Editor’s note: This is a follow-up letter to the letter, “Squamish camping bylaw is discriminatory,” published May 3, that received dozens of comments online.
Seems my letter regarding the blanket ban on vehicle-camping has caused some stir! I rarely read comments, but being told not to roused my curiosity. The comments ranged from supportive; valid concerns regarding irresponsible campers; to stereotyping and rude.
Some claimed me as an irresponsible camper, entitled, playing the victim, or seeking sympathy. Another said I misused the word discrimination and likely don’t understand the word constitutional. (Yes, socio-economic status doesn’t fall under discrimination. Prejudice would have been more suited.)
Some considered me a ‘freeloader’ and an illegal resident whose child shouldn’t be registered in school because we don’t pay property tax. Hmm. Does paying or not property tax make someone more or less valuable a human? A child less deserving of formal education?
My storage unit and memberships at local businesses cover someone’s property tax, but that’s irrelevant.
Fellow humans, we all care about this place. Open but fair communication is a good start. I believe that the complaints the District receives stem from an unfairly prejudiced mindset as they do the garbage. Considering the amount of discarded poop bags I’ve picked up, gosh, maybe we should kick those irresponsible dogs and their owners out of town too? Of course, I am joking. Gentrification and rising property tax have been driving out long time Squamish residents. This by-law is merely the next step to furthering the gap.
By-law 2679 is worded to directly target everyone who sleeps in a vehicle or tent, rather than the problematic behaviour of irresponsible campers. This blanket ban will have unintended negative consequences for many.
I offer these potential solutions:
*that the by-law text directly target problematic behaviours ie: human waste, rather than a blanket ban on sleeping in a vehicle or tent
*Implement a permit based system
with locations for vehicle-dwellers to stay at night upon Leave No Trace training (a fee to reflect the property size could help cover public infrastructure)
*designated overnight parking
for vehicle dwellers
*more public composting toilets
*establish a system of reporting
dumping that fines offenders
*Leave No Trace certification
rewards positive practices and the “right to roam”
These solutions are inclusive, forward-thinking, and help address irresponsible campers. They don’t however, fix the prejudice. If you oppose this by-law in its current form, please speak up.
Similar by-laws have been overturned for violating the constitutional provision, Section 7 that protects an individual’s right to life, liberty and security of the person.