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What's the Islands Trust policy statement and why is it getting updated? Hear more at the March 3 open house

There's a virtual open house March 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Evening view over Howe Sound from west side of island
The Policy Statement informs how the Islands Trust goes about its "preserve and protect" mandate.

Upcoming event: virtual Islands Trust policy statement update open house March 3 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. including an overview of the policy statement update and time for questions. Register in advanceSend a question in advance. Anyone who has questions about the event or requires assistance is invited to reach out via islands2050@islandstrust.bc.ca or 250-405-5151.

Where Bowen has the Official Community Plan (that envisions the future of our community – our density, our climate targets, our land use) the Islands Trust has the policy statement. The 30-page document guides decision making across the Trust area, including on Bowen Island. But, the current iteration is from 1994 (though there have been amendments).

The Trust is now heading into the drafting stage of the multi-year policy statement update process.

Taking their cues from Trust islanders’ feedback, policy drafters are looking at how the statement can reflect Trust-wide concerns, particularly when it comes to reconciliation and First Nations engagement, climate action and affordable housing.

The March 3 open house is the final opportunity for public comment before the drafting stage, said an Islands Trust press release

 Islands Trust representatives presented a rich scene of the federation’s efforts to haul its decades-old guiding policy into the ’20s in a presentation to Bowen Island Municipal Council Feb. 8.

Having adopted a reconciliation commitment in 2019, the federation is engaging with nations across the Trust area and providing capacity funding for nations to review the policy statement (the Trust operates in 33 nations’ lands), said Lisa Wilcox, senior intergovernmental policy advisor. “This is going to be a really exciting opportunity for the Islands Trust to build that trust and to create a document that’s really reflective of the region,” said Wilcox. “I'm quite hopeful and the nations that we're talking to and engaging with are excited about the policy statement and the direction that the Islands Trust is taking.”

Islands’ vulnerability as climate change looms is a Trust-wide concern, indicated Clare Frater, director of area services: safeguarding freshwater, protecting biodiversity, mitigating wildfire risk and so on will be guiding the way as the new policy takes shape.

When it comes to affordable housing, there’s balancing freshwater scarcity and species and ecosystems at risk with meeting the housing needs of community members, the demand for vacation rentals and considering the need for ageing in place on these islands.

While the recently circulated policy statement survey is now closed, Frater said that those interested are still welcome to submit feedback to the Trust.

Beyond the open house March 3, Trust council will have a full day of discussion on March 9.

In other Trust news, BIM and the Islands Trust Executive Committee are also holding a joint meeting Feb. 23.