Lake Flashback: Watershed board worries, boundaries, retirement

Welcome to Lake Flashback. Reporter Sarah Simpson 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:

Not surprisingly, water was even making Lake Cowichan Gazette headlines back in 2010. “No stewardship rep on Watershed Board” read the front page story by Doug Marner on Feb. 3, 2010.

“The Cowichan Valley Regional District has announced the new Cowichan Watershed Board that has two Cowichan Lake area representatives, but no one from the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Committee,” said the lead.

The chairman of the committee is disappointed it doesn’t have a representative, despite requesting one. Joe Allan said he asked, in an Oct. 8 letter to CVRD chair Gerry Giles, that one of the stewardship committee members be on the watershed board. That didn’t happen, although Mayor Ross Forrest of Lake Cowichan and Electoral Area I director Klaus Kuhn are on the committee. The Cowichan Watershed Board was formed as per a recommendation from the Cowichan Water Basin Management Plan that was completed close to three years ago.

“It’s good to have Klaus and Ross on the committee, but they aren’t on the stewardship committee,” said Allan. “We didn’t want politicians on the stewardship committee, we wanted the public on the stewardship committee, people who have waterfront property or riverfront property. I think we got slighted in this.”

Ian Morrison, CVRD director for Electoral Area F, goes even farther. “It’s interesting this group has been snubbed,” said Morrison. “It smacks of a high level blue ribbon panel making this decision.”

Giles said Kuhn told her he is a member of the stewardship committee, so his appointment should cover that issue.

“I think Ross Forrest and Klaus Kuhn will do a good job representing Cowichan Lake,” said Giles.

25 years ago:

“CVRD locks horns with Village over extension boundaries” was the headline of the Lake News this week back in 1995.

“Cowichan Valley regional district has again officially objected to village plans for expansion into any large tracts of open land in areas F and I until there is a joint planning commission. A motion, which will be sent to the minister of municipal affairs, was passed last Wednesday,” said the front page story. “It could put a break on Village expansion plans and halt what is reputed to be a $35 million development in the west half of lot 6 on the north side of the Youbou Highway on the outskirts of the village. On the other hand, it may have a little effect: nobody on the CVRD was asked by the province for its advice; the final decision rests entirely with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. Mary Earl Darling, who represents the village on the CVRD board, said that the proposal for development of lot 6 had been around since 1991.”

Also back in February of 1995 folks learned the sewer system would be paid off by 1998 rather than the predicted 2006.

40 years ago:

“120 laid off at WFI mill” was the headline of the Feb. 6, 1980 Lake News.

“The month-long shut down announced in January began last Friday for 120 Western Forest Industries sawmill workers at Honeymoon Bay,” read the front page story.

“As of Feb. 1, 40 per cent of the crew was laid off for four weeks on a seniority basis,” mill manager Don Hammond said.

“Only the gang mail has been completely shut down,” Hammond said. “The band mill planer mail, chipper mill, and shingle mail will still be operating; men will still be working on the boom, in shipping, and in the yard.”

Altogether there will still be about 160 men working. That number will change, depending on need, he said. There will also be workers at the powerhouse, on maintenance, and in the woods. After two weeks the company will re-assess the situation, and will decide then how many more will be laid off.

The reason for the cutbacks at the mill, Hammond said, was the drop in the market and a severe shortage of logs. The company has tried to remedy the log shortage by buying locally, he said, but logging has been slow all over this area due to bad weather conditions in the woods. The company also stated high interest rates as a cause of declining lumber sales.

Meanwhile, a bittersweet party took place at town hall, the Lake News reported.

“Going out with a bang, two long time employees of the municipality were honoured Saturday with a retirement party. Bill Chappell and his wife Ina, and Bish Bedard with his wife Hazel, received, among other gifts, tickets to Reno. The former village administrator, Chappell retired Jan. 31 after 30 years with municipality. Bedard is scheduled to retire Feb. 29 after 25 years. Former village clerk Ralph Tuckey has taken over as administrator.”


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