Friday, October 28, 2011

Duncan area experience

Blogpost by Martin Pariseau
Friday, October 29th, began with a group meeting during which Don Barrie from Tourism Cowichan shared a great wealth of knowledge and experience on the circle route and amenities in the Cowichan region. For instance, 40 to 60 logging trucks pass through Lake Cowichan daily. Don was good enough to honor my request and sent me five files including some focus group results and the Cowichan Region Tourism Plan. After Don left, the group continued the meeting to coordinate the various components of the collaborative case study. Finishing, we packed up and headed to Duncan for lunch.
Vans were separated at this point. One group went to the Dog House Restaurant and then on to the VIU Cowichan Campus where we got a tour. While some stayed for a tour while the rest of our group visited adjacent recreation amenities such as the giant hockey stick, Cowichan Aquatic Centre and the Island Savings Centre. After stopping briefly at the BC Forest Discovery Centre (which was hosting a Halloween event for local kids), the group drove through Chemainus and went on to Ladysmith where they explored the town. The other group spent most of the afternoon at the Quw’utsun’ Cultural and Conference Centre.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cobble Hill amenities

Blogpost by Chris Beharrell

Here are some of the highlights and amenities along the Cobble Hill to Duncan stretch of the Pacific Marine Circle Route:

The Cherry Point Nature Observation Park offers fabulous ocean views of Satellite Channel and Saltspring Island to enjoy. Ideal for family outings, explore the rich sea life found on the long sandy shores. Bring along beach shoes to best enjoy the environment and a pair of binoculars to observe the birdlife.

For a breathtaking view, climb Cobble Hill Mountain in Quarry Regional Wilderness Park.Parts of the old Quarry and its history can still be found - watch for the picnic site that displays a 1914 steam compressor.

Arbutus Ridge Golf Club is only one of five organizations in their sector across Canada to officially measure their Carbon Footprint through a partnership with a national organization using the GHG Par“0” program. In 2009 they have created a greening committee, invested in newer and more efficient alternatives, purchased locally made products and opted to spend more for an environmentally friendly finish and began the process of becoming the 8th organization in BC to be fully Audubon certified. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses awards certification to recognize golf courses that protect the environment, conserve natural resources, and provide wildlife habitats. Achieving certification demonstrates a course’s leadership, commitment, and high standards of environmental management.

Cowichan Bay Maritime Centreà From a condemned fuel loading dock to a museum, the pier now houses "Galleries" rich in maritime history. It's all here in the quaint seaside village of Cowichan Bay, British Columbia. With a reputation for excellence, the Maritime Centre offers hands on courses in traditional boat building techniques and restoration. Skillfully hand-crafted models of historic ships are housed in the museum at the end of the pier. Activities are for any age, sea-farer or land-lubber alike.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sooke and coastal amenities

Blogpost by Augusto Dominguez

Today, we visited Sooke’s Visitor Centre. We were advised to visit the new Charters River Salmon Interpretative Centre ( This 1.49 hectares property,located at 2895 Sooke River Rd.; just on the way to Sooke’s Potholes (the town’s most well-known natural attraction), has a 100 people capacity facility. Inside this building volunteers gave us an extensive explanation about the salmon’s life cycle and the water systems of the region. There are models and two microscopes, among many other resources, to accomplish the centre’s educational goals.

In the creek besides the building, we had the opportunity to see Pacific salmon coming up the river to spawn. For some of us it was an amazing new experience impossible to describe (see photos above).

After the Interpretative Centre, we headed to the Sooke PotholesProvincial Park. A series of pools and waterfalls carved into the river’s bedrock, yellow maples losing their leaves and pines on both sides of the canyon walls are some of the natural features this site has to offer to visitors. Wildlife like the bald eagle flying above us (unfortunately we could not get a pic as evidence) as well as Pacific salmon in the pools totally made us understand the importance of preserving this local wonders.

Mill Bay to Cobble Hill amenities

Blogpost by Laurel Sliskovic

Waking up to a crisp October morning at Ocean Wilderness Resort north of Sooke, we packed up our bags, loaded the vans and headed out for day 3 of our Pacific Marine Circle Route exploration. With Mill Bay as our destination for the day, the female SLMs toured through the communities of Shawnigan Lake, Cobble Hill, and the southern Cowichan Valley, taking in the sights, smells, tastes and sounds of this rich and diverse landscape.

