'Speculation Tax' Open Letter to Adam Olsen, MLA Salt Spring Island

Dear Adam, Several of the recent tax provisions in the NDP’s budget have significant negative impacts on your constituents and perhaps more importantly, on the long term economic health of this riding. Notably, the new “speculation” tax has significant economic implications for markets like Salt Spring, where it’s not uncommon for pre-retirement folks to buy here and move gradually over time, or for out of province people to own recreational property, for summer or seasonal use etc. Many individuals who will be affected by this tax have owned property here for a long time. The details of the legislation for this tax won’t be unveiled until fall, which in itself has created unnecessary and unprecedented uncertainty not only for people directly affected by this, but by ALL residents of communities where this is set to roll out. If this tax is as Ms. James described, it is a manifestly short-term tax grab with long term serious implications for both individuals…
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Incorporation: Post Vote Reasons for Voting No Research

Reasons for Voting Positively No in the 2017 September 09 Salt Spring Island Incorporation Referendum ~ From late 2012 to 2017, Salt Spring Islanders engaged in two studies, first a Governance Review Study, then an Incorporation Study. Both explored the incorporated municipal model of governance in full, as it would apply to Salt Spring. Neither study allowed an exploration of the full present-system model, only a "snapshot in time" of it, i.e. as it was currently operating, not any of its in-built or possible new means to strengthen and improve it. These studies and resultant referendum cost $400,000 (Governance Study, $85,000; Incorporation Study, $255,000; incorporation referendum, $60,000 budget, but didn't spend it all). The costs of B.C. ministry and CRD services to administer these studies cannot be determined, since personnel don't bill to projects. In total, it's reasonable to estimate that at least $750,000 of B.C. taxpayers' money was spent to present the incorpor…
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Our Housing Crisis Requires Governance Leadership

After this third referendum campaign, our community has yet again overwhelmingly rejected incorporation and reaffirmed support for our present governance within the Islands Trust’s unique “preserve and protect’ mandate. As an electorate, we now find ourselves in the anomalous position of having two of our three elected representatives definitively stating their opinions that our current system is structurally dysfunctional. Our third elected official declined to take a public position supporting the governance system in which he also was elected to serve. Challenging times! There are many achievements that we have accomplished over the years: library, pool, affordable housing, bus service, water and sewage treatment upgrades, etc., etc. However, as in any other governance structure, community problem-solving depends on the political will of those elected to office. Like most communities in B.C. we are experiencing a serious housing crisis. If our two trustees a…
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Trust Council Chair Congratulates Salt Spring Island on its Governance Decision

Peter Luckham, Chair of Islands Trust Council, made the following statement regarding the decision of the September 9, 2017 referendum with preliminary results showing 62 per cent voted against Salt Spring Island incorporating into a municipality. “The Islands Trust Council congratulates the community of Salt Spring Island for exercising its democratic right on September 9, 2017 and choosing to remain unincorporated. “The debates and discussions leading up to this vote demonstrated the high level of civic engagement among the residents of Salt Spring Island, a sign of a caring, resilient and healthy community. “I am pleased to see the strong voter turnout and the clear support for the preserve and protect mandate of the Islands Trust. “The discussions prior to the vote have highlighted both the strengths and areas of improvements desired in the present form of governance, as well as confidence in the Islands Trust to seek those improvements. “Local govern…
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Incorporation: Adam Olsen Responds to Salt Spring Island’s Decision to Not Incorporate

Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, issued the following statement in regards to the outcome of Salt Spring’s Incorporation Vote. Salt Spring Island voted against incorporating as an island municipality this past weekend. "Over the past couple of years Salt Spring Islanders have been discussing how their community is governed. It has been an emotional and divisive process which resulted in a vote against incorporation this weekend," Olsen said. "We have a responsibility to help the community heal and I am focused on that. Now is not the time to turn our attention away from this important discussion about community governance but rather to continue it in a compassionate and productive way that respects the democratic decision of Salt Spring Islanders while seeking solutions to the very real governance challenges that exist on the Island and throughout the Southern Gulf Islands. “I pledged that I would work with whatever Salt Spring Islanders decided. Movi…
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Incorporation: Wayne McIntyre Post Referendum Statement

