Islands Trust Announces New Director of Planning Services

Lək̓ ʷəŋən, METULIYE/Victoria, B.C. – Islands Trust is pleased to announce the appointment of Stefan Cermak as the new Director of Planning Services.

Headshot of Islands Trust Director of Planning Stefan Cermak
Stefan Cermak, Islands Trust.

“After a comprehensive, competitive process, I’m delighted to announce that Stefan Cermak will be joining our management team in this key role”, said Russ Hotsenpiller, Chief Administrative Officer of the Islands Trust. “Stefan knows the Islands Trust Area well and is respected for his leadership, energy, and a strong personal commitment to sustainable community planning principles. New leadership for our planning unit will be a significant part of the transformation of planning services we are undertaking to uphold our mandate to preserve and protect this special area.”

During his seven years as the Islands Trust’s Regional Planning Manager for Salt Spring Island, Stefan led progress on a number of strategic initiatives including housing, climate change, and sensitive ecosystem protection.

“I am very excited to take on the role of Director of Planning Services. I am passionate about the Islands Trust mandate and I look forward to working with elected officials, First Nations, the public and staff from across the Islands Trust Area to preserve and protect this region,” said Cermak. “Living and working on Salt Spring Island, and travel throughout the Islands Trust Area, has given me insight into the unique needs of the region.”

Stefan will finish up his current position as Manager of Development Services at the Cowichan Valley Regional District and will begin as Director of Planning Services on August 15, 2022.

The Director of Planning Services role became vacant in March 2022 when David Marlor, the former Director of Planning Services moved into the role of Director of Legislative Services.

The Islands Trust is in the process of transforming how it delivers planning services. In 2018, Islands Trust undertook an internal review of application processing and planning service delivery. The results of the review led Islands Trust to reorganize the planning department into teams focused upon proactive long-range planning and applications. In June, Trust Council adopted an amended policy on Best Management Practices for Delivery of Local Planning Services to Local Trust Committees to support better sequencing and budgeting for projects and updates to official community plans and land use bylaws. The Trust is also undertaking a two-year program to review its development application processing approach and replace the in-house property information system with a new system that provides more reporting options and includes an online application portal for the public to make and track their applications.


About Islands Trust

Islands Trust is a special-purpose government representing over 30,000 people living within the Islands Trust Area and 10,000 non-resident property owners. The Islands Trust Area is located within Coast Salish territory and is the homeland to many Coast Salish Peoples who have called this place home since time immemorial. Islands Trust is responsible for preserving and protecting the Islands Trust Area’s unique amenities and environment through conservation-oriented land use planning and regulation, education, and cooperation with First Nations and other agencies. The Islands Trust Area covers the islands and waters between the British Columbia mainland and southern Vancouver Island. It includes 13 major islands and more than 450 smaller islands covering 5,200 square kilometres.

Press Assets: High resolution images have been made available for download to support this news release. You can access these assets here.
Please use only in the images identified in the Islands Trust Media Assets gallery in support of this story with credit to appropriate authors (in file name).

Media Contact:

Russ Hotsenpiller, Chief Administrative Officer, Islands Trust, via Lori Foster, Executive Coordinator: 250.405.5161

Islands Trust Conservancy gives $6,000 funding boost to support nature stewardship on Gabriola Island

Lək̓ ʷəŋən, METULIYE/Victoria, B.C.  – Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) has received a $6,000 Opportunity Fund grant from Islands Trust Conservancy to help them meet an overwhelming demand from islanders wishing to take action to care for nature on Gabriola Island.

Nature Steward participant sign to encourage wildlife friendly gardens
Nature Steward participants display signs to promote the program to their neighbours. Credit Libby Gunn

The Opportunity Fund grant will support GaLTT’s booming Nature Stewards Program. Since launching the program in 2021 GaLTT has received a hugely positive response from Gabriola residents. Almost 100 acres have been conserved by dozens of private landholders through voluntary pledges to keep the trees and protect habitat on at least 30 percent of their properties. “Home of a Wildlife Friendly Garden” signs and signs about habitat conservation are popping up around the island.  With the ongoing support of the Islands Trust Conservancy and partners, GaLTT hopes to secure 350 acres of habitat pledges by the end of 2023.

“Supporting voluntary actions and programs like Nature Stewards on the islands is critical to the success of conservation in the Salish Sea,” says Kate-Louise Stamford, Chair of the Islands Trust Conservancy Board. “We are happy to be able to support the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust and hope this support contributes to their continued success on Gabriola.”

