One of Bowen Island’s Success Stories


First published June 8, 2016 Written by The Caring Circle

We were told recently that although Bowen Islanders are concerned about health and the provision of health care on the island, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they know anything about the work of Caring Circle. One suggestion to our board, by a local councilor was to make sure Islanders know more about the work we do.
We always feel that we’re talking to our Bowen Community on a regular basis: on the Forum, on Facebook, in the Undercurrent and on our website. When you’re living and breathing your work, you sometimes assume others are also paying attention. From our viewpoint, there are many Islanders who are having trouble coordinating the health services they need.  Caring Circle is reaching out to them in as many ways as we can, providing support. It’s rewarding work and we are told, at least weekly “I can’t thank you enough. This information has made all the difference.” or “thank goodness you’re here to help”.
Just how many Islanders have we helped since we opened our doors three years ago? We have:
• responded to more than 1,000 calls or visits, asking for information about health-related issues
• arranged almost 100 drives to medical appointments for people who couldn’t find any other way to get there
• served 1,150 meals at our lunch program (in partnership with other organizations)
• organized hearing tests on Island for more than 100 people
• conducted 30 weeks of mental health sessions on anxiety and depression, supporting over 40 people
• offered a wide range of health talks, ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, COPD, asthma and diabetes –  over 50 Bowen Islanders benefited from these sessions
• hosted the Public Health Nurse monthly visits for families with young children
Here are three stories drawn from hundreds, highlighting our work. Our work is confidential therefore we have changed some of the details to ensure anonymity.
A lonely and isolated woman with serious health issues and no immediate social support network came into Caring Circle every week or so just to talk – to see a friendly face. After we built a relationship, it was clear that she had financial issues that prevented her from accessing appropriate healthcare.
Caring Circle connected her to an accountant who completed her taxes free of charge (they had not been filed for many years). This allowed her to apply, with our help, for a number of government support services. She also had health appointments in town and our driver program was able to get her to her treatments at Lions Gate Hospital.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? In this person’s case, as in many we deal with, helping her access the social support services she qualified for allowed her to remain on Bowen, paying her rent and otherwise supporting herself as opposed to perhaps being homeless or worse?
A social worker from Lion’s Gate Hospital called to say they were discharging a patient home and wanted to confirm that this person would be well supported on island. Caring Circle knew, because we have the pulse on many seniors’ circumstances on Bowen, that this individual had, in fact, no support at home, and lived in a very precarious environment. Through conversations with the social worker, Caring Circle had the discharge delayed until home nursing support and other accommodations were put in place to allow this person to rehabilitate more safely.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? This person would have spent the long weekend alone in very frail health, with no heat in her home and no food in her fridge.
A family with young children were over-whelmed with the increasing responsibilities of looking after an elderly parent. They came into Caring Circle to see if there was some way to get their parent’s needs met and respite for themselves. They were considering a long-term care facility but approached Caring Circle to explore other options, as they didn’t want to move the parent off island, away from family and friends.
Caring Circle suggested other options that might allow their parent to stay on island, including connecting them to a companion support worker, organizing rides through our driver program to health related appointments and arranging her participation in other seniors programming on Bowen.
What would have happened without Caring Circle? This family might have reluctantly placed their parent in off island long-term care. Instead, this senior didn’t have to move off of Bowen, the family got much needed respite and the parent gained more independence and resilience in getting her own needs met. Although Caring Circle might document that we supported this one elderly person, in fact, an entire family was impacted by the work we did.
There are so many stories to tell about the ways we have guided people to the care and services they need and we will be sharing many more with you over the next few weeks.
Please visit us at Caring Circle to hear more about what we do. We’re behind the Library in the Heritage Cottage on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Phone (604) 947-9100 – website:


Wild Food Spotlight: Maple Blossoms

08Emily_maple blossoms 1200px

First published April 27, 2016 Wriiten by Emily van Lidth de Jeude

Last year for the Earth Day Bulletin issue I began a series called “Earth Day Every Day”, where I explored the island and talked about my discoveries. That year has come full circle, and it’s time for this series to evolve, too. I’d like to share some foraging delights with you! So, every couple of months for the next year, I’ll explore a seasonal wild food opportunity that we can easily find here on Bowen.

