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 naming convention of this island we call home? At the time, we thought the issue was resolved with over 75% of the island making it clear that the proper convention was Salt Spring Island. One thing we learned for certain is that it's definitely not Salt SpringIsland as per the unfortunate, and semi-famous, BC Ferries sign in this story. Fast forward five years, and we're still seeing some new residents and off island guests using Saltspring Island as their preferred name. It's clear the matter may not be settled, so we're taking the pulse again with this poll to see if this can be resolved once and for all. Note: The poll is now closed. The people have spoken (as have Canada Post and the Government of Canada). See the poll results below. It's Salt Spring Island, again. This time with an even greater number of poll participants with a wider margin of support indicatin…
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Robin Williams for CRD Director, A Platform to Get Things Done

With the Election tomorrow, Saturday October 20th. The Robin Williams for CRD Director presents a concise review of his platform. All the points listed are within the CRD area of responsibility and are achievable within the four year term. This election for CRD Director presents a solid choice, one an endorsement of the status quo and my platform a vision for the future. I will pay particular attention to the report conducted in 2007 following the Tennis Court Roof Financial fiasco. I will enact the recommendations by giving PARC back management authority and giving all commission volunteers training and support. These people will be treated with respect. This will return decision making to the island. In this election, I have been the only candidate to discuss finances. I have long learned how easy it is for politicians to spend other people's money, our money, your money. The fact is I am not a career politician I am a man of business with a strong financial and manage…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Rainwater for Housing

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on rainwater for housing. Question: How would you address and support the creation of a process to ensure that safe potable rainwater systems are installed on Salt Spring (e.g., Trust zoning and application regulations)? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): I would work with SWIPPA and I would investigate the possibility of off-season water collection. I would consult with all parties in the area, as well as the Provincial and Federal Government to explore funding opportunities and further a comprehensive water management strategy. I would also look at the good ideas within the citizens report to ensure that we all have access to safe drinking water year round. Peter Grove (candidate for Islands Trustee): Rainwater systems are already allowed for single family residences. Their installation is supervise…
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Balance Matters

I am running for the Islands Trust because I believe it is time for strong new leadership that is more attuned to the needs of today’s diverse population. I know we can honour the mandate of the Islands Trust while also strengthening the fabric of our communities, local small businesses and farms, and important services.  I have proven leadership abilities, I like to get things done, and I want to work with the people of this community. Since the outcome of the incorporation vote last fall, many islanders are seeking and developing ideas to improve governance on our island.  Improvement begins with the island’s elected officials working effectively together and across the various organizations. Elect me and I will get to work on:  maintaining and strengthening our environmental safeguards to keep Salt Spring and the Trust Area special; finding both immediate and long-term innovative solutions to our housing crisis that is affecting too many fellow islanders – especially o…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Affordable Housing

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on impact of affordable housing. Question: Using the many valuable planning tools in the Islands Trust report, Options for Affordable Housing-New Solutions to the Housing Crisis, how would you address challenges to ensuring the affordability of housing in the short, medium, and long term? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee) In the short term, I would: a. Amend our Policy Statements and the OCP to ensure the importance of safe, affordable, and sustainable housing is strongly emphasized. b. I would continue to monitor the secondary suites pilot area for sustainability and possibility of alignment with the matching program. In the medium term, I would: i. draft temporary use permit changes to allow consideration of alternative housing solutions which are ecologically harmonious and sustainable. ii. I woul…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Environmental Challenges

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on impact of environmental challenges. Question: What are the top three challenges facing the natural environment of Salt Spring, and what steps would you take to address these challenges? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): A. The impact of a seasonal occupancy. The stresses on water, sewage, traffic, land use, and our emotional well-being are dramatic due to our seasonal occupancy. This needs to be addressed in a cohesive manner, with all 6 silos adopting a comprehensive seasonal occupancy management strategy. B. The expanding population base. I would follow a best practices model. Education and monthly town hall meetings that include information about the capacity of the island in terms of water, sewage, conservation, and the emotional well being of residents, following a voluntary stewardship model. C.…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Sustainable Transportation

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on impact of sustainable transportation. Question: How would you promote environmentally sustainable transportation on Salt Spring? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): I would like to see public transit extended north beyond Fernwood to North Beach Road. I would definitely give priority to those initiatives that leave green spaces and are accessible by walking, biking or public transit I would investigate the creation of separate bike paths, not on the road. I would encourage incorporating alternative transportation (walking, biking, public transit) into any proposals we consider. Kylie Coates (candidate for Islands Trustee): By promoting and expanding our bus service and by creating better bike lanes and more of a bike friendly environment also asking BC ferries to get rid of their two dollar charg…
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Great to See All Candidates Prioritize Housing - Now to the Hard Work

Over the course of the past 6 months, volunteers from across the Island have been exploring solutions to our affordable housing crisis. Members of our group have held hundreds of meetings and conversations with community leaders, current elected officials, planners, non-profit housing proponents, engineers and water experts, builders and rental suite owners, and those most impacted by the current crisis including seniors, teachers and healthcare workers, young families, farmers and business owners. Through these discussions we have identified four high priority housing solutions that, if implemented, we believe would go a long way towards easing the crisis. There are of course many other ideas that will help however we believe these four will have the most significant impact and are the most viable given Salt Spring’s unique governance. At the root of any long term solution is the need to increase the supply of long-term rental housing and affordable homeownership for Sal…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Impacts of New Projects

