Following our local elections in which, happily, the three candidates endorsed by Positively Forward (Holman, Grove and Patrick) were successful in their bids to become elected officials, our coordinating group took a short break. Just time enough to recharge.
We remain committed to conducting research to advance better local governance options, as well as monitoring the work and initiatives of our elected officials. We are also dedicated to keeping channels of communication open, with you our supporters, and with our CRD director, the two trustees, as well as with local commission representatives. All part of pushing for increased transparency and accountability within our governance system.
We were delighted that CRD director Gary Holman held a public session on his budget allocations last month. The room was full and interest high. Sadly, the trustees did not see fit to follow suit. This is the second consecutive year that Positively Forward's request for a public meeting on the Islands Trust budget for Salt Spring was rejected. Trustee Peter Grove said:
“The Trust budget is for the whole Trust area and not just SSI. The SSI component is fairly small and not up for debate. If we put on a presentation on SSI it would have to include staff as the CRD did and we would have to put on a similar event for each of the other islands. For that reason the website materials are quite substantial and the [Trust Finance Committee] deemed a “road show” to be impractical.”
We'll keep trying. Third time lucky?
Here's another CRD news update: Director Holman has taken the first step towards pursuing the possibility of a Local Community Commission(LCC) on Salt Spring. He has raised the issue with the CRD Electoral Areas Committee so that other directors may familiarize themselves with the idea. Next step will be allocation of funding for a study.
You may remember that the creation of an LCC was one of the top recommendations in a report on CRD administration on Salt Spring sponsored by Positively Forward in the fall.
Hot Button issue: Tree Cutting
One of the local issues causing consternation and distress to a number of islanders in recent months has been the amount of tree cutting on the island. People have asked, what can be done about this? Jean Gelwicks prepared this response for Positively Forward:
"There are things we can do, mainly through Development Permit Areas (DPA), but also by updating our Official Community Plan(OCP), and creating new land use by laws(LUB), but we need to have these instruments in place before the unwanted logging activities happen. These recourses have to be agreed upon by the majority of islanders after having been thoroughly researched and discussed.
All governments use the same Local Government Act as the basis for the creation of their bylaws. Each Local Trust Committee(LTC) has, in respect of its local trust area, all the power and authority, except a few which are designed for urban communities, of a regional district board under Part 14 (Planning and Land Use Management) of the Local Government Act. Some people believe, mistakenly, that elected officials can do anything they want by way of instituting regulations. This is simply not the case. Elected officials are reluctant to enact regulations in the absence of support for those regulations by the majority of residents."
It is worth knowing that the Trust has developed an excellent Island Toolkit for Protecting the Coastal Douglas Fir Zone and Associated Ecosystems. Anyone interested in more information on what we are able to do should take a look at this.
Hot Button Issue: Climate Emergency
The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly states that there is a global climate crisis. It further states that strong action is urgently needed to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degree C. The world is currently on track for more than 3 degrees C of warming based on policies currently in place.
Unprecedented weather patterns have resulted in major, costly emergency responses by all levels of government. This trend is expected to continue unless greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are dramatically reduced.
A growing list of major cities around the world, including three in Canada (Vancouver,Victoria and Halifax), has joined an international movement to declare a State of Emergency focused on resolving our climate crisis. An effective climate emergency plan will mean achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Obviously, a huge challenge, but within the realm of possibility IF all levels of government and local communities are willing to take the necessary actions.
On February 13 of this year, the Board of the Capital Regional District voted to declare a climate emergency in the region, which includes Salt Spring Island. Hopefully, the Islands Trust will support this initiative by resolving to make the same declaration for the whole Trust Area at its Council meeting in March. If you agree, send an email to the Trust at: email@example.com urging them to make the emergency declaration.