Thirteen came on this cool, rainy day, a pretty remarkable turnout in light of the weather and change of location to Portlock Picnic Pavilion. Gary joined us at noon, and, although one could interpret some of the concerns as critical, everyone appreciated that he had come to teach us, listen, and work with us to seek answers about the issues most important to us.
Some folks that were new to ASK Salt Spring came with a vision and a plea: Let’s finally get this too-long-delayed HarbourWalk Project completed. . . and Let’s do it for Matt!
The governmental hurtles were discussed, with a strong feeling that these hurtles must be successfully navigated to allow Salt Spring to take possession of its rightful statutory right of way the entire length of the proposed HarbourWalk - all the way to Moby’s. Gary assured us that we were very close to securing this statutory right of way for the Ganges Marina property, a long-time stumbling block. He expects word of success within days.
Money is in the PARC budget to proceed with the design, and this is expected to begin very soon.
A large hurdle is the funding needed to build the HarbourWalk. As soon as designs have been completed, and it is shovel-ready, grants will be sought. But, local fundraising efforts will also need to be undertaken to help fund this long-delayed initiative. The sentiment of the group was that there was no better time to begin securing donations as the perfect memorial to Matt.
Where should this money be kept? While CRD could open a fund for the HarbourWalk, the sentiment seemed to prefer that the Foundation open an account for this fund raising effort. (The Foundation has advised me that they are not a good fit for this project. Other options are being sought.)
And, some fun: There was pleasure and enthusiasm when it was noted that all the needed members of a band were at ASK Salt Spring. And, a musical fundraiser was on folks’ minds as we switched to other topics, everyone promising to come to this fun musical event to honor Matt as well as generating funds for his vision.
Salt Spring Island Community Housing and Land Bank Society Concerns:
There was quite a bit of frustration around this issue, with most concerned about problems and some strongly agitating for a swift resolution of those problems. We learned that this society owns three properties. While most are familiar with Bracket Springs (currently unoccupied) fewer know of the two homes, one on Fulford Ganges and the other on Dean Road. Together, they offer the unfilled-promise of affordable accommodations for approximately 60 individuals.
We learned that Bracket Springs is in the hands of VanCity and that some very serious management issues threaten the other two homes. One participant asked for volunteers to join an Emergency Committee to look into these concerns.
It was also suggested that an AGM be called as one had not been held in years. An AGM could result in more Salt Springers participating as directors to make this society more responsive to the needs of some of our most vulnerable. (There are currently three Directors.) It was also stated that a mayor could convene an AGM.
While Gary promised to continue trying to work with the individual in charge, there was a sentiment for more action, sooner. With no easy answers, we switched to another, less controversial topic, knowing that many feel that action must be taken soon.
Note: As the result of research after ASK Salt Spring, it was learned that reports of AGMs have been filed every year, so the society remains in good standing in relationship to the BC Societies Act. Neither a mayor nor a CRD Director would have grounds to order an AGM. The next AGM must be held before the end of 2020. It might be wise to contact directors to identify the time and date for this AGM (as well as bylaws for attendance, voting, and election of directors) so that more community members can attend with the intention of expanding its list of elected directors.
Participants were interested in how many bus shelters we have currently and whether they were art-inspired/locally-built or bought from BC Transit. We learned that we have one BC Transit bus shelter near Heritage Place, one Lions-built one on private property near the Visitors’ Center, and two art inspired, locally-built shelters on Fernwood Road and across from Country Grocer.
Several new locations are being considered and the decision about whether to buy a prefabricated one from BC Ferries or an artistic, locally-built one will soon need to be made. Costs for either option are estimated to be in the range of $25,000. That discussion is expected to be held at the next Transportation Commission meeting, Monday June 22 from 3-5 in the Library Program Room.
How Can Salt Springers Invest in Salt Spring?
Inspired by the Salt Spring Solutions’ What if. . . ? essay, one participant asked how we could establish an investment vehicle so that we can invest locally. It was asked if Transitions Salt Spring Economic Co-op (TSSEC) could be this vehicle. Would TSSEC be able to expand to larger projects? What about an institution that would bring visitors during the off-seasons to learn from our wide array of world-renowned artists, builders, and intellectuals? Could Salt Springers be accredited investors with a membership that receives dividends? One member of TSSEC responded that this could be a possibility. Several committed to pursuing possibilities to establish such a local investment opportunity.
Shortly after 1:00, ASK Salt Spring’s first outdoor gathering concluded, many promising to return next week - this time to United Church Meadow as clear, warm weather is predicted. While chilly, several small groups lingered to further discuss issues until nearly shortly after 1:45.