2022 General Local Election Candidate Profile - Gary Holman

“My family and I have been blessed to live and prosper on these lands that have been stewarded for millennia by Coast Salish peoples. For 30 years as a community activist and in elected office, it has been an honour to work with so many people of good will in their dedicated pursuit of the public good.”    

 Gary’s Biography

Gary has been privileged to own property on the south end of Salt Spring for 45 years. Except for 4 years during his service as MLA, he has lived full time on Salt Spring since 1989. Gary is an economist by training (BA/MA in Economics from University of BC/ Simon Fraser University) and worked for over 25 years as a consulting economist on such projects as the fisheries component of the Nisga’a Treaty and land use and resource management planning throughout BC.

Upon moving permanently to SSI, Gary became involved in the land trust movement locally and in BC, and joined with over a thousand islanders in fighting logging and helping to protect lands owned and being logged by Texada Land Corporation. As a Board member of the SSI Conservancy, The Land Conservancy of BC, and co-founder and co-chair of the South and West Salt Spring Conservation Partnership, Gary helped secure funding from a number of conservation agencies to protect roughly half of Texada’s 5,000 acres.

Gary ran unsuccessfully for Islands Trust in 1996, but elected trustees Bev Byron (who sadly passed this year) and David Borrowman appointed Gary to the Advisory Planning Commission (APC), which Gary chaired for 6 years. Based on APC and public input, Bev and David finalized SSI’s first detailed Official Community Plan, including establishing our first Development Permit Areas to protect environmentally sensitive and hazardous areas.

Gary ran successfully for CRD Director in 2002 and served for two terms (then set at 3 years each) until 2008. During this period, 9 new CRD services were created, including 4 water utilities, contribution services to the arts and Search and Rescue, our indoor swimming pool and the SSI Transportation and Transit services.

After unsuccessfully seeking a third consecutive term in 2008 for CRD Director, Gary decided to run in the 2009 Provincial election representing the NDP. His narrow loss by 250 votes encouraged him to run again, and in 2013, after stepping down from the Boards of the SSI Abbeyfield Society and The Land Conservancy of BC, he was elected MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. Gary served as Opposition Critic for Democratic Reform and Deputy Critic for Ferries, working with the NDP Caucus to include in its 2017 platform a referendum on proportional representation and ferry fare reductions on minor routes.

After losing his seat in 2017, Gary worked with elected MLA Adam Olsen and Fair Vote BC to advocate for proportional representation in Saanich North and the Islands, which unlike BC as a whole, supported the proposal. Gary was also active on the NO side during the incorporation study and referendum process, arguing that we could make our rural governance system more effective and more democratic without some of the downsides of incorporation.

After another decisive rejection of incorporation, Gary decided to run again for CRD Director and promised to bring an elected Local Community Commission (LCC) to voters to broaden CRD representation, make it more accountable, and consolidate and better coordinate service delivery. Gary was elected in 2018 with a 65% majority.

Gary has held positions in a number of local community organizations and as an elected official, including:

  • Chair, Islands Trust Advisory Planning Commission
  • Board member SSI Conservancy
  • Board member The Land Conservancy of BC
  • Board member Gulf Islands Alliance
  • President, SSI Abbeyfield Society
  • Member Salt Spring Ferry Advisory Committee
  • MLA Saanich North and the Islands (2013-2017)
  • Salt Spring CRD Director (2002-08; 2018-22)

Things You May Not Know About Salt Spring, the CRD and Gary

Salt Spring taxpayers could save several hundred thousand per year in trucking and tipping fee costs if we could dewater our liquid waste (95% water) at CRD’s 18 acre site in Burgoyne Bay. This site was acquired through an innovative partnership between CRD and BC Parks, with funding from the Paul Allen Foundation that Gary helped secure as part of the Texada Land Corporation campaign.

The Natural Area Property Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP) providing up to a 65% property tax reduction for private land conservation, is unique to the Islands Trust area.  NAPTEP currently protects hundreds of acres of special lands on Salt Spring.  As CRD Director, Gary secured required CRD Board approval to include SSI in the program.

Residential recycling on Salt Spring is tax free, funded by Recycling BC’s fees on packaging and tipping fees from the CRD’s Hartland landfill.  Community Services receives roughly $250,000 per year from the CRD to operate the recycling depot here.  As former CRD Director and MLA, Gary has advocated at the CRD Board to ensure our recycling service remains in community hands and receives adequate funding despite inequitable treatment of rural depots by Recycling BC.

Over 6,500 acres on Salt Spring have been protected since 2001, including roughly 1,000 acres acquired by CRD Parks.  As a Board member of The Land Conservancy of BC and the Salt Spring Conservancy, and co-founder of the Southwest Salt Spring Conservation Partnership, Gary played a key role in the protection of Burgoyne Bay and other special areas.

Gary has participated in a number of initiatives to protect environmentally significant lands on SSI. With other conservationists, he raised funds to protect Manzanita Ridge and also acquired the 168 acre Ford Lake property in a court sale and subsequently transferred the property to Ducks Unlimited. As MLA, he joined with First Nations and local Salt Spring activists to protect Grace Islet.

As CRD Director, Gary opted SSI into the CRD’s Housing Trust Fund in 2006.  Since then, SSI has received far more funding for affordable housing projects from CRD (including Murakami Gardens and Croftonbrook) than it has paid into the programs.

As President of SSI Abbeyfield, Gary helped form a partnership with Islanders Working Against Violence (IWAV) to establish second stage transition housing for women fleeing abuse. This project also received funding from the CRD Housing Trust Fund.

Since 2001, in addition to park land acquisition, the CRD has purchased three important parcels of land – 18 acres in Burgoyne Valley for our liquid waste disposal, the McColl property in Ganges for construction of the library, and the Ganges firehall site.  As an activist and CRD Director, Gary was instrumental acquiring all of these parcels.

Gary was the first CRD Director to begin regularly attending the town hall portion of the SSI Local Trust Committee meetings and monthly public sessions organized by ASK. Gary’s proposal for an elected Local Community Commission proposal (to be decided by voters in the upcoming referendum), would usher in a new era of CRD governance on SSI by broadening representation, making decision-making more transparent, and consolidating CRD service delivery.

The average taxpayer cost of SSI’s public transit system, which Gary established in 2007 (and has been expanded several times since to accommodate a doubling in ridership), is about $2.50 per month, per household.  This compares to a taxpayer cost of over $12/month, per household in the rest of the Greater Victoria transit system, although for a higher level of service.  Salt Spring also does not pay the 5.5 cents per litre transit fuel tax paid in Greater Victoria because Gary secured approval from the CRD Board and Greater Victoria Transit to establish SSI as a stand-alone system.

The SSI Transportation Commission Gary established in 2007 is still unique in unincorporated BC, although the Southern Gulf Islands Electoral Area is now seeking voter approval to establish a similar body. Through the Transportation Commission and Island Pathways’ innovative Partners Creating Pathways program, several miles of sidewalks pathways have been built. Grants from senior governments (e.g., BC Active Transportation and federal gas tax) have covered about half of the costs.

As MLA for Saanich North and the Islands (2013-2017), Gary worked with soon to be Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena to implement a 15% reduction in fares on minor routes and reinstatement of free fares for seniors in off-peak periods, saving SSI residents and businesses millions of dollars since 2017.

Gary Holman is running for re-election in the upcoming 2022 General Local Election for Capital Regional District Director for Salt Spring Island. Authorized by Financial Agent Janis Gauthier (janisgauthier@shaw.ca)