There is increasing optimism for a return to some pre-pandemic normalcy with more islanders getting their second vaccinations. Participating in meetings at home on virtual platforms is tiresome and challenging and I can’t wait to get back to in-person gatherings! That said, all through the pandemic, islanders did carry on with important work for the community. In this article, I will update you on some of the activities related to the Islands Trust’s local trust committee and federation work.
Twenty two island residents have been appointed to two different task forces: Ganges Village Planning and the Housing Action Program. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated island residents to advise the Islands Trust on these important land use planning initiatives. Get information about these planning initiatives and information on how to view meetings.
A science working group continues to review mapping and research related to protecting coastal Douglas fir and associated ecosystems. The local trustees will meet with this working group in July to discuss their findings and hear ideas for next steps. A series of infographics have been prepared to communicate the value of forests for carbon storage, wildfire protection, drinking water protection and biodiversity. You can find these by visiting the same link provided above.
In regard to freshwater sustainability, staff are drafting a request for proposals for a consultant to guide the development of a Watershed Stewardship and Protection Strategic Plan. We anticipate seeing staff’s recommendations on “proof of water at time of subdivision” at our July 27 meeting. I am pleased to bring to your attention the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance’s (SSIWPA) recently developed groundwater education materials: “Know Your Well”
The Islands Trust is both a local entity (Salt Spring Local Trust Committee) and a federation (Trust Council). The planning initiatives discussed above are local. You may be hearing about Trust Council’s update of the Policy Statement, which is federation work. The Trust’s Policy Statement is required under the Islands Trust Act and is intended to be a general statement of policies to carry out the object of the trust:
“The object of the Trust is to preserve and protect the Trust Area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the Trust Area and of British Columbia generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the government of British Columbia.”
This is the source of the “preserve and protect” language that you hear so much about. I believe it is important to read and interpret the entire object statement, in which it is clearly stated that the Trust must do the preserving and protecting “in cooperation with” you.
The Policy Statement has not been updated since 2003. It is undergoing an update to address Reconciliation, climate change and affordable housing. A draft has been making its way through a Trust Council committee and it is proposed to receive first reading on July 8, 2021. First reading is how a bylaw is introduced or tabled. After first reading there will be public engagement and referrals. Because it is a bylaw, it will require two more readings plus ministerial approval before it can be adopted. In other words, you will have ample opportunity to provide feedback and influence the final wording.
It is disheartening that a divisive debate has erupted over the policy update project. I have expressed my view many times that people and nature are intertwined and that the solutions to the many ecological and social challenges that we face here on Salt Spring need creative, innovative and integrated solutions. Back in March, Trust Council had a long and rigorous discussion about the object of the Trust. Subsequent to these discussions, I have been described by some as anti-environment, which I resent and find disturbing, in part, because of my career as an environmental professional in which I worked towards the successful integration of social, physical and ecological science. I believe in the strength of community - all of us need to work together and take integrated action to protect the environment and build resiliency and adaptability to address climate change.
I will end with the final paragraph from the March 2021 white paper prepared by a group of respected scientists “Our future in the Anthropocene biosphere”
“There is scope for changing the course of history into sustainable pathways. There is urgent need for people, economies, societies and cultures to actively start governing nature’s contributions to wellbeing and building a resilient biosphere for future generations. It is high time to reconnect development to the Earth system foundation through active stewardship of human actions into prosperous futures within planetary boundaries.”
I am always happy to meet and discuss any of the local or federation work with you: email email@example.com or call 250-537-6822