Well, we haven’t even officially launched into summer yet and there have already been two calls to the local RCMP and the fire department to perform rescue operations on the Cowichan River.
Though many local businesses are happy with the many tourists the lake, and in particular the river, draw to the area, the RCMP and the fire department both have stated that the Cowichan River poses more and more of a problem each year. Doug Knott, the Lake Cowichan fire chief, has even stated that his department does not have the proper equipment to deal with problems that occur and says that he is in the midst of organizing an event to raise funds for such equipment. He also told me that he has applied for funding from the town for the past couple of years, but has yet to receive any.
I find this odd. Whether the town likes it or not, Lake Cowichan has become a tourist destination area and issues like this need to be addressed. RCMP and fire department volunteers regularly put their lives on the line to deal with individuals who are not experienced or educated when it comes to river hazards and do not come prepared to deal with emergency situations. I hope the town takes a closer look at this issue and coordinates with businesses to come up with solutions to this problem.
The town does need tourists and the revenue they generate, but perhaps something needs to be put in place to properly inform tubers and river enthusiasts about the dangers the river poses.
It would seem logical that those businesses who specialize in river and lake tours and adventures should be fully engaged in this discussion and that their expertise be utilized. Perhaps between the Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce, the town, and these businesses, we can help to keep these tourists safe and still enjoy the revenue they bring with them.