3. Robert Clayton

Overall Event

  1. Kelly Miller

Pole Climb

Ladies-

  1. Alicia Hoppenwrath
  2. Nathalie Broderick
  3. Katie Mainwaring

Men’s

  1. Adrian Graton 12.48
  2. Calvin Hagge 14.02
  3. Shane Tweten 16.02

2015 Bowfest Country Fair contest winners

Despite the rain, the Bowfest Country Fair Contests ran for another successful year under a lovely big tent on the festival field. Youth and adults submitted photos, stories and creations as well as bringing their racing slugs to the Country Fair tent. The Country Fair contests and slug races are one of the oldest traditional parts of Bowfest that have been part of the festival the most number of years! Congratulations to all the winners and many thanks to all the participants who entered this year to keep this tradition running!

Winners: the Tallest flower grown on Bowen by an adult was Lyn van Lidth de Jeude’s 11’ 7” sunflower which was supported by an incredibly sturdy stem!

The Biggest (heaviest) Squash grown on Bowen by youth was Eli Manning’s 38lb pumpkin, followed by the winning 8.3lb heirloom striped zucchini grown by youth Wesley and Sarah Jessop! The adult with the biggest squash was Sarah Haxby’s Ambassador zucchini which weighed in at almost 9lb! The Strangest Looking Vegetable or fruit grown on Bowen was won by Keary and Connie for their outrageous heirloom-variety white carrots and Em and Charlie for their slug shaped cucumber which was submitted with a story.

The Best Photo of Bees were taken by adult Keona Hammond and son Jack Hammond whose lovely portraits of bees on thistles won two first-place ribbons!

The Best Photo of a Bowen Island Slug was a tough one to judge! The white spirit slug got an honorable mention, but Angela Huxham’s incredible photo of a slug with its mouth wide open won the adult photo first place ribbon. The winning youth photo was a lovely portrait of a banana slug taken by Isaiah Lee. Isaiah submitted a story with the beautiful photo explaining that he had named the slug ‘sushi’ because you could hear him chewing on leaves, and the he looked like he was wearing a (slime) coat!

The Favourite Farm Animal or Domestic Animal Award was won by Kaia Matheson for her very moving story about the very old Endswell farm horse and what the old horse means to her.

The Lego Contest was another tough one to judge as there were so many fabulous entries that impressed the public and the judges. Kevin Harding’s elaborate medieval farm design and detailed description came in first place winning the most votes from the public, judges and youth judges.

The Fiber Arts Finest had a lovely selection of entries. Bonita Schaly’s hand-felted dragon took first place for design and for delightfully celebrating the Bowfest-theme of mythical creatures from around the world.

The Slug Races went well with a very large group of slug jockeys and slug race-enthusiasts huddled around the table hiding from the rain and keen to see the races. This year was the first year that a slugfie-stick was deployed to take video of the races and were wondering if next year anyone would like to help to stream the races online??

Although the non-stop enthusiastic cheering for the first half hour of the race may have contributed to a slow start to race one. In the end Morgan and Shelby’s well-trained and well-loved (it was the only slug to arrive in a hand-made, hand-decorated traveling box,) “Black Beauty” came in first place during race one, winning by multiple slug-lengths. Slug Race number two was won by Keona and Jack’s “Lighting” who slimed right past the finish line in approx. 26 minutes, which is a very fast racing time for an Arion aterslu slug (aka European black slug). Fun facts: Arion aterslu slugs are an invasive species that range in colour from black to white. In the 18th C they are documented as having been used as grease on axels of wooden carts in Sweden. At Bowfest, as is the custom, all racing slugs were returned to their original habitat after the races.

The 2015 Bowfest Country Fair Tent was made possible thanks to the Bowfest Community Fair Association and it was supported by Bowen Agriculture Alliance volunteers and community volunteers including: Sarah Haxby, Matt Matheson, Marysia McGillvray, Helen Wallwork, a panel of judges, the Young Farmers of Bowen Program, BICS student garden club, Bowen Farm, Fox Glove Farm, Vine and Garden Catering, and the BAA Farmers Market & Tail Gate Sales. We thank everyone who volunteered to help us keep the Bowfest Country Fair tradition going!

– Sarah Haxby

Earth Day Every Day: August

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Originally posted August 26, 2015 written by Emily van Lidth de Jeude

The aphids, having sensed the weakening plants on a cool evening, have arrived. You might not notice them at first, as you pick a few beautifully green leaves of kale out of the garden, but turn the leaves over or peek between the deep green folds and you may find little pockets of grey and white: aphids gathering en masse. They will stretch their hair-thin legs and stand tall before becoming motionless on the spot, to live or die with the group, according to your whim. It’s gathering time.

