LAKE FLASHBACK: Bylaw enforcement, a close call, and Brent Friday

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 Lake Cowichan area…

10 years ago:

From the Jan. 27, 2010 Lake Cowichan Gazette, Doug Marner reports “Town council is considering its options regarding bylaw enforcement. The town currently has a bylaw enforcement officer who works only on Thursdays, which makes it difficult to enforce bylaws. Councillor Bob Day asked during the finance and administration committee meeting last week whether the town is enforcing its backyard burning bylaw.”

“Are we through the education phase and starting to enforce backyard burning?” he asked.

“You have to remember we have a bylaw officer who’s here only one day a week,” replied Joe Fernandez, town administrator, who also suggested using education. “At the end of the day, it’s better.”

Ronnie Gill, the town’s director of finance, said the police have responded to some bylaw complaints when the bylaw officer hasn’t been available. Councillor Tim McGonigle suggested that there definitely should be enforcement of the bylaws.

“I think we’re moving into more than one day a week of enforcement in the next year or two,” said Day.

Mayor Ross Forrest suggested simply changing the bylaw officer’s schedule. “I think that’s one of the problems we have in this town, everyone knows when the bylaw officer is here. Perhaps if we just have her come randomly.”

25 years ago:

An unseen fire could have cost lives around this time 25 years ago.

“It may have been only a chimney fire, but it could’ve taken the lives of Roy and Edith Smith in their home at a mobile home park at 9041 Meade Creek Rd., Friday morning,” reported the front page of the Jan. 25 Lake News. “The fire was reported by neighbours about 9:30 a.m. The Smiths didn’t know their home was a blaze.”

“When they came and told us I said ‘it’s fine in here I can’t smell any smoke,” said Mrs. Smith. “I don’t know what would’ve happened if it had been at night when we were all asleep.”

The fire had got into the roof by the time firefighters arrived and damage was considerable. It was first noticed by Sylvia Russell and her dad, Peter, who live nearby. Sylvia, a trained forest fire fighter, put her experience into practice, got out the garden hoses and climbed on the roof of the burning structure to contain the flames until firemen arrived.

40 years ago:

“Brent Friday acclaimed 1980 citizen of the year” was the headline in The Lake News of Jan. 30, 1980.

“Brent Friday of Honeymoon Bay whose activities in the community have ranged from Boy Scouts to theater, has been chosen the Cowichan Lake Citizen of the Year for 1979. Friday was honored at the annual Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce banquet Saturday, Jan. 26.”

The Citizen of the Year award is given to the person judged, from among people nominated locally, to have contributed most to the community. In his 28 years in the district, Friday has been active or is still active in the Anglican church, Honeymoon Bay Volunteer Fire Department, the Lake Cowichan Drama Club, the Kinsman, the Boy Scouts Association, the school board, the Malaspina College Council, and the Kaatza Historical Society. He has also served as president of the Honeymoon Bay Employees Association. The choice of the outstanding citizen was made by a group of three judges, past Chamber of Commerce president Jim Colwell said.

The intent of the award, Colwell said, is to honour the nominee who has given the most service to the community, not necessarily in that year alone. It can often reflect years of service, he said, as it did in the case of Brent Friday. The award came as a total surprise to Friday.

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