Interesting Conflicting Interests

A “local trustee” is elected to represent the electors of the Trust Area they represent. As a local trustee they are one of three members of a corporation – e.g. the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee.

Sitting on that corporation, their duty is to represent their electors.

When the local trustees from all 13 Trust Areas meet together, they form another corporate body – Islands Trust Council. At Islands Trust Council their duty is to represent their electors.

And this is where the train starts to go off the tracks.

Four of the elected local trustees are elected to sit as “persons” on the Executive Committee. As soon as they do, IMO, the first of a couple of conflicts of interests are created.

How can someone who is a representative of the electors of a Trust Area also be a representative of a corporate body that is at once comprised of 26 people sitting in their capacity as Trustees, also sit as one of 4 Executive Committee members? This is a dual capacity situation.

Example – When the Chair of the Islands Trust Council speaks, is he representing his constituents, or the corporate body, Islands Trust Council? This duality does not occur in any other local government, or any provincial or federal government level. An MLA who is elected to be part of the provincial government, can be a minister in the government, because it is the same corporate body – “His Majesty the King, in right of the Province of British Columbia.”

Now, we move into the second conflict. When an Executive Committee member sits on a local trust committee, in what capacity are they acting? Technically it is in the capacity as a member of the Islands Trust Council corporate body. Thus, the Local Trust Committee is comprised of a corporate member from Islands Trust Council, and the two locally elected trustees.

However, how can an Executive Committee member put aside their Local Trustee viewpoints, which they were arguably elected to represent, when they sit at the Local Trust table?

Example – Executive Committee Vice Chair “A” is from “Island X” and thinks all short term vacation rentals should be outlawed on Island X. When they sit as a Chair on Island Y, how do they put aside their settled opinion when faced with being a tie breaker on Island Y? In this example, the very fact that the question of STVR’s is before Vice Chair A, should be enough to have them declare their biased opinion, which may affect the electorate of Island Y.

Once again, this situation never arises in any other local, provincial or federal government level.

Simoultaneous roles in two, separate, government corporations which are interconnected should not be allowed.

These are inherent flaws in the current Islands Trust “unique” system of governance which should be examined, and corrected, in a Provincial review of the governance.

Boardwalk To Nowhere…

A little “recent” history of the Ganges Boardwalk. (recent since it actually started in 1988)

The following are extracts from CRD, Islands Trust and Driftwood reports….

The Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee (SSI LTC) added Ganges Village Area Plan to its work program as a top priority in June 2013.

A project charter was developed following meetings with senior CRD staff and the Community Economic Development Commission. Grant funding was sought including from the Union of BC Municipalities Community to Community Forum for early engagement with First Nations.

Based on feedback from early engagement and funding results, the SSI LTC focused developing a Ganges Village Plan first on developing a Ganges boardwalk.

In 2014 a revised project charter was drafted in consultation with the CRD and with help from a contracted management consultant.

A volunteer Ganges Harbour Walk Steering Committee was created, broad and ongoing discussions with upland land owners commenced, a concept design was commissioned and a bylaw drafted (Bylaw 491).

Jan. 27&30, 2016- Special Business Meetings for community engagement

Feb. 11, 2016 – LTC direct staff to draft bylaw; to consult with PARC to change zoning of Pecks cove to PR4(a); rescind the resolution requesting an appraisal; and develop a Terms of Reference for a Joint Task Force

March 10, 2016-LTC give first reading to Bylaw 491 and sent for referrals

10.3 Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Bylaw No. 491 Referral (for Response) MA-2016-024 It was Moved and Seconded that Mayne Island Local Trust Committee interests are unaffected by Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee Bylaw No. 491. CARRIED

April 26, 2016 – Planner Chloe Fox contracted to advance project deliverables

July 28, 2016 – Planner Jason Youmans assigned to file

August 3, 2016 – Project update received from Chloe Fox. Planner Youmans reviewing work to date and next steps March 10, 2016-LTC give first reading to Bylaw 491 and sent for referrals

September 15, 2016 – Communications with land owners and other stakeholders. Communications with CRD. Anticipate report to LTC October 13 meeting.

