While the Town of Lake Cowichan offices will be getting a new home in the coming months, changes to the building mean that the Lady of the Lake Society’s float will need to find a new home. Currently the float is stored at the town office.
On Tuesday at the town’s parks, recreation and culture committee meeting, council reviewed a letter from Denise Allan, chairwoman of the Lady of the Lake Society, addressing verbal notice they received that the float would likely need to move some time in July.
“We are hopeful the town has an alternative storage facility for our float, as we know yourself, Mr. Mayor, council members and town staff are huge supporters of Lady of the Lake,” Allan wrote in the letter, which also detailed the float’s history.
The society’s permanent travelling float was built in 1989, and in 2001, the current, portable float was completed and for 12 years was stored at the town’s public works yard before moving to the town office. The float travels with the Lady of the Lake ambassadors to participate in parades in the Cowichan Valley and also as far afield as cities in Washington State.
“Our float has won over 150 ribbons and trophies over the 25 years that it has taken part in parades,” said Allan, noting that it received the 2015 and 2016 Tacoma Daffodil Festival’s Best International Float award.
In their discussion, councillors ultimately decided the responsibility for finding a new location falls to the Lady of the Lake Society, not the town.
“It’s unfortunate that by allowing the storage and use of town property that it would seem that we have to find another opportunity for storage,” said councillor Tim McGonigle.
McGonigle pointed out that the town faced a similar situation when the local boy scout group could no longer be housed at a town facility. Ultimately the scouts moved their meetings to the community hall in Mesachie Lake. McGonigle said he feels that the onus for finding new locations should fall to societies, not town staff or council. He said it would not be possible for the town’s public works yard to be used again for the float.
“Unfortunately at that time there was less infrastructure there than there is currently. There’s a shelter for the garbage truck, so we’re getting impacted there for space,” he said. “I don’t think that is feasible, given that the parades are usually on the weekends and the public works yard is usually locked up on the weekend.”
He also expressed concerns about possible liability issues related to storing the float in that location.
Councillor Carolyne Austin pointed out that the society represents not just Lake Cowichan but the entire Cowichan Lake area.
“We appreciate them and they’re wonderful, but could they not see if there might be something in Youbou or Honeymoon Bay that could accommodate them?” she said.
The committee directed staff to send a response to the Lady of the Lake Society regarding its discussion.
The society declined to comment publicly on the matter until it has received a letter from the town with an update on the current situation.