Housing needs at odds with potable water regs


Community groups engaged with affordable housing and the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee continue to struggle with how to balance social needs with regulations around potable water supply.

The issue came up at Thursday’s LTC meeting in relation to two different rezoning applications and was also referenced to a proposed bylaw that would allow the year-round long-term rental of cottages.

Salt Spring trustee Peter Grove voiced his frustration with the very idea of water scarcity, as he has at many past meetings.

“I just find this whole business about lack of water upsetting. There is no lack of water,” Grove said. “The language of the Islands Trust guideline, I think, is too restrictive because there’s no lack of water around here. It’s just a question of how we capture it and how we use it. So I don’t think it holds water.”

Trust policy on water was central as trustees considered entering into a cost recovery agreement with the Capital Regional District related to restricting water use for its proposed housing development on Drake Road. The project was denied a hook-up to the North Salt Spring Waterworks District following that body’s moratorium on new users, and two attempts to find adequate groundwater since then have had very little success. As a result, the CRD has proposed reducing the number of units and is also looking into the advisability of putting a covenant on title that restricts water use.

Regional planning manager Stefan Cermak observed the project would face issues getting approved, as demonstrating sufficient water supply is a requirement of the CRD building permit. As well, Islands Trust policy stipulates that “neither the density nor intensity of land use is increased in areas of known water scarcity.”

For more on this story, see the Dec.  27, 2017 issue of the Gulf Islands Driftwood newspaper, or subscribe online.

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