Fencing put up at the Chemainus library site marked the start of construction. (Photo by Don Bodger)

New vibrancy paramount for downtown Chemainus

New library at the core of an anticipated resurgence

There’s activity on the lot that will house the new Vancouver Island Regional Library branch in Chemainus. The Municipality of North Cowichan’s affordable housing project next door to the library likely won’t be too far behind.

The expanded Chemainus Valley Museum space with refurbished displays has opened.

A house has been moved at 9833 Willow St. to make way for a new seven-unit development.

It’s still been cold outside, but spring has already sprung and will eventually give downtown Chemainus a fresh look, with more to come. It’s all moving along nicely, just in time for the busiest stretch of the tourist season and to return some vibrancy to the downtown core.

The heart of the community has been left torn apart since the demolition of the old firehall building and the closure of Chemainus Foods. The latter is the next space that needs to be addressed and hopefully the Chemainus Valley Cultural Arts Society is heading in that direction to fill another huge void with its regional arts centre proposal.

If that doesn’t happen, hopefully some other enterprise can take occupancy. It’s a large space with limited possibilities these days, but a very central part of the community that needs a tenant.

There’s also been vacancies in the main block of storefronts on Willow Street that are long overdue for some new businesses, the most prominent being the Scuttlebutts location on the corner.

It’s not always simple for someone to just set up shop there. Many factors enter into it, such as the amount of rent required versus anticipated revenues and what type of business has the best chance of being successful.

But the bottom line is things are happening and that always bodes well for generating interest among locals or outsiders alike to be part of the resurgence.

It’s been a tough few months for many businesses in Chemainus due to the extreme weather – the long power outage from the windstorm and the many days of heavy snow that obviously restricted shoppers.

Let the recovery process begin and the right mix of people willing to take a chance combined with a renewed pitch to attract tourists could signify the start of a beneficial period for everyone.

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