By MAXINE LEICHTER
Our elected Local Trust Committee is considering an ill-advised and harmful bylaw that would create a gigantic loophole poised to negate our current zoning rules.
Bylaw 471 would allow trustees now — and likely forever — to issue an unlimited number of temporary use permits for an unlimited number of suites, cottages, trailers, tiny homes and other wheeled residences for full-time occupancy almost everywhere on the island, including parklands.
In reality, “temporary” almost always means “permanent.” My experience, based on 16 years of watching Salt Spring Island local government, has shown that trustees are unlikely to remove people from their homes and that privileges once granted are rarely withdrawn.
Bylaw 471 relies on neighbours to object to applications for additional residences in locations or under circumstances that are problematic. But people are reluctant to object for fear of offending their neighbours and they should not be put in that position.
Proposed Bylaw 471 places the trustees in the inevitable position of making decisions with long-term impact for Salt Spring on a case-by-case basis rather than depending upon analysis, planning and vision.
Our official community plan requires that growth be tailored to our island’s carrying capacity. By making decisions on a case-by-case basis, cumulative effects are rarely considered. There is not even data available to evaluate the adequacy of services such as hospital space, doctors, road maintenance, ferry capacity, power and water supply . . . and the list goes on.
The Islands Trust has not been empowered by the province to provide affordable housing, or any services. The Capital Regional District is the agency that provides services. In fact, right now over 200 units of affordable and seniors housing are under construction in Ganges through collaborations between the CRD and various non-profit organizations. This is a model that works, not ill-planned, haphazard increased density, dispersed around the island, far from population centres, public transit and other services.
Bylaw 471 has already both a first and second reading and is near to becoming a reality. Hopefully voices will be raised to object to this flawed bylaw!