Your input informs Islands Trust bylaw drafting

Land use planning can be equally as boring as a two-sailing wait for a ferry and as fraught with drama as a high school musical. Today I’m writing to help you understand the draft land use bylaw for accessory dwelling units that just had its first reading at the Local Trust Committee.

Planners call them ‘accessory dwelling units’, but regular folk call them cottages and suites, and they’re not a new thing here on Salt Spring.  But the bylaw is new, and with it we’re attempting to provide a policy that will grow our on-island compliment of resident landlords -- people with a primary residence who are willing to let either a secondary suite, a suite associated with an accessory building, or a cottage.

Your Local Trust Committee (myself, Peter Grove, and Peter Luckham) gave first reading to the draft bylaw at our April 19 meeting.  I supported first reading because I wanted to start the process and I’m serious about increasing the availability of long-term rental housing in our community.

Bylaws always pass through a legislated process following these steps:

  • First reading = tabling or introduction
  • Second reading = discussion about the principle and the content of the bylaw
  • Third reading = final discussion, including any changes made along the way

Community information meetings and a public hearing will be scheduled before third reading. These will provide us, as your elected representatives, with input from the community and from the people who will be impacted, and gives us a chance to make minor tweaks or major revisions, accordingly. It’s also your opportunity to ask questions and get information.

Following third reading and prior to adoption, the land use bylaw must be approved by the Executive Committee of Islands Trust to ensure that it conforms with the existing Trust Policy Statement.

So what happens now that we gave this bylaw its first reading?  Staff will continue to research a number of items to inform possible revisions to the bylaw.  We want to hear your suggestions about accessory dwelling units as a form of long-term rental housing.  We want to hear from potential landlords as to what they may need from the Trust in order to step up and provide that housing.

As we progress through the bylaw’s phases, we can anticipate refinement of measures included in the bylaw to manage environmental impacts, prove sufficient quality and quantity of potable drinking water, and prove the ability to accommodate an increase in onsite sewerage capacity.    As well, staff are exploring the various mechanisms, such as covenants, that can be used to ensure that these units designated for rental are specifically used for long-term rental.

Allowing accessory dwelling units as rental housing will not solve the critical housing equity and workforce shortages we are experiencing here, but it will begin to expand the housing options.  The vast majority of housing on Salt Spring consists of expensive single family homes, many of which have a large environmental footprint. We need a better mix of housing types to address the needs of our community. I believe we can increase the quality and quantity of housing options, while ensuring preservation and protection of the island’s biodiversity and freshwater, marine, and forest resources.

Affordable, appropriate, accessible, and attractive housing should be available for Salt Spring residents of all abilities, incomes, lifestyles, and livelihoods.

For information about this draft bylaw and the Housing Action Program use this link. Be sure to subscribe to the Islands Trust’s website to receive email notifications.  You can submit suggestions to improve the draft bylaw to You can always contact Laura directly at or 250-537-6822.

Laura Patrick
Islands Trust, Trustee

May 17, 2022 7:45 AM

  • Stephen says:

    Concerning the the following assertion you made, why 'should'? Who should bear the cost of this enterprise - increased traffic, higher population density, higher taxes?

    'Affordable, appropriate, accessible, and attractive housing should be available for Salt Spring residents of all abilities, incomes, lifestyles, and livelihoods.'

    I am sincerely interested in your response.

    My regards

  • ejnickson says:

    Laura, seriously, this is a good step, but frankly most people don't want tenants unless they need the money. and most would rather Air B&B under the radar. What we need on Salt Spring is a new lower-income neighborhood - 100 acres, divided in 1/4 acre lots, sold to people who NOT speculating who can build their own houses, or prefabs or at the beginning, trailers. Get that into the housing mix and all of a sudden you have housing for 100 young families willing to do service work, who are not retired and wealthy or pensioned like most government workers here. There are thousands and thousands of conserved acreages, many untended running to brush and invasive species. Pick one - 1/1000th of what is under conservation and let people LIVE. Spare them half of the fundamentally repetitive rules you all have invented. We are not anywhere near buildout here and there are densities going begging. That we promised to pay the government for. And haven't.

  • Pierre Frisch says:

    I think this by-law, although well intentioned, will have unintended consequences. As it will enable existing landowner the ability of creating a a new revenue stream for their land it will increase its value, raising the cost of housing. Please think again and consult with a good economist before moving forward.

  • Like everywhere in the world...the taxpayers pay. Bottom line these bylaws are just a giant waste of time and like most folks one is building homes for renters in this scenario.

    The water district is where our attention and advocacy have to go...the trust just shoves words around and around and around, sucking up dollars and dollars