Make Less Than $80K? Maybe You Can't Live Here

Every month that goes by, fewer and fewer homes for regular people are available on Salt Spring. Rentals continue to leave the market due to the dual pressures of high real estate prices (encouraging homeowners to sell), and tourism / Air bnbs (encouraging homeowners to rent short term rather than long). A few affordable housing projects are happening, sort of, though the one that recently broke ground took 24 years of planning. That's one housing unit a year. As for homes for sale, as this former Islands Trust trustee recently wrote, there are literally zero properties listed for sale today on Salt Spring that anyone making less than $80,000 a year could afford. There are reportedly hundreds of people commuting on the ferries each day (one sailing wait anyone?) while more and more middle and working class people and families are looking at the unthinkable: packing up their lives, in some cases after decades of investing in this community, and moving elsewhere. But it'…
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Video: Trouble in the Salish Sea

BC’s Southern Gulf Islands face a serious environmental threat. A major gap in government regulation and oversight is allowing giant international cargo ships to anchor as long as they want in the waters surrounding the protected Southern Gulf Islands including Cowichan Bay. Negative Impacts include: * Anchor chains scouring the ocean floor, destroying marine habitat * Diesel generators run 24/7 causing air, noise and light pollution * Acoustic Interference and collision risk to Resident Killer Whales * Risk of grounding or collisions causing catastrophic fuel spills But it doesn’t have to be this way. Local First Nations and coastal community groups are demanding Transport Canada put an end to this harmful spillover of commercial activity from the Port of Vancouver. A new 3 minute video explains the problem. Act now to help save the pristine waters around Salt Spring Island. https://youtu.be/cinoX2LmM8s Salt Spring's group Protect The Islands Sea has jo…
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Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District Member Compensation Disclosure

In recent weeks there have been extensive articles in the local news media regarding the Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD).  To the degree that any of this has focused on budget and expenditure, it would seem logical that current fiscal information can be found on the SSIFPD website.  As of this writing, and as I reviewed with the Trustees at the September 16 business meeting, budget/expenditure information available to ratepayers is far from current.  The most recent budget posted to the website isn't 2019 or even 2018.  It's for 2017. One critical piece of any government organization's financial picture is a report required by the Financial Information Act.  This report includes compensation for any employee earning $75,000 or more, and vendors receiving $25,000 or more in a fiscal year.  The 2018 report should have been available at the 2019 AGM, but its introduction was delayed until the following month. [Note that the figures for employee remuneration…
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Elizabeth May - Listening is the Primary Ingredient

As we open the menu for Canada’s election, how will Canadians choose the healthiest possibilities? Who looks most appetizing? We really must investigate the ingredients, starting with the one we know best, here in Saanich/Gulf Islands. Elizabeth May lifted a glass to us when she said, “It is the community spirit of our area that inspires and encourages me to be the best MP I can be. For the last eight years, it has been an honour to work for you.” Maintaining top attendance in that wine cellar known as Ottawa’s House of Commons, she refuses the acidity of heckling – instead, sprinkling other MPs with kindness even when strongly disagreeing with their policies. The savory in her more than 80 townhall meetings since 2011 is her respectful, 1 1⁄2-hour recipe: 25 minutes summarizing parliamentary activities, followed by an hour listening to questions and providing answers. Elizabeth understands that listening is the primary ingredient, as it is the only way that meanin…
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Islanders Health and Safety at Risk Without Clear Communications

Reliable and effective emergency communications are vital. The island’s Emergency Program debriefs conducted after last winter’s storms identified the serious and potentially disastrous inadequacies of the current system. Salt Spring Fire Rescue together with the other emergency services knows very well how critical clear communications are to their ability to respond. A new antenna that would deliver state of the art, reliable telecommunications for all of our emergency services have been proposed for a site situated between Lady Minto, the RCMP offices and (one day) Salt Spring’s Fire Rescue Department. It is for communications only among emergency services and is a critical element in a regional network. So, why would our politicians stymie this critically needed installation? It seems that a small group is fearful of electromagnetic fields (EMF) despite the findings of Health Canada and the World Health Organization and has made the politicians shy of making a stra…
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Trust to Put Brakes on Fulford Inn 'Vortex' Project

