This week I saw my riding grapple with mixed emotions to the protesters who blocked the Swartz Bay ferry terminal for two hours in what they said was an act of solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs who are opposed to the Coastal Gas Link pipeline currently being constructed in their territory. Living in this vibrant democracy is not easy. We all recognize the constitutionally protected right to protest, but when these acts of democratic engagement impact our daily lives, it can be hard to stand behind those foundational principles. Things are often easier in theory than in practice. But nothing worth doing ever does come easy. The very freedoms and rights we enjoy today as Canadians have not come easily and protecting them today requires every one of us to remain diligent and engaged. While I must defend the right for people to peacefully demonstrate it is also important to publicly encourage people to use tactics that advance the interests that they are…Read more about MLA Adam Olsen on the Recent Wet’suwet’en Swartz Bay Protest
With regard to the proposed Vortex development at the site of the former Fulford Inn (17 commercial guest accommodation units, a restaurant, and associated facilities), the public should be aware that the Local Trust Committee, in granting a variance to decrease septic setback distances from Soule Creek and Fulford Harbour, did not heed the recommendation of Trust staff. The staff report states: “Staff do not support this variance request and consider it to be contrary to Land Use Bylaw and OCP provisions for water quality protection.” Here is the rationale: “Adjacent to a fish-bearing stream. Adjacent to a sensitive estuarine ecosystem. Projected to be subject to climate change-induced flooding. Presence of recorded archaeological site.” Trust bylaw regulations require a minimum setback of 30 metres – a safety margin based on scientific research. The variance now allows a setback of just 10 metres from Soule Creek and 26 metres from the harbour. The CRD’s Coastal Sea …Read more about Fulford Vortex Proposal In Focus
There was a time on Salt Spring Island, twenty years or so ago, when cottages were just that—cottages…with no “seasonal” qualifier. I don’t know when the seasonal restriction was imposed on Salt Spring Island cottages, or why. The six staff reports on the proposed bylaw 512 (a bylaw which would remove the “seasonal” qualifier from a handful of cottages in hopes of increasing the number of affordable rentals) that were written between 2017 and 2019—on our tax dime—do not address why the “seasonal” qualifier was added to cottages in the first place, or when. Perhaps it happened during the process of drafting the Official Community Plan in 2008—in any case, at some point in the last twenty years, our Local Trust Committee and planning staff decided that cottages should seasonally restricted, and that year-round cottage living be prohibited. As a relative newcomer, I still shake my head in disbelief at the maze of prohibitions that pass for local governance on this beautiful isl…Read more about The Personal is Political: A Critique of Bylaw 512
If the recent decision by the school district to rescind their support for a turf field proposal put forward by the local soccer association feels familiar to the Brinkworthy athletic park rejection a few years ago, that's because it is. Last time the “no” crowd was comprised of agricultural land advocates and complaints from neighboring property owners. This time the no’s came from some environmentalists and anti-plastic advocates. In both cases the loser is ultimately youth and community sports groups and their proposals to upgrade our athletic fields and parks to modern standards. It seems that while everyone has been objecting, no one has been listening. Our community sports infrastructure is woefully inadequate, especially when compared to our neighbouring communities. We lack ball diamonds, enough quality soccer fields, and even a skating rink if you really wanted to dream big. This is not a new problem, it’s a problem our community has grappled with for decades, …Read more about Turf Field Still Best Option For Youth Sports on Salt Spring
The New Year affords us the opportunity to look a bit into the distance. Will we make a resolution, reflect on the year past, or set a goal for one year from now? Is anyone looking farther into the future? We live in a world of quarterly reports, monthly rent or mortgage, hourly pay or paid biweekly, and parking by the minute. Time is money. Our reality is immediate. Climate change creates another pull to deal with the immediate. There is more certainty in the short time frame, but to neglect the longer view is to miss out. All great things are only possible inside a medium or long view. Things such as getting an education, building or buying a house, committing to a career, or having children are an expression of medium range thinking. Long range thinking is to think and plan beyond one’s lifetime in order to benefit one’s descendents, or the future of the human species. The future we create can be anything but frightening. It needs to be so great that we can’t wa…Read more about The Greatest Future We Can Possibly Imagine...?
We’ve known about and studied the affordable housing shortfall for at least 13 years and have made no headway, and perhaps gone backwards. As a response we now have an anarchic, subversive culture that thumbs their nose at regulations that don’t represent the will and needs of the population. Non-compliance has become the norm, and it is broadly believed that it is better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. We have a complaint driven, not vision driven policy paradigm Rhonan Heitzmann spoke about how we used to be a beacon for housing solutions. For example, rammed earth in Canada began on SSI. Straw bale building in the early days was centered on SSI. SSI milled its own timber, quarried its own building stone, used island sand and gravel for its concrete, and had the skilled tradesman to create remarkable projects. SSI is no longer the beacon for permitted home building solutions for the rest of the country or the world. So, what would it take to become …Read more about Housing Thoughts
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'…Read more about Make Less Than $80K? Maybe You Can't Live Here
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…Read more about Video: Trouble in the Salish Sea
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…Read more about Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District Member Compensation Disclosure
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…Read more about Elizabeth May - Listening is the Primary Ingredient
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…Read more about Islanders Health and Safety at Risk Without Clear Communications
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…Read more about Trust to Put Brakes on Fulford Inn 'Vortex' Project
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 …Read more about Thoughts on My Trial, Part 3: Sentencing
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 …Read more about Growing Community Concern about Legion Radio Tower Siting
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…Read more about Concerns Raised Over Planned Capitol Regional District Emergency Services Radio Tower (CREST)
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…Read more about New Fire Hall – To Be Or Not To Be?
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…Read more about Fire Board Election Monday April 29, 2019: Risk of Foreign Influence?
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…Read more about Andreas Gedeon - 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…Read more about Jo MacDonald - 2019 Fire Board Election - Candidate Profile
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, …Read more about Salt Spring Island Artisanal 'Windstorm' Firewood
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…Read more about Positively Forward Updates On Community Initiatives