What would you like to know?

As questions come up or we anticipate them, John Reid provides some answers. We’ll add questions and answers to this page as they come up.

It helps to answer the concern over the number of homes when you look at the scale of the property. It is 350 acres – this is as big as all of what has been developed between the cove and Grafton right now. If we were to cluster the homes on quarter acre lots, That would use 25 acres. Of course there would be roads and an agricultural gathering place and other retreats etc, but the majority of the land – and about 80% of the land on the lake side of the main road – will be left in its natural state. I truly believe this will make the owls, along with all the other animals, quite happy that they have intact large tracts of undisturbed land rather than the traditional chopping into large lots which distributes us with our roads and cars and houses all over the land. This property has the same zoning as Cape Roger Curtis, and we are proposing an alternative to that form of development.



Groundwater is another option that we may pursue but have not as yet. Connections between groundwater and the lake would be determined after drilling and sampling water quality, pretty much just speculation before that is done.

At present the lake with the new dam constructed has additional capacity for 380 units, this can be increased to 686 units if conservation measures of 20% are applied. We would certainly be doing what we can to minimize water use in new construction as I have on previous developments.

At Grafton we are looking toward smaller homes on smaller lots leaving the majority of the lands in their natural state. This in itself will help minimize water consumption as yards will be small (less watering needed). Homes would use low flow showers and toilets and aerator faucets.

The setback required for housing construction to the lake is 30m (100ft).

I am not sure at this time, I think you loose the rural feel to the development when you move towards attached housing.

There are a couple options here: one would be to use the lake as the water source, and the other is to develop a ground water system like many other areas of the island that rely on wells. I am aware that the lake is not just a reservoir but also a functioning ecosystem, and we would like to keep it that way. We are beginning discussions with the municipal staff to determine what would work best. We are proposing a site for the Cove Bay water treatment plant up by the lake if the Municipality decides they want it as an alternative to sites they have chosen in the Snug Cove area.

We will have common septic fields serving up to sixteen homes at a time. This will ensure fewer of them, and that we can take advantage of the best sites available. A similar approach has been used at King Edward Bay and Belterra.

At Cape Roger Curtis, the single most important lesson I learned is to explain the density expectations early in the public consultation process. This did not happen at CRC. That process went on for a very long time before the numbers first came out, and when they did everyone was shocked by the magnitude of them. If I learned anything from watching that process it would be to get the density numbers out early so no one gets surprised later. That is why I am giving rough numbers today, and this will allow our process to move forward without the “elephant in the room”.

Yes, there is no doubt that more people would be living nearby and that they would use the trails. Our proposal would protect the entire area around the lake and give the Municipality greater control over those lands. Decisions around how the trails should be used and where they are located, or whether there should be any public access to the lake and other environmentally sensitive areas, are decisions the community will have to make. We will not be the decision maker here; we’ll turn over the land to the Municipality and they will decide how it is to be used. Our proposal is to change the zoning to protect the lake and its surroundings and then give the municipality control of the lands.

The land around the lake is zoned for residential large lots. If the Municipality wanted to expropriate the land, there are ways for them to do so. However this would require compensation to the land owner for the loss, which would require tax payers’ money. Again, as we have mentioned previously, there is also the option of a conservation buyer stepping forward.

No. Primex, the owners of the Grafton lake properties, also own the three parcels currently used as a parking lot beside the General Store in the Cove. But these are not part of the project.


The five parcels go back up for sale. They could be bought separately or as a whole. If they are sold separately any chance for a comprehensive development would most likely be lost.

There are many risks to development, but it usually comes down to money. The owners and I will not proceed if there is not a sufficient financial return. I am hopeful we can come up with a plan that benefits both the developer and the community.

It would be nice to get this one right.

I think there is a place for rental cottages close to the agricultural lands, but I want to hear more from the community on this.

To date, most of my developments have managed to keep the density numbers in line with the OCP. This has been because of the high-value oceanview properties that we were able to sell.

At Grafton Lake, the lands that we propose to develop are inland properties and do not carry the premium of an ocean view. Trying to achieve higher prices on larger lots simply could not compete with other locations on the island. We need to create a different product to sell.

Also the community is looking for affordability. To achieve this we have to lower our infrastructure costs by making the lots smaller. Secondly, we need to build smaller homes to keep construction costs down. Clustered neighbourhoods surrounded by large natural areas and a rural agricultural theme will be a very attractive product, but it will require a few more homes to make it work financially for the owners.

