Const. Danny Butler, at left, is more than six feet tall and some of the marijuana plants that were seized outdoors in Lake Cowichan were growing over his head. The larger photo shows the plants in pots that were taken from a pickup truck during a week of pot busts in 2009. (Lake Cowichan Gazette)

Lake Flashback: Pot busts, and extreme vandalism at the Lake, and folks riled staggering increase in cable costs

When you look back at the cost of cable TV in 1979, you can’t help but shake your head

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:

“Lake RCMP up to their ears in seized pot; Police find eight outdoor grow sites; bust driver with plants” was a big city headline for the Lake Cowichan Gazette on Oct. 21, 2009.

Dreams of riches from illegal crops went to pot after police nabbed about three-quarters of a million dollars of marijuana in two separate incidents in the Lake Cowichan area. The RCMP reported they discovered eight grow sites in isolated areas off logging roads between the Lake and south-west to Nitinat Lake. Some of the plants were well over six feet high, as demonstrated by a photo of six-foot-plus Const. Danny Butler standing amongst one crop and having to look up to see the tops of plants.

Police said it was apparent the same person or people operated at least six of the sites. In all, police pulled out more than 700 large plants and say a conservative estimate of the haul is in the $700,000 range. No arrests were made in the incident.

In a separate haul, police pulled over a pickup truck about 2 a.m. on Sept. 28 when the officer said he smelled a strong odour of pot. Police discovered about 30 budding plants in the box of the truck. The plants were seized and the driver and lone occupant of the truck was arrested and is now facing several drug-related charges.

25 years ago:

Over two weeks, The Lake News talked about serious vandalism.

In the Oct. 19 edition, we learn that “on three successive nights, vandals smashed windows with rocks in Lake Cowichan.

“Peoples Drug Mart had two smashed windows and a broken sign, not entirely covered by insurance, said Mike Fidyk, the proprietor. Maureen’s Family Fashions had a window broken. A. B. Greenwell School had all the windows in the bottoms of the doors broken, 16 windows in all. Palsson School had seven windows smashed. Lake Cowichan Secondary School suffered six broken windows. Stanley Gordon School also had damage. In some cases beer cans were left behind. Earlier in the week, someone threw a rock through the glass door at the Kaatza Health Unit.”

Apparently this damaging spree was spread over several nights and at a meeting held the following Monday the village spoke with one voice: stop the vandalism.

In a story in the Oct. 26 issue of The Lake News we find these ideas coming forth from the angry speakers: “a curfew, breaking up the gangs of kids at night, putting the onus on parents to pay for their kids’ misdeeds.”

How would they go about it?

“Set up a reward system for recreants turned in, hire a part-time night watchman, and get more help from schools to reach kids and parents.”

Though the RCMP were unable to attend the meeting as they were out searching for a lost hunter, “reviews of RCMP performance respecting vandalism were mixed: some saying the force did its best, others not so satisfied.”

Sam Beldessi, president of the Seniors, said he had identified two kids vandalizing cars but he did not believe the police took appropriate action.

Rolli Gunderson said she was aware of up to 30 kids in a gang on the street late at night. She was asked why she didn’t tackle them. “Go out in my nightdress?” she said.

Buck Hollingdrake suggested a reward system…Nasim Charania brought a petition signed by 51 business proprietors demanding action because “our insurance will not cover damage time and time again.”

Pat Weaver said she has driven around the schools late at night and found no kids and no police.

“Do the police actually patrol the schools?” she asked.

40 years ago:

In the Read ‘em and Weep department, we have this story from the front page of The Lake News from Oct. 17, 1979.

“Cable TV rate hike opposed” is the headline and the idea is nothing new, obviously but read on.

“Michael Barry [of Youbou] is seeking support from Cowichan Lake residents to sign a petition opposing an application by Lake Video Service Ltd. to increase monthly fees from $6.50 to $8.

Barry, who said Monday that he will be posting petitions around the village and area, has written to the Canadian Radio Television Commission to object to the proposed hikes. The CRTC is the agency that approves or rejects applications such as rate hikes for cable television. A public hearing into the application is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the Hotel Vancouver.

Barry describes the bid to increase rates as “totally unjustifiable”.

He said in his letter that “in recent years the cablevision fees of our little community have ridiculously jumped in price from the nominal fee of $5 to a present rate of $6.50 without any improvement in local reception.

“I feel, as many as many other residents, that a $1.50 hike is totally unjustifiable.”

He pointed out that Duncan cablevision subscribers receive 12 channels for $6 a month, saying, “Because we are 16 miles away from a major town, we have to pay more for worse service? What is this country coming to?”



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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