Year in Review: January to December, some of Cowichan’s top stories of 2021

Cowichan Tribes held a prayer ceremony on Monday, May 31 for the 215 children whose remains were discovered at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. Local governments across the Cowichan Valley have lowered flags to honour the victims. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Cowichan Tribes held a prayer ceremony on Monday, May 31 for the 215 children whose remains were discovered at the site of the Kamloops Residential School. Local governments across the Cowichan Valley have lowered flags to honour the victims. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Parents Robin Ringer and Wyatt Gilmore with the No. 1 baby of 2021 in the Cowichan Valley. They have yet to decide on a name for her. (Photo by Don Bodger)Parents Robin Ringer and Wyatt Gilmore with the No. 1 baby of 2021 in the Cowichan Valley. They have yet to decide on a name for her. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Barbara Whitefoot and Shirley Hackett of Chemainus stand outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting their first COVID-19 vaccination shots on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Barbara Whitefoot and Shirley Hackett of Chemainus stand outside the Cowichan Community Centre after getting their first COVID-19 vaccination shots on Tuesday, March 16. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
A nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex on Cowichan Lake Road in Duncan ended peacefully on Wednesday, April 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)A nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex on Cowichan Lake Road in Duncan ended peacefully on Wednesday, April 14. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Rachel Scott-Screaton is the new owner of the Brass Bell Pub in Crofton. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Rachel Scott-Screaton is the new owner of the Brass Bell Pub in Crofton. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Karen Dieckmann grimaces from the foul odours in the air in her neighbourhood in Cobble Hill as she walks her dog Percy. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Karen Dieckmann grimaces from the foul odours in the air in her neighbourhood in Cobble Hill as she walks her dog Percy. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Joseph George is all smiles after getting some cotton candy at the Cowichan Tribes’ celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Joseph George is all smiles after getting some cotton candy at the Cowichan Tribes’ celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
LCS outdoor education student Matteo Conway collects fry provided by the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society for his classmates to release into the Oxbow Side Channel on the Cowichan River. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)LCS outdoor education student Matteo Conway collects fry provided by the Cowichan Lake Salmonid Enhancement Society for his classmates to release into the Oxbow Side Channel on the Cowichan River. (Kevin Rothbauer/Gazette)
James Hamilton performed on his sitar at 4 p.m. every Thursday of the 39 Days of July festival, which was back in Charles Hoey Park in downtown Duncan during the summer of 2021. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)James Hamilton performed on his sitar at 4 p.m. every Thursday of the 39 Days of July festival, which was back in Charles Hoey Park in downtown Duncan during the summer of 2021. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
The Malahat Skywalk, which includes this 40-metre spiral tower which offers magificent views of the area from the top, opened on July 15. (Robert Barron/Citizen)The Malahat Skywalk, which includes this 40-metre spiral tower which offers magificent views of the area from the top, opened on July 15. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Organ technician and builder Jason Barnsley hands one of the 541 pipes in the pipe organ at Duncan United Church to Connie Masson, the church’s music director, for cleaning. The job was done in August. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Organ technician and builder Jason Barnsley hands one of the 541 pipes in the pipe organ at Duncan United Church to Connie Masson, the church’s music director, for cleaning. The job was done in August. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Kathy Park holds a bottle of pepper spray that was found by a child in a community park in south Duncan in September. The child got some of the spray in her eye and had to be treated by a paramedic. (Robert Barron/Citizen)Kathy Park holds a bottle of pepper spray that was found by a child in a community park in south Duncan in September. The child got some of the spray in her eye and had to be treated by a paramedic. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
More than 2,000 people marched through the streets of Duncan on Sept. 30 in recognition of the inaugural National Day of Truth & Reconciliation. (Robert Barron/Citizen)More than 2,000 people marched through the streets of Duncan on Sept. 30 in recognition of the inaugural National Day of Truth & Reconciliation. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Alistair MacGregor, left, and Dwight Grieves, Sergeant-at-Arms at the Royal Canadian Legion 134 – Malahat District, lead the procession to the Cobble Hill Cenotaph at the beginning of the ceremony on Oct. 22 to honour members of the Canadian military who died in Canada in non-combat roles. (Robert Barron/Citizen)MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford Alistair MacGregor, left, and Dwight Grieves, Sergeant-at-Arms at the Royal Canadian Legion 134 – Malahat District, lead the procession to the Cobble Hill Cenotaph at the beginning of the ceremony on Oct. 22 to honour members of the Canadian military who died in Canada in non-combat roles. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
The cherry trees on Canada Avenue in downtown Duncan put on a stunning spring show in April, bedecked in pink blossoms that heralded warmer weather to come. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)The cherry trees on Canada Avenue in downtown Duncan put on a stunning spring show in April, bedecked in pink blossoms that heralded warmer weather to come. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Families enjoyed a range of activities during Kids Days at the BC Forest Discovery Centre over the BC Day long weekend, including two-year-old Charlie Snider of Brentwood Bay who gazed out the window during a train ride. (Photos by Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Families enjoyed a range of activities during Kids Days at the BC Forest Discovery Centre over the BC Day long weekend, including two-year-old Charlie Snider of Brentwood Bay who gazed out the window during a train ride. (Photos by Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
This heron landed in a huge Garry oak at Trumpeter Pointe on Friday, Jan. 22. For a few hours, he thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the 2021 sun. (Mike Lynch photo)This heron landed in a huge Garry oak at Trumpeter Pointe on Friday, Jan. 22. For a few hours, he thoroughly enjoyed hanging out in the 2021 sun. (Mike Lynch photo)
Members of Cowichan Tribes and their guests took the opportunity on July 1 to gather at the Si’em Lelum fields for an event that included reflection on the damage that Indian Residential Schools have done to Canada’s Indigenous people. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)Members of Cowichan Tribes and their guests took the opportunity on July 1 to gather at the Si’em Lelum fields for an event that included reflection on the damage that Indian Residential Schools have done to Canada’s Indigenous people. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Three curious otters take a break on the wharf at Ladysmith in March. (Cheryl Trudell photo)Three curious otters take a break on the wharf at Ladysmith in March. (Cheryl Trudell photo)
South Cowichan Recreation manager Kim Liddle and South Cowichan Pickleball Club executive members Laurie Vasey, Rick Hollingworth and Brian Johnson stand on the future site of the Kerry Park pickleball courts at the Kerry Park Recreation Centre. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)South Cowichan Recreation manager Kim Liddle and South Cowichan Pickleball Club executive members Laurie Vasey, Rick Hollingworth and Brian Johnson stand on the future site of the Kerry Park pickleball courts at the Kerry Park Recreation Centre. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
A small plane crashed at the Duncan airport on Dec. 5. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)A small plane crashed at the Duncan airport on Dec. 5. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Jason Mimkowitz said he was overwhelmed when workers began to place the first of 13 small wooden cabins at the tenting site for the homeless on St. Julien Street in Duncan on Jan. 9.

