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Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes said the municipality will “re-group” around other rowing uses on Elk/Beaver Lake after Rowing Canada Aviron (RCA) decided to move its permanent training centre to North Cowichan.

Canada’s national rowing body announced Wednesday that North Cowichan will host its future national training centre at Quamichan Lake. Rowing Canada plans to establish a permanent national training centre in the area by October 2020. The local bid to host the facility was among five that made the shortlist.

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“Regarding rowing, this is sad news as we will be losing some amazing athletes in the rowing fraternity from Saanich,” he said, in calling for the recognition of athletes who trained in Saanich. “As mayor, I am quite disappointed at the loss. At the same time, I know the application was excellent. It had all the things in it that we could [offer]. But [RCA] chose the other location. They will do a great job and I wish them well.”

As for the local rowing community, Haynes expects continued development of youth rowing. “This is part of the legacy from the national training centre we have been privileged to host this past decade.”

Brenda Taylor, club manager of Victoria City Rowing Club (VCRC) and boat house manager for the Victoria Rowing Society, said the local bid took nothing for granted in having had a fairly good idea about what the national body wanted.

Jennifer Walinga, who chaired the selection committee, said North Cowichan was the best fit when held up against the five performance criteria identified by coaches, athletes, alumni, technical experts and other members of the rowing community:year-round training availability; course length; lake size; priority access; and water quality.

Perhaps key was the issue of priority access.

Taylor said the local bid was not going to win at all costs by giving the national team priority access over other users, noting that Elk/Beaver Lake is a community facility that many different users access.

“We always knew that was going to be challenge,” she said.

Simply put, more users translate into more wakes, which interfere with training.

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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