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Punching above our weight

I need your help. As Mayor of Bowen I’m part of the Mayors’ Council that is proposing you all pay more taxes. Did you feel that little twinge in your stomach when you read, “pay more taxes”. That was a gut level response; we all have them all the time. Usually they serve us well and our thought process stops there. But this is one of those occasions when you would be well served to put a bit more thought into the matter. Start with “how much”.

The new tax will be 0.5% of PST taxable items. Unless you love math, that isn’t much help. Another way to put it is that your family will pay about 35 cents per day. Two thoughts probably just popped into your head. First came “What do I get for it?” But the second was “That’s not very much”. If somebody convinces you that you won’t get anything you get to stop thinking again. Somehow 35 cents every day sounds like a lot of money. You don’t stop to consider that is less than the cost of one cup of coffee each week.

But getting back to what you get for your $2.45 each week; the short answer is that you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam every time you go to town. But the long answer is better if you stop to think about it. The $125 your family contributes every year will be matched by almost a million other families living in Metro Vancouver. Because we’re paying a sales tax everybody who travels into the area and businesses also pay. Between them they double the amount collected. This takes us to $250 million dollars every year to be spent on buses and another Seabus and subways and trains. There are also multipliers and spinoffs and all kinds of good things but I don’t want to bore you. And I want to get back to why I need your help.

You should now have received in the mail your ballot to vote in the plebiscite. I’m asking you to be sure you vote and mail it in. And I’m asking you to vote “Yes”. While everybody from the David Suzuki Foundation to the Board of Trade have presented innumerable reasons to vote yes I’d like you to consider it from a slightly different perspective.

Bowen is a very tiny part of Metro Vancouver. The number of votes we can contribute to the Yes side is tiny and aren’t likely to carry the day. However the votes are going to be announced by Municipality. We will be told what percentage of voters cast ballots and what percentages voted yes and no. The Mayors will be inhaling these numbers like air. And they will remember for a decade which Municipality cast the highest percentage of ballots and which had the highest percentage of Yes votes. If I happen to be the Mayor of that Municipality I’m going to be a very popular guy for a while. And that is exactly what Bowen needs.

Crippen Park provides many islanders with a very pleasant recreational amenity and the taxpayers of Metro Vancouver pay it for. Unfortunately the heritage cabins in the Orchard have been in need of restoration since the park opened 30 years ago. This is a major project and one we’d like to see completed in the next three years. To get the approval we’re going to need all the friends we can get.

Another priority for Municipal Council during this term is creating a transportation master plan. Implementing it will almost certainly require some help from Translink. I’d really like them to have a warm and fuzzy feeling about us when I pitch the changes we’ll be proposing.

You can see where I’m going with this. We’re the mouse sleeping beside the elephant and we don’t get to do favours for the elephant very often. This is one of those rare opportunities when we get to be the kind of people whom others want to be friends with. And the bonus is that all we have to do to earn that respect is to do the right thing.

Just in case you still have to be convinced that spending $125 per year on transit is a good investment let me share some history with you. Between 2000 and when we hosted the Olympics in 2010 there was virtually no increase in the amount of traffic on Metro Vancouver roads. That’s because the growth in public transit exceeded the growth in population. Since the Olympics that has changed; the population is still growing but transit isn’t keeping up and traffic congestion is once again increasing. Without stable ongoing funding for buses and an added Seabus getting on or off of the North Shore during rush hour is simply going to take longer and longer. Sixty percent of Bowen workers commute to the mainland so we shouldn’t think that congestion on the North Shore wouldn’t ultimately affect our quality of life.

So please do yourself and me a favour, vote “Yes” and get that ballot into the mail.

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Bowen Island’s Council under Investigation!

by Richard Wiefelspuett

In March 2014, the Office of the Ombudsperson (“Ombudsman”) notified the Bowen Island Municipality (BIM) that an open investigation of the municipality and Council had been launched. The investigation is the result of a formal complaint filed by me in December 2013.

