Density and other topics we need to be able to discuss

Editorial

Tuesday, May 26 2015

Density needs to be a safe word to talk about on Gabriola.

The density of Gabriola was determined by however many densities were on the island when densities were capped (frozen) in 1973. It wasn’t abstract, but it wasn’t exactly scientific either. 42 years later, we can safely say the density freeze has done its job. Islanders stopped the rampant development of the gulf islands that was happening in the 70s. 

But we now face a critical juncture where we need to keep our island communities from deflating. And we can do so by creating densities ourselves - not be dependent on developers, government, or nature trusts to shuffle them around for us. We can continue to work with all three to do so, but it doesn’t have to be the only tool in the box.

Much like density, the concept of amenity zoning needs to be made safe, maybe through a redefinition of what it means.

Because currently, we’re not being honest with what we consider an amenity. 

Surely the people who enjoy the 707 Community Park on a daily basis would think of it as a positive impact for Gabriola. Under the old logic, the deal which resulted in the 707 Park was not amenity zoning. Yet, a park could be considered an ‘amenity.’ There is a history with the phrase ‘amenity zoning’ and it is understandable there are islanders who consider ‘amenity’ to be right up there with the seven words which can’t be said on television.

This isn’t to say that every time any application comes forward to the Local Trust Committee that the LTC should rubber stamp it if the applicant offers to do something for the community. But we’ve made trades in the not-so-distant past, for what some would call amenities, and we should consider doing so in the future.

We don’t need to open the barn doors wide, but we can, judiciously, with great thought, and with the consequential voting control of our island democracy, crack open things a bit.