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Building Consensus and Community

By Tim Rhodes

My most important lesson of the last three years is how difficult it is to move any agenda forward in the partisan and divisive atmosphere that often pervades our public discourse, and how important it is to move beyond this if we are to prosper.

I believe we have common values – we cherish the same things – and we can and must build consensus on these values, because Council’s success over the next term will depend on building things we cannot see and will benefit us far into the future: the culture of positive public discourse identified in the Community Foundations Vital Conversations report.

Much of this council’s effort early in this term has gone largely unseen as we worked to build a strong foundation for this and future councils:

  • A highly motivated competent and committed staff;
  • Policy and procedure documents to support the work of staff, inform the process for planning applications and assist new councillors in understanding the sometimes frustrating municipal process; and
  • Access to private sector expertise, like that of the finance advisory committee, to inform council’s decision-making.

A solid foundation is in place ready for the next council to build upon.

We are a small community and for our needs to be heard, we will have to build consensus among ourselves, with our neighbours and like-minded communities, and with senior and First Nations governments. We need to:

  • Work with the other ferry dependent communities and the ministry on a strategy to stabilize service and fares;
  • Work with the Squamish First Nations and Howe Sound communities to create a marine plan and work toward a “balance of resource extraction, economy and sustainability”;
  • Continue the valuable work Mayor Adelaar has initiated at Translink to address our connection to the mainland;
  • Work with other island communities without rural designation to lobby government for this designation, so we can access the programs and grants specifically designed to assist rural communities in providing community services and economic vitality.

In her recent summary to council of the Vital Conversations report, Joyce Ganong spoke of the need to ‘unpack’ polarizing terminology to achieve positive discourse. If we unpack the term pro-development, what we find is pro-community: a community that needs the diversity of housing critical to our economic viability; needs independent and supportive living for our seniors; needs community-use facilities for arts, culture and recreation.

To achieve this we will want to maintain strong relationships with the private sector on Bowen. They are very likely the only ones who will take the risk to make this happen. And if we set the foundation right, the incentive will be there for the private sector to build alternative living facilities for seniors, and even ‘aging-in-place’ longer-term assisted-living facilities. And we can together, realize our collective goal to ensure, “Never again will a senior be forced to move away from their Island home.”

Perhaps our most urgent need is for improved health services on Bowen Island, especially for seniors and others at risk. Providing a clinic, whether a new or repurposed building, is just the beginning. We must attract on-island health care practitioners. Virtually every community in BC – large and small – is trying to do the same. In this extremely competitive field, attraction and retention programs can take years to be successful. This is an urgent need and has to be a municipal priority.

And we are already acting. During UBCM I met with a group promoting a funded program called Community Paramedicine as a way to fill the gaps in the provision of health services. I made a solid case, with the support of Kathy Lalonde, for Bowen to be considered as one of the communities for the initial roll-out, the municipality has invited the Community Paramedicine group to present to council and we will be making application as soon as documents are available.

At the beginning of this council’s term, the municipality surveyed our residents and asked them what they believed is important for Bowen Island. One of the top priorities is the environment. In a part of the world that is renowned for its natural beauty, Bowen Island stands out. We must do all we can to maintain that natural beauty. I know there are some who believe that maintaining our pristine environment and building our economic base are mutually exclusive. I firmly believe this is not the case. We can find a healthy and balanced approach to both protect our environment and ensure our economic viability.

During this term on council I have been the liaison to nine committees. As mayor I will continue to work diligently with council and in committees to create the consensus and identify the funding necessary to build the infrastructure and facilities that are important to the health, safety and vitality of our community.

My promise: I will listen until I understand, build consensus around pragmatic approaches and implement plans for incremental action.

Tim Rhodes,

Councillor, Bowen Island Municipality

Candidate for Mayor, Bowen Island Municipality

I will be at Evergreen Hall on Sunday, 26 October 2014, between 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM ready to listen to your concerns and answer your questions.

 

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SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT – follow the money!       

By Nerys Poole

When you consider who to vote for in the upcoming election, ask yourself: which candidates have been funded or financially supported by developers on the island? Who is likely to hold closed door meetings to discuss issues that need open debate and public scrutiny?

These are critical questions for our island. We have had the last three years to assess candidates from the current council. And we have many fresh faces.

For those who may be relatively new to the island, there is much to be learned from past election results and the activities of one candidate in particular, Tim Rhodes.

