Thursday, July 18, 2024
July 18, 2024

Editorial: Best policy

At just three words, the shortest sentence in the Islands Trust’s 33-page-long Policy Statement reads: “Changes will occur.”

It’s a 30-year-old warning that the Trust, in its mandate to “preserve and protect” the area’s environment and unique character, will have to make course corrections over time to accomplish its mission.  

But moving that rudder has been a painful experience. The first effort since 1994 was met in 2021 after an early draft document was met with crowded public meetings, angry letters to the editor and online vitriol, and a general sense of a loss of public faith — in the direction being chosen, perhaps, but also in how decisions were made to choose it. 

Trustees sent staff back to the drawing table with a daunting workload: take 32 individual resolutions, each recommending changes for the new Policy Statement, and weave them into the Trust’s guiding document — and, simultaneously, gather “feedback and reflections” from almost a dozen First Nations and incorporate that, too. 

Little wonder it’s been a bit of a wait. 

And, given the history, even smaller wonder that the Trust Council wants to start trustees and the community at the same point, planning to take a first look at the new draft all together. 

The Policy Statement sits, in the hierarchy of Islands Trust’s planning, at the top — above each local official community plan and every land use bylaw. In the Islands Trust, community plans and bylaws must be consistent with the Policy Statement — and it’s that document regional and provincial agencies consult to determine whether their plans and policies are compatible with our islands. 

With that significance, it’s heartening to see a careful, thoughtful process being laid before us. We may not all be wonks excited to sift through a 45-page concordance table, but hopefully many will take time to join the public engagement in the coming two years — reading the draft, participating in the survey, attending discussion sessions and visiting with our local trustees. 

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