Cowichan River to see more alcohol enforcement after resident complaints
Less than two months after the Town of Lake Cowichan lifted its temporary ban on tubing down the Cowichan River during the COVID-19 pandemic, residents are complaining about rowdy behaviour, littering and trespassing on riverfront properties.
One local tube rental company says they are not to blame for the actions of a few bad apples.
"People are able to go on their own – they take their own tubes and unfortunately we can’t control their behaviour," says Gillian Longbottom with the Tube Shack. "If you’re here to party, don’t come."
For many Vancouver Island residents, tubing on the Cowichan is a summertime rite of passage.
"I have a couple of things on my bucket list with the island and tubing down the Cowichan is one," said first-time tuber Jen Barton on Tuesday.
Barton and two friends planned to share a six-pack on th ctv news vancouver island e relaxing journey.
"If you’re going to have a beer… take your can with you," Barton advised. "Just be respectful.”
But residents say that respect has been lacking, especially on weekends.
Lake Cowichan acting mayor Tim McGonigle has heard the complaints of public drunkenness and trespassing on private docks, but he says there's little the town can do to control behaviour on the river.
"The town does not have authority or jurisdiction on the river," McGonigle said. "That is within the Ministry of Transportation."
The Tube Shack says it put up signs along the river to curb the behaviour and the town will now be following suit.
Residents Tom and Veronica Clarkson have lived along the tubing route for 30 years.
"It’s like the Wild West. They’re drinking and carrying on and they just have no regard for the community," said Tom, who admits the couple have even seen people defecate on the river bank.
"They just dropped their drawers and blatantly… they weren’t even trying to be discrete about it at all,” said Veronica.
The acting mayor said the town will be erecting signs discouraging drinking near the river.
Those signs will be followed by an increased police presence targeting alcohol consumption in the area, McGonigle said.