Here is a video of blind Canadians talking about some of the challenges facing people who are blind in Canada. It was filmed at the Canadian Federation of the Blind Convention in Victoria last Spring and includes some of our staff and our colleagues from the Canadian Federation of the Blind and the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind.
Tag Archive for 2018
Camp Bowen turned 55 this year and our team’s commitment is as strong as ever. Though there have been many challenges this past year, one of the pillars of Camp Bowen has always been the people who have come together to make the programs we all love and cherish happen. In reflection of this, here are two staff photos, taken 50 years apart. The first was taken in 1968 and the other this year.
As 2018 winds down and we prepare to ring in 2019, we thought we’d take a moment and reflect on the year. 2018 has been a very busy, difficult, and rewarding year that has brought both challenges and positive momentum.
In January, we announced that we had become a licensed publisher at the end of 2017. Building on this work, we have been busy developing an artificial intelligence tool, named Bailey, to aid the publishing and library industries in making books accessible to everyone. Revenue generated by licensing Bailey will go into funding our programs here at Camp Bowen. Work on Bailey will continue into 2019 and beyond as the digital publishing landscape continues to evolve and we are excited to see her learn and progress.
In April, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan staffed a table at the national Alliance for the Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) conference. Jessica spoke about Bailey at the conference, during a session put together by the National Network for Equitable Library Services (NNELS).
Also in April, the independent living skills training department took on a new student. He has been working with us ever since and we look forward to continuing to work with him into 2019.
In May, Alex, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan attended the national Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB) convention on behalf of Camp Bowen. They spoke at the convention about the importance of the covenant that governs the Bowen Island Lodge and about how it must be defended. They also spoke about the various programs and initiatives of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired.
In July, the whole Board of Directors, including Peg, Alex, Sara, Jessica, Jocelyn, and Aedan, organized and attended a pub night fundraiser in support of Camp Bowen at Moose’s Down Under pub in Vancouver. More than 30 guests came together for a fun night of madlibs, door prizes, a 50/50 draw, and great food.
At the end of August, Alex, Jessica, Aedan, and Jocelyn, along with two additional volunteers, Jordan and Lisa, attended Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair. They sold Braille puzzle books designed for sighted people to decode, wrote up Braille bookmarks, and administered two 50/50 ticket draws. As usual, the organization’s tent also featured a Showdown table, provided to us by BC Blind Sports. Balloon animals were also created and given out to many a happy child.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing dispute with the Bowen Island Lodge and its owners, who wish to have legal protections for people with disabilities removed from the property via a rezoning application, the 2018 camping season was postponed. The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired remains committed to defending the rights of people with disabilities and will continue its work to oppose this rezoning into 2019. We hope to return to normal summer camp operations as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. If you have any questions or concerns or would like to know how to help, please see here or call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102.
In October, Sara Batt, who has served in various capacities on our Board of Directors since 2014, stepped down and has accepted the post of Transportation Committee Co-Chair. She brings an enthusiasm for and a vast knowledge of travel to the position and we look forward to working with her in her new role.
At both Easter time and Christmas, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired conducted fundraisers selling Purdy’s chocolates. At Christmas time, we split the proceeds from our Purdy’s fundraiser with one of our partners, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank AEBC, BC Blind Sports, the Bowen Island Community Foundation, the Bowfest committee, CFB, C-Lovers Burquitlam, Moose’s Down Under, the Pacific Training Centre for the Blind Society, and our countless other supporters, both individuals and organizations. Without you, we could not do the work that we do.
We have several other announcements we can’t wait to share with you but those will unfortunately have to wait until early 2019. In the meantime, we hope all of you have a safe and enjoyable New Year.
The Camp Bowen Team
On Monday, July 23, 2018, members from Camp Bowen went before Mayor and Council on behalf of the interests of persons with disabilities during public comments to share some of our concerns regarding the rezoning application of the Bowen Island Lodge. At the meeting we learned that Mayor and Council are required to consider all rezoning applications brought before them. Any comments we have made regarding Mayor and Council’s consideration at this stage stemmed from our misunderstanding of the Municipality’s rezoning procedure and we have made updates to our public information on this issue to reflect the Municipality’s procedure.
