Are you considering leaving Salt Spring due to the housing crisis?

Are you considering leaving the island due to the stresses involved with finding or staying in a home? Know someone who is leaving or has already left? Please share your story. After festering for years, our workforce housing crisis has only gotten worse, with so many of us finding it harder and harder to stay on Salt Spring. Our musicians, nurses, teachers, restaurant staff, tradespeople and even the very farmers working to feed us are being forced into the heart-breaking decision of saying goodbye to this community because they can't find housing, leaving us all the poorer as a result. To all the people who are considering leaving, we SEE you, and we need to HEAR you. Salt Spring is at a critical point where decisions are being made that will either start to finally address this crisis in our community, or continue to avoid and ignore it. Without action, the Salt Spring we love – the artists, families, young people, activists, counter-culture hippies and weirdos that…
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ASK Salt Spring with CRD Director Gary Holman on Fire MOU, Early Education, Parks Grants and more

Twelve joined us to welcome CRD’s Gary Holman on a lovely summer Friday in the United Church Meadow. After our Territorial Acknowledgement, Gary told us that he believes that these acknowledgements, once almost simply rhetorical, are becoming more and more real as First Nations’ rights and title to unceded lands are recognized repeatedly by the courts. He spoke of a motion he is co-sponsoring that will be discussed at the July 14 CRD Board meeting. This proposal will ask the province to provide the funding (as with the Great Bear Rainforest agreements) needed to make old growth conservation a realistic option for First Nations Gary spoke about the recent announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between our Fire District and CRD. While details still have to be negotiated, in essence, this MOU supports the colocation of Emergency Operations Services (currently in the basement of the provincial building on Lower Ganges Road) in the new firehall/public safety building…
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June 2021 Update from Islands Trust Local Trustee Laura Patrick

There is increasing optimism for a return to some pre-pandemic normalcy with more islanders getting their second vaccinations.  Participating in meetings at home on virtual platforms is tiresome and challenging and I can’t wait to get back to in-person gatherings!  That said, all through the pandemic, islanders did carry on with important work for the community.  In this article, I will update you on some of the activities related to the Islands Trust’s local trust committee and federation work. Twenty two island residents have been appointed to two different task forces:  Ganges Village Planning and the Housing Action Program.  We are fortunate to have so many dedicated island residents to advise the Islands Trust on these important land use planning initiatives.  Get information about these planning initiatives and information on how to view meetings. A science working group continues to review mapping and research related to protecting coastal Douglas fir and associate…
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Islands Trust Reopen their Gabriola, Salt Spring and Victoria Offices

The public is again welcome to visit Islands Trust offices in person with the reminder that masks and physical distancing are continued requirements. Islands Trust doors are open at all three office locations: Gabriola Island, Salt Spring Island, and Victoria. At this time, each Islands Trust office has different days and times of opening and capacity limits: Salt Spring Office Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4: 30 p.m. 1 – 500 Lower Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island Maximum two people in addition to staff “We’re pleased to welcome people back into our offices,” shared Russ Hotsenpiller, Chief Administrative Officer, Islands Trust. “Face-to-face contact has been missed, but it hasn’t curtailed our activity. Since the pandemic started, Islands Trust has experienced a surge of development applications resulting in longer processing times. Staff is working to maximum capacity, and there is a backlog. If you’re considering a development application submission, please un…
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MLA Adam Olsen on vaccine roll-out and the exclusion of Salt Spring Island from the ‘Whole Community Approach’

As the provincial vaccine roll-out continues, it is important that all community members have the correct information about current COVID-19 protocols and vaccinations. We encourage everyone to register for a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Over the past few weeks, my office has been receiving many questions from constituents regarding current COVID-19 restrictions and what the rules are around travel. Restrictions have changed as of May 25th. The government has introduced a 4 step BC Restart plan and we are now currently in Step 1. Step 1 means that outdoor personal gatherings of up to 10 people and indoor gatherings with up to 5 visitors or 1 other household are allowed. Indoor low intensity group exercise is also allowed while indoor high intensity group exercise remains prohibited. Indoor and outdoor dining is now allowed with capacity limits based on physical distancing. There is a maximum of 6 people allowed at a table which is not restricted to your househ…
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ASK Salt Spring with CRD Director Gary Holman Booth Canal Path Dangers, Laundromat Opening Plan and more

