Islands Trust Policy Statement work continues

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Islands Trust Council’s programs committee will not push for a specific completion date of a new Trust Policy Statement (TPS) document in advance of the next full council meeting set for March 8-10.

Some trustees and members of the public have suggested that Trust Council not try to complete the TPS update before trustee elections are held this October, contrary to a proposed timeline included in a staff report and council’s original plans for the project.

While the programs committee did not recommend a specific timeline at their Feb. 11 meeting, members did agree to recommend to Trust Council “that the timeline for passage of the revised policy statement be guided by and reflective of the engagement process,” based on a motion made by Saturna trustee Paul Brent.

As outlined in a staff report, public engagement activities, set to begin before the end of this month, include an online survey, a virtual live question and answer session, a virtual community workshop, by-invitation virtual focus groups, in-person community events and pop-ups, with in-person events subject to COVID-19 related restrictions on public gatherings. ISL Engineering and Land Services, the company contracted to develop and implement what is called the phase 3 public engagement program, is expected to produce a report by the end of May. The draft timeline suggests first reading could be considered at Trust Council’s meeting in June.

Trustee Tim Peterson from Lasqueti Island expressed sentiments shared by some of his colleagues at Friday’s meeting.

“I don’t think we need to be married to finishing this project before the end of the term, but I also don’t think it’s appropriate to stop work. I think especially the issues around reconciliation are really important and we need to be making an effort to be moving this along.”

Gabriola trustee Scott Colbourne did not support Brent’s motion that the timeline be essentially determined by public input.

“This implies that there’s going to be some universal consensus guided by and reflective of public engagement. That’s not how public engagement works, folks. . . . Public engagement is not going to yield ‘Do it this way.’ You’re going to get a lot of contradictory information. There’s a lot of voices we haven’t heard from. There’s a lot of voices who are sort of self selecting in terms of their ability to take part in the meetings and get in delegations.”

Colbourne said it was important for the new TPS to address long overdue things like climate change and reconciliation issues and finish the job before the end of the trustees’ term. To not do so, he said, “would be a monumental failure of the task that has been put in front of us as elected officials in 2022.”

Trustees had also been asked to provide community feedback received about the TPS for the Feb. 11 meeting. Eleven of 26 trustees responded to that request.

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