Author Archives: StopDocks

Victory in Supreme Court

Docks Bylaw Lawsuit Dismissed

(April 4th, 2015) It’s been almost a year since Bowen Municipal Council passed the Docks Bylaw, preventing applications for new docks at Cape Roger Curtis. It was a controversial decision, taken under threat of a lawsuit. It’s a great time to thank Council for their decision, and congratulate them on weathering the storm so far.Write a message to all the councilors at once. Though not all councilors voted in favour of the bylaw, it reminds everyone of your support for it.

On March 31st, The Honourable Mr. Justice Punnett delivered his judgement on the case Shu Lin Dong and Zhen Wang vs. Bowen Island Municipality. He dismissed the lawsuit and awarded costs to the Municipality. For supporters of our current council and Stop the Docks, this is a clear victory and vindication of several years of effort.

The two Cape Roger Curtis waterfront property owners challenged the bylaw, claiming that:

  • the bylaw was inconsistent with the Official Community Plan,
  • therefore it was beyond the Council’s authority (‘ultra vires’),
  • it was passed too fast and in bad faith,
  • it was discriminatory,
  • public consultation on the bylaw was inadequate,
  • disclosure to the public before the bylaw was passed was deficient,
  • when the bylaw was passed, some councillors failed to consider the matter 
  • and there was a lack of procedural fairness when the bylaw was passed.

Mr. Justice Punnett dismissed every one of these grounds. He upheld the bylaw and Council’s right to pass such a bylaw. See excerpts below.

In the 45-page B.C. Supreme Court decision, Justice Punnett explains the story behind the lawsuit, the applicable precedents, and his findings on each point.
View the decision (PDF)
or on the Courts of British Columbia website.

[79] While the petitioners assert they have been targeted or singled out, the evidence is that after the first three docks were built public concern grew and the petitioners’ applications to build docks increased that concern. In the context of the Official Community Plan and the prospect of numerous and substantial docks in the area, such concerns are understandable. This does not mean the petitioners were targeted. …

[81] In my opinion Bylaw No. 381 was within the jurisdiction of the Municipal Council under the Islands Trust Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 239, the Islands Trust Policy Statement and the Local Government Act. The petitioner has failed to show that the public interest was not the basis for the decision of the majority of the Municipal Council who voted to adopt Bylaw No. 381. The petitioner has not shown there was some other motive or basis for adopting that bylaw. …

[82] The petitioner alleges that by refusing permission to Cape Roger Curtis property owners to build moorage structures Bylaw No. 381 is discriminatory and therefore illegal. [83] Zoning bylaws are by their nature inherently discriminatory, in that some uses are permitted and some are not. Section 479(4), formerly 903 (3) of the Local Government Act expressly authorizes bylaws that may be different for different zones. …

[93] There is no evidence that the councillors voting in favour of Bylaw No. 381 did so without regard for the public interest. Indeed the level of interest in the issue and the comprehensive information provided to the public and to council would accentuate the public interest. The evidence does not show that the council members ignored or failed to consider all relevant factors and issues. …

[97] … I find no discrimination in law. The evidence does not establish any improper motive, purpose or other irrelevant considerations by Municipal Council.

[125] There is no evidence that the Municipality limited or attempted to limit public debate. There is no evidence that anyone was prevented from saying anything at the public hearing. All who wished to speak were permitted to do so. …

[129] With respect to the allegation that the Municipality passed the bylaw as quickly as possible, which the petitioners say leads to the inference that they were trying to trump the tenure approvals and limit public debate, the evidence does not indicate that to be the case.

[133] The “legitimate expectation” relied on by the petitioners is that the existing regulatory framework would not be changed from the time they initially applied to build a dock and their approval and completion. The doctrine’s application however does not have the substantive effect the petitioners suggest.

[135] Because the decision in question was legislative as opposed to administrative the doctrine does not apply. As a result not only did the petitioners not initially have a “right” to the zoning that permitted a private moorage for every lot nor do they have a “right” to that zoning never being altered.

[137] I do not accept the petitioners submission that the overall situation is that the petitioners are “victims of a ruthless bylaw that was passed to target the petitioners for no justifiable reason”. In my view the bylaw, while prompted by concerns raised by the grandfathered docks and the petitioners’ proposed docks, does not target the petitioners nor is there “no justifiable reason”. The Official Community Plan encompasses broader issues affecting the public interest, an interest that is clearly of significance given the subject is the construction of moorage facilities on the foreshore and into the sea, areas that are Crown property and are open to public access. …

[138] Nor do I accept that the Municipal Council prejudiced and deprived the petitioners of rights because “subjectively” they did not like the view and on a “whim” they deprived the petitioners’ of substantive rights attached to their land. That characterization ignores the fact that the Official Community Plan includes the issue of viewscapes and public access.

