Two years ago I was elected to represent Bowen Island as a trustee of the Islands Trust. I am pleased to report on a truly significant day in the life of the Trust. A group of nine Trustees from other islands who share various concerns, representing North and South Pender, Saturna, Denman, and Gabriola Islands with myself for Bowen, have worked to present the following motion at the Islands Trust meeting of Trustees held this Dec. 3:
“That Trust Council approve the entering into a contract with a management consultant firm (certified by the Canadian Association of Management Consultants) to undertake a comprehensive performance review of the Islands Trust’s governance, management and operations, in accordance with the Terms of Reference attached as Appendix 1 to this Request for Decision using reserve funds from fiscal 2020/21 to a maximum of $75,000. This work will be overseen by an ad hoc Steering Committee of Trust Council identified in the Terms of Reference Document attached as Appendix 1.”
The motion was considered during the last morning of the meeting with the full complement of 26 Trustees present by Zoom. Following an hour of tense discussion the vote was taken and the motion passed by 14 votes for and 12 against.
I believe Dec. 3 represents a significant moment in the history of Islands Trust - the day will be long remembered by all those involved. I will represent Bowen Island on the steering group set up in the terms of reference.
Regardless of whether one is a supporter of the Islands Trust or not, there is no doubt in my mind that the organization and importantly, its members, will benefit enormously from an independent review of its governance, management, and operations. With the Island Trust having its beginnings approaching 50 years ago, this initiative is timely, if not long overdue. Importantly, the decision to hold a review comes with the endorsement of a majority of its Trustees.
I took as my mandate, a focus on the ever-increasing amount of the “annual requisition” levied on Bowen by the Islands Trust and found considerable support for this cause among fellow Islanders. But, going forward, it became clear that any adjustment to the funding formula would be a nebulous prospect given that Islands Trust overhead and operations have evolved since the 1970s without any truly independent formal scrutiny and analysis. Thus, there is no baseline information from which to determine whether this annual levy is justified or excessive.
At this point, Bowen now faces the next “annual requisition” for 2021 anticipated to be just under $300,000, slightly less than last year, this amount collected annually through your property tax notice submitted by the municipality, then remitted directly to Islands Trust. This brings the total amount paid since 2000 to $4,000,000 – a considerable sum relative to Bowen’s financial capacity with no commensurate change in services received by Bowen. By way of comparison, Islands Trust expenditures have increased from $3,79,880 in 2000/1 to $8,194,811 proposed on 2020/1.
I shall keep you informed as to the review’s progress.
Municipal councillor and Islands Trustee