Potlatch; Planning staff time; and a Gulf Island Regional District

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, October 24 2017

While not major talking points for the October meeting, the members of the Gabriola Local Trust Committee hit on three topics which have longer-term views in them for Gabriola and the larger Islands Trust federation.

Potlatch Density Transfer bylaws

Trust staff confimed while there is the typical pile-up of bylaws requiring ministerial approval, the paperwork asking for the Potlatch bylaw is near the top of the pile at the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Staff said if Minister Selina Robinson is able to sign off on the proposed bylaw in time, it could be ready for the December 12 LTC meeting - otherwise it will be on the agenda for the first LTC meeting in 2018.

Planning time allotments

Truste Melanie Mamoser brought up her concern with the amount of planning staff time alloted to Gabriola Island - and drew a comparison to Salt Spring Island.

“Salt Spring Island has it’s own team of six.

“Gabriola, only half the population size, has to share a planning team with five other islands. Are we getting a fair share? I’m not sure.”

Mamoser said to staff present she was not being critical of the work done by them.

“You do an amazing job. I’m not saying there aren’t important files on the other islands. But I hear from the community on the lack of progress.”

She noted this term the LTC has had to deal with a huge application (Potlatch Density Transfer).

“But I’m more interested in the comparison - maybe we’ll get more information at Trust Council.”

Mamoser is now the Chair for the Islands Trust Local Planning Commission, and said she is looking forward to the discussions which can be had there, and at Trust Council - which will next meet December 5 thru 7 in Victoria.

LTC Chair Laura Busheikin said planning time is a trust-wide conversation.

“Sometimes we need to sit back and look at what are we doing and how are we doing it. 

“Maybe we can catch efficiencies that aren’t fair. I don’t relish a conversation at Trust Council about Gabriola vs Salt Spring, like siblings, but there could be ways without it being confrontational.”

She said there are other ‘invisible’ costs such as what islands have the most piece of the legal budget; or where the travel costs are higher for Trustees.

“The quest for absolute fairness isn’t going to work.”

Trustee Heather O’Sullivan pointed out there are other islands frustrated that Gabriola has the Northern Office.

Gulf Islands Regional District

Salt Spring Islander recently voted against incorporating as a municipality - a similar decision has been reached on Gabriola in the past.

Trustee O’Sullivan said that kind of discussion makes her wonder if the Trust should be revisiting the idea she put forward at the start of the term - that of a Gulf Islands Regional District.

“Right now the Islands Trust communities are members of different regional districts.

“It is a blue-sky idea, it is not a short easy discussion to have.

“But given the Salt Spring vote results, and given the concerns, not just on Salt Spring Island with local governance problems, I’m thinking it is time to engage in this discussion and see if there are possibilities to take government responsibilities on in a core way.”

She said she does believe there a plan to establish a governance committee within the Trust Council. O’Sullivan has put her name forward to sit on that committee if it is formed.