People in the Cowichan Lake area are generally really patient with industry.
The communities around the lake understand the economic importance of the various industrial operations in the vicinity, having been hit hard with the decline of forestry over the last 20 years.
So it takes a lot to get Lake folks all riled up about the inconveniences of having industrial activity around residential areas.
Which makes the longstanding dust problem in Youbou stand out starkly.
Who can blame Youbou residents for being fed up?
First, there really is something to be unhappy about.
The problem occurs when heavy industrial logging trucks stir up and get coated in dust on the unpaved roads they travel in and out of the woods. The huge wheels churn up the dirt and bring it into town with them.
You can see the dust firsthand if you head up there on a dry day in the summer. It’s so thick in places that it’s like trying to drive through a dense fog. You can barely see the car in front of you.
So you can imagine what conditions are like for the people who are not driving through the dust clouds, but live in the dust clouds.
Residents report a film of dirt over everything, even inside people’s homes.
Outdoors, the accumulated dust quickly turns to a slick mud when it rains.
And the mess isn’t the worst of it. Having to breathe in the particulate would be unbearable some days.
Second, it took a long time for a truck wash that was supposed to solve the problem to be agreed upon and installed.
Only it didn’t.
The problem persists. Apparently the truck wash recycles its water to the extent that dirt from one truck is just being re-deposited on the next, and tracked into Youbou.
One thing is clear: it’s a persistent problem that needs a solution.
Perhaps an upgrade to the truck wash to better separate out the sediment before the water is re-used?
And industry should pay for it.
If they were using private roads it would be different, but they are not. They are utilizing public roadways and therefore must take the impact they are making on the public into consideration.
No, we can’t blame residents for being up in arms.
They have lived with this for years, and been patient waiting for a remedy.
They deserve to breathe without choking.