Brush the aphids off or cast the leaf aside and choose another. Bring in that beautiful verdant bouquet to chop up with freshly-dug potatoes, toss with lemon and chives, or blend into your smoothie. It’s gathering time for all of us.

Now that the nights are cooler I find myself more often sitting with friends enjoying a hot cup of tea and a sweater in the evening. My husband’s warm embrace is comforting instead of stifling, and I feel like making stew, collecting up my friends for a chat, and my children for evening snuggles.

In the grocery store lineup I see people pile small mountains of vegetables on the counter, and I realize how lucky I am. For most of the summer, I eat from my garden. Having space and time and desire to grow our own food is not just a great gift, but a privilege. The ability to wander into the woods, pick salal, oregon grape or mushrooms, and sit silently listening only to the rustle of wind in the leaves is almost unheard of for many people.

This week I’ll begin teaching in the city. The program I run happens mostly in the open wilderness here at home, but city bylaws and necessity for urban convenience mean that it will happen in a small forested park, there. Most of the forest floor in this park is bare, and littered with dog and horse poop, along with human refuse. We can’t go into the creek because of course in such a small but densely populated location, our impact would cause damage to the bit of remaining natural creek. This is perhaps the downside of gathering: There are just too many of us, and when we get together we overwhelm the earth’s ability to renew.

This year we reached Earth Overshoot Day on August 13th. Overshootday.org states that “Global overshoot occurs when humanity’s annual demand for the goods and services that our land and seas can provide—fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, wood, cotton for clothing, and carbon dioxide absorption—exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can renew in a year. Overshoot means we are drawing down the planet’s principal rather than living off its annual interest. This overshoot leads to a depletion of Earth’s life-supporting natural capital and a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” So we’ve been going further into resource debt each year for the past forty, and where are we going to turn when the well runs dry?

Our well ran dry this year – in the way wells do on these rainforest hillsides: it’s a shallow well dug into a small underground stream and the water level dropped below what we need to sustain our household’s daily usage. So when I say it ran dry, that means one day the pump hit air, and our family panicked a little. At the end of the day the well fills up again, but to a lower-than-average level. We can still use water, but one load of laundry means no more toilet-flushing for 8 hours; we haul water around to fill the small pots we’ve planted beside some shrubs and veggies and a new pump was bought and put into the pond to water the vegetable gardens; we save laundry and bathing for later, and save even the hand-washing water to feed to our garden. This extreme attention to water usage has meant an adjustment in our thinking, and although it was certainly easier when the water flowed carelessly, I’m glad for having to learn this lesson.

I think the solution to our global over-consumption lies in awareness. Not the kind of arms-length awareness we get from reading the news or signing petitions, but the kind of awareness we get from having our own little wells run dry; from having to shake the aphids off of our own home-grown kale, and feeling remorse at seeing the ravens take our prized blueberries. It’s those small, but sometimes desperately important details that we become aware of when we trade some city conveniences for the great privilege of connecting with the land. This recognition may enable us to enjoy consuming less; to live for what we do have instead of what we can have, and to gather in our hearts and community, for everything that we hold is dear.

– Emily van Lidth de Jeude

When is Water Wasted?

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Originally posted on August 12, 2015 written by Wynn Nielsen

