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” – https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2021/dp-pd/prof/details/page.cfm?Lang=E&SearchText=salt%20spring%20island&DGUIDlist=2021A00055917027&GENDERlist=1&STATISTIClist=1&HEADERlist=0

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.

Lions and Tides and Bears, Oh My!!

We are being told by our well meaning local environmentalists that Ganges will be flooded in 2100 and that we must march and take action (coincidentally a couple of weeks before the local government elections.)

As a result, I decided to do a little research on real data from Vancouver’s tide gauge.

Here is what I found – a projected 1.41 inch rise over the next 78 years (Note – I have added the horizontal and parallel diagonal lines to the graph):

(Source – https://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/stations/175.php )

A not so scary 46 mm (1.81″) rise over the last 102 years of hard data.

What I found most interesting was the rather erratic behaviour of “sea level” since it seemed anything but level.

I learned the spike in 1983 was due to the massive 1982-1983 El Nino that year. https://www.whoi.edu/science/B/people/kamaral/1982-1983ElNino.html

Looking into the history of El Nino, that year was not anything spectacular in terms of magnitude. https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/923849

However, the amplitude of El Nino has been increasing for over 1,000 years…all by itself….without any help from mankind it seems.

All of which begs the question – What do we really know about the future, other than what we can project from the past?

In my opinion (which obviously differs from the doom and gloomers) the brouhaha over potential sea level rise, is just one more example of failed, GIGO, computer modeling, which is becoming all too apparent these days.

Public Park or Public Disorder?

Of Dogs, Cigarette Butts, Garbage and Water Recycling

On July 27, 2019 I dropped off a nicely wrapped package for CRD Director Gary Holman at the CRD office on McPhillips Avenue. I never received a response to, or action on, the following letter that was enclosed….

Re – Centennial Park

Open Letter to CRD Director Gary Holman

Dear Director Holman,

As you know, Centennial Park is owned and maintained by CRD. It has a playground for children, and, it should be a place where children of all ages can wander around without having to wade through cigarette butts, bottle caps, aluminum can tabs and dog shit. In a day and age where there is such a public outcry over plastic pollution, it should also be a place where plastic is not present.

On Saturday, July 27, 2019, I spent two hours primarily picking up the cigarette butts in the park. I have forwarded them to you with this letter for your inspection, since usually politicians disassociate actual problems with reality.

Now imagine a two year old walking around, bending down and putting one of these in his/her mouth, as curious children sometimes do.

Centennial Park is a NO SMOKING area, under the jurisdiction of the CRD, and yet, it clearly is not.

The CRD Clean Air Bylaw, 3962, allows for up to a $2,000 fine for an offence.  I went onto the CRD site and found the following:

How is the Bylaw enforced?

Encouraging compliance with the bylaw includes:

  • Targeted education and awareness
  • Sufficient and proper signage
  • Voluntary compliance & peer pressure
  • Rotation of physical presence and monitoring by Island Health enforcement officers
  • Ticketing in specific situations

Could you please tell me, other that “signage” why the bylaw is not being enforced? If you are hoping the signage is working, I encourage you to take another look in the box.

The park is open to the public 24 hours a day, and, smoking evidently only happens when bylaw enforcement officers aren’t around. What good is a public health bylaw if the CRD is not going to enforce it?

In addition, the penalty for littering is $250 under CRD Bylaw 1857. In other words, if a smoker butts out in the park, as is obvious from the enclosed evidence, they could be fined an additional $250.

I would ask you how many fines have been handed out for either smoking or littering in the park over the past year, but I won’t because I’ll give $100 to a charity of your choice if you can show me just one from the past year…I’m putting my money there has been nothing other than, at the most, a “Oh please don’t smoke in the park sir.”

By now, you’re likely getting my point, but, the question is – Are you going to instruct Bylaw Enforcement to hand out a few fines to bring it to the attention of those who let dogs crap in the park (by the way, I didn’t add the dog shit I picked up in the park this morning), or those who smoke, or those who butt out?

CRD Staff maintenance try and keep up with the daily garbage left in the park, and I give kudos to them for doing a decent job. Please help them by making a few “fine” examples, and maybe the word will get around that our CRD Director actually cares about the state of Centennial Park.

And, while we are on that subject, do something about the dust bowl the park has become every summer. It’s state is a disgrace. You are in charge of sending 110,000+ gallons of near potable water out into Ganges Harbour every day, and yet you can’t figure a way to water the lawns with it? A simple flocculation (to get rid of viruses) and UV treatment (to deal with bacteria) system with a pump and piping to connect the sprinkler system would be a great achievement that doesn’t need a study to implement. Whatever the cost, put it to a reverse referendum and I can guarantee it will pass.  I have yet to meet anyone who isn’t disgusted that that amount of water is wasted every day.

