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Letter: Include recreation feature in new weir

Creation of one small surf-wave just below one of the weir out-flow gates
Paddlers would like to see a recreation feature added to the new weir design at Cowichan Lake. (Photo courtesy of Rick Bryan)

Include recreation feature in new weir

Go to your recycling bin, dig out the last edition of the Citizen (23/09/14), and re-read Miyo Stevens’ excellent letter, “Need weir now.” It absolutely nails a crucial issue.

It reminds me of what the old farmer said: “The water ain’t gonna clear up until we get the pig outta the pond!” That “pig”, of course, is climate change. One sentence in Miyo’s letter resonates: “We need this weir… to give us time to re-learn healthy water ways, and to teach ourselves and our children to become better water stewards.”

“Give us time?” Certainly the weir will buy time, by storing water to maintain higher river flows in drought conditions. But how will the weir design specifically “teach (us) to become better water stewards” and thereby oppose climate change?

The best way to inspire commitment to river stewardship among young folks is to engage them in safe “green” river recreation. River paddlesports — kayaking, canoeing, rafting, SUPing — are gravity and human powered. No fumes, emissions, or litter! No damage to habitat, fish passage or riparian areas! Just safe green fun, and often a lifetime commitment to spreading those values around.

The river paddlesport community has proposed a showcase learning feature for inclusion in the weir design — creation of one small surf-wave just below one of the weir out-flow gates. This won’t interfere with prescribed water releases. It will be entirely fish-friendly. The general public will be able to observe this recreational feature, and engage with paddlers, perchance to join in the fun and learn “healthy water ways.”

Note that in July, 2020, the CVRD held a public-input event regarding weir replacement. One question was, “Would you like to see a watercourse (play-wave channel) included in the weir design?” Local taxpayers’ response — 59 per cent in favour!

The new weir construction will be funded through government grants. Paddlers are already pursuing supplementary grant funding to support the recreational feature. Further icing on the cake — a play feature in the weir design will likely pay for itself by increasing tourist revenue, especially for the Town of Lake Cowichan.

If you share our vision to “teach our children to become better water stewards” through responsible river recreation, please speak to your municipal council, your CVRD area director, your MLA and your MP. Ask them to support inclusion of recreational value in the weir design.

Oh, and here’s the best part — adults can recreate too! Contact me to find out how we can put YOU into a boat for some safe green fun! (“South Island Whitewater Club” — Facebook and webpage). See you on the river!

Rick Bryan

North Cowichan