Lake Cowichan RCMP members are gearing up for another summer crackdown, similar to last year’s.
“The main part of seasonal policing is on the water,” Shawnigan Lake RCMP Sgt. Rob Webb said, during a Wednesday, March 23, CVRD meeting.
With Lake Cowichan Cpl. Dave Voller away on vacation, Webb represented both areas, during the meeting. With similar situations, in that both Shawnigan Lake and Cowichan Lake flood with water-loving tourists during the summer, Webb talked to the importance of seasonal policing.
“Your support with us the last few years have helped us in combatting our pressure on the water,” he said.
Last year, the RCMP budget allotted $9,000 extra dollars for the Lake Cowichan RCMP Department’s seasonal policing, while the CVRD budgeted $10,000.
Having experienced RCMP presence on the Cowichan River first-hand, North Cowichan CVRD alternate Ruth Hartmann said that she knows how seeing police on the river makes for a safer-feeling atmosphere.
Hartmann was pulled over by a police officer while kayaking on the Cowichan River, who asked if she had been drinking.
“Complaints within Lake Cowichan have reduced significantly,” Town of Lake Cowichan board member Tim McGonigle said.
“It’s more of education than anything else.”
McGonigle cited a river signage contest the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society is currently piecing together, with the group incorporating phrases beginning with letters in the word “Respect.”
Fielding a question from an elected official, Webb stated that last year’s seasonal policing surplus will go forward toward 2011’s budget.
Lake Cowichan’s seasonal policing surplus from 2010 was $6,531.
Contacted after the meeting, Lake Cowichan RCMP Sgt. Warren Potter said that plans for this year’s seasonal policing are similar to last year’s, complete with an early crackdown in order to establish a police presence in the area.
“That’s what our plan is, with so many hours allotted in overtime,” he said.
Their approach, he added, will depend upon weather. Their early crackdown will likely take place on the lake, though depending on the number of tubers, it may also take place on the river.
“We plan to do the same thing as last time. It served to quell the problem,” he said.
These overtime hours are made up using a combination of RCMP and CVRD-provided funds. Last year saw local police spend 98.5 hours on Cowichan Lake boat patrols.
They also sent out three members to help operate a check stop with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in August, as well as patrol the river on foot. Additional time was allotted for the May long weekend and high school graduation.
There were also four boat patrols on the Cowichan River.
During one crackdown on tubers last August, over 700 bottles and cans of alcohol were confiscated; mainly from people in Saywell Park.
“Last year, complaints were down,” Potter said, crediting such blitzes with deterring subsequent bad behaviour in the area.
Within the next couple weeks, the Lake Cowichan RCMP plans on purchasing a second all-terrain-vehicle in order to patrol areas that vehicles can not reach.
The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society river signage contest McGonigle mentioned during the CVRD meeting has a deadline of Sunday, April 10, with prizes awarded to those who select the best slogans.
More information on the contest can be found online, at www.cowichan-lake-stewards.ca.