Note: Information on this site, though related to issues of interest to FerryCURE, does not necessarily reflect the views of people associated with that organisation. The information is provided for interest, education and discussion only.
In an article Ferry issues highest priority in The Bowen Island Undercurrent, our local newspaper, Island resident David Hill summarised some of the options available for re-organising marshalling for the BC Ferries ferry traffic on the Island, and pointed out that our current ferry marshalling arrangements are, from the point of view of the Snug Cove village, like an elephant in the living room, noting that: If you wish to renovate your home, and make it more a functional and pleasant place to live, it is pointless to discuss [the details] if there is an elephant in the living room.
Keeping the elephant in the Cove will ensure we always run it as a zoo! said Hill.
The following letter on the hazards of mixing through lanes with stationary marshalling lanes in Horseshoe Bay was posted by Janis Treleaven on the Bowen Island Forum. The implicit warning should be taken seriously by Bowen Islanders considering marshalling arrangements on this side of Queen Charlotte channel. The report also brings into question the received wisdom that BC Ferries have never had a problem with their multi-lane marshalling.
Lane 1 Dangers at Horseshoe Bay
Bowen Island Forum 7/31/2004; 9:14:40 PM
Who out there has not in the past few weeks had to honk their horn at some pedestrian wandering aimlessly in Lane #1 on their way to the Bowen holding area? Doors flying open? Kids running around playing in the lane? Gaggles of tourists chatting away to each other while stretching their legs all over Lane #1? Ok, perhaps they just don't get it -- but why do we have ferry workers hanging around the booths yapping away or sitting in the vehicles half asleep -- can they not help keep people out of the way before someone gets hurt? Today there were no less than 15 pedestrians all mulling around in the lane at the booth where the STOP sign and light is just before the covered holding area -- as two workers in their truck were chatting with another giggling female worker -- right in front of it all! I just don't get it. When I mentioned it to one marshalling guy, all he said was "I dunno..." Guess someone has to get hit...Back to Contents
Various documents associated with Snug Cove Village Planning are available here. You will find the original Snug Cove Task Force report, The Framework document, and the Draft V Snug Cove Village Plan.Back to Contents
At the Monday 04-03-01 citizens' meeting to consider ferry issues in Snug Cove Village Planning, Sarah Allen—at the time, owner/operator of the Tuscany Wood Oven Pizza place—pointed out that the change in ferry marshalling last summer had a very negative effect on business in the Cove because more than two thirds of the convenient parking was eliminated.
Sarah pointed out that, unless something were to be done before the 2004 summer season, some Cove merchants may not survive. Her plan was very simple and low cost as it involved only a re-arrangement of the lanes being used by the current system. Some signs would need moving. Nothing was done, Sarah has left the business and the Island, and lower Cove businesses continue to hurt.
Sarah emphasised that waiting for a longer-term solution would leave the merchants hanging out to dry for too long while new ideas ground through the system. The recent change to double-lane parking on the hard shoulder above the crossroads does not solve the parking problem in the village, and her proposal is still a possible interim solution to that, with the assumption that a well-designed long term solution would go further in providing proper parking for the lower Cove..
Her interim solution to parking problems? Consider the lanes to be numbered from South to North, lane 1 being adjacent to the South sidewalk, and lane 5 adjacent to the sidewalk on the North park side.
Figure 1: Lane usage for ferry marshalling and traffic proposed by Sarah Allen
(Click image or title for larger version)
Colours refer to the lines in the Figure 1 designating the lanes on Government Road. Ferry traffic should be marshalled in lane 1 (between black and red lines), the down access would be in lane 2 (between the red and yellow lines), the two off-loading lanes would be in lanes 3 and 4 (between yellow and dashed red, and dashed red and blue respectively), and parking would be in lane 5 (between the blue line and the black line representing the North edge of Government Road).
