Berkey’s Corner, one of the most densely populated area of North Cowichan lacks representation and a meeting of area residents this past week decided to do something about it.

This issue, and the apparent increase in density of a subsidized social housing project next to the curling rink on Sherman Road, came out of a meeting in the Sikh Temple Seniors Centre sponsored by Tek Manhas, North Cowichan municipal counsellor. North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring was also in attendance.

Manhas has been calling local neighbourhood Tek Talks meetings in order to hear about local issues.

Comments from the audience immediately attacked the social housing project proposed for next to the curling rink as being out-of-character with the neighbourhood and in the wrong location.

“This is a recreation area,” said Sarge Bawa. “We already face heavy traffic in the area and a lack of parking. People come from all over the region to use these facilities. We should keep it for recreation.”

Manhas noted that the neighbourhood had been totally against the location for social housing, adding that the fact the project is proceeding demonstrates area residents don’t have an effective voice.

“You’ve got to get together and form a community association,” Manhas said. He also noted that the housing project has grown in scope from the 64 units originally proposed to the 95 units that are now included in the plans.

Siebring told the meeting that the area was the most densely populated neighbourhood in North Cowichan and seriously lacked representation, plus being one of the hardest to adequately conduct community consultation.

“Its a sad fact of life that if you can’t make yourself heard through a community association, members of council are not likely to pay much attention to your needs,” Siebring said.

Manhas also recommended that an ad hoc representative group from the community seek a meeting with the head of North Cowichan planning to determine if the increase in size of the project should be put to public hearing.

As the meeting concluded several people in the audience volunteered to begin work on forming a community association, as well as seeking a meeting with the planning department.

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