Saturday, September 30, 2023
September 30, 2023

Viewpoint: No evidence that ADUs will help


Michael Wall hit the nail on the head with his Aug. 9 Driftwood Viewpoint “New era in political honesty.”

I’m thinking, could Bylaw 530 actually be just a cynical end run around the 2017 governance referendum that rejected incorporation and by using “The Shock Doctrine” (exposed by Naomi Klein), individuals in power choose periods of social, environmental and economic upheaval to break up the 50-year-old Islands Trust mandate from within?

Intrigued, I searched the Trust website for proposed Bylaw 530 and eventually found it under “Projects” (George Orwell would have liked that). Reading on, it is difficult not to see the bias, assumptions and cherry picking of statistics to support this bylaw. “All small and medium sized communities (between 1,000 and 22,000 population) have accessory dwelling units (ADUs), according to BC Housing,” it states. How on Earth can Islands Trust employees or elected trustees seriously compare a 27-by-13 kilometre island containing numerous mountains, lakes, wetlands, shorelines, forests, villages, ferries and never-ending roads with dinky municipalities that you can drive end to end in five minutes? And, important detail, we are not a municipality.

Going to the BC Housing site, 98 per cent of these towns allow secondary suites, 76 per cent allow carriage houses and only 21 per cent allow tiny homes. They also detail eight risks/challenges, including “ADUs can stress municipal infrastructure (parking, water, sewage, roads) if usage levels approach maximum capacity” and “short-term rentals in tourism-based communities has created a demand to use ADUs for commercial purposes.”

Continuing on with the Bylaw 530 information, “A 2022 survey among residents by Islands Trust Planning found that 80 per cent of respondents indicated support for more secondary suites and additional housing options.” That is less than four per cent of Salt Spring’s population and based on input from unknown people with unknown motivations. The 2022 Housing Action Program Task Force that provided statistics may have been well meaning but can’t help being biased and single minded. 

Progressing along the proposed bylaw we are naively and without any real world evidence assured that regulations protecting water supply, sewage systems, building permits, short-term rentals are all under their control while completely ignoring the fact that everywhere in Canada, including the Arctic, has affordability issues and that can’t be solved by ripping up the official community plan.  It was designed for a very complicated place and has taken thousands of dedicated people many thousands of hours to develop over 50 years.

Islands Trust, toss this ill-planned bylaw, do your jobs and hammer down on the 250 illegal short-term vacation rentals like other communities are doing and then spend more time observing the effects on the areas that have already allowed ADUs.


  1. Well said, Rick Laing. Bylaw 530 is not about affordable housing — the word “affordable” never appears in it. All legal safeguards to ensure ADUs go to island families and full-timers, instead of lucrative overnight tourist stays, have been gutted. The bylaw is still being pushed in its most extreme and reckless form, regardless of the Tsawout First Nation (the only First Nation with treaty land on Salt Spring) and our overloaded ecology and services. This fish is starting to stink. Time to bury it.


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