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Open Letter to James Glave February 4, 2009

Posted by paulrickett in Bowen Island.
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This is an open letter to James Glave, fellow Bowen Island resident, author of “Almost Green’  http://www.dmpibooks.com/book/9781553653202 , blogger for Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-glave/) and  OneDayBowen (http://www.onedaybowen.ca/). His home blog is at http://glave.com/. James is also on FaceBook where he has been posting his views on island development and twitter @jamesglave.


Dear James,

In the 17 years I have lived here I have never written so much and so publicly as in response to the posts in your blogs, facebook and twitter on development issues that deeply divide our community. Why, for the first time, have I been so roused when all the developer puffery over the years has not stirred a rush to comment?

I thought you were green in the traditional sense; quirky, left of centre, grow rather than make, etc. But you are a more modern and insidious varietal.  In short, you propose to help save the earth by championing a level of development that will massively and irrevocably change the complexion of the island.  The extravagant investment in your  ‘eco-shed’ is symptomatic of the thinking that building is the solution to all issues. You say we should not and cannot control growth through low density zoning and  the refusal to build amenities that can only be justified and funded by a significantly larger population and tax base. 

You argue that unless we build like topsy the island will become home to only the well-heeled. You promote sustainablity but in reality your vision is economic not environmental sustainability. The effect of this, given we have no bridge to the mainland and larger ferries cannot be accomodated without large-scale redevelopment of parkland is to turn us into an island that will need the trappings of the big cities we have come here to avoid. We will need large scale and ‘Big Box’ stores to serve groceries, clothes and everyday necessities because that will be the only way to deal with the transportation bottleneck from the mainland. We will want a Starbucks in every ‘village’. And every dense development further dilutes and fragments our identity.

Your championship of a population boom seems to be simply because you see it as the route to carbon efficiency. To take CRC, for example, you are happy to accept the developer’s bribe of parkland and money for a development that in itself ultimately will increase the total existing population by 60% and emit 5 times the carbon than the basic zoning. You then voice support for another large dense development and I expect you, now to support others – is there a limit, James? This support is couched in logical, almost unassailable, environmental terms so that we who oppose appear to be luddites, squanderers and short-sighted polluters of the worst kind. But by applying urban density rationale you encourage the very thing that you rail against  – carbon emssions generated on the island. This is the paradox, you would destroy us to save the world. A very self-sacrificing motive, except many of us do not share these pseudo-noble objectives.

We sit on the periphery of Vancouver, we have access to every facility after a relatively short journey – sure its a pain at times to take a ferry but our moat is what differentiates us from every other municipality, we have a physical boundary. Our moat makes us a relatively safe community, our moat unites us in good and bad times but our moat does not decree we have to be economically self-sufficient nor that we have to create the environment that puts a metaphorical Statue of Liberty off Snug Point. Call me elitist but I see no obligation that requires us to make Bowen into Richmond or Port Coquitlam. For mainland cities, density seems to be a good solution but they are already large impersonal societies built on industries and businesses that span the lower mainland.

James, the question every ‘old islander’ asks at time like these is why does someone relatively new to the island suddenly want to change it. You knew what you were moving to and presumably made a rational decision with all the facts to hand. So why, for the sake of your passion, would you want to so completely remake our and your community? Everyone who moves to Bowen changes it just by being here. I was part of an immigrant wave that finally moved the island from an “everyone knew everyone ” community so in the eyes of old-time Boweners perhaps my presence is also an anathema. However, I did not create new building or development nor have I ever actively attempted to change the island, I am not a property owner so, unlike you, will have no personal benefit from increasing property prices. I like the eclectic people here, the slightly down-at-heel Cove and the lack of amenities and facilities. I am happy to find on the mainland what the island cannot deliver .

As much as many or even most of us here would like, we cannot freeze ourselves in time, some change is inevitable given our proximity to Vancouver. So what can we agree on? A focus on the Cove area only for some density and community facilities is a possibility. By holistically considering our limited landmass  this makes sense as it centralises where people gather and socialise. The carbon emissions of travelling across the island must be minimal given your expectations of the future of vehicle design. Programs that might make the island more energy efficient or self-sufficient through wind/tide generation perhaps? A compromise on CRC that restricts the development to say one third of the proposed size and accept less parkland?

