The visible roots of today’s efforts to build community capacity to ensure that there is a diversity of housing choices on Bowen Island to support the diversity we value can be seen in the discussions and gatherings that took place in 2005.
As with most grassroots initiatives, documentation is scarce, and there were earlier efforts to create alternative and affordable housing models and communities. However, in 2005, some residents became aware of the number of community members who were leaving the island due to rising housing costs and decreased availability of affordable dwellings.
Many will remember the stories in the Undercurrent about the impact of rapidly rising housing costs on valued community members, and the pivotal meetings at the Gallery which led to the formation of the Bowen Community Housing Association (BCHA).
In 2006, inspired by the growing community energy and concern about the issue of housing affordability, a small group took the initiative to organize a 2-day Affordable Housing Symposium at Cates Hill Chapel. Attended by 125 people, the event concluded with a commitment to four key steps to bring the delivery of a diversity of affordable housing choices on Bowen Island closer to reality:
- Legalize secondary suites
- Prepare an Affordable Housing Needs assessment
- Modify the OCP to enable the production of affordable and diverse housing
- Secure Surplus Lands (re-named Community Lands) for affordable housing choices
Five years later, all four steps had been taken, thanks to the to collective action of the community, organized through the BCHA, and the partnership of the Bowen Island municipality, which provided both financial support and civic sanction, the assistance of the development community, which provided financial support in the early stages, and moral and financial support of individual community members.
A brief outline of the major initiatives is included in this section:
- Affordable Housing Symposium 2006
- Affordable Housing Needs Assessment Committee of the BCHA 2006-2007
- Affordable Housing Strategy Committee of the BCHA 2007