After appreciating a heartfelt Territorial Acknowledgment, 10 participants began asking our CRD Director, Gary Holman, questions about those issues that mean the most to us. Gary admitted that he was pre-occupied with a number of complex issues, one of which is the community’s - and his - concerns about safety concerns regarding the new Booth Canal Pathway. At their April meeting, Transportation Commissioners expressed their commitment to consider safety issues and possible solutions. A team of retired engineering and safety professionals, including a member of the Commission and Partners Creating Pathways, recently joined CRD engineering staff to assess the pathway. It is hoped that their report will be ready for the May 31 Transportation Commission meeting. At this April Transportation Commission meeting, there was consensus not to halt the project before it is completed. The reasoning behind not temporarily halting work was concern that the $490,000 provincial grant,…
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ASK Salt Spring: Vaccine rollout, housing challenges, climate change, childcare and more

Twenty-three gathered via Zoom to welcome all of our elected officials: MP Elizabeth May, MLA Adam Olsen, CRD’s Gary Holman, and Islands Trust Local Trustees Laura Patrick and Peter Grove. After Laura’s heartfelt Territorial Acknowledgment, we began by asking each of our guests what was on their minds and the issues that they hoped would be explored in our two hours together. (Elizabeth had to leave us at about noon.) Elizabeth began by expressing her frustration at not being able to get to Ottawa sooner due to COVID but also her anticipation of soon reading the federal budget. She shared her joy at getting her vaccination soon. She has high hopes for President Joe Biden’s upcoming Earth Day Summit. Her optimism is tempered slightly by the disappointment that this year’s expected allocations for the climate emergency are expected to be less than fossil fuel subsidies. Elizabeth also expressed her delight at seeing so many of her friends virtually at ASK Salt Spring. Ad…
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Islands Trust Trustee Laura Patrick Provides an Update on Local Initiatives

It’s reasonable to assume that the Islands Trust is endeared by many but may not be everyone’s cup of tea.  As one of your hard-working trustees, I’ve encountered seemingly endless criticism that at times can be disheartening. I do this job because I love these islands just like many of you. We want to maintain our island culture and its uniqueness, but we also want to sustain our communities, economies and quality of life, ALL within healthy, fully functional ecosystems. These things are not at cross purposes to each other, because they are all dependent on each other. To be very clear – I am not saying do one at the expense of the other. In its March 2021 meeting, Trust Council affirmed its understanding that the mandate of the Trust, which is embodied within the Islands Trust Act, includes the concept of, and protection of, healthy and inclusive communities including (but not limited to) housing and transportation. This affirmation is not a shift in direction or a reorder…
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MLA Adam Olsen on Reforming the Police Act

I am a member of the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act. Parts of the Act have been amended over the years, but it has been decades since there were any major reviews of the entire legislation. With increasing pressure on the provincial government last summer to address systemic discrimination, bias and racism in policing, Minister Mike Farnworth called for the review and gave the committee a sweeping mandate. Through January committee members have received informational briefings from several government ministries and agencies. In the coming weeks we will be expanding to wider stakeholder presentations from experts, community groups and the public. What is systemic discrimination, bias and racism? In 2005, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal adopted a definition and Kasari Govender, B.C. Human Rights Commissioner, shared it with the committee. It offers an important frame for our work. “Discrimination means practices or attitudes that have, whether by design …
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Join Elizabeth May and Gary Holman for the Release of Salt Spring’s Climate Action Plan

What if, by pulling together, our island could not only withstand the increasing stresses arising from climate change, but also build a more just, healthy, and cooperative community? That’s the vision behind the Salt Spring Island Climate Action Plan. Transition Salt Spring is proud to announce the release of the Salt Spring Island Climate Action Plan in a live online public presentation on Tuesday, March 2nd at 6:30 pm. The presentation will feature an overview of the key aspects of the plan and what we need to do to address climate change head on here in our own backyard. The plan is intended as a positive solutions-focused roadmap with more than 250 recommendations on what we all can do to ensure a sustainable future for our island home. “We had a truly talented team of citizen volunteers who took the job seriously, and I am very proud of the recommendations we developed together. It’s been an honour to have been involved in this project,” said Darryl Martin, who …
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Island Coastal Economic Trust Launches Program to Strengthen Rural Communities and Businesses

