We are not on the ferry route. Not directly, anyway. We have to travel by small boat and then drive across another island to get to the 10-minute ferry that takes us to Vancouver Island (and another ferry to Vancouver) and that ‘extra’ distance gives us a buffer from tourism and conventional developmental expansion.
It seems most people prefer to tour or move in a manner of least resistance. No ferry boat, no paved road, no touring, no residential development.
We prefer it that way. All the islanders do. Being ‘buffered’ from the madding crowd is part of what defines the lifestyle out here.
It is not like the island on which we live couldn’t do with another few young families, tho. Love to have ém. And a few young families would not change the ‘buffer benefit’ at all. In fact, it would help sustain it. The school is always ‘marginal’ to the school board but important to us. So a few new families would be part of our ‘sustainability’.
Plus, being able to re-open the now-closed store would also be good. But our population is currently just not enough to warrant a store. I suppose the island would not lose a thing – and it might gain a bit – if the population doubled (from 50 to 100). But that is not likely to happen in my lifetime.
Put more succinctly: more residents would add to the life, more systems would not.
Island life would likely change completely if we had a ferry. For the worse! Seems that is the way it is down south. The more ferries you have (Saltspring has three routes), the more development, people and politics you get. Islands such as Texada that are huge (it is the largest of the gulf islands) requires three ferries just to get there from the city. Development, population and politics is minimal on Texada. And therefore, our island which cannot be accessed by ferry at all has even less of all three. Given the trade-offs, we’d prefer to remain unserviced.
More people is not quite the same as more residents.
But some so-called service providers are out to get us! Imagine this: BC Hydro is offering rural electrification to our island. As if that was a good thing! They propose to stick a huge genset somewhere and run it 24/7 and then string poles all along the middle road. Very few people live anywhere near the middle road (essentially, a meandering logging road that goes nowhere).
The staggering cost of that so-called amenity would be amortized through raised taxes even though most of us couldn’t access the main line even if we wanted to. If you did want to and try to attach to the BCH grid, each pole installed from the main road is in excess of $2,000. Then you have to upgrade your house’s wiring system to the standard approved by BCH. The irony? We already have genset-sourced power and we use it minimally and very frugally. In other words, we can provide our own power, thankyou very much, better, cheaper and with less of an environmental impact. We really do not need (or want) BC Hydro.
……………..unless they propose to do it with wind, solar or existing hydro-power…………but, even then……?
Thankfully the BCH proposal is not likely to proceed if 100% of the population is against it.
And, finally, there is the internet. It’s a system, too. Like cellular phone coverage. Both of these ‘grids’ are weak out here. But they’re here. The phone calls have static or the calls are cut off or don’t come through. Our internet is limited and expensive. We are on both those communication grids but we are at the unravelling edge. And, given the impact that a grid can have, maybe it is best this way. Maybe barely adequate is just right.
Anyway, the point is simple and not just a bit scary: one cannot be totally off the grid. It’s impossible. But there is such a thing as being more (or less) immersed in the matrix and we’d prefer less.
Is it because we want inconvenience? Absolutely not! Islanders, of all people, have come to appreciate convenience more than they ever did in the city. Convenience is good. Inconvenience is very hard. We like convenience. It is just that the price of convenience is too high both in financial terms and in social terms. We don’t want any of that retail, store-bought convenience.
Put more bluntly: I’d prefer to struggle with a bad internet connection than have community hall meetings on the proposed new subdivision expansion.
I mention all this because the grid is insidious. It can reach out and get you. It has already reached out and grabbed most people. Be careful out there (if you are out there). And be extra careful if you are on the grid already and immersed deeply. It is not always a benign or good thing. Regardless of how you view those services, it is the grid that changes everything.