Year in Review: a look back at 2021 around Cowichan Lake

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou in mid-January, and conservation officers were called in to remove it. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou in mid-January, and conservation officers were called in to remove it. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Steve Elkiw, owner of Jerry’s Cannabis in Ladysmith, planned to open another location in Lake Cowichan iby the end of January. (File photo)Steve Elkiw, owner of Jerry’s Cannabis in Ladysmith, planned to open another location in Lake Cowichan iby the end of January. (File photo)
Brent Clancy, president of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, takes down the signs at the Lake Cowichan Visitor Centre, which closed its doors for good on Jan. 31. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Brent Clancy, president of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, takes down the signs at the Lake Cowichan Visitor Centre, which closed its doors for good on Jan. 31. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
This duo works on building an igloo at Central Park in Lake Cowichan after snowball over the Family Day long weekend. (Kathryn Swan photo)This duo works on building an igloo at Central Park in Lake Cowichan after snowball over the Family Day long weekend. (Kathryn Swan photo)
Mesachie Lake’s Herrington family: dad Shaun, mom Cara, eldest daughter Charlotte, and new arrival Violet, who was born in a hurry on Sunday, March 7. (Submitted)Mesachie Lake’s Herrington family: dad Shaun, mom Cara, eldest daughter Charlotte, and new arrival Violet, who was born in a hurry on Sunday, March 7. (Submitted)
Margaret Beldessi of Lake Cowichan stands outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Margaret Beldessi of Lake Cowichan stands outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Elija Ellison and Jessica May represented the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department in the BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall Virtual Challenge in February. (BC Lung Association photo)Elija Ellison and Jessica May represented the Lake Cowichan Volunteer Fire Department in the BC Lung Association’s Climb the Wall Virtual Challenge in February. (BC Lung Association photo)
Students in the Life Skills and Leadership classes at Lake Cowichan School took on an ambitious building project in April. (Submitted)Students in the Life Skills and Leadership classes at Lake Cowichan School took on an ambitious building project in April. (Submitted)
Open as of April 17, Mountain Man Ice Cream, at 99 South Shore Road, is run by the Robertson family including pictured: Myles Robertson, Austin Robertson, as well as Brianne Thomassen. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)Open as of April 17, Mountain Man Ice Cream, at 99 South Shore Road, is run by the Robertson family including pictured: Myles Robertson, Austin Robertson, as well as Brianne Thomassen. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Protesters gathered on the pedestrian bridge over the TCH south of Duncan on March 19 to protest against the logging of old-growth forests in B.C. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Protesters gathered on the pedestrian bridge over the TCH south of Duncan on March 19 to protest against the logging of old-growth forests in B.C. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Suraiya and Shawn Ali are the owners of the new Honeymoon Bay Food & General Store, which opened in April. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Suraiya and Shawn Ali are the owners of the new Honeymoon Bay Food & General Store, which opened in April. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Logging industry supporters gather in Mesachie Lake on Saturday, May 29. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Logging industry supporters gather in Mesachie Lake on Saturday, May 29. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
A GoFundMe page was set up in June for Lake Cowichan's Heather Kinch, pictured here with her daughter Phoebe, in an effort to raise money to buy a mobility scooter for her and she battles multiple sclerosis. (Submitted photo)
Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake in June, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)Mariah Segee (centre) was named 2021 Lady of the Lake in June, with Megan Rowbottom (left) as first princess, and Macey Anderson (right) as second princess. (Submitted)
Phoebe Krienke gets a shot of her LCS outdoor education classmates Dixie Bergman and Faith Smith releasing salmon fry into the Oxbow Side Channel in June. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)Phoebe Krienke gets a shot of her LCS outdoor education classmates Dixie Bergman and Faith Smith releasing salmon fry into the Oxbow Side Channel in June. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)

Editor’s note: This past year has been a busy one around Cowichan Lake. Here’s a look back at some of our top stories from the Gazette for 2021.

January

After a week of almost constant rain, Lake Cowichan faced flooding problems over the weekend as the river and lake overflowed their banks. Kathryn Swan, a regular contributor to the Lake Cowichan Gazette, reported that on Saturday, Jan. 2, the marsh at the west end of the pickleball courts on Cowichan Avenue East had overflowed its banks and submerged the corner of Poplar Street and Cowichan Avenue East. The town’s CAO, Joe Fernandez, said he wasn’t aware of any houses or businesses being flooded over the weekend, but a lot of people with waterfront properties were expressing concerns about rising water levels. “We’re living in an area adjacent to water,” he said. “When the water overflows its banks, there’s little that we can do.”