This scheme was considered last summer at one point, but was rejected because any commuters using the North side parking would impede off-loading as they left the ferry first and took off in their cars—a problem that would be worst at the most harmful time of evening rush. But if the North side were all two or three hour parking, commuters would not be able to use that area. There might still be some obstruction due to normal parking manouevres, but it would be much less than with commuter parking. The manouevre is not a problem even on busy roads like West 4th or anywhere in the city of Vancouver.
This would immediately double the available parking in the Cove, relieving the ongoing merchant difficulties. Additionally, parking spaces would not be blocked by stationary traffic waiting for the ferry, and visitors would be able to drive off the ferry and immediately find convenient parking. The marshalling line would gain Cove space because gaps would only be needed at lane and off-street parking access—not the parking spaces.
The BIG advantage is that the merchants could immediately alleviate their parking problem without any safety implications, as moving traffic would still be confined to three adjacent lanes with stationary traffic by the kerbs (parking on the North, marshalling on the South)—a normal traffic situation with which all are familiar.Back to Contents
At present the ferry traffic marshalls in a single right-hand lane, with parking between it and the South kerb, stretching from near the ferry dock back to the Cates Corner crossroads and thence by an expanded shoulder in two lanes nearly to the Bowen Island Community School. This arrangement disrupts the village by placing many transitory cars in the village, as they wait for the ferry, and blocks parking spaces that would otherwise be available for shoppers. Because double lane off-loading is now essential, to allow the ferry to maintain its schedule, all of the North side parking has gone. This further restriction of village parking has been problematical. Some parking capacity is provided by currently vacant lots, but it is not clear that such largesse will continue, and the lots are heavily used by commuters. Commuter parking is really a separate issue from Cove-user parking
Even if there were no gaps in the marshalling line, the Cove could only hold about 42 cars, including a single line opposite the block wall by the ferry.
The use of Government Road for marshalling significantly constrains any plans we try to develop for making the Cove a more attractive and functional centre for the Island, both as an Island amenity for residents, and as a recreational destination for off-Islanders—on all of whom we depend for Island revenue. Attemps at beautification; or alleviation of the congestion; or speeding loading by using two on-lanes; all involve: considerable expense; significant destruction of North side park; a wider road for children, shoppers and tourists to negotiate; more unfriendly blacktop.The significant expense was esitmate by consultants McIlanney at prices ranging to $4 million dollars, though that perhaps those estimates should be taken with a grain of salt, given some of their other estimates!
Vehicles can perform relatively safe U-turns at BICS, using the triangle at the junction, though it is undesirable to put this traffic near the school entrance. However, even now many arrivals to the growing line simply perform U-turns in an area specifically signed as No U-Turns in the school area going up the hill, which illustrates an ongoing problem and a lack of concern for the school children's safety.Back to Contents
Last year (2004), a group of Islanders, led by our very experienced, resident green Civil Engineer, Dai Roberts, put together a ten page report and recommendation that was submitted to council. What follows provides a gentle overview of the options discussed in the report with pointers to additional information—where such information is available.
This web site is an evolving exercise in community involvement, so please feel free to offer contributions of your own. I shall be updating the material as and when I can. I hope to cover all significant arguments and options eventually. Figure 1 shows a plan view of three representative ferry marshalling alternatives superimposed on a high-resolution aerial photograph of the Cove area. Click on the thumbnail picture to obtain a full-sized view in a new window (check the the Windows menu in your browser if it doesn't show, in case it is hiding behind the current browser view).
Figure 1: Aerial photo with three marshalling alternatives
(Click image to enlarge)
The Government Road options. Several variations on the theme of continuing to use Government Road, one way or another, have been proposed. Although addressing some of the above concerns, they involve either turning the Cove into a marshalling area, putting a road through the North area of Crippen Park, or both. Many people consider that turning the Cove into a marshalling area is simply unacceptable, and represents abandonment of any attempt to make the village attractive. I agree, as did the majority of citizens at the workshops on Snug Cove planning held in 2004. The Cove as a marshalling yard option is incompatible with any of the studies that have been carried out to address Snug Cove Village Planning, whatever wonderful guidelines are voted on. It is disturbing that, despite public opposition, this option once again appears to be the front runner.
