By Tom Lupton, Director
Summer is my favorite season. It is our reward after a wet autumn, a cold winter, and an uncommitted spring. With summer comes long days of hot weather, ice cream in the village, beautiful sunsets and for my family, a visit to Vancouver. Vancouver is a great city with some of my best friends living there, but one of the parts of Vancouver that I like the best is when I leave and come home to Shawnigan Lake. I can barely contain my excitement when I get off the ferry and even more so when I turn onto one of the rural highways that leads to our slice of paradise.
I know I’m not the only one. Other disparate groups of people seem to enjoy our lake. For instance, those who operate old quarries and who like to put people’s drinking water at risk really like Shawnigan Lake and our lack of regulations. Day trippers love Shawnigan. They come up with their massive boats and flood the wholly inadequate government docks and surrounding roads with their trucks and trailers. It sure makes for fun driving as kids and dogs seem to dart out of nowhere as they make their way to the lake! Even those from elsewhere who simply want to come and swim in the beautiful waters of Shawnigan Lake make our streets busier and in the process contribute to the degradation of the roads, especially those near Mason’s and around the railroad tracks. And boy, do we all want to get to that lake, and get there fast. I mean really fast! I mean, breaking-the-law and putting lives in danger fast.
Who can blame these people for wanting to make a quick buck by dumping soil, or rushing to the lake to enjoy our natural beauty (the deep irony of these two competing activities is patently obvious)? If I lived in a big city in the summer I would want to get to Shawnigan Lake or somewhere like it as quickly and often as possible, so the driving motivation for our guests is well understood.
The problem is that it is the local population that pays the price. After the boats are gone, the milfoil will remain. After the drivers have left, the potholes still lurk. After the dump is capped, the toxins will still leach. And when the daytrippers go home, they leave with the same reckless speed that they arrived in. And so we are left with proverbial bills to pay and a lake to restore and much of it is from the actions of others.
Our current recourse is to rant on Facebook, gripe at the coffee shop, pen mediocre articles for local newspapers, or petition governmental organizations that seem to pay little heed to our plight.
Or we can explore incorporation to see if it’s feasible, and if it is, we can start better protecting this little gem of ours so that when the seasons change the sanctity of our community doesn’t change with them