One of the most iconic and bountiful plants we have here is the bigleaf maple. As you walk through the springtime coniferous forest you can see a maple a long way off, as it’s brilliant leaves catch and hold the sunlight – chartreuse against the deeper greens of hemlock, cedar, fir and spruce. Even its bulky-looking trunk and often sprawling limbs seem to burst with vivid colour: In early- to mid-spring the moss that covers them is a vibrant rich green, punctuated only with the deep grey-brown and white of the bark, and sometimes with haphazard fields of licorice fern.

Look out to the ends of those sprawling branches, reaching umbrella-like over your head, and if you’re there at the right moment you’ll see it’s blossoms. Maples’ blooming times vary according to their geographic location, elevation, and situation in the forest. Although as I write this most of our local maples have finished blooming for the year, if you explore a bit you’re likely to find a few still going strong.

A maple blossom cluster is referred to as a raceme, due to the fact that many flowers hang off a central axis (or stem) at approximately equal lengths and distances. The flowers develop first at the point closest to the branch, and successively out to the end of the raceme. Therefore, if you pick a raceme at the height of its development and sample it at various points along the stem, you’ll notice that it has various different flavours. (Note: Maples are as delicious to insects as they are to humans! Before you eat it, check the blossom for flies, aphids, ants, etc. and knock them off.) Now start tasting. Any closed or barely-open flowers near the end will have a bitter, astringent taste, due to the oxalic acid which they and many other fresh wild greens contain. Further along, both the stem and the blossoms lose this sharp flavour, and have a much more pleasant, mild taste. The flowers that are in their prime even have a slight sweetness, and this is absolutely delicious in salads! Further up, and nearer the branch, the stem becomes progressively tougher, and the flowers less flavourful. Eventually, where the two pistils in the flowers have turned brown, the flowers will taste very bland, and by the time the whole flower begins shrinking, it’s more like dried leaves – not worth eating!

So now that you’ve familiarized yourself with all the different flavours of the maple blossom… what to do with it? Some people stir-fry them. I’ve heard of people battering and deep-frying them, too, but I prefer to taste them in all their glory: quiche, rice-wraps or salad!

For a quiche, simply prepare a good savoury butter crust, steam some maple blossoms until they’re wilted, and fill the crust with a mixture of the blossoms and some other sweet or mild vegetable such as fennel, mild celery, or spinach. Mix up some eggs, milk, and a bit of sea salt, and pour it over. Cheese is always an option, but I find it overpowers the maple blossoms in this case and prefer to leave it out. Bake and enjoy!

Wraps are as diverse as they are easy. Whether you use pitas, tortillas, nori or rice paper, fill it with some sweet rice, maple blossoms, and a dressing you love. It can be quick and dirty or absolutely elegant, depending on your desire and presentation.

My favourite for last: Salad! Take out the most delicious section of the racemes, and fill your salad bowl half-full of these – flowers, stem, and all. I break the stem into sections approximately one inch long. Now make up the rest of the salad with whatever mild greens you like. Butter lettuce works well, but so do many other seasonal wild plants such as salmonberry or dandelion petals, bitter-cress, or miner’s lettuce. If you grow kale year-round in your garden, it may blossom at the same time as local maples, and kale flowers are also a delicious and beautiful addition. I like to make a dressing of grape seed oil, maple syrup, and lemon juice, as well as sometimes a little salt or wholegrain mustard, depending on the ingredients in my salad. Experiment to year heart’s delight, and enjoy! I hope you love maple blossoms as much as I do.