The hybrid possibility, of putting a minimal road through the North park to hold two lanes of marshalling traffic, and unloading through the Cove looks attractive, trading some intrusion on parkland for a Cove with parking for perhaps 80 cars (angle parked), with an added attractive median, and three lanes for moving traffic. This is The light loop road option. The problems of managing two self-loading lanes through the Cardena/Government Road intersection, unseen by the ferry crew, should not be minimised. If only one lane is used, the capacity is insufficient for future needs, being roughly 160 cars—a figure that is expected to be too small if the proposed new ferry is put on the Bowen-HSB run. A single line would also be inordinately long and provide its own problems (such as extending loading time).
Two proposals by Bowen individuals, one by Norma Dallas, and one by Mallory Smith, both divert ferry marshalling traffic off Government Road into marshalling areas in the park North of Government Road, rather than using a marshalling road. The additional problems with both these proposals lie in managing multiple marshalling lanes which are largely invisible to the ferry captain and ferry staff, significant encroachment on the ambience and park amenities in the lower Cove, and (again) limitations on the number of vehicles that can be reasonably marshalled. Additionally, neither proposal explains how the Cardena/Government Road intersection will be handled, though perhaps the land at the Northeast corner of that intersection could be expropriated to re-align the road.
Then there is The South side option, which proposes a well-designed, relatively inconspicuous dock and access road along the South shore of Snug Cove where, during the heyday of Bowen as a recreational destination, they used to put much larger log booms. This option again trades some park intrusion (on the South side) for a Cove completely cleared of any ferry traffic, and available for serious forward planning. The detailed notes on this option include a outline plans and an artist's impression of the result. The line of the marshalling and loading/unloading lanes disappears into the South side wood before reaching the Bowfest/picnic grounds—from which it, and any associated extra parking (for village visitors or ferry users) is screened by a 40 metre wide band of existing trees. Additional trees and shrubbery could be planted for even denser screening.
Intruding on the South side has the advantage of providing a very clean approach to ferry traffic management, with additional parking convenient to the Cove that is not privately owned, without disturbing the herons or spoiling the entrance to the park. (Maybe the herons are no longer an issue, having moved elsewhere.) As noted, much of the facility would be hidden in the trees South of the Bowfest grounds which, along with other facilities, would be untouched. The wooded area currently includes a sewage facility and outfall as well as a lot of old garbage and building foundations. The footpaths giving access to Dorman Point and so on would not only remain intact (and constitute an improved attraction for visitors when the debris was cleared) but would become more part of the village amenities. There are some fine trees which should be preserved, but many of the trees in the proposed area for the ferry facility are relatively old, decrepit alders.
Some of the foreshore towards the Eastern end of the beach would be covered by the raised road deck, but most of it would remain intact and accessible as the road runs onto flat bench of land leading up to the sewage treatment plant (without going too near it!). The area under the raised road would likely provide an attractive habitat for certain species of marine life.Back to Contents
Whichever solution to the ferry traffic management problem is adopted, some additional land will be required. All of the solutions involve some incursion into GVRD lands—in particular, Crippen Park. The lands issue is really a second elephant in the Cove. Until the lands issue is settled favourably, both ferry planning and Snug Cove Village planning will be crippled.
GVRD retained ownership of Crippen Park and the so-called "surplus lands" at the time the Municipal Charter was drawn up and Bowen Island became a municipality, even though such lands represent a community asset effectively held in trust by GVRD (as security against the money they originally spent to acquire all the lands).
