Amy Martin models an exotic hairstyle at the Riverside Inn during a special fundraiser for four-year-old cancer patient Linden Sahulka. The hairstyles were done by Tammy Lloyd of Chainsaw Sally’s in Lake Cowichan and Chelsea Wall of Tricky Scissors in Duncan. (From March 4 Lake Cowichan Gazette)

Lake Flashback: Amalgamation, revamping the forest industry, and cuts to community services: heavy stuff this week

Change has been in the air over the years as the Cowichan Lake area approached March

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:

Amalgamation for western Cowichan was in the air in 2009.

Former CVRD area F director Joe Allan, “who sat on the Cowichan Valley Regional District board for more than 20 years, is hosting an informal meeting in Lake Cowichan next week to get the discussion going,” said the front page story on the Lake Cowichan Gazette of March 4, 2009.

Allan supported the idea during his tenure as CVRD director and said he would continue working on it after he stepped down, although he said he will try to keep things at arm’s length during the process.

“What I hope to come out of the meeting with is a core group that can pursue this,” said Allan. “There’s been a lot of talk about it, but no one was taking the lead.”

In the end, Allan wants to see what the public sentiment is about amalgamating the three jurisdictions at Cowichan Lake — the Town of Lake Cowichan, Electoral Area F (Skutz Falls-Cowichan Lake South) and Area I (Youbou-Meade Creek) — into one municipality.

“That’s what I want to gauge, what people think about it,” said Allan. “It’s up to the public.”

In the early 1990s an amalgamation issues study was done, but it didn’t get enough support to proceed. Allan said one of the main stumbling blocks was what to amalgamate.

“One of the main reasons it failed the last time was the boundary issue,” he said. “It was all over the place. So I think that will be one of the biggies this time, where should the boundary be? Should it go out to Nitinat? Should it include part of Sahtlam, as Area F does now?”

Allan believes that despite the lukewarm response the last time, with the changing dynamics of the area and the current limitations of the CVRD there could be more support this time around.

“I’ve had a very good response from people I’ve told,” he said.

25 years ago:

The front page of the March 2, 1994 edition of The Lake News was much taken up with concern about the Commission on the Resources and the Environment (C.O.R.E.) report and the area’s response.

“Yellow ribbons to remind you of the CORE meeting” was one headline, followed by the news: “If you’ve been wondering what the yellow ribbons are for, they are to remind people of the C.O.R.E. meeting tonight. Denis Martel, member of the Youbou Mill Plant Committee, along with other volunteers, put them up on Sunday night. He is expecting people from Chemainus, Ladysmith, Cobble Hill, and Duncan to add to the number who attend.”

The town hall meeting could attract as many as 1,000 people, according to Lake Cowichan Coun. Jean Brown.

The meeting should generate resolutions which will be sent to Premier Harcourt indicating the response of the community to the report, she said.

Resolutions will not be sent to [report author] Stephen Owen because his responsibilities ended when the report was written, according to Brown.

Speakers were to include: Rex Hollett, Bill Routley, Joe Allan, Steve Lorimer, Les Klughart, Dennis Laforge, and Sandy Wittrin.

40 years ago:

“Activity centre funds slashed 60 per cent” screamed the headline in The Lake News on March 7, 1979.

“A $48,000 grant application from the Lake Cowichan Activity Centre has been rejected by the provincial Human Resource Ministry. This threatens jobs and several community services including those assisting handicapped, elderly, emotionally disturbed and others seeking guidance and assistance in the community,” wrote new editor Gerry Soroka.

The ministry informed the centre last week that, at best, only 40 per cent of the grant application would be considered for funding.

Dorothy Clode, one of the directors said that the centre “submitted its 1979/80 budget routinely to the minister and later was informed that the services provided in the integrated drop-in program would not be funded. This represents 60 per cent of the budget. The other 40 per cent concern youth and senior programs.”

However, although tentative approval has been given for these latter programs it is not known if even they will get financial support from the ministry.

A letter to the activity centre from Tony Cairns, community services coordinator for the ministry, bluntly states that applications for “community grants” for the “integrated drop-in program and the mothers time-out program” have been “rejected”.

Cairns did not say in his letter precisely why these were turned down, referring instead to apparent ministry “priorities”.

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