As many of you know, our proposal is a Development Permit with Variances. We propose to amend the motel, liquor store, and pub uses under the existing zoning into a modern, vibrant village square that offers an immersive Saltspring experience to visitors, while providing an essential gathering place for South Island residents, an essential community component sadly missing since the closure of the Fulford Inn ten years ago. Our application represents the highest standard of professional development, which provides a significant cultural amenity for our community while ensuring ongoing stewardship and protection of the Fulford Creek and estuary. After an extensive application process, we have finally learned that the staff will not recommend the application. Their interpretation of the bylaw is that the variances, which include three small retail kiosks of 300 sf (which would replace the liquor store use approved for the site), a market square for community gathering, while…
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Thoughts on My Trial, Part 3: Sentencing

On July 26th, the judge sentenced me to carry on with my volunteer work on Salt Spring -- no fine, no probation officer, no jail. For six months, I’m to “keep the peace and be of good behaviour.” Apparently, this is the most lenient sentence he's given to date for the 230+ convicted of contempt of court for protesting the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion (TMX), most of them arrested in front of its Burnaby Terminal gate. I had a strong case for acquittal, since Trans Mountain failed to mark its property line, as legally required, which led to my arrest on their private property, counter to my intention and great care to stay on what I reasonably surmised to be public property, outside of the Injunction Order arrest zone. The RCMP had used the TM fence and gate for the property line, which they confirmed in court, when the real line is 24 metres away. For my light sentence, I also owe a lot to our great island, for the opportunity to volunteer with amazing people working …
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Growing Community Concern about Legion Radio Tower Siting

A week before the April 30th Salt Spring Local Trust Committee meeting, islanders learned that a 144-foot tall Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) radio tower was in the final stages of approval for construction at the Legion in Ganges, and that 4G and eventually 5G cellular antennas would likely be added to this tower. In just seven days, a grassroots group of over 400 Salt Spring parents, elders, farmers, environmentalists, legal and health care professionals, and more, sent letters, signed petitions, rallied, and attended the April Trust meeting. This group voiced their concerns that this tower was being built in such close proximity to our island’s most vulnerable and, as stated by Gary Holman in his March 26, 2019 CRD Director’s report, that “cell service may be co-located to the tower” and that this “may have potential health impacts.” The group also recommended we offer our emergency service providers the best communications system possible …
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Concerns Raised Over Planned Capitol Regional District Emergency Services Radio Tower (CREST)

A 144-foot Capitol Regional District Emergency Services Radio Tower (CREST) is slated to be installed beside the Legion on Blain Road in Ganges within close proximity to our seniors’ residences, midwifery clinic, Salt Spring Daycare, Kings Lane Medical Clinic and Lady Minto Hospital. Scientific consensus tells us the modulated low frequency microwaves it will emit penetrate deeply and completely, causing biological harm. At 9:00am on Tuesday, April 30, a group of concerned Salt Spring residents will be rallying outside the Harbour House Hotel to insure the Islands Trust votes to send a letter of non-concurrence for this project to CREST. Why we are opposed to the Proposed Location for this Radio Antenna: Low Frequency, Big Impact. The modulated frequency microwaves this tower will emit, which are in the 132–174 MHz range, pose a greater concern than 5G’s millimeter waves. All standards-setting organizations have the strictest limitations between 30–300 MHz, as they pen…
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New Fire Hall – To Be Or Not To Be?

Salt Spring property owners have had the opportunity to review and vote upon a number of proposals for a replacement of the Ganges Fire Hall. All have been defeated but it’s time to look a little more closely at the reasons for the proposals and the reasons for the defeat. The Ganges Fire Hall has provided service since 1959. Most residents are aware that it was built on landfill, and should the Island suffer a major disaster, such as an earthquake, our Fire Hall, our rescue vehicles, and our personnel would disappear. That in and of itself provides the reason to construct a new Fire Hall at a new location. But there are more reasons. Our existing Hall is quaint, and some say sufficient. I disagree. It cannot house today’s standard “ladder truck” – a needed rescue vehicle. The current Hall was built for small pumper trucks. Limiting our equipment to pumper trucks jeopardizes our safety. We must be able to provide fire safety to any structure needed and approved…
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Fire Board Election Monday April 29, 2019: Risk of Foreign Influence?

