Wednesday, May 22, 2024
May 22, 2024

Opinion: Blackburn watershed property not appropriate for dog kennel


Regarding Trustees chart course for Salty Dog operation (Dec. 20, 2023 Driftwood):

The Salty Dog operation, now with Islands Trust’s blessing, continues to be an affront to its neighbours and to any resident of Salt Spring who values the environment and respects zoning regulations and adherence to the law, including this dog-loving Blackburn Road resident.

Trustees appear to have been influenced by numerous supporters and by what the Driftwood called “star power,” quoting Raffi Cavoukian saying the Salty Dog location on Blackburn Road is an “essential service” and praising the dedication of its staff. Note that this “star” is the partial owner of the property, which strongly suggests his viewpoint is less than objective (and whose pocketbook, too, would be compromised should compliance with bylaws be required). The property owners obviously did a great job of rustling up enough support to leave only a few dry eyes at the meeting.

This property, zoned primarily Rural Watershed 1, was bought and developed by its owners who had to know full well that it was not zoned for a dog kennel, indeed, as few properties on the island are zoned to allow for a dog kennel — and for good reason (barking, neighbours, environmental concerns, etc.).  

Of course, multiple patrons of the operation attended the trustees’ meeting, no doubt at the behest of Salty Dog’s owners. Some ridiculously pointed out the dangers of the island becoming a regime like the totalitarian Soviet Union and yet others quoting the Magna Carta(!). Neighbours have written to trustees with their objections, as I did, but could not attend the meeting. I also wrongly assumed that trustees would err on the side of enforcement and would not tolerate such a blatant disregard for Islands Trust zoning regulations. These letters, including one of mine, a copy of which was provided to the Driftwood, were not quoted in the Driftwood story. None of these objections were cited in the article.

The property itself has been an eyesore since it was purchased, with owners putting in at least two driveways and cutting swaths of trees, then parking trailers and cars on the property and erecting ugly temporary shelters. 

Almost immediately after the local Trust committee’s discussion just before Christmas, the property benefitted from the Trust’s “suspended enforcement,” becoming even more of an encampment, with at least one additional trailer, at least one more port-a-potty, a camp-like area for burning (a fire pit with surrounding chairs), and additional cars, suggesting multiple inhabitants of the property. It is an eyesore to say the least, with debris, trash and derelict (or close to derelict) trailers and cars that never seem to move — all visible from the road on various areas on the lot.

So, I’d like to build a cottage on my rural acres, and I guess I should just go ahead and do that, despite the fact my property is zoned Rural Watershed 1, as is Salty Dog’s, (and I am therefore technically not allowed to have a secondary dwelling). “Ask forgiveness, not permission” seems to be the rule these days. I bet I could easily find a contingent of supporters to attend a rezoning or temporary use permit application hearing to say I’m a model citizen.   

Oh, and what if I’d then like to become a dog rescue operation? Surely my 10-plus fenced acres (which include a little creek that feeds into Cusheon Lake, a source of drinking water) would be ideal. I’d be providing an essential service (think of all those sweet-faced rescue dogs!) and having the cottage to house helpers would help ease homelessness. I could tug on lots of heartstrings to get it both funded and supported by my dog-loving friends.

Surely my neighbours would understand the barking, the traffic and perhaps a port-a-potty or two, and ignore any riparian or watershed issues regarding a sensitive creek. They’d understand, don’t you think?

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  1. Susan, thank you for this thoughtful comment on the proposed changes to this address on Blackburn/Fulford-Ganges. I had a similar reaction to the supporters’ comments, as these do not address the bigger issues of safety, water supply and quality, among other rationale for the existing zoning at this and other lots.

    As someone who depends on the Cusheon Lake for my water supply, I would like to add the additional concern that the local planners and the proponents of the kennel at this address have failed to note that the lot has a surface and potential subsurface water flow directly to the upper reach of Cusheon Lake (interrupted only by Fulford-Ganges Road).

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Why have rules and regulations if no one has the fortitude to enforce them. The trustees, in particular Laura Patrick, seem to be overly influenced by special interest groups. Enforcement should not be subject to political pressure tactics.
    Why spend resources on creating bylaws if you are not going to enforce them or you are going to pass amendments make them toothless? Why have the Trust at all if they can’t or won’t protect the environment?
    The state of Ganges Harbour is another case in point. Moor anything you want in the harbour, wherever you want, dump your waste and garbage overboard – no problem, according to the Trust.
    Governing means making tough choices and sticking to them, not endless navel gazing and dithering. The Trust in its current state is a waste of time, money and effort.

  3. People who voice an opinion and who sign their initials only, are cowards. This is the great downfall of social media and online messaging. — Susan Monaghan


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