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“A Decade of Change”

Report by the Snug Cove Task Force
January 2001

Mike Lightbody, Chairman
Sheila Hunter
Don Nicolson
Bill Riddell
Wendy Roberts
Paul Stratford


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The Results of Our Work

Task and process, images of Snug Cove and the proposed plan

SUMMARY—Years One and Two during the term of the current Council
  1. Relax zoning requirements in Snug Cove
  2. Restrict commuter parking and create parking pods
  3. Finalize the Surplus Lands negotiations within the first year
  4. Rezone to facilitate the creation of a village
  5. Issue 2 year temporary use permits for businesses in Artisan Square
  6. Road-works and ferry marshalling—Phase I
  7. Relocate the boat launching ramp
  8. Design and hold financing referendum towards creating the Recreation Centre
  9. Secure the future of the library in Snug Cove
  10. Create a Visitor Information Centre
  11. Secure the Abbeyfield Site
  12. Change the name of Trunk Road
  13. Improve GVRD Trails
  14. Increase aesthetic appeal of Cove
  15. Commence Orchard Cottage renovation
  16. Confirm dedicated Bowen Island parking in new parkade in Horseshoe Bay
  17. Expand community school parking

SUMMARY—Years Three to Five during the term of a future Council
  1. Build recreation centre
  2. Build the library
  3. Road-works and ferry marshalling—Phase II
  4. Temporary home for the Performing Arts
  5. Design Community & Performing Arts Centre
  6. Municipal Hall referendum, design and construction
  7. Develop park gateway across from Orchard Square
  8. Further increase aesthetic appeal of Cove
  9. Construct outdoor volleyball, tennis courts and hardcourt sports areas
  10. Commence comprehensive study of South Shore Ferry Terminal
  11. Commence further residential construction

SUMMARY—Years six to eight
  1. Construct new Community Centre and Performing Arts Complex
  2. Promote the development of a Snug Cove lodge associated with the Orchard Cottages
  3. Permanent solutions to the remaining parking issues
  4. Extend the boardwalks
  5. Construct Upper Roundabouts
  6. Continue study of South Shore Ferry Terminal

SUMMARY—Years nine and beyond
  1. Build South Shore Ferry Terminal

Impediments to a successful plan

Recommendations to Council

Appendix: Selected comments from the submissions of islanders

The results of our work

The following is, without doubt, a celebration of the creativity of the people of Bowen Island. Share the vision of a Snug Cove around a renamed Trunk road, freed from ferry traffic, winding gently through beautiful landscaping, blending village and park. See the south side of the road as a vibrant blend of commercial, retail and residential period designed buildings backing onto the revitalized orchard with its heritage cottages and the phoenix of the Mount Strahan Lodge. Meander along the trails on the north side through the park with its civic buildings, the refurbished Old General Store and the new Park Lane.

Live in a Snug Cove vibrant with such community facilities as the Library, a Performing Arts complex, a learning centre and Municipal Hall. To the South, near the Bowfest fields, see the new island recreation centre extending the village to encompass the fields as a large village green.

Feel the sense of community in an area alive with people many of whom live in the new village homes and who walk the pathways that meander through the orchard between the Lodge and cottages that have become a living museum.

The ferry now docks on the south shore and ferry traffic flows around the village on an improved Dorman road. The Lady Alexandra Boardwalk skirts the sea from the southern to northern limits of the inner Cove flowing its way past the Lodge and the Bowfest Bandstand, formally linking the village with the park.

(The Mount Strahan Lodge later became the Bowen Inn.)


In accordance with our mandate, the Snug Cove Task Force was created to develop a vision for the revitalization and future development of the village. To this end we have reviewed previous plans and considered other current initiatives, including GVRD Surplus Land rezoning, GVRD Parks planning, road strategies, the OCP and Development Permit guidelines and the Land Use Bylaw as currently drafted by the APC. We have consulted, or attempted to consult with all the stakeholders through public meetings, mailings and discussions. The following summarizes the results of this extensive work. We have developed details of this plan and have provided a suggested chronological time line towards the manifestation of the vision.Further, we have also identified and attempted to mitigate issues and/or potential impediments that might hinder the evolution of the plan. These items are explained in a separate report.


