An Election Time Miracle…

Well bless my soul…a CRD miracle has occurred now that tourist season is over, and coincidentally just weeks before the election.

The CRD waterfront gazebo, which has been a public disgrace since the last election, has just been replaced…without its top…but that’s better than what it looked like.

Here’s what it looked like 4 years ago…

Here it is earlier this year after they chopped off the roof.

And here it is as of a couple of days ago….

4 years to repair one of the waterfront feature spots in Ganges….

Now, will it take another 4 years to complete the 34 year old Boardwalk, or are we going to elect someone who will make the Boardwalk a priority and keep it a priority until its done?

Asking for a community that is ashamed of inaction in public office…

Sustainability Starts at Home

“Sustainable development” has been one of environmentalists’ favourite buzz words. If you do a Google search for the term you’ll get 360,000,000 hits.

Sustainable development implies “development” that is sustainable.

So, to have sustainable development you need some form of development.

To have a “sustainable community” (only 2,830,000 hits) on the other hand implies you need to be able to sustain the “community” you already have.

Which begs the question – “Who/what is our community comprised of?”

The current “who” is relatively easy to define simply by looking at last years Census. Among other things, it provides us with ethnicity, religion, sex (the old kind – male and female), family sizes, rentership vs ownership, and whether they receive employment income (6,340).

So, if we were going to work towards and plan for a sustainable community, we would first want to acknowledge the diversity we currently enjoy as a community, and then ensure it is somehow sustained….or, for lack of a better term “preserved and protected.”

Which is where we run smack dab into our community’s housing crisis. I say “OUR community’s housing crisis” because, while you may be living comfortably in your own home, there are literally hundreds of islanders who aren’t, because they can’t afford to buy. And, those people are people you depend upon on a daily basis for the lifestyle you enjoy.

In a few years, those hundreds will be joined by several thousand more employees who will be replacing our retiring teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, ferry workers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers…well I think you get the idea….all of the new employees/entrepreneurs/professionals will not be able to afford to buy here.

Meanwhile, as is happening at the end of every month now, more renters will be receiving their two months notice that the house they have been renting has been sold to someone new moving to the island….just like the thousands of “new” people who have moved here over the last 50 years.

All of which begs the question where will the “new,” new people live, given they can’t afford to buy, and the number of rental units continue to dwindle?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, raises the question – “Without sufficient workforce housing, how can you possibly have a sustainable community?”

The answer is simple – By having sustainable, affordable, employee owned, housing built… “sustainable development.”

I have previously provided a basic blueprint on how our community can achieve that –

If you are an employee, an employer, or a renter, you need to get to the polls and choose OUR future wisely.

So the only question immediately before you is this “Who will you vote for on October 15th that is prepared to actually make Salt Spring a truly, sustainable community?”

I’ve now had a chance to listen to all of the candidates and their platforms, and am placing my full support behind Don Marcotte and Jamie Harris to be my representatives to the Trust.

As one of the “rabble” I urge you to do the same.

If Oak Bay can Approve Secondary Suites in All Homes, What’s Up With Salt Spring?

Hoity toity Oak Bay has just legalized secondary suites in ALL homes in their well manicured, upper class, municipality.

After eight-year process, Oak Bay council votes to allow secondary suites….The district had been one of the last local municipalities without a secondary suites bylaw. But as of last Tuesday, the suites are permitted in all single-family lots as long as the suite meets the regulations and requirements outlined here. Homeowners will be required to reside in the principal home and must provide an outdoor, labelled, energized outlet capable of providing at least 110V charging for an electric vehicle, scooter, or bike. If not, the homeowner must provide a parking space.

Council adopted the policy after a public hearing this month, and after eight years of public consultation and research. The 2014 Official Community Plan process conducted a community survey that found 78% of Oak Bay residents supported secondary suites, and a specific secondary suites study was launched in 2018.

