Freda Blunt, left, and Pamela Palliser were among more than 1,000 persons who enjoyed the School District #66 art show put on by students last week at Palsson Elementary School, says the Lake News of May 23, 1979. The three-day show gave students an opportunity to display their skills and talents in pottery, drawing, collage, weaving, batiks, wall hangings, relief carvings, puppets, and painting.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Water troubles and hopes for a full-time theatre take centre stage this week

Lake didn’t want meters, and Youbou didn’t want publicly owned water while Players wanted Brown House

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:

In the Lake Cowichan Gazette of May 27, 2009, “Council urged not to install water meters” is a headline that really catches the eye.

“Lake Cowichan town council insists it hasn’t made up its mind about whether or not to install water meters, a town hall meeting was told Wednesday night. Although several topics were discussed by the estimated 40 people at the meeting, water metering topped the list.”

“I hope you haven’t made a decision yet on water meters,” said Rob Wilson. “The people most affected will be those fami- lies with children. I realize there’s a $400,000 grant available, but it’s still taxpayers’ money.”

Wilson said he doesn’t see it as a water supply problem, considering we live next to the second largest lake on Vancouver Island.

Wilson said that during his many walks around town, he rarely sees people abusing the watering restrictions. “The only time I’ve seen it recently is in the parks,” he said.

Mayor Ross Forrest admitted that before he was elected in November he too was “dead against them,” but that he went into the position with an open mind. He acknowledged that the town is guilty of watering its parks every day during times that it shouldn’t.

“We are looking at our watering policy, including how much water is used,” said Forrest. “We feel it’s the best way to go. I’m not saying it’s our final decision. We do believe most people will pay less. I would say right now you’re paying more than you should.”

Forrest agreed there’s a big lake with plenty of available water, “but every bit we pump costs money. We are using far more than we should.”

Long time Lake Cowichan resident Ken Coulombe said he doesn’t like the idea of water meters. “I know a lot of people who aren’t very happy about this,” he said. “There are a lot of people who like to grow flowers.”

Coulombe said that when he read that Lake Cowichan uses five times the provincial average, he got upset. “I guess because we have the lake we do use a lot,” he said. “I heard that about 80 per cent goes back into the river. If you had said during the election that you wanted to put in water meters, you wouldn’t be sitting here tonight.”

25 years ago:

The May 25, 1994 issue of The Lake News announced to readers that “Players want Brown House”.

Hmm, whazzup?

Apparently the Lakeside Players Society had written to village council, asking permission to create a theatre out of the Brown House (an old building across the street from the post office in Lake Cowichan).

They proposed to appear at council last night to back up their request. However, Dena McPhee, director of the group, told The Lake News she has been told that council plans to have the Brown House destroyed.

“They propose ‘an unlimited and ongoing variety of theatre arts for all ages, plays (drama, musical, comedy, historical, youth).”

While offering to upgrade and maintain the exterior as “an attractive heritage building” in consultation with the village, the society recognized that work would be needed inside the structure.

Lake Cowichan could become the Island centre for cultural and performance arts without extra provincial assistance and restrictions being experienced. The Society offered to install a display of the history of the theatre in Lake Cowichan in the Brown House to be open during the 50th anniversary celebrations when the Lakeside Players will be performing in Logger’s Lament.

40 years ago:

The front page of The Lake News of May 23, 1979, features the headline “Youbou water warning stiffer”.

What can it mean?

“Youbou residents using untreated water for drinking have received the strongest warning yet to treat their water supplies. Dr. P. J. Reynolds, director of the Central Vancouver Island Health Unit, said Tuesady that continuing tests have produced ‘some evidence of contamination’.”

Reynolds…refused to reveal the actual coliform count because he said this could be misinterpreted. However, he indicated that there was enough contamination to prompt him to issue yet another warning, this one stronger than most recent ones in a running battle between health officers and stubborn Youbou users.

Village residents strongly indicated once again at a recent public meeting that they do not want a publicly-run, chlorinated water system. Objections were made because of apparent distaste for treated “unnatural” water, projected costs exceeding $1 million and intrusion of bureaucracy into their lives.


In another story nearby on the page, we can see that the Village of Lake Cowichan was also thinking about water but was more focussed on turning it into dollars.

“In a move to raise an additional $7,000 annual revenue, the village is boosting water rates to homeowners by nearly 50 per cent.”

Rates for the village’s 756 single-family residences will climb from $3.60 per month to a minimum of $5 for those who pay on time and are eligible for a discount.

Oh my, look at those water rates! To think the mayor and council were willing to face a probable Niagara of criticism over seven grand. Well, it has been 40 years after all.

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