Lake Cowichan cannot support Sunfest visitor numbers

This would be a flood in the community and on its infrastructure, not an overflow!

Lexi Bainas, in her article, “Lake next tourist destination?”, tells us that there are community members that think that the town, with a population of 2,900 people and its supporting infrastructure, should “develop a town-wide festival for the overflow from Sunfest”, with its population explosion of 15,000 each day, over four days (60,000).

This would be a flood in the community and on its infrastructure, not an overflow! The Sunfest clientele will have paid a substantial amount to party at the festival site, and those who would come into town will likely not be looking for another festival. They may buy some food/drink supplies and fill some restaurant seats until they realize that there are not enough to go around. Thousands of them will be more likely to find access to the river or the lake.

The August long weekend is already the busiest tubing, boating and water sport weekend of the summer. The river will be flooded with tubers, some well-behaved, others not. And the river and the riverbanks will be the depository of raw sewage, i.e. urine.

The few public lake accesses will be filled and the overflow will find their way onto private waterfronts. Sunfesters will come to party and when the party is over, they will be gone.

Glenda Burg suggested we model ourselves after Leavenworth, a class act and a year round tourist attraction. This style of economic model I could support. However, what I can’t support is an event where folk are invited to “come party” with us, where drink, drugs and ear splitting noise are the order of the day and which some town councillors have taken upon themselves to publicly support.

There is a lot of conjecture and hype about how effective Sunfest will be to stimulate the local economy.

However, I have seen no credible, independent economic analysis which substantiates and identifies long term local economic benefits for Lake Cowichan.

So if we eliminate the hype and the wishful thinking, what is left?

The clear winners will be the organizers, along with the liquor outlets and even drug dealers. So do we really want this sort of “economic stimulus”, along with the problems and the costs these events bring? I say no.

We are a small town with a small tax base. We have no infrastructure to support a daily influx of 15,000 Festers today, and using the promoters estimated 15 per cent growth rate, 30,000 Sunfesters in six to seven years. Neither have I seen a proposal of how the remaining 11 event days will be used. Nor have I seen a cap on how many attendees the proposed site can hold — surely not 100,000 as per the big festivals?

So I question how we can possibly afford the cost of cleaning up, repairing, replacing or increasing infrastructure, or even providing enough law enforcement for 15,000 Sunfesters much less 30,000 in a few years’ time? We can’t, certainly not without raising taxes and improving our infrastructure. So supporting such a venture on hope and hype is irresponsible. So until there is an unbiased, independent economic report which provides sound data that the town and its tax base will benefit substantially, this proposal should be neither entertained nor supported.

We have between Nov. 27 to Dec. 7 to write or email Mike Tippett (mtippett@cvrd.bc.ca) our concerns. After Dec. 7, our submissions will be sorted and analyzed, and a decision on this rezoning application made. Please use your democratic right and let your voice be heard, because a zoning change is permanent, it takes control away from local government, and it will assuredly increase your taxes.

 

R. Danaher

Lake Cowichan

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