Metro Vancouver board approves plan to revitalize Bowen Island heritage cottages and park
Heritage preservation association upset that only 6 of 10 cottages to be saved
A nearly century old cluster of cottages on Bowen Island will be restored, thanks to a decision Friday by the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD) board.
The board approved the revitalization of Davies Orchard, a 2.3 acre waterfront site in Crippen Regional Park, near the Bowen Island ferry terminal.
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The orchard contains 10 cottages in varying states of disrepair. They are are what remains of a seaside resort that was originally built and operated by the Union Steamship Company in 1928.
"There's a long narrative to this site, the cottages are a really important part of that," said Jeffrey Fitzpatrick, a manager for Metro Vancouver Regional Parks.
"There's also other layers too, there's a First Nation's history to the site, there's also a pioneering history to the site, an orcharding history to the site, and before the cottages it was a camping site."
According to a MVRD staff report, Davies Orchard has been underused due to the seclusion of the area and deteriorating condition of the cottages.
The revitalization hopes to better integrate the orchard into Crippen Regional Park, improve public access, and celebrate the history of the site.
Along with the restoration of six of the ten cottages, site amenities for the area will include new trails, an expanded orchard, public space, and a nature discovery area.
The plan has two of the cottages continuing as museums and offices, two as short term overnight rentals, and two rebuilt for other bookings.
Opposition to plan
While Fitzpatrick says the plan fulfills the public's desire to preserve the history of the site, the Bowen Island Heritage Preservation Association argued for a plan to save all 10 cottages.
"This is our heritage that we need to preserve. It reminds us of a time when less was perfect," said Hans-Christian Behm, with the Bowen Island Heritage Preservation Association.
"We are fighting to preserve a Canadian heritage," he said.
Behm says the MVRD hasn't properly respected cultural and community values with the project.
Fitzpatrick says the decision to remove four of the cottages allowed for a balancing of amenities.
"We looked at all the possible public park uses that the cottages could be used for, and those will all be possible in the six cabins that will remain on site," he said.
According to the plan overview, the costs of the upgrades will be more than $2.1 million, with an annual operating cost of $35,000.
Staff estimate a detailed design will be completed by 2018, along with the start of improvements to the remaining cottages.
- A previous version of this story incorrectly included the Bowen Island mayor and council as proponents of the plan to save 10 cottages.Nov 26, 2017 4:52 PM PT