Is there a risk that foreign powers will try to influence our 2019 Fire Board Trustee election? The good news is: Absolutely not. Nobody outside of Salt Spring Island really cares how we structure and manage our fire service. But this also shows how uniquely isolated we are as an island. While the Crofton Fire Department can call seven other departments for help, and they will respond within a very short period of time, our fire fighters here must deal with any possible threat scenario with the equipment, manpower and tools that they have at their disposal. The big storm before Christmas was an eye opener for our island. Within less than two hours of the storm hitting, the Island was completely disabled. Many residents lost power and even road access for weeks. While our emergency service and many volunteers were working tirelessly to a point of exhaustion, this storm showed how limited our resources really are when disaster hits. How will it look like if the big ear…
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Andreas Gedeon - 2019 Fire Board Election - Candidate Profile

My wife Annebeeke and I have been calling Salt Spring our home since 2007. Our two children Emily and Wynn were born here, and we plan on continuing to raise them in this truly special part of our planet. Born in 1975 in West Germany, I grew up during the Cold War. Our emergency services were extensive and designed to cover scenarios like chemical and nuclear warfare on a scale that is hardly imaginable today. I was drawn to those environments early on and served in several fire departments and disaster response units from the age of 15. My professional career began as a MARS officer in the German Navy, graduating from Munich Military University with a degree in Educational Sciences. I came to Canada in 2004, and soon decided to stay. Initially living in Vancouver, I started a construction company that specialized in concrete work for high rise construction. Since 2009 I have been building international cannabis businesses, bringing two of them public. As a Canadian Ci…
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Jo MacDonald - 2019 Fire Board Election - Candidate Profile

I am thankful every day to be a resident of Salt Spring. Born in Alberta, I moved first to Vancouver, then Courtenay, then Victoria, but my soul quickly settled in Salt Spring. My family (husband Bill and our five children) have a deep love of this Island. We also have two "Salty Dogs", Maddi and Molli, who love to muck about on our 6 acres of forest, gardens and quiet places. Our family’s best times have been here. We support our local businesses, marvel at the rich and diverse talents of the residents and treasure the genuine caring nature of Salt Spring Islanders. Although I work for the District of Saanich, I gladly commute daily in order to live in the place I love best. I, like the rest of you, experienced the dramatic effect of weather systems on our Island this past winter, and saw the heavy demand placed on our emergency services. They worked tirelessly and their response was phenomenal. I have both an ability and a desire to apply my professional knowledge, skil…
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Salt Spring Island Artisanal 'Windstorm' Firewood

In all the years I've lived on Salt Spring, few issues have held the attention of locals and visitors alike than firewood. Now, if you asked someone what the ongoing, burning issues of the day are on the island, firewood probably wouldn't come to mind first and though, think about this for just a minute. How many conversations have you had about firewood recently? Yesterday, for me, unprompted, the number was 6. Six times yesterday different people at different places, across different walks of island life talked to me about or wondered about firewood. At least 2 of those people don't even have woodstoves or heat with firewood. They just appeared all caught up in the wondering about it with most everyone else. "There are so many trees down! Look at all that firewood!" The big burning question since the windstorm? Will firewood prices come down? I've had at least a couple of dozen people since the storm wonder about the possibility of this. And for good reason. Good quality, …
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Positively Forward Updates On Community Initiatives

Following our local elections in which, happily, the three candidates endorsed by Positively Forward (Holman, Grove and Patrick) were successful in their bids to become elected officials, our coordinating group took a short break. Just time enough to recharge. We remain committed to conducting research  to advance better local governance options, as well as monitoring the work and initiatives of our elected officials. We are also dedicated to keeping channels of communication open, with you our supporters, and with our CRD director, the two trustees, as well as with local commission representatives. All part of pushing for increased transparency and accountability within our governance system. Governance Updates We were delighted that CRD director Gary Holman held a public session on his budget allocations last month. The room was full and interest high. Sadly, the trustees did not see fit to follow suit. This is the second  consecutive year that Positively Forward's r…
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Water Licence Approved for Park Drive Development Project

