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Flashback: The future of public schools, the return of logging and taxing for the arena floor

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
”We go together, and they did go together beautifully to produce one of the best musicals to be performed in local theatre. Here the entire cast of LCSS production of Grease fathered following Friday’s performance — the final show after week long performances to sold out shows, the cast took some extra time for photographs. Hey… someone sneaked into the shot…the boy in the centre is not a cast member but obviously well known to Tanya Bourassa, who played Sandy.” (Lake News, Nov. 26, 1997)

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 was a call for help from SD #79 this time a decade ago as the top headline of the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s Nov. 28, 2012 edition was “Community support needed to avert the elimination of local schools”.

“The upcoming Community Consultation session in Lake Cowichan will be one that determines the future of education in this community. Cowichan Valley School District #79 has organized a meeting on Dec. 8 at Lake Cowichan Secondary School to discuss the options being considered for the schools in our area in an era of declining enrolment and increased costs.

“Former school board trustee Duncan Brown and retired teacher and former school board trustee Diana Gunderson, both of Lake Cowichan, spoke to the Gazette recently about their concerns for the future of public education in the Lake Cowichan district.

“’They are calling this a consultation process, and none of the questions that are going to be asked have come from the community,’ remarked Brown. ‘Everything that is going to be brought there has been brought there by them. So really what they’re looking for is ratification of the decisions that they’ve already made. They’re looking for consent from the community — not even consent — they’re looking for the appearance of consent by holding this consultation.’”

25 years ago

There’s one story to talk about for this week 25 years ago as the front page of the Lake News was a giant photo of the cast of LCSS’s production of Grease.

That story was about the arena floor, something we’ve learned a little about in the past.

“Public opinion for arena floor seems to point to Option two” was the headline. Let’s find out what option two actually was.

“Expect to pay extra taxes for about three years to pay for a new Arena floor. And after that, suggests the Leisure Pool Committee, a tax — somewhat less — could continue to pay for a leisure pool.”

(We all know that never happened. Let’s carry on.)

“An open house to get public reaction took place Saturday. It looked to me as though everyone was there but the public,” wrote reporter Ron Kenyon. “Arena Commission members were ready to explain the need. The Mayor, Jean Brown, fitted the event into her schedule and Bruce Tilbury, the arena manager, was waiting to be questioned. I was there for two hours and only about 20 people showed up out of approximately 6,000 in the area.

“‘When it’s all over and we’ve made our decision, the people who weren’t here will say: ‘Why didn’t I hear about this? What didn’t you tell me?’ said Joe Allan, CVRD chairman, director of Area I and an arena commission member. ‘People always do that.’”

Option two was this: “Available in existing reserves $300,000; raise by tax in 1998 $275,000; raise by tax in 1999 $275,000, raise by tax in 2000 $250,000. Keep in reserve $100,000. This would cost the owner of a house assessed at $150,000 $39.40 in 1998,” the same in 1999 and $35.79 in 2000.

40 years ago

OK, I know you heard a little about this week 40 years ago in last week’s paper, but we’re continuing on with this week because there was another story or two on the front page of the Nov. 24, 1982 Lake News that I didn’t tell you about.

First, “Work assistance puts 140 local loggers back in woods”.

“Work projects created under the government-sponsored Employment Bridging Assistance Program have sent about 140 unemployed Cowichan Lake district loggers back into the woods this week. Pacific Forest Products’ Cowichan division was first out of the starting gate.

“Ken Hart, divisional engineer at PFP, said Monday that his company’s project began work Nov. 15 and employed nine workers. The job they are doing is ‘sanitation cutting’ — a forestry project involving cutting out diseased and broken trees from new plantations. These trees are left at former logging sites where slash was never burned, he said, adding that the company didn’t want the old trees left among the new growth.”

The second story was about new columns coming to the Lake News that readers could look out for.

“Two new columns make their first appearance in the Lake News this week. Well-known reporter Lexi Bainas will contribute an occasional column to enliven the editorial and ‘op-ed’ pages with an infrequent commentary to be written by editor Gerry Soroka, to supplement his more serious observations on the editorial page.

“The second column will be a regular contribution by long time area resident, Emile Vincent of Youbou. His column will be seen weekly on Page 4.”

I sure wish Lexi would consider another occasional column to enliven this paper! Who’s with me?