Who Would Have Predicted that an Islands Trust Policy Could Create Such Controversy?
Interested in learning more about the Islands Trust’s policy statement update work, a standing room only crowd attended the ASK Salt Spring gathering in the United Church Meadow on Friday, June 18. Both of our Islands Trust’s Local Trustees, Laura Patrick and Peter Grove, joined us for this conversation.
After offering a Territorial Acknowledgment, Laura began by explaining that the Trust’s Policy Statement is required under the Islands Trust Act and is intended to be a general statement on policies to carry out the object of the Trust:
The object of the Trust is to preserve and protect the Trust Area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the Trust Area and of British Columbia generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the government of British Columbia.
Laura told us that the Policy Statement has not been updated since 2003. It is undergoing an update to address Reconciliation, climate change, and affordable housing. A draft has been making its way through a Trust Council committee, and it is proposed to receive first reading at Trust Council’s July 8, 2021 meeting. At first reading, a bylaw with the draft policy statement will be introduced. After this first reading, there will be public engagement and referrals. Because it is a bylaw, it will require two more readings plus ministerial approval before it can be adopted. In other words, Laura assured us that everyone will have ample opportunity to provide feedback and influence the final wording. Because the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee is a referral agency, Laura indicated that we will have additional public engagement opportunities on Salt Spring.
Many expressed concern that this policy statement is being fast-tracked for completion within the terms of current trustees, which end in the fall of 2022. In response, Laura said that the draft policy statement may remain at first reading for several months or even years.
Public input was considered in the preparation of the draft policy statement, including input gathered during events like the 2019 Fall Fair and surveys on BC Ferries, for example. However, many in attendance did not believe that they been consulted. A consistent theme throughout this two-hour conversation was the request to slow the process and get community input.
Laura and Peter reiterated that the introduction of a draft initiates dialogue with the community and that substantial changes can still be made prior to further readings. Despite these assurances, many participants appeared to be unconvinced that changes could still be made to the draft policy statement.
Before the proposed Trust Council first reading of the draft policy on July 8, 2021, there will be a virtual Town Hall at 7:00 p.m. on July 7, 2021. Some concerns were expressed about virtual meetings and many urged in-person conversations about this policy. Some expressed a strong request that Peter and Laura engage with Salt Springers before this first reading as well as fighting for local concerns at the first reading of this policy.
Laura offered to meet with any individual or groups wishing to continue this conversation. She reminded us that both she and Peter were very easy to contact by email and phone and were sincerely appreciative of those who have expressed their concerns as well as offering constructive suggestions. She indicated that the Salt Spring Ag Alliance had submitted a letter with their concerns and specific recommendations already.
So, what statements in the draft policy appeared to be most concerning to those who attended this ASK Salt Spring gathering?
The apparent prohibition on new private docks worried many. Some who spoke were owners of waterfront property while others were contractors who built docks. It appeared that a strong majority of the participants supported continuing the arduous provincial dock-approval process rather than supporting an Islands Trust prohibition.
Some also expressed their opinion that a proposed ban of desalination plants bordered on ridiculous, citing ways that such a plant could be constructed without environmental impacts.
With a commitment by Laura and Peter to listen and give our community many opportunities to express their concerns throughout the process, the large group began to disperse. By 1:00 PM, most had left to pursue other activities on that lovely June Friday. But, despite this general dispersal, Laura and Peter remained, listening to people’s concerns and committing to continue this conversation in a variety of formats.
(To subscribe to notifications of this and other Islands Trust meetings, click: https://islandstrust.bc.ca/subscribe/).
As a holiday weekend, ASK Salt Spring will take a break next Friday, July 2.
Please join us Friday, July 9, 11-1, in the United Church Meadow to welcome CRD’s Gary Holman.
Would you like Gary to tell us. . . .
What is happening to address the Booth Canal-Central safety concerns?
How are talks with North Salt Spring Waterworks District progressing?
When will the Middle School be available for community use?
What is happening with the HarbourWalk Plans?
How is the composting project progressing?
Have the Burgoyne Wastewater Treatment ponds been decommissioned yet so that we can finally begin to move forward?
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!
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