New zone designation introduced to council

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s director of planning is proposing the town implement a brand new zone; Urban Reserve/ Comprehensive Development.

  • Jan. 17, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s director of planning is proposing the town implement a brand new zone; Urban Reserve/ Comprehensive Development.

Director James van Hemert introduced his proposal to the Town of Lake Cowichan’s elected officials during their January 11 meetings, as an information piece for mayor and council to consider for the future.

“It allows you to create a specialized zone district,” van Hemert said, during the meeting.

This new zoning allows for more flexibility in what can be done with the land, he said, and could include detailed planning exercises and public workshops for each individual piece of land, to determine what will be done with it. The focus would be on undeveloped areas.

“The primary, overarching benefit of establishing a Comprehensive Development Zone is that it puts the community in the driver’s seat for designing future development,” van Hemert wrote, in a report to mayor and council. Additional benefits van Hemert cites are;

• It provides an opportunity to bring all stakeholders to the table for discussion of interest and sharing of ideas.

• Provides the ability to obtain community amenities that might not otherwise be offered or considered.

• Provides an opportunity for public/private/nonprofit partnerships.

• Allows for a planned approach that results in a whole that is greater than the sum of previous parts.

This idea is still in its earliest of stages, and will be brought before a newly-formed Advisory Planning Commission some time soon, for consideration in the latest draft of the Official Community Plan, wherein they will decide which, if any, pieces of land in town should be designated under this new zone. Then, council can consider the matter further, deciding upon the specifics of this new zoning.

Town considers the tube business

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s elected officials are considering going into the tube business, though not all councillors have the same enthusiasm for the project.

“I’m not sure why the Town of Lake Cowichan is going into a small business venture,” councillor Jayne Ingram said. “And, can we afford it? Why can’t other people in the town start up a small business?”

Mayor Ross Forrest replied that he’d like to make sure Lake Cowichan retains its tubing tourists, should other businesses in town decide to discontinue their tube rentals.

“Tubing in Lake Cowichan during the summer time is very popular,” Forrest said. “It would be a shame to lose it altogether.”

Another plus to the town owning a tube rental shop would be an added level of control over tubing the river.

Councillor Bob Day suggested that the new tube shop, run by the town or a local business owner, should include things like garbage cans along the river that are emptied daily, in order to ensure the river remains clean.

Should a business person in the community come forward with a business plan, councillor Tim McGonigle encourages the town to not move forward with their business plan.

The possibility of a town-owned tube rental shop will be discussed during future Town of Lake Cowichan meetings, in conjunction with the overall issue of improving/increasing local tourism.

Water park update

The specifics – including a location – of Lake Cowichan’s upcoming water park will be decided during the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Tuesday, January 18, budget meeting.

During mayor and council’s January 11 meetings, the park was discussed, including how much money will be invested into it.

Last summer, the Town of Lake Cowichan received a $12,500 grant from Success By 6 for a water park. During preliminary discussions, mayor and council have committed all of 2011’s $25,000 annual park upgrades funding toward the water park, creating a total budget of $37,500.

In advance of the January 18 meeting, the Town of Lake Cowichan will provide the town’s elected officials with a run-down on what kind of equipment they will be able to afford, and whether or not their preferred location – Duck Pond – is feasible.

Duck Pond is also the choice spot of the recently-formed Centennial Park Society, which consists of volunteer community members who are looking at what should be involved with the upcoming Centennial Park upgrades.

During the January 11 meeting, mayor Ross Forrest reminded council of the importance of following through with the grant.

“We decided a long time ago to apply for this grant,” he said. “There’s nothing worse than sending a grant back.”

• Mayor and council approved of a Lake Cowichan Minor Baseball request to have removable sign boards put up in the little league park.

“It’s just another way of generating revenue for minor baseball,” mayor Ross Forrest said, to unanimous approval.

The boards will be able to be put up and taken down and stored between games.

• The annual town cleanup for Pitch-In Week will be centred around cleaning up the BMX park, this year, council decided, though residents will also be encouraged to clean up whatever other area of town they’d like to.

• In advance of the Lake Days Celebration Society Annual General Meeting, Thursday, January 20, mayor Ross Forrest suggested that they move on things a bit earlier than they did last summer, as they were too late last year to book everything they wanted.

“The sooner we get that stuff, the more likely you get what you’re asking for,” he said.

The Annual General Meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the town’s council chambers on South Shore Road.

• Mayor and council are moving forward on their plans to increase awareness of composting in Lake Cowichan. Information will be posted on the town’s website, mail-outs will be looked into, and other means of educating the public will be considered.

It is, after all, a public buy-in project, councillor Tim McGonigle said.

One common opposition to composting is the fact that bears and other animals are known to get into residents’ compost bins. This isn’t the case if done properly, councillor Jayne Ingram said.

“I’ve never had a bear in my compost,” she said.

Councillor Bob Day requested that a local compost pick-up, wherein all compost is used locally, not be completely taken off the table.

Further discussion on compost will occur during future meetings.

• The Town of Lake Cowichan’s next public meeting will take place May 30 at 7 p.m.

“I think the format we’ve been using works,” councillor Tim McGonigle said.

This format includes a number of discussion points mayor and council encourage the public to provide their input on, in addition to an open discussion of whatever the public is interested in bringing up.

Sheets of paper are available on the walls for those not interested in speaking up in public.

Whereas past meetings were held at Upper Centennial Hall, the May 30 meeting may take place elsewhere.

Mayor and council are currently looking into other options, for a more intimate atmosphere.