Speak up! Complaint shows planned renos vital: Forrest

Lake Cowichan resident David Ridley, a faithful follower of Lake Cowichan town council meetings, gave councillors an earful Oct. 27.

Mayor Ross Forrest

Mayor Ross Forrest

Lake Cowichan resident David Ridley, a faithful follower of Lake Cowichan town council meetings, gave councillors an earful Oct. 27.

His beef? He can’t hear their comments much of the time.

When the meeting finally wound down to question period, he asked if a specific item that was on the agenda had been dealt with and discovered that it had.

That led to his major concern.

“Well, that went straight over my head and I was watching for it. I made a little listing here of how much I can hear of what people [at the council table] say. And, I’ve got the hearing aids in,” he said, to pre-empt comment.

“It depends a bit where you’re sitting and who you’re facing and I understand for the most part you are talking to each other but that’s a problem,” he told councillors.

“You’re not talking to us. I got 90 per cent of what Mayor Forrest said. He’s facing us. I got 10 per cent of what our CAO [Joe Fernandez] said. Maybe I’m not supposed to hear that, but I can’t. I got 80 per cent of what Coun. Vomacka said but only 50 per cent of Coun. Day’s. Certainly when you’re answering questions from us, I can hear every single word. I heard 90 per cent of Coun. Austin but Coun. McGonigle only 40 per cent. Sometimes it’s very clear, but if there’s a little debate going, it’s not. If I’m going to attend meetings I would like to hear what’s going on.”

Ridley then took issue with councillors sitting around a table facing inward.

“The setup of the table is wrong. I know it’s going to change in the far future but I suggested [a need for a change] to council four years ago. There are plenty of tables around, I don’t care where they come from. Arrange them in curve around so you can still talk across to each other but you face the audience. I would appreciate that,” he said.

Mayor Ross Forrest replied, “That’s part of the reason we are renovating this building into a new town hall. We would have a proper council chamber. In the 70-some years that Lake Cowichan has been incorporated, we’ve never had a town hall. We’ve had a used fire hall; that’s what this building was, and other places. We’re going to have one in the near future, with a modern council chambers.”

Ridley is eagerly waiting.

“I’m 76 years old, I was 72 when I first brought this up,” he laughed.

Forrest said, “We are working on this.”

Also on the subject of the municipal hall, Lake Cowichan resident and former mayor Jack Peake asked about an expenditure of the $21,800 for the Lake Cowichan municipal hall project mentioned in committee minutes.

“Can you give me a quick thumbnail sketch of where that process is right now?,” he asked.

Fernandez said, “It’s to do with the shoring up of the grounds.”

Peake then asked, “Have there been public meetings that I’ve missed about this project’s ongoing planning? Is there going to be?”

Forrest told him, “The plans are here. We’ve already had all the preliminary work done on it, spent the money on it. This is where it’s going to be happening.”