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Incorporation: Salt Spring Deserves the Leadership That Only a Mayor and Council Can Provide

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 9, 2017

Salt Spring Deserves the Leadership That Only a Mayor and Council Can Provide ~ I will be voting YES in the upcoming referendum on Incorporation. Having a Mayor and Council will allow us to punch above our weight on regional boards, such as library, housing, arts, and water. We would also get a stronger voice locally and provincially, with a seat at the Union of BC Municipalities and more opportunity to speak directly to our government representatives.

For me, as I vote for Incorporation, the most critical issue, following the wisdom of our NSSWD, is the central management of our Island drinking water. Yes, Salt Spring is an Island Paradise that we all want to preserve and protect, but unless our lake and river water is centrally and sustainably managed, our Paradise could rapidly change into a very expensive Nightmare.

Having served as a municipal Councillor in a similar Ontario community, I know that water management, fire and police protection, affordable housing, sewage treatment and rational road maintenance require municipal government.

After retirement here in 1991 and building a home at the south end, I got involved with island politics and arts. All the big island issues were being addressed on a broken front. Bureaucracies such as Ministry of Education, VIHA, BC Ferries, TELUS, Fire Insurance Underwriters, the Islands Trust and the CRD, were controlling the daily lives of Islanders in well-meaning, but totally separate and uncoordinated ways. BC Ferries was threatening to close its Long Harbour terminal, build a Swartz Bay style terminal at the end of Isabella Point Road, and try to balance its out of control budget at the Farebox. VIHA, which had initially encouraged islanders to finance a state of the art operating room at Lady Minto, had grabbed the money raised, and reversed its position. TELUS seemed uninterested in expanding its operations to include much needed high speed internet service. The Fire Insurance Underwriters were pressuring the Fire Board to upgrade the Ganges Fire hall. The largest Gulf Island was getting sand kicked in its face.

I served 3 years as a School Trustee, 4 years as a Fire District Trustee, 3 years as President of the South Salt Spring Property Owners and Residents Association and 5 years as a Salt Spring BC Ferries Stakeholder. One achievement was the petitioning and funding of Shaw high speed Internet service and Cable to the Beaver Point Road area. At the same time as this was accomplished, we all knew how much easier that task would have been with the political support of an island Mayor and Council.

A few years ago, during an effort to obtain property tax exemption for our Legion, I reminded a deputy Minister in Victoria that at least 10 other Legions in BC were getting property tax exemption. I was told that that this was because those Legions were located in Municipalities and reminded, with a smile, that I was second class citizen in BC if I did not live in a Municipality.

I am convinced that, if we incorporate, the Salt Spring men and women we elect will work tirelessly and responsibly for the benefit of all of us, and, that as they sit around the Council Table, they will be acutely aware that all their actions will be vigilantly monitored if and when they seek later re-election.

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