Incorporation: Minister Notice and Clarifications for Proposed Patent Letters

CRD Director Wayne McIntyre, Islands Trust Trustees George Grams and Peter Grove have been notified of additional incorporation related details and key elements of potential letters patent for a proposed Salt Spring Island municipality by Selina Robinson Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville. They are posted here for our community review. If Salt Spring Island voters support incorporation, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing may recommend that the Provincial Cabinet implement the incorporation by enacting letters patent to establish the new municipality. Letters patent largely deal with the transition of the community’s services, local government regulations and inter-governmental relationships into a municipal context. Once established, a municipality may exercise any municipal authority and must observe any municipal requirements established in the broader legislative framework. The letters patent do not duplicate authorities …
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Incorporation: Island is Already an Almost-perfect Paradise

In 1968 I moved from London, England up to the Arctic, to Old Crow, to do a photography assignment for the National Film Board for the summer months. On my way back to London, I stayed at a friend’s cottage in Vancouver, and somehow never went back to London. Vancouver in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s charmed me with its neon, the old round house, the Sweeney’s Cooperage, the On-On, The Green Door and Foncie, the street photographer, the False Creek boatyards and the Ovaltine Café. Then, one by one, they all disappeared, and one by one shiny new high-rises emerged. In 1973 I moved to Victoria, charmed by the quaintness of the city, and I didn’t have to own a car, and could ride my bike everywhere, with very little car traffic. Then, slowly, after 15 years, many of the old heritage buildings downtown were demolished, or turned into shopping malls, and my neighbourhood gradually shifted from funky-run-down-affordable to upscale chic and more high-rises emerged. In 1989 w…
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Incorporation: Warning to Salt Spring from Two Bowen Islanders

Recently I talked about incorporation with Nerys Poole, a Bowen Island municipal councillor and trustee from 2008 to 2011 and with Gayle Ferguson, the contract minute taker for the Bowen municipality from 2000 to 2013. At the top of Nerys's warnings for SS islanders is the loss of the Islands Trust preserve and protect mandate. On the top of Gayle's list is the huge cost of municipal staffing. Both speak of the “nightmare of roads”. Islands Trust I got the sense of an island that had almost completely abandoned the Islands Trust. An Island which could afford little other than to maintain it's roads. An island where most of the goals identified at the time of the referendum, have not materialized due to lack of money. I asked Nerys what she would say to Salt Springers about our upcoming referendum. Here's some of what she said. “If you believe in the Islands Trust Act preserve and protect mandate you do not want to become a municipality because you lose the overall pro…
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Incorporation: Local Governance Options without Incorporation

The incorporation debate is generating creative and exciting solution-seeking discussions throughout our island. Conversations about those things we love about Salt Spring - and the reasons we moved here - are being enriched by explorations of creative ways to enhance local governance without incorporating. Most of these conversations are random, taking place while shopping at our favourite stores, at potlucks, and even while walking our dogs. But, a growing number of those conversations, driven by concern of the increased taxes, liability, and development that incorporation could bring, are focused upon rejecting incorporation and, instead, seeking promising local governance opportunities. Emerging from these wide-ranging discussions are a number of viable and exciting options available to us if we do not incorporate. Many of these could be implemented under existing policies and legislation; a few would require provincial approval - a very real option given the recent c…
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Incorporation: Debate Live Stream Hosted on the Exchange

(Note: The video archive of the debate is available here now that the live stream is complete. There were a total of 1148 people who watched the stream at different times during the time it was live with an average of 275 peak concurrent viewers.) In partnership with local streaming media specialist Robert Reinhardt at VideoRx, the Salt Spring Exchange will be hosting a live-stream of the upcoming Salt Spring Island Incorporation Referendum Debate. The debate will be presented live at the Gulf Islands Secondary School on Wednesday, August 30th, 2017 at 7 PM and will be streamed live here on the Exchange. Panelists Announced The panelists who are to participate in the upcoming incorporation discussion have been announced. Michael McAllister, Ken Marr and David Wood will present their case for a change to an incorporated structure. Greg Clayton, Brenda Guiled and Gary Holman will be supporting the arguments for our current, rural, uncincorporated structure. The…
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Incorporation: A Vision of Co-Creative Sustainable Development

Hi all, I know this post is long, but I have poured my heart into these thoughts and words, I really care about this community where I grew up, and have returned to nest and raise my family. We are collectively making a decision that is critical to our future and the future of our children. Please take the time to consider these thoughts and perspectives….. Yess! I believe we can be an amazing, pro-active and visionary community, manifesting and exemplifying the essence of Sustainable Development by becoming an Island Municipality within the Islands Trust. We are a community full of talented, smart and caring people who can come together and guide our natural growth in the most harmonious way, tailored to our unique island all the while resisting the pressure of large scale commercial development. With all due respect to the valid concerns of the “positively no” crowd, I believe that too much emphasis is being placed on fear of losing protection of the Trust when really i…
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Incorporation: Email to a Friend

