Promoting People, Planet, and Prosperity in Howe Sound / Atl'ka7tsem

We are a group of local residents from different backgrounds who share a passion for the natural beauty, incredible biodiversity, rich cultural heritage, and great sustainable economic potential of Howe Sound / Atl'ka7tsem.

New and collaborative ways of working together are needed if we are to create positive change for the Howe Sound Region into the future.

We are preparing and building support for an initiative to obtain a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and Biosphere Program designation for a Howe Sound Biosphere Region.

We chose the Biosphere Region model because of its potential to:

  • Connect people with nature

  • Combine locally relevant knowledges and experiences with international recognition, networks, and research

  • Realize the UN’s Global Sustainable Development Goals through practical and innovative partnerships and initiatives


Our Vision is a Howe Sound region where biodiversity is protected so that people and commerce benefit from a sustainable economy.   A region where all who visit, work and play, are able to enjoy and contribute to the area’s natural, cultural, and social resources.


Our mission for this initiative is to:

  • Build local, regional, and national support to nominate Howe Sound as a UNESCO Biosphere Region

  • Identify, collect, and incorporate the right information and resources to successfully apply for and achieve designation of Howe Sound as a United Nations UNESCO Biosphere Region

  • Develop an operational structure for a UN Howe Sound Biosphere Region organization

In the process, we aim to:

  • Share information about what UNESCO biosphere regions are and how they can promote sustainable practices

  • Learn from diverse communities and stakeholders what is important to them about Howe Sound and its future

  • Encourage new conversations and deepen existing ones about how we can live sustainably together in Howe Sound

  • Build on existing networks, relationships, and initiatives in and around Howe Sound with similar visions and compatible goals

  • Collaboratively develop an adaptable, inclusive, diverse, innovative, and sustainable operational structure for a UNESCO Howe Sound Biosphere Region

  • Provide logistical support for organizations who have overlapping missions


In our mission, we are guided by the following values and frameworks:


  • Appreciating, protecting, and promoting ecosystem diversity and viability

  • Acknowledging and respecting First Nations’ titles, rights, traditions, and knowledges

  • Building respectful relationships among peoples and communities

  • Encouraging constructive dialogue through inviting diversity of voices and respecting differences of opinion

  • Focusing on strengths and celebrating successes

  • Sharing responsibility and promoting accountability

  • Promoting understanding of what systems are and how they interact

  • Sharing and building knowledge and innovative, creative solutions



The Working Group meets approximately every six weeks in Horseshoe Bay. Interested newcomers are always welcome. Current working group members include representatives from Coastal Ocean Research Institute, Squamish Nation, Local Government, Suzuki Elders, Squamish River Watershed Society, Consultants, retirees, students, adventurers and many more. To join and/or observe contact

The Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society’s 2018 board:

  • Ruth Simons, Lead - Former business executive and small business owner and former Village of Lions Bay Council member.

  • Bob Turner, Vice President - Former Federal Scientist and former Mayor, Bowen Island

  • Suzanne Senger, Treasurer - Strategic campaigner with innovative conservation organization, former tourism proprietor, community advocate and nature lover.

  • Dr. Patricia Plackett, - Socio-economics specialist (PhDs in anthropology and economics) with many years of experience in university teaching and managing sustainability-related initiatives.

  • Jenn Meilleur, Sustainability and community development specialist, currently working with the West Vancouver Foundation.

  • Ian Winn, - Tourism business owner and former Sunshine Coast Regional District Director for the West Howe Sound electoral area, with a career in forest industry and high technology manufacturing management, and an avid outdoor enthusiast.