There was another full house at the Town of Lake Cowichan Parks, Recreation and Culture committee meeting on Tuesday, March 5 when two delegations and many of their supporters for equal access to the aquatic centre in Duncan were heard by council.
Margaret Davis was the first to speak during the open-floor segment of the meeting, reading a speech that started with asking council to reconsider the issue of access to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
“I believe it takes real courage to run for office, but that it takes even more courage to make decisions based on what is best for everyone and is what is best for the community as a whole,” she says.
“The two-tier system of admission to the pool has had a rocky and controversial history. Personally I think North Cowichan councilors showed really poor judgement in setting it up in the first place, but as the saying goes that was then and this is now. I think everyone needs to let go of the past and look at the current reality. When we elect people to office we want them to listen to those who elected them and to represent our best interests.
“Last week the Lake Cowichan Gazette ran a little survey on their Facebook page, their question, should the Town of Lake Cowichan opt into the proposed 3-year-deal where each tax-paying household would pay about $4 per year allowing area residents equal access to the Duncan Aquatic Centre? The result was that 91% of the people who answered the question said yes.
“So my request is, given the strong community support, will you please conduct a re-vote before this goes to the CVRD?”
Davis was followed by Ted Gamble who — has addressed council previously — once again explained why Lake Cowichan residents need to have equal access to the facility. Gamble included how he got involved with this issue. It was when a back injury he suffered four months ago could be helped by adding swimming to his regime, only to be shocked when someone from Victoria paid $5.75 for a drop-in fee at the CAC, yet he would have to pay $11.75.
He thanked Mayor Forrest and council for their time and attention to this matter and asked that we all work together for the betterment of our vibrant community.
Councilor Bob Day said once again that he is not prepared to make a decision until he sees all the information and final numbers, but would only vote yes if there was no raise to local taxes. Mayor Forrest remarked that he would like to see all parties — North Cowichan, Duncan, Lake Cowichan and Areas I and F — get together for a meeting to discuss the issue in full, and listen to the community to consider what they want. Coun. Tim McGonigle said the issue will receive serious, thoughtful consideration from the council. When Coun. Jayne Ingram — who had previously cast the deciding “no” vote — was asked what were the main reasons for her voting no, she said that she will comment when she has all the details.
Not everyone at the meeting was there to support the issue. Local resident Hubert Crevels stated that he is not against a pool, just don’t ask us to pay for it.
His concern is also that it is not simply a pool that we will be joining but an entire leisure centre and all the related costs that go with it. Another Lake Cowichan resident against the pool issue is Dave Blackhall.
“I don’t want to pay for someone’s swimming, no one pays anything for me,” Blackhall commented “I live on a fixed income, and with the rising cost of food, I don’t want to pay for someone’s swimming lessons.”
He is looking to have a referendum on the pool issue, and if it costs money, so be it, he doesn’t want one group to be spending his money.
Mayor Forrest thanked the audience for their show of support as it helps council with any decision in the future. Coun. Day once again reminded all in attendance that this is a more complex issue to deal with as it does likely need to involve Area I and Area F before any decision can be made. At the end of the meeting, the conclusion of many was that council will be looking at the issue in a serious manner, but not before all information and numbers are available to them to make a fully informed decision.