Traveling west on Shawnigan Lake Road, we passed the Kinsol Market (home of the self-proclaimed best Nanaimo bars) on route to the newly restored Kinsol Trestle on the Trans-Canada Trail. Wow – the Kinsol Trestle is awe-inspiring! I highly recommend visiting this accessible, spectacular section of the trail. We chatted with a local woman who had been exploring the area for 27 years and she spoke with pride about the recent re-build of this historic trestle. Check out the website for photos and more information.

The next stop on our adventure was Merridale Cidery ( Rolling pastures and idyllic fields provide the backdrop for this impressive agri-tourism business. All 6 of us ladies were immediately drawn into the sights and smells of the apple orchards, the beautifully constructed outbuildings and the warm and inviting main Cider house. We were treated to a complimentary cider tasting that offered a selection of 6 different ciders, then moved into the Bistro for the tastiest roast pork sandwich I have ever eaten. The Merridale Cidery is an experience not to be missed.

After a leisurely drive through the scenic backroads of the Cowichan Valley, we arrived at Cherry Point Vineyards – home of the well-known Blackberry Port. We were treated to a wine tasting and wonderful hospitality from the gentleman behind the counter who was knowledgeable, friendly and committed to producing quality wine and preserving the fertile lands on which he grows grapes. Our first day spent in the Cowichan Valley allowed our group to slow down and truly enjoy the natural and cultural amenities of this rich agriculture area.

Sooke area amenities

Blogpost by Janice Johnson

The Sooke Harbour House was definitely a highlight in my trip. This is an amenity I would recommend to visitors because it provides a warm, relaxing and romantic environment. Also with the house being located on the Sooke harbour, it provided the most amazing ocean view. When I first walked into the house, I automatically felt I was in a home because of the beautiful artwork displayed everywhere and the gorgeous dining area looking over the Sooke Harbour. In addition to feeling cozy, the front desk lady was very helpful in giving an overall discription of what the house had to offer and the community itself. The last thing I admired most about the house was their sustainable practices. The fact that their restaurant features the freshest of local seafood, meats and produce and actively supports the local farmers, gardeners and fishermen shows appreciation for their local economy. The Sooke Harbour is definitely an asset to the community so I think it is important to continue promoting and supporting it success. In my eyes, they are roles models that are paving the way to the importance of sustainable living.
Our visit to T’Sou-ke First Nation village was a visit I very much enjoyed. T’Sou-ke First Nation recently installed one of the largest solar panel systems in British Columbia and was gracious enough to share their journey. It was a project first initiated by a former chief of T’Sou-ke First Nation and carried out by current Chief Gordan Planes. Prior to the funding proposal, T’Sou-ke First Nation conducted some background research and discovered that Germany who normally uses solar panels, received less sun then the south coast of Vancouver Island, therefore catching the interest of the community and immediately persuading them to invest. In their journey, it was interesting to see how the project brought the community closer together. Normally you would not see a First Nations community invest in such a product but after hearing the purpose behind it, you definitely feel inspired. Although this project took a lot of hard work and time, I feel it was worth the investment because it gives the community a sense of pride and status. When I first walked into the community, I could see how excited and eager the members were to share, which showed me how very proud they were of their accomplishments. I seen it as an opportunity to showcase the alternatives a First Nations community could adopt for sustainable success. Overall in this experience, I found it neat to see how the leaders were strategically helping their community make the transition from old technology to new technology without jeopardizing the traditional values of their people. Showing their community the importance of change and providing them the opportunities to adopt new practices that can environmentally, economically and socially benefit them all.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Port Renfrew to Sooke

Blog entry by Erin Heeney

Our day started with the sunrise over the Sheringham Point Lighthouse from Point No Point Resort. What a beautiful view! From there, we ventured down to Jordan River Beach, watched the surfers and had a great chat with Pascale, the president of the Community Association. It’s been absolutely fabulous to talk to the locals and hear the passion in their voices about their communities.
We then headed back to Port Renfrew for another look since yesterday we were a little rushed going through. We all enjoyed the friendly people and the peaceful and quiet atmosphere. The Coastal Kitchen Cafe served up a delicious end-of-season lunch on our way out of town. If traveling through in the off season, be sure to gas up in Sooke or Lake Cowichan as the marina and gas station are closed this time of year (and only open 8am to 5pm in the summer).
The Visitors’ Centre in Sooke is not to be missed. The beautiful gardens, inviting museum and gift shop and of course, their friendly and knowledgeable staff make it a great spot to stop along the route. We were directed to the newly opened Charters River Salmon Stewardship Centre on the way to the Potholes Regional Park. The new interpretive centre highlights everything you need to know about salmon and the watersheds on which they depend. A great new facility for the residents and visitors of Sooke!
Our last stop of the day was to Potholes Regional Park, a beautiful place for a nice swim or walk along the river. We were then off to a warm welcome at Ocean Wilderness Inn and another beautiful sunset along the Juan de Fuca Straight.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Journey begings - Lake Cowichan to Port Renfrew

