This week marks the beginning of a new community project in Lake Cowichan. Thanks to a grant obtained by the Cowichan Lake Centre for Education (CLEC), six workers have been hired and will work on upgrades to Saywell Park that will improve and enhance public facilities for the community.
It’s called the Job Creation Partnership and it is made possible through the Employment Program of B.C., with funding from both the federal and provincial governments.
“It’s really about how the centre performs a role in the community,” said Jennifer Bendell, program coordinator at the centre. “For these individuals its a win-win situation, They know that they are creating pubic facilities that the town will use for years to come.”
Four of the six men who have been hired for the job began last week at CLEC, where they were given the opportunity to obtain the certification necessary these days to be hired for the kind of construction work they will be doing.
“Before they start working at Saywell Park, they are here at CLEC getting their WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System) certificate,” explained Dalton Smith, manager at CLEC. “They also have done their OFA – Occupation First Aid certificate.”
In all through the program, there will be six people hired plus one supervisor, for 36 weeks.
Both Smith and Bendell can’t help showing great enthusiasm for the projects they have been able to collaborate on through CLEC over the years.
“Through these grants, partner-ships and special programs our community has benefited greatly,” said Smith, who is proud of their success rate in being able to create jobs for people in the area. “Probably 300 people, part time or full time, have been employed by the Town of Lake Cowichan through us and have gone on to find other work through these projects.”
So what changes will the public be seeing at Saywell Park?
The project objective is to upgrade and enhance the Saywell Park green space to attract and increase recreational tourism for the community. The projects include the construction of new public washrooms, a viewing platform, a swimming dock, picnic tables and the restoration of the 1918 CNR Box Car, adjacent to the Kaatza Historical Museum.
“We got a $250,000 grant,” Smith confirmed. “But that includes contributions as well from the Town of Lake Cowichan, Catalyst Paper, Youbou Lands and the Kaatza Historical Society.”
Smith says these contributions are worth about $80,000 and include materials that will be used in the construction of the different projects.
“These companies have contributed materials and supplies for the box car, the swimming dock and platform, and the public washrooms,” he noted.
Residents of Lake Cowichan can expect to see work commencing in Saywell Park the week of Jan. 7, beginning with the public washrooms. As well as the crew of six and a superviser, hired as part of the program, Smith says they have hired a local builder, Triosh Contracting, as the general contractor for the project. The first phase of the upgrades will be finished by March 22.
The crew will have no sooner completed the first project, and they will be on to the second phase of the upgrades, the restoration of the CNR box car. The Kaatza Museum and Historical Society will be instrumental in providing guidance for the restoration of the boxcar. Their contribution to this project includes supplying all the wood that will be used to restore it, and for which the completion date is set for June 7.
The third phase will be the construction of a viewing platform and public swimming dock. For this project, Smith says they have hired local contractor Cliff Gibson, who builds and installs floats for a living, as a consultant. Completion date for phase three is August 23.
The last phase of the project is the construction of 10 picnic tables, at which time the 36 weeks will have elapsed and the public will already have been enjoying some of the upgrades to Saywell Park over the summer.