Provincially funded initiative supports creation of temporary employment in rural areas - A new Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) economic recovery program addressing capacity challenges in rural, remote and Indigenous communities has launched, with funding from the Province of British Columbia. The new Rural Business and Community Recovery Program (RBCRP) will provide full funding support for the creation of new, temporary, term positions that strengthen business and community economic recovery and resilience. Projects must be located in eligible rural areas, which include Vancouver Island north of the Malahat, Capital Regional District Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island and Southern Gulf Islands electoral areas, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, as well as Bowen Island. “This is a timely initiative supporting nimble, community-based and regional economic recovery,” says ICET Board Chair Aaron Stone. “We are grateful to the Province of BC for the opportunity to leverage…
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ASK Salt Spring with Capital Regional District Director Gary Holman

Fourteen gathered via Zoom to ask Capital Regional District's (CRD) Gary Holman questions about the issues that matter most to them. After a heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, Gary was asked if he wanted to begin by sharing what was on his mind. While he preferred to spend our time together answering participants’ questions, he did express his concerns about the Lower Ganges Road pathway from Booth Canal to Baker Road that is currently under construction. Gary agrees that the tree cutting was probably excessive and sees this as part of a larger issue - a pathway that appears to have been over-designed to meet urban standards. Gary repeated his public commitment, one shared by the SSI Engineer, to develop rural standards for pathways that are more appropriate for Salt Spring. Despite this concern, Gary did ask us to appreciate the fact that this pathway, which received almost $500,000 in provincial funding, will allow pedestrians to walk safely all the way from Ganges to t…
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Working Together to Solve the Housing Crisis

I’m pleased to report that progress is being made towards tackling the affordable housing issue on Salt Spring. The Islands Trust’s Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC) has just approved a bold new Housing Action Program, and I’m confident it will finally put us on the right path to a solution. The LTC which is made up of your locally elected representatives, like me, is ready and willing to provide leadership in meeting the housing needs of residents. Most crucially, if we are to make any headway, it is imperative that we start with providing more certainty to housing providers and developers, property owners, and residents, with clear, consistent, detailed policies and guidelines. Addressing the housing challenges that took decades to emerge will not be easy or quick, but we can prioritize action on solutions that address urgent housing needs.  All of our decisions should be fair and well-balanced, and rooted in solid environmental, economic and social equity …
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MLA Adam Olsen Supports Acquisition of Mt. Erskine Connector Trail

Salt Spring's Trail and Nature Club is working with BC Parks to acquire a piece of land on Mt. Erskine to protect a very popular 6 kilometre trail from Collins Road to Toynbee Road. I am pleased to support this acquisition as part of the development and expansion of our province’s beautiful park system. In addition to securing the trail corridor, incorporating this land into the provincial park will provide access to several beautiful viewpoints and potential picnic sites. The trail winds through forest that includes many pine trees, stands of Coastal Douglas Fir, and arbutus. As a trail already exists on this piece of land, no new trail construction will be required. BC Parks had the land professionally appraised, contracted with the landowner to buy it, and will cover most of the related survey and legal costs. Although the BC Parks Foundation is collecting donations and issuing tax receipts, the Salt Spring Island community is responsible for raising the funds to pu…
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ASK Salt Spring: Francis Bread Trying To Remain Operational During Rezoning Application

We were lucky enough to have both Islands Trustees as special guests at this ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering, with Peter Grove joining fifteen of us for the entire time, and Laura Patrick joining us at about 12:30. While Francis Bread took the spotlight for much of the gathering, we also learned about Islands Trust challenges, logging, and housing restrictions and opportunities. After a heartfelt territorial acknowledgement, Peter began by sharing some of his thoughts and concerns. He expressed his horror with the events rocking our neighbor to the south and his deep, on-going concerns about COVID. These terrible dramas have forced us to recognize what is really important in our lives. He had read the ASK Salt Spring report from Gary Holman’s visit last week and asked us to recognize how hard Gary is working on so many fronts to address our local needs. And, to recognize how much he is accomplishing. Peter then briefly addressed some Local Trust Committee issues, primar…
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Laura Patrick Trustee Report – Getting Down to Work in the New Year

One day, in the not-too-distant future COVID-19 will be an unhappy memory. It was a problem contained, certainly on these islands so far, by a coordinated and cooperative spirit. We wear our masks, keep our distance and get on with our lives. Now I believe we should apply that same cooperative spirit to solving the critical problems facing this precious little island we call home. There are substantial challenges that can only be properly addressed jointly and NOT in the singular and piecemeal way that they are being dealt with in the past. If Salt Spring is to flourish it is imperative that we plan for the future, seeking integrated solutions that are both urgent and eminently feasible. Posted proudly on the wall by my home office desk are the words “Healthy People, Healthy Society, and Healthy Environment”.  In almost every meeting, I point to them saying that one of these cannot exist without the other. I want to kick off the New Year by telling you a little abou…
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ASK Salt Spring with CRD Director Gary Holman

