Lake Cowichan’s Year in Review – Part I

Hayden and Harlow Turner sit with Kirby, the lop-eared rabbit, an unusual pet that attracted a lot of admirers during the annual activities at Saywell Park during Heritage Days. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Joshua Watts, a Nuu chah nulth carver, talks to an interested crowd at the Lake Cowichan public library during one of the library’s ‘Indigenous Voices’ series. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Trails enthusiast Bob Day talks to Lake Cowichan town council about the value of enhancing the area’s trails to attract more tourists. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lake Cowichan volunteer firefighters work to extract the driver from a vehicle while other first responders get to work helping survivors. (Sarah Simpson/Gazette)
There’s the puck! I’m going to get it! Kids enjoy the Lake Cowichan Jamboree (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
The Lake Cowichan Secondary grad class of 2019 toss their hats into the air in celebration. (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Members of the 75th Anniversary committee parade through town June 8, reminding everyone that the big celebration is coming up soon. Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
This photo, from August 2018, shows just how dry creekbeds can get at Cowichan Lake during a hot summer. These men are trudging from one pool to the next to rescue stranded fish. Will they have to start early this year? (Citizen file)
It was well after 4 p.m. when Len Smith came to the Legion hall to weigh in his two fine cutthroat was well after 4 p.m. when Len Smith came to the Legion hall to weigh in his two fine cutthroat trout in the Frostbite Fishing Derby on March 2. The derby winner weighed in at 2.51 pounds while the other was 2.11 pounds. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Lake Cowichan town councillor Carolyne Austin prepares to take notes of the ideas about attainable housing that arise from discussion at her table. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)
Brent Clancy presents Bob K. Day the Citizen of the Year Award at the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce’s 19th Annual Spring Fling Excellence Awards Gala, Saturday, April 27 in Lake Cowichan. (Malcolm Chalmers photo) Brent Clancy presents Bob K. Day the Citizen of the Year Award at the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce’s 19th Annual Spring Fling Excellence Awards Gala, Saturday, April 27 in Lake Cowichan. (Malcolm Chalmers photo)
Steve Hunt (USW), Lorne Scheffer (Forest Co-op), Carolyne Austin (Town of Lake Cowichan), and Terry Inglis (Museum volunteers) cut the ribbon to open the new IWA annex at the Kaatza Station Museum on Saturday, May 18. (Lexi Bainas/Gazette)

JANUARY

A large bull elk had to be tranquilized in the Youbou area on Jan. 6 by conservation officers after it was spotted with a clothesline wrapped around its head. Conservation officer Mark Kissinger responded to the call and was told by local residents that the elk is well known in the area and is affectionately called Bob. He said he found Bob with a plastic- covered metal clothesline around his neck and antlers, but it wasn’t impacting his ability to eat or hindering his movements. “We tranquilized the elk, cut away the clothesline, and then gave him a reversal drug that helped him quickly recover from the tranquilizer,” Kissinger said. “He was fine when he finally stood up and we’ve received reports that he is, once again, roaming around the area and eating the grass on people’s lawns with no after effects from the clothesline or the drugs.”

•••

Parents, brothers and sisters, friends, and hockey fans came out to Cowichan Lake Sports Arena in large numbers Saturday, Jan. 19 as the Lake Cowichan Minor Hockey Association held its annual Jamboree Day. From the delightful efforts of the tiny initiation level children to the fast skating and polish of the midget team, and all levels in between, the Cowichan Lake area’s hockey players showed their stuff in a full day of games plus a special Skills Competition. This event packs the house and draws all eyes, as several heats are held for each skills event, allowing all players to take part on either the blue or the white team, in slalom skating, with or without the puck, an obstacle course that included sliding under a low bar, and speed skating, backwards and forwards, around the rink.

