We are approaching the close of the limited entry political season of local civic elections on Nov. 19 when it will be decided who gets the prizes and trophies. I hope you will bear with me in this analogy of comparing the similarity of the Limited Entry Hunting (LEH) philosophy with civic elections and the situation at Maple Lake in Cumberland.
In LEH a certain number of qualified hunters are allowed by a lottery draw system to hunt for select animals, and it is a privilege to get an LEH draw. In civic elections a limited number of qualified citizens are elected to make decisions on some very important trophies such as the future of Maple Lake. In the case of Maple Lake, which is located on private land owned by Hancock Timber Company, it has been one of the trophies discussed in both provincial and civic elections for many years.
Our current Minister of Agriculture Don McRae electioneered on the importance of solving the Maple Lake situation in the last provincial election. I have been writing about the importance of Maple Lake as an urban lake to the health and well-being of the Comox Valley people for about 20 years. Over that period, the Cumberland Rotary Club and the Courtenay and District Fish and Game Protective Association are two organizations that have expressed support for a solution leading to a municipal park for future generations of Comox Valley residents to enjoy. I have yet to hear a politician who did not support the concept.
Last Sunday I drove up to Maple Lake to refresh myself about this magnificent gem in our Valley. Accompanying this column is one of the pictures I took as I tried to capture a portion of the beauty of this unpolished natural jewel in our midst.
As I stood by the still waters the surface was frequently broken by feeding trout as they took insects from the smooth surface. In the background I could hear the laughter and excitement from a family that was shore fishing some distance down the shoreline.
In the meantime, at my feet at the launch site were schools of sticklebacks (small fish) swimming in short, quick bursts as is their custom. Possibly one of the best surprises was that in my walk down to the lake and along the paths I never saw one piece of garbage of any type. Somebody has made a huge effort in keeping this special place clean. “Thank-you.”
If you wonder why I believe this small lake is so important I will refer to a book I am currently reading that puts many things about nature in perspective for our modern society – The Nature Principle by Richard Louv, published in Canada by Thomas Allen & Sons Ltd. 2011, $29.95
On page 252: “Theodore Roosevelt argued in his later years, that parents had a moral obligation to make sure their children didn’t suffer from nature deficiency.” Pages 251 to 264 give very compelling reasons to get on with the job of creating a park at Maple Lake. I strongly recommend you read this timely book.
About two weeks ago I stood on the edge of the fish and game clubhouse pond and watched with interest as someone assisted a person in a wheelchair down the ramp to fish off the anchored raft in the almost fishless shallow pond.
I thought how appropriate it would have been for this person to be wheeled onto a raft at Maple Lake, which is generously stocked with trout on a regular basis by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC for residents of the province.
Fishing aside, Maple Lake is a treasure where people of the Valley can come in contact with the healing influence of nature at so many levels. The shoreline is suitable for quiet walks; the lake itself is suitable for bird watching, kayaking, canoeing and other non-motorized aquatic activities that bring us into contact with nature. The lake is situated in the Village of Cumberland, but in my view it is truly a Comox Valley suburban lake.
Question to candidates in the civic election on Nov. 19: Do you favour park status for Maple Lake?
Ralph Shaw is a master fly fisherman who was awarded the Order of Canada in 1984 for his conservation efforts. In 20 years of writing a column in the Comox Valley Record it has won several awards.