Mimkowitz has been living in a tent at the site since June, and the thought of having a solid roof over his head and a heated area to live in for the first time in months as winter takes hold in the Cowichan Valley brought tears to his eyes. On Jan. 11, the site’s remaining seven of the 13 cabins, which are insulated and have baseboard heating, were delivered, and plans are in place for another 26 of the cabins to be set up at the tenting site on Government Street known as “The Mound”, which is owned by Cowichan Tribes.

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A big storm battered the Cowichan Valley as it tore through southern B.C. overnight Tuesday, Jan. 12, leaving thousands of people without power Wednesday morning.

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Seven streets in Duncan’s downtown core got Hul’q’umi’num’ names on their street signs, in addition to their English names. The City of Duncan’s council approved the Hul’q’umi’num’ Signage Project, an initiative coordinated by the Downtown Duncan BIA, Cowichan Tribes and the City, unanimously at its meeting on Jan. 18.

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A “renewal” of Duncan Manor that would include a big expansion was first announced in January of 2021. The non-profit Duncan Housing Society, which operates the Manor, a three story, 122-unit building on First Street that offers below-market independent housing for seniors and persons with disabilities, has applied for funding from BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund program for work that could see an entirely new, expanded facility with approximately 300 units when completed.

The proposal has proven controversial as it would require a land swap with the City of Duncan for a portion of Centennial Park. A group in the community is staunchly opposed to using park land for the expanded Duncan Manor.

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A new extreme weather shelter opened in the Si’em Lelum gymnasium at 5574 River Rd. in Duncan. Funded by BC Housing and operated by the Cowichan branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and Cowichan Tribes, the shelter opened on Jan. 22. The new shelter was expected to alleviate some of the pressure on Warmland House.

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A Duncan man who killed his younger brother in the midst of a psychotic break stood before a B.C. Supreme Court justice in February and said he had chosen to live for himself and his brother. Justice Jeanne Watchuk found Daniel Coogan not criminally responsible as a result of a mental disorder in the killing of his brother in their Duncan apartment nearly two years prior.

