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Flashback: New dock, speeding, back to work and village expansion

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

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

“New float dock makes for easy access for locals” was the top headline in the Sept. 19, 2012 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

“On Thursday, Sept. 13, members of the Valley Fish and Game Club, along with Scott Silvestri, a Fisheries biologist for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources, and Michelle Kehler a project biologist for the B.C. Conservation Foundation, were busy installing a new float dock on Mayo Lake near Skutz Falls. The project is to allow individuals under the age of 16, and those who are 65 and older or who are disabled, to have access to fishing on the lake. Funding for the project was provided, for the most part, by the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.

“’Basically, when you buy a hunting or an angling licence part of that gets put aside and put into projects like this,’ said Kehler. ‘It’s a surcharge on top of our licences,’ said Bill Swain, president of the Valley Fish and Game Club. ‘It was brought on 12 or 15 years ago, but it’s a fund that keeps growing and all over the province. You apply to this fund for such projects.’ ‘And the folks that are using this are basically the same ones that are paying for it, in a sense,’ added Kehler.”

And this one could be a story today, still.

“Slow down! North Shore Road residents want drivers to be aware” was the page 2 story.

“Residents along North Shore Road are becoming increasingly concerned about the speed of vehicles passing through their area. Lorne Scheffer is one of the residents who has had enough and has decided he will approach town council to see if anything can be done. Last week, Scheffer’s son Brendan, who is nine years old, walked home from Palsson Elementary for the first time. ‘I’d been driving my son to school and picking him up,’ said Scheffer. When Brendan got home, ‘he was shaking and crying,’ said Scheffer. ‘He was terrified.’ A truck had brushed the youth, almost hitting him.”

“Lisa Barnes, also a North Shore Road resident, has approached council a couple of times expressing her concern about the speeds along the road as well as the heavy volume of industrial traffic.”

25 years ago

“Chairman resigns” was in big letters on page 2 of the Lake News of Sept. 24, 1997.

The chairman in question was Jack Peake and the board in question was the Vancouver Island Regional Library Board.

Executive Director Donald Meadows also resigned.

“‘There is an element within the board claiming to be concerned about the economic efficiency of VIRL. However the attitude and actions of this group of board members would indicate otherwise. While there are responsible members, sincerely attempting to provide good library service at a reasonable cost, there are individuals whose lack of experience and negative personal agendas threaten the future of this fine organization, and the morale of its hard working dedicated staff,’ Peake is reported saying in a news release issued by VIRL.”

Yowza. Those are harsh words.

“Meadows said that he is not prepared to remain with an organization where the narrow interests of some municipalities and the unwarranted personal animosity of several board members take precedence over the needs of the library system and its more than 200,000 customers, as well as the integrity and respect of the staff.”

In other news, “Cowichan nominated for national recognition” was a little less edgy of a piece that ran alongside the VIRL saga.

“Our river, the Cowichan River, which is already named a B.C. heritage river, will be nominated next week as a candidate for the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, which would give the Cowichan national recognition.

“The Cowichan along with the Stikine river will be nominated to the federal system next week during River Week.

“‘These rivers should be viewed as national treasures of Canada and this kind of recognition means everything possible will be done to properly manage all the values and multiple uses,’ said Mark Angelo, chairman of the B.C. Heritage Rivers Board. ‘I believe the Cowichan can become a model of watershed co-operation,’ he said.”

40 years ago

“Most loggers return to work” was a headline tucked into the pages of the Sept. 22, 1982 Lake News.

“Loggers from B.C. Forest Products Caycuse and Renfrew operations will return to work Monday, Sept. 27 after a two-month layoff. About 275 Caycuse and 300 Renfrew loggers will be heading back to the woods. Meanwhile, Pacific Forest Products Cowichan Division is working, mostly on the north side of the lake.”

Also four decades ago, “Village expansion plans under fire” was the top headline on the front page.

“The village’s plans for boundary extension came under intense fire at a public meeting held Sept. 16 in Lake Cowichan.

“Residents of those parts of regional areas ‘F’ and ‘I’ who would be brought into the village by boundary extension strongly opposed the idea of expansion. Lake Cowichan village council had called the meeting to answer questions prior to holding a poll from Sept. 27 to Oct. 1. Lake Cowichan mayor Ken Douglas told the audience of 50-60 people that he and his council didn’t want to act without knowing the feelings of the areas concerned.”