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Lake Flashback: Haiti relief pours in, political kerfuffle has deep roots, and BCFP acts quickly on PCP leak

We’ve also included a picture of Lake Cowichan Kinsmen rescuing the Duckpond dock
River cowboys tie down the swimming dock, which was swept downriver from the Duckpond during recent high water. Kinsmen corralled the errant platform Sunday, with aid of cable, block and tackle and a loader which eased the dock upstream while an aluminum boat kept the dock away from the shoreline. Kinsmen later rounded up the diving platform which had dragged its anchor all the way downstream to the Co-op building. (Photo from the Jan. 23, 1980 Lake News)

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…

This is my final Flashback column for the Lake Cowichan Gazette. After starting as an apprentice cub reporter at The Lake News in October 1979, I am now retiring from newspapering.

1979? Yes, I have been looking at my own stories from The Lake News of 40 years ago for this column. It’s been strange reading my own writing. I’ve come full circle and now it’s time to let someone else take over, and enjoy poring over the old newspapers, now in their bright new home in the Kaatza Station Museum annex.

Now, onto this week in our history.

10 years ago:

“Anglican Church spearheads local Haiti relief” was the headline in the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

Yes, it’s about the astounding generosity of the Cowichan Lake area again, but what can I say? It’s true.

“This town just blows me away with its generosity!” said Sheila McFarlane of St. Christopher’s and St. Aidan’s Anglican Church in Lake Cowichan, which has been collecting donated items for the victimes of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

Congregation members McFarlane and Dot Nahara, along with Rev. David Peterson, are spearheading the church’s effort. After a call for help through the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, things are already happening.

“It’s amazing how businesses and residents are so quick to help,” said McFarlane.

With the use of the Lake Cowichan Furniture and Appliance truck, church member Buck Stinson has already driven a load of donated items to Victoria, with another run scheduled for this Friday. Another truck is needed to assist with the effort, because of so many donations.

“The response from chamber businesses, organizations and residents of the Cowichan Lake area has been phenomenal,” said Katherine Worsley, chamber manager.

They are looking especially for items to help clean up and rebuild, including rakes, shovels, hammers and nails. They also need fold-up cots, wheel chairs, crutches, medicine, latex gloves and clothing for all sizes, from babies to adult men and women, as well as toiletries such as bars of soap, toothpaste and tooth brushes.

“What I like about this particular project is that even that extra wash cloth or that T-shirt that’s too big, they will be essential to the Haitians,” said Nahara. “Don’t think any donation is too small. You don’t have to donate money to help. Nothing will go to waste.”

25 years ago:

The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s board chair was not thrilled with the Town of Lake Cowichan’s efforts to expand its boundaries in early 1995. In The Lake News of Jan. 25 of that year, a big story discusses the issues.

So, what was up?

A strongly worded motion…was expected to be introduced Monday to the CVRD’s development services committee by a frustrated Joseph Allan, director of Area F, and chairman of the CVRD.

He said he is concerned about the lack of co-operation from Village council.

Mayor Earle Darling and council members asked to appear before the same CVRD committee Jan. 9 to speak about the west half of Section 6…The owner of the land asked [late the previous year] that it be taken into the Village, and residents of the immediate area had not objected [according to Coun. Gary Gunderson]. Council wanted to know why the CVRD was objecting after the fact.

Allan said that the public meeting referred to was advertised as an open house, and was changed after the open house got underway. [He objected at the time].”

There appeared to be more in play than just this one issue, however. The story continues by quoting Coun. Leon Portelance, who said part of the problem was that the Village wouldn’t undertake a joint official community plan with regional areas F and I.

He said he thought the CVRD motion…is an attempt to force Lake Cowichan to particpate…[but]…”the Village objects to someone else dictating what the Village can do within its own boundaries.”

40 years ago:

“PCP leak discovered at Youbou BCFP mill” was the headline on the Jan. 23, 1980 edition of The Lake News.

A new facility at BCFP Youbou which will completely replace the present dipping tank will considerably lessen the possibility of chemicals escaping into the lake, a company official said Friday.

This pledge was made following the discovery of PCPs in tests taken after complaints of a chemical spill last fall.

Federal fisheries officers were called in last November to treat Cowichan Lake water after a worker raised a pollution alarm in an incident related to the present dipping tank.

Doug Evans, a spokesman for British Columbia Forest Products Ltd., said in a telephone interview from Vancouver that the nearly completed dipping tank, which will have a concrete basin and a wall to prevent any escape of solution “will give complete security of chemical handling.”

Meanwhile, BCFP acted to tighten up the procedures connected with handling of chemicals without waiting for the results of the tests on the water samples.

The analysis is now complete, [and traces of PCP were found] a fisheries officer said Thursday, but the department has not yet decided what action it will take.

Union official Bill Routley who raised the initial alarm, said Thursday, “The leaking problem had to be solved. They’ve cleaned up their act. They won’t be dumping into the lake any more.”