The town of Lake Cowichan recently refurbished the “Welcome to Lake Cowichan” sign at the gateway to the town. It is quite nicely done and no doubt was the result of much input from the residents and business owners — or not?
The two statements made on the monument are “a vibrant community” and “a valued environment”. I for one take issue with these statements as wishful thinking if nothing else.
Firstly with regard to a vibrant community.
I have owned a number of commercial properties in Lake Cowichan over the past decade or so. During my tenure I have witnessed nothing short of stagnant growth.
I have seen businesses come and go and I have suffered with other landlords in the lack of ability to rent properties. A quick overview of the town today highlights that most of the boarded up, vacant and underused properties that were in this state years ago are still as such.
The properties that I have owned and presently own have depreciated in market value (while the rest of B.C. has enjoyed untold appreciation) although the property taxes and service costs have increased significantly.
Vibrant living would connote an element of robustness or a dynamic community which I do not think anyone would attribute to Lake Cowichan.
Sidney is vibrant, downtown Duncan is vibrant, but not Lake Cowichan. There are only a few shops and boutiques and they seem to struggle through the winter months.
The town does not seem to offer any relief or promotion to owners for this. There are only a handful of places to go out and eat or be entertained and again there has been little or no change over the years.
The pubs that have gone through new ownership and changes have only done so on the heels of the previous owners closing down.
The same applies to the new restaurants which merely replace closed venues at the same location.
Although I truly support all businesses in Lake Cowichan and am excited when new businesses open the trend is too familiar. I see Cowichan Bay, Campbell River and many other small towns advertise collectively in a number of newspapers and online and I notice package offerings often to visit and stay — where is Lake Cowichan in this?
There has been little or no foreshore development for public access to the Lake and I do not see that much goes on to attract the public generally to support the businesses that we have.
Although Lake Cowichan would point to Laketown Ranch as a success, I doubt the town had anything initially to do with Laketown’s decision to move to its present location.
Secondly, as far as a “valued environment”, I would suggest all one has to do is position themselves at the juncture of Highway 18 and the Youbou highway for a day to test that value.
Two hundred fully loaded logging trucks with prime first-rate timber, logging service trucks, lowbeds loaded with processors and excavators, crew trucks and a host of other support vehicles pass by daily.
At this rate only those truly ignorant could believe that we will have any “environment” left in a decade.
The effect all this traffic and logging has on the town is detrimental. The road wear, the road kills, the clear cuts, the wash outs, the destruction of habitat, and the perpetual noise, garbage, and dust is not the precursor to a valued environment.