By ERIC BOOTH
Imagine, if you will, what I can only describe as the most ridiculous proposal I have ever seen, made by Salt Spring trustee Laura Patrick and supported by Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC) chair Tim Peterson (from Lasqueti Island) at last Thursday’s LTC meeting.
The proposal, which Patrick herself characterized as “silly,” would see the reduction in the proposed number of much needed, potential accessory dwelling units in Bylaw 530 from over 5,000 to, in her words, an “itty-bitty” number . . . around 20 or so.
Incredulously, her stated intention in making the proposal is to garner support for Bylaw 530.
In other words, propose something so ludicrous that it will anger supporters of the bylaw, while pleasing all of those who are opposed to it and, in the meantime eat up valuable staff time, resources and tax dollars on the “silly” idea, while our housing crisis gets worse by the day.
Patrick was elected five years ago, and, to date has moved nothing forward to actually deal with the crisis. She punted Bylaw 530 last year before the election. She campaigned on supporting Bylaw 530, stating at the public debate that the uptake for ADUs will likely only be about six or seven per cent (350-plus). She was elected on that platform, and then in June, in opposition to trustee Jamie Harris, punted it again through to last week, and now has punted it again, back downfield, in the opposite direction.
The question that now arises is this: when the bylaw, amended to reflect her “silly” request, returns to the next LTC meeting, is she (a) going to vote for it, or (b) vote against it and propose further amendments that are less silly?
A politician playing “silly” games, and wasting time, in the face of a crisis that is affecting hundreds of islanders she represents, is an insult to every elector.
She may think she is being clever, but, the bottom line is this: She has proven that she has been unwilling to do what she has been twice elected to do — make difficult decisions.
If she can’t move Bylaw 530 forward, she will never be able to move forward the necessary changes to our official community plan and land use bylaws required to provide sufficient workforce housing.
If she is incapable/scared of moving forward 530 in the face of opposition, in spite of her professed support for it, she needs to resign her position and allow a by-election, and hopefully someone with the necessary courage/fortitude/common sense will step forward and support the decisions required to save this community from the housing crisis.
We have, literally, crossed into the “Twilight Zone” . . . a “unique” dimension, where the absurdity of local governance has become our reality.
The writer was an Islands Trust trustee from 2002 to 2005.