Is incorporation Shawnigan Lake’s future?

The members of the Shawnigan Residents’ Association have decided to see a possibility instead of a problem.

Unhappy with the current model of governance in their community, they’re actively working to change the status quo.

“This is not about how (Area B directors) do their job,” SRA president Garry Horwood stressed. “It’s about the structure they work within.”

The group of Shawnigan Lakers wants to have direct control over Shawnigan-specific issues — such as the watershed, logging and development — without the influence of other jurisdictions within the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

That’s why they’re pushing for municipality-status in Shawnigan Lake — sans other south-end communities.

“We have the potential to be outnumbered,” Horwood explained. “Certainly Mill Bay is going ahead with development in a huge way, and so their needs and their vision and focus as an area would be much different than ours.

“We’d be right back where we started from, where we are with the CVRD model.”

In fact, it was the SRA who initiated phase one of the — currently stalled — south Cowichan incorporation study a few years ago.

“It started out to look at Area B, Shawnigan Lake, as a standalone municipality, and we were the ones who started it and got the funding, and that was our baby,” Horwood said, adding that “morphed into” a study of incorporating Mill Bay, Malahat, Cobble Hill and Shawnigan together.

The SRA isn’t interested in that concept, though.

“We need to look at and search out other models that we feel might be better suited to the needs of Shawnigan Lake,” Horwood said.

Models such as the employed by Metchosin.

The SRA recently hosted Metchosin Mayor John Ranns at its AGM to talk about the benefits of thinking small.

Metchosin, Horwood pointed out, is a community of less than 5,000, with just five full-time staff members and not a single parcel of land rezoned since incorporation

It also has no debt, and can build what it needs when it needs to with money it has set aside.

Horwood suggests a similar approach would allow Shawnigan to preserve its rural lifestyle, and prevent being swallowed by the urban areas proposed for an incorporated south Cowichan community.

“We’ve been keeping the provincial government informed and have met with them a couple of times during the past 2 1/2 years,” Horwood added.

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