At a planning meeting in February 2006, the Bowen Community Housing Association (BCHA) made the decision to reach out and involve the community in the deliberations about Bowen’s affordable housing crisis. Seeking to build on the awareness generated by a series of articles and letters in the Undercurrent newspaper, the BCHA decided to hold a public symposium with a program that combined speakers who would provide information with forums for discussion and input.
Two specific action goals for the Symposium were defined: 1) Charter of Rights for Affordable Housing for a Diverse Community, and 2) Plan of Action for achieving affordable housing on Bowen.
The event, introduced by keynote speaker Senator Larry Campbell on Friday evening, June 16, and held on Saturday, June 17, exceeded everyone’s expectations. More than 120 people attended some of the sessions, with about 60 participating in the final working sessions to create the charter and the action plan. The audience included people in need of housing, concerned citizens, developers, and municipal Councillors and staff.
This report on the symposium includes a summary of the proceedings, as well as the Declaration and Plan of Action that emerged from the Symposium and other background information.
Symposium Plan of Action
Four key action steps were identified at the symposium:
- Secondary Suites: Legalize them, recognizing them as a service and a gift to the health of the community.
- Needs Assessment: Determine actual housing needs on Bowen, define basis for determining need, and identify housing options needed.
- Official Community Plan Review: Modify the Official Community Plan to include mandate for affordable housing.
- Surplus (Community) Lands: Secure some of these lands for affordable housing.
An action planning meeting followed the Symposium on September 9. An action group was formed to implement each of the four actions; each group achieved its objective.
Action #2, the Needs Assessment group, was the nucleus of the community effort that culminated in the creation of the Affordable Housing Program developed by the Affordable Housing Group, and the creation of the Bowen Island Housing Corporation.
- Symposium Report
Symposium summary published after the symposium:
Symposium advertising notice