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Lake Cowichan Flashback: School closures, pool access, and a Paralympian

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area
”Jasmine Langset, Sarah Tardiff, Megan Foster, and Nicki Vandersluys recognized for their hair trade skills.” The girls were taking career prep courses while still in high school as part of a program linking Cowichan Secondary with Vancouver Island University. (Lake Cowichan Gazette/Feb. 13, 2013)

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 bound to happen but nobody was certain when and where. The Lake Cowichan Gazette of Feb. 13, 2013 explained in the story: “School closures imminent, but which ones?”

“The threat of school closures in School District 79 drew a packed crowd to the district’s public meeting, Feb. 6 at Quamichan Middle School. On the list, along with nine other schools in the district, is A.B. Greenwell Elementary, located on the site of the former Yount Elementary school, in Youbou.

“’The prognosis is not good for Lake Cowichan,’ was former school board trustee Diana Gunderson’s opinion. “’A.B. Greenwell parents have been hanging on since 2008 with the promise of a new elementary school. Now, there is every indication that is not going to happen.’

“The final decision will be announced May 15 after a series of public consultation meetings. Many parents were relieved to see that Lake Cowichan Secondary School was not on the list.”

And, once again the community pool access was a top issue at a public meeting this week a decade ago.

“Although there were several items on the agenda at the Parks, Recreation and Culture committee meeting…it was the access to the Duncan pool that the public were there to go to bat for.

“Nineteen residents attended the meeting to have their say or support what others had to say about what many consider to be unaffordable rates Lake Cowichan and area residents are charged to use the facility. Ted Gamble spoke on behalf of the delegation.

“’In several ways, we’re losing out on an opportunity here,’ Gamble said. ‘I think rural areas right now and in the future are going to need to attract middle-class families and professionals like me, doctors, etcetera, and health promotion is a big part of that.’

“The mayor promised to inform the delegation of when next the subject would be discussed.”

25 years ago

“Let the games begin for downhill skier” was how the Lake News of Feb. 11, 1998 began. On the front page, at least.

The story went like this:

“Lake Cowichan has representation in Nagano, Japan. He has the distinction of being B.C. Athlete of the Year, he’s skied on the Provincial team and made the Canadian National team. Gordy Tuck has made it to the Para Olympics and will be competing in the downhill Alpine competition. Tuck’s mother, Susan told the Lake News that Gordy never wasted any time after he lost his leg in May 1991 in a logging accident. He’s been training and competing ever since, making the disabled Alpine team which he is currently on with 11 other members.”

Also on the front page of the same edition was “Elley takes action on local post office.” Do you remember this debacle?

“Michael Green, Ottawa assistant to Nanaimo/Cowichan MP Reed Elley told the Lake News Friday that they will be asking that the Canada Post policy for returning mail without box numbers, not be applied in Lake Cowichan. This is just one step Green said that Elley plans on taking. The second step will be to bring the issue up in the House of Commons, as it has been made clear the policy is flawed.”

The issue came to a head when “just prior to Christmas the Lake Cowichan post office began returning-to-sender, all mail without box numbers. When B.C. Assessment Authority sent out assessment notices last month the only ones returned to them were from the Lake Cowichan post office because in some cases, the assessment office failed to include a box number on the address. Other residents have since complained to the Lake News that important income tax information has been returned to sender.”

40 years ago

A hotel project was in the works 40 years ago this week but some weren’t thrilled with the idea.

“Project overcoming hurdles” talked about it.

“A controversial 78-acre subdivision-resort development on the Cowichan River has met all the requirements set out by the provincial environment and federal fisheries agencies, according to the engineer for the project. A meeting between Red Cedar Estates and federal and provincial fisheries officials has ‘resolved outstanding problems’ relating to the protection of the environment, Bob Hardy, an engineer with Wright, Hillyard, and Parry of Duncan said in a recent interview. He told the Lake News that Ilse Martens of Victoria, president of Red Cedar Estates and the developer of ‘Block 28’ has done all she can to mollify critics of the proposed development.”

Well, I suppose it’s this time of year that the school board talks budgets but school closures were on the agenda 40 years ago much like just a decade ago. This time it was clear what school was cut in the story: “J.H. Boyd gets axe.”

“It’s official. As of the end of June, J.H. Boyd School in Lake Cowichan will be closed, if Education Minister Bill Vander Zalm will allow it. The School district 66 board of school trustees made the decision at its regular meeting Feb. 7. The decision was prompted by a series of budget cutbacks ordered by the ministry of education.”

“Gordy Tuck, who has been distinguished with the title of B.C. Athlete of the Year, will compete in the Para Olympics in Nagano Japan in the downhill skiing event.” (Lake News/Feb. 11, 1998)