This is a letter just sent to Peter Grove after a disappointing shift today, after what seemed like a terrific meeting with Islands Trust staff - Stefan, Toby and Karol - at our site.
I am sort of confused. I just spoke with yet another person I have not met, adding another layer of bureaucracy to the other planners/enforcement folk - Stefan, Jason, Karol, Toby. Yesterday, Stefan said that at our potential expense of removing a portion of the patio and planter at a future date if professionals deemed it somehow detrimental (a wall was already there, so not sure how that could be, and professionals have already agreed that it is perfectly fine, even a superior type of structure for this purpose), we could finish the project so that we would at least have the patio section for summer. Today, Miles, the apparent boss, called and rejected that entire plan after meetings with the others. Then stated that after we do an up to date survey, perhaps we could talk about trying to do something with the portion outside the setback, but nothing else.
I stated that according to the setback put forth by Islands Trust in 1990, the entirety of the small building and part of the large building and areas needed for stairs into the building are now in the setback. These have not been contested in sales after 1990, and so in effect were at least accepted as nonconforming compliant, along with its decks, gates, fences and the wall.
The highest layer of bureaucracy so far in this case, Miles, then stated, “yes, your property poses a lot of difficulties.” He also offered a $75 reduction in my fine to ease my pain. I am sitting here chuckling, but this is not really very funny at all.
By the way, this new fellow is yet another person who is involved in making decisions, whom we have not met and he has not been to the site.
I did not have any expectations in the meeting at the site yesterday, but afterward Anna, our friend Gary McNutt and I felt very positive and actually enjoyed the company of Stefan, Toby and Karol.
Wow, two 180 degree shifts in such a short period of time.
Do you, as our elected trustee, not have the power to move this forward as a really unique case? What I find really bizarre is that the Chair of the Trust, Peter Luckham, actually stopped by to tell us that our project and everything we were doing - restoration of a unique character building, opening up beach access, inviting the community to gather in a nature setting to appreciate the Island Beauty without having to purchase anything at all, was exactly the kind of project that the Trust wanted to see for all the islands. He shook my hand and was so completely genuine in his appreciation, as I was for his wholehearted showing of gratitude toward us.
So is it that there is not any power to help? The OCP (official community plan) is well over 10 years old. Land owners and tenants alike can vote in the next election coming up soon. I truly did feel like you were wanting to help me. Does the bureaucracy hold all the power? Can you not exert your influence? It feels like whenever we are coming together and seeing the good intention, another person comes into the mix to STOP the process, citing the idea that “this rule is unassailable and it is out of our hands.”
All of you, the elected officials, I am reaching out and asking you to truly meet us. Did we really let the bureaucracy and the accompanying gentrification usurp the Salt Spring Island spirit?
Thanks for your consideration,