COVID-19: Hundreds of Contact Tracers to Be Hired in BC

The Province of British Columbia will hire approximately 500 additional health professionals to increase contact tracing around British Columbia, helping keep communities safe as it continues its COVID-19 restart plan. “We want to make sure people are kept safe in any COVID-19 outbreak, and one of the ways to do that is through strong contact tracing,” said Premier John Horgan. “These new contact tracers will provide an extra layer of protection by jumping into action as soon as there is an outbreak, and will start their detective-style work to find out who may be infected in order to protect all British Columbians.” Contact tracing works by following up with each person who has tested positive for COVID-19 to understand who their contacts may be and providing appropriate followup. Health authorities’ public health teams typically have staff who do contact tracing of communicable diseases as part of their regular work. However, given the scale of the response needed for C…
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On Salt Spring, Solutions for Environment Must Include People

A recent commentary might make Times Colonist readers think the beautiful and protected Gulf Islands are about to be destroyed by an unlikely villain — affordable housing advocates. “Development has put Gulf Islands in death spiral” wasn’t a very subtle headline. The writer is well-known on our idyllic but argumentative Salt Spring, and his favourite target of late is the affordable housing “lobby” that is set to ruin his little slice of paradise. I am one of those housing advocates, so allow me to provide a more complex picture of the pressures impacting both the island’s population and its ecology. Frants Attorp and I, like most Gulf Islanders, share great concern for the twin crises in biodiversity and climate change. Where we differ greatly is on the local issues making things worse, and who gets to benefit from the solutions proposed. Our volunteer advocacy group, Salt Spring Solutions, was formed three years ago when we saw multiple non-profit affordable housi…
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ASK Salt Spring with Elizabeth May, MP Saanich - Gulf Islands

Forty-four gathered to welcome Elizabeth May to the ASK Salt Spring gathering in the United Meadow last Friday, July 31. While we had feared a larger crowd (strictly adhering to social distancing as well as the BC limit of 50 for all gatherings), we were relieved to be able to welcome everyone who wanted to participate. Elizabeth began by expressing her delight and enthusiasm to be able to chat with us in the lovely setting rather than being confined to yet another one of her many daily Zoom meetings. She announced the good news that the Vista Coal Mine would now have to go through federal environmental approval before proceeding. She also announced that there would be no big oil company bailouts in the recovery funding, employing workers, instead, to clean up orphan wells. Her first question concerned the long-awaited Salish Sea Trail, sorely-needed bike lanes from Fulford to Vesuvius. Too long-awaited, these bike lanes would finally complete the trail linking communit…
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SD64 Schools to Employ Learning Group Model for September Restart

Many of you will have seen the announcement from the province regarding school opening in September. In School District 64 (Gulf Islands) we are following the advice from Public Health to begin organizing our schools to follow a “learning group” model to promote the safety of our students and staff. This model organizes students into consistent groups that limit daily contacts (elementary/middle = 60; secondary = 120). Stage 2 of the provincial plan is built from an understanding of how schools and districts can best organize so that students receive the education they need while following the guidelines set out for British Columbians to ensure responsible and effective management of COVID-19. Some notable changes in the province from the schooling experience in June are: learning will return to the regular in-class model blending of remote and in-class options will be discontinued talking about learning groups rather than limits to density of class number…
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ASK Salt Spring: Discussing Salt Spring's Climate Action Plan

Fifteen gathered in the United Church Meadow last Friday on a comfortably-cool summer day last Friday. While all questions were welcomed, the conversation was focused on our soon-to-be-released Climate Action Plan 2.0 (CAP). Darryl Martin, the chair of the huge volunteer-driven effort, led the conversation. He had able back-up from Bryan Young, lead writer and member of the CAP steering committee, and Anne Parkinson, Chair of Transition Salt Spring. Major goals of this CAP were to: quantify our climate action realities, identify mitigation recommendations (a whopping 250 of them!), and suggest adaptation strategies. Darryl began the conversation with some history. We learned that there had been a plan in 2011 that had some successes, most notably the emergence of a strong electric vehicle group, a major force in placing Salt Spring in the enviable position of having more electric cars per capita than anywhere else in North America. Last year, our CRD Directo…
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ASK Salt Spring: Cycling Infrastructure and Using Our Roads

