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CVRD looking for public input on new respectful places bylaw

Cowichan Valley Citizen - 6/6/2024

The Cowichan Valley Regional District is looking for input from the public in its plans to create a Respectful Spaces Bylaw.

The initiative comes on the heels of recent inappropriate behaviours by people that have been experienced at numerous CVRD service locations, such as recreation facilities, Bings Creek Solid Waste Management Complex, and the Ingram Street head office.

The new bylaw is intended to ensure public spaces within the regional district are free of harassment, bullying, intimidation, violence and discrimination.

It is anticipated that this bylaw would also seek to prohibit, regulate, and impose requirements in relation to inappropriate and/or nuisance behaviours.

Many communities across the country are dealing with similar social issues in public spaces, and the Municipality of North Cowichan and Town of Ladysmith are two jurisdictions within the CVRD that currently have policies or bylaws to address them.

A report from Rob Williams, manager of the Cowichan Community Centre, that was discussed at a committee of the whole meeting last month said that staff also feel it's important that penalties, like suspensions and/or fines, be imposed on those who don't comply with the bylaw, but the nature and extent of the penalties have yet to be determined.

"It is imperative that we take a formal approach to addressing some of the recent incidents in our public spaces, and provide necessary mechanisms to better resolve future instances of inappropriate behavior," said Aaron Stone, chair of the CVRD board of directors.

"However, before adopting and implementing the bylaw, we want to ensure that residents have input. This is an opportunity to shape a potential bylaw so that it's reflective of community concern and provides for a safe and welcoming environment for all."

The CVRD is encouraging people to fill out a short survey on the proposed bylaw through its Plan Your Cowichan engagement website.

The survey is now open and will be available until June 30.

To participate in the Respectful Space Bylaw survey, please visit www.planyourcowichan.ca/respectful-spaces-bylaw.