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Officers from the BC SPCA seized 12 small dogs from a breeder on Herd Road in North Cowichan on Tuesday, Feb. 2, citing a lack of veterinary care for the animals.

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North Cowichan has joined the growing list of local governments who are raising objections to freighters anchoring in coastal waters along the Salish Sea. The municipality’s council unanimously decided at its meeting on Jan. 20 to allow Mayor Al Siebring to write a letter to Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford, in support of his Bill C-250 which seeks to prohibit the anchoring of freighters in the southern Gulf Islands where the proposed National Marine Conservation Area is to be established.

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The Independent Investigations Office cleared two RCMP officers in the shooting death of Chris Bloomfield in Mill Bay in November of 2018. When they entered the residence, Bloomfield advanced on them with what police described as an “edged weapon.” Officers attempted to subdue him with a Taser, but were unsuccessful. Police then fired shots, with five of six hitting the man.

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The supply of housing in the Cowichan Valley is not keeping pace with demand, especially in rental housing, according to a report on the housing needs in the region. The report, prepared by MODUS Planning, Engagement, and Design and the Cowichan Housing Association for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, also concluded that there is a misalignment in housing costs and regional wages in the Valley. The 93-page document, called the Regional Housing Needs Assessment Report, is intended to help the CVRD understand what kinds of housing are most needed in the region’s communities now and in the future, which will help with the district’s official community plan and

development decisions.

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It was 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 closed its doors for good on Jan. 31 as the money to run it had 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.. The Visitor Centre was a fixture along South Shore Road since 2005, serving 395,287 people in that time. The Chamber of Commerce blamed the closure on the Town of Lake Cowichan’s decision to discontinue funding.

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The Cowichan Valley received an average of 28.4 centimetres over the course of the three-day storm that swept through the region over the long Family Day weekend. Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the top of the Malahat received 46 centimetres of snow during the event, while 40.8 centimetres of snow fell at the Nanaimo airport.

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A homeless count completed over a 24-hour period in March, 2020, in the Cowichan Valley found 129 people experiencing homelessness, though local officials believed the actual number to be higher.

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The Shawnigan Lake Historical Society announced on Thursday, March 4 that it will get $480,000 in funding for its Shawnigan Lake Museum expansion. The funds come from the Government of Canada Legacy Fund – Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program.

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Some residents in the Bell McKinnon Road area are alarmed at what they perceive as threats to their award-winning neighbourhood plan for the area by North Cowichan councillors. Dave Jackson, who lives across the street from where the proposed new $887-million Cowichan District Hospital is slated to be constructed in the area, said it appears from comments made by a number of North Cowichan council members at a meeting on March 9 that they are looking to delete all or sections of the plan.

North Cowichan council did make changes to the plan, delaying development north of Herd Road, in a bid to limit development in the area. The struggle over what the future of the area around the new hospital should be continued through 2021.

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The Cowichan Watershed Board, in partnership with the Cowichan Tribes and Halalt First Nation, received $500,000 for a project to improve salmonid habitats and alter flow requirements in the Koksilah and Chemainus Rivers. Funding through B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan is aimed at restoring ecosystems, wildlife and habitats in the Cowichan Valley, ensuring health and resilience in a changing climate.

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A grant from the provincial government will completely cover the cost of the Cowichan Valley’s first pickleball-specific venue, coming to the Kerry Park Recreation Centre in the near future. The $550,000 price tag for the pickleball courts and related infrastructure is taken care of by the Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program, a $100-million program providing grants for economic resilience, tourism, heritage and urban and rural development initiatives across the province. The South Cowichan Pickleball Club has been pushing for a facility since October 2018, so South Cowichan Recreation took a chance on applying for the new provincial fund, and it came through in March.

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There’s no word on how good Tim Coy is at baking, but the English teacher at Shawnigan Lake School sure knows his Pi. Coy recited the beloved mathematical constant to 1,510 digits during a competition at the school on — what else? — Pi Day: March 14. (The first three digits of Pi are 3.14.) Coy’s feat, which took 18 minutes, is the fifth-best time in Canadian history, and 123rd in the world rankings. In 1974, he would have set a new world record.

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The Cowichan Valley Regional District’s headquarters on Ingram Street were closed for months in 2021 after its offices were significantly damaged when a water leak impacted all three floors in the building in late March.

