There was much to be celebrated at Rowing Canada Aviron’s National Training Centre on Quamichan Lake Thursday morning, Sept. 28. As rowers bustled to and fro preparing for this weekend’s 2023 National Rowing Championships on Quamichan Lake, dignitaries gathered to officially open the growing facility’s new docks and to celebrate the resulting the positive impacts, economic and otherwise, that the region is projected to benefit from.
Rowing Canada CEO Terry Dillon welcomed all to the special event and thanked the many partners that have allowed the infrastructure project to proceed over the years, including the governments of Canada and B.C., Pacific Economic Development Canada, the Municipality of North Cowichan, Islands Coastal Economic Trust (ICET), Mosiac Forest Management, the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Duncan Community Lodge, Western Forest Products, Harriet and John Lehnen, Maple Bay Rowing Club, and other individuals and private and/or anonymous donors.
Dillon said that at any given time there are 50-60 athletes, coaches and support staff training out of the Centre and living and spending their money in the region.
“It’s really exciting for us,” he said, acknowledging that this weekend there’ll be roughly 250 rowers and support staff at the site and boosting the local economy.
“Today marks a special day for us as we host for the second time the National Rowing Championships,” Dillon said. “We feel really excited about the opportunity to host them here, to take advantage of the work we’ve done on the facility we’ve created, and with the course on the lake.”
Dillon thanked Maple Bay Rowing Club president Susan Macdonald for her efforts with the project. She later noted that her group, and rowing interest within the region in general, has thrived with the arrival of and partnership with Rowing Canada.
With the club’s younger members able to engage with and be inspired by the world-class athletes, it’s been a strong relationship between MBRC and Rowing Canada, she said.
“We are thrilled to have the national team as our neighbours,” she said. “It’s definitely been beneficial on so many levels.”
Dillon noted that it was never the intention for the National Training Centre to host major rowing events such as the nationals.
“It was obviously always the intention that there would be a huge impact on the community in terms of the location of our programs and staff and those around our programs here but it’s been a wonderful add-on to the vision to be able to host an event like this and to feel confident that we have the capacity to do that. And none of that would be possible without the docks and the shoreline infrastructure which we’re here to celebrate.”
National team member Kristen Kit, who in her role as the coxswain recently helped the Canadian Women’s eight qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics, talked about the impact the new infrastructure at the National Training Centre has had on the athletes, and the pride she has, as a paralympic rower, in saying the facility is accessible.
“It’s so amazing to be at the National Training Centre to be able to say ‘yeah, we have accessible docks’. It makes me really proud to be here. It makes me really proud to be on the Canadian National Team knowing that these docks can welcome everyone.”