Wednesday, June 12, 2024
June 12, 2024

Editorial: Housing wanted for Islands Trust

There’s an unfortunate irony to the Islands Trust facing its own kind of housing insecurity on Salt Spring Island.  

BC Hydro advised the Trust in July 2023 that it wouldn’t be renewing the lease on the space north of Ganges where the Trust has had an office for the past 20 years. 

The local government body’s inability to find a new home exemplifies the lack of appropriate spaces for any number of activities on the island, a state of things some critics might blame on the Islands Trust — justifiably or not — because it is in charge of providing zoning for those activities.

There are likely many reasons a relatively simple ask like a downtown office space seems so difficult, but for certain the options being discussed at the Trust Council committee level don’t seem too appealing — or indeed feasible for solving a rather pressing problem.  

Those include purchasing property that could be made into an ideal or usable space, or closing the Salt Spring office and transferring needed staff to Trust head office in Oak Bay. The former will be a costly long-term project, one that will look like a marathon with sprinter’s hurdles sprinkled in all along the way. The latter seems like a recipe for potentially unhappy staff — will they commute? Work remotely? — and an even unhappier public, who might need to hop a ferry to have every complicated question about their development permit application answered satisfactorily. 

Meanwhile, trustees are setting aside a quarter of a million dollars to improve buildings never intended to house a full office and staff, if that becomes the only option deemed palatable.

It’s a situation that clearly needs more brainstorming and outreach, and at the very least a request for some accommodation on timing from BC Hydro.

And if any of our readers knows of a potential landing spot for the Salt Spring Islands Trust office, they could contact a local Trust committee member, staff at the present Trust office at 250-537-9144, or the Victoria office at 205-405-5151.

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