The incorporation referendum is now over, complete with a clear community “no” decision on the option to incorporate. It is now time to recognize and thank many who have been involved: The Provincial Government, through the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development (now the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing) not only provided financial support for studies but staff expertise. Particular thanks to Linda Galeazzi and Marijke Edmondson who were a terrific support to Trustees George Grams, Peter Grove and myself as well as the two volunteer committees. The first committee study compared our present governance model with an incorporated one and the second was the full incorporation study complete with costing and is dated November 21, 2017. Both committees worked extremely hard, provided ongoing opportunities for public input, answered many questions and delivered quality reports to help inform our community on a variety of governance matters. The Capital…
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Incorporation: Local Governance Option Defeated

We are very disappointed in the outcome but as the time honoured saying goes, the people have spoken. We are happy that we’ve seen a record turnout at the polls for this important decision and we congratulate the opposition on their success. Our belief remains that local government decisions should be made by a representative cross-section of Salt Spring Islanders. Today, not having taken the first step on that path, we reach out to our fellow Salt Springers who voted “no” to let them know we remain committed to more effective governance as far as the current system allows. We are extremely grateful for all the hard work of our volunteers and the funding provided by our donors. We could not have communicated our message of hope for the future without those resources. Islanders have argued for months now, sometimes politely, sometimes angrily, about the best way forward from September 9th. After all the squabbling, there is no dispute about this: born here or lured from e…
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Incorporation: George Grams Post Referendum Statement

The turnout for, and the result of, the incorporation referendum yesterday were both satisfyingly decisive. For myself the result marks a conclusion to the question of which governance model is appropriate for our community and I hope others feel likewise. Work remains to be done on island to continue to preserve and protect our environment and to build a better community and I look forward to devoting my energies as a trustee to advance both. I would like to thank the ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development (now the ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing), in particular Linda Galeazzi and Marijke Edmondson for supporting the community throughout this process. The review would not have been possible without the energy, commitment and time devoted by islanders, in particular those who served on the two study committees, the Governance Review Committee that reported in 2013 and the Incorporation Study Committee that concluded its work last year. My thanks t…
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Incorporation: Peter Grove Statement on Election Results

I am pleased that our community has reached its decision about the Islands future form of governance. It has been a long journey for all those involved and there are so many we must thank: the two separate committees, the first looking at governance and the second being the incorporation study committee itself; the countless volunteers on both sides who put in so many hours; the Driftwood and the Exchange for reporting and communicating so effectively; our community for engaging, discussing and debating in ways which were (mostly!) respectful and thoughtful, and for participating in the vote in such record numbers. I feel privileged and proud to be a part of such an engaged and often passionate community, and to have played my part. It is clear that there are many who are dissatisfied with our present form of governance. I will do all I can to work towards changes within the system to address the concerns, to improve what we have, to better serve our communities needs. As I…
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Positively No Campaign Statement on the Preliminary Results of the Referendum on the Incorporation of Salt Spring Island

The real winner tonight is Salt Spring. By rejecting incorporation, 4,248 islanders (63.1%) showed their support for the principles of local governance and a vision for the future of their rural island home championed by Positively NO. As a consequence, Salt Spring will continue to be guided, preserved and protected by a unique and progressive form of governance. To the many islanders who voted NO, we extend our deepest gratitude and we celebrate with you. To all our many volunteers and supporters, we say tonight's result could not have happened without your commitment, faith and energy. Thank you one and all. Tonight, we feel joy, relief and anticipation for what is to come. To those who opposed us, we commend you on your hard-fought campaign. Your beliefs were promoted with passion and steadfastness. It is our fervent hope that we can all move forward from tonight's outcome in a spirit of collaboration and reconciliation in the interests of community harmony and well…
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Incorporation: Gulf Islands Alliance Asks You to Vote “No”

