This letter was sent to Island Trustees, and I am posting it here because I thought some interesting points were raised....



Dear Trustee,


The Southern Gulf Islands experienced a noticeable increase in the number of tourists this past season and I would be surprised if all Trust islands were any different. What many residents find alarming is that tourism appears to be drifting towards becoming a substantial part of our local economy without any real scrutiny. Tourism like many other industries, has significant implications to small communities ranging from positive benefits to negative impacts on the economy, the environment, and the community's “culture”. Tourism unlike other industrial or commercial enterprises within the community, has had little or no public consultation to determine policies describing the style and the scale that would be acceptable. The positive aspects of tourism tend to be quantitative; increased employment (although many jobs pay minimum wages and are seasonal), higher tax revenues for government, and more investment and development. The negative impacts are more qualitative, primarily affecting residents' lifestyle; heavier traffic, longer ferry waits, parking issues, crowding, and in some cases, increased crime. Another concern can be the deterioration of the environment. What is also common is that while there may be more employment, the overall cost of living increases.

What is at odds here is that for tourism to be successful in the long term, it is imperative that the community embrace tourism because tourists do not appreciate an unhappy or hostile environment in which to spend their vacation. Studies show that if there is opposition to tourism, it is likely to come from residents who have lived in the community for a long time, but those who have resided for a shorter length of time, tend to support tourism. This is likely due to the fact that the longer term residents have established businesses and don't want their lifestyle impacted while the newer residents are looking for opportunities to start a business. It is also possible that the older residents have seen change take place and are more aware of what is being lost over the years while others don't miss what they never knew or experienced.

The Islands Trust has no Tourism policies on their website. Both Pender Islands' Trust Committees say little on how tourism should take place, what if any, limits should be applied, or what type of tourism should be targeted. I'm not sure how other LTC's have responded to this industry in their policies or regulatory bylaws. What is clear, is that individuals, groups, and governments are promoting tourism in our community from a particularly self interest perspective with seemingly little regard for the consequences to the community at large. More alarming is that there seems to be little encouragement for involving the local community in planning the management of tourism even though there are few public facilities on our islands or attractions other than our parks and beaches.

Presently, the major issue confronting all communities is the cost of housing and the availability of rental housing. It is undeniable that this is in part, a consequence of property owners choosing short term tourist accommodation over long term rental to community members. Any Trust Committee attempting to resolve these issues without any overall tourism policy and without any understanding of tourism's overall impacts, is shortsighted. This results in a “piece meal” approach which is contrary to long term planning and may create unforeseen problems in the future.

I am not advocating for or against tourism, but I am surprised at the lack of discussion about it becoming an integral part of our local economy. It is all well and good to accept the benefits this industry can provide but it is not beneficial to ignore the negative implications tourism has had on many small communities. A broad discussion, albeit belated, to determine the limits, opportunities, and the conflicts of tourism should take place in all communities. I urge you individually, and in Trust Council, to begin this discussion.




Steve Wright

South Pender Island


Re: Letter from Pender about Tourism

How timely, to read this from Steve Wright, on Pender. This summer I was alarmed by the increase in tourism on our island, and all of these same issues occurred to me. I believe that if we are to pursue tourism on Lasqueti that a full discussion needs to happen, and guidelines be developed in our OCP. Thanks for sharing this Tim.

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