The search for Ben Kilmer was one of the biggest stories in the Cowichan Valley in 2018. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Editorial: 2018 a year of weighty subjects in Cowichan

One story this year captured the imagination of Cowichan residents like no other

Last year was weighty. It’s the best description we can come up with as we take a look back at our top stories of 2018 for our year in review, which starts in the paper today and continues in our Friday edition.

In the spring City of Duncan and Municipality of North Cowichan residents wrestled with the idea of amalgamating into one big unit. It was a fight that divided people, especially in Duncan, where folks were concerned about losing the identity of their small city. Politicians took sides and began to actively campaign for the “yes” and “no” camps.

In the end, the status quo has been maintained, but the City of Duncan must still look uneasily at upcoming expenditures they will face in the coming years with a limited land area and a growing population. We haven’t heard the last of the issues amalgamation surfaced, even though residents won’t be going to the polls on that question again in the near future.

Also on the political front, municipal elections saw lots of new faces on our local governments. Three new mayors took office in Duncan, North Cowichan and the Town of Lake Cowichan, with almost wholesale changes of councils in Duncan and North Cowichan as well. The jury’s still out on this new crop of fresh faces.

One story this year captured the imagination of Cowichan residents like no other, and that was the disappearance and search for Ben Kilmer, husband and father of two. The tale ultimately ended in tragedy, but not before the Cowichan Valley showed its heart with an outpouring of support and love.

Other notable stories included the advent of an overdose prevention site in Duncan, a symptom of the opioid crisis that continues to claim lives at an unprecedented rate in B.C.

After several failed attempts it was a red letter day when an emergency women’s cold weather shelter finally found a home and opened its doors in North Cowichan in December. Homelessness and affordability are yet another crisis that comes with Cowichan into the New Year.

What will capture our hearts and imaginations in 2019? You’ll just have to read the Citizen to find out.

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