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The province is investing almost $1.4 million to develop tourism infrastructure in North Cowichan and Ladysmith it was announced in late March. Almost $700,000 will be coming to North Cowichan, of which $312,000 will be used to build an accessible washroom at Kinsmen Park, almost $174,000 will go towards the development of the access point at Mount Tzouhalem, including parking stalls, an accessible washroom, and signage, $100,000 will be used for lighting and way-finding at Waterwheel Park, and almost $98,000 will go to upgrades at Mount Prevost’s mountain bike trails, including signage.

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After 36 years of serving seniors in the Cowichan Valley, the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation announced in late March that it was closing up shop permanently, although many of the services it offered have continued under other the umbrellas of Cowichan Green Community and Volunteer Cowichan.

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Protesters erected illegal blockades over the Easter weekend that cut off logging access to six approved cutblocks 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 was also subject to blockades through 2021, are both covered by the same timber licence.

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A tense, nearly four-hour standoff at an apartment complex in Duncan came to a peaceful end on Wednesday evening. The situation began around 4 p.m. when the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP were contacted by someone with concerns about the safety of a friend after visiting the friend’s apartment to drop off some food. According to police, the visitor noticed some “unnerving behaviour” and the friend said they weren’t OK, at which point the adult son of the apartment resident yelled at the visitor to leave. The first and second floors of the three-floor building were evacuated as police cordoned off the area, blocking off a section of Cowichan Lake Road to all but local residents. Bystanders also indicated that the residents of the Cerwydden seniors facility next door to Shaughnessy Gardens were moved from the wing closest to the apartment building. Over the course of the standoff, several more police in tactical gear arrived at the scene, along with an armoured vehicle. Officers entered the apartment just before 8 p.m. and apprehended the suspect after a brief struggle. The man was taken to the nearby Cowichan District Hospital for treatment and a medical evaluation.

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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. According to the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board, Duncan reported a benchmark price of $578,500, an increase of 15 per cent from March 2020. By November, that benchmark price for a single family home in the Cowichan Valley had risen to $770,000.

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A report by the Independent Investigations Office of BC has found that the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP did nothing to contribute to the death of James William Williams within hours of his release from custody in July 2020. Williams, 52, was found dead in his room at the Warmland House shelter in Duncan on July 16, 2020. He had been arrested less than 24 hours earlier and spent most of the night at the RCMP detachment, returning to the shelter less than 12 hours before he was found dead. An autopsy determined that he died from a brain injury sustained several days earlier.

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The City of Duncan wanted to know in April how much interest there is in the community to fix and maintain the cob oven in Centennial Park before it considers putting any money and effort into it. Council decided at a recent meeting to initiate a Request for Expressions of Interest for a group or individual to assist with the future operation and maintenance of the cob oven, which has been in place in Centennial Park since 2012. Later in the year, Cowichan Green Community said they are interested in taking over operation of the cob oven. No final decision on its fate has been made.

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Pudge Bawa was the headliner at the 22nd Black Tie Awards presented by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, which streamed live on YouTube on May 4. Bawa was honoured with the chamber’s Lifetime Achievement award at the end of the virtual ceremony.

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Release the Kraken! The Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League expanded to Lake Cowichan for the 2021-22 season, and its newest franchise shares a name with the newest addition to the NHL. Word leaked out on social media on Tuesday, May 25 that the Lake Cowichan Kraken would begin play in the junior B circuit in the fall.

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Cowichan Tribes announced it is partnering with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation on a $8.3-million housing project that will provide 32 new affordable housing units. Cowichan Tribes will contribute $4.3 million and CMHC is contributing $4 million. The 16-plex, 10-plex and six-plex will be the largest complex built by Cowichan Tribes.

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Flags at government buildings in the Cowichan Valley were lowered throughout the first week of June to honour 215 children whose remains were found on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, and Cowichan Tribes held an online prayer ceremony. This became an even larger story as the year continued, with more remains found on the grounds of other residential schools across Canada, including more than 160 unmarked graves on Penelakut Island, that led to massive rallies and calls for widespread education about the truths of what occurred at Canada’s residential schools, and investigation into just what happened to the children who attended them.

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The need for more affordable housing in North Cowichan won out over the official community plan at the council table on June 2. In a tight 4-3 vote, council voted against a recommendation by Coun. Rob Douglas to down-zone a 21.5-acre property at 9090 Trans Canada Highway in Chemainus, next to the Country Maples Campground, to a rural designation to prevent the development of a 108-unit modular-home park at the site. Core Group, consisting of Robyn Kelln and his wife from Salt Spring Island and an engineering company from Vancouver, purchased the site last year to develop the modular-home park, which will be called Morgan Maples. That was not the end of the fight, however, as further proposals to try to limit the development made it to the council table as the year went on, and community opinion was split over whether it was unwanted sprawl, or needed housing.