As captured from the input of so many residents of Bowen Island, the clearest vision provided by the islanders is that Snug Cove becomes a true village. This includes:


Our proposal attempts to integrate and blend the suggestions we have received to create the village as “a place to be”, a centre for art, crafts, shops, offices and people while accommodating the difficult issues of ferry marshalling and traffic.

Years One and Two during the term of the current Council

Minimizing financial outlay

1. Relax zoning requirements in Snug Cove

  1. Setbacks, heights, site coverage, parking and FSR need to be relaxed immediately. This need not wait for the finalization of the Land Use Bylaw as the Cove requires immediate help to commence its revitalization.
  2. Relax commercial and residential parking requirements immediately in accordance with the APC draft report.

The main purpose is to enable and promote increased commercial and residential construction (as described more in Item 28) to create a true village atmosphere and character.

2. Restrict commuter parking on Trunk road and create parking pods

  1. Prohibit commuter parking on Trunk Road and concurrently establish commuter parking pods:
  2. Ensure the parking pods are not individually excessively large to scar the village landscape and reduce the sense of community.

3. Finalize the Surplus Lands negotiations within the first year

  1. To fully implement this plan and create the village, Municipal control over these lands is crucial. We must acquire responsibility for all lands in and around the village as a Municipality;
  2. Include as part of the surplus lands negotiations, the baseball fields in the Cove. These areas are intended to support the medium density residential requirement in the form of town-homes, attached housing and apartments. Ensure zoning allows for home offices.

4. Rezone to facilitate the creation of a village:

  1. Zone Old General Store and surrounding area for civic uses to support the view of the “Cove as the civic centre of Bowen Island”. Uses considered as civic could include a learning centre, a community centre, Municipal hall, etc.;
  2. Refurbish the Old General Store providing additions at the rear and to the west to blend with the period design. This could accommodate the Municipal Hall including police services and the Library;
  3. Zone the lands around the RCMP and a short way down Trunk road for commercial and civic use to accommodate the Community Centre and future retail space in and around the north-east corner of the main intersection;
  4. Zone the Orchard Cottages to include a Bowen Island Lodge (with the ambiance of a Yellowpoint Lodge) for tourist commercial. Although not the true location of the old lodge, this site is most prominent from the ferry and provides a much needed ‘raison d’etre’ with the cottages;
  5. Expand the Medium Industrial Zoning in the vicinity of BIRD and the former highways yard. The island needs such a site and this appears to be the most appropriate location. BIRD needs expansion room.

These suggestions will generate many on island jobs, essential for sustainability and will retain a sense of the true heritage of Bowen’s past. They satisfy the requirements of residents and also visitors to the Cove and the plan works well in conjunction with Doc Morgan's, Orchard Cottages, the Bowfest Areas of Crippen Park and the marinas.

5. Issue “2 year” temporary use permits for all non-conforming businesses in Artisan Square

(Do this in order to give Council time to implement the Land Use Bylaw and initiate the Snug Cove Plan prior to rezoning Artisan Square.)

