Please see this post for important updates and corrections.
On July 20, 2018, we were made aware of a report drafted by the bylaw office, dated July 13, 2018, regarding a rezoning application submitted by the owners of the Bowen Island Lodge, that will go before Mayor and Council on Monday, July 23, 2018. The owners of the Bowen Island Lodge wish to see amendments made to both the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge and “BOWEN ISLAND MUNICIPALITY LAND USE BYLAW NO. 57, 2002”. Proposed amendments to the covenant include but are not limited to: alteration of the Principal Use definition to remove primary rights of use from people with disabilities, removal of the maximum number of guests allowed to use the guestrooms, removal of a restriction limiting the number of days usable for secondary uses of the facility, increases to the number and length of permitted Assembly Events, and removal of a clause that requires the owners to bar excessively noisy users for a period of 1 year. In order to be able to alter the Principal Use definition to remove primary rights of use from people with disabilities in the covenant, the lodge’s owners are requesting that the definition of “Recreation, Training, and Meeting Centre” in “BOWEN ISLAND MUNICIPALITY LAND USE BYLAW NO. 57, 2002” be changed by removing the words “…for the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…”
On May 2, 2018, we met with the municipal bylaw office to discuss our complaint. There were two subsequent meetings in May and June. The May meetings centred around Bylaw asking questions about our current stance on how we feel the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge is not being followed. At the June meeting, we were told that the owners of the property have filed a rezoning application that, if approved, would change the covenant. Bylaw expected that this would go before council in late July or in the fall. No further details on what in the covenant would be affected by the rezoning application were given at that time. We were also encouraged to reach out to the Bowen Island Lodge to seek resolution. As recommended by bylaw, a meeting was arranged; however, logistics were poor and the meeting took place without the presence of a bylaw mediator. As a result, the discussion that took place was unproductive.
The amendments the lodge’s owners are proposing strip rights from people with disabilities, including those who are blind, deaf blind, and visually Impaired. People with disabilities are a marginalized group that has very few opportunities to access spaces designated specifically for their use. For example, blind, deaf blind, and visually impaired people have no other legally protected training, meeting, and recreation centre in Canada. For this segment of the population, a legally protected recreation, training, and meeting facility represents the only means of meaningful socioeconomic advancement by way of access to quality independent living skills training. Legally designating and protecting facilities as “recreation, training and meeting facilities for the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities” ensures that people with disabilities are not systematically squeezed out of spaces in favour of business interests as is so often the case.
By amending the definition of “Recreation, Training, and meeting Centre” in “BOWEN ISLAND MUNICIPALITY LAND USE BYLAW NO. 57, 2002” to remove the words “…for the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…”, the owners of the Bowen Island Lodge would effectively remove the rights of people with disabilities to have recreation, meeting, and training centres that are currently protected from business interests by the Land Use bylaw. This does not only affect the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge but would remove all protections for any future facilities wishing to use the designation to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities.. If these amendments pass, it will set a dangerous precedent that will have far reaching consequences for Bowen Islanders with disabilities and other Canadians with disabilities for generations to come.
We are disheartened to see that after over a year of attempting to resolve issues surrounding use of the Bowen Island Lodge by the Principal Use group with the bylaw office and an open complaint against the lodge, the bylaw office has chosen to recommend that Mayor and Council consider the rezoning application put forth by the Bowen Island Lodge. It is our position, speaking on behalf of people with disabilities, that this rezoning application must not move forward to ensure the continued protection of the rights of people with disabilities and those of our Snug Point neighbours.
We urge all community members to stand with us and protect the rights of people with disabilities and those of our Snug Point neighbours by making your feelings known to Mayor and Council by attending the Council meeting set for Monday, July 23, 2018 at 9:30 AM at Municipal Hall. If you cannot attend in person, please still let Mayor and Council know that you oppose the proposed amendments by submitting a letter of support for this cause. Letters can be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to:
Mayor and Council
981 Artisan Lane,
Bowen Island, BC
To keep up with updates on this situation or to get involved, please check out our website, join our mailing list, or contact us directly at: +1 (604) 947-0021 Extension 102. You can join the mailing list and find more information here.
Thank you in advance for your support of this important issue.
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