Staff and volunteers enjoy a piece of anniversary cake as the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre celebrates its fifth year of operation. The Centre held an open house on Friday, Nov. 23 to mark the occasion. For more, see page 11. (Warren Goulding/Citizen)

Business notes: 5-year anniversary for Visitor Centre silences naysayers

“This ceremony marks the success of almost a decade of work by the community”

Not very many years ago, when an ambitious plan for a regional visitor information was first floated by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and its supporters, there were more than a few naysayers.

The Chamber, after all, was not exactly flush with cash and the plan would need the backing of the Municipality of North Cowichan and a handful of other investors if it was to have any chance at all of becoming a reality. At least one North Cowichan councillor raised noisy alarm bells about the risk associated with the $2 million project.

Fortunately, Islands Coastal Economic Trust ($666,000), North Cowichan, the CVRD, City of Duncan and others came up with cash and loan guarantees to finance the construction. The Chamber itself is responsible for about 20 per cent of the cost.

At the sod turning in 2013, then Chamber president George Gates acknowledged it had taken a lot of work to get to that point.

“This ceremony marks the success of almost a decade of work by the community, Chamber members, volunteers, Chamber directors, committees, supporters, funders, elected representatives and sponsors to make this vision a reality,” Gates said.

“When complete, the Visitor Centre will showcase all the region has to offer in attractions, accommodations, products, services, programming, recreation, culture, arts and more.”

Time has proven that Gates and the other visionaries were right on the mark.

The fifth anniversary celebration last Friday brought out dozens of supporters and a few local politicians — North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring and the CVRD’s chair Ian Morrison attended — and that was gratifying.

But it was disappointing that most (possibly all) of the newly elected members of North Cowichan council and the City of Duncan, couldn’t be bothered to show up. And senior managers, also invited, were missing in action.

Get ready to Cram a Cruiser at Superstore for food bank

The folks over at Superstore are holding a “Cram the Cruiser” event on Friday, Nov. 30. Working with the local RCMP, the organizers are hoping to fill a police vehicle with food items, toys and clothing for the Cowichan Basket Society.

The event runs from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. in front of Superstore.

There will also be a barbecue and anyone who donates to the cause can enjoy a hot dog or smokie and a drink.

Christmas Kick-off in downtown Duncan Friday

The Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area is getting in the Christmas mood.

Christmas Kick-Off will welcome Santa as he arrives by fire truck on Friday, Nov. 30.

Executive director Ian Locke says activities will be centred in City Square, starting at 5:30 p.m.

“Carols will be sung and played by community choirs and bands, and the Smiley Family Band will be back to entertain the crowd,” Locke says.

“Chestnuts will be roasting and lights will be sparkling from the community Christmas trees, decorated by local businesses and service groups.”

You’ll be able to hitch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon and warm up with a hot beverage and a bite to eat from one of the downtown restaurants or concessions that will be set up for the evening by various local non-profits.

“At 8 p.m. the evening’s finale begins as fireworks light up the sky from the roof of city hall,” Locke adds.

Equine Emporium hosting last mixer of the year

Sonja Nagel over at the Chamber reminds us that the last mixer of the year will be hosted by Equine Emporium, the huge equestrian and supplies retailer, located just south of the city on the Trans Canada Highway.

“But they’re not just for horsey people, they’ve got a beautiful selection of clothing, jewelry, home decor and gifts and they’ll be offering a 15 per cent discount storewide on the night of the mixer. Just in time for Christmas,” says Nagel.

Drinks and nibbles provided. The mixer is free for members of the Chamber and guests of members.

Get our your most terrible

Christmas sweater for party

Still with the Chamber, The Tackiest of All Tacky Christmas Sweater Parties Party is going to take place on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at Blue Grouse Estate Winery.

“We’ll be back at Blue Grouse Estate Winery, with our world-renowned, in Cowichan, Christmas fashion show and silent auction,” says Sonja Nagel.

“Sweaters are optional, clothing is not, but you gotta be rocking the tacky Christmas threads to be in the prize draw,” suggests Nagel.

“We’ve got the venue, you bring your office and we’ll all have a party.”

The party runs from 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m.

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