Mayor Ross Forrest talks changing attitudes

Water Hero Chronicles with Flo begins with a chat with Lake Cowichan Mayor Ross Forrest

Editor’s note: This is the first instalment in a new series of guest columns we will be running over the next several months designed to take a look at what people in our Cowichan Valley communities are doing to save water as we face down a severe drought and water restrictions. Lauren Frost will detail visits by Flo to some of Cowichan’s water-saving heroes, who will have selfies taken with the crusader.


Lauren Frost Guest columnist

“We’ve got lots of water!” “We live in a rainforest!” “Why should we have watering restrictions?” Like many people, Ross Forrest, mayor of the Town of Lake Cowichan and member of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), admits that he was guilty of these thoughts before becoming more educated and involved with the protection of the Cowichan watershed.

He said that it was through his role as mayor that he first began to gain a new understanding of the watershed and the importance of conservation. Specifically, Forrest spoke about water metering in Lake Cowichan.

“Water metering has been a huge benefit to our community,” he noted.

Not only does it allow for monitoring water usage and finding wasteful leaks, but it’s also, according to Forrest, a pivotal factor in receiving environmental grants. Prior to the water metering, he said the town was unable to receive many of the grants they applied for, but after the metering, they “had much success with [their] applications.”

In addition to his duties as mayor and his job in the arena/parks department under CUPE, which is a union he described as dedicated to uniting people on the matter of valuing our water, Forrest also sits on the Cowichan Watershed Board, which he said has taught him an unbelievable amount about “our most valuable resource.”

Discovering this information, he said, changed how he views our watershed and how we need to manage it.

“I no longer think there is enough fresh water to do as I please.”

Forrest wishes that more people would think that way, although he does believe there has been a positive “change in culture” surrounding water conservation, specifically in Lake Cowichan.

What we can do to further this change in our communities, in our homes, and in our own minds, according to Forrest, is to just “try to improve a little each day,” and learn to recognize when and where we are being wasteful. After-all, water is not just a liquid that comes out of the tap at the snap of our fingers, it is the most valuable resource on Earth, and deserves to be regarded as such.