Implementing Bowen’s Core Values

Concept-Parkview-Slopes-detail-c-Bowen-Island-Properties

Concept — Parkview Slopes


September 20, 2014

The proposed projects of Parkview Slopes on Cates Hill and Seymour Landing on Cowan Point follow an enduring and much-cherished vision for Bowen Island as endorsed in three successive Official Community Plans (OCPs). While the volume and number of recommendations in those three OCPs have grown over time, the intent, spirit, and core values have not changed, and are as valid in 2014 as they were in 1981. (See below for some selected quotes from those three OCPs.)


BOWEN’S CORE VALUES

The strongest and most broadly shared Core Values as expressed in all three OCPs are:

1.    To preserve and protect the island’s natural environment.

2.    To foster and maintain a diverse population in regard to age, income, lifestyle, and social status.

3.    To encourage and support a healthy local economy and employment base.

4.    To provide a variety of housing, including rental and other affordable options.

5.    To provide for the basic needs of permanent and seasonal residents and visitors (which we think includes health care; seniors care; child care; community and hospitality places with access to cultural, recreational, and educational venues; on- and off-island transportation; life-long learning).

6.    To recognize Snug Cove Village as the commercial and community heart of the island.

While these shared values have not changed in over 30 years, there is a growing concern that with the exception of Core Values 1 and 6 above, Core Values 2, 3, 4, and 5 may be at risk of being seen as beyond the capacity of the Municipality to deliver.


IMPLEMENTATION OF CORE VALUES

The proposed planning concepts for Parkview Slopes and Seymour Landing are designed to give strength to Bowen Island as a healthy and sustainable community by helping to implement the island’s long-term core values. The challenges to do that are substantial, but it can be done.

Core Value No. 2 (diverse population) can only be addressed by providing Core Value No. 4 (variety of housing in both “market” and “non-market” classifications, i.e., housing other than Bowen Island’s predominantly single-family homes). Both “market” and “non-market” housing require densification (i.e., the sharing of a given land base and its infrastructure by a greater number of homes). Densification depends on:

  • The political will to allow such densification (i.e. rezonings),
  • Availability of suitable land,
  • Availability of needed infrastructure,
  • A landowner/developer willing and able to provide the necessary development and construction, and
  • The financial means to provide “non-market,” affordable housing by way of government funding, charitable donation, tax incentives, or density trade-offs.

In general, a landowner/developer will not be able (or willing) to provide alternative, “non-market” housing without being assured of the project’s  financial viability. Such viability depends primarily on the cost of development and construction, the time of absorption (i.e., how long it takes to sell the finished product), and the price for which the product can be sold (or not).

If this assumption applies to “market” housing, then it applies even more to the development and construction of “non-market” housing in which the only monetary return is by way of rent or lease payments to cover the costs of financing, amortization, maintenance, operation and management, etc.

In other words, a landowner/developer will only be able and willing to provide “non-market” housing as long as sufficient financial returns can be expected from “market” housing or other sources to secure the funding for construction of “non-market” housing.

Further, the provision of substantial components of “non-market” housing is crucial and directly related to Core Value No. 3 (local economy). A healthy local economy and employment base does not happen by chance. They have to be fostered and helped to take root in order to prosper and succeed. One precondition is that small business and employee stakeholders willing to get involved have access to housing that they can afford.

Further, in order for new businesses to start and succeed, the necessary “venues” have to be available or created, i.e., land, infrastructure, buildings and special facilities.

To sum it up, the proposed Seymour Landing and Parkview Slopes projects are part of a much broader vision for the island. They are meant to provide a multi-faceted, realistic textbook example for the integration and implementation of core elements toward the creation of a truly sustainable community. As stated before, the challenges to do that are substantial, but it can be done.


SELECTED QUOTES FROM PREVIOUS  & CURRENT OCPs REGARDING BOWEN ISLAND’S CORE VALUES/OBJECTIVES

From Bowen Island Official Community Plan, Bylaw No. 14, adopted May 1982General Goals:

  • To preserve a marine-oriented rural community and atmosphere.
  • To establish a community service and land use pattern with high priority given to environmental and social factors.
  • To encourage maintenance of a population with varying income levels, lifestyles and age groups.
  • To provide for the basic needs of full time residents, seasonal residents and visitors.
  • To encourage a variety of building designs which reflect and enhance the nature of the island.

From Bowen Island Official Community Plan, Bylaw 139, adopted October 1995 — Broad Objectives:

  • To preserve and protect Bowen Island and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of Bowen Islanders and residents of the Province generally.
  • To establish a community service and land use pattern with high priority given to environmental and social factors.
  • To encourage maintenance of a population with varying income levels, lifestyles and age groups.
  • To ensure that Bowen Island is a healthy community with residents working together to improve the quality of life.
  • To provide for the basic needs of full time residents, seasonal residents and visitors.
  • To ensure that growth management shall be conditioned by the natural environment.
  • To foster the creation and maintenance of local employment on the island in island based sustainable activities.
  • To promote a Snug Cove village form that caters to the pedestrian and that is appropriate to a small community.
  • To recognize Snug Cove Village as the commercial and community heart of Bowen Island, and to provide for the necessary expansion of commercial, residential and community/cultural uses that will contribute towards a pleasant village centre.

From Bowen Island Municipality Official Community Plan, Bylaw No. 282 adopted September 2011 — Vision Statement:

Bowen Island is known and loved as a small, friendly, caring community characterized by:

  • A population diverse in income, age and lifestyles.
  • Varied and affordable housing options.
  • Many people active in community life.
  • Well-protected natural ecosystems and green spaces.
  • A vibrant, resilient local economy that enhances social well-being while respecting local, regional and global environment limits.
  • An ethic of self-reliance, which underpins decisions where conserving land, air, water and energy reduces Bowen’s ecological footprint.