This legalization is mainly about addressing the estimated 500 to 750 “unregulated” secondary suites that the district already has. The UVic Students’ Society argued to council in June that without this bylaw many of those suites’ tenants—especially young newcomers—will continue to be mistreated. Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Murdoch said at that time that the district’s infill housing strategy, not its secondary suites bylaw, would be what would increase local housing supply. Capital Daily, September 24, 2022

And now, the only real, regulatory requirement is a building permit, issued by their muncipal building inspection department.

Given the CRD’s Building Inspection department issues building permits on Salt Spring, a simple, similar change in our Land Use Bylaw, would mean an owner on Salt Spring could just apply for a Building Permit without having to jump through any Islands Trust hoops.

Secondary suites in pilot areas on Salt Spring were legalized 9 years ago (2013). Since then, it is my understanding fewer than 5 owners have applied for a secondary suite permit.

Arguably, the fear that the legalization of secondary suites would create an avalanche of applications was, and still is, unfounded in reality. Recent real estate increases have also decreased the liklihood of large numbers due to the fact that new, upper middle class owners, who can afford the existing real estate prices, don’t need/want tenants living in their homes.

An amended version of the current Land Use Bylaw, which would allow ALL homes to have a secondary suite, would look something like this:

Definition – “secondary suite” means an accessory, self-contained dwelling unit, located within a building that otherwise contains a single-family dwelling, and having a lesser floor area than the principal dwelling unit.


3.16.1 Secondary suites are permitted on ALL lots.

Information Note: Secondary suites require a building permit from the Capital Regional District Building Inspection Office to be fully legalized.

3.16.2 A dwelling unit is permitted to contain a secondary suite provided that:

(1) the dwelling unit or the secondary suite is occupied by the owner of the dwelling; or

(2) the dwelling unit or the secondary suite is occupied by a person other than the owner who has responsibility for managing the property, including dealing with complaints of neighbours arising from the occupancy of the property.

Information Note: Pursuant to other provisions of this Land Use Bylaw, short term vacation rentals are not permitted in residential areas.

3.16.3 There is a maximum of one secondary suite permitted per lot.

3.16.4 A secondary suite must be contained within the walls of the building that contains the principal dwelling unit.

3.16.5 The entrance to a secondary suite from the exterior of the building must be separate from the entrance to the principal dwelling unit.

3.16.6 A secondary suite must not be subdivided from the principal dwelling unit under the Land Title Act or the Strata Property Act, UNLESS THE TITLE TO THE SUITE IS COVENANTED FOR EMPLOYEE, OWNERSHIP HOUSING.

Information Note: At time of Building Permit application, the Capital Regional District requires specific amounts of potable water be demonstrated, and proof of adequate septic capacity be provided, prior to issuing approvals.

Its long past time to stop being afraid of too many suites, and start worrying about not having enough. Either way, they are a temporary fix in search of our longer term, sustainable housing solution.

If you are an employee, an employer and/or a renter, on Octoberr 15th, elect two representatives who will support much needed employee housing on the island.

If you don’t know who they are, you need to wake up now, and find out – this is YOUR community’s future that is at stake. Do your civic duty and be part of the positive change we so desperately need!

Why Every Building Permit Issued on Salt Spring Costs YOU, the Taxpayer, After-Tax Dollars…

Did you know that every building permit issued on Salt Spring costs YOU, the taxpayer, hard earned, after tax dollars?

Did you know that the reason for that is because two bureacrats arbitrarily took it upon themselves to change unwritten policy?

I’m guessing you are among the vast majority of Salt Spring Islanders who didn’t know.

Here’s how this happened.

Prior to a few years ago, when a property owner submitted a building permit to CRD Building Inspection, the application fee they paid was calculated to cover, on average, the cost of the review and issuance of the permit, and, inspections necessary to obtain final occupancy.

If the permit application was for a property that was not in a Development Permit Area, as any building inspector could find out in less than 5 minutes, then the permit review process would simply proceed.

