Victoria Town Crier Bob Alexander, MLA Adam Olsen and MP Elizabeth May re-affirm their Canadian citizenship at Sidney’s Canada 150 events. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

Olsen pledges to help heal rift caused by Salt Spring Island vote

Weekend vote saw the Island remain a rural area under the Islands Trust and CRD

Pledging to work with Salt Spring Island on local governance issues MLA Adam Olsen says he’s reached out to the province following Islanders’ rejection of incorporation over the weekend.

Residents of Salt Spring Island were voting on whether to incorporate as an island municipality and on the weekend, the results showed a majority of resident there rejected the idea.

“Over the past couple of years Salt Spring Islanders have been discussing how their community is governed. It has been an emotional and divisive process which resulted in a vote against incorporation this weekend,” Olsen stated in a media release Monday morning.

As a result of the vote, Salt Spring Island remains a rural area under the control of the Islands Trust and the Capital Regional District (CRD). Has the vote passed, the community would have become a municipality and elected a mayor and council. Currently, most of the Gulf Islands in the Trust are overseen by an elected group of 26 trustees, two from each island.

The process and weekend vote had caused a split among voters, who lines up on either the ‘yes’ side, or the ‘no’ side.

“We have a responsibility to help the community heal and I am focused on that. Now is not the time to turn our attention away from this important discussion about community governance but rather to continue it in a compassionate and productive way that respects the democratic decision of Salt Spring Islanders while seeking solutions to the very real governance challenges that exist on the Island and throughout the Southern Gulf Islands,” said Olsen, the BC Green Party MLA for Saanich North and the Islands.

“I pledged that I would work with whatever Salt Spring Islanders decided. Moving forward, I have already reached out to Community Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson to investigate what options are on the table to address the governance challenges facing the Island.”

In an online post, Islands Trust Executive Committee Vice-Chair George Grams stated the result “marks a conclusion t the question of which governance model is appropriate for our community and I hope others feel likewise.”

“Work remains to be done on island to continue to preserve and protect our environment and to build a better community and I look forward to devoting my energies as a trustee to advance both,” Grams wrote.