What is the Islands Trust?

The Islands Trust was established by the BC Government in 1974 with this Provincial Object:

"to preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of residents of the trust area and of the province generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the Government of British Columbia".

The Islands Trust Area covers the islands and waters between the BC mainland and Vancouver Island, including Howe Sound and as far north as Comox (except Texada Island): 13 major islands and more than 450 smaller ones. About 26,000 people live on these islands, and another 10,000 people are non-resident property owners.

The Islands Trust consists of about 16 separate, legal bodies: 

Thirteen Local Trust Committees, for the 13 major islands and their surrounding smaller islands, each electing two island trustees to Trust Council and forming 2/3 of their Local Trust Committee, which has responsibility for land use policies and bylaws for its local trust area. Note: Bowen Island has become a municipality, and its council carries out the Islands Trust obligations and planning function, and serves on Trust Council through two elected Islands Trustees. Each Local Trust Committee develops and maintains an Official Community Plan that expresses the wishes and desires of the community and guides LTC decisions on growth management and land use regulation in its Local Trust area

Trust Council, consisting of the 26 locally elected trustees, and which is responsible for carrying out the provincial object and sets and maintains the Islands Trust Policy Statement, that guides the content of Official Community Plans and land use regulations throughout each of the Local Trust areas. Trust Council meets four times a year, sets a strategic plan each term, and adopts the annual budget.

Executive Committee, consisting of one chair and three vice-chairs, elected from and by members of Trust Council. The EC is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Trust, and serves as the Local Trust Committee for the Ballenas-Winchelsea islands group. Executive Committee members also serve as Local Trust Committee chairs. The EC reviews Local Trust Committee bylaws for compliance with the Trust objective and Policy Statement. EC does a lot of advocacy, work with other level of government and non-government agencies.

Islands Trust Fund holds conservation covenants and nature reserves and does outreach and education in support of the Island's Trust goals.  The Trust Fund Board consists of three Islands Trustees (two elected by Trust Council, and one appointed as a representative of the Executive Committee) and up to three members of the public appointed by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Islands Trust Fund operates independently from the Islands Trust. Both were established by the Islands Trust Act, and they have the same purpose or Object, The Islands Trust is a set of regulatory bodies, and the Islands Trust Fund is a conservation land trust, protecting land through voluntary measures. Land and money donated to the Islands Trust Fund is owned and managed by the land trust, not the regulatory bodies.

The Islands Trust Policy Statement sets out the Island Trust's three main goals:

  • Foster the preservation and protection of the Trust Area's ecosystems
  • Ensure that human activity and the scale, rate and type of development in the Trust Area are compatible with maintenance of the integrity of Trust Area ecosystems
  • Sustain island character and healthy communities

The Policy Statement is fundamental to the operations of the Islands Trust. It guides the development of land use planning and regulatory bylaws of local trust committees and Bowen Island Municipality, as well as Trust Council's strategic plan and advocacy program. All Local Trust Committee bylaws, policies and actions must be consistent with the Islands Trust Policy Statement.

There are close to 60 employees of the Islands Trust, located in offices in Victoria, and on Salt Spring Island and Gabriola Island.

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