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Town of Lake Cowichan needs more public recreational access to river, lake

An old idea is again rearing its head: should Little Beach be acquired for public use?
’We missed the boat on Little Shaw,’ says Lake Cowichan Coun. Tim McGonigle on the need to acquire public parks on the lake and river. (Submitted)

One of Lake Cowichan council’s ongoing challenges is finding ways to provide more recreational access to the water.

Coun. Bob Day said Jan. 16, “The problem with this, and I challenge people when they bring it up is, where do you think the lake is? They are looking for more access within the town and the lake isn’t in the town.”

It is a problem that the town is named Lake Cowichan and yet it’s the Cowichan River than runs through it, while the town itself has little lake access.

“I really would like to express the need to pave at least the first section of the road to the public beach [at Lakeview Park on Cowichan Lake],” said Nagi Rizk, Town Works superintendent. “I think that is a great access to the lake. I speak from personal experience. I’ve been using that beach since I came here. That’s one area that really needs to be more accessible. We spent quite a bit more than we budgeted on it last summer and in the winter, it’s potholes, even though there are no beachgoers. I think it is a good thing to have that beach accessible all year round.”

Then Rizk brought up an old idea.

“On the river side, I’d like to bring this up, even though it’s outside the town. I think Little Beach should be on our radar. I know the tube companies land there. That’s private enterprise but it’s good for the town. Lake Cowichan should at least work with the CVRD on Little Beach.”

The popular small beach on Greendale Road has been a swimming hole for decades but in recent years, Lake Cowichan’s tubing companies use it for picking up their customers who have finished their float trip through the community. However, the beach is not publicly owned.

“Being a public works guy, out on the road with the public, I see it definitely as an asset to have that beach as the transfer point to bring people back. If that goes, because that property is privately owned, I don’t know what would happen to those businesses. There needs to be a solution to all this,” Rizk said.

Mayor Ross Forrest asked, “Could we ask the CVRD, as part of their parks acquisition fund that we all pay into whether you’re from Lake Cowichan or Mill Bay or anywhere in between? I think Little Beach is so vital, as Nagi says, to our economic success here in this town, that it should be purchased as park rather than privately owned.”

Coun. Tim McGonigle said in his experience at the CVRD, none of the parks chosen for acquisition were within the west end of the Cowichan Valley.

“I think we missed the boat on Little Shaw by not identifying that as an opportunity for a regional park. We could champion for Little Beach from a regional position, arguing the economic impact not only to our area, but to the surrounding regional district area. [Visitors] come through the regional district to come up here to Lake Cowichan. I would hope our regional district representative could take that to the next regional services meeting and indicate our interest in putting that in the gamut of regional parks acquisitions,” he said.

Day, council’s current CVRD representative, said, “Having been involved in many discussions, I will say that Little Beach is not on the radar at all, nor are any other properties around the lake. In the back of my mind, I’ve been waiting for the watershed management bylaw to see what money will be set aside to buy waterfront property on the biggest puddle we have in the whole Valley, right here, and the Shaw Creek and areas like that should be considered. I really would appreciate if this table could write a letter to the CVRD asking for the board to consider it.”

Council endorsed that idea.