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Monica Arthurs oversees roller derby practice on Oct. 1 at the Cowichan Exhibition Park.

Let’s talk about life in the Cowichan Valley

Reporter Jacqueline Ronson launches a new Cowichan community newsletter.

This is from our Cowichan Valley newsletter. Make sure to share it and subscribe here.


If we haven’t already met, my name is Jacqueline Ronson and I’m a journalist living in Youbou. Earlier this year, I asked what kind of journalism is missing from the Cowichan Valley and I heard that there’s a real need for better local reporting. So, every Wednesday, I’ll recap news events of the week, answer your questions, highlight upcoming events and spotlight people who make up our community.

My hope is that this newsletter is really valuable to everyone who lives in our region. If you have thoughts what I can include that would be helpful to you, send me an email

Your question, answered

In an email last week, I asked what questions you have about the upcoming election referendums on affordable housing and watershed protection.

Marilyn Palmer (who, full disclosure, is running for a seat on North Cowichan council) asked, “I’m trying to understand the murky ground around the affordable housing tax. One answer I’m looking for is to whom does the tax go? In one response from a sitting councillor, it sounded like the money would go to developers, since its assumed they won’t build affordable housing without subsidy. Can this be so?”

I talked to Jim Cosh, a director with the Cowichan Housing Association, which would manage the affordable housing money if the referendum passes. He told me:

  • The short answer is no. The association isn’t interested in directly subsidizing developers to build affordable housing units.
  • The fund would be used to attract some of the billions of dollars promised by B.C. and federal governments to build affordable housing. These grants typically require that local governments or organizations put up a portion of the money.
  • Priority projects would likely include seniors’ housing and “housing first”developments for our community’s most vulnerable.
  • Cosh says the plan for supporting low-income housing is less clear. “We haven’t got that terribly thought out, to be frank,” he said. There may be a way to buy down rents in certain units of a development, but it would require a mechanism to insure that the subsidy goes to those who are truly in need, which does not currently exist.

Next week I’ll answer a question about the water referendum. If you’ve got a question, ask it here.

Meet your neighbours

Monica Arthurs says the Cowichan Valley is redneck enough without being scary, and yuppie enough without being scary.

Monica Arthurs, 51, is the president of the Cowichan Valley Roller Derby Association and one of the coaches of the Brass Knuckle Derby Dames. She also goes by her derby name, Angel O’Deth. She lives in Crofton, and in her day job she’s a carpenter.

She says the best thing about the Cowichan Valley is the people — especially her teammates and members of the community who support them.

“This team is a bunch of amazing women that are all here to support each other and help this community grow. To have the opportunity to do that, to have a hall available to us, to have that support. People are excited when we participate in parades and help out here and there. They’re very accommodating and generous, and that’s what I love about our community. Everybody really does have everyone else’s back.”

News of the week

  • On Sept. 27, the city of Duncan council voted down a proposal for a shelter to house homeless women after residents in the proposed neighbourhood “signed petitions, wrote letters and showed up at council to fight the shelter plan.” On Monday, Duncan councillor Roger Bruce suggested a temporary shelter, but that was also voted down.
  • The Cowichan Valley Citizen is reporting that some members of Cowichan Tribes are planning a blockade of the band offices on Oct. 4 in an effort to address a number of concerns, including housing, child welfare, and unemployment.
  • B.C. transportation minister Claire Trevena told CTV her staff is working hard on exploring options for a second route over the Malahat, and that they are “trying to make sure something can happen quickly.”
  • Frazer Smith-George, 15, a member of Cowichan Tribes, is still missing. Family members told CHEK News they worry that his disappearance could be connected with others from the First Nation.

Let’s gather

  • Oct. 4: The WildWings Nature & Arts Festival kicks off Oct. 4 with a launch party and art show at Just Jake’s in Duncan. Festival events continue through the month.
  • Oct. 8: The Duncan Showroom hosts the first annual human foosball tournament, in the parking lot behind the Showroom. The giant foosball table will be open for demonstrations and pick up games on Saturday and Sunday as well.
  • Oct. 11: Alistair MacGregor, MP for Cowichan-Langford-Malahat, hosts a town hall meeting on affordable housing and the national housing strategy at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan campus.

Know of an event that should be featured here? Send me an email. 

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