[139] The petitioners’ argument in essence, as noted in para. 16(d) of the petition where they allege the Municipality “failed to come to a reasonable solution,” is that the Municipality was obliged to behave reasonably in a manner that favoured the petitioners. It is not for this Court to substitute its decision for that of the Municipal Council where they have acted lawfully and within their authority. As noted in Pollard at para. 51:
… A municipal council acting within its statutory powers is answerable to the electorate and to the Legislature. It is not answerable to this or any other Court.

[140] The petition is dismissed with costs to the respondent.

NOTE: an additional lawsuit filed by Zongshen (Canada), owner of lots 1 and 14 at the Cape, is still pending. Because it is based on very similar grounds to the previous actions, we’re optimistic that it too will be rebuffed.

Presentation to Islands Trust by Melissa Harrison

Read her insightful and articulate exposé on the Stop The Docks website.


Once More with Feeling!

Council Holds Public Hearing For Docks Bylaws

Here’s the best opportunity as well as the last opportunity ever to show you care, both for the Cape Roger Curtis coastline and the Mayor and councillors who are trying to protect it. It’s been a long road, and we’re finally at the stage where we have something we can feel good about.

May 14th at 7:15pm

UPDATE: (May14th, 2015) People opposed to the Docks Bylaw have mounted a letter-writing campaign of their own. If you haven’t made a submission this time yet, would you consider a quick email to Council today? We can even take a lesson from the bylaw opponents (most of whose emails are the same) and simply use this handy template:”I support the proposed dock bylaw #381 prohibiting further construction of docks at Cape Roger Curtis. I would like the Cape coastline to remain in its natural state.”

Write this message to all the councilors at once. You can edit it before you send it if you like.

Or use this link if you use Outlook.

You can read up on the bylaw, as well as comments from the public about it and the Cape Roger saga on the Municipality website.

The whole purpose of the meeting is for Council to hear from the public. But it’s not just Council, it’s the whole island that is listening. Even a short comment from you in public at the hearing or by email helps them feel the support they need, and reduces somewhat the sting of lawsuit threats and controversy. Let’s create a supportive atmosphere where anyone can feel comfortable to speak regardless of their position on the bylaw. Our strength of numbers and the common sense in what we’re asking can carry the day.

It would be great to put this issue behind us as a community and get on with the other work that needs to be done.

Presentation to Islands Trust by Melissa Harrison

Read her insightful and articulate exposé on the Stop The Docks website.

Municipal Candidate Survey

We sent a request for a position statement about docks to all the candidates in the 2014 Municipal Election, with a form asking three yes/no questions and a providing space for a comment. Read their responses.


Give them some love!

Council to vote Monday March 16th

MARCH 2015

For a couple of years now, Bowen Islanders have been asking Council loudly and clearly to stop dock building at Cape Roger Curtis. The shoreline of the cape has long been treasured by Bowen Islanders, because of its pristine, rugged, windswept beauty, with rock pools and many pocket beaches and swimming beaches as well as great nature watching. And it is also an important draw for tourism on the island.

Now before us them a clear, simple resolution of Council that could finally show clear resolve on the part of our island. It siezes on our rights and duties as owners of the public foreshore at Cape Roger  and declares to the Provincial Government that we do oppose dock building there. Council will vote Monday on a resolution to say no to more big docks at Cape Roger Curtis. You can read the resolution here.

Bowen Island councillors who are voting in favour of the resolution are showing courage and the ability to hear the public. Let’s show them some love! They’re not alone – communities up and down the coast have said no to big docks for years. But on Bowen, they still will take some heat for their positive decision.

Join us at Council Chambers on Monday, March 16th to encourage them to support the resolution. Let them know you care about the issue and about them. Encourage those councillors who might otherwise vote against the resolution and for the status quo to reconsider in light of your keen interest in the topic.

Council convenes at 6:30. The will be in a closed meeting from 6:35 until 7pm, then return to public meeting.

If you can’t make, and even if you can, why not send them some moral support…

We’re still in it to win it!


Giant Docks – Coming to a Beach Near You?

By Melissa Harrison

Bowen Island, BC – March 10, 2015
Presented to Islands Trust

I think we will all agree that beaches and shorelines are of prime importance to our enjoyment of our island homes. Many of us, especially those with young children, spend many hours on public beaches each year. Beaches are not only important for our well-being and enjoyment, but they are also vitally important for the economies of the islands; for attracting visitors and new residents, access to beautiful coastline is key.

1. The Situation on Bowen

The shoreline of Cape Roger Curtis has long been treasured by Bowen Islanders, because of its pristine, rugged, windswept beauty, with rock pools and many pocket beaches and swimming beaches as well as great nature watching. Located in the mouth of Howe Sound, with pockets of forage fish habitat amongst the cobbles and rocks, the Cape is a stop off for migratory fish, birds and marine mammals.

When the developers of the Cape applied for four large docks, the applications attracted significant opposition. Fifty six letters were written to the Province opposing the proposed docks. The municipality wrote with a number of concerns, including the specific mention in the OCP of protecting that stretch of coastline, and asked that some further studies be done, refusing to support the applications as they stood. Additionally, the applications seemed to conflict with the Province’s own dock policy, which says that docks should not negatively impact the environment, community values or public interest. Despite all this, the Province approved the licences, citing a lack of specific prohibitions in the municipal bylaws. The approval prompted a petition in opposition which gained 1345 signatures.

