Thursday, September 28, 2023
September 28, 2023

Viewpoint: CASHI’s tactics concerning

By EMILY WHITELAW

The now famous Clean and Safe Harbours Initiative (CASHI) first came to my attention in May for their (at the time) one-page document outlining a “citizen-proposed bylaw” to regulate harbour use on the island. At the time, there was no author attached to the bylaw, and CASHI was a private shadow organization, with no publicly available motives, leadership or membership.

When I went to the May Local Trust Committee (LTC) town hall meeting to speak about the proposal, trustee Laura Patrick dismissed the citizen-proposed bylaw as a non-issue which would not be considered by the LTC or the Trust in general. Much has changed since then. For one thing, CASHI now has a spokesman, Glenn Stevens, who drafted the now 81-page document presented at the June 22 LTC meeting.

Well, now that the proposal has been presented in full, I can safely say that my initial impressions were well founded, and the cruelty and classism of this organization has far subceeded my initially low expectations. The CASHI proposal reads to me like a manifesto of hatred against an already marginalized demographic. Voyeuristic photos of lived-in vessels in the harbour, an outrageous bylaw proposal, a non-representative online poll deceptively marketed as a reflection of island sentiment, and pages upon pages of Gish-galloping case law, ostensibly meant to justify the questionable right of the Trust to regulate liveaboards at all.

But this proposal is not just an assault on the lives and homes of those living in the harbour, it also presents a threat to the state of bylaw enforcement, and fair and due process on this island. To quote the proposal itself: “to minimize the cost to the Trust for enforcement of the Bylaw, [CASHI is] forming a legally, federally authorized charity” to remove vessels which fail to comply with the bylaw.

Yes, before the bylaw has even reached consideration by the Trust, CASHI plans to form a charity, accountable to nobody but their donors, to act as private bylaw enforcement officers. The proposed bylaw elaborates that “the Salt Spring Island Trust Committee may contract . . . with third persons, including for-profit or non-profit businesses . . . or licensed charities or independent contractors” to enforce the bylaw. They clarify that an “enforcement officer” for the purposes of the bylaw constitutes not just Trust enforcement officers but also any “representatives or agents authorized and under the supervision of an enforcement officer,” and that such “enforcement officers” are “authorized to enter, at any reasonable time upon any lot, vessel or private mooring facility . . . to determine whether the regulations are being observed.”

It seems CASHI wants the Trust to authorize them to engage in privately run bylaw enforcement, whose agents would be empowered to enter any boat on that harbour at any time and, if they deem the boat to be non-compliant, to impound it. This is an unprecedented violation of the privacy and property rights of liveaboards, and speaks to the incredible entitlement of the wealthy and privileged on this island that they believe they should be allowed to run a tax-deductible organization to dispose of the homes of people they find undesirable.

Should the Trust authorize this proposal from CASHI, it would constitute a tremendous abuse of their own power and the power of this private special interest group, as well as a perversion of the process of democracy and good governance.

Everyone on Salt Spring, not just liveaboards, should be deeply concerned about CASHI’s tactics.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Certainly as you frame it, the concept is borderline vigilante in its attempt to perform due diligence to its own bylaw and its enforcement. The Islands Trust ought to distance itself from endorsing such citizen-based policing of such concepts tailored to such subjective nuances regarding a subculture of water dwellers, many of whom have been ‘voted off the island’ by lack of otherwise affordable accommodation. There is probably need for at least one generational period where we cut people some slack regarding the difficulties of finding shelter in a system that should really consider taking food and shelter out of the capitalistic equation. There is plenty of other stuff to capitalize on other than survival-based necessities.

  2. Wow maybe a little over top Emily?
    The “voyeristic” photos are actual photos from Ganges which document the sorry state of our harbours. Asking people to not pollute our waters with raw sewage and trash is hardly a cruel manifesto of hatred, but rather a way to ensure that our fragile marine ecosystems are preserved for all of us to enjoy. What is wrong with asking people to take responsibility for their actions and be accountable if they are not?
    Based on the number of sunken and abandoned boats in the harbour the clean up and its costs will be substantial. When it comes time to pay for the clean up more often than not the owners are nowhere to be found and the taxpayer is on the hook. Why should the already overburdened taxpayer have to cover these costs? At least with this proposal there would be insurance or charitable donations to cover some of these costs.
    Surely you recognize that dumping raw sewage into the harbour is not acceptable anymore than dumping sewage on the street is.
    It’s time to stop grandstanding and work with concerned citizens to find solutions that work.

  3. William, so in your narrative we paint all liveaboards as sewage-dumping garbage-creating people with no right to privacy 🙁

    We ignore the work the Dead Boats Society does and need a draconian, vessel-seizing, citizen-written bylaw and some handy-dandy nimby-funded charity to expedite the process.

    Missing is any clue of how the Trust is not capable of moving with the speed [that some people want them to].

    Missing is any acknowledgement that Salt Spring Island doesn’t dump raw sewage as so many other Canadian cities and towns do. Billions of litres … billions! Cruise ships just getting regulated now!

    How about getting your little “charity” to do the “good” work and leave the bylaw in the cesspit where it belongs?

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