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The future of the world’s largest hockey stick in the air

Cowichan Valley residents may have a chance to weigh in on the future of the world’s largest hockey stick through a survey

Will Cowichan Valley allow Lockport, Illinois to take the title of home to the world’s largest hockey stick from Vancouver Island? From Canada?

Area residents will have a chance to weigh in on that question if the Cowichan Valley Regional District accepts a recommended survey on the future of the stick.

Estimated replacement costs could be “in excess of several million dollars” depending on design, construction material and schedule, staff said in a report to a recent Cowichan Community Center committee meeting.

The pole has been mounted since 1988 at the Cowichan Community Center, co-owned by Duncan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District and located just inside Cowichan’s northern border.

Lockport, population 26,000, is keen to win bragging rights with a 76m stick, which would beat Cowichan’s 62.5m stick.

The community southwest of Chicago would set up the stick at a planned 71,000-square-foot ice facility with two NHL regulation-size ice rinks.

It’s no secret that Cowichan’s 60,000-pound stick is in need of improvement.

Ongoing maintenance and extensive repairs in the early 2000s extended the life of the hockey stick, but the stick’s structure shows evidence of advanced deterioration, a staff report says.

Last year, a woodpecker tried to make its home on the stick by poking holes in it, but the bird eventually kept going.

A consultant said the regional district should plan for significant renovations or replacements by 2025.

The stick was originally commissioned by the federal government and was featured at the entrance to the Canadian pavilion at Expo ’86 in Vancouver.

More than 30 other communities entered a contest for the stick, but the World’s Largest Hockey Stick Society raised $150,000 to bring it to Vancouver Island.

The society transferred the stick to the regional district in 1994. The Guinness Book of World Records determined it to be the largest hockey stick and puck in 2008.

“It’s definitely a point of pride for the Duncan community,” said Brian Cant, vice president of business impact and engagement with 4VI, formerly Tourism Vancouver Island. “This is one of a collection of beloved roadside attractions.”

Vancouver Island has other peculiar attractions. Port McNeill was home to the world’s largest Burl, recently damaged when it was set on fire. In 2019, the nearly eight meter tall Howard the Gnome moved from Nanoose Bay to Galey Farms in Saanich.

Options for the regional district include modifying the pole support system, replacing existing materials, building a new pole, making it larger, or not replacing it.

Some regional district board members suggested earlier this year that the stick could be extended.

The estimated replacement cost came in last year at between $1.5 million and $2 million, though it is likely to increase over the next two years due to inflation and anticipated rising construction costs, according to the staff report.

A capital reserve fund amounts to about $3.37 million, but much of that is designated to replace the roof of the community center.

“Time is of the essence” because of the time it would take to run a public participation process and the 2025 deadline, according to the staff report.

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