Edward Porter met with a group of Bowen Islanders on Zoom in November and described the draft plan for the Cape in detail. We isolated his comments for brevity. We encourage groups and individuals to meet with us online this way to ask questions and let us know your thoughts about the concepts described here.
About the project
Information about how we hope to consult with Bowen Islanders
I’d like to update everyone regarding lots 20 to 22. As you may know, the Bowen Island Conservancy approached us a while back to say that a private donor wished to purchase these three 10-acre lots to create a public park on the Cape Roger coast.
We listened to the public’s enthusiastic response to the idea, and of course recognize the value of a publicly accessible scenic park. With support from the Cape on Bowen’s shareholders, I reached out to the Conservancy on February 24th to officially invite an offer.
On March 4th, the Cape on Bowen and the Conservancy agreed to begin the formal process. At that time the Conservancy estimated they’d be able to get back to us in about a month, after first meeting again with the donor family to gain a clear understanding of their desires, and then working with their legal team.
During the second week of April, I reconnected with Owen Plowman, Conservancy President, to check in. At that time he said that they were still progressing, though they were about two weeks behind. It’s now a month later, and as it happens we’re still waiting to receive the written offer or to hear anything further.
While we don’t control the timelines, we do want this idea to succeed. There are still details and mechanisms yet to be worked out, but we have already changed our planning substantively to accommodate a positive outcome.
I feel hopeful that in working with the Conservancy, the Cape on Bowen can deliver in perpetuity a significant park legacy that we can all be proud of.
Warmly and respectfully,
CEO, The Cape on Bowen Community Development
We were surprised by a report that suggested a deal was pending to sell lots at the Cape to a conservation buyer.
We truly appreciate the generous donor’s interest and intentions. We are always open to more discussion with them, and other philanthropists or organizations that share a passion for the same cause.
There was a discussion about this in the fall, but unfortunately it didn’t come together. We’re sorry if there was a misunderstanding about it. People must feel very disappointed to hear that this park opportunity has not yet materialized.
At the time of the suggestion, we had not yet begun formal planning with environmental and other professionals. What we had learned by then, through conversations with islanders, was that we should try to create a large, contiguous preserved area to include red-listed habitat and recreational parks. In order to make this possible, we need to look at the area as a whole, and come up with a range of ideas in search of a viable one. For this reason we had taken the lots off the market before the potential buyers contacted us.
Since then, I’ve had talks with BC Parks and Metro Parks. I’ve also been working with our environmental consultant (Diamond Head Consulting), who has just completed a preliminary field study. This will help us map out the most important areas for preservation.
It is my goal to provide public access to the shoreline along lots 20-30 for views and recreation, and to protect over 100 acres of environmentally significant lands through a combination of public access designations and conservation capital. The team needs to balance water resources, infrastructure costs, best locations for diverse housing and gathering places, land values, market absorption and other factors to achieve this.
Our public consultation is still happening. I eagerly look forward to having a sketch plan that the team believes is reasonably workable, as a basis of discussion and exploration with the community. Once we come to a plan that we are confident is viable and well liked, we’ll submit an application to the Municipality. Even after the application is submitted, I do plan to stay very much connected and engaged with anyone who wishes to be an active part of the process.
It’s a work in progress but don’t worry, the dream of a large park is very much alive.
While many in the community very much wish to have an Aging in Place residence to be able to stay on Bowen as their health status evolves, I am aware that there are questions about what exactly this means to the island, both in terms of benefits and potential challenges. This post is meant to be an FAQ about this topic. Creating and operating intergenerational aging in place has been most of my career’s work. I apologize if I come off as intimidating or over-the-top lengthy in my writing. I am just very passionate about this! If you don’t want to read all this, but would rather be part of an interactive seminar, I will be hosting an event on Saturday April 4, 2-5pm, at The Well on Bowen.
What is Intergenerational Aging in Place?
An Aging in Place residence provides a physically adaptive environment, professional services, and social-recreational programming to allow retirees the peace of mind that regardless of when and how their health evolves, they will never need to leave “home”.
The particular model of Aging in Place that I created is intergenerational living. This is to allow adult children and grandchildren to be an integral party of seniors’ lives. There is a natural age mix that doesn’t categorize, label, isolate and stigmatize seniors. Instead, it empowers older adults to share their wisdom, and at the same time to learn from younger generations, so that people of all ages are meaningfully connected. This is something very new, not just in North America, but also across the world.
In the communities I’ve developed and operated in the past, there are ownership and rental suites in Independent and Supportive Living, and rentals for Licenced Care. Seniors move in when they’re active and well. As they age and experience mild mobility and/or cognitive changes, they can stay in the same suite with support services for scheduled activities of daily living. If at some point, they develop a chronic condition that is moderate to severe and causes unpredictable needs, there is a designated, secured area for Licenced Care, where there is 24/7 Registered Nursing and a holistic health care team to promptly respond to those needs.