While Salt Spring residents and property owners are the only ones who will have a vote on whether or not Salt Spring will become an island municipality, that decision will have an effect on all the islands in the Trust area. In fact, the Island’s Trust mandate is to protect the islands for all British Columbians. The Gulf Islands Alliance (GIA), which exists mainly to support that mandate, feels it is important to offer our perspective on the upcoming referendum. The Province paid for a study of the impacts of Salt Spring incorporating on the Islands Trust but there was no public engagement process connected with that study. So people might not know that the study concluded that the impact of incorporation on the Trust "would be substantial, making it difficult for the Islands Trust to carry out its mandate in the way it does now.” Some former trustees and one councillor on Bowen Island believe that if Salt Spring were to become a municipality, this could signify, over ti…
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Incorporation: One Bad Council

Before moving to Salt Spring fifteen years ago, I lived in the small town of Port Hope on Lake Ontario, about an hour east of Toronto. The town's population was the same size as Salt Spring's, and it had a similar mix of farmers, business owners, artists and writers (among them Farley Mowat). Through unusual circumstances we needn't go into, Port Hope had kept its heritage charm while neighbouring towns were encircled by car lots, big-box malls, and sprawling bedroom suburbs. Ever since Victorian times, Port Hope had been run on the municipal system now being mooted for Salt Spring: a mayor and six councillors with near-total authority over land use, planning, and many other matters. Like national and provincial governments, councils can change radically at election time. Some are good, most are middling, and a few are disastrously bad. It is never easy for a small community to find seven smart and trustworthy people to run for office every few years, especially when develop…
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Incorporation: Business and Reality

Some folks are using the history of our friend Mickey McLeod and his business, Salt Spring Coffee, to suggest that things would be very different if we had a municipality here. I won’t argue with his version of the story, nor will I take on the folks who are advocating for him. That said, here’s an alternative view based on the genesis of “Dixons of Salt Spring”, another coffee company which aspires to be popular and successful. Our mission statement speaks of buying only the finest organic shade-grown, ethically harvested, sustainably selected fair-trade beans from the most politically enlightened countries. We mention our carbon footprint, our world-class employee relationships and the importance of understanding our role and our responsibility in our community and in the world. Now down to business. We know that although we will start slow and small, our corporate goal is to aggressively market our coffee so that it’s available everywhere coffee is sold. And, we…
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Incorporation: Tipping Point

Salt Spring Coffee was forced off the island some time ago, and now the last remnant of that unique success story, the RoCo cafe, is closing its doors.  Tree House is open and operating, but the bureaucratic hurricane that surrounds that venerable landmark may eventually take its toll.  The Source has closed its doors, as has Moonstruck Cheese.  Persnickety Children’s Clothing will cease to exist in a few days.  Moby’s recently had to close the kitchen a few days a week due to lack of staff. Business decisions?  The realities of the market?  Perhaps.  But the impact on the community cannot be ignored. I believe we are starting to see the failure of some of our vital systems. There are indicators – like the canary in the coal mine – that should serve as a warning that something in the community needs change.  Like the climate change deniers, some of the “No supporters” will say that these small incidents are merely anomalies. I don’t think so. The 2015 Salt Spring Economi…
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Incorporation: Forward, Not Backward: Trusting Cooperation over Conflict

