Municipal Hall renovations will begin soon
“We’re hoping to get going in February,” said the Town Chief Administrative Officer Joe Fernandez of town hall renovations, during a December Finance and Administration meeting. “I’ve also left a message with the ministry of Municipal Affairs to see if we can piggyback this project on an infrastructure grant but they haven’t returned my call yet.”
Mayor Bob Day wanted to know if the CAO had the capacity to manage the project on his own.
“If it’s going to take too much time and take you away from all of the other important stuff you do…if you need some help…” Bob Day wondered.
Fernandez said he was managing, for now.
“I’m relying on the architects and other staff, so it’s not only myself,” Fernandez said. “So far it’s been good.”
Day said Friday that the town hall renovation project is coming along. “It’s at the detailed architectural drawing stage which aligns with the project timelines which has a completion date of January 2022,” he said.
Check your fire alarms
“I see there’s 18 alarms activated,” said Councillor Carolyne Austin after reading the Lake Cowichan Fire Hall’s Oct. 2020 report to council at the Dec. 8, 2020 Finance and Administration meeting.
Firefighters regularly respond to calls for activated fire alarms that are often the result of electrical malfunctions, burnt toast, and any other number of non-emergent causes. It takes their time and their resources.
“Do we charge them after three? That’s a lot of alarms.”
Coun. Tim McGonigle said there is a function to recoup some of those costs, “If it’s three within a year on the same property. I’m hoping that we can keep track on those and try to mitigate it as much as possible.”
Backyard chickens bylaw coming
It’s been years in the making but backyard chickens may be legal in the Town of Lake Cowichan sooner rather than later.
In November, the town conducted a non-binding poll of qualified electors in the community, asking for their input on backyard chickens. That work has been completed and, according to Mayor Bob Day, “Town council is expecting to see the first official draft of an Urban Hen Bylaw at our February Finance and administration meeting.”
During the December Finance and Administration meeting, Coun. Carolyne Austin said “keeping chickens is not for the faint of heart. It is a big commitment and a financial burden not to be taken on without a great deal of consideration and planning. Not everyone will take on raising chickens as hens are hard to find right now and caring for them properly is an expensive hobby.”
She cited COVID-19 and food security as reasons to allow people to keep the birds in their yards if they wished.
Austin said the goal of forthcoming bylaws is to protect both the person raising chickens as well as the neighbours of those people.
The Lake’s new water treatment plant is working “just fine” and that’s a good thing. Mayor Bob Day said recently that the town’s professional water operators managed to keep the town off of boil water advisory during the last round of heavy precipitation, a victory compared to years past.
“In the past several years we would traditionally be boiling our drinking water for several weeks at a time,” Day noted. “Nothing is more important in any community than a safe drinking water supply.”
Park upgrades on the way
Spring will see changes in some familiar and popular spaces in Lake Cowichan. Work on a viewing platform at River’s Edge Memorial Garden and the revitalization of Stone Avenue Park will both begin in the early spring.
“River’s Edge is not only the home of our columbarium but has also become a popular place where folks embark on cycling and walking excursions since the park’s revitalization,” said Mayor Bob Day recently. “The work at Stone Avenue park will include a small dog park and a new hockey box.”