Quamichan plan endorsement sought

Sarah Simpson, The Citizen, Friday, June 12, 2009

It all started with a couple of friends sitting on the deck drinking wine in early 2006, said Roger Hart, chair of the Quamichan Watershed Stewardship Committee.

"We said, gee you know, it looks like the lake has been getting worse every summer."

Hart's neighbour at the time, Dr. Murray Woods, mentioned the Ministry of the Environment had just completed a study on Quamichan Lake.

"We got in touch with the Ministry. It was a very comprehensive study and it documented the dozens if not hundreds of reports that had been done on Quamichan Lake from 1951 to 2005," said Hart. "The evidence was scary. It showed over 55 years that the lake was going downhill and the rate that it was going downhill was quite dramatic.

"If you get a eutrophic lake, eventually it reaches a tipping point and you can't restore it and it just deteriorates into a not very nice looking or smelling swamp."

Hart and his neighbours were not about to see that happen with Quamichan Lake.

"We didn't want that on our doorstep so we had a public meeting in May 2006," he said. "We got Moose Hall packed and overflowing and got a ringing endorsement about establishing a stewardship committee.

And so, in June of that year, the Quamichan Stewards were born.

"It's taken us about three and a bit years to get to where we are now," said Hart. "We've spent the last 15 months or thereabouts with a very impressive working group of experts from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Deputy Engineer from North Cowichan developing a management plan for the entire Quamichan watershed."

Hart said it's finally time to bring the important plan to the public for input.

In addition to a survey on the group's website: http://www.quamichanlake.ca, where people can fill out long, or short answers and comments, a public meeting has also been scheduled.

"This public meeting is the first of several efforts to go out to people who actually have the authority to do something about it, in this case the several thousand people who own property in the watershed, to see if they agree with what we're recommending and are prepared to support it," said Hart.

The meeting, hosted by the Maple Bay Ratepayers' Association and Quamichan Stewards, runs from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 at the Maple Bay Fire Hall.

"This is a management plan, not a plan for implementation," stressed Hart. "So if we get endorsement for most of what we're recommending then the next step is to go out and start implementing the plan."