By GARY HOLMAN
Salt Spring Electoral Area Director to the CRD
To suggest that 2021, actually this entire political term, has been eventful would be an understatement. Historic wind storm and rainfall events, drought and fire risk periods, and COVID have tested our community’s resiliency, but we’ve continued to make progress.
I’m looking forward to completion of a number of CRD-related initiatives in 2022, some of which represent the culmination of years of effort, many involving CRD collaboration with other agencies and community groups, and some involving substantial senior government and CRD funding. Some initiatives will also require voter approval.
An additional 34 units of affordable housing at Croftonbrook will be completed by mid-2022, a testament to IWAV’s skill and perseverance. Phases 1 and 2 of Croftonbrook have received over $6 million from the CRD Regional Housing First and Housing Trust Fund programs, and Community Works (gas tax) funding for potable water supply alternatives.
BC Housing’s project at CRD’s Drake Road site should be completed in 2022. Gas tax funding helped prove potable water supplies for this project, and will do so for other affordable housing development on the site. BC Housing has invested millions this term for the 24-unit Salt Spring Commons affordable housing project, year-round, 24/7 funding for Community Services’ shelter, and transition housing at the Seabreeze Inne.
Locally elected officials have been working with BC Housing to help secure their commitment to find alternative accommodation for tenants of the Seabreeze, necessary if the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation completes its purchase of the inne for much-needed health-worker housing.
Other CRD-supported affordable housing initiatives for 2022 include: a CRD grant-in-aid to complete a governance study for our local housing council; implementation of the Greater Victoria Social Planning Council rent bank program on Salt Spring; and a sustainability study for Weston Lake to support possible legalization of suites in Fulford village, with Islands Trust Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance support.
CRD PARC will be leasing the Salt Spring Island Middle School (SIMS) by mid-2022, and will sublet space to a number of local community groups at below market rents. The CRD Emergency Program is already leasing space at SIMS directly from School District 64.
Gas-tax-funded detailed designs for the Ganges Harbourwalk, with input from First Nations, upland owners and the public, will be initiated in 2022. These designs will support grant applications and other fundraising efforts for boardwalk construction.
The Salt Spring Island Fire Protection District (SSIFPD) will conduct a referendum for a new public safety building at their donated site near Brinkworthy. The CRD Emergency Operations Centre will be co-located at this post-disaster facility, the cost of which to local taxpayers will be reduced by gas tax funding. If voters approve this essential new facility, CRD will finalize an option to purchase with SSIFPD and evaluate the feasibility of re-purposing the Ganges fire hall for a year-round food market.
A successful fundraising campaign by the Lady Minto Hospital Foundation and a $3 million Capital Region Hospital District contribution will enable construction of a new emergency room at the hospital.
A permanent addition of shared daycare/recreation space to the Rainbow Road swimming pool will be completed, funded by provincial grant and gas tax funds.
Detailed designs for the Ganges Hill repaving project, acquisition of rights of way, and preparatory works (e.g., moving ditches and power poles) will be completed in 2022. Repaving with widened shoulders would be completed in 2023, all fully funded by MOTI, and providing a model for future repaving on the proposed Vesuvius-Fulford Salish Sea Trail.
Other CRD infrastructure initiatives include: upgrading air conditioning at the library, allowing its use as a cooling centre; studies of reclaimed water at the Ganges sewage treatment plant and liquid waste disposal options at Burgoyne facility; initiating the downtown Ganges Active Transportation Plan and completing detailed designs for south Rainbow Road sidewalks and the Merchant Mews pathway; completion of a 3D-printed cement bus shelter at Mobrae.
Climate Action/Food Security
CRD PARC’s purchase of an 80-acre forested parcel in the Mount Maxwell area could be completed next year, subject to a successful public fundraising campaign.
The Salt Spring Island Abattoir Society has begun construction of a composting facility at the Farmland Trust’s Burgoyne Valley Community Farm, funded by grants and gas tax. Anticipated additional grants and regulatory approvals should see the facility operating by spring of 2022.
Other related initiatives with funding through CRD: opening The Root food storage and processing facility; continuation of the rainwater catchment rebate program for private well owners; free transit for children under 12; a new Level-2 charger at the swimming pool.
Public consultation on a Local Community Commission (LCC), based on a discussion paper and supported by CRD and provincial staff, will begin in the spring of 2022. An LCC would be comprised of four, elected-at-large members, who with the CRD director would broaden oversight of all CRD services (e.g., budgets, bylaws, policies), and could also consolidate some services. Establishment of a CRD LCC would require voter approval at the next local government election in October 2022.
Inter-agency meetings, supported by the Community Alliance’s ASK Salt Spring organization, will also begin in the new year.
Thus far this term, Salt Spring has secured roughly $9 million in funding commitments from senior governments (excluding emergency road repair costs), and over $10 million from the CRD for local projects and services. There will be additional funding announcements in 2022.
My best wishes to all for the New Year. Please contact me at: email@example.com or 250-538-4307 with any questions or comments.