The Bowen Island Community Foundation: Helping to Build a Stronger and More Enriching Community

  1. erwenweb

    It was back in 2004 that the Bowen Island Community Foundation first began its work and our mission today remains consistent with those initial hopes. We aim to create a capacity for improving the lives of Bowen Islanders by encouraging donations and endowments that will serve this purpose.
    In 2016 we are now fortunate to be able to administer a total of more than $1.2 million in assets; these funds are invested on Bowen Island and with the Vancouver Foundation. And we’re now able to give back about $50,000 each year to help improve the community that we all call home. We want there to be a continuing vitality in our work, as we engage with donors to support strategic initiatives that have been identified as important to our island.
    With donations received from the community… what have we done lately? Here are 10 highlights that might interest, surprise or please you.
    1. We’ve helped to fund the Garden Gateway initiative, a project that will take shape in the coming months, beautifying the entrance to our island with a dazzling array of sustainable plantings, and a raised garden rockery with seating.
    2. We provided some initial start-up funding to the Knick Knack Nook and have recently been working with the Knick Knack Re-Use it Store Society to help them with their Small Grants Program, which in 2016 will distribute $15,000 in grants to Bowen islanders, focussed on environmental and social sustainability.
    3. We recently hosted a workshop on Bowen to assist all of the Island’s non-profit organizations with the important task of statutory compliance (not the most exciting of initiatives, perhaps, but a critical part of what we all do).
    4. We’ve funded the purchase of a push-trike that will be stored next to the Library, and will make the trails of Crippen Park and elsewhere accessible for all, enabling an important connection to the nature that we have at our doorstep.
    5. We continue to act as stewards for Bowen Islanders who have provided us with generous grants of land — grants that will, in time, significantly increase both our total asset base and our ability to provide funding to a number of worthy community projects.
    6. In early March of this year we hosted the Governor General of Canada at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver, along with the other Sea to Sky Community Foundations: West Vancouver, North Shore, Whistler, Sunshine Coast and Squamish.
    7. We’ve started a youth council, through the generous grant of a donor, empowering Bowen youth decision-making, and providing simultaneous learning of the values of stewardship, community service, and philanthropy.
    8. We are an entirely volunteer board, holding monthly meetings, and representing a wide range of Bowen Islanders: men and women, young and old, working and retired, relatively recent arrivals and remarkably long-term residents.
    9. We provide a range of bursaries and scholarship to Bowen Islanders every year: the Aaron Sluggett Memorial Scholarship, the Bowen Island Golf Association Junior Scholarship, the Knick Knack Nook Bursaries for Environmental Sustainability, the Maggie Cumming Legacy Fund Scholarship, and the recently announced Margaret Witty Bursary Fund.
    10. We have 13 ambassadors, a mix of outstanding Bowen Islanders who help us in building awareness and understanding of the work of the Foundation, encouraging support from within our community: Shelagh MacKinnon, Noah Pryce-Jones, Louise McIntosh, Brian Biddlecombe, Darryl Deegan, Mary Letson, Katherine Gish, Paulo Arreaga, Ted Spear, Kevin Manning, Donna Scorer, Erwen Smith — and still very much with us in spirit — the late Piers Hayes.

The Bowen Island Community Foundation
invites you to our
2016 Annual General Meeting

The Bowen Island Community Foundation’s AGM is an opportunity for us to thank our donors and supporters and showcase how philanthropy builds community. We will announce successful grant recipients, introduce the Foundations’s new Board members, and share stories of the successes you have helped us achieve over the past year.
Please join us in celebration of community!
Thursday April 21, 2016: 7 to 9 p.m.
Cates Hill Chapel
661 Carter Road, Bowen Island
Please RSVP by April 15, 2016.


It Takes an Island


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about our responsibilities as a member of a community. What is our obligation to make the place we live in better with us than it would be without us? – I suppose some would say, “is that an obligation at all?” I think it is, but I also think it’s the kind of obligation that is actually a gift. When you give yourself, in whatever role you can, to your community you create a space that will give back to you when you need it. From the 30/30 initiative, to the effort to help Sadie Rose in her recuperation, to the incredible outflowing of support for the Hayeses after Piers’ sudden passing, this community’s ability to come together and give back when needed is amazing.
We can all see and feel the effects of this kind of involvement in a small community like Bowen, but what about the larger, global community? Are there things that I can change in my day to day life that will positively impact the environment? Given where we live what is our obligation to the planet? This is what I’ve been struggling with lately. It’s probably worth saying that my whole family already recycles, composts, limits our water, heat, and electricity use, and buys local (and ethical) whenever possible. But these things have really become the default in our society – something that you need to justify not doing rather than doing. Since Bowen is such an awesome community filled with people willing to share their ideas, expertise, and experience (Yay Bowen Forum and various Facebook groups!) – I know that there are lots of others trying to find solutions to this same problem. Kelly Schwenning is spearheading a group looking into the bulk purchase of solar panels and Elizabeth Burdock is blogging about her goal of feeding her family locally and sustainably – and that’s not even going into all of the fantastic things that BAA has going on!
One small thing that I can do is to grow more of my own food and start wildcrafting. For some of you that may not seem like a big deal at all, but full disclosure – I am a terrible gardener. I can kill just about anything, so this is going to be an uphill battle for me! Luckily, I live on acreage that gets plenty of sun and have access to tons (literally) of awesome compost. You won’t see me selling at the Farmers’ Markets any time soon, but if I’m able to significantly reduce the amount of packaged produce that my family currently buys – I’ll consider it a win. How successful my efforts are is yet to be determined, but so far I’m optimistic!

