Forward-looking Vision

The Issue

A great blue heron stands in a tree, surveying the distance

The Eco-Alliance feels strongly that in order for the OCP to be meaningfully updated, it is important to have a clear idea of the end result that we as a community are hoping for, so that we can plan for that future. We believe that most residents have chosen Bowen Island because of its rural character and because it offers an alternative to the pressures of urban living. Visitors choose to come here for the same reason.

Bowen has recently been described in the Georgia Straight as an “earthy green oasis”. Bowen Island will remain an “earthy green oasis” only if the new OCP keeps that value alive as a future goal, and plans backwards from there.


Living on Bowen Island is not a struggle between economic development and preserving the natural environment. We believe that protecting the natural places on the island while at the same time building a close and caring community are both dependent on a deeper equilibrium: that the quality of our community life is in direct proportion to our living in harmony with the natural world.

Our vision of harmony includes measures to address the issues of 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 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.

Updating the OCP provides an opportunity to confront a widespread misconception that somehow Bowen Island has strong local laws that protect the natural environment. The difficult truth is that for years now, as residents, we have been drawing down our natural capital; we have been taking for granted the services – such as clean air, tranquility, and pure water – that are supplied by the island’s green infrastructure.

Now is the time for all of us to renew our commitment to living with nature in such a way that we realize its value to our life. The Bowen Island Eco-Alliance has been dedicated to that goal for over 35 years, since 1974 when Bowen residents first petitioned the provincial government to join the newly established Islands Trust.

We believe that Bowen’s updated OCP can be a renewed declaration of our community’s shared vision for the future.


  • The updated OCP must plan for a residential build-out that retains the rural character of our island community, and carries forward the commitment to environmental integrity that the current OCP enshrines.
  • A clear image of the future, including an accurate calculation of planned-for residential density is necessary to ensure that the OCP objectives are actually achieved.