About 80% of suites were Independent/Supportive Living, and 20% of units would be Licenced Care.
Throughout the residence, there are programmed social and recreational activities to bring people together: in-house restaurant, lounge, and café; arts and crafts; instructor-led group wellness classes such as dance, yoga, meditation; wellness spa; beauty salon; community garden; games room; library etc etc. There is dedicated programming for Licenced Care residents, tailored to their abilities.
Does such a community increase the burden on emergency services?
In short, I don’t think it does – at least not significantly. This is because:
- There are CPR-certified staff 24 hours a day;
- With professional nursing staff, there isn’t a default need to call on the ambulance when there is an incident. In fact, Licensed Care likely decreases ambulance service demand, compared to a senior living at home with no professional help;
- The intent is for Bowen residents to have first priority. If through the rezoning process, we find that not many Bowen seniors see themselves living in an aging in place community, then it will simply not be part of the Cape. If there are enough Bowen seniors to fill the residence or come close to that, there isn’t a heavier burden on emergency services relative to the current status.
As a side note, I serve on the board of BC & Yukon Heart & Stroke Foundation. Should there be interest and curiosity, I may ask the organization to provide information resources or an education seminar. I have also already asked how we could strengthen services to rural and island communities, and what the limiting factors are.
Would the residence be for the middle class or the wealthy?
This really depends on resident feedback. We will find out from Bowen retirees/seniors’ input whether the majority prefer a more basic physical environment and level of service, or if they want their later years to be the absolute best of their life, even if that means it is more expensive.
To provide some tangible examples:
In my Vancouver project, Independent Living rentals start from around the low $6000s per month. This includes 3 meals a day, 4 hrs/wk of domestic upkeep (could be changing light bulbs, folding laundry, reorganizing closets), group shuttle bus and chauffeured town car.
In Victoria, (which isn’t in construction yet), rentals will start from the high $4000s. This will include 2 meals a day, once a week housekeeping, group shuttle, co-op vehicle, but no chauffeured town car.
There are many factors influencing affordability:
For the overall community, these include the intensity and level of refinement of social and hospitality services, and the extent of amenities to be maintained.
On an individual basis, there are two important drivers: the cost of accommodation (size, quality of finishes), but much more significantly, the actual health needs of the resident, which directly influences the professional hours required to safely accommodate the needs.
To me, an aging in place community is about serving needs. It is not right that a senior should have to move away from their community because of health care needs. What EVERYONE needs is to stay in the community they love with the friends and family that matter to them, in a home that is physically adapted to increasing challenges, and enriching activities that make them excited to get up every day… And yes, for most elderly, at some point they need support with daily activities, and maybe even nursing care: care aides, LPNs, RNs, recreation managers and therapists etc. These professionals give of themselves and invested into their skills, and they deserve to be paid well. What ultimately makes a safe, secure, supportive environment expensive is professional staff. The accommodation itself doesn’t have to be high end finishing, and it doesn’t have to be large – although many seniors are used to spacious homes and have trouble downsizing and letting go of what they’ve accumulated over decades.
The Independent and Supportive Living stages can offer a whole lot for the spirit. It is scientifically proven that this generally delays the need for nursing care. Independent Living does not necessarily cost a lot. It depends on the size and finishes of the accommodation, and what levels of programmed services, amenities and activities people desire. It is impossible to provide the world, and then not pay the staff fairly. If there is strong and reliable volunteerism, and real community spirit behind that, I believe it is possible that the hospitality and recreation aspects can be within the financial means of most.
What about government-funded aging in place?
Due to the rapidly aging population, the demands on the system are much higher than our tax dollars are able to support. This is going to get worse over the next 2 decades.
I have had experience with government-funded communities. Up until 2005, my father and I, and our team, used to operate funded Licensed Care units within aging in place residences. Unfortunately, the funding was dismal and difficult to attain. It was also completely inadequate to provide a dignifying experience for seniors. Today, it is no better. As an example, currently funding in Licensed Care is only enough to give seniors a bath once a week, and the staff to resident ratio is 1:13.
I don’t know of many communities with Supportive Living that is government-funded. I have a personal example of the amount of funding for home care that the government can afford: two hours a week for someone who had both Parkinson’s and Alzheimers, for 10 years, before a funded care facility had a bed available for him. (Despite his dire state, there were others who were worse off, so he wasn’t high enough on the waitlist to get in earlier.) The funded care facility was three hours away from his wife and son. He sadly passed away within three months of moving into that facility because of the trauma of the move in his fragile state. It hurts to even write this. It is not okay. But the reality is that we don’t have enough trained professionals, and they deserve to be compensated for all that they offer.
