It’s safe to say life is a little different on Lasqueti Island and this extends to the way residents are governed.
A 23-year-old Spanish sailor named Jose Maria Narvaez is reputedly the first European to discover, and name, Lasqueti in July of 1791. In fact, this Narvaez fellow doesn’t seem to get the credit he richly deserves — he sailed the waters around here a year before others like George Vancouver made the journey.
According to a few different online sources, while the commander of Narvaez’ expedition in 1791 remained on a flagship in the Straight of Juan de Fuca, Narvaez took another vessel and went exploring up the Georgia Strait and made some significant discoveries. He discovered a bunch of islands we now know by more British-sounding names, but three retain the monikers given to them by the young Spaniard: Lasqueti, Texada and Ballenas.
Today, there are about 420 permanent residents on Lasqueti (not to mention a great pub). It’s ‘off the grid’ as much as can be expected in 2014. Despite the fact we can see the island clearly from Parksville and Qualicum Beach — it’s only about 15 km away as the crow flies — the people there pay their taxes to the Powell River Regional District and elect a director to represent them at that table. There are no paved roads or electric company to pay for power.
This being Canada, that’s hardly enough government for 420 residents on 73 square kilometres of land. Lasqueti also elects two members to sit on the Islands Trust.
From what we can figure, the Islands Trust representatives deal mainly with development issues. There is land available on Lasqueti, but the smallest lot is mandated to 10 acres with only one house and a guest cottage allowed. Four people ran for the two seats on the Islands Trust board in 2011 and two people contested the regional district seat.
If you have ever been to Lasqueti, you will be familiar with one local issue the comes up at election time: derelict vehicles. They are scattered on the side of the roads and ditches close to the ferry terminal. It’s likely to be an election issue once again, but we hear there’s a bylaw in the works that will allow a business to open to address this, likely a parking lot in a backyard.
We wonder what young Narvaez would think of all this.
— Editorial by John Harding