The thick dotted line south of the Town of Lake Cowichan shows the proposed route of the new bypass road. (Town of Lake Cowichan map)

Province agrees to fund investigation of new Lake Cowichan bypass

Province won’t build the road but is ready to start the ball rolling by paying for the first step

Initial talks have begun towards getting the Town of Lake Cowichan a second Cowichan River crossing of the Cowichan River that could potentially create a bypass on the east side of town.

Mayor Rod Peters met recently with officials from the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure about the need and said that meeting resulted in a promise of funding.

“We’ve finally got our foot in the door to get a bypass road. It’s for emergency purposes, mostly, in the case of a forest fire or an earthquake, or whatever else could happen,” Peters said. “It’s also for economic development for the town and access to Block 200. It could also be a bypass for heavy trucks, logging trucks, because it’s very precarious for the logging trucks to go through what they call traffic calming [which is prevalent along the main street of Lake Cowichan]. It would be a lot easier for everybody if the logging trucks didn’t have to go by there.

“They [the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure] are going to do a study for us, they’re willing to put some funds forward, to look at doing it in phases.

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The proposed route would be from Highway 18 somewhere east of the current town entrance, across the river into Hudgrove Road, along Block 200 and then across TimberWest land to come out west of town on South Shore Road near the entrance to Lakeview Park, he said.

Talks with the provinvial government began after Peters wrote back in March to MOTI Minister Claire Trevena on behalf of the town, other local politicians, economic development people, business and community interests, and Lake Cowichan’s Ts’uubaa’asatx First Nation.

MOTI representative Michael Pearson, in an email to Peters July 4, said the ministry would be ready to get started on “a high level cost estimate that can inform further planning and budgetary work for the design and construction of the entire bypass alignment. This can also be broken down into components (i.e. the bridge crossing and perhaps sections of the bypass.”

“The ministrty is not committing to funding or undertaking the construction of a bypass route. As discussed, I suspect that a significant portion, if not all of this bypass would be constructed through a subdivision development process. This work, however, will inform everyone of the order of magnitude of costs needed to achieve this.”

And that excites the mayor.

“I think it’s pretty exciting for us after I don’t know how many years of trying to get a bypass that we’ve finally got somebody doing something on it. It won’t happen in my time but as long as we can get inside the door there, it’s good.”

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