EDITORIAL: Roundabout is no place for protesting

We say: Officials need to quickly quell those using the roundabout as a soapbox for protesting

The site of a handful of protesters in the middle of the under-construction Brownsey Boulevard roundup last week should give municipal officials pause to reflect.

District councillors in a recent News Mirror story mulled on what they would like to see to beautify this section of the town centre. We don’t believe this is what they had in mind.

This mindless protest began Tuesday with a protester with a tent and his dog. By last weekend the protest has grown and town folk were scratching their heads.

Coun. Brenda Parkinson brought the issue to the council table last week only to be told the Mounties would look after it.

The Mounties say they talked to the man and he promised to leave – soon. When approached again on Friday, this time by municipal staff, he packed his bags and left announcing that his point was made.

He returned on the weekend.

We don’t have any problems with a person or group’s right to protest peacefully, but there are other issues here.

No. 1, of course, is roadside safety. There is none. This is akin to protest on the middle of the road. It’s a tragedy waiting to happen.

And once the precedent has been set (and it has now), you open the door to more and more protests, longer protests and possibly a tent city. Just ask Victoria what happens when you let squatters stay and create a home in your city core – they’re almost impossible to get rid of without a long, legal struggle.

The sad part in Sooke’s situation is that there are already mechanisms in place to end these protest activities quickly.

The municipality has several bylaws in place, including its sign bylaw, and the police need to look only as far as the provincial Highways Act.

If officials are unwilling to act on the roundabout rebels, maybe just rename it to Squatters Roundsie.