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  • Gayle Baker

Local Commissioners, Ben and Gayle, Learn Lots About Ganges Harbour Liveaboards and Their Needs

April 12

Ten welcomed two of your Local Community Commissioners, Ben Corno and Gayle Baker, to this ASK Salt Spring gathering. While the numbers were small, the conversation was rich, masterfully facilitated by Ron Cooke. We began with a Territorial Acknowledgement from Ben, introducing himself in the Indigenous way of also recognizing his parents.


When asked what excites and delights us, Gayle responded that she was delighted to be happily home after an amazing trip that began in Brazil and ended in Rome. She spoke briefly about her satisfaction with small projects that are moving along toward completion, like the new bus shelter next to the Visitors’ Center, a proposed ICBC study of our Ganges crosswalks, the soon-to-be-released prioritization of our top road safety concerns, and the recent award of a grant to complete the Merchant Mews pathway. She expressed her determination not to focus upon the areas in which she sees herself failing, like moving swiftly toward solutions for our worker housing crisis and care for the unhoused during our cold months.


Ben spoke of his delight in our beneficent spring weather, commenting that the gradually-warming moderate weather was a joyful change from his experience of many other more tempestuous springs. He also spoke with delight about his long-planned upcoming month-long trip to Japan. Planning to travel by train over much of Japan, he and his partner have decided to visit Tokyo last after acclimating themselves to the Japanese way in smaller towns. Leaving soon, they hope to arrive in time to savour the cherry blossoms.


Our first question from a participant who recalled past ASK Salt Spring gatherings that welcomed all of our five Local Commissioners. We learned that CRD Victoria has asked that only two (less than a quorum) attend ASK Salt Spring. As some in this gathering were savvy about open meeting rules (https://bcombudsperson.ca/assets/media/Special-Report-No-34-Open-Meetings-Best-Practices-Guide-for-Local-Governments.pdf), they questioned this decision.


The definition of a meeting at which there cannot be a quorum of Local Commissioners seems to rely upon whether Local Commissioners at ASK Salt Spring “could be seen to be making decisions, or moving towards making decisions.” While participants agreed that ASK Salt Spring gatherings were for information, not decisions, it was also understood that community perceptions, rather than legal prohibition, may be an equally important factor in determining how many Local Commissioners attend future ASK Salt Spring gatherings.


Three members of our Liveaboard community participated in this ASK Salt Spring gathering, offering a new, and seldom-heard, perspective. While these Liveaboards had many suggestions, some impetus for their attendance may have also been two recent meetings:


  1. At the Islands Trust meeting this week, April 10, 2024, (https://islandstrust.bc.ca/document/salt-spring-ltc-regular-meeting-agenda-28/), a member of the Clean and Safe Harbours Initiative (CASHI) presented a request for Islands Trust action, accompanied by numerous, largely unflattering, pictures of vessels in Ganges Harbour.

  2. While none at this ASK Salt Spring gatherings had been invited, there was a brief discussion about a recent meeting at the Salt Spring Sailing Club discussing concerns about our harbour as well as offering solutions. It is believed that some of these solutions were the donation of a bin for the Liveaboard-generated garbage as well as others clean-up options.


There was concern that CASHI-suggested bylaws could make life more difficult - if not impossible - for some Liveaboards. When asked what they needed in their water-based community, there seemed to be agreement that this chosen lifestyle was, in general, working well for them and that their hope was that no significant changes be imposed upon them.


That said, there were suggestions about small improvements that could enhance their lives. These were:

  1. Easy Access to Potable Water: While water can be purchased at Thrifty, this can become very expensive, a daunting problem for those with limited resources. We learned that it can also be obtained at the Harbour Authority of Salt Spring Island - HASSI - (https://saltspringharbours.com/_. A participant requested that the Centennial Park utility sink, open for Saturday for Market Vendors, be also opened for limited scheduled hours for Liveaboard use.

  2. Garbage and Recycling: There was interest in the recent offer made at the Sailing Club meeting of a donated bin for garbage and volunteers to collect it. While generous, these donations may not cover costs of disposal. A participant suggested the LCC allocate ongoing funding for its disposal. We learned that inspiring Beach Dave (https://www.gulfislandsdriftwood.com/beach-daves-trash-cleanup-initiative-inspires/), who determinedly collects garbage throughout Ganges, already has some support for garbage disposal. It was suggested that this support be increased. Collaborating with Beach Dave, one participant told us that he regularly collects garbage at Grace Point. While he would like to continue doing this, he now has a skiff full of garbage and does not want to pay for its disposal. He suggested more support be given to Beach Dave who could help this participant defray the cost of disposing Grace Point garbage.

