Nine-year-old Miles Brooks, left, and 11-year-old Jessop Hill carry some empty liquor bottles to be loaded onto the recycling truck at Saturday’s bottle drive in Lake Cowican. (From the Gazette of Jan. 13, 2010)

Lake Flashback: Huge snowfall starts 1980, a ‘zero’ tax increase in 1995, and Lake steps up to help

Snowfall in winter not a worry for most Lakers

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:

If you want to raise money for a worthy cause in the Lake Cowichan area, just hold a bottle drive: that was the good word on the front of the Lake Cowichan Gazette on Jan. 13, 2010.

“That’s what Laurie Johnson did, in conjunction with the Parent Advisory Council for A.B. Greenwell Elementary, and more than $4,000 was raised, plus another $428 in cash donations.

The school will take a cut of the proceeds (a total still to be decided), with the rest going to help purchase a special vest for cystic fibrosis patient John Hieta, 13. On top of that, there is already $1,200 in a special account at Island Savings Credit Union for the vest fund.

The vest, which costs about $14,000 U.S., will help young John clear his lungs of mucous that forms because of his cystic fibrosis.

Johnson said the little town did it again. She noted that with her bottle drive to help Chelsea Larsen and her daughter, Dawson, more than $6,000 was raised.

Then, with a bottle drive to help the family of Grade 1 student Rainee Bell-Denham who needed eye surgery, again more than $6,000 was raised.

“That is over $17,000 in one year. Lake Cowichan has donated a lot of money,” said Johnson.

25 years ago:

“No tax hike for this year” was the welcome headline on the Jan. 18, 1995 edition of The Lake News.

“The village is planning to hold taxes this year to a ‘0’ increase, Mayor Earle Darling announced Friday. The village set its provisional budget last week: a guideline, according to clerk-treasurer Pat Durban. The final budget won’t come down until May 15.”

If the provisional budget is confirmed as the final one, properties whose assessments have risen 12 per cent, which is the average, won’t pay any more in tax to the village because the village mill rate will be lowered to take care of the increase in assessment.

But don’t start to cheer. The village collects taxes for other bodies, such as the school board and CVRD, and it is not yet known what their various demands will be…A second reason not to cheer would be if your assessment rose more than the average 12 per cent. In that case your taxes would be higher than last year.

One [village] councillor, Leon Portelance, told The Lake News that B.C. assessors rated his building at 300 per cent higher than last year. He is understood to be planning an appeal.

40 years ago:

“Area battles huge 1980 snowfall” was the headline on the front page of The Lake News of Jan. 16, 1980.

OK, so how huge was “huge!” after all?

“The area was socked by a 16.2 inch snowfall between last Monday and Thursday night,” says the story.

The B.C. government meteorological centre at Mesachie Lake Experimental Station had recorded 39.4 cm since the snowfall began on Jan. 7. A large proportion of that fell on the night of Jan. 10 — 24.6 cm (9.7 inches).

Meanwhile, the RCMP report that motorists without snow tires stayed off the roads. They had three fender benders reported during the first day after the snowfall but only one reported since.

Village administrator Bill Chappell said the village department of public works had three pieces of its own equipment clearing away the snow. In addition, the village hired locally a small machine to clear the sidewalks.

“We’ve had no reports of overloaded roofs or anything like that,” he said.

The village barricaded Cowichan Avenue on each side of the Coronation Street hill in order to provide a central sleighing spot for the area’s youngsters, Chappell said.

The children really took advantage of the snow. Every toboggan and sled in town was out of storage, even skis and snowshoes were taken out and tried. At the schools it was business as usual. Absenteeism was only slightly above normal, the schools said, because the school buses were running.

In comparison with some other years, the snowfall and cold weather this year seems insignificant.

In 1916, snow fell for four or five days, according to Trevor Green, who was four years old at the time. The roads and rail lines were blocked so no supplies could come in, he said. For a few days his mother was reduced to cooking cattle bran because they had nothing to eat.

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