The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Dine Cowichan festival returns March 3-28. (File photo)

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s fifth annual Dine Cowichan festival returns March 3-28. (File photo)

Business Notes: Dine Cowichan Festival is back

A look at what’s going on in business around the Cowichan Valley

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce has announced the return of the Dine Cowichan festival.

Now in its fifth year, the 2021 program has been expanded to include wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries and has been rebranded Dine & Sip Cowichan.

Hot on the heels of Tourism Cowichan’s new Sip, Savour & Support campaign, Dine & Sip Cowichan is another opportunity for locals to enjoy the tastes of the Cowichan Valley.

“Now, more than ever, our local food and beverage operators need our support,” said the chamber’s executive director Sonja Nagel.

“So, whether you squeak in some extra visits to your favourite spot, try somewhere completely new, or make your way through the whole list, we encourage everyone to get out and show the love.”

Community Futures Cowichan and Tourism Cowichan have ramped up their support for the festival this year by subsidizing the participant fees that help the chamber deliver a robust marketing and advertising campaign.

Thanks to funding from the partner organizations, the chamber has been able to open the event up to Cowichan’s craft beverage producers, as well as specialty food providers like CURE Artisan Meat & Cheese, Mad Dog Crabs, Italian Kitchen & Deli at Grove Hall Farm, and Taco Revolution.

The result has been a record number of participants including 35 restaurants, pubs, cafes, food trucks and specialty food stores and 13 breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries.

This is the second year the chamber will partner with Island Savings to incorporate a give-back element to the culinary festival.

For every Dine Cowichan meal purchased during the campaign period this year, Island Savings will donate $5 to local Cowichan-area food banks through their signature cause, The Full Cupboard.

“We have a long history working with the Chamber and believe in the great work they do for our community,” said Island Savings’ branch manager Jason Farrugia.

Dine & Sip Cowichan runs from March 3-28.

Participating venues will be offering a range of inspired dishes and beverage tastings at special pricing, and take-out options will be available for those who feel more comfortable dining at home.

For a full list of participating venues and offerings, visit or phone the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre at 250-746-4636.


The Cowichan Valley Museum, located in the former Duncan Train Station on Canada Avenue, has announced it will now be open every Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The museum, which is owned and operated by the Cowichan Historical Society, had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 protocols, including the wearing of masks, will be in place at the museum, and admission is by donation.

A statement from the society said its Archives, located on the third floor of Duncan City Hall, will remain closed until further notice.

However, the volunteer archivists are onsite Wednesday and Thursday afternoons and are taking research and information requests from the public at

Visit the museum’s website for more details about visitor information, the archives collection and society membership information.


The Downtown Duncan BIA recently distributed Hul’q’um’i’num language signs saying “Welcome, Please Come In” to the business organization’s members to be displayed on their entrance doors to communicate the association’s support for the Cowichan Tribes.

To build on this positive initiative, the DDBIA has partnered with Cowichan Tribes elders and the Cowichan Intercultural Society to offer a Hul’q’um’i’num language and cultural communication workshop to its members, free of charge.

In the workshop, DDBIA members and their employees will have the opportunity to learn the correct pronunciation of the Hul’q’um’i’num phrase on the welcome sign, as well as some common words and phrases such as the new street names, “hello,” “goodbye,” and “how are you.”

The lesson will be taught by Cowichan Tribes elders Philomena Williams, Albie Charlie, Lorraine Charlie, and Merle Seymour.

There will also be a cultural communication component to the workshop which will include how to put into practice techniques for respectful communication when interacting with people from different cultural backgrounds.


A new Island Coastal Economic Trust economic recovery program that will address capacity challenges in rural, remote and Indigenous communities has launched, with funding from the province.

The Rural Business and Community Recovery Program will provide full funding support for the creation of new, temporary, term positions that strengthen business and community economic recovery and resilience.

Projects must be located in eligible rural areas, which include Vancouver Island north of the Malahat, Capital Regional District Juan de Fuca, Salt Spring Island and Southern Gulf Islands electoral areas, the Sunshine Coast, Powell River, as well as Bowen Island.

Up to $70,000 is available per organization [one or more positions] or up to $125,000 for pooled or specialized services serving a broader regional or sub-regional geographic area.

“This is a timely initiative supporting nimble, community-based and regional economic recovery,” said ICET chairman Aaron Stone, who is also the mayor of Ladysmith and chairman of the CVRD.

“We are grateful to the province for the opportunity to leverage existing talent and opportunity within our region. This program has been tailored to community needs and will enhance our life-cycle approach to community development and economic diversification.”

The first application intake closes March 12, and the second application intake will close on April 9.

For more information, including guidelines and application forms, visit the Rural Business and Community Recovery Program section of ICET’s website.


With camping season coming soon, many families will be setting out to explore the Island, and many Island campgrounds are already open or preparing to open in the coming weeks.

Arbutus RV and Marine Sales, which has six Island locations, including one in Mill Bay, is focused on being ready to meet the needs of the ever-growing number of Vancouver Island’s RV’ers.

Owners Craig and Rose Little said in the 33 years that have been in business, they have never seen such an influx of new RVers as they did over the past year, largely due to the travelling restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve seen tremendous interest, with a lot of people yearning to get out and explore, but do it safely,” the Littles said.

“With an RV, you control your environment, your schedule, your destination, and of course, your safety. We’ve spent countless hours ensuring we have enough inventory, both new and pre-enjoyed, to continue to meet the needs of our guests. And to further support that growth, last fall we added an additional mid-island Arbutus RV location in Parksville.”

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