The third year of my first term as Lake Cowichan’s mayor began as interestingly as the previous two years.
At the first meeting of 2011, Council approved a resolution that required the referral of whether to continue the fluoridation of our water supply to a referendum vote.
This generated discussion from those in favour of and those against water fluoridation. On Nov. 19, 2011 a decisive majority voted to end the fluoridation of the drinking water.
As the year began with the referendum question, the year ends with the Town joining the majority of other B.C. communities who would not be adding fluoride to their drinking water.
2011 was an eventful year that also saw the Vancouver Island Regional Library draw up plans to construct a public library in Lake Cowichan on property donated by the Town. A beautiful facility should soon grace the spot that many knew as the old bowling alley property. The library is part of the effort of this Council to see incremental improvements to enhance our downtown.
The Regional Library representatives have appeared before council to discuss their project — the construction of which is expected to begin in 2012. The library would certainly be a great benefit to the residents of the Cowichan Lake area and visitors to this beautiful town.
As a concept, downtown revitalization has been embraced by this Council, as it has been by the previous councils which had secured funding to undertake a downtown revitalization study in 2005. A bylaw to encourage property owners to make improvements without penalty of increased taxes over a period of 5 years was enacted this year. We would be happy to discuss the merits of this programme with anyone wanting to pursue this program.
Over a number of meetings with officials of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Town has been assured of the upgrading of Cowichan Lake/South Shore Roads stretching from the entrance way to the arena. The Town for its part is undertaking plans to fulfil its obligations so that the entire paving project should see economic benefits to this area.
Sustainable growth is our goal and projects are undertaken with that in mind. The new Official Community Plan, which took a number of years to complete is a document that was entirely produced by the efforts of hard working members of the Advisory Planning Commission. Council was pleased to adopt a truly Lake Cowichan effort.
Council completed Phase 1 of the metering programme in early 2010. Funding has been secured again to complete the metering of the balance of the residential homes. The Province has committed $800,000 in total over the two phases to ensure completion of this programme.
Green projects are the rage of the day.
The Town has undertaken work on its boulevard and green spaces with emphasizes on the use of rain gardens. With provincial funding and in partnership with the School District, a community garden facility has been constructed at Lake Cowichan Secondary School. In conjunction with School District 79, a study on the potential of a neighbourhood learning centre was conducted. The Town and School District officials have met with the Honourable George Abbott, Minister of Education, to emphasize the need for a new elementary school in this area.
Town Council has conducted public meetings quarterly to elicit public input. These are useful gatherings where Council gets the opportunity to hear what is on the minds of its citizens.
The next public meeting is on Jan. 16, 2012 at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Centennial Hall. We encourage you to come out and give us your thoughts on the direction your town should be taking on matters that concern all of us. The Vancouver Island Regional Library representatives and their architects will also be present at this meeting.
-Ross Forrest, Mayor, Town of Lake Cowichan