A recent letter to the editor regarding alleged “non-upkeep” of a local trail prompted a detailed discussion at the town hall last week.
That discussion came about at the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Cowichan Lake Education Centre, Lakeview and Fire Department Committee meeting last Tuesday after a letter was written to the Gazette by Gail Sprung, owner of Nature Walk Bed and Breakfast.
In the letter, Sprung discussed the trail which leads up to the floating walkway at Lakeview Park Beach.
“I was appalled at the non-upkeep of the trail, the peeling of the park benches on the floating walkway. Now I am ashamed to direct [my visitors] onto what could be a lovely walk,” wrote Sprung. “Who, why or what stops this town from sprucing it up for tourists. They are the ones that bring revenue to this town. It’s a disgrace to see those benches with peeling paint.”
But according to CLEC and Lakeview manager Dalton Smith, Lakeview Park is kept in good condition and very few complaints are received about it and its nearby surroundings and amenities.
“Lakeview Park and the beach is probably the busiest park that we have in the Town of Lake Cowichan,” said Smith. “We have five to six people maintaining it to a high standard up to 20 hours a day. Unfortunately we can’t go to the standards of Gordon Bay Provincial Park.
“Every half hour, somebody cleans the washrooms. The beach and the grass is kept clean. We’ve just ordered five new loads of sand which we budgeted for as it’s what we can afford. Lots of people use the walkways and that letter is the first complaint we have had in a very long time but it just keeps us on our toes.”
Smith says that there are some hazards along the trail in question but parts of that trail were closed down to prevent safety concerns.
“A couple of trees go over it and are in a bad position so the industries looked at it in the spring and we closed them down. We knew that trail couldn’t be wheelchair accessible when we built it. Everything can’t be that. It is all under control anyway.”
Coun. Jayne Ingram asked Smith how soon work could be done to tidy up the benches.
“Tourism increased this year so perhaps the benches should be fixed at the start of spring to look nice for the people visiting us. Maybe this could be added to public works’ list,” she said.
Smith remained defiant.
“One man recently told me that he’s not bothered by a little bit of paint peeling on a bench, he’s just glad it’s there. But we do want this upgraded too and we are on top of it.”
Mayor Ross Forrest believes that sometimes expectations are too high on smaller trails when situated close to bigger trails and parks.
“The Trans Canada Trail is 10 feet wide and you can walk three dogs along it. Maybe expectations are too high for wilderness trails,” said the mayor. “We have to have an inventory for these trails. They are kept to a standard.”
Smith agreed with the mayor.
“New signage is coming and it should be better,” he said. “It already says use at your own risk on the waterfront walkway. This is only the second comment I’ve had about that trail in a very long time that is negative. We can’t overreact to this, although I am not going on the defensive here.”
Coun. Bob Day, who chaired the meeting, said beach upgrades will come about but it may take time.
“We have talked about upgrading the beach facilities there,” said Day. “It will take money and it will take time. My question is do we have the budget to keep maintaining the walkway? It might need $10,000 over the next five years as standards are going up.”
Smith tried to look on the bright side.
“The walkway is built like a tank and has cost is very little in maintenance, pretty much nothing,” he said. “Nevertheless we have noticed something that may cost us several thousand dollars come the spring.”