Southern Gulf Islanders are being asked for their thoughts as the Islands Trust prepares to make a major update to its overarching policy statement to better reflect priorities of reconciliation, affordable housing and climate change.
The public engagement process kicks off Feb. 25 with an online survey followed by a virtual Q&A session on March 1. These are the first of many opportunities for comment on a document meant to guide the work of the Trust and better address its stated commitments and the changing demographics, development and other realities of the area over the past 25 years.
After preparing to go to first reading on a draft of the policy statement in 2021, strong concerns were raised by some who feared the Trust was attempting to rush changes through without sufficient public consultation. Several areas of concern arose, including around a proposed prohibition of new private docks throughout the Trust area as well as seawalls and other hard surfaces along shorelines. Others flagged concerns with changes to definitions around agriculture and forestry as valuable traditional activities.
The Trust’s 26-member governing body, the Islands Trust Council, decided in July 2021 to defer a first reading that could now take place at the council’s June 2022 meeting. It is unclear whether work on the policy statement update will be done before trustee elections in October.
The Islands Trust represents 26,000 residents and 10,000 non-resident property owners on 13 major islands and over 450 smaller ones between Vancouver Island and the mainland, with a provincial mandate to “preserve and protect the unique amenities and environment” of the area. The Trust uses the policy statement to guide the development of official community plans and regulatory bylaws in each locality. It also informs advocacy on a regional level and intergovernmental collaboration. The document has not had a significant update since 1994.
With a draft policy statement in hand, the Trust is now starting a third public engagement phase, to run from late February to April and led by ISL Engineering. The Q&A set for March 1 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. will be recorded but not livestreamed, meaning those who want to participate need to sign up in advance at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_sfWxWhlGRTGndVq_2E03bQ. Questions can also be submitted in advance to Islands2050@islandstrust.bc.ca.
In addition to the survey and Q&A session, more virtual and in-person activities are being planned. The Trust is also engaging with First Nations on the draft statement. For more detail, see https://islandstrust.bc.ca/programs/islands-2050/.
“Updates to the policy statement, informed by the community and other partners, will help ensure that we preserve and protect what we most cherish about the Islands Trust Area, including thriving and diverse ecosystems, natural and cultural heritage, and sustainable and resilient island communities,” stated Islands Trust Council chair Peter Luckham.