I don’t think there are meaningful answers to the questions you have raised. I think the actual vision for Salt Spring is still best articulated in the Islands Trust object: “to preserve and protect the environment and amenities of the Gulf Islands for all British Columbians.” I haven’t heard any articulation of another vision for us that was more promising. Those of us on the NO side simply do not believe that incorporation supports that objective, in spite of the YES side’s protestations to the contrary. My understanding from others who have witnessed similar transitions is that it only takes one or two election cycles for the development community to capture the local government, after which all bets are off on things like the OCP and zoning variances and bylaws. Asking who will step forward as future Trustee and CRD Director candidates is like asking what the stock market will do. Future trustees and CRD directors are anybody’s guess. It is a tribute to the steadfastness…
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Incorporation: A Chance to Express Who We Are!

What an opportunity we have before us! We have a chance to truly express who we are, our past and importantly, our values as they relate to our future. Now we have the opportunity to dispel the undeserved title: C.A.V.E. dwellers (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) by spearheading the measured and exciting change that will propel Salt Springers to the forefront as the leaders of tomorrow. We have such an extraordinary wealth of wisdom and experience on this island that we no longer need off island babysitters to tell us what to do, how to do it and all the while controlling the purse strings. We can ‘out Island Trust’ the Island Trust if we have the compunction to do so and become the most eco sustainable island with an equally sustainable community if we all work together, rather than barely survive in the silos of today. Where does it state that council members are also developers? On our island we have far more eco warriors than anywhere else that I know o…
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Incorporation: Order Vs. Chaos

For me the Sept 9th referendum is a vote of order-vs-chaos. Salt Spring’s quaint hodge-podge of electoral and improvement districts represents anything but order, in my opinion. It’s a creature with many tentacles but no brain. Just look around: No acceptable traffic plan in Fulford village; inadequately marked walking trails; none of the roads leading out from any of our three ferry terminals have even so much as a welcome sign for tourists. Speed limit signs on Fulford-Ganges are inconsistent which invariably means ending up behind a confused tourist settling on 50 km/hr for the drive to or from Ganges. Water lines supply drinking water to homes, but provide a questionable supply to fire hydrants, when they’re even connected. I understand to some people who defend the status quo these might seem like minor details, however one can easily extrapolate from there. Under a municipality that aforementioned creature would have a brain – able to coordinate and efficiently c…
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Incorporation: Harold Swierenga is Voting Yes

Listen to the wisdom of our elders: Harold Swierenga, has been a Co-op Farm Director, Commercial Farmer, Economics Professor, and has a ton experience in local governance. 8 years experience as municipal councillor and reeve of municipality in Ontario. Served as Warden (head) of Lanark County Council. Served as a director of Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Association of Counties and Regions of Ontario and Municipal Liason Committee. Served on Health Unit Board, County Planning Board, Visitor and Convention Board Director of farm co-operative Operated a commercial farm 35 years professor of economics Founding member of SSI Transportation Commission Member and chair of SSI Ferry Advisory Committee Here are his insights about Salt Spring Governance.
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Incorporation: The More Beautiful Our Hearts Know Is Possible

In The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible, Charles Eisenstein very clearly distinguishes that we are in the process of transitioning from an Old Economy, that ensures our demise, to a New Economy that is essential, not optional, if we are to survive as a species. (He is very clear that the transition from New Economy to Old Economy will not be smooth.) I think it might be useful to frame the incorporation debate inside our necessary transition to the New Economy. Water. In 1992, I sat on the SSI Sustainable Roundtable and we distinguished that what mattered most to SS islanders was the quality and availability of water. We identified many water management problems that needed a holistic solution.Twenty five years later we are in the same place, if not worse. Inside the New Economy what could the water situation look like on SSI? We could harvest rainwater, all of us. The Water Works could be a group of people who help you with your rainwater harvesti…
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Incorporation: Where Is the Larger Voice?

Salt Spring is in the midst of an incorporation campaign as everyone on our island knows. But who else knows? I love all our Gulf Islands and want to protect them all from over and inappropriate development. I have a hard time abiding views of others who can only see what is good for them personally or for their island only, for that matter. I have been fortunate to visit all the Gulf Islands many times and know they are each unique and all special and in need of protection. I am wondering where is the voice of other islanders, who will feel the effects of Salt Springs Incorporating on them? Why have they been left out of this decision? Where indeed is the voice of the rest of the Province? After all, these Islands were put in a Trust for all British Columbians by an ALL party vote (one of those rare times in history where all the political parties agreed with each other). Dave Barrett (NDP BC’s premier at the time) always felt it was one of his greatest legacies…
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Incorporation: The Facts About Our Roads