6. Road-works and ferry marshalling - Phase I

  1. Obtain agreement with the Bowen Ferry Committee and BC Ferries to change our method of loading and unloading. Specifically to unload vehicles first, to load and unload passengers simultaneously and potentially, to load vehicles two lanes at once. This separation of passengers and vehicles will speed up ferry turnaround and reduce potentially dangerous and frustrating Cove congestion. In addition, this should save funds through efficient ferry operation.
  2. Construct New Ferry Terminal Building on pilings or fill close to the south dock. This should be of heritage design similar to the Union Steamship buildings and include full waiting areas with washrooms connected to the Snug Cove Sewer system. Coordinated with the island heritage theme, this could develop a beautiful area for people to wait and meet. We understand that BC Ferries have funds currently budgeted for the construction of a new building within the next year. This program should be integrated to cover much of the cost of this work and should be incorporated with the “kiss and ride”. Appropriate landscaping must be incorporated.
  3. Arrange 3 to 5 lanes of ferry marshalling adjacent to, and/or incorporated with the Union Steamship Marina parking lot.
  4. Ensure pedestrian access to ferries is mainly from the south side of Trunk road (through Union Steamship Marina).
  5. For safety, construct pedestrian path on top of concrete lock-block wall.
  6. Relocate boat-launching ramp. (7 below)

7. Relocate the boat launching ramp

  1. This should be removed from the Union Steamship parking area and moved to the waterfront of the Bowfest grounds extending from the future commuter parking site.

This will most likely be necessitated by the development of the ferry marshalling area and will be the first work to be carried out in the area of the south side commuter parking lot and any future development (i.e. the recreation centre) to the south of the Bowfest Grounds.

8. Design and hold financing referendum towards creating the new recreation centre

  1. We recommend this be built to the south of the Bowfest Grounds. There is excellent space for such a facility and the planned parking area will satisfy vehicle requirements.
  2. Tender and award the design of the new Recreation Centre.
  3. Call Referendum for the financing of the new Recreation Centre.
  4. Prepare for building the Recreation Centre by the next Municipal Council.

9. Secure the future of the library in Snug Cove

  1. Temporarily move the library into the Old General Store.
  2. Ensure zoning is appropriate to allow library full choice of locations (i.e. current Hanen property, previous Chevron property, north or west of the Old General Store, etc.)
  3. Include the sustainable learning centre in the library program.

10. Create a Visitor Information Centre

  1. Relocate to the old post office space in the Old General Store and ensure signs and signpost are in place to make its location very evident to visitors.

11. Secure the Abbeyfield site

This should be in accordance with the requirements of the Abbeyfield organization and will enable the commencement of construction.

Depending on the intentions of the Abbeyfield group, we should proceed immediately to secure a second Abbeyfield site possibly on Miller Road.

12. Change the name of Trunk road

This should involve all islanders in its selection and support the "village in the park" theme. Inclusion of island opinions here is an easy and high profile commitment to change. Also, this is inexpensive and can be commenced immediately and therefore provide momentum for change.

Hopefully, the result will be to remove the clinical name in favour of one that truly supports the village character.

Most of all, “let's have some fun with this!”

13. Improve GVRD trails

  1. Erect entry trellises at major trails with landscaping.
  2. Implement a basic trail entry enhancement program.
  3. Improve trail signage identifying trails for pedestrians, horses, dogs and bikes, etc. and also include setting trail names and destinations.

The above should be carried out by GVRD as these are basic to public parks in a village and should all be aesthetically in line with other enhancements.

14. Increase aesthetic appeal of the Cove

  1. Relocate Visitors' Information Centre as determined above
  2. Most importantly, construct a 10 ft. wide paving stone walkway atop the sewer line easement from the boardwalk to Davies road. With foot lights, this will become a beautiful walk to enhance the approach to the heritage orchard and cabins. It will enable development of both the front and back of Trunk road properties and allow pedestrian traffic away from the busy main street.
  3. Within a short distance of the ferry dock, build a signpost, white in colour for visual appeal directing visitors to destinations within walking distance of the Cove (i.e. Visitor Information Centre, the Orchard Cottages, the Museum and Archives, the Memorial Gardens, Artisan Square, Crippen Park entrances and the Lady Alexandra boardwalk)
  4. Continue and maintain flowers and hanging baskets especially in summer.
  5. Enhance seasonal festivals (i.e. "Christmas Village Program") to make seasons on Bowen a major attraction especially for the islanders.

