Westward Independent

The Slow Creep To Censorship- All levels of Government

by Westward Independent
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At the CVRD meeting May 1st, there was discussion about adding a fine of $50k for undefined “extreme” circumstances where people do not report to the altering of their buildings on their land.

They also added more divisions within the CVRD that can impose these fines besides just the Bylaw department, and impose the fines as daily fines. The new fine was created by an outside lawyer according to Rob Harris (Bylaw). COAP Inc. went to speak on this matter and was stopped halfway through, as many reports of harassment by CVRD to the Westward Independent, were somehow deemed false by the Chair. 

Excerpts from the speech to the CVRD began: “Hello Chair and Directors. I see a pattern here throughout the region, over and over again – this pattern is one of punishment towards regular folks, just trying to make a life in the Valley. Currently there are more restrictions over people’ property than ever before in history. In fact, it would have been preferable to have been ruled over by lords and ladies in the past than by current bureaucrats.”  “It seems citizens are infantilized by local and senior governments to the extreme these days, behaving as if people in offices know more about, or care more about, the land of the people who own it and tend to it”. “ I do not see any wording stating that there would be warnings, or dialogue between the landowner and the CVRD before they are slapped with this astronomical fee, and what is the fee based on? Completely unclear. I speak to so many people that have been harassed by the CVRD on their land that they live in fear.” 

That is when Chair Morrison stopped the speech, with a seemingly semi-aggressive tone, by stating “Excuse me, I am 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, it may be your opinion, but that language is unacceptable”. At which time the COAP speaker stated “Well I do interview people so – ” and then was allowed to continue speaking.  

Further to this speech, another member of the community got up and spoke from his heart about how his situation with the CVRD and his neighbour was “ruining his life”, to which he was also asked to not use the phrase – destroying his life, or ruining his life, by Chair Morrison. 

Are we looking at what the CVRD’s “safe spaces” Bylaws will look like for public engagement? The Westward Independent has in fact interviewed MANY people who describe their interactions with the CVRD and North Cowichan Bylaw officers as harassment, so much so that many stories that have been written in the paper from the mouths of locals had to be placed anonymously as the tellers of these stories feared retribution. There are many interactions that have been really great with Bylaw officers as well, however, that does not mean that others’ lived experiences are to be denied and called an “opinion”. 

Recently another speaker at North Cowichan, known for calmly singing a few lines from songs relevant to the topic at hand,  was told their way of expressing their thoughts during public input was ‘not appropriate’ . The City of Duncan has their comments turned off on their ‘scramble crosswalk’ post. Canadians can not share news on social media platforms. North Cowichan looks to shorten the public question period. The Mayor of North Cowichan has stated that public input regarding opposition to ‘climate’ policies would not be regarded, and anyone opposed may just vote in the next election. What are we seeing happening in our communities as people are starting to become more aware and engaged?


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