•••

Be prepared. Remember to check on neighbours. Know who’s in charge. These are some of the watchwords given a big crowd of Cowichan Lake residents during a meeting about emergency preparedness at the end of January. Organized by the Lake Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, and emceed by Country Grocer’s Jenn Pollner, the session featured a panel of representatives from a galaxy of concerned agencies like BC Hydro, the CVRD and more. At the end a man stepped up to the mic and thanked the panel “for not sugar coating” the situation and said that the community at the Lake must get together to be ready for that first 72-86 hours and not expect anyone else to carry the load.

•••

On Jan. 31, Lake Cowichan residents had the chance to learn about and comment on their new Official Community Plan. Town planner James Van Hemert and town officials were there to answer questions, and explain proposed changes and new ideas that were shown on big maps. Van Hemert introduced the proposed new OCP to Lake Cowichan council on Jan. 8, explaining that since the last OCP rodeo in 2011, quite a bit has changed in town. The library, the wayfinding signage, the renovation of the Cowichan Lake recreation centre, the water treatment upgrade, the Centennial Park upgrades, and the establishment of the memorial garden and columbarium are some of the facilities he listed.

FEBRUARY

The push towards increasing Cowichan Lake’s attractiveness to hikers and cyclists has been rolling along all winter. Crews of volunteers have been out in the bush finding and clearing existing trails while work has been going on to develop an action plan, Bob Day told Lake Cowichan town council in February. It’s now time to put a sharper point on ways to help the community “create their own tourism development plan in order to leverage its advantageous location and natural tourism assets,” Day said. It’s all about “building a higher-yield and year-round visitor economy through hiking and cycling experience development.”

•••

Lake Cowichan Mayor Rod Peters has asked his council colleagues about the possibility of establishing a tennis court in town. The previous tennis court has been replaced in the past year by a pickleball set-up, after it was found that the number of pickleball players had increased considerably while tennis seemed to be declining. Peters said the subject might still be worth a second look. “There are a lot of kids that do play tennis,” he said Feb. 5, referring to a letter he’d received.

•••

In February, RCMP in Lake Cowichan asked for the community’s support in combating an increase in property crime. Detachment commander Sgt. Stu Foster said the increase in property-crime related offences has taken place over the past month. He said that discussions with community members suggest the public may not be reporting offences to police. “Without receiving reports of theft or suspicious persons, it is difficult to address crime,” Foster said. “If you see something, say something. Always report suspicious persons or activity to the police. The Lake Cowichan RCMP responds to calls for service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

•••

Lake Cowichan’s financial situation looks good, Town CAO, Joe Fernandez reported at the February finance committee meeting. There had been gossip that the town was millions of dollars in debt.

“We owe for building the fire hall and for a piece of one fire truck. It’s a 2007 pumper, there’s still some outstanding on that. But that’s all. We’re buying another fire truck now, we’re not in debt for that one yet but we will be as soon as we put the down payment on it. However, I think there has been some speculation that we [the Town of Lake Cowichan] are heavily in debt,” Fernandez said. “People sometimes misread the financial statements. We need to assure the public that that’s not the case.”

•••

Lake Cowichan Minor Hockey’s South Shore Cabinetry Atom Lakers gave it a great shot but fell just short of winning their own tournament, held over the Family Day long weekend at Cowichan Lake Sports Arena. The kids took home silver medals after losing out in the final to Semiahmoo Savage by a 5-3 score on the Sunday.

•••

With Arctic air combining with a snowfall warning, no one knew mid February that winter weather was coming. What did appear to be clear, though, was that the Cowichan Lake area would continue to be less affected by the worst of the storms than the eastern side of Vancouver Island. In Lake Cowichan, town workers made every effort to clear the snow, falling behind a little because they stop at nightfall, but starting early every day, Town CAO Joe Fernandez said, adding, “The only bad thing was that sometimes the snow outpaced our work crew’s ability to keep up but overall they did an excellent job.”

