Editorial: Voices heard

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Looking back on a year’s worth of happenings through the Driftwood’s Year in Review feature, one thing that emerges loud and clear is that when islanders act or speak out, change can happen. 

Without passing judgement on whether or not all actions are positive ones, the impact that islanders can have is remarkable. In several cases, changes in policies or direction from governing bodies did result due to public pressure. 

One example is concerns about unbridalled private land logging and the Islands Trust’s inability to control it in any way, and how that connects to climate change. While lobbying by island residents did not see change to private land logging regulations occur at the provincial government level, efforts did see the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee put protection of the coastal Douglas-fir ecosystem on its top priority list in December. 

A concerted effort by Gulf Islanders For Safe Technology members and other individuals to question the proposed Legion property for siting a CREST emergency communications tower definitely made an impact. Salt Spring’s LTC was sufficiently moved by public concern to ask CREST to investigate other location options.

Island residents speaking loudly about unacceptable ferry-service levels also saw changes made. Flaggers were brought in for both Vesuvius and Fulford villages to improve safety, and BC Ferries announced that the Bowen Queen would be the peak-season vessel on the Vesuvius-Crofton route in 2020. 

Most dramatically, the Capital Regional District’s community safety service bylaw was soundly defeated by more than twice the required number of voters taking the time to register their opposition to the proposal. The idea itself came about because some community members identified a problem and helped make a case to the CRD for support, which is also an example of people speaking out to effect change. Many people expressed a dislike of Bylaw 4325 because of the alternate approval process rather than the concept itself, something legislators may take note of for future proposals.

It’s heartening to realize that when people unite and express their concerns, those in power will sometimes listen and respond. Let’s hope that trend continues through 2020 and beyond. 

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