News broke this week that Rowing Canada will be moving its national training centre to Quamichan Lake in North Cowichan.
Disappointment reigned in Saanich — which lost out — but this is an incredibly exciting win for the Cowichan Valley.
Not only is there a certain amount of prestige that comes from hosting a training centre for the national rowing team, there are economic spinoffs and benefits for Cowichan’s local sports programs.
For the size of the Cowichan Valley, it has always produced a remarkable number of elite athletes in a variety of sports, from golf to rugby, hockey to horseshoes.
Brentwood and Shawnigan Lake private schools have produced rowers for the national team. The Maple Bay rowing club’s numbers have dropped in the last while in the younger age group. Now, all of these athletes will have unparalleled access to see what elite training is all about. It should be both eye-opening and inspiring, not just for the rowers, but for athletes of all disciplines.
Cowichan has been working hard over the last several years to develop itself as a sports go-to, for tournaments large and small as well as bigger productions like the BC Seniors Games, the North American Indigenous Games and, last summer, the BC Summer Games. Welcoming a national training centre for rowing to Quamichan Lake only feeds Cowichan’s growing reputation as a sports hotbed.
It should also prove to be an incentive for cleaning up the pollution problems in Quamichan Lake that have led to toxic blue-green algae blooms. Being a national training centre certainly couldn’t hurt any grant applications on that front. It is only fortunate that the problem didn’t sink Cowichan’s bid for the program.
Unfortunately, in the bigger picture, one of the reasons for that is that other areas bidding have similar problems. We only have one environment. We need to do better as its stewards.
Now, it will be up to the community to make the athletes, coaches, technical experts and support staff feel welcome, as the Warmland has demonstrated it can.