Everyone can help uphold local bylaws

Bylaw enforcement action in the Islands Trust Area increased nearly 25 percent from early 2006 to the spring of 2007 when there were 166 investigations underway.

In four years the average number of annual cases has almost doubled.

Most involve land use zoning contraventions, such as operating a business not allowed in a residential area. Other infractions include siting, density, short-term vacation rentals and development permits.

Three Trust enforcement officers work three days per week. Their priority is to achieve voluntary compliance through consultation with the property owner. If that fails, the owner will receive a letter from a Trust lawyer. Litigation is the last resort.

An investigation can be triggered by a written complaint from the public or an enforcement officer observes a violation, including an advertisement for an illegal use.

The goal of preserving the Gulf Islands can’t be achieved with weak or non-existent bylaw enforcement. Because they’re sometimes held to ridicule, unenforced bylaws are worse than having no bylaws at all.

To borrow a phrase: the only thing necessary for the triumph of the unlawful exploitation of the Gulf Islands is for good people to do nothing.

Individuals can file a complaint, either electronically by going to the Trust website at www.islandstrust.bc.ca or by letter to the Islands Trust at #200-1627 Fort Street, Victoria, BC V8R 1H8, 700 North Road, Gabriola Island BC V0R 1X3 or 1 – 500 Lower Ganges Road, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2N8.