Congratulations & Thank You

Congratulations Wayne on your election as CRD Director. Your wide experience in local government will stand you in good stead in dealing with the CRD on our behalf.

Well done Peter and George! I know you will serve us well as trustees. You will be living in interesting times.

Thank you to everyone who supported me, both with their encouragement and their votes. I hope I can continue to help our community grow and develop as one of the best places on this earth to live. We are so fortunate. Let’s celebrate it every day.

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The Arts

This was sent to the SSAC on October 23rd – unfortunately so promptly that they missed it.

Thank you for your questionnaire “Where Do You Stand?”.

As a longtime member of the SSAC, a member of two guilds and a participant in both Artcraft and Wintercraft, I welcome the opportunity to further support the Arts if I am a Trustee.

The primary responsibility of The Trust is land usage and zoning. I will immediately legalize secondary suites and cottages. This will add to the pool of affordable housing on Salt Spring and will also raise the standard of such housing. As well, I will do all I can to facilitate any applications for more affordable housing.

I support the idea of a School for the Arts which may also include Sustainable Agriculture and Ecology. This has the potential to greatly benefit all of the artists on the island – both those in the beginning and those in the maturity of their career.

I have read with great interest the Salt Spring Island Tourist Development Plan (December 2009) and see a potential for making our Island a year-round destination for experiential tourism. What could be better than half a dozen people coming to the Island for a week long course, renting a couple of cars, staying in B&B’s, eating out in restaurants, touring studios, shopping in galleries and generally supporting our community in the “off-season”.

The SSAC has made a good start with their first effort, “Creative Holidays on Salt Spring”, this fall. Let’s do a lot more!

I also support the idea of an umbrella arts organization on Salt Spring. Perhaps the SSAC can help in taking on that role. We have several strong guilds in our community. I know that all of them will strongly mentor young artists. Several bring outstanding teachers from all over the world. And students from off-island often attend.

By working together with the Chamber of Commerce and coordinating these efforts and the publicity associated with them the SSAC can help to brand us as a destination for the Arts. As a trustee I will fully support any such undertakings.

All potential funding for the Arts and Tourism must be identified and then applied for. This can be most effectively done by a unified Arts community. As I trustee I will offer my full support for any applications. 

I would like to see BC Ferries offer a Resident Travel Card for reduced travel costs to full time residents on the Island. It can be similar to the Nexus Card for travel between Canada and theUS. Abuse it and you lose it. I would also like to see a youth fare implemented.

Not just BC Ferries, but any provincially funded entity must make the work of local artists and artisans a primary focus in their retail outlets. As a trustee I will take this to the Trust Council and will encourage it to go forward to the UBCM.

The Arts and Tourism together are absolutely vital to a Sustainable Salt Spring. I want to see us grow in depth by encouraging quality, not numbers-based, year-round tourism.

Taxes

Q. What will you do to bring my taxes down?

Answer:

There is not a lot I can do. As two trustees out of twenty-six on the Trust Council, your rate of taxation is not in the hands of your local trustees. The 236 people on South Pender Island have the same vote as the 9,789 on Salt Spring. So do the 313 people on Gambier Island, the 359 each on Lasqueiti  and Saturna, and the 372 on Thetis.

So 6.4% of the total population of the Trust Area have 10 votes to the 2 votes of 38.3% of the total trust population here on Salt Spring.

What I can say is that I have recommended only one thing that will cost additional monies on Salt Spring. I want all LTC meetings to be video-taped and available on the Trust website. My understanding is that this will cost about $15,000 per year. And good value for the money.

Further, I promise that no new studies will be undertaken without first examining thoroughly what has been done before.

For example, on the issue of water sustainability – both quantity and quality – many studies and reports have been produced by the Water Council, North Salt Spring Waterworks, the CRD and perhaps other interested parties. I want to bring all of those studies into one place and try to collate the findings into one document.

Then we can see if there are any holes in the fabric. But this must be the basis on which we go forward. Perhaps a hydrologic survey will be required, but not as a first step.

I hope I will be able to count on all the terrific volunteers who have worked so hard to take us this far to continue the journey with me and get a definitive plan in place for the future.

RAR

Q. What is you position on the Riparian by-law regarding waterways? Why was Riparian Area Rights (RAR) Bylaw #449 so contentious? 

Answer:

RAR is provincial legislation which must be adopted by all jurisdictions in the province. It is a complex issue and one that should not be rushed. We need to protect all the riparian areas on the island, not just those that are fish habitat.  Accurate mapping of our waterways, together with various reports on watershed areas is part of the process. And this is not one-size-fits-all legislation. We can, as other communities have done, tailor parts of it to suit our unique environment and the requirements of Salt Spring.

As a community, we need to step back and take a collective deep breath.

As I trustee I will undertake the following steps leading to implementation. First, review what has already been achieved and identify what still needs to be done. At the same time, provide full information on the RAR in people-speak, not legal-speak.

Fully consult with and listen to the public by way of inviting written presentations, town halls meeting(s), and conversations. Consult with water and advisory boards.

