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Incorporation: Email to a Friend

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    August 18, 2017

I don’t think there are meaningful answers to the questions you have raised. I think the actual vision for Salt Spring is still best articulated in the Islands Trust object: “to preserve and protect the environment and amenities of the Gulf Islands for all British Columbians.” I haven’t heard any articulation of another vision for us that was more promising. Those of us on the NO side simply do not believe that incorporation supports that objective, in spite of the YES side’s protestations to the contrary. My understanding from others who have witnessed similar transitions is that it only takes one or two election cycles for the development community to capture the local government, after which all bets are off on things like the OCP and zoning variances and bylaws.

Asking who will step forward as future Trustee and CRD Director candidates is like asking what the stock market will do. Future trustees and CRD directors are anybody’s guess. It is a tribute to the steadfastness of the Islands Trust commitment to its object that, even with our current trustees and CRD Director, with their demonstrably lukewarm dedication to the Trust, nothing seriously threatening to the fabric of the island has occurred. You will not be able to say the same for an island municipal government.

However, there is one important change that might make all the difference – a new provincial government. Salt Spring representatives have repeatedly asked the Liberal government for more options than status quo/municipality, to no avail. Presumably, there is much that could be done to improve governance on this island without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but the provincial Liberals have never allowed us to entertain alternatives that might improve things. We cost them a lot of money (in spite of their short-changing us on road maintenance) and they really want rid of us. The new government might well be more disposed to allowing us to consider such alternatives.

My own feeling is, we need to know from the Yes side what it is they want that we don’t already have. And not just the airy-fairy “control of our own destiny”. Because as a municipality, our destiny will be controlled by those who run the government. See above re election cycles. But with our current form of government, we have got ourselves a state-of-the-art library, a pool, a performance hall, multiple alternative schools, a skateboard park, tennis/pickleball courts, a remarkably successful school system, an enormous and thriving arts community, a huge volunteer contingent, assisted living facilities, a hospital – have I forgotten anything? Probably.

So really, what do they want that we don’t already have. A slicker, more responsive/efficient government development approval process. Would be nice, but what does Salt Spring lose to get it? We think, a whole way of life. Overstating the case? Maybe. But what if we’re right? What have we done? And, good Lord, it’s irrevocable. That’s very scary.

Phew. Hard to make the case in a few short words. See you at coffee.

Sam Lightman

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