About Salt Spring

How big is Salt Spring Island?
Saltspring Island, the largest of the southern gulf islands is 182.7 km2.  It is approximately 27 km long and 10km wide.

Is it “Saltspring Island” or “Salt Spring Island?”
No one really knows.  Both are in use and considered correct.

What is the population of Salt Spring Island?
The full time population is approximately 12,000.  In summer months that number can more than double with seasonal reisdents and visitors.  Saltspring has a thriving local community and sense of place with many residents having grown up on the island.

Is it true that locals only speak using sign language?
No.  Saltspring Islanders are very well spoken and almost invariably helpful and friendly. Saltspring Island is generally a very safe and peaceful place.  If you leave your wallet behind, chances are very high you will get it back with all the cash still there.

Is there actually a salt spring?
Yes, in the north part of the island.  James Douglas, the first governor of the island in the 1850s, believed that the salt springs would bring great wealth to the Island.  Why he believed this is not known, given that the island is surrounded by the salty Pacific Ocean.  By the way, when you tour around Salt Spring Island you will notice that the northern and southern parts (with Ganges in the center) are somewhat different terrains, and in fact are geologically distinct.  The north is also relatively more densely populated.

Is Salt Spring Island a municipality?
No, the jurisdiction is managed by the province of BC (Capitol Regional District) and the Islands Trust.  Incorporation was rejected by islanders in two referenda in recent years.

What services are available on the island?
A wide range of services are available, including three building supply stores, an auto parts store and several auto garages, two full grocery stores, a health food store, several pharmacies, and three liquor stores (more details below).  There are numerous restaurants in various price ranges. Food carts have become very popular in recent years.  There is a state of the art library built in 2012 and a performing arts center (Artspring).  The public school system is highly rated and is the educational hub of the southern gulf islands.  Lady Minto Hospital is available for medical needs. There are a number of churches and other places of spiritual observance.

Grocery Stores. Country Grocer located and Thrirfty’s in Ganges.  Both are comparable to urban equivalents, with fresh supplies arriving daily.  Country Grocer is part of a local Vancouver Island company, while Thrifty’s is owned by Sobey Inc, a national chain.  Many locals shop at both stores to take advantage of specials and price variations on particular items.  Both stores have large sections selling herbal medicines and supplies.

Liquor Stores.  The government run BC Liquor store in Grace Point Square in Ganges generally has the best selction and prices.  A second privately owned liquor store in the Upper Ganges Mall includes an extensive selection of beer in its offering.  There is also a liquor store attached to Thrifty Foods.

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