•••

Snow removal was, not unexpectedly, on the agenda at Lake Cowichan council’s public works committee meeting Feb. 19. Most of the reviews were good. “We had to deal with snow all last week, with the multiple events. It was all hands on deck for snowfall. We’ve received a few complaints, but other than minor complaints there were a lot of happy customers,” Lake Cowichan’s works superintendent Trevor Auger told councillors. Committee chair Lorna Vomacka asked that he extend council’s thanks for a great effort.

•••

After years of waiting, and of on-again, off-again boil water advisories, residents of the Town of Lake Cowichan were finally being served by a new water treatment system — but only temporarily. More work needed to be done to make it a full time system.

•••

Was Cowichan Lake going to lose the Kaatza Lakeside Players? Things were getting dire at the theatre company in February. Posters, a mail-out, and word of mouth were all used to spread the word: “A resolution to dissolve the society will have to be prepared if we do not have a complete board of directors assigned by Feb. 11, 2019.”

•••

Lake Cowichan council has decided to upgrade its municipal hall, rather than purchase the old Kingdom Hall on Neva Road and move the whole operation in there. The decision was made at an in camera meeting in mid-February. “Well, we just decided that we’ve got to get off our lazy butts and do something about this,” said Mayor Rod Peters. “It’s been hanging around since 2004. This building is in very bad shape.” The town will not be buying another building.

•••

Bears addicted to garbage? Lake Cowichan’s got them, and town council was wondering, at its public works meeting Feb. 19, if putting some money into WildSafeBC (formerly Bear Aware) would help solve the problem. The group has asked for a donation, pointing out that they get more than $12,000 in combined donations from several municipalities and groups around the Valley but need more to step up the work they are doing. Council, at the urging of Mayor Rod Peters, decided to look at the request during their coming budget discussions.

MARCH

March 2 was a beautiful day at Cowichan Lake, and lots of hopeful anglers headed out to see if they could catch the winner in the Lake Cowichan Legion’s 2019 Frostbite Fishing Derby. But, many anglers reported it was so cold the fish just didn’t seem to feel like biting. Len Smith caught the largest fish, a cutthroat trout, weighing in at 2.51 pounds, which netted him a trophy and a cheque for $250. He and his friends laughed as he came in to the weigh station, because he was the only one in the boat who caught a fish at all, and he caught two.

•••

The Cowichan Stewardship Roundtable reported in March that Cowichan Lake was only about 40 per cent full of water, a low level not usually seen until August. In a report made public March 4, they called it “disturbing news”. Ian Morrison, chair of the CVRD board of directors, said March 4 that there are many groups involved in keeping an eye on Cowichan Lake and the Cowichan River. The stewardship group is only one of them, he said, adding that he attends their meetings but is not a member of the Roundtable himself. Asked if this is a problem to be wringing our hands about right now, he said, “It’s concerning, certainly. All the concerned groups and organizations and ministries and everybody are talking about a response to it. But, we have had similar circumstances in the past where the rain and the snow actually did come in late March and April.”

•••

With only four candidates coming forward in 2019, the annual Lady of the Lake competition was cancelled for the year. The event, which is extremely popular with the general public, has been running since just after Lake Cowichan became a municipality 75 years ago.

•••

Thousands of dollars worth of equipment was stolen and even more in damage was done after thieves ravaged a rural property near Skutz Falls in the second week of March. Property owner Samuel Lockhart said the thieves had to grind through the locks on a heavy duty shipping container and remove 4,000 pounds of steel shelving racks to get to the big items they stole, which included a snow blower and a lawn mower. A trailer was also stolen from the property.

•••

Mariah Segee made history as the first female captain of her mostly-male hockey team. In her second year of bantam hockey, which wrapped up recently, Segee was elected by her teammates to captain the team, believed to be the first time a female player has received that honour. She admitted she was surprised when she was picked at the start of the season to wear the “C”.

•••

Bruce Ingram, chair of the Lake Community Forest Co-op finance committee, announced to Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce members at their annual general meeting March 7 that, starting just after June 30, the year end for CLCFC, the co-op will be calling for requests for funding. Yes, they’ll be giving away money, he said.

