Here’s the Lake Cowichan Secondary School Class of 1977 in all their grad finery.

Here’s the Lake Cowichan Secondary School Class of 1977 in all their grad finery.

Lake Flashback: Good finances, smelly lagoon, oil slick

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas 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.

10 years ago:

“Lake in good shape financially, says Mayor,” said the Lake Cowichan Gazette of June 27, 2007.

Having borrowed just 14 per cent of its upper limit, Lake Cowichan is believed to have among the lowest borrowing ratios on Vancouver Island.

“Lake Cowichan is doing very, very well,” said Mayor Jack Peake. “Financially, we are in very good shape. We have cash in the bank. We don’t borrow to operate.”

If it wanted to, the town could borrow enough to accumulate $898,000 worth of interest every year. Not finding that necessary, right now, the amount of interest they’re currently acquiring is $145,000.

That leaves the town with an annual servicing capacity of about $753,000.

Still, interest the town is paying could be even lower, explained the Town of Lake Cowichan’s administrator.

“The reason our annual payment is that high is because we (want) some of our debt to be paid for in a shorter period of time,” Joe Fernandez said.

Right now, Lake Cowichan is $1.7 million in debt, not including interest. Most of that is related to the purchase of a $1.8 million fire hall about three years ago.

The town will be paying for the hall over 30 years, but hopes to pay for some equipment sooner.

25 years ago:

“Sewage lagoon: It’s not as sweet as a rose but soon not smelly,” says a June 24 headline from the 1992 Lake News.

Apparently, the atmosphere was somewhat less than fragrant, at least according to one resident.

“Lucky Berner, who lives at 7755 Hudgrove Rd., wrote to council, objecting to a smell he noticed coming from the Hudgrove Road Sewage Treatment Plant and from the river,” the story explained.

“For the past week or so, there has been a very strong, very foul odour as you drive past the ponds.” he said. “Further, there has been an odour come off the surface of the river as it passes my residence, and occasionally there have been ‘foam’ type substances floating by.

“In the 10 years I’ve lived here, we have never had the river odour or foam before.”

He was informed that the Village of Lake Cowichan had begun using a product called Biospan two months before.

The story said: “From their description of it, Biospan is a cleaning agent for sewerage systems as big as the Lake Cowichan lagoon and as small as a home septic tank.

“We started using it about two months ago but may not have used enough of it at first,” Berner was told.

40 years ago:

Federal and provincial authorities and Crown Zellerbach cooperated last week to mop up a diesel oil slick on Cowichan Lake caused by vandalism, said The Lake News of June 22, 1977.

A lock had been smashed on a diesel tank at Crown Z’s log load out near the foot of Cowichan Lake. A nozzle jammed, allowing an estimated 1,800 gallons of toxic diesel fuel to drain into the lake, the story said, adding the fuel was in a 2,000 gallon tank used to fuel boom boats.

“A police spokesman said the vandalism occurred Monday evening and was reported by employees reporting for work Tuesday morning. By Tuesday afternoon, the odour of diesel fuel permeated the village and a slick covered the Cowichan River.”

At press time, police had no suspects in the incident, The Lake News reported.