CLEC manager Dalton Smith stands in front of the construction site at Central Park.

CLEC manager Dalton Smith stands in front of the construction site at Central Park.

Central Park upgrades part of CLEC job creation program

Central Park upgrades include better handicap access to park and washrooms.

A new construction project began earlier this month at Central Park. The new project, which will see several upgrades added to the facilities at the park, is actually part of a job creation program representing an almost annual initiative by the Cowichan Lake Outdoor Education and Conference Centre (CLEC) which is owned and operated by the Town of Lake Cowichan.

The job creation program is funded in part by the town, as well as through federal and provincial grants. The idea of the program is to provide work opportunities for residents of Lake Cowichan and other Lake communities who have found themselves unemployed. Workers are given an opportunity to share their skills and learn from others while improving town-owned lands and facilities. CLEC manager Dalton Smith said that the final cost of labour and wages is expected to total $180,000.

“It’s a federal and provincial program, the people referred to us are people who have received employment insurance up to three years ago,” Smith said. “We’ve been successful in getting the program almost every year.”

Those chosen for the program are typically locals, though Smith said that workers from elsewhere in the Cowichan Valley are sometimes hired if there is a shortage of candidates. The Central Park project is currently employing six labourers and one supervisor, though CLEC is looking for an additional worker.

“These projects never displace town workers, there’s always a surplus [of work],” Smith said. “Though the town comes up with some money, all the labour is free for them except for some public work funds that are used for things like demolition. It’s a win-win for the community.”

The current project will see the washroom facilities at Central Park receiving an update, which will include better handicap accessibility and a more modern aesthetic. New picnic benches are also being created for the park.

Other upgrades made under the banner of the job creation program include the floating walkway and other improvements to Lakeview Park.

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