I do not presume that you will change your views as a result of this letter but do thank you for taking the time to read it. My only hope is that you might gain a little more empathy and understanding of why I (and many others) oppose your approach. Ultimately these issues must be resolved at the ballot box. The change you advocate for us so undermines what I love about our island that I cannot be a passive observer anymore. What you support is a huge socio-economic change for our community – the price of your vision is too high for me.

Kind regards,

Paul Rickett

twitter @paulrickett



1. Peter Rawsthorne - February 4, 2009

Paul, thank-you.

2. Neil Hammond - February 4, 2009

I whole heartedly agree with this. Thanks Paul.

3. Tim Wake - February 5, 2009

Hi Paul,

My name is Tim Wake, and I have been following James’ blog, I have read Almost Green, and I have been learning about Bowen Island and its community since we purchased a property there two years ago. We are renovating the garage on the property (on Oceanview) and will be building a new ‘green’ home there, hopefully this summer.

I read with interest your open letter to James, challenging his ideas and suggestions on how we can keep Bowen as a livable, vibrant and diverse community, while at the same time reducing the role it is playing, in its own small way, in the larger challenge of global climate change.

To say that you do not understand exactly what James is advocating is an understatement. I find it unfortunate that you choose to articulate your criticism of something you obviously do not understand in such stark and adversarial fashion. It is just this approach that has led to the divisiveness you have identified on the island. In fact, I think you and James are much closer to wanting the same kind of Bowen Island than you perceive.

Similar thinking leads to a position that an artificial turf field represents “irrevocable change” to our sleepy island community. In fact, whether we have artificial turf and lights, or the same old muddy mess, it is not going to change Bowen Island.

The change I fear, and am trying to resist, is the suburbanization of Bowen that has been going on for a decade or more. You suggest that James is trying to “remake our community”. I don’t think so. I think he is trying to raise the alarm that if we, on Bowen, in the Lower Mainland, in the rest of BC, and North America, continue on the path we have been on for 50 years or more of bigger homes, chewing up more land, creating more roads and more cars and more commuting, we are going to end up in a very unhappy place, locally and globally.

Bowen is not immune to this slide into over-consumption of resources, unnecessary excess and the narrowing of what was once a diverse and vibrant community. Check out James latest discovery, an excellent article by Jason McLennan called the “The Righteous Small House”.


I do not want to make this submission too long, so I will stop there and get in to a more detailed and specific response to your open letter another day.

I would, at some point like to meet you to discuss these issues that seem to divide and unite Bowen islanders at the same time. As I have said on James’ blog, we need to engage in some respectful and informed community forums to have a proper discussion of the challenges we face and the potential solutions to these challenges. Suffice to say, if you think simply not letting things change and carrying on business as usual will get us out of the mess we are heading for, I think you are sadly mistaken.

4. Chris Corrigan - February 5, 2009

I may be reading James completely wrong here, but I have often said that his willingness to live honestly in the challenge of being middle class, privilaged and desiring to be green is somehow an archetypal stand in for all of us. I think it takes courage to actually adopt this stance. Most people are either all holier than thou green, or simply throw their hands up at the complexity, figuring it’s all they can do to recylce, compost and turn the lights off. James is the only person I know of who is publically speaking about the paradoxes, challenges and complexities of KNOWING somehow that green is the way to go while at the same time struggling with what it means, and documenting how hard it is to let go of the things that keep middle class lifestyles so comfortable and so costly.

Your line at the end of this, about the price being too high, I think is what I take away from James’ writing – this is exactly the point of much of his writing, as I understand him. We are paralysed by the costs. What is the price we are willing to pay? What is the price of our status quo? There are real costs to the kind of community we have now, in terms of carbon footprint, resource use and sustainability. I guess if that matters, then it begs some choices and conversations. If we feel that those things don’t matter, then it begs differnt conversations and ways forward.

So I know James’ thinking and writing is not for everyone, and I don’t agree with everything he has written, but I think what he has done is to put himself out there as a voice of a middle class family man trying to wrestle with his conscience and make this work. I appreciate his honesty and truth telling and welcome the conversations that flow from the questions he puts out there.

