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  • Gayle Baker

Linking Smart Housing Decisions to Environmental Protection

July 16

Eleven gathered to welcome one of our Islands Trust’s Local Trustees, Laura Patrick, to this ASK Salt Spring gathering in the United Church meadow on a cloudy - and, at times, almost chilly - summer Friday. This gathering was so different from last month’s large and energized group who gathered to learn more about the Islands Trust new draft Policy Statement.


After a meaningful Territorial Acknowledgement by one of the participants, Laura added that one of the actions from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls for Actions is that each of us should learn about the legacy of residential schools. We all now know now that one of these residential schools operated very near to Salt Spring Island within a system that was, itself, an act against humanity.

Speaking briefly of the draft new Trust Policy Statement, Laura reported that, in preparation for an upcoming Trust Council Executive Committee meeting, she had gone back and reviewed the entire Policy Statement updating process. Laura believes that to move forward, more needs to be done to better set the stage for this next phase of community dialogue.


When asked if she believes that first reading can be given to the draft new Policy Statement by the end of this year, Laura said that her emphasis is on the design and implementation of the next phase of public engagement. It is more important for public input to play an integral part in the next draft of the Trust Policy Statement than to stick to a schedule.


A member of the recently established Housing Action Program Task Force, a planning initiative of the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee, voiced his frustration with restrictions being placed on the group. Laura agreed that the Local Government Act open meeting rules can be restrictive, but she is confident that the task forces can push forward with their much-needed work. The intent of the open meeting rules is to manage conflict of interest and ensure transparency leading up to decisions. She trusts that every islander appointed to both the Housing Action Program and the Ganges Village task forces will act in good faith and in the best interests of our island community.


When asked why the Preserve and Protect mandate of Islands Trust was being expanded to include housing, Laura responded that she believes that from the beginning of the Islands Trust, it was envisaged that the Trust would not deliver services but would have an interest in all aspects of life on the islands PLUS a specific mandate to protect the environment. She referenced the 1973 Provincial Select Committee report that was foundational in the development of the Trust. The Hansard Record of this report can be found at: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/Hansard/30th3rd/30p_03s_730925p.htm#00255.


Laura believes that preserving and protecting the uniqueness of these precious islands includes not only the important natural environment but also the art, culture, people, and even the quirky character that make these islands unique. If we are to care about the natural environment, we must do a better job planning housing. On the one hand, housing is a basic necessity, but if not well planned, it continues to lead to more sprawl, more roads, and more loss of the natural environment. Participants brainstormed some ideas:

  • What about clustering densities when a large lot is subdivided?

  • What about moving densities into compact communities in which occupants can work, play, and live with less reliance on cars while also protecting the remaining green spaces?

Laura was asked about the acquisition of the Larmour Lands on Beddis Road. She is very appreciative of all of the groups who are fundraising to acquire land for conservation or recreational purposes.

A participant who had never joined us at ASK Salt Spring before questioned why he had had never before joined us. . .and promised to now plan regular visits to the Meadow on Fridays. His concerns centered on the negative impacts of inadequate adult mental health services on the island. We were reminded by Laura that everything is interconnected. While Islands Trust may not have direct responsibility for health services on the island, she is aware of the needs and uses any opportunity to appeal for greater attention to Salt Spring’s concerns.

This participant was also told that our RCMP Sergeant, Clive Seabrook, will be our ASK Salt Spring special guest Friday, July 30 and our MLA Adam Olsen, a passionate proponent of better mental health services, will be joining us next Friday, July 23, 11-1.

As 1:00 PM approached, we all thanked Laura for joining us, appreciating her hard work, willingness to leap high hurdles, and always listening to us.

Please join us next Friday, July 23, to welcome back our Adam Olsen to the United Church Meadow, 11-1.

What would you like to learn from him?

  • What legislation is exciting and delighting you?

  • What can you tell us about the Salish Sea Working Group?

  • Can you tell us anything about provincial BC Housing money for Salt Spring?

  • Do you have any initial thoughts about a possible Speculation and Vacancy Tax?

  • Is there any plan to address our doctor shortage?

  • Is there any news about the Police Act Review Committee?

  • And. . . .?

Come to the Meadow to ask your questions, listen to those of others, and participate in rich, respectful conversations.

Bring your favorite beverage and a smile.

Chairs and chocolate chip cookies provided.

See you at the Meadow!

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 would love your receipts! Remember: #15


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