Rowing Canada, photo courtesy Kevin Light
Rowing Canada, photo courtesy Kevin Light

Quamichan Lake will become new home base for aspiring rowers and Olympic and Paralympic athletes

COURTENAY, 25 August 2022 – Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) is partnering with the Municipality of North Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District to establish a National Training Centre (NTC) and new home for rowing on Quamichan Lake, with Phase Two funding support from Island Coastal Economic Trust’s Capital and Innovation Program.

Quamichan Lake is a shallow, scenic, protected body of water that offers idyllic year-round conditions. At full build-out, this four-phase project will include enhanced lake access, a shell house for storing national team and community rowing equipment, and a dryland training centre – and will be the first purpose-built para-rowing facility in Canada.

“No other lake on Vancouver Island has the capacity and benefits offered by Quamichan and the surrounding Cowichan area,” says Terry Dillon, CEO of RCA. “This under-utilized lake can easily accommodate the 6-lane, 2000-metre buoyed racecourse that is needed by the national team for daily training and for hosting selection trials and regattas.”

Phase Two improvements focus on shoreline and dock infrastructure, such as fully accessible pathways and ramps; new launches for rowing shells, canoes and kayaks, and personal watercraft; improved roadway access, turnaround, accessible parking, and a staging area where watercraft can be readied for launch. A sheltered floating dock will also be installed for motorized launches used for coaching, safety and officiating of selection trials and small regattas.

“This new national training facility will significantly boost the local ‘active economy’ by contributing to the development and delivery of sport and active recreation experiences,” says Aaron Stone, ICET Board Chair. “A strong active economy is known to drive growth, employment, and development of skills essential to innovation and diversification. The enhanced infrastructure will introduce a new tourism experience to the region, increasing opportunities for increased length of stay, new reasons to return, supporting increased visitor spending.”

The training centre will host an annual array of world-class competitions and talent selection/training camps, each event attracting hundreds of competitors, coaches, parents, and spectators to the region. The presence of national team athletes is also expected to inspire interest in community and high-school level recreational and competitive rowing, as has occurred at RCA’s current training centre on Elk Lake. Other Canadian communities that National Teams call home experience considerable positive economic and social impacts, including the cycling velodrome in Milton, Ontario and the canoe/kayak facility in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“In addition to $13M in capital investments, this project is estimated to result in $4M in annual recurring income and national team program expenditures into the region,” explains North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. “The NTC will support hosting of events and activities and is projected to generate over $2M annually from participants, spectators and visitors.”

The RCA estimates 20-40 positions including coaching positions, team therapists, medical, equipment and property management, team support and administrative roles. The relocation of 30-50 national team athletes, coaches, admin and technical staff will have a further impact of $2M in annual salaries that will be spent in the region. By introducing a professional sporting asset and sport science practitioners, the project is also expected to attract other national teams.

“Quamichan Lake was a historically important waterway and a former destination for traditional Cowichan Tribes events,” says Terry Dillon, CEO of RCA. “Rowing Canada will support Indigenous athletes interested in re-establishing these traditional water-based events on the lake. In keeping with RCA ‘Community Sport for All’ initiative, the facility will also actively invite participation from under-represented populations, including Black, 2SLGBTQQIA+, and newcomers.”

Phase Two of the project is supported through the Strategic Tourism Infrastructure stream of the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $220,000 to a total project budget of $866,775.00. Phases Two is expected to get underway shortly, with a June 2023 completion date.


About Island Coastal Economic Trust
Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $55 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $270 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral and unceded territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, shíshálh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Brodie Guy, CEO
Island Coastal Economic Trust