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  • Writer's pictureJesse Brown

My Response to Community Questionnaire

Check me out online May 9! more info Here

1. Role and scope: What is your understanding of the current scope of the LCC’s authority? In other words, what are its key responsibilities, how are these determined, and how can the LCC address issues outside its initial scope? The role of the LCC Commissioner is described as part-time, but the work involved in the first term will be significant for this new governing body. How will you meet the demands of this new workload?

Contributing to a Local Community Commission, especially in a place as large as Salt Spring, will be an exciting experience and a major task for those of us elected as commission members. I promise to reach out and listen to Salt Springers to bring our community’s needs and hopes to the table. The LCC's responsibilities are detailed in the bylaws that were presented to voters during the referendum and, as I said when I campaigned for Director last election, limit the commission's ability to address major issues we face related to water, land use, and housing. That said, I’m a pragmatist, I understand the details of local government, I've worked for CRD Salt Spring as an economic sustainability coordinator, and I know how to get work done given the constrains of CRD commissions. If elected I will push for the work of the commission to be open and accessible to working people and people raising children.

2. Collaboration : Commissioners are not expected to agree on all issues. Each will bring a unique set of perspectives, skills and opinions to the LCC. However, a collegial, collaborative working relationship will be necessary for the LCC to function effectively. Good working relationships with the community and other elected bodies (e.g., Local Trust Committee, Salt Spring Fire, North Salt Spring Waterworks District) are also important. Describe your approach to collaboration with recent examples where you worked effectively with others holding different and even opposing perspectives and achieved results.

I have a history of working with people that hold different opinions to accomplish results for the community. I am an excellent listener and able to translate group needs into realistic goals and outcomes. Being responsible for fund development at the organizations I've led, I've needed to reach out to many different stakeholders for the benefit of the society. For example, as executive director at YouthCO Canada's largest youth HIV organization, I was just as responsive to the needs and hopes of street involved youth as I was to those of the executives at Provincial Health Authority in order to run a well funded and impactful program. I believe in balance while also advocating for voices that have been traditionally left out of leadership and decision making. I promise to bring these voices to the LCC table.

3. Top Issues: What are the top issues that Salt Spring is facing, and how will you address them in collaboration with your fellow commissioners, including the CRD director, other levels of government, and community partners?

Our wonderful Island is a microcosm of the issues facing BC: affordable and comfortable housing access; a shrinking and squeezed middle class; challenges finding a family doctor; the polarization of politics; the effect of the pandemic on community health and economic wellness; social isolation among seniors and youth; lack of mental health services combined with a toxic drug supply; shortage of water and forest fires as a result of global warming... and the list goes on. It's a really a tough time for people - I feel it too. Let me be real - the LCC will not solve these problems on Salt Spring. But what I can promise is that I will bring open ears, an open-heart, and a hard work ethic to this commission. I'm a dreamer, and I have a track record of working with the community to make Salt Spring better. I've developed three successful funding proposals to Islands Coastal Economic Trust through creativity, collaboration, and despite naysayers. I have worked with governments, businesses, and NGOs for the benefit of the community and I want to work with individual Salt Springers to bring your top issues to the LCC table.

4. Transportation Infrastructure: The biggest direct source of greenhouse gas emissions on Salt Spring Island comes from on-island private and public transportation at roughly 25%. In the 2022 Salt Spring Vital Signs Report, 69% of Salt Springers said they disagreed that Salt Spring had adequate options for getting around without a private vehicle. As a CRD LCC commissioner, how do you propose to decarbonize Salt Spring transportation

Times are hard financially for people, and now is not the time to tell Salt Springers not to drive a private vehicle, or to buy an expensive electric vehicle, or to guilt people over their transportation choices. It's not helpful to shame individuals when the real problem is that our provincial and federal governments heavily subsidize the oil and gas industry and we all generally agree to a quality of life that is inherently unsustainable (mic drop). What the LCC does have some control over is improving walk-ability and safer roads for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists and I am very invested in working with fellow commissioners on a coordinated plan to demand that MOTI improve Fulford-Ganges Road and roads leading to the ferry terminals to make them safer for cyclists. We need an Island wide water utility and coordinated effort with Islands Trust to make it possible and profitable for developers to build higher density rental buildings in Ganges so more people can walk to work or to the store. I'm a huge fan of Transit as an option for visitors - let's ensure there is always a bus waiting to pick up visitors at the Ferry regardless if the Ferry is late.

5. Food Security, Liquid/Solid Waste, and Regenerative Agriculture: The CRD owns and or manages Salt Spring's septage waste and the new composting facility and leases land for community gardens. It also administers regulations and bylaws that impact Salt Spring's ability to improve local food security and develop our local food system. For example, most Salt Spring growers, large and small, use regenerative practices that support healthy ecosystems and need reliable, legal access to local organic waste materials. How will you, as an LCC commissioner, help address some of the issues that directly impact local food security?

I do have some knowledge related to food security and the local agricultural economy as I sat for a year on the board of the Agricultural Alliance in 2021. Furthermore, through my work at CRD I wrote a 2022 staff report recommending to the economic development commission fund that organization's work developing a marketing initiative for local growers - now known as Grow Local. I am a huge fan of the Tuesday and Saturday Market and would love to advocate for more year round opportunities for local growers to sell their products. I will advocate for more support from the CRD to market food products made on Salt Spring and our Island as a visitor destination for people who are interested in learning more about smaller scale sustainable farming practice.

I am an excellent listener and will defer to experts on this topic including the CRD's friends at the Fire Department and Transition Salt Spring. I will bring my green values to all decision making if elected to the LCC.

7. Affordable Housing: Housing is not included in the initial defined role of the LCC, but it is a hot topic that the public will likely ask the LCC to address. The CRD plays a major role in building affordable housing for low-income people on Salt Spring, but affordable housing is not included in the LCC's delegated authority. Should the LCC request authority over the CRD's affordable housing initiatives on Salt Spring? Do you have an alternate approach? What do you suggest that the LCC do to address the housing problem?

Check out my thoughts on housing here. I look forward to reading and learning from the recent report issues by Salt Spring Solutions on this important topic. I am interested in working towards preparing Ganges Village for higher density, specifically for rental buildings, and working to implement recommendations set forward in the report related to the CRD if elected. While finding more housing solutions for low-income individuals is extremely important, there is a major need to create a wide range of housing options so that middle-class working people and people raising children can afford to live comfortably on Salt Spring Island. Moving forward on housing solutions, despite the limitations of the LCC mandate, will be a priority of mine if elected as a commissioner.

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