Cobble Hill Fair 1909

Alongside advertisements selling Apples for $2.25 per box and popular Walk-Over Shoes from $5.00 to $7.50, the Victoria Daily Colonist of October 12, 1909 details the effort of the Cobble Hill and Shawnigan District in hosting the very first Cobble Hill Fair. The column reads, in part, “the Cobble Hill and Shawnigan District First Agricultural Show, held on Wednesday last, the 6th inst., under the auspices of the local Farmers’ Institute, proved from all points of view, an unqualified success.  Travellers passing through this lovely district by train gain but a faint idea or the large number of well-to-do settlers scattered over the area between Koenig’s station and Cowichan Lake; but even the oldest residents were hardly prepared for the crowd which gathered in response to the circulars issued announcing the holding of the first local agricultural show.”

In describing the fair, the article went on to say “the still greater surprise [was] caused by the exhibits, both as to their number and to the high standard of excellence to which many of these attained. This is the more remarkable as the notices announcing the show were only issued a short time ago, thus allowing no time for any special culture, the result being a display of the purely normal product of the gardens.  No stronger or more convincing evidence is needed to demonstrate, the highly productive character of the cultivated lands of this district. Visitors from a distance who had attended similar displays in other centres of agriculture on the Island were unanimous in stating it as their opinion that at none of these shows had they seen anything to equal the exhibits in the three principal classes, namely, fruit, vegetables and flowers.” The rest of the exhibition was described in glowing detail which included an “afternoon programme of athletic sports where local athletes were successful in upholding the honor of the district…. Exhibits were cleared away and side stands removed about five o’clock, the company soon after sitting down in batches to a sumptuous repast…. The evening was devoted to entertainment.  Musical selections with pianoforte accompaniment, were excellently rendered by ‘The Shawnigan Lyric Club,’ conducted by I.J. Shepherd.” 

The article ends by biding the community “Godspeed” in its efforts to build a new community hall. The Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmers Institute and Agricultural Society is now in its 99th year as an incorporated entity, and on Saturday, August 24th it will host the 104th Cobble Hill Fair at its hall and fairgrounds located on Watson Avenue in the heart of the Cobble Hill Village. Those attending this event will surely catch glimpses of our past so eloquently detailed in the Tuesday, October 12, 1909 Victoria Daily Colonist article.   

Water: Our Most Valuable Resource

The long awaited Thurber Report that examines nitrate contamination in the Fisher Road area of the Cobble Hill aquifer (Aquifer 197) is now posted on the CVRD website. It is available for reading and distribution at

Elevated nitrate levels in groundwater are used to alert authorities to a potential risk of aquifer contamination and of a risk to public health. Page 16 of the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality Summary Table state that elevated nitrate levels can cause Methaemoglobinaemia (blue baby syndrome) in infants less than 3 months old and that it is classified as a possible carcinogen.
Canadian Drinking Water Standards indicate nitrate levels of less than 10 parts per million are safe for human consumption. The water from three test wells located in the Fisher Road area have nitrate levels two to nine times higher than that set by the Standards as safe for human consumption.

I encourage you to review the Thurber Report to become informed about this issue.

A town hall meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, May 23rd at 7 pm in the Cobble Hill Hall on Watson Avenue to discuss this topic. It is expected representatives from Thurber Engineering, the Ministry of Health, the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and staff members of the CVRD will be in attendance to explain the findings of the study, the long term impact of nitrate contamination in the aquifer, next steps and to answer any questions you may have.

Please make every effort to attend on Thursday, May 23rd. Aquifer 197 supplies our drinking water and we all need to ensure this resource is protected.

Its delicious to support Rotary!


In support of the Duncan Rotary Club, Gay Wise and I (both members of the South Cowichan Rotary Club) successfully bid on a dinner prepared by Frederic and Ingrid Desbiens of Saison Market Vineyard and Nick and Elly Versteeg of DV Cuisine. It was fabulous! At our dinner, held Saturday, May 4th, we enjoyed an evening of fine dining with some wonderful friends. The event was hosted in the beautiful garden setting at the home of Jim and Jackie Barker. At the dinner we were treated to an eleven course meal most of which are shown in the video gifted to each guest by Nick and Frederic. A fantastic time was had by all. We are certainly fortunate to live in the Cowichan Valley where such fine cuisine is available from local farms, gardens and the sea. Thank you Frederic, Ingrid, Nick and Elly for helping to create an evening full of great memories.

How Will the 2013 CVRD Budget Impact Your Property?

Without question one of the most difficult tasks faced by the CVRD Board, and for that matter local municipal councils, is establishing an annual operating budget. Decisions regarding funding levels are made with the state of the economy and the impact to the taxpayers at the top of mind. Each of the CVRD’s 163 function budgets is viewed with the scrutiny of fifteen pairs of critical eyes. No director wants to see a tax increase let alone supports reckless or unwarranted expenditures. The budget process involves balancing the needs of the community with the ability of residents, businesses and industry to pay for the services provided. Of all of the taxes collected by the governments across Canada less than 10 percent is allocated to local government to provide services to our communities.

