The City of Duncan seems determined to cut off its nose to spite its face.
The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce has announced that it is facing a $4,000 shortfall in funding for the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre, every penny of which is due to the City of Duncan cutting its contribution.
To say the visitor centre, located at the BC Forest Discovery Centre just as people head into the City of Duncan, is of vital importance to the area is an understatement.
The centre is where visitors, and no small number of locals, can find out about the things to see and do in the Cowichan Valley. No surprise, the centre sends more than half of the people who visit to amenities in downtown Duncan. It sends customers to boutiques, restaurants, totem viewing and more. Without it, a lot of people wouldn’t stop in Duncan at all, just follow the highway north or south. It’s well worth the $30,000 the City of Duncan contributes annually.
Or used to contribute. The city is now unilaterally attempting to cut their funding to $26,000 per year in an effort to force the Municipality of North Cowichan to pick up more of the tab (they currently also pay $30,000 per year).
North Cowichan already foots the vast majority of the bill for other amenities, like the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, that bring huge benefits to Duncan’s downtown. So to try to play a percentage game over the number of business licences, with the Visitor Centre stuck in the middle, is both foolish and bad public relations. Doing it without talking to your partners first — this came as a surprise to the Chamber — is not being a good neighbour. Coming up with a new funding formula all by yourself and arbitrarily trying to force it on everyone involved is just ugly.
The sum of $4,000 is not going to make or break Duncan’s budget. But the effect of that funding, through the visitor centre, on Duncan’s taxpaying businesses could be immense. The City of Duncan should sit down and talk to its partners.