Tag Archive for 2018

July 24, 2018 Update On the Bowen Island Lodge Dispute

Dear Community,

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.

July 23, 2018 Update On the Bowen Island Lodge Dispute

Please see this post for important updates and corrections.

Dear Community,

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: mayorandcouncil@bimbc.ca or by writing to:

Mayor and Council
981 Artisan Lane,
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G2

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.




It Isn’t Too Late to Join Us at Camp Bowen’s Pub Night Fundraiser!!!

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!

When:
Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm to 9:00pm
Where:
  • Moose’s Down Under,
  • 830 West Pender Street,
  • Vancouver

Please note: Transit directions are at the bottom of this post

Tickets:
$20.00 per person – Includes choice of hamburger, chicken, or veggie burger with fries or salad, beer, wine, or soft drink.
What:
Door Prizes, 50/50 Draw, food, and more.

You may purchase tickets online at:
https://campbowen.ca/tickets/
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.

Transit/Walking Directions

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

  1. Get off at Granville station.
  2. Exit the station at the Dunsmuir entrance which is just by the Keg on Dunsmuir.
  3. Once outside the entrance, turn left and walk a short distance to the southeast corner of Granville and Dunsmuir.
  4. Turn right (north) to cross to the north side of Dunsmuir Street and walk north a block to Pender.
  5. Turn left (west) and cross Granville Street.
  6. Walk west along the south side of Pender and cross Howe Street which is the next block.
  7. Continue walking west along Pender for about 1/3 block.
  8. 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

  1. Get off the bus at Dunsmuir.
  2. Walk north to the corner and follow directions 4-8 above.

If Exiting the Skytrain At Burrard Station

  1. Turn left (north and go a short distance along Burrard to Dunsmuir.
  2. Cross Dunsmuir to the north side.
  3. Turn right and cross Burrard to the east side.
  4. Turn left (north) and walk north on Burrard to Pender.
  5. Turn right (east) on Pender and walk east to Howe which is the next block.
  6. 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 Report (2018-2019)

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.

Looking Back Report (2017-2018)

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:
https://www.campbowen.ca/lodge/summary/

Agenda for the 2018 Annual General Meeting

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
  • 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 of the 2018 Annual General 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.

Update on the Bowen Island Lodge Situation for April 21, 2018

Issues regarding the Bowen Island Lodge continue.

On April 12, 2018, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired met with the Bylaw department of the Bowen Island Municipality to reaffirm our position regarding the covenant governing the Bowen Island Lodge. We asked the Municipality to enforce the covenant that protects the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind as well as the residents of Snug Point. We were informed at the meeting that Bylaw will be meeting with the Bowen Island Lodge on April 30, 2018. What exactly the contents of the April 30 meeting will be were not disclosed. Bylaw also scheduled a follow up meeting with the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually impaired for May 2, 2018.

We have reason to believe that this matter will go before Council soon, making letters of support even more important than ever. If you have submitted a letter of support, we thank you and invite you to join those of us who will be going before council during public comments on Monday, April 23, 2018 at the regular Council meeting scheduled for 9:30 AM at Municipal Hall.

If you have not yet submitted a letter of support or are just now hearing about the serious issues being raised about the Bowen Island Lodge, you can find all the information here.

We thank you in advance for your continued support. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us via the contact page on www.campbowen.ca or at +1 (604) 947-0021.

Update Re: Bowen Island Lodge Situation

Hello Everyone,

After receiving inquiries into whether or not our meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality, scheduled for April 12, 2018, would be open to the public, we realized that we were unclear in our original communication as to the nature of the meeting. The meeting was set up by the Bylaw Office of the Bowen Island Municipality and not by the Municipal Council. It was therefore, unfortunately not open to the public.

We may yet need to appear before Municipal Council and greatly appreciate that members of the community are willing to attend when that happens. In the meantime, we will keep everyone posted as to our progress.

We thank everyone who expressed interest in attending the meeting today and apologize for the confusion.

For those of you who took the time to send letters of support, thank you. Your letters of support are important pieces of the case we are making.

We look forward to providing all of you with updates on the situation soon. To sign up to get updates, please go here.

Thank you for your continued support of our struggle. Your support means the world to the team here at Camp Bowen as we fight for the rights of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind and Bowen Islanders. We couldn’t do it without you.

Warm regards,
Alex Jurgensen
On behalf of:
The Camp Bowen Team

Help to End the Injustice Happening On Bowen

For immediate release

Please circulate to as many interested groups or individuals as possible.


All campers from the 2016 adult retreat on the patio of the Bowen Island Lodge with Deep Bay in the background.

On April 12, 2018, we, the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired, the Bowen-based non-profit that took over CNIB’s summer camp program in the fall of 2010, will be meeting with the Bowen Island Municipality to seek enforcement of the Bowen Island Lodge Covenant, which protects the rights of our Bowen Island neighbours as well as those of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community. Breaches of the covenant have already lead to the cancellation of the 2017 camping season, marking the first summer camps have not been held in 54 years, and have far reaching consequences.

