Bowen Islanders want to slow down proposed regional park and campground

Metro Vancouver has proposed to spend $40 million to create a regional park on Bowen Island, but some locals worry about impacts on traffic and the environment

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By MARCO SHUM

Bowen Islanders are concerned Metro Vancouver’s proposal for an overnight campground on the island might stop locals from travelling to Snug Cove during weekends because of the traffic.

Ines Ortner, a 10-year resident and a shop owner on Bowen Island, said residents are worried about what Metro’s plan to create a regional park, and what the proposal could mean for congestion near the coast during weekends and summertime.

Ortner said the island’s current road system struggles to handle the increased traffic in recent years, even before considering a surge in tourists that a major regional park would bring.

“I do act like every other resident, I avoid the coast during the weekend and in the summer,” said Ortner. “It’s harder to get around to do things.”

In August 2022, the Metro Vancouver announced a plan to purchase 97 hectares of waterfront property on Bowen Island’s Cape Roger Curtis for $40 million. The plan would change the land from a rural residential usage into a regional park with overnight campgrounds.

Daniel Martin, manager of planning and development for Bowen Island Municipality, said the local council has received the application and has referred it to committees and open public information meetings.

The proposed Cape Roger Curtis regional park is on the agenda for Bowen Island’s next scheduled council meeting on April 11. At that meeting, council will consider the “the results of the engagement done to date and have a chance to discuss the application and discuss how they want to proceed,” Martin said.

According to Metro Vancouver, the park proposal is an opportunity to allow the rest of the region to access Bowen Island’s natural scenery.

The regional park concept consists of walking trials, day-use picnic areas, viewing points, access to the beach and a supervised overnight camping ground with 50 tent sites accessible by biking and walking, 35 accessible drive-in tent sites, and 10 tent cabins.

Dave Paulus, who moved to Bowen Island in 1994 and has worked full-time there for 20 years, said there are many dimensions to the locals’ concerns around the potential influx of vehicles and people, including impacts to the environment and infrastructure. He believes more information should be public about the proposed regional park and its implications.

“I don’t think Metro Vancouver is being very upfront from the start what they were going to do. The public has not been informed until recently,” Paulus said. “One thing for sure is that it needs to be better planning if this is going to move forward and get more public input.”

More than 1,000 people have already signed on to a petition on the website change.org opposing all overnight camping at the regional park.

 

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