A regular council meeting of the Town of Lake Cowichan was held on March 26 in the council chambers. Councillor Tim McGonigle did not attend the meeting.
After the approval of the agenda, the meeting began with a discussion about the event sign at the “Y” entrance to Lake Cowichan. At present, there is only one location for such signs, and the issue involved determining the time-length each event can have its sign up, how far in advance an event can have its sign on display, and also whether an alternative location could be considered for a second sign in the town.
The whole issue caused some rumbling between two councillors — Jayne Ingram and Bob Day — who each form the backbone of two popular town events — Ingram for Heritage Days and Day for the Lake Days — and who are each vying for sign time around the same dates as both events fall within only two or three weeks of each other.
“Everybody wants to use these signs,” Mayor Ross Forrest said about the issue, “and all events are equally important to our community. So I think we have to take that into consideration when deciding how long they could be on there, as long as there is not another event.”
The mayor and council are looking at acquiring Town apparel for public appearances. The subject was discussed at the last Finance and Administration Committee meeting March 12, with the suggestion being that jackets or vests are fairly common-place for municipal dignitaries at occasions such as the Union of B.C. Municipalities meetings or the like.
At that same meeting, the committee approved the town’s participation in the AddressBC program, a point-based civic address registry for the province. On its website, AddressBC claims to improve access to address locations in areas such as customer service or emergency planning, and is particularly useful in rural areas.
The town had also investigated applying for the designation of resort municipality. At the March 12 meeting, information was relayed that at this stage, resort designation in B.C. is limited to “mountain” municipalities.
“We just wanted to see if that designation can be extended to other tourist destinations,” commented Chief Financial Advisor Joseph Fernandez. “So far, there has been no response.”
For the committee report on the Chamber of Commerce, Ingram announced some exciting Chamber news: the Print Spot’s Lillian Laird is one of two finalists to be nominated as “Young Entrepreneur of the year” at the Black Tie Awards, hosted by the Duncan Chamber of Commerce, April 11.
The city has been looking into the purchase of a rescue truck for the town’s fire department and have decided to go with Intercontinental Truck Body’s bid, the lowest of four proposals, which comes in at just under $350,000 before taxes. Fernandez says the town will be issuing the order as of April 1, and that the purchase is to be financed by borrowing $200,000 that is to be repaid over five years, with the balance to come out of reserves.
Bylaw No. 927-2013 (Water regulations and rates) and No. 928-2013 (Sewer regulations and rates) were brought to the attention of council by Fernandez. He explained the change in the first bylaw from that of 2012 includes a section on the town’s new water meters; the change in the second bylaw applies to Schedule A.
The subject of the town’s new water meters was raised during the public question period by Lake Cowichan resident David Ridley. Ridley suggested that there was some confusion among many residents about how the new system works.
Forrest replied that at the town’s next public meeting, May 26, residents would be able to bring their questions and concerns. He also added that if anyone has questions on the water meter issue, they can come into the town’s office in person.
After all the items on the agenda had been covered, perhaps the biggest news to come out of the meeting was the renovations planned for the town hall, to be undertaken sometime in 2013 Forrest said.
The news came about during the public question period when Ridley, who was asking questions on the water meter (above), mentioned that it was very difficult to hear the discussions between the mayor, council and staff at its monthly meetings.
“It is virtually impossible to hear all of you,” said Ridley. “Maybe one solution is to change the table set-up so that council is facing the audience.”
“We’ve had many discussions about this,” said Forrest. “And rather than purchase new tables, we have some plans for this council chamber in the very near future.”
Coun. Day then gave some financial figures about the proposed renovations:
“The town council and parks council has put away $50,000 a year for approximately eight years towards the recreation of a new or rather revitalized town hall,” he confirmed.
“We also recognize that we are dealing with the appearance of some of the buildings in town, and our building is aging,” Forrest said, to clarify the issue. “So, money has been set aside to renovate this building, including the outside of the building, and it could start as soon as this year.”
(For any residents of the town who have never attended a meeting in the council chambers, the mayor, council and staff are all seated around one table. Whomever is chairing the meeting sits at the head of the table, facing the pubic, while the other six or seven participants sit facing each other on either side of the table. As a result, councillors are either talking across the table or directly in the opposite direction from the public area, directing their comments toward the mayor or chair of that meeting.)