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  • Gayle Baker

Islands Trustee, Laura Patrick, Launches Some Exciting New Projects

March 19

This week’s ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering welcomed one of the two Salt Spring Local Trustees for the Islands Trust, Laura Patrick. After a traditional Territorial Acknowledgment, we spoke with Laura for two hours on a variety of topics including the Trust Council meetings held virtually March 9-11, and Salt Spring Island long range planning projects.

We heard from an islander who listened into all three days of the Trust Council meetings March 9-11. This participant explained that she was impressed by the thoughtful dialogue and commitment shown by all of the trustees to these special islands. She was also impressed with Laura’s respectful discussions in the various debates.

A highlight of this past Trust Council meeting was the passing of the 2021/22 budget. This year’s budget contains a considerable increase in grant revenue that is being directed to federation-wide work related to species at risk and freshwater sustainability/watershed protection. Also included in the budget is funding for several Salt Spring Island planning initiatives: Ganges Village Area Plan, Watershed Protection, and Housing Action.

Besides the funding of planning activities through the Islands Trust, Laura is observing a greater level of collaboration and coordination of island and regional groups in the pursuit of grant funds. There are never enough resources to do important work to address community needs and to protect and restore valued ecosystems. Working together to focus efforts and stretch resources is so very important.

The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee appointed members to the Ganges Village Planning Task Force this week and expect to appoint members to the Housing Action Task Force next week.

Laura was asked about the Housing Action Program; she reminded us that the Salt Spring Island’s Official Community Plan (OCP) embodies the vision of a diverse community living in harmony with the environment. This program recognizes that a housing crisis has emerged concurrent with climate and forest (land use) crises. These issues are interrelated. Integrated solutions are feasible and increasingly urgent. This proposed project concerns housing, but in a broad sense. The time is now to pursue housing solutions that also support better solutions for other challenges and crises.

When asked why Ganges Village is missing residential units above the commercial units, some of us were surprised to learn that this is contemplated and allowed. Unfortunately, the North Salt Spring Waterworks District moratorium complicates the development of this kind of housing.

We learned that freshwater and watershed protection is one of Laura’s favourite subjects. She jokingly told us about a tee shirt slogan – “Water is Messy”. Ground and surface water resources belong to the province. A number of other jurisdictions are involved in various issues like quality or land use regulations. She is currently a member of a round table that consists of several government organizations, water purveyors, and developers. This group is providing input into the development of an Islands Trust freshwater strategy. The result should be clarity and better cooperation among the agencies resulting in “clearer waters” for applicants having to navigate the various approval processes.

Laura is also enthusiastic about the strategic watershed protection planning that the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance will be undertaking. This work will complement the federation planning and coordinate Salt Spring’s long term watershed protection activities.

As 1:00 approached, we enthusiastically-thanked Laura for answering all our questions as well as her wisdom, tenacity, so much hard work, and willingness to take on such complex, difficult projects. Laura is a regular guest at ASK Salt Spring the third Friday of every month, 11-1. If you have questions, please just ASK her! Or email her:

Please join us Friday, March 26, 11-1 to welcome our electric vehicle experts, Jim Santon, who knows everything you want to know about electric cars, and David Elderton, who can help you decide if now is the time to buy your electric bike.

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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