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  • Gayle Baker

Islands Trust Challenges: Laura is Listening

March 18

Fourteen joined us to welcome Laura Patrick, one of our two local trustees for the Islands Trust, to this ASK Salt Spring gathering in the Library Program Room. While we shivered with the open wall of glass doors, we were happy to be together in person again. After a Territorial Acknowledgement, Laura encouraged each of us to take steps to open our hearts to Reconciliation.

A participant, holding a copy of the recently completed Islands Trust Governance Review: ((, asked a series of questions about the report’s findings and recommendations. Laura agreed that change is needed and that the report contains many recommendations worth consideration. She said that, during last week’s Trust Council meeting, a straw poll was taken of the 26 Trustees, asking who would like to join a committee to analyze the findings and recommendations of this review. Most of the Trustees, including Laura, raised their hands. She took this response as an indication that the Trustees take the report seriously and are eager to begin to work on it.

A participant asked why Salt Spring has only two Trustees when we have many, many times the population of other islands. Laura spoke frankly about her concerns with fair representation on the Trust Council. She had hoped that the Governance Review would address the imbalance between population and representation, but it did not do so. She wants to see this issue addressed by a governance committee.

Concerning community engagement for the Draft Trust Policy Statement (Islands 2050), a participant expressed disappointment with the online survey. He felt that it was poorly designed and would only confirm a predetermined result. Laura shared that she was also disappointed in the survey. She reminded us, however, that the survey was just one of the planned community engagement activities and strongly encouraged us to take advantage of an upcoming opportunity to provide our thoughts in person at these drop-in events:

Saturday, April 2, noon - 4 pm, outside Fulford Firehall

Sunday, April 3, 1 pm - 3pm, Mahon Hall

Saturday, April 9, 9 am - 4 pm, Saturday Market in Ganges

Sunday, April 10, 5:30 pm - 8 pm, Harbour House

When a long-time Salt Springer expressed concern that the draft Trust Policy Statement did not appear to be supporting our important farming economy, Laura replied that she anticipates there will be changes made to the policy to strengthen the importance of agriculture. When the time comes, she will present resolutions to adopt the recommended policy revisions made by Salt Spring’s Agricultural Alliance.

We also learned that the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC) is holding quarterly meetings with the Agricultural Alliance and the Agriculture Advisory Planning Commission. These meetings have helped to improve relationships and trust. They have also helped the LTC to move quickly to implement the recent Agricultural Land Commission’s expanded permissions for housing in the Agricultural Land Reserve. Laura hopes that the LTC will agree to hold meetings with other groups that represent specific areas of interest, such as contractors and building trades.

Concerning the proposal in the draft Trust Policy Statement to ban construction of new docks, participants questioned why Islands Trust would even want to address this issue as the province already has a rigorous process in place. Laura said she favours a preference for community docks but not an outright ban.

A participant felt that many of our local regulations appear to be more like ones in a municipality rather focused on protecting our island’s rural character. When asked about the Islands Trust’s mandate to preserve and protect, Laura added that this mandate includes preserving and protecting a healthy community as well as the environment. She also says that the other three important words in the mandate are: “in cooperation with. . .” This means working with the regional district, the various improvement districts and residents. She used Ganges Village planning as an example as it requires collaboration with numerous groups, government, entities, AND the community.

An Indigenous participant joined the meeting, and he spoke about Indigenous Rights and Title. Participants were appreciative of his explanation. Laura encouraged everyone to be inquisitive and open about learning more.

A couple of times during our discussion participants expressed their concerns that they had heard that the Islands Trust wants to require permits to cut a tree. Laura said that the LTC is not working on any regulations that will result in needing to obtain a permit to cut a tree.

A participant asked about the Vortex project in Fulford. Laura directed him to the website where he can find all of the details and various reports. She also suggested that he watch the recorded February 15, 2022 Salt Spring LTC meeting which included the applicant’s presentation. (Presentation begins around the 3:50 time stamp.)

As our time together drew to a close, Laura was asked about the relationship between Trustees and bylaw enforcement staff. We learned that it is Trustees’ responsibility to create the bylaw policy and that it is the responsibility of bylaw staff to carry it out. Trustees do not give direction to bylaw enforcement staff on how to do their work. When asked about inappropriate behaviour by enforcement staff, Laura recommended that if anyone experiences inappropriate behaviour from ANY staff, it should be immediately reported to the Islands Trust Chief Administrations Officer, who is ultimately responsible for all staff conduct.

Appreciation was clearly expressed for Laura and her willingness to answer our questions and listen to our concerns anywhere, anytime. While many participants at the ASK Salt Spring gathering had expressed serious concerns about Islands Trust, they also expressed their appreciation for Laura’s honesty, courage to speak her truth, and her consistent willingness to listen and learn. (Thanks, Laura!)

Please join us from 11-1 on Friday, March 25, at the Library Program Room to welcome our Fire Trustees.

While we follow all gathering protocols, please understand that it is also your responsibility to asses risks. While we hope to see you at the Library Program Room, we also look forward to gathering under the apple trees in the United Church Meadow when weather warms.

And. . .if you join us, dress warmly as we hope to open up the wall of glass

to further enhance our safety.

What do you want to ask them?

  • Tell us about plans for the new firehall,

  • What is the timing of the proposed referendum?

  • Why do you think that this referendum will pass when others have failed?

  • What are you doing the convince Salt Springers to say Yes! to this new firehall?

  • And. . . .?

See you Friday, March 25, 11-1 at the Library Program Room to learn all you ever wanted to know about the promised new firehall!

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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