‘Our culture is hitchhiking’: Salt Spring residents protest RCMP crackdown

'Our culture is hitchhiking': Salt Spring residents protest RCMP crackdown

WATCH: A fight is heating up on Salt Spring Island, as RCMP crack down on what locals say is part of the Island’s culture. Skye Ryan reports.

Hitchhiking is so widely accepted as a way to get around on Salt Spring Island, that 14-year-old John Quesnel uses it to get to school and home again.

“My main way of transportation and the buses here aren’t frequent enough,” Quesnel said. 

 Locals say that’s just the way it’s always been.

 Harry Warner has lived there for 28 years.

“I pick up hitchhikers as often as I can because what better way to meet people,” he said.

Then recently locals say they started noticing RCMP making it clear their unusual way of getting around wasn’t going to go on any longer.

“I’ve been told you’re not allowed to that here or you’re not allowed to do that at all. Or not in front of them,” one resident said, who did not want to disclose their name. 

But a large crowd at a protest Monday is sending the RCMP a message that off-Island laws like that don’t apply there.

They rallied ein a public and defiant way Monday along the Island’s busiest road, many with thumbs out the whole time.

Calls to Salt Spring RCMP weren’t returned and they didn’t attend the protest.

The area’s Capital Regional District (CRD) director, Wayne McIntyre,  said the message has been heard loud and clear.

He said locals shouldn’t expect any more problems from RCMP on the matter.

“They don’t openly condone it but there will be no enforcement because it’s a way of life on Salt Spring,” McIntyre said.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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