The Islands Trust is a federated body responsible for protecting the unique nature and amenities of 13 major islands and more than 450 smaller islands and the surrounding waters in the southern Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound. It regulates local land use, manages a trust fund of land and other assets and works with other levels of government.
The Trust area covers about 5,200 square kilometres of land and water and is home to over 25,000 people, with a further 10,000 non-resident property owners.
Established in 1974 under the Islands Trust Act, the Islands Trust exists:
'"To preserve and protect the trust area and its unique amenities and environment for the benefit of residents of the trust area and of the province generally, in cooperation with municipalities, regional districts, improvement districts, other persons and organizations and the Government of British Columbia."
As a federation of islands, the Islands Trust carries out this provincial mandate both at local and regional levels, and works with residents, First Nations, local governments, improvement districts, provincial and federal agencies, and other organizations to fulfill its mandate.
The Islands Trust consists of distinct corporate entities:
- Twelve local trust committees (LTCs), which are each responsible for developing, administering and enforcing land use bylaws for Local Trust Areas comprising one major island (Denman, Gabriola, Galiano, Gambier, Hornby, Lasqueti, Mayne, North Pender, Salt Spring, Saturna, South Pender, and Thetis) and several smaller islands.
- The Trust Council, which establishes general policies for carrying out the object of the Trust and is responsible for financial management. The Trust Council consists of 24 locally elected trustees which comprise the LTCs and two municipal trustees from Bowen Island. It is responsible for appointing staff, adopting the annual budget and electing the Executive Committee.
- The Executive Committee, which carries out daily business, reviews bylaws for compliance with the Trust’s purpose and the Policy Statement, and is responsible for land-use planning in the Ballenas-Winchelsea Islands Local Trust Area.
- The Islands Trust Conservancy Board administers the Islands Trust Conservancy. The Conservancy was established in 1990 as a regional land trust and works with landowners and communities to protect places of natural or cultural significance. It accepts donations of money, land, and covenants, monitors and manages land to support biodiversity, and works with islanders on private land stewardship.
The seven regional districts that cover with the Trust Area, provincial agencies, or other specific local authorities such as improvement districts remain responsible for other services, such as building inspection, infrastructure and waste management.
Planning & Land Use Management
The Islands Trust has land use regulatory authority similar to a regional district board. Carried out primarily through the 12 Local Trust Committees, this mandate to plan and regulate land use and development includes activities such as developing official community plans, adopting zoning bylaws and issuing development permits. The land base in the Islands Trust area is also managed through the activities of the Islands Trust Conservancy Board, by protecting places of natural or cultural significance through land acquisition, covenants and other activities.
To ensure compatibility with provincial interests, approval of the minister responsible for local government is required before adoption for bylaws that establish or amend official community plans, and some zoning bylaws, within the Islands Trust area.
Bowen Island Municipality
As an island municipality within the Islands Trust structure, Bowen Island has all the functions of a municipality. However, it submits its Official Community Plans to the Islands Trust for approval, and must consider the provincial object of the Islands Trust in adopting bylaws or issuing permits or licences.