Then, a few years ago, a change was implemented by the now retired, Chief CRD Building Inspector, with agreement by the Chief Administrative Officer of the Islands Trust.

They arbitrarily, and, without consulting our elected Islands Trustees and CRD Director, changed the unwritten policy so that a building permit application must now be submitted to, and approved by, the Islands Trust PRIOR to being able to submit it to the CRD for review.

When I asked, at a public meeting, Trustee Peter Grove, and CRD Director, Gary Holman, how/why this change had occurred, BOTH of them were unaware of the change. Read that again…BOTH of them were unaware of the change…

As a property owner, what the existing process means, to YOU, is this – because there is no fee charged by Islands Trust to review the building permit, the Staff time spent on the review is paid by you, the taxpayer, not the applicant.

In other words, the unwritten policy change, made by two bureaucrats, not only costs taxpayers more, it means there is also a time delay in the processing of the building permit application.

And, to top it off, the building permit “referrals” are added to the reported workload of the Islands Trust Staff, and now account for about 70% of the applications….as shown in this 2021 Islands Trust report:

Its time to put an end to this unwritten policy. The Trust is already working at an astoundingly low, self-admitted, 7.3% efficiency…costing taxpayers, OVER $2 MILLION PER YEAR, which would have any private company declaring bankruptcy.

On October 15th, use your power as a voter to elect the three people who promise to make the necessary changes.

PS – The 10 year average of Building Permit, Siting and Use Permit, Crown Land and Other Referrals, from 2010 – 2019, was 76.5, compared to 2021’s 188, a 245% increase!

Emotional Breakdown Salt Spring Style

When people talk about the housing crisis on the island, they usually discuss property price, rental availabilty, landlord/tenant issues, water, and, inevitably it seems, the environment.

However, there is another effect the housing crisis has – serious, emotional impact on young families trying to survive, pay the rent and buy groceries while raising children.

Anyone in the Salt Spring workforce who has had children knows exactly what I mean.

I was lucky enough in 1979, when my daughter was born, to buy a .75 acre lot for $17,500 and move a 20’x20′ cottage (which we paid $10,000 for), onto it.

Today, it would likely cost me $500,000 to do the same thing.

The stress young families, who are renting, go through now includes the constant threat of their rental home being sold for $1+ million, and getting two months notice.

This happens EVERY SINGLE month now, as investment rental homes are put up for sale.

Virtually no one is buying property here to use as rental income anymore.

And, those who are buying a propery with a house and cottage on it for $1.3 million don’t want, or need, a tenant in the cottage, thank you very much. Same goes for homes with secondary suites.

Thus we are now on a downward slope of rental units which has now surfaced with nearly every employer on the island being challenged to find workers who can (a) afford to live here, and (b) find a rental unit. The first question an employer now asks is – “Have you secure housing?”

The next time you hear someone talking about housing, just remember the people who are living in the houses they don’t own.

So, before you vote on October 15th, ask the candidates of your choice EXACTLY how they are going to deal with the crisis, and don’t settle for “we need more studies” or generalized ideas. Ask for specifics on how their plan/vision will actually deal with the crisis. If they can’t satisfy you, then consider other candidates.

On October 15th, elect two people who have a clear plan for the future of our community. This is a watershed election. If you are one of the over 6,000 employees or employers on the island you need to pay attention and get out and vote.

Do You Want a Sustainable, Long Term, Employee Housing Solution, or Not? Your Choice Oct. 15th.

I’m going to try and make this as clear as possible.

Land use planning for a sustainable future MUST consider how the service industry (all employees) are going to be housed.

To do that you first need to quantify how many employees you’re planning for.

Currently (2021 Canda Census Data “CSD”), Salt Spring has 6,340 people over 15 years of age receiving employment income. That equals about 1/2 the current population of the island.

