Galiano is a beautiful island located in the Salish Sea with a dynamic, creative and resilient community. Over the years, residents have come together to support both the environment and the people who live here. We have raised funds to purchase both Mount Galiano and Bodega Ridge; established the Galiano Conservancy Association, which has been a model to similar organizations near and far; built the Health Care Centre, the Library, and the Museum: nurtured a thriving arts community; and created and run numerous other organizations to support one another.
Yet, over the past decades, many Galiano residents including singles, couples, families and seniors have been unable to find adequate housing. Many have had no choice but to leave the island. Some of these residents grew up on Galiano. Many had spent years here and had become deeply involved in work, school, and volunteer activities.
For more than three decades, many on Galiano have recognized the real need for affordable and secure housing on our island. A number of organizations and societies have tried to make this happen over the years. Page Drive has been a huge success, supporting our seniors with 16 purpose built homes, but to date no other community homes have been built.
In 2018, the CRD completed a “Housing Needs Assessment – Southern Gulf Islands”, where Galiano was identified as needing approximately 70 long-term affordable rental homes. Building these homes on Galiano will provide stabilization for low to moderate income households, be they individuals, young families, seniors, or others.
In May 2018, a group of concerned Galiano citizens formed a working committee to explore the development of affordable rental housing on Galiano. Recognizing the essential need to address the shortage of affordable homes and to support a viable and dynamic year round community, the volunteer board of Gulf Islands Galisle Affordable Housing Society (GIGARHS) was formed in September 2018.
Purpose of the Society
To relieve poverty by building and managing affordable rental housing for low and moderate income residents of Galiano Island.
We are committed to working towards providing secure and affordable rental housing for Galiano residents of all ages, from young families to seniors, in low-to-moderate income households.
Our 2020 Board members
LISA GAUVREAU is currently serving as President/Chair of GIGARHS. She moved to BC from her traditional Ojibwe territory after university in 1992 and has made Galiano her full-time home since 2002. She is the chef and owner of Babes in the Woods, a successful year-round eatery on Galiano Island. She is known to be community-minded, actively contributing with her time and experience. Having been a long-term renter herself, with her young family, she is deeply committed to reaching out and doing some of the heavy lifting required to help alleviate Galiano’s housing crisis. She believes that GIGARHS can be the key to developing Galiano’s future in security around housing for island residents. Lisa also has the current role as Chair of GALI.
GEORGE HARRIS, (vice-president/chair), after attending University of Toronto, operated a 67-foot Norwegian fjord ferry in the Grenadine Islands from 1975 to 1983. He resettled to Galiano Island, where he built and ran the Hummingbird Inn from 1984 to 1988. After becoming involved in supporting indigenous leaders from Nicaragua’s Mosquito Coast in the late 1980s, he co-founded the Ometepe Gulf Island Friendship Society (OGIFA) which works with indigenous coffee growers and supports clean water infrastructure projects on Ometepe Island. He produced and directed a four-part documentary series “Through the Eyes of Children” in the early 1990s, shot on location in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua. In 1994, he built and ran the Gulf Island Film and Television School on Galiano, focusing on training and empowering youth to tell their own stories. After 19 years as director, he retired and ran for public office serving as an Island Trustee (2014-2018). He has also run a small farm in Nicaragua and operates/manages a charter sailing vessel company. He is the father of five children, grandfather to four, and is married to the North Galiano Island fire chief. In addition to his work for GIGARHS, George is also a director on the Galiano Affordable Living Initiative Society.
COLLEEN DOTY, (secretary), is a writer and researcher living on Galiano Island. With an MA in Canadian First Nations history she has over 20 years’ experience working with the federal government as a project manager, senior research analyst and consultant. Her research and case management work has been with the Residential Schools Resolution Office, the Litigation Management Branch, and currently, Specific Claims Branch. In 2005, she was a recipient of the Deputy Minister’s award for Teamwork. For five years she was an Islands Trust minute-taker and secretary. She has also worked for the Galiano Community Food Program and School District 64 as an education assistant. Colleen has served as treasurer of the Galiano Community Library and is a former member of the Coast Mental Health Association’s Ethics Committee. A founding member and current president of the Seed Library of Galiano, Colleen also serves as secretary of the Gulf Islands Galisle Affordable Rental Housing Society (GIGARHS) and is also on the Board of the Galiano Affordable Living Initiative (GALI). In 2021, she completed the SFU Writers Studio Graduate Program (2021).
