With larger cities, such as Vancouver and Victoria, putting an increasing emphasis on being pedestrian-friendly, town council is looking at how those same ideas can be incorporated into Lake Cowichan.
Though Mayor Ross Forrest said it will be a long time before residents see dramatic changes such as cycling lanes being installed or parking spaces being turned into outdoor seating, he said he would like to see residents thinking more about walking.
“It’s just my view, but people should be walking more often than driving,” Forrest said. “I’m just as guilty of this myself, though, I drive plenty.”
Moving forward, Forrest said he would like to see council continue to focus more on improving trails and sidewalks rather than roads. On the more practical side of things, Forrest said a project residents could be seeing in the near future is the installation of sidewalks along North Shore Road, one of the town’s main arteries.
“We have trails through the heart of the town, but the business area is isolated to just the main street, which makes it difficult to move forward,” Forrest said. “We have to work from the core out, just as we handled revitalization.”
Forrest said that similar rhetoric was the focus of a recent Initiatives conference in Kamloops, which was attended by local governments from across the province. Although he didn’t find any examples of how other small towns pursued becoming more pedestrian-friendly, he said that he’s already seen some success in Lake Cowichan’s recent past, when the sidewalks along South Shore Road received an improvement.
“It’s definitely made an impact, its safer for people,” Forrest said. “As a town, we’re becoming more physically active, which is great. Our parks are more busy, and I think we’ll see more of that once the weather improves.”