Approximately 100.

Approximately 70 units.

Approximately 30.

The property is already subdivided into five larger parcels, and has zoning for further subdivision into 10-acre lots or 5-acre lots. About 50 acres are in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), which would be difficult to subdivide.

– asked by Stephen Brady and Lorinda at Orchard on Facebook

The Grafton Lake Lands are at the beginning of a rezoning process, and likely four years away from having anything available for sale. Ultimately market conditions will dictate price, and also the rate of development. We do feel though that the community will be looking towards smaller homes on smaller lots in order to achieve affordability and preservation of green space. That said we expect that our consultation with the community will help us with decisions around the type of housing the community wishes to see. [28 Feb 2015 @ 2pm]

My primary goal is to create the Nature Preserve as the centerpiece of the islands park and trail system. I can’t think of a more important piece to that puzzle.

Secondly, about 50 acres of the property is designated Agriculture Land Reserve. The majority of those lands are bordering the lake and should be left in the Preserve, but there is about 5 to 6 acres on the opposite side of the main road that I would like to bring back into use. It would be a gathering place for everyone and would make a great entrance to the development. Kind of like the way Collins Farm is developed.

I would also like to make room for some retreat centres that are focused around wellness. It’s a theme that resonates well with most islanders. I have always liked the phrase “Island of Walks and Wellness”. We need to set aside room for this economy to grow before we run out of those quiet spaces.

I have until October, 2016.

The property has been taken off the market and is still owned by Primex Investments Ltd. I have an option to purchase a percentage of the property. If the rezoning is successful I’ll exercise my option and become partners with Primex. I’ll be the active developer of the project.

The properties had been for sale for about a year and the price had just dropped. I knew that if they did not find a buyer the next step would be to sell off the parcels individually. This would mean the opportunity to capture the entire lake would be lost.


  1. Carol MacKinnon February 24, 2015 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    I look forward to learning more, and studying the plans and photographs and reports, but this does sound like a wonderful future possibility for Bowen!

  2. Kim Hauner February 28, 2015 at 9:35 am - Reply

    John, this is the most important piece of information everyone needs to know. It explains everything

  3. Pauline Le Bel March 9, 2015 at 1:16 pm - Reply

    John, Thanks for the somewhat strenuous and thoroughly enjoyable walk yesterday touring the lands across from the lake. (By the way, nothing hurts today.) It’s a splendid vision for the future, and I appreciate the opportunity to participate in it. Looking forward to the walk around Grafton Lake.

  4. C robertson March 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    How are you going to deal with sewage and agricultural runoff?

    • gr@ft0nlak3 March 27, 2015 at 11:17 am - Reply

      We will have common septic fields serving up to sixteen homes at a time. This will ensure fewer of them, and that we can take advantage of the best sites available. A similar approach has been used at King Edward Bay and Belterra.

  5. Lary Waldman May 24, 2015 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Have you identified any area suitable for Hospitality and Tourism use, which would include food service. I feel that Bowen needs more economic activity in this area, it being sustainable in and of itself. Keep up this good work it is supremely important in my opinion, that after the construction jobs are gone, there be some feasible economic activity, besides real estate sales. Federal and Provincial money for subsidized housing should be a requirement made by the Muni . This is a Tsunami type issue in my view.

    Lary Waldman

    • gr@ft0nlak3 August 12, 2015 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Larry,

      I agree completely with you that we need to create jobs that will last beyond construction, and start building an economy that supports jobs for the long term.

      I have always liked the phrase “Island of Walks and Wellness”. These two things, our greenways and wellness retreats, seem to be well accepted here on Bowen. Rivendale and the Orchard Recovery Center are good examples. We intend to create 3 or 4 sites that will be zoned to allow for someone to create a business around this theme.

      We hope the zoning will be broad enough to allow all kinds of businesses to set up here where they can benefit from our natural environment and growing network of greenways. It is critical that we zone these places in advance to attract this economy before there is no room left for them. I know I don’t need to tell you how difficult it is to create these places after an area already has people living in it. People that arrive on Bowen passionate to create their business are quick to look elsewhere when they realize how long, and difficult and uncertain a process it is to change zoning to allow for these things. We need to shorten the process and start enabling and attracting this economy. Prezoning some sites will be a good start.