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A new Indigenous healing centre geared toward helping the survivors of residential schools was announced to be built on leased reserve land near Duncan. The new approximately $5-million centre is a project of the Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society and will offer programs that are grounded in Indigenous culture and tradition, and focus on healing from the ongoing effects of residential schools.

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The Cowichan Valley, along with most of eastern Vancouver Island and southern B.C., went to drought Level 4, and as a result all water systems in the Cowichan region were subject to Stage 3 water restrictions beginning Friday, July 16 at 12 a.m. Low rainfall this spring and the wave of extreme heat in late June and into July have caused these conditions. With drought measured on a 0-5 scale, with 5 being the most severe, the East Vancouver Island Basin is already at Level 4 in early July.

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For Cole Evans and Lyly Osbourne, visiting the new Malahat SkyWalk on its opening day on July 15 was a highlight of their vacation. The couple, who are vacationing from Mission, said they read about the SkyWalk, which is located just north of the Malahat Summit, and wanted to check it out on their way home from spending most of their time off visiting tourist locations in the Cowichan Valley. The approximately $15-million Malahat SkyWalk project, a partnership between the Malahat Nation and A.Spire by Nature, a company led by two of the founding partners in the successful Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, combines nature-based tourism with a cultural tourism experience.

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The cross on Mount Tzouhalem was cut down. The white steel cross that has overlooked Cowichan from a cliff on the mountain since the late 1980s was removed by unknown individuals sometime overnight between Friday, July 16 and Saturday, July 17. The cross was cut off near the base. No decision has been made on putting the cross back up, or putting something else up in its place.

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In a controversial move, the City of Duncan got rid of the position of town crier, which had been in place since 1995, and Ben Buss, the man who’d been filling the role since 2011 was disappointed. In a press release, the city said that “as it moves forward in a post pandemic world, and with increased awareness of historical injustices, there is a need to re-evaluate the practices and symbolism of the past.”

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The potential reality of wildfire dangers being faced by so many people in B.C. hit close to home for Cowichan Valley residents in early August. It was a week of watching, waiting and wondering after two wildfires were reported a day apart in the same vicinity. The first one last Wednesday, Aug. 4, located at the Chemainus River Provincial Park, was quickly brought under control and contained at 0.3 hectares by BC Wildfire Service personnel. That fire was no sooner contained than another one broke out and reported around midnight Thursday, Aug. 5. Both fire were eventually extinguished without loss of life or property.

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After serving with the Duncan fire department for 34 years, with the last 13 of those years in the capacity of fire chief, Mike McKinlay retired in August.

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The Municipality of North Cowichan’s coast of arms was given the boot. Council decided at its meeting on Aug. 18 to drop the coat of arms, which was adopted in 1989, because of perceptions it raises around colonialism, racism and gender inequality.

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As the Cowichan Valley continued to bake under a level 4 drought, some water users along the Koksilah River were told to turn off the taps. Water use on the Koksilah River is being curtailed after water flows hit critically low levels, which is defined as less than 180 litres a second. This flow level has been determined to threaten the survival of fish in the river and, in accordance with the province’s water sustainability act, the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Katrine Conroy issued an order to specific water users in the Koksilah watershed to curtail water use to maintain viable flows for fish. The order, signed on Aug. 17, restricted all diversion and use of water for industrial purposes, and for the irrigation of forage crops, like hay and corn, until at least Sept. 30.

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Leslie Welin was grinning from ear to ear on Aug. 20 as the Clements Centre Society’s long-anticipated new facility in the south end of the Cowichan Valley officially opened.

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In the first paper of September, it was announced that the province had raised the drought level on Vancouver Island to Level 5, the highest level possible, as dry conditions continued into the fall.

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Diana Adams hopes the large turnout for the National Day of Truth & Reconciliation March through Duncan on Thursday, Sept. 30 made its point. Adams, who is from Haida Gwaii, said she thinks the march, and events like it that were held across the nation on the inaugural National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, will be instrumental in highlighting to Canadians the many injustices that were visited upon Indigenous people in the country over the centuries.

Adams was one of more than 2,000 people, most in orange t-shirts that symbolize truth and reconciliation, that marched through the streets of Duncan Thursday in an event that was organized by the M’akola Housing Society, Cowichan Tribes, and a number of other organizations. The first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30 was set aside to be a day to recognize the horrors of Canada’s residential schools, and honour the lost children and survivors. The enactment of the holiday was among 94 calls to action put forward by the Truth & Reconciliation Commission.

