Governance Within Islands Trust

The Issue

For 35 years, since 1974, when Bowen Island residents petitioned the provincial government to join the newly established Islands Trust, the Bowen Island community has been steadfast in its commitment to “preserve and protect” the natural beauty and amenity of this island both for its residents and for the people of British Columbia.

The Islands Trust has an essential role in updating Bowen Island’s OCP. The Trust Council must approve the draft OCP before it can be become official. Once Bowen Island’s OCP is updated, any amendment to it in the future requires the approval of the Trust Council.


Before Bowen Island adopted municipal incorporation in 1999, adherence to the Trust’s object was reflected in a different form of local government. Local voters elected two Islands Trust trustees responsible for land use (the OCP, zoning) with a conservation mandate. A third person was elected separately to be Bowen’s Director on the regional district that provided local community services. This separation of powers was meant to ensure that environmental protection through administration of land use remained the primary focus of local government.

When Bowen Island chose to incorporate as a municipality in 1999, a major question arose over how to structure a municipality so that the need to finance community services would not overwhelm the municipality’s continuing responsible to limit development and preserve the island environment. The Province resolved to create a new and unique form of municipal incorporation especially for the Islands Trust area.

Bowen became the Province’s only “island municipality” with particular legal responsibilities to support the Islands Trust mandate. In the earlier form of local government, only the two locally elected trustees had a responsibility to adhere to the Trust mandate. However, as an “island municipality”, Bowen’s local government “in all of its actions must have regard for the object of the Islands Trust”. This renewed mandate broadens and strengthens Bowen Island’s ability – using all the authority of municipal incorporation – to further the Island’s environmental values.


  • Bowen Island’s relationship to the rest of the Islands Trust should be specifically acknowledged and embraced within the OCP through a section that includes the following wording:
    “Bowen Island Municipality in all of its actions shall have regard for the object of the Islands Trust”.
  • A new section of the OCP addressing Bowen’s role in the Islands Trust should also include wording ensuring that there is greater sharing of planning resources with other Trust islands, including where feasible, joint professional skills upgrading; and that cultural exchanges with other Trust island communities will be encouraged.