Councillor Bob Day. (File photo)

Councillor Bob Day. (File photo)

Lake Cowichan council in brief: columbarium to grants in aid

If you build it, they will come: affordable housing

Affordable housing at Lake Cowichan?

“The CVRD is tackling that issue and it might be worthwhile tagging along with that,” Coun. Bob Day told his Lake Cowichan council colleagues recently.

“What we heard at the last CLECI (Cowichan Lake Elder Care Initiative) meeting that included a development expert is that if we get started on affordable housing, especially for seniors as the Baby Boom population retires in droves. We’re not even at the peak of that yet, but as they are downsizing their homes. A lot of people have been retiring and building rather large homes and living in them but what is starting to happen now is that they are looking for smaller units, as you might notice up on Grosskleg Road, that are easier to look after, and the next thing they’re going to be looking for is care.

“So, the topic of apartments or units, we were informed that because we’re far more affordable than Victoria or Vancouver or any place on the Lower Mainland, that, if we started to build those kinds of things we would quickly be overwhelmed with people coming to the area. We wouldn’t be able to keep up. That was the message brought to us. It’s something to think about from a planning perspective.

“A 400 sq. ft. apartment in Victoria is probably about half million or more. Here, it’s about $200,000. If we could offer that, we couldn’t keep up with demand,” he said.

Grant falls through for Lake’s municipal hall

Hopeful plans to upgrade to Lake Cowichan’s municipal hall with grant money fell through when the town didn’t get the grant it had applied for and now it’s time to look at new ideas.

Council will see those as soon as something is ready to come forward, CAO Joe Fernandez said.

Mayor Ross Forrest said, “What about the demolitions of the other two buildings [on the town’s list]? What type of time lines are we looking for on that?

Fernandez said that could be looked at as soon as the budget is done.

“I’m getting questions. Every person who sees me on the streets asks what are we doing about these buildings. It’s becoming a popular topic. The budget is going to be approved soon; we can wait till that’s done, we’ve waited this long,” Forrest said.

Work begins on Lake columbarium construction

The Lake Cowichan columbarium burial site is moving forward.

Tenders have been issued to the contractor. Work was scheduled to begin at the end of last week, according to CAO Joe Fernandez.

Coun. Bob Day asked, “Would the ones who won that contract be the ones who design that project?”

“Yes,” Fernandez replied.

“Can we get moving, or do we still have to wait [on Greendale trestle work]?” Day asked.

“Once the contract has gone out, we’ll work with them,” Fernandez said. “We’ll have a better idea soon.”

Coun. Carolyne Austin, “Somebody asked me yesterday if we are taking names of people that want to buy a niche?”

Mayor Ross Forrest suggested, “I think we should start advertising that if people want to put their names on a list, they can.”

Day said he was worried about capacity if people were pre-purchasing.

Forrest replied, “You’ve seen the pictures of the columbariums they have at Mountainview [Cemetery in Duncan]. You could fit 10 of them in this room easily. They’re less than the size of this table and you can go as high as you want. You can get 10 of these tables quite easily in this room. And this room is 1/15 the size of the property down there. It shouldn’t be a concern.”

Fernandez pointed out that there is additional land on the other side of the path.

Day wants to talk decaying school building policy

Coun. Bob Day, who has been the town’s representative on the Cowichan Lake Elder Care Initiative said at a recent council meeting that a real concern for everyone is finding land at a reasonable price. He suggested that other municipalities might be in the same boat and that derelict school buildings could be a solution.

“I thought about the derelict schools we have in our town. I know that one at a time they are going away for various reasons but we still have one property left that doesn’t appear to be coming to life again, and another one that’s sitting there deteriorating even though it’s privately owned.

“There are probably other communities like us. Perhaps [Lake Cowichan could present] a resolution to the Union of BC Municipalities [convention] to ask the provincial government to establish a fund so schools that are no longer used as schools, either be kept in pristine condition or got rid of rather than let them rot. Because they are letting them rot. And I know we can point our fingers at the school district but they would say: ‘They don’t give us money to do that’. But here we are with buildings in our municipality and I’m sure there are other municipalities like us. The provincial government obviously studied the heck out of it before they built schools. They know demographics and so they know exactly when the person who starts school today, they know when they are going to be out of school. They know when these schools are coming to their end of life.

“They have far better ways and means of predicting the lifespan of the usefulness of that building than we do. Yet we end up having to stare and look at them every day. So I just want council to consider crafting a resolution to take to the UBCM that the provincial government establish a fund to deal with derelict school buildings.”

Council will consider the idea of such a motion.

Lake Cowichan council approves grants in aid

Lake Cowichan town council has approved its grants in aid for 2018.

They include: Cowichan Lake Lady of the Lake: $500; First Cowichan Scouts: $750; LCS dry grad: $500; LCS scholarships: two at $500 each; for a total of $2,750.

In 2019, there will be two scholarships of $750 each.

Any money left in that account is saved for emergent grants in aid, council learned.