15. Commence renovation of the Orchard Cottages

  1. This should be performed in accordance with the BIHPA (Bowen Island Heritage Preservation Association) and the plan for long-term project manager and/or artisan rentals and other cottages should provide short-term accommodation for visitors.
  2. Heritage designation of the Orchard area should proceed as quickly as possible.
  3. Add new Orchard Cottages on the footprint of the original locations.
  4. Attempt to recreate all original cottage designs from photographs where particular models are no longer in existence. It is our understanding that of the seven original designs, only four are in evidence on the island at this time.
  5. Beautify the Orchard Cottages as this area is most visible when arriving off the ferry.
  6. We recommend cottages provide sufficient income to support their maintenance if operated in conjunction with the new Bowen Island Lodge under historical preservation principles.

Cottages will generate jobs for islanders to support sustainable initiatives and will assist in concentrating visitors in the Cove to the advantage of the Cove merchants and craftsfolk.

16. Confirm dedicated parking in Horseshoe Bay

  1. Confirm dedicated parking for 100 to 150 cars for Bowen Islanders in the new Horseshoe Bay parkade currently under construction. This will enable islanders to leave vehicles in Horseshoe Bay and walk on to the ferry thereby reducing ferry congestion and cost. It will also support the environmentally sound "walking commuter" and promote residence in the Cove.

17. Expand community school parking

  1. This will meet the increased traffic for both school and special events.
  2. Restrict bus parking in the Cove to 15 minute maximum. This will minimize dangerous overflow into Grafton road.
  3. Busses to be located while dormant in expanded school parking lot.


A great deal will have been achieved and all the wheels will have been set in motion for the manifestation of our vision with a relatively minimal capital expenditure.

We hope to have come a long way to satisfy the islanders frustration that planning of the Cove has been an endless and fruitless endeavor. The implications on the morale of islanders cannot be underestimated. This may be the only way of diffusing the conflicts that are in place.

Years Three to Five during the term of a future Council


1. Build the recreation centre to the south of the Bowfest grounds

2. Build the library

  1. Call a referendum to finance the library.
  2. Tender and award the construction of the new library.

3. Road-works and ferry marshalling—Phase II

  1. Tender and award the design of the village roads, the sidewalks and the landscaping
  2. Call a referendum for the financing
  3. Build the village roads, sidewalks and landscaping.
  4. Construct Park Lane:
  5. Construct Sidewalk Enhancement.
  6. Construct sidewalks on both sides of Cardena road with rolled curbs for pedestrian safety.

4. Temporary home for the Performing Arts

  1. Potentially to be established in temporary location in refurbished Old General Store assuming available.
  2. Otherwise to be planned and established in other locations in Cove as acceptable to performing arts groups.

5. Design Community and Performing Arts Centre

  1. Tender and award the design and locate preferably adjacent to the old RCMP site.

6. Municipal Hall referendum, design and construction

  1. Tender and award the design of the New Municipal Hall.
  2. Call Referendum for the financing of the new Municipal Hall.
  3. Prepare for building the Municipal Hall during this Municipal Council’s term preferentially to be located to the west or rear of the Old General Store.

7. Develop Park Gateway from Trunk Road

  1. To be located across Trunk road from Orchard Square
  2. Design is suggested as an evenly graded, semicircular grass area approximately 100M by 30M fronting onto the new paver sidewalk and backing onto the trees within the park.
  3. The grass area might be bordered to the north with an eight foot wide, paver walkway with a wider area for performances at the most northerly point.
  4. The underbrush around the gateway is to be removed and groomed to receive new grass.
  5. Benches and hitching rails should be provided at convenient locations.
  6. Advantages include:

8. Further increase aesthetic appeal of the Cove

  1. Place benches at strategic points.
  2. Construct a bandstand - a beautiful wooden structure behind the boardwalk at the south east corner of the Bowfest Grounds.
  3. Construct tree planters intermittently along Trunk road to beautify and break up the continuous lines of parked vehicles and reduce the apparent width of the road.

