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Council contemplates pay parking for Saywell

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s economic and sustainable development committee has asked town staff to investigate the potential costs
Parking in downtown Lake Cowichan may not be an issue in the winter but growing summertime demand has prompted the town to investigate the cost of implementing pay parking at Saywell Park.

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s economic and sustainable development committee has asked town staff to investigate the potential costs associated with pay parking or other measures to control the length of time vehicles can use Saywell Park’s parking lot.

“In the summertime at Saywell Park and the downtown area…people are going tubing for three, four hours, they’re parking their cars and tying up all the parking spots and people can’t get into the businesses,” mayor Ross Forrest told the committee.

“I don’t want to see Lake Cowichan become a town where you have to pay for parking, but I think we have to for long-term parking, anything over two hours or something like that. There’s got to be a cost for it.”

Forrest expressed an interest in speaking with other communities of comparable size who have instituted parking controls.

“It doesn’t for us necessarily have to be all year,” he added.

Jim Humphrey, president of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, echoed the mayor’s comments about a need for some parking policy change at Saywell Park.

“There are other businesses there that rely on people parking,” he said. “I know the chamber of commerce, we welcome working with the town to find a solution that’s going to benefit everybody.”

Humphrey said he doesn’t think parking is a big issue for businesses in other parts of the town. Like Forrest, he pointed to the summer influx of people going tubing on the Cowichan River as the main source of parking challenges at Saywell Park.

“I think the tubing companies, rather than just come in and open a door with tubes, they need to take some responsibly of getting their customers to the river they rely on without taking all the parking of everybody else,” he said.

Aaron Frisby is the owner/operator of the Tube Shack, one of the local tubing businesses whose customers use Saywell Park for parking, and during his five years with the company has only received one complaint from a local business regarding the impact tubers have on area parking.

“To be honest I think most of the businesses around there really do benefit from the tubing crowd,” he said.

He said the town has not been contact with him about Saywell Park parking issues.

“I think it’s a good idea for the city to look for ways to benefit off the tubers. How the town can actually financially benefit from tubers coming to town,” he said, with regards to the town’s interest in researching new parking models for that area.

“I wouldn’t like to see tubers getting scared off because of parking,” he added.

Frisby estimated that his business accounts for approximately a third of tubers coming to Lake Cowichan. The Tube Shack operates from July to September.