Tourists fill Lake Cowichan, setting records as people try to escape crowds amid COVID-19

Tourists fill Lake Cowichan, setting records as people try to escape crowds amid COVID-19
WatchBusinesses in the tiny community of Lake Cowichan say they are recording their best start to the summer tourist season ever. The pandemic has brought a surprising wave of visitors to the town.

Dany Frechette, had never heard of Lake Cowichan when the Quebec man drove through the tiny town on his way to holiday in Port Renfrew.

“Never been this far west in Canada,” Frechette said.

After a stop to soak in the scenery, he decided to stay a few nights and explore.

“I like very much, the vibe is special,” he said.

“Everyone is like laid down and it’s nice.”

He’s not alone. According to local businesses, visitors are now filling the remote town to escape crowds in the cities.

“We’re all breaking records,” said the owner of Lorna’s Emporium, Lorna Vomacka.

“And we don’t know why or how but we’re just so thankful.”

“It’s been busier than we ever could have imagined,” said the owner of Dot’s Shoe Store Denise Allan.

“It’s been breaking records.”

Tubing that was earlier banned due to the pandemic is once again allowed with physical distancing and it’s bringing in tourists to support local shops and campgrounds.

“Tiny little town like Lake Cowichan and ‘we thought oh COVID just put a nail in our coffin and a lot of us are not going to survive’ and we are all here,” said Vomacka.

“Since the weather’s picked up there’s been a lot more people, which is really nice,” said Zoe Johnson, an employee at The Tube Shack.

The town’s acting-mayor, Tim McGonigle, said the visitors are all welcome, but urged people to come only if they are sure they are healthy.

“No exceptions,” said McGonigle.

“We are a very small community with limited infrastructure. One small walk-in clinic and we don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate any sort of outbreak. But we know people are going to come we just ask that they come and respect our community.”

So far, that is just what locals say people like Frechette have been doing as they enjoy a little piece of paradise nestled safely off the beaten track.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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