Providing the GVRD can obtain appropriate recompense for their original investment, plus reasonable interest, it would seem unfair for them to profit at the community's expense. One could argue that they passed on their Bowen liabilities when we became a municipality, with some budget to cover them; why did they not also hand over their Bowen assets? However, on April 30th the Island will be voting in a referendum requesting authorisation for the municipality to acquire the surplus lands from the GVRD at a very attractive price. This is actually a sweet deal that would dispose of at least one problem (the surplus lands) and give the municipality a land and money bank for immediate use in municipal projects of considerable benefit to the community since the land is worth significantly more than the asking price so some could sold to cover costs of using some of the rest (for example). If the request is approved, the GVRD will have covered their original investment, but not the interest or rise in land prices, so it is a good compromise for the Island.
However, control of Crippen Park land is an unresolved and thorny issue. Being a regional park means that the provincial government must be involved in any change in use. GVRD are opposed to changes on the South side, and this has been used to rule any discussion of the South side ferry facility option moot. However, it is not clear why a minimal interference with a relatively unused (and garbage-strewn) South park should be considered worse than the significant destruction of the North park which is closer to the village and comes between the residents Northwest of Deep Bay and the Cove—a wild area that is safe for children and contains the Memorial Gardens. There is little enough space between the maple Trail and Government Road. There would be much less seclusion with a road from behind the RCMP station through to the back of the Old General Store. The visual impact of the forest backdrop of the South side would be relatively small compared to the whole view, especially given the existing visual obstructions which would obscure the facility entirely from many viewpoints.
For those who enjoy learning about the way things were there is no better account than Irene Howard's book Bowen Island 1872-1972 (Bowen Island Historians: Bowen Island 1973), written in reponse to a request by the Bowen Island Historians, who presented a box of research materials to the author (much as a character in one of Alice Munro's books was recruited and thereby "captured the elusive reality of small-town Ontario"). The Island owes a debt to the Bowen Island Historians and to Irene Howard. Plate 1, showing the Britannia steamship, is the same view as appears on the cover of Irene Howard's history of Bowen.
Bowen saw little action, apart from a few naval exploration vessels, until the second half of the 19th century, when logging operations began, and provincial laws were passed governing settlement land and logging. Quite a few names of early landowners and entrepreneurs are still remembered in the place names around the Island—Joseph Mannion, Jacob Dorman, the Cowan family, the Cates family and others.
|Plate 1: The Britannia, with Captain Jack Cates at the wheel (newly built by George Cates at Cates Shipyards and launched by Miss Lily Cates 7th July 1902) (Bowen Island Museum and Archives collection: image 19, with permission) (Click to enlarge)|
An important part of Bowen's history has been the veritable fleet of boats that have, over the years, provided the link to the mainland without which our Island would still be largely unsettled logging land with a few cabins near the water. That is both the joy and the cost of being a small Island. We depend on boats: the naval vessels that charted the waters; the tugs that pulled the log booms; the Cates owned and operated Terminal Steam Navigation Company; the various steamers that brought the holidaymakers (the Britannia—seen in Plates 1 and 2; the Baramba—seen in Plates 3 and 4; the Bowena and the Ballena); the Union Steamship Company (the USSC, who bought the resort areas of Deep Bay and the Cove from Captain Cates who had run them as Terminal Resort and Terminal Farms until 1920); the Lady Alexandria—flagship of the new USSC excursion fleet; the Sannie ships that delivered supplies; the Black Ball Ferry Company (in 1958 they moved their Gibsons loading ramp to Snug Cove, and the first cars began arriving on May 7 that year); and then, in 1962, the private ferries were taken over by the British Columbia Ferry Authority and the modern age had arrived—for better or for worse.
