It’s been a long time coming.
Finally, with the inclusion of the Town of Lake Cowichan, most areas of the Cowichan Valley are now partners in the Cowichan Aquatic Centre.
It’s been a loud, long fight to get everyone on the same page – and the same fee structure.
They are baby steps, to be sure, and there are still a few scattered electoral areas in the Cowichan Lake area that are not part of the deal, but the movement forward and the accommodations being made give us some optimism about the future of regional recreation agreements in our Valley.
We remember well when the Aquatic Centre was being built and only three partners were willing to come to the table in any fashion.
The new pool opened its doors with only the Municipality of North Cowichan, the City of Duncan and Cowichan Tribes as partners in the endeavour.
It was rancorous to even get that far.
Then there was the two-tier fee structure, where those who were not partners had to ante up more money at the door.
This went over like a lead balloon with some, who argued that even though they didn’t pay through their taxes in any way they should get the same privileges as those who did – something those who were contributing tax dollars to the facility weren’t thrilled to hear.
Some even said they’d take their money and head to Nanaimo or Victoria instead of paying the higher fee.
The point was, and remains, that if we want these types of facilities and amenities, we have to be willing to pay our fair share, no matter where in the Cowichan Valley they are located.
That’s the heart of the idea of regional recreation.
Something for nothing is great, but not very practical when we’re talking about trying to build a community.
Neither is a strict user-pay model. If we stuck to that we wouldn’t have anything – no schools, no rural roads, no recreation facilities.
There’s still significant resistance to the idea of paying for recreation facilities regionally. But it’s time to stop clinging to the old grudges and entrenchments and move forward with partnerships and progress.
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