Brian Balsdon’s long-time dream of opening a home decor business came true when he recently opened Country Home & Kitchen at 103-55 Canada Ave. in downtown Duncan.

Balsdon comes from Ontario where he spent a career managing Loblaws and Super Centre locations, as well as owning a grocery store.

He said he had visited Duncan with family before and liked the community so much, he decided to retire here.

But when he moved here almost a year ago, he noticed there was a lack of home decor stores in the downtown core, so he decided to do what he always wanted to do and opened Country Home & Kitchen, which specializes in home decor, and kitchen and gift wares.

“Business has not been bad, and it’s picking up now that the tourist season has started,” Balsdon said.

“It will likely take up to a year for the business to really take off, and that gives us time to figure out what we’re doing and to get better at it. This is an up and coming town that’s growing, and I’m looking forward to having a lot of fun with this store.”


First West Credit Union and its local divisions, including Island Savings which has several branches in the Cowichan Valley, have made a combined donation of $40,000 to Food Banks BC to support individuals and families impacted by the recent B.C. wildfires.

In addition, First West Credit Union board member Ken Voth has pledged $10,000 to the cause, bringing the total amount donated by First West Credit Union and its members to $50,000.

Food Banks BC is First West Credit Union’s signature cause partner.

“As a member-owned financial cooperative, our members align themselves with us for this very reason, to serve their local, and sometimes broader B.C. community, when they need it most,” said Kendall Gross, president of Island Savings.

“It’s times like these when communities need to come together, and we hope that this gesture can help keep food on the table for the individuals and families impacted by this unfortunate situation.”

First West is also leveraging its branch network and digital platforms to encourage its membership base of over 240,000 members to donate to the cause as well.

For more information or to donate, visit


Economic Development Cowichan has launched the Internet Performance Test to better understand the state of internet connectivity throughout the Cowichan region.

The district’s board is looking to develop a regional connectivity strategy and pursue provincial and federal funding to support the delivery of broadband internet service to all communities in the CVRD.

In order to build the most complete picture of the current state of internet connectivity in Cowichan, the EDC is asking residents and businesses to complete the IPT at their home and/or workplace.

The IPT is a free tool that measures internet speed and service quality.

Armed with this information, EDC will seek to develop a strategy to meet the connectivity needs of the region long into the future.

The strategy will identify areas of concern, and explore funding sources and appropriate technologies to improve connectivity in those areas.

“The last 16 months have shown us just how essential good quality internet is to making and maintaining connections, both in our personal and professional lives,” said Aaron Stone, chairman of the CVRD.

“A regional connectivity strategy is the first step in determining how we can improve access for all residents and businesses in Cowichan.”

The IPT is a neutral measurement of internet performance and is not affiliated with any internet service provider.

The tool looks at more than 100 different internet connection factors to determine the speed and quality of your connection.

Visit to learn more and complete the IPT.


In related news, Telus is investing $18 million across central Vancouver Island in network infrastructure and operations this year, including projects in Chemainus and Duncan.

This commitment is part of the company’s $13-billion investment in network infrastructure and operations across B.C. through 2024 to further support the province throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recovery. These investments will create important and tangible social outcomes while many British Columbians continue to work, learn, access healthcare, and socialize from home during these unprecedented times.

Telus’s significant investments across Central Vancouver Island include connecting more households and businesses to the gigabit-enabled Telus PureFibre network, Western Canada’s largest fibre-to-the-premise network that supported more than 3.5 million British Columbians as they adapted to new ways of living throughout the pandemic.

Telus PureFibre is available in Chemainus, Duncan and other Island communities and was ready to withstand the additional demands of COVID-19, particularly as the symmetrical upload and download internet speeds enable residents to work with large files at home while other family members can simultaneously be learning, streaming entertainment, or video chatting with friends.

“Telus is proud to make this generational investment across Central Vancouver Island, providing the technology to connect citizens to loved ones, as well as vital resources and information as we continue to navigate the global pandemic,” said Darren Entwistle, president and CEO of Telus.

“Now more than ever, Telus is committed to keeping our citizens and communities connected and productive through our globally leading wireless network, underpinned by our award winning Telus PureFibre infrastructure that provides the backbone for our 5G-enabled world.”

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