There is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities and those of our Snug Point neighbours remain protected. Support from the entire Bowen Island and disability communities will be crucial to ensuring proper protection remains in place. The next step will be a public consultation process. Public consultation will be held at the Bowen Island Lodge at a date and time as of yet unknown to us. We feel this venue is not neutral enough for this process to be effective. We will be updating people as information becomes available through Facebook, our website, and our mailing list.
We urge the community to stand with us and make it clear to Mayor and Council through official channels that this rezoning application cannot go ahead and should be blocked at the first opportunity. Failure to protect this unique resource will result in a serious loss for the disability community and that of Bowen Island.
If you have questions or concerns, would like to get involved, or to keep up with updates on this situation, 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.
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.
Follow the Situation
You can follow the above situation as it unfolds in several ways. To get updates by email, you can add your email address to our public community mailing list by filling in your name and email address below. Alternately, you can follow our social media or let us know and we can give you a phone call with updates.
Important: Please reserve your spot before 9 PM Pacific on Thursday, July 12, 2018 so that we can submit final numbers to Moose’s Down Under.
The Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired (CBSVI) invites you and your friends
to join us for an evening of summer fun at our upcoming Pub Night this Saturday, July 14 at Moose’s Down Under in Vancouver!
- Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm to 9:00pm
- Moose’s Down Under,
- 830 West Pender Street,
Please note: Transit directions are at the bottom of this post
- $20.00 per person – Includes choice of hamburger, chicken, or veggie burger with fries or salad, beer, wine, or soft drink.
- Door Prizes, 50/50 Draw, food, and more.
You may purchase tickets online at:
Or by calling: +1 (604) 947-0021 extension 102.
You can also purchase tickets at the door on the day and time of the event but we need you to get in touch by phone first if possible. The above phone number is a great way to do that but you can also use any other method found on the contact page of campbowen.ca.
Proceeds will benefit future summer camp programs being planned for blind, visually-impaired, and deaf blind Canadians of all ages.
Moose’s Down Under at 830 West Pender in Vancouver
is located on the south side of Pender between Howe and Hornby Streets
If Exiting Skytrain At the Granville Station
- Get off at Granville station.
- Exit the station at the Dunsmuir entrance which is just by the Keg on Dunsmuir.
- Once outside the entrance, turn left and walk a short distance to the southeast corner of Granville and Dunsmuir.
- Turn right (north) to cross to the north side of Dunsmuir Street and walk north a block to Pender.
- Turn left (west) and cross Granville Street.
- Walk west along the south side of Pender and cross Howe Street which is the next block.
- Continue walking west along Pender for about 1/3 block.
- The entrance to Moose’s Down Under has stairs going down on the right as you turn in off the street.
If Taking a Bus North on Granville
- Get off the bus at Dunsmuir.
- Walk north to the corner and follow directions 4-8 above.
If Exiting the Skytrain At Burrard Station
- Turn left (north and go a short distance along Burrard to Dunsmuir.
- Cross Dunsmuir to the north side.
- Turn right and cross Burrard to the east side.
- Turn left (north) and walk north on Burrard to Pender.
- Turn right (east) on Pender and walk east to Howe which is the next block.
- Cross Howe Street and walk about a half a block to Moose’s Down Under.
If you wish to be met by the Dunsmuir entrance of Skytrain or outside Moose’s Down Under, please let us know by calling:
+1 (604) 947-0021 Extension 102.
Going forward, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired is committed to working to resolve the issues surrounding the Bowen Island Lodge and will make every effort to run a camping program in 2019. We remain as committed as ever to protecting the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind to access the Bowen Island Lodge as well as the rights of our Bowen Island neighbours. The society also plans to continue its fundraising efforts, both online and through events currently being planned, including our pub night fundraiser coming up on July 14, 2018 at Moose’s Down Under in Vancouver. We will also be at Bowfest, Bowen Island’s community fair, on August 25, 2018.
