“Enjoying the beautiful sun, on roller blades, rather than all that snow with sleds, are left: Destiny Cusson, 10-years-old and Meghan Lowrey, 10-years-old, on the right. (Lake News, Jan. 15, 1997.)

“Enjoying the beautiful sun, on roller blades, rather than all that snow with sleds, are left: Destiny Cusson, 10-years-old and Meghan Lowrey, 10-years-old, on the right. (Lake News, Jan. 15, 1997.)

Flashback: Cutting costs, bus crash, assessment protests

A look back into the history of the Cowichan Lake area

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson has been combing through old newspapers with the assistance 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 week around Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago

“Town revamps its garbage schedule for the winter months” was the headline of the day this week back in 2012. The Lake Cowichan Gazette reported the town’s reduction of garbage collection in the winter to cut costs.

“Between January and March, garbage pickup will happen only once every two weeks, instead of once a week as it was previously. ‘It’s a good initiative because our garbage costs are astronomical. We would like to cut the weekly pickups down as much as possible,’ said Mayor Ross Forrest.

“Forrest and Town Council devised the cost-saving initiative this past fall. The approach is designed to lessen the annual costs of waste management in the community, while also promoting a greener lifestyle amongst its citizens. ‘The purpose of it is two-fold. For one, it’s there to save money and second we need to meet some goals with greenhouse gas emissions. If you have the garbage truck off the road more often that will help,’ said Forrest.”

Also a decade ago, a crazy crash all due to a lost living room chair.

“On Jan. 13 North Cowichan and Duncan RCMP responded to a collision between a passenger vehicle and transit bus on Highway 18 near Tansor Road. Upon arrival, police discovered the bus on its side in a ditch adjacent to the east bound lane of Highway 18. The passenger SUV vehicle was found to have significant front end damage and was in flames in the middle of the highway.

“All five SUV passengers escaped the vehicle before it caught [fire]. The fire was quickly extinguished… RCMP noticed that a living room chair had been left in the middle of highway at the scene. According to information provided by parties involved, the SUV driver attempted to avoid the chair in the west bound lane. The driver guided his vehicle onto the shoulder but upon steering back onto the highway lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the side of the oncoming east bound bus. The collision caused the bus to move off the highway into the ditch where a steep embankment put the bus on its side.”

25 years ago

It seems this time of year is all about budgets in the newspaper. The Lake News of Jan. 15, 1997 reported “Budget talks are looking up” and I suppose that could mean different things to whoever was doing the looking.

Unfortunately for taxpayers, it meant the tax hike was increasing.

Susan Lowe reported:

“There are preliminary indications coming from the provisional budget talks held by the Town that there may be an across the board increase in the Town’s budget for ‘97, which may result in higher taxes.”

Sounds like every year, am I right?

Also 25 years ago, it was finally the aftermath of the Blizzard of ‘96, that really left it’s mark on the early days of ‘97.

“The recent storm, which is only memory for most now, may have caused undetermined damage to the environment, of which the extent may never be known,” wrote Lowe. “It would appear that when raw sewage backed up, which it did, its only escape was down the storm drain which empties into the Cowichan River. On New Year’s Eve, at least two buildings in the Lake Cowichan area had the sewer back up into the premises, resulting in raw sewage coming up through the toilet, flowing onto the floor.”

Pastor Henry Washington said he personally saw the raw sewage flow down the storm drain and it ‘was flowing like a stream in the spring.’”

40 years ago

And finally, a story from the Jan. 20, 1982 Lake News that could well run today.

“100 here protest assessments” was the headline on the front page. It seems like 2022 isn’t the only year assessments have increased exorbitantly!

“Cowichan Lake area residents have joined a storm of protest over increases in property assessments. Amid fears that taxes will skyrocket as property values appear to have done, many homeowners have asked for revisions of their assessments.

“Out of 900 appeals lodged by Cowichan Valley residents — which is three times last year’s total of 300 — about 100 have come from the Cowichan Lake area.”

Assessments and taxes weren’t the only things rising.

“The annual fire protection rate paid by residents outside the village of Lake Cowichan fire department will double in 1982,” said a front page story.

“Lake Cowichan village council decided at its Jan. 12 meeting that areas outside the village limits should pay one third of the cost of fire protection for the Lake Cowichan district.”

Village clerk Pat Akerley “suggested that council might want to charge the outside areas for only 25 per cent instead of 33 per cent because the distances from the village might mean the fire department would be later arriving at a fire. Ald. Roger Hamilton disagreed with this idea.

“‘They’ve been getting a discount,’ he said, adding ‘It’s not our problem they all live 20 miles from the fire hall.’”


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