  3. Emergency Preparedness: While our CRD Emergency Management (https://www.crd.bc.ca/service/fire-and-emergency-programs/emergency-management) does not include water-based residents, a participant is committed to get the training for emergency preparation and bring this information to his Liveaboard neighbours.


While our Ganges Harbour is under the jurisdiction of multiple provincial and federal agencies, it is the opinion of some that they are neglecting their management duties. A meeting was recently held seeking to untangle these multiple jurisdictions and determine what local governments can do, with another meeting for local governing agencies scheduled for the end of this April.


A first step toward better understanding the complex issues and concerns impacting Ganges Harbour seems to be to get Liveaboards together to express their needs and concerns. While there are concerns about working with CASHI, a best solution seems to be to work together for a cleaner, safer harbour rather than solidifying into conflicting positions. As a first step, Gayle will work to convene this conversation. Gayle will also try to arrange a meeting with some Local Commissioners and Russ, our new HASSI Harbourmaster, to explore options.


As our gathering was about to conclude, our facilitator gave us some very sad news: Tami and Fernando dos Santos, the driving forces behind Dragonfly Commons (https://dragonflycommons.com/), the proposed affordable Drake Road community of 30 purchased homes, have decided to cease their efforts. Bright lights in our community, offering their land as well as their amazing energy and generosity, they have worked tirelessly for many years to build this so-needed community. While challenged by many bureaucratic hurdles, the recent Salt Spring CRD delays seem to have convinced the dos Santos to finally give up, defeated.


It is with great sadness that Salt Spring sees the end of Tami and Fernando’s amazing vision for the worker community we so need.


On this sad note. . . .balanced a bit by hopes that another agency will buy this land and continue Tami and Fernandos’ courageous efforts. . .we left this gathering, thanking participants and two of our Local Commissioners for a rich discussion.


Please join us to welcome Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) Area Manager Owen Page this Friday, April 19, 11-1 in the SIMS (former Middle School) classroom next to the Boardroom.


What would you like to ask him?

  • Do you have any news of the timing of the Blackburn Bridge and Ganges Hill projects?

  • As you collaborate with Emcon as well as the larger projects, like Ganges Hill, but are not responsible for them, please tell us about your specific areas of responsibility.

  • What road concerns are at the top of your 2024 priority list?

  • What are your biggest road challenges on Salt Spring? Are they different from those of other communities? If yes, how?

  • With all the feedback you get from Salt Spring residents, how do you prioritize what is addressed?

  • And?    


Please join us to welcome Owen this Friday!


Just in case you are interested. . . .This report has been written by Gayle Baker, Ph. D., founder of ASK Salt Spring, currently also a Salt Spring Local Community Commissioner. This report has also been edited by this week’s special guest.


Did you know that ASK Salt Spring now has an Event Organizer? Grant Fredrickson has stepped up to identify special guests and coordinate their visits. . . Wahoo!


Who else would like to help? Maybe you would like to take charge of weekly media? Do you see yourself facilitating? How about writing reports? Or. . . ?


Please join us making ASK Salt Spring ever better!


Big News:

ASK Salt Spring now has ongoing funding! A heartfelt THANK-YOU to the Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA) and its Executive Director, Peter Allen !!!


***New fundraising option***

You can now give the Return It change you earn from your bottles to ASK Salt Spring: Account #230.


Any questions, anytime: ask@asksaltspring.com


Want to see reports from all the ASK Salt Spring gatherings,

monthly schedule of upcoming gatherings? Asksaltspring.com.

Want to listen to interviews of our special guests?ASK Salt Spring Answere


Want to help? ASK Salt Spring now has a Save-a-Tape box at Country Grocer.

We love your receipts! Remember: #15


Our Partners. . . .

Institute for Sustainability, Education, and Action (I-SEA), Country Grocer through Save-a-Tape and Gift Cards and Island Savings' Simple Generosity grant.

A heartfelt Thank-You!


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