      Thanks for your comments.

  6. gr@ft0nlak3 September 13, 2016 at 9:36 am - Reply

    In reply to Daniel Heald, (read his letter here):

    Hi Daniel,

    thanks so much for your input. Here are some responses to keep the conversation going. I’ve paraphrased your questions a little to save space.

    I’ve been talking with people on the island for a couple of years now about what they’d like to see in the Grafton area. So most of the ideas presented reflect what people are asking for, within the constraints of the location.

    Appropriate Uses

    Will Grafton become an alternative village centre?

    I get your concern about competing with the Cove, but think it’s unlikely to have much impact. No-one has asked for a new restaurant or other types of shops, and so those aren’t in our proposal.

    People have said a lot about walkable communities, the desire to expand agriculture, the crucial need for affordable housing and the urge to help grow the island economy in a way that doesn’t undermine the natural environment.

    So the idea behind providing office space and daycare is to create the possibility for a person to live, work and find child support all within a walkable area. Their shopping, eating out, banking and other activities will still happen in the Cove.

    The Commons project will have an outlet for fresh vegetables of some kind. But it’s a collective project to support island agriculture, to create synergy rather than competition. We don’t see it as a store as such, just a seasonal market. There is one already at BICS on summer weekends for example.

    The idea of offices is that people could live very near by and avoid the distractions of a home office. If it could attract a digital company from off-island to set up shop, that could help the island economy.

    The Orchard Recovery Centre wants to grow. Is this a good reason for the 139 unit development?
    The O.R.C. expansion doesn’t depend on the overall development, but makes sense to do during the same rezoning process. The Orchard is a Bowen success story, is quiet, solves social issues and employs alot of people. We’re very comfortable having them as a neighbour.

    I struggle with the beautiful White Swan public orchard and the Commons… I can’t get gardeners to garden 511 Sunset Rd and it is free!
    I understand it may be difficult to create a community centre for growing our food – but feel it’s a worthwhile endeavour and will become more important in future. We’ll be providing 500k in seed funding over the next decade to support its material costs. We look forward to joining with other Bowen agriculturalists to improve conditions for all.


    Does it truly make sense to place the largest new development on Bowen Island around the island’s watershed? 
    Grafton Lake is the water source for the Cove Bay water system, and for the residents of any future Grafton community. The watershed around it is home to activities of all kinds, as well as people, beavers, horses, dogs and machinery. So we had the following ideas:

    • preserve as much natural space around the lake as possible
    • provide support for a new water treatment plant by contributing land
    • join the Cove Bay water system, providing hookup fees of about $1,000,000 which will help underwrite the cost of the treatment plant
    • conduct environmental, geotechnical, water and other studies and make them public

    Septic fields do break down. Are the consequences of this fully appreciated and protected against?
    Yes – we will be doing studies and locating properly engineered septic fields as far away from drainage to the lake as possible. We’ll present studies to support this later in this process.

    A significant portion of the development would lie outside the watershed (see the map); this will allow for better protection on our lands than exist throughout the watershed – which extends to include 1800 acres including houses, farms, roads, commercial enterprises.

    Does the community currently have control of the water source?
    The lake itself is public property, and the land around it consists of five separate private properties. Although there are some constraints – houses can’t be closer than 100 ft from the water’s edge – there’s no more protection there than anywhere else on the island. There are setbacks from water courses anywhere from 15 to 30 meters depending on if it’s a creek or a lake.

    If developed together we have the opportunity to put in the best permanent protections for the forest surrounding the lake. And creation of a water treatment plant would give us greater control over the quality of the water.

    Do we need all the development to secure the water treatment plant?
    Two alternative sites for water treatment are owned by the Muni in Snug Cove. One is across the road from the turn off to Artisan Square, near the bus shelter. The other possibility would be on Lot One, up the hill from the Works Yard. Both would be more expensive to develop, would use up valuable residential land and lower the potential income from land sale by the Municipality.

    The $10,000 hook up fees to help fund Cove Bay Water is a good idea, but why not $20K or $30k?
    The Municipality has requested this amount. We understand they have done the calculation based on the number of new users, treatment, and the required funding for the new treatment plant. The Grafton Lake project will be the first to pay this hookup fee rate, but we think it is fair.

