Notes From A Public Trustee, By David Critchley

No Vacancy

There has been a lot of public discussion recently about the Trust’s actions or inactions in respect to dwellings that are not in compliance with our bylaws. This is almost always referring to dwellings that are not permitted because they exceed the number that are allowed for a particular property under the applica-ble zoning. In the course of these discussions there have been various statements made that are not in accordance with the facts.

In response to newspaper reports the Trust took the unusual step of drafting and publishing a rebuttal which has now been published. I will not repeat the elements of the dispute but I thought it might be useful to set out in full a standing resolu-tion that was passed by the Local Trust Committee that bears directly on the topic. We passed the original version of this on June, 6th, 2019 and we made amend-ments to it on January 9th, 2021. The changes did not change the intent and were for clarification only. The document is published on the Trust website.

“It was MOVED and SECONDED,that the Denman Island Local Trust Committee adopt the following standing res-olution:

‘The Denman Island Local Trust Committee directs Bylaw Compliance and En-forcement staff to temporarily withhold enforcement against unlawful dwellings upon receipt of a written complaint, unless any of the following conditions apply:

a) The complaint is received from at least two sources, one being the owner, occu-pant or title holder of a neighbouring property;

b) It appears that there is more than one unlawful dwelling on a lot;

c) An unlawful dwelling appears to be larger than 90 square meters; or

d) An unlawful dwelling appears to be located within a Development Permit Area;and nothing in this enforcement policy should be interpreted as giving permission to violate the Denman Island Land Use Bylaw and the Local Trust Committee may change this policy or give direction to expand enforcement activities at any time.This Standing Resolution will be reviewed in one year’s time.”

I fully expect that opinions will vary about the appropriateness of this stand-ing resolution. Some people have ex-pressed to us that they believe there should be no enforcement at all against unlawful dwellings. It is pointed out that the residents occupying such dwellings are often the most vulnerable among us. Others will say, why have bylaws if you aren’t going to enforce them, and why should some people profit as landlords while others follow the rules?

Our response, for the time being, is the standing resolution which is admittedly a compromiseand imperfect.

Affordable housing is a major concern on all the islands in the Trust. Until we get much more of it there will continue to be unsatisfactory patchwork respons-es such as our standing resolution.

In a further article I will report on the Trust’s view of its role in the provision of affordable housing, a topic that will have been discussed at Trust Council in the days before this note is published.