Westward Independent

Cowichan Valley’s “Safe Spaces”: Censorship Masquerading as Civility?

by Joseph Enslow
1 comment

Cowichan Valley’s “Safe Spaces”: Censorship Masquerading as Civility?

In a turn of events that feels ripped from the pages of a dystopian playbook, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) has instituted what they dub a “safe spaces” bylaw, ostensibly to foster respectful dialogue. However, the recent Electoral Area Services Committee Meeting on May 1, 2024, revealed that this bylaw might be less about safety and more about silencing dissent.

Adrienne, co-founder of WWIND, found herself at the sharp end of this new policy when she dared to voice the concerns of those who feel harassed by the CVRD on their own land. Her statement, “I speak to so many that have been harassed by the CVRD on their lands that they live in fear…,” was met not with consideration, but with interruption. Director and Chair, Ian Morrison, was quick to shut her down, claiming, “Excuse me, I’m going to ask you to stop. Your language is so close to being over the line. Could you please moderate your language. Our staff do not harass people. That may be your opinion, but that language is unacceptable.”

This incident casts a stark light on the true nature of the so-called “safe spaces” being created by the CVRD. It seems that these spaces are designed not to encourage open communication but to enforce a sanitized version of it, where only comments that do not disturb the comfortable narrative entertained by the directors are permitted.

What does it mean for community engagement when a resident cannot relay the experiences and sentiments of their neighbours without being censored? The implication is chilling: the CVRD’s approach to public input is becoming so restrictive that it threatens the fundamental democratic principle of free speech.

The directors’ interpretation of a “safe space” appears to be an arena where criticism is deflected and genuine community concerns are dismissed under the guise of maintaining civility. This raises critical questions about the future of public discourse in Cowichan Valley. Are the directors seeking engagement, or are they imposing a gag order on uncomfortable truths?

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1 comment

Jordan W May 5, 2024 - 10:06 pm

The response to such a comment by their “Director and Chair Ian Morrison” is to use their own language: Harassment is a lived experience, and being in a purported safe space, a woman is free to express what we feel without his unwanted mansplaining.

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