Unlike a Municipal budget, which for the most part is global in nature and has everyone paying the same amount, a Regional District budget is developed for each function or service provided. Every function is a stand-alone service having its own budget that operates independently from all other Regional District budgets. All money collected for a particular function remains in the budget for that function. Homeowners pay only for the services in which their electoral area participates. In the South Cowichan area, Mill Bay/Malahat participates in 33 of the regions 163 individual budgets while Shawnigan Lake participates in 35 and Cobble Hill participates in 34.

The CVRD begins its budget process in September and the Board of Director finalized its 2013 budget on March 27th after a lengthily process involving many hours of debate. The impact of the budget on residential taxpayers within the district is seen below. Whether your taxes will go up or down however depends entirely on the assessment value of your home in 2013 compared with 2012.

Tax Table

One critical item that will affect us all is the Cowichan Valley Regional Hospital Budget (CVRHD). It is set to increase by $8.70 per hundred thousand dollars of assessment taking the cost of that service from its current $35.68 per hundred thousand to $44.38. The reason for this increase is the CVRHD is building a reserve fund to pay the Cowichan Valley’s share of a greatly needed new hospital, which has now moved to the top of the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s priority list.

Will Another ‘Dirty Dirt’ Site Get Approved For Cowichan?

Provincial government approval appears to be pending for an application to permit dumping five million tons of highly contaminated soils in the Shawnigan Lake drinking water watershed thereby putting public health and the environment at risk.

The Board of the CVRD has and will continue to express strong opposition to a Waste Discharge Permit Application for property located at 460 Stebbings Road in Shawnigan Lake. The scientific evidence surrounding this application is conflicting as are the technical and hydrogeological opinions provided by professionals.

The Draft Permit for this proposal relies on self monitoring or self-regulating. Recent experiences in the CVRD have shown this model allows for errors, accidents and non-compliance which come to light only after harm to the environment has taken place. The proposed permit contains no bonding requirements, it contains no penalty or violation clauses and it does not take into consideration a number of factors identified by the Medical Health Officer, Dr. Paul Hasselback in his April 4th 2013 letter to the Director, Environmental Protection.

While the CVRD has continually expressed opposition to this application in the strongest possible terms, it has also stated its willingness to work with the province through the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Resources to find a suitable soil remediation site.

Contaminated soil is an ongoing issue. We need to work toward finding a sustainable solution to soil remediation. We should not be sitting idly by while drinking watersheds are used as dump sites.  Call on the provincial government to amend the contaminated site regulations to provide for thorough and appropriate consideration of local government input and land use regulations in the contaminate soils permitting process. We must ensure that public health is paramount and that the precautionary principle is applied.

Please view the CTV clip and the you tube video by Paul Manly below.

If you are concerned about this watershed, the environment or human health email those concerns to the parties listed below.;;;

A Great Start for South Cowichan Seniors

What an exciting day Monday, March 11th was for the newly formed South Cowichan Seniors group as they hosted their first very successful Seniors Drop-In Luncheon. Approximately sixty seniors attended this inaugural event held in the Cobble Hill Hall. In addition to enjoying a hearty ‘by donation’ lunch consisting of chili, a variety of sandwiches, cake, cookies, tea or coffee those attending learned about the next scheduled luncheon and the Brain Fitness program being offered starting on April 8th 2013 in the Cobble Hill Hall on Watson Avenue.

Special kudos and many thanks go to those who helped plan and stage the event: Al Garside, Heather and Gord Dickenson, Linda and Dave Bilkoski, John Krug, Nancy Dieckmann, Joanne Stuart, Dawn Smiley, Rosemary Allen, Lois Turner, Jackie Barker, Mary Ann Watson, with set up help from Chuck Felix and his crew. Carol Hunt, Executive Director of the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation has been invaluable in her support and advice to the South Cowichan Seniors organizing committee. Carol will lead the five week Brain Fitness program starting on April 8th.

The next luncheon is scheduled for March 25, 2013 at 11:30 am in the Cobble Hill Hall. To enquire, help, attend or arrange for transportation please contact South Cowichan Seniors President, Allan Garside at 250.818.4205. or

Walk With Us Through Our Parks

Walk With Us Through Our Parks – Cobble Hill Parks AGM 2013

Screen shot 2013-03-08 at 10.49.35 PM

Community Readiness Through Emergency Planning

The Cowichan Valley Regional District has an established Public Safety Department charged with Emergency Planning.  This department focuses on the four states of planning: Plan and Prepare Before it Happens; Respond When it Happens; Recover After it Happens and Reduce Risks Before it Happens Again.

The Plan and Prepare component includes offering training to residents to help them be prepared in the event of an emergency.  In Cobble Hill we are fortunate to have many residents who take part in emergency preparedness activities in their neighbourhoods. These activities may be included as part of other neighbourhood associations, or may be more formal or stand-alone in nature. Cobble Hill LERN (Local Emergency Response Neighbourhoods) consists of volunteer residents from across Cobble Hill who have worked together since 2006 to help residents become prepared for major emergencies. An emergency can be an extended power outage, wildfire, severe weather, earthquake or other incidents that might leave people challenged or in danger.

