Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Trust plans special meeting on Policy Statement

Within the next few weeks, both Islands Trust trustees and the broader public will be getting a first look at a draft of planned amendments to the Trust’s official Policy Statement — and as staff repeatedly emphasized the word “draft,” Trust Council voted to take their first look as a group next month, before it wound up on any subcommittee’s agenda. 

The latest version of the project’s charter was presented to Council by Trust Area services director Clare Frater at that body’s meeting Thursday, March 14, updated to include funding for a virtual “open house” discussion session about the policy statement, as well as a “professionally designed and administered” survey.  

“Our anticipated timeframe now is to bring the document out in mid April,” said Frater. “I think the watch word is going to be ‘flexibility’; as we move this forward, we’re going to move at a pace that all of you are comfortable with.” 

That is expected to be unhurried; the Islands Trust turns 50 this year, with the Policy Statement marking 30 years since its last meaningful update in 1994 — coming up short, according to officials, in adequately addressing issues of reconciliation, climate change and housing.  

Efforts to begin an update process began in 2019, but were delayed in 2021 when residents crowded public meetings — and filled newspaper opinion pages — with negative reaction to both wording and process during a first reading of the proposed changes. 

Trustees reacted then by sending staff back to the drawing board, to incorporate what had become a significant amount of feedback — hammered out into 32 resolutions — into a new document. That work has been done and a document has been produced, and has been shared with nine First Nations representatives for their “feedback and reflections,” Frater said, noting the next step would be presenting all of that to trustees for their consideration, alongside the draft itself. 

Trustees serving on the Trust Programs and Executive Committees had anticipated an “early 2024” first look, at which point the broader public would also see the draft, since it would be posted in public agendas as the long work to refine the document began. 

But at the March 14 meeting, Trust Council voted to amend the project charter just a bit more — to have the draft be provided to the full Trust Council instead, at a special meeting almost certain to be held electronically.  

“We’re intending to bring a whole suite of information associated with that draft,” said Frater, “which will include a summary of how we’ve dealt with each of the 32 resolutions that directed the changes, a 45-page concordance table tracking every change from Draft 1 to Draft 2, and comments from First Nations; we’ll be providing you with a ‘track changes’ version of how the draft might get amended, based on the feedback that we’ve heard, along with a summary of other issues for Trust Council to contemplate.” 

After that, trustees can choose how to go forward with public engagement — a process unlikely to wrap up before current timeline estimates that put Local Trust Committee referrals and the professional survey on the calendar for April 2025. 

“I’d just like to add, council staff are very excited to bring you this draft,” said Frater. “It is a draft. And we expect you to take the time that you need to make it yours, to have it represent the vision of Council and set the future of the Islands Trust.” 

The April date for that special Trust Council meeting will be posted, when scheduled, at islandstrust.bc.ca

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