Point Ideal resident Roy Sandsmark first raised his concerns about the access road at Lakeview Park in May 2018. (Gazette file)

Lake Cowichan town council revisiting decision to limit parking at Lakeview Park

Previous discussion followed presentation by Roy Sandsmark, who lives at Point Ideal, near the park.

Lake Cowichan town councillors are again looking at the best way to handle parking congestion at Lakeview Park beach.

Coun. Kristine Sandhu said April 16 that the subject has been discussed before [in May 2018] and some decisions made but that it was time to take another look at possible problems.

The previous discussion had followed a presentation by Roy Sandsmark, who lives at Point Ideal, near the park.

https://www.cowichanvalleycitizen.com/news/video-local-resident-asks-councillors-to-improve-safety-at-lakeview-park-beach/

Sandhu said she wanted to see further discussion.

“Last fall we would go down to Lakeview Park and we were told at that time that there were going to be cement blocks put on the road to prevent cars from coming down.”

She then questioned officials as to why this was being done, adding that she learned then that council had made a decision.

“I recently went back into the minutes of public works from last year to find out about that motion. This is the motion: That it be recommended that a vehicle barrier is to be installed 200 metres from Lakeview Beach and is to be controlled during the summer season by the Lakeview Park employees but which will be closed during the off season with the beach being accessible only by foot traffic. And that three handicapped and three drop off parking spaces be created at the beach area.”

Her research led her to question that.

“Why did this come to council? Was it a recommendation from the staff to do it? How is the summer staff supposed to control traffic at that area? I don’t understand what that means; they are all over the park. There’s not somebody allocated there to specifically do that.

“Also, we have residents who utilize the beach area, being only able to walk in slowly. There was one woman in particular who talked about it to us that she had heard the rumbles that it was going to be closed off and she had concerns. She goes every day to do aquacise. She said there’s not another area where she could actually walk in in the way she can walk in with her legs, and her hips, and her knees, and that without injuring herself. I just wondered why this was decided,” Sandhu said.

Coun. Carolyn Austin, parks committee chair, told her, “We did have a resident [Roy Sandsmark] come and talk to us about that, and had a big discussion about it. That’s where that came from. I said: ‘Why can’t we put the three handicapped spots down there for that woman and others. Because it is a long walk down that road. Three drop off was for babies. The concrete barriers were just going to be put in place for the winter.”

Sandhu pursued, “Why do they have to be there? You’ve got a speed bump at the entrance to that road. There’s a gate there. If it’s seasonal, it’s one thing but people think this is a permanent solution. If it’s one resident complaining, I don’t know about what, that area was there before the residents moved in down there in Point Ideal. The traffic is the traffic. I’ve spent a lot of time down there and I’ve never come up against any big issues there.”

She also said she didn’t think students working at the park in the summer should have to be “monitoring people double parking”.

And as for a drop-off area for kids, “Is [a mother] supposed to drop her kids off down there and then drive back? Who’s with the kids? There’s not a lot of parking at the top. Are we going to congest that? I just don’t think this was properly researched out and if one person is complaining because of noise and they live near there, well you built there!” Sandhu said. “That area is for our community, for our residents to use and one person should not be dictating to council.”

Coun. Lorna Vomacka said, “There was also concern because so many people go down there and there are no designated handicapped places. People were parking down there all day long. Nagi Rizk was also concerned at the time because people were starting to park along that roadway. He said there were some issues with safety down there. Also, if you ever had an accident down there and had to get the fire truck or the ambulance down there, that there were so many people parking it was getting congested.”

But Sandhu was still not convinced.

“I’ve spent most of my summers down there and never seen a problem. Most people are respectful and there are kids running in that parking lot. I just believe we need to take this away,” she said.

Dalton Smith then said, “The amount of parking from the beach to the top was designed for 75 vehicles. We tried a drop off area and it just didn’t work. People would just park there. Actually, except for when we have those big events like Sunfest, when it does get congested, it’s not that much of a problem. The idea that we’d have some designated signs out there for handicapped or special needs? That’s a good idea. For ambulances and fire trucks? It’s better to come through the campsite. Actually the superintendent was not concerned about that kind of stuff. It was the presenters, people not wanting to have groups down there. There were also noise concerns. That’s why we don’t rent out the campsites right close to that road, next to those neighbours, unless we know who they are.”

Austin then said, “It is true that when you build your house next to a pig farm, you can’t complain about the pig farm.”

Coun. Tim McGonigle added, “The decision on this was based on the best information afforded us at the time. There were a number of close calls on the trail apparently, according to certain people. If it’s looking to re-investigate the need for that, we can certainly do it. And if it’s an alternate decision that we come up with, it’s this table that owns it. Parking congestion will not be negated. It’s a popular spot. People are looking for river and lake access all the time. People are looking for river and lake access all the time.

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