Oh For A Magic Wand…

I was recently asked, “I am curious, what changes to the Islands trust would you recommend? more trustee’s?..etc…and please don’t turn this into an incorporation debate. If you were elected again to the IT, what structural changes would you advocate for?”

If I had a magic wand (because, based on my previous experience as a Trustee, it would require one), and I could make changes to the Islands Trust, what would I do?

That’s a challenging question, but I will do my best to express some ideas:

  1. Implement representation by population at Trust Council. e.g. One Trustee for every 2,000 (or portion thereof) population. That would result in (if I’ve got the populations right), 1 Trustee from each of Denman, Hornby, Gambier, Saturna, Galiano, Thetis and Lasqueti, 3 from the Penders (combined), Gabriola and Bowen, and six Trustees from Salt Spring, for a total of 22 Trustees.
  2. Trust Council’s sole functions would be reduced to (1) establishing/maintaining policies, (2) electing a 3 member Executive Committee (reduced by one from 4 – 3), and (3) budgeting.
  3. The Executive Committee would continue to review any proposed bylaw amendments being made within the Trust Area to ensure they meet Trust Policy. (To the best of my knowledge there has only been one case in the history of the Trust refused – a Galiano OCP amendment, which lost because Trustee Tony Law couldn’t make up his mind, and his “vote” was declared a “no,” the vote ended up being declared 14-12, instead of a tie. https://islandtides.com/assets/reprint/trust_20080821a.pdf )
  4. North Pender and South Pender would become one Trust Area.
  5. There would be a total of 44 Local Trustees elected throughout the Trust Area.
  6. Three member Local Trust Committees would exist everywhere except on Bowen (incorporated) and Salt Spring, where there would be 7 (to avoid ties).
  7. The Chair of the LTC’s would not be appointed by Trust Council, but, would be one of the elected Trustees from the same Local Trust Area, and appointed as Chair by the other two Trustees…which is pretty standard practice for choosing a chairperson.
  8. Contract planners would be used for the smaller islands to reduce costs of fulltime staff wherever possible.
  9. Contract planners for land use applications would also be encouraged to be used by applicants wherever/whenever possible. That would achieve two goals (a) speed up processing of applications and therefore decisions, and (b) place the efficiency of processing applications into the private sector, similar to hiring any other professional as part of the process – e.g. engineer, geotech, or hydrologist.
  10. The preservation of the Agricultural Land Reserve portions of the islands would be transferred to the Local Trust Committees, and all decisions would be made locally in the best interests of the individual islands. The Trust’s mandate arguably includes the preservation and protection of farming already. It is interesting that 30% of all active farms on Salt Spring are outside of the boundaries of the ALR. We have a ton of farm land on the island.
  11. The Chief Administrative Officer would be given the mandate to ensure the entire organization was running efficiently…which it currently, IMO, is not…and asked to provide quarterly updates to LTC’s on performance.
  12. The Trust would change the Policy Statement with respect to being involved with issues surrounding potable water, and recommend the LTC’s remove any proof of water requirements from OCP’s and Land Use Bylaws. Now, just before someone starts screaming, proof of water is required at time of subdivision in BC, and proof of sufficient water is also required at time of CRD Building Permit application. And now, the Ministry of Environment requires licensing of all wells. There is no need for the Trust to be pig-in-the-middle in this duplication of three other regulatory bodies. This would eliminate the Trust’s “fresh water specialist.” The CRD Building Department already accepts rainwater catchment as an acceptable form of potable water, and, since it rains everywhere in the Trust Area, there is no “area” that has a problem with access to potable water…all that is required is a property designed system.
  13. Eliminate the mapping department of the Trust and transfer all mapping info to the CRD’s Regional Area mapping department to be incorporated into their layers. There is no reason why the Trust needs to be involved in mapping.
  14. The time tracking software which I first proposed to be used in 2004, and which the Trust subsequently purchased in 2006, would be implemented as I had suggested, and intended it be used, to track the expenditure of time used, on all Trust staff, on every file or project they are working on, on the same basis as how lawyers track their time – in 6 minute increments. That would achieve two goals – (1) it will act as a monitor of staff performance, and (2) highlight potential inefficiencies. Currently I am led to believe that all tracking of planner time is clumped together, providing us with nothing other than the knowledge there is a $2,000,000 black hole in time.
  15. Each Trustee would be provided with a laptop and computer software that would allow them to participate in online meetings to reduce travel time and expenses. There is no need for quarterly get togethers.
  16. Trust Council would meet once a year in March on Salt Spring to discuss suggested policy changes and the budget for the following fiscal year.
  17. The Islands Trust office would be moved from Victoria to Salt Spring.

That’s a short list…I could probably come up with a dozen more suggestions…but you get the idea…and I welcome any other suggestions to the list.

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