Why Wake Up Now?

Why Wake Up Now? (Islands Independent Article)

Are you a property owner on Salt Spring within the protective area being proposed for 60% of the island?  If you are, do you have a highways ditch in front of, or, a drainage ditch or a stream running through your property? Do you know how to use a 100 foot measuring tape? I suggest you may wish to know the answers to those questions, in that order, and sooner than later.

Why? The Islands Trust has just approved the draft of a new law that may reduce your property values, cost you money the next time you want to do something, and further limit the use of your property, well beyond the existing regulations.

In my experienced opinion, as a former Islands Trustee, the proposed new law is legally unnecessary. On April 7th, I submitted a detailed explanation to the Trustees and Local Trust Committee, as to why it is unnecessary, but have yet to receive a response.

Meanwhile, the existing streamside protection mapping in our Official Community Plan (OCP) is inaccurate, a fact well known by Trust staff and publicly admitted to by Ms. Kathy Reimer, Executive Director of the Island Stream and Salmon Enhancement Society, who helped provide the un-ground truthed, “never meant to be exact” fish habitat mapping back in the late 1990’s.

Is that inaccurate mapping going to be corrected? Nope. The new modifications actually yadd to the inaccuracies.

The additional “blanket mapping” being proposed for 60% of the island, is also inaccurate.

And yet, the new Director of Local Planning Services, David Marlor, with 16 years of experience as an Islands Trust Planner, recommends what kind of riparian mapping? “Accurate mapping.” So, why hasn’t accurate mapping been conducted?

The misleading “reason,” which the Trustees and Trust staff have been telling the public for months, is that the costs to accurately map Salt Spring streams are “impossible.” However, when asked how much accurate mapping would actually cost, staff and Trustees have simply guesstimated, and have given the following five answers to date – “I don’t know,” “$75,000,” “over a hundred thousand dollars,” $125,000,” “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” Take your pick, but apart from the “I don’t know” answer, they are all wrong.

The real estimate is less than $46,000 (before HST). How do I happen to know? I took the 5 minutes necessary to send an email request for a detailed quote from Madrone Environmental Services, the same company that did the “accurate” mapping of North and South Pender and Saturna for the Trust.

Adding further insult to injury for Salt Spring taxpayers, since SSI contributes 40% of the annual Trust tax revenue, we have already subsidized the “accurate” riparian mapping done on other islands. Using the same mathematical skill set, it means the actual cost to SSI taxpayers to get $46,000 of mapping would be approximately, $18,400, hardly what one could call “impossible.”

In fact, it is less than the increase in remuneration for SSI Trustees just passed by Trust Council, and I don’t remember anyone at that table suggesting it was anything resembling “impossible.”

It is extremely apparent the public is being misled during the public process of amending our OCP.

Meanwhile, back to your measuring tape. Stretch it out, or count off 30 paces, from the edge of those ditches and/or streams on, or near, your property. If you find you are going to be affected, plan on attending the last two meetings on the new, proposed riparian law. Keep informed, and don’t be afraid to express your opinion. While it’s your right to defend your rights, don’t expect someone else to do it for you.

It’s time to read up and wake up.

Eric Booth

Former Islands Trustee (2002-2005)

 

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