There was a lot of competition, but we chose our top three news stories of 2019.
First up, the water crisis. There was another drought in the summer of 2019, and coupled with unusually low rainfall over the spring and summer, this led to unprecedented steps being taken to try to preserve our precious resource in both the Cowichan and Koksilah watersheds.
In March the news came that Cowichan Lake, where water is stored behind a weir to feed into the Cowichan River in the summer, was only 40 per cent full.
The situation continued to worsen as the months passed, and finally in August, Catalyst, which operates the weir, turned on pumps to push water over the weir and into the Cowichan River to keeps flows at a minimum acceptable level for fish habitation. It was the first time this extreme step had to be taken.
In the Koksilah watershed, those with water licences were first asked to voluntarily cut down on their water use, and then later certain activities, such as using water to hydrate forage crops, were outright banned. A reckoning is coming on our traditional ways of using water, sooner, we suspect, than later.
Our second top story was the ongoing issues with homelessness in the Cowichan Valley, and in the greater Duncan area specifically.
Residents on Lewis Street, located behind the Warmland House homeless shelter, became increasingly irate and fed up, as more and more people began to set up makeshift camps on the street. Officials cleared out the area and set up a fence to discourage people from coming back in late fall, but that just leads to the obvious question: where did they go?
While there have been some steps forward on this front, the community continues to struggle with real, long-term solutions.
Our third top story is the federal election. While here in the Cowichan Valley we decisively returned MP Alistair MacGregor to Ottawa, he joined a decidedly different parliament. The Liberals were reduced to a minority government, and the fallout from the vote continues into the new year.