The Killing of the Joy of a Sunset – The Trouble with Pender

RoeslandEver look at a picture of a sunset and feel no joy? No happiness. No desire to be at that place. Well this is where I am at the moment with Pender Island, BC, Canada. For over a year I have shared stunning scenic after stunning scenic on this blog, but no matter how pretty the place is, it has problems. Sometimes problems make you think perhaps it is time to part ways.

I’ve never actually shared the issues on this blog before, but I will share the one that is really making us doubt owning our island home. Today, through an unconventional method, we found out about a proposed resort ( owned by Robert Conconi ) at the foot of the hill going to our little neighborhood. If you want to read the document  (NP-TUP-2014.1 Colliers International ) it can be found here.

The short story is a few years back the owner of this property decided to take matters into his own hands and run a resort illegally from farm buildings he had turned into lodgings. Eventually he was shut down due to Land Use Bylaw violations. If you want to google “The Timbers” on Pender Island you’ll find a lot of documentation. We actually came across the whole issue on-line before we bought our property and thought the deal was settled. Well the issue is evidently back. This time instead of running the resort illegally, (and a resort is what it is with multiple lodgings, hosting weddings, a dock, landing of float planes, catering events and a pool) they are trying a loophole to again run the resort. They are requesting a “temporary use permit” for up to THREE YEARS to run the resort. THREE YEARS….how is that temporary? In plain English they are taking a property zoned “rural” (R) and asking for a TUP which essentially turns the property into an area zoned C2 or C3 (commercial). Everyone knows that if the resort is allowed to operate  3 years under a temporary use permit the next step is they will be granted commercial zoning and then in goes the marina, the restaurants, the campground (already mentioned in the above document), the bars, the gas stations…hey maybe we will even get a strip club and a casino right as we enter our neighborhood if we are lucky. These are people that couldn’t obey the law first time around so as I look in my crystal ball I imagine 2nd time round will simply be NASTY.


The whole proposal smacks of the issue we had at the cabin this past spring. If you are interested here is the link. Let’s look at the similarities.

– Both started the ball rolling in “off season” when many people are down south being the typical Canadian “snowbirds” and when part timers are not actively around. Developer types do this hoping that fewer people around makes for less resistance.

– Both indicated (on page 10 of the document I linked!)  “the owner has undertaken community consultation over the past year or so”…..HOLY MOLY WHAT A LIE….we were NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER consulted. EVER. EVER. EVER. LIES. LIES. LIES. The same thing happened in the issue at Lac Ste. Anne County where by “consultation” was held in the dead of winter and the event was only advertised in a community freebee newspaper that you may or may not pick up at the local gas station; officially a “consultation” but it works best for developers if you try not to tell any one.

– both the situation in Lac Ste. Anne County and the proposal for Pender didn’t give two tosses for the current residents. The current residents face a lower quality of life, more traffic, more noise, less security, possible environmental damage (how could it not when we will have boats and float planes stirring up the water on that side of our little peninsula all the time),  additional strain on a water system that is already taxed in the summer months, plus decreased property values. The resort owners, however, get to fill their pockets with cash at our expense.

(Let’s just expand on the summer water issue for a moment. In our little community water is so scarce in the summer that you aren’t supposed to flush when you pee, water is so scarce that they tell you to turn off the shower while lathering with soap to save water, NO outside watering is allowed. We have a “Wall of Shame” where they post households that use too much water. If water is so tight how in the world can the water in the area take the strain of a commercial venture ?”

– both have chosen to drop commercial enterprises on the doorsteps of actual neighborhoods where people actually live

Now let me share one more kicker. On Pender Island short term rentals are not allowed. If you rent out you home to a family for a week you will have the CRD knocking on your door interrogating you. They will go after average “Joe homeowner” for renting their home out to a normal family looking for a beach vacation. This is no exaggeration, it happened to neighbors of ours here in Red Deer when they rented in the Magic Lakes area on Pender Island during their 2012 August vacation; this is a couple who spend theirs days on the deck reading books and are in bed by 9 pm, not exactly a rowdy crew. The argument to ban short term rentals in the Gulf Islands was “neighborhoods are for neighbors”. However if this proposal goes through it won’t just be one family in the house next door enjoying the beach for a week (while the other family is away I might add), if the proposal goes through we get weddings and conferences and float planes. How is that fair? One house can’t rent out the odd weekend but a property owner with deep pockets can put in a resort.

Did I mention there is only ONE country road into this tiny area? Think of holiday makers, who choose to speed all the time, on a road with a ton of deer, but with properties also the length of the road…not good.  We actually base this on actual experience as we play a game called “follow the idiot driver”, and every time we follow an idiot driver they inevitably go to Poet’s Cove Resort……..these are the same idiots who will be driving through our neighborhoods going to the proposed resort at The Timbers.


I know it is only a proposal, but I’m not naive, I know we live in a crooked world. Last year I spent hundreds of hours battling the development in Lac Ste. Anne County, I have no interest in reliving that experience. Maybe I am tired of the negativity we receive on the island simply because we are from Alberta. Funny how they’ll take your tax money and the money you spend at all the local businesses happily, and then freely slag you off because you are from Alberta. I’m pretty done.

The sunsets in this blog post were up on my screen when I found out about the proposal. I look at the picture of the sunset, it is -16C outside and the snow is 3 feet deep, and I have NO desire to go to the island. Actually as I looked at the pictures I said to my husband “Should we sell?”. His answer, “Maybe.”

The joy of a sunset has been killed.

