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Lake Flashback: Great Lake Walk, development mooted for Paldi, visitors want more attractions

There’s always been ideas for Paldi, but none have yet come to fruition
Thomas Marrs, left, ran the Great Lake Walk’s 56 km in five hours, 59 minutes, and 23 seconds in September 2009, finishing ninth, while, right, Stacey Berry of Lake Cowichan with fellow walker Samantha Quinn of Sidney, accepts flowers from John Hieta. Berry raised more than $1,000 for cystic fibrosis, which Hieta has. (Lake Cowichan Gazette photos)

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.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

Back in the Sept. 23, 2009 issue of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, the Great Lake Walk was front and centre.

“388 start Great Lake Walk 2009 And 304 finish; Marrs didn’t train, but he still came in 9th” screamed a huge headline.

“Eighteen-year-old Thomas Marrs graduated from Lake Cowichan Secondary School last June and is now, coincidently, working on the seismic upgrade currently being done on the school. With the busy work schedule, Marrs, who lives on Stoltz Road near Duncan, didn’t have the time to train for this year’s Great Lake Walk.”

That didn’t stop him from placing ninth in Saturday’s event, with a time of five hours, 59 minutes and 23 seconds. That’s about 20 minutes slower than his time last year, when he placed eighth, but it’s still pretty impressive.

“I feel pretty good,” said Marrs, as he replenished his energy with some food in Centennial Hall. “I didn’t train at all.”

His dad, Ben Marrs, wasn’t far behind, finishing 12th in a time of 6:12:19. Bernadete Knowles of Lake Cowichan was the first Lake resident to finish. She did the course in 7:23:16.

Everyone trailed 41-year-old Rob Fontaine of Campbell River, who scorched the 56-kilometre route in 4:40:16, just three minutes behind the course record.

“I’m glad to be done,” said Fontaine. “I was really good for about 48 kilometres, but the last eight were very tough.”

He said the secret during the last stretch was to just keep moving and knowing it was going to get better.

Fontaine said the weather was just about perfect, with a little overcast and the overnight rain settled the dust. He had high praise for the rest stops and all the volunteers.

“Oh, they’re great.”

25 years ago:

“So what about Paldi?” asked a story on the front page of The Lake News of Sept. 21, 1994.

“A public meeting that attracted an estimated 100 people to the Sahtlam Fire Hall heard plans Saturday for a new village at Paldi.”

The first phase, which could start as early as next spring, will include part of an industrial park, a service station and convenience store as well as residences.

This phase, said Bruce Pomeroy, project director, will be along Highway 18 and the Paldi turnoff.

The next phase calls for a grocery store, boutiques, and perhaps a medical/dental/centre.

The plan includes a school, fire hall, community hall, parks, trails, wildlife corridors, and other amenities, said the corporation.

The development will be fitted into 365 acres owned by Paldi Estates Corporation at the intersection of Paldi Road and Highway 18. A hand-out by the Corporation said, “Paldi Estates will be proposing a full-service village which will enable residents of Paldi to work there as well. It proposes to introduce light industrial and highway commercial activities, and a mixed-use village core.”

There could be two snags. The area has to be re-zoned from forestry as it is now (forestry would require 50-acre lots). And there is apparently insufficient water.

Joseph Allan, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District [board], who was at the meeting told The Lake News that he wants to avoid the kind of confrontations that occurred over the proposed Bamberton town development. (Allan was physically shoved by angry demonstrators at a CVRD meeting.)

“I am not on anybody’s side in the Paldi proposal. I just hope that everyone can be kept fully informed so that everyone has the same facts to draw on,” he said.

He and John Clarkson, director of Area E, who was also present, praised the Paldi Corporation for doing a good job in informing the public.

Allan told The Lake News that drilling for water in the Paldi area has been disappointing. The plan now is to pipe water from Skutz Falls, six kilometres away.

40 years ago:

“’Outdoors’ not so great: survey” said the surprising story in The Lake News of Sept. 19, 1979.

Whazzup with that?

“Tourists visitng Cowichan Lake this summer want more ‘non-outdoorsman-type’ attractions, according to the operator of the Lake Cowichan Tourist Information Centre.”

Kevin Kell, a student, who operated the centre this summer, made this and several other observations in a report prepared for the sponsoring Lake Cowichan and District Credit Union.

Kell said that among more than 2,100 people who stopped at the booth, many “remarked about…the notable lack of attractions for the non-outdoorsman-type” of visitor.

“As this area caters mainly to the outdoors type, this leaves a fair number left out,” Kell said.

In his statistical report, Kell noted that 891 vehicles with 2,188 people visited the centre with more than 25 per cent of them originating from outside the country or from another province.

“An interesting side note is that one out of 12 could not speak the English language,” Kell said.

Kell said that many people commented on the convenience of the bureau, although many remarked on the “the annoying lack of enough available campsites during the summer months, especially during peak times. Much too often the facilities around Cowichan lake were filled to capacity and beyond.”