Cowichan News Leader

Lake residents push for equal access pool decision

A wave of Cowichan Lake area residents demanding equal access to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in Duncan is starting to grow. - Andrew Leong/file
A wave of Cowichan Lake area residents demanding equal access to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre in Duncan is starting to grow.
— image credit: Andrew Leong/file

Whether or not Lake Cowichan folk will pay in to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre's funding formula is a decision coming soon to the community, hints Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest.

"There has been very strong interest from the public on this," Forrest said, noting a recent delegation of 19 community members pushing for equal pool access at a recent council meeting.

"We do want engagement from the community and I've been receiving a lot of emails on this," he said. "There have also been people who have verbally said they don't want it too. I appreciate both sides of the discussion."

Although Forrest wouldn't say which side he was swaying to, he confirmed talks would reach the board table in the next couple weeks.

Before a vote takes place, village staff, who've been plugging away on their calculators, will calculate the tax hit to the community.

Lake Cowichan's Tamara McDonald is one of several residents pushing for equal access.

"As a young, middle-class family in Lake Cowichan, I have watched with frustration while children from Duncan and other municipalities enjoy the amenities that the Duncan pool offers," she wrote in an email to the News Leader Pictorial. "I see them in swimming classes, I see people using the gym to get fit, and I see the disabled and the elderly exercising and staying involved with their community.

"I feel concern that my children are missing out on this experience just because of where I chose to buy a home, and because my husband chose to work here."

To McDonald keeping connected with the surrounding Cowichan Valley is hugely important.

"It matters to me that we remain an interesting and hopeful community for young families to come to. This is something that we need," she said. "I have children in playschool in town, and we enroll our children in sports here.

"We enjoy the lake and all you do to bring us wonderful activities," she said, adding, "it matters to me that we remain an interesting and hopeful community for young families to come to. This is something we need."

Lake Cowichan and the adjacent rural area is among the few Cowichan Valley to resist contributing tax dollars to the Duncan pool in exchange for the two-tier payment formula being waived for their residents.

In December, Cowichan Valley Regional District directors reached an agreement to drop two-tier fees  for Mill Bay, Cowichan Bay, Cobble Hill and Shawnigan Lake.

And more recently, Loren Duncan, the representative of residents living in Cowichan Station, Sahtlam and Glenora made a January offer through the CVRD to adopt a similar agreement. Pool partners Duncan and North Cowichan responded by indicating further negotiations would be necessary.

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