Agricultural class students received a blow in early May 1979 when vandals rampaged through an enclosure behind Lake Cowichan Secondary School, knocking over two treasured beehives. These three students, clad in protective clothing, finally secure the two hives after they were re-assembled. The agriculture class fears that both hives may not recover from the weekend of exposure to cold temperatures and drenching rains. Each hive still had most of its swarm, but exposure could kill off each group or at least set it back beyond recovery this year. Principal Don Service said a reward is expected to be offered to anyone with knowledge of the vandalism, leading to apprehension of the culprits.

LAKE FLASHBACK: ABG on front burner, ‘94 news roundup, and nix to herbicide spraying on CN rail ine

On top of our usual three stories, we also include an item about an unusual program at LCSS

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas 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:

“School board chooses new school at A.B. Greenwell site” was the headline in the May 13, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, but added, “Opponents say it will take too long.”

The opponents have since been proved right. At that time, however, “school trustee Diana Gunderson, from Lake Cowichan, admits she was adamant a year ago that A.B. Greenwell Elementary School should be repaired…because of a report done by CEI Architecture last spring that favoured refurbishing the school for about $5.6 million. Since then CEI discovered that it would cost even more because of the water problems that caused the mould. Students and staff at A.B. Greenwell School were moved in early 2008 to the old Yount School in Youbou and are still there.”

Now Gunderson, who is vice-chair of the school board, has changed her mind and supports building a new larger school in Lake Cowichan, with 250 to 300 students, to the tune of about $12 million.

“After talking to people in the community and the follow up on repairing A.B. Greenwell I decided to support this,” said Gunderson. “I know down in Victoria they’re going to say no to a refurbished A.B. Greenwell. I’m worried that if we hold back on this the ministry might decide we’ll move into Stanley Gordon, which is being used by the middle school, and they would have two schools to sell. I think this is what most in the community want.”

Gunderson, along with school board chair Ann Andersen and trustees Julie Thomas, Cathy Schmidt, Candace Spilsbury and Barb deGroot voted last week to support a resolution for one new elementary school at the A.B. Greenwell site. Trustees Eden Haythornthwaite, Hannah Seymour and Deb Foster voted against it.

Haythornthwaite said she didn’t vote against the school, but the budget that includes the new school. She said she favoured rebuilding A.B. Greenwell school, but that idea seemed to disappear as the work was delayed while the school deteriorated more. She also favoured building a new, smaller school.

Haythornthwaite and Gunderson agree that the J.H. Boyd site would have been the best for a new school, but it was sold.

“It should act as a prime indicator to the community that the district sold off the best possible location for any new build- ing for a song despite making no effort to consult with the wider community or listening to the clear opposition that existed around this sale,” said Haythornthwaite.

25 years ago:

As in last week’s column, we find the Lake News of May 11, 1994 offered seven front page stories. Let’s check them out!

“Sock ‘em and souse ‘em with sopping wet sponges: it’s all in good fun at the Bay” describes the Honeymoon Bay School Fun Fair, at which kids lined up for the privilege of tossing sponges at good sport principal, Claude Ruggieri.

***

In the next story we learn that Nanaimo/Cowichan MP Bob Ringma will be holding a series of town hall meetings in the riding, including one in Lake Cowichan.

***

Then, there’s “Police Report: Summer weather brings mischief around town” which included RCMP concerns about demonstrators blocking the Walbran Valley road; vandalism of broken down vehicles left on Highway 18; someone driving a red dune buggy around LCSS field, damaging it; a beer bottle thrown through the window of Jolly’s Restaurant; a recently erected chain link fence at Honeymoon Bay resort knocked down by a vehicle; an MVI involving a single vehicle at Honeymoon Bay and Walton Roads; and loud parties on Johel Road and also on Cowichan Avenue.”

Whew!

***

Lake Cowichan council asked B.C.’s Premier Mike Harcourt for support for the E & N Committee’s attempts to have the railway line taken away from VIA Rail. Coun. Jack Peake told a previous meeting that “VIA Rail may be planning a new round of major cuts in railway passenger service, including the E & N.”

***

“Council nixes offer to take over Park” told of tenders being called and of hearing the owners of North Shore Road’s Family Fun Centre, but Lake Cowichan’s mayor and councillors decided against letting the management of the park go, at least for that year.

***

And there was “Investigation continues into sabotage of TimberWest’s bridge” which had occurred on a logging road in the Walbran area of TFL 46.

“According to TimberWest, the damage, which leaves the bridge unable to carry heavy trucks, was discovered on April 29, 1994, shortly before the activist group, Terra Prima, announced its intention to carry out direct action against the logging operations in the area.

“A loaded logging truck would have been very likely to cause the bridge to collapse, probably causing injury or death to the driver,” said Steve Lorimer, environmental forester at TimberWest.

***

Finally, “Forest Service wants illegal garbage dumping reported”, is an item that needs no further explanation to a modern reader.

40 years ago:

On the front page of The Lake News of May 9, 1979, we see that “Families fear CN herbicide spraying”.

There’s a clear indication of just how long ago that was: the CN rail line is long gone from the Cowichan Valley.

“A group of families at Four Mile is protesting planned spraying of the CNR right-of-way with herbicides which would create a 2o-foot dead zone for sure,” according to a spokesman.

Jim Halas, who lives on half an acre near the Canadian National Railways’s right-of-way, says the families fear unknown consequences of the planned spraying.

Halas said run-off whould spread residual pesticides in a fan-like pattern through much of his land, half of which is swamp created, he said in an interview, by the right of way itself.

Additionallly, he warns, some of the poison would be swept into the Cowichan River, which parallels the railway line closely along some of its length.

He said the seven households in the Four Mile area have formed a Four Mile No Spray Committee and have been appealing to agencies such as the federal fisheries department to halt the spraying [and that] a manual clearing approach would be a better solution, providing jobs for the area.



lexi.bainas@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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