Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Viewpoint: The Madness of it All


Last month, our MLA Adam Olsen declared the Drake Road supportive housing project “a disaster.” He should have gone further and declared the entire island a disaster zone when it comes to housing.

Trustee Laura Patrick, (whose resignation I publicly requested a couple of months ago), after over five years in office, has now taken us backwards with Bylaw 537, the dumbed down, self-proclaimed “silly” version she had Trust staff concoct to replace proposed accessory dwelling unit Bylaw 530.

There are literally hundreds of “illegal” suites and cottages on the island. Everyone with even half a brain knows that. 537 will not legalize them. Thus, those tenants fortunate enough to be clinging to them will continue to live under the tenuous possibility of eviction.

Of the 100 or so properties which 537 WILL legalize accessory dwelling units on, according to estimates given by Patrick herself during the election debate, less than 10 of them are likely to create a unit.

Twenty years ago, Tim Wake, a housing consultant from Whistler, recommended to the Salt Spring Local Trust Committee (LTC) the legalization of ALL suites and cottages on the island. He reiterated that recommendation in 2011 to the LTC. Details of his recommendations are available at my blog site at

His prime rationale, based on every other jurisdiction which has legalized accessory dwelling units, was there is, as Patrick stated, very little uptake.

He also said the long-term solution to housing is to split the real estate market into two sectors, the regular housing market, and a controlled housing market like Whistler has done. I have been advocating for this now for two decades, apparently to deaf ears.

And to add to the insanity of the situation, the Province has announced financing assistance for accessory dwelling units . . . and Patrick just said no to most of them.

Salt Spring, your workforce community is dying in front of your eyes. In case you weren’t aware, people in the middle or working classes cannot afford an $850,000 home.

Wake the hell up. Get mad. Write a letter to the editor. Demand action of your elected representatives. If they don’t act, demand they resign. Those you elect have the power to effect the changes necessary. You have given them that responsibility. To date they have failed miserably.

I have not seen any proposed plan from them as to exactly how they are going to solve the crisis. Another study? Another groupthink? Another advisory committee? Where is the visionary leadership that a community of over 12,000 citizens should expect?

Are you seeing answers to any of those questions? At what point will you be “mad as hell, and not going to take it any more?” When you get your eviction notice? When there is another cancelled ferry sailing? When your child is in a classroom of 40 because of a lack of teachers? When you arrive at the hospital only to be shuttled off island? When you can’t find an employee because there is nowhere for them to live?

Yes, it’s madness nothing is being done, when clear, proven and well-tested solutions were provided to the Trust two decades ago.

To paraphrase Einstein: “The definition of insanity is to repeatedly study the same problem over and over and over and expect to achieve a different outcome just by studying the problem.”

The writer was a Salt Spring Islands Trust trustee from 2002-2005.

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