On the Issues
With good community process and decision-making we should be able to review each application on its merits. My bias overall, however, is to limit residential development to the existing allowance. We'll need to be innovative to handle the impact of the 1300 additional homes that current zoning permits, let alone adding to that potential. Gabriola population http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/newsmar142007.pdf and construction growth is already much higher than the BC average.
For this reason, I do not support further increases in residential development allowances except in special circumstances, and only then with broad community input and support. I do, though, support clustering existing development allowances in locations where they’ll reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase walkability, and where there’s sufficient water and septic capacity.
I believe we should consider additional protections for the ecological values on undeveloped lots, so we can site houses where they will have the least environmental impact, and I’d like to look at this in the Official Community Plan review.
Since I’ve become a trustee, the Local Trust Committee has approved these rezoning applications, all with conditions to protect neighbours and the environment:
- ♦ Folklife mall expansion;
- ♦ RDN emergency dock;
- ♦ Silva Bay liquor store;
- ♦ Hope Centre;
- ♦ Wild Rose farm supply store;
- ♦ Twin Beaches (lifting of RDN Land-Use Contract);
- ♦ Borsuk density transfer (35 new lots off Seymour/Lackhaven in exchange for 707 Park);
- ♦ DeCourcy Island Firehall;
- ♦ Gabriola Commons;
- ♦ Urgent Care Clinic.
The only development applications we turned down were the chicken farm becoming an industrial boat-building school, and the winery lounge in Phase 4.
Coming up this term are community process and Local Trust Committee decisions on: seniors’ townhouses; 9-lot density transfer to near Sandwell Park, to add parkland to 707 Park; amenity zoning on Mudge Island.
- ♦ Map of Gabriola’s development potential, outlining what lots have existing subdivision capability http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/pdf/gbmapbuildoutdevpotmay2010.pdf
- ♦ Articles I've Written on Development
On the Bridge
Gabriola and Mudge Islands have faced the threat of a bridge more than any other island, because of our location as a stepping stone from the mainland to Vancouver Island. I’ll continue to advocate for the Trust Policy Statement, Gabriola Official Community Plan and Mudge Official Community Plan; all derived from extensive public consultation, all signed by the Minister of Community Affairs, all opposed to a bridge. The cost to island ecology, peace, and local economy is much too great to contemplate.
- ♦ Letter from Gabriola Local Trust Committee to BC Ferries CEO David Hahn: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/pdf/gbletterdavidhahn.pdf
- ♦ Letter from Gabriola Chair Kim Benson on Islands and Bridges: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjul282008newspapers.pdf
- ♦ Memo from me to the Gabriola Local Trust Committee on Ferry Advisory Committee process regarding bridge survey: FAC Process ConcernsPDF
On Affordable Housing
Communities all over the coast, and in fact anywhere in North America with stunning physical settings (Whistler, Canmore, Denver), are experiencing loss of housing affordability and attendant loss of community diversity as real estate values soar. Gabriola escaped affordability problems for a long time, but we’re feeling it now, and I want to do what the Trust can to create solutions and sustain the wonderful mix of residents we treasure. The Trust’s powers are limited to zoning remedies, but there are a number we can contemplate. Last term I helped initiate an excellent island forum, and secured $14,000 to conduct an Affordable Housing Needs Assessment, http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/pdf/gbrptaffordhousnov262009.pdf.
This term the Local Trust Committee developed encouraging policies for multi-unit affordable housing projects. These would be rent-controlled, community-developed projects that protect rental units for people with low incomes. With lots of community input, we can cluster such affordable housing in locations where it will have the least groundwater effects, and can reduce reliance on cars.
I really wanted to try an innovative approach to affordable housing, where we didn’t add yet more development potential, but instead moved it around to locations where there’s environmental and community benefit. The new affordable housing policies we created include a Density Bank, where islanders can volunteer to donate unused development potential.
The next step has to be a community-driven rezoning proposal to the Trust, as many other islands are doing, using provincial and federal funding. It is my commitment to evaluate such a rezoning proposal with balance, considering community need, environment, and neighbours.
I don’t think secondary suites will fix our affordability problems, and without the sewer and piped water other communities have, I don’t think suites are a fit for our rural environment. I can see them on large lots if they are density-neutral, but even then it isn’t clear they’d help get affordable housing to the islanders who most badly need it.