For context, private docks on Bowen tend to be below or up to 65 feet long, including the length of the float. The longest dock at the Cape is 431 feet long, and stands 27 feet above the beach. Please see the second photograph below. These industrial scale structures stand beside empty lots, essentially as a developer amenity. They have been used less than a handful of times, and as they are so exposed, they will likely never be used. And yet there they will stand, monuments to bad policy and process. And there are four more dock applications with the Province for this development alone.

2. The Issue for the Islands Trust

We are seeing increasing numbers of large docks being approved by the Province in the face of public and neighbourhood opposition. I have heard directly about one on Galiano, and we have all read about the 2500 sqft, Chip Wilson application in Sechelt. Islands Trustees need to recognize that megadocks seem to have become fashionable. I suppose that large docks are needed where you plan to own a large boat and you have chosen a home because it fronts a beach but would like to reach deep water. Whereas in the past, waterfront owners would have simply accepted that their property is not suitable for a dock, now people see that as a surmountable difficulty and are willing to spend the $100k plus to do it.

2.1 Concerns with the Dock Application Process

Short Timelines Imposed

What brings me here today is a letter that Bowen municipality received two weeks ago. In that letter, the FLNRO manager of authorizations, Keith Anderson, stated that FLNRO has ‘recently developed a 140 Day Turnaround Project’ where their ‘Performance Measures’ state that ‘80% of new Land and Water Act Tenure applications must have a decision made within 140 days from the acceptance of the application.’ Bear in mind that this includes: BC notifying local authorities, proponents publishing the required public notice, public responses to the proposal, assessment of those responses, instructions to staff, assessment of the site, consideration of the application as part of a public process, responses to FLNRO. It seems to me that this timeline is an impossible imposition for small authorities to meet, given that while some applications may be very straight forward, many are complex and time consuming for local jurisdictions to assess. And yet that complex work is vital to ensure public and private interests are appropriately balanced. To give one example, folk I know in Galiano spend the winter in warmer climes. The entire application process for their neighbour’s dock took place while they were away without their even hearing about it, and they came back to find a large dock had been approved and  construction was underway, crossing in front of their property. They were devastated.

Default Approvals Encroach on Jurisdictional Right to Determine Land Uses

A giant dock oscures half the horizon from a bech on Bowen Island - The Cape On Bowen's 'Untouched Shores'

A dock with no house, obscuring half the view from our beach – approved by Provincial Government despite protest.

The 140 day processing time limitation becomes exceptionally problematic, given that FLNRO’s default seems to be to approve projects, as an implicit consequence of their ‘public commitment to cut red tape,’ rather than to take a precautionary approach, i.e. declining applications where a local jurisdiction cannot support them. In the case of the Cape Roger Curtis dock applications, the municipality refused to send a letter of support because they had asked for further studies and accommodations that were not fulfilled. Despite this, the Province chose to approve.  In my view the Province is overstepping the mark with respect to land use, by developing their ‘Turnaround Project’ and ‘cutting red tape’ policy, without any consultation with, or even giving notice to, local jurisdictions, especially since the Crown is under no obligation to approve any land disposition. Unfortunately, by limiting the ability of local jurisdictions to adequately respond, the Province severely curtails its ability to fulfill its own duty to ‘maximize and sustain the flow of economic, social and environmental benefits to British Columbians, now and in the future,’ (from the Crown Land Use Operational Policy: Private Moorage, Appendix 3) given the significant negative impact on public recreational amenities that giant private docks on public beaches impose.

Undermining Environmental Protection

The Bowen Land Use Bylaw clearly states that docks should not ‘negatively impact eelgrass meadows, kelp beds, clam beds or mussel beds.’ This statement is both clear and absolute. The Cape biological dive surveys undertaken by the proponents showed two of the docks to be located in important kelp and eelgrass beds. However the Province decided that ‘effective mitigation measures, best management practices and monitoring can be used to address impacts to aquatic values resulting in no net loss to the areas’ productive capacities’ (from their ‘Reasons for Decision, Oct 29, 2012). In this statement, the Province is accepting mitigation measures where they have neither the capacity nor interest in assuring a) that the proposed mitigation is accepted practice, b) that the proposed mitigation is carried out, or c) that the municipality has the capacity to monitor mitigation. The reality is that many of the mitigations suggested, eg transplanting eelgrass, are neither proven nor were they carried out. So in this case, even a clear and absolute prohibition of negative environmental impact in the municipal Land Use Bylaw proved to be no protection at all, because the Province took it upon itself to interpret the bylaws and to err on the side of approval rather than precaution.

