Working right to the end, Gordon Loutet, the only notary public in Lake Cowichan for years, offers advice even while in the process of moving out of his antique-filled office last week. Loutet finally has decided to take it a little easier after looking after legal and quasi-legal affairs and documents of thousands of people in the Cowichan Valley during the past decades. Gordon officially closed his office — he moved everything — on South Shore Road last week but indicated he will keep his hand in. Until someone replaces him, the community will be without an official notary public so he indicated he is willing to continue assisting people with pressing needs. Meanwhile, Bob Lewis has moved his home to Lake Cowichan and is seeking special permission to act in the capacity of a witness and to undertake some of the duties formerly handled by Loutet. (The Lake News, May 29, 1979).

Lake Flashback: Taxpayer tantrums and water worries common at this time over the years

Whether it’s repairs, rates, or meters, anything concerned with water is always news at the Lake

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:

In the June 3, 2009 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette, we see that “Ratepayers reiterate opposition to Lake Cowichan water meters.”

Everything old is new again, as you will see in this unique edition of Flashback. Water is a subject that will always get the attention of taxpayers and because this is the time of year that changes in rates are announced, it’s always news.

In 2009, “Duncan Brown of the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers’ Association got another chance to speak against water metering. Brown and Don Gordon spoke as a delegation to council on the subject a couple of months ago. Last week Brown was given the chance to comment during question period of the regular council meeting.”

After commending council for hosting a town hall meeting on May 20, Brown pleaded with Mayor Ross Forrest and his councillors to reconsider installing water meters.

“Water meters in themselves do not save water,” he said. “It’s enforcement of bylaws. Much more can be done in the way of educating people and whether it’s socially acceptable. With education, I think the community will support you.”

Good examples of this, said Brown, include drinking and driving that relies on education and enforcement to change attitudes. He said the government uses a carrot and stick approach in trying to get municipalities to put in water meters. The stick is that you won’t get any grants unless you have water meters and the carrot is a grant to install water meters.

He suggested that installing water meters would be commodifying the essence of life.

“There are 6.7 billion people in the world and I bet two billion of those live totally without electricity, but I challenge any one of you to name one person in the world who lives without water.”

Council said it hasn’t made a final decision on water meters.

25 years ago:

They were also grumbling about Lake Cowichan’s water situation in 1994, according to a story from the June 1 edition of The Lake News.

“Rumbles of discontent sounded around the village as council slammed up sewage and water rates as well as business licences.”

Rod Peters, a former alderman, told The Lake News that he expects to appear before council June 14 to protest and every business person who opposed the increase in licence fees should be there.

“I’ll be getting in touch with businesses to get people out and let council know where we stand,” he said.

A village spokesman told The Lake News the water rate increase is about nine per cent and the sewer rate jump is 20 per cent. The latter is made necessary, it was said, because pumping station No. 4 needs repair.

Water rates will rise from $11.65 a month for a single family residence to $12.70. Offices and stores from $11.65 to $12.70, unless there is another category specificed, and motels from $5.83 per month to $6.35.

40 years ago:

“Mesachie ratepayers sniff success” said the headline on a similar subject in the May 30, 1979 edition of The Lake News.

So, what was up?

“Ratepayers in Mesachie lake have formed a society as suggested by the Cowichan Valley Regional District as a major step to maintaining their water and sewage systems.”

The ratepayers have been negotiating with the regional district after complaining that the costs of maintenance and repair of the systems were too high when directed out of Duncan.

They also said they could eliminate the inconvenience of lengthy delays whenever a breakdown in the system occurred and residents had to wait until repairmen arrived from Duncan.

The Mesachie Lake residents began agitating for control over the system recently since their taxes went up on the sewer and water systems.

At last Wednesday’s regional district board meeting, [Area F] director Hazel Elves said a committee of residents is prepared to maintain and repair the system.

She said she was assured by the residents that they can save money under this type of arrangement. “[And] they would get more personal attention than they get from the regional district.”

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