Source “CSD” –

They are our teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers, ferry workers, support staff, cashiers, fallers, firewood providers, chimney sweepers, appliance repair workers, garbage collectors, saw mill operators, counsellors, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, labourers, exterminators, financial planners, barristas, cooks, waiters/waitresses, engineers, accountants, bookkeepers, road maintenance workers, gas station attendants, concrete workers, caterers, auto repairmen, auto parts salesmen, boat repairs, bankers, insurance agents, ice cream vendors, couriers, florists, opticians, pharmacists, fitness centre workers, dry cleaners, camp ground operators, librarians, insurance agents, roofers, taxi drivers, jewellers, secretaries, crane operators, grocers, dentists, golf/tennis instructors, swim coaches, PARC employees, Islands Trust staff, CRD staff, Provincial Government staff, cleaners, farmers, excavators, truckers, arborists, home caregivers, B&B operators, hotel staff, carpet layers, accupuncturists, veternarians, float plane flight staff, appraisers, gardeners and landscapers, water deliverers, locksmiths, photographers, recyclers, architects, art gallery staff, police, ambulance, firefighters, bakers, computer repairers, dock builders, beauty salon workers, movers, bicycle repairers, blacksmiths, wine makers, glass installers, graphic designers, property managers, building maintenance workers, chiropracters, musicians, undertakers, painters, septic field installers, etc.

I challenge you to go through that list and tell me you did not interact today with one of those listed above.

Do you know how many of your fellow community members in the above categories could currently afford to buy a home on the island, based on their current incomes? Almost NONE.

To qualify for a modest home on the island now you need to be earning about $200,000/year.

Less than 10% of people on the island make $100,000 or more per year. (Source CSD)

Median income of an economic family is $97,000. (Source CSD)

So, let me get to my first point – Our service industry is slipping away before our eyes, with no plan for replacement.

And speaking of replacement, when a teacher/nurse/ferry worker/etc. retires, a new worker must move to the island…or commute….or the position will not be filled.

Anything sounding vaguely familiar yet?

Now, moving on to the housing issues, rental stock is plummeting, primarily due to two factors:

1. The purchase of rental investment homes by people who want to live here permanently.

2. The level of income which the new residents, buying homes over $1 million, means most do not want, or need, to be “saddled” with a tenant in a suite or a cottage. BC Tenancy rules and regulations now make it nearly impossible to ever evict someone from a secondary suite or cottage. Thus, when someone buys a $1.3 million property with a principal residence and a cottage, they do not want a tenant living in the cottage, nor do they need one.

So, lets think for a moment about how many dwelling units would be required to secure, long term, ownership housing, for our entire service industry.

A simple, generalized calculation is take the number of employees and divide by two. 6,340/2 = 3,170.

For the past 20 years I have said publicly, over and over again, we will need about 3,000 employee housing units IF we want to have anything approaching the character of our current community.

Was I clairvoyant in 2002? No, I just applied a simple, common sense approach to what our community consists of in the way of employees, knowing full well a day would come when we would become another Whistler, Nantucket Island, Martha’s Vineyard, Catalina Island or Vale, Colorado.

It wasn’t rocket science….all of those communities were already suffering from housing woes when I looked at them in 2002.

Okay, time is wasting so let me get to my solution on how to pull this community out of the fire. Follow with me now.

It is time to upzone ALL Rural and Rural Upland zoned properties to a maximum density of 1 per acre.

The following is an example of how this would help achieve the goal of 3,000 sustainable, employee ownership dwellings over time.

Example – A 20 acre, Rural Upland zoned property is listed for sale for $1.5 million. It is upzoned to 20 dwellings under the following provisions:

1. Only one dwelling on the property can be a “market dwelling.” The other 19 dwellings MUST be covenanted on title, for employee ownership housing, with a capped rate which is equal a maximum of the cost of construction plus 20%, and a future sale value not exceeding the initial purchase price plus the Consumer Price Index increase for the Capital Regional Area over time. That is the Whister Housing Authority model.

2. All dwellings will be strata titled, giving each a separate interest/title. This is exactly how any of the downtown townhouse projects are titled.

