The Cowichan Valley Regional District has some potentially good news for both Cowichan Lake area residents and the environment.
After some back-and-forths during a Regional Services Committee meeting last month, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) finally passed the inclusion of the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s ecologically-friendly parking lot for gas tax funding, during their Wednesday, April 13, meeting.
The CVRD approved the project’s full $367,000 requested, of its $500,000 total projected cost.
But don’t think this means the funds are now guaranteed.
“I’m glad it did get included,” Youbou/Meade Creek area director Klaus Kuhn said. “We’re still not clear, though. It still needs to be approved by the UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) and the government.”
Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission Chair Sheila McFarlane said that they’re waiting to put out tenders until the money has been 100 per cent guaranteed.
“We want to wait until the money is in our system,” she said, adding that she’s thrilled the CVRD ultimately decided in their favour.
There was a fair amount of controversy over the item, as it was initially included in a list of suggested items.
Then, the UBCM tweaked its criteria, requiring that a working group made up of municipal employees create a list of suggested items. The Cowichan Lake Sports Arena parking lot was not included in that list of items.
During last month’s Regional Services Committee Meeting, the Cowichan Lake area’s three elected CVRD board members voiced their concerns about the parking lot’s inclusion, in that Cowichan Lake Recreation had already spent money for an architect to draw up plans for the parking lot, thinking that they were already guaranteed the money.
The working group, of which the Lake Cowichan component was made up of the town’s chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez and Public Works superintendent Nagi Rizk, then worked on fitting the parking lot into the allotted budget of $4,134,974.
As a result of tweaking the budget, a few items will receive less funding than initially expected, including Cowichan Lake’s other item on the list; the Town of Lake Cowichan wastewater plant upgrades. The wastewater plant will now receive $350,000, versus the initially hoped for $380,724.
“We’re quite happy that democracy prevailed,” McFarlane said.
The parking lot is part of the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s recent overhaul, though the funds were never part of the overall $7.6 million upgrade budget. The funds for Cowichan Lake Recreation’s share of costs come from a reserve fund and a parking lot fund that had been accumulated over the years.
Should the parking lot funding be approved at the end of the line, the entire parking lot around the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena will be paved in an ecologically-friendly manner that catches vehicle fluids, such as oil, before it hits the storm drains.
“If we get this parking lot done, it’s not only going to help the habitat, but it’s going to be a showcase piece, where people can see the interesting thing that can be done with a mundane project,” Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls area director Ian Morrison said.
Should the funds not come in, Cowichan Lake Recreation has enough money to pave the front section of the parking lot, using conventional methods.