SUCCESS! Rural designation for Salt Spring and Southern Gulf Islands

Feb 16, 2021 | Blog, Community, Governance | 13 comments

For the past decade the Capital Regional District (CRD) Electoral Area Directors for Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands have been advocating for a change in their designation from urban to rural.

You might remember back in December I asked Hon. Ravi Kahlon, new Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, about why the BC NDP government decided to make the change, by Order-In-Council on the eve of the provincial election last fall, for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area in Premier John Horgan’s riding, and did not include the Electoral Areas in Saanich North and the Islands even though all three Directors had been advocating for the change together.

All of this happened prior to Minister Kahlon’s appointment to the portfolio, and in his response to me in Question Period, he promised to investigate the matter. When pressed on the plain inequity by Les Leyne of the Times Colonist, Premier Horgan’s office was reviewing the matter and ultimately he left the decision in the hands of his new Minister.

After meetings with all the key stakeholders Minister Kahlon has decided to make the change by including them into the Island Coastal Economic Trust, which will appropriately designate Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands as rural.

This is an important change because it means that these communities will be able to access funding programs that are designed for rural communities that they were previously ineligible for because they are part of the CRD.

I raise my hands in gratitude to Minister Kahlon for his quick and thorough work. I am grateful to him for the outcome.

I raise my hands in gratitude for my local government colleagues CRD Directors Dave Howe, Gary Holman and Mike Hicks for their persistence on this issue.

Finally, I raise my hands in gratitude for Francine Carlin and many others, who as champions of this work helped to organize the community to write letters and express their support for the change to me and the directly to Minister Kahlon.

“File:Trees during the sunset in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Sidney Island, BC, Canada.jpg” by Michal Klajban is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0


  1. Jude White

    To Hon. Kahlon, Dave Howe, Gary Holman and Mike Hicks,

    As a Saturna Island resident, I want to thank you for your consideration, research and work to bring about this rural designation for the Southern Gulf Islands. This will make a huge difference to the programmes now available to the islands.

    Again, thank you!!

    Jude White,
    186 Cliffside Road, Saturna Island, BC V0N 2Y0

  2. Diana King

    Thank you for this. I am a bit confused. From the provision of health care perspective, haven’t we been deemed rural for quite some time?

    I believe Island Health designated our Gulf Islands as “rural remote” in a review done several years ago. Just wondering about the consistency of the use of the word “rural” and what it means.

    • adamolsen

      Yes. It is very confusing. The health authority designation is different from the economic development designation. Eligibility for government grant programs depend on this designation.

      • Barry Mathias

        Thank you, Adam Olsen. Another Green victory!

  3. Al Maxwell

    Well, Adam, thanks for the bulldog tenacity on this issue.

    Will this enable VPID to apply for infrastructure funding on water meters, do you think?

  4. Robin Jenkinson

    Great news! Thanks all!

  5. Dan Dickmeyer

    I did not see Horgan talk about this success in his morning news conference today or maybe I missed it. Also there seems to be a “backlash” about affordable housing judging by the Driftwood poll yesterday and a 2016 telephone survey of the gulf islands that reported only 10% in favour. I don’t give either much credibility but will this new designation as rural have any effect on getting funds for affordable housing?

  6. Dennis Perch

    Thanks for the work you put into this, Adam. I don’t know if many residents are aware of the difference this makes in getting us high speed internet service. That will then allow more “soft” industry in our islands.

    • adamolsen

      Update coming soon on delivering broadband to the Southern Gulf Islands.

      • Patricia Flannagan

        Thank you so much for your good work. This designation should make a huge difference to us, which I am looking forward to seeing.

  7. Robert Birch

    Congratulations and thank you to all who worked so hard on our behalf.

  8. Ingo Oevermann

    Great news, Adam! Thank you to all who worked on this important initiative.
    And thank you, also, for taking the time to express your appreciation for
    Minister Kahlon for his contribution. It’s these small but important gestures
    which ensure we have a Government team working constructively together.
    Sincerely, Ingo Oevermann



  1. Constituency work continues as legislature returns - Adam Olsen. MLA for Saanich North and the Islands - […] In February, after a lot of coordination, consultation and advocacy the provincial government made the change and finally the…

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