Sunday, October 1, 2023
October 1, 2023

Trustees represent more than communities


I wish to respond to John Money’s In Depth column in the March 29 edition. I would refute a number of his criticisms but will focus on only two which are important to me.

First, let me state that I respect Mr. Money’s long-time, dedicated community work on Saturna Island; for about 10 years (between 1986 and ‘96) I was a trustee from Gabriola while he was a Saturna trustee, and I always enjoyed his company and wise words at the council table.

Money says, “Many of the trustees have no true understanding of their mandate. This should be spelled out clearly.” I have two responses to that assertion: first, while following the Islands Trust election campaign last fall, it was clear to me that some candidates ran on platforms that did not support the Trust mandate, but rather other community or perhaps personal goals. Second, there are trustees who do not avail themselves of the comprehensive and carefully planned program of education developed specifically in order to bring new trustees up to speed on the Trust mandate, policies, procedures and the job of a trustee locally and on council.

Mr. Money also contends that “The Executive Committee has moved into a position of power and seeks to control the trustees that have been duly voted in to represent the people.” That is far from what I have observed from reporting on and watching Trust Council for several decades, and definitely not true with the current Executive Committee, all of whom were voted in fairly and I believe thoughtfully at the November council meeting. The current committee has three members who are brand new to the executive and one who is new to council; they are well-respected by their fellow trustees and certainly do not bring any a priori agendas regarding the control of other trustees.

The Executive Committee makes decisions and prioritizes council work at the behest of Trust Council; when the majority of council asks the Executive Committee to work with staff and get something done, that is how the work proceeds. There is no other instigation for the Executive Committee’s work.

Trustees are elected to represent their community. That is clear when the votes are counted at election time. But their job also includes supporting Trust Council and making decisions to support the Islands Trust, not just for the benefit of fellow citizens, but for the benefit of the province. That is why it is called a Trust and that is why the province deemed it so in 1974.  

The writer is one of two trustees for Gabriola Island.  


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