I am now one full year into my four-year term as your Local Salt Spring Island Trustee with the Islands Trust. You might know about my work with the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC), but did you know about my work over the larger Salt Spring Local Trust Area, which extends across the water from Salt Spring towards Vancouver Island and down the Saanich Inlet towards Galiano, Mayne and Pender Islands? This area encompasses over 25 smaller associated islands such as Prevost and Piers Islands.
I am also a Trust Council Vice Chair and the appointed Chair of the North Pender, South Pender, Saturna and Thetis Island LTCs. At the Trust Council level, I am serving on the Executive, the Local Planning and the Financial Planning committees. I also sit on numerous Salt Spring and regional committees and round tables on topics like climate action, watershed protection, and farm planning. With all of these commitments, I find that I spend a lot of time travelling to and from meetings as well as actively participating, as I know that our island benefits when we collaborate and work efficiently with other islands and community organizations to address important common issues.
In August 2019, the Salt Spring Island LTC set seven strategic priorities to guide and focus our work going forward. These priorities can generally be grouped into three areas: Climate, Housing and First Nations. Our island’s Official Community Plan (OCP) contains climate change policies, but the Trust Council’s 2019 Climate Emergency declaration acknowledges that we need to go further and “include a central focus on equitable climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience” in our “efforts to transition away from fossil fuels in ways that consider those most vulnerable to climate impacts and most in need of support in transitioning to renewable energy.”
It’s been over ten years since our community had a comprehensive look at our OCP. We have initiated a project to update the OCP through incremental steps that consider our strategic priorities. We have kicked off this project by directing staff to work closely with the teams that are updating the Climate Action Plan and the Area Farm Plan, and with housing advocacy groups. I will provide more details about this project in a separate article.
Our other current project work is being carried out under the lens of climate change as well. We are working hard on addressing issues around affordable housing, cannabis production, and water sustainability. We expect to have additional capacity to take on additional, pressing project work when the industrial land use bylaws receive ministerial approval and the Development Approval Information Bylaw is approved by Trust Council.
Among other work, the necessary mapping for protecting the Coastal Douglas fir is fully funded and underway at the Trust Council level. The Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance (SSIWPA), funded through an Islands Trust special tax requisition, is working on rainwater harvesting guidance and education materials.
I am working at both the local and Trust Council levels to improve communications and engagement with islanders and First Nations. Because issues are seldom contained within one government agency or jurisdiction, I am actively working in collaboration with your elected representatives at the CRD and Province.
Hearing your ideas, views or concerns is important to me. You can visit me any Monday between 9:00 AM and Noon during my office hours at the Salt Spring Island Trust Office at 500 Lower Ganges Road, or contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 250-537-6822. It’s truly an honour to serve you. Laura Patrick