A Dream-Vision For Canada’s North Shores



An always basic, on-going, unanswered philosophical question is: Are human beings in the 21st century truly capable of learning how to live side-by-side one another in relative perpetual harmony with the natural world that surrounds them?

From time to time over the years the historic Bowser Nature Trail, and its fragile greenbelt escarpment slope, located on Canada’s British Columbia North Shore that spans the North Vancouver communities of Lower Capilano and Lower Pemberton Heights, has become the scene of yet another potential Hatfields & McCoys controversy. The perpetual issue is the extent of allowable indiscriminate clear-cutting or neglect of communally-shared green spaces by private land owners, their tree contractors or local Environmental Protection officials themselves.

Over the decades the tensions and misunderstandings produced by this on-going controversy has led to more than a few minor bouts of consternation between some of the home owners of both communities whenever landslides and falling trees have damaged their homes, cars and private property or human noise becomes too much of an annoyance. From time to time local District officials have had to step in and issue a cease-and-desist order to the guilty party or parties to allow for a time of greater clarity and dialogue to occur between the two communities; with the hope that the basic unanswered philosophical question that lies at the heart of it all – either the tenuous greenbelt’s ultimate protection or its predictable eventual degradation – finally, once and for all, could be answered and the knotty unresolved situation amicably settled to the satisfaction of home owners, residents and politicians alike.

The local controversy happens to involve the question of what ultimately must be done about a privately-owned existing greenbelt area that runs along what’s called the Pemberton Escarpment that descends down a slope until it reaches the Bowser Nature Trail below at its base that serves as the natural borderlands of the nearby community of Lower Capilano, named after Chief Joe Capilano of the nearby Squamish Nation who once upon a time travelled with other chiefs to England to submit their own concerns to the Queen Mother about similar infringements on their basic inherent indigenous rights. This nature trail and its borderlands have long been described by local residents as “the spiritual heart of Lower Capilano”.

The sticky issue at the nub of it all lies in the fact that though the existing greenbelt slopes are the private property of the home owners who reside at the top of the escarpment, they are prevented from ever actually building on the slope itself because hydrological science dictates its unstable nature subjects it to potentially dangerous slumping, landslides exacerbated by the indiscriminate felling of trees.

Yet, though no concerted overall plan has ever been collectively devised by either local District officials and the property owners themselves of these No Man’s Land slopes; the owners, in order to gain an ever-greater unobstructed view of the surrounding vista for their own personal enjoyment and pleasure — often with little consideration for how such indiscriminate clearing also allows for the unwanted glare of artificial lights and unmuted man-made sounds to continue to destroy the silence, privacy, peace and tranquility of the human dwellers below, or even threaten to physically harm them or damage their own properties — still have endeavored over the years to cut away, legally or otherwise, as much as they can of the natural mature trees and foliage running down the slope of their properties that anchors the trees and undergrowth below, holding everything in place all along the surrounding slopes. While, at the same time, such actions, intentionally or unintentionally, continue to destroy any remote possibility of any kind of a unique Urban Forest greenbelt from ever being established and allowed to eventually fully develop and evolve once again, since time immemorial, into a healthy, naturally-forested area.

The alternative pleasure of some home owners constantly providing themselves with ever-greater unobstructed sunlight and views of the surrounding horizon; oftentimes with little or no regard for the special place this greenbelt area holds in the hearts of the Lower Capilano Community below tends to take precedence because of that age-old, sacrosanct belief in the notion of private property & an I’m Alright Jack attitude, at the exclusion of every other human or non-human’s basic needs. This in spite of the fact that many local home owners, themselves, over the years, have endeavored, with little success, to ever convince local politicians to purchase the slopes as a permanently-protected green space, or the property owners themselves to join together with them to establish a permanently-protected natural greenbelt, and fully-reclaimed stream system running alongside the Bowser Trail as a gift in perpetuity to all the people of the North Shore, Canada and visitors, worldwide, to enjoy in kind.

Nevertheless, a still long held dream-vision on the part of some is that, over time, this greenbelt area will one day be allowed to indeed eventually evolve into a mature forested nature area with the capacity to provide the necessary food, cover and protection for a host of endangered birds, mammals, fish, amphibians, insects, native plant life and the like, who always remain so voiceless and unheard in such matters; not to mention how the preservation of that Pemberton Escarpment and Bowser Trail can serve as symbols of how the ever more increasingly high-density, impacted world in which humans find themselves inextricably immersed can still find ways to live in harmony, side-by-side, with all those of the natural world.

At the time of this writing, a few miles distant, in the nearby City of North Vancouver, a two century-old ‘Grandfather’ Cedar Tree, remains tenuously-threatened with destruction for further high-rise development; perhaps to be banished forever from view to make way for yet another mindless development’s mundane concrete parking lot to house cars that, themselves, also soon will be considered obsolete and forever banished, in turn, beyond humanity’s memory. Yet other human dreamers of that place also see the preservation of that ancient giant as a faint reminder of what once was and still could be.

One of the last venerable survivors of the ancient virgin forest that once blanketed the surrounding mountains and slopes of the North Shore the Squamish Nation has intimately known since time immemorial, that lofty, towering Cedar ancestor precariously remains as a symbol of what still exists in some far-off dimension.

Meanwhile, a few short miles away, the real possibility still also exists to one-day reclaim the Bowser Trail and Pemberton Escarpment as a budding neophyte URBAN FOREST that, if properly protected and preserved, may one day yet even see its own new generation of ancient cedars growing out of the remnant stumps of their own ancient ancestral cedar forbears.

Who knows, if such collective dreams are ever realized, the resident denizens of this place, in another two centuries, may also yet see in that envisioned tiny Urban Forest its own Capilano ‘Grandfather’ and ‘Grandmother’ giants to remember those humans on the North Shore like old Joe Capilano who once had a vision to bring something greater into reality than endless growth, development and expansion.

Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who, for decades, has sought to call world attention to problems of environmental degradation and unsustainability caused by excessive mega-development and host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. Irwin is the author of the book, “The Wild Gentle Ones; A Turtle Island Odyssey” (www.turtle-island-odyssey.com), a spiritual odyssey among the First Nation peoples s of North America that has led to numerous related articles pertaining to: Ireland’s Fenian Movement; native peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement; AIPAC, Israel & the U.S. Congress anti-BDS Movement; the historic Battle for Palestine & Siege of Gaza, as well as; how industrial-military-propaganda interests are constantly waged against the World’s Collective Soul



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