And let me also say Paul, that this post raises a whole series of great questions too and I find lots of resonance with what you are writing. I think we could be an amazing rural community, an island of villages, more sustainable, agrarian and marine-based than we are, less suburban, with density looking not like Ambleside but more like rural Belgium.

The processes of moving forward together, especially as we engage in OCP, will prove to be hugely challenging, and could potentially be a rewarding and overwhelmingly positive experience. I’m looking forward to the conversations on the merits and hope that we can avoid pitting up camps of neighbours against each other. So while your post here is provocative, I’d caution against demonizing James personally, as if he speaks for a group of people. He is saying things that are in the air and holding a mirror up to ourselves while at the same time representing his own views. Shooting the messenger doesn’t address the issues. You just get a dead messenger.

In short, planning and moving forward is about what ideas and choices we will make and live in, not which people should stay or go. All of us are capable of learning, growing and shifting through conversation and engagement with each other. Let’s not calcify a person based on a snap shot in time.

Thanks for the post and for holding another mirror up. I think it’s interesting that I can find myself in what both of you are saying.

5. paulrickett - February 5, 2009

Tim and Chris, thank you for the thoughtful posts.

James, this blog was written from the heart as I was suffering from a deep sense of only what I can describe as betrayal based on what I thought I knew you stood for before you became a proactive supporter of things I don’t agree with – and yes I do enjoy your writing on your personal struggles with being almost green. So I apologise for the personal tone but you have ceased to be the messenger to me and are now an active campaigner on behalf of unbridled development suitable to a mainland municipality – albeit of a certain type.

The near-final straw was the unequivocal support for 1250 units in CRC. Yes, he subsequently corrected after a few days but its sort of a large difference to write about and not notice it. Note that the correction did not include any clarification that at that level he would not have supported it, ergo the inference one draws is that no development is too large, as long as it is dense.

James’ threads on blogs, twitter, etc in the past 3 weeks that led up to this have not been anything short of full-on support for these projects (turf, CRC and Belterra). No caveats, no hesitation, no exceptions, no larger scale view of the impact, no balance. I disagree with his position on every one of them, because while the rationale for each one has logic its the cumulative impact that counts – not something James has addressed except in the sole context of carbon emissions.

I’m mildly suprised at myself for entering into the public debate but I guess I’m here now and will participate in the process. And I’ll be more polite to James as well.

6. Chris Corrigan - February 5, 2009

I’m a little flummoxed Paul. I don’t actually think it’s possible for a person to go from a messenger to an active campaigner for unbridled development in a mere three weeks. People are more complicated than that. And I don’t see in James the same guy you do. I only point this out and take the time because I have enjoyed interacting with you and I find your ideas intersting and engaging, even though we’ve never met face to face.

I think the wiser thing to do, if I can be so bold as to give some advice, is for you guys to sit down and have a beer together and clarify things. Or at least you could do that, Paul, seeing as you seem to have a problem with James’ ideas. In general, open letters to private citizens are, in my experience, kind of harsh. I find them harsh when people write them to politicians, so maybe I’m overly sensitive, but we’re talking about a neighbour here, not the king of Bowen Island or the CEO of Gobbletrees Development Inc..

Paul, I lilke what you have to say, within the public debate. It’s this ad hominem approach that I find troubling. I think it does little to advance your ideas and it comes across like you have an axe to grind with James. That may be the case, but wouldn’t it be more polite to talk face to face? Phone him up and talk about ideas? The act of pillorying him in public serves to create a climate where people are shy to speak up and participate in the public debate. If everyone who disagrees with you is going to be savaged on your blog, the real conversation will go underground fast and that doesn’t serve anyone. The Bowen island Phorum suffers from this: otherwise good ideas are lost in the low blows and personal insults that only serve to hinder conversation.

So I invite you, please, advocate strongly for your good ideas and your passionate beliefs, but let’s not rush to identify allies and enemies. It’s too small an island for that, and Galiano is my nightmare.

We’re all just figuring this out as we go. There is no certain way forward here. Let’s be a little kinder with each other.

