Gathering aims for ‘lively mix’ of economy, family

The second Shawnigan Gathering should offer just as much community-building fun as last year’s inaugural event.

At least, that’s what organizers are promising for the two-day festival, scheduled for March 29-30 at the Shawnigan Lake Community Centre, starting at 9 a.m. both days.

Event spokesperson Georgia Collins said that this year’s Gathering has a different emphasis.

"Last year we were mostly focused on watershed issues whereas this year we’re focusing on economic development in Shawnigan," she said.

"There will still be other components to the event, of course. We’re actually hosting a researcher’s meeting the day before the gathering where all the different water researchers working through the Ministry of Environment and UVic are all going to meet beforehand.

"There will be a reporting out about that at the Gathering but it won’t be the focus it was last year," she said.

There will also be community awards. The opening is scheduled for 9:15 a.m. March 29 and. That’s when Rob Hutchins, chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District board and Chief Michael Harry of the Malahat First Nation will hand out the community honours.

Last year, every business, group, agency and even interested person in Shawnigan seemed to have something going at the Gathering. "We’re continuing with that, working to get the whole community working together," Collins said.

"We’ve had the Inspire Arts Group, the Young Seniors Action Group, the Shawnigan Lake Business Association, everyone in the Shawnigan Basin Society and lots more.

And the guest speaker is Geoff Millar from the Cowichan Valley Economic Development Commission."

There is still lots of family fun at this year’s Gathering, too.

"There will be lots of entertainment with kids performing. That made it so fun last year. It was a really lively mix," she said.

Something very special is planned for noon Saturday: a feast of fresh seafood provided by the Malahat First Nation.

"At that time, the Shawnigan Basin Society is also showcasing a donation it has received for its new watershed management space that will be opened up in April. It’s a 21-foot Live Edge table that’s meant to bring the community together. The feast will be served on it," she said.

So, look for a multicultural, artistic, musical, businesslike event featuring representation from O.U.R. Ecovillage, the Shawnigan Lake Museum, the Shawnigan Lake Residents Association, the Subaru Triathlon team, the Village Development Council and more.

With the world-famous Kinsol Trestle and a population 8,000 strong – the most populous unincorporated community in B.C. – the people of Shawnigan "have a lot of stories to tell each other," Collins said.

Along with looking at ideas for future economic development, there’s also the chance to talk about the Island Corridor Foundation’s plans for a train service, what should be done with the Elsie Miles School site, and what might be developed across from the Community Centre entrance.

Throughout the day, local restaurants will provide samplings both to advertise and nourish.

Young musicians will be playing and in the afternoon Saturday, a musical and dance revue will be staged for the entertainment of children and families.