The Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre is facing funding challenges. (File photo)

The Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre is facing funding challenges. (File photo)

Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre faces funding shortfall

City of Duncan decreases its funding contribution for second straight year

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce wants a more stable funding arrangement with local governments to finance the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre.

The visitor centre had been relying on $60,000 in funding annually from the City of Duncan and the Municipality of North Cowichan, with $30,000 from each, to help the centre deliver year-round visitor services to the region.

But the City of Duncan decreased the amount it funds the centre to $26,000 in 2019, and will only commit to $22,000 in 2020.

At the City of Duncan’s council meeting on Nov. 18, Coun. Tom Duncan said the amount the city pays, considering its population is just under 5,000 people, is unfair.

“North Cowichan has a lot more taxpayers than Duncan, so the amount we’re being asked to provide is not proportional,” he said.

“I think the funding should be based on population. North Cowichan is paying about $1 per taxpayer and we should do the same.”

Duncan staff were directed to send correspondence to the chamber of commerce requesting that they propose a fair formula for the three local governments — Duncan, Cowichan Valley Regional District, and North Cowichan — for funding the visitor centre in future years.

RELATED STORY: COWICHAN VISITOR CENTRE COULD FACE FUNDING SHORTFALL

With an $8,000 shortfall in the visitor centre’s budget next year as a result of the city’s decision, a delegation from the chamber asked North Cowichan’s council at its meeting on Nov. 20 to raise its contribution to $38,000 in 2020 to cover the deficit.

Chamber president Chris Duncan said that, other than what the chamber itself provides, which is about $43,000 annually, the only revenue for the centre comes from the two municipalities and a small $12,500 grant a year from Destination BC.

North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring asked if the CVRD had been approached for funding for the centre.

Chris Duncan said the CVRD’s main financial contribution to supporting tourism in the region goes to Tourism Cowichan.

He also said that any contribution from the CVRD would be limited to $1,000 per electoral area, and to exceed that amount would mean the issue would have to go to referendum.

RELATED STORY: VISITOR CENTRE CELEBRATING FIFTH ANNIVERSARY

Julie Scurr, past president of the chamber, said there are only five electoral areas in the south of the CVRD that don’t have visitor facilities that could be asked to assist, but even if all agreed, it would still be only $5,000.

She said the annual funding for the centre is becoming an increasing problem for the chamber.

“We are now between a rock and hard place and are finding ourselves going back and forth between the municipalities and area directors every year to find the money,” Scurr said.

“What we need is a single funding arrangement with just one local government who would have a reciprocal agreement with the other governments to provide the funding.”

As for the statements by Tom Duncan that the City of Duncan is paying more than its share for the centre, Scurr said more than half of the approximately 30,000 tourists that visit the centre every year are directed to services in the city.

“Our number-one attraction is the City of Duncan,” she said.

“We’re an economic driver for the city but, unfortunately, they don’t see us that way.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kyle Topping  skates for the Cowichan Valley Capitals during the 2015-16 BCHL season. (Citizen file)
Former Caps make news in pro ranks

Kyle Topping and Laurent Brossoit mark achievements

Duncan’s City Hall will get a seismic assessment this year. (File photo)
Duncan City Hall to get seismic assessment

City hopes grants will help pay for seismic upgrades

Vandals damaged a picnic table at Spectacle Lake Park with a chainsaw earlier this month. (Linda Mills photo)
Editorial: Vandals make victims of us all

It is infuriating when people target public property for vandalism.

Vees' Jack Barnes picked up his second goal of the season in the team's 5-0 win over Merritt on Saturday. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Cowichan Capitals in deadline dilemma with 20-year-old players

Hard decisions loom when BCHL may or may not resume play

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is preparing a rapid response team proposal for submission to the B.C. Ministry of Education. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district chosen as COVID-19 rapid response team

Team to consist of SD68 and Island Health staff, according to B.C. Ministry of Education

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

The missing camper heard a GSAR helicopter, and ran from his tree well waving his arms. File photo
Man trapped on Manning mountain did nearly everything right to survive: SAR

The winter experienced camper was overwhelmed by snow conditions

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

Most Read