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Sustainable Communities

The islands in the Trust Area support strong communities characterized by a mix of lifestyles, livelihoods and individuals. Island residents work together to bring special skills and viewpoints to sustain a tradition of community involvement. Because the islands are close to major population centres they are attractive for vacation properties. But with absentee owners, who volunteers for the local fire department? Who provides needed services? How do we ensure that our communities continue to function as real neighbourhoods, rather than resort or tourist destinations full of temporary visitors?

Affordable Housing

New - Housing Needs Assessment Reports

The price of real estate on the islands has risen at a much greater rate than local incomes making suitable year-round rental accommodation hard to find. These factors make it increasingly difficult to sustain communities that are affordable to the people who live and work on the islands. There are also the challenges presented by an increasing proportion of senior residents.

In September 2011, the Islands Trust developed an Affordable Housing Guide to explain the various regulatory requirements and approval processes typically involved when considering affordable and special needs housing.

Please click below to print a letter size (8.5”x11”) version of the guide:

Affordable Housing Guide (September 14, 2011)

Housing Agreements

A housing agreement is a legal contract entered into by the property owner and the Local Trust Committee to ensure affordable housing. In the agreement the owner, usually an organization or society, agrees to specific terms such as rental or leasehold rates, allowable amounts for rate increases, or the amount for which a unit may be sold. Housing agreements can also stipulate tenant or owner eligibility based on income or other criteria. These terms can vary between different agreements.

Existing housing agreements are posted to the website by island, under the Administrative Bylaw pages. Denman Island, Galiano Island, and Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committees currently have housing agreements in place.

Bowen Island Municipality has several housing agreements in place. For more information on these, please contact the municipality directly at

An application guide has been created to provide more information about the process of establishing a Housing Agreement. For more information regarding Housing Agreements please contact planning staff.

A Council Priority

Improving availability of affordable, accessible, appropriate housing using the land use planning tools is a strategic priority for Trust Council (2014-2018 Strategic Plan 5.1).

On June 13, 2016 Islands Trust held a Community Housing Forum where over 70 individuals, community groups, local governments and elected officials shared experiences, challenges, opportunities and examples of how we can work together to achieve affordable housing on islands in the Salish Sea. You can view the master power point here. The participants also received a baseline report outlining existing policies and regulation to address affordable housing in the Trust Area.

In September 2016, Trust Council approved the final report: Community Housing in the Trust Area that included seven recommendations by the Local Planning Committee to improve Islands Trust’s ability to meet community housing needs across the Trust Area.

Housing has been identified as a strategic priority for Bowen Island for 2018. For more information, please visit the Bowen Island Municipality website.

Housing Needs Assessments

Housing needs assessments are the first step a community can take to understand the gap(s) between the housing needs of its people and the availability of suitable housing to meet that need. Below is a list of housing needs assessments completed in the Trust Area:

Northern Region Housing Needs Assessment, (Dillon Consulting, 2018)

Southern Gulf islands Housing Needs Assessment, (JG Consulting, 2018)

Salt Spring Island Affordable Housing Needs Assessment,  (JG Consulting), 2015

Housing on Galiano: Trends, Needs, Demands, (M. Thomson), 2014. (Note this report was application driven for one specific project)

Mayne Island Housing Options Task Force Report (2011)

Gabriola Island Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (Weller Consulting), 2009

Islands Trust Housing Needs Assessment: A Step towards a Comprehensive Affordable Housing Strategy for Salt Spring Island, (JG Consulting), 2009

Housing Needs Assessment for Hornby and Denman Islands (2008)

North Pender Island Affordable Housing Report (2008)

Bowen Island Affordable Housing Needs Assessment (2007)

Local Solutions

Local communities also need the involvement of islanders to identify and implement appropriate housing solutions for each community. Local trust committees, through their land use planning authority, can provide only opportunities for housing initiatives. The actual creation of housing requires partnerships involving interested residents and property owners, non-government organizations and government agencies.

Local trust committees are looking for new ways to make sure housing is available to support the community diversity that the islands are known for, while maintaining the character and environmental integrity of the islands themselves.

Related Reports

Bowen Island Municipality Review of Materials and Next Steps (2018)

Seniors Housing Strategy (2010)

Islands Trust Community Housing Tool Kit (2010)

Hornby Island Advisory Housing Committee Report (2004) 


Page last updated: 06/07/18
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