There have been a lot of strong opinions expressed over the years. One fear is that any rezoning process at the Cape might cause divisions in the community.
Candy Ho describes her feelings about the process to come, and she hopes to consult with the public in an atmosphere of honesty, optimism and civility
Candy Ho is creating the outreach for The Cape on Bowen to improve relationships and invite participation in a new vision for the Cape. She speaks about her own story and her aspirations for healing and learning.
Candy Ho is executive officer of The Cape on Bowen Ltd., as well as Vice President of Element Lifestyle Retirement. She has been involved in operations at the Cape for over 14 years. Though she is not a voting member of the board of investors, she manages day to day operations on their behalf and is a strong voice for a new approach to the future of the Cape.
Don Ho and Edwin Lee are founders of The Cape on Bowen Community Development Ltd. (2011). A small group of people have investments of various large amounts in the COB. Don Ho has a small, non-controlling share in the project, and essentially over the years has acted as the advisor and executor on behalf of the shareholders’ collective decisions. The property has been appraised at a retail value of over $70 million.
To date The Cape on Bowen has sold 24 lots, including all the west coast lots, and currently owns 35. Current zoning is Rural Residential 1, which allows a very large house on each property, plus 1 secondary building per 0.2 hectares. Minimum lot size is 4 hectares. The practical limitation is that it does not allow commercial uses.
Candy Ho has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of the company, effective August 1, 2019. She has been charged with the specific mission to work towards a plan that brings to life the values of the community. In seeking new capital to realize such a plan, Candy sees it as her moral obligation to reach out and work with only those investors who believe in creating positive legacies, respect community, and do not look at financial return as the overarching, primary driver of their decisions. She has resigned from Element Lifestyle Retirement, effective October 1, 2019, in order to dedicate herself fully to improving the future of Bowen Island through her work on The Cape. She has been involved in the background of COB for 15 years, through all its ups and downs.
While Candy advises the board and executes on their collective strategic decisions, she doesn’t have any equity interest in the development and thus does not have a vote. The board has given her their philosophical support and funding support. The shareholders endorse her collaborative approach with the community. If it is established that there is interest from Bowen Island for something other than 59 exclusive estates at The Cape, they will entrust Candy to collaborate with the Municipality, committees, and professional consultants towards a rezoning application for a plan that is economically viable and can attract conscious investors. Candy would lead and execute on that process through to the end.
Here, we elaborate on context.
Most of the current shareholders would like to move their money, which means selling significant majority interest in its holdings to a new capital investor who has the financial capacity, the vision and long-term commitment for a master planned development. They would be selling the property at wholesale value for its current zoning, but for a new investor to be interested, there has to be something that is greater than this zoning, both in economic value and in purpose.
For Don and Candy, their desire to rezone is primarily because it creates a legacy for the community. Building out a master-planned community requires tremendous capital outlay for further infrastructure to support density. Ultimately the financial return depends on a financial analysis of the delicate balance between increased sale value versus increased costs, along with the time horizon of development and associated opportunity costs. More density does not mean better financial return. It is not that simple.
If and when a new capital investor comes in, Candy hopes they will allow her to stay in some way to guide the future of the property, and Don hopes to be around to witness the makings of a legacy. They want to rezone in order to create a well designed community that includes:
- large areas of public forest land, natural habitat, gardens, trails and parks
- enough diversity of housing to attract diversity of people
- a retirement centre where a person can stay until the end of their days
- a spiritual wellness retreat drawing on the beautiful location
Candy recognizes that the first imperative step is to repair the relationship with the community through greater transparency and outreach. She and her father acknowledge that the local reputation of COB was damaged by issues such as the division of the Cape into 59 expensive lots, installation of large docks and subsequent legal battles, some areas with particularly extensive logging, and the accidental release of a prospectus that appeared to imply support from specific community leaders for a rezoning.
Candy believes that for the community to really be a positive legacy, we all need to come to a shared understanding of what this local community wants for its future, and through the process collaborate towards a common vision.
The goal of this process isn’t to re-litigate the past, though of course we will discuss it. The hope is that we can find a way to share an imaginative and positive outcome.
By cultivating support from the public for a community that would serve needs of islanders, they increase the likelihood of attracting investors who share a vision for habitat preservation, affordability and a place that islanders can once again consider their home. They are actively seeking investors who can fund the vision for the future Candy and Don are working toward. Candy has a daily meditative practice that further motivates her to help build something that is inspiring and in sync with her values.
So this is a time of changes in generations, participants and goals that is creating new possibilities for The Cape, and for Bowen Island.