Shawnigan Focus, August 2014
By Lois Morrow
Anyone who enjoys boating or swimming in Shawnigan Lake, picnicking along the shores, or simply admiring a sunset from the beach received some good news at the July 22 Electoral Area Services meeting of the CVRD. At that meeting directors voted to proceed with obtaining three permits to construct Beach Access Parks at the Verlon Road, Trenant Road, and Millicent Road road ends, and to proceed with a feasibility study for Bellendean Road.
The road end at Verlon Road is slated for construction of three to four vehicle parking stalls, plus a safe trail with stairs leading to the lake. The road end at Trenant Road will have a path developed, with stairs to provide access down the slope to the lake. The road end at Millicent Road will have a pedestrian path leading to a suitable location for swimming at the end of the right of way. All funding will come from the Area B Parks Commission budget.
This all seems fairly straight-forward but it is not, for several reasons. First, because Shawnigan Lake is an electoral area and not a municipality, jurisdiction over all roads and road ends belongs to the Ministry of Transportation. Any construction of these Access Parks must take place in conjunction with, and after obtaining the agreement of, this provincial department. Five road ends, the four previously mentioned as well as Butler Roadside, were recently released for local development after being identified by the Area B Parks Commission. (Butler Roadside was assessed as having no development opportunities, primarily because of multiple private built encumbrances which would require sorting out of jurisdiction).
Second, the Shawnigan Improvement District is a separate government entity which must be included in any decision making regarding road ends. The District is responsible for providing two service functions: street lighting and firefighting, and obviously they require access through the road ends for their vehicles as well as to be able to pump lake water for firefighting purposes. Sixteen road ends are currently designated as access points for Shawnigan's Fire Department.
Finally the Area B Parks Commission, made up of residents appointed by the Area Director and chaired by Margaret Symon, has been attempting for many years to take over management of all seventy-four road ends around our lake. Residents of Shawnigan will be familiar with two long standing road end developments at Recreation Road and the Village Boat Launch, and slowly (very slowly) others are being transferred to local management.
The Shawnigan Residents Association was formed almost twenty years ago as a group of lakefront property owners, and although our association has evolved to represent the interests of all residents of Area B, we recognize that Shawnigan Lake itself will always be the jewel within our community. Careful development around the lake and within the watershed will always be a priority for the association, as it is for all community members.
Not every road end can, nor should, be made accessible to the public. These three new access points were identified as priorities by the Area B Parks Commission. The Shawnigan Residents Association supports their efforts to press for local control of the road ends around our lake.