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on impact of new projects. Question: (CRD Only question) When making a cost-benefit analysis for a capital project, how would you account for the environmental impacts of that project, and what priority would you place on minimizing these impacts? Gary Holman (candidate for CRD Director): Depends on the project. Some projects (eg, liquid and solid waste, cycling/pedestrian/EV charging infrastructure, expansion of public transit, waste water reclamation, water/energy conservation investments) are already primarily driven by environmental factors. For new buildings (eg, fire hall, library, pool, CRD main offices), typically the level of energy and environmental standard (e.g., such as various levels of LEED certification) is analyzed in terms of incremental capital costs versus future energy and water savings. The loc…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Alternative Housing Options

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on alternative housing options. Question: What would you do to bring the current Land Use Bylaws in line with the OCP’s support for alternative housing options to allow innovative projects that support our most vulnerable community members and farmers (i.e. tiny homes, mental health housing, land sharing, cooperative housing?) Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): Any bylaws that are not in line with the OCP are capable of amendment. I would encourage broad community consultation prior to amendment. I would particularly look at the bylaws affecting secondary suites to see how affordable, safe and ecologically harmonious living situations can be achieved. I would support the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Authority (SSIWPA) working with the North Salt Spring Waterworks District to find solutions to wat…
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We Need a Cohesive Housing Strategy Now

We have a housing crisis that is impacting everyone on this island either directly or indirectly. Working people – among them nurses, teachers, servers, chefs - struggle to find long-term homes. We are losing organizations and businesses that are integral to our island life. Enrolment in our school district is falling. This is a complex problem and there is no single or easy solution. We are in a housing crisis that is affecting too many of our fellow islanders. Elect me and I will work to identify and implement innovative solutions to provide immediate and long-term homes that fit within the character and capacity of our island. The very first thing I will do is to bring the Trust, CRD, our MLA, BC Housing and local housing organizations together to collaboratively develop an understanding of the housing issue, and work with the community to develop a comprehensive Housing Strategy. The strategy will identify solutions, and the timeline, the responsible agency, and a fu…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Health

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on health. Question: How would you support the proposed Salt Spring Community Health Centre so that it is completed in a timely and effective manner? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): The Salt Spring Community Health Center is a worthy initiative. I would do whatever I could to promote community wide access to primary health care services. I would be pleased to continue to work with Community Services on Salt Spring Island and the Community Health Center under their Intermediary Agreement. I support any initiative that will provide holistic health care to our community, particularly to vulnerable populations, especially bearing in mind that statistically 2500-3500 residents of our island are without a family doctor. This initiative would take pressure off emergency room doctors and staff. It is vital to …
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Water

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on water. Question: How will you use the numerous reports and knowledge currently available on Salt Spring’s water stresses and vulnerabilities to resolve concerns and deliver safer, more sustainable, water to our residents? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): I enthusiastically support the development of a comprehensive Water Management Strategy, specifically to address rainwater catchment, gray water and irrigation. It seems to be a consensus that the development of ‘measureables’, against which we can chart our progress would be advisable. This would include monitoring and management of species at risk, invasive species and ecological restoration. Clear goal setting includes the development of checkpoints. I would like to investigate what opportunities exist or can be created to encourage voluntary stewar…
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Sustain Our Vibrant Community and the Environment

Our island environment is under stress from the impacts of climate change, a heated housing market, and increased tourism. I believe the Islands Trust can be a leading model of ecological-based land management. I know we can and MUST do better if we are to build a healthy, vibrant island community that is in harmony with the natural environment, both for today and, more importantly, for tomorrow. Elect me and I will work on maintaining and strengthening our environmental safeguards to keep Salt Spring and the Trust Area special and a world-class example of sustainability. We can do better by communicating how every one of us who lives in, owns land on, vacations in or travels through this region needs to become a steward of our precious ecosystem. We need to know what actions we can each take to protect it. We can do better by managing and conserving our water supplies and employing standards to ensure long-term ecological sustainability of our watersheds while…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Bylaw Enforcement

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on Bylaw Enforcement. Question: Do you have interest in finding alternatives to complaint-driven enforcement of bylaws? If yes, what alternatives would you suggest? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): Yes, the complaint driven system does not seem to be working well, as it results in a patchwork of bylaw enforcement and can result in neighborhood discord. A restorative justice model is the best practice where there will be a continuing relationship between the parties. As the purpose of our bylaws is to enable us to live in harmony, it seems sensible to transform an adversarial process into a consensus building one. This could be done at the monthly town hall meetings or as an associated procedure. I would also encourage voluntary stewardship of the natural environment (per the Islands Trust Strategic Plan.)…
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2018 Elections – Candidates Perspectives on Coordination of Services

In the lead up to Election Day on October 20th, 2018, the Community Alliance will post answers from candidates to crucial questions. Today, we focus on Coordination of Services issues. Question: What is your opinion of the proposed establishment of an Inter-Agency Working Group (described in the Governance Working Group Discussion Paper) to improve coordination of local services, and what skills would you contribute to making it a success? Sabrina Ali (candidate for Islands Trustee): The Interagency working group is very close to the town hall meeting that I am advancing. I recognize and agree that greater co-ordination between decision-making authorities with exclusive jurisdiction in their area is the best way to accomplish mindful community building. Where I differ in approach is that I prefer a direct democratic model contained within the monthly town hall meeting. The IAWG could be characterized as simply another level of bureaucracy, but one without bindin…
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