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  • Gayle Baker

Zooming About With Gary Holman in a Self-Isolating Community

April 10

Thirteen Salt Springers came to this Zoom session of ASK Salt Spring to get some information from special guest, Gary Holman. The first 40 minutes was spent - once again - addressing road concerns. While some time was spent on logistics (When is the Transportation Commission going to meet again?) the focus of the discussion was on too-high speed limits, beginning with one participant’s ongoing concerns about the speed and heavy use of Kings and Leisure Lanes.

It was suggested that he get neighbours to sign a petition so that it is clear that this concern is widespread. He was scheduled to come to Transportation Commission with this issue March 19. As that meeting was cancelled, he plans to attend when the Commission reconvenes. It was also suggested that he contact our Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) area manager with his concern. (I have promised to get him the name of this individual.)

Speed humps were discussed. Despite anecdotal evidence that they are effective calming traffic, it was suggested that quantitative data be analyzed before requesting them for Salt Spring traffic calming. (I should seek this data.) Another suggestion was digital speed monitoring. Gary believes that an individual, Allan Combs, leads/led a volunteer group who deployed these traffic monitors. (I will check with him.)

Switching topics, it was confirmed that, in Gary’s assessment, the Salt Spring Health Advancement Network (SSHAN) fulfills the role of an inter-agency health alliance. In light of the significant provincial mental health funding, it was requested that SSHAN work to make sure that Salt Spring needs are addressed through acquisition of this finding.

Gary spoke of CRD’s responsibilities: ensuring the continuation of services as well as emergency coordination. While municipalities (and CRD as well, in theory) can declare emergencies, for this crisis, the provincial governments has taken these options away. The theory behind this is that, while there could be some local emergencies that require local action, this crisis is province-wide and needs a single, concerted response. If local areas were allowed to impose their own rules, there could be even more confusion than currently exists.

One participant asked about enforcement of bylaws, especially in Ganges. This business owner pointed out that, while problems of litter, drinking, drugs, and dogs on the loose are not new concerns, with all businesses closed, a certain group which do not follow the rules appear to have taken over our village. Bylaws should be enforced by the RCMP, CRD Bylaw Officer, and - in some health-related circumstances - Island Health.

It was pointed out that, while it may be unwise, it is not against the law to violate a directive - such as gathering in groups under 50. Other matters are clearly violating bylaws - like drinking and smoking in our parks as well as allowing dogs to run free. Gary told us that he has allocated more funding for bylaw enforcement. We were told to call 1-800-665-7899 to report a bylaw infraction. In our parks, Dan Ovington, PARC Manager, can also follow up during regular working hours - (250) 537-4448. Community members can also call the RCMP. They have both an emergency number (911) and a non emergency number: (250) 537-5555.

There was widespread recognition that the problem was larger than simple bylaw infraction. Although activities have been on “pause” for the past month, Gary recognizes the importance of convening a group who can address making our community safe for all again.

The conversation switched to the fact that some have nowhere to go now that everything has been closed (including the Library). Also, fewer are allowed to use the shelter so that social distancing can be maintained. A number of temporary solutions have been offered to BC Housing, including rooms at Seaview and use of the high school. So, far, a provincial-level decision has not yet been made to determine the direction that will be taken to address the needs our most vulnerable.

The conversation switched to affordable housing and two projects - Salt Spring Commons and Phase Two of Croftonbrook - that are under constriction, bringing another 46 units online in the near future. We learned that Phase Three of Croftonbrook (with 30 units) is poised to begin soon after the completion of Phase Two, Also, it is looking promising that the province will move forward with supportive housing on the CRD Drake Road property. (Islands Trust permission will likely be needed.)

Even though these projects promise to result in significantly more housing for those who qualify, it was noted that there are too many families who earn too much to get help but not enough to sustain themselves. Continually falling through the cracks, it was asked what can be done to help them?

Hope was expressed that the de Santos’ Dragonfly project will become re-energized, There were even some suggestions of groups that could take on the project to give the de Santos’ some relief from the challenges of making this property fulfill its potential. In addition the Dragonfly, there are other parcels or land with possibilities including Bracket Springs, Norton Road, and cleared land behind Lions Hall,

Gary announced that the local Farmers’ Market would not open until Tuesday, April 21 and that coordinator Rob Pingle is putting a lot of effort into social distancing needs. Despite this, tourists are coming to Salt Spring. While they give us needed financial support , hope was expressed that they stay in place for the duration.

Gary also spoke briefly of a business response group that the Chamber, the Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC), and the farm community are collaborating to launch. This group will offer needed business-support information. (A CEDC website detailing this information is set to be launched this Monday, April 13.)

A very different session than our face-to-face gatherings, we said our thanks to Gary for all his help and signed off shortly after 1:00.

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