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  • Gayle Baker

Are We Too Comfortable to Make Needed Changes?

November 19

Fifteen people came to welcome and ask questions of one of the Islands Trust’s Local Trustees, Laura Patrick, at this ASK Salt Spring gathering.


During her Territorial Acknowledgment, Laura described a concept that resulted from a dialogue about incorporating indigenous knowledge into integrated land use planning: We should be thinking in terms of land relationship planning as opposed to land use planning: https://www.waysofknowingforum.ca/dialogue-9. Laura appreciated that the word relationship evokes human connection and responsibility for the land.


Before fielding questions, Laura recognized with pride the large number of islanders who are doing good and caring work within and for the community. While it is easy to focus on what is not getting accomplished, she asked us to acknowledge the amazing work that is largely being done by volunteers and the many energetic nonprofit organizations - day after day enriching all of our lives.

With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) just wrapping up in Glasgow, a participant asked Laura if she thought that the government is doing enough to address the climate emergency. With the undeniable answer that more must be done, she spoke of the opportunity to integrate climate mitigation and adaptation into the new Ganges Village Area plan. Interested? You can influence the future of Ganges Village by participating in the various engagement activities kicking off this month. Please take part in the public engagement process called Ganges Gathers! (Read all about it: https://islandstrust.bc.ca/ganges-village-area-plan/.)


In Laura’s opinion, the individual choices we make are important, but we also need systemic change to address the climate emergency. We must work together and across silos to build a more resilient island for future generations.

Laura is frustrated that the Local Trust Committee has no bylaws that address and provide protection against sea level rise. She sees the development of the Ganges Village Area plan as an important opportunity to consider and plan for these types of impacts.

Switching gears, we learned that sewerage systems are covered under the BC Sewerage System Regulation. The Sewerage System Regulation requires the construction of systems to be completed by a professional or a Registered Onsite Wastewater Practitioner. Owners of sewerage systems are responsible for monitoring and maintaining them. Failed systems can be reported to an Environmental or Public Health Officer. On Salt Spring, the Public Health Officer is Chris Laughlin (250-519-3401). The lack of monitoring for sewerage systems was identified as a possible gap to explore in the upcoming Salt Spring Island Water Protection Alliance (SSIWPA) strategic planning exercise to develop a watershed protection plan.


Laura is intrigued by the One Water concept of bringing together the full range of water related services (e.g., water supply/treatment and sewerage treatment). Laura warned that change is never easy: We are simply too comfortable doing what we have always done. This One Water concept is only one of many systemic changes Laura seeks covering a wide variety of areas including watershed protection, ecosystem health, diverse and equitable housing, and land relationship (land use) planning. Change in these areas is a long, hard, and complex process.


As we transitioned to the topic of housing, interestingly, among the participants was a resident of Galliano Island. She was involved in affordable housing projects on Galiano and suggested that the Islands Trust would benefit with dedicated planners to support multi-family housing projects. Another participant asked Laura how she envisions the Islands Trust helping a housing proponent. Laura believes that the Islands Trust should be supporting housing proponents through all stages of project development and that dedicated planners would be beneficial.

One of the challenges of systemic change is that, given limited resources, groups who would naturally collaborate find themselves often competing for funds. Laura agreed that funding is a huge challenge. In an effort to address this, Laura told us about a seldom used power in the Islands Trust Act: . . .to make recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor in Council respecting the determination, implementation and carrying out of policies for the preservation and protection of the trust area and its unique amenities and environment [s. 8(2)(e)].


In an effort to implement this little-used power to develop the structure and funding to address housing, Laura is a co-sponsor of a request to Trust Council to declare that a Housing Equity and Workforce Shortage Crisis exists in many of the islands within the Islands Trust Area. It requests that the province develop the necessary mechanisms to create, fund, govern, and administer an Islands Housing Authority-type entity that will develop housing solutions across the Islands Trust area. Interested in learning more? You can find out more about it in Trust Council’s upcoming meeting agenda: https://islandstrust.bc.ca/event/trust-council-nov30/


Participants brainstormed ideas for permanent funding sources. Our neighbours to the south, the San Juan Islands, have a central Land Bank Commission funded through a real estate excise tax which distributes funds to individual island land trusts for innovative housing solutions. She, Adam Olsen, and Gary Holman, have met with Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance, to explore provincial tools to make more existing housing available to long-term renters. If the Trust Council supports Laura’s request to the province, it is expected to ignite an exploration and consideration of appropriate funding models for housing initiatives.


With a permanent funding source to either buy land or support housing, participants tossed out a number of ideas to create diverse and innovative housing solutions. The ideas seemed plentiful; it is the structure needed to accomplish the objectives that may be lacking - a gap Laura is hoping to address. Stay tuned…


Salt Spring has a Housing Council that supports all of the organizations working to create housing solutions on the island. It is a volunteer-based organization that, like most, is stretched thin. Laura is pursuing the idea of using an Islands Trust special tax requisition to fund administrative support for the Housing Council. This approach would require some legal and public engagement resources in the 2022/23 budget year to facilitate a special tax requisition in the 2023/24 budget.

Laura is keen to trial a Solutions Lab here on Salt Spring. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Solutions Labs are also called social innovation labs, design labs, or change labs. They’re an innovative approach to tackling complex societal challenges that require that systems change.


A number of island organizations were seeking funding from the CMHC to run a Solutions Lab to investigate innovative local solutions to provide potable water for multifamily housing that does not compromise the integrity or draw down the capacity of existing community water systems. Laura is hoping that funds can be found that would both trial this concept but also build local capacity for other Solutions Labs to address a number of our complex societal challenges.

Participants left eager to revive this grant application and to find the funding needed to finally bring Solutions Labs to Salt Spring. We welcome your ideas and suggestions on funding this innovative solutions oriented process here on Salt Spring.


As 1:00 approached and our time together drew to a close, Laura was given a spontaneous round of applause for her creative ideas, brave exploration into land relationship planning, hard work, and consistent willingness to listen. (Thanks, Laura!)

Please join us Friday, November 26, 11-1, in our winter location at the Library Program Room for a Roads 101 discussion.

Capacity is limited to 25, and masks are required unless you are

drinking the coffee or eating homemade chocolate chip cookies :)

- Can we do anything to help our storm-impacted roads?

- Why does it seem so hard to get road improvements?

- Who (if anyone) is doing what to address these concerns?

- And?

(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!)

See you Friday, November 26, 11-1, in the Library Program Room for Roads 101!

Any question, anytime: ask@asksaltspring.com

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

asksaltspring.com

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

We love your receipts! Remember: #15


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