The filed complaint is a comprehensive document, now posted on the Stop-the-Docks website for reference.The complaint is based on this Council’s actions regarding their recommendations to the Province that allowed for construction of the docks at Cape Roger Curtis (CRC). Continue reading ›

Listen with words of tolerance

by Stacey Beamer


Listen with ears of tolerance
See with the eyes of compassion
Speak with the language of love


Wise words that I try to live by and a philosophy worthy of Council chambers.

There has been a lot of talk over these last few weeks about playing nice as mayoral candidates, being ethical and fair.

They almost made it…maybe next time. Continue reading ›

Parcel Tax to pay for Treatment Plant?

At recent election debates both Tim and Stacy mentioned that we may have to impose an island-wide parcel tax to fund a water treatment plant for Snug Cove. Such a tax would certainly be controversial. But I don’t think such a tax is even necessary. Here’s why.

This whole issue got going because Vancouver Coastal Health asked Cove Bay Water District to provide them with a plan for a new treatment plant and failure to provide that plan may affect Cove Bay’s operating licence.

Now Cove Bay has engineers working on grant proposals for two thirds of the required $7.5 million to build the plant. That would leave Cove Bay water users on the hook for $2.5 million. That is a very big pill to swallow, hence the idea that Cove Bay would like the Municipality to spread the cost across the island through a parcel tax, using the argument that we all use the school and future community centre, which are on Cove Bay water. But there is no way that we can start imposing island wide parcel taxes for improvements to local service areas. Continue reading ›

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Still on the Campaign Trail

The last 19 days have been nothing if not instructional. On Monday I attended the Mayor’s Debate. Cates Chapel was packed with interested and engaged community members who listened thoughtfully and through their applause and occasional laughter gave great feedback.

One issue that really resonated was protecting and following our Official Community Plan (OCP). I was asked to identify the critical zoning and development issues facing Bowen over the next four years. As part of my response I noted that some major rezoning applications have included a request that we amend the OCP to accommodate the developer’s vision. I made the point that they were much more likely to succeed with their project if they just tailored their vision to our community’s long range plan. The applause was noteworthy. It’s clear that islanders really like the idea of this vision. We wrote it together and it reflects our values. Continue reading ›

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A Forward-looking Vision for Bowen Island

For over two generations, the Bowen Island Eco-Alliance has been active in the belief that the quality of our community life is in direct proportion to living in harmony with our island environment. We urge voters in Bowen Island’s upcoming elections for local government to choose candidates who will uphold this principle.

Our vision of harmony includes measures to address climate change and local housing affordability. We value the contribution of a healthy island-scale economy to meet local needs and to welcome visitors. We differ, however, from those who advocate greater development than that already planned for in the Official Community Plan (OCP). Our community cannot simply build its way out of the challenges that we face. In fact, so often, private development creates a need for more public infrastructure that soon requires tax revenue from more development to pay for the costs. We prefer small-scale solutions that respect the island’s finite size and inherent limits to growth. Continue reading ›

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Murray For Mayor

I’m seeking your vote for mayor so I would like to take this opportunity to tell you why.

Our daughter turned three just after we moved to Bowen in 1978. A year later her brother arrived. Janice and I were seeking a life style in a natural setting. While the natural setting and proximity to Vancouver drew us here it is the community that has held us for 36 years. During the years it took to build our house we moved back and forth across the island living in whatever we could rent. When our house in the woods was liveable we got our goats, chickens and honey bees. If you ever want to hear stories about how not to raise livestock, I’m your man.

For thirteen years I commuted to town and I still remember the costs and challenges involved. Since 1991 Continue reading ›


The vital need to build a more fully democratic society

by John Sbragia

As British Columbians prepare to vote in municipal elections involving a longer four year term, it becomes increasingly important for all citizens to “think globally and act locally” when considering and exercising their civic responsibilities on November 15. That process points to the most vital issue in acting locally towards a more enlightened community in our current world.

The economy and other important issues affecting all of us cannot be dealt with adequately without a more fully democratic governance and society. Until that happens, “the economy” will remain a political shell game played by the agents of wealthy and powerful vested interests – a game where the rich are getting richer, and increasing numbers among the rest of us are getting poorer.

The most important political lesson we can learn from history is Continue reading ›

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 Continue reading ›

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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 Continue reading ›

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