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Plan for summer tubing good news for town

Town of Lake Cowichan businesses can sure use a few more people through the doors.

We were pleased last week when it was announced that tubing will be allowed this summer on the Cowichan River from starting points in Lake Cowichan.

Notably, The Tube Shack will be allowed to open and invite visitors for a fun summer day of floating down the waterway that runs through the heart of town.

When town council decided to ban summer tubing due to fears of spreading COVID-19, as the summer activity has normally involved large crowds congregating at tubing businesses and common launch sites, we wondered in an editorial if a ban would be very effective, because it would be so hard to police. After all, town officials could block off municipal entry points, but would be unable to police private property, or property outside of the town’s boundaries (the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s Area F, which borders the town, had no plans to ban tubing from its territory).

We are pleased to see that tubing will not become the privilege of an elite few able to own waterfront property in Lake Cowichan, but will, once again, be open to the masses, from Lake Cowichan and outside.

What the town and The Tube Shack have come up with sounds like an excellent compromise of business as usual, addressing the crowd control issues that led to so much worry in the first place. It makes sense to only allow groups of 20 to set out at a time, so social distancing should be able to be maintained, as long as individuals behave themselves. So far, during the pandemic, people have been mostly very good about leaving others the requisite two metres.

Another consideration is that the Town of Lake Cowichan businesses can sure use a few more people through the doors. COVID-19 has hit businesses everywhere hard, some having to close for months, while others saw steep revenue declines. Many businesses in the Cowichan Lake area rely on tourism in the summer months to get them through an often lean winter. Everything from restaurants to gift shops need those summer visitors to make ends meet. It is already likely that there will not be the usual volume of tourists headed for, well, anywhere this summer, as many travel restrictions remain. Many big events, such as those at Laketown Ranch have had to be postponed, as gatherings over 50 people remain banned this summer.

Hopefully, Cowichan Lake’s camping opportunities and outdoor activities, tubing included, will still bring some people to visit paradise, and their spending money with them.