The idea of an official roundtable being formed regarding the protection of the Ladysmith watershed is one step closer to fruition.
Watershed advocate and Ladysmith resident Greg Roberts first proposed the idea to town council with the hope of putting together a group to orchestrate formal talks.
Now Mayor Aaron Stone has said that it is “essentially formed now.” A recent public meeting saw presentations from similar setups south in the Cowichan Valley with a large turnout highlighting strong interest for one in Ladysmith.
Stone, Roberts and Stz’uminus First Nation Chief John Elliott were all in attendance and all are set to play active roles in the group, whether it be a roundtable or a committee in formal terms.
“I’m excited about it,” said Stone. “We wanted to get everyone together before the summer when people are nailed down and now we’ll do the next step of getting public feedback so we can prioritize what people are looking for. After that, we can then have another public meeting to come up with forming it.”
Representatives from the Town, Stz’uminus First Nation, TimberWest, CVRD Areas G and H and local user groups such as the Ladysmith Sportsmen’s Club will all likely be involved in the roundtable.
“I see the discussion being not so much about what pipes we’re putting in the ground but more about protecting the watershed specifically. “One way to do that is obviously to put a fence up say it’s fixed and lock everybody out, but we have so many user groups so we want to preserve their access as well as maintain good drinking water.”
Nearby TimberWest’s work is regular and the watershed, made up of Holland Lake, Stocking Lake and Chicken Ladder, is also close to Crown land in some areas.
Stone also sees the roundtable as another way of preserving and enhancing the town’s close relationship with Stz’uminus First Nation.
“It’s another good opportunity for us to come together,” said Stone. “It’s important that the communities see us working together in the public eye rather than just at the small meetings we have. The strength of our relationship will help with the sustainability factor in the work that we do. There’s lots of good stuff going on.”