I have been meaning to write about this for some time now. As a gardener, I am reminded every day.
We all are experiencing, first hand, the effects of warming and associated drought along with the rest of world, however unlike many others we still have drinking water, water to wash ourselves and to grow food. We are just beginning to be alarmed at the longer term consequences of a drying world.
Yes, we waste a lot of drinkable water, no question. Our water consumption, even when restricted for a few months in the summer, is generous compared to many other regions of the world. But I think we are mistaken, in some respects, in our understanding and definition of “wasted water”.
When is water wasted? We can argue that it is wasted in large and small ways but is it wasted when it’s plentiful or only in the dry summer months when less plentiful and expensive? Is it wasted by our building regulation and infrastructure practices that allows rainfall to roar off roofs and through drains and culverts into the sea rather than permeating the ground to nourish plants and replenish aquifers? I think so. California certainly knows the effect of ever diminishing aquifers and reserves. We absolutely need better building and landscaping practices in a drying world. I would also argue that using clean, especially treated water, for power washing buildings or cleaning cars and decks is a use that should probably be reexamined in today’s world. And then, the main purpose of this letter, is it being wasteful to share water with our living landscapes and creatures. I would argue that it is not. Keeping our tended and wild landscapes alive and healthy is of the utmost importance – as it creates and maintains a livable world for us all.
What is the antidote for dry and hot; it is moist and cool. You know that feeling you get when you leave the heat of the asphalt road or cement parking lot and plunge into the adjacent forest? The ambient temperature immediately drops what feels like several degrees, you can suddenly breathe easily as moist air fills your lungs, it smells earthy and cool. Ahhh, relief.  That’s what our personal gardens, community parks, ponds, lakes and natural areas bring to us. Rescue and respite from our hot urban deserts. Yes plants consume water. They also transpire continuously, releasing that water into the air as moisture that, in turn, cools and dampens the air around us. They are our air conditioning.
When I hear people discussing whether to bother planting a garden, to water that thirsty tree or, worse, to pull up existing landscaping in response to drought and water restrictions, I almost despair. The solution is not to let landscapes die. The solution is to plant more tree canopy and shrub layers for permanent ground protecting shade and to plant barren eroding ground with a living surface that holds and filters clean water back into aquifers. The solution is to protect and increase our native forests, wetlands and lakes as a counter balance to a drying climate and urbanization; to mitigate, not reduce and diminish it.  The solution is to “green” our buildings, streets and urban spaces, create significant public parks, collect rain water and use ground permeable landscaping and green roofs for cooler cities. As we lose the green, our world turns brown and dry, not just our lawns.
Garden trees and shrubs suffering repeated near-death experiences every summer with no or shallow watering are never going to develop deep, drought resistant roots. They need deep watering, less often. A timed trickling hose or focused “spot” sprinkler does a good job, also tree “water bags”. After a few years of sufficient watering there may not be a need to water these hard stemmed plants at all. Hand spraying, unless done properly, is often less effective than a tree waterbag, a focused spot sprinkler (NOT the wide/high spraying ones) and mulching. And may not use less water in the end. Ask, research, educate yourself and talk to neighbours about the best practices. Your garden will reward you.
We need to be pre-emptive, innovative and smart about water, not reactive and panicked. And that goes for municipalities and Boards as well. Get on with changing the big stuff, e.g., obsolete building practices, grey water systems, mandatory cisterns, collection reservoirs, permeable landscaping, greening urban spaces, metering, public education, creating parks, protecting our green “air conditioning”. We citizens will take care of the small, but vital stuff.
And, lastly but so importantly, flora and fauna need and are entitled to have water to live, too. We need to share — it’s not just all about us.

– Wynn Nielsen

Tourists Vs Visitors

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Originally posted July 14, 2015 written by Murray Atherton

TOURISM on Bowen!

TOURISM…Some think it is a bad word on our island.  A concept that only creates lineups on the ferry, congestion on the trails and noise from the Vacation Rentals down the street.

TOURISTS are those day-trippers who come from the mainland or from afar.  Some come for a day to experience our trails. fresh air and friendliness… others will stay in one of our many B&B’s or Vacation Rentals for a week or a weekend.

VISITORS are the friends and relatives you have visiting you from near and far throughout the year.   When you invite your friends for a day, weekend or extended stay, they are in fact, part of TOURISM.

Both are the same… wonderful economic generators on our amazing island.  I remember one merchant at Artisan Square saying many years ago, “if it wasn’t for the tourists and the Hood Pointers I’d have been out of business years ago”.

Bowen is a small island, population-wise.  3,500 (some say 3,700) is not sustainable a marketplace for most entrepreneurs.  I remember trying to convince financial institutions to open on Bowen and hearing the same thing over and over again…. “come and see us when you’ve got 5,000 full time residents”.   Thankfully, our population does grow to that magic number in the summer months and with the tourists and visitors spending their disposable dollars our small business owners are able to eke out a living.   Tourism numbers say that the average day-tripper will spend about $62 per trip.  An overnight guest will account for over $115 per person expenditure (sure, YOU might be the one spending the money on their meals etc) but it all goes into the  island’s economy.  That money circulates as wages, rent, supplies, money for gas, food and luxuries.  It is spent with our carpenters, labourers, housekeepers and our local municipality.

With the demise of the Chamber of Commerce (much to my chagrin as I spent 7 years as President up to 2009) the municipality convened an Economic Development Advisory Committee almost 3 years ago, to explore the need for a true Economic Development Committee of Council.   Over that first year, we identified Tourism as one of the primary economic generators on the island.

A small group of islanders gathered together and formed a separate committee and named it Tourism Bowen Island.  In mid-June of 2014 we became public by hosting a pancake breakfast prior to the start of the Martin Marine Round Bowen Sailboat Race.  We generated a whopping $740 bank account that allowed us to get a foothold into the provincial tourism marketing programs.   Through the assistance of Vancouver Coast & Mountains Tourism Association, we were able to update our Tourism Plan and develop a Marketing Plan and Budget and at the end of the provincial government’s fiscal year we were able to receive over $7000 in matching dollars for our previous activities.