    If it were double or triple that cost, we would need to provide our own water through wells. Purchase affordability is an issue for all land on the island, but we still want the final price to be as low as possible. Adding an extra 10 or 20 thousand dollars on top of the price just makes that goal harder.


    Small housing is going to be 1200 sq. ft. and only 25 of them. They are likely to be out of (price) reach of island workers.

    You’re right. Island land is so expensive to begin with, it’s very hard to provide affordable ownership. But we do have some other ideas cooking about how to create a ‘transitional’ product that could allow people to buy for less. Certainly the houses will be more affordable than the many houses on Bowen which are over $1 million.

    Ultimately affordable housing on Bowen generally means long-term rental. The Bowen Municipality has requested that 15% of the units be affordable rentals by their definition, and we agree with that.

    I agree that ‘affordable’ rentals are also quite expensive. One approach for young workers to solve this is sharing the rent between two or three people.

    We do see an opportunity to create supportive living houses for older people – ie six suites and a central kitchen plus cleaners, so the larger houses may not be exclusively for single families with high income.

    Could you provide ten or fifteen small (laneway) houses of about 400-500 sq. ft.?
    Our proposal does include a few detached accessory buildings which will likely be 500 or less square feet as rental. But we feel as many do that the majority of the denser, more afordable housing should be in the cove.

    Technically the new Accessory Buildings bylaw could allow owners to create another 80 or so such buildings in the area. But we would like to preclude this because we don’t think that kind of density there would be a good thing.

    If you refer to page 28 there a drawing that shows our intention to allow construction of several laneway houses. However, we do intend to restrict this to twelve – we don’t want to see intense densification.

    There are some interesting agricultural worker rules for housing that could be used to create small housing for real people wanting to make a living from Bowen on Bowen.
    Yes – on ALR lands you’re allowed to create housing for temporary workers. At this point we have no plans to do this, but there is some room for that if necessary. The land that we have is earmarked for actual growing projects so putting housing on there would limit that.

    I hope this puts some concerns of yours to rest, but please do continue the conversation if you’d like to add anything.

    John Reid

  7. James Glave October 29, 2017 at 9:42 am - Reply

    Hi John,

    Can you help me understand why you are not considering more attached housing forms in your development? Several sets of row houses of 12 units, for example, four-plexes in clusters with community space between. When I look at your plans I see yet more of the same, I see a development model that we don’t need any more of. Lots of little roads, little driveways leading to single buildings.

    Attached forms could open up opportunities for, example, a co-op style shared vehicle, or for the shared agriculture and gardening you envision. The Wolfgang experiment with micro-homes demonstrates quite clearly that you cannot reduce construction costs unless you share a foundation or a roof structure, service connections, and more.

    Is it not possible to do this and make enough profit under current zoning? Market demand is clearly there. What are the barriers? Thank you.

    • gr@ft0nlak3 October 30, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

      Hi James,

      The most common requests we received through our consultation were for rental housing. Our proposal includes the provision of 45 rental units, which will be multifamily in buildings up to a max of six units.

      We also heard that many islanders were looking for smaller homes that they could downsize into but still wanted the independence of a single family home, albeit in a tighter community. For this reason we have included 30 homes that will be limited to a maximum size of 1200 sq. ft. (this is the same size as the accessory buildings now allowed on lots over .9 of an acre). Some of these will be clustered together with common grounds and parking.

      We also have 6 larger homes that can be developed into 6-unit seniors homes.

      The remaining single family homes, which do make up a significant portion of the development, are limited to 1800 sq ft and sit on smaller lots. This has enabled us to give up 237 acres as public greenspace out of the 350 acres in the development.

      There was also concern about the overall numbers. If we were to go from single family to multifamily the numbers would need to go up significantly, and this would increase the concerns around rural feel, septic, water, transportation, competition with the cove etc.

      We expect our rezoning to complete in 2017 and our first phase to begin in 2018. That said, the development will buildout over the next 10 years, and there is plenty of time to adjust future phases to meet the changing needs of the community.



      • gr@ft0nlak3 November 3, 2017 at 5:57 pm - Reply

        hi John thanks for the response and encouraging to see that there is scope for future revisions

        please join me if you can at my presentation this coming Sunday (November 5) at municipal hall on the bc energy step code and electric vehicles

  8. lary waldman September 11, 2018 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Dear Grafton Lake


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