Through its email list, Cobble Hill LERN makes regular contact with more than 120 residents about emergency planning, neighbourhood crime and safety and food security. These emails are then fanned out across the district. Cobble Hill LERN maintains a close association with the CVRD’s Public Safety Department, which among other things keeps the group aware of first aid and other emergency preparedness workshops that are offered to the public. The Cobble Hill LERN group is also connected to the South Cowichan Community Policing Association Society (SCCPAS) through their Block Watch Program.

One of the main goals of LERN is to encourage people to make contact with their neighbours so that in the event of a major emergency they will be able to support each other.  It is estimated that 80% of the help residents would get during a major emergency would come from their neighbours. Another goal is to encourage people to prepare to be self-sufficient when it comes to food, water and medications for their families, pets and farm animals for a period of seven days.

Although this LERN group is focused primarily on Cobble Hill, anyone is welcome to join the email list by contacting Jackie Barker at

Jackie Barker, Cobble Hill LERN (Local Emergency Response Neighbourhoods)

Jackie Barker, Cobble Hill LERN (Local Emergency Response Neighbourhoods)

Grant In Aid

Recently there have been some queries about grant funding provided by the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD) and this article provides an opportunity for a brief description of the three different types of CVRD grants.

In the first category are regional grants in aid. They are paid for by taxpayers throughout the entire region and are reserved for projects that are large in scope and thought to bring a significant impact or benefit to the region. Examples of regional grants in aid would be funding for the Sportsplex, the 2005 BC Seniors Games, the Cowichan 2008 North American Indigenous Games or the recent agreement to provided funds to the E & N Railway for bridge improvements.

The second form of grant is for functions within an electoral area or group of electoral areas within the region. This type of program has received the assent of the electors within the electoral area either through a referendum vote or an Alternative Approval Process. Taxpayers in Mill Bay/Malahat, Shawnigan Lake and Cobble Hill each fund their own historical society and each funds community halls or recreation spaces. The Mill Bay/Malahat and Cobble Hill areas each provide $15,000 toward funding for their historical societies while Shawnigan Lake residents provide their historical society with $17,000. The Mill Bay Community League Hall receives $10,000 from taxpayers within their area while the Cobble Hill Hall receives $18,000 from Cobble Hill taxpayers. The Shawnigan Lake Community Centre is a full service complex funded by the taxpayers of Shawnigan Lake at just over $673,000. Mill Bay/Malahat, Shawnigan Lake and Cobble Hill jointly fund the South Cowichan Community Policing Association Society. Many of the above programs are fully operated by volunteers and I thank them for their service to our communities.

The third variety of funding provided by the CVRD is an Electoral Area grant in aid. Each CVRD director has the option of collecting a modest amount of money from taxpayers within his or her electoral area on an annual basis to provide funds to worthy groups, organizations or individuals. The 2013 amount budgeted in Mill Bay/Malahat is $10,000 while the amount budgeted in Shawnigan Lake it is $30,000 and in Cobble Hill it is $13,500. Bursaries for outstanding local students who are continuing their education fit into this category. Other examples include the CMS Food Bank, the Cowichan Family Caregivers, the Cowichan Therapeutic Riding Association, the Cowichan Spirit of Women, the BC Farm Women’s Network, the Hospice Society or the Jolly Dragon Boat Society. Funds collected through the electoral area grant in aid function vary from area to area but the average grant is usually around $500.00. Again, these grants are paid for only by taxpayers who live in the given electoral area.

You Are Invited to Join the South Cowichan Seniors

There is some exciting news for seniors is coming out of Cobble Hill with the formation of a new seniors group in the South Cowichan area. Called the South Cowichan Seniors the groups aim is to start a Drop In Luncheon for seniors.

The first luncheon is scheduled for Monday, March 11th from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm in the Cobble Hill Hall on Watson Avenue. Staged with the help of the Shawnigan Cobble Hill Farmers Institute and Agricultural Society, I am told by Al Garside that these events will be biweekly and the hope is to attract seniors who do not often get out or who need some transportation assistance to attend. Along with the wholesome meal, these sessions will provide an opportunity for those who attend to socialize, join in activities and visit with other seniors. Activities will be added as seniors themselves identify what they would like to have introduced. As a guideline those who are aged 55 and over are invited to attend.

South Cowichan Seniors will also be hosting a very popular seven week Brain Fitness Program beginning at the Cobble Hill Hall on Monday, April 8th. This program will be hosted in conjunction with the Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation (CSCF) and led by CSCF’s Executive Director Carol Hunt. The eight session program covers the anatomy of the brain, memory techniques, socialization and activation, nutrition for healthy brain function, and plenty of exercises to create a daily routine.

If you are interested in attending the Luncheon or the Brain Fitness Program contact Allan Garside at either the phone or email address below:

South Cowichan Seniors
c/o Allan E Garside
1232 Fisher Road
Cobble Hill, BC
V0R 1L4
Phone: 250-818-4205
Facebook: South Cowichan Seniors