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.
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