7. Wynn - February 5, 2009

Paul’s writing resonates with me. What you are hearing, Tim and Chris, is the frustration of those many voices of your community whose concerns about the pace and scope of development (both past and proposed) that are being poo-poohed and essentially swept aside in the headlong rush to build-up Bowen and put out the Bowen-for-Sale sign. This is our home too.

Development is development, green or not. More people mean more infrastructure, more amenities and services, and less nature and scarce resources such as water. Our carbon-footprint cannot only be measured by car, ferry and bus travel! This is a bit of an obsession with James it seems. As Paul points out, the future of cars is carbon-less and carbon-free. At that point the carbon argument will shift to infrastructure with all the associated construction and maintenance and the impact of densely concentrated people’s activities. I guess then all boats will have to be banned as well (dirty things) and the Marina can be the new green technology park. So much for our identity of a coastal, marine highway community.

By focusing on Paul’s criticism of James, I feel you are overlooking many of the very valid points made and dismissing the very real feelings of distress and concern being express by him and many others — and not just by a few people “who don’t get it”. We get it.

We just don’t agree with some of the supposed remedies in the form of yet more housing developments that are being pushed hard at the community as the only answer. Just as artificial turf is the “only” viable solution to decent recreation on Bowen.

Speaking of which, Tim, I disagree strongly with your statement that “In fact, whether we have artificial turf and lights, or the same old muddy mess, it is not going to change Bowen Island.” You are wrong about that. It will most certainly detract from the pleasure and “sense of place” I feel upon returning home, every time I drive by it for as long as I live here. It will dramatically change the ambiance of the Cove, especially with the floodlights reflecting off the sky – you’ll see the halogen glow from Horseshoe Bay and more so when the field size is doubled. Have you looked at the Park Royal fields at night lately. How do you “contain” light like that and still play outdoors? I am not an overly sensitive person. I know many others share feelings of utter repulsion for a fake turf field here – our home. I also realize many supporters view us as against children, sports-haters, flakes and rebels without a cause. Oh, well. Sigh.

I do support intelligent, esthetically pleasing and limited density in order to keep as much as possible of Bowen green, our water protected and a diversity of species. As you know, any density has to consider what finite natural resources can support it. We can’t just keep sucking water out of the ground or our plump little grape will turn into a raisin and we will need to kick half the population off Bowen again. Lottery anyone?


8. paulrickett - February 5, 2009


I have replied privately to you. But one point I want to emphasize to the readers is that James communicates in several public blogs (read around the world), Facebook and twitter, these are open for comment. However the cumulative impact of his points is diluted by being spread out over multiple sources which are not necessarily read by all people. I simply chose to aggregate a response via my own blog rather than on each of his. This was done out of courtesy to him so that my comments won’t show up on his blogs (after all he makes a living from writing about things green) and, to a certain extent, this approach contains the debate to people most interested (i.e. living on) Bowen Island. He and I are both private citizens using the internet.

I’m looking forward to the OCP process and indeed hope to discover that, as you and Tim both say, he and I can find more in common than in difference.

9. Chris Corrigan - February 5, 2009

OK…thanks all…I think I’ve made my point, but Wynn just to be clear, I am actually pleading with Paul to focus more on his own ideas that a personal criticism, in order to give thise ideas the merit they deserve. I LIKE what he is saying, it resonates with me on all kinds of levels. I like what YOU are saying too. But I also like James as a friend, and I feel like tying ideas to personal criticism demeans the ideas. I WANT these ideas to be discussed. Wynn, I want your beautiful plea on the Phorum to be read and heard and understood. All I’m saying is I don’t get the personal attack. I for one don’t see James as an enemy.

Wynn, anyone who knows me, knows my passion for this place and has read my writing heard our program on Artisan Radio, or heard me sing of Bowen knowns how I feel about this island. I intend to spend the rest of my life on this rock…it is a deep home to me, perhaps the deepest I have ever had in my life. I know what you are feeling Wynn, because I feel it too.

