How Islands Trust Council Can Save $2,000,000/year and Increase its Efficiency

The Islands Trust has a long and challenging history of retaining planning staff. Currently I understand Salt Spring’s planning department is short 3 planners. As a result we have typically ended up with junior planners filling in the vacancies.

As of 2007, per the Stantec Report, planning staff was working at less than 40% efficiency, arguably at least partly due to junior planners and high turnover.

As of the 2019 budget, planning staff was working at less than an 8% efficiency, costing taxpayers over $2 million/year…about 20% of the entire Trust budget…to process development applications.

It is time for Trust Council to deal with this…and there is a simple solution readily available for immediate implementation.

For years, it has been an option for development applicants to hire an independent “contract planner”  (ICP) in order to have the ICP to work with the applicant and prepare a Staff Report on the applications for the Regional Planning Manager’s approval, prior to its submission to the Local Trust Committees. The applicant pays the ICP, who reports directly to the RPM.

The Trust already has previously created 15 “Work Order” sheets, which contain time estimations for processing of the various land use applications. (see )

My recommendations for Trust Council are to direct staff to:

(a)  obtain a list of qualified, independent contract planners available on Vancouver Island.

(b) promote every development applicant to use an ICP whenever possible

(c) explain to applicants that, by using an ICP, their application will be dealt with faster

(d) explain to applicants that the cost of their application fee will, in most cases, cover the cost of processing the application as per the Work Order sheets’ time estimates.

This would cost the Trust $0.00 to implement, with a potential savings of over $2,000,000/year.

Eric Booth, Salt Spring Island Local Trustee 2002-2005.

These are two links to the historical background on this issue –

Presentation to March 2020 Trust Council –