Misleading allegations about Islands Trust budget, taxes and mandate

This is to correct the miss-information about the Islands Trust printed in the April issue of Our Isle & Times.  (See the bottom of this page for earlier details.)

“… their new Draft Policy Statement plan to unilaterally expand their mandate & adopt new powers that:”  (page 6)

The process is by no means unilateral. Trust landowners and residents, and other residents of BC, have been and are being consulted, and have until April 17 to complete the survey or otherwise let us know what they think. The consultants will prepare and release an Engagement Summary Report in May, and this will be considered by trustees and discussed at our June 21 – 23 Trust Council meeting.

Any new Policy Statement that the Trust wants to adopt has to pass three readings by Trust Council, and then be approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs before it can be given final reading and become the new Trust Policy Statement. This is not optional, and is set out in provincial legislation.

I don’t know the basis for many of the detailed allegations about the expanded mandate and powers. The Policy Statement is required, and its “directive policies” apply to all islands in the Trust Area. All Official Community Plans and Land Use Bylaws have to be in compliance with, or at least not at variance to, the directive policies in the Policy Statement. There is some question about whether a Local Trust Committee can set out sufficient reasons for not complying with the directive policies of the Policy Statement so that the Executive Committee would approve their OCP or LUB, which is required before they can take effect.

The Trust has asked the provincial government for some authority over tree-cutting, as they have given some other local governments. It’s not at all clear that the government will be willing to consider, let alone approve, the request.  It’s not been discussed how Trust Council might include any power that is given in its Policy Statement, if it was given. Fees and permits to cut a tree on private property has not been under consideration.

The proposed draft Policy Statement does call for no further private docks, except where they are necessary for access, when there is no road or public access, other than by water. It encourages community or shared docks. It also calls for no more desalinization plants, citing excess energy use and concentration of salts. Both of these were new proposals in the last draft, and have not been discussed at all by Trust Council.

I have no idea how or why people think something in the proposed Policy Statement restricts farming, dictates the size of houses, erodes small business or grows Trust authority over 4,200 sq. kilometers of marine areas. These allegations were made long ago, and the Trust issued a statement clarifying the issues, but I can’t find it now.

Please do read the draft, get involved and voice your opinion. You can email  islands2050 [at] islandstrust [dot] bc [dot] ca at any time. No need to stop by March 31. I encourage you to fill in the survey, either on-line or on paper and submitted before April 17.

“Did you know some Islands Trustees are dismissing FOUR separate grassroots resident poll results on their New Draft Policy Statement & 2022 Budget?”  (page 8)

I don’t know if any of the trustees knew about the other three polls mentioned here. I had not heard about them until I read about them this evening. The only one I was aware of was the one conducted by the Trust, in preparation for the budget decisions made by Trust Council at our March 8 – 10 meeting. The information presented does not mention the Trust Council meeting, or the decisions that were made.  The budget process is mainly conducted by the Financial Planning Committee (FPC), consisting of ten trustees working with our Director of Administrative Services. They begin meeting in the fall, and report to Trust Council in September, December and March, each time making recommendations and asking for Trust Council feedback and support. The public consultation time is brief, and this year there was a considerable increase in the number of people who wanted the budget reduced. FPC did make a final recommendation of an increase of $400,000 in March, but trustees objected and the budget was reduced from this amount. 

You can see where the money comes from and where it goes by looking at https://islandstrust.bc.ca/document/approved-annual-budget-for-fiscal-year-ending-march-31-2023/  The total program and operating expenses come to just over $9.2 million, and general property tax revenue comes to very slightly over $7.3 million.

Public feedback on the budget is only one of the things that trustees must consider, and the feedback had a considerable influence on the decisions that Trust Council made to reduce the budget from the amount recommended by FPC.

The budget is now done and settled. It’s a plan for spending over the next year, and usually we underspend the budgeted amount. Unspent taxes are not returned to taxpayers, but are kept to pay for future programs and operating expenses, as well as keeping a reserve amount available so that we are financially secure and sound.

The Policy Statement review is still an ongoing process. The engagement report will be available in May, and deliberation and discussion on it will begin anew at our June 21 – 23 Trust Council meeting.

If you have any questions, please ask.  I’m happy for you to post comments or questions here, or to phone or email me.

Thanks for reading all this, and for your involvement.   Peter

 

 

The summary of the contents of the April issue of Our Isle & Times has inaccurate information (copied below)  about the budget and the resulting property taxes to pay for it.  I have not seen it yet, so I can’t comment, but the budget that was approved by Trust Council was not increased by a further $400,000.  The request to Trust Council did include a further increase like this, but it was not accepted. I’ll send more details when I’ve seen the information that’s been presented.

The Trust mandate remains the same. It’s in the Islands Trust Act, and only the BC legislature can change it:  to preserve and protect the Trust Area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of the residents of the Trust Area and of British Columbia in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, First Nations, other persons and organizations and the government of British Columbia. 

As part of updating the Policy Statement, there are a couple of proposals that would extend the limitation on development in the Trust area. The Policy Statement, before it can come into effect, has to be approved by the Minister of Municipal Affairs. There is also a proposal to request that the government grant some level of authority to the Islands Trust over tree-cutting, like some other local governments currently have.

Come out on Monday 11:30 – 3:30 at Provisions to learn more, and to let Trust staff and consultants (and maybe our two elected trustees) know what you think. 

 

from the Lasqueti email list:   "The other timely issue is found in the Special Insert from page 6 to 9, which was submitted by the Southern Gulf Islands Coalition...in brief, the Islands Trust is planning to raise our taxes again by *$2.4 million *despite 80% of residents telling them that they don't want an increase and 49% wanting a _decrease_.  To add insult to injury, the Islands Trust then increased their budget by a further $400,000 after the survey. /And two of our three Trustees voted for the increase! /There are two deadlines: tomorrow regarding their plan to unilaterally expand their mandate and April 17 to complete their consultants survey about whether you want them to expand their mandate or not.../*in other words, do you want more government on Lasqueti?*/"

Comments

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question tests whether you are a human visitor, to prevent spam submissions.
The answer can easily be found on this site if you don't know it.
Don't stress - if you get it wrong, you'll get another chance, just try again :-)
8 + 9 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.