A new Islands Trust council is being sworn in on Nov. 6 and there will be new Gabriola Island trustees at the table.
The trust is a governing body representing islands situated on the Strait of Georgia and Scott Colbourne and Kees Langereis, who received 1,185 and 1,045 votes respectively in the recent local government election, earned the right to represent Gabriola. Both say affordable housing is high on their lists.
Colbourne, who previously worked for Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Sheila Malcolmson, herself a former Gabriola trustee, said “truly affordable housing” is a priority.
“This community doesn’t have a great deal of safe, secure affordable housing,” said Colbourne. “That’s something that I heard a lot on the campaign trail from young families. I heard from seniors … that they don’t have options on the Island, so we’ve got a housing needs assessment. We’ve got 210 households with core need, that means that their shelter costs are much higher than 30 per cent of their income and that’s something we need to do something about island-wide.
“The housing crisis is provincewide, it’s Canada-wide in some areas. It’s definitely affecting Gabriola and the other islands here as well.”
Langereis, who formerly worked as a manager of policy and legislation with the B.C. government, said a major project of outgoing trustees Heather O’Sullivan and Melanie Mamoser is a housing options review project, something he would like to move ahead on.
“This project has got a timeline of about 2021 and it’s looking at all of the housing options in the [official community plan and land use bylaw]. Seniors, affordable, they also talk about obtainable, so we’re going through a fairly extensive community consultation on looking at everything around housing,” said Langereis.
O’Sullivan and Mamoser didn’t run in the 2018 local government election, meaning there is all new representation on Gabriola, with Colbourne and Langereis together with Vanessa Craig, new Regional District of Nanaimo area director.
It is a “real fresh” opportunity to forge a working relationship with the three elected representatives at the local level and the three have pledged to meet, talk and work through issues in a collaborative way, Colbourne said.
“I think that’s the biggest piece of this, that we’re all three fresh, new into this,” said Colbourne. “So we can start in somewhat the same place, coming from very different backgrounds and different expertise and really forge a solid working relationship. That’s something we heard a lot on the campaign trail, as well, that people want governments to be working for them instead of pointing fingers at each other.”