Lake Cowichan resident Roy Sandsmark makes his case for increasing safety along the access to Lakeview Park beach. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

VIDEO: Local resident asks councillors to improve safety at Lakeview Park beach

There’s no need to offer direct access to the beach, Sandsmark says

Roy Sandsmark has called on Lake Cowichan town council to re-think safety at Lakeview Park beach.

The place where the pedestrian walkway crosses the access road has to be made safer before a serious accident occurs, the local business owner and 15-year Lake Cowichan resident told councillors at the May 8 meeting.

“It’s a death trap,” he said.

“With the intense use of this park nowadays, my grandkids are going to come down with their dog and someone [in a vehicle] is going to come roaring up that hill and kill them,” Sandsmark continued.

He suggested that the vehicle access road be gated where it reaches the top of the rise above the beach. That would allow the pedestrians to pass back and forth to the beach and the campsite without having to watch for cars and trucks trying to find their way up.

“We want people to come to our town and have a safe experience and a positive one,” he said. “I know in my professional life here in Lake Cowichan, I’ve had more people phone me and email me from our stores around saying they have seen the Lake Cowichan beach and how it’s transformed that whole area of town.”

He has written to council before about concerns about the safety of the parking lot near the beach at Lakeview Park. At that time, 15 years ago, it wasn’t so busy. But now, with Sunfest, the usership of that park has gone way up.

“There’s kids in there at 10 o’clock at night smoking dope and having a lot of parties, but calling the RCMP may not necessarily be the way to go,” he said, using a hand-drawn map of the area to make his point.

“If there was a gate here, someone with a handicapped sticker could go to the gatekeeper, get the key and go down there. That would be totally fine. But what happens here is that you get a hundred or so people walking back and forth here and then there’s these cars [from the parking lot at the beach] and then we’re looking at the legalization of pot pretty soon. I guarantee they’re going to be looking for a quiet spot to go and do their stuff.

“[With a gate], now we’ve eliminated that whole issue for the RCMP in that area. Cars can’t come in there. In that way, you’re dealing with financial concerns, tourists, and the general population,” he said.

In the ensuing discussion, Sandsmark was asked what people would so if they wanted to have a barbecue down by the beach; it would be impossible to pack a propane barbecue up and down that hill, even if the visitors wanted to.

Later in the meeting, Dalton Smith, Lakeview Park manager, stood up and rebutted the idea, telling Sandsmark that his suggestion had been tried years ago but it wasn’t continued because people complained about having to walk so far to the beach and a lack of parking up above. He also pointed out that closing off the access would also make it impossible for vehicles to turn at the end of the parking area, unless even more space were taken to construct some kind of turnaround.

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Roy Sandsmark uses a hand-drawn map to show councillors what he means. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

Dalton Smith rebuts Sandsmark’s ideas with his own experience. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

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