Flashback: December madness, forestry fights, parcel taxes

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

“The official signing of CLEC. The official signing of the lease between Crown lands and the Town of Lake Cowichan for the Cowichan Lake Education Centre occurred last week in Victoria. Left to right are: Lawyer; Lorena Staples, Town Clerk; Ed Gilman and former Mayor of Lake Cowichan, fulfilling one of his last official duties, Mayor Earle Darling.” (Lake News, Dec. 4, 1996)

“The official signing of CLEC. The official signing of the lease between Crown lands and the Town of Lake Cowichan for the Cowichan Lake Education Centre occurred last week in Victoria. Left to right are: Lawyer; Lorena Staples, Town Clerk; Ed Gilman and former Mayor of Lake Cowichan, fulfilling one of his last official duties, Mayor Earle Darling.” (Lake News, Dec. 4, 1996)

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old newspapers with the assistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgic feeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

It’s been fun to watch new editor Dorian Geiger learn about the goings on at the Lake in his coverage that first year he was there. This week a decade ago Geiger wrote at length about December Madness in a story titled “December Madness a platform for spreading holiday cheer”.

“The holidays are upon us and December Madness is aiming to kick Lake Cowichan’s Christmas spirit into full gear on Friday, Dec. 2. The annual community tradition will officially get fired up at 6 p.m. when mayor Ross Forrest lights up the main Christmas tree at the Visitor Information Centre,” Geiger wrote in the Nov. 30, 2011 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette. “Local businesses are participating in the annual Chamber of Commerce initiative. Leading up to the commencement of December Madness, decorating the town is one of many residents’ concerns. Candy canes already adorn Centennial Park and the Info Centre’s transformation into gingerbread house is well underway. If not for the tireless contributions of Lake Cowichan’s volunteer troops, accomplishing such an ample amount of decorating would surely be impossible.

“Town councillor, Bob Day was one of the volunteers who spent his recent weekends stapling Christmas lights to the Info Centre and performing other work for the cause. Day truly enjoys giving back to Lake Cowichan — and he’s not afraid to get dirty either. ‘It’s a lot of fun putting up lights and trying to get in the Christmas season. And it’s also a lot of fun enticing volunteers out because the more you get involved in your community the better. You’re going to get bored so get out and do something because there’s always something to do. If there’s a community event around I like to get out there and help and be a part of it,’ said Day.”

Also in the same edition, Geiger wrote about the holiday tradition of a young girl raising funds for Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue:

“Most children would ask for an Xbox game, new clothes or maybe a pet for their birthdays. Not 11-year-old Lake Cowichan youth, Jada Lee. Instead, Lee enjoys getting cat food for a present. Since she was seven, Lee has asked her party guests to bring cat food and treats for gifts, which she then donates to Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue. She chose to give back to the area’s feline population since the community has an over-abundance of feral cats. On Dec. 9, Lee will celebrate her twelfth birthday with roughly fifteen friends. By the time her final guest has strolled in, Lee will have a mountain of cat food that stacks far beyond her own height.”

25 years ago

A new council was sworn in at the inaugural meeting of Lake Cowichan town council this time 25 years ago.

“Mayor Jean Brown along with her councillors, Hazel Beech, Pat Foster, Dennis LaForge, Jack Peake were sworn in Monday as the new town council and Councillor Pat Foster has been named as deputy mayor.

“Principal of LCSS, Claude Ruggieri acted as master of ceremonies and Rev. Ben Yablonski gave the invocation.

“Town Freeman Archie Greenwell spoke on past councils that he has had experience with and gave two pieces of advice: councillors should work together, and should stay away from personality conflicts.”

Also making headlines 25 years ago was the continued fight against TimberWest logging in Youbou.

“Director of Youbou/Meades Creek, Jack Waite along with Bob Cannon and Neil Merrick continue to fight TimberWest despite last week the company’s harvest plans were put on hold.

“The trio are against TimberWest’s plan to harvest timber close to a residential area known as Swan Fern Way in Youbou. Although TimberWest has announced that they would put their harvest plans on hold temporarily, temporarily is not good enough for the trio who say that other residents are just as against the forest company’s plans are they are.”

And finally some good news on the crime front as “RCMP nab smash and grab culprits”.

“This time RCMP caught their man after a smash and grab occurred last week in the early hours of the morning.”

Apparently there was a witness to the break-in at People’s Drug Mart “who heard the glass breaking and who saw shortly after, a white car leaving the area. Police were on scene and took a description.

“Lake Cowichan RCMP said they discovered the suspect vehicle at a Lake Cowichan residence. A subsequent search of the residence resulted in a quantity of cigarettes being seized along with two firearms that were not securely stored as well as a quantity of marijuhana.”

40 years ago

The Dec. 2, 1981 Lake News was reporting “tax bite lowered” when it came to the village’s expensive water system.

If you’ll recall from past Flashbacks, improvements to the water system cost more than anticipated, requiring council to figure out how to get more money from the residents. They chose a parcel tax.

“Lake Cowichan property owners will have to pay a parcel tax to help pay for the improvements to the village’s water system, but it will be considerably less than was originally expected.

“Recently Lake Cowichan village council was told that a tax of $72 per parcel would be needed so the village could make its debenture payment of about $45,000. The amount of the parcel tax has now been reduced to $25 per parcel for 1982. The tax will rise an estimated $23,750.”

The remainder of the outstanding bill would be transferred from the water bylaw fund.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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“Jade Lee restrains her dog Bluebell while displaying her cat food presents.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette, Nov. 30, 2011)

“Jade Lee restrains her dog Bluebell while displaying her cat food presents.” (Lake Cowichan Gazette, Nov. 30, 2011)