“That’s what the community forest co-op is. We fund our community, and our community goes from Paldi to the Pacific Ocean, not just the Town of Lake Cowichan, but the Cowichan Lake area. We are here for you guys. You can apply for those funds and we’re going to be able to give them to you,” Ingram said.

•••

The Cowichan Lake Elder Care Society fixed its sights on a piece of property and began to marshall supporters for a fundraising drive to build a care facility in the town of Lake Cowichan. The land is located beside the public library, and the society has collected letters from local residents to back its push.

•••

The Community Paramedic program has taken off so successfully at Cowichan Lake that it may be time to bring in a second paramedic. Mike Wright, paramedic, gave his quarterly update to Lake Cowichan town councillors March 12.

“This project has been operating in your community since June of last year. Our focus is dealing in a non-emergent manner for people in their homes, people who are dealing with chronic diseases such as COPD, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and palliative care as well. I’m happy to report that the program has actually taken off exponentially to the point where I actually have a waiting list of people. I’m presently seeing 26 people in and around the lake. There is a huge need and we’re seeing benefits already.”

•••

The mother of a seven-year-old Lake Cowichan boy who was the target of a cougar attack displayed “incredible bravery”, according to Insp. Ben York. York, the conservation officer in charge of the West Coast region, said the mother, who has been identified as Chelsea Bromley, heard a commotion in the family’s backyard on Point Ideal Drive at about 3:30 p.m. on March 29. He said that when Chelsea saw her son Zachary being attacked and bitten by one of two cougars that came over the yard’s boundary fence, she immediately leapt into action, pried the cougar’s mouth open with her bare hands and “ripped” the cougar away from her son. “Her actions likely saved her son from much further injury,” York said.

•••

“Shameful!” That was the epithet thrown at Lake Cowichan town councillors by members of the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-operative on March 26. Lorne Scheffer and Bruce Ingram, both Co-op volunteers, raked council over the coals for what they see as a disgraceful lack of maintenance at the Forestworkers Memorial Park at Ts’uubaa-asatx Town Square in the centre of Lake Cowichan. Mossy, moldy, forgotten, overgrown, uncared-for, even disrespectfully treated: the park is in poor shape and the two men hammered home their anger that such a situation has been allowed to occur.

•••

Water officials in the region nervously watched the dipping water levels in Cowichan Lake as the unseasonable dry spell continued. Levels in the lake, one of the major water reservoirs for the Cowichan Valley, had been bouncing around with a recording of just 28 per cent capacity before jumping back up to 31 per cent as of March 27. Lake levels were reported at 40 per cent capacity in early March, a low level not usually seen until August, sparking fears of yet another major drought in the Cowichan Valley this summer.

APRIL

The buzz was building around Lake Cowichan as the Cowichan Lake Trailblazers work to make the area a world-class trail destination. The Trailblazers, led by president Bob Day, received $86,277 from the B.C. Government in April to help them along, through a new project from Community Futures Cowichan and the BC Rural Dividend Fund.

“The whole Cowichan Lake Community got behind this initiative right from the start,” said Day. “This enthusiasm will be the key ingredient moving forward into trail development and marketing. The funding will firmly establish the legitimacy of the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society as we work on building our trail network to market to our locals and market them to trail users around the world.”

•••

Tanya Trafford, an auxiliary constable based out of the Lake Cowichan RCMP detachment made no bones about the purpose of a mock crash scenario at Lake Cowichan School in mid April.

“We’re trying to scare them,” she said of the Grades 10 through 12 students invited to witness the devastation. Trafford was the main organizer of the simulated crash that featured wrecked cars, actors, and real emergency services personnel. “We want them to see what will happen if they are not paying attention,” she explained. “This is distracted driving and this is what happens.”