3. Each of the 20 units will have an area designated for the owners specific use. The way that is done is by designating areas as “Limited Common Property” (LCP) for the sole use of the individual owner.

4. If a not-for-profit organization bought the $1.5 million property, my suggestion would be to have the one market dwelling (the existing principal residence) desigated with 10 acres of the 20 as their LCP. That would allow the resale of that one market unit for, IMO, the same price as the original purchase – $1.5 million. That leaves the other 10 acres to have 19 homes/cottages/apartments/townhomes on it. That means the land cost for the project would be….virtually zero.

5. With virtually zero land cost, the cost of construction, ballparking at say at $300/sf for a 1,000 sf home would be $300,000 (plus 20% = $360,000). For a 600sf cottage or apartment, the cost would be $180,000 (plus 20% = $216,000.

6. Such a project would look something (though not exactly) like this….dwellings with designated LCP’s….they look like lots, but aren’t.

Do you know where I copy and pasted that image from? Page 30 of our Salt Spring Island Official Community Plan.

Clustering is nothing new. It has been encouraged since the OCP was adopted in 1999. However, it has never be visioned to be the solution for our employee housing problem.

And that, in a generalzed nutshell is how you solve the problem.

In closing, because I am sure many reading this are gasping, and/or spitting out their gin and tonics, as they wonder where all the water is going to come from, I will, in my next post address the water supply and septic question. Stay tuned…..

And please, copy and paste the web address, and share this article with everyone prior to October 15th and vote for the two people who you can believe and trust will actually solve the problem.

Martha’s Vineyard = Salt Spring

This was just published today in the Washington Post. While you are reading it, every time you see “Martha’s Vineyard” think “Salt Spring Island.”

Time to elect two people on October 15th who will actually take action.

Nothing So Permanent as Something Temporary…

In 2004 the Salt Spring Islands Trust office was located upstairs in Grace Point Square. The lease was coming to an end, as was the lease on the CRD Building Inspection office upstairs in the CIBC building.

As an Islands Trustee I saw a potential opportunity to (a) reduce rent (e.g. less tax dollars), and (b) have better coordination between the land use planning and building inspection departments, by combining both bureaucracies into one new location.

So, we had Islands Trust staff look around and they identified the BC Hydro building as a possibility to house both. Becasue of the tight time frame we issued a Temporary Use Permit for the use with the understanding that a rezoning would be required.

Then, at the December 2004 Trust Council meeting the Chief Financial Officer announced (a) they would need another $50,000 for upgrades to the office, and, (b) that “unfortunately” there just wasn’t quite enough space for both Islands Trust and CRD. As a result he said, Islands Trust would be taking over the whole space.

This came to me, and my fellow Trustee, as a complete surprise/shock. I immediately objected on the grounds that the intent was to reduce, not increase monthly rental, and, to have better coordination. Over my objections a vote was called, and I got up and walked out of the Council meeting, refusing to take part in the vote….likely the first Trustee ever to do so. I was pissed, both by being blind-sided at the meeting, and the failure of Islands Trust staff to keep us informed of the changes.

Subsequently, in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2016, and again in 2019 Temporary Permits or renewals were given to the Islands Trust by the various Salt Spring Local Trust Committees.

On August 9th of this year, the 7th renewal of the original TUP was issued by Trustees Peter Grove and Laura Patrick.

In 2019 I had protested to them regarding the reissuance of the TUP on the grounds that the Islands Trust had failed to apply, FOR 15 YEARS, for a rezoning of the property. In 2016, in support of the reissuance of the TUP, Trust Staff said they would be seeking a rezoning application. They never did.

In 2019, Trust staff report stated, “The longstanding office use by Islands Trust of the BC Hydro building under a temporary use permit is a departure from the intent of TUP’s….For the past two years, Islands Trust staff have sought BC Hydro support for rezoning and were denied. However, in authorizing the application for the current TUP proposal, the landowner has indicated a change of opinion and is willing to authorize a rezoning application.”