In the 2008 election, five councillors (Turner, Hooper, Poole, Frinton and Lucas) – a clear majority out of 7 on Council – were elected on a promise of not supporting a development at Cape Roger Curtis (CRC) unless it complied with the number of allowable units in the Official Community Plan (OCP).

The outgoing Council had left this issue to the incoming one. It became THE focus for all candidates running in that election. If the election of 2011 was about the national park, the 2008 election was about the Cape Roger Curtis development. Tim Rhodes supported the CRC Neighbourhood Plan during his campaigning, held meetings with the CRC owners during the campaign period, and was roundly defeated at the 2008 election, receiving only 473 votes.

The ink was barely dry on the election results when the CRC owners funded Tim Rhodes to publish the BITE newspaper, distributed free to all Bowen Island homes. The BITE purported to be a community newspaper, while acknowledging The Cape on Bowen Community Development Limited as its funding source. The anti-Council slant was obvious from the first issue.

Less than two months after the Bowen public elected a majority of council members opposed to the CRC Neighbourhood Plan, Tim Rhodes, in the guise of reporting on Council meetings and claiming to give “a balanced perspective” used every BITE issue to specifically target and demonize three Council members: Mayor Turner and Councillors Poole and Hooper (the latter two had topped the polls in the 2008 election). One can only guess that CRC money influenced the relentless and poisonous nature of Tim’s attacks. None of the BITE issues referred to the overwhelming election results for Poole, Turner and Hooper, nor to Tim’s failed attempt. In every edition the BITE promoted the promises and carrots of the developer’s Neighbourhood Plan with nothing but criticism of those who spoke out against it. Never was there any mention that the majority of councillors had been elected on a platform that any development at the Cape should be island-scale and compliant with the island’s OCP.

The April 20, 2009 Council minutes show that the resolution opposing the CRC Neighbourhood Plan was passed unanimously, i.e. with the support of all members of council. The resolution read in part:

That Council rescind first reading . . . and that Staff be instructed to contact the owners of the Cape Roger Curtis lands to discuss whether there is an interest by the owners in pursuing a rezoning application that retains the basic design framework of the CRC Neighbourhood Plan and is compliant with the current Official Community Plan (OCP) in terms of land use and density

The May 1, 2009 BITE provides just one example of Tim’s skewed reporting:

Citing overwhelming community opposition to the Cape Roger Curtis Neighbourhood Plan (CRC NP), Mayor Turner and Councillors Hooper and Poole succeeded in rescinding the CRC NP.

Turner, Hooper, and Poole may have just “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.”

There was no mention that this was a UNANIMOUS vote of Council, the majority of which was elected having clearly declared their opposition to this development.

Fast forward to the 2011 election when Tim was elected, having received campaign funding from the CRC owners and having aligned himself in a slate with two major developer candidates on the island. We know that this Council initiated negotiations behind closed doors with the CRC owners in the early months of their term; the decision to initiate these negotiations was also done behind closed doors. We know that, as a result of these efforts to engage the CRC owners, Council was reluctant to oppose the applications for the giant docks at CRC, in spite of staff advice to the contrary. We know that Council discussed their position on the dock applications and made the decision not to oppose the giant docks in closed meetings, contrary to the Community Charter. And we know that this Council ignored the groundswell of public opposition to the docks.

When you go to the ballot box on November 15, 2014, ask yourself: who is likely to represent the public interest in decision-making, who is likely to promote open and honest debate at the Council table, and who is likely to be receiving campaign funding from developers?

And please, vote accordingly.

 

 

 

 

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Setting the Stage

The countdown to our municipal election starts now. Nominations close this Friday and in five weeks we go to the polls. We don’t yet know who will be running nor do we know what the major issues will be. But it doesn’t hurt to speculate.

For me the biggest consideration will be how our existing council treated us over the last three years. They approved the construction of stupidly oversized and inappropriate private docks at Cape Roger Curtis. They did it in secret and then they pretended that they were forced to do it. It wasn’t until we saw an email from the provincial government, obtained through a freedom of information request, that their malfeasance was exposed. Continue reading ›

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Here we go again

It looked for a minute like our upcoming municipal election would give us a chance to elect a diverse group of councillors who would be representative of something other than pro-development or antidevelopment (or in the case of the last election pro or anti a national park). But Wolfgang Duntz would prefer that the primary issue of the next election be his most recent rezoning applications. He has asked Council to consider two large development proposals and would like them to give the necessary bylaw amendments first reading before the next election so Islanders can decide where to take it based on who they vote for in the next election. I kid you not, that is almost a direct quote.