November 15, 2016 – Trustee Grove and Planner Youmans meet Ganges Marina owners

June 1, 2017 – LTC directed planning staff to prepare information materials for community engagement about the scale and type of development the community would want to see on the properties upland from the boardwalk.

The result of that was the beginning of the backtracking on Bylaw 491 by the Trustees and the CRD Director.

In the spring of 2018, the SSI LTC wrote to the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development advising of Salt Spring community’s desire to see renewal of Ganges Marina water lease made contingent on securing the harbourwalk route for public use.

The SSI LTC, and subsequently the CRD, applied for a statutory right of way within which a harbour walk can be constructed.

January 27, 2019 CRD Director Gary Holman reported he had written to the Province and recommended that the renewal of the foreshore leases be dependent upon the securing of a public Right of Way in front of the upland property owners.

On October 1, 2019, the SSI LTC removed Ganges Village Planning – Harbourwalk from the Top Priority List and placed it on the projects list.

May 26, 2020 – Despite the “demotion” to the projects list, the project still receives minor attention through communication with the Ganges Harbourwalk Steering Committee and responding to communications such as received by the SSI LTC in April and May 2020.

Bylaw 491 remains at first reading and could be elevated back to a top priority for consideration of amending in order to consider the Ganges (and Salt Spring) Marina’s request for float homes. CRD communications indicate their support in the process and “look forward to providing input from the various local commissions in an effort to coordinate impacts on utilities and help obtain community consensus” (attachment 2).

Priorities and Resources Village Planning has been an SSI LTC strategic priority since August 2019. However, Ganges Village Planning has been a top priority since 2013 with a focus on the harbourwalk, since 2014.

The top priority was placed on the projects list late in 2019 which gave room to, eventually, elevate protection of the CDF ecosystem as a top priority. Despite being on the projects list, staff continue to communicate with stakeholders primarily through the Ganges Harbour Walk Steering Committee and as correspondences are received.

Appointing “Village Planning” to a top priority versus elevating “Ganges Village Planning – Harbourwalk” from the projects list back to the top priorities list, would respectfully be akin to taking the existing Ganges Village Project – Harbourwalk to its 2013 origin.

Staff recommend that instead, the SSI LTC consider elevating Ganges Village Planning – Harbourwalk back to a top priority, when resources are available, and focus on responding to recent CRD communications and use existing Bylaw 491 as a starting point for further stakeholder discussions.

The SSI LTC 347 Islands Trust Staff Report 5 could amend the bylaw to function as local area plan albeit refined to the foreshore and immediate upland land owners between Salt Spring Marina and Rotary Park.

Staff also remind the SSI LTC that implementation of the Local Planning Services Review further proposes to use planning resources to draft policies and to refine its own implementation strategies. In regards to the rest of the work program, staff will remove Affordable Housing – Cottages from the top priorities list and assign Island Planner Jason Youmans to Protection of the Coastal Douglas Fir Ecosystem. No resolution is required.

And here we are….October 2022 and still a Boardwalk to Nowhere….

In Search of the Perfect Politician

The title is of course click bait, since there is no “perfect politician.”

There are, however, people who aspire to be the best representative of the people they can be.

They are usually independent, and, if they are new to the arena, are likely, as I was, somewhat naïve to the way government works.

The learning curve for an elected representative can be steep unless they receive guidance from colleagues or those who with experience.

All of that having been said, here is my top ten list of what makes a good local politician:

1. Have a vision for your community,

2. Express the vision clearly, and if elected, stick to the vision,

3. Always remember who you work for, and treat their money (taxes) as if it were your own,

4. Be solution oriented…for every problem there is a solution,

5. Do not be afraid to say what you think,

6. Remember, if elected, you were elected to lead, not follow, your electorate,

7. Think of what you are going to say, before the words pass your lips,

8. Listen to people more than talk, your job is to accumulate information upon which decisions are made,

9. Stand firm, in the face of opposition, if you believe the decision you are making is the right decision,

10. Don’t unnecessarily delay any decision to be made…delays only create disharmony of opinions.

On October 15th, this Saturday, vote for those who you think can best aspire to being the perfect politician.

