Tourism efforts get a mostly outstanding grade

Eric Smith performs in a scene from Once Upon A Day... Cowichan, a film that didn’t move Jay Siska, but one he acknowledges is a great marketing tool for the valley. - courtesy Nick Versteege
Eric Smith performs in a scene from Once Upon A Day... Cowichan, a film that didn’t move Jay Siska, but one he acknowledges is a great marketing tool for the valley.
— image credit: courtesy Nick Versteege

There’s no point in messing around with flowery introductions of how great the Cowichan Valley is.

We all know that.

We’re here to find out how well we’re doing in marketing ourself to others — those that don’t know.

The grades are in. Here is your Cowichan Valley Tourism Report Card 2013:

New Visitors Centre

It’s not what I expected design-wise, but looks fantastic.

With questions still lingering as to whether a single bricks-and-mortar location or a number of smaller, deluxe, wi-fi-washroom-and-water info-stops along Highway 1 would have been the better idea, the verdict is out on whether the $2 million spent on the project will be worth it in the end.

GRADE: (interim) B++

Kinsol Trestle

It took me a year to get over to the Kinsol Trestle, even though it’s 10 minutes from my house. What was I thinking? That thing is unreal. Anyone visiting me from anywhere, gets taken to see it. They’re all blown away by how amazing it is.

After all the effort to get funding, to make the project happen, to do the work restoring this incredible piece of history, why is the directional signage so small?

Last time I checked, the Kinsol is the largest wooden trestle in Canada, right? So you’d think it’d befit something that isn’t brown and smaller than a crosswalk sign (read: blink and you’ll miss it).

GRADE: Trestle: A+++, Directions: D-


When I think Cowichan Valley, I think wine. The valley continues to position itself as a unique and special wine area that has a high concentration of smaller producers.

Within that same area are both a growing number of boutique eateries and food producers, and accommodations to match.

I’m not a wine guy, but if I was I’d be hitting the Net prior to my visit to the valley. First result of a Google search takes me exactly where I need to go, and damn, doesn’t the web presence just kill it.

Clear, easy, one-stop-shop source of information and with a mobile version for those on the road.


Tourism Cowichan

Again, if you’re travelling you’re going straight to the internet.

The CVRD’s own website is also a strong presence and really has everything you’d ever need. It works pretty well on your phone too.

For sure don’t miss Nick Versteeg’s Once Upon a Day… Cowichan video which is right there on the front page.

The local production made news earlier this year when it racked-up a few thousand views within days of its release.

Everyone apparently loves, loves, loves it, that is except for me and the 59 others who clicked the “thumbs down” button on YouTube. It’s a slick, well-done professional piece, but there’s just a bit too much funk on that cheese for my tastes.



A bit of fuss was made over a Huffington Post writer earlier this year declaring The Little Town That Did one of B.C.’s tackiest towns.


The same person also labelled Coombs as tacky. Who doesn’t want to detour off the highway for ice cream and goats? Only those with darkness in their hearts.

So why pick on Chemainus? The author freely admits “the murals are stunning, the theatre well-produced and the town cute.” Its egregious offence? Apparently, the town is a “place that seems to exist mostly for tourists.”

Chemaniacs and anyone who’s been through the town, knows this writer is so far off base it’s not even funny.

GRADE: B+ (points deducted for footprints, which ARE tacky)

OVERALL FOR THE YEAR: Good work, but room for improvement, valley.

Jay Siska writes monthly in the News Leader Pictorial. Reach him at

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