We should probably look at the chances of our remaining council members getting sucked into this abyss as well as taking a cursory look at whether these proposed subdivisions are even worthy of discussion, let alone be the centrepiece issue of a municipal election.

Let’s start with Seymour Bay. Continue reading ›

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Summer Is Over

Summer is over and its time to get serious about the upcoming municipal elections. In the past mayor and council served for three year terms. On Bowen this meant that they almost had time to do something, but not quite. This time the term will be four years and a council with four likeminded individuals could do a lot to change the face of our island, for better or for worse. To make an informed decision about who to ultimately vote for we should remind ourselves about how politics work on this island. The nuances of who supports what and why they do it needs to be explored.

The two groups that most quickly come to mind are the Eco Alliance and the Improvement Association. Continue reading ›

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This Side of the Moat

Have you ever wondered where we’re going? Is Bowen going to grow, are property values going to rise or fall, is BC Ferries going to drive us into the ground? There are a few factors that exert enormous control over our demographics but there are also some macroeconomic trends that may skew things a bit.

Imagine what Bowen would be like if we had unlimited free ferry service with runs every fifteen minutes. Instead of a 3,500 population it would be 35,000 and the character of the island would be completely different. We have a small population precisely because access is so difficult and expensive. In business we talk about the width of a company’s economic moat; those things that prevent competitors from destabilizing its position. On Bowen our moat isn’t just figurative, Continue reading ›

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Elder Abuse

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was developed & launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse. Abuse and neglect of older adults is not limited to any one country or part of the world. So, WEAAD involves activities to bring greater recognition of mistreatment of older adults wherever they live throughout the world, and to highlight the need for appropriate action. It is intended to give abuse and neglect of older adults a global relevance that will sustain and move prevention efforts forward throughout the year and for years to come.

On Bowen Island, Snug Cove House Society is dedicated to supporting independent seniors to stay well.  We are, therefore, concerned about the issues of elder abuse and neglect, whether caused by the self or others.  There are resources available here and Continue reading ›

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Island Notes

Be careful what you wish for.

Our Municipal Council is putting the final touches on a bylaw to rezone six acres of municipal land between the school and Seniors Lane. The area is divided into three pieces. Along the road it envisions four-storey mixed commercial/apartment buildings. Behind that would be buildings, again up to four stories high, with 33,000 square feet of municipal administration and community assembly space and more apartments. Behind that, closer to Bowen Court, would be townhouses with secondary suites. In total, between the townhouses, suites and apartments, up to 80 living units could be built. When you consider that our population grew by 40 people in five years (2006-2011) it again seems a bit optimistic.

Normally it would be hard to get excited about grandiose plans but this one is a bit more serious. Continue reading ›

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Mucking Around with the OCP

The B.C. Local Government Act lays out requirements and provides guidelines in the drafting of Official Community Plans. Bowen has an additional obligation to include OCP policies that specifically implement directives of the Islands Trust. Any changes to the OCP require approval from their Executive Committee.

While the OCP is a living document, any changes must be done for good, compelling reasons. There are two ways of doing this. The first is periodic review and update, something done with wide community involvement on Bowen in 1984, 1996, 2011. The second involves ‘spot changes’, necessary to achieve desired outcomes for specific properties or issues.The golden rule is to ensure that any change does not contradict the hundreds of other elements of the OCP. That is why extensive community and professional input is so paramount- to ensure that amendments are proper and well supported.

Bowen Council is now forwarding two OCP amendments, one to allow for rezoning and development of Lot 2 of our community lands (between the school and Seniors’ Lane-Bylaws #352/353), and the other to remove perceived barriers to economic development (Bylaw #357). Each is well intentioned, but fraught with problems and inconsistencies. Both compromise the OCP and fail the golden rule litmus test. Continue reading ›

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Election Platform

Politicians ask the electorate what they want. A wish list emerges. The politicians pick from the list and build a campaign around it, in hopes of getting elected. That’s how it works in most places but Bowen is a bit different. The wish list is so long and diverse that those running for council have found it best to avoid specific issues and speak in broad generalities.

A typical speech is something like “My wife and I have lived here since the dawn of time, we raised our children here, helped to lift into place the roof beam of the fire hall. You know me and I know you, I share your dreams, hopes and desires for our island. I feel the same pain as you when BC Ferries raises our fares and cuts our service. Continue reading ›

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