Chamberlaining Needs to Stop

Neville Chamberlain was a British Prime Minister, best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938.

As we all know, the results of that agreement didn’t turn out very well in the end.

“Appeasement” seldom, if ever, works in politics if you actually want to get anything accomplished.

If you want to please everyone you will please no one, simply because the task is impossible.

People are opinionated, and I, for one, am certainly no exception.

My opinion on the housing crisis, which I have been writing about for over 20 years now, really hasn’t changed.

The solutions I proposed in 2002-2005 are the same I would propose today – an employee, home ownership model ala Whistler’s solution. I am not a proponent of rental units unless there is no choice…as is the case at the moment.

The reason I am opposed to rentals long term is that they create a perpetual servant class of serfs…(or is that just a serfant class?) If you’re renting you’re paying someone else’s mortgage.

Getting back to “appeasement,” for years now a relatively small group of environmentalists on the island have been gettting appeased at every step of the way. Their familiar anti-everything Driftwood articles spawn ad nauseum.

They complain about water shortages as if the entire island had water problems, or, as if it never rains somewhere on the island, while in the next sentence say they are big supporters of rainwater catchment.

They complain in the Winter about trees being cut down and used for lumber or firewood, while sitting around their woodstove in the comfort of their wood frame home. Then they complain in the Summer that the same trees they don’t want cut down pose a significant wildfire risk, but don’t themselves practively follow Fire Smart guidelines by thinning their piece of heaven.

They complain that everyone should drive an electric car or ride a bike, blythely ignoring the environmental damage done in the mining of the raw materials for the car (in someone else’s “backyard”), and the fact they don’t ride their bikes to the grocery store in the middle of Winter…or Fall…or Spring….or whenever its raining…or whenever they have to go to Windsor Plywood.

They complain about over development when there is virtually no development.

They complain when the vacant lot next door, which they have walked their dog on for years, is finally built on.

They complain about more people coming to the island, when the vast majority of them moved here in the last 30 years. The population when I was growing up here was about 2,000. They don’t recognize they are part of their own “problem.”

You don’t see a single one of them carefully demolish their homes, covenant their property for no develpment, restore the environment, hand over their title deed to one of many First Nations, and then leave the island.

They say “Don’t change Salt Spring, let Salt Spring change you.” but ignore the fact they are responsible for the majority of the change that has occurred on the island. If only we had adopted that slogan back in 1973 pre-Islands Trust…

It is now time for their appeasement to stop. It doesn’t mean the complainers will simply go quietly into the night. On the contrary they will become fully enraged when they realize that their political pressure tactics have ceased to function as planned.

However, it doesn’t mean the changes necessary to create employee housing on the island will be environmentally destructive. Energy efficient houses are now standard. Clustering of development is energy efficient. Apartment buildings are energy efficient.

What is not efficient is the continual barrage of negativity, without any alternative proposed solutions coming from the “Positively No” crowd, which is slowly transforming into “Absolutely No.”

It is time for the “Positively Yes” crowd to emerge with the creative solutions. Our employees and employers need to stand up and be counted.

This Saturday, October 15th, vote wisely. Vote for real change. Vote for those who are prepared to enable a sustainable employee housing solution.

I am voting for Don Marcotte and Jamie Harris for Trust, and Kylie Coates for CRD Director. I would urge anyone who cares for this community’s future to do the same.

A Billion Gallons Late….

30 years ago, in 1992, the new Gulf Island Senior Secondary school was constructed. As part of the process and planning, additional water lines were placed alongside Rainbow Road for the future transportation of reclaimed water from the Ganges Sewer plant. The reclaimed water would be used for watering the school fields.

The Ganges Sewer plant pumps out about 113,000 gallons of water into Ganges Harbour each and every day. The majority of the water originally comes from Lake Maxwell.

