Silly Bowen Bylaws

Re: Public Hearing, July 9th re: OCP, Steep Slopes, ESA and WASP Bylaws

Dear Mayor Turner and Members of Council:

I write to urge you to postpone consideration of the above bylaws, most particularly Amendment Bylaw No. 299, 2011 (Environmentally Sensitive Development Permit Areas). I do not think the public has been adequately informed or consulted about what you are proposing, and I do not think that your proposals enjoy anything more than the support of a small minority of Bowen Islanders. Perhaps more to the point, the municipality’s publication of details both on its website and in our local newspaper has been very difficult to follow, even for those of us who try to keep up with municipal politics. What we have seen to date is a virtually impenetrable assembly of acronyms, accompanied by substantial amounts of relatively confusing text, and maps detailing environmentally sensitive areas of various kinds — without any significant justification for the locations of these areas.

I have lived on Bowen Island as a full-time resident for more than 30 years, and I have always supported the ethic of the Islands Trust mandate with respect to our environment: preserve and protect. For 30 years my wife and I have gathered wood from our property to provide a source of heat each winter. And every year or two we have taken down trees, typically an alder, maple or hemlock or two, in order to provide for this source of heat.

I now learn that I will be prohibited from engaging in this practice unless I fit within the exemption cited below:

9)              The removal of not more than two (2) trees with a trunk diameter of up to 40 centimetres in diameter (measured 1.5 metres above the ground) or the clearing of ten (10) square metres of vegetated area per calendar year per parcel is allowed, provided there is replanting on each occasion of at least four (4) trees or re‐vegetation of the same amount of existing clearing.

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry when I read this. What you folks are telling us is that I will need a development permit if I want to take down any tree with a diameter of more than 10 inches. And even if the diameter of the tree is less than 10 inches I will still need to replant at least four trees in response, apparently as a consequence of the cruel blow that I have inflicted on my land.

This is just silly. It is out of touch with the reality of environmental protection in the coastal rainforest and out of touch with what I value as the culture of Bowen Island. Your vision of land protection appears to be fundamentally urban. I urge you to put Amendment Bylaw No. 299 on the shelf and give our next council the opportunity to revisit these issues.

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