We are at a time in our island’s history when I feel like a crossroads is approaching, and we need each other more than ever. If you are even the tiniest bit acquainted with the deep divisions between people on Galiano, you will know that no amount of getting our own way will salve the wounds that result from people shredding each other in public. I have worked in enough tiny First Nations communities and other small towns where differences of opinion make life unbearable for decades, that I fear it for our island.

All I am doing is waving the flag. Let’s please all find a way to state our passions and engage with one another in a way that heads off irreconcilable personal differences. Win over not win against. Ad hominem attacks are the first step down the rocky road. Paul has explained to me why he feels this is important, and I disagree with him, but this is his blog. In the end, I am seeing lots of ideas swirling out there, lots of passions, lots of responsibility and I don’t know where it will all end up, but I know one thing: a small community with groups pitted against each other is intolerable. The only way to prevent that as we knowingly head into contentious times is to choose to rise above those behaviours on all sides.

Galiano is a warning to us all. I think we are wise to heed it.

10. Amanda - February 5, 2009


Thank you for communicating the rumbling and suffocating frustration of those of us who did move here to find peace, quiet and something unique. Seeing this place at the precipice of losing it all is like watching the last drop of paradise slipping away.

It takes a lot of fury and frustration to thrust one into public debate against all personal traits. Only a true passion allows one to NOT sit idly by.

Thank you for speaking Exactly from my heart, those words I am unable to speak.

11. Jan wells - February 6, 2009

I’m here because I want a quiet rural lifestyle. I’m here because I find solace for the soul in wild places. I’m here because I do not want to live in a city. My heart is breaking as I look at a vision of the future articulated by CRC, James Glave, Chris Corrigan, Tim Wake- I don’t know any of you, so am not aiming this at you, but at what you represent as written here. I support Paul Rickett in his thoughtful presentation of ideas I share. I want a Bowen that preserves and protects what we have. Every time we cut down a tree, pave a road or put up a new building we destroy habitat, impact the water table and change the visula environment. This is not about us- it’s about future generations. The development of Bowen Island for me is an emotional issue with the heart engaged. I am saddened to see my home being destroyed around me.

12. Wynn - February 6, 2009

Chris, anyone who has read your Bowen Island Journal blog knows that you love this place deeply and with all your heart. It reverberates throughout all your beautiful writings and photographs. I don’t question your dedication to the “Rock”. In spite of my unease about the direction of the current conversion, let’s hope that somehow, in the end, we all get it mostly right and everyone can continue to appreciate this special place we call home.

One thing I don’t understand and maybe someone here can enlighten me — is how can anybody possibly know how many people and businesses the water capacity on this island can verifiability support. We already experience water shortage situations every summer and have for the last 7 or 8 years.

How do we know that after peopling all the proposed buildings we’ve been told about we won’t just run out of water, (eg. CRC, Belterra, 2nd stage of Cates Hill, Golf course condos and surrounding development, King Edward, senior housing expansion, desired density housing in the Cove.. (have I missed any?) PLUS any further proposed development in the pipeline that we don’t know about. Has the muni done the math, and compared the estimated total of new people/businesses these new developments will bring and compared it to our known water capacity? Or do we just keep building until, oops, no more water? Surely, it can’t be that. Anyone know what the plan is? I would really like to know. Thanks.


13. Peter Rawsthorne - February 6, 2009

Wynn, I’m in complete support of all you are saying. I believe there is no plan. I do believe their answer would be rainfall. We have more than enough rainfall we just don’t catch it. How we fund the capture, thats yet to be determined.

14. briang42 - February 6, 2009

It is not how WE fund the cost of providing water but how a development proponent proves their own supply. This was the case in Bluewater, Tunstall Bay, the Holdings and Arbutus Point, Fairweather, Cowan Point, Valhalla, Queen Charlotte Heights, and on and on. It is not our responsibility, not now nor in the future. Even for CRC, in spite of Murray Skeels bone-headed assertions. Regardless of whether there are 58 dwellings or 658 dwellings. The developer will provide all the water and septic infrastructure that will be needed.

15. Julie Ovenell-Carter - February 6, 2009

Paul, my friend, why are you making the political personal? I never expected this from you.

After 20 years, there is only one thing I now know for sure about life on an island and it is this: we only malign ourselves when we malign others.