So, some anti-littering signs…or “Act Like an Adult and Pick up Your Garbage”….or “This Park is Inhabited by Children, Please Keep it Clean”… would perhaps help, but, a few fines to get the message across, and, some evening patrols by Bylaw Enforcement would be appreciated by all of your constituents…even the ones that didn’t vote for you.

Thanks for your attention, and we look forward to your response.

Best regards,

Eric Booth

Time for Change

Of dogs, and drinking, and swearing, and fighting, and cigarettes, and a CRD UnDirector.

Over the past 2 1/2 years our federal, provincial, Capital Regional District and Island Health government bodies managed to enforce/impose a wide range of regulatory actions against us “for our safety.”

Locally, the Capital Regional District enforced the wearing of masks outdoors in the Saturday Market at Centennial Park and everyone was threatened with fines if they didn’t comply. CRD Bylaw Enforcement officers patrolled the market on a Saturday ensuring the rules were being complied with…on a Saturday….at an event the CRD profited from.

Meanwhile, as continues to today, during the rest of the week, the CRD turned a blind eye to the drinking, smoking, daily loud shouting of obscenities, open drug dealing, fighting and dogs running wild in Centennial Park. This week I saw an uncontrolled large dog attack a small dog ON A LEASH, in the adjacent parking lot. There was also a very violent, drunken, physical assault that sent one person to the hospital and another to jail.

Further, the CRD has a bylaw prohibiting “unsightly premises.” Unsightly premises like the waterfront gazebo they own which has been in a constant state of deterioration over the past decade….to the point where the graffiti riddled, rotten structure has been an eyesore and public disgrace in the neighbourhood for over 5 years now.

Do they consider writing themselves an unsightly premise ticket? Do they consider actually spending the few thousand dollars, which are already budgeted, to repair it before it falls into the ocean?

Well, they may “consider” it but they sure in the Hell don’t do anything about it.

The CRD steadfastly refuses to enforce their own bylaws (even against itself) which prohibit all of the above actions.

This October we need to elect a CRD Director who actually lives full time on Salt Spring, and cares enough about Salt Spring to take the proverbial bull by the horns and clean up the park. Its completely obvious at this point that the bureaucrats in charge are incapable, and, are not receiving sufficient direction from the career politician whose job it is to give them direction. “Make it so” isn’t just a saying limited to Captain Picard’s power at the helm.

The completion of the 34 year old, 1988 boardwalk project, remains stalled after having been made a priority by CRD PARC and then removed as a priority last fall. It lies in Limbo….slowly rotting.

Our current CRD Director wants us to give him a Local Community Commission. I say screw his LCC until such time as he can show us why on Earth we would give him any more bureaucracy or power, by actually using existing regulations to achieve what the existing regulations were designed to achieve, and which were enacted into law to achieve those goals.

The mechanism is simple, and, I understand the CRD have already provided the RCMP with the power to BANISH from any park on Salt Spring, ANYONE they find is breaking the bylaws of the park through the use of the Trespass Act. Why then aren’t they directing the RCMP to enforce the bylaws?

Over a year ago I sent the CRD Director a simple, proposed draft of an amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw for Salt Spring Island, which would see all dogs in the greater Ganges Area required to be on a leash. https://islandstrust.wordpress.com/2021/01/05/proposed-salt-spring-island-animal-control-leash-law-amendment/

To this day he has not bothered to bring it forward for consideration. Dogs are dogs, and, unless they are on a leash, they are not under full control. I have witnessed dozens of dog fights in the park over the past 6 years, some leading to major injuries to the losers. Children are scared when they witness them as well.

So, bottom line….This October please vote in someone who will firmly pledge to clean up the park…and please, don’t get me wrong. I think it would be great to be able to drink RESPONSIBLY in the park. I think it would be great to have your dog on a leash RESPONSIBLY in the park. I even think having a designated smoking area in the park would be acceptable.

I just think its time for the wild west park life to end. It was never like this 10 years ago. Why is the CRD allowing it now?

And one final CRD bitch…Two years ago, after cleaning up hundreds of cigarette butts off the park lawn, planters, and sidewalks, I installed 4 large cigarette ashtrays to encourage their use. Those ashtrays were well used…right up to the point where the CRD removed them out of the park, I assume on the orders from the head bureaucrats running the show.

Last year John Fraser and I manufactured and put up 5 more around Ganges. Made out of recycled propane tanks, painted and decaled to be attractive, we are happy to report they have been working as intended.

Last week I went around and cleaned them out. This is what 1 years worth of cigarette butts, that would have been left on the streets of Ganges, or washed into Ganges Harbour, looks like:

Now ask yourself how many more would there have been collected in the 4 ashtrays in Centennial Park during the same time if the brainiacs at CRD hadn’t removed them?

I’m done politely asking (as if that wasn’t abundently clear by now) for the CRD to act like the local government it is pretending to be.

This October, please choose wisely….then demand action on their election promises.

Its time to elect someone who will “make it so,” not “let it go.”