The repaving of South Shore Road looks hopeful

The Town of Lake Cowichan's stretch of South Shore Road will likely be re-paved some time in 2012, the town's elected officials learned during their Tuesday, February 15, Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

  • Feb. 22, 2011 2:00 p.m.

The Town of Lake Cowichan’s stretch of South Shore Road will likely be re-paved some time in 2012, the town’s elected officials learned during their Tuesday, February 15, Finance and Administration Committee meeting.

The semi-commitment follows years of talks, a recent meeting between Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest and the Ministry of Transportation, and a letter to Transportation minister Shirley Bond.

A letter to Forrest, courtesy of the Vancouver Island District of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, outlines their plan, which includes the repaving of a 2.4 kilometre stretch of South Shore Road, from Berar Road to the Highway 18 intersection.

“Our rehabilitation funding is done annually, so while I believe the funding is reasonably secure, I cannot offer assurance beyond that it is on our program,” the letter reads.

“In this current year, 2011, crews will be preparing the road surface by grinding out the most deficient areas of the pavement and patching the surface with new asphalt. We will also continue to work with the maintenance contractor, Mainroad South Island Contracting Ltd., to ensure South Shore Road is maintained according to ministry standards with crack sealing and patching conducted as needed.”

“This is about as close as we can get to a commitment, and it’s a pretty good commitment,” mayor Ross Forrest said during the meeting. “It’s a great start for downtown revitalization.”

The road work will be done in conjunction with whatever else the town’s director of Public Works Nagi Rizk finds needs getting done on the road. It would be a shame to have to dig up a recently-paved road in order to replace a pipe, Forrest reasoned.

The town’s elected officials are also hoping to piggyback some work on the South Shore Road and North Shore Road intersection, near the Riverside Inn, on this repaving project. A round-about, traffic lights, and other potential means of managing the intersection will be looked into.

“We have one year’s time to make these decisions,” Forrest said, adding that it’s best to make them sooner than later.

Rather than have individuals and groups come in to discuss their preferences with council, which would include only a small fraction of the community, Forrest said that he plans, alongside the town’s councillors, to go out into the community to find out what people want to see happen at the intersection.

The repaving item has been added as a discussion point to the May 31 public meeting.

Other items discussed:

With the Town of Lake Cowichan’s mayor Ross Forrest and councillor Franklin Hornbrook out-of-town at a Sustainability: Innovative Governance, Partnerships and Financing conference in Victoria last week, only three of the town’s five councillors were present during their February 8 committee meetings.

As such, there was a lot to discuss during the February 15 meetings, which ran for about three-and-a-half hours, during which time many interesting items were discussed, including the following:

• Soil tests for the Town of Lake Cowichan’s Municipal Hall area, at 39 South Shore Road, have come in, with a few different options investigated.

“They do not recommend the location of council chambers to be at the bay side (old fire hall bays). They recommend the Child Annex area,” the town’s chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez said. Parking, a garden, or park, are recommended for the area currently eaten up by the fire hall bays.

With no concrete plans as to the Municipal Hall’s extreme makeover, the item will continue to come up for discussion during future council meetings.

• The town’s ongoing discussions around a controlled substance bylaw, which would serve to protect home buyers against purchasing a former drug house, continued during their February 15 meeting.

The town’s chief administrative officer Joseph Fernandez has brought the issue up with the town’s fire chief Doug Knott and and town’s RCMP Sgt. Dave Voller.

Fernandez reported that Knott had no problems with the bylaw, other than training, while Voller suggested the town look at another municipality, where a similar such bylaw is being contested.

According to a preliminary 2011 budget, the local fire department’s training budget is going up to $20,000, from last year’s $15,000, a change the town’s councillors suggested should cover controlled substance bylaw’s training.

• The Town of Lake Cowichan’s financial records are up for an audit within the next two weeks. The results will be shared with the town’s elected officials, and therefore the public, during an April meeting, with the audit planned for completion by May 15.

• A letter by Joe Dorey has encouraged the town’s elected officials to review current emergency preparedness plans that are in place.

Dorey’s letter outlines the need for more education, and for better signage at the Centennial Hall, which is an emergency reception centre. Current signage at this location is rusting away and is barely legible.

“The emergency reception area should be located on the other side of the river where there is a gas station and a grocery store,” Dorey states, in his letter.

“This is another educational item for the public,” mayor Ross Forrest said.

Mayor and council will review current emergency plans that are in place, and then discuss the item further during their Tuesday, March 8, Public Relations Committee meeting, which begins at 5 p.m.

• The Lake Cowichan Communities in Bloom organization is expected to request $5,000 from the town for their town beautification projects around town.

“Not a penny is wasted,” councillor Bob Day, who is also a voting member of the organization, told his fellow elected officials. “It’s been well-used.”

Projects for this coming year will be the planting of numerous bulbs around town, the cleanup of the western side of the Rhododendron Memorial Park, the continuation of the Salmon and Mushroom Festival, in addition to other community efforts.

• As per a request from Lake Cowichan Fire Department chief Doug Knott, the town’s director of Public Works Nagi Rizk will investigate water supply issues in the area of the 100 houses and the old AB Greenwell school site, as well as the Slopes.

In a letter he sent to mayor and council, Knott wrote that the area “has inadequate water for major fire or incident. When we hold a practice in that area, using less than what we would in a fire, it takes no time for us to drain that water system and cause problems for homeowners in the area.”

Knott wrote that the Slopes area has also been problematic with regard to a low water pressure.

• A report that the town’s director of planning James van Hemert provided mayor and council on housing in the P-1 parks and institutional zone land will be discussed in greater depth during the town’s next Sustainable Planning and Development Committee meeting, to be held Tuesday, March 8, at 6 p.m.

Since the item is related to an issue the town’s Advisory Planning Commission has been discussing, commission chair Chris Rolls will be invited to attend the discussion, along with van Hemert.

• With the current contract for the Ranger Station Trail Building to expire April 30 of this year, mayor and council resolved to renew the current contract for another three years.

Currently, there’s a resident upstairs, and local community radio station CICV 97.7 FM downstairs.

New to the arrangement for the radio station will be a $100 per month payment for overages in utility charges.

The three-year contract will expire February 28, 2014, at which time it will expire, unless both parties mutually agree to renew it.

The Ranger Station Trail Building is owned by the Town of Lake Cowichan, and serves as a drop-in for users of the Trans Canada Trail.

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