•••

RiverQuest Charters owner and fishing guide Dave Gunn had no idea he was creating a viral video when he scaled down an embankment with his chainsaw, on Dec. 16, to cut away a tree blocking the river. The tree posed an extreme hazard for river users just below RiverQuest’s lodge on Riverbottom Road. The video had a healthy 20,000 reactions on Facebook but the total number of views has surpassed 24 million in just a few weeks.

•••

A recently completed project in Youbou has brought a new groundwater source online and improved the quality of drinking water for residents without additional cost. Historically, the community of Youbou has relied on surface water as the source of its potable drinking water. In order to meet the provincial drinking water protection regulation, the community would have been required to upgrade the existing treatment facility or construct a new one at a substantial cost to residents. With the construction of a new well, the Cowichan Valley Regional District was able to utilize gas tax funding and system reserve funds to cover the costs. The budget for the project was $305,000, and with the in-house expertise of utilities staff, it was completed for approximately $260,000.

•••

A prominent Lake Cowichan businessman has died at 63. Jim Neiser of Neiser’s Rentals died suddenly on Jan. 4. after suffering an apparent cardiac event at work. Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day said the long-time laker will be missed. “I knew Jim as one of his customers,” Day said. “I often hoped it was Jim behind the counter so I could hear one of his great Cowichan Lake pioneer stories. Whenever we would get into a good discussion I could always count on Jim for a good old lumberjack analogy on the topic. I know Jim will be sorely missed by his family, friends, staff and customers.”

•••

An adventurous and obviously too tall Roosevelt elk got its antlers caught up on a zip line in a backyard in Youbou over the weekend of Jan. 22. Conservation officers were called in and safely sedated and freed the elk from its predicament before the animal found its way back to the forest. The Conservation Officer Service asked people to remember to properly manage items on their properties that could injure or trap wildlife.

•••

The assessed value of the average single-family home in Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake has increased a whopping 20 per cent over the last year, according to the latest figures by BC Assessment. The average home in both communities is now valued at $384,000, while the average waterfront property in Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake has seen a 12 per cent spike in value, with the average price now at $950,000. In fact, all regions of the Lake Cowichan area saw home assessments rise on average over the last year in BC Assessment’s valuation of homes across the province, which is based on what was happening in the real estate market as of July 1, 2020.

•••

The Lake Cowichan Animal Rescue Society has closed its doors after servicing the area for more than 13 years. Kilby Cottingham, a director with the LCARS, said the animal rescue organization shut down on Jan. 13, largely due to fundraising complications related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “Our fundraising, based mostly on contact with the public, was made impossible by the restrictions of COVID-19,” she said.

•••

A daycare in Lake Cowichan is closing for 10 days after a client was exposed to the coronavirus. Creative Angels Daycare announced on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 20, that it will close until the end of the month after a client came in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

•••

February

It’s the end of the line for the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce-run Lake Cowichan Visitor Centre. The little tourist info facility by Saywell Park is closing its doors for good on Jan. 31 as the money to run it has all dried up. “It is with deep regret and sadness that the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce board must announce to the Town of Lake Cowichan that it can no longer operate the Visitor Centre on South Shore Road due to lack of funding,” said a letter from the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors on Friday afternoon. The Visitor Centre has been a fixture along South Shore Road since 2005, serving 395,287 people in that time.

•••

Principal Jaime Doyle has sent a note to parents alerting them to a COVID-19 exposure at Lake Cowichan Secondary School. “I am sorry to say that we have had an ‘exposure’ here at the Lake,” he wrote to parents. “This was a very limited exposure and all those who were potentially exposed have been contacted. However, this is a good reminder to our community to not let their guard down and keep vigilant about mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing.”

•••

Lake Cowichan’s town council has applied for a government grant that, if successful, would cover the entire cost of the upgrade project at town hall. At the council meeting on Jan. 25, council voted unanimously to apply for almost $1.9 million for the project under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure component of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Ottawa would cover 80 per cent of the costs, while the province would pay for the remaining 20 per cent.

