Two-year old Nicole Winder attends the Cowichan Caregivers’ picnic with her mother, Anna. Nicole likes the ponies in this picture from the July 28, 1993 ‘Lake News’.

LAKE FLASHBACK: Water bombers, United Church, J. H. Boyd: two gone, one forgotten

Some Cowichan Lake sagas just seem to go on and on as years go by

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:

The seemingly never-ending tale of J.H. Boyd School was in full flow in the Lake Cowichan Gazette of July 30, 2008.

Under a headline that said the public would have its say, the story unfolded as follows:

Town council shifted its position slightly last week when it introduced and gave two readings to [an] amendment, which allows for development of affordable housing. The amended [official community plan] came after a request from the Lake Cowichan Ratepayers’ Association, which had fought to keep the J.H. Boyd site as school property.

Prior to introducing the bylaw, council heard from developer John Kelly, who said he’s waived the conditions attached to his purchase of the J.H. Boyd property and will probably take ownership by mid- September.

Last year Kelly proposed a bylaw amendment that would have allowed a residential development with 15 duplexes on two acres and 56 single family homes on 9.8 acres, but it was turned down by council after strong public opposition.

“It may seem like I haven’t done much on the property, but that’s not the case,” said Kelly.

He said he’s been inquiring about seniors’ care facilities and low-cost housing.

“I have some very innovative ideas for low-cost seniors’ housing,” he said. “I’m sure you have some ideas of your own, which I’d be willing to discuss with you. Why not work with me?”

He urged the council not to introduce an amendment to the official community plan that restricts P1 properties to remain public.

“I hope you say no to the first reading of this bylaw,” he said.

Council did say yes to the OCP amendment, with the low-cost housing clause that seemed to satisfy Kelly.

“I’m happy with what they’ve proposed,” he said after the council meeting.

But, the story says, “The OCP amendment reads: Dormant public school facilities and grounds in the town should continue, wherever possible, to remain available to community members for recreational and cultural activities as well as educational programs…The town considers all properties and facilities that are zoned as public use (parks and institutions) in the implementing zoning bylaw to be important for public uses and converting these sites to an alterna- tive land use zone that would exclude the public and result in the closing of the facilities will be strongly discouraged by council.

“If we want to encourage low-cost housing for young families, could we do that?” asked Councillor Pat Foster. “Because the housing market is going to become more difficult.”

“You have to add that now,” said Joe Fernandez, town administrator.

Mayor Jack Peake supported the idea. “We want to encourage public use, but with some flexibility,” he said. “We need to leave the door open.”

Kelly, disappointed that nothing was eventually allowed to go ahead, sold the property and the now derelict J. H. Boyd building is still standing, although boarded up.

25 years ago:

In the July 28, 1993 edition of The Lake News we learn “Church doesn’t want cemetery”.

Hmmm. In light of the years of effort that town council has put into finding a spot for a columbarium, that’s interesting.

Let’s find out what was happening.

“The United Church has told council it doesn’t want a cemetery in Lake Cowichan at this time (1993). A letter from Rev. Maggie Enwright, representing the session of the Cowichan Lake pastoral charge, was considered at council last night.

“We are concerned at the vague, broad nature of the questionnaire which was included with tax notices,” she said. “We feel there was not enough information included for people to make informed choices on the matter.”

After telling council to hold off, she continued, “We hope that many concerns and questions about its structure, dedication, maintenance, and the ongoing preservation of its sanctity will be dealt with in a thorough and caring manner.”

Council received a report from Deputy Mayor Jean Brown and clerk-treasurer Pat Durban on a meeting they held with a representative of the provincial government respecting a cemetery.

Durban said, “Following selection of a site, the registrar would have to determine if it is in the public’s best interest. He would consider the makeup of the operator of the facility, which could be the village having a management contract with a local organization.”

40 years ago:

“Bombers battle Valley blaze” was the headline on the front page of The Lake News on July 19, 1978.

Water bombers were scooping water from Cowichan Lake Sunday and Monday to dump on a forest fire burning about 10 kilometres east of Lake Cowichan.

“The fire, which burned more than 60 acres, started Saturday night. Forest service officials say the fire was probably started by lightning. The blaze was visible from the Demonstration Forest Lookout at Hill 60 and many people stopped to watch it burn on the other side of the valley.

Two Martin Mars water bombers, owned by Forest Industries Flying Tankers, a consortium of Island forest companies, were used to fight the blaze, in addition to 30 firefighters on the ground, according to a forest service spokesman.

Meanwhile other firefighters were mopping up in the aftermath of a fire that started in the Shawnigan Lake area.

The forest service reports that fire hazard conditions in the area are becoming extremely high because of the hot, dry weather. Many area logging firms are either shut down or on early shift.

These big Martin Mars bombers were a common sight over Cowichan Lake in the 1970s, and are still much loved by those who remember those days, even though they are now retired from active service.

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