Gabriola Island Land Stewards Society


What is a Community Land Trust?

Like most of British Columbia, land prices on Gabriola Island have increased dramatically in recent years. This prices many individuals out of affordable housing, land for agriculture, retail rental, small-business and non-profit growth and development. Many small towns in the province have seen ownership of their communities centralized into the hands of a few people who are not residents and are mainly focused on profitability.

We believe that forward-thinking community self-sufficiency lies in non-profit models that allow for diversity, inclusion, and economic justice. Collective ownership of land is one approach to this, and there are opportunities now that may not exist in the future as land ownership becomes increasingly concentrated and out of reach.

A Community Land Trust (CLT) is a non-profit organization that holds land on behalf of a placed-based community, while serving as the long-term steward for affordable housing, community gardens, civic buildings, commercial spaces and other community assets on behalf of a community.

CLTs treat land as a public good. Buildings are owned and used by organizations, businesses, and individuals. The CLT owns the land and works to ensure it is used in ways that benefit the community. They do this by facilitating and supporting community-driven planning to address the community’s immediate and long-term needs.

See GILSS Activities for more information on how we acquire land.

Traditionally, Community Land Trusts have been used for the development of supportive or affordable housing and for conservation. On Gabriola Island, we envision broader types of land use including (but not limited to):

  • food production,
  • sustainable energy,
  • affordable housing,
  • supportive housing,
  • community water supply,
  • community amenities,
  • small-scale economic development, and
  • education.

Use of land will be available to non-profit organizations and co-operatives operating on Gabriola, individuals living on Gabriola, and the Snuneymuxw First Nation and its members, with a particular focus on addressing economic inequality.

Gabriola Island Land Stewards Society


GILSS Mandate

The GILSS mandate is to benefit Gabriolans and Snuneymuxw First Nation members and relieve poverty by acquiring and stewarding land on Gabriola Island under a community ownership model that promotes long-term community benefits, affordability and sustainability, and enables democratic local planning.

GILSS Purpose

The purpose of GILSS is to relieve poverty and provide educational opportunities to local people of low income through the acquisition, leasing and oversight of activities on land on Gabriola Island, BC.

GILSS Activities

Activities undertaken to achieve this purpose include to:

  1. Seek and receive donations, contributions, endowments, bequests and gifts of all kinds and to apply those funds and other resources in order to acquire and lease land on Gabriola Island to further the purposes of the society;
  2. Provide and preserve access to affordable and supportive housing for people of low income;
  3. Provide and preserve access to farm land for people of low income in order to grow food, and learn agricultural skills through educational programs;
  4. Develop small-scale community economic development projects for people of low income, and provide education and mentorship in business and entrepreneurial skills; and
  5. Provide oversight of activities on lands held by the society to ensure compliance with charitable purposes.

GILSS Milestones

Fall 2018 – Spring 2019: Community discussions about starting a land trust

Fall 2019 – Spring 2020: Finalize purpose of organization and develop bylaws

May 2020: Formally incorporate as the Gabriola Island Land Stewards Society

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021: Begin to explore criteria for land selection

December 2021: Receive charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

March 2022: Revise bylaws based on lessons learned

March 2022: Receive a significant anonymous donation

May 2022: Discuss land selection criteria at a members’ workshop

March 2023: Refine land purchase policy at the Annual General Meeting

If you are interested in land conservation, we recommend that you contact the Gabriola Land & Trails Trust or the Islands Trust Conservancy.

Gabriola Land Stewards Society
Board of Directors


Sibyl Frei

Sibyl Frei

President & Treasurer

Sibyl has been an uninvited guest on Indigenous territories in various parts of Turtle Island.

She has owned two businesses and been a lifelong volunteer. Experienced working with many groups in different sectors, she contributes a strong belief in community, fairness and collaboration to the efforts of the land trust.

Shaun Woods

Shaun Woods

Vice President

Shaun has been involved with a large variety of co-ops and community groups for many decades.

He is the co-founder of a successful intentional community as well as a musician, essayist and publisher.


Steven Earle

Steven Earle


Steve thinks that Gabriola is arguably the best place in the world to live, and that we all need to do whatever we can to make it work for all Gabriolans and for the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

K. Louise Vincent

K. Louise Vincent

Director at Large

K. Louise’s life is rooted in social justice work and writing dedicated to care of community and land.  She brings a lifelong commitment to ethics, education, recovery and cultural safety.

As the Commons Covenant chair she helped write a covenant protecting ecological, agricultural and social aspects of community owned land on Gabriola.

Raven Leadem

Raven Leadem

Director at Large

Raven is a retired environmental law lawyer and mediator. He has served on the Boards of several nonprofit groups over the years. He is committed to keeping Gabriola a green and sustainable place to live.

Carol Hemrich

Carol Hemrich

Representing Gabriola Housing Society

Carol has a background in education and volunteering.

She is particularly concerned about increasing our community capacity for improving the housing situation on the island and on any effort to develop more food security and a circular economy.

John Peirce

John Peirce

Representing Sustainable Gabriola

John’s volunteer work has focused on land conservation. On Gabriola, John is a past president of Gabriola Land and Trails Trust (GaLTT) and of American Friends of Canadian Conservation (AF).

John played a key role in establishing the Robinson Woods covenant on Gabriola, which is held by AF.

Mary Lee Burns

Mary Lee Burns

Representing People for a Healthy Community

Mary Lee is part of ‘People for a Healthy Community’ who are working to provide support for those in vulnerable positions in a way that builds community, maintains dignity and challenges inequities. She believes that if we work collaboratively and creatively we can find a solution to any problem.

David Oliver Reid

David Oliver Reid

Representing Gabriola Agricultural Co-op

David has been a Gabriola resident for over 30 years, raising three children and building homes and community here. After 20 years as a commercial fisher, he created a new social enterprise called Playbriola that provides opportunities for play, and advocates for children’s right to play and removing barriers to risky play.

Gloria Filax

Representing Gabriola Commons

I support positive change to make the world a liveable place for all. I am a retired academic, partner, mother, sister, friend, and grandmother. I spend significant time volunteering with organizations that contribute to positive change.