Move to slow things down putting Cowichan Bay in the fast lane

Bruce Stewart sees the Maritime Centre and the Cowichan Bay waterfront as key components in the Cittaslow movement. - Don Bodger
Bruce Stewart sees the Maritime Centre and the Cowichan Bay waterfront as key components in the Cittaslow movement.
— image credit: Don Bodger

Slow and steady wins the race. At least for Cowichan Bay, slow is just the right pace.

Cowichan Bay is winning the hearts of tourists and residents alike for its decision to adapt the Cittaslow (pronounced Cheeta-slow) movement founded in Italy.

“September 2009 we were designated,’’ said Lori Iannidinardo, the Cowichan Valley Regional District director for Area D. “You have to go through a process of applying.

“It’s actually been brewing in Cowichan Bay for a few years.’’

Cowichan Bay became North America’s first Cittaslow community and is still one of only two on the continent alongside Naramata, B.C.

Born from the slow food movement, Cittaslow’s philosophy branches out to many more aspects of everyday life. The basis is to resist the fast-paced world and improve the quality of life by taking more of a laid-back view.

Cowichan Bay and more than 120 Cittaslow towns in 20 countries follow a charter to build community relationships in several different ways.

Among them are: celebrating and preserving history and traditions; promoting high standards of hospitality; using traditional and environmentally friendly means for producing food and drink; promoting local products rooted in local culture and tradition; developing awareness of the value of local traditions; supporting an infrastructure that maintains the distinctive character of the area; promoting environmental stewardship and much more.

Cowichan Bay is perfectly situated and structured to follow these edicts.

“This is all about not only slow food, but the environment and lifestyle,’’ stressed Iannidinardo.

She cited examples of the heron rookery and “we continue to follow up with Cittaslow in promoting the eel grass.’’

Part of the mandate of belonging to Cittaslow, Iannidinardo added, is “we’re supposed to encourage other communities to come on board.’’

That’s being done on an ongoing basis.

Cowichan Bay has been seeing the benefits in “people wanting to come to our community and seeing the way of life,’’ Iannidinardo said. “Slowing down, people internationally want to do. It’s a perfect component for a community.

“There are a lot of people that know about it or they get on the web site and they’re quite impressed.’’

“When it was first launched there was a lot of excitement from a tourism aspect,’’ said True Grain Bread owner Bruce Stewart, the president of Cittaslow Cowichan Bay.

“A lot of it has been engaging local government and our area director has been instrumental in getting our message across.’’

The Cittaslow movement is a work in progress for Cowichan Bay.

“We spent the first year understanding ourselves what it meant to be a Cittaslow,’’ said Stewart. “We had to translate the Italian documents into English to make it meaningful. From there, it’s about doing what we can to influence change along those Cittaslow core values.’’

Going beyond the food connection, the community has moved forward to further enhance areas such as the Maritime Centre and First Nations components, specific to Cowichan Bay.

Slow maps, available at True Grain Bread for $100, are the main revenue source and outline all aspects of Cittaslow.


Cittaslow producing

Cowichan Bay’s Cittaslow movement just got a little slower.

Cittaslow Cowichan has announced the addition of a local produce market in the village, filling the major gap in the bay’s slow food movement.

The Cittaslow Market will be open Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. near True Grain Bread in what is informally known as the Cittaslow Piazza.

“One of the primary elements of the Cittaslow Cowichan Bay Charter is to connect local producers with the local residents,” Cittaslow Cowichan Bay president Bruce Stewart said.

“I want to be clear, this is not the Duncan Farmers Market.  This is a small assortment of local vegetables to serve the local population and visitors.”

Providence Farm ( and Makaria Farm ( are two of the farms initiating the project with Cittaslow.

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