A conditional groundwater licence (file 20006356/search number 500810) has been approved for a major housing complex on Park Drive near downtown Ganges. The licence, issued by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, allows for the diversion of a maximum of 19 cubic metres of water per day. The groundwater diversion relates to a rezoning application currently before the Islands Trust. The proposal, by Eric Booth representing Salt Spring Ventures Inc., involves amenity zoning, meaning that there is a request for higher densities in exchange for a benefit to the community. A 3.28 acre parcel on Park Drive, which contains Swanson's Pond, was rezoned in the late 1980s allowing for 33 dwelling units. In 2013, the applicant submitted a rezoning application seeking 83 densities on the property. That application was rejected by the Trust, and the applicant was invited to submit “a revised application more in conformance with Official C…
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Local Group Seeks Water Action on Housing

At the root of so many solutions to the affordable housing crisis is water. We have to do better, and in one of the wettest parts of Canada, we know we can. Our local water utility's recent moratorium on any new hook-ups to their system - while created with positive intentions of protecting our precious resource - has had many unintended negative consequences on our community's social sustainability. North Salt Spring Waterworks District's (NSSWD) 2014 moratorium was a well intentioned and forward-looking policy that aimed to protect current ratepayers from the increasing impacts of climate disruption (longer, drier summers). It has however made it nearly impossible for new affordable housing projects to happen within their service area. Smaller footprint dwellings and cottages, low income rental housing, or even tiny house villages can all be created with mandatory water conservation, water catchment, and graywater systems, yet literally none of these can happen in the N…
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Penelakut’s Proposed Clam and Oyster Harvesting at Booth Bay

On January 17, 2019 I took part in a meeting between Salt Spring Island residents and representatives of Penelakut Tribe to discuss the proposed Tenure application for a portion of Booth Bay. My office has received a volume of correspondence on this issue. I have heard the concerns of Salt Spring residents about aquaculture and access to the beaches at Booth Bay. My facilitation to help coordinate a face-to-face meeting is the first step toward seeking and finding common ground. It was clarified in discussion that Penelakut intends to develop aquaculture through seeding and manually harvesting clams. They have chosen to pursue an aquaculture tenure, so they can seed the beach with clams and oysters. They are seeking tenure of the area in order to practice the act of aquaculture. This tenure is in addition to their four currently existing tenures, which are adjacent to their reserve lands. There is a great deal of concern about the use of plastic predator netting, as is…
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Video: B.C.'s Electoral System: True or False?

Still sitting on your mail-in ballot to vote in B.C.’s electoral reform referendum? Still not sure how to vote? Feeling the November 30th deadline looming? This video should help, by offering valuable facts about our First Past The Post system, exposing misleading myths and misconceptions. Since 2002, I’ve been keen on electoral reform. Adriane Carr started a petition to change B.C.’s electoral system to Mixed Member Proportional (MMP). I signed up, determined to get 100s of signatures, back before the Internet made it easy. I agreed with her reasoning, but found the MMP system alarming. It has two ballots, the first one the same old FPTP, with its strategic voting and skewy, screwy results, and a second ballot for parties, to give them their “fair” share of seats won by the very system that needed replacing. Where were the demos, or people, if parties mattered more, with their deep-pocketed supporters and divisive politics? My readings about electoral systems began…
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Electoral Reform Ballots in the Mail

Does our electoral system need changing? Andrew Coyne has argued it most certainly does: “Anyone who ever proposes to change anything inevitably runs into the unanswerable objection that this would mean… changing things. Nowhere is this more true than with regard to electoral reform. […] At some point someone invariably invokes that ancient bit of cornpone philosophy: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, which is very good advice unless it is broke.” He continued, explaining why our current system is less than democratic - often, majority governments are formed with less than 40% of the popular vote. For democracy to work, people need to be free to vote for the candidate and party of their choice. But under our system, fear of splitting the vote means people are told, “you can’t vote for the party you prefer, but must vote for a party you don’t like to prevent a party you detest from getting in." Canada’s democracy has evolved over the years, sometimes to improve democrac…
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Salt Spring Island vs Saltspring Island?

Way back in 2013, we dared wade into one of the oldest controversies on the island. What is the proper spelling of Salt Spring Island? We thought the issue was resolved with over 75% of the island making it clear that the proper convention was Salt Spring Island. Five years later we're seeing a host of new places that Saltspring Island has shown up, mostly with newer residents and off island guests, but it's clear the matter isn't settled, so we're taking the pulse again to see if this can be resolved once and for all. Vote in our poll to have your say: Which of the following is more correct - Salt Spring Island or Saltspring Island?
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