Amanda Vance, executive director of the Downtown Duncan BIA, stands in front of the new open-air food court that will be set up in Station Park for eight weeks. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Amanda Vance, executive director of the Downtown Duncan BIA, stands in front of the new open-air food court that will be set up in Station Park for eight weeks. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Downtown Duncan open-air food court opens

What’s happening in Cowichan’s business community

The Downtown Duncan BIA has received an $8,200 grant from the Island Coastal Economic Trust to assist with its open-air summer food court that has been set up in Station Park to address restrictions on customer numbers in restaurants and retail shops.

The funding came from ICET’s Small Capital Restart Funding Stream that encourages innovative approaches to support COVID-19 related business restarts and increased sustainability.

The DDBIA has transformed the park at 85 Station St. into an arrangement for outdoor dining from more than 25 eateries in the downtown core, plus shopping and gathering that opened on July 7.

The area will be carefully managed by hosts to ensure health and safety and will feature an innovative online ordering option.

This approach is intended to create new vitality in the downtown core, while supporting the transition to hybrid digital and in-person service in the downtown’s food sector businesses.

The new facilities will also support the 39 Days of July music festival and serve as an experiment for future permanent transformation of the downtown space.

The DDBIA received a $10,000 grant from the City of Duncan last month towards the creation and development of the food court.

“People are really excited about the food court,” said Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA.

“When we were setting up the food court (on July 6), many people thought it was meant for a private event and we’re happy to find that it’s intended for the public.”

The food court will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, for eight weeks.


A beehive was set up at the entrance of Top Shelf Feeds in Duncan on July 4 as part of efforts to educate local beekeepers about the benefits of using local bees in their operations.

The project is part of a community outreach program by Ensure Hive Future, a federal non-profit organization committed to apiary research and education.

Iain Glass, executive director of EHF, said the initiative “Let’s Bee Local” is a partnership with local apiaries and suppliers that aims to provide local, sustainable, “Better Bees”through educational opportunities.

“Let’s Bee Local represents the ongoing hard work of grass-roots beekeepers who are seeking local sustainable solutions to larger environmental concerns,” he said.

“This year with COVID-19 transportation disruptions, Canada was short over 45,000 colonies. Our dependency on foreign imports is not sustainable. We are seeking to provide ‘Better Bees’ not only for Vancouver Island, but also for B.C.”


Island Return-It South Cowichan has launched a six-month pilot program that enables consumers to return both alcohol and non-alcohol aluminum beverage cans together for recycling without having to sort them, and receive one deposit amount.

The pilot project is just one of a number that the province-wide, not-for-profit organization, which manages the province’s recycling system for beverage containers, is launching at its sites across B.C.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Return-It has been adapting and evolving its system by reducing touch points while improving convenience.

The organization is also using new transportation technologies to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with recycling.

“Even in these unprecedented times, British Columbians agree that recycling is important,” said Allen Langdon, president and CEO of Return-It.

“That’s why we are doing even more to help consumers easily return their empty beverage containers for recycling, with innovations that build on our success and provide new, convenient options for today’s busy lives. These changes are based on consumer feedback, and we want to keep hearing from British Columbians so we can continue to enhance our program.”


The Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre is now open seven days a week, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m., with social distancing and health protocols in place.

Sonja Nagel, executive director of the Cowichan Duncan Chamber of Commerce which operates the centre, said the facility started a temporary visitors’ centre at the beginning of June after being closed since the COVID-19 pandemic began, at the entrance of the facility, but now the centre is fully open.

She said the centre is experiencing a dip in numbers from previous years so far this season as there are fewer tourists from the U.S. and Europe due to the health crisis.

“We typically have more than 100 visitors a day at this time of year, but we’re averaging about 50 to 70 people,” she said.

“But we’re getting lots of local people looking for hiking maps and visitors from the mainland, up-Island and Victoria coming here looking to explore the Valley. We expect there will be a lot of ‘stay-cations’ this year.”


The Cowichan Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor/Business Centre is also now open to the public, and people no longer need to make a scheduled appointment to visit.

The centre is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, with some restrictions in order to maintain safety for all.

“We have put many safety measures in place, such as plastic shields on the counters and alcohol-free hand sanitizers at the entrance and exit to the centre and at the counters,” said chamber president Brent Clancy.

“There are also space markers on the floor, and information posted on our windows, sign stands, and event board. Please also note that we are now requesting you enter through the back entrance and follow the orange arrows on the walk and ramp, and exit out the front. In order to maintain social distancing, there will be no more than four people at a time in the building.”


A new gallery, called Descendants First Nations Art Gallery, will open on Friday, July 10, at 24 Station St. in downtown Duncan.

The gallery is the creation of two First Nations artists, local Cowichan Tribes artist Shawn Johnny and Suzan Kostiuck from the Acho Dene Koe First Nation, based in the Northwest Territories.

These two very different artists with different cultural backgrounds wanted to create a gallery and work space that was inclusive to all First Nations art and cultural activities.

As well as the artwork at the gallery, Johnny and Kostiuck can create commissioned works of art for both homes and businesses; from original paintings to logos and letterheads.

“Our opening ceremony is limited due to the virus, but we will be open to the public after the ceremony,” Kostiuck said.


The Catalyst Paper Corporation, which is wholly owned by Paper Excellence, has been voted among Canada’s Best 50 corporate citizens by Corporate Knights.

This is the 13th time that Catalyst Paper, which operates pulp and paper facilities in Crofton, Port Alberni, and Powell River, has achieved the Best 50 Award with Corporate Knights.

The Best 50 Award is judged using 21 key performance indicators that relate to the organization’s raw resource use, emissions profile, innovation, women in key positions, safety performance, and percentage of revenue from clean sources.

“We’re extremely proud to be part of this group of leading Canadian companies demonstrating that sustainable business practices can be both profitable while offering long term stability and protection of our ecosystems,” said Graham Kissack, Paper Excellence’s vice president of environment, health and safety.


Save-On-Foods, which has stores in the Valley, has topped the list of 40 B.C.-based businesses and is B.C.’s Most Loved Brand for 2020.

For its annual survey, BC Business Magazine and research firm Ipsos surveyed more than 1,000 British Columbians to rate different businesses based in B.C. on 47 attributes and aggregated the scores to get its list of the top 40 Most Loved Brands for 2020.

The ranking included a new category this year about social values, which Save-On-Foods topped for its tradition of supporting good causes and its culture of strong social values.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Save-On-Foods was named B.C.’s Most Loved Brand for 2020,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones.

“Since this company started in New Westminster, B.C. more than 100 years ago, team members have been committed to going the extra mile for their customers, communities and one another — and that continues today despite the challenges 2020 has brought so far.”

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