Were Sunfest attendees making their way into Lake Cowichan during the festival

New report explores economic impact of Sunfest

Since Sunfest’s inaugural weekend in the Cowichan Lake district, anecdotal evidence has been

Since Sunfest’s inaugural weekend in the Cowichan Lake district, anecdotal evidence has been used to sing the festival’s praises and to decry its impacts on the town. Members of both camps, and those who fall somewhere in the middle, will likely be interested in a new report on the event that has just been released by the Island Costal Economic Trust.

Prepared for the Town of Lake Cowichan “and Community Stakeholders” by economic development intern Bridget Horel, the report is based on a questionnaire and conversations with stakeholders such as Lake Cowichan First Nation, event vendors, local businesses, volunteers, LEAD group members, chamber of commerce staff and town representatives.

Over two days, 71 festival participants were surveyed — 48 at the festival site and 23 off-site in Lake Cowichan. Survey questions asked about accommodations, off-site events, whether respondents were planning to go into town and where they were going for information about the area.

Most respondents had a group size of less than five people, and 90 per cent of people surveyed were from Vancouver Island (44 per cent from Victoria, 21 per cent from the Cowichan Valley and 16 per cent from Nanaimo/Parksville).

When asked to rank the importance of off-site events and activities, the majority (28 per cent) said they were not important.

Twenty-three per cent gave a neutral response. Fourteen per cent said off-site events and activities were very important to them.

Those surveyed at Laketown Ranch were asked if they planned on attending any events in Lake Cowichan over the weekend. Almost half (40 per cent) of those on-site participants said they were not aware of events downtown and a third said they did not plan on attending any events there.

The report states that for those festival-goers surveyed away from Laketown Ranch, “the two primary motives for travelling into town were participating in lake and riverside recreational activities (55 per cent) and accessing food (restaurants and groceries) and other supplies (41 per cent).” Tubing and swimming were common recreational activities respondents were involved in.

Questions on the survey about what local amenities and services might have enhanced participants’ experiences revealed a desire for services related to food/restaurants, water activities, shuttles and signage. Horel’s report also notes that some of the people surveyed said they would like to have more information available about public access to the lake and river, and public beach locations.

Perceptions of Lake Cowichan proved highly positive, with 75 per cent of respondents describing it as “very good.” All respondents said they would come back to visit Lake Cowichan.

In addition to the questionnaire results, Horel’s report includes a series of recommendations.

One idea is the town consider developing a Lake Cowichan Community App that would provide visitors with “mobile friendly content” about local restaurants, businesses, activities and landmarks.

Another recommendation: secure sponsorship or funds for the shuttle service so it can be offered to festival participants for free or by donation.

Horel’s report was discussed at the town’s Sept. 13 economic and sustainable development committee meeting.

“I think she’s done a terrific job here and I think this will be a very useful tool for us going forward, not just with Sunfest but other festivals and activities in our community. I think there’s a lot we can take out of this. I think it’s important,” said mayor Ross Forrest.

Councillor Tim McGonigle echoed these sentiments.

“My only concern is some of the percentages may be a little bit skewed with the small sample group,” McGonigle said.

Island Coastal Economic Trust was created by the B.C. government in 2006 to “support economic development initiative on central and northern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast.”

Just Posted

T-Birds make the leap into rugby provincials

Strong first half helps Cowichan beat Belmont Bulldogs

LAKE FLASHBACK: Water troubles and hopes for a full-time theatre take centre stage this week

Lake didn’t want meters, and Youbou didn’t want publicly owned water while Players wanted Brown House

75th Anniversary Run remembers Second World War tragedy on Mount Bolduc

Transport was provided by ATV through the members of Cowichan Valley ATV Club

Chris Wilkinson column: How does showing appreciation make you feel?

How much time and (more importantly) energy do you feel you have left to appreciate someone?

Duncan runner Taryn Smiley reaches NCAA track prelims

Missouri State athlete can qualify for national finals

600 new campsites coming to provincial parks and recreation sites across B.C.

Tourism Minister announced half of the new spots to 13 most popular provincial parks

Coming up in Cowichan: From bike rodeo to ‘A Word About Consent’, lots on the calendar

Christian Science event coming to Duncan Saturday, May 25 “Breaking News: Freedom… Continue reading

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses judicial review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

B.C. woman left ‘black and blue’ after being pushed off 40-foot cliff at lake

West Shore RCMP looking for witnesses as investigation continues

Thunderstorms to bring heavy rain, risk of flash floods in the southern Interior

Ten to 30 millimetres of rain to fall over the early weekend

Unbe-leaf-able: Agassiz man finds more than 200 four-leaf clovers in a month

Walt Hardinge has found more than 219 four-or-more leaf clovers this spring alone

Crews fight fire with fire to keep blaze from northern Alberta town

The wildfire now covers some 920 square kilometres

Most Read