Anthony Everett, president and CEO of Tourism Vancouver Island, congratulates Alexandra Wilson, the wine club manager at Blue Grouse Winery, for her dedication to her job. TVC has a program to thank front-line workers in the industry for their hard work during tough times with a gesture of gratitude in the form of $75 Visa gift cards. (Tourism Vancouver Island photo)

Business notes: Tourism industry celebrates frontline workers

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

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 tourism and hospitality 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.”

Examples of the nominees TVA received from the Cowichan Valley and what their employers had to say about them include Alexandra Wilson, the wine club manager at Blue Grouse Winery, and Bonnie Nethery, the general manager at Merridale Cidery & Distillery.

“Alexandra has come to work every day with a smile on her face and a great attitude and she spreads her good cheer throughout the workplace with enthusiasm, said a quote from the owners of Blue Grouse Winery about Wilson.

The owners of Merridale Cidery & Distillery said Nethery has been doing a wonderful job of leading the team at the business through these difficult times.

“She has been a leader who has been on the floor with the team making sure each customer felt safe and happy when they left,” they said.


Amanda Vance, the executive director for the Downtown Duncan BIA, is moving on with her career.

She is moving to a new position at the Cowichan Intercultural Society on Jan. 24.

“I would like to thank the board of directors and members of the DDBIA for my time here,” Vance said.

“The past two years have been a time of considerable change and I am so grateful for this community and the relationships I have formed with my team, our members and our partners. I will continue to visit and support the businesses in downtown Duncan.”

The DDBIA is currently looking for a new executive director to replace Vance.


British Columbia businesses that were mandated to temporarily shut down through public health orders because of surging COVID-19 cases will be eligible to receive a new one-time relief grant of up to $10,000.

The COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant will supplement federal support programs and provide funding to help affected businesses alleviate some financial pressures and help with expenses including rent, employee wages, insurance, maintenance and utilities.

The grant was fast-tracked by the province following new restrictions announced by the provincial health officer on Dec. 21 and will cost an estimated $10 million.

Businesses ordered fully closed include gyms, fitness and adult dance centres, bars, lounges and nightclubs, and event venues that can no longer hold events.

Relief grants of between $1,000 and $10,000 will be provided to eligible businesses based on their number of employees, following a similar formula to the previous Circuit Breaker Relief Grant that supported businesses in the spring of 2021.

Applications for the grant will begin this month.

Businesses can email questions about the grant to

“We’re all exhausted by COVID-19, but unfortunately COVID-19 is not done with us,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“As we have done since the beginning of the pandemic, we are coming together to ensure those hardest hit businesses will receive much-needed support. The COVID-19 Closure Relief Grant will directly help businesses through these difficult times. I encourage everyone in B.C. to support impacted local businesses, including businesses that have been forced to close, by buying gift cards and memberships for future use.”


The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s Dine & Sip Cowichan is returning for its 6th year, from Feb. 9 to March 6.

This year will feature a variety of local food and beverage options, including takeout menus, so there is something for everyone.

The popular annual event was expanded last year to include 34 restaurants, eateries and specialty food vendors, as well as 12 wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries, and raised $10,000 for local food banks.

Stay tuned for a full list of participating locations and special menus this year, which is coming soon.


Nominations are being sought for this year’s Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards, which will be held March 31.

The Grant Thornton LLP Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards will be live this year in its 21st edition at the Bear Mountain Resort in Langford.

The event was cancelled last January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nomination forms are now available at

There is no cost to enter, and businesses can self-enter their own companies.

Organizers are anticipating a large number of entries from award-worthy businesses this year as the nomination deadline of Jan. 15 quickly approaches.

The Vancouver Island Business Excellence Awards are the perfect way to recognize your company, your clients, or your favourite business on Vancouver Island.


The federal government wants to get the word out about the launch of the 2022 Canada Summer Jobs application period for employers.

Canadian employers and small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and some are struggling to hire the workers they need.

Young people have also been impacted, and continue to face obstacles in finding quality jobs that will help them earn money, grow professionally, and build their careers.

The CSJ program is a long-standing federal program that strives to help youth from ages 15-30 obtain their first summer work experience.

This year, the program is aiming to create up to 100,000 full-time summer jobs for young people across the country.

Public and private sector employers will be reimbursed for up to 50 per cent of the minimum wage in B.C., and not-for-profit employers will be fully reimbursed for the minimum wage.

At the same time, young people in B.C. will gain experience they need and make money.

Employers interested in applying for funding to hire young Canadians next summer have until Jan. 25 to submit their applications.

For more information on how to apply for CSJ funding, visit

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