The Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) is now in negotiations with TimberWest to complete the necessary legal work before construction can begin on the Youbou truck wash, says Youbou director Pat Weaver.
“[TimberWest] promised me that the truck wash could be up in running in six weeks, but obviously to protect the people of Area I and the CVRD, it has to go through all the legal parameters,” says Weaver. “I’m hoping it will be done by September because right now, we are living through the worst of it.”
The Youbou area has been struggling with dust and mud carried from the gravel road surrounding Lake Cowichan since the closure of the Youbou sawmill in 2000, but the issue has become much more severe over the last eight years, says Weaver.
The decision of contributing $5,000 from the Area I Nature and Habitat Fund to TimberWest’s $115,000 truck wash has not been popular with some Area I residents, but Weaver believes it’s the best way to cure the problem.
“I’ve talked to other area directors to get a little more insight on this, and they all told me that if someone offered up $5,000, and that’s all it would take to have a solution to the problem, they would have taken it,” says Weaver. “The issue will not completely go away with the truck wash; there are a lot of people that use the road, but hopefully this will get rid of the major issue.”
Those opposed to what they believe is inappropriate spending of the Nature and Habitat Funds money agree that a truck wash is necessary for Area I but feel this is not the way to get it.
“[TimberWest] should be paying the money; this is their problem. The cars aren’t going into the truck wash, the trucks are — it’s the cost of doing business, “says Clare Attwell, a member of the Creekside Resident’s Association. “They are going onto public roads, and they have to deal with their trucks before they enter public roads. The fact that the public has to bail out a company is ridiculous.”
Gerald Thom, president of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, says information about environmental impacts caused from dust and mud runoff is unclear.
“I believe that it causes damage. Historically, the dust has always been there, and in some areas where we sampled, some of the most productive fish habitat around the lakeshore was found adjacent to the logging road, but silt in the water does impact the gills of fish,” says Thom. “I don’t think it’s totally clear if there is serious environmental impact, but there’s definitely a human health impact in the town of Youbou.”