In 2002, a covenant governing the lands and facility that is the Bowen Island Lodge was put in place by the Bowen Island Municipality that protects the residential nature of Snug Point and ensures blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind individuals have access to a facility for recreation, meeting, and training. The covenant, which was signed by CNIB and the Bowen Island municipality and which also applies to their respective successors, was designed to restrict the use of the lands and facility in keeping with the residential nature of Snug Point by designating the principal use of the Bowen Island Lodge as “recreation, training and meeting facilities related to the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities…” (Covenant P. 4), activities that do not typically disrupt the surrounding neighbourhood. Furthermore, the covenant places restrictions on the amount of accessory use events, events not considered part of the principal use, that can be held at the facility to ensure that the principal use group has access to the facility and to reduce the amount of noise and other issues typically associated with an event space and resort. When the covenant was instated, it created Canada’s first and only legally protected recreation, meeting, and training facility for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind.

In early 2016, the Bowen Island Lodge changed hands, from the trethewey family, who had purchased the property from CNIB in 2011, to the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., a company with off-shore owners. Under this new ownership it has been made very clear that they intend to run the facility primarily for accessory use groups. Repeated attempts by organizers of programs for the principal use group to resolve issues of affordability, safety, and accessibility have met with no success.

There is no mention in the lodge’s marketing of the principal use group, something that serves to reenforce their position. A closer look at their marketing reveals that the lodge is advertising itself as having a capacity of 200 people, when the covenant clearly states a hard limit of 150 people for its largest events.

In June of 2017, two months after the Camp Bowen Society for the Visually Impaired’s 2017 Safety and Accessibility Report was released to the Bowen Island Lodge, a representative of Victoria-based Huntington Manner, the company put in charge of the Bowen Island lodge’s operations by the Hundred Year Education Group Corp., sent an answering report. In this report, the representative made it clear that they don’t see the need to follow the covenant as it pertains to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind, citing a paragraph that is superseded later in the covenant. To the best of our knowledge, according to the covenant, at the end of the day, all parts are to be interpreted according to the spirit of the covenant, which is to protect the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community, as well as the neighbourhood of Snug Point. If correct, this invalidates the representative’s claim. The report goes on to suggest that the answer to the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community’s safety and accessibility concerns, as expressed in our report, is to ensure that any concerned blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind guest be accompanied by a sighted person. This is as ridiculous as saying any concerned black guest should be accompanied by a white person or any concerned female guest should be accompanied by a man and is blatantly unacceptable. Just as society wouldn’t tolerate this report were it based on skin colour or gender, neither should we stand for a report that makes such suggestions based on disability. Not only does the report’s recommendations insult the independence of members of the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community by its tone and suggestions, it flies directly in the face of what the facility was intended for and the covenant protects. Finally, the report’s suggestions that the society bare the cost of substandard safety and accessibility measures, coupled with the report’s conclusion that the society perhaps look elsewhere for a venue, paint a grim picture of how the lodge views its responsibilities as set out by the covenant.

Today, more than ever before, there is a need for a training and recreation centre for the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind in Canada. The blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community is currently in a state of crisis. There are high rates of depression and low self-esteem, a lack of freedom, and an estimated 80% unemployment rate in the community. A large part of the solution to these problems is access to safe, accessible, affordable, and quality independent living skills training. At present, the Bowen Island Lodge is Canada’s only legally designated training centre for the blind, visually impaired, and/or deaf blind.

The time has come for the facility to be used for its intended purpose and help blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind Canadians become first class citizens in society. This can be accomplished by upholding the existing covenant and ensuring that the lodge’s principal use group remains protected. Bringing in principal use groups as the primary occupants of the lands and/or facilities and keeping accessory use events as secondary would also serve to protect the residential nature of Snug Point.

Failure to protect this unique resource sets a dangerous precedent. The law was put in place to protect both the blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind community as well as the local neighbourhood and failing to uphold it sends the message that any other laws, not to mention additional parts of the covenant, pertaining to these groups can just be ignored.

And this is where we need your help. On April 12, 2018, we need to show the Bowen Island Municipality that we, the Bowen Island and blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind communities, will not tolerate such behaviour as exhibited by the Bowen Island Lodge from businesses in our community. We need to make clear that businesses cannot get away with disregarding our local laws. We also must make it known that protecting the rights of blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind people and those of Bowen Islanders is important and something we want to see done.

The best way to do this is to write a letter of support. More information, history, all the aforementioned reports, supporting documentation, some sample letters of support, and updates are available through this page on our website.

To submit your own letter of support, you can: use the form found at the above link, email mayorandcouncil@bimbc.ca, or write to:

Mayor and Council
981 Artisan Lane,
Bowen Island, BC
V0N 1G2

We thank you in advance for taking the time out of your busy schedules to read about our predicament.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at +1 (604) 947-0021 menu option 2 or use any of these other methods.

Yours truly,

Alex Jurgensen

On behalf of:

The Camp Bowen Team

Updates

April 10, 2018
Updated to reflect recently discovered information about the sale of the Bowen Island Lodge. The lodge was sold in late 2015 and not early 2016 as originally stated. New evidence also shows that The Hundred Year Education Group Corp. directly owns the property and updates have been made to better reflect this.