A National Park for Bowen Island

Bowen Islanders meet Parks Canada

Bowen Islanders meet Parks Canada

Last night the meeting room was jammed as the folks from Parks Canada discussed with Bowen Islanders the proposal for establishing a National Park on this island. It could use all of the crown lands, the Ecological Reserve, as well as the small Provincial Park, and the GVRD Park.

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2 Responses to “A National Park for Bowen Island”


  1. 1 Murray A August 29, 2010 at 7:36 am

    After attending that meeting, Robert….what was your overall feeling…..both personally and the crowd?
    I missed the meeting…..the ferry was running about 70 minutes late.

    • 2 Robert August 30, 2010 at 7:49 am

      Murray, as you can see there was a huge interest in the issue of a National Park here on Bowen. There is a realization that this little municipality would become associated with a relatively large federal organization. So, there is some concern about how this might unfold, and then, in the long run, how it would affect life in our community. I sense that people are wary but interested. There is a recognition that this might be an opportunity.

      The people from Parks seemed willing to be very candid about their interest in Bowen Island, as well as discussing their priorities for a National Park. I think we had the decision-makers from Parks, so the answers were meaningful. For a public meeting, there was lots of opportunity for good questions and answers. The Parks’ staff also set up a table at Bowfest. So, I sense Parks are more than willing to engage in discussions and collaboration with our citizens.

      Personally, I feel good about having a Park here.

      One unique feature of Bowen Island is that everyone who is here was either born here or (and this is the majority) made the decision to move to Bowen Island. No one came here for the availability of good jobs. In fact, many people left good positions to be able to live on Bowen. Most people are here because they want to live on Bowen Island. Why? Because they value this special place. At our public meetings we often sound divided over issues. Yet, the divisions are usually over how we would want our values expressed. In fact, I believe that those aspects of Bowen that our islanders value are all very similar.

      As someone who has served as Chair of the Canadian Nature Federation (now Nature Canada), and was interim CEO of the Marmot Recovery Foundation, I have some understanding of the values that drive the establishment of national parks. A national park is about protecting and interpreting the ecosystem. This is very different from a civic department of parks & playgrounds (I find that people often confuse the very different mandates). In the latter, the priority is for recreation. In a national park the priority is protection. Recreation in national parks is about supporting park values by allowing people to understand what is important about the specific park. Let me also add that the provincial park system – which has a park here that would be folded into the proposed national park – seems to be impoverished and I worry about the future of those spaces.

      I think I’ve heard that our municipality has never wanted the responsibility for the crown lands of Mount Gardner and Collins Mountain as our own parklands because our tax base would not allow us to be able to maintain those places (say, just the trails) as our community parks. Technically, the crown lands of Mt. Gardner and Collins Mt. are available for future economic purposes such as mining and logging, and even development. None of that would be for the benefit of the resident population. It is only a matter of time. I love those places, and would be saddened or horrified at the loss of those wild lands.

      My children grew up on Bowen. I believe that the best chance for those features of Bowen Island that attracted us to Bowen, to be here for their grandchildren, is this proposal for a Canadian National Park.


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