Customers at Curves in Lake Cowichan are always generous, no matter what charity campaign is under way, such as the Cowichan Lake Community Services Christmas Hamper Fund. Here Teri Beard, left, Pauline Balmer, Chris Thompson (Curves owner), Norma Cosby (background), Sharon Carpentier, Jane Sharpe and Bertha Beard show off the gifts that have already been donated through the angel Christmas tree. (Gazette photo from Nov. 25, 2009).

Lake Flashback: Water meters, commission appointment, tourism promotion

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:

“Water meters being installed” was the landmark headline on the front page of the Lake Cowichan Gazette of Nov. 25, 2009.

There’d been a lot of talk but now it was happening.

“The installation of 700 water meters in Lake Cowichan has begun, but already, with the heavy rain last week, the project is behind the scheduled completion of Dec. 31.”

Corix Utilities of Surrey is installing 605 of them and public works staff installing the remaining 95 meters.

Jesse Showalter and Dennis Kryschuk, Corix employees said “It’s been taking us an hour and a half, two hours to install each meter, depending on the place.”

Scheduled meter installations on some streets had to be postponed because of flooding, including stretches of Cowichan Avenue East, Poplar Street and Pine Street.”

It was all three weeks behind schedule, according to Nagi Rizk, town superintendent of public works.

A town hall meeting on Nov. 16 was told that soon after the first meters were installed a leak was found right at the connection to a residential water line.

Forrest replied to another question about the amount of water going through the system, which is more than four times the provincial average, noting that it’s not that people are using that much water. “A lot of that is probably because of leaks in our system,” he said.

The mayor said that once the first phase of water meters is completed, the town will begin monitoring water use, although meters won’t be used for billing until all homes have meters. By monitoring the water use, the town will be able to get a better idea of what rate to set as well as setting a threshold that provides rebate to those who use less water.

“Our hope is that people under the threshold would get a rebate,” said Forrest. “Those who use more would pay more.”

It is costing the town $549,708 for the meters and to have Corix install them (except the 95 installed by the town), with $400,000 of that covered by a government grant. Reading the meters will be a snap, with a town employee simply having to point a signal receiver in the direction of meters, which will each have a different code.

The information would be stored electronically.

25 years ago:

Under the tongue in cheek headline: ‘More work for the willing’ in the Nov. 30, 1994 edition of The Lake News we learn that Jean Brown was named to a new B.C. forest commission.

“It isn’t every day that a member of the village council has such important news to report at a council meeting. There were congratulations all round at Tuesday’s council meeting.

A couple of days later in Courtenay, Premier Mike Harcourt announced the Commission’s establishment.

“The Forest Land Commission”, he said, “will play a vital role in our overall land use strategy by securing the commercial forest land base; the commission will ensure greater stability for communities as well as help to reduce encroachments from urban sprawl.”

According to Forests Minister Andrew Petter, “Under the legislation, the Commission is responsible for reviewing and assessing requests from owners of private reserve lands to remove lands from the reserve. The decisons of the commission are one component of the pulic land removal process which involved recommendations from local governenment.”

40 years ago:

Chamber told: “Tourism boosting starts at home”, said the top story on the front page of The Lake News of Wednesday, Nov. 29, 1979.

“If the Cowichan Lake area wants to boost tourism, local people are going to have do most of the work, the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce was told last week.

Joyce Brookbank, regional coordinator of the Vancouver Island Visitors Association, said last Wednesday that the major thrust for tourism promotions must come from local regions.

However, she said her organization, which will soon be known as the Vancouver Island publicity bureau, will help local groups who desire increased tourism activity.

She mildly criticized local tourist boosters for not pushing the industry hard enough.

“I’ve had a hard time getting information on Lake Cowichan,” she said. “I’m supposed to be your front man.”

Brookbank also indicated that she is attempting to see that available funds are provided to maintain the chamber’s tourist booth. An anticipated $500 was expected to be withdrawn this year because the booth evidently failed to fulfill “rating” requirements. Brookbank herself described the rating process as “crazy” and said she was recommending that the grant be provided.

The visitors’ association is funded by chambers of commerce, municipalities and by a 60 per cent grant from the provincial govenrment. The Cowichan Lake chamber and the muncipality each contribute $143 a year towards the 40 per cent the association raises.

Brookbank suggested that the main thrust of tourist publicity for Cowichan Lake should be directed at people elsewhere on the island. She also suggested that in Cowichan Lake, where there is limited hotel/motel space, a bed and breakfast program could be useful.

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