The Islands Trust is wavering on housing - they need to hear from you

It's been 11 months since the local election, where housing dominated the debate...but you'd be hard pressed to notice any actual changes around housing from our elected leaders yet. 

Worse, we're hearing stories that housing isn't even a strategic priority for many current Trust Council leaders, while others who profess support publicly, privately fall back on the lame "but there's really nothing the Trust can do" argument.  

Our group has been working hard for months now to prepare an actual list of actions the Trust can take, today, to help ease the crisis. We've been getting endorsements for this list from business, tourism, and climate action groups. Many are taken from previous Islands Trust housing reports from a decade or more ago, never implemented! 

On Tuesday, Oct 1 we are formally presenting to the LTC our list of housing actions the Trust can take, today. The Trust needs to hear that this remains a top priority for this community.

Can you help us ensure we are heard? The LTC meeting:

  • Tuesday, Oct 1

  • 11:30 AM

  • Guests are able to speak to the LTC starting at noon

  • Harbour House Hotel

If you want to hear more about our critique of the current Islands Trust (in) action, or read our full letter of solutions we are submitting, see the below for more context:

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Salt Spring Solutions is presenting as a delegation with support of the Housing Council a short list of important changes that the LTC (Local Trust Committee) can implement now.

It has been almost a year since the local elections when housing was a top issue, yet since then nothing has been accomplished. There have been small steps behind the scenes in the right direction and expressions of goodwill yet no concrete action suitable of a crisis that is deeply affecting the health and viability of our community!

The only thing the LTC is doing is slowly moving forward the deeply flawed and insufficient bylaw 512 to allow full time use of cottages on 400 out of 1300 properties currently zoned for "seasonal" cottages, irrespective of whether there is an existing cottage or intention to use the cottage for full time rental. The net effect of this bylaw is likely to be minimal despite 2 years of effort working on it.

Ideally It would have been easier and more efficient to simply remove "seasonal" from the description of a cottage in the LUB and add language to mandate use of a sustainable alternative water supply where existing water supply is a concern. This would fairly capture all of the existing cottages and captured the full potential of this strategy. But there is language in the OCP that expressly limits change of use of cottages to full time occupancy to incremental increase which has been interpreted to be 400 units. This despite the fact that all of these properties are currently allowed to build a building and for them to be used as vacation homes in the summer when water resources are scarce...Long term use with express protection of water would be much less impactful on the environment than current situation!....

But changing the OCP takes time and so our current list below seeks to clarify many options available to the LTC to make changes now that will favour implementation of affordable housing in ways supported by the OCP, and without need to make changes to it. These can be done now, and quickly but our trustees need to be reminded of the incredible importance of this to the community. They need to be urged to make this a priority and to direct staff to implement these changes!

Please come out October 1st to support our delegation, and express your heart and mind on this crucial issue! If you can't make it in person please write an email to the LTC trustees and Planning Staff Manager:

We have just had a climate emergency rally and world wide strikes. The Islands trust has declared a climate emergency. We can reduce GHG emissions by housing people locally, reversing the trend of a growing number of commuters coming here to work from Vancouver Island....If you care about the climate urge the LTC to help make changes to encourage more smaller dwellings that have lower environmental footprint housing families locally and reduce GHG emissions!

Here is our formal letter to the LTC on housing actions they can take.