From totem raising to going age friendly and Remembrance Day

The totem pole ceremony on Nov. 14 will be remembered for being one of the strongest community building events in Lake Cowichan.

The totem pole ceremony on Nov. 14 will be remembered for being one of the strongest community building events that we have been fortunate to experience in Lake Cowichan.

The actual totem pole raising ceremony captured a very powerful sense of all of us coming together as ONE; as citizens from many demographic groups of our society joined together to raise the pole to its final upright position.

I can only speak for myself, but I certainly had a feeling that as all of us were pulling on the ropes to hoist the totem pole that we had the assistance of everyone in attendance through their positive energy and thoughts pulling together for the success of the pole raising which did occur ever so smoothly.

After it reached its final resting position the carver Ron Hamilton went over the pole’s artistic symbols and described what they represented to a crowd that listened ever so intently.

The performance by our Lake Cowichan Band through its music and dancing which its members had recently learned, was awesome.

This was their first public performance since the 1950s and they were truly great.

This beautiful pole that enhances Ts’uubaa-asatx Square stands as a tremendous gift from our local First Nation and one that we are enormously proud of. Thank you Chief Livingstone and the entire Lake Cowichan Band for providing such a powerful statement from your community.

As the number of veterans participating in Remembrance Day continues to decline it is gratifying to see those coming out to observe and pay recognition to our fallen heroes on the rise year after year. Although the weather might have helped with the numbers this year it is easy to recognize the want by the people to pay their respects.

Thank you to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 210 for providing MC Mike Eckert with a great program for our Remembrance Day service.

I would also like to applaud the Lake Cowichan School for the assembly they held on Nov. 10 in recognition of Remembrance Day. Our teachers deserve a huge pat on the back for the behaviour and respect demonstrated by all of  the students from Grade 4 to 12. They were silent and engaged for the entire program as the national anthem, O Canada, was sung, and as Principal Boucher and Wilma Rowbottom (representing the Legion) talked about the number of Canadians who had served our country during war, as well as some of the senior students who read out letters sent home from military members from overseas during the war, and the poem In Flanders Fields.

When the principal called on the student body to observe two minutes of silence, the kids didn’t disappoint as you could have heard a pin drop for the full two minute duration. Seeing this behaviour from a few hundred students helped strengthen my belief in what a great school we have because of the respect our students and teachers have for each other. I truly was impressed.

Thank you to the Cowichan Valley Regional District for hosting the forum on the Alternative Approval Processes or the AAPs for the proposed service establishment bylaws and Catalyst Paper for the information session regarding its short term application for pumping water from the lake.

These meetings were held on consecutive evenings. It was encouraging that both events were well attended. Regardless if you are pro or con on these issues, it is more important that you take time to come out and learn.

The intent of these meetings was to inform and educate the public about how the process works for these contentious issues. Hopefully their objectives were met and helped most understand what is being presented.

With the increasing potential for future economic opportunities developing in our community it is encouraging to see two large turnouts of interested citizens at recent meetings related to economic growth. The positivity and enthusiasm of this group will pay valuable dividends towards ensuring the success of our community. Thank you to those who have put their names forward as members of the lead team to get the initiative started on “Working Together for the Future”.

Tournaments hosted in Lake Cowichan have a huge positive impact on our local economy. The past two weekends has seen the midget and bantam Lakers hosting invitational eight-team tournaments. The presence of the players and their families and the impact they have on the local businesses has been quite evident and much needed during the tourist shoulder season. With future tournaments upcoming please take the time to welcome these visitors to our community and help make their stay as enjoyable as possible. Thank you to the organizers of these tournaments. Compliments from visitors were plentiful at our arena during these tournaments. Well done, and to top it off, our Midget Lakers won their tournament. Congratulations!

Payment of $1,148,520 from the UBCM Gas Tax Agreement Pooled Funds was received for phase one of our Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrades. Phase 1 of the project involved the following:

• The construction of lagoon cell 3, head works upgrade and installation of liner/screening;

• Installation of some of the interconnecting site piping; and

• The transfer of sludge from cell 1 to the new cell.

The revision to the current operating permit may be required, as a result of these upgrades.

The Age Friendly Action Plan was presented by consultant James van Hemert. The plan will be available on the Town of Lake Cowichan website once the final draft is completed.

An age friendly community is one in which the policies, services and structures related to the physical and social environment are designed to support and enable older people to “age actively” — to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.

The World Health Organization identifies eight areas that contribute to an age friendly community and these eight areas are described in detail in the plan.

Please take the time to read this valuable document and thank you to James van Hemert for thoroughly involving the community in completing this age friendly action plan.

A big thanks to all the busy people who have generously given of their time to decorate the town with Christmas lights. Some of the public areas have been decorated by town employees while others have been done by volunteers. The time all of you contribute is very much appreciated and the lights are really enjoyed by everyone both inside and outside the community. Thank you.

Ross Forrest is the mayor of the Town of Lake Cowichan