Now Reading
Environment’s protection sabotaged – Gulf Islands Driftwood

Environment’s protection sabotaged – Gulf Islands Driftwood


Many people believe that the Islands Trust area is an exclusive place where the natural environment can be protected. This belief is a myth. 

Locally elected trustees can decide whether or not the environment is protected. We get what we vote for if we elect trustees who favor development over environmental protection. This means that the Gulf Islands do not receive any more protection than they would have under any other local government.

How is that possible? Although the Islands Trust Act clearly states that the environment and unique amenities of the Gulf Islands must be protected, this protection has been lost over the years. 

Our official community plan (OCP) contains mostly aspirational goals describing a utopia where every need, be it economic, social or environmental, is met. Even the few hard and fast mandates in our OCP, such as limiting the eventual population of the island to 17,000, have been ignored. Over the years, bylaws were passed that allowed thousands of additional cottages and suites to be built without any restrictions on their affordability or accessibility to island workers. And now our trustees are considering rezoning the entire island to allow for even   more secondary residences.

The Trust Act requires that all island bylaws conform to a Trust Council policy statement. Trust Council opted to change this requirement and allow local bylaws to be compatible with the policy statement, if there is sufficient justification.

To make matters worse Trust Council passed motions last summer to re-define its object to include protection and inclusion of healthy and inclusive communities. This included transportation and housing. How does that protect the environment and unique amenities on the islands?

The majority of trustees, including our trustees, rejected motions to make the protection of the natural environment a top-priority. Some trustees even argued that the word environment in the Trust object should be interpreted to include people. 

See Also

It is tempting to try to replicate the growth patterns of other communities. But the Trust Act doesn’t say this. Those who wrote the Trust Act would roll over in their graves if they could see how the words environment and unique amenities have been distorted to enable, rather than limit, development.

The voices in favour of continuing the current trend speak loudly. Protections will decline unless the community objects. 

This year, the Islands Trust Policy Statement will be revised. I urge you to write to our trustees at  and ask them not to violate population limits in our OCP, and to support motions at Trust Council affirming that the word environment in the Trust Act means natural environment and that unique amenities means one-of-a-kind features that do not exist anywhere else.

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.