Last Friday, 30 hardy folks braved the cool, breezy summer rains to gather at Portlock Picnic Pavilion to welcome our special guest, MLA Adam Olsen. Nine of them were avid cyclists who had just ridden from Fulford, an annual ride celebrating Kip Nash’s birthday, a former Salt Spring coach who was well supported by our community when challenged by a brain tumor. He, his family, and his friends make this celebratory fundraising ride every year to thank Salt Springers for their support during his difficult times. While many rode from Fulford to Ganges, this hearty nine continued on to Portlock Park to speak to Adam. They came with a plea for better infrastructure for cyclists. They spoke with passion of their fear of cycling on Salt Spring and their sadness that their children could not grow up as they had with the freedom to explore island roads on their bicycles. They spoke of non-existent shoulders and angry drivers unwilling to share the road with cyclists. (Adam had just d…
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Trust Council Asks Travelers and Locals to Continue COVID-19 Measures

BC's Restart Plan has entered Phase 3, allowing people to participate in smart and safe travel within BC, including the Islands Trust Area, which includes the Gulf and Howe Sound Islands. As the Province moves into this new phase and heads into the July long weekend, the Islands Trust Council reminds visitors and island residents to continue using COVID-19 prevention measures to protect themselves and others. If you are sick, stay home. Please wash your hands often, practice physical distancing, wear masks when distancing isn’t possible, and minimize community interactions, as recommended by our Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and the BC Centre for Disease Control. “Everyone needs to be respectful, safe, smart and use extra caution when they travel, including Island residents who go on and off the islands,” shared Peter Luckham, Chair of the Islands Trust Council. “Until a vaccine is available, we will continue to be cautious and safe to avoid a COVID-19 outb…
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BC Green Caucus Advocates for Rebuilding With Cleaner, Green Economy

After nearly four-months away the British Columbia Legislative Assembly will finally resume. MLA’s will sit for eight weeks through July and August. British Columbia has been widely recognized for our collective handling of the pandemic. Our public health professionals, civil service and politicians have all been focussed on addressing the emergency as best as possible. Our response and the result have been remarkable. As we begin the economic recovery there are critical choices that must be made. Are we going to rebuild the economy of the last century? Or, are we going to build a cleaner, greener, more resilient economy of the future? With this key question in mind, the BC Green Caucus has been working closely with the provincial government to encourage them to invest in the latter. We recognize the investments coming out of the pandemic will set the direction for the coming decades. B.C. has the opportunity to be a climate leader, make strategic investments and build…
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Island Researchers Offer Timely and Defensible Knowledge

Every response to a large-scale disaster presents a window of opportunity to create profound change.   What are the opportunities for Islands Trust?  Our community has a renewed appetite for planning the community – they want a community and an economy that can be resilient to shocks, like pandemics or storms. Decades of poor resource management are manifesting themselves in declining fish populations, fragmentation of forest ecosystems, and loss of species diversity and habitat.  There are growing frustrations with land use planning and regulatory systems – not just ours but throughout the various levels of government. I believe it is time to clearly embrace the other powerful words in the Trust’s objective – “in cooperation with.” We need to work with residents, other partners and First Nations to protect our ecosystems, and to sustain this generation and those of the future. We have to help our island communities become more resilient in the times that lie ahead. In…
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MLA Adam Olsen: British Columbia's Restart Plan

Last week British Columbia moved into phase two of our restart plan. Nothing about the past few months has been easy. Asking British Columbians to stay home, miss important occasions like births, funerals and religious celebrations, close their businesses, and stay at least two metres away from each other has been very difficult. However, it’s necessary in order to protect the most vulnerable people in our society - our friends, family and neighbours who are immune-compromised, and our elders. Thankfully we were successful in flattening the curve and limiting the transmission rates in British Columbia without having to close down our economy as far as many other jurisdictions did. Now officials have begun to ease the restrictions they are asking each of us to maintain the new habits we have learned while still limiting ourselves to 60% of our pre-COVID interactions. From what we are learning about this awful disease we will need to re-organize aspects of our society to…
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Our Islands Trustee, Laura Patrick, Answers ASK Salt Spring Questions

