Draft Trust Policy Statement concerns aired on Salt Spring
Friday’s ASK Salt Spring session provided a chance for islanders to provide feedback about both items contained in the draft Islands Trust Policy Statement (TPS) and the process itself after calls of alarm went out on social media about a June 15 Trust Programs Committee meeting.
About 50 people came to the United Church meadow for the first ASK Salt Spring meeting held outdoors since last fall with Salt Spring trustee Laura Patrick as the guest.
Their message to Patrick and trustee Peter Grove, who also attended but was not the scheduled ASK Salt Spring guest, was to tell Trust Council to not give first reading to a new Trust Policy Statement bylaw as scheduled for July 8.
People expressed concerns primarily about a proposed ban on future docks that has appeared in a draft TPS document, but also mentioned a policy that suggests desalination plants not be considered, and sections about agriculture and forestry uses.
But feeling they had not been asked for specific input into the TPS revision and that the process was being rushed when no in-person public meetings could be held due to COVID-19 were also major concerns.
“Zoom meetings — that’s not public at all,” commented one meeting attendee. “This sounds like a COVID push-through that nobody can have a say in.”
A full Trust Council meeting to discuss a policy statement draft and consider giving it first reading has been set for Thursday, July 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. In addition to that meeting, Trust Council has set aside two hours the night before to gather public input. A June 18 press release outlines how individuals will be given two minutes to speak in a town hall meeting held via Zoom from 7 to 9 p.m.
“Based on the feedback I am seeing from these people I would highly recommend that you take it back to your council and to your committees and suggest that you put a hold on first reading and get all of the feedback you need to make something effective and efficient and friendly and easy,” observed island resident Harry Poliak. “Start from there and then get the feedback and put your first reading in with the voice of the people. Otherwise what is happening is you’re bringing a lot of energy into your first reading and it’s going to be a kibosh.”
Patrick sympathized with people’s concerns and said she would represent their views to Trust Council, but stressed that first reading is just the start of the process.
“Some of the messages that are out there on social media are saying ‘First reading is it, you can’t change it again,’” she said. “That’s not true. First reading is the introduction. It’s the introduction for me. It’s the introduction for all of us. Then it’s fair. We are working on a draft that we can all see and we can all comment on. Peter [Grove] and I want to hear from all of you. We want to have in-depth conversations.”
Gayle Baker, who organizes the weekly ASK Salt Spring events where the public can ask questions of officials from government or other agencies, also suggested Patrick and Grove advocate for first reading to be delayed.
“It is a scary thing for people and it might not be that important,” said Baker.
A Trust Council timeline has also pointed to public consultation on the policy statement taking place in September. Further readings and bylaw adoption would follow after that process was complete.
Information about the Trust Policy Statement review process, which was initiated almost two years ago, is available at https://islandstrust.bc.ca/programs/islands-2050/
For more on this story, see the June 23 issue of the Driftwood or updates on this website.