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The Cowichan Region: Things Look Better from Here

Vancouver Islands reputation for quality of life is growing, and no region better demonstrates that than the Cowichan Region. From Mill Bay in the south past Ladysmith in the north, the Cowichan region is comprised of a rich diversity of communities and lifestyles.

Life in Cowichan has become synonymous with life outdoors, and for good reason. Lakes, parks, and wilderness areas throughout the region provide endless opportunities for renewal and refreshment in stunning natural surroundings. Walking, hiking, and cycling trails are everywhere, and it is hard to find an area not worthy of the camera. Want more structured recreation? Try one of the five 18-hole golf courses, some of which have hosted championship level events, or take it a little easier on one of the par-3 courses. The various regional communities boast a broad array of sports and recreational facilities: playing fields for soccer and baseball, swimming pools, skate parks, and ice rinks.

Of course, island life never takes one too far from the water. Twenty-one marinas dot the shores of the Cowichan region and serve as launch points for boating and fishing, diving and snorkeling, or jet-skiing and windsurfing. Kayaking, both ocean and freshwater, is a year-round draw.

At some point, it is true, there is a need to go indoors, and in the Cowichan region, indoors is affordable. An average house price below $350,000 ensures a range of housing options to accommodate the needs and budget of almost any buyer. Rural properties, estate homes, townhouses, or apartments: recent growth provides them all at prices well below those in nearby urban centres.

Walking away from urban prices doesnt mean giving up urban conveniences. Cowichans communities offer the full spectrum of amenities. Shopping, health care needs are well serviced and educational opportunities range from pre-school to post-secondary. Culture is not neglected, either. Museums, live theater, and a thriving arts and artisan community ensure a dynamic cultural experience.

Long known for its agricultural productivity, the Cowichan region is now home to over 35 vineyards and more than a dozen wineries. Dairy products, vegetables, grain, fruits and nuts are complemented by recognized wines and ciders. A natural outgrowth of that abundance is a corresponding variety in culinary offerings. Restaurants, bistros, cafes range from formal dining to rustic casual, and strike every note in between. Many specialize in preparing and serving the finest in locally produced and harvested products from land and sea, with a resulting reputation as a centre for wine and culinary excellence on Vancouver Island.

Economic opportunity has kept pace with other aspects of growth in the region. Job opportunities in the manufacturing, agriculture, and tourism sectors support families and mean that it is no longer necessary for young people to go elsewhere to pursue a career. Entrepreneurs are finding the region rich in potential for establishing new businesses with municipal leaders and administrators willing partners in building for the future.

Perhaps most striking, though, is the way the Cowichan region has developed its forward thinking approach and contemporary amenities without losing its small town warmth. Residents here genuinely sense that they are part of a true community, one that is friendly and welcoming to newcomers who readily form strong connections to the fabric of Cowichan life.

Has it been a while since you visited the Cowichan region? Perhaps the area is totally new to you. In either case, there is much that is new waiting to be discovered along with all has given the regions lifestyle its enviable reputation.

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Photo Courtesy of Dave Blackey & Tourism Cowichan, Cowichan Valley