- ♦ Islands Trust Affordable Housing page, with dozens of report and the new Islands Trust Affordable Housing Toolkit
- ♦ Report of the Island Forum on Affordable Housing
- ♦ Affordable Housing Needs Assessment grant application
- ♦ Affordable housing letter from me to People for a Healthy Community
- ♦ Islands Trust staff report on affordable housing options
On Climate Change
I've been a leader on climate change action at Islands Trust Council (where all 26 trustees meet quarterly), and am excited that Gabriola can consider incorporating what other islands and communities have adopted in their own Official Community Plan reviews. We have the chance to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (e.g. encourage development patterns that decrease reliance on cars) and to address climate change impacts (e.g. require new homes to be set further back from the sea, in areas where shoreline mapping reveals vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surges).
In the 2008-2011 term, I helped incorporate new greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for Gabriola, Mudge and DeCourcy Islands’ respective Official Community Plans, and we also brought in new policies for Gabriola.
New Policies for Gabriola
Bicycle routes, http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/pdf/gbrptcycleroutes.pdf are now registered for the Province to implement when there’s new road construction and maintenance.
Dozens of greenhouse gas emission reduction policies in the Climate Change chapter of http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/pdf/gbbylbaseocp0166.pdf
Gabriola speed limits reduced: The Local Trust Committee encouraged the Province to reduce Gabriola’s blanket speed limit to 50 km/hour, which applies unless there’s a sign saying otherwise (like 60km/h). The RCMP said it will make prosecution easier in cases of extreme speeding, and we hope it will reduce pollution and roadkill, and lessen the severity of accidents.
Neighbourhood Zero Emission Vehicle network established: Islanders wanting to operate a low-speed electric car still need a special Provincial license, but the Local Trust Committee made it easier by proposing a Neighbourhood Zero Emission Vehicle road network, Safe-NZEV-Operating-Area.pdf, which the Province assessed for safety, and pre-approved.
Letters I’ve written on climate change:
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrnov242009harperprentice.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltraug262009gordoncampbell.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrapr282010christianparadis.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrmar302010campbell-yap-lekstrom.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjun292011newenergyvision.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjun242011ravencoalmine.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjun162011nationalenergyboard.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrapr062011gulfislandsalliance.pdf
- ♦ 2008 Gabriola Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, for Gabriola LTC by Island Futures Society http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/climatechange/pdf/gabriolaghgemissions2008.pdf
- ♦ ”Climate Change Action” section at http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/gb/default.cfm
- ♦ Islands Trust “Climate Wise Islands” page http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/climatechange/climatehome.cfm
- ♦ Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change Through the Conservation of Nature; 2008 report from the Land Trust Alliance of BC http://landtrustalliance.bc.ca/research.html
- ♦ Climate Change in the Gulf Islands - a powerpoint presentation by Gabriola's Howard Stiff to Islands Trust Council, March 2007 Climate-Change-in-the-Gulf-Islands-16Apr07.ppt
- ♦ Taking Action on Climate Change
- Salt Spring Island baseline Energy & Emissions data report http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/poi/pdf/itpoitasrptssienergybaseline.pdf
- ♦ Climate Change Impacts for Gulf Islands, from Gabriola's Shale Magazine in 2002 shale-Dec-2002.pdf
More Islands Trust letters on climate change:
In my first term we mapped Gabriola's groundwater aquifers in conjunction with Natural Resources Canada, to assist future planning. And after broad consultation we passed bylaws prohibiting bulk water extraction on residential lots unless special criteria are met. Sadly, we haven’t been able to implement them with existing operators, because the provincial court concluded Gabriola’s old home business bylaws were so broad that bulk extraction was in fact interpreted as an allowed use in Residential zones under the 1999 rules.
Provincial groundwater legislation is still pending; BC is the only jurisdiction in North America that doesn’t regulate groundwater, and it is only the Province that can control commercial bulk water supply and its impact on neighbours. The Local Trust Committee asked the Agricultural Land Commission to deny approval for bulk water extraction as a Non-Farm Use in the Horseshoe/Locke Bay valley, and as a fall-back, to impose limits and monitoring, so farmland and neighbours aren’t affected. When the ALC approved it anyway, we stood with the Gabriola Groundwater Management Society to request reconsideration.