I have sat down to write this numerous times over the last couple of weeks, but every time I do what were beautifully formed phrases in my head refuse to flow out onto the keyboard. It’s like they get stuck somewhere in the joints of my hands, hovering above expression, not quite ready to be made public. So, I’m trying again and please forgive me if this isn’t as elegant as all of the other beautiful remembrances of Piers that have been published and printed and shared over the last little while.
I remember when the Hayeses first came to Bowen with the news of their arrival spreading like a brush fire,
“Have you met the new family?”
“They sailed from half way across the globe to come here.”
“You’ll love them, they’re the nicest people.”
And they are the nicest people and we do love them. With their dedication, hard work, love, and community-mindedness the Hayeses have turned The Snug into the manifestation of the Heart of this community. Piers was a person who greeted you like an old friend, was always ready to share a joke or story, and would offer you a lift home if you needed it. He was all of the qualities and characteristics that make Bowen great. And the space that is left with his passing is equally great.

– Margaret Miller

Democracy and the Role of Courts


Originally Published Feb.16, 2016, written by Nerys Poole

Uh, oh, I hear you say – “Yawn, this one for the recycling bin.”  “No, No,” I say – “give me a chance.”  Read on before you cast this aside.

As I sat in the B.C. Supreme Court a few weeks ago, listening to the latest challenge to a bylaw of our island municipality, I recalled my introduction to and fascination with administrative law, a required course in first year law school.  Many of my classmates found it incredibly boring but I loved it.  This was the reason I went to law school.  As a mature student, I had chosen to go to law school partly because of my desire to understand our legal system and how it can be used to bring about change in society.   Because of my activism on a number of social issues, I wanted this knowledge: What is meant by jurisdiction? What is fairness in the legal context? What is justice?  Where are the limits of political and judicial power?

Administrative law is based on the principle that government action, whatever form it takes, must be legal, and that citizens who are affected by unlawful acts of government officials must have effective remedies if the Canadian system of public administration is to be accepted and maintained.

To bring this principle back to the case recently heard before the Supreme Court, we have two Bowen Island landowners, Shu Lin Dong and Zhen Wang,  unhappy with the docks bylaw passed by this current Council, applying to court to overturn the bylaw.

What do the courts generally do with such challenges?  Over the years, judges have developed a number of principles when reviewing decisions of elected officials.  Unless there is some major defect in the process leading up to a decision, or the passing of a bylaw, e.g. a failure to give the required proper notice of the public hearing – judges take a very “hands off” or deferential approach to these decisions.  And rightly so.  This, to me, is the essence of our democracy.  We elect people to represent us – whether municipal, provincial or federal.  In doing so, we expect these people to make decisions on our behalf, to follow through where possible on their campaign commitments and not to have their decisions overturned by unelected officials like judges.

You may believe that a bylaw is wrong – that is your right.  But it is not your right to have it overturned just because you believe it is wrong or maybe even unfair to you or your neighbours.  With respect to something like this bylaw, zoning bylaws by their very nature are not fair and treat landowners differently.  I may want to build a hotel on my property or a widget factory, but if my property is zoned residential, I am forbidden from doing so – for very good reasons.  If you as a citizen are unhappy with a decision of your elected official(s), and the decision was passed fairly in accordance with all procedures, your remedy is at the ballot box.  The courts have been very clear about this principle.

