Viewpoint: More safety input needed

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By Chris Dixon

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.

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?

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?

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?

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’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?

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? 

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? 

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? 

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?

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.

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.

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

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