I personally support cisterns/rainwater collection as an alternative to new wells, composting toilets and grey water treatment as an alternative to septic field requirements, and want to see out-of-compliance septic systems addressed. I’m delighted the Regional District of Nanaimo taking such projects on through its Action for Water, http://www.actionforwater.ca plan that was approved by referendum in 2008 (I sat on the steering committee that created it). The Trust has new water conservation zoning tools we can consider in the OCP review, for example to require or incent rainwater collection in water-scarce areas of the island.
On Gabriola we are fortunate to have an excellent body of work by the Gabriola Groundwater Management Society.
- ♦ Gabriola Groundwater Management Society
- ♦ Islands Trust website on groundwater (look especially at the Mayne Island rainwater collection study): http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/poi/gwater.cfm
Letters I’ve written on groundwater management:
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrdec072010murraycoell.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrfeb252011wateractitresponse.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjun242008penner.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjun282007barrypenner.pdf
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/news/pdf/tcltrjan162007barrypenner.pdf
More Islands Trust letters on groundwater management:
Newspaper articles I've written on groundwater management:
On Food Self-Sufficiency
Supporting sustainable farm use on the island is a boost for the island in every way: a strong local economy, healthy eating, self-reliance in the event of emergency, keeping open spaces, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is estimated that one third of our greenhouse gas emissions derive from the food we eat; eating more locally and supporting Gabriola farmers is the best and fastest way to reduce our climate change pollution.
- ♦ Salt Spring Island's 2008 Farm Plan, a good model for Gabriola to consider: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/ltc/ss/pdf/ssocpreviewareafarmplanbooklet. pdf (PDF)
- ♦ Fabulous resources on the Islands Trust food security home page: http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/foodsecurity/foodsecurityhome.cfm
On First Nations Relations
Snuneymuxw First Nation were the first stewards of Gabriola and its surrounding islands, and remain vital partners in preservation and protection. After some rough times during the federally-driven Treaty negotiations at the beginning of my time as trustee, we’ve worked carefully on our relationship and are doing important work together.
The Gabriola Local Trust Committee signed a Protocol Agreement http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/tc/pdf/orgagrdec042008oth.pdf with the Snuneymuxw First Nation in December 2008, just the second in Islands Trust history. It defines how our respective governments will work together, and how to better incorporate conservation of First Nations heritage sites into our land-use planning.
The Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Islands Trust signed their first protocol agreement on December 4 in the Snuneymuxw Council Chambers in Nanaimo. The agreement sets the stage for a joint working group to develop specific procedures for protecting first nation interests in the Gabriola Local Trust Area and to identify topics on which the parties wish to develop further agreements. “This agreement formally establishes a government-to-government relationship of mutual respect and cooperation. It will improve planning, land use management and heritage conservation in the areas within the authority of the Gabriola Local Trust Committee,” said Kim Benson, Chair of the committee and of the Islands Trust Council. “To commemorate this occasion we gave the Islands Trust a canoe paddle to symbolize our intention of paddling in the same direction,” said Chief Viola Wyse, Snuneymuxw First Nations Chief. Gabriola Island Trustee Sheila Malcolmson gave the Snuneymuxw Chief and Council a carved maple bowl, saying that she hoped “it would contain our shared hopes and dreams.” “The Islands Trust intends to pursue additional protocol agreements in order to protect archaeological and heritage sites in the Islands Trust Area,” added Benson. “Our mandate to preserve and protect this area includes cultural and heritage values. These agreements take us from good intentions to action.” This is the second protocol agreement the Islands Trust has signed with a first nation; the first was established in 2000 between the Lyackson First Nation and the Thetis Island Local Trust Committee. A more detailed agreement with the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group is also near completion.
I’ve since represented the Local Trust Committee on the Snuneymuxw/Islands Trust Protocol Working Group. Two great friends of the island, Chief Viola Wyse and Councillor Jeff Thomas passed away since the Protocol was signed; I’m honoured to carry on their work with Chief Doug White III and Councillor Geraldine Manson.
