Cara Smith shows off some of the produce the Cowichan Lake Community Garden is donating to the local food bank this week. Smith thanked local ball players for their offers to help out the community garden as best they can. The garden is slated for relocation later this year to make room for park upgrades

Cara Smith shows off some of the produce the Cowichan Lake Community Garden is donating to the local food bank this week. Smith thanked local ball players for their offers to help out the community garden as best they can. The garden is slated for relocation later this year to make room for park upgrades

Lake Cowichan ball club pledges support for community garden

Although the Cowichan Lake Community Garden has yet to settle on a new location

Although the Cowichan Lake Community Garden has yet to settle on a new location, baseball and softball players from throughout the area are pledging to assist the gardeners during this transition period.

At the town’s Aug. 2 parks, recreation and culture committee meeting, Michelle Davis of the Lake Cowichan Slo-pitch League made a presentation to council highlighting the popularity of ball in Lake Cowichan and the importance of the planned Centennial Park developments. The meeting was packed with an audience represented predominantly by members of the ball community although there was also a contingent of garden supporters.

“We’re at this meeting tonight to show support for the current project as has been planned for the past five years and to ask council to continue with the current timeline so as not to be in jeopardy of losing the much-needed grants to bring this project to completion,” Davis said during her presentation. “This popular sport is much in need of a facility with more than one playing field and lights to enable evening games and double-headers.”

The Lake Cowichan Slo-Pitch League is over 35 years old and currently has 10 teams and 180 members, ranging in age from 16 to 60.

Davis said it would be a mistake to interpret a lack of use at Centennial Park as a lack of interest in or support for the sport. The poor conditions of the grounds have made playing there impossible, pushing the league to use CVRD fields in Mesachie Lake and Youbou.

Following Davis’ presentation, council discussed a report about the community garden’s relocation by the town’s contract planner James van Hemert in which he recommended the garden be moved to one of three possible locations: Cowichan Park (west of the tennis courts on Cowichan Avenue), the Lake Cowichan School site or in the grassy park adjacent the Cowichan Lake Marina parking lot.

Councillor Bob Day apologized for the situation the garden now finds itself in and said the town never should have provided them that space.

“I’ve got to say if nobody else wants to admit it: we made a mistake. We didn’t work from a survey drawing, we worked from a concept drawing,” he said. “I’ll take blame for that because I advocated for that spot on behalf of that group because that was the spot they felt was best.”

Day asked why the town can’t phone the Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program (which is providing the grant for Centennial Park’s upgrades) and request a slight change to the project plans, allowing a 20-space parking lot to be replaced by the community garden.

He also asked that council make time before next year’s budget to explore the possibility of repaying some of the $24,000 in grant funding the community used in its early stages of development.

Chief administrative office Joseph Fernandez said he did not think the Canada 150 grant would be approved if the town made a request to change the project’s design.

Mayor Ross Forrest expressed frustration about a series of angry emails he’d received from garden supporters.

“I’m quite concerned about this. I’m also a little disappointed that it’s got to this stage, because when we allowed the community garden to go to Centennial Park they knew there was a possibility they’d have to move if we got the grant,” he said.

Forrest said he was also disappointed by the amount of water the community garden has been using, which he said was approximately three times that of an average household’s monthly water usage.

During the public questions portion of the evening, several members of the Lake Cowichan Slo-Pitch League offered to help the community garden during its transition to a new location.

“What if a few of us volunteered and helped to move the community garden?” asked league president Ryan Rai.

Michelle Davis was another of the ball park supporters who voiced a desire to work collaboratively with the community garden.

“We do have money in our account that possibly we could make a recommendation to donate money as well, whether it go to the field or the moving of the community garden,” she said.

Cara Smith, spokeswoman for the community garden, did address some of council’s comments during the question portion of the meeting. She said the garden group tried to keep track of the water usage, but because it was being read manually they weren’t always able to find out what the water usage was.

In a message posted later that night to the Cowichan Lake Community Garden’s Facebook page, Smith said she felt she had made an error in judgement during the site selection process.

“Many people did not become involved with the garden until after the site choice had been made… so their anger and disbelief when they first heard the sad news is understandable,” she wrote.

Smith also acknowledged the presence of the slo-pitch league at the meeting and said while some garden supporters have expressed concerns the new field will be under-used, she is convinced that will not be the case.

“The ball players generously offered to help us get through the next step in whatever ways they can, it is amazing to me how well the people in the Cowichan Lake communities support each other.”

Since the Aug. 2 meeting, Smith said other possible locations for the garden have been identified by the town and community garden.

Town staff have also drafted a set of guidelines for community garden use on town lands. As of press time, it has yet to be voted on by council.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Possible COVID-19 exposures were reported at Maple Bay Elementary between April 12 and 15. (Google Maps screenshot)
Possible COVID-19 exposure reported at Maple Bay Elementary

Exposures may have occurred between April 12 and 15

”It was an angry welcome for Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Jan Pullinger when she arrived in Lake Cowichan Monday to open her constituency office. She was greeted with some of her long time supporters calling her a ‘liar’. Left to right, Jan Pullinger, Director of Area I, Lois Gage, school trustee Rolli Gunderson, school trustee Pat Weaver, Save our School Committee Chairperson, Tara Daly.” (Lake News/April 17,1996)
Flashback: Garbage, geography and tragedy

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Parking permits for people with disabilities

These permits are issued to the person, not the vehicle owner or driver.

Dr. Bernhardt’s freshly planted strawberries. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Hoping for a bumper crop of strawberries

Because our new plot gets a lot of sun, maybe strawberries won’t become consumed by wood bugs

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

(Black Press file photo).
UPDATED: Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Most Read