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Until dust do us part: The Youbou mud and dust problem

CVRD Area I and F directors Pat Weaver and Ian Morrison are aiming to reduce dusty roads on either side of Cowichan Lake.
CVRD Area I Director Pat Weaver poses alongside Youbou Road. Although the dust and mud problem has somewhat ceased with all the snow falling in the area recently

CVRD Area I and F directors Pat Weaver and Ian Morrison are aiming to reduce dusty roads on either side of Cowichan Lake.

The dust and mud problem, which effects both Youbou and Honeymoon Bay has plagued its residents for years — and they’ve had enough.

Many have pointed the finger at logging companies whose semi-trucks returning from off-road logging sites deposit mud, dust and other debris alongside the highway and Youbou Road.

Youbou resident Don Beldessi is overly upset at the conditions the dust and mud has caused.

He said the problem has been going on for 15 years and promises have been made in the past by politicians and logging companies to fix the situation. He’s not optimistic the problem will be solved anytime soon.

“They have plans, they don’t follow through and we’re back to where we were 12 or 15 years ago,” said Beldessi.

Weaver and Morrison met with the Ministry of Highways, local logging company representatives and MLA Bill Routley on Jan. 17 to discuss the issue.

Weaver calls the dust dilemma not only a nuisance but a health problem, as well.

“This has been going on for three to four years. It could be longer. Right now, it’s a health problem,” said Weaver.

This rings true with Beldessi, as the dust problem  triggers breathing issues. He’s hoping the logging companies clean up their act.

“It’s their problem and they need to solve it. It’s not my problem -— my problem is breathing. It’s their problem to deal with,” Beldessi added.

Weaver agreed that local logging companies are the culprit.

“It’s the mud and dirt falling off logging trucks. The logging trucks are the main source of the dust,” said Weaver.

Weaver noted that the onus to clean up the dust problem lies squarely on the shoulders of the logging companies.

“They’re probably going to take a hit financially but they’re the ones making the money moving logs down the road.”

Weaver said that the meeting between the CVRD and the logging companies and Ministry of Highways’ representatives was meant to gauge a “solution not a reaction.”

“Nothing came to a conclusion, only that they’re working on putting the people together seeing if they can put a program together that will help deal with the dust and mud situation. They’re going to try to come up with a more positive solution.”

Handling the dust situation in Youbou is the first major piece of business Weaver has encountered since entering her new role as Area I director. She said that while campaigning, the dust issue was inescapable.

“It’s an issue that has to be taken care of now. The dust was the main concern I heard when I was knocking on doors. They’ve had enough and rightfully so. They deserve proper living conditions,” said Weaver.

Weaver does not know what type of solution the logging companies will come up with. If it was up to her, Weaver indicated that a truck wash would be an ideal answer, although she said that such a project would be overly expensive.

“There’s also problems on the Honeymoon Bay side,” said Weaver.

That’s where Area F Director Morrison comes in.

“We have an issue with debris being deposited on the road. In the winter it’s mud and in the summer it’s dust,” said Morrison.

He said when the dust and mud begins to cost his voters money a line needs to be drawn.

“People are experiencing inconveniences and damages as a result and people are pretty upset as they should be about having to spend money, time and effort to have their vehicles cleaned and when there is damage to windshields and paint, it’s a little more than the people can take,” added Morrison.

Trisha Waddington is another Youbou citizen who is displeased with the dust. She reiterated what Morrison said.

“If it’s not mud, it’s dust,” Waddington said.

Waddington said the current way to clear the highways of dust is subpar.

“The sweepers come through and that solution is just not working. The mud is still on the road and as soon as it dries up we live in clouds of it and you can’t walk on the street,” she added.

If no solution arises from the recent meeting between local politicians and logging companies, Weaver was adamant she would remain persistent in solving the dust problem in her area.

“We’ll go after them again,” she said.