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ASK Salt Spring conversations about mental health

While we began with a very small circle of participants, during our time together, a total of 15 joined our conversation about mental health in our community. Always seeking to attract youth and young families to these ASK Salt Spring gatherings, we hit the jackpot with our 16th - and youngest yet guest - infant Benjamin brought smiles to all of us. After our Territorial Acknowledgement we welcomed our special guests, David Norget, Willie MacPherson, and Sherman I. Sherwood .ksc to discuss mental health in our community. They were joined by Shae Houston, a Community Services caseworker focused on youth and family addiction issues, eager to contribute to the mental health conversation on Salt Spring. Willie, with experience as a full-time Community Services peer counselor, began by speaking about the incredible value of lived experience when supporting those facing trauma. While he understood the value of education as well, he spoke with passion about the empathy and under…
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Is Bylaw 530 illegal?

As almost everyone on Salt Spring is now aware, major changes regarding land use are afoot. What they may not realize is that due process has been abandoned. The most recent land-use controversy involves proposed Bylaw 530 which seeks to rezone thousands of lots to allow for year-round suites and cottages (Accessory Dwelling Units). We do not know exactly how many lots are involved because the Islands Trust has yet to release that information, but we do know the bylaw will blanket rezone most of the island. By any measure, the bylaw represents a major change that will determine how the island looks in the future. This raises a question of legality. Where is the amendment to our Official Community Plan (OCP) that must accompany such a radical change--the extra paperwork that would force a discussion about, not just short-term objectives, but long-term consequences? Bylaw 530 will violate several parts of our OCP, especially the one limiting the island’s population to “a…
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Community Park campaign release video to encourage charitable donations for park land acquisition

Salt Spring Community Park campaign has released a new video to share the story about their goal for establishing a new multi-use trail network and protected area on Salt Spring Island. Salt Spring Community Park will be a new 75 acre park with trails for the public on the northeast slope of Hwmet’utsum/Mt. Maxwell that will support the protection of sensitive ecosystems in the neighbouring watershed and will preserve the forest from logging and development. Moving this land from private to community ownership will create the largest contiguous tract of protected land in the Southern Gulf Islands. The 75-acre property is located on the northeast facing slope of Hwmet’utsum/Mt. Maxwell, and helps protect Mt. Maxwell Provincial Park, Mt. Maxwell Ecological Reserve, and Mt. Maxwell Lake – a vital water supply for Salt Spring Island. While Salt Spring Island has several protected conservation areas, the island lacks multi-use recreation opportunities that are welcoming to div…
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Cyclists rally for safe cycling on Salt Spring and in support of the proposed Salish Sea Bike Trail

On July 20th, a group of about 30 dedicated island cyclists met our local MLA Adam Olsen in Fulford for a bike ride to Ganges to promote the Salish Sea bike trail on Salt Spring Island. As we all know, Salt Spring does not have safe bicycle paths along the majority of our roads and is not really considered a very safe cycling destination. However Salt Spring Island being a major tourist attraction could easily become a wonderful place to visit by bike or ebike if only our roads were safer. Adam Olsen has been working on this vision along with various community groups as well as CRD and MoTI representatives and he gave a brief speech and took questions and answers once the rally arrived at Centennial Park. One of the main concerns expressed by many in attendance is how little has been done by previous administrations on this issue in spite of having been on the political agenda for decades and Adam announced that there are some promising developments. A study is currently und…
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ASK Salt Spring with Salt Spring Chamber’s new Operations Manager, Alexander Fischer-Jean, and its president, Darryl Martin

Eleven joined this ASK Salt Spring gathering in the United Church Meadow, welcoming our Chamber’s new Operations Manager, Alexander Fischer-Jean, and its president, Darryl Martin. After our Territorial Acknowledgement questions began, resulting in a rich conversation focused on our local businesses - their challenges and successes. President Darryl Martin reminded us that business means something different on Salt Spring: Not large corporations, our businesses are almost entirely locally-owned - they are our neighbours. While small and local, they are also very vulnerable to disturbing supply challenges and worldwide financial realities. Alexander and Darryl were asked how our local business owners were coping as our community opens up again after the years of COVID challenges. We learned that tourists have returned. When asked, Alexander estimated that approximately 1/3 of our businesses are tourist-focused and that - despite the recent BC Ferries dramas - local business…
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Salt Spring Island’s exclusion from expanded Speculation and Vacancy Tax a "slap in the face", say community organizations

Leading Salt Spring Island community organizations and businesses are calling the B.C. Finance Minister’s lack of inclusion of the island in the latest expansion of B.C.’s Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT), “a slap in the face.” Minister Selina Robinson announced on July 20 the expansion of the SVT to additional communities on Vancouver Island and in the lower mainland, saying, "People in these communities have been vocal. They've been vocal about the intense housing pressures that they are facing, including speculation and near zero vacancy rates." Salt Spring Islanders have been vocal about the exact same issues and the urgent need for expanded local housing options since the community of 11,635 was first excluded from the tax in 2018. The island is being affected differently than its smaller neighbouring Gulf Islands because it has three ferry terminals and is adjacent to an area already covered by the tax, and because of its larger population and economy that extends …
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Remembering the children of Kuper Island

Photo: June 19, 1941 view of Kuper Island Indian Residential School In the early 1980s my family and I put our kayaks in at Southey Point for the short crossing to Kuper Island, as it was called then. Circumnavigating Kuper, we passed the village and ferry dock on the island’s west side, coming face to face with the shuttered hulk of the Kuper Island Indian Residential School. Hunched on the hilltop overlooking the shore, the three-storey red-brick edifice – closed in 1975 and yet to be demolished by the Penelakut Tribe – seemed to exude menace even then. At the time I thought I had a fair idea of the forced assimilation and abuse of Indian children under Roman Catholic administration, and while horrific I somehow imagined the trauma to a regrettable, but closed chapter of Canada’s now-distant past. My understanding of its ongoing and insidious nature deepened in the ensuing years as I engaged with Elders from the surrounding Indigenous communities, working to build communi…
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An island that fears all change can’t evolve

Did you know our local government is set to vote on allowing more small, eco-friendly housing options soon, but that even this cautious move that will only make a small dent in the housing crisis is enough to get some in the conservation crowd up in arms to block it? Here’s what’s going on. Very soon, the Islands Trust will vote on an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) bylaw, one of the key recommendations from its own Housing Action Task Force that Trust staff have been studying for over a year. This bylaw would create a path to legitimizing many existing cottages and suites and would even allow some new small homes to be built, albeit with all the same significant water and construction cost restrictions small homes have long faced. To be clear, while this is welcome, affordable housing advocates like me are disappointed with the Trust’s lack of ambition. We think it’s a first step not a last step, and that there is much more the Trust, and also the unengaged CRD and impenet…
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