Keep this important debate on the high road, ok? Debate is necessary, healthy and refreshing. But please: attack the argument, not the person…

16. Wynn - February 6, 2009

Brian, then why do we experience severe water shortages and restrictions every summer for at least 2-3 months over recent years. In spite of the fact that many individual households are on their own wells.

And, if these developments all draw water from the ground (artesian ground water supply, wells), what might that do to the environment over time in terms of depleting overall ground water during the dry season. As far as lakes are concerned, large supplies such as grafton lake seem to almost dry up now mid summer in a dry year.

Who would be responsible for a situation of insufficient water long after a developer has developed and moved on? The municipality? The developer can’t provide the water if the water isn’t there where he thought it was. Correct me if I’m wrong but I understand CRC has decided not to proceed with an initial plan to build houses with built-in rainwater collection systems so that would suggest wells/groundwater extraction there too?

I doesn’t seem that we have these issues covered now. Still not sure how it will improve with the addition of thousands of more people. I guess I still have a few concerns. But thank you for responding.


17. Chris Corrigan - February 6, 2009

Jan…you are more than welcome to call me if you would like to get to know me rather than making assumptions about who I am and concluding that I “represent” something based on some blog comments.


I love these conversations and ideas, and I’m always up to a chin wag over an espresso at the Snug. Please lets take the time to MAKE it personal: get to know one another before jumping to conclusions about what everybody thinks.

I’m friendly…gimme a call 🙂

And Wynn…water is a biggie…I’ve just replaced my roof with the intention of eventually capturing rainwater. I’m curious about the water and energy resource plans for these developments. I haven’t taken the time to talk to the developers though, so I can’t share any wisdom with you there, just a curiosity. If you find out, that would make good reading.

As far as I know the golf course itself is self-sufficient with water. The big holding pond there will come in really useful when we have to convert the golf course to farmland! 😉

18. Wynn - February 6, 2009

Now there’s an idea. Grow golf balls. May I suggest…

Golf ball goulash.
– putt it in a pot
– add a cup of tee leaves
– follow through with greens
– slice a beet or two
– add a wedge of onion
and burn the results.

I’m truly sorry.

I don’t know anything about golf. 🙂

Off to bed wit me.


19. David Chamberlain - February 6, 2009

Paul’s comments are sound. I would say that his science is sound, but that cliche has already been taken. He is not questioning Glave personally, but his ideas (I don’t consider them science) – why is it that a blog from Glave is OK, but an open letter from Rickett isn’t? They’re exactly the same thing. Saying that Paul is attacking Glave is a thin attempt at discrediting what Paul is saying, without directly commenting on HIS ideas. And I don’t see Glave directly contacting anyone on the contrary side of his beliefs in an attempt to persuade them.

20. Robert Watson Wright - February 6, 2009

Excellent letter Paul- well expressed expressions of Island sentiment. And I don’t buy the personal critiques against you for one second. If someone has gone on record with books, blogs, radio appearances etc with their personal opinions of what this Island should be, then it is Open Season on them for rebuttals, refutations, and pure disagreement.
Maybe that’s where the heightened dialogue actually occurs- in those places where someone has been provoked and inflamed enough to speak in an insightful, and forceful way.
I don’t buy the smoothing-out attempts at keeping everything kosher here- there’s way too much at stake.
Viva la wine-guy!

21. Murray Skeels - February 6, 2009

At Valhalla the trees were cut down, the roads were built and the surveyors pins were in place when it was decided that the well water provided for the subdivision was not acceptable. The developer went bankrupt. The Cove Bay Water District was abolished by the provincial government by an order in council, the Cove Bay Water System was expanded to include Valhalla and Queen Charlotte Heights and then a new Cove Bay Water Management Committee was set up under the GVRD. The Cowan Point subdivision cannot be completed unless Josephine Lake fills up with water and retains enough water to meet the demands placed upon it throughout the summer. It may not be enough but that isn’t stopping the cutting down of trees and building of roads. (take the next left after you pass the Fairweather turn-off and I guarantee that you won’t believe how far the roads loop back around to the East). Whether or not there’s water, the damage will already be done.
The water supplied by the developers for Bluewater, Tunstall Bay and Fairweather have all proven to be inadequate.
I don’t know who briang42 is but I wish he would do his homework before he calls me bone-headed.

