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Duncan Citizen
January 30, 2005

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"Province has $5.5 million to complete (Pacific Marine) Circle Route"

by Lexi Bainas

The province is spending $5.5 million to create the Pacific Marine Circle Route, connecting Victoria, Sooke, Port Renfrew, Lake Cowichan and Duncan.

Some $3 million will be spent improving 25 kilometres of logging road, purchased from TimberWest by the province for $2.5 million, between Lake Cowichan and Port Renfrew.

The project was announced Friday by Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and Labour Minister and Cowichan-Ladysmith MLA Graham Bruce at a ceremony in Lake Cowichan.

"That road will now be a public road. That means we can start to make some improvements between Port Renfrew and the Lake, road widening, culverts, some bank adjustments and some other things."

strange geophysical tidal pools
Botanical Beach
Tidal Pools

"By showcasing the Pacific Marine Circle Route, we hope to make visitors and locals more aware of the first-class experiences available right here on Vancouver Island," he said. "The wine route program we introduced last year has tremendously improved business at wineries on the Island, and I expect the Circle Route program will generate similar success."

"Today is Christmas for me," said Lake Cowichan Mayor Jack Peake, a member of the so-called 'Loop Group.' "This is the day, folks. I want to see some of those tour buses coming in here. There is no way of defining how valuable this is for the community."

Peake still wants a connecting road between Lake Cowichan and Port Alberni, and eventually from there to the Comox Valley, but, "That particular issue is still sitting dormant right now. Port Alberni doesn't have the wherewithal or the interest to go on with it but my view is now this portion has taken care of itself, it's time to go on to promoting the other one as well."

Joe Allan, one of the Cowichan Valley Regional District directors for the area in question, said, "The best thing about it is that it's now a public road. That means they can work on it. It's great news. I've always been a booster of the Port Alberni Cavalcade, too, and this is great for the area."

TimberWest's Steve Lorimer called it "a great day. It's the culmination of a long period of discussion with local politicians, MLAs, MPs and people involved in business along what's going to form this circle route."

"We were able to put together something that made sense for everybody and here we are. It's really a good news story for all the communities along that circle route. There will be some areas that are very close to the San Juan River, people can see river valley bottoms. It'll be very scenic."

The Pacific Marine Circle Route will officially open in the Spring, following completion of improvements to the logging road, which Brice said may have begun this week.

The route includes: Highways 1 and 14 from Victoria to Sooke and Port Renfrew; a gravel road from Port Renfrew to Lake Cowichan; Highway 18 from Lake Cowichan to Duncan; and Cowichan Bay Road and Highway 1 from Duncan back to Victoria.

It will be an interesting tour for "rubber tire tourists," Falcon said. "These are people who like to drive around an area on holiday. They love circle routes. They hate to backtrack."

This article published from the "The Duncan Citizen"

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