Editorial: Eliminate the stain

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The sight of islanders doing their laundry in buckets in a public park in recent weeks has rightly gotten locals in a lather.

Bringing a private issue so visibly into the open is just what was needed to focus attention on a major community issue.

Salt Spring Island has been without a public laundromat for more than two and a half years. While community members were alarmed after the Mrs. Clean business closed, various individuals and groups appeared willing to step up to the plate to replace the laundromat and a solution seemed inevitable. 

But as with many problems on Salt Spring, nothing is as simple as it first appears.

Salt Spring Community Services Society personnel have been working to find a suitable location, as have Copper Kettle Community Partnership members. Even a portable facility has been investigated.

It is not the role of government to provide all services to all people, so it makes more sense for a business person or not-for-profit agency to take on the challenge of operating a laundry facility. Two local business people have already asked for the use to be permitted on properties they own. Last week the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee proposed lifting potential zoning obstacles by adding a laundry facility to permitted uses on those two properties, which are currently zoned industrial. That’s a great first step, but public support for the concept will be needed in coming months.

The lack of accessible laundry facilities is another one of those issues that unfortunately divides Salt Spring into distinct haves and have nots. Our tourism industry is also affected when boaters arrive to find they can’t necessarily do their laundry here — depending on where they dock — and then make that fact known far and wide.

Like affordable housing, not having a public laundromat is a health and economic issue that affects all of us in some way. Let’s be flexible, pool resources and solve it as soon as possible.

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