- Gayle Baker
Election 2022 Behind Us. . . .Where to From Here?
A different gathering, we did not welcome any guests this week as our scheduled guest, Trustee Laura Patrick, was on a well-earned holiday. Despite missing Islands Trust input, this ASK Salt Spring gathering resulted in a rich conversation about the recent local election and our hopes for Salt Spring’s next four years.
After our Territorial Acknowledgement, we began by discussing the Islands Trust. While some were surprised by the election of Jamie Harris, others reminded us that he represents a very important segment of our island population, a voice that may not have been previously adequately represented. Participants saw the benefit of bringing the voices that Jamie represents into the Islands Trust conversations.
We agreed that the voices of those candidates who prioritize environmental imperatives also need to participate in the discussions guiding Islands Trust decisions for the next four years. In simplistic terms, there appears be three important segments of our population, those who:
Prioritize workforce housing,
Prioritize the environment, and
Are determined to balance both the environment and development.
It makes sense that they must all engage in deep meaningful conversations to craft shared visions. Unfortunately, all at this ASK Salt Spring gathering agreed that the rigidly-structured Islands Trust meetings, with its hefty agenda packages, were an unlikely vehicle to nurture the conversations needed to bridge significant gaps in our community.
How could these conversations take place so that our divisions become a shared vision? Given the divisiveness surrounding Islands Trust for the past few years, this initially felt like an overwhelming challenge. Traditionally, Trustees have been prohibited from attending meetings together, making it very difficult to engage in open conversations outside the tightly-structured Local Trust meetings. This led us to a discussion of the meeting rules governing our Islands Trustees. They are:
All meetings of local government elected and appointed bodies (such as committees, commissions and other subsidiary bodies) must be open to the public as a general rule. This requirement is intended to be applied broadly, in keeping with the principle of openness, transparency and accountability.
Court decisions have been made about the types of gatherings considered to constitute a meeting. In general, gatherings where elected members could be seen to be making decisions, or moving towards making decisions, could constitute a meeting: (https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/local-governments/governance-powers/councils-boards/meetings/rules).
Suddenly, several participants came to the same conclusion at the same time: As ASK Salt Spring gatherings the third Friday of every month are reserved for the Islands Trust issues, wouldn’t this be the ready-made forum for both our Trustees to regularly engage with our community to seek common values? There was consensus in the room that this was, actually, a very good way to have that needed conversation while also following all Community Charter rules.
How do we get there? While Islands Trust’s next scheduled ASK Salt Spring gathering would be November 18, this conflicts with the inaugural Trust Council meeting. It was agreed that both Islands Trustees would be invited to the Friday, December 16 conversation and all subsequent ASK Salt Spring Islands Trust conversations. Hopefully, both Trustees will also see the rich possibilities of participating in this conversation. . . .
Switching the discussion to Gary Holman’s next four years as our Electoral Director, there was acknowledgment of his many accomplishments. But, these kudos were balanced by a wish that he would bring the fire and intensity for workforce housing that Kylie offered. Participants then began to explore options for workforce housing in Ganges, each with their favourite piece of real estate offered for consideration.
It was agreed that there needs to be a single organization charged with coordinating the exploration, land acquisition, and support of workforce housing projects. There is hope that Salt Spring can eventually entice the Lookout Society (https://lookoutsociety.ca/) to Salt Spring. We were also reminded that the Housing Council (http://saltspringhousing.ca/), comprised of all those involved with housing, could, with some funding, provide that central force. Many of us were surprised to learn that this Housing Council can also acquire land for housing. With a solid, single structure guiding coordination of workforce housing initiatives, some participants were convinced that there is money in our community to buy the land and build the workforce housing we need. The recent success of the Mount Maxwell fundraising drive (https://www.gulfislandsdriftwood.com/coalition-secures-funds-for-community-park/) was used as an example of our generosity. Would this generosity extend to acquiring land and building workforce housing?
Concerning the decisive win of the Local Community Commission (LCC), there was agreement that the job of the Electoral Director is too large for one person, no matter how hardworking. It was generally agreed that electing four more representatives to focus on CRD service issues was a good thing. Concerning the election of Local Commissioners this spring, some participants suggested different election rules, including online voting, mail-in voting, and proportional representation. Mail-in voting was used by both the North Salt Spring Waterworks and Fire Districts in their recent elections, with satisfying results. While it is a more expensive option than in-person elections, participants suggested this option be considered.
An online election and use of proportional representation results could be more complicated to achieve. It was suggested that participants ask MLA Adam Olsen when he visits ASK Salt Spring on Friday, November 4, 11-1.
As our time together drew to a close, a participant suggested a large public meeting to inform Islanders about the LCC and answer their questions. Soon after considering the logistics of holding such a meeting, we remembered that CRD’s Gary Holman will be ASK Salt Spring’s special guest on November 18, 11-1, in the (large) Middle School Lobby. Gary will be asked to focus this gathering on the LCC. If you have LCC questions, this may be a good place to begin getting those answers.
With no special guests to thank, we patted ourselves on the back for a fruitful gathering of those representing a wide variety of our elected and volunteer positions throughout Salt Spring. (Good job, us!)
Have you heard talk of a Ganges Active Transportation Plan but have no clue what this even means? CRD’s Transportation Manager, John Hicks, will join us this Friday, October 28, 11-1, in the Lobby of the Middle School to tell us everything we ever wanted to know about this soon-to-be-released study.
What would you like to ask him?
Who is paying for this study?
What will it accomplish?
How are you getting the information you need to make recommendations?
What do you think this study will recommend?
Once this plan is released, what’s next?
Please join us this Friday, October 28 for a conversation about the soon-to-be-released Ganges Active Transportation Plan.
Remember: the Middle School Lobby!
***New fundraising option***
You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.
Any question, anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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Our Partners. . . .
Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings’ Simple Generosity grant.
A heartfelt Thank-You!