•••

Cowichan Lake’s Kaatza Lakeside Players were given a new lease on life, following a desperate call for support in March. Earlier in the year, the Players announced that their society would dissolve unless enough people came to an emergency “Save Our Theatre” meeting. In a release issued in early April, the society said, “Thanks to some new people stepping up to become board directors, we’re happy to announce that the Kaatza Lakeside Players will continue. However, we still need the support of our community if we are going to thrive as a theatre group.”

•••

Following complaints from members of the Cowichan Lake Community Forest Co-op, the Town of Lake Cowichan has cleaned up the Forestworkers Memorial Park at Ts’uubaa-asatx Town Square. The Town’s superintendent of public works, Trevor Auger, explained at council’s parks committee meeting on April 16 that the crew had been hard at work. “After the communication to staff, we went out there and cleaned up the landscaping beds, trimmed all the flowers and bushes there, power washed all the bricks. We’ve re-sanded all the bricks and we have the fountain all done. You have to go by and have a look.”

•••

The new official community plan for the Town of Lake Cowichan finally reached the council table on April 23, as it was given first and second reading by council. James Van Hemert, town planner, said the plan reflects the community.

“That is what has occurred and has continued up until this date in addition to updating new legislation that we have to recognize, and updating demographic information about our population and who we are as people,” he said.

•••

A request for a development permit to build a new gas station and convenience store at the corner of Cowichan Lake and Neva roads moved slowly forward as the application received first and second reading at Lake Cowichan town council on April 23.

•••

Jim Humphrey took home the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce’s 19th Annual Spring Fling Business & Community Excellence Awards Gala, held on April 27. Humphrey won the award for his outstanding years of service as a volunteer director and president of the chamber, and for his vision, dedication and commitment to the economic and tourism enhancement of the Cowichan Lake area.

Jamie Doyle won the Above & Beyond Award for his quick thinking and for acting for the good of the community during the windstorm last December. Both awards were presented by Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan- Malahat-Langford.

Bob K. Day, chairman of the Cowichan Lake Trail Blazers Society, was awarded Citizen of the Year and Scarlett’s Second Hand Boutique & Coffee Bar, owned by Scarlett Feltrin, was named Business of the Year.

Mallory Marrs won the Youth of the Year Award and Maureen Loebus took home the Community Service Volunteer of the Year Award, while Stephen Nahirnick, owner of Black Jax Appliance Repair, won the Customer Service of the Year Award. The coveted and fun Oswald Award was also presented during the ceremony, with the title of Mr. Fantastic going to Frank Worsley, and the Miss Fabulous title went to Jean Osborne.

MAY

It’s early in the year but already salmon fry are being left high and dry at Cowichan Lake, which is already at mid-July low water levels. Members of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society posted the alert on Facebook Tuesday, May 21. “Fry rescue operations began in earnest today as crews visited several tributaries to Cowichan Lake. Some of our worst fears were confirmed,” the note said. “Meade Creek and any remaining pools are barren. This is one of the most productive tributaries and we regularly see thousands of coho and chum fry there.”

•••

Construction is underway and completion of new visitor recreation amenities at Nitinaht Lake should be complete by the end of November. The $1.2-million Caycuse Recreation Site project, developed by the Ditidaht First Nation to enhance the world-renowned windsurfing and kiteboarding destination, has received a $237,000 grant from the Island Coastal Economic Trust. “Windsurfers and kiteboarders, as well as West Coast Trail hiking enthusiasts, have historically been our target markets at Nitinaht Lake,” Ditidaht Development Corporation CEO Bryan Cofsky explained. “These new visitor amenities will serve to draw broader and more family-based markets into the area, supporting the development of new businesses, services and sustainable employment opportunities for our rural community members.”

•••

It took five years but volunteers were delighted to open the IWA annex at the Kaatza Station Museum in Lake Cowichan on Saturday, May 18. A collection of Kaatza Historical Society stalwarts, politicians, former members of the IWA, and others gathered on a sunny Saturday to celebrate the completion of a job that’s taken a lot of fundraising and physical effort to complete.

