Salt Spring Island and the Southern Gulf Islands are “governed” by the B.C. Provincial Government, under the Islands Trust. The Trust came into being in 1974, with a “preserve & protect” mandate, to keep the Islands as these pristine and park-like environments, for the benefit of all B.C. residents.
Two trustees per Island (not representative of population, then) are elected every three years, in the B.C. civic elections, to manage the Trust bylaws/official community plan, on each Island. These strong zoning/density bylaws control (& effectively “cap”) growth. Limited supply, and a strong buyer demand, usually result in higher prices, regardless of market trend in play at any given time. There will always be a low inventory of properties for sale, then, on any Gulf Island, due to this Islands Trust mandate and resulting cap on growth.
There is no industry on the Gulf Islands.
Salt Spring Island is the largest and best serviced of the Southern Gulf Islands (Gabriola, Thetis, Galiano, Salt Spring, Pender, Mayne, & Saturna Islands are the ferry accessed options, in the Southern Gulf Islands grouping), with a year round lifestyle, and with all the amenities required in the 21st Century.
One doesn’t “have to” leave Salt Spring Island for anything, but it’s easy to go to Vancouver or to Victoria or to mid-Vancouver Island locations, on day trips. There are three separate ferries that service the Island, plus three regularly scheduled (year round) floatplane services, so it’s very simple to do daytrips to major centres, and to return easily to the Island’s charm. In the “season”, there’s also a floatplane service from Seattle to Salt Spring Island.