A hot playground: Lake Cowichan firefighters Keith Ellwood, left, and Dave Janzen put out a small fire that was started Saturday afternoon at the A.B. Greenwell School playground. Seven-year-old Aaron Croteau, Evan Croteau, 10, and Logan Wiersma, 10, alerted a nearby resident who called 911. ‘We were near the bottom of the school yard and we saw the smoke, then the fire,’ said Evan. Damage was minimal, with part of a plastic tube slide melted and some of the wood burned. (Oct. 22, 2008 ‘Lake Cowichan Gazette’ photo)

Lake Flashback: Diesel clean up saga ends, swimming pool story surfaces again, familiar politicians back in the frame: it’s all Laker life

Some politicians had long run, Palmers’ diesel nightmare goes on, will Lake ever get a pool and more

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through oldnewspaperswiththeassistance 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 weekaround Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

“Last three fuel tanks being removed in latest phase of diesel spill clean up” told the story in the Lake Cowichan Gazette of Oct. 22, 2008.

Here’s the story.

Some five months after being urged by local residents, the clean up of the diesel spill at the old Gas To Go station in Lake Cowichan has progressed to the removal of the last three fuel tanks. The diesel tank was removed not long after the clean up started in April, but the other tanks remained as gas station owner Phil Keshwani continued to operate until he abandoned things in late August.

Subcontractor Hazco Environmental and Decommissioning Services last week began removing asphalt to get access to the tanks. Last Friday, with the asphalt removed, the digging began.

“Certainly we’re trying to get this done before the heavy rains,” said Doug Walton of the ministry of environment.

Don Palmer, whose adjacent property has been dug up because of the leak, has been calling all along for removal of all the tanks, insisting that there has been continued leaking onto his property even after the diesel tank was removed. Environmentalist Joe Saysell asked for the same thing.

Walton said there is an ongoing monitoring of the ground under the gas station, as well as at the Palmers’ property.

“Once it’s determined there is no more contamination, they will be back-filling with new soil at the Palmers,” said Walton.

25 years ago:

The main headline on the front page of The Lake News of Oct. 27, 1993 was “Will we get a swimming pool?”

It’s a question that’s still being asked today but they were pretty confident back then.

“Lake Cowichan could have an indoor swimming pool by the autumn of 1995. That is the target date set by the Kiwanis Club committee, chairman Tony White, looking into the feasibility of building a pool here.”

A report was being circulated to local community groups prior to a meeting, scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 7 so concrete plans could be made.

During the preliminary study carried out by the Kiwanis committee, information was gathered on indoor pools at Duncan, Ladysmith, Courtenay/Comox, Gold River, Maple Ridge, Grand Forks, Smithers, Saanich, and a proposed pool at Parksville. “One common denominator surfaced,” said the committee. “Those constructed as leisure pools were far more cost effective than the traditional rectangular 25 metre pool. Additionally, they served a broader range of the community.”

The story also included some history, noting that studies had been undertaken in 1985 and 1988.

In 1985, professional environmental recreation consultants studied the matter and said that in the foreseeable future Lake Cowichan could not afford the capital or operating costs of a pool.

40 years ago:

Not surprisingly, The Lake News of Wednesday, Oct. 25, 1978 was full of pre-election news.

Until this year, the municipal elections have been held in November so the end-of-October papers were chockablock with ads for the candidates.

And stories about them, too.

This week, they were talking about school board, which garnered a lot more interest because, as we’ve said before, Lake Cowichan had its own school district back then.

Candidates were lining up to run for trustee positions.

“At least three candidates have announced they will seek a seat on the school board in the village elections. Among them are incumbent Buck Hollingdrake, area librarian Jean Brown, and Teleglobe employee Ron Tapley.

“A fourth possible candidate, long-time area resident Pat Foster, has indicated she may seek a school board post in either the village or the rural race. Her decision to enter the rural race would assure an election in the rural areas.

“Incumbent Ray Bennet has already filed his nomination papers and Youbou’s Olive Baird announced yesterday she will seek a seat on the board. Two seats are available in each of the village and rural school board contests. Village incumbent Bernice Sawkins will not seek another term and rural incumbent Dalton Smith also announced recently his decision to step down from the board after only one term as a trustee…Meanwhile, Jack Peake, who twice sought a seat on the board, will sit this one out. He said he’s disappointed by the general attitude of ‘people who don’t care’…However, Peake says he’s got his eye on the mayor’s job which comes up next year.

Jean Brown, the village librarian, said she is seeking a school board seat “partly because of pressure from those who think I can do a capable job.”

(Some of these names will recur in Lake Cowichan politics for years to come.)

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