A small diverse group of Salt Springers, meeting since February, are proposing a creative and integrative approach to the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC) to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of housing on Salt Spring, including its ecological, climatic, and socioeconomic dimensions. The proposal is up for consideration at the next LTC meeting on October 6, and it must be made a priority to be resourced. You can find the Housing Working Group report in the September 1 LTC agenda package beginning on page 264.
How is this housing project proposal different? Driftwood headlines from January 12, 1994, “Local lot prices register fastest rise in the country,” and from August 24, 2002, “Business owners considering action to avert housing woes,” reflect the myriad studies conducted over the past three decades on the issue of housing on Salt Spring. Today, a well-recognized housing crisis has intensified, concurrent with climate and forest (land use) crises. These socioeconomic and environmental issues are completely interrelated on our island - and we believe that integrated solutions are eminently feasible and increasingly urgent. This proposed project centres on housing, but in the broadest possible sense. The time is now to pursue housing solutions that also support better solutions for other challenges and crises.
Our report emphasizes the idea of ecosystem-based management (as progressively legislated in BC but not yet applied on SSI) and references the pioneering Coast Information Team materials on ecosystem-based management.
The goals for this proposed project are to develop new policies and regulations that will increase the quality and quantity of housing options, coupled with a high level of preservation and protection of the island’s biodiversity and freshwater, marine, and forest resources. The full spectrum of housing policy is to be considered, from farms to denser villages, while discouraging carving up remaining swaths of forest for large homes.
Two phases of the new Housing Project are proposed:
Phase 1 begins with the appointment of a housing task force, which would be a high-energy pivoting body representing environmental, social, and economic interests. Essential to Phase 1 is a robust public involvement strategy to ensure that the housing action plan to be developed will accurately reflect the public’s values and has community support — and that it is consistent and deeply aligned with other crucial efforts such as the Climate Action Plan, Coastal Douglas fir protection, and Reconciliation. Phase 1 ends with the development of a prioritized action plan to retain and enhance the environmental and human dimensions of island ecosystems – fulfilling the mandate of the Islands Trust and recognizing that healthy, fully functional ecosystems provide the basis for sustaining communities.
Phase 2 recognizes that housing-related social, economic, and environmental issues are beyond the capacity of any one non-profit, business, government, or other organization. Cross-sector partners must work collaboratively, with the support of all levels of government, to develop and implement integrated solutions. A permanent, resourced community advisory body is proposed to develop a framework for action that considers and optimizes human and ecosystem needs through integrated planning, policy development and recommendations for urgent implementation by relevant agencies and organizations. We recognize the uniqueness of Salt Spring, and we also know that models and analyses from elsewhere could just offer lessons that apply here. We are creative, innovative, and not alone. But we must act now.
The housing working group seeks your support for this project, so that it is approved by the LTC and thus made a priority for staff time. Please peruse the report linked above, and consider giving your offering your support of the project for the public record. Request that the Local Trust Committee make this project a priority at its October 6, 2020 meeting. The easy way to do this is to send email ASAP to email@example.com and copy the 3 trustees: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also address the October 6 meeting by Zoom during the town hall portion (approximately 9:45-10:15 AM) available via a zoom link, which can be found on the meeting calendar page.
Thank you for doing your part to nudge our local government to prioritize all the urgent issues we face.
Ron Cook, Jessica Harkema, Rhonan Heitzmann, Meror Krayenhoff, Laura Patrick, David Secord, and Daniel Wood