•••

It was plenty of fun for all ages at Heritage Days on May 18. Heritage Days at Lake Cowichan is all about meeting old friends and enjoying activities like the annual truck parade. There was also a chance to show off a pet’s tricks, too, during the annual Heritage Days pet parade at Saywell Park, plus many other activities for the family to enjoy.

•••

The B.C. government announced a Level 3 drought rating for Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in early June. The heightened alert meant a call for voluntary water-use reductions for all surface and groundwater users, including farmers, local governments and residents alike. The Cowichan Valley Regional District had been under Level 2 (dry) drought conditions for roughly four days before the provincial government upgraded the entire province to Level 3 (very dry).

“I would encourage everybody in the region to follow the recommendations that have come out from the province that have to do with drought level 3 in terms of voluntary water conservation regardless of which system you’re on,” said CVRD spokesperson Kris Schumacher.

•••

A report that concludes the steep slopes above Youbou and Lake Cowichan, and some other surrounding areas, will likely be increasingly prone to landslides due to climate change is raising the ire of some in those communities. About 70 attended a community meeting at the end of May to discuss their concerns with the report and what it could mean for their homes and lives. Many at the lively meeting reside directly below a seven-metre high dam on Youbou Creek and wondered what impact the potential for increased landslide activity in the area would mean to them.

JUNE

In June, the Teal Jones forest company shut down its second-growth logging operations in Honeymoon Bay, impacting dozens of local contract loggers. The Surrey-based company blamed the indefinite shut down on high stumpage rates, which are what the province charges companies to harvest timber on Crown land. Teal Jones CFO Haniff Karmally said stumpage fees are currently well in excess of what would be an economic rate for a second-growth harvesting operation focused on providing logs for domestic saw mills.

•••

Lake Days took over Lake Cowichan once again with the parade on June 8. It was all there, from the pancake breakfast, the fairgrounds, baseball games and the famous Kin Ducky Derby that featured 1,200 rubber ducks. Trevor Berry’s duck won the race.

•••

A Cuban baseball team drew a big crowd out to Centennial Park in Lake Cowichan on Lake Days weekend, June 9, as they took on the Chemainus Brewers. It was part of Cowichan Valley baseball exchange with Unión de Reyes, Cuba. The Cuban team had an extensive schedule on Vancouver Island, plus the Grand Forks International Baseball Tournament.

•••

Never in his 25 years working as a fisheries biologist and with local water issues has Tom Rutherford ever seen the water situation in Cowichan Lake so dire. Rutherford, executive director of the Cowichan Watershed Board, said if no significant rain falls in the region soon, the lake will face the unprecedented situation of having no storage capacity left sometime between early July and mid August. He said if that happens, there will not be enough head water to push water out of the lake and into the Cowichan River, one of the main groundwater sources for the Valley and integral to operations at the Crofton pulp and paper mill. Rutherford said that could potentially lead to fish habitats being destroyed, water shortages and even the closure of the mill. He said that would leave the Valley in a “tough situation”.

•••

The Lake Cowichan First Nation announced mid June it would soon begin construction of a long-planned residential development on waterfront property on North Shore Road. Aaron Hamilton, the First Nation’s operations manager, said the development will be market-driven and the units will be available to both aboriginals and non-aboriginals. He said plans for the development expect to be finalized later this month, and then it will be presented to the community. “We became a Land Code Nation in 2017 and that means, as a community, we can make our own land-use decisions without having to go through as much red tape to get federal approval for projects like we used to have to do,” Hamilton said.

•••

The TimberWest forest company says it has no harvesting planned for 2019 in the hills above Youbou. Spokeswoman Karen Brandt said no harvesting on the TimberWest lands in that area will occur until the necessary scientific analysis is completed and the company has conferred with the relevant authorities. In 2017, TimberWest dropped plans for a new bypass route around Youbou Road for logging trucks after concerns were raised in the community about landslides, erosion and severe water run-off into Youbou from the new bypass route above the community if its construction went ahead. But the company didn’t rule out logging on its lands in the hills in the future as part of its harvesting plans, and indicated that smaller access roads may be required to reach these areas.

