Jaws it wasn’t, but the blue shark captivated student interest at A.B. Greenwell School in September 1978. In this picture from ‘The Lake News’ archives, we learn that the small shark was brought to school by fisherman Norm Lorenz. Youngsters were delighting in feeling the sandpaper-like skin.

Lake Flashback: Coke bust, fish ladder death trap, and tourism boost, with mini-Jaws thrown in

It’s a Cowichan Lake column full of variety this week

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Lexi Bainas has been combing through oldnewspaperswiththeassistance 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 weekaround Cowichan Lake in years gone by.

This week around the Cowichan Lake area…

10 years ago:

“Valley police work together for Lake drug bust” was the headline in the Lake Cowichan Gazette on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008.

Let’s check those details:

Local cops have fired the first salvo in a declared war against drug users and pushers after pulling off a more than $10,000 cocaine bust. The North Cowichan/Duncan street crew unit and Lake Cowichan Mounties joined forces in a recent operation that targeted street-level trafficking in Lake Cowichan.

On Sept. 12 they pulled over a Valley man who was driving on Highway 18 and charged him with possession of dope for the purpose of trafficking after allegedly finding about six ounces of prepackaged powder and crack cocaine on the man’s person and in his vehicle.

Police displayed hundreds of packages of the highly addictive drug, which were in individual, small plastic bags tied with a tiny knot. Police call the packages ‘spitters’ because the drug can easily being hidden in the mouth, before being spat out into the hands of willing users.

Police said the drugs were destined for Duncan and other areas of the Valley and called the bust ‘significant.’

“It’s a fairly substantial haul for this area,” said North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP Cpl. Shawna Baher, of the street crime unit.

The unit — which targets street-level crimes and prolific criminals — has been in operation since June and the impact is being felt, said Baher.

“Since June we’ve done four of five search warrants and have picked up a lot of people on property and drug crimes,” she said.

Drug use fuels many crimes — such as break and enters, theft and robberies — by users looking for cash to buy dope. It’s not uncommon to find many cocaine addicts need as much as $300 per day to feed their habits.

Police often learn when they bust one person for break and enter, for example, the same person is responsible for several crimes.

Baher said police are pulling out the stops to end the mini-crime sprees and other offences and are looking for public help.

“Drugs are a big problem in this community,” she said. “And we’re going to work with the community to solve it.”

25 years ago:

We recently noted that there was concern a quarter century ago about the safety of the Skutz Falls fish ladders for human visitors.

In The Lake News of Sept. 29, 1993, the headline “Pullinger takes action to repair damaged fish ladders” told that there was an update.

“I have just learned through the media that a young woman was injured when she fell through an open grill of the fish ladder at Skutz Falls on the Cowichan River recently. Last year a man broke his leg in the same way and there have been several less serious accidents,” said Jan Pullinger, MLA in a letter to Moe Sihota, now minister of Environment, Lands, and Parks.

“I am writing to request that your ministry take action immediately to rectify this situation before another accident occurs. It is not acceptable, in my view, to leave this obvious hazard remain any longer, especially as the cost of repairing the weir is minimal.”

She pointed out that the fish ladder is in a heavily used area of the river, beside a public camp ground operated by the ministry of forests.

40 years ago:

“Tourism will be big here” was the headline on the front page of The Lake News of Sept. 27, 1978.

“MLA Barbara Wallace told the first meeting of the season for the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce that tourism will become one of the Island’s major industries,” the story said.

(Remember this was 40 years ago when logging was king in many Island communities.)

She said the Cowichan Lake area should begin working in an attempt to capture its share of the tourism dollars. She urged chamber members to look for ways to stretch the tourism season by promoting some of the things we take for granted, such as trees, mountains, and tremendous scenery. She said little is being done to attract tourists traveling the Trans Canada Highway into stopping in the Cowichan Valley.

Wallace said building up tourism as a major industry in the area will not be “fast or easy” and people should be prepared to “start on a small scale”.

In other business, the chamber will investigate the possibility of erecting a promotional display signboard on the Trans Canada Highway to atrract more tourists to the Cowichan Lake area.

Chamber members also discussed the declining sports fish stocks in the Cowichan River and decided to consult with the Valley Fish and Game Club and perhaps arrange a joint meeting with representatives of the federal fisheries department and the fish and wildlife branch to discuss the matter.

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