Having run in the 2011 Islands Trust election as a clear opponent of yet another referen- dum on incorporation, I have been asked my position this time around. Has my view changed? First, I would like to thank those on both sides of this debate for the substance and tone of their appeals. Unfortunately, I once again find that those seeking incorporation offering ar- guments that are ill-timed, misplaced and taking us backward just at a time when we should be seeking out and moving forward with innovative and trail-blazing forms of governance able to deal with pressing local, regional and global issues such as climate change, housing and refugees. In our context, we have had the innovative Islands Trust leading the way since 1974. It deserves our continuing support. Undermining its scope and purpose would be a step back- ward. Incorporation is not the only option. We all know what the many nearby municipalities look like. Many of us have chosen to live here preci…
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Incorporation: Municipality Needed to Address Social Needs

Let me start at the end of my story: only a municipality can bring together Salt Spring’s various agencies, coordinate and provide solutions. Disjointed problem-solving creates interminable delays despite a consensus that something be done to help young families establish themselves here. A new beginning in the fall of 2012, my partner and I decided to try something radically different. Like many before us, we were going to move to Salt Spring Island and reinvent ourselves. I had recently quit my job as a senior researcher with the B.C. Government in Victoria and had aspirations of becoming a Chef. My partner had close friends on the Island that could give us the lay of the land and provide short term accommodations while we searched for a suitable rental. I had a small pension payout that would cover most living expenses for a year and after that we would re-evaluate our situation. In short, that was the plan. We managed to stay for 5 years, had many different types o…
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Incorporation: Who is Voting NO?

Over 700 islanders — your friends, colleagues, and neighbours — have come out against incorporation. Click on this link to see who has signed on, including: Dan Jason, Andrea Le Borgne, David Miller, Richard Murakami, Andrea Palframan, Sue Newman, Deirdre Roland, Brian Brett, Jade Snow Rosen, Bob Twaites, Sue Earle, Harry Warner, Lea Weir, Tiff Wightman… Every vote counts. Join our supporters in voting NO.
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Incorporation: One Good Reason

If you need only one good reason to vote NO… It is a fact that every municipality in BC struggles to pay for their increasing costs for infrastructure—roads, police, parks, fire protection, and so on. This puts a huge amount of pressure on their councils to either raise taxes, which everyone is resistant to, or to increase development significantly to bring in additional dollars. On Salt Spring, even the most well-intentioned council would eventually have to succumb. Bills need to be paid. With our present, sometimes far from perfect, system of governance on Salt Spring, land use decisions are made by our Local Trust Committee members. Their decisions are not influenced in any way by the need to cover other costs related to infrastructure. In Salt Spring’s case, I believe that road costs alone will be a great deal higher than the incorporation study indicated. So we already know that there would be terrific pressure on any council to increase development if only t…
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Incorporation: Countdown

On September 9 Islanders will be faced with two drastically different visions for local governance. The choice we are being offered, however, was not "made on Salt Spring." It was carefully crafted by a provincial government guided by its own interests — downloading massive costs onto a fledgling municipality. Take roads. (The province would love it if we did.) According to the Incorporation Study Report, we will need $35,300,000 for rehabilitation and reconstruction. The province has offered us $6,000,000, spread over five years. That's almost $30,000,000 a new municipality will have to raise from increased property taxes, increased density and development (preferably commercial), or user fees. On Bowen Island, with roads similar to ours but subject to less wear and tear, the cost of road repairs and maintenance has left them little money for much of anything else. Their long pre-incorporation wish list of services and programs? It's had to be deferred. Or take loca…
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Incorporation: Rationale for Opinion

Along with others, particularly the SSI Trustees and the two committees we selected , I have been involved with the two SSI studies for over five years; the first the comparison of our present governance system with the municipal model and the second a full incorporation review, including financials. The Trustees and I were stewards of the two studies and this process was completed with the delivery of the final study to the ministry on November 21, 2016; at that time the Incorporation Committee was disbanded thereby ending the formal process. The three of us provided support as follow up to the end of the formal process and one significant commitment was made, which was completed on August 30th: the debates with three representatives on each side. With the increasing pressures to say something as an elected representative of the community and the number of statements made that were confusing or in some cases incorrect, I felt I could ad value to the process. This was based…
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