The Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association is launching a new equine program for front-line workers during the COVID-19 crisis. (Erika Ponsford photo)

The Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association is launching a new equine program for front-line workers during the COVID-19 crisis. (Erika Ponsford photo)

Business notes: Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association launches program for front-line workers

A sample of what’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

The Salt Spring Therapeutic Riding Association has launched a new equine program for frontline workers.

The Frontline Heroes Program offers a restorative equine experience in a safe and serene environment on Salt Spring Island.

The new program aims to provide relief from stress and anxiety for those working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program supports the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the participants with the assistance of highly trained, empathetic, therapy horses and relaxing, equine assisted activities, led by an equine-facilitated learning trained facilitator.

Erika Ponsford, program manager for SSTRA, said the greatest commonality of horses engaged with therapeutic work is their connection to people.

“Whether the horse is used for riding or unmounted therapeutic work, a great therapeutic horse demonstrates consistent compassion, patience, kindness and enthusiasm for the job,” she said

Gail Muise, president of SSTRA, said some people say it takes 14 horses to find a therapeutic horse.

“The therapeutic horses we end up with are very special,” she said.

As a part of their new program launch, SSTRA is also offering the Frontline Hero Appreciation Fundraiser. The fundraiser gives the public an opportunity to gift a restorative equine experience to a frontline hero of their choice or they can donate to the program, if they don’t have someone in mind to sponsor; SSTRA will provide their gift to a frontline hero.

Muise said, “Not every frontline hero will be able to afford the $65 cost for a therapeutic equine experience. It gives people the ability to award a gift to the people on the frontline.”

“If someone is looking for a way to give back, it is a concrete way to do that.”

Registration for the Frontline Heroes Program and the Frontline Heroes Appreciation Fundraiser is through the SSTRA website: The cost for a one-hour session is $65. Tax receipts are provided.


Economic Development Cowichan has launched the second in a series of COVID-19 business surveys intended to assess the local business community’s progress towards recovery from the health crisis.

The survey follows up on the first one which was conducted in May and found that more than 50 per cent of Cowichan businesses had temporarily or indefinitely shut down, while 65 per cent had seen revenue decreases of at least 75 per cent.

All Cowichan-based businesses, from industrial, tech, tourism, artists, agriculture, and non-profits, are encouraged to complete the survey, which can be found on the Economic Development Cowichan website.

The survey will remain active until Aug. 19.

Barry O’Riordan, manager of EDC, said that to say a lot has changed since May is an understatement.

“Now, one month into Phase 3 of the BC Restart Plan, Cowichan businesses, farmers, and non-profits are facing a new set of challenges and risks, as well as opportunities to build resiliency,” he said.

“The Post Disaster Needs Assessment #2 will help assess progress towards recovery, as well as provide information on additional regional-level actions and initiatives to build back better.”


Save-On-Foods has raised $1.9 million for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation since June, 2019.

The teams at Save-On-Foods, which has locations in Duncan and Ladysmith, and their generous customers and supplier partners are passionate about giving back to their communities and hold all kinds of events throughout the year to raise money for the five children’s hospitals across western Canada, including the one in Vancouver.

This year’s impressive total for BC Children’s Hospital was raised through many in-store initiatives, including hot dog sales, barbecues, the Round Up for Kids campaign, Spin the Wheel, Jeans Day, and various local events.

“Although things are different this year, we still have a lot to celebrate when it comes to making a difference in the lives of British Columbians,” said Darrell Jones, president of Save-On-Foods.

“Together with our generous customers and supplier partners, our team members went the extra mile over the past year to raise $1.9 million for BC Children’s Hospital. I am so proud of their inspiring commitment to the health of the youngest members of our communities.”


Island Health has issued a Request for Proposals seeking clinic and office space in the Cowichan Valley to support future growth and improve access to community health services.

For many years the home and community care office on Ingram Street in Duncan has been a hub for community health services.

Demand for a wide range of health supports, such as wound care, nutrition support, expanded IV clinic and occupational therapy, continues to grow along with the community.

New space is needed so health-care staff can continue to provide quality care in an accessible setting that supports patient safety and privacy.

Proponents should be able to provide 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of safe, functional lease space in one or more locations within the Cowichan Valley.

Details of the RFP, including specific space requirements and guidelines, can be viewed online at

All proposals must be received by 2 p.m. on Aug. 27.


The Duncan/Cowichan Chamber of Commerce will host an “Awesome Biz Women Hike and Hang” event on Aug. 15.

Business woman are invited to participate in “a fun women in business afternoon” as they hike the hills at Cobble Hill Mountain and, afterwards, enjoy a cold one or two at Merridale Cider.

Participants will meet at 1 p.m. at the base of Cobble Hill Mountain in the parking lot next to the off-leash dog park and then hit the hills chatting about all things life and business.

A few ice-breaker “get to know each other better” conversations and games will be started on the walk.

“This is an opportunity to meet other local awesome businesswomen on the island from Nanaimo to Victoria,” said organizers Andera Angelucci and Karli Ann Fortin.

“Bring a friend to join us and get ready to network and sweat. After our 1.5 hour hike, we’ll head to Merridale Cider for some food and drinks to cap off the awesome day. If you just want to join for one or the other that’s cool too. This is a free event, but you’ll be responsible for any beverage or food purchases at Merridale.”

For more information, check out the chamber’s website under the events calendar.

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