Councilor Stone: ‘The Cape is one of the most extended pristine natural feeding grounds for the basis of the food chain in Howe Sound.’

Councilor Andrew Stone posted this statement on the Bowen Forum. In it, he expresses a view shared by many in the community of the importance of Cape Roger Curtis and its foreshore lands and adjacent waters. However, we believe that Bowen Council and the province of British Columbia have the tools to act NOW to Stop the Docks at Cape Roger Curtis. We support Councillor Stone’s efforts to draft regulations to preserve and protect foreshore and marine shelf environments for future dock applications, and demand that these principles be applied at Cape Roger Curtis today.

As the elected representative who initiated the Dock & Moorage Bylaw review to thoroughly rewrite the existing bylaw, I must respond to the call to action to keep the Cape Roger Curtis coastline free of docks.

Some background first. Since the inception of the Islands Trust, almost 40 years ago, Bowen Island has effectively had no regulation on residential docks. The present owners of coastal property on the Cape put their moorage applications forward to get foreshore leases with the Provincial Government in that context. We, as Council, tried to negotiate on paper and in person, a solution strongly encouraging a communal dock on the leeward side of The Cape. Failing that we fully expected Fisheries, as a referral agency, to shut down their dock application requests due to the invasive nature of these proposals. To our knowledge, DFO were silent on the applications and the applications were passed on the week of September 25th without the huge floating breakwaters as part of their final proposal. The build plans for some of the docks were submitted about two weeks ago and the building of one on Lot 13 commenced the day after. I have made inquiries at several points over the past week and a half with the CAO and Planner working on the file. Site inspections have been made routinely, sometimes several times a day, to see if the dock related work was in compliance with height limitations, setbacks and so on. The construction is all within what is allowable in our Land Use Bylaw.

Shifting perspective. The most important thing for all to understand about the coast around The Cape is that it is one of the most extended pristine natural feeding grounds for the basis of the food chain in Howe Sound. It plays a fundamental role for undersea life in our region. If you look at the CRC coastline you will see the massive intertidal zone that is not only covered with mussels, as has been pointed out, but there are other elements creating ideal conditions for the basis of the aquatic life, in and about The Sound. All of this not only begets the dolphin return that we have witnessed but has created the conditions for the rockfish and glass sponge beds to thrive again. This is being celebrated by marine experts as true signs that the undersea area is undergoing a massive rehabilitation. We should be encouraging everyone living in our region towards furthering this end, be it large or small. This is our generation’s legacy to the area.

Most people focus on the success of the cleanup of Britannia Mine as being responsible for the return of the dolphins, however, it goes far beyond that with the shutting down a pulp mill, logging camps and such over the past 20 years. With the de-industrialization that has taken place in The Sound right up to Squamish, we ought to be educating others to do their part in contributing to this trend rather than working in cross purpose to it.

It would be constructive for us as the Community to educate our neighbours who have bought coastal property at The Cape, of the real significance of the coastline they inhabit and that it is part of a bigger plan. To have them see the coast and sea in front of their property through the lens of where we are regionally headed, and to live in accordance with the intertidal coastline’s ecological purpose rather than irrevocably alter it.

We should be developing a culture of voluntary stewardship on the island where people understand the benefits of living with nature rather than an engaging in an adversarial battle with people in our Community. Combative environmentalism has been left behind in most quarters in North America and replaced with the idea of leading by example and promoting stewardship. I think it’s time we do the same and start with showing the coastal property owners at The Cape of the real treasure in front of them. They ought to see that docks are inappropriate in that intertidal feed area. Let’s show others we know how to truly live on an island and treat it and its inhabitants well. Let’s communicate with them in a way that will allow them to understand the grand picture and allow them to grow into our Community rather than alienating them through adversarial engagement.

We, as elected officials, will develop the policy and approvals around a rewrite of our Land Use Bylaw as it pertains to our foreshore and marine shelf around Bowen for future dock applications. However, with the present circumstances it will require different tools to maintain a semblance of appropriateness on our sensitive shoreline and undersea world around our island. Appealing to the humanity of the situation would be a good start and let’s work together to make that happen.

-Andrew Stone

Bowen Island Municipal Councillor
May 5, 2013