What is the scope, timing, and expected outcomes of the proposed Ganges Village Plan? It is a desire of mine to see work advanced on Ganges Village planning and on harbour planning. (Better yet, I support planning for all of our villages.) This work needs to be scoped and funded in collaboration with other agencies and organizations. I would like to see pre-planning happening now, which could result in a business case and budget request for the 2021/22 fiscal year. In 2007, as part of the Official Community Plan update project, a Ganges Village and Harbour focus group issued an excellent report. Little has changed in the 13 years since that report was issued. In a few weeks, the Climate Action Plan 2.0 will be made public. It will include maps showing that rising sea levels will submerge some of our village core – let’s plan for this. The Fire Protection District is pursuing a new fire hall which will leave the old fire hall vacant – let’s plan what should come in its pla…
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Reimagining Salt Spring Island: Forward for the Better - not “Back to Normal”

This is an offering to our Salt Spring Island community in these troubled times where crisis and opportunity are the two faces of the situation we face as a community, as society, as a planet.  In order to get through this to some kind of better normal, we all need to raise big questions.  We need to talk about what’s hard to talk about.  That’s what we are trying to do here.  In doing so, we might upset some of you.  We can’t get this all right but we want to start the conversation. This is coming from a place of care and concern about the world we live in.  And of hope for the one we could co-create. What if we don’t go “back to normal” on Salt Spring Island. Normal was nurses and teachers without stable housing.  Normal was tons of visitors travelling by CO2 emitting planes, ferries and cars to go for a hike and have a nice dinner.  Normal was watching the Sysco food trucks drive off the ferry and past fallow farmland every single day.  Normal was locals avoiding Gange…
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Gary Holman Answers ASK Salt Spring’s Questions

What are the most effective actions that have you taken to address the impact of this pandemic on Salt Spring? This pandemic is unique because the Provincial government and Health Officer have declared it a province-wide emergency, actually precluding local governments from making local declarations. The Province delegated some authority to the CRD and Islands Trust to educate and inform people about Provincial directives and guidance from the Provincial Health Office, but actual enforcement authority rests with the RCMP and Island Health. The primary role of the CRD during the pandemic has been to ensure continuity of essential services. In addition to CRD services, services provided by other organizations (e.g., recycling, library, Artspring, transit) that are funded by the CRD through contribution agreements are managed by these organizations, consistent with Provincial direction. I have focused CRD grant in aid funding to the Salt Spring Foundation’s Emergency Fund an…
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Local Trust Committee Adopts Bylaw 512 to Boost Rentals

More than 400 properties on Salt Spring Island can now provide a new form of lawful rental housing. At its April 28, 2020 meeting the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (LTC) adopted Bylaw No. 512 to permit the full-time residential rental of accessory cottages on 411 Salt Spring Island properties. Please visit the project webpage for more information.
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COVID-19: Shower Program at Rainbow Road Pool to Support Vulnerable Populations

The Capital Regional District (CRD) Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation Commission (PARC) will be opening the shower facilities at the Rainbow Road Aquatic Centre (262 Rainbow Road) starting May 11, 2020. Access to washroom and bathing facilities has been deemed an essential service for unsheltered persons by the Government of BC. As a result, funding has been provided by Emergency Management BC to help PARC cover the costs of free showers which will be made available to Salt Spring Island’s most vulnerable populations from 9am-1pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the public health emergency. Patrons will be served one at a time and assigned a 30-minute time slot and private shower space. Between each shower time, change rooms and showers will be cleaned in accordance with the CRD Facilities Management COVID-19 Janitorial Guidelines. Patrons are encouraged to register for a time slot to avoid lengthy wait times. For more information, please call 250.537.14…
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ASK Salt Spring Gets Answers from MLA Adam Olsen

This virus has highlighted the imperative of a living space for all. What can we do to encourage the province to support the tiny home model so successful in other communities? The provincial government has recently announced a comprehensive program to provide short-term housing for people in our community that are experiencing homelessness and who need to uphold physical distancing requirements. The BC Green Caucus has advocated for housing-first models, and this is a positive step forward. As the public health emergency passes and we are considering options for the economic recovery, the provincial government will have an important opportunity to develop long-term programs that address housing and the associated supports to provide people the solid foundation they need to build. Tiny homes are a housing solution that I have long advocated. I have met with Hon. Selina Robinson (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing) to discuss the challenges tiny home advocates are e…
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ASK Salt Spring with Salt Spring Islands Trustee Laura Patrick

