Sustainability Plan 2

Mayne Island Conservancy Society

Mayne Island Community Conservation and Sustainability Plan - Continued

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  • reducing our ecological footprint including moving toward energy self-sufficiency.
The second assessment was the completion of the Regional Conservation Plan (2005-2011) prepared by the Islands Trust Fund. This assessment reviewed the state of the Islands Trust Area ecosystems, their level of protection and the indicators of sustainability for each of the island communities. Within this assessment, Mayne Island ranked as lowest in area under protective status (4.4%) and for sensitive ecosystems remaining intact (just over 14%). As a result, Mayne became a priority for the Islands Trust Fund to increase the amount of lands under conservation status. It should be pointed out that Mayne Island has no Crown lands, so all conservation efforts require working with private property owners.

The third event was the launch of a community dialogue to revise our Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaw. The intent of this process was to capture community desires for Mayne Island's foreseeable future.

While these community wide processes, among others, have helped to catalyze interest around broad themes related to the long-term sustainability of the island, they have not translated into collaborative community action within a shared vision of a sustainable future for Mayne Island. It is with this intent that the Mayne Island Conservancy Society (MICS) is proposing community dialogues with interested parties, starting with this framework.

Proposed Framework Components

As noted above, there already exists a reasonable foundation from which to begin the discussions on a sustainable future for Mayne Island. The sections proposed below are put forward as a way to organize key themes which could form a part of a conservation and sustainability plan. They are presented here with brief, but by no means comprehensive, assessments of activities that have recently occurred in support of each theme. There are gaps however and in many cases there is no collaboration or coordination across themes. The first task is to ensure that these themes, and any others identified, are as current as possible and as such represent the base from which to discuss a future vision for the Mayne Island community.

Ecosystem diversity and function - Much has been accomplished under this theme over the last few years. Through the Island Trust Fund and the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve all of Mayne Island has been digitally mapped using the provincial Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) standard. This mapping provides a wealth of information on forest type, age, vegetation associations and forest site potential. The Mayne Isand TEM was used to develop the Mayne Island Sensitive Ecosystem Map which is now part of our Official Community Plan. The conservation of a portion of our sensitive ecosystems (14% of our landscape) using development permits is currently under consideration by our Local Trust Committee (LTC). The Mayne Island Conservancy has been involved in the public review and is assisting the LTC in raising awareness among island residents. In addition, MICS has initiated a comprehensive marine program-- mapping eelgrass meadows and kelp beds occurrences and continuing to survey for sandlance and surf smelt spawning habitat around the island.

Since 2007 MICS, with the Parks Commission, other funding partners and many volunteers, has completed phases 1 and 2 of the Henderson Park Restoration Plan and will be launching a third phase in the near future. Following from this work, MICS also offers free walkabouts for willing landowners to assess ecological and other values on their properties and to discuss voluntary measures to ensure their conservation. As well, the Island Trust Fund is in the final review stages of its revised Regional Conservation Plan 2011-2015. In this plan, Mayne Island's contribution to the Trust Area's biodiversity, endangered species habitats and protection priorities has been assessed. Significantly, it discloses that Mayne Island has the highest proportion of modified ecosystems within the Trust Area (just over 30%) and yet around 23% of the island is rated as having a high relative biodiversity composition.

Water Supply and Water Quality - The Mayne Island Integrated Water Systems Society, which represents all eleven of the water improvement districts on Mayne, many private well owners as well as membership from other Gulf Island communities has continued to host water-related workshops dealing with water supply and quality issues on Mayne and other Gulf Islands. Mayne Island has no natural lakes and a very small number of year-round streams. All potable water comes from groundwater sources. The Society also has been key to improving water quality and use provisions in our Official Community Plan review process including the need for mandatory low flush toilets and roof top water catchment for new buildings. An awareness campaign about proper maintenance of septic systems and an assessment of the threat of salinization of ground water on the island have also been accomplished. As part of the revised Official Community Plan process, new maps of watershed and riparian areas on Mayne Island have been produced through the LTC.

Agricultural landscapes, food supply and food security - There has been much interest and work within this theme to raise awareness of the island's capabilities to grow its own food supply and the threats to the long term viability of our local farms (economics of land, transportation costs, subdivision of non Agricultural Land Reserve farmlands and attracting a new generation of farmers). The Resilient Mayne Initiative hosted gatherings for interested Mayne Island residents to begin discussions on a future vision for Mayne Island (Mayne 2030). Within this initiative specific discussions were held on recreating a local food economy. As a result, an ad hoc Mayne Islands Growers Group, representing over 12 food producers, has formed to start to find ways to re-build an island-based food economy, to collectively market island-grown food products and to develop opportunities for young farmers and growers. The Islands Sustainability Initiative (ISUNI) created community events focusing on local food dinners, guest speakers and discussion forums. The Good Life Festival was a first for Mayne Island. The thriving Farmers Market group continues to coordinate the Mayne Island Farmers Market from late spring to early fall. The market has become a showcase for the diversity of island-based food products that are available. The Agricultural Society promotes the importance of local agriculture through its annual Fall Fair and continues to invest in island-based activities that support the long term viability of the island community. The Community Garden has become a thriving centre for individuals to grow their own food and for demonstrating organic gardening and composting techniques and other best practices.

"It's not just involving people in food growing, it's also about reconnecting people to their immediate local environment - as a first step to taking positive action to look after it." Richard Arkwright, Local Food - How to make it happen in your community, 2009.

