As a community we know water is something worth protecting and fighting for. The Shawnigan Research Group (SRG) continues to advocate for the community on two major water related issues; water quality in the Shawnigan Basin and the contaminated fill site owned by Cobble Hill Holdings. Even though the dumping at that site has ceased, there still remains more than one hundred thousand (100k) tons of contaminated fill. Most of the SRG’s time is still spent analyzing the Ministry of Environment reports and monitoring of the site. The SRG remains strongly committed to getting the contaminated soil removed. They are also working on a water quality program that will help monitor the health of the lake. Currently the Ministry of Environment is conducting some additional tests to add to the research and help further protect one of our most valued assets.
With the large amount of rain that has falling in 2018, storm water management has become a topic of concern for some homeowners: this is the type of water we don’t love so much. The Ministry of Transportation manages roadside ditches and culverts, but only to redirect water that falls on their roads. Water that creates seasonal streams and run off from higher elevations is currently not actively managed. This results in unmanned culverts, road flooding, flooding of dwellings and flooding of swampy low lying land. Storm water is usually manged by a municipality, but since Area B is not incorporated, in my opinion we need to address some of these issues. I would be interested in hearing from the community on this specifically.
Many groups share the responsibility for water protection in Shawnigan. Currently there are a few groups working on protecting areas of the watershed but not a single group bringing them all together. In early February, I met with Bruce Fraser, the President of the Shawnigan Basin Society (SBS), to discuss the Societies priorities for 2018. He felt the direction of society and its use of community funds were uncertain, but would be decided by a new board after the SBS AGM in early March. Concurrently, I have started quarterly meetings to bring together the SRG, SBS and the Shawnigan Residence Association (SRA) to discuss a Unified Watershed Management approach. So far the group has met once (in December) and will continue to meet quarterly to address ways to partner and leverage community funds. Clearly a unified approach is needed and perhaps we can learn from the model presented by the Cowichan Watershed Board.
I am interested in increasing our level of long term planning and hope a unified approach can get us there. I also believe our long term planning should include land acquisition strictly for watershed protection, not just parks. That said, I would be interested in how the community feels about this and if we are willing to invest. This year there are many initiatives in the works, but in the meantime the communities opinion on a long term vision would be very valuable. Let's chat over coffee or at the monthly director's meeting.
Over the past year the CVRD has been reaching out to communities across the Cowichan Valley to gather input on managing our most valuable asset; Water. As a region, there are many things to understand and take into consideration as the CVRD strives to balance development and the preservation of ecological systems. The Regional Water Management Strategy is large and complex initiative that will benefit greatly from lots of public input. If you have not yet had a chance to give your feedback, please visit www.placespeak.com/en/topic/5204-drinking-water-watershed-protection-service/
As most of the community has noticed, there are still large numbers of trucks coming up the Malahat to dump fill in areas such as Goldstream Heights, Cougar Ridge and Stebbings Road. The CVRD is still waiting for approval of our Soil Bylaw and the Province has let us know that they are trying to expedite the process because of the urgency of our issue. Soil dump sites are a major contributor to soil and nutrient runoff into our streams and lakes, which compromise the health of our water systems. At the CVRD, I have requested information regarding an increase in bylaw enforcement so that we are ready to deal with this issue and to properly enforce the new bylaw. Protecting our lake and our community inspires me everyday...Love it, Share it, Protect it.