Over 100 people gathered at the Islands Trust office on Friday morning to speak out about the ongoing housing crisis on Salt Spring.
The rally was organized by Salt Spring Solutions, a group dedicated to building awareness and advocating for a fix for the island’s lack of affordable housing. Demonstrators gathered to hear housing advocates speak out about the various issues causing the crisis, as well as demand action in the form of a bold plan from local government officials in response to the issue.
Salt Spring Solutions spokesperson Jason Mogus said that the issue has been on the minds of local government officials for years, and that “when it comes to an actual plan that is going to give systemic and bold solutions; it’s not happening. We feel like we need to remind the Trust, the CRD and NSSWD that people need action now.”
“It’s really easy to punt the ball or come up with incremental solutions that might lead to a few cottages here and there, which is what the current cottages bylaw will do. What we need are bolder solutions that will help with the climate emergency and help with the housing crisis,” he added. “There’s still this resistance to homes and density in town, when all these forests are getting cut for big mansions being built far from town, which makes people have to drive into town. We want to see the Trust make some tangible changes towards these things.”
Also speaking at the event were Islands Trust trustees Laura Patrick and Peter Grove. The trustees both spoke about the progress made since last year’s local elections. However, Patrick and Grove disagreed on the effectiveness of different bylaws. Grove touted the benefit of Bylaw 512, which changes seasonal cottages into permanent residences. Patrick, meanwhile, feels that staff time could be better spent elsewhere.
Other steps taken by the Trust include a new temporary use permit for suites, cottages and tiny homes for full-time residency. That bylaw (#471) will be discussed at Tuesday’s LTC meeting.
For more on this story, see the Nov. 27th issue of the Driftwood.