|Plate 2: A view from our camp [Britannia approaching dock, log booms in the foreground, between 1909 and 1912] (Philip Timms photo, Vancouver Public Library, VPL7817, with permission) (Click to enlarge)||Plate 3: The Baramba nearing the North dock in Snug Cove. Smaller jetty in the foreground. (Vancouver Public Library, Special Collections, VPL2882, with permission) (Click to enlarge)||Plate 4: The Baramba at the wharf in Snug Cove, with tugs and log booms (Bowen Island Museum and Archives collection: image 938—from the Lucille & Norman Freshwater collection, with permission) (Click to enlarge)|
As a resort, Bowen Island was successful for more than half a century, first under Captain Cates and then under the Union Steamship Company. In its heyday, the Deep Bay/Snug Cove area boasted: a steamer wharf; hotel (first the Terminal Hotel, then renamed Mount Strahan Lodge, and finally, before it was demolished and the sad remains burnt, again renamed the Bowen Inn); literally hundreds of cottages (some priviliged luxury cottages were extensions of the hotel in terms of service); tennis courts; a dance hall; a bowling green; picnic grounds; horses; a store; and a tea room. Plate 5 shows and aerial view of the facilities while Plate 6 shows a view of Snug Cove itself, taken from the top of Taylor Mountain (looking North) a few years earlier.
|Plate 5: Aerial view of Snug Cove (Wharf Cove) and Deep Bay (Lodge Bay, Mannion Bay)—around 1945 (Image by courtesy of the Bowen Island Museum and Archives collection: image 35, with permission) (Click to enlarge)||Plate 6: Snug Cove from Taylor Mountain (South shore heights) 1939 (Image by courtesy of the Bowen Island Museum and Archives collection: image 13, with permission) (Click to enlarge)|
In 1956, perhaps faced by dwindling revenues from a local Vancouver population that had become more sophisticated in their holiday plans—abandoning the local resorts for the more exotic delights of far flung places, or perhaps seduced by unrealistic grand schemes (starting apparently in 1951), the USSC decided to turn the Bowen resort into what these days would be called a world class destination resort. The plan was to spend millions of dollars and bring in well-heeled visitors from around the world to what they hoped would be one of North America's most luxurious resorts. Regardless of what was cause and what was effect, the local visitors were no longer made welcome. They could no longer tie up their boats at the Union wharf unless they bought dinner at the hotel; the dance hall was closed to deter the deprecated booze cruiseinvasion; and access to the resort facilities was restricted to hotel guests (though others could join the sports club and also use them, for a fee). The new resort owners (for the Union had by then been bought by a consortium headed by Senator McKeen) also insulted the Islanders by cutting down the prized monkey tree in front of the hotel.
The world class resort never happened and the Union lost its monopoly on the marine link from Horseshoe Bay to the Island and apparently also lost interest in carrying the casual crowds to Bowen Island. As Irene Howard so succinctly puts it: Snug Cove was no longer the entrance to the Happy Isle, and Evergreen Park Resort was just another hotel resort—on the American plan. The fault of the McKeen group was lack of imagination. These people were insensitive to what Captain Cates and Harold Brown genuinely felt and turned into profits—that Bowen Island was mostly an idea surrounded by a body of emotion.
The Bowen holdings of the USSC, as the result of deals, wound up being held by the Tidewater Shipping Company, which morphed into a real-estate company. A significant portion of the increased real-estate value of the holdings were transferred to the USSC as part of the deals, leaving Tidewater strapped for cash. As the number of Island residents increased, and the USSC became less involved and committed to the provision of services, the Islanders and the USSC became increasingly at loggerheads over a period of around 20 years in the 50s and 60s. The Islanders were an unorganised territory and as such had no call on any regular level of government for the collection of taxes or provision of services so, when the USSC lost interest, they were on their own.
There was, at one time, an explosives factory at Tunstall Bay. It was set up in 1909 and, after a series of explosions, possibly related to the fact that no-one had ensured the Chinsese workers could understand the English rule book concerning precautions such as no matches and only brass nails in boots, the parent company was taken over and, in 1913, the whole operation moved to James Island, North of Victoria.Back to Contents
In the old days, for more than half a century, Bowen was financed by the tourist industry and logging—typical BC revenue activities. It is not clear how much revenues from these activities actually benefitted Bowen, but the logging companies as well as the resort operators must have paid provincial taxes. In 1897 a one mile long stretch of Government Road and Trunk Road were cleared and topped—paid for by the provincial government at a cost of $452.44. The remainder of the roads on Bowen have been a problem ever since! The explosives factory was something of an anomaly. It was responsible for a number of deaths and only lasted four years.
