From left, Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest, CVRD Area I director Klaus Kuhn, CVRD Area F director Ian Morrison, and Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission chair Sheila McFarlane, cut the ribbon to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s upgrades during a grand opening celebration, Saturday, March 12. (Tyler Clarke photo)

From left, Town of Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest, CVRD Area I director Klaus Kuhn, CVRD Area F director Ian Morrison, and Cowichan Lake Recreation Commission chair Sheila McFarlane, cut the ribbon to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena’s upgrades during a grand opening celebration, Saturday, March 12. (Tyler Clarke photo)

Lake Flashback: Tax hikes, school squabbles and seal-coating

Remember these stories from Lake Cowichan?

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson 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

“CVRD tax increases hit Cowichan Lake the hardest” was the headline that likely nobody would have been happy to read and it was on the front page of the Wednesday, March 16, 2011 Lake Cowichan Gazette.

It turned out the politicians weren’t too happy about it either.

“The three Cowichan Lake electoral areas are the hardest hit by the Cowichan Valley Regional District’s 2011 budget, and local politicians aren’t happy about it,” was the first sentence of the story.

“Overall, I’m not pleased with the increases,” Town of Lake Cowichan Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) board member Tim McGonigle said.

“The town sees the biggest increase of the electoral areas, with homeowners facing an 8.89 per cent increase. Second hardest-hit is the Youbou/Meade Creek (CVRD Area I) electoral area, with an 8.45 per cent increase. Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls (CVRD Area F) is third, with an increase of 7.76 per cent. All of the CVRD’s 10 remaining electoral areas have smaller requisition increases, from Shawnigan Lake’s 2.18 per cent, to the City of Duncan’s 6.6 per cent increase.”

Bus services and funding for the Cowichan Sportsplex were blamed for some of the increase.

Also a decade ago, “Another $50,000 grant provides employment” was a nice headline to see.

“More out-of-work Cowichan Lake residents can expect to find employment at Lakeview Park and the Cowichan Lake Education Centre (CLEC), this spring/summer. This is thanks to another approximately $50,000 grant from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development.

“Although the specifics of what will be done with the grant have yet to be worked out, Lakeview Park and CLEC manager Dalton Smith said that it’ll likely go toward 16 weeks of employment for four participants and one supervisor like last time.”

“This will go toward Lakeview campsite improvements,” he said.

25 years ago

It was a big week this week 25 years ago. The March 20 edition of the Lake News was happy to announce the opening of the new Honeymoon Bay Elementary school.

“Honeymoon Bay students were moving out of the Community Hall, which they have called school for at least the last year. They were moving into their brand new school which is now ready and waiting for students to return from the spring break.”

Also 25 years ago in school news, the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association criticized the board’s presentation regarding amalgamation.

“Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association is criticizing the prepared presentation the school board presented to a Ministry committee on amalgamation. On March 17 Wilma Rowbottom, chairman of School District #66 gave a presentation approved by the board, opposing amalgamation with Nanaimo, Duncan, and Lake Cowichan to the Restructuring Steering Committee in Victoria.

“Amato Fantillo, president of the Lake Cowichan Teachers’ Association said in a letter to Rowbottom that the LCTA is dismayed with the submission and suggests that if any proposed cuts by this board affects teachers’ jobs or work loads then teachers should have had the opportunity to respond before the submission was presented to a Ministry committee.”

The presentation noted SD66 could manage to reduce their budget by four per cent but the LCTA was concerned that would mean a loss of jobs and reduced workloads.

40 years ago

Logging was at the top of the news in the March 18, 1981 edition of the Lake News as BCFP cut back its work week.

“B.C. Forest Products, in a move to slash its inventory of logs, is cutting back its logging operations at Caycuse and Port Renfrew to four days a week, starting March 20. The one-day-a-week layoffs which will affect 275 Caycuse and 300 Port Renfrew loggers, will continue until May 30.

“The BCFP move is consistent with a pattern of layoffs due to ‘poor market conditions’ that has formed this winter as first the Western Forest Products Honeymoon Bay sawmill shut down and then WFI’s Gordon River logging division was laid off. BCFP also plans to completely shut down its logging operations at Caycuse and Port Renfrew for two weeks starting April 13. The Honeymoon Bay sawmill was shut down for the month of February for the second year in a row and the reason given was the same both years — poor market conditions.”

Also, the seal-coating debacle was back in the news as “Cowichan-Malahat MLA Barbara Wallace has asked Finance Minister Hugh Curtis to intervene in the long standing squabble that has failed to decide if automobile paint damaged by the disastrous seal-coating of Highway 18 is covered by ICBC. Wallace has pushed hard to get the highways department to pay the deductible on paint as it has on broken windshields, but she has had no success so far.”

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