Response to Chris Dixon’s “More Safety Input Needed”

(Chris Dixon’s article is in italics below, with my responses in regular font. – Eric)

There has always been some level of vandalism on Salt Spring, just as there has always been a group of transient individuals whose primary focus is not their next retail experience. We can’t wish these people away, and more cops can only make their lives more precarious.

Uh, so, tourists are now “retail seeking transients,” and “more cops” can only make vandals and tourists’ lives more precarious….interesting perspective.

On the subject of a proposed new “security service” for the island, my first question would be whether this new service would benefit the entire island, or would it more specifically benefit the merchants and the landlords of Ganges who want it?

The security of Ganges includes its 3 public parks (Peace, Mouat’s and Centennial), and, the roads and sidewalks. It is not limited to the security of merchants (who rent from landlords) who exist to service the needs of entire community. The merchants’ businesses and services in fact benefit the entire community. Where did you buy the food for your last meal?

My second question would be: if the Chamber of Commerce wants additional police protection for their members’ businesses, why are taxpayers being asked to pay for it?

Public safety and security is fundamental to a civil society that wishes to have a community where it is safe for a 6 year old to walk down the street, as I did as a child here. “Additional police protection” is another term in this case for “sufficient police protection.” Salt Spring has one of the highest rates of mental illness, police related, incidents in B.C. If you don’t believe me, please, ask the next RCMP officer you see on the Island.

Then I would ask, how does the CRD, whom we do not elect, become the default provider of, and recipient of tax funding for, this service when we already have a contract for RCMP protection that benefits the entire island?

We elect a Director to represent us to the CRD. In this case, because we don’t have a mayor and/or city council, the closest we have to a mayor (other than the Minister of Municipal Affairs), is the CRD Director. In a municipality the CAO of the town can direct priorities of contracted policing. Currently, since we aren’t a municipality, there is no one from our community who has the authority to directly negotiate with the RCMP. That is why the CRD Director is suggesting the CRD become the “default provider.”

I’d need to ask whether a counter-petition, which will require productive people to invest their time organizing any opposition to the idea, is a credible gauge of public support?

I think the jury is in on that question, with a firm “no” verdict.

I’d ponder our priorities as a community. Could these funds subsidize a publicly funded laundry and shower facility? Now that it’s dark and rainy, could it pay for painting the centre lines on our roads? Would these things have a greater benefit to a larger portion of our population than an additional uniformed presence on the streets of Ganges?

Apples and oranges and pineapples. Yes we need a laundry, yes the lines on the roads should be painted, and yes there should be more police presence. These aren’t either/or questions.

Can we say that the businesses of Ganges are collectively a single-focus group and that their priorities are different from the priorities of the majority of island residents? 

No. Without the Ganges businesses this community would cease to function within a day or two. Close the food stores, the gas stations, and the restaurants and see what would happen. We have witnessed something close to this during a major snowstorm.

Can we contrast their desire for more business success with the reality that during the summer season, the feeding frenzy they cultivate is an equally unpleasant experience for residents and for visitors? 

The businesses don’t create or cultivate a “feeding frenzy”…the island’s overwhelming beauty, climate, rurality, and country charm along with artisans, craftspeople, farmers, (and even loud marimba bands in the park on Saturdays), etc. attract tourists. The “unpleasantness” which some residents may experience is primarily due to poor planning (e.g. failure to provide adequate parking), lack of traffic controls due to increased volume of traffic (e.g. roundabouts, 4 way stops or, traffic lights), and ferry lineups which are the result of a non-responsive ferry authority, along with a non-responsive Ministry of Transportation.

Can they admit that Ganges is maxed out; a casualty of their own relentless advertising which seeks to commodify every possible aspect of our shared island home? 

“Relentless advertising”? Where? The local Driftwood?

Can they see how local residents subsidize their commercial success at a cost of personal discomfort and safety? When a laundromat can’t afford to pay rent, is that success?

The primary reason the laundromat was shut down (apart from it being a marginally profitable business) was the North Salt Spring Waterworks District’s moratorium – which, you, as a Trustee of the NSSWD, are partially responsible for. I understand a number of potential locations for a laundromat have been turned down by NSSWD. Please correct me if I’ve been wrongly informed.

I have been involved in two traffic incidents in Ganges this summer that could easily have had fatal consequences. Had there been a police cruiser present, each driver would have faced stiff penalties and possibly criminal charges.

It’s tempting to dismiss both these road-rage incidents as being caused by mannerless tourists, but it’s equally likely that the driver in both vehicles was a frustrated local. Driving and parking in Ganges, especially this year, has been a fundamentally frustrating experience.

Poor land use planning of Ganges, including lack of parking, changes to traffic patterns and controls are at the heart of the downtown traffic problems. Who owns the roads in Ganges? The Province. In virtually every other community in BC the roads are owned by the communities, and, as such can make any changes they want. Here, a property owner can’t even apply to put a sidewalk in front of their property.

In my opinion, a broader base of residents should be engaged to assess the issues and to make decisions regarding safety, comfort and livability in Ganges.

Better still, why not a broader base of elected representatives? Considering you vocally opposed and voted “No” to incorporation, I’m going to suggest you are partly responsible for there not being broader representation.

Personally, I’d advocate for less craziness, rather than more cops.

Great, wave your magic wand and make the craziness stop…because, and with all due respect, that is about what would be required. We need “enough” cops…and, that is something we don’t currently have.

Chris, a couple of years ago, you stated, “Our island stands out as a beautiful exception to the corporate model. I think we need to design a government structure that no-one needs to be afraid of. I want a form of government that reflects and builds upon our unique and successful history….We can start working together immediately after the referendum.https://saltspringexchange.com/2017/07/25/incorporation-which-side-are-you-on/

So, two years later, what is the proposed design of government structure you’ve been working on?

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One Response to Response to Chris Dixon’s “More Safety Input Needed”

  1. Elizabeth Nickson says:

    Nicely done Socratic dialogue with another muzzlehead. Yesterday driving through town, I caught sight of a couple of energetic men in their early 50s and thought, one of these days, sometime in the next twenty years, someone is going to come along and put a great big boot through the vicious incompetent green fascist regulatory structure and the whole island is going to light up like a rainbow. I think we should advertise for said individual, as in “Looking for your next challenge? Beautiful island locked into a spell by a consortium of wicked witches and warlocks feeding off our insanely high taxes….needs rescuing”. Which failing newspaper should we use?

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