The Bowen Island Improvement Association was formed in 1948 to address some of the problems that were frustrating the Islanders (telephone service, schools and so on). Initially, the USSC (as the biggest property holder on the Island) was a member, but later the parties became estranged and, in addition to its other responsibilities, the Association became a vehicle for complaints about the USSC.
During the 60s and 70s, after the demise of the resort, the Island was regarded by mainlanders as a hang-out for hippies. Real-estate agents did their best to direct potential property buyers to other places, with dire warnings about property value volatility, poor housing quality, and lack of amenities.
In 1974, the provincial government created the Islands Trust, a body charged with the special protection of a large area of sea and islands between the mainland and the southern part of Vancouver Island—roughly from Lasqueti (not Texada) down to the Southern Gulf Islands, and including the islands in Howe Sound, such as Bowen, Gambier, Pasely and so on. This was an amazingly far-sighted measure that is likely responsible for creating some of the favourable conditions Bowen Islanders enjoy today. The Islands Trust mandate, to preserve and protect has served as a rallying cry against potential excesses of development, and has been the foundation of a framework for preserving our unique heritage. The Islands Trust Fund provides a vehicle for land acquisition for conservancy. Other philanthropists and conservation groups are also active in preserving the unique heritage of the Gulf Islands. Thus Jedediah Island was saved to become a Class A Marine Park by a donation of $1.1 million from Dan Culver (who climbed Everest, and died climbing K2), plus fund raising by groups such as Marine Parks Forever Society and the Nature Trust of British Columbia, with a sizeable contribution from the Provincial Government. The original owners Al and Mary Palmer had become too old to continue farming there, needed to sell it, but took less than the market value to help preserve the site for the benefit of ordinary people.
Initiatives such as these raise consciousness about the unique heritage of the BC coast, and form a nucleus around which further measures can be taken. Who was it said You don't know what you've got until it's gone.
Now we see the beginnings of a return to privatisation of the ferry service, oil exploration in environmentally sensitive areas, deregulated forestry, ... —all driven by the neo-conservative ideology of the current BC Liberals who, lacking an explicit mandate from the people of British Columbia (it was hidden during the election), are pressing ahead with what amounts to rampant structural readjustment of the kind that has damaged so many other places (New Zealand, Argentina, Haiti ...).
These are worrying times for a small Island, without an industrial tax base, and without even a large residential tax base. As has recently been discussed on the Bowen Forum (http://www.bowen-island-bc.com/list.php?f=1, by becoming a municipality we have taken on the costs of big government with the tax base of a small rural Island. Cross-subsidies from the GVRD are unlikely at best. Ferry subsidies, long cross-subsidised as part of the provincial infrastructure, are on their way out. We'd better consider how we can best manage and sustain our Island economy with limited resources and few opportunities for creating on-island revenue to support our municipal government. (In this connection, you may find Rifkin's book The European Dream provides some very interesting insights into the dichotomy facing the world in terms of continuing in our old ways, or becoming modern in our relationship to the environment—including the animals. But you have to read to the end to understand the picture he paints!Back to Contents
A number of questions need to be asked about our future, or that affect our future. Here are a few, but you can surely think of a lot more.
I repeat, plans are not prescriptive. The best plans are advisory. They represent the application of that unique human ability to predict future outcomes and, by responding soon enough, select the more desirable outcomes. Plans cannot perform this function if they are not subject to revision as circumstances change. Designate some of the surplus land as park in exchange for what is taken, if that works, but don't prohibit constructive solutions to problems by fiat, or based on some hidden agenda
Note: Information on this site, though related to issues of interest to FerryCURE, does not necessarily reflect the views of people associated with that organisation. The information is provided for interest, education and discussion only.
Page last updated 08-05-09. Animations courtesy mediabuilder