In front of The Tube Shack last summer, it took this many tubes with someone in them to beat the Guinness World Record. (Malcolm Chalmers photo)

Town of Lake Cowichan’s river rules contradict CVRD’s hope for recreation opportunities

Lake Cowichan Mayor Rod Peters said the message is “Stay safe, stay home,” but at least one CVRD official is hoping people will get out and enjoy the region.

Questions about policing the Cowichan River and just who would stop would-be tubers wanting to go for a drift this summer were raised after Peters said he and his council reluctantly opted to shut down tubing unless the COVID-19 situation changed.

“Tubing ends just maybe 300 feet from our town boundaries. All of the river, the whole river is controlled by FLNRO — the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resourse Operations. We can only stop the people before they get into the river,” said the mayor. “We are going to have the parks blocked off. Once they get in the river, they’re out of our jurisdiction. FLNRO is the one that looks after it through Vancouver Island emergency program.

SEE RELATED: Town of Lake Cowichan bans tubing on Cowichan River this summer

“The electoral areas are all FLNRO. FLNRO can control the river. If they launch their tubes from their property — because we’ll be stopping them if they try to do it from public lands — then FLNRO will get them and give them a warning or whatever, and if they get belligerent they’ll get a fine.”

Peters said that Lake Cowichan officials have been in contact with and have created a plan with the ministry. Whether or not it’ll work remains to be seen.

“Being on the river is not a big deal. If a few get through, I don’t really care,” Peters said.

What he’s worried about, though, are the crowds that typically gather outside the Tube Shack in the Jake’s on the Lake parking lot at Saywell Park.

“The Tube Shack is the only one that’s going to be open. Orca is not opening. They’re in total support of what we’re doing. But there’s a small area where The Tube Shack is, that’s what we’re worried about: having like 400 people in our little town all in the same area, jamming up all the parking and not showing social distancing with the members of our community. On any given day there’s 400-500 people down in that area and it’s a very small area. That’s what we want to stop.”

“We can let them go into the river but the thing is, the way they’re going to get there is not lawful because the Vancouver Island Emergency program says you can’t have 50 people in a group. That’s why we’re closing the river and why we’re advertising it now, just to tell people ‘we don’t want you in our town.’”

Peters said the ban isn’t picking on tubers.

“If a group of people wanted to have a bicycle rally and they want to collect down at the park there where the tubes go in, we would say ‘no’. It’s the number of people gathering on the Town property in a confined area.”

CVRD vice-chair Ian Morrison, the director for Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls), said there hasn’t been any targeted discussions around the CVRD table about tubing or otherwise using the Cowichan River for recreation and, in fact, it’s his hope that people will get out and enjoy the splendour of the Cowichan Valley, be it on the water, the trails or otherwise.

The main haul-out point for people is his area — Electoral Area F, he noted.

“I don’t think the CVRD has any intention of any sort of comment on people recreating outdoors,” Morrison said. “Our playground facilities are closed, there’s some soft openings planned for some of our outdoor recreation facilities and we want people to be out there and healthy and happy but we also want them to be very respectful of the river itself — it’s a heritage river…and we want to ensure that people are safe and following our medical health officer and federal government guidelines. We want people to follow the rules and to be safe, but to enjoy the spectacular environment that we have out here.”

CoronavirusLake CowichanSummer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Caps help BCHL score commitment record

The BCHL saw 172 players commit to post-secondary institutions this past season

Murray Hatfield and Teresa present evening of magic and comedy streaming live May 29

The Duncan Volunteer Fire Department is inviting you to an evening of magic and comedy

Chemainus animal sanctuary needs your vote in nationwide contest

RASTA is up for $5,000 from Nutram; contest runs until May 31

Woman charged in fatal accident back in court on June 2

Sara Rosetta Thomas faces six charges in 2018 incident

Heartfelt memories of Derek Descoteau four years later

Victim of Chemainus murder and his brother leave a huge impact on a large group of friends

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

West Coast Trail to remain closed for now

Federal government won’t open world-famous trek until its First Nations are ready for visitors

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

B.C. drive-in theatre shuts down to await appeal of car limits, concession rules

Business owner Jay Daulat voluntarily closed down the theatre awaiting a health ministry decision

Most Read