our story

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.

Our society

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 2024 Board of directors

CHRISTIAN ADLER, (President), 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.

GALE STEWART (she/her) (Vice President, Treasurer) was born and raised in rural southern Ontario. She graduated in Radio Television Arts at the Ryerson Polytechnic Institute (now called Toronto Metropolitan University) and moved to BC with a very young family in 1972. Gale and her husband Paul have enjoyed living on Galiano for over 40 years first as renters at Madrona Lodge and then owning their current home “Grouselands.” During the Pandemic, they transitioned into being full-time Galiano residents.

Housing has always been an important part of Gale’s life. Finding and providing homes is her passion. They were Foster Parents during the ’80s and they saw, firsthand, the lack of housing, support, and tenancy skills offered to teenagers as they aged out of the government foster care system on their 19th birthday. Through that experience and with the help of many folks, she has had the privilege of founding two charities: Aunt Leah’s Place, which provides support to youth and young moms leaving foster care, and a partnering charity, Aunt Leah’s Foundation, which buys, builds, and maintains housing for these young people.

Along with enjoying her four adult children and seven grandchildren, she is currently helping to set up a Legacy Program for Aunt Leah’s. She is in the early stages of writing “Aunt Leah’s Story.”

JOANNE RANDLE, (she/her) (Secretary), 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. 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 is also a director for the GALI Society.

GEORGE HARRIS, 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.

ELIZABETH MAY  (she/her) served as Leader of the Green Party of Canada from 2006 – 2019, in 2011 becoming the Green Party of Canada’s first elected Member of Parliament representing Saanich-Gulf Islands. She will continue as a Member of Parliament, serving as the Parliamentary Leader of the Green Caucus. 

In 2005, Elizabeth May was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition of her decades of leadership in the Canadian environmental movement. She graduated from Dalhousie Law School and was admitted to the Bar in both Nova Scotia and Ontario. She practiced law in Ottawa with the Public Interest Advocacy Centre prior to becoming Senior Policy Advisor to the federal minister of the Environment (1986-1988). For seventeen years Elizabeth served as Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada (1989-2006). 

A proud mother and grandmother, she lives in Sidney, British Columbia, with her husband John Kidder. Elizabeth is the author of eight books, including her most recent book, Who We Are: Reflections on my life and on Canada.

ANDREW SIMMONS (he/him) with his background in social work, adds a vital perspective to the team, especially in the realm of housing. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Victoria and is nearing the completion of his Master’s degree at Dalhousie University. Andrew’s professional journey, spanning over 15 years, has seen him contribute significantly to diverse sectors such as long-term care, Indigenous child protection, and community mental health.

Currently, Andrew is deeply involved in a research project investigating the multifaceted challenges of housing instability on Galiano Island. This project  underscores the importance of viewing housing issues through a social welfare lens. By applying his knowledge and skills in social work, Andrew offers a comprehensive understanding of how housing instability impacts individuals and communities, considering both the immediate and long-term effects.
His ability to integrate theories of social justice and individual well-being into practical strategies makes his input particularly relevant to the objectives of GIGARHS. Andrew is passionate about developing holistic and sustainable solutions for housing challenges, ensuring that the strategies adopted are not only effective but also empathetic to the needs of the community. 

VALERIE TESSIER (she/they) hails from the suburbs of Montreal, Qc where she grew up, and subsequently attended classical music college before relocating to Philadelphia. After moving to New Westminster ,BC where she took on the role of Operations Manager of the New West Farmers Market, Valerie settled on Galiano Island in 2017. Valerie is an active member of the North Galiano Volunteer Fire Department as a certified firefighter and firefighting instructor, medical first responder, as well as the administrative assistant to the Fire Chief, and also acts as the local Wildfire Mitigation Specialist through FireSmart BC, in conjunction with the CRD.

Valerie brings her perspective of lived personal experience (as a single parent and lifelong renter), and her  understanding of the housing crisis through an intersection lens. Only by bridging the gaps between political and social issues such as race, gender, class, queerness, oppression, substance misuse, intimate partner and domestic abuse, ableism, mental health, wider industrial complexes and systems, can we truly start making the necessary changes to better our communities at home and at large. 

MICHELLE TOTHILL is a professional financial planner who has deep roots on Galiano, with four generations of her family calling Galiano their home. Her non-profit experience includes working with single moms in a grass-roots organization. One of her proudest achievements was going back to university at age 50.  In addition to her background in finance, Michelle brings lived experience to the board, having been a single mom herself. In addition to working on the housing crisis, Michelle volunteers with Cowichan Cat Rescue. 




COLLEEN DOTY (she/her) is a professional researcher and runs a small market farm on Galiano Island with her family. With an MA in Canadian history she has over 20 years of experience working with the federal government as a project manager, senior research analyst, and consultant. Her research and case management work have 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. Colleen is a former member of the Coast Mental Health Association’s Ethics Committee, a founding member of the Galiano Affordable Living Initiative (GALI), and a founding member and current president of the Seed Library of Galiano. In 2021, she completed the SFU Writer’s Studio graduate workshop (2021). She is passionate about social justice issues.


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. 


Community Engagement

Now that rezoning is completed, we are focused on the subdivision requirements. If you have any questions, please contact us. See the "Get Involved" section and click on "Contact."

Get Involved

We welcome hearing your questions, concerns and ideas anytime. Please reach out to us through our contact form.


We would love to have you join our efforts by helping with research, fundraising, writing letters of support, spreading the word and anything else you can offer.


Financial donations and gifts in kind are always welcome and gratefully appreciated.