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Our Housing Crisis Requires Governance Leadership

    Editorial & Opinions, Governance & Politics    September 27, 2017

After this third referendum campaign, our community has yet again overwhelmingly rejected incorporation and reaffirmed support for our present governance within the Islands Trust’s unique “preserve and protect’ mandate. As an electorate, we now find ourselves in the anomalous position of having two of our three elected representatives definitively stating their opinions that our current system is structurally dysfunctional. Our third elected official declined to take a public position supporting the governance system in which he also was elected to serve.

Challenging times! There are many achievements that we have accomplished over the years: library, pool, affordable housing, bus service, water and sewage treatment upgrades, etc., etc. However, as in any other governance structure, community problem-solving depends on the political will of those elected to office.

Like most communities in B.C. we are experiencing a serious housing crisis. If our two trustees and regional director choose to remain in their positions, it is incumbent upon them to not only address our most pressing issues but to act with initiative, creativity and commitment. The current list of priorities of our LTC includes “completing the boardwalk,” and “industrial zoning.” While these are laudable projects … we are in a water/housing crisis.

At the next LTC meeting, our community needs more action on water and housing. Addressing our housing crisis requires multiple approaches: in addition to legalizing guest cottages for long term rentals, it requires accelerating the enforcement of STVR stand alone houses, creating zoning for tiny homes on private property with sufficient potable water, etc. Additionally, our OCP could be amended to include house size limitations as has been done in other popular jurisdictions. Many of the “mega mansions” are not primary residences and inflate island property values which effects both the purchase and rental markets. Our LTC could instruct the planners to give these matters priority at the next meeting on Oct. 5 and do so before they leave the Lions Hall. (The cancellation of the September LTC meeting only served to prolong hardship for many islanders in search of housing.)

Trustee Grams, trustee Grove and regional director McIntyre: your constituents need you to exercise your governance authority with alacrity and leadership.

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