Work is continuing at a problem property in Lake Cowichan where the owner was told to either fix it up, or tear it down. (Gazette file)

Work is continuing at a problem property in Lake Cowichan where the owner was told to either fix it up, or tear it down. (Gazette file)

Lake Cowichan council briefs: money for projects brought forward to 2018

Centennial Park's 2017 upgrades are finished, but there is still more to do

In a town as small as Lake Cowichan, much of the major work cannot be achieved without grants from various agencies and other levels of government.

In fact, according to a report by town CAO Joe Fernandez, “The Town of Lake Cowichan owns and operates stormwater infrastructure on a shoe string budget. With climate change, the impact on stormwater infrastructure may be real or imagined. In any case, the reality is stormwater infrastructure protects residents from flooding that occasionally rears its ugly head during very heavy rains.”

Town practice has been to use general revenues to fund work to control stormwater and runoff, he said.

“Stormwater service, however, constitutes an essential service and our laissez faire attitude of how we deal with stormwater, given our other priorities, may not be the best approach to take.”

He suggested that dedicating a part of the budget specifically to this job may be one way to go and suggested “it may be appropriate for the town to consider undertaking a feasibility study of how best to approach the issue of funding stormwater infrastructure for the near and long term.”

The town is applying for a grant to pay for such a study.

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Some 2017 capital projects were still incomplete as 2017 ended, so council voted Jan. 9 to bring them forward to 2018.

Figures are estimated at this point and can be changed before the budget is adopted in May, according to Lake Cowichan financial officer Ronnie Gill.

“The new water treatment plant budget was $5.6 million in 2017 but we’ve only spent $1.2 million, so the difference ($4.278 million) is what we propose to move from 2017 to 2018.

“Also there’s the Greendale watermain project, which is currently underway. We’ve only spent about $25,000 of that money so we need to move $744,000 of that to 2018 as well. The last one is the Clec water system upgrade which is estimated at $90,000. The design for that is underway and is partly covered by the 2017 budget but this is what we need to complete in 2018,” she said.

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Centennial Park’s 2017 upgrades are finished, but there is still more to do and the money for them will be taken from the 2018 budget.

These include fencing, mound placement, and more.

Coun. Bob Day said at the Jan. 9 council meeting, “Make sure you consult with minor baseball about their requirements. I just want us to be sure,” he said.

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Work on renovating the Lake Cowichan boat launch has gone as far as it can go — for now.

Exposed rebar needed to be dealt with and new concrete pads had to be placed; some of it has been done but the job is still unfinished.

“That has to wait until the water’s gone down,” Coun. Carolyne Austin said.

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Some seven students from Lake Cowichan School are interested in shadowing Lake Cowichan council to learn about government, according to Coun. Carolyne Austin.

She told her colleagues that she plans to work with them this year, to see if they can get the project underway.

The idea, which councillors have been hoping for years could happen, re-appeared when two LCS students spoke at council about their recent Placemaking projects.

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Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez told councillors Dec. 19 that work at the problem property at 127 North Shore Rd. is continuing.

After the Lake Cowichan fire chief declared the site to be unsafe for his crews, the town declared to the absentee property owner that he had to renovate/repair the place or demolish it, or it would be demolished by the municipality, and he would be billed for the job.

After a meeting with the property owner, council learned that repairs would begin soon, and they have done. However, after the work is completed, it still has to be declared safe for occupancy.

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Coun. Lorna Vomacka said, in reporting on the Lake Cowichan public library, that the Cowichan Lake Arts Council has been offering workshops there and plans to continue in the future, looking at music as well as artwork.

“It’s not just books at the library,” she said, explaining how she had attended a workshop that showed participants how to make beautiful Christmas ornaments by folding fabric around a ball and pinning it. Her example has been so popular that she’s now demonstrating it to people who come into her store.

Vomacka also told her colleagues that Georgina Livingstone, who is now hereditary chief of the Lake Cowichan First Nation, will be presenting four talks about First Nations heritage and customs at the library in the new year.

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The Cowichan Lake Elder Care Initiative, which has been reviewing potential partnerships, is looking forward to further talks with Lake Cowichan First Nation about the possibility of a facility being constructed in the area, according to Coun. Bob Day.

There was so much interest from the public at the recent town meeting, when the band made a presentation about its plans for the future, and the possibility that they could include seniors housing, and even assisted living, that a partnership is a clear possibility.

Another factor in the situation is that the Lake Cowichan First Nation, now governed by a Land Code system, has different powers on zoning its land than a municipality, Day explained.

Lake Cowichan Gazette