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  • Gayle Baker

A Glimpse into Complex Islands Trust Decisions

February 18

After a territorial acknowledgement, one of our two locally-elected Island Trust trustees, Laura Patrick, began by telling the 14 people who had gathered that housing is foremost in her mind. In her opinion, we need a wide spectrum of housing options for a diverse and healthy community. The housing options we need are less about accommodating a growing population and more about housing the people who are already here or are having to leave -- the folks who work in our shops and restaurants, BC Ferries, our tradespeople, artists, young families, and seniors. She believes that we all have a responsibility to solve this crisis.

She was asked about the recently-announced supportive housing project on Drake Road and BC Housing’s use of statutory immunity from local regulations. Laura reported that the BC Housing project is on CRD land, and the Local Trust Committee has encouraged BC Housing to engage with the neighbourhood on this project.

The Vortex project at the former site of the Fulford Inn was ASK Salt Spring’s next topic. Laura told us that the variance granted back in 2019 has expired, and the LTC is now seeking input from First Nations before considering how to proceed with the variance /development permit request. Laura explained that part of reconciliation is building new relationships with First Nations and making space for their voices within the decision-making process.

All of the reports prepared by the applicant are available on the Islands Trust Web Site ( Laura said that the applicant provided a detailed presentation at the February 15, 2022 LTC meeting. She encouraged us to watch it, noting that it began around the 3:50 time stamp:(

One attendee suggested that the applicant should consider holding an open house to further engage the community in a respectful dialogue to explore various perspectives on this proposed project.

Laura was asked why signs are not posted on properties where development or rezoning applications are open. She noted that she has already made this same request of the Islands Trust and is waiting for a report from staff.

The conversation shifted to tree protection. Laura explained that, through the Development Permit process, some restrictions to tree cutting do exist in vulnerable areas, such as steep slopes. The Protection of the Coastal Douglas Fir and Associated Ecosystem Project, through the contributions of a Science Working Group, has developed a mapping tool that brings together several layers of information about contiguous forests, sensitive ecosystems, protected areas, and groundwater recharge areas. It utilizes LIDAR, Light Detection and Ranging, a remote sensing method that can generate three-dimensional information about surface characteristics. This information offers opportunities to explore different management scenarios that can help us make informed choices when it comes to prioritizing areas for protection.

The Local Trust Committee (LTC) is also focusing on wildfire resiliency. Pending budget approval, a Fire Ecology Risk Analysis will be conducted along with facilitating a roundtable discussion with diverse and knowledgeable representation. The outcome will inform the development of management practices, stewardship and education programs, and compliance mechanisms. Laura expressed her gratitude for the community outreach work of the Fire Department and Salt Spring Conservancy to educate landowners on Fire Smart practices.

Attention turned to the draft bylaw for increasing the number secondary suites across the island. Laura explained that the LTC directed staff to include suites in accessory buildings, as well as those in primary residences, in the bylaw. Whether a secondary suite is in a primary residence or in an associated accessory building, it is still considered a suite. It is Laura’s opinion that we need to find suites and landlords willing to rent them to start addressing our workforce housing crisis.

We learned that the Housing Action Task Force is working toward an action plan for the full spectrum of housing. Laura is impressed with their willingness to tackle these complex issues.

The Ganges Village Plan Task Force is also making progress. It is important that this task force represent a wide array of island voices, from those of business owners to a variety of stakeholders and village residents. To accomplish this, the LTC is considering new appointments to expand the diversity of this group.

This Ganges task force has begun its community outreach. Results of their community engagement program, Ganges Gathers, will be available to the public soon. This is the first of a number of outreach projects designed to gather a rich array of feedback from differing community perspectives.

As 1:00 PM approached, a participant noted that we simply could not say farewell to Laura until we learned about the new public engagement plans for the Trust Policy Statement. Laura’s response was that it is beginning soon! To be sure not to miss your opportunity to add your voice, you may want to subscribe to Island Trust website: ( to get update notifications.

With sincere acknowledgement to Laura for taking the time to be with us every month and for sharing her vision, understanding of the issues, and willingness to work hard on complex challenges, we pressed our Leave Meeting button to enjoy a lovely Friday afternoon. (Thanks, Laura!)

Whatever is an LCC and why should you care?

Please join us on Zoom 11-1 February 25 to welcome folks who know a great deal about what is possible if Salt Springers voted to establish a Local Community Commission.

Given COVID concerns, we will be gathering virtually via Zoom:

(In case you need it, the passcode is 947504)

What would you like to learn?

  • Is an LCC simply a poor substitute for incorporation?

  • If not, what can it offer that may address some governance issues on Salt Spring?

  • Would an LCC impact Islands Trust? If yes, how?

  • How would an LCC work?

  • Can you define its functions?

  • Anything new almost always costs taxpayers. How can an LCC be as revenue-neutral as possible?

  • What is the proposed process for further exploring an LCC?

  • And. . . .?

See you Friday, February 25, 11-1 on Zoom to welcome some Salt Springers who know a whole lot about Local Community Commissions - but who also have a lot to learn from this conversation with you!

Any question, anytime:

Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings?

Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15

(Our Partners. . . .

Our rent - reduced through the generosity of our Library -

is being paid for byIsland Savings’ Simple Generosity grant.

Cookie and coffee fixings are the result of the generosity of Country Grocer.

What a team!)

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