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Incorporation: How a ‘Farmer’ Mayor Changed Me from Yes to No to Yes!

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 14, 2017

I went from a staunch YeSS! voter to a PosNo voter … and then the more I supported the PosNo’s position and saw how much they want to preserve and protect (which I do), prevent rampant development (which I do as well), save our precious farmers (love buying local!) and prevent runaway tax increases (yeah, that to!!) – I realized the only way to achieve what the PosNo side wants is for all of us to vote YeSS! and then vote the PosNo supporters into power by electing them as council and mayor! Win win!!
Confused yet? Quite the Catch-22, wouldn’t you say? Here’s what happened to me today and why for about 30 minutes I was totally convinced we couldn’t possibly vote YeSS! and still preserve & protect this beautiful island we call home.

I reached out to Mayor Ranns of Metchosin via email two days ago and he personally called me this morning. He has been a farmer forever, on council since 1987 and is now in his sixth term as Mayor. To say I was nervous to speak with him is an understatement. Understand that I am not a long time resident (spent 30yrs in the USA), I am not well versed in Canadian politics let alone all that SSI has faced since 2002 and I definitely did not want to waste his time! I’m sure I had that ‘deer caught in headlights’ look during our 45 mins call!!

Within 15 minutes of our call, I started questioning my stand based on his comments, and the more I voiced my sudden indecision and the reasons I should now vote no, the more he presented his case for incorporation, and slowly I realized that the way to keep our rural personality with more control of taxes collected, zoning issues, water, development, preserve & protect was to vote YeSS! and collaborate with those on the PosNo that are bound and determined to deliver such a mandate by representing Salt Springers.

For sure Metchosin is not SSI – they have every single service and amenity imaginable within driving distance outside of Metchosin’s borders. He stressed several times that although he was against incorporation 3 times, he realized without the protection of a municipality, Metchosin would become another urban sprawl like Langford. So he not only acquiesced but became the mayor and has been for 30 years. They have no debt; lowest taxes; minimal grants; part time staff – and guess what? Their roads are handled by 3 staff, of which two are volunteer firefighters. Oh – and their CAO is on contract, and their planner is a rural planner (not urban planner) that works one day a week and keeps the town’s vision at the forefront!

I could go on and on about all the salient points he made during our conversation, but I will leave you with what he initially sent me via email:

Quote: “I can state with certainty that Metchosin would not have remained a rural community had we not incorporated. However the results you seek from incorporation rely totally on who you elect and even more important how you establish your bureaucratic structure.”

So PosNo folks – what do you say? Let the YeSS! vote hand you the power to preserve & protect LOCALLY rather than under our current governance. Let the YeSS! vote hand you the power to create a Community Plan and Vision that is sustainable and green. Let the YeSS! vote make SSI all that it can be, and more…. Without rampant development; without loss of farms; without runaway tax increases. Let the YeSS! vote help you and the community be ‘one!’

Jocelyne moved to Salt Spring Island in 2015, and has lived all over the USA as an airline employee and more recently in Victoria as the owner of a pet memorial centre.

‘I moved to Salt Spring with the hopes of slowing down my life – it’s not easy doing that as a Type A Personality! But I must admit that this island is slowing entering my veins and forcing me to stop and smell the roses. When the referendum came up, I decided to contact the Mayor of Metchosin as so much focus was put on Bowen Island when other communities have successfully remained rural under incorporation. I am engaged and concerned about the future of Salt Spring Island and only wish to continue facing every sunrise with gratitude.

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