The incorporation debate is generating creative and exciting solution-seeking discussions throughout our island. Conversations about those things we love about Salt Spring - and the reasons we moved here - are being enriched by explorations of creative ways to enhance local governance without incorporating.
Most of these conversations are random, taking place while shopping at our favourite stores, at potlucks, and even while walking our dogs. But, a growing number of those conversations, driven by concern of the increased taxes, liability, and development that incorporation could bring, are focused upon rejecting incorporation and, instead, seeking promising local governance opportunities.
Emerging from these wide-ranging discussions are a number of viable and exciting options available to us if we do not incorporate. Many of these could be implemented under existing policies and legislation; a few would require provincial approval - a very real option given the recent change in government.
These options might include:
- A Local Community Commission with 6 locally-elected commissioners, an option the former provincial government suggested as an alternative in 2010.
- A non-profit to deliver services and receive grants similar to other islands, like Hornby and Pender, as well as our recycling centre and library.
- Eligibility for federal and provincial infrastructure grants for our Fire and Water
- Improvement Districts, achieved through a relatively simple provincial policy change already in effect in Alberta and Ontario.
- A review to improve Trust and CRD efficiency and effectiveness.
- Doubling our Island Trustees from two to four.
And, the list goes on. The common denominator of all these options is the achievement of informed consensus and the inclusion of many voices. This seems to be most easily achieved by the creation of a community association committed to seeking solutions without losing our current visionary separation of powers.
Interested in learning more? Come to the Lions Hall on Monday, August 28, from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. to learn about governance options, share your ideas, and take those first steps toward building local consensus.
See you there!