In her guest editorial for The Bulletin, Nerys Poole introduces us to a number of reports on the “effect of residential growth on a community’s bottom line.” As interesting as these reports are and as valid as they may be for the communities referenced, they bear no resemblance to Bowen Island with respect to classification, size, climate, municipal budget or geographic location.
Nerys goes on to imply that this council is promoting a “more is more” message by encouraging the “continual expansion of residential development” and ignoring the Official Community Plan. She hopes this council “will consider the fiscal realities before approving more single family residential development.”
Perhaps if Nerys had spent as much time studying Bowen Island and this council’s actions as she has studying other communities, she would have discovered the following:
- The last solely single-family residential development approved on Bowen Island was at Cape Roger Curtis (CRC) during Nerys’ term on council.
- To date this council has approved only one residential development, Belterra, a cohousing development that will provide diversity of housing on Bowen as well as several affordable non-market units.
- The only residential development currently being considered by this council is the Arbutus Ridge development, which originally came forward to staff as a proposal for about eight 10-acre single-family residential lots (like the one approved for CRC but on a smaller scale). Staff suggested the proponent come back to the table with a proposal more in keeping with the OCP if he wished to interest this council in a re-zoning. Arbutus Ridge is now proposed as 39 single-family lots combined with a live-work component providing affordable housing for adults with disabilities and for seniors.
During Nerys’ term, council neglected to move forward with either Bowen Island Properties’ proposal for multi-family live-work affordable housing on Parkview Slopes (adjacent to Snug Cove) or the re-zoning of Lot 3 of the Community Lands for mixed-use and multi-family residences, even though the latter re-zoning was fully consistent with the approach she now espouses.
It is encouraging to see Nerys move away from the ten-acre single-family mindset. As this council moves to re-zone the community lands to provide higher density and mixed uses in and around Snug Cove, I look forward to her support; not only because this will enhance sustainability on Bowen Island and is consistent with the OCP, but because less is not more when it means a shrinking population and declining opportunities to live and work on Bowen Island.