Public Consultation Failure

In the case of Cape Roger Curtis, the Province received significant negative feedback from the public, totaling fifty six letters. And yet this feedback had no impact on the outcome. As the Province described their ‘referral process’ to me, they refer the applications to a small number of agencies (principally Transport Canada, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, relevant First Nations and the local authority). But the Province’s interest in public comments extends only as far as riparian access and the legal right to apply for a moorage in that location. So every single one of those families and organizations which responded to the invitation to comment were wasting their time, but more importantly, they were mislead into believing that they were contributing to a consultation process that would be an opportunity to influence the outcome. It was not.

Given that the Province also ignored the municipality’s interpretation of their OCP, this means that in effect, the only opportunity for public input to influence the outcome of dock applications is through explicit prohibitions, nailed down in local bylaws, and even those, it seems, are subject to interpretation.

2.2 No Protection of Enjoyment of Beaches in the Islands Trust Policy

Moving on from the Provincial dock application process, in exploring the issues surrounding the Cape docks, I looked to the Islands Trust Policy Statement. In Part V: Sustainable Communities, the policy speaks to protection of ‘scenic values, views, distinctive features,’ the preservation of ‘natural amenities’ and ‘natural heritage’. All of these could apply to beaches and coastal viewscapes; yet in the directive policies and recommendations section, there is mention of preserving tree cover, but it says nothing about the aesthetic and recreational enjoyment of beaches, for just hanging out at the beach. Further, in Part IV: Stewardship of Resources, 4.5 Coastal Areas and Marine Shorelands, the policy says that development should not ‘restrict public access to, from or along the marine shoreline’ and should ‘minimize impacts on sensitive coastal environments.’ However, again it omits to refer to aesthetic and recreational enjoyment of beaches. Given the significance of beaches as a natural amenity to islanders’ social, cultural and economic wellbeing, this seems to me a significant omission which could be easily and uncontroversially addressed, and would provide better guidance and safeguards to the local trusts.

2.3 Recommendations for Trustees

In summary, I have a number of recommendations that I urge you to consider:

  • All trustees should be informed about the risks posed to treasured beaches and shorelines by the growing trend for giant docks, as well as the Province’s new policies that are making it difficult for local jurisdictions to satisfactorily influence the outcome of dock applications.
  • Trustees should consider updating local bylaws, zoning and OCPs, posthaste.
  • The Trust as a whole should consider updating the Policy Statement to explicitly include the protection of aesthetic and recreational enjoyment of beaches, in the sections suggested above.
  • That the Trust should inform the Province that:
    • The 140 day ‘Turnaround Project’ is impossible for local authorities to administer.
    • That the Province needs to consult with those who have jurisdiction over land use before adopting such policies.
    • Beaches and coast aesthetics are important public amenities for the social, cultural and economic wellbeing and character of islands, and dock applications are complex to assess. Therefore BC should exercise their option to decline applications where they cannot be wholeheartedly supported by the local jurisdiction.
    • Public process needs to have an impact to be valid, and the Province should either consider handing the responsibility for managing that to the local jurisdiction, or change their criteria for assessment to include the public interest.
    • The Province should consider dealing with private and community docks in a  completely separate process to that with which they manage mining, forestry, aquaculture, because these procedures and policies, geared towards industry, are proving to be too blunt an instrument to manage the subtleties of the disposition of local, residential shorelines.

Ombudsperson Investigation of Docks Process

By Richard Wiefelspuett

 Island Municipality (BIM) and Council are under investigation

In March 2014 the municipality was informed by the office of the ombudsperson that an open investigation of the municipality and Council had been launched. This came as the result of my formal complaint filed in December 2013.

The Office of the Ombudsperson receives enquiries and complaints about the practices and services of public agencies within its jurisdiction. Their role is to impartially investigate these complaints to determine whether public agencies have acted fairly and reasonably, and whether their actions and decisions were consistent with relevant legislation, policies and procedures.

In its core my complaint focuses on the current Council (2011 – 2014) and their skewed handling of the private dock applications on Cape Roger Curtis. During the open investigation the complaint has been expanded to include cogent examples of Council’s conduct, with respect to alleged violations of the Community Charter closed meeting provisions and a range of examples that illustrate conflict of interest issues on the part of some council members.

To my knowledge BIM or members of the current Council (2011- 2014) have never informed the public about the ongoing investigation until Tim Rhodes’ brief mention of a citizen initiated request to the Office of the Ombudsperson to investigate the docks approval process. (see Bowen Island All Candidates Forum 2014 on Facebook; Tim Rhodes; November 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm). Therein Tim Rhodes states that “the provincial Ombudsman reviewed the process and found everything in order.”

In fact the investigation is still ongoing and the Ombudsman has only recently asked for additional information related to the legal advice BIM and Council received during the dock application process.

In fact an initial finding confirms that the Bull, Housser and Tupper advice regarding the powers of BIM and Council to reject the dock approvals is correct (‪…/06/May-23-2013-Legal-Opinion1.pdf).

In factCouncil lacked the political will to protect the public interest and preserve the coastline of CRC but followed a different agenda instead.

