A year at Cowichan Lake: from dust to garden

At the beginning of last year we were thrilled to welcome new reporter James Goldie to the Gazette team

At the beginning of last year we were thrilled to welcome new reporter James Goldie to the Gazette team, and, alas, as 2017 dawns we’re saying goodbye.

After a great year of stories and fun at Cowichan Lake, James has moved back to Vancouver to pursue further opportunities. We wish him all the best, and he will be missed.

You’ll be seeing a few new bylines in the New Year, as well as some old favourites, like Lake Cowichan’s own Lexi Bainas.

There were plenty of other things happening up at the Lake this year outside the Gazette’s walls. In January, past organizers of Lake Days were warning that new volunteers were needed to keep the summer family favourite alive and well.

People stepped up to the challenge and delivered all the festival favourites once again this year.

Speaking of festivals, Sunfest was on the minds of many in 2016. The huge country music festival, this year featuring superstar Carrie Underwood, made its debut at Meade Creek’s Laketown Ranch.

Dust was once again a big issue last year.

Residents in Youbou were fed up with choking on the haze that was coating everything in its path, indoors and out.

After meeting with industry, residents were cautiously optimistic, taking a wait and see approach.

A huge and devastating fire that swept through Alberta’s Fort McMurray served as a reminder to be careful out in the woods, as the Lake communities, surrounded by forestland, are particularly susceptible to the ravages of wildfires.

The community mourned a couple of notables in 2016, among them legendary golfer Dawn Coe-Jones and the Lake Cowichan First Nations hereditary Chief Cyril Livingstone.

While everything turned out all right in the end, one of the biggest flurries last year came when it was announced that the Cowichan Lake Community Garden was going to have to move it or lose it.

Here’s to the community coming together in the end to preserve this vital service.

Local food security is only going to be more important in the future.

Towards the end of the year we discovered that the fentanyl epidemic, which is claiming lives across B.C. in unprecedented numbers, is also a worry in our small town.

At least two deaths are being probed as possibly related to overdose of the strong opioid.

And there’s already something stronger on the rise. We must address this in the coming year.