BY LAURA PATRICK
Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee member
Here we are kicking off 2022 and we’re still battling with COVID-19. Last year delivered a plethora of mind-boggling experiences like heat domes and atmospheric rivers. Our cooperative community spirit has been tested, but continues to be our biggest strength.
Your input into local government decision-making is very important to me, so I’d like to update you on some of the matters before us and how you can have a say.
On Salt Spring Island, it’s the local trust committee (locally elected trustees Peter Grove and myself, and the appointed chair Peter Luckham, trustee from Thetis) that regulates land use and development.
The local trust committee (LTC) makes decisions on applications it receives for changes in land use permissions, such as development variances (e.g., lot line setbacks or building heights), rezonings (e.g., change in use or density) or development permits (e.g., work within ecologically sensitive areas or hazardous areas). You can find information about the current applications on the Islands Trust website at islandstrust.bc.ca. An update report on the status of current applications is provided as a regular item (#7.4) in every month’s LTC agenda. You can find the latest report in the agenda package for the upcoming Jan. 18 meeting.
The LTC is also proactive on several fronts. I hope you received the post card in your mail or saw the posters around town last month inviting you to participate in a public survey about the Ganges Village Area Plan. More focused engagement activities are coming this year and you can find the project page at islandstrust.bc.ca/ganges-village-area-plan/. We are recruiting additional citizen volunteer task force members to provide advice and guiding hands. If you would like to join the group please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
The Housing Action Program is being guided by another citizen volunteer task force. Its objectives are to maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of new housing on Salt Spring, including its ecological, climatic and socioeconomic dimensions. The Salt Spring community is made up of residents of all abilities, incomes, lifestyles, livelihoods and household types. We need a spectrum of housing types to ensure a healthy and diverse community. The LTC is working on priority actions designed to address urgent housing needs, such as using accessory dwellings (e.g., cottages, secondary suites in principle dwellings and secondary suites in accessory buildings) to alleviate the dire need for rental accommodation. We will be seeking public input on this and other housing options in the coming months and invite your input.
The Protection of the Coastal Douglas Fir and Associated Ecosystem Project, through the contributions of a science working group, has developed a powerful mapping tool that brings together several layers of information about contiguous forests, sensitive ecosystems, protected areas and groundwater recharge potential. There are opportunities to use this tool to explore different management scenarios that can help us make informed choices when it comes to prioritizing areas for protection. The LTC is working with Salt Spring Fire Rescue to see if the use of development permit area tools is an effective approach to help mitigate wildfire risk. Pending budget approval, a fire ecology risk analysis will be conducted along with facilitating a round-table discussion, with diverse and knowledgeable representation. The outcome will inform the development of management practices, stewardship and education programs and compliance mechanisms.
Through the Water Sustainability Project, groundwater recharge mapping is being completed as well as a watershed stewardship and protection plan for the island. Funding and coordination of the Salt Spring Island Watershed Protection Alliance is also maintained under this project.
You can find more information about these initiatives on the Islands Trust website.
As one of your two elected trustees, I want you to know that I value your input. Every time I engage with a resident or business owner I learn something about what makes our community tick and why it is so resilient. Please feel free to reach out to me via email at email@example.com.
One of the easiest ways to keep up to date on what we’re working on is to subscribe on the Islands Trust website. Make sure to select the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee to receive notifications. Also there are several important matters occurring at the regional federation Trust Council level. Stay tuned for a separate report on this.