I have posted three documents (see links below) to provide additional information on content and status of the complaint.

Bulletin Text (

This is a copy of the article published in the Bulletin (12 November 2014). It provides an overview of the complaint and the status of the investigation.

Formal complaint (

The Office of the Ombudsperson provides an online format for the filing of a complaint. The attached document shows the various headers of the template and the specified content of my initial complaint.

March Update (

Following the launch of the open investigation in March 2014 additional information obtained through an access of information request was provided to the Ombudsperson. This document provides a detailed timeline of the communication between Bowen Island Municipality (BIM), Council, the dock proponents and the Province related to the dock applications. It reveals a fascinating story, a genuine  “whodunnit”. In summary the document shows that the Province requested a letter of support for the docks from BIM as a precondition to granting the foreshore leases to the dock proponents. This letter was never sent. Still the docks were approved.



Where do your candidates stand?


Your vote and your beaches

Private docks on public beaches and the Cape Roger Curtis shoreline remain an ongoing community issue on Bowen Island. The next Council will have an opportunity to plug holes in the 2013 dock bylaw, complete the promised second bylaw initiated by our current Council, and move on. There are many important matters such as seniors’ and low cost housing, enhanced tourism, building a community hall and others that need us to be pulling together as an island. Healing this division – and maintaining our public beaches – is a relatively quick way to demonstrate leadership and help bring us all back together, so it really matters what candidates believe.

On October 25th, StopTheDocks sent a request for a position statement about private docks to all the candidates in the 2014 Municipal Election.

See the survey results here:

We provided each candidate with a form: three yes/no questions and space for a comment. We followed up with calls and emails to anyone who may have missed our first request, to invite their input, and we extended our deadline to give every opportunity to participate. To date, ten of the fourteen candidates have responded on this topic to the over 1300 people who petitioned for a stop to the docks at Cape Roger Curtis. Four candidates (Tim Rhodes, Alison Morse, Marcus Freeman & Michael Kaile) decided not to state their positions, though they are welcome to add their voices whenever they wish.

The questions were:
1. Do you support the future construction of private docks on public beaches at Cape Roger Curtis?
2. Do you support the future construction of private docks on Bowen Island’s public beaches?
3. How would you rate the priority of proceeding with Phase 2 of the Bowen dock bylaw?
4. Please provide a brief statement to reflect your position on the issue of private docks on Bowen Island.

To questions 1 and 2, all but one of the respondents answered ‘No’. Each provided their own take on the importance of the subject to them and/or the direction they would take. Among those who stated a priority level, the average priority was 8/10.

The survey provides insight into the thinking and responsiveness that potential council members may bring to future decisions pertaining to the natural and social environment of our island home. In an election with so many excellent potential candidates and one of the highest participation rates in our democracy, we’re very optimistic that a balanced Council will emerge with the resolve to protect our public beaches.

Another Dock Application is in process at Cape Roger Curtis

Council adopted the first phase of a new docks bylaw on November 25, 2013. Unfortunately, the new bylaw fails to achieve protection for the Cape Roger Curtis shoreline and Bowen’s other public beaches. Many other Vancouver Metro municipalities have stopped accepting large docks.  But here, an eighth dock application is actively under review at Lot 17 at the Cape. This makes the docks bylaw a top priority.

See and SUBMIT PUBLIC COMMENT on the latest application for a dock at Cape Roger Curtis Lot 17

Concerned citizens need to submit comments by December 4th.

W E ‘ R E    I N   I T   T O   W I N   I T   –   H A P P Y    V O T I N G !


Candidate Survey Results

On October 25th, we sent a request for a position statement about docks to all the candidates in the 2014 Municipal Election, with a form asking three yes/no questions and a providing space for a comment. We also followed up by contacting anyone who didn’t respond to confirm they knew about the survey and to find out if they might respond in some way. Here are the responses of those who chose to participate, to the over 1300 people who petitioned for a stop to the docks at Cape Roger Curtis – and Bowen Island voters.

The questions were:
1. Do you support the future construction of private docks on public beaches at Cape Roger Curtis?
2. Do you support the future construction of private docks on Bowen Island’s public beaches?
3. How would you rate the priority of proceeding with Phase 2 of the Bowen dock bylaw?
4. Please provide a brief statement to reflect your position on the issue of private docks on Bowen Island.

