Project Title:

Chemainus Town Centre Waterwheel Square

Project Organization:

District of North Cowichan

Project Investment:

  • Island Coastal Economic Trust: $200,000
  • District of North Cowichan: $696,648
  • Total Budget: $896,638

Project Highlight:

The Chemainus Valley Historical Society recorded an 84% increase in the number of visitors to the Chemainus Valley Museum in the two months following completion of the Revitalization project.

Chemainus was introduced as the world’s largest outdoor gallery in the 1980s with its celebrated mural project. Since then, the town centre has aged and needed revitalization to further encourage new investment and development. The project proposed the creation of a town square by repurposing Waterwheel Square and the existing parking lot. The new Chemainus Town Square will link the park with the commercial sector of the municipality and provide a pedestrian-friendly space adjacent to the newly redeveloped library and Visitor Centre. In keeping with the Main Street Four Point Approach® to redevelopment, the municipality has integrated a revitalization tax exemption program to stimulate further private investment and maximize the potential economic spin-offs in the short term.

The project redeveloped a 15,000 to 20,000-square-foot section of the parking lot into a public square. The new design features attractive paving stones and native landscaping and creates an inviting environment connecting the multi-use areas of the park to mature forested areas. Updated, enhanced street furniture, lighting and other pedestrian amenities create a safe and inviting space for people to gather.

Completed in July 2015, the new Chemainus Town Square has become the heart of the community and provides an energetic, multi-functional, pedestrian-friendly space. The Square is also used to host the public market, arts and cultural festivals, music in the park and community events. The increased tourism and economic activity generated by the revitalization and tax exemption program is expected to create significant economic benefits and employment for the broader Cowichan and Nanaimo region for years to come.

Island Coastal Economic Trust approved funding for this project in 2015 through the Capital and Innovation program.