Mapping of the island must be undertaken openly by tender to an independent body. The word riparian is both an adjective (situated or taking place along or near the bank of a river) and a noun (an owner of land along a river). While the legislation refers to place, we must also be aware of people. An accurate mapping of riparian areas on the island will not only help us in drafting our local bylaw, but will also give landowners some certainty as to how the RAR applies to their property.

Note also: this legislation applies only to new development.

A draft by-law will be prepared when the above steps are complete. This will be submitted to the public for discussion. Then, and only then, will a by-law be submitted for implementation.

See also: Sustainable Water Supply

Q, Why so contentious?

Answer:

Although the current trustees were aware of the need to address the RAR legislation at the beginning of their term, they chose to address it at the last minute. The fact that there were three different versions of the first reading of the proposed by-law demonstrates that it was perhaps not well thought out.

One property owner saw a map where his property was excluded from the subject area. A couple of weeks later, the map had changed and his property was now included.

The public perceived all of this as an attempt to place over 60% of the island in a development permit area by enacting a by-law quickly without adequate planning and consultation. Whether or not this was the intention of the trustees I cannot say. But as it was the perception, the public was understandably upset.

Sustainable Water Supply

Q. What will you do about a sustainable water supply?

Answer:

Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.

Some on Salt Spring can already identify with The Ancient Mariner. Some of us don’t (yet) need to worry about an adequate supply of potable water. But we must all be aware, as a community, that there is a limit to how much pressure we can put on our water resources. A complex topic with no easy answers.

At issue are both quantity and quality. For much of the year we have an over-abundance of water. When it rains, the ditches fill and great volumes of water rush to our lakes and the sea. In the dry parts of the summer, many of us have nor any drop to drink… or to shower in… or to water our precious veggies.

Do we really know how much water we have? And how much of it is potable? We taxpayers have paid for many studies over the years. I will bring them all together in one place. Once the conclusions of these studies are collated into one document we will have a good basis for going forward to fill in any gaps there may be.

The Water Council has already done much good work.  What are the deliverables on the recently awarded grants? When are they due? I will look to the expertise of the Water Council to assist the community in going forward on water issues. But it must be an open advisory council reporting to both the CRD and the Trust.

And local water boards know the issues that they face. These need to be factored in. Individuals who rely on wells or other sources for their water must also be polled and taken into the equation.

Once we know where we are, we can make plans to go forward. Perhaps a complete hydrologic (study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water) survey will be indicated, but not as a first step.

One thing we can all do immediately is install some kind of catchment system. Some would mandate a catchment system on all new construction. Well, you can lead them to it, but you can’t make them use it. I believe that education and moral suasion work best when contemplating such community actions. There is no mandate on Salt Spring to recycle. But most of us do, because we know it is the right thing to do. Let’s make catching some of our rainwater and using it instead of ‘water from the main’ the right thing to do on Salt Spring.

See also: RAR

Lawsuit

Q. What is you response to the lawsuit?

Answer:

Elected officials must not only be impartial, they must be seen to be impartial.

For elected officials to set up a society where they are the directors of such society and then to allocate public monies to that society does not have the appearance of openness and transparency.

Further it has been suggested that this is a closed society and therefore not subject to public review.

That said: for a group of citizens to choose litigation as their first response is unfortunate. 

Both parties believe that they have acted in good faith and have done nothing wrong. Perhaps this is true.

But lack of discussion before either setting up the society itself or before choosing to litigate has only added to the polarization of our community.

The Water Council has been an invaluable asset to this community in addressing the vital issues of both quantity and quality of water on our island. We need them to continue to do their excellent work.

Could the present directors resign in favour of a more neutral board? Will the Water Council remain an open and important part the fabric of our island? Could the litigants withdraw? These actions would go a long way to defusing the whole state of affairs.

Playing Fields

Q. Please comment on additional playing fields on Salt Spring.

Answer:

I agree that additional playing fields are desirable and required. The OCP addresses the shortage of playing fields and identifies the Fulford area and lands adjacent to Portlock Park s the desired locations for new fields. 

The sports community has asked for one full sized soccer field, preferably an all weather field. As well, at least one baseball field is required. Two fields at the same location to allow for tournaments would be preferred.

PARC has spent a great deal of effort in the last several years on their top two priorities: upgrading and building both new trails and water access points. Their third priority, playing fields, is now being addressed.

The ball fields in Fulford are on a three year lease, are well below the provincially accepted standard, and cannot be enlarged. So this is out as a permanent location.

PARC requires a minimum of 10 level acres to address the shortage of playing fields in this size community. The desired location would be somewhat centrally located, for the benefit of tournament play. Getting approval from the ALC for non-farm status of ALR land presents a problem because there is no level land of a minimum of 10 level acres available on the island that is not in the ALR. Believe me, PARC has searched high and low.

The swimming pool has benefitted both our recreational and our competitive swimmers enormously. And it has been great to see swim meets here on our own turf.

Let’s do the same for our soccer and ball players.

(And… sh-h-h-h-h maybe our hockey players and recreational skaters, too.)