Residents and visitors arriving at the lake via Highway 18 are no longer greeted by the Cowichan Lake sign with two wooden bears.

Sign removal catches some off-guard

Residents and visitors arriving at the Lake via Highway 18 last week were likely surprised to find the decades-old welcome

Residents and visitors arriving at the Lake via Highway 18 last week were likely surprised to find the decades-old welcome sign is gone.

Although the announcement was made by council months ago, the change still caught some by surprise. The large wooden sign read “The Cowichan Lake Area,” poised above another sign reading “WELCOME” surrounded by the names of the four lake communities: Lake Cowichan, Mesachie Lake, Honeymoon Bay and Youbou.

The wood the sign was built with had deteriorated to the point it could not be repaired, and consequently the town began a process to create a new one in its place. The task was given to the town’s advisory planning committee, which oversaw the design of a new sign.

The new sign will match the town’s ongoing signage and wayfinding initiative elsewhere, and will be made with the same black, powder-coated aluminum material as the signs at the library and Saywell Park.

Demolition of the sign was originally slated for after Sunfest, however, first the contractor and then the town’s superintendent of public works and engineering services went on holidays in August.

“We also had to do a hazmat assessment on it as well. That delayed things,” said chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez at the Sept. 13 finance and administration committee meeting.

The new structure (including the base of the sign) will be roughly 46 feet wide and 17 feet tall so that it can be viewed by drivers arriving at 80 km/h, with the phrase “Welcome to the Town of Lake Cowichan” at eye-level. Beneath will be the slogan “A Vibrant Community A Valued Environment,” a phrase derived from the vision statement in the town’s official community plan.

“What we wanted was to have what we felt was the essence of that statement incorporated into the sign,” APC chairman Ross Fitzgerald told the Gazette in July.

The new sign, which will cost approximately $45,000, is being paid for exclusively by the Town of Lake Cowichan, which is why none of the other Lake communities’ names are being included.