Photo by Graham E. Bradley
Scott Colbourne for Islands Trust
Gabriola / Mudge / DeCourcy
The Sounder is asking candidates weekly questions. To ask Scott a direct question, use the contact form below.
Why do you see the Islands Trust as being the best place to take part in the direction Gabriola will head for the next term?
Collectively, I believe we’re at a crucial moment in time where solutions to long-standing challenges will be formed and put forward by island communities, organizations, and engaged residents. I know, from my work here, that these islands and meeting places are filled with so many people willing to share their lived experiences and ideas for the future. I want to connect those community-sourced solutions with the Islands Trust and its mandate and then work cooperatively with other levels of government to get those good things done.
As a consultant and writer, I have the flexibility and capacity to do that job and give it the energy it requires over the next four years and beyond.
The Gabriola Local Trust Committee adopted a Standing Resolution Respecting Local First Nations at its last meeting. Your comment/opinion/intent to follow through on this resolution?
It really moved me. I am one of the many volunteers working on Gabriola’s From Truth to Reconciliation series and it has changed how I approach everything in my life. The background to the resolution states “there is a cultural gap that must be bridged for meaningful relationships to develop beyond polite niceties, and there are too many layers of conflict that must be addressed before you can begin to engage meaningfully in land-use issues.” I intend to uphold this Standing Resolution and work with First Nations to create a safe, culturally appropriate place to develop those relationships.
Do you support a comprehensive review of the OCP upon maximum community input?
Yes. But maximum input is key — people can’t feel left out in community planning. We need to create two-way conversations and I promise to be a very active listener.
What can the Island Trust and Trustees do to support island agriculture, farmers, and food security?
Food security is a clear priority for these islands and I was very moved to have Rosheen & Graham from Good Earth Farm and Katie and Dion from Heart and Soil Organics sign my nomination papers for the Islands Trust.
I know we can take real steps to connect islanders with locally grown and produced food, and I support these standing recommendations within the Trust to support island agriculture:
- Protect agricultural lands through the creation of Farmland Trusts and by partnering with the Regional District of Nanaimo and the Province.
- Work co-operatively with farmers and local organizations to develop on-island food processing, storage facilities for local products, and communal composting projects that replenish the soil.
- Support small-scale farmers and farming families with additional housing options.
- Study and map our agricultural lands and their potential for supplying island communities with local food.
- Serve as a facilitator connecting consumers, producers and island organizations and businesses.
- Work with Snuneymuxw First Nation to ensure that any land use does not further infringe on traditional food gathering lands.
What will you do to improve vital community infrastructure for transportation, including roads and safe pathways for people riding bikes, walking and using mobility aids?
This summer, as one of the co-founders of Gabriola’s Healthy Transportation Network, I met with BC’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Claire Travena, and MLA Doug Routley at the Commons.
The topic was safety.
Many of Gabriola’s roads are crumbling (Taylor Bay, Hess and Coats are prime examples) and we don’t have safe transportation infrastructure — from the ferry terminal right up through the village — to provide space and protection for people walking, riding bikes and using mobility aids. Key access points for Mudge and DeCourcy residents are stressed to the breaking point.
To help with pressing issues such as social isolation for seniors, climate change and community health and wellness, we need to have our elected representatives working together to connect our communities and provide safe transportation routes.
That’s why, if elected Trustee, I will take these actions:
1. Push to re-open the Islands Trust and MOTI Agreement (from 1992, amended in 1996). The first shared principle of the agreement is safety, and on those terms it is failing to serve islanders in 2018.
2. Call for and participate in an Inter-Agency Working Group devoted to core infrastructure (water and transportation) with First Nations, the Islands Trust, Regional District of Nanaimo, MOTI and the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Scheduled meetings, with town halls, where each participant reports to residents so we can improve community engagement and service integration.
3. I will put my name forward to serve on the Trust Programs Committee, which has in its mandate Water Management and Sustainable Communities. Current Trustee Heather O’Sullivan has served as the Vice-Chair.
It’s 2018. It’s time to stop pointing fingers and passing the buck and return to a true rural value: taking care of each other.
Provide 20-word responses to these Density-related points:
A. Coats Marsh still not being rezoned to being Park.
The Park has a Park Management Plan so Park zoning makes sense: So does the RDN and Trust working together.
B. The Density Bank is empty.
A density = a residential dwelling = a home. Despite good intentions, an empty bank is not addressing affordable housing needs.
C. The property owners/funders of Coats Marsh object to the densities from Coats Marsh being used as a deposit for the Density Bank.
This belongs to a broader conversation: What’s the process for turning good intentions behind the Density Bank into real solutions?
D. The ability of an LTC to create densities – rather than use existing ones – which has (to my knowledge) never been done on Gabriola.
Many Gabriolans need secure, safe, affordable housing. We need to talk about how we address that while protecting the environment.
Should full transparency apply once the Ministry of Transportation (MOTI) has issued a Preliminary Layout Approval, which gives the Ministry a one-year term for finalizing a subdivision proposal?
Yes, full transparency after preliminary layout approval. But that is beyond Trust powers and there’s 256 things MOTI should fix first, like Gabriola roads and building safe pathways for people.
Should there be a moratorium on any zoning or density reconsiderations until the OCP has been reviewed?
No. Current density policies require a site-by-site rezoning process and a moratorium indicates a lack of trust in that process. We can still do good things with what we have.