In 2016, the society’s board of directors voted to move forward with plans to create a live-in independent living skills training centre for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind. Work on this initiative is ongoing and we are pleased to say that it is progressing well. We look forward to continuing work on this project into next year and beyond.
The society will also make improvements to our machine learning tool, Bailey. We will also expand Canadian Blindness Services to provide even more resources.
Finally, the society will continue to recruit volunteers, develop community partnerships, and otherwise strengthen its program offerings.
At the beginning of December the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired was made a publisher by Library and Archives Canada. Achieving this designation allowed us to create an initiative, launched on World Braille Day, to create accessible books in electronic text, audio, and Braille as part of our effort to increase literacy of people who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind. We have called this initiative Camp Bowen Books.
Expanding on our outreach initiatives from last year that saw a telephone information line created for the dissemination of society news, the board launched Canadian Blindness Services (canadianblindnessservices.com) to collect as much information as possible on the resources available to blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind Canadians. When complete it will also have information on blindness, partial sight, and deaf blindness of interest to families, employers, organizations, and others who want to make a difference in this space. We began promoting the service, though it is still in its infancy, at the 2018 White Cane Week event held at the Park Royal Shopping Centre in North Vancouver, BC on February 8, 2018.
Also in February, the society began work on Bailey, a machine learning tool designed to speed up and reduce effort required for the production of 21st century ready accessible books. Bailey is a software application that works by learning from the work of human book producers and applying the knowledge she gains to automatically perform common production tasks. Bailey, has been hard at work and will have her first set of books complete soon. This includes the greater than 162 titles the society will be contributing free of charge to the National Network for Equitable Library Service (NNELS). By using Bailey, volunteers will be able to produce public domain titles faster and more efficiently than ever before. Bailey can produce multiple forms of ebooks, DAISY books, audiobooks, and Braille books and we are excited to see where she will go next.
In April, the society launched a pilot program for its training initiative. The pilot will help to inform decisions regarding delivery of training services and will be followed up by an expanded pilot ahead of the development of a live-in independence living skills training centre.
Finally, the society continues to advocate for the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community and our Bowen Island neighbours in the dispute over the Bowen Island Lodge situation as it pertains to the covenant governing the use of the lands and facilities. The covenant, which restricts the property to having the principal use as a training, meeting, and recreation space for those who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, is not being properly followed by the current management, who have not yet addressed safety, accessibility, and affordability concerns that make the property in its current state unusable by the principal use group. The significant issues surrounding the Bowen Island Lodge came to a head early in 2017 after attempts to resolve said issues with the owners who purchased the property in 2016 came to a standstill. As a result of the issues, which span the categories of safety, accessibility, affordability, and facility access, summer camps have been postponed until 2019. The society has been working tirelessly with the community of Bowen Island and the Bowen Island Municipality to resolve these issues and remains committed to ensuring that the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community’s rights of access to the Bowen Island Lodge are upheld. For progress updates, visit our website at:
June 15, 2018
- 1. Call to Order
- 2. Approval of Agenda
- 3. Approval of Minutes From the 2017 AGM
- 4. Looking Back Report
- 5. Financial Report
- 5.1. Motion:
Whereas the society’s 2017 financial report is still being assembled
Let it be resolved that the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired hold a special meeting of the members to approve the financial report with notice of such a meeting given by email, social media, and the society’s website: www.campbowen.ca
- 5.1. Motion:
- 6. Voting
- 6.1. N/A (No open positions)
- 7. Going Forward Report
- 8. Adjournment
Note: An opportunity for community discussion will follow the meeting.
Notice is hereby given that the 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired will be held on Friday, June 15 at 7 PM Pacific at 5737 180 St., Surrey BC, Canada. Members unable to attend in person can attend via teleconference using the instructions found on the contact page of the society’s website.
The agenda and other AGM documents will be posted on our website the week of the meeting.
To register to attend the AGM, please contact the society by phone at: +1 (844) MYBOWEN (692-6936) extension 2 or by any other method found on our website’s contact page.