Anchored Freighters, Review of the Islands Trust Act, and Housing Woes - A Conversation with Adam
Fourteen gathered to welcome MLA Adam Olsen and his team, Constituent Advocate William Kelly, and BC Green Caucus team member Federico Cerani. After our Territorial Acknowledgement, Adam told us that the Legislature was closed for two weeks, allowing him to focus on his constituent activities.
We learned that Adam was not surprised by the outcome of the BC NDP leadership race: (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/david-eby-bc-premier-first-100-days-1.6624944), but he was not pleased by the process, resulting, in his opinion, in a confused and chaotic legislative session.
With a limited time before the Fall legislative session adjourns, the BC NDP House Leader, Hon. Mike Farnworth, moved a motion to remove four days from the sitting calendar that would further limit the opportunity to question Premier Eby to better understand his plans.
An ongoing concern affecting all the Southern Gulf Islands is the growing number of freight ships anchored for long periods in our ecologically-sensitive waters. He will be attending a meeting seeking public opinion concerning the Active Vessel Management Program (AVMP) on North Pender Island November 15. The AVMP is seeking feedback about how the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority can better manage shipping: (https://portvancouver.civilspace.io/en/projects/active-vessel-traffic-management-program). He encouraged us to participate in this public engagement process.
The South Coast Ship Watch Alliance is a group of citizens from across the Gulf Islands and Coastal communities advocating for the temporary anchorages to be removed. These bulk carriers, often transporting grain and coal, are anchoring for long periods while awaiting loading, creating pollution, disruption by running their lights/generators 24/7, and damaging ocean floors by their dragging anchors. Cognizant of their importance to our economy, Adam is hopeful that regulations can be crafted to control this use of our shared waters.
A participant asked Adam about the legality of parking a travel trailer on the road. We learned that it is illegal to park a camper on the road. Generally, the rights of way on our provincial roads are not large enough to accommodate a large recreational vehicle. Campers parked outside the bounds of our provincial roads and their rights of way are on private property, constituting trespassing.
A recreational vehicle that is registered can normally park in legal parking spaces. Vehicles parked overnight in posted No Overnight Parking spots can be cited. Recently, our RCMP and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) have collaborated to post these signs in a number of locations throughout Ganges, giving the RCMP the tools officers need to intervene when campers litter, overstay, and/or create a nuisance.
That said, enforcement is difficult as Ganges has no Parking Service. CRD’s Transportation Commission has the option to create a parking service, and Commissioners are interested in learning more about establishing this service. But, as a new service, it would likely require funding and voter approval. Without a parking service, responsibility is complicated, fragmented, and largely resting with our RCMP in collaboration with our roads maintenance contractor, Emcon, and MoTI.
While there appeared to be agreement among participants that campers have a responsibility to behave as good citizens by neither littering nor creating disturbances, there was also the understanding that the increase in campers on our streets is yet another symbol of our housing crisis. It was suggested that it is our community’s responsibility to provide basic needs like bathrooms and showers for those in both boats and recreational vehicles. Without such accommodation, these insecurely housed members of our community have few options to satisfy their basic needs.
One participant reminded us that too many in our community are simply trying to survive; it often only takes one who misbehaves to colour community perceptions about all of our marginalized community members.
The conversation shifted to the delight of many Salt Springers that the Lookout Society (https://lookoutsociety.ca/) has come to Salt Spring to manage one of the former Land Bank properties on Dean Road. This society is also a possible bidder for the management of the Drake Road Supportive Housing project, due to be completed summer 2023. There was a sentiment in the room that the Lookout Society will provide a competent, caring force committed to deliver ever better services to our marginalized community members. Hopefully, this popular non-profit society will be able to collaborate with Community Services for the benefit of all.
When asked about the disturbing lawsuit between Lady Minto Hospital Foundation and Community Services, Adam, naturally, replied that, once there is legal action, his office has no role in the dispute. Adam did note that, for the past year and a half, his office has been actively advocating for BC Housing to address the deteriorating situation that is now impacting our community. We did learn that six or seven folks have already left SeaBreeze Inne and moved into the temporary Kings Lane housing.
Concerning the results of our local election, Adam is committed to working effectively with our two returning elected officials, Gary Holman and Laura Patrick, as well as working closely with our new Islands Trustee, Jamie Harris. He is looking forward to seeing good things from our soon-to-be-established Local Community Commission. The conversation shifted to Adam’s continuing role advocating for Salt Spring but, also, our responsibility to work together to achieve our goals despite the planned governance fragmentation between land use (Islands Trust) and CRD services.
Adam will continue to advocate for Minister of Municipal Affairs, Hon. Nathan Cullen, to work effectively with the Islands Trust Council. He hopes that he will soon meet with them to determine the outcome of the previous Trust Council’s request for a provincial review of the nearly half-century-old Islands Trust Act. From what he has heard from his constituents on the Southern Gulf Islands, there is widespread support throughout the Trust area for a review but there are widely-divergent opinions about what should happen. It is his hope that the province will work with the Trust Council to address the governance issues facing the Islands.
Will the province support this review? Adam is a bit bemused that there does not seem to be a culture of self-reflection in our provincial government. He views it as an immaturity in our provincial government. His example was the reaction to the request for a review of the Mental Health Act, a reaction he characterized as an almost personal affront. He clearly sees it is the job of the government to make sure the laws that govern us are relevant to the current times and conditions. That means they need to be reviewed and updated. Instead of seeing these reviews as the opportunity to assess whether the act is doing what is intended, Adam believes that our government sees requests for reviews as criticisms. It is Adam’s hope that the requested review of the Islands Trust Act can be approached as a creative exploration seeking the best outcome rather than from a politically-charged perspective.
As 1:00 approached, Adam concluded by telling us that he welcomes differing opinions - which is lucky as he represents 50,000 unique opinions! While not seeking agreement, he is always seeking common ground and a quality engagement with his constituents in which all perspectives are heard.
As our time together had come to a close, we thanked Adam and his team for sharing his perspective with us, listening, and participating in a rich conversation with caring Salt Springers who had gathered to discuss those issues that meant most to them. (Thanks, Adam, William, and Federico!)
This Friday, November 11, is a Holiday!
Please join us next Friday, November 18, 11-1, to welcome CRD's Gary Holman to discuss our soon-to-be-established Local Community Commission (LCC) with us.
Please join us at our NEW LOCATION - the *Lobby of the Middle School:
*From Rainbow Road, turn right just after the School Board building and drive up the hill where you can park. (If the parking lot is full, you may have to park lower on the hill near Mahon Hall. You can also park on Park Drive.)
Enter the building on the left as you look at it, and you will see the Lobby to the right as soon as you enter.
See you Friday, November 18, 11-1 in the Middle School Lobby to welcome Gary!
What would you like to ask Gary?
When will the election of Local Commissioners take place?
Can you tell us more about the structure and priorities of this LCC?
What do you see as the first tasks of this LCC?
What do you see as your role with the LCC?
Please join us this Friday, November 18 for a rich conversation with Gary. Remember: the Middle School Lobby!
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