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Unplugged webcam raising safety concerns for Cowichan Lake drivers

The Ministry of Transportation says this Skutz Falls webcam should be enough to address road condition questions for those travelling between Duncan and Lake Cowichan. Many Lake Cowichan residents disagree. - DriveBC
The Ministry of Transportation says this Skutz Falls webcam should be enough to address road condition questions for those travelling between Duncan and Lake Cowichan. Many Lake Cowichan residents disagree.
— image credit: DriveBC

Planning a drive from Cowichan Lake to Duncan is not what it used to be.

And that has left many Cowichan Lake residents are unhappy

Near the end of 2013, The Ministry of Transportation and Highways moved the webcam that allowed drivers to view Highway 18 road conditions at Hill 60 online .

Instead, it now covers the Pacific Rim Circle route from Mesachie Lake, at the intersection of South Shore Road and Pacific Marine Road.

That move has infuriated many Cowichan Lake residents who claim road conditions were always worst at the old location and gave drivers the best idea of road conditions along Highway 18.

“I have nothing against a camera in Mesachie, but the one on Hill 60 was always our go-to one. That is the one that let us know what the worst part of the highway would look like. Absolutely sucks that it is gone,” wrote Amanda Riley Sawatzky on the Lake Gazette’s Facebook page.

“That camera has been a godsend to so many of us over the years. There are also local and out-of-town sports and school teams that use it to provide a safe travel experience for their members,” Rose Darling posted.

The camera has yet to start operating at the new location.

“I think it shows that whoever is moving the camera isn’t aware how different the weather can be at Hill 60 and how necessary the camera is for people to plan a safe trip down Highway 18 in inclement weather,” wrote Lillian Laird.

“I think that they should have left it where it was because that is a crucial spot in the winter on Highway 18. If it is ugly there I am not going anywhere near the highway. The powers-that-be could have found the money to put another camera in Mesachie Lake for the Circle Route turnoff. Don’t cheap out on our safety,” wrote Penny Leach.

“Who ever decided to move the camera never drove Highway 18 in the winter. This is the highest spot and the best location to show road conditions. Why the need for a camera in Mesachie Lake is beyond me,” posted John Leach.

The ministry’s reason for the move was that the old camera location was close to the one at Skutz Falls, thus “providing similar information.”

“There can be a big difference between Skutz and Hill 60. I was hoping they would put it near Paldi near a street light so you can see what’s going on before leaving for work in the dark. How about adding another one?” queried Shaunne Rowbottom.

“”It’s definitely not the spot for the camera. Try the bottom of Hill 60 going up thats where we get the most snow,” wrote Leah Toivonen.

Seemingly the ministry is sticking to its guns and won’t be moving the camera back anytime soon.

“There is a highway cam nearby; about a 8.5 KM (about six minute drive) from the old Cowichan cam at Skutz Falls that should give you a fairly good idea of what’s going on the road,” said the ministry in an email.

Webcams illustrating driving conditions can be viewed online at DriveBC’s website.

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