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A new apartment building with 83 rental units is being proposed for Koksilah Road. The project, called Creekside on Koksilah, would be a five-storey building that would house an assortment of rental units, from studio units to two-bedroom apartments, on a 2.2-acre lot. Carwood Homes, a development company based in Saanich, has recently submitted a rezoning application to the Cowichan Valley Regional District for the project.

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A Cowichan Bay business operator was crying foul after enduring multiple power outages, several days in a row for seemingly no reasonable cause. Island Farmhouse Poultry’s Doug Prenevost said his company was losing money in electrical components and he’s also concerned for staff safety and the welfare of the chickens at his processing plant each time the juice is jammed. BC Hydro spokesperson Ted Olynyk noted the outages were indeed vegetation related on Oct. 8 but said they’re still working on what was happening the other times.

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St. John’s Academy in Shawnigan Lake is planning a major expansion and renovation that will cost approximately $50 million.

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The controversial Wellness and Recovery Centre on York Road officially opened its doors on Monday, Nov. 1. The centre, based at 5878 York Rd. in North Cowichan, is operated by Island Health in partnership with Lookout Housing and Health Society. Together, these organizations will offer a broad range of mental health and substance-use services at the site that focus on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery.

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A three-judge panel from the British Columbia Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the Municipality of North Cowichan’s decision to deny the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit a development permit for a proposed expansion to its site on Highway 18. The Honourable Madam Justice Saunders said on Nov. 3 that she was “not persuaded” with the VIMC’s argument that the municipality failed to provide justification for the controversial decision in 2019 to deny the VIMC its $36-million development plans by not issuing the development permit it needed to proceed.

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The new Cowichan Secondary School will feature a modern structure that incorporates Cowichan culture, heritage and design now that the Board of Education of the Cowichan Valley School district has selected the long-awaited project’s builder, it was announced in November. Vancouver-based Urban One Builders was picked during the design-build process and they’ll begin building the state-of-the-art facility.

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The Cowichan Valley School District accepted an offer of $1.81 million for the former Crofton Elementary School site on Robert Street. The property was only on the market a week.

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Colin John pleaded guilty at the Victoria courthouse on Tuesday, Nov. 30 to the 2016 murder of Derek Descoteau, a Chemainus man. John had been charged with the second-degree murder of Descoteau, 20, and the attempted murder of Descoteau’s girlfriend, Janelle Guyatt, who survived the May 2016 attack but required several surgeries for nerve damage after being stabbed five times by John. John also pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a lesser charge than attempted murder, for stabbing Guyatt multiple times. Sentencing will proceed in the new year.

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A small plane crashed near the Duncan airport Sunday morning, Dec. 5. First responders were called out just after 11 a.m. “A light aircraft went off the end of the runway,” explained a member of the Duncan Flying Club who answered the phone at the small airport. “It looks like the airplane was coming in for a landing and skidded off the end of the runway. I can see the wheelmarks on the runway,” he added. “It looks like there were three on board and minor injuries.”

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Retired firefighter Mike McKinlay is the recipient of the City of Duncan’s 2021 Scroll of Honour. McKinlay, who retired as Duncan’s fire chief in August after serving 34 years, received his award, which recognizes long-term service to the community, at a council meeting on Dec. 6. The winner of the 2021 Perpetual Arts Trophy was Alora Killam, and the winner of the 2021 Perpetual Trophy for Excellence and Sportsmanship was Don Bodger.

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Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau planned to move her constituency from the Matraea Centre in December after a protest by people opposed to COVID-19 health protocols and those with other issues caused people to feel unsafe in the workplace, much of which was shared with other organizations and businesses.

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The City of Duncan has turned down a land swap proposal from the Duncan Housing Society that would have been a first step in the society’s controversial renewal project at Duncan Manor. At the meeting on Dec. 13, council voted unanimously against staff ’s recommendation to finalize the land-exchange agreement with the society that would have seen a portion of Centennial Park swapped for a section of society-owned land nearby.

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Lori Iannidinardo will lead the board at the Cowichan Valley Regional District for the final year before municipal elections on Oct. 15, 2022. The CVRD’s director for Cowichan Bay since 2008 was elected as chair of the board for the next year by board members at a recent meeting. Shawnigan Lake area director Sierra Acton was voted vice-chair.

2021 Year in Review