Blogpost by Mandeep Singh

The museum in Lake Cowichan is amazing, illustrating the innovation from a station to museum. One could understand about the interesting history of the area and the different tools used back in time for different purposes from pictures shown. It is interesting to see the different kind of lamps, saws and other tools preserved for such a long time displayed in the museum.
When I was reading about this area, I read about the artists, their work on poetry, paintings, etc. I was expecting some of the works by artists in the museum, howeverthere was not much about these artists.
When we stopped at the visitor centre we heard about the AVATAR GROVE - being promoted for visitors. We were excited to get there. We found difficulties to get there as the directions were not so specific though the drive was quite comfortable and beautiful. Even when we reached the trail, the sign for the trail was quite invisible. Many people are likely to miss it. The signs, ribbons, used for the trail are not effective or sufficient. We lost our way twice. The ecology is quite unique from other forests however and as we interviewed a member of Ancient Forest Alliance, we got more information about the need for this area to be protected.

Examining the Pacific Marine Circle Route

Circle tours or routes are a strategy to disperse tourism throughout regions. They have been used widely around the world to create economic benefits in rural areas. By designating scenic routes and promoting the amenities available to visitors, destinations simplify complexity for visitors and enable them to access areas that may otherwise be missed.

I often advocate for tourism routes because of their ability to support rural areas that are using tourism for diversification. This week, I am taking ten graduate students in the new Masters in Sustainable Leisure Management at VIU into the field to develop a case study on the Pacific Marine Circle Tour on Southern Vancouver Island. Together, we have done research on route tourism in other contexts such as South Africa, Australia, USA and Canada to learn from their approaches. We are comparing what we have learned, to what we see and experience in the field. We are also comparing what is being promoted on the route vs. what we actually experience. In this sense, we are doing a modified gap analysis and our results will be fed back to those involved in championing the route to visitors.

Over the week, I have asked each student to submit a short blog entry on a portion of their experience. This sort of fieldwork is important for students, and it will provide some information to those in the communities along the route - a win win. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Healthier small communities - a virtual town hall event on November 3

Healthier Small Communities - A Virtual Town Hall Event
Join us for a Webinar on Thursday, November 3

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This webinar will explore some of the ways that local governments can build health into the daily life of small towns and rural and remote communities.

Speakers will provide real examples of how small communities are supporting food security, physical activity and developing a vision for a healthier future. Webinar participants will be encouraged to share their thoughts on how to create healthier communities and to identify priorities and this will be communicated to the local governments of participating communities.

JOHN INGRAM is a professional planner and partner at EcoPlan, an award winning, multi-disciplinary firm of planners, urban designers, decision analysts and economic development specialists. EcoPlan was recently was recognized for their part in an innovative Regional Growth Strategy for the Comox Valley which won the 2011 Planning Institute of B.C. Award for Excellence in Small Town and Rural Planning. John will discuss how community planning processes that create vision and utilize structured decision-making can build the foundation for healthy, vibrant communities.

EDNA MCLELLAN, with Northern Health’s Kitimat Health Unit and SHAUN O'NEILL with the District of Kitimat’s Leisure Services Department have long worked in partnership to promote active living, health and wellness. They will discuss the evolution of this collaboration and describe how they’ve been able to make health programs more inclusive and to move inactive citizens to healthier lifestyles.

ROSE SONEFF is a Registered Dietitian and Community Nutritionist working in Promotion and Prevention through Interior Health. She will explain how the communities in Williams Lake and the North Thompson have come up with innovative approaches to address both the economic and environmental aspects of local food security issues.

DR. NICOLE VAUGEOIS holds the BC Regional Innovation Chair in Tourism and Sustainable Rural Development and as well as leading research she is also a professor in the Department of Recreation and Tourism Management Faculty of Management at Vancouver Island University. She will discuss her research and the multiple benefits that parks and recreation can provide to rural areas.

Title: Healthier Small Communities - A Virtual Town Hall Event
Date: Thursday, November 3, 2011
Time: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM PDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Macintosh®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer