Western Forest Products has donated $5,000 to the Cowichan Valley Basket Society. The donation is part of the $100,000 the forest company has donated so far this Christmas to 30 community groups and First Nations to help them provide food and toys for the holidays. Pictured, from left, are Henry Wikkerink, manager at the CVBS, Lee Smith, chair of the CVBS board, and Jordan Long, manager of operations at WFP. (Submitted photo)

Business notes: Little Town Pizza expanding

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

Little Town Pizza in Chemainus is expanding into Lake Cowichan.

Liam Murray, who bought the business in Chemainus in 2020 along with his wife Asha, said they weren’t looking for a second location for their pizza business in the Valley, but a friend of theirs recently called to say that the town’s Carmanah Pizza has closed and was up for sale.

“I talked to my wife about it and we went to see it,” Murray said.

“A week later, we had a deal in place to buy it.”

Murray said when Lake Cowichan’s Little Town Pizza opens sometime in January, it will be the only business in town that deals exclusively with pizza, pasta and chicken wings.

He said word is spreading through Lake Cowichan that Little Town Pizza is opening soon and people are excited.

“People can’t wait to try out our food and we’ve already received a whole bunch of resumes,” Murray said.

“We’re looking forward to opening.”

As for further expansion plans for Little Town Pizza, Murray was noncommittal, but acknowledged that something may be in the works.


The Cowichan Valley Basket Society has received $5,000 from Western Forest Products as the forest company gives back to the communities in which it operates during the holiday season.

Overall, WFP has contributed $100,000 so far this Christmas to 30 community groups and First Nations to help them provide food and toys for the holidays where they are needed the most on the coast of B.C. and in Washington State.

The CVBS will use the funding for those that access its community soup kitchen and food bank.

“Donations to the CVBS allow us to continue to work towards alleviating hunger within the Cowichan Valley,” said CVBS chair Lee Smith.

“Canadian food banks will typically distribute between $5 and $9 of food for every $1 received in donations over the course of a year. The CVBS is no exception and as a result, financial donations are crucial to everything we do. As we approach Christmas 2021, we are seeing the demand for our services steadily rising, as exacerbated by recent flooding events. We are very grateful to WFP for their generous and ongoing supports.”

Don Demens, president and CEO of WFP, said the company recognizes the recent supply chain issues combined with higher-than-usual demand since the pandemic started puts additional strain on services accessed by those requiring support.

“This donation is one small way we can support individuals and families in need and spread some hope and happiness during the holiday season,” he said.

“This is a time for giving, and we are grateful that we are able to do our part to make the holidays a little merrier for those dealing with hardship.”


Paper Excellence, which owns the pulp and paper mill in Crofton, has announced the indefinite curtailment of operations at its paper mill in Port Alberni.

The company said that the ongoing contraction of global paper markets and paper prices, particularly in Asia, are creating significant ongoing financial losses at the mill.

“Despite the best efforts of the mill’s committed team of employees, the facility is simply not viable under the reality of today’s market conditions,” the company said in a press release.

“Paper Excellence is engaged with our governments and potential partners investigating promising new opportunities that would take advantage of the facility’s unique access to deep water, natural gas, electricity, and water supplies, as well as its existing biomass boiler with power generating capacity, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal infrastructure. It is Paper Excellence’s long-term goal that the site continues to provide meaningful employment and economic activity in Powell River.”

The release said Paper Excellence will now focus on the 206 employees impacted by this decision.

“Where possible, the company plans to offer relocation or secondment opportunities to other Paper Excellence facilities across B.C. where there are currently job vacancies,” it said.

“Paper Excellence will continue to supply paper customers with production from its other paper mills in Crofton and Port Alberni. The company continues to believe Canada is a leader in the pulp and paper industry and remains committed to its long-term investments here.”


The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area have successfully secured a $43,000 Shop Local grant for the 2022 Dine Sip and Shop Cowichan campaign.

This Shop Local BC initiative is supported by the federal Strategic Activities Program, administered by the minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and delivered through the BC Chamber of Commerce.

The DDBIA’s portion of the grant will go towards marketing efforts to support the downtown core after the holidays.

The chamber’s portion will be used to support the sixth Dine and Sip Cowichan Festival, which will be launching in February, 2022.

Sonja Nagel, the chamber’s executive director, said the grant couldn’t have come at a better time for the local restaurant community who are still getting back on their feet after several closures and restrictions over the past 21 months.

“This grant will support an extensive marketing campaign, all geared to filling restaurants during a relatively slower time of year when they really need this business,” Nagel said,

“This is also our second year of extending the festival to include Cowichan’s beverage producers, as the 2022 Dine and Sip Cowichan.”

DDBIA Executive Director Amanda Vance added that while the downtown business community is resilient, the last 21 months have taken a toll on restaurants, retailers, and other member businesses.

“This grant will support the DDBIA’s ongoing efforts to encourage consumers to think local first when shopping,” she said.

“We will continue to promote downtown Duncan as a destination for shopping and dining at the independent businesses that give our community its vibrant, unique flavour.”


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