Chemainus Business Improvement Association banners decorate the Trans Canada Highway at Henry Road, with Kevin Smith of the Antique Barn adding a personal message for front line workers. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Some normalcy develops from changing times

Chemainus businesses embrace local support and the town undergoes the usual beautification measures

Chemainus has had a very different year so far from being a vibrant, bustling town filled with tourists and people beginning to enjoy the summer to going eerily quiet from mid-March into June.

But, things are changing, as people become more comfortable with Stage 3 restrictions and Chemainus is beginning to come alive once again – even though it’s a lot different.

Like never before, Chemainus is seeing more residents doing their shopping and socializing in town and other folks traveling for staycations. The Chemainus Business Improvement Association couldn’t be happier.

“Now is the time that we as a community need to be showing our local businesses some major love,” noted Krystal Adams, CBIA executive director. “They can’t rely on tourism this year so we are doing all we can to make sure that residents and Island locals really know what Chemainus has to offer.”

The CBIA is working hard to ensure the beauty of Chemainus is being showcased just as much as the businesses.

Early in June, some 200 large hanging baskets were placed at local businesses. This is typical to see in early summer for Chemainus, but this is one of the years the baskets might not have happened.

At the end of April, the CBIA was faced with a very real question about whether businesses would even be open to care for the baskets in June. Without a real answer, the decision was made to proceed with the baskets that had been ordered in early January – built, seeded, and were growing specifically for the businesses – but without knowing if they could be maintained upon delivery June 1.

“At that point we had maybe six businesses confirm they could and would maintain their baskets open or not – and that was it,” said Adams.

But, the CBIA board decided if the baskets couldn’t find a home on building facades, they would undoubtedly find homes with residents around town.

“We had made a commitment to the supplier and we were not willing to change the terms just because the world had suddenly changed,” noted Adams. “For so many reasons, we had to quietly just hope things would start to reopen in June.”

Sure enough, they made the right call. Nearly every business that had been slated to maintain a basket received them, and the town is all the more beautiful for it in the end.

But, that’s not the only thing that has given more vibrancy to the town in the past few weeks. New banners were installed on the Trans Canada Highway at Henry Road depicting Kin Beach park, the murals and so many other identifiable scenes.

“After taking the last ones down, we needed to regroup, redesign and alter what we wanted to say,” offered Adams. “Our focus became the offerings we have such as the food, waterfront, murals, shopping and antiques. We had planned to have the banners up sooner, but unfortunately a variety of challenges stalled the project, and just as we were ready to proceed, COVID hit – delaying us again.

“But, as soon we were given the green light by the printers, we made it a priority and couldn’t be happier with the results. We are really excited to start rolling these types of things out once again.”

Many other things are being planned by the folks at the CBIA in the coming weeks. Lots of photography sessions, video interviews and compilations are being done to promote the breadth of Chemainus offerings. The focus is shifting only slightly from what’s been done the past few months.

Many people read and enjoyed the last campaign ‘Stories’, urging everyone to get to know the people behind the businesses in town. The campaign was so successful, a new campaign is being added to it called ‘Stories: Enjoy Chemainus’.

This will feature wonderful photographs that go past the business owners into the actual businesses. They also reintroduce you to the business owners you have read about, with interviews, fun tasks, and giveaways.

Besides all of this, there are some other plans for existing signage such as the highway billboards to undergo a change within the next month.

“The CBIA is doing a lot of work to make sure the town is shining as brightly as possible and the businesses are being noticed, but our businesses are the real heroes,” added Adams. “They are the ones going above and beyond ensuring they are following strict pandemic guidelines to protect our residents and visitors while giving them the confidence to enjoy the town with ease.

“Seeing changes in the town – be it the banners on the street, ads in the paper or with the flow of people – it sure feels like this new normal has just a bit of the old normal coming back into Chemainus.”

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Colourful banners from the Chemainus Business Improvement Association capture the essence of Chemainus. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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