Currently only 12% of land in the Gabriola Island Local Trust Area is protected, despite its high biodiversity values. More than 65% of land on islands in the Salish Sea are privately held – meaning that individual landholders’ voluntary conservation actions are critical to protecting biodiversity and addressing impacts from climate change in the region.

“Many landholders are already champions of nature conservation on their land, from larger acreages to less than half-acre parcels,” says Ken Gurr of GaLTT. “We want to acknowledge everyone for their efforts, and ask all islanders to conserve as much of their properties in a nature friendly state as possible. We all know this decade is pivotal for so many global issues, and our local efforts will feed into the huge international movement to protect 30 percent of the planet by 2030.”

Residents and property holders on Gabriola who are interested in learning more about this program are encouraged to visit or fill out the contact form for a site visit at

Gabriolan Jeff Rietkerk is conserving over 10 acres of habitat on his family’s farm with Nature Stewards. Credit: GaLTT.


About the Islands Trust Conservancy Opportunity Fund Grant

The purpose of Islands Trust Conservancy’s Opportunity Fund is to support timely opportunities to protect biodiversity in the Islands Trust Area. The Opportunity Fund provides support for ‘hard to fundraise’ costs associated with land protection. It can also be used to leverage increased donations to land acquisition projects.

Since 2005 more than 200 donors have contributed $200,000+ to the Opportunity Fund, enabling Islands Trust Conservancy to distribute 28 grants that have helped protect more than 530 hectares of land across the islands in the Salish Sea.

Press Assets

High resolution images have been made available for download to support this news release. You can access these assets here.

Please use only in the images identified in the Islands Trust Conservancy Media Assets gallery in support of this story with credit to appropriate authors (in file name).

Quick Facts

  • Currently only 12% of land in the Gabriola Island Local Trust Area is protected, despite its high biodiversity values.
  • Islands Trust Conservancy protects natural landscapes across the Islands Trust region. The support of individuals and partners has helped to protect more than 1,365 ha of land within 32 nature reserves and 79 conservation covenants on islands in the Salish Sea.
  • More than 65% of land on islands in the Salish Sea are privately owned – meaning that individual landholders’ voluntary conservation actions are critical to protecting biodiversity and addressing impacts from climate change in the region.
  • British Columbia is the most biologically diverse province in Canada– but it also has the largest number of species under threat of extinction.
    • Nearly 300 species are listed as being at risk of extinction in the Islands Trust Area, representing 25% of rare species found in BC. Protecting habitat is one of the best ways to prevent species from becoming extinct and aids in the recovery of those species currently at risk.

About Islands Trust Conservancy

Islands Trust Conservancy is the conservation land trust for over 450 islands of the Salish Sea and is a part of Islands Trust. Since 1990, Islands Trust Conservancy has protected more than 110 properties, covering more than 1,365 hectares of island ecosystems. This success is thanks to the vision, support, and generosity of donors and partners. Learn more about our work.


For all media enquiries please contact Carmen Smith, Communications Specialist – Islands Trust Conservancy


Islands Trust Conservancy celebrates the protection of Woodpecker Forest on SDȺY¸ES/North Pender Island this Earth Day.

Lək̓ ʷəŋən, METULIYE/Victoria, B.C.  –   Islands Trust Conservancy (ITC) celebrates the addition of Woodpecker Forest, a new protected area that will add 3.6 ha (9 acres) to nearly 17 ha (41.5 acres) of protected wildlife corridors on SDȺY¸ES/ North Pender Island.

Protected lands provide many benefits to island communities. The forests and wetlands of Woodpecker Forest will purify the air and water and actively remove and store carbon.

The land was protected through the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP), a program unique to Islands Trust in B.C. that allows landowners who protect private land to receive a property tax exemption for their contribution to the islands.


Lisa Baile and Peter Pare in Woodpecker Forest

Introducing Woodpecker Forest Covenant on SDȺY¸ES / North Pender Island.

Thanks to the ongoing generosity of islanders Peter Paré and Lisa Baile, an additional 3.63 hectares of land near the existing Lisa Baile Nature Reserve has been protected on SDȺY¸ES / North Pender Island. This recent addition builds on existing protected land to create nearly 17 hectares (41.5 acres – approx. the size of 4 BC Place Arenas) of protected land along Clam Bay Rd. Connecting protected areas provides movement corridors for wildlife, helps buffer impacts of climate change, and aids in stemming biodiversity loss on the island.

Lisa Baile and Peter Paré first protected land near their home in 2021, with the creation of the Lisa Baile Nature Reserve. When the lot next door came on the market, Lisa and Peter decided to act.

“We bought the lot next door to connect it to our existing property with the goal of placing a conservation covenant on part of it to protect it,” says Peter.