Based on that “promise” by Trust staff, the LTC approved the 2019 renewal.

And here we are, 3 years later, and no rezoning application.

Staff’s 2022 rationale for issuing another TUP?

“The longstanding office use by Islands Trust of the BC Hydro building under a temporary use permit is a
departure from the intent of TUPs. As Islands Trust does not own the land on which the office building is located, Islands Trust is unable to initiate a rezoning without the owner’s consent. For the last few years, Islands Trust staff have sought BC Hydro support for rezoning and the requests have consistently been

WAIT A MINUTE…Staff stated in 2019 “the landowner has indicated a change of opinion and is willing to authorize a rezoning application.”

Was this the truth, or not? If I was a Trustee and an applicant’s version was diametrically opposed to what they said 3 years ago, I would have some questions for the applicant. Like – “Did BC Hydro actually change their opinon in 2019, and then, subsequently, immediately change it after the TUP was issued?”

I know of no other circumstance where a property owner, having told the LTC they would be applying for a rezoning, after already having had 7 TUP’s and/or renewals, comes back to the LTC yet another three years later and says, “Well, we never did what we said we were going to do, so we need another TUP” without being met with anything other than a “Too bad, so sad, you had three years and chose not to, so, “no” you can’t have a 8th TUP. Application denied.”

And yet, Trustees Grove and Patrick renewed the permit.

The optics of this approval are egregious. Obviously the Trustees have given preferential deference to the Islands Trust, and, IMO, should not have.

Underlying all of this is the need for other property owners on Salt Spring to know that our Trustees, the people we elected to represent our best interests, are doing so fairly and evenly and not giving special favour or dispensation to ANY other property owner, including BC Hydro or, ironically the Islands Trust.

Islands Trust should be treated by their own rules, not be the exception to their rules.

Who Is IT? IT is US…

On Salt Spring we commonly refer to the “Islands Trust” (IT) as being the land use planning authority.

That is not quite technically true.

Our land use planning bylaws are not created by the “Islands Trust.”

They are in fact created by US, through OUR representatives TO the Trust.

The corporate entity used to create the bylaws is the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee.

A “Local Trust committee” is defined in Part 4 of the Islands Trust Act:

Part 4 — Local Trust Committees

Local trust committees

23   (1) For each local trust area there is a local trust committee.

(2) Each local trust committee is comprised of

(a) the local trustees for the local trust area, and

(b) the person appointed under subsection (3) (a).

(3) For each local trust committee, the chair of the trust council must appoint,

(a) as a member of the local trust committee, a member of the executive committee who is not a local trustee for that local trust area, and

(b) if possible, as an alternate member of the local trust committee, another member of the executive committee who is not a local trustee for that local trust area.

So, a “local trust committee” is partially comprised of two “local trustees for the local trust area.”

But what are “local trustees”?

“Local Trustees” are also defined in the Act, under Section 6:

Local trustees 6   (1) For each local trust area, 2 trustees are to be elected to represent the electors of the area.

So, given that local trustees are elected to represent “WE” the voters, and NOT the Trust, it is clear that when local trustees act, they must act on OUR behalf NOT the Trust’s, for, sensibly, they cannot serve two masters.

But, but, but you may be sputtering…”You’re telling me the trustees represent US, NOT the Trust, but what/who IS the Trust then?”

The Islands Trust is an “Act”….it is a piece of paper with writing on it. It is legislation created by the Provincial Government in 1974. That legislation must be adhered to under certain circumstances.

However, you won’t find OUR local bylaws in the Islands Trust Act. You find them in OUR Official Community Plan, and OUR Land Use Bylaw.

Both of those documents were brought into being by OUR local trust committee – the corporation known as the “Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee.”

So, while OUR bylaws must be in line with Islands Trust policies (as created by Islands Trust Council), they are, in fact, YOUR bylaws created by YOUR representatives.

Which means if you disagree with a bylaw, you aren’t disagreeing with the Islands Trust, you are disagreeing with whichever of YOUR past/present politician(s) who brought that bylaw into being.