First, how are you doing during this crisis? Our household is adjusting to the stay home and social distancing norms. We worry about our eldest family members who are most vulnerable. My mother can now answer a FaceTime call, and she appears to be enjoying this form of communication. Can you tell us what the Islands Trust, especially our Local Trust Committee (LTC), is doing to help address this pandemic? On the operations side, Islands Trust has taken clear steps to minimize the transmission of Covid-19. This has included closing our offices to the public, sending most staff home to work, and suspending all site visits to limit off-Island visitors. As we emerge from this situation, the LTC will be eager to engage Salt Springers in a conversation about what regulatory and policy changes are necessary to ensure that our community is as resilient as possible to address future challenges. In addition to Islands Trust business, I am chairing a task force to coordinate o…
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MLA Adam Olsen: Showing Up for Business Who Have Showed Up for Us

In times of hardship and challenge humans show incredible adaptability, resilience and innovation. While we are largely able to deal with the disruption and calamity caused by localized natural disasters or collapse of man-made systems, we have rarely had the dramatic challenge at a global level like we are experiencing with the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of physical distancing and social isolation for individuals, communities, enterprise, businesses, institutions and governments is intense. We see the diverse web of interconnectivity of all our systems, and our weaknesses and vulnerabilities are exposed. As we move through the initial aspects of the public health emergency it is critical that we continue to maintain the effective tactics ordered by Dr. Bonnie Henry, our provincial health officer, including physical distancing, frequent handwashing and only going out on essential business, that have helped British Columbia keep our transmission rates relatively low.…
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ASK Salt Spring with Gary Holman, Salt Spring Island Electoral Area CRD Director

While ASK Salt Spring Friday gatherings at Thrifty’s have been temporarily-suspended, the need for information is still there. . . and is possibly greater than ever. Gary offered these answers to  Salt Springers’ questions: First, how are you doing during this crisis?  My family and I are well, and we feel grateful to be living in such a beautiful part of the world where governments, health systems, and communities are rising to this challenge.  My thanks to everyone in public or private sector organizations who are taking care of our essential needs, particularly our health care providers who are saving lives while putting theirs at risk. What is the hardest part for you to address as our CRD Director?  One of the most difficult issues has always been difficult - providing safe shelter and services for the homeless. I have prioritized CRD grants in aid this year to help support the Salt Spring Island Foundation Emergency Fund, as well as organizations like Community S…
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ASK Salt Spring with MLA Adam Olsen

Our MLA Adam Olsen was an early enthusiastic supporter of ASK Salt Spring, Neighbours Helping Neighbours Find Answers. And, that enthusiasm has continued with his commitment to come to ASK Salt Spring the first Friday every month. While these gatherings at Thrifty’s have been temporarily postponed, Adam continues to offer us many answers. Concerning Our Current Crisis: The message is simple and clear: Other than essential business, 100% of British Columbians should stay home 100% of the time. If you must go out, maintain physical distance from everyone and. make sure you wash your hands thoroughly and often. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on every aspect of our society. That freedom and liberty that we so cherish have been dramatically restricted. We are forced to recognize the fragility of the systems that we have created. My heart goes out to our frontline medical workers who face incredible challenges each day, including being forced to make hear…
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COVID-19: Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Moves to Electronic Meetings During Pandemic

Lekwungen, METULIYE/Victoria, BC—Salt Spring Island Local Trust Area residents and property owners can attend the next local trust committee meeting, April 28, 9:30 a.m., from their homes. All they need is a phone or a computer with access to the internet. In compliance with public health directives to limit public gatherings and maintain social distance, the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee will be conducting its next regular business meeting via Zoom, an electronic video and audio conferencing system, which can be accessed by anyone through the internet, or phone. The Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee will conduct its meeting electronically. However, provincial law requires that a physical location be provided for the public to assemble. The Islands Trust Victoria Office at 1627 Fort Street, Victoria, BC, will serve as this location, but Islands Trust hopes that meeting attendees will stay home and attend the meeting electronically. “As much as…
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