Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

There are six candidates running to become the next Island Trustees for Gabriola in the next Local Government Election, on October 15, 2022. As of 4pm last Friday, the six candidates had been confirmed. They all have until 4pm on September 16 to withdraw, if they choose to do so.

The six candidates are:

Tobi Elliott

Erik Johnson

Wendy Kotorynski

Wayne Mercier

Lisa Webster

Susan Yates.

None of the candidates are incumbents. Yates has previously served as a Gabriola Trustee. She served two terms between 1986 and 1990, and was elected for another term in 1993. The Sounder will be doing a weekly Q&A with the candidates, and welcomes questions to be sent to to be provided over the next four weeks.

Question 1. Why are you running for Island Trustee?

Tobi Elliott: I want to be the person in local government who says ‘yes’ to innovative solutions, so we can begin to address our complex challenges. Solutions that respect Indigenous rights, the environment and people to build the healthiest community we can. I want to create a responsive, engaged participatory local government that everyone sees themselves in.

Erik Johnson: Steer the Trust towards fulfilling it’s original and founding mandate of ‘Preserve and Protect’. Strengthen our commitment to our Official Community Plan. Make our sure Local Trust Council is more democratic, more open and transparent, and committed to speaking for the majority of Islanders.

Wendy Kotorynski: I am very concerned we are losing the “preserve and protect” mandate. The proposed “crisis” response to current economic and housing situations, suspending some bylaws pertaining to housing, is short-term thinking with likely negative long-term consequences. Bylaws changes should happen with proper process, consulting with Snuneymuxw First Nation.

Wayne Mercier: It has become necessary that we have hard conversations, loudly and in public, so that all may take part. I’m running for Island Trustee because I want to participate in a hotly contended, deeply felt, sincerely thoughtful public discussion about how we might proceed into the future as a community.

Lisa Webster: As a Kanienʼkehá:ka’ (Mohawk) woman, I believe as a community, we are not above one another, nor, are we separate from our natural world. We sustain each other – together. I offer not only my understanding of the Islands Trust mandate and process, three decades of experience working as a planner, environmental manager within all levels of government, but, a reasoned and civil approach based on deep, respectful listening.

Susan Yates: I am running as a candidate for Local Trustee to represent Gabriola, Mudge, DeCourcy and the smaller islands in this Local Trust Area because I have an abiding respect for, and good understanding of the special purpose of the Islands Trust Act and its governing principles. I am committed to representing the citizens of this Trust Area with the same energy and care I have given to our community since I moved here almost 40 years ago.    

2. Why does the Islands Trust matter, in the context of not being just a planning department within a local government like RDN or a municipality?

Tobi Elliott: The environment is a prime – although not the only – constituent in the Islands Trust, which makes it a totally unique form of government in Canada. It also has a mandate to work in cooperation with First Nations, community groups and all other levels of government.

Erik Johnson: The Trust was designed to keep these beautiful Islands as natural and rural as is possible. It was created in the early seventies in response to tremendous pressure from commercial developers and land speculators. It was meant to control the excesses of municipal style governments, which are inherently focused on promoting commercial development and population increase.

Wendy Kotorynski: I care about all Gulf Islands and view the Islands Trust as the body serving to environmentally protect the islands for all citizens and future generations. Although a renter and compassionate social services worker, I still strongly believe in prioritizing the preserve and protect mandate, keeping it forefront in Islands Trust actions.

Wayne Mercier: Local Trust Committees have deeper responsibilities than a planning department and are linked to a set of larger purposes. The Trust Council provides a deliberative body for our piece of the bioregion. It must respond to the need for substantive work on Reconciliation and preparedness for climate related crises.

Lisa Webster: The Islands Trust, several smaller governments aggregated under a single policy / advocacy window, embodies the duality of Island governance and their membership within the Salish Sea. Without this mechanism, the Islands voice may be subsumed within other local governments and municipalities, whose interests neither coincide; nor, prioritize the protection / preservation of the Islands.

Susan Yates: The mandate of the Islands Trust, to preserve and protect the unique environment and amenities of the region for future generations and for all British Columbians, is more important than ever. The province created the Islands Trust almost 50 years ago, in response to intense development pressures. We now have those same pressures combined with the effects of climate change, dramatic inequality in housing, and the responsibilities of Reconciliation.

3. What do you see as the top three issues facing Gabriola within the Islands Trust jurisdiction?

Tobi Elliott: The call to protect and preserve the environment is more urgent than ever; our collective health depends on a healthy ecosystem. Engaging in respectful ways with First Nations to create pathways for truly meaningful engagement in all matters. Ensuring that access to housing is just and equitable, so that our elders, kids and grandkids can be healthy and flourish over the next 50 years.

Erik Johnson: 1. Creeping urbanization and densification at the expense of our ecological system and traditional way of life. 2. Lack of transparency and meaningful communication with the electorate regarding the decision making process at Islands Trust. 3. Taxation without Representation. Further property tax increases are unsustainable. Taxpayers must have final say in all capital expenditures.

Wendy Kotorynski: Being aware of community issues to be addressed collaboratively, the top three issues within current Islands Trust jurisdiction are: ensuring the preserve and protect mandate isn’t diluted in the process of fostering a healthy community; preparing for further climate change; preserving rural character and environmentally sensitive land for generations to come.

Wayne Mercier: Coordination with Snuneymuxw to increase opportunities for free, prior, and informed consent in land use planning. Facilitating conversations about ways to work towards community resilience through careful reconsideration of the OCP. Balancing a necessary response to the housing affordability crisis with the desire to maintain the status quo.

Lisa Webster: Building community resiliency – through supporting innovation in housing, food security; and, addressing resource pressures such lack of potable water. Getting our house in order – ensure that Official Community Plan/Land Use Bylaw reflect the modern needs of Gabriola, its people and environment. Building strong relationships with Snunyemuxw Nation – Reconciliation does not happen on paper; nor, at a distance.

Susan Yates: 1. Updating our Official Community Plan to address climate change, Reconciliation and housing policies. 2. Implementing Development Permit Areas for sensitive marine and foreshore areas. 3. Using the Coastal Douglas Fir Toolkit to implement DPAs to maintain contiguous forest cover. #2 and 3 should be part of an OCP update but could be done separately if need be.

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