22. paulrickett - February 6, 2009

Ok, we’re drifting off-topic with recipes 🙂

Having been chastised for attacking the evangelist here are some more things to think about (be warned its a long post)

First a little imagination is needed. What comes to mind when I think of CRC is a vision of Bowen Island tilting over from the weight of development there and capsizing. The only way to stop it is to build equally dense developments to balance the island out. For sure enough, once one is in place others will follow.

Secondly, we have a hypothetical pop max of 604,000! Yes. Build highrises all over the island (preserving a little green space in between) at the density of the downtown peninsular. Nothing would be a problem as we’d have a bridge(s) and water piped from the mainland. Be very efficient and an, albeit absurd, extrapolation of the ‘greenness’.philosophy of density The point is that water is merely a constraining factor as briang42 says – it can be solved.

Thirdly, our population density exceeds Salt Spring (184 vs 142 per sq.m) already. The proposed 850+ homes already being built (back of envelope calculation), approved or proposed (incl. CRC) will bring our population over 6000. Although CRC is stated as a long term build-out don’t bet that will always be the case, we’ve seen how developments change values once they’re started. The rest are planned (subject to approval) for completion in a 3-5 year timeframe. Collectively that will raise our density to 280 people/sq mile. And radically change the island dynamics.

All this without any brownfield sites to build the service industries that level of pop. needs. And without any planning on what the people who can now be accomodated here will do – commute still? How? If we’re going to do this then we better have a better longterm total plan that includes economic/businesses and services etc rather than having them tacked on as a ‘ooh wouldn’t it be nice to have a few retail locations to create a village effect’. And few of the existing merchants will benefit from this as the chains will move in and/or there’ll be that much more competition from all those little village stores, none of which will be economic. Demand for everything spirals upwards as soon as we put our feet on the density treadmill, but I do accept we will have some along the way to fix some issues – just not in the scale and location(s) being proposed. We are not a municipality on the mainland and the issues are not solved the same way.

My opinion is that we’re at risk of being railroaded into something that has huge unintended consequences, nothing in any planning yet done on Bowen has considered the real impacts. In return we get some park and a cash to spend building yet more infrastructure. No council yet exists that when given money can resist spending it on all those good causes. Fine, if we’re to be bribed then lets make it an honest purchase of our votes and rebate the entire amount pro rata to each qualified resident. Then we can vote with our feet if we wish.

This is about socio-economic change as much as preserving parkland. The green cloak being thrown over the ‘density is good’ is what I’m challenging. The developer’s are the only people who get all they want whether they build one or one thousand homes but they love it when they’re also seen to be doing good, greeny things too. At least their goals are understandable and transparent = its not a bad thing to do something for profit. Note how every one of them is now hot to build density and they really like it when an evangelist makes it so so socially acceptable.

To those who don’t want suburbia, James has already said that cars aren’t the long term issue – the emissions issue will be solved. So maybe one priority should be focusing on the efficiency of the housing individually and our own power usage/generation.

We have an opportunity now (and via the OCP) to at least provide our children and future residents the option to choose if they want to live in a mainland style municipality. Perhaps they won’t be able to resist the pressure and will indeed densify beyond our wildest imaginings today – but that will be their choice at the time – we don’t have to make it for them today.

In our case less today is much, much more of a green option.


23. david cameron - February 6, 2009

For heaven’s sake! Julie (et al), how is Paul maligning James? He takes issue with his ideas, not his person. James has put himself out there in a big way with his writings on Bowen Island and I am sure he can handle a little feedback.

24. Peter Rawsthorne - February 7, 2009

Well said Dave.
I want to offer a high-density and eco-challenges to Chris, Tim and James;
Chris – I challenge you to stop flying so much (even one plane ride a year puts you over personal sustainability).
Tim – I challenge you to not build a NEW ‘green’ home; reuse, recycle an ‘old’ 900 sq ft one.
James – I challenge you to start living the change you want to see in the world. Even after seeing green, you chose to move into a large cates hill home and drive a new car(s). Bring high-density to your own property first, possibly share your home with another family. Don’t write about it or reference it, live it; then, and only then, advocate.
My deepest apology if this is seen as a personal attack on anyone. It is not meant to be. It’s meant to challenge people to be quiet, walk the walk and BE the change they want to see in the world.

