Opportunity is there, but don’t get tunnel vision

It is an excellent idea to plan now to take advantage of the huge Sunfest country music extravaganza

It is an excellent idea to plan now to take advantage of the huge Sunfest country music extravaganza with its tens of thousands of visitors when it moves to the community.

The proposal seems likely to come to pass, possibly as soon as for the summer of 2016. It’s moving into the final phases of rezoning approval at the Cowichan Valley Regional District.

It seems to have a lot of general support in the Cowichan Lake area, with some notable exceptions.

There is no doubt that there is a big economic opportunity here for the communities around the lake that have struggled in recent years as mills have closed, leading to subsequent closures of other community businesses and schools in the area, as the number of industrial salaries being spent in the community dwindled.

Tens of thousands of people coming to town will mean foot traffic for food establishments and shops in numbers not normally seen even during the generally busier summer tourist season.

The hope is that at least a portion of these visitors will want to come back to the lake area, too, at another time, to perhaps take advantage of the hiking, camping and lakeshore, thereby spinning one weekend windfall into a longer term economic development opportunity.

But we have reservations about the idea of seeing tourism as a long-term economic saviour for the Cowichan Lake area. Chemainus developed deliberately to feed the tourist trade and is now struggling, with empty storefronts marring the main downtown streets. Tourism can be a fickle business, particularly if it is not developed organically, with an eye to what can keep the community going during the shoulder and low seasons of the year.

Equally problematic is the idea that tourist businesses should bank on hiring baby boomers who are bored and don’t care about making enough money to live on. This is not a long-term sustainable strategy. Nor will it help to encourage new people to move into the lake’s communities. And in 10 years or so your workforce is gone.

Tourism can certainly be a substantial part of the Lake’s future, and proper planning to encourage that is great. But putting all your eggs in one basket is never a good idea.

Just Posted

Robert Barron column: Goodbye to the best man I’ve ever known

Mondays were special because my dad was off on those days

VIDEO: Young QMS cast shines in ‘Giants in the Sky’ musical

Kids find that sometimes being brave is good, but you still need supportive friends

Andrea Rondeau column: The internet has changed how we cover breaking news

If there’s ever anything you think we’ve missed, please feel free to contact us and let us know.

Sarah Simpson column: My history with bees

My dad is allergic to bees.

Strong showing for host school at Shawnigan Regatta

Shawnigan second in overall aggregate, tops U17 girls standings

Trans Mountain pipeline: How we got here

A look at the Kinder Morgan expansion, decades in the making

Passersby help rescue occupants of home as fire breaks out in Courtenay

Coffee run turns into fire rescue for pair of men

Giant beer tanks arrive in new B.C. home city

Molson Coors tanks finish river journey and move to overland trip in Chilliwack

VIDEO: Pipeline supporters rally across B.C.

Five simultaneous events organized by month-old Suits and Boots lobby group

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

B.C.’s Ryan Craig, Vegas Golden Knights chase history

Local product behind bench for expansion team’s incredible championship run

CP rail workers give strike notice

Employees could walk out as early as Tuesday at 7 p.m. PT

RCMP investigating after gunshots fired in Courtenay

Comox Valley RCMP officers are investigating after gunshots rang out in Courtenay… Continue reading

Most Read