The Final Incorporation Study Report repeats, at least eight times, that Salt Spring taxpayers put pay $90,000 more per year into the in Provincial Rural Taxes than they get back in road works. How accurate is this? The report estimates that an average of $1,360,000 was spent annually in routine maintenance in recent years, or $5,100 per km. This closely matches MOTI’s reported average maintenance cost of $5,000 per km for all B.C. public roads. Since maintenance services were privatized in 2001, MOTI can’t find out what SSI road maintenance costs, because road-contractor’s books are closed to public scrutiny. Also, our road contractor, Mainroad, shuffles equipment and personnel within its South Coast contract area, making an inseparable mix of those monies spent. Thus, MOTI applied the B.C. average, as the most certain figure they have. For all road works beyond this regular maintenance, the report says that MOTI spent about $500,000 annually over the last 15 or so years…
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Incorporation: Response to Open Letter to the Fire District Board of Trustees

A group of ex-Fire Board Trustees have written a letter to the current trustees chastising them for not coming out in favour of incorporation after an attempt was made to strong arm them to do so. Our current trustees sensibly waited to hear what the “no” folks had to say. That group didn't ask the Trustees to come out in favour of no. They requested that the Trustees remain neutral on the basis that there was nothing to support it being in their ratepayers’ interest for them to express a bias. The referendum itself would allow their ratepayers to indicate their preferences. In addition, the “no” group came with well-researched information about how the Fire Board could find additional funding without incorporating and advised that Fire Departments all over the province rarely receive major infrastructure grants from senior governments. The Trustees appeared grateful for the information and deferred the matter and subsequently decided to stay neutral. Effective enforcemen…
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Incorporation: North Salt Spring Waterworks District and Funding Options

The North Salt Spring Waterworks District (“NSSWD”) is, by far, the largest water Improvement District on the island with well over 2,000 connections including commercial properties in Ganges, schools and the hospital. Faced with a major investment program to meet provincial regulations, including new treatment plants at St. Mary Lake and Maxwell Lake and raising the Duck Creek Weir on St. Mary Lake, it has raised its water rates as well as its annual parcel tax rate and began building a Capital Reserve Fund through a surcharge on water bills. Recently, it announced that a contract had been awarded for work to begin on the St. Mary Lake treatment plan, funded by capital reserves and a $7 million loan, approved by ratepayers in 2015. In October, 2016, the District Board of Trustees considered the challenge of funding the proposed capital program in the event of a no vote to incorporation and concluded that District ratepayers would be unable to support the significant increas…
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Incorporation: How a ‘Farmer’ Mayor Changed Me from Yes to No to Yes!

I went from a staunch YeSS! voter to a PosNo voter … and then the more I supported the PosNo’s position and saw how much they want to preserve and protect (which I do), prevent rampant development (which I do as well), save our precious farmers (love buying local!) and prevent runaway tax increases (yeah, that to!!) – I realized the only way to achieve what the PosNo side wants is for all of us to vote YeSS! and then vote the PosNo supporters into power by electing them as council and mayor! Win win!! Confused yet? Quite the Catch-22, wouldn’t you say? Here’s what happened to me today and why for about 30 minutes I was totally convinced we couldn’t possibly vote YeSS! and still preserve & protect this beautiful island we call home. I reached out to Mayor Ranns of Metchosin via email two days ago and he personally called me this morning. He has been a farmer forever, on council since 1987 and is now in his sixth term as Mayor. To say I was nervous to speak with him is an u…
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Incorporation: Ron Cooke on Voting Yes

Ron Cooke is involved in a number of affordable housing projects. He is voting yes. "I have lived on Salt Spring for 29 years, raised a family here and worked as a carpenter and later in home design - quite often in conjunction with Rammed Earth. I serve on the Board of Directors at Salt Spring Island Community Services."
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Incorporation: A Municipal Engineer's Perspective

This article is written for those who are currently undecided relative to the upcoming incorporation referendum, and are interested in reading a Municipal Engineer's perspective before making a decision. I am not one who writes articles to local papers; however, after having received the Positively No flyer in the mail I thought it prudent to provide my observations. My background is in municipal engineering consulting with most of my 30 year career providing planning and engineering services to small cities, towns, villages, rural counties and municipal districts in western Canada. More specifically I provided guidance to Councils relative to existing infrastructure rehabilitation and new infrastructure spending. In helping these communities attain their goals, it became apparent that working with both the Provincial and Federal levels of governments was a necessity. What was most noticeable to me was that the closer the level of government was to the people the more efficient…
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Incorporation: What Can a Water District Do?

The North Salt Spring Water District needs money: to raise the Duck Creek weir and for an eventual treatment plant at Maxwell Lake. Their board has recommended incorporation as the best option for raising those funds. But is it? The Facts Accessing government grants does not mean receiving Far from it: applications to the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program totalled almost 7 times the available funds the Gas Tax Agreement Strategic Priorities Fund has 11 separate criteria for funding; raising a weir and building a conventional water treatment plant meet few of them On Salt Spring, NSSWD would compete for scarce funding with projects like road upgrades, new fire hall, town hall, sewage treatment plant upgrade, etc. With incorporation all taxpayers face greater financial burdens and liabilities: road repair and maintenance, higher policing costs, many municipal expenses. Higher taxes could cancel out any benefit from possible grants. Better Op…
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