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Business notes: Experience Cycling does it part to prevent bike thefts

People can register their bikes on the website at no cost
Mayor Ross Forrest was in attendance with Swordfern Boutique owner Arlene Vandenhoven for the presentation of a cheque from Swordfern for the school’s lunch program. (submitted)

Duncan’s Experience Cycling is doing its part to stop bicycle thefts in the Cowichan Valley.

The bike shop, as well as local RCMP and the Cowichan Community Policing and Crime Prevention office, hosted an event on Oct. 18 encouraging bike owners to register them with the 529 Garage website, at

People can register their bikes on the website at no cost by listing their serial numbers, make and model, plus some pictures of the bike as well so police can quickly and easily access the website and check the information when they come across bikes that may have been stolen.

Shop owner Will Arnold introduced the anti-theft program, which has its origins in the U.S., to the Cowichan Valley two years ago and has seen approximately 400 bikes registered on the website, with about 50 more registering on Thursday, since then.

Police were on hand passing out 529 shields, a tamper-resistant decal with a unique code that lets thieves know the bike is registered, to those putting their bikes on the website.

“It’s been determined that this program has decreased bike thefts by 40 per cent in Vancouver,” Arnold said.

“We’re always encouraging people to register their bikes, lock them up when not in use and take care of them.”

New restaurant set to open in Duncan in November

Duncan’s newest restaurant, The Ainslie, is expected to open in the first week of November.

The restaurant, located at the site of the former Gourmet Gardens at 161 Kenneth St., will be owned and operated by Red Seal chef Ian Blom.

Blom has been a chef for 10 years and most recently served as the executive chef at The Old Firehouse Wine Bar on Ingram Street for four years.

He said this is his first time being a business owner.

“I intend to serve Cowichan-based cuisine, all made from scratch, and source as many of the ingredients for my dishes locally as possible,” Blom said.

“My menu will have Spanish, Asian and North African influences.”

Blom said he and his team have been completely renovating the restaurant and landscaping the location’s outdoor gardens in preparation for opening, which is expected on or around Nov. 5.

“I love the location,” he said.

“It’s been a restaurant, under different names and owners, for decades and I want to modernize it to its former glory.”

Chamber celebrating Small Business Month in Cowichan

October is Small Business Month and the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce will conclude the month with a Small Business BIG DAY Symposium on Oct. 30.

The event will be a day of learning, networking and growing your business.

A full-day pass for the symposium is going for $85, which includes lunch with members of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, two breakout sessions, Small Business BC consultation, refreshment breaks, mixer and more at the newly renovated Best Western Cowichan Valley Inn.

Sonja Nagel, the chamber’s executive director, said that with 90 per cent of businesses in the province, and in the Valley, considered small, it’s these businesses that really power the province’s economy.

“We had some great intake during our events during the month, and we’ve had five new businesses join the chamber in the last week alone,” she said.

“Our chamber now has 560 members, and if you add the chambers in Ladysmith, Chemainus and Lake Cowichan, there are more than 1,000 small businesses in the area. These businesses are an integral part of our economy and we’re always focused on ways to add value for our members.”

Lake Cowichan’s Swordfern Boutique gives hot lunch

Swordfern Boutique has donated $384 to Lake Cowichan School’s hot lunch program.

Arlene Vandenhoven is the owner of the Lake Cowichan-based business that focuses on eco-friendly, sustainable and locally produced apparel, jewelry and gifts that reflect the spirit of the West Coast lifestyle.

She said that when she opened the shop four months ago at the end of May, she had shirts designed with the campgrounds in the area on them and committed to providing two dollars from the sale of each shirt to the school’s lunch program.

By the end of September, she had sold 192 of the shirts and recently invited former Lake Cowichan mayor Ross Forrest and school principal Jaime Doyle to the store for a cheque presentation.

“I see so many kids walking around with no lunch, and I fear many of them may not have food at home,” Vandenhoven said.

“I have a daughter in the school and I intend to continue to donate to the lunch program as an ongoing effort to help the kids who need it in this area.”

Kiwanis Swap Meet/Flea Market open for business

The weekly Kiwanis Swap Meet/Flea Market has been an ongoing part of Duncan and the Cowichan Valley for 42 years.

The market, which typically hosts local vendors selling everything from CDs and clothes to household items and jewelry, is held at the Cowichan Guide Hall on Cairnsmore Street in Duncan every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Organizer Sherry Williams said the market has 27 tables that are usually filled to capacity every week.

She said admittance is free and breakfast and light lunches are served from the Hall’s kitchen.

“We have everything from nuts and bolts to chandeliers at the market,” Williams said.

“There are lots of quality items and they are all from local vendors. Proceeds from the market helps pay for the many community programs in the area sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.”

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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