25. Sigurd Sabathil - February 7, 2009

Paul – thank you for expressing what so many feel is a threat to the Bowen Island we cherish and for which we sacrificed for some 40 years. I think the “personal” aspect of your letter is well justified, because after all James Glave has pulled all stops in broadcasting his theories all over the mass media, theories that clearly threaten our very “personal” values we hold for Bowen Island.
In fact your open letter should receive the same widespread distribution as Jame’s theories, just to counterbalance the sheer weight of his publicity.
I am sure Jame’s motive is passionate and pure – but since when are good motives enough? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” is a well-proven historical fact. The road to hell of Bowen urbanisation is paved with the good intention of saving the world. What absurd logic!

26. briang42 - February 9, 2009

Murray Skeels wrote:

= At Valhalla the trees were cut down, the roads were built and the surveyors pins were in place when it was decided that the well water provided for the subdivision was not acceptable. The developer went bankrupt. =

Your selective out-of-context points don’t include the facts that the water met all original standards and requirements but fell victim to a change in specification for arsenic levels long after the project had received permission to proceed and properties had been sold. This also affected the lower Queen Charlotte system as well, a district which had been established for three decades up to that point.

=The Cove Bay Water District was abolished by the provincial government by an order in council, the Cove Bay Water System was expanded to include Valhalla and Queen Charlotte Heights and then a new Cove Bay Water Management Committee was set up under the GVRD. =

The Cove Bay System was the legacy water supply of the Union Steam Ship Company, nursed by Cy Harding for decades.
Cove Bay Water District was eager to include these areas as it increased the use to such a point that they could justify installing a much more efficient filtration system which used less chlorine. The developer installed piping (8,” being twice the capacity of the required 4″) and the water tower provide significant fire safety support to the ecological reserve at the top.
And, it was more a bank receivership than a bankruptcy. A significant difference which attests to the integrity of the developer. They did not walk away from their responsibilities and did all they could to get things resolved.

=The Cowan Point subdivision cannot be completed unless Josephine Lake fills up with water and retains enough water to meet the demands placed upon it throughout the summer.=

There are no indications that this is not happening as planed.

= It may not be enough but that isn’t stopping the cutting down of trees and building of roads. (take the next left after you pass the Fairweather turn-off and I guarantee that you won’t believe how far the roads loop back around to the East). Whether or not there’s water, the damage will already be done.=

Ahhh, now I understand. Your bias is showing.

= The water supplied by the developers for Bluewater, Tunstall Bay and Fairweather have all proven to be inadequate.=

All of these were in full compliance at the time of their inception and for decades after. If the goal posts are moved it can hardly be blamed on the developer.

= I don’t know who briang42 is but I wish he would do his homework before he calls me bone-headed.=

I rest my case.

27. David Chamberlain - February 9, 2009

It’s hard to take comments seriously when someone (briang42) hides behind an alias.

28. Murray Skeels - February 9, 2009

I think that briang42 just made my point for me. Developers “prove” that there is enough water but it takes decades for houses to be built on all of the lots created. By the time a water shortage has to be dealt with the original developer is long gone.
I’m not attacking anybody’s integrity, it’s just the way it is.
In reference to Valhalla,the developer was the victim of sudden regulatory changes.I was responding to comments made by briang42. He still doesn’t acknowledge the fact that this area was added to the Cove Bay Water District over the screams of protest of the system’s directors. The statements above about the system welcoming Queen Charlotte Heights is simply incorrect.

29. paulrickett - February 10, 2009

Thanks to everyone who responded here, by email, in person and by phone – it obviously tapped a deep well of emotion and concern. I’m looking forward to the new OCP process so that we as a community can decide what we want and then the issues can be resolved in an updated context. We will find acceptable compromises, I’m sure.

I’m closing this blog topic from further comment now.

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