Brent Clancy, president of the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce, takes down the signs at the Lake Cowichan Visitor Centre, which closed its doors for good on Jan. 31. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Editorial: Visitor centres provide vital services

Ongoing tension between the Chambers of Commerce that run them and the municipalities they serve

Visitor information centres are vital to our communities in the Cowichan Valley. This is what makes it so strange that there is an ongoing tension between the Chambers of Commerce that run them and the municipalities they serve that are asked to provide funding to keep the doors open.

This bizarre disconnect has resulted in the permanent closure of the Lake Cowichan Visitor Centre last week, and any number of fraught correspondences and discussions between the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce and the City of Duncan, in particular, over the visitor centre located just outside the city.

In Lake Cowichan, the visitor centre was run for the past 15 years by the Cowichan Lake District Chamber of Commerce. In announcing the closure, they made no bones about the fact that they blamed the Town of Lake Cowichan for the necessity. The problem, they said, was a lack of adequate funding. The response from the mayor lacked any sense of panic or urgency at the closure.

We think this is a mistake.

Even with so many things available on the internet these days, directing people to amenities in a small community is not something best left to a search engine. From trails to local parks, businesses to museums, all rely on traffic directed to them from the visitor centre. Where will visitors to Lake Cowichan and its surrounding communities of Youbou, Honeymoon Bay and Mesachie Lake go now for a one-stop-shop to find out what they can do in the area? There is no replacement. There’s also no replacement for the impact that can be made with a smiling, friendly face inviting people to stay and enjoy.

The situation with the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre in Duncan is different, yet eerily similar. It, too, is constantly on a knife-edge as to whether it will receive the funding it needs, as in the past Duncan has arbitrarily cut its contribution. The city argues that it pays a disproportionate amount towards the centre, with larger, wealthier North Cowichan reaping benefits for less, when relative populations etc. are taken into account. It has been pushing for a redistribution in the funding formula for years, and abrupt funding cuts seem like a bit of a political game of chicken to get what they want. The service gets caught in the crossfire.

It’s time that these local governments acknowledged the huge service that the visitor centres provide to our communities. We should be trying to keep them happy, not on the edge of disaster every year, never knowing if there’s going to be a funding shortfall.

Editorials

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

Just Posted

“He’ll be bowling for dollars — $30,000 to be exact. Matt Hancock, 15-years-old of Lake Cowichan won in the Coca-Cola B.C. championship finals and will now bowl in the international championship with a chance to win a $30,000 scholarship. Hancock will go to the international competition in Columbus July 10. He is coached by Karen Smith of Cowichan Lake and plays on the T.G.S. bowling team.” (Lake News/May 8, 1996)
Flashback: Taxes, school district amalgamation, logging licences and student news

A look back through the pages of Lake Cowichan’s history

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Give me a brake!

It was clear that none of these drivers had done a pre-trip inspection

Robert’s column
Robert Barron column: Cameras on school buses a good idea

“I’ve seen kids have to run from cars”

Trying out a corn variety called “Midnight Snack, grown near Cache Creek, as well as my saved Bantam/Sunnyvee Cross (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Early sowing gets a jump on corn season

‘I’m planting three batches of corn, two weeks apart for a steady supply’

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Most Read