Gabriola’s Official Community Plan was revised in 2011 to reflect the commitments Islands Trust made in the Protocol Agreement.
- ♦ Islands Trust Council"Guide To Treaty Negotiations In The Islands Trust Area", adopted February 2004
- ♦ Snuneymuxw First Nation Treaty Office http://www.snuneymuxw.ca/
- ♦ Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group Office http://www.hulquminum.bc.ca/
Newspaper articles I've written on land claims:
On Commercial Activities
Gabriola’s economy is more diversified than the provincial average, and so more resilient. New construction here has outpaced the region, and Gabriola’s population has grown faster than most of the province. The most important thing trustees can do is protect Gabriola’s environment and unique character, to attract visitors and new residents who truly treasure this special place. I’m also proud of the advocacy work http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/poi/bcferriesinfo.cfm we’ve done to reform ferry fares; if we can win on that, we’ll help business, tourists and commuters. The Regional District of Nanaimo economic development function, brought in at the end of 2011 for Gabriola, will also stimulate tourism and the local economy.
In Residential Areas we need to balance commerce and neighbourhood. For example, the vacation rental bylaws the LTC passed outline criteria to allow tourist accommodation where it won’t have negative impacts. Gabriola’s previous bylaws did not allow vacation rentals at all, and the Mudge Island Official Community Plan process reaffirmed that vacation rentals won’t be allowed in residential zones. Gabriola’s policy change allows vacation rental operators to legalize their operations, while giving neighbours and the broader public a say in where they should be located.
Gabriola's home-based business are the most permissive I can find anywhere; I believe the bylaws adopted this past term fit community values of both economic self-sufficiency and respecting the peace and quiet of residential neighbourhoods.
For Commercial Centres a wide range of bylaw policies already exist to foster commercial, recreational and light industrial economies throughout the island. Some adjustments to these policies might help, but there are few impediments to innovative, low-impact business ideas that community members might propose.
The Local Trust Committee responds to commercial rezoning proposals, so can say yes if it is ecologically sound and has community support. Since I’ve been a trustee, the Folklife mall expansion, Silva Bay liquor store, Wild Rose farm supply, Twin Beaches mall rezonings have been approved (only the Phase 4 winery lounge and boat-building school at the chicken farm were turned down). I’m sensitive though to approving too much new commercial zoning, as it dilutes the customer base for existing business. I’m especially saddened by the closure of the Surf and Grande.
The Community Plan review will have a focus on the Village and island economy, and already this fall the Trust hosted a free-flowing meeting full of ideas to inform the next Local Trust Committee’s work.
On Environmental Conservation
I hope to further increase protection of land for habitat preservation and recreation, by parks creation, covenants and access agreements. Our Local Trust Committee has made great progress in this regard, increasing the percentage of Gabriola's protected areas from 2.2% to 9% of the island since I was elected.
We brought the Islands Trust Natural Areas Tax Exemption Program (http://www.islandstrustfund.bc.ca/naptep.cfm ) to Gabriola this fall, which will surely help encourage voluntary land stewardship.
I'm looking forward to a review of Gabriola's Development Permit Areas, to revamp how we give especially sensitive ecosystems an extra level of protection. This past term we mapped eagle perch trees, eel grass, frog ponds, and Gary oaks with community groups. Next I'd like to map heron rookeries, endangered wildflowers, and seasonal streams and wetlands, and get all this data incorporated into more Development Permit Areas.
A National Marine Conservation Area could protect special places such as Gabriola Passage, while still allowing opportunities for fishing and recreation. Our Local Trust Committee, with the support of many local letter-writers, convinced Parks Canada to expand the feasibility study to include Gabriola and Mudge waters in the National Marine Conservation Area. This was a big win, after several years of trying. If the National Marine Conservation Area does proceed, there would be better coordination, with a conservation focus, of all the agencies that regulate use of the ocean. Lots of details at http://www.pc.gc.ca/progs/amnc-nmca/index_E.asp
- ♦ Lots of details at http://www.pc.gc.ca/progs/amnc-nmca/index_E.asp
- ♦ Islands Trust website on stewardship resources http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/poi/advice.cfm
- ♦ http://www.islandstrust.bc.ca/poi/apiti.cfm