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Lake Cowichan riverside business says rowdy tubers deterring customers

Long-time customers at Greendale Riverside Cabins say they won’t return
While most tubers on the Cowichan River are respectful and just looking for some fun in the water, as those shown in the photo, a riverside business owner says a minority of rowdy tubers are driving away business. (File photo)

The owner of a family-run business that has been in operation for more than a 100 years on the banks of the Cowichan River claims the business is facing rough waters as a result of issues related to tubers that regularly pass by during the summer months.

Tony Green, owner of Greendale Riverside Cabins, said the antics of some tubers on the river this year is causing concerns among a number of his guests, many of whom have been regular summer visitors at Greendale for decades.

He said people exiting their tubes to defecate on his property, as well as their loud swearing and cursing, is upsetting many of his customers, with a lot of them being elderly.


“Nobody wants to experience that, and this year has been worse than in the past,” Green said.

“We had a sign on the river telling people that this is private property, but that was torn down this summer, and we had a small area roped off that was great for kids staying at Greendale, but that was ripped out on the same day that our sign was torn down. Some of my regular customers are saying they may not come back next year.”

Green said the tubers were fairly well behaved about five years ago when the RCMP regularly patrolled the river for aberrant tubers, but the police are rarely seen on the river anymore, and his problem with tubers has spiralled out of control.

“Our busiest time of the year is from mid June to the end of September, which is the tubing season, so this is impacting our business in an alarming way,” he said.

A group of property owners along the river raised the same concerns with the tubers as Green early in August, stating that the drinking, loud behaviour and intrusions on their properties by a number of tubers was playing havoc with their quality of life, lowering their property values, and the constant tubing on the river was impacting the local wildlife and fish populations.

Aaron Frisby, owner of The Tube Shack and Cowabunga Tubes, the only two tube rentals businesses currently operating in Lake Cowichan, couldn’t be reached for comment on this story.


But he previously told the Gazette that his customers account for just about 30 per cent of all the tubers on the Cowichan River, with the rest bringing their own tubes and launching from other locations, but noted that he and his staff do all they can to deal with the tubing issues.

“We have put up signage and hand out waivers to our customers warning that it’s illegal to drink in public, and we put it out on social media that if people are looking to party, pollute and disrespect this area, don’t come to Lake Cowichan,” Frisby said.

“We want tubing on the river to be a family affair, and 99 per cent of our customers are families. We want everyone to act responsibly.”

Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day noted the Cowichan River crosses several jurisdictions, so the town has limited options to deal with tubing issues.

He suggested that those who rent and sell tubes and those with concerns on the river should meet with the various river stewardship groups, including the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, the Cowichan Lake and River Roundtable and the Cowichan Watershed Board to discuss the issues and come up with possible solutions for the future.

“I think that would be better than dealing with these one-off complaints to the media, and having those with concerns talking about the issues among themselves,” Day said.

“These stewardship groups know the river better than anybody, and I’m sure some great ideas can come out of these discussions.”

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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