•••

After a two-year hiatus due to low enrolment, the 2021 Cowichan Lake Lady of the Lake program is back on, and its organizers are already planning for the future. “I am very happy to report that our 2021 program will be going ahead as we currently have eight candidates who will be participating,” said Jocelyn Lundberg, president and program coordinator of the Cowichan Lake Lady of the Lake program.

•••

A leak in an oil tank on private property near Lake Cowichan caused a spill into the Cowichan River Tuesday morning, Feb. 9. Staff from the Town of Lake Cowichan’s public works department were quickly on scene, followed soon after by inspectors from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. Joe Fernandez, CAO of the Town of Lake Cowichan, said workers from the town traced the spill back to its source and began placing a boom and pads to absorb as much of the oil as they could, but the expectation is that a lot of oil from the tank escaped into the river before the workers arrived. A statement from the ministry said the inspectors responded to a report of a light, patchy, rainbow sheen, with a diesel odour, on the Cowichan River. The total volume spilled was likely between 300 to 500 litres of fuel.

•••

The Lake Cowichan area received an average of 22.8 centimetres of snow over the course of the three-day storm that swept through the region over the long Family Day weekend. Environment Canada is reporting that the area received 11.4 centimetres of new snow on Saturday, 2.5 centimetres on Sunday and another 8.9 centimetres on Monday.

•••

It’s been no secret that many shops and services have simply had to close their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic, either for financial or safety reasons. One such place, has been the Lake Cowichan Branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library. Until recently. Temporary Librarian Kendra Runnalls is excited to announce there is now a glimmer of hope for book-lovers in the form of a daily two-hour window for browsing at the town’s local library.

•••

March

After a number of technical studies, it has been determined that the location of the new Lake Cowichan weir, which will be constructed next to the existing one, has been found to be stable and suitable for the project. Project manager Leroy Van Wieren said in an update to the Cowichan Valley Regional District that the various public input sessions that have been held over the last few months have shown good support for certain aspects for the design of the weir, such as aesthetics, safety and recreation.

•••

With large events in limbo again for the summer of 2021, Laketown Ranch is opening up its festival site for camping this year. Laketown Ranch announced on Feb. 18 that it will begin accepting reservations in March for camping between May 21 and Sept. 30, during non-event weeks, if events are allowed to happen this year.

•••

After months of preparation, Lake Cowichan’s first retail cannabis store has opened. Jerry’s Cannabis opened its location at 170 Cowichan Lake Rd. on Feb. 25, and owner Steve Elkiw said business has been very good so far.

•••

Mom Cara Herrington of Mesachie Lake was expecting her second child on March 11, but wanted it to be over with sooner — something a lot of expecting moms can understand. She wasn’t ready for the birth to happen when it did, however. “I was waiting and waiting, hoping she would come early,” Herrington said. “But not as fast as she did.” The ambulance arrived in about 10 minutes. They hadn’t even left the driveway when Cara told them to stop. “Don’t go anywhere,” she told them. “We’re not going to make it.” In Cara’s telling, it was a relatively easy birth, as these things go. One really strong contraction, and the baby’s head was completely out. The next contraction got her out past her shoulders. By 4:45 a.m. — half an hour after Cara woke up — Violet Luene Herrington was out in the world, surprising all the responders.

•••

The Town of Lake Cowichan has settled on a two per cent tax increase for its portion of property owners’ annual tax bills. “It’s all but done, it’s just the formalities now,” confirmed Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day on March 26. He noted the budget is to be finalized within the coming weeks. Residents had been looking at a three per cent increase but council opted for two per cent instead, according to Joseph Fernandez.

•••

April

The Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society is hoping to have construction of its long-anticipated affordable housing project for seniors on Renfrew Avenue started within a year. The society’s co-chairman Don Beldessi said it’s anticipated that the cost of Lakewood Manor, a 30-unit, possibly four-storey facility, will be approximately $9 million, and the society has applied for a $3-million federal grant to help cover some of the costs.

•••

A nuisance home on North Shore Road drew a lot of attention from neighbours and various government and utility groups on March 19. Island District RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau confirmed the RCMP had been called to assist with a clean-up of the dilapidated house. “It was a nuisance property and they’ve been working with the town,” Manseau explained. “It was a hazardous cleanup, a call to assist to keep the peace.” Manseau said the house is known around town “to be a bit of a flop house in the past” but multiple crews are actively working to remedy that.

