Pampas grass plantings in medians on highway into Lake Cowichan may be removed to increase safety for drivers, council says. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Pampas grass plantings in medians on highway into Lake Cowichan may be removed to increase safety for drivers, council says. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Cut down pampas grass on medians for road safety? Council’s looking at it

Neva Road derelict house is finally demolished

Should the Town of Lake Cowichan get rid of the pampas grass planted on the median separating the lanes on Highway 18 coming into town?

Mayor Rod Peters says it’s time for it to go, but not all councillors are sure yet.

Peters and Coun. Carolyne Austin said Nov. 19 that they’ve had complaints that the grass impairs the vision of motorists attempting to come onto into town from Cowichan Lake Road.

The grass had been pruned back at some point, but it is in need of it again, but Peters has suggested it might be time to remove it completely.

Council has not yet come to a decision about it, or what might be planted to replace it, if it is removed.

***

Work has begun on the demolition of a controversial house at the bend of Neva Road. The structure — one of three that has been the subject of discussion at council meetings for years — had slipped right off its foundations. However, according to Town CAO Joe Fernandez, the other two buildings, which have recently been sold, are structurally sound and will not need to be torn down.

***

Lake Cowichan’s water treatment plant is just about complete, works superintendent Kam So reported to town council Nov. 19.

Despite the recent downpour, there was no turbidity, and therefore, no call to boil water — a spectre that had haunted councillors as they saw the job slowly wind its way to journey’s end.

“Island Health is coming [this week] to check the back wash valves. The soda ash has arrived. It will be installed in the next two weeks,” So said.

Members of the works crew are being trained on how to operate the new system, with Bartech and a Level III operator from another jurisdiction on call.

***

The Town of Lake Cowichan has hired the McElhanney firm, at a cost of $20,246 to do the design and construction administration on the best way to deal with a problem discovered at the town’s wastewater treatment plant.

According to works superintendent Kam So, “During the 2015 expansion of the Town’s wastewater treatment plant, the bank along the south side of the third cell was to be cut to a slope of 2.5:1. There is a high grade fence and trees at the top of the slope. With the fence installed there was a decision to locate the fence line farther north to maintain a screen of trees between the public and the new cell. As a result, the slope of the bank was cut to 1:4.

“From a geotechnical viewpoint, the soil slope is too steep to be stable in the long term. Given the nature of the slope, it would be expected to see the face and crest regress over time through a combination of weathering, freeze thaw, rain, and wind action. The face is essentially too steep to become vegetated without some form of enhancement. Since 2015, there has been considerable erosion.

“Without intervention, the slope will result in considerable maintenance and localized repair work. We would also routinely expect to see cobble sized material topple and roll onto the roadway and the lagoon cell. The falling slope will also affect the stability of the fence.”

There are several low-cost practical measures that could be implemented in order to reduce maintenance.

These include: relocate the fend and cut the slope back to 2.5:1; install a low catchment wall near the top of the slope to contain material rolling down, and occasionally remove the material to maintain catchment capacity; increase the catchment bench losing some cell capacity; and install a secured mesh over areas of looser material to reduce likelihood of slumping.

The town issued a request-for-proposal for design and construction, and council discovered that McElhanney was not only located in the Cowichan Valley but had the lowest bid so they approved it.

***

What does it mean when there is a not-in-service bag over a fire hydrant in Lake Cowichan?

Works superintendent Kam So told council Nov. 19 that a question from a concerned citizen on this subject led him to check it out.

“Almost all of the town’s fire hydrants are downstream from the town water reservoir. When the fire hydrants are in use, the water is drawn down from the water reservoir. The town reservoir has the capacity of water to maintain continued use of the fire hydrants for fire-fighting purposes,” he said.

However, hydrants located between the town’s water intake pump station and the reservoir like one on River Road would take raw water directly from the water intake pump station.

“Using the River Road fire hydrant would significantly reduce the amount of water being processed at the water treatment plant. Given that the fire hydrant also does not have a ready supply of water from the water reservoir…there would be significantly less water pressure available.”

The hydrant is in working condition but there’s not enough flow from it to allow continued use for firefighting. However, it’s a good idea to keep the pump anyway because it is useful for water flushing, he explained.

In answer to questions about fire protection, he reassured council that he’s talked to the fire department and “the fire hydrants are not a safety concern for the community. For firefighting, it’s not an issue. Chief Knott knows about it.”



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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Finally, it’s down. Clean-up continues at the site on Neva Road of a derelict house that had come right off its foundations and was ordered demolished. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Finally, it’s down. Clean-up continues at the site on Neva Road of a derelict house that had come right off its foundations and was ordered demolished. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

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