9. Construct outdoor volleyball, tennis courts and hardcourt sports areas

  1. To be located at the base of the Bowfest fields of Crippen Park connected with the new recreation centre as proposed.
  2. Advantages include:

10. Commence comprehensive study of the South Shore Ferry Terminal

There is no question that the island population has and will increase over the years and will potentially double. As this happens the ferry traffic will likely increase proportionally and overwhelm the village.

The South Shore Ferry concept is a preferred choice of many islanders wanting Snug Cove to become a pedestrian and marine oriented village. This will definitely enhance the “village in the park” atmosphere by removing ferry marshalling from Trunk road.

Other advantages are as outlined by Doug Sinkinson in his study.

11. Commence further residential building construction to satisfy the additional residential requirements of the Cove

  1. With completion of the GVRD surplus lands deal comes the ability for the Municipality and the GVRD to increase the residential component, in particular, through the relocation of the baseball diamond to the school (BICS) and the rezoning to multifamily or cluster housing. This is considered crucial in this plan in the creation of a village.
  2. Medium density residential is considered optimal. This means within the range of 12 to 36 household units per acre (30 to 90 per hectare). Medium density is considered by the SCTF as key in ensuring a more sustainable future. With proper design, such density is capable of responding to consumer aspirations such as a desire for a good place to live.

From our research as well as through meetings with Bowen planners, we have targeted a population of 500 to 1,000 people as necessary to create a true village. There are currently 250 people living in the Cove study area as outlined in our terms of reference. Our proposed concept plan assumes an additional 500 people living in the Cove.

As a framework for design and construction:

Advantages lie in:


Land should have been made available for the construction of some of the residential and commercial components. With building restrictions relaxed, building should have commenced. Along with the beautification of Trunk road, the Library and the park entrance the Cove has started to take on its new character. Some of the provisions for safety and facilities for long term care will be in place. The only major item outstanding is the Recreation Centre, which seems to be in great demand by the islanders.

Trunk road is considered a main problem in all the aspects of Snug Cove. It was described by one planner as “a fragmented, thousand-foot long city block developed on one side”. If our suggestions have been implemented, Trunk road is now becoming increasingly friendly.

Years Six to Eight during the term of a future Council


1. Construct new Community Centre and Performing Arts Complex

  1. This should be built preferably adjacent to the RCMP site

2. Promote the development of a Snug Cove Lodge associated with the Orchard Cottages

  1. This lodge should be modeled in a similar concept to YellowPoint Lodge on Vancouver Island.
  2. There should be a minimum of 30 beds.

3. Permanent solutions to the remaining parking issues

  1. Create parking pods strategically placed for commuters and to serve the village retail shops:

Bowen Island Improvement Association has suggested that parking facilities must be increased to service 100 to 200 additional vehicles.

South side of Bowfest grounds for approximately 200 stalls to satisfy commuters, the recreation centre and to support future move of the ferry terminal. Commuters will have a longer, but not excessively long walk through the Bowfest field, past the Bandstand and along the boardwalk to the ferry. This walk could be partially covered for weather considerations, either in a temporary format or through the creation of a post and beam shingled roof, potentially decorated by Bowen artists. This is common for much longer walks in Europe and would serve Crippen Park and Bowfest well.

Advantages of the above:

4. Extend the boardwalks

  1. Towards Dorman Point and Snug Point, along the south shore partially obscured behind a screen of trees and along the north shore in front of the Bowen Island Marina.
  2. Include lampposts and/or foot lighting of the same design as proposed for Trunk road.
  3. Construct lookouts facing each other at the ends of the walkways, defining inner and outer Cove.
  4. Consideration could be given to building the boardwalk along the top of the existing lock-block wall.

