Cowichan Bay’s Rock Cod Café has closed its doors after 15 years in business. (Facebook photo)

Cowichan Bay’s Rock Cod Café has closed its doors after 15 years in business. (Facebook photo)

Business notes: Cowichan Bay’s Rock Cod Cafe has closed

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

Cowichan Bay’s Rock Cod Café has closed its doors after 15 years in business.

In a video to the community, owner Jacob Hokanson said he has shut the restaurant down for now because he simply can’t afford to stay open.

“To say that it has been a tough go as a restaurant owner since March, 2020 is a gross understatement,” Hokanson said in the video.

“Our government did their level best to spend us out of this situation through various programs like CERB, CERS and CEWS. They poured thousands of dollars into our bank account alone and yet, here we are, with me telling you that we can no longer afford to operate.”

Hokanson said despite all the government support and support from the community, the last two years has left the restaurant under a mountain of debt that there is no getting out from under.

“Too many shutdowns, too many restrictions, too many policies that were slapped on us with the expectation that we would simply shoulder the costs on us fiscally, physically and emotionally, topped off with a crushing increase in costs and a diminishing labour market that would not allow us to make the kind of money in the summer that we would need to survive the winter, all followed up the sudden end of the aforementioned support programs just a little too soon.”

Hokanson said it’s a tough pill to swallow that he and the restaurant were brought so far only to be unceremoniously dumped by the very hand that was trying to save them and effectively told it’s time to sink or swim.

“Well, we sank,” he said.

“We poured every penny of the government money back into our business, our employees, infrastructure, into rethinking and retooling our processes and offerings so that we would be able to sink or swim on our own, but little did we know that we were given secretly deflating water wings and, like a drowning person who looks like they are just fine from afar, our collective heads have dropped below the surface and our lungs have filled with water.”

••••

The Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping has announced that Gary Drouillard, a member of Cowichan Tribes and a lifelong hunter and fisherman, has joined the centre’s research advisory committee.

Clear Seas is a not-for-profit independent research centre funded by Canada’s provincial and federal governments, as well as industry, that provides impartial information on marine shipping in Canada to policymakers and the public.

Drouillard, who is one of three new committee members from across Canada, will be expected to bring invaluable Indigenous perspectives, along with extensive expertise in maritime law, environmental law, research, and marine ecology in the public, private, academic, and non-profit sectors to their new roles on the committee

A press release said Drouillard, who is the operations coordinator for the Lyackson First Nation, shares a deep connection with his territory and the nature that grows and thrives on it.

“We are pleased to bring new advisors on board and to continue to leverage their impressive knowledge and experience in our work to help diversify the views and voices in research around current and emerging marine shipping issues,” said Bud Streeter, chairman of Clear Seas.

••••

Cowichan Family Life has received a $25,000 donation from the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation.

The generosity of the foundation has CFL’s executive director Madelaine MacLeod over the moon with gratitude.

“The past two years have strained people’s mental health, and pushed our volunteer counselling program to the limit,” she said.

“The added impact of the recent flooding events in and around our community has added another layer to the already fragile situation for many, and another increase in need of counselling services. This donation will help us to support low-income community members struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, particularly those with post-flooding related trauma by providing counselling services.”

If you or someone you know is impacted by post-flood related stress, or in need of support for mild mental health issues, call the CFL at 250-748-8281.

••••

Two 4-H clubs in Cowichan have received up to $500 from the FCC 4-H Club Fund to support their initiatives and activities, such as developing existing programs, the purchase of resource materials, volunteer supports, or covering costs associated with local events.

The two clubs are the Cowichan 4-H Holstein Club and the Cowichan 4-H Small Engines.

The FCC 4-H Club Fund is distributing $100,000 in funding to more than 200 4-H clubs, districts, and regions across Canada.

In British Columbia, 26 4-H clubs, districts, and regions received a combined total of $13,000.

“Thanks to FCC, our strong partner of more than 25 years, this fund will once again serve as an important resource for 4-H at the grassroots level, supporting the exciting activities of our 4-H clubs across Canada,” said 4-H Canada CEO Shannon Benner.

“Through support from the FCC 4-H Club Fund, 4-H youth leaders have the opportunity to further their engagement in activities and programming in the areas that they are passionate about, empowering them as engaged and responsible youth who effect positive change not just within their communities, but around the world.”

••••

As another challenging year for Vancouver Island’s tourism industry comes to a close, Tourism Vancouver Island is celebrating the resiliency of the region’s tourism businesses by rewarding front-line workers for their hard work during tough times with a gesture of gratitude in the form of $75 Visa gift cards, “With Thanks.”

Vital to all islanders, the tourism industry on Vancouver Island generated $3.5 billion and employed 70,000 people prior to the pandemic.

There are approximately 3,000 tourism and Indigenous tourism businesses in the region.

“The team at Tourism Vancouver Island practices gratitude as part of our culture,” says Anthony Everett, president and CEO.

“The idea to extend our gratitude to the front-line workers in the tourism and hospitality industry came from a similar promotion we ran for visitors this fall. We thought, let’s reward local employees in addition to visitors.”

The “With Thanks” gift cards will be delivered to unsuspecting tourism and hospitality employees throughout the holiday season, including Santa surprising some front-line workers in person to better express heartfelt gratitude.

Visa gift cards were chosen as a universal gesture that everyone can use, especially during the holidays.

All tourism businesses in the Vancouver Island region have the opportunity to put forward a deserving employee for recognition by sending a short note of nomination to info@tourismvi.ca.

Tourism Vancouver Island will also accept suggestions from local residents who have experienced memorable service from a front-line tourism and hospitality worker.

Businesses registered in the Vancouver Island Coastal Resiliency Program will also be personally contacted by program staff to garner nominations.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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