Support private docks at Cape Roger Curtis? Support private docks on Public Beaches? Priority
Gary Ander - - -
Comments In response to your survey, Questions 1 and 2 are not really relevant as there is now the Phase 1 Bylaw that will manage dock construction on Bowen in the future. Phase 2 should be completed and enacted to protect sensitive foreshore area. Thank-you for your concern.
Stacey Beamer No No 7
Comments (excerpt) We need a clear community policy with regard to future docks that honours the needs of the environment the community and the land owner. More
Michael Chapman No No 11
Comments Having a small dock to access your boat or house is one thing. Building huge noisy industrial structures across delicate inter-tidal zones as a marketing scheme for multi-million dollar undeveloped properties is wrong in so many ways.
Sue Ellen Fast No No 5
Comments I love public beaches and have worked to protect and open access to them over 15 years on Bowen. The new Phase 1 Dock Bylaw is far more permissive than the process in place earlier. Rescinding or replacing Phase 1 might be simpler and more effective. More
Marcus Freeman - - -
Comments no response
Yvette Gabrielle No No 6
Comments I support public beaches to remain enjoyable by the public. Our economy, tourism, real estate values and quality of life all benefit by maintaining public access to beautiful, serene beaches.
Michael Kaile - - -
Comments In response may I refer you to the Municipal website where information on myself and other candidates is posted. A copy of my platform is also attached.
I will not, however, be completing your questionnaire.
Melanie Mason No No 8
Comments I believe that public access and enjoyment of public beaches is a very important amenity to our island community. I believe it should be protected not only for our enjoyment now but also for the future generations. I also firmly believe that fragile ecosystems and habitats such as eelgrass beds should be fully protected.
Alison Morse - - -
Comments no response
Maureen Nicholson No No 8
Comments Private docks do not belong on public beaches. If elected to council, I would consider the second phase of the dock bylaw as unfinished, essential policy work. I look forward to Stop The Docks becoming unnecessary because we have adequate bylaw protection in place to protect our public beaches.
Tim Rhodes - - -
Comments no response
Murray Skeels No No 10
Comments I like your definition of public beach. My guess is we’ll use that wording in the bylaw. See the definition of beaches
Peter Williamson No No 10
Comments Private docks are not appropriate for beaches, ecologically sensitive areas and scenic shorelines. I would move immediately to protect beaches from docks, and then work with data coming from ecological surveys to designate other areas for protection. Cape Roger Curtis is one scenic seascape that also needs protection.
George Zawadski No No*  —
Comments Won’t comment on bylaw until I get a better grasp on it, but I can say I want to put a priority on putting this issue behind us and move on. *Yes if a public dock More

Further Comments

We asked candidates to make an initial short statement, but offered extra space if they had more to say.

Stacey Beamer – My understanding is that the community has the authority to greatly influence the dock approval process with the province and we have done so in the past, both pre and post incorporation. Not sure how this fact got lost or surrendered with regard to Roger Curtis as I was not privy to any meetings or negotiations that may or may not have occurred.
My direct experience with the province and dock applications is that if the municipality says a clear no with sound rational, based on the community’s best interest, the province will side with the community.
But we must clearly say no and have defensible rational for doing so.
We need a clear community policy with regard to future docks that honours the needs of the environment the community and the land owner. A policy that works in the long term best interest of Bowen. It should be proactive and not reactive Such a policy should be crafted with care and consider the big picture. We have plenty of examples of bad (reactionary) rules causing more damage than no rules would have.

The outcome at Roger Curtis including the docks was a complete disaster in my view.
I am not interested in focusing wholly on blaming individuals or groups for the outcome. It is a collective disaster that started a couple decades ago when well intentioned local folks thought it wise to zone a majestic property like Roger Curtis for ten acre lots and at the same time did not provide clear terms for the inevitable dock applications that will come anytime we create waterfront lots.
It is clear that this council made some poor strategic choices that irrevocably harmed the Capes amazing foreshore environment and the community’s interest in it.
It is also equally clear that the council before this one made poor strategic choices that irrevocably harmed this precious 600 acre land parcel, and the people’s interest in it.
I have never met anyone who ever wanted to hurt Bowen. Our greatest tragic irony is that we have all been on the same page in so many ways for so long.
When I realized this years ago it allowed me to have compassion for everybody involved.
Nobody wanted to fail or do damage to mother Bowen. But we did. Over and over again by making well intentioned choices in isolation.
Every rule, every choice has an impact on the ground.
There is no point in focusing on blame. It is toxic and saps our collective energy. I would propose that we focus on learning from OUR mistakes so that we can move forward collectively. All a little wiser and not fall into the same traps over and over again.
In a way you could say that I would like to help create mechanisms that allow the community to self reflect. To look in the collective mirror and realize we are not now, nor have we ever been, victims.
We are the masters of our own successes and failures.
This philosophical shift to taking responsibility for our actions is critical in my view. We have spent years focused on the Roger Curtis blame game instead of realizing that the same short sighted but well intention zoning that destroyed Roger Curtis is still in place on many other large parcels of land. The same fate awaits many large parcels of land on the island if we stay focused on blame instead of the wisdom that comes from admitting we screwed up.

Sue Ellen Fast – Earlier, many factors were considered and analyzed for each individual application, and the public and Council and staff and advisory committees, and our Official Community Plan (OCP) including Parks Plan all had a role. The new Phase 1 Dock Bylaw considers only a few factors, there is no public role, no role for Council or committees, and no reference to OCP with Parks Plan. Staff will presumably respond to referrals based on the few factors.

