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  • Gayle Baker

Housing and Village Solutions on the Horizon? Islands Trustee Laura Patrick is Optimistic

February 19

Twelve participated in this ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering welcoming one of our Island Trust’s Local Trustees, Laura Patrick. After a heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, Laura began by sharing her optimism for the emerging alignment of planning initiatives designed to address a number of challenges for Salt Spring. The best solutions to any of these challenges are the ones that simultaneously address multiple issues confronting our island -- such as forest health, biodiversity, watersheds/water supply, the climate emergency, land use, housing, small business health, food security, and the spirit and resiliency of our community.

Laura was asked a number of questions related to the housing action program. She explained that this program is aimed at solutions that are within the authority of the Islands Trust’s Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC). Identifying solutions will come through open dialogue. This dialogue will not make differences disappear or lead everyone to consensus, but it is through this dialogue that we can search for common understanding.

Applications are currently being accepted for members of the task force of this housing action program. To apply, please visit: ( It is this group that will help design and implement a public engagement plan that will kick off the community conversation. As it is imperative that this task force represents Salt Spring’s diversity of circumstances and opinions, please pass the word about this opportunity.

Clearly our conversation with Laura was an indication that islanders are eager to explore a wide range of issues related to housing. We discussed topics such as settlement patterns, carrying capacity, water availability, lifestyles, house sizes, and current zoning/land use bylaws.

One participant requested that communications be improved and simplified. Laura replied that she wholeheartedly agreed, and she will continue to work to guide Islands Trust staff to develop easily-understood materials.

Switching gears to the Ganges Village Plan, Laura began by reminding us that the Housing Action Program and the Ganges Village Plan are intertwined. When asked why the other Salt Spring villages (for example Vesuvius, and Fulford) were not included with Ganges into one planning initiative, Laura said that the Ganges Village area plan can serve as a template for the other villages on Salt Spring as well as other islands in the Islands Trust.

Again, this planning initiative will be guided by a task force. Applications for the Ganges Village Task Force are still being accepted. Interested? To apply go to: (

We learned that the budgets for the Ganges Village Plan and the Housing Action Program are line items within the Islands Trust 2021/22 budget that must be approved by Trust Council (made up of 26 trustees) in its March 9-11, 2021 meeting. A virtual town hall will be held on March 9, 2021 from 7:00-9:00 p.m. To join, please go to: ( Laura encouraged us to show our support for these important Salt Spring planning initiatives by writing emails to and/or attending and speaking at the March 9 town hall.

Laura told us about another important Islands Trust public meeting on March 3, 2021 7:00-9:00 p.m. This meeting will be a virtual open house to discuss the Policy Statement Amendment Project. This Policy Statement is the foundational document that defines how Islands Trust accomplishes its preserve-and-protect mandate. The document guides policy decisions about island landscapes and the waters surrounding them. Notably, it determines how local official community plans and land use bylaws are created. It also includes recommendations to other levels of government. Those wishing to participate can register for the event at: (

As 1:00 PM fast approached, the conversation switched to Short Term Vacation Rentals (STVRs). A participant suggested that STVRs be regulated on Salt Spring in a similar way to Tofino. At present, only bed and breakfasts, operated as home-based businesses in compliance with the Land Use Bylaws, may operate legally on Salt Spring. Laura believes it may be time to revisit the issue with an eye toward a regional solution. To begin this process, a meeting of representative trustees from all of the Southern Gulf Islands is being planned. It is possible that other tools, such as business licenses, will be identified to help address this issue.

We thanked Laura for her hard work, vision, and tenacity in the face of such complex issues. As we prepared to press our Leave Meeting button, we closed with a new Salt Springer’s question: Do we have a history of conversations that achieve consensus? While many of us have witnessed a long history of strongly-held opinions resulting in divisiveness rather than consensus, Laura has high hopes of achieving consensus and results for both the housing and Ganges initiatives that she is spearheading.

Please join us next Friday, February 26, from 11-1 to welcome our Chamber’s new Executive Director, Jesse Brown, and President, Darryl Martin. Do you have questions about their vision for Ganges? What about our neighbours, the local business-owners? How will the new rural funding and the Ganges Village Plan impact our Chamber’s hopes and dreams?

Bring your questions, eagerness to learn, and enthusiasm to participate in a discussion of the issues that matter most to us.

To join:

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 would love your receipts! Remember: #15

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