•••

In early April, Catalyst Crofton will resume regular seasonal operations of the Cowichan Lake weir that regulates water flow out of Cowichan Lake. Once operating, the weir will gradually reduce water flow from the lake to the river in order to have enough extra water in the lake to achieve the target river flow during the dry summer months.

•••

The Youbou Innovation and Development Association (YIDA) plans to purchase and repurpose the old Yount school into a new facility for local community and visitor use. The existing school which was purchased decades ago from its original owners BCFP at a cost of around $5,000 has sat vacant for at least five years, but has been kept in good condition by the school district at significant annual ongoing cost. School District 79 has already commenced a process to sell the school through a formal proposal call and YIDA group has submitted its proposal to purchase the facility based on certain conditions. The group’s proposal includes new uses to align with Youbou’s emergence as a gateway to local and west coast trails and world-class kite surfacing at Nitinat and other destinations to the west.

•••

Protesters erected illegal blockades over the Easter weekend that cut off logging access to six approved cut-blocks in the Caycuse Valley, just days after a court ruling against them. Court proceedings that wrapped up on April 1 granted Teal Jones an injunction against blockades in Tree Farm License 46, but protesters said they are willing to risk arrest to save old growth forest. The Caycuse Valley and Fairy Creek watershed, which has also been subject to blockades recently, are both covered by the same timber licence. “Enough is enough,” Will O’Connell, a member of the Rainforest Flying Squad, said in a press release. “The people need to take a stand for these forests because the government clearly won’t.”

•••

Demand for homes in the Cowichan Valley is exceeding supply, driving up prices and frustrating potential buyers, according to local realtors. It’s a trend being seen across B.C. from bigger cities to even the smallest of towns, agreed Ally Earle, owner of RE/MAX Lake Cowichan. “Yes we definitely are for sure,” Earle said. “Inventory is extremely low and we have a large amount of buyers that are looking to purchase in the Cowichan Lake area. We are slowly starting to see more inventory come available. However, until we have enough supply to meet the demand, I predict the market will stay strong for awhile.”

•••

A number of the initiatives now in place to help deal with homelessness in the Cowichan Valley, including the sleeping cabin sites, could soon be expanded and enhanced. John Horn, executive director of the Cowichan Housing Association and co-chairman of the COVID-19 Vulnerable Populations Cowichan Task Force told Duncan’s city council last week that the task force is hoping to partner with local governments to apply for a $2.5-million grant from the UBCM Strengthening Communities’ Services funding program. He said if the funding application is successful, eight temporary sleeping cabins for the homeless, with wraparound services, would be set up at a site in Lake Cowichan.

•••

It was a sweet, sweet welcome for Lake Cowichan’s newest business on April 17. Mountain Man Ice Cream, located at 99 South Shore Rd., is now staffed and ready to roll. The operation is being spearheaded by 25-year Cowichan Valley residents, the Robertson family. Former owners of the Bald Eagle Campsite in Chemainus, the Robertsons are a group of four brothers and their parents. They sold the campground in 2005 and the brothers went on to team up to start multiple businesses, while their parents have ventured into construction. Despite two brothers living in Kelowna now, Mountain Man Ice Cream is still a family venture. “We looked into what we thought Lake Cowichan needed, and what the summer tourism could support,” said family spokesperson Austin Robertson. “After tossing a few ideas around, we landed on ice cream — we figure it is something for all ages, and the proximity to the river float entrance is fantastic for foot traffic.”

•••

Lake Cowichan School teacher Kevin Smith says his students’ latest hands-on project owes a lot to the generosity of local businesses who stepped up to help along the way. Smith says the project began as an eight by eight foot shed, but transformed into a 12 by 16 foot shed with a loft for storage, and students got experience in everything from drafting the plans to selecting and purchasing materials. “I, along with my Life Skills and Leadership classes, would like to thank George Donnelly of Cowichan Lake Timber for his generous donation,” Smith said. “This was the first time these classes worked with dimensional milled lumber and the quality was phenomenal.” Two classes of students worked as a team to frame the shed using locally sourced lumber, cedar and shingles.

•••

May

RBC-Royal Bank of Canada has announced it is closing its branch in Lake Cowichan on Nov. 4, 2021, leaving the community with Island Savings as its only brick-and-mortar financial institution. In a statement, RBC said bank branches remain a very important part of its presence in Canada. “But at the same time, our branch network continues to change and evolve as we seek to serve our clients where and how they wish to bank,” the statement said.

