Maybe They Didn’t Really Want a Park at All

The debate over Cape Roger Curtis appears to be over. In a letter to Council the owners have indicated that they are proceeding to a 10 acre subdivision of the 600 acre property. As they put it, “We have no interest in exploring any rezoning exercise at this time”.

This is no surprise. Mayor Turner and Councillors Hooper and Poole and their most ardent supporters have engaged in a “take no prisoners” approach to the proposal, rejecting any hope that many of us had for collaboration, consultation and compromise. Mayor Turner’s expressed interest in a park appears to have evaporated. Councillor Poole’s language was enlightening: “it’s time to drown this bylaw” she said, in her statement of support for throwing two years of work and almost $3 million down the drain.

What’s particularly upsetting and depressing about Council’s decision is not that they decided against moving forward with the specifics of the Neighbourhood Plan. It’s the process that they employed – confrontational, adversarial, and ultimately divisive. At the end of the day there was no negotiation, no thoughtful discussion of the merits of social and economic diversity, the value of land protection through the clustering of homes, the need for more than single family housing on Bowen Island and the desirability of seniors housing. The most critical issue seemed to be who had the biggest petition, though all that the “ 650 for Bowen” sheet really claimed was a commitment to existing OCP density.

Municipal staff had created a thoughtful compromise motion that would have permitted Council to move forward on the Neighbourhood Plan, provided that the owners brought their project within OCP density. Even that was unacceptable: Mayor Turner and Councillors Hooper and Poole wanted a complete and utter rejection of the plan – and they had their way. A rescinding of the bylaw — a metaphorical slap in the face to the owners — was their coup de grace, ensuring that only a subdivision of 10 acre lots could be left on the table. Very sad  – a friendly, convivial and engaging debate regarding the issues of relevance would have been a healthy demonstration of community.

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