Bylaws clash with housing needs

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A Salt Spring Island family is facing eviction from their home pending the results of an Islands Trust bylaw investigation.

An Islands Trust bylaw enforcement officer inspected the North End Road property on April 9 as a result of a complaint about too many people living on the lot.

Brett and Tina Taylor have been in the middle of the housing crisis on Salt Spring since they moved to the island four years ago. They initially lived in a rented cabin for two years. The cabin changed ownership multiple times, and eventually the Taylors were asked to leave.

The family had lived in a yurt in the Kootenay mountains in the past, and thought that doing the same thing would be a solution to their problem, at least temporarily. They were invited to live on a friend’s land, and have been living off-grid for two years in their home.

“Everything has been peaceful and well until a complaint was given that there were too many people on the land,” Brett said. “The bylaw officer came a couple of weeks ago and said that people were living illegally here. That’s where we stand today.”

Islands Trust enforces bylaws after a written complaint is received, and once a complaint is received the officers are legally permitted to enter and inspect any lot to determine if Salt Spring’s land use regulations are being observed.

Salt Spring trustee Peter Grove said, “It’s tough. Nobody wants to see people made homeless, but nevertheless we have a responsibility in terms of safety and health. If something untoward were to happen to people living in illegal situations then the local government could very well be accountable in some form or another, so we must respond to these things.”

The Taylors and others are encouraging anyone affected by the housing crisis to attend the town hall portion of the next Salt Spring Local Trust Committee meeting. It begins at approximately 12 noon on April 19 at Lions Hall.

For more on this story, see the April 11, 2018 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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