Salt Spring Island’s new governance model a step closer to reality


Salt Spring Island is one step closer to having a new kind of government.

During the last municipal election, voters endorsed a plan to move to a Local Community Commission and on Wednesday the Capital Regional District passed a bylaw to make it official.

With more than 11,000 residents, Salt Spring Island is a growing community that appears to have outgrown its former governance model.

In October, 62 per cent of residents voted in favour of having a Local Community Commission, which finally became a reality Wednesday when the Capital Regional District Board unanimously passed a bylaw that will see the commission created.

“It is very exciting. It’s absolutely a new era in CRD governance on Salt Spring,” said Gary Holman, Salt Spring Island’s Area Director on the board.

It means there will be five people, instead of one, elected to oversee a lengthy list of Salt Spring issues including economic development, wastewater disposal and community parks and recreation.

Holman says he believes it will be a positive change.

“When you elect more than one person to represent the public view, there will be differences of opinion so I’m really hoping and pretty confident that people are going to elect commissioners who are constructive, willing to work together,” said Holman.

Instead of incorporating into a municipality, the model will see the Island Trust continue to make decisions about Salt Spring’s land and the provincial government will still be responsible for the 265 kilometres of its roads.

Holman says the result will be a more transparent local government.

“Any decisions now being made by the director effectively behind the scenes will be made in an open regularly scheduled meeting where there will be a vote, yes or no majority vote,” said Holman.

Salt Spring Island residents who CHEK News spoke to Wednesday are looking forward to the change.

“The decision-making is spread around the Island much better I think,” said Frederick Howell.

“There would be people on it who really cared and knew what was going on in the community so I’m optimistic that hopefully, it will be a good thing,” said Tamsin McKenzie.

The CRD is targeting an election date for the other four commissioners for May 27, 2023.

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Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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