The good news is, if you disagree with a decision made by YOUR elected representative(s), you get to fire them every four years and “hire” someone else…if you are in the majority of voters.

And, if YOU don’t like OUR bylaws, YOU can elect YOUR/NEW representatives to make the necessary changes.

Like Smoky the Bear once said – “Only YOU can prevent forest fires.”…or tree cutting regulations, or dock prohibitions, or lack of employee housing (and all the ramifications), etc..

So, this October 15th get out and vote for the two people who will best serve YOU and YOUR COMMUNITY’s best interests.

In the meantime start talking to your friends about the issues. Get informed. Get active.

Vainwater Catchment?

First, I want to make it abundanenly clear I fully support the use of rainwater catchment to act as a supplement to one’s regular household supply for gardening. In a pinch it can be used for low summer well yields, and, properly designed it can be used as a marginal water supply system.

However, it is important to note its limitations and appropriate/cost effective applications.

In that regard, lets first take a look at the practical math of rainwater catchment on Salt Spring Island.

1. To obtain a CRD building permit for a house, using rainwater catchment as your source of potable water, it is my understanding you require 1500 square feet of catchment area – about the size of a roof on a 1400 sf, single level, home.

2. It rains about 3 feet each year on Salt Spring, which means you would be able to catch, at an absolute maximum 3’ x 1500’ – 4500 cubic feet of rain. Each cubic foot holds 6.22 Imperial gallons = 27,990 gallons per year.

3. Maximum daily available water supply is equal to 76.68 gallons.

4. Equivalent gallons per minute to a well’s output requires we first convert 76.68 Imperial gallons to US gallons, (since well outputs are rated in US gallons) = 92.08 US gallons.  (27,990/365)

5. 92.08 US gallons per day = .06 gallons per minute. (92.08/24hours = 3.83gph   3.83gph/60 = 0.063 gpm.)

6. Thus the maximum water output you can achieve solely through rainwater catchment is 63/1000ths of a gallon per minute. In other words, the output of a 1 gpm well is the equivalent to the absolute maximum yield 15.87 rainwater catchment systems as described above.

7. This means, if you accept/support rainwater catchment as a potential solution to water supply on the island, then any well, sustainably producing 1 gpm, can equally support 15 homes.

When we apply this math to our existing land use bylaws we find ourselves running smack dab into hypocrisies, absurdities, and unnecessities.

Let’s look at absurdity first.

Rainwater catchment is mandatory for use with 600sf to 900sf cottages, used for permanent rentals. This requirement was established when Bylaw 512 was crafted and signed into law two years ago by Trustees Grove and Patrick. The Bylaw “legalized” 411 of the 1300 potential properties (which can legally have a cottage) for long term rentals.

When I say “mandatory,” it means even if you have a 20 gallon a minute well on your property, you STILL have to install an engineered, approximately $20,000, rainwater catchment system.

However, apparently neither the Trustees or Islands Trust Staff did the above rainwater math when they were preparing, and discussing, the permanent rental cottage idea for a couple of years.

Remember the maximum amount of rainwater a 1500sf house can capture? Well, lets do the math for a 600 sf cottage. 600/1500 x 76.68 gallons per day = 30.67 gallons per day = 0.02 gallons per minute equivalent.

Now consider that in order to legally construct a seasonal cottage (which is an accessory use on a property) you need to first build a principal residence which requires proof of potable water by the CRD. Typically, if you are on a well, as the majority of 3 acre, island properties which qualify for having a cottage are, your output is going to be sufficient to supply your house AND an additional 0.02 US gallons per minute (which is  2.66 Imperial OUNCES a minute).

For a practical demonstration of the absurdity of it all, take out your one cup (8 ounce) measure from your cupboard, go to your kitchen tap, turn it on to a tiny dribble and time how long it takes to get to fill up to the 3 ounce line. I guarantee it won’t be 60 seconds.