•••

Overflowing gratitude was the order of the day at Saywell Park in Lake Cowichan on June 8 as the community gathered around the Lake Days stage to see the 2018/19 Lady of the Lake royalty finish their official year. First Princess Olivia Skinner and Second Princess Amber Eddy received gifts, bouquets, and the adulation of the crowd for their excellent performance of their duties during a challenging year. It began when Lady of the Lake, Keely McDonald, withdrew from the royalty program, and the difficulties continued when there were not enough potential candidates to run a competition this spring. A decision was made to put the Lady of the Lake on hiatus for a year, and return in 2020, which will be the 75th anniversary of the Lady of the Lake.

•••

Ken Traynor, spokesperson for the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society, told Lake Cowichan council June 18 that the invasive plant, Japanese knotweed, could soon become a concern in Cowichan Lake. He noted that there’s a big patch of Japanese knotweed at Lake Cowichan’s own Lakeview Park in the maintenance yard behind a pile of cedar mulch. He wondered if council has a policy about removing such invasives on their property.

•••

Would it be a good idea to place a sign near the entrance of Lake Cowichan to show folks just how little water is left in Cowichan Lake? That’s what Ken Traynor of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society proposed to Lake Cowichan town council on Tuesday, June 18.

“Maybe we could put a countdown sign to highlight how soon we would reach zero storage, which currently would be 51 days on the lake unless we get some rain. The idea is that [a countdown sign] would really put it up front for people. They’d know the situation is serious and they’d go to weirready.ca and they’d find lake level information there, a description of how the weir works…The idea is that there would be somewhere that people, who are concerned about it could go. We’d feel better if we had some way, somewhere to direct them to that information.”

•••

Lake Cowichan School class of 2019 graduated in fine style on June 22.

•••

Lake Cowichan celebrated Pride Month during June. First, a rainbow flag was raised over Lake Cowichan town hall on June 14 to celebrate and support diversity and it was flown for the remainder of the month. In addition, Sean Battye’s Social Justice class at Lake Cowichan Secondary were planning to do some work on a rainbow crosswalk at their own school and an approach was made to Palsson Elementary to see if a rainbow crosswalk at the primary school might be well received. An enthusiastic reply saw the secondary students go to Palsson to paint a bright sidewalk in a rainbow of colours to the delight of the young children, and the adults who turned out for the occasion, who included several Lake Cowichan town councillors.

•••

The verdict on Laketown Shakedown 2019: Wow! Snoop Dogg, Incubus, Sublime with Rome, Smash Mouth and the rest offered up super entertainment for a crowd that reached about 8,000 on June 30. The whole event got off to a damp start with a thundershower just at showtime on June 28 but that didn’t keep anyone away, and by the time Jesse Roper took the stage, everyone was dry and ready for a great time. Saturday just kept the fun rolling, with more and more trailers and tenters rolling in for the big name acts on the main stage. From start to finish, there were great tunes, great friends, and a great time for everyone. The big act, Snoop Dogg, put on a really entertaining show to end Wideglide Entertainment’s kickoff to summer.

•••

After nine and half hours swimming down the Cowichan River on June 30, Geoff de Ruiter stepped out of the water about 15 kilometres short of his goal. De Ruiter, a PhD graduate in natural resources and environmental studies, had planned to swim 50 kilometres in the river, all the way from the weir in Cowichan Lake to the Strait of Georgia to raise awareness of threats to the river’s ecosystem. He said that he spent a lot of time walking over uneven rocks on the riverbed and, after so many hours in the water, he developed a huge blister on the bottom of one of his feet that made it hard for him to put his weight on it. “I had to make a safety call and end the swim around Allenby Road Bridge,” de Ruiter said.

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