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Incorporation: Report Card on Local Governance

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 12, 2017

Progress on SSI under the current local governance structure;

With another incorporation drive underway, we should not forget the considerable progress that has been achieved on Salt Spring Island under the existing Capital Regional District/Islands Trust local government structure since the 2002 referendum rejecting incorporation.

The initiatives cover community facilities, housing, agriculture, energy and climate change, transportation, water, land use planning, economy, land conservation, solid and liquid waste.

These initiatives have helped to build a healthy and vibrant community, preserved our natural heritage and created jobs on the island.

Progress Report

Collaboration among the Islands Trust, CRD & improvement districts, together with active and engaged community volunteers and access to millions of dollars of Federal and Provincial Government funding, have resulted in many major initiatives on Salt Spring Island, including:

Community Facilities

  • Indoor recreation site purchased near Ganges and a new indoor swimming pool opened on the site in 2008.
  • Land purchased in 2006 for a new library within the Ganges core, and new library built in 2013.
  • New fire-fighting vehicles purchased with approved tax funding.
  • New site for Ganges Firehall acquired and a proposed new Firehall planned.
  • Upgrades at the Lady Minto Hospital and a new medical clinic built in 2012.
  • Received first provincial Green City award of $25,000, reinvested in energy and water projects.
  • Relocated and expanded RCMP station facility and BC Ambulance station
  • Application of gas tax and other funding for pedestrian & cycling infrastructure, particularly in & around villages and for potable water upgrades.
  • Skateboard park for youth with private and public funding
  • An indoor tennis facility and a new squash court built at the SSI Golf Club with private funding.
  • Improved beach and lake public accesses.

Housing

  • 110 units of seniors housing completed 2001 – 2004, 30 assisted-living units completed in 2006,
  • Murakami Gardens for low income residents in operation in 2009, Brackett Springs currently under development and an 80-unit affordable housing facility on Drake Road in the planning stage.
  • Current plans for Dragonfly Commons, a 30 unit small housing development for local workers.
  • SSI opted into the CRD’s Regional Housing Trust Fund (RHTF) established in 2005.
  • A SSI Housing Council established by the CRD in 2011.
  • Affordable housing at Croftonbrook with $4.9 million funding secured in 2017

Agriculture

  • An Area Farm Plan completed with provincial funding, resulting in the SSI Agricultural Alliance and a Farm Land Trust.
  • Farm land acquired in Burgoyne valley and community farming developed.
  • An abattoir established in 2012 with government and private funding.
  • A community garden established near the swimming pool with full support from CRD for the lease of RRPAG site ($1) and help with rainwater collection for irrigation
  • A new Farm Produce Centre under development on Beddis Road.

Energy and Climate Change

  • An energy baseline study & community energy strategy completed in 2004 & updated in 2007.
    Provincially mandated greenhouse gas emission reduction targets set in SSI Official Community Plan.
  • A Climate Action Plan completed in 2011 to achieve the GHG reduction targets.
  • Rapid growth in electric vehicle use making a significant contribution to GHG emission reductions.
  • A 21kw Solar Panel System installed at GISS and a solar scholarship fund established.

Transportation

  • A SSI Transportation Commission established by the CRD in 2007 to administer public transit, construct pedestrian & cycling infrastructure, & develop other strategies to reduce auto dependence.
  • Secured provincial funding for SSI’s first community bus system, launched in January 2008, and now exceeding 100,000 annual ridership.
  • Completion of Phase 1 of the North Ganges Transportation Plan, including bike lanes and sidewalk with Provincial and CRD funding and Phase 2 funded.
  • Ten off-road pathway sections of the Ganges Village Pathway Network completed with public and private funding, improving safer, accessible paths for pedestrians and cyclists.

Water

  • Watershed Management Plans prepared for Cusheon Lake & St. Mary Lake.
  • A SSI Water Council established in 2003 to coordinate discussion among various agencies in protecting potable water supplies.
  • Construction of an aeration system by the NSSW District in 2008 to improve water quality in St. Mary Lake.
  • Funding approved in 2015 to upgrade the NSSW District water treatment plant.
    Federal/provincial infrastructure funding for six water districts upgrading water treatment and other facilities.
  • A new Watershed Protection Authority established by the Local Trust Committee with delegated authority from Islands Trust Council to coordinate plans and actions in potable water watersheds on SSI.

Land Use Planning

  • An updated Official Community Plan in 2008 which includes policies to address climate change and energy efficiency, continued support for agriculture and affordable housing, encouraging home-based businesses and protecting drinking watersheds.
  • A sustainability checklist prepared and implemented for land-use planning and building design.
  • An Industrial Task Force established to consider appropriate locations for industrial zoning.

Economy

  • A SSI Community Economic Development Commission created in 2011 and an economic development strategy prepared.
  • An Action Plan issued by the CEDC in 2015, developing the Experience the Gulf Islands project as a framework for long term tourism development, and supporting off‐season events.
  • Salt Spring absorbed over 1,300 new residents with construction of about 900 residential homes and a number of new or expanded commercial properties.

Land Conservation

  • Protected almost 4,000 ha (10,000 acres) of public greenspace with public and private funding.
  • Supported Islands Trust Fund’s NAPTEP program, (up to 65% reduction in property taxes for conservation covenant), unique in BC and including protection of Maxwell Lake, our most natural drinking water lake.

Solid and Liquid Waster

  • Upgraded or expanded SSI’s two secondary sewage treatment facilities to ensure continued, high treatment standard.
  • Updated feasibility study for reclaimed water at Ganges plant.
  • Provide funding for recycling programs solely from landfill tipping fees.
  • Household hazardous waste collection and central composting tested.

Add to this list the wide range of services offered by volunteer community groups as well as the numerous arts and craft studios and galleries, musical talent, festivals and theatre and we have the essence of a truly viable, sustainable island.

With continued political will and broad community support, Salt Spring will remain a great place to live and work and an attractive place for visitors.

Peter Lamb

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