I am not going to waste hundreds of hours fighting other people’s battles over this proposal, other people who will be quick to be snide about us being from Alberta. I’ll write my letter of concern. My husband will call a few neighbors to feel out where they stand. Truth be known, I will not be surprised if a “For Sale” sign goes up.

If you look at a sunset over the ocean and it fills you with dread you really have to question investing the time, money and effort into the island.

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15 Responses to The Killing of the Joy of a Sunset – The Trouble with Pender

  1. Lovely. Your picture come alive.

  2. A sorrowful situation Deb but one all too typical. It seems whenever paradise is found someone wants to commercialize and destroy it. I agree that the ‘temporary’ use permit is a joke. If it gets up and running and if there is even a sniff of commercial success the development will be there to stay. What does Islands Trust has to say about it?

    • Deb says:

      The proposal has come from Islands Trust, luckily this one seems to be in the preliminary state so the residents and tax payers have an opportunity to have their say…..that is if they actually find out about it and if they bother to do anything about it. We found out through our water board not through Islands Trust which makes me nervous as to who knows about the proposal and who doesn’t. Perhaps Islands Trust are just going through “due process”, but the fact that tax revenue was mentioned in the paperwork makes you wonder how this will play out. Also the positioning of the proposed resort and the road system on the island means that the traffic by road, boat and plane not only affects our immediate area but residential areas further up the island and on South Pender (that is directly across from our little peninsula). I am sure these areas have not been notified at all.

      There are 53 lots of substantial size zoned “R” along the same stretch so if they give the TUP to one the floodgates are open for more.

      It is eerily similar to what we went through at the cabin which is probably why I have a sense of just how bad this situation could get.

      I do not understand why municipalities can not stick to their land use bylaws. LUB’s are there to create areas that are fair, and liveable and workable depending on the zoning; it also protects our investments.

      • The magic words that get business/developmental types buzzing is tax revenue. It seems the rules can change dramatically when those words are bandied about. Our area is going through the same thing. The last council elected were very pro business, development expansion. Very contrary to the ideals that many came here for, especially old curmudgeons like us. In our area people move form Vancouver because they love the area here but then want the same service as Vancouver so want to have more development to turn it into Vancouver. Having things stay the same equates to death for them.

      • Deb says:

        We keep buying in these places because we like the simplicity and lack of amenities. There are also development options available that are more sympathetic to areas, such as the agri-tourism option which allows a maximum of 6 guests to stay in order to help subsidize a farming operation. Of course people just want to make a big cash grab.

        Maybe we should have bought on Saturna instead. Population 300, few ferries, rumour has it the world could end and Saturna wouldn’t know (I’m actually quoting a Penderite here! LOL!)

      • I think we need to buy an entire island!

  3. Such beautiful sunsets, so sad that they come at such a price. 😦

  4. oh Deb I read this with such sadness for you, sad about the resort but also the negativity towards you, my only thoughts are with the probable disturbance in the ocean are there any environmental reasons to stop it, I can understand your reluctance to not want to go through the fight, especially if you have already done it, just as well it has happened while Albert is still your main home, would have been so much worse if you had decided to move permanently to the island, take care, Frances

    • Deb says:

      Hi Frances, it really isn’t a great scenario.

      In Alberta half the population is from somewhere else, another province or country, so we don’t seem to have that thought process of having a problem with someone being from a different province. Boggles my brain. It’s funny, out at our cabin in Alberta they love what the BC people call “part timers” (we’ve never been called part-timers in Alberta) because of the income we bring to their businesses, they have actually said as much. I’m not so sure the Penderites realize how much money we sink into their economy each year, our spending helps keep amenities like restaurants, grocery stores and gas stations running on their island.

      In the meantime we will write a letter but also keep our options open. Yesterday my husband started looking at real estate on the less populated and less accessible islands. Selling up and trying a less populated locale is a definite option. We realize now that all we need to keep us happy on an island are walking trails, beach accesses, a big garden and a place to buy milk and bread.

      Life is fluid. I guess if this door closes we just have to make another one open.

      • Deb if you leave it will be their loss, here people are like your Alberta people, I only visited 3 of the Gulf islands, Pender being one, I enjoyed them all and would love to have visited more, good luck, Frances

  5. Michael says:

    Thank you for highlighting this problem. It is NOT TOO LATE to stop this permit. Everyone who cares about our neighbourhood, property values, and quality of life should IMMEDIATELY WRITE to Trustees Ken Hancock and Gary Steeves and tell them to DENY THE APPLICATION. A go/no go decision will be made at the April 24th LTC meeting at the Pender Community Hall. Please attend that meeting, but first WRITE. Thank you! Michael

    • Deb says:

      Thank you for your comment.

      As soon as I heard of this situation I wrote a VERY LONG and in depth letter to the trustees.

      It is so important to protect what we have for now and for future generations.


  6. Deb says:

    Marshall, the Timbers is running illegally. There are many other quality island establishments operating legally if you wish to enjoy Pender Island and support legally operating businesses. The Timbers also have illegal structures such as the dock, plus the accommodation does not meet current code (as per a previous Island Trust Trustee, one of the provisions if they did get a TUP was that all accommodation would need to be upgraded to meet code). Putting guests in accommodation that does not meet code is dangerous, this is how little the Timbers cares about their guests….they just want your cash, who cares about your safety. Clearly the owner of the Timbers is back on his rampage and has chosen to have you make this comment. He was shut down on his application about a year ago, so it is about the right timing for him to again start his caustic division on island. Businesses who chose to operate illegally should be shut down. The Timbers HAS been operating ILLEGALLY. Do your research, check the documentation. The writer of this piece “is not wrong”. Take your “fake news” elsewhere.

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