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
rejected.


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.



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