This picture that was being used in an ad campaign by the CVRD about drought and water restrictions was nixed after a tubing company in Lake Cowichan said there is plenty of water in the river for tubing and the picture was bad for business. (Submitted photo)

Tube business concerns puncture Cowichan ad campaign

Company feared picture of dry Cowichan River would dissuade customers

A picture used in an ad campaign by the Cowichan Valley Regional District will be nixed after concerns were raised by a local company.

The picture of an unsmiling young girl with a tube around her waist standing in a dry section of the Cowichan River was being used in an ad campaign called “Living the New Normal”.

It was intended to convey the reality of local drought conditions, but gave many the impression that the river is too dry to tube in.

The owner of Lake Cowichan’s The Tube Shack says there’s plenty of water in the Cowichan River for tubing, and there will be all summer.

Aaron Frisby said he was concerned the picture could hurt his business this season.


“My biggest issue with this is, it simply isn’t true,” Frisby said.

“Tubing on the Cowichan River is still viable even at minimal river flows. Even if the water does get too low, the weir on Cowichan Lake is opened to allow more water flow in the river so we always have enough for our business even as droughts become more frequent. We just had our first weekend of the season and it was busy.”

Frisby said tubing brings tens of thousands of people to Lake Cowichan every summer, but he’s already receiving calls from people wondering if there is any tubing this year after they saw the ad and picture.

Sonja Nagel, executive director of the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, said in the a letter to the CVRD that The Tube Shack is a long-time chamber member, and the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre sends a lot of visitors to experience tubing from the upper section of the river.

She said there are currently two businesses operating tubing companies from Lake Cowichan, including The Tube Shack.

“I agree with Aaron in that this is very misleading and could significantly impact two tourism operators who draw many visitors to the region each summer,” Nagel said in the letter.

“The Tube Shack opened this past weekend, and this advertising will certainly impact their business. We are advocating for our member business and would ask that the CVRD change the images on this campaign.”

Kris Schumacher, the CVRD’s manager of communications and engagement, said he spoke with Frisby about his concerns on June 18 and the district has decided it won’t be using the picture in any future ads or social media posts about water restrictions.

“(Frisby) understands we had not intended to dissuade people from tubing or to imply tubing wasn’t possible, and we didn’t consider that people may interpret it in that way,” he said.

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