•••

There’s a new food and grocery store in Honeymoon Bay. Suraiya and Shawn Ali opened Honeymoon Bay Food & General Store at 10056 South Shore Rd., next to the fire hall, in April, and the business is already a big hit with the local residents. The store site is located in a former meat market that has been closed for 10 years, but Suraiya said the couple saw the potential for a food and grocery store there. She said they discovered the location while looking for a place to retire from their original home in Alberta.

•••

Countrywide Village Realty in Lake Cowichan has new owners. Realtors Jada Forrest and Patrick Miller have taken over the business from Keith Nelson, who has owned and operated Countrywide Village Realty since 2004, and he plans to continue to work there until he retires in a couple of years. Miller is from Youbou and worked in the construction industry for 30 years before he decided to switch to a career in real estate several years ago. Forrest is from Lake Cowichan and is in the process of getting her realtor’s licence. But she’s no stranger to real estate after buying several homes over the years and flipping them after carrying out upgrades and renovations on the properties.

•••

A partnership between the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society and Mosaic Forest Management is aiming to provide new recreational trails for non-motorized use. Mosaic, the timberlands manager for TimberWest and Island Timberlands, is providing the Trail Blazers with access to more than 1,000 hectares of private forest land in the Cowichan Lake area on which to build the trails.

•••

For the second straight year both the Sunfest Country Music Festival and Laketown Shakedown have been cancelled in accordance with government guidelines issued due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcements came this week via the festival’s website and social media accounts. “Although we had hoped to not have to do this once again, we unfortunately must announce Laketown Shakedown will not be taking place again this summer,” read the Shakedown notice.

•••

Lake Cowichan officials believe more housing is needed than what was recommended by consultants hired by the Cowichan Valley Regional District in a needs assessment recently presented to council. While town council received the Housing Needs Assessment of January 2021 prepared by the Cowichan Valley Regional District, they only did so during their April 27 council meeting as amended by a report prepared by the town planning department. The CVRD report showed a need for 43 new houses in Lake Cowichan by 2025, while Lake Cowichan’s planner calculated 172.

•••

A community that relies on the logging industry and which has been impacted by recent protests on southern Vancouver Island rallied along the Pacific Marine Circle route — the most direct access between the north Island and Port Renfrew — at the end of May. Dozens of loggers and their friends and family members, as well as other people who work in the forest industry, showed up in Mesachie Lake to wave signs and voice their opposition to the protests against old-growth logging in the Fairy Creek and Caycuse areas.

•••

June

Release the Kraken! The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced in June that it is expanding to Lake Cowichan for the 2021-22 season, and its newest franchise will share a name with the newest addition to the NHL. The Lake Cowichan Kraken will join the junior B circuit this fall along with the Port Alberni Bombers, expanding the league from nine teams to 11.

•••

B.C. Centre for Disease Control data shows that more than 60 per cent of adults have had a dose of vaccine in all local health areas on the Island except for Cowichan Valley West, which includes the Town of Lake Cowichan, Youbou, Honeymoon Bay, and Mesachie Lake. Even so, in that local health area, 57 per cent of adults have received their first dose. Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day isn’t too concerned. “I am totally putting that down to the most vaccinated communities have vaccination clinics or were mass vaccinated in that program,” he said. “I would expect that if this trend continues, that Island Health will establish a community clinic out this way,” or utilize the Lake’s pharmacies to vaccinate residents.

•••

A group of families from throughout the Cowichan Valley gathered at Lake Cowichan’s Saywell Park on Sunday, May 30 to celebrate old-growth forests and advocate for sustainable logging practices. The event was held partly in response to what organizers called “a growing division” in the community that has resulted in negativity between different factions of the ongoing old-growth logging debate, which has been expressed both on social media and in person. “We believe it is important to come together as a community and create a space to connect in a fun way, advocating for the protection of ancient forests and sustainable forestry jobs,” said Amanda Evans of Honeymoon Bay, who organized the event along with Jessi Junkin of Cowichan Station and Lake Cowichan’s Erin Blondeau. “When you take a step back, you realize we are advocating for a lot of the same things.”

•••

Carla Spooner is working hard to help her long-time friend Heather Kinch, who has multiple sclerosis and is in need of a mobility scooter to increase her quality of life. Spooner said she first became friends with Kinch four years ago when their daughters were attending Palsson Elementary School in Lake Cowichan together. She said Kinch had MS then and was unable work, but was still able to drive and physically get around with a walker or a cane. “But I’ve watched Heather steadily decline since then and now she’s been isolated in her home, a rented single-wide trailer on the outskirts of Lake Cowichan, since before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Spooner said.