5. Construct roundabouts at upper intersection of Trunk road and on Miller road

  1. Generally revitalize the sidewalks and raised crossings in that area.

6. Continue the study of the South Shore Ferry Terminal

  1. Consider any changed circumstances of the actual needs and continuing evolution of the village.

Years nine and beyond


1. Design and build the South Shore Ferry Terminal

  1. Trunk road ferry marshalling becomes general parking and landscaped areas.

Impediments to a successful plan

Political Will
There has in the past been a lack of political will or ability to implement previous Snug Cove plans. There have been a number of committees struck over the past twenty years to examine and recommend plans for Snug Cove but very few of their suggestions have been implemented. It is vital for the future of the Cove that Council act on the recommendations as presented. Adjustments can be made but the overriding issue is that Bowen Islanders must see that positive action is being undertaken.

Lack of Financial
ResourcesCouncil has insufficient funds for a material near-term infrastructure investment. It is unknown whether private property owners and businesses have the intention or the funds for investment.

In addition, Snug Cove property owners and businesses are struggling to cover 60% of the debt service and 100% of the operating costs of Snug Cove sewer. For the first half of 2000, this amounted to $36,710 that had to be met by 15 property owners in the Cove and Cates Hill Corner. Once the sewer debt has been retired and additional sewer hook-ups have reduced the operating costs per parcel, it should be increasingly possible for the Village property owners to support a local improvement tax for the beautification of the Cove.

Small Lot Sizes
The majority of lots in Snug Cove are 40' by 100', i.e. only 4000 square feet. This together with parking and floor space ratio requirements severely limit the size of buildings that can be constructed on the lots. This in turn results in higher construction costs per square foot and therefore in the rent which must be charged to cover the building costs.

GVRD Parks
GVRD Parks owns most of the land in and around the Cove with the exception of a 100 foot deep strip on the south side of Trunk road. Until the Municipality can accommodate their “surplus lands” rezoning requirements and make a deal to acquire significant lands on both sides of Trunk road, development of the Cove according to the above plan is almost impossible.

BC Ferries
BC Ferries need to be appraised of the problems resulting from unloading in Snug Cove. Until vehicle and pedestrian traffic can be separated, either by time or location of exit routes, traffic congestion and delays will continue to be a problem. In addition, as long as Trunk road is used to marshal ferry traffic it will be difficult to obtain a true “pedestrian oriented” village ambiance.

Recommendations to Council

Adoption of a Business Licensing System
One of the difficulties that came to light as a result of the Artisan Square rezoning application was the existence of many businesses, operating in the development, which were in contravention with the existing zoning bylaw. At present there is no mechanism in place that informs Council that a use is being contemplated which is in contravention with the zoning bylaws.

The bylaw enforcement officer of the Islands Trust can only take action when an infraction of the zoning bylaw is brought to his attention by a complaint. The process which must then be followed to rectify the infraction can be time consuming and very expensive if court action is deemed necessary.

It is the opinion of the Snug Cove Task Force that the adoption of a business licensing bylaw which would require the applicant to seek approval of the Council for the operation of his business in the location desired would go a long way towards solving the problem of non-conforming use. Furthermore, if the bylaw included fines for both the offending businesses and their landlords for operation without a valid business license, this would go a long way towards solving the problem of zoning bylaw infractions.

Maintain and ongoing Snug Cove Task Force
Ensure that interested members of the current Snug Cove Task Force are involved in the ongoing work required to facilitate the plan. Their role would be intended as a monitoring and in an advisory capacity. Involvement of new members as required would be encouraged. A suggested term would be for two years.

Engage professional planner
The required bylaw and zoning amendments necessary to complete the vision should be crafted by a planner familiar with Bowen’s unique community and considerate of previous work completed by the Auxiliary Planning Committee (APC).

Create Report and Monitoring Council Committee
This committee would provide quarterly updates with the respect to the progress of the vision to Council. The committee would also keep a working file for public access. Potentially, this latter function could be performed through the use of a website.

Selected comments from submissions by islanders

Comments will be added as they become available.

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