By DAVID RUMSEY
Despite the letters that have been decrying the Vortex development in Fulford, there are many islanders who are eager to see this innovative solution move forward and bring some positive energy to what has been a pit of despair and dereliction for more than a decade.
The Vortex is to be located at the site of the original Fulford Inn, which provided food and accommodations for generations of Salt Springers in the South End. The Vortex will continue in that tradition and provide a much-needed gathering place and local guest accommodations. Having a local facility avoids the environmental and safety problems of driving all the way to Ganges or running the gauntlet down into Fulford village to find food or accommodation. The Fulford Inn was a connection point for much of the South End, and it has been sorely missed since it was left abandoned to fester in red tape and disrepair.
Besides accommodating friends and guests of local Salt Springers, the Fulford Inn also hosted groups, gatherings, and friend circles that met there regularly. The local Salt Springer behind the Vortex project has stated that he wants to recreate that energy by providing a location that brings people together, provide local accommodations and also improve the environmental footprint that was left behind by the old inn. The proposed sanitation solution, including microfiltering, exceeds that of the vast majority of dwellings on Salt Spring Island. Will the Vortex be the Fulford Inn? Can it withstand every potential ecological disaster? No, but the Vortex is a local, innovative, on-island solution if ever there was one.
A few of the opponents of the Vortex project would like to see the area turned into a park. However, they fail to understand that the property is zoned commercial, and it has already been purchased! Creating a park will require the owner being willing to sell the property, and park advocates to change the zoning and raise sufficient funds to purchase it before someone else — from off island and with a worse plan and under a different Trust committee — buys it first.
In the interest of fairness and due process, the local Salt Springer who took the time and risk to purchase the site deserves the chance to implement his vision for it. Voting down the proposed Vortex at this late stage is unfair to the local developer who is acting in good faith. It also stifles other innovative ideas on the island and results in further community cynicism and social stagnation.
Lastly, voting down the proposal will not magically improve the situation for many years, if at all. It will simply prolong the continued blight of an unused, toxic eyesore that greets visitors and residents alike to the island.
Let’s not let our vision of perfection get in the way of a positive, concrete plan out of the current weeds.
The writer is a South End resident.