Recent curtailments in forestry, including the loss of the Youbou Sawmill in 2001, has resulted in a decline of employment and income in the Lake Cowichan Region. Meanwhile, seasonal tourism continues to grow as an economic driver. In 2016 the Region became home to Lake Town Ranch, a major outdoor music and events venue that attracts over 10,000 visitors annually. Considered an economic leverage point, the venue created an opportunity for new tourism product development, extended stays and investment attraction.
Building on the results of an early 2017 assessment and community consultation, the Cowichan Lake Tourism Action Plan leverages the community’s natural tourism assets into a year-round tourism season. This Action Plan focuses on tourism product and infrastructure development, building-out cycling, hiking, and water sports activities, making Cowichan Lake the “go-to” destination for these experiences.
The project, completed in January 2019, identified investment opportunities needed to build out the tourism season. Proposals for pathways identified as major gaps for cyclists and walkers were identified, including a 2km long path from the Cowichan Lake First Nations Water Sports Center to the town center. The project also identified partnership opportunities between government, business, First Nations, and other stakeholders that can be developed to create new tourism product development and collaboration.