•••

Lake Cowichan entrepreneur Lee-Ann Burke hopes to see a boost in business thanks to her products being featured on the cover of the June/July issue of a national pet magazine. Burke runs Threads N Tails, a pet clothing company. “The opportunity to be featured on the cover of a national magazine is very impressive to me and I really hope that it helps me to reach even more pet parents who want that perfectly fitting, functional and fashionable piece of dog clothing,” Burke said.

•••

A new laundromat is coming to town and it’ll be part of the new-look Peters Centre, next to the Gas N’ Go. “It’s been, I don’t know how many years since we’ve had one,” said resident Mary Masters in a phone call to the Gazette. “It’ll be a great addition to the town.” Masters said she asked moving crews what they were up to when she saw them unloading the new machines. Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day agreed the town will benefit, adding he believed the project belongs to Gas N’ Go owner Wayne Procter. “That centre has become a busy hub since the new investor has taken over,” Day noted. “New investment and modern development is attracting a younger generation to live here and it takes your families to make us truly sustainable.”

•••

Cowichan Lake area residents will soon be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine closer to home. A vaccine clinic is coming to the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena starting on Wednesday, June 23, and will be there for several days, says Island Health, including Saturday, June 26.

•••

The Lady of the Lake program has made a glorious, if unusual, return to Lake Cowichan. The program had to make some changes this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of Lake Days, but the beloved tradition came back after a two-year absence, and new royalty was crowned on Saturday, June 12. Mariah Segee was named Lady of the Lake for 2021, with Megan Rowbottom as first princess and Macey Anderson as second princess. As part of the British Columbia Ambassador Program, the trio will represent the Cowichan Lake region to the rest of B.C. for the next year.

•••

The Lake Cowichan Kraken have acquired the first two players in team history. The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League team, which will begin play this fall, added goaltender Ashton Lukan and defenceman Aden Saworski in a trade with the Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League last week. The Kraken gave up future considerations in the transaction.

•••

The Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative is donating $100,000 to support whole-person care at Cowichan Hospice House. Opening in late 2020, this new facility is a compassionate, person-centered, end-of-life care centre available to Cowichan Valley residents. “We are excited to be able to donate to Cowichan Hospice, to show our support for such important care for patients, family and friends during their time of need,” said Lorne Scheffer, chair of the Lake Cowichan Community Forest Co-operative. “Additionally, the hospice also helps to free up acute care beds in the Cowichan District Hospital.”

•••

Police on their way to conduct enforcement of the BC Supreme Court injunction against protests and blockades in Tree Farm Licence 46 were stopped by a group of activists west of Honeymoon Bay on Monday, June 14. According to a post on the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page, which is maintained by the Rainforest Flying Squad, the RFS put out a call early in the morning for people to gather close to Honeymoon Bay. RCMP vehicles were on their way to the Braden Creek area when they encountered the protesters blocking the road. The protesters were outside the area covered by the injunction, but according to the police, they were on private property and blocking traffic on the logging road in both directions. Police said the injunction was read to the group, and they were given the opportunity to leave. Four people refused to leave the property and were arrested for mischief.

•••

The outdoor education class from Lake Cowichan School got some firsthand experience recently on a series of field trips with the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society. Over a series of three trips, the Grade 6 and 7 students did vital work to restore a side channel on the Cowichan River, travelled to the Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre in Cowichan Bay to learn about marine life and micro-plastics, and helped collect genetic information on Chinook salmon in Shaw Creek. On Thursday, June 3, the class travelled to the Oxbow side channel on Riverbottom Road, where they helped continue the restoration of the channel following its reconnection to the Cowichan River.

•••

Activists connected to the old-growth logging protests at Fairy Creek brought their dispute to Mesachie Lake on Friday, June 25, blockading a yard containing logging equipment. Teal Jones confirmed that it leases office space at the site, which houses operations of several businesses. Loggers arrived at the yard on Friday morning to discover a number of protesters chained to the gate, blocking the only entrance to the yard. The Rainforest Flying Squad reported via the Fairy Creek Blockade Facebook page that they were all women, led by a protester who goes by the name “Lady Chainsaw.”

See next week’s edition for July through December.

Lake CowichanYear in Review