Weir concerns, a possible jasper processing plant, and an big upgrade for Youbou mill were August news

Cowichan Lake residents were reading about the weir, a new mine, and a new barker for Youbou’s mill

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through old newspapers with theassistance of the Kaatza Station Museum and Archives so we can jog your memory, give you that nostalgicfeeling, or just a chuckle, as we take a look at what was making headlines this week around Cowichan Lake inyears gone by.

10 years ago:

“Safety concerns prompt opposition to proposal” was the headline of Aug. 8, 2007’s Lake Cowichan Gazette.

The story was about Catalyst Paper looking at automating its boat locks by the weir, and asking for comments from the public.

Nearby resident Don Scott said he saw trouble ahead.

“Leaving operation to untrained and sometimes irresponsible boaters could cause problems. If there is a mechanical failure, who would operate the override?” he asked.

Don McKendrick, vice president of Catalyst’s Crofton division, replied that he thought the lock would actually make it safer, more cost effective and bring it up to standards in Eastern Canada.

“It would save us about $300,000 a year,’ McKendrick said, adding that it would cost $200,000 to automate.’”

The weir and lock date back to 1957, and provide a secure source of water for the Crofton pulp mill.

During what’s called the control period (usally March to October), the lock is operated by four Catalyst employees 24 hours a day, with each working 12-hour shifts.

25 years ago:

“Lots of applicants for new mine” said The Lake News of Aug. 12, 1992.

Mine? Yes, a possible jasper industry was in the offing.

David Reid of Lake Cowichan Imperial Stone said the company was accepting applications for “the $25 million plant which it has announced and will be opened next year at Meade Creek Industrial Park,” the story said.

“The plant will process jasper, a quartz-type stone recently discovered near Youbou. After the diamond, the jasper is reputed to be the hardest natural substance and there are expected to be a lot of uses for the Youbou jasper, from bathroom fixtures to costume jewelry.”

40 years ago:

“New barkers running at BCFP” on the front page of the The Lake News of Aug. 10, 1977, tells the story of a $3.5 million log-handling system at the company’s Youbou sawmill.

“Two mechanical barkers, log decks and two giant Peco hoists, all part of of BCFP’s switch to a system of handling and sorting log bundles on dry land were phased into operation several weeks ago, replacing the company’s 25-year-old hydraulic ring barker.

“Although the new system is designed to increase productivity while ensuring a cleaner lake, mill manager Jim Bigland reports production at the mill has fallen since installation of the new complex…He blamed part of the production loss to de-bugging of the system, which he said is ‘going slower than we thought’ and partly to relief help, which the mill hires during the summer months to enable employees to take holidays without shutting down.”

The old ring barker, used since 1954, barked more than eight million logs, enough wood for 185,000 homes or a city twice the size of Vancouver, will be used as a backup until the new system is in full swing. The old water barker has also barked nine billion square feet of peeler logs.

“Before long, the ring barker will be put on display at the BC Forest Museum in Duncan,” the story concluded.

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