The maximum for suspended solids (TDS) for streams bearing fish is 25 parts per million (ppm). Ganges Sewer treated water is 1 ppm.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) is how much oxygen does water use to decompose organics. The allowable limit for BOD is 25 ppm…clean surface water would be 5 ppm or less….the Ganges plant’s water is just 3 ppm, about the same as St. Mary Lake.

Fecal coliform limit is 1,000 per 100 millilitres of water. The limit if you want to use a stream or lake for a water source is 100 per 100 ml of water. The Ganges effluent is about 25…

Thus, if the remainder of the water was treated to remove phosphorus, iron, copper, zinc, pharmaceuticals, etc. (easily done with reverse osmosis), the water would be drinkable.

A number of years ago I had contacted the Ministry of Environment inquiring what level of treatment is required to make the water useable for irrigation/landscaping. I was informed, due to its already highly treated state, it would need a relatively simple filtration, UV treatment (e-coli) and flocculation (to remove any potential viruses).

Along with others, I have been asking the question as to why the recycling of the water has not, in 30 years, been accomplished.

On August 30, 2018, just before the last election, the School District approached the Ganges Sewer Commission and asked if the District could pay for a study to be done to determine exactly what was necessary in order to move the potential recycling into reality.

The following is from the minutes of the meeting:

Mr. Pingle was present on behalf of the School District #64 to answer any questions
regarding their request for a feasibility study to utilize the wastewater effluent from the
Ganges Sewer to water playing fields.
• Last year NSSWD permitted field watering at a cost of $30,000; this year no
watering was allowed and fields will cost $15,000 to repair and are unusable for
fall/winter sports.
• Appears to be an ongoing issue with a potential solution.
School District is offering to pay 100% of the feasibility study which would
determine scope of work, governmental approvals and regulatory requirements,
estimated capital costs and governance o
f a new local service.

• The CRD has previously studied the use of reclaimed waste water and will share
any gained knowledge.
• Consider consultation with municipalities currently using reclaimed wastewater.
• SD64 would provide land for reservoir tank.
• Potential for additional community uses to be determined

The Commission moved to go forward with the offer.

That the Ganges Sewer Local Services Commission agrees in principle to the use of
reclaimed wastewater by School District 64 to irrigate playing fields adjacent to
Rainbow Road; and that the School District will fund a feasibility study which includes
consideration of other community uses.

Then, on October 27th, 2020, the budget showed that funding for the $50,000 study had been switched from the School District to Community Works Funds….

And then, on October 14, 2021, the budget showed the funding had been increased to $57,500 and now was not being paid for by either the School District or Community Works Funds, BUT, by the Ratepayers.

I inquired why/how/when the two changes had been made, and was informed Community Works Funds would not allow money to be spent on studies.

However there was no reasonable explanation as to why RATEPAYERS were picking up the $57,500 tab for the study instead of the School.

It appears that for some reason the School funding was turned down. It appears someone other than the Commission made the decision for the Ratepayers to fund the study, because there are no such decisions showing in the minutes.

I lay the blame of this over taxation of the Ganges Sewer Ratepayers at the feet of Director Holman. Likewise I lay the fact the study has not yet been completed at his feet.

The budget in the just posted agenda for the October 7, 2022 Ganges Sewer meeting shows that the study has now been shunted off to 2025. Given the previous delays, I would be surprised if it is completed before the NEXT election in 2026.

About 113,000 gallons…a day….@ 50 gpd per person, is enough to supply 2,260 people each and every day…on an island where we hear, virtually every week, we don’t have any/enough water.

30 years x 113,000 gallons per day = 1.2 BILLION GALLONS which has been flushed out into Ganges Harbour.

Since 1992, our current CRD Director, Gary Holman, has been a CRD Director for 3 terms of office (2002-2005, 2005-2008, 2018-2022, and 1 term of office as our MLA.

He has had his 3 chances to do something about one of our most precious, underutilized, resources on the island, and its time someone took over that can get something accomplished in less than the next 4 years….you know…like the Boardwalk.