In Step With Interim Report from Economic Development Advisory Committee
September 20, 2014
The Economic Development Advisory Committee Interim Report dated December 12, 2012, contains a succinct list of economic opportunities and challenges facing Bowen Island. Of most relevance to this application are the following extracts:
“Vision: An economically vibrant Bowen Island provides for the range of incomes and ages necessary to support social diversity in the community; and incorporates sectors of the economy that have a light environmental footprint, and by virtue of the diversity of these sectors is for the most part, recession proof. While commuters continue to be an important part of the economy, increasingly Islanders will have opportunities to live and work on Bowen, be appropriately compensated for their work, and be able to find accommodation suitable to their talents, needs, and incomes.”
IDENTIFIED ECONOMIC SECTORS
Cultural tourism encompasses all the activities that would be attractive to visitors from, but not limited to, Bowen’s primary market, Metro Vancouver. Cultural tourism includes:
- Conferences: small business conferences and retreats
- Education/self-improvement: workshops (Write on Bowen), classes (cooking), and courses (canoe-making)
- Marine tourism
- Recreational pursuits: hiking, kayaking, golfing, mountain biking
- Tourism: Day trips and overnight stays & special events and festivals (Steamship Days)
These activities are supported with retail shops, art galleries, museums, parks, marinas, restaurants, and cafes, but Bowen lacks adequate venues and hospitality facilities necessary to accommodate large groups. While it is anticipated these facilities are best provided by the private sector, zoning changes are required to accommodate activities in diverse locations [emphasis added]. Many of these related businesses are marginal and will become more sustainable as this sector develops.
This sector is the most developed on Bowen and therefore is perhaps the easiest to grow quickly….
Health and Wellness encompasses activities that will attract businesses wishing to serve clients in a quiet rural atmosphere but adjacent to a large and sophisticated market (Metro Vancouver). These businesses serve clients looking for education in, or solutions to, health and wellness related problems, including:
- Addiction recovery
- Healing retreats
- Naturopathic remedies and education
- Specialty clinics (dermatology)
- Spiritual retreats
Bowen has proven success in this sector (The Orchard, Xenia, Rivendell). Zoning changes will be required to accommodate these uses.
This sector also includes medical services including:
- Community health care centres
- Medical laboratory/testing services
- Seniors independent and assisted living
- Traditional and alternative medical practitioners
Artisanal and cottage industry. Bowen businesses already export high-quality chocolates and the award-winning coffee to the mainland. Live/work zoning should be provided (similar to Artisan Square) to encourage growth in this sector, which is also a draw for visitors to the Island.
- Furniture makers
- Graphic designers and artists
- Soap manufacturers
Niche Real Estate Development. Housing construction has always been a major sector in the Bowen Island economy and will continue to be so, and managed growth is essential to keeping tax increases to support basic services to a minimum. Real estate development going forward should target specific/niche needs that will attract buyers:
- Seniors housing (small private ownership, independent living, and assisted living)
- Diversity of housing including multi-family, row-housing, and rental apartments
The municipality cannot make direct financial contribution to the development of individual businesses on Bowen Island; however, there is infrastructure, regulation, and policy work needed to enable economic development, including:
- Negotiate more satisfactory transportation to, from, and on the Island with Translink and BC Ferries, and encourage private providers
Policy and other actions
- Facilitate diversity and availability of housing (zoning and density), including rental units
- Undertake OCP revisions to encourage economic activity”
Our Comments Regarding the Above: This rezoning application complements many of the objectives of the Economic Advisory Committee, including adding to the transportation infrastructure, facilitating diversity and availability of housing, provision of appropriate seniors housing, cultural tourism and health and wellness services. All of these opportunities serve to enhance the social sustainability of the island. It is not likely that an alternative location more ideally suited or as well served by existing infrastructure could be found on Bowen Island.