Viewpoint: Trust CDF project input welcomed
By PETER LUCKHAM
As the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (SSILTC) looks forward to 2021, we strongly feel the need to tell the community we are listening.
In 2020, our Protection of Coastal Douglas-Fir and Associated Ecosystems Project got the community talking. As we head into a new year, the SSILTC wants everyone to know we want to hear from you. There will be many things to talk about: developing a Ganges village area plan, considering the regulatory and policy framework for drinking water watersheds, amending the island’s official community plan and land use bylaw to address housing issues, and ensuring we continue the important work of reconciliation.
Forest ecosystems and the species they support have been culturally and spiritually important to the First Peoples of this region since time immemorial and are critically important to the well-being of the islands and the people who live there. It is crucial that decisions about how best to protect them into the future are well-informed by a variety of perspectives. As 2020 closes, we want to set out the facts of the Protection of Coastal Douglas-Fir and Associated Ecosystems Project and our commitment to hearing from the public, conservation groups, foresters, outdoor enthusiasts, and to engaging with First Nations.
The Protection of Coastal Douglas-Fir and Associated Ecosystems Project is a two-year project that aims to maintain contiguous forest cover, protect and restore functioning ecosystems, protect watershed ecology, honour First Nations’ cultural heritage and minimize wildfire risk. Currently, in phase one, we are gathering and analyzing information. We are working with local scientists and First Nations knowledge holders to identify the areas of highest interest for protection. The SSILTC and islanders have a suite of options to consider, including education, advocacy, regulation and incentives. At this time, the Local Trust Committee has not instructed staff to draft bylaws.
Throughout every phase of this project, and indeed, every project we take on, we will seek and consider input from the public and stakeholders, and will engage First Nations. We want to hear from those who rely on forestry for their economic livelihood, and those who have concerns about forestry practices and development practices that degrade ecosystem health.
The SSILTC will be providing engagement opportunities throughout 2021 about this project and the others we have underway. We look forward to hearing from the community and First Nations and hope that sometime this year we can gather again safely in person to have these conversations.
Islands Trust staff are available to provide details on the project, and local trustees are keen to hear from you. Please contact the Local Trust Committee at email@example.com, or staff at the Islands Trust office at 250-537-9144. Background information is available at www.islandstrust.bc.ca/cdfssi.
The writer chairs the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee and Islands Trust Council.