Eleven participants welcomed CRD’s Gary Holman to an ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering - the first in 2021. Gary began by confirming that the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission is committed to getting a pedestrian pathway on the west (uphill) side of the Ganges Hill roadway. Hopes are that the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MoTI) will repave and add bike lanes to the Ganges Hill portion of Fulford Ganges Road (from Seaview to Beddis) this summer. While we may not be ready to construct this pathway at the same time, plans are to proceed as quickly as possible. Funding is a top consideration, with a strong preference for securing as much grant funding as possible before using Transportation Commission reserves or Community Works (gas tax) funding. Asking voters to approve additional funding through counter petition or referendum would be a last resort. Despite CRD staff efforts, it appears that getting MoTI’s design work for repaving in time to devel…
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Opinion: How Our Bylaws Undermine Rural Life and Livelihoods

Our complaint-driven bylaw system, and many of the laws themselves, are undermining rural people’s lives and livelihoods here on Salt Spring Island. By prohibiting the traditional economic stepping stones and ways of life of homesteaders, artisans, and the rural working class, as well as increasingly curtailing the ways land holders may participate in the tourist economy, our LUB (Land Use Bylaw) exacerbates already economically and socially polarizing housing, real estate and construction industries. It favours affluent estate owners whose livelihoods are not dependent on being able to use their land. The ‘preserve and protect’ mandate driving the Trust’s LUB ossifies select aspects of Salt Spring’s settler past. The present is shackled by it. Creativity is stifled. Forcing the non-elite into untenable moulds, the LUB effectively outlaws both “non- nuclear family structures” and the forms of social capital which homesteaders, artisans, and the rural working class rely on. A…
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Advocating for Change from Urban to Rural Designation to Access Government Funding

For nearly a decade Capital Regional District (CRD) Electoral Area Directors from Salt Spring Island, the Southern Gulf Islands and Juan de Fuca have been advocating for a change in their designation from urban to rural. There is no doubt that these unincorporated communities are rural, however because they are members of the CRD they are deemed urban. As a result they are not able to apply for important government supports and grant programs designed for rural communities. The CRD Board has written the province several letters advocating for a change to the designation. I have also written letters, met with Ministers, and raised the issue in budget estimates. All along the provincial government has agreed that Gulf Islands communities in Saanich North and the Islands are rural. They told us that the only way they could change the designation was to have the three Electoral Areas added to the definition of the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET). For the past three y…
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ASK Salt Spring with MLA Adam Olsen - Bravely Diving Into Complex Issues like Health Care

Fifteen joined the ASK Salt Spring Zoom gathering to welcome Adam back as our MLA. We had all missed him as he was forced into that candidate role again. Throughout the gathering, joy was repeatedly expressed that he can now get back to work to address those issues most important to us. He was pleased to introduce a new member of his team - Kate O’Conner - disappointed the she did not win in her riding but committed to providing her a wonderful experience serving our community. In the meantime, Adam and we all will benefit from having her on our team. Welcome, Kate! After a heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, we spent the first half hour learning more about the newly-released report, In Plain Sight, Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care and discussing its implications. Among the shocking findings, we learned that 84% of the Indigenous British Columbians surveyed reported experiencing racism while seeking medical attention. Wh…
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ASK Salt Spring Report with CRD Director Gary Holman

Fourteen gathered at the Foxglove Nursery Greenhouse to welcome our CRD Director Gary Holman. With higher numbers this week, we needed both the speaker system as well as more seats, but, despite a bit of scurrying, all seemed pleased with the idyllic setting. After a participant’s heartfelt territorial acknowledgment, Gary began with some good news: the Capital Regional Hospital district, a group to which we contribute each year, has allocated $3 million towards Lady Minto emergency room expansion, a $10 million project. The Lady Minto Hospital Foundation has committed $4 million and plans to raise the additional $3 million in a fundraising campaign. Gary will also be exploring additional funding possibilities with the Foundation. More good news is the completion of the North Ganges Transportation Plan (NGTP), Phase Two. With the completion of this project, we finally have a safe way for pedestrians to get from Country Grocer to the village with a pathway loop that includ…
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