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LETTER – Islands Trust trustees address Denman Island housing issue

Dear editor,

We are writing to clarify a few facts about local trust area bylaw enforcement. From a review of recent communications on this, there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding circulating and we believe we can help.

The Denman Island Local Trust Committee recognizes that, given the dual challenge of COVID-19 and a growing housing crisis, rental housing needs special protection at this time. Our response to these two complex and ever-evolving challenges includes two separate but related decisions to temporarily ease enforcement activity to help our community through each one.

First, a standing resolution was made pre-COVID (in June 2019) by your local trust committee in recognition of the housing crisis (see page 3, number 7 here). This standing resolution is temporary.

Second, in March 2020, an Islands Trust-wide decision was made not to pursue enforcement on unlawful or non-permitted dwellings that would result in tenants being evicted. We have kept to that policy through the public health emergency, and we have informed complainants, property owners, and – where possible – tenants, of this fact.

• The Denman Island Local Trust Committee has never issued an eviction order

• In 2020 and (to date in) 2021, Islands Trust bylaw enforcement staff did not issue any demands or requests to vacate unlawful housing, nor any deadlines related to this

• Individual bylaw enforcement officers do not have the discretion to initiate bylaw enforcement on their own (i.e., not directed by policy)

• There is no enforcement campaign aimed at people living in trailers

• There has been no proactive action or enforcement campaign aimed at housing

There is a possibility that some of the misunderstanding around this subject lay in confused identities of Islands Trust Area bylaw enforcement officers and provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) officers, but if this is the case of course we can only speak to our own actions and policies, as above.

Island Trust trustees Laura Busheikin, Sue Ellen Fast, and David Critchley

Do you have an opinion you’d like to share? Email letters@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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