Parks and trails - The Mayne Island Parks and Recreation Commission manages and maintains our network of community parks and trails. The community parks are one of the tools for the conservation of island biodiversity. No new parks have been established in recent years, but the Commission continues to work with landowners and government organizations to create opportunities for better public access to Mayne Island's many natural features. This includes negotiating easements for the expanding trail network as well as taking over management authority for dedicated public accesses to marine shorelines. Mayne Island does have a parks network plan.

Heritage/cultural preservation - There is a core of concerned citizens who maintain the existing historical structures and gather oral histories of Mayne Islanders from the older generation of residents. The Japanese Garden is maintained by a group of dedicated volunteers.

Energy self-reliance - This is another theme that has been raised within the general community. Part of this was the mandatory requirement for local governments to sign on the Climate Action Charter of the BC government and to create a greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction plan for their communities. The Mayne Island LTC created such a plan using general GHG emissions categories calculated for the Island Trust Area. Under the Resilient Mayne Initiative (Mayne 2030) and the Islands Sustainability Initiative (ISUNI) transportation and energy alternatives were discussed and a core group of residents has shown interest in pursuing this further.

Affordable housing/diverse demographics - These have been long term concerns within the community related to providing stable and affordable housing for young families and to sustaining the volunteer pool that is so crucial to the health of the community. There is also a continuing public concern about affordable and conveniently located seniors housing. The Local Trust Committee through Trust Council has been given authority to explore housing options for Mayne Island. A citizens' task force has been created to report to the LTC by March 31, 2011 on the land use needs and housing diversity options for the future.

Local economy - All of the above particular components in some way relate to the maintenance of the local economy, which is under great pressure due to land costs, fuel costs (transport of goods to and from the island), ferry rates and the ups and downs of the annual tourism market. The permanent population base is currently just over 1100 and these residents must be able to support the core businesses in the off-season. This factor also applies to the other services, including the retail and trades components of our local economy. The farm and agricultural part of the local economy has diversified and grown over the last 10 years. Sole proprietor and professional businesses operating out of residences are not well known. The Community Chamber of Commerce and the Ratepayers and Residents Association has begun to look into future economic opportunities and likely businesses that could be attracted to Mayne Island. No concrete actions have been undertaken on this component though the Official Community Plan articulates the need to ensure that the local economy remains viable and sustainable in the long term. To be sustainable and resilient, our local economy must be diverse.

Health and well-being - There has been an expansion of services and activities devoted to personal health and well-being for island residents including the fitness centre, yoga, meditation, youth sports and others. Specific health and home care services provided by the Health Centre Association and Assisted Living Society are also a key component in assuring that needs for the future are identified and addressed.

School community - It could be said that the heart of a community can be found in a thriving local school. Mayne Island's school has seen a slow reduction in enrollments over time reflecting economic factors, housing costs and employment opportunities that can be barriers for young families living full time on the island. The School District has been aware of this for some time and at the district level is implementing innovative plans to maintain operating schools in each of the island communities. It is encouraging that the pre-school and kindergarten population has recently shown an increase. The school children and their families are a voice and perspective that need to be included in the discussions and actions relating to Mayne Island's future.

Arts and culture - This is another key aspect of a diverse and resilient community. Mayne Island has a robust and thriving arts and music culture that is widely supported. Groups like the Mayne Island Little Theatre, the Mayne Island Music Society and the Mayne Island chapter of the Trincomali Arts Council all contribute to the vibrancy of the island. The writers, artists, artisans, photographers and musicians who make up this component are the group that will be able to create ways to record and represent the evolving story for Mayne Island.

"It's all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are between stories. The old story is no longer effective." Thomas Berry

First Nations - The history and stories of Mayne Island trace back to long before Europeans colonized this place. These stories, and the values held by First Nations for this place offer a crucial perspective for any process of visioning a future for the island and the community. Such a perspective has not been publicly articulated, but it is important to embrace and include so that any emerging plan can be based on shared understanding between communities.

"Ancient stories can guide us in our efforts to preserve natural and cultural heritage during an era in which much is at stake." Gary Paul Nabhan, Cultures of Habitat, 1997.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS

The process to develop the Mayne Island Community Conservation and Sustainability Plan will evolve from the collaborative work in reaching consensus on this proposed framework. A community with a sense of a common future and its collective responsibility to seeing it through, is one that has learned to value home place. We anticipate that specific projects will come out of work on this framework proposal. When there is collective agreement on a shared vision, then proposals for resources to undertake these projects will be strengthened by the visible support of a diverse group of island organizations and interests. The results of these projects will not only improve the social, economic and environmental knowledge base of Mayne Island but will also further the development and implementation of a continually evolving conservation and sustainability plan. This additional knowledge will be passed on to the community and assist in decision making about specific developments relating to health services, business opportunities, transportation alternatives, employment and conservation activities into the future.

IN SUMMATION

The proposed components of this framework have been identified to provide potential participants with points for discussion and possible themes of interest. The brief notes on the progress of each component are designed to identify some of the community work being done, but this is by no means exhaustive. There is much that can be done within each and with respect to overall coordination and integration of activities, to assessing the present baseline and to identifying what new work needs to done. This would be the first task for those organizations and residents who are interested in working on concrete steps toward a sustainable and resilient future for Mayne Island.

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