In this past 12 months, we have become a Registered Non-profit society.  We have worked with Destination BC (the new name for TourismBC) in their new programs and given them input (that they actually listened to and put into action) on how to work with smaller communities.   We have worked with the Steamship Days Society at two Outdoor Adventure Shows, joined Tourism Vancouver and have attended their Showcase in conjunction with the Clef d’Or (hotel concierge) and Info Centre staff throughout Metro Vancouver.   We are working closely with the Vancouver North Shore Tourism Association and have taken out a membership with the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and have participated in two of their TASTE BOWEN initiatives and the Bowen Showcase this past spring.

We are co-oping with the Bowen Island Arts Council in the operation of the INFO Centre on Cardena (come on down to get your copy of the amazing TRAILS MAP developed by the Bowen Island Rotary Club) and with the First Credit Union in the building of the Dick VanAelst Memorial Welcome Centre on the Pier by the ferry ramp.  We have worked with Rotary and many amazing people in the development & coordination of trail initiatives.  An exciting initiative we have just started is the BOWEN AMBASSADOR program where volunteers are riding the ferry, chatting to those camera-toting tourists and visitors making sure they know where to go for information and how to get to their desired destination or find the activity they are anticipating.

With the receipt of the Provincial Marketing Funds, we were able to hire a contract Tourism Coordinator who is working diligently on a new Membership-driven web site and Community Calendar.  We are very active on Social Media with the website, a very informative Facebook page, a Twitter account and are front and centre on Instagram.  We are developing a Photo Library on the Tourism Vancouver and the HelloBC websites.

NOW all we need is the support of the community.  At present, we have less than a dozen paid members.  We are putting in countless volunteer hours on behalf of the island’s economy and can only continue with the support of a strong membership base.  We do look for your support.

– Murray Atherton, Chair Tourism Bowen Island.

NAPTEP and Bowen Island

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Originally published June 30, 2015 written by Peter Frinton

Ask Bowen Islanders about NAPTEP and you will likely get either a quizzical look or allusions to diapers and sleeping aids.

In reality, NAPTEP is an acronym for Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program, a voluntary conservation incentive found only in the Islands Trust area.

Under NAPTEP, landowners may apply to permanently covenant eligible portions of their land in exchange for a 65% reduction in property taxes on those areas so protected.

Owners cannot disturb NAPTEP lands through such things as construction, vegetation removal or terrain alteration.

Since its inception ten years ago, about 25 parcels of land have  successfully entered the program, and are administered by the Islands Trust Fund.

However, it has hitherto been unavailable on Bowen Island. Due to quirks in the original drafting of the covering Provincial Act, island municipalities were not included. That was amended by order-in-council in 2012 and subsequently approved by Metro Vancouver.

But then it hit a brick wall, as the previous Bowen Council rejected its adoption here despite ‘support in principle’, for what can only be viewed as ideological resistance. The fact is, Bowen has nothing to lose by welcoming NAPTEP as a land conservation initiative. The tax shift from a property registered would average about $1 for each of Bowen’s 2200 folios.

Now it is back for review and likely adoption. Trust Area Services Director Lisa Gordon addressed Council as a delegation in late May, and answered questions on program details. She characterized NAPTEP as “difficult for landowners to get into, difficult to get out of”. Lands for inclusion must have significant ecological value, not be in the ALR or developed in any way. There are fees, assessments and species inventories plus legal surveys. Costs to the applicant can approach $10,000, and to remove land from NAPTEP at some future date would require both paying all back taxes plus receiving assent from Islands Trust and BIM (if Bowen Island Municipality chose to co-sign as a covenant holder). So- not for the faint of heart, but a nice way to rule from the grave.

Lisa Gordon suggested that Bowen Council may wish to put limits on either the value or number of parcels accepted into the program. Other islands haven’t done this (and none have been overloaded with applications). However, Bowen’s incorporated status creates a direct local tax impact, whereas other unincorporated islands come under the provincial rural tax, so the tax shift is dispersed among a much larger inventory of properties.

Still, the cost to individual taxpayers on Bowen would be a very minor peril. Compared to ecological gifting, something done at least twice on Bowen, the cost is miniscule. As well, there are no land use offsets so often associated with conservation tools, such as park dedication or other amenities in exchange for subdivision and additional dwellings.

It will be interesting to see how quickly this comes to a vote, and whether it will be unanimous. Alison Morse was against it last time around, but the optics of her opposing it now that she is again a sitting Trustee would be somewhat akin to a church minister declaring a disbelief in God.

As Lisa Gordon said in her presentation, we (Bowen) already pay for the program through our contributions to Islands Trust; we may as well take advantage of it. All administrative costs and the bulk of staff time needed accrue to the Trust.

I do hope this gets through expeditiously. It represents a truly positive and measurable benefit of being within the Islands Trust federation. Plus, it’s pretty easy for Bowen to get onboard. After all, the program is up and running, it works, and has been well received on the other islands.

It’s time to relinquish our status as the last hold-out.

– Peter Frinton

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