To quote a 2012 decision of our Supreme Court of Canada:

“The case law suggests that review of municipal bylaws must reflect the broad discretion provincial legislators have traditionally accorded to municipalities engaged in delegated legislation.  Municipal councillors passing bylaws fulfill a task that affects their community as a whole and is legislative rather than adjudicative in nature.  Bylaws are not quasi-judicial decisions.  Rather, they involve an array of social, economic, political and other non-legal considerations.  “Municipal governments are democratic institutions”, per LeBel J. for the majority in Pacific National Investments Ltd. v. Victoria (City), [2000] 2 S.C.R. 919, at para. 33.  In this context, reasonableness means courts must respect the responsibility of elected representatives to serve the people who elected them and to whom they are ultimately accountable.”

Court challenges may be one way for an angry citizen to express his/her displeasure at what an elected body is doing.  However, the threat of litigation is too often used as a tool to stifle legitimate and considered decision-making by an elected body.  One need only look at the views expressed by one of our councillors during the third reading debate on the docks bylaw (Dong’s lawyer showed the video of this during the hearing), who, despite not being a lawyer, stated: “we know this bylaw will be challenged and challenged successfully.”

These kinds of threats have a real chilling effect on municipalities like ours where taxpayers often end up paying the costs of litigation even when the municipality is successful.  A good example of this is the Duntz & Underhill v. BIM lawsuit, a challenge to our Official Community Plan that was heard by the Supreme Court in 2011.  The court dismissed the challenge and awarded costs to BIM just prior to the 2011 election.  Despite this, the newly elected council of 2011 made a decision to waive the collection of these costs and they were never collected.  Even when the successful party collects costs, they rarely represent the actual legal costs of a lawsuit.

The threat of litigation should never be a deterrent to a duly elected Council in its decision making.  Yes, the Council should be making any decisions with full legal advice but should not back off in the face of such threats.  I applaud our Council members who voted for the docks bylaw.  I look forward to the outcome of the Dong lawsuit.  Mr. Justice Punnett heard the case on February 1 and 2, 2016 and reserved his decision.

Submitted by Nerys Poole, a retired lawyer who practiced constitutional and administrative law

CSA Christmas Craft Fair


Originally Published December 2, 2016 from the CSA

This year, the Bowen Island Community School Association (CSA) is proud to be celebrating the 30th Annual CSA Christmas Craft Fair, a popular Island Tradition!
Thirty years ago, the Bowen Island Community School Association was looking for a way to bring people to the new Bowen Island Community School (BICS) and to celebrate all that is uniquely Bowen. Lo and behold ~ the annual CSA Christmas Craft Fair was born! More than just a Christmas Craft Fair, it is a celebration of our semi-rural local culture with a treasure trove of Island vendors creating a multitude of treats and delights to thrill the senses.
The Bowen Island Community School Association is the heart and soul of the Christmas Craft Fair. Imagine, that for 30 years, a hard-working team of volunteers have organized this event, year after year. The volunteer team has grown, the vendors have improved, Santas have come and gone, musicians evolve and the gems for sale are different and better each year…. The CSA Christmas Craft Fair is filled with music, fun, food, friends and goodies too numerous to mention to fill everyone’s stocking.
The Community School Association is one of Bowen Island’s longest standing registered not-for-profit organizations. The proceeds raised from the CSA Christmas Craft Fair are invested back into community organizations and the Bowen Island Community School for the benefit of all. Some of the current initiatives that the CSA supports are:
•    BI Community Playground Upgrade – 2017
•    Community use after hours at BICS
•    Community Art Project
•    Summer Camp Subsidy
•    Community Garden
•    Homework Club
•    And numerous smaller, but equally important projects that make Bowen unique
Please grab your Christmas shopping list, get your “Ho Ho Ho” on early and come to the BICS Gym on Sunday, December 6 from 10:00 – 3:00 pm for the 30th Annual CSA Christmas Craft Fair.

– Merry Christmas to all from the Bowen Island Community School Association Board and the 2015 CSA Christmas Craft Fair Committee!