LAUREN MAGNER, (treasurer), is co-owner of the Loose Leaf and Galiano Post Office, a loose leaf tea and paper goods shop and postal outlet. This local, women-owned business provides retail and essential services to the island and space for community building. Lauren was a full time caregiver for a person with dementia and through this work has learned different ways of living in community, the critical importance of housing security and how to better support elders to “age in place.” In the recent past Lauren has volunteered on the Galiano Community Library’s circulation desk and Program & Events Committee. She was a director on the board of the Galiano Club and sat on the Community Food Program’s Steering Committee. She spends her time on the board of GIGARHS as treasurer and also serves on the GALI Society board. She was the recipient of the Greater Victoria United Way Youth Now Volunteer Award (2016). Lauren holds a BA in Arts and Contemporary Studies (Ryerson) and has lived on Galiano for seven years as a renter.
CHRISTIAN ADLER is a 30-year veteran of the TV Broadcast News industry. He got his start volunteering for ShawTV in North Vancouver. Several moves around the province later, he found himself having an adventure in England and freelancing for the BBC. Returning to the Lower Mainland, he has worked for Global, CityTV and CTV as a News Camera Operator, Editor and Writer. He also became involved with Scouts Canada. He and his wife Allison took their strong beliefs in community living and affordable housing and joined a Housing Cooperative. For five years he was on the Housing Cooperative’s Board of Directors and served on multiple committees including as Chair of the Building Committee. In 2014, Christian took a vacation on Galiano and he and his wife fell in love with the community. Since then they have bought a property with another couple to continue the ideals of community living. In the ensuing years it has become apparent that the lack of affordable housing is a major challenge for many who have wanted to live and work here.
GEOFF INVERARITY was one of the original founders of the Gulf Islands Film and Television School, where he mentored over 100 student films over the course of 20 years. In addition, Geoff has been a university lecturer in English literature, a reader for Telefilm Canada, and has been a volunteer at Loving Spoonful in Vancouver since 2002. He is the founder and producer of the Gulf Islands Poetry Festival and was the Galiano representative for the Gulf Islands Arts Council (1991-1992). He was president of the Galiano Preschool Society and also served on the Community and Economic Development Committee during the 2009-2010 review of the Galiano Official Community Plan. He is currently a board member of both GIGARHS and GALI, and is president of the Galiano Island Literary Festival. Geoff has an LLB and an MA (Hons) from Aberdeen University, a PhD in English literature from Queen’s University, Kingston, and an MFA from the University of BC. He is a frequent poetry contributor to Geist magazine and has won awards for his screenwriting.
JOANNE RANDLE is passionate about supporting others to flourish, both individually and within strong and healthy relationships and teams. She is a life coach and facilitator and holds a Certificate in Family Mediation from the Justice Institute of BC. She is currently working with a focus on life transitions and grief support and is the founder and facilitator of the Habit Workshop, a course developed to support intentional habit change and creation, both in personal and professional settings. She is a past chair of the board of directors for Access to Media Education Society (AMES), which works to empower marginalized youth, and was a coach for the New Leaf Project, an organization using innovative strategies to empower individuals to break the cycle of homelessness. She has also been a volunteer in palliative care and bereavement support for over 20 years. Joanne currently serves as GIGARHS’ Outreach Coordinator and is also a director for the GALI Society.
We are exploring a number of funding opportunities, through both government and private sectors, to cover the costs of both construction and operations. To cover the balance, we will also need to secure a mortgage, likely through CMHC, which will need to be serviced with rental income upon completion of the project. To keep rents affordable, it’s essential to minimize project costs wherever possible. Obtaining low cost land is a vital piece of the puzzle.