Editorial: Expedite process if possible

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Anyone who’s been in business on Salt Spring Island knows what a terrifying prospect it can be.

Between dealing with a summer crush and a winter drought, trying to figure out what government body to go to for services, transportation challenges and a spate of less-than-rock-solid commercial buildings, any number of pitfalls await the island business owner, whether new to the game or seasoned.

It would be easy to criticize the new owners of Island Escapades, which has been renamed Beachside, for not acquiring a development permit from the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee before undertaking shoreline stabilization work. But as Jason Watkin has stated, the work arose due to an emergency situation that could have put the Beachside building in jeopardy if nothing was done to replace a crumbling retaining wall. Under those circumstances, heading off to a government office might not be one’s first thought.

That said, this situation is a stark and valuable reminder to others that development permits are required for just about any activity in Ganges village, on shorelines or around lakes and streams, among other areas. It should not be a surprise to anyone that local government approval is required to undertake changes in accordance with the island’s official community plan. And it would be reckless to throw out development permit requirements just because everyone is eager to see a new business get off the ground.

At the same time, it would be unfortunate if something that could be done to facilitate the permit approval was not done. This is especially the case because of the emergency nature of the work required. Perhaps some applicants in the Islands Trust queue could voluntarily allow the Beachside permit jump ahead of them in the line.

Perhaps a contract planner could be hired by the Watkins as occurs in more complicated Trust applications. Perhaps another spot could be used to at least ensure the kayaking part of the business continues.

Of primary concern in this case is the jobs that will be lost if this business does not open this summer, and the overall community benefit that Beachside will provide, as did its predecessor.

When an independent island business can be supported, everybody wins.

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