Trust Council motion aims to limit scale of aquaculture
Gulf Islands Driftwood, Tuesday, June 17, 2003
By Gail Sjuberg
Salt Spring's Local Trust Committee (LTC) continued to absorb
heat for its handling of the Walker's Hook sablefin hatchery
subdivision application, while Islands Trust Council took
another step toward trying to control future expansion of
the aquaculture industry in the Trust area.
At its quarterly meeting on North Pender Island June 11-13, trustees passed a recommendation that Trust staff seek agreements with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods (MAFF), and the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to develop farm regulations addressing the scale and intensity of both conventional agriculture and on-land aquaculture "in a manner consistent with the provincial object of the Islands Trust and with the scale and character of small islands."
Fear that Bill 48 (2003), the Agriculture, Food and Fisheries
Statutes Amendment Act, could even override the current Trust
area prohibition on finfish farms in marine waters also spilled
over at the meeting. Bill 48 received first reading May 12.
If passed, it would allow the province to designate Crown
land as a "farming area" and limit local governments' authority
in relation to agriculture or aquaculture practices in those
Linda Adams, the director of Trust area services, told council
that "a little window" of control could be opened through
adoption of "farm bylaws that MAFF has approved."
The Bill 48 discussion emerged after a Woodward & Company
letter and supporting correspondence was dropped by articling
student Jeanie Lanine during the town hall session the day
before. In a June 10 letter to the Trust, lawyer Jack Woodward,
working on behalf of Citizens for Responsible Land Use, insists
the Salt Spring LTC could have prohibited Sablefin Hatcheries
Ltd. and Walker's Hook property owner Henry Caldwell from
entering into a 20-year lease agreement (considered a subdivision
in this case) - limiting it to renewable three-year leases
as a result.
"Despite assurances from individual trustees (Kimberly Lineger and Eric Booth) that the Trust has not approved this subdivision application, facts speak louder than words. The voters on Salt Spring Island will be distressed to learn that their trustees are refusing to protect and preserve Walker's Hook by exercising their jurisdiction to stop this subdivision application from proceeding."
At a February 22 meeting, the LTC responded to the ALC's request for local government permission by listing its major concerns with the proposal and conditions it demanded before the subdivision was allowed. The committee did not explicitly state either approval or refusal of the 20-year lease/subdivision application.
Lineger described the February 22 decision as "one of those
damned if you do and damned if you don't situations." If the
LTC refused to approve the subdivision, the project would
have proceeded on a three-year renewal lease basis, she said,
but no tombolo-area protection would have been guaranteed.
"Our concern was that the conditions we allowed for the protection
of the tombolo wouldn't get picked up anywhere, and the only
way we could do that was if we forwarded our comments, so
while we didn't outright refuse it and didn't outright support
it, we forwarded our comments."
The real problem, she noted, is that Salt Spring's land
use bylaw does not prohibit on-land aquaculture. "Any decision
we made [regarding the lease or subdivision], we couldn't
have won anyway." But Lineger is especially leery of the province's
proposed Bill 48, which is due to return for further readings
in the fall legislative session. "It looks like they've had
enough with local communities trying to stop aquaculture in
their communities," said Lineger, "so they're making it harder
for us to try to control aquaculture."
About 35 people attended the one-hour town hall session where community members discussed issues informally with council. That was followed by eight registered delegations, for a total of three hours of Trust-public interaction.
The main topic on people's minds was vacation rentals - with eight individuals speaking in favour of the practice and one against. North Pender's land use bylaw does not prohibit short-term accommodation rentals and South Pender's recently adopted official community plan directs that applicable land-use regulations should be made with the aim of "[minimizing] adverse effects on adjacent lots and the community in general."
Some Pender residents have been trying to curtail vacation
rental accommodation. North Pender trustee Wayne Wright said
the issue was not on his LTC's work program. "We don't intend
to bring it back unless we're forced by the community," he