This frees applicants from carefully planning their structures so they don’t impact all the various public values and benefits, such as swimming or neighbouring views. I expect more, bigger, more intrusive docks, and more community discord, whether a Phase 2 bylaw protecting public beaches is created or not.

The rules are changing off-island too in a de-regulatory direction, with the province providing guidelines instead of rules dock applicants and not regulating compliance. Restoring the option to Council to tell the province that any particular dock applicatoion is supported or not supported would help.

Background: Once the municipality was formed and became recognized by the province, docks were regulated through a municipal public process that welcomed various community input and took all sorts of factors into consideration, such as at Pebbly Beach – the Council Minutes for Aug 27, 2001 (starts page 3).
The province took the advice of BIM.

In 2004 BIM created our first Land Use Bylaw, including the bits about not dividing a beach or damaging eel grass. At some point staff took over commenting on most dock applications instead of Council, and BIPRC or Greenways Advisory Committee was asked by staff for input. All sorts of factors, not just length, eelgrass or dividing a beach were taken into consideration by staff and advisory groups, along with the OCP and Parks Plan. The public, including neighbours, could still comment to BIM or province and everybody seemed to feel heard.
The province took the advice of BIM. Until recently.

George Zawadski – Though I am big on respecting property owners rights, this is too contentious an issue that has been dealt with poorly by both sides, and we need to avoid a fiasco that divides the community even further. Besides, I seriously question the logic behind building docks that are susceptible to the fierce storms that are common out there. After watching the Not on The Agenda video.. all I can say after shaking my head in disgust is.. it’s time for a serious attitude adjustment by both sides. We need a mayor and council who will listen respectfully, not walk out of chambers, point fingers, and argue with the concerns of 1300+ people. Conversely, the public has to be equally respectful of mayor and council and the often thankless job they are doing for the community. In the future, Mayor and council will have many issues to deal with, not just the docks.. and those who insist on coming to council demanding to be heard “now”, will IMO, do more harm than good to their initiatives.

Defining Beaches

Here is the definition we provided in the survey:
“A ‘public beach’ is defined for this survey to mean a foreshore area (pebble or sand beach, or rocky bench) used by the general public for recreational activities such as picnicking, swimming, diving/snorkeling, and for kayaks, paddle boards or sailboats. Water use areas for recreational power boating or personal watercraft are not considered part of a ‘public beach’. The ‘public beach’would be the commonly used recreational shoreline area and a reasonable distance offshore to protect public safety and public use. For example, the public foreshore and adjacent waters at beaches such as September Morn, Sandy Beach, Deep Bay, Eaglecliff, Cates Bay, Crayola Beach, King Edward Bay, Bowen Bay, Tunstall Bay, Cape Roger Curtis (Arbutus Point and Pebble Beach to Lighthouse), Alder Bay and Seymour Bay would be considered a ‘public beach’.”


Summer 2014 Update

Summer 2014 Update

Time for Phase 2 of the Docks Bylaw

What is Cape Roger Curtis like now? There is a dock at Lot 13. It broke apart in a mild early summer storm. There is a dock at Lot 11, Pebble Beach. It has been modified with additional pylons, presumably to reduce the likelihood of it falling apart, too. And there is a dock at Lot 15, the lighthouse. All of these docks are located in inappropriate locations, destroying the viewscape and harming the marine environment. No one lives on these properties. These are docks created for absentee owners. One more dock is permitted for Lot 6.

The dock at Lot 13 twisted and broke in a mild June storm.

The dock at Lot 13 twisted and broke in a mild June storm.

Two docks at the Cape have been pending review since last summer. Another megadock application has been submitted by the International Buddhist Society for a dock at Grafton Bay. And the most recent megadock application is for Bowen Bay.

The dock bylaw we pushed so hard together to get in place last November should prevent the approval of the last two applications on the grounds of excessive length. We shall see.

In the meantime, municipal council has chosen to forget the docks. They have not proceeded, as promised, with the second phase of bylaw development, the phase that protects the beaches and foreshore in the public interest. While we wait to witness the further damage wrought by nature (“Nature bats last”), and to see how the four pending applications are decided, we are preparing for the next part of the fight: to ensure that the second phase of the bylaw is on the agenda to protect the public interest at Cape Roger Curtis.

Giant docks resume construction: Lot 11 dock will block view from two public beaches.

Work resumed on Wednesday, February 12, on the dock at Pebble Beach, a public beach on Bowen. Also, surveying work and diving is in progress at Lot 6, at Arbutus Point. Two additional dock footings have been installed at Lot 15, at the Lighthouse. Both Lots 6 and 15 appear to be again for sale (MLS listings and new signage on the Lot 15 property). Possibly a dock is intended to add value in any real-estate flip. The developer and Lot 11 owner, Edwin Lee of Leeda Developments, has not commented publicly on public dismay at his construction.

Stop The Docks encourages Bowen Islanders to drive down to the Cape and see for yourself what is going on. Wakefield/Hanson Marine have typically fast-tracked this stage of construction, bringing a barge over in the early morning, pile-driving into the seabed all day, and working until dark. It may be your last opportunity to see Pebble Beach without a dock running through it.

