Brent Sheppard, owner of Duncan’s Sheppard’s Service Station, says his shop is a busy place. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Brent Sheppard, owner of Duncan’s Sheppard’s Service Station, says his shop is a busy place. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Sheppard’s Service Station newest chamber member

What’s going on around Cowichan’s business community

Brent Sheppard, owner of Duncan’s Sheppard’s Service Station, is one of the newest members of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce.

Sheppard’s Service Station, located at 5962 Trans Canada Hwy, offers full service for all vehicle types, including EV and Hybrid.

Sheppard has 30 years under his belt working as a mechanic in the Cowichan Valley, and decided in 2020 to go out on his own and opened his business, which currently employs three full-time mechanics as well as himself.

He said he decided to join the chamber for the benefits and give Sheppard’s Service Station more exposure in the community.

“But we have more business than we can handle right now, and we’re at capacity for the building,” Sheppard said.

“Running the business is a lot of work and it takes a lot of time, but it’s good all around and I’m enjoying myself.”

•••

Kate and Ryan Thompson saw there was a need for a general grocery store on the south-west end of Lake Cowichan and decided to open one.

The couple, who are originally from Ontario, recently opened Jack’s General Store [which is named after Ryan’s father] at 212 South Shore Rd. because there wasn’t a lot available for grocery shoppers, both local and tourists, at that end of town and people had to travel to the middle of the community to get basic supplies.

“The community is happy to have us here, and we’re continuing to grow our inventory as we learn what our customers want us to carry,” said Ryan.

“Business has been pretty steady since we opened in December, and we’re getting busier every day as more people realize that we are here. We’re still waiting for a new ice cream cooler and a new fridge to arrive.”

The couple has lived in a number of locations before deciding to settle in Lake Cowichan.

Ryan is a carpenter and the Thompsons moved to Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2016 to help rebuild the city after the major earthquake struck that year, destroying a lot of buildings.

In 2017, they moved to Victoria, but big city life wasn’t for them, so they moved to Langford and then Duncan before discovering Lake Cowichan during one the family’s frequent camping expeditions.

“We love life at the lake and began camping around here a lot before we decided to settle here,”Kate said, while holding her 14-month old daughter Mae.

“Ryan finds a lot work around here as a carpenter and I work for an insurance company from home, and I’m currently on maternity leave so we figured this was the perfect time to open the general store. This is our first business and we’re pretty excited about it. The community has been very welcoming and we love being here.”

•••

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce will be celebrating Chamber Week from Feb. 14-19.

The chamber joins over 120 Chambers of Commerce and Boards of Trade across the province in celebrating community and the work they do for B.C. businesses.

The goal of the chamber network, representing more than 36,000 businesses and organizations, is to collectively further the interests of business, to network, and to promote and advocate for business community’s needs.

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce plays a vital role in supporting businesses in Cowichan, and Chamber Week is all about celebrating the work the chamber does to build an environment where businesses can compete, innovate, and be inclusive, said the chamber’s executive director Sonja Nagel.

“Whether that means serving as a platform to support local, being a loyal advocate when it comes to issues that impact our members or stepping in at the right moment with critical resources, our chamber has been supporting businesses for 114 years,” Nagel said.

“We are the voice of business in Cowichan.”

Like most businesses and non-profit organizations, chambers of commerce had to pivot and adapt their services when they faced the initial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will continue to be the boots on the ground (and virtually), talking to businesses and organizations about pressing needs as we hopefully near the end of this pandemic,” Nagel said.

“This is the one week we blow our horn. Please join us celebrating the work we do on behalf of the business community. And watch for a special feature in the Cowichan Valley Citizen on Feb. 17.”

•••

North Cowichan Councillor Rosalie Sawrie has been elected as a trustee of the Vancouver Island Regional Library board for a one-year term at its AGM on Jan. 29.

The board of trustees, which is comprised of elected representatives from 28 municipalities and 10 regional districts, administers a budget of more than $31 million.

Gabriele Wickstrom, mayor of Port McNeill, was re-elected as board chair.

Wickstrom served as the chair in 2021, as vice chair for the two previous years, and sat on the board’s executive committee from 2012 to 2014.

Erin Hemmens, a councillor in the City of Nanaimo, was elected as vice chair. Hemmens has been on the board since 2019 and sat on the executive committee in 2019 and 2021.

“It is an honour to once again take the helm of this dynamic, inspiring, and progressive board,” said Wickstrom.

“2022 promises to be a busy year for trustees as VIRL moves forward with a new strategic plan, takes important steps towards ongoing reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and continues to find innovative ways to deliver world-class library services as we begin to emerge from the shadow of the pandemic. I look forward to the discussions and decisions awaiting the board.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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