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
|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.|
|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|
|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|
|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.|
|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.
|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.|
|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.|
|Comments||I like your definition of public beach. My guess is we’ll use that wording in the bylaw. See the definition of beaches|
|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.|
|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|
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.
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’.”