Beginning of the end for the view from Pebble Beach


Protest against the Dock at Pebble Beach Continues

The following letter from Dr. Richard Wiefelspuett was sent on February 13, 2014, to Bowen Island Municipality, Transport Canada, and the Province of BC (Forest, Lands and Natural Resources and the reponsible minister). It was published in part in the Undercurrent (February 21 issue).

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Bowen Island Municipality Land Use Bylaw regulates water use zones and specifically designates the coastal area of Cape Roger Curtis as WG1 zoning which includes as a condition of use the following: “Community dock, neighborhood 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.”

I hereby formally protest against the dock construction works at lot#11 that have commenced today and request your immediate intervention and suspension of all works until a proper and independent review has addressed the following short-falls of the approval process.

The approval process for granting the permit for this dock has failed to properly consider:
- the destructive impact the dock will have on eelgrass in the bay
- specific definition and the supervised implementation of effective mitigating measures
- the public’s right to the unimpeded access to and from the beach (NWPA)
- enforcement of Best Practices

Further, the construction of dock #11 has violated the terms and stipulations of the specially protected Covenant Zone at Cape Roger Curtis.

1. Eelgrass

The presence of eelgrass in the bay has been evidenced by a privately funded dive survey and the official eelgrass mapping project conducted by the Island Trust. The employed spud barge kills eelgrass each time it anchors itself on the seabed during the lengthy piling process. The extensive anchors and anchor chains that will be installed to position the float for the dock will kill eelgrass. The shade cast by the lengthy dock components (wharf, gangway, float) will kill eelgrass.

As witnessed during the installation of dock #13 best practices have been ignored and anchor chains were dragged extensively over the ocean floor during the installation. The same contractor is at work at dock#11. The same process will kill eelgrass within the extensive footprint of the dock and its anchor systems. I estimate that more than 75% of all eelgrass in the bay will be destroyed as a direct consequence of this dock.

2. Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA)

Through an access to information request I have received all drawings submitted to Transport Canada for the review of compliance under the NWPA. After review of these drawings the information provided in the drawings is indicative of the detrimental impact these docks will have on the public’s right to unimpeded access to the adjacent beaches and water. It is incomprehensible that TC approved the docks on the basis of these drawings despite the significant impediment of the adjacent beaches and access to and from the water that these docks will cause.

With specific reference to Lot # 11 (2011-500588) the drawings show anchor locations and a spread of anchor chains that intercept the adjacent beach and impede the navigable waters. These components will endanger boaters, swimmers and divers and will impede access to and from the adjacent bay / Pebble Beach; according to these drawings several anchors and anchor chains (under tension!!!) will become exposed during low tide.

3. Covenant Zone

Bowen Island Municipality has been alerted repeatedly that a foundation of Dock #11 has been illegally placed within a specially protected zone (Covenant Zone). A detailed interpretation of the applicable delineation of the Covenant Zone in accordance with the Land Act has been submitted to BIM. The seaside border of the Covenant Zone is defined by the natural boundary in accordance with the Land Act. Substantial research submitted to the Municipality convincingly contradicts the interpretation of the natural boundary by Bennet Land Surveying. The boundary lines documented in the Plans BCP43265 and BCP41220 do not represent the actual conditions at the site (#11; and possibly elsewhere). They are misleading.

In addition the recent access to information request with Transport Canada has yielded construction drawings for the dock at lot#11 that show the footing of the concrete foundation clearly submerged at high tide.

This depiction is in stark contrast to the observed reality on site. After more than 6 months of witnessing the highest tides at the location of dock #11 during the observed water levels always stayed clearly below the footing. The submitted drawings misrepresent the actual situation. The drawings are erroneous and provide further proof that the footing is indeed within the Covenant Zone.

So far the Municipality has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation why the well-founded concerns regarding the violations of the Covenant Zone and the calls for action and enforcement have been ignored. In an email dated November 27, 2013 (Annie Dempster to Melissa Harrison, Tamsin Miley et all) the Municipality first confirms the relevance of the definition of the natural boundary in accordance with the Land Act. The message then continues – in obvious contradiction of the Land Act definition – to confirm that the footing of the concrete foundation at lot #11 is standing two meters within Collingwood Channel. Absurd! As can be easily observed on site this is evidently not the case.

In view of the blatant discrepancies between the actual on-site conditions and the documented surveyed condition it is not acceptable that the Municipality simply accepts the existing survey. Since the Covenant Zone falls within the jurisdiction of the Municipality it is important that this zone is correctly delineated. The Municipality is urged to seek a second independent opinion to clearly establish the correct boundaries of the Covenant zone.

I trust the above concerns regarding Eelgrass, NWPA and Covenant Zone sufficiently substantiate my call for an immediate suspension of the dock construction works at dock #11.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me in case of any questions.


Dr. Richard Wiefelspuett