Lisa and Peter state climate change and a strong desire to protect endangered Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems are what motivate them to keep finding ways to protect more land on North Pender. “We want to protect as much rare and endangered Coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems as we can,” says Peter. “The development on these islands has led to a progressive loss of trees – which are one of the best carbon capturing devices out there – we have to do more to protect what biodiversity is left.”

“We need to respect all species on the planet, to protect their habitat, to speak up for them – for without the animals, birds, plants and insects and the services they provide, we cannot survive.,” says Lisa Baile.

“It is our hope that each little piece we can protect and set aside will help protect not just the rare coastal Douglas-fir ecosystems, but people as well in the face of climate change.” – Lisa Baile and Peter Paré.

Woodpecker Forest contains several at-risk ecosystems, including rare Douglas-fir and Western redcedar stands. The land rises steeply from a wetland and mature forest into mossy bluffs and dry woodlands. This diversity provides habitat for a rich variety of plants and animals. There are remnant old-growth trees and wildlife trees scattered throughout the forest, and a wetland complex that supports river otters, amphibians, an incredibly diverse bird community—including several species of woodpeckers—and at least one bat species. There is a public trail through a part of the wetland that is to be maintained by the Alternative Transportation Society’s Moving Around Pender project (MAP). This conservation covenant will be jointly managed in partnership with the Pender Islands Conservancy Association.

Conservation Covenants and voluntary actions by private citizens are critical to stemming biodiversity loss on islands in the Salish Sea.

These islands provide sanctuary to some of BC’s most endangered species and ecosystems. Conservation covenants help stem the loss of habitat for plants and animals from deforestation, development, and damage from human use, and ensure the persistence of the beaches, forests and wetlands. They can also be used to help conserve areas of cultural significance to First Peoples, now and into the future.

“Thanks to the generosity and actions taken by Lisa and Peter, these incredible places – full of rare and wonderful ecosystems and species – will remain protected and intact,” says Kate Emmings, Manager at Islands Trust Conservancy. “I’d count that as a win for residents, a win for nature, and a win for generations to come.”

This property was protected using a conservation covenant in the Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP). For qualifying properties, NAPTEP provides landowners with a 65% property tax reduction for the portion of the property protected by a conservation covenant.

Lisa and Peter were also the first ever recipients of the Morrison Waxler Biodiversity Protection Legacy Fund that was established by a generous donor to help North and South Pender island residents protect land on these special islands.

The Islands Trust Conservancy website provides information and resources to landowners determine if a conservation covenant is right for them. Visit for more information.


Media Assets

We have both video and photo assets available to support this story. Please use only in the images identified in the Islands Trust Conservancy Media Assets gallery in support of this story.You can access these assets here.

If you require access to additional high-res video reels from the property and the island we can make those available – please contact our Communications Specialist – Carmen Smith, 250-405-5183,

Islands Trust Conservancy News Release

Salt Spring Island philanthropist continues her conservation legacy of protecting islands for future generations


Lək̓ ʷəŋən, METULIYE/Victoria, B.C. – Late Salt Spring Island resident Susan Bloom continues to build on her conservation legacy with a recent donation of $100,000 to help protect islands in the Salish Sea.


Islands Trust Conservancy has received a donation of $100,000 in support of its continued conservation efforts on islands in the Salish Sea by the late conservationist and philanthropist, Susan Bloom of Salt Spring Island. Susan Bloom passed away in December 2021. She was genuinely committed to the protection of wildlife, their habitats, and the protection of ancient forests and oceans, and is perhaps most well known for her donation and work to protect Clayoquot Island near Tofino with the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

“Susan believed strongly in grassroots organizing and worked to help small groups of passionate people do extraordinary things,” says friend and estate trustee Janet Theunisz.

“I feel sad that Susan Bloom, the epitome of quiet philanthropy, has passed away; and at the same moment, happy to discover that her legacy included Islands Trust Conservancy,” says Carla Funk, Fund Development Specialist with Islands Trust Conservancy. “We are honored to be entrusted with her bequest. Careful consideration will be made to ensure that use of these funds is in keeping with her lifelong passion for conservation on the islands.”

Islands Trust Conservancy works with individuals to support them in taking voluntary actions that help to protect islands in the Salish Sea.

“Creating a conservation legacy is often about doing what you can with what you have. There are lots of options open to individuals from any financial background when it comes to philanthropy,” Mark Horne, Q.C. estate trustee and legal adviser.

Islands Trust Conservancy was selected by Bloom’s estate trustees in her memory in recognition of the conservancy’s efforts to preserve our natural heritage

Read the full News Release.