That dribble = a mandatory $20,000+ cost to the property owner that is being “encouraged” to provide a long term, affordable, rental unit. A two bedroom, 900sf cottage’s mandatory, “dribble equivalent” is just 4 Imperial ounces per minute.

Okay, now let’s move on to hypocrisies.

Given Trust Staff and the two Trustees came up with, and approved, Bylaw 512, it would be reasonable to assume they believe a family of four, living in a 2 bedroom, 900 sf, cottage, can survive on one ounce per minute each = 9 gallons per day each (total of 36 gallons per day). Then answer me this – why on Earth would they turn around and require the following for secondary suites?

3.16.8 Where a lot is supplied by groundwater, a building containing a secondary suite must have sufficient available groundwater

First, a secondary suite is limited to 90 square metres = 968 sf.  I’m going out on a limb here and suggest that what’s good for the cottage goose is good for the secondary suite gander.

Section 3.16.8 is followed by this informational note.
Information Note: At time of Building Permit application, the Capital Regional District requires specific amounts of potable water be demonstrated, and proof of adequate septic capacity be provided, prior to issuing approvals.

And there we have another absurdity. It doesn’t matter what the bylaw wants…when it comes time to build a secondary suite the CRD Building Inspection Department is going to require “specific amounts of potable water.” So why the hell do we need another government’s involvement/approval if, at the end of the day, the CRD is going to ensure there is “adequate” water….something arguably in the range of 4 ounces a minute according to Staff and our existing Trustees.

The same is true when it comes to subdivision requirements.

To subdivide a property, an application must be made to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI). MOTI requires proof of potable water (usually a drilled well).

As noted above, CRD Building Inspection requires proof of potable water at time of building.

Two levels of government ensuring there is adequate water.

Why then do we need a “pig in the middle,” 3rd level of government, to ensure there is adequate water? Why can’t we trust MOTI and CRD to do their jobs? I challenge anyone to show me just ONE example of a property owner being able to escape MOTI’s or CRD’s proof of potable water.

The additional cost in time, energy and money to an applicant, in complying with the local Islands Trust regulations can be in the tens of thousands of dollars and months of time.

During my term as your representative, I attempted, without success, to have Trust Council remove the Trust from the water approval business due to the liability associated with water approvals. I also attempted to remove from our local bylaws reference to proof of water, thereby hoping to reduce staff time, and taxpayer dollars, on a wasted, redundant mission.

In a day and age of hyperinflation, rising construction costs, and a housing crisis on steroids, it is time to get rid of the “pig in the middle,” 3rd level of government water approval, and the waste of valuable staff time.

The water quantity approval issue is well covered. Let’s save some of our hard earned tax dollars.

Lastly, in spite of it being common knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be any rationality associated with making blanket regulations for the whole island when it comes to water.

Salt Spring is naturally split into 3 primary geological formations. The northern 1/3 of the island is primarily sandstone, the middle and southern thirds are primarily fractured granite.

Sandstone starts out as level layers of sand on the ocean bottom. Millions of years pass and that sand is solidified into stone. Tectonic action can buckle the level layers upward, resulting in a sandstone ridge – like Channel Ridge.

If the sandstone buckles high enough it will fracture, creating a natural aquifer where rainfall runs into the fractures and can create huge fresh water aquifers/reservoirs.

However, if it doesn’t buckle high enough, the sandstone does not fracture, and thus becomes an impenetrable barrier to rain. Suneagle area is a good example of this, as is a good portion of the northern 1/3 of the island. You can drill down 500’ and not hit a fracture.

It is in those areas of poor fracturing that water problems occur. Virtually everywhere you can drill a well and hit a good supply of water.

Thus, while the idealism expressed as rainwater catchment can work, the questions are (a) is it really necessary in every case, (b) is it cost effective, and (c) does it even make sense in most cases? IMO, the answer to all three questions is “No.”

Prove me wrong with a rational argument. I’m all ears.