Council again talked briefly about the possibility of a levy on tubes to help defray the cost of river-access-related maintenance.
“I think there are other ways of dealing with the crowds that come in and use up all the parking spaces, and don’t spend enough money in town,” said Lake Cowichan CAO Joe Fernandez. “Shoppers could be using those spaces, people that go into restaurants could use them. We have two-hour parking spots in places but that’s not really enforced on weekends.”
Coun. Tim McGonigle said that he thought the idea was “well-intentioned” but that it “would be hard to enforce.”
He was also concerned that a levy on tube purchases or rentals taking place in Lake Cowichan would penalize local businesses.
“I’m a little bit leery of how we could go forward with this and what the end value would be.”
Austin asked, “What do they do in Penticton? They have quite a few places where tubes go down the rivers. I don’t think a levy here would help because probably a third of the people [coming to tube the Cowichan River] bring their tubes with them. I don’t think it’s really fair.”
McGonigle said that Stamp River in Port Alberni also has a large number of people tubing.
Coun. Lorna Vomacka said she didn’t think parking was that much of a problem in front of her business on the weekend.
“You could have parked four cars in front of my place. They were just coming and going, coming and going.”
Some business owners point out to folks unloading tubes that it is a two-hour parking area and they’d hate to see the visitors get a fine.
“Then they get in and move a little further down. The tubers, when they finish up, go into our local restaurants. I’d hate to see us ending up penalizing local business.”
McGonigle said he understood the intent of the idea: to prepare to meet the need to replace infrastructure sooner because of the heavier traffic.
“I, too, have noticed Point Ideal being used for overflow parking for tubing, much more than before, all the way down on both sides. And that’s on all weekends.”
Forrest said, “as for parking, the people that are going tubing that are parking in Saywell Park are not getting back in two hours. And that’s a bigger concern to me. Not that I want to charge for parking. Parking too long in one place has an effect on our local businesses downtown when local people can’t get a parking spot to get into these businesses because somebody’s tubing down the river for three or four hours. Somehow we have to look at charging only the people who are over their two hours of parking. That would take an employee taking pictures of them parking, and then there’s a punishment for them. That’s where we have a problem. The people who are going to Saywell Park at 11 o’clock in the morning, getting their tube, and are still there at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
“I think that should be looked at.”
McGonigle said, “There are six to eight weeks a year that that is problematic but we have to ensure that our local businesses as well. Perhaps we could also add that to our strategic plan discussions, how we could address that.”
Vomacka suggested that, if a town employee didn’t want to do that on a long weekend, “Perhaps we could bring in a commissionaire. There are lots of them that live in our area.”
Forrest said, “I think most people are very respectful of the signage that is in place. I don’t think that we’re trying to have a hammer on anyone. But the ones that are abusing it, especial critical places like Saywell Park. A lot of businesses rely on shoppers being able to park there and local people should be able to have some hope of finding a parking spot there. When we mentioned paying for parking before, the locals got up in arms, and rightfully so, but two hours for parking downtown is plenty.”