Connie Hoshizaki, an instructor at Valley Health and Fitness, has created Lilly Padd mats designed for those that have limitations during exercises. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Connie Hoshizaki, an instructor at Valley Health and Fitness, has created Lilly Padd mats designed for those that have limitations during exercises. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Lilly Padd mats designed for those that have limitations during exercises

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

A yoga and Pilates instructor from Mill Bay has designed a new exercise mat especially for people who have challenges kneeling or lying on their sides during their exercise regimes.

Connie Hoshizaki, an instructor at Valley Health and Fitness, had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and was frustrated looking for a mat that could assist her in her practice and her own exercising.

She said kneeling on regular mats is hard on wrists and knees, so she developed a mat, called Lilly Padd after the agile tree frogs that are common around her home, that is thicker where needed and thinner in areas where thickness is not needed.

Hoshizak said her mats are also made of eco-friendly TPE material that requires no off gassing, they don’t have the stinky smell that is common among many yoga mats, they’re non-slip and are extra long at 6.5 feet for comfort and convenience, as well as the added padding to support knees and wrists.

The Lilly Padd’s extra piece also doubles as fascia release on different areas of the body.

Hoshizaki said she went to a screening of Dragon’s Den, the CBC series that helps budding entrepreneurs, in 2020 and was encouraged to come back in 2021 when her sales were higher; but then the COVID-19 pandemic began and that was put off.

“I’ve since decided to stay local and small and have sold about 200 of the mats locally so far by word of mouth and at the Valley Health and Fitness centre,” she said.

People interested in purchasing a Lilly Padd mat can text Hoshizak at 250-732-2293 or email


Janet Docherty, co-owner of Merridale Cidery and Distillery, is the new chairwoman of Tourism Vancouver Island.

Docherty has served on a number of boards, including those in agriculture, business, and tourism, and has served as chairwoman of Tourism Cowichan and a director on the Tourism Victoria and Tourism Vancouver Island boards.

She is known to be a dynamic force in her industry, in tourism, and in promoting the Cowichan Valley as a whole.

Docherty said she is truly excited and honoured to be the new chairwoman of Tourism Vancouver Island.

She said Vancouver Island’s tourism industry has been hit hard in the last few years, and has presented the owners of tourism-related businesses with many hurdles; including the multi-faceted dimensions of COVID-19, the changing economy, and even the changing mindset of the traveller that visits the region.

Docherty said it has been daunting and sometimes devastating.

“However, TVI understands these struggles, and has been there for the stakeholders throughout the pandemic,” she said.

“They are a talented and connected group of people that are dedicated to creating a thriving tourism economy that works in hand, and alongside, other interests. They believe in responsible tourism, understand most of us are small operators, and know that we must look at the long run to protect the beauty of our island for all. I believe in this team, and I believe in the opportunities that are ahead of us. I am grateful to serve on a board that has so much respect and dedication for the stakeholders they serve.”

In a statement, TVI said its extends its gratitude to Ian MacPhee, its past chairman, for his many years of dedicated service.

“Mike Willie and Carol Ann Terreberry have also completed their service on the board and we thank them for their invaluable contributions,” the statement said.


The province is extending the COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant and doubling supports for eligible businesses that have been ordered to remain temporarily closed through public health measures until Feb. 16.

Businesses that were directed to remain temporarily closed on Jan. 18 through public health orders are now eligible for up to $20,000 in total funding, based on staffing levels at the time of closure.

Eligible businesses include bars, nightclubs and lounges that do not serve full meals; and event venues that had to close due to cancellations.

Eligible fitness facilities that were ordered closed on Dec. 22 but can now reopen will receive the original four-week temporary-closure grant of up to $10,000 based on staffing levels at the time of closure.

Businesses that have applied for a COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant do not need to reapply.

To apply for a grant, visit

“It’s fair to say that the Omicron variant has created new challenges for all of us, but our government’s commitment to support people and businesses through this latest COVID-19 wave is unwavering,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“While we are encouraged to see that many fitness activities will now be able to take place in a safe, controlled environment, we know there are still sectors directly impacted by these public health measures. Our government will continue to support these businesses, as we have in the past. Together, we can move closer to putting this pandemic behind us.”


Sammy’s Snack Shack, located on the Trans-Canada Highway near Cobble Hill, is looking for a new home, or help in staying where it is.

Owner Sam Haines said the past year has been very hard on everyone, including many in the hospitality industry and Sammy’s Snack Shack.

But the added difficulty of problems with her location now has her looking for help, or another place to operate her roadside restaurant.

“I want to get opened up again,” Haines said.

“This past month or so has genuinely put me in the poor house. Sammy’s is my only source of income, and I have been suffering. I have tried every available source for help, but it seems the only available option is to hire a lawyer. Please help me save my business, donate anything you can, or contact me if you know anyone who can help me; please get in touch with me. I’m desperately trying to keep my business. Thank you from the bottom of my heart anyone who is able to share, help or advise of another option.”

Haines has set up a GoFundMe page at

Local Business