An early harbinger to changes in the business climate of Youbou, the Royal Bank moved their operation to Lake Cowichan in February 1979. Mayor Bert Brown cuts the opening ribbon while bank official Roger Hameon, teller Miriam Scott, and branch manager Denny Lien look on.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Regional recreation, potable water, Lakeview Park, and an ongoing election snafu

John Ward’s political future still hangs in the balance and lots more this week

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:

Readers of the Feb. 4, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette were treated to another episode of The Never Ending Story with the headlline “CVRD looks at five options for new regional recreation funding formula”.

That particular subject has been around for way more than 10 years but the story said: “Regional directors say there’s an appetite for the right recreation funding formula and…directors are debating staff options from last Wednesday’s regional services committee meeting.”

Funding from all taxpayers would likely scrub Cowichan pool’s two-tier fee structure, maintain and repair aging facilities and help build new ones. Agreement among Cowichan Valley Regional District directors about the fairest funding model could take months, then go to a landmark public referendum.

Duncan Mayor Phil Kent, regional services chairman, wants taxpayers comfortable with a fair formula.

“My gut says the community wants this issue solved.” He also believes folks use recreation facilities in the same proportion regardless of home turf.

Councillor Tim McGonigle, Lake Cowichan’s CVRD director, wasn’t at the regional services meeting because of another commitment, but Ian Morrison of Skutz Falls-Cowichan Lake South and Klaus Kuhn of Youbou-Meade Creek were. They said there’s a lot of information. “It’s a huge amount to digest,” said Morrison. “I’m guardedly optimistic.”

25 years ago:

Hot on the heels of last week’s hopeful story that saw heavyweight CVRD officials trying to get the province to allow successfully elected director John Ward to sit at the board table despite being sworn in late due to an oversight, we find on the front page of The Lake News of Feb. 2, 1994 the headline “Disappointing meeting in Victoria with deputy”.

We’ll summarize a few of the details for you: Joe Allan and Frank Raimondo “were fobbed off on the deputy minister, Gary Harkness. [Municipal Affairs] Minister Darlene Marzari didn’t attend the meeting…Harkness seemed pessimistic, The Lake News was told, about the chance to reinstating Ward…[despite arguments like] How can an alternate, who was not elected and is sitting in for Ward, take a seat that his principal cannot take?”

The plot was obviously thickening.

***

In another item on the front page of that paper, we find that “A developer is reported trying to acquire the Lakeview Park area, so council will move swiftly to acquire it, if possible.”

The decision was reached on a motion by Coun. Gary Gunderson, at last week’s meeting.

The land that council wants to acquire is bounded on the west by the Cowichan Lake Education Centre…[Council] particularly wants to secure title to the park, a corridor strip, and the foreshore. The park is leased from the provincial government.

“As a village, we should have first right. It is part of our heritage,” said Coun. Leon Portelance.

Coun. Gunderson said that “it is not in the public interest that it should go directly to the developer.”

40 years ago:

There were water woes in Youbou, according to The Lake News of Feb. 7, 1979.

Let’s check it out.

“Area I director Olive Baird said a $1 million referendum could be necessary to correct water problems in Youbou.”

A referendum might be needed because cash for piecemeal repairs would not be available.

She said capital grants are available but only if the entire town is included in a specific area.

Baird said an engineering study on replacing the town’s small water systems with one new system was completed in 1976. She said an upgrading of those figures puts the cost of a new system at $1 million.

Baird said most lines in Youbou have inadequate water to fight a major blaze and there is “a real danger” should a major fire occur.

About 50 customers on the Gold water line gathered for a meeting at the Youbou Church Hall last Thursday to discuss possible improvements to the line, which is badly in need of repair. Recently the Central Vancouver Island Health Unit advised Gold water customers to boil or chlorinate their water before drinking because of excessive pollutants.

Baird said the line’s owner, Wilmer Gold, is unwilling to repair the line and while he has offered it for sale, there have been no takers. There are 57 customers on the Gold line. A representative of the provincial water rights branch told those at the meeting that taking over the line on their own and upgrading it would be a costly venture, for which no grants are available.

The director also said that “about 30 people on the smaller Canning water line have experienced water problems in the past. There are a total of 350 homes in Youbou with about 103 homes on the BC Forest Products line, 26 on the Pioneer water line, and the remainder on smaller private water systems or wells.”

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