www.TrustChange.com Following close on the heels of Salt Spring's Incorporation Referendum, defeated almost 2 to 1 - Fall elections kicked off with the launch of a new website featuring the election platforms of Dietrich Luth and Paul Marcano.
Paul and Dietrich - Sunny Days!
Although these two have been great friends for years they have dramatically different views on what the priorities are for the next three years. They are both running separate campaigns but have agreed to share the costs of a website with the slogan: "Change is Good for the Trust ... Trust Change". Beyond that they are clearly focused on different platforms.
With nine candidates running for two positions, there is a real opportunity here for the electorate to choose a team that can work together. In fact if these nine formed a baseball team Paul and Dietrich would likely be the pitcher and the catcher, alas the rest would probably be out in left field ;-)
For more about the individual platforms of these two candidates visit http://www.trustchange.com
Where did all the Candidates Come from? Typical of Salt Spring there was a major last minute dash to sign up for the coming election... nine for Islands Trust count 'em! Current Trustee, running for a third term, David Borrowman is facing off with a huge opposition crowd of candidates - Eric Both, Dean Crouse, Kimberly Lineger, Dietrich Luth, Paul Marcano, Sheri Nielson, Tom Pickett and Ellie Thorburn.
Mr. Borrowman hasn't endorsed anyone except Trust confidant Gary Holman who decided to run for CRD Director this time after failing to win a Trust position in 1996.
Another anomaly, Eric Both is curiously running for both the CRD and Trust positions. This will cause an unnecessary further splitting of votes in the Trust race and one has to wonder, is this a "Man who would be King"? or "Man who would be King Maker"? Sources tell us, he has been quietly endorsed by his sister-in-law, outgoing CRD Director Kellie Booth, who claims she is not really running again but assures Eric that she will be his CRD alternate if he happens to win both positions (hmm, ponderous pause - this is re-assuring?... hard to say, hard to say).
More drama and politics than substance? It is very difficult to read the Salt Spring community mindfield - it generally breaks down into three main groups, environmental activists, independent business people and the independently wealthy, some of whom can afford to also be Cadillac Socialists which makes it difficult to expand meaningful employment opportunities through any significant on-island development.
While Salt Spring needs more interesting employment opportunities it is simultaneously becoming too expensive for the average working person to find affordable housing. Businesses are just beginning to realise this with a shortage of younger workers, many leaving the island to find more affordable communities. It is interesting to note how recently the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce modified its members' constitution, by a vote of 40-1 they no longer say members should abide by all Trust bylaws. This should not be interpreted as saying they won't abide by the bylaws, only that they no longer are actively endorsing the Trust with a blank cheque. The Trust should pick up on the signal being sent here.
The recent Islands Trust pro-active attack on short-term rentals (primarily serving vacationing families looking for secure homes to rent while visiting Salt Spring) is going to have a serious trickle-down economic effect that just doesn't add up to a healthy local economy. Now, boom, eight people are running against Trustee David Borrowman, some specifically against his unwavering and well-known anti-commerce stance.
Mr. Borrowman recently wrote the Driftwood to further inflame the situation by characterizing the short-term rental market as a Commercial take-over of housing! This is so ridiculously dramatic, no such threat can be demonstrated at least not without paying for expensive Freedom of Information 'evidence'. The community is owed an explanation, some numbers, a study or some tangible shred of evidence should be forthcoming to back up these kinds of allegations.
We need to encourage not discourage families from visiting us to enjoy Salt Spring, its restaurants, the Saturday Market, kayaking, hiking, clothing and crafts stores etc. etc. etc.
Nosey snitches are ruining our island's goodwill between neighbours and then the community at large suffers. Maybe a complaint fee of $5.00 would be a deterent, although it seems tragic that for five bucks one could still destroy a neighbour's livelihood.
Special Group gets together on Wilcox Farm
A special gathering of some of Salt Spring's more politically active people took place quietly in September 2002. A wonderfully vital group, some of whom have been living here for years.
It was an eye opening experience to see how many community-minded people are out there who want to lead the island in very specific areas but do not necessarily desire to run for political office to accommplish their goals. Most island goals are not politically motivated but are rather sensible ways to create a better Salt Spring sense of community.
The setting was exquisite, nature and the potluck food and drink was probably central to what turned out to be a very civilized gathering. The most polarization anyone saw was when Bob McGinn and his wife indicated that they both voted yes and no respectively on the incorporation issue.
The ensuing conversations throughout the gathering revealed meaningful exchanges of ideas and committment, deep and precise.
Nature's own influence was at work in this outdoor venue where the focus was simply for the common good of the island. Salt Spring has an opportunity in the coming elections to pull the best of ideas together. Perhaps a new form of local governance is possible within the current infrastructure, as Bowen's Lisa Barrett suggested, we can certainly do better than a plain old municipality even with what we've got.
There is no reason we cannot use the formal shell of a structure provided by the CRD and Trust mandates and place into that matrix people who will invite the kind of gathering of community-minded individuals that we saw assembled on that lovely September 22, 2002 evening on the Wilcox farm.
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