The Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society held their monthly meeting at the Legion building on Nov. 10.
President Gerald Thom, vice president Diana Gunderson, secretary Judy Brayden and board members, Parker Jefferson, Jean Atkinson, Lois Atchison, Jayne Ingram, Brooke Hodson, David Kidd and Paul Anderson were all present for the meeting’s proceedings.
Discussions focused on revisiting the 50-year vision of Cowichan Lake, its river and watershed, as well as an update on plans for boater education. Thom and Hodson also presented new information and statistics on water quality and fisheries, as well as a water levels.
The 50-year vision is a proactive approach that mainly focuses on providing clean, safe, pure and publicly owned water and maintaining the heritage status of the river.
The Stewardship Society was in agreement that accomplishing the 50-year vision will be a trying, but achievable task.
“What we’re attempting to do their is provide a very long term vision to protect the lake for future generations so we’re getting a lot of public input to try and come up with a vision which will extend well into the future. The idea is to put forward inniatives now which will protect the lake in the long term,” said Thom.
Currently Lake Cowichan boasts the third cleanest water source in the province of British Columbia’s 70-odd lakes.
“It might be your holiday, but it’s our home,” declared Hodson in the midst of a discussion surrounding how the Stewardship Society would welcome local and visiting boaters to the area this coming spring and summer.
Working alongside the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment, the stewards are looking to promote safe boating practices, as well as responsible water activity behaviour. The Stewardship Society is currently working on welcoming pamphlet which will inform new and old boaters to the area of boating tips and safety practices. The pamphlet will also include instructions on how to effectively report dangerous and reckless boaters to the authorities.
In the meeting’s closing minutes, the Stewardship Society unveiled the new name of the organization’s new mascot, Oxford the Otter. Oxford’s face was recognizable on a number of signs placed near the river last spring to promote safe tubing. The name was conceived by former board member and Lake Cowichan Gazette editor,
Tyler Clarke and the design was illustrated by Steph Davies. Thom plans to get more Oxford signs made to encourage safe boating to be placed by the boat launch in time for this spring.
“We wanted to come up with something that was fun and that appealed to all ages. The success of the signs on the river has let us do next year’s campaign which will let us do boater safety on the lake,” said Thom.
The Stewardship Society is hoping Oxford will help serve as a reminder to visitors and lake-goers that irresponsible and careless water activity behaviour will not be tolerated by the community. Each sign begins with a different letter, forming the acronym R.E.S.P.E.C.T. One sign reads, “Trespassing is taboo,” while another declares, “Relax, enjoy, return your empties.” The signs are clearly meant to be friendly reminders and even incorporate humour into some of their messages and illustrations. Across another sign, the message warns against using the great outdoors as bathroom, reading, “’P,’ but not in our river.”
The signs were sponsored by the Town of Lake Cowichan and will become visible around town in the coming weeks.
The Stewardship Society’s next monthly meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the Legion building.