Crippen Park and Development of Lot 3


Originally published November 22, 2015 written by Denis Lynn

On 4th November 2015, Edna Thomson (Vol. 17, Num. 21) expressed concern that development of Lot 3 “would really mean the eventual loss of possibly the entire Crippen Park” as a consequence of  “weakening (the trees) via the loss of their root systems and complimentary structural support systems”. We are beginning to understand that the trees in our forests are indeed intimately connected, not by roots but by a complex network of fungal mycelia, which provide nutrients and water and transmit chemical signals between trees. Damage to these mycelia could indeed impact the health of the trees. Nevertheless, we should remember that much of the present forests on Bowen has regrown following significant logging in the early 20th Century. This regrowth is possible because ecological systems have evolved over millions of years to respond to changes, often catastrophic. An ecologically significant catastrophe in recent times in the Pacific Northwest was the eruption of Mount St. Helens on 18th May 1980. Its steamy blast blew down and scorched forest over more than 500 km2, leaving a seemingly lifeless landscape. And yet, these ecosystems are recovering. What is it about the behaviour of ecosystems that enables this recovery?

In 1973 Prof. C. S. Holling, University of British Columbia, proposed two kinds of ecosystem behaviour. One he called stability – “the ability of a system to return to an equilibrium state after a temporary disturbance”; ecosystems that rapidly return to the equilibrium state are more stable. The other he called resilience – “a measure of the persistence of systems and their ability to absorb change and disturbance and still maintain the same relationships between populations”.  Prof. Holling discusses the spruce budworm community in eastern North America, which is a highly resilient, but unstable, community, characterized by periodic outbreaks and a sequence of recovery steps that leads to the next outbreak.  Another example he mentions is the response of Wisconsin forest communities to fires – over time since the fire they “reconstruct” themselves until the next fire starts the process all over. To these, we might add the response of forest communities in the Northwest to fire and volcanoes.

The long-term study of the forest and other ecosystems after the Mount St. Helens volcano has lead to some important and unexpected findings. The timing of the eruption was significant – an early spring morning meant that nocturnal animals, like mice, were in their burrows while spots covered by spring snow and ice were protected from extreme heat, permitting seeds to survive and colonize the more impacted habitats. The number of ponds and lakes increased as lava flows and mudslides blocked rivers and streams, creating new aquatic habitats. Surprisingly, amphibians and other organisms rapidly colonized these, so that lakes and streams are again showing communities typical of this forested region. Terrestrial habitats have been slower to recover, although there is greenery covering most of the blast area. This vegetation has provided habitat, even in the significantly disturbed areas, to support the colonization by almost all small mammal species of undisturbed forests. On the other hand, the return of bird species has lagged correlated with the slower recovery in structural complexity of forest habitat.

As Bowenians, we can appreciate this slow recovery as the forests that we value today have taken years to recover from earlier deforestations. Mount St. Helens has provided another lesson here, for the quantity of living and dead trees remaining in areas has significantly influenced the rate of recovery of the forested areas. These “biological legacies” now provide a management tool for some foresters who, rather than clear-cutting for logging, will leave a certain portion of standing trees – a biological legacy – to enhance the recovery. The biological legacies left by Mount St. Helens and by typical forest logging practices are probably much less than 20% of the original forest. This impact of biological legacies has been modeled and shown to increase the resilience of forest ecosystems to the impact of fire, even when about 20% of the forest is left in remnant patches.

Lot 3 runs along the east side of Miller Road and behind the RCMP Detachment, north and east from the Trunk Road, for about 300 m. If all trees were logged from this lot, it would represent, I believe, about 20% of the area of Crippen Park between Miller Road and Cardena Road, leaving 80% of the forested area untouched. While this would be a significant “empty space”, it hardly approaches the 20% or less of the forest left standing by logging operations or volcanic eruptions. I would guess that Edna Thomson is correct that the trees and shrubs bordering Lot 3 would be impacted. However, as a biologist, I am confident that the 80% of forest remaining would be very resilient to this disturbance, and that the future of Crippen Park is not in danger.

Further Reading: Dale, Crisafulli, Swanson. 2005. Science 308:961; Holling. 1973. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 4:1; Seidl, Rammer, Spies. 2014. Ecol. Appl. 24:2063.

– Denis Lynn

© Copyright 2016