Should the non-resident Chair of the Gabriola Islands Trust committee be denied a vote on specified issues?
Covered by provincial legislation so it makes more sense to simply communicate with the Chair around abstaining. My hope is to work with and learn from that experienced person.
Should the Trustees be restricted in deviating from certain defined recommendations of a – elected – Planning Advisory committee?
Impractical and borderline illegal so no: Instead, if we’re in hypothetical land, how about making advisory committee recommendations public in advance of related LTC meetings to increase transparency?
Is it appropriate that MOTI is the final arbiter on any Gabriola subdivision?
No, but hard to change: Let’s address subdivision issues with action, like better communication with approving officers so they make decisions knowing the environmental and community context of these islands.
If elected as Trustee, what would your direction be to staff on the issue of indoor markets on institutional property?
If elected Trustee, I’m more likely to throw myself down Brickyard Hill doing backwards somersaults than do anything that would mess with holiday markets put on by hard-working volunteers to raise money to the benefit of our community. Staff and Trustees should continue to review the by-law and, in the New Year, provide clarity to community organizations such as the Parents Advisory Council, venues and facilities, and people who love buying island-crafted gifts for their loved ones.
Will you carry the Housing Options Review Project forward to its Second Phase or not, and if so, what will your priorities be?
Yes to keeping calm and carrying on: We’re part of a broader housing stress test and people here are under intense pressure to secure homes where they can age in place and get care, homes to raise children in, and homes to return to after a good day’s work. We do not need new market housing, properties that go to the highest bidder, so this list of priorities is on track. I would add co-operative housing models, a Village Core focus to build on the work of Village Vision, and move e) — “consider opportunities for secondary suites on lots smaller than 2 hectares” — up the list: It minimizes our footprint to add housing options where there is existing infrastructure such as roads, water and septic. The item immediately under this list in the June agenda was about water resources: Where we live has to be linked to how we reduce our impact — and stress levels — on these islands.
This past week, the Local Trust Committee had two Temporary Use Permit (TUP) applications before it with applicants wanting to operate short-term vacation rentals (STVRs) in their homes. What's your take on this situation?
Our Trust Council is to be congratulated for trying to balance demand from property owners for short-term rental income with the needs of neighbours (for respectful co-existence) and the broader community (homes for people who live here year-round). But there are 42 listings when you search AirBnB for Gabriola, a tiny percentage of those property owners have applied for permits, and the bylaws restricting operation without permits are not being enforced, which ultimately punishes people who do try to abide by the law.
There are other models in play: Tofino, for example, is using HostCompliance.com, a site that allows local governments to enforce short-term rental rules and reduce their impact on neighbours without eating up staff time.
That could help, but as long as we don’t have a healthy supply of secure, truly affordable long-term rentals, the summer surge is going to increase the pressure on all of these intersecting needs.
Should the Islands Trust be exploring ways to allow short-term multi-family housing in the Village Core, with the requirement that said housing be used to house employees of businesses and organizations which need more staff in the 'busy' months; and then as cold-weather shelter during the off-season for islanders?
Employers benefit when employees have secure housing. Humans benefit when they don’t have to sleep rough in winters turned weird by climate change. But two rights don’t make a solution: If our shared goal is increasing housing security, why institutionalize seasonal turnover?Employers benefit when employees have secure housing. Humans benefit when they don’t have to sleep rough in winters turned weird by climate change. But two rights don’t make a solution: If our shared goal is increasing housing security, why institutionalize seasonal turnover?
If elected Trustee, I will prioritize clearing the path for not-for-profit housing solutions for the islanders who need them most: people with low incomes and insecure housing, seniors who want to age in place, and people with special needs (and exceptional abilities). That means housing agreements that make rentals affordable in perpetuity, not just until the next solstice.
Would you follow through with the recommendation that Official Community Plans be formulated to match the Local Trust Area boundaries? Locally, this would mean merging Gabriola, Mudge, and Decourcy to have a singular OCP. Overall, it would reduce the Trust from having 20 OCPs to 13.
No. Mudge, DeCourcy and Gabriola are three distinct communities and each should have the opportunity to shape their Official Community Plans, which are meant to be statements of shared values and principles.
Great strides have been taken by our current Trustees to engage with the Mudge community and that would continue to be a priority for me if elected. I believe a check-in is due with the DeCourcy community about their 35-year run with the same OCP, which either means they nailed the first draft or that it desperately needs a review, but let’s ask the question.
Would you follow through with the recommendation that Islands Trust planning staff be allocated on a project and application basis?
From a distance, this makes all the sense. If there’s a project about groundwater protection, give it to the planner who specializes in water. Even better if you can use that expertise throughout the Trust since these islands share many characteristics. But distance doesn’t always lend itself to community planning. Residents of each island should know there is enough dedicated staff time and knowledge of their communities to be able to effectively carry out project and application work. Think it could be worth a trial run, as long as each island has a key planning contact.
Who is working with you on the campaign, should anyone want to help out with aspects of the campaign?
This started with two women I very much respect asking me to run for local office over coffee in the village, and I’ve been humbled by the support I’ve received in making this decision to put my name forward. My campaign committee thus far includes Jenny Marcus, Tawny Maclachlan Capon, John Capon, and Graham Bradley. Email email@example.com to support this campaign and find out how to donate.