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Flashback: River levels low, Beech for council...again, emergency exercise

A look back at the history of the Cowichan Lake area

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

"Cowichan River looks set to tap out" was the front page headline of the July 2, 2014 edition of the Lake Cowichan Gazette.

"Rain dances are being urged now by Cowichan River watchers. Without rain, this year’s salmon run, and fry from other species, could die by fall.

'“Is there cause to be concerned? You’re darned right!' said Paul Rickard, senior member of the Cowichan Stewardship Round Table.
He cited the 2003 drought as disastrous for Cowichan’s fish. '2003 was bad, and it’s worse than that now,' Rickard said of the river that’s nearly dry and down to seven cubic metres per second — the minimum legal summer flow allowed by the province. 'The only tool we have is river-flow rate.'

"That rate — controlled by the Lake Cowichan weir — will continue to be debated on by an ad-hoc river-flow committee, helmed by Catalyst’s Brian Houle. Stakeholders will look at lake and river levels, expected summer rainfall and other factors affecting flow rates needed for fish, and Catalyst’s Crofton pulp mill. Once stakeholders reach a consensus on a flow rate action plan, they still need nods from Ministry of Forests brass to bend the river’s mandated flow rule curve level."

In other news of the day, "Strike averted as Lake Cowichan staffers accept four-year contract" was sure to be a popular headline.

Town of Lake Cowichan staffers and council averted a strike by ratifying a four-year contract Tuesday, June 24.

Workers had served council a 72-hour strike notice the previous Wednesday. But Tuesday saw members vote to accept retroactive raises, and to keep their cherished annual floater holiday, by inking the four-year deal with town council. Town chief administrator Joe Fernandez said his 16 employees, members of the United Steelworkers Local 1-1937, voted 64 per cent in favour of the deal, retroactive to June 15, 2013.

“'Council voted in favour of that (acceptance) also,' he said. Terms give Lake Cowichan’s inside and outside workers a 45¢ per hour wage hop, retroactive to June 15, 2013. Starting June 15, 2014, they receive a 1% per hour raise — and will get a 1% raise every six months until the contract expires on June 2017, he explained. Town employees earned an average of $28.15 an hour before the new deal."


25 years ago

"Natives [sic] lay claim to CLEC lands" was the front page story on the July 7, 1999 edition of the Lake News. Definitely not the language we would use today to refer to the Ts'uubaa-asatx!

"Plans to turn over the CLEC lands to the Town may be delayed," it began. "The Lake Cowichan Band has asked that its claims to the lands be settled first. Sandra Isaacs, spokesperson for the Band, said: 'The Province has agreed that it will not dispose of the lands in any way until the First Nations claim has been settled.' It is hoped that an agreement can be reached some time this autumn, she said. Back in 1863 there was a reserve of 800 acres, covering the whole area, she said. The Band wants that part now held as Crown lands.

"Coun. Beech will stand for council again," was another headline near the front of the paper and the story seemed to have some opinion baked in by the paper's editorial staff of the day. That's frowned upon in a news story nowadays so this one caught us a bit off guard. It read more like an editorial than a news item.
"Coun. Hazel Beech has announced that she will stand for council again in November. 'I think we need at least one old hand still on the Council,' she told the Lake News. Mayor Jean Brown has indicated that she won't stand for re-election. Among those likely to seek the Mayor's chair are Coun. Pat Foster and Coun. Jack Peake. (The fourth place on council is currently vacant following the premature resignation of Dennis LaForge). 

"Rick Walton has declared himself a candidate for Mayor. Should he win against Coun. Peake and Coun. Foster, both Peake and Foster will be off Council entirely. Even if one of them wins, the other will no longer be on council. The best scene is that there will be three new faces on council in November, with possibly two old hands. But the worst scene may come about. Hazel Beech may be the only old hand on the new council — if she wins, that is."


40 years ago

The front of the Lake News of July 4, 1984 was all about how to save a life. Well, sort of.

"It was quiet on the beach at Arbutus Park in Youbou Friday morning as participants and spectators alike were gripped by the realism of an 'accident and rescue' — staged to let lifeguards test their skills. The exercise was organized by Ted Fenske, to make his recently-trained trio of lifeguards — who will go on duty at the beach July 3 — more comfortable and confident in their work. The dry run featured all the kinds of trouble that a lifeguard can encounter and ended with a simulated 'serious accident' which entailed calling for the Youbou inhalator crew and calling an ambulance from Lake Cowichan and assisting ambulance attendants when they arrived.

"Woman dies in home blaze as sari bursts into flame" was a tragic story from the same paper in 1984.

"A Lake Cowichan woman died during the night of June 27 as a result of injuries sustained in a fire at 206 Macdonald Road. Harjinder Kaur Jaswal, 33, died of severe injuries. She had been taken to Vancouver General Hospital. Lake Cowichan firemen, police and ambulance attendants were called to the fire at the Jaswal home Wednesday. The fire victim was the wife of Kashmir Jaswal. She also is survived by four children.

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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