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Comox Valley Overview
Comox Valley, British Columbia
The Comox Valley Regional District in British Columbia was created to provide regional services to its current population of 66,527 people.
This region of Vancouver Island comprises a greater than 660 square mile (about 1700 square kilometre) area that stretches to Mud Bay in the South, Saratoga beach in the North, the Strait of Georgia in the East, and the Beaufort Mountains in the West. This region is currently populated by about 66,527 people according to the results of the 2016 census, and it comprises the communities of Courtenay, Comox, Cumberland, CFB Comox, Royston, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, Merville, Black Creek, and Saratoga Beach as shown on the following map.
The median family income in 2013 was reported at $72,600 (compared to a BC average of $74,150) and the crime rate per 100,000 recorded in 2015 was 7,374 (compared to a BC average of 8,799). The 2016 population breakdown is children under 19 accounting for 19% and seniors (65+) accounting for 25%. The median age in the Comox Valley is 48.3 (49.1 in Comox and 46.5 in Courtenay). Of the people, about 98% speak English at home and 45% have post-secondary education. There were 32,076 private dwelling recorded during the 2016 census and this number continues to rise as new construction briskly continues is a number of areas.
The top five industries are retail trade (14.3%), health care and social assistance (12.8%), public administration (9.6%), construction (8.5%) and educational services (7.8%). About 87% of people aged 25 to 54 participate in the labour force (2013 stats) compared to 85% in BC. The local airport had 318,830 passengers use it in 2014 and 351,530 use it in 2015.
Our Geographic Area
Comox Valley Demographics details taken during the 2011 census follow
Males 48% and females 52%; Ages 0-19 comprise 20% of the population and ages 65 and over comprise 22% of the population
Ages 19-64 comprise 64% of the population. People in the 20s comprise 9%; people in their 30s comprise 10%; people in their 40s comprise 14%; people in their 50s comprise 16%; and ages 60-64 comprise 9%.
The median age in Courtenay is 48.3 years compared to the median age in British Columbia of 41.9 years and the median age in Canada of 39.5 years. As an aside the highest median age in a community in BC is Qualicum Beach at 63.9 years.
Household Marital Status and Languages Spoken
Nearly 70% of families are married couples, 15% common law and 15% single parent. Nearly 91% report English as their mother tongue, 6% speak a non official language (German, Dutch and Spanish being the most prevalent) and 2.4% speak French.
About 66% of private household families live in single detached houses. About 15% live in semi-detached or row houses, 15% live in apartments and 4% live in movable homes.
Our Air Force Base – CFB Comox
Canadian Forces Base Comox (19 Wing) is an operational based of the Royal Canadian Air Force. CFB Comox is located on the Southern tip of the Comox Peninsula near Cape Lazo. The main gate of the base is located about 6 Km from the town of Comox and about 9 km from the City of Courtenay. The Base’s Aurora crews keep watch over the Pacific Ocean looking for illegal fishing, migration, drugs and pollution in addition to foreign submarines. With CC-115 Buffalo Aircraft and CH-149 Cormorant Helicopters, they also carry out search and rescue operations in the busiest region in Canada, stretching from the B.C.-Washington border to the Arctic, and from the Rocky Mountains to 1,200 km out into the Pacific.
Our Airport Passenger Terminal
The Comox Valley Airport is located on the Western side of the short 5,000 foot runway (Runway 18/36) operated by CFB Comox. The Base also operates a longer 10,000 foot runway (Runway 12/30). Flying to Vancouver Island is a breeze when you fly through the Comox Valley Airport (YQQ). YQQ is a premier Vancouver Island airport and the best and most convenient way to access this beautiful island. YQQ offers daily non-stop flights with Air Canada, Central Mountain Air, Pacific Coastal Airlines and WestJet.
Our Snowbird Visitors in April
The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are an aerobatic demonstration team located at Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. They currently operate the Canadair CT-114 Tutor jet aircraft. They come out to CFB Comox in April to work up for their airshow season which runs from the end of April to early October where they fly across Canada and into the US.
The Comox Glacier is a glacier on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, located 30 km southwest of Courtenay and 1 km west of Argus Mountain in Strathcona Provincial Park.
The Strait of Georgia separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. It is approximately 240 kilometres (150 mi) long and varies in width from 20 to 58 kilometres (12 to 36 mi). The mean depth of the Strait of Georgia is 157 metres (515 ft), with a maximum depth of 448 metres (1,470 ft).
The Comox Harbour is located about 2 blocks from downtown Comox. It has provided shelter for ships since the late 1800’s. Today it is home to a large commercial fishing fleet and a sizable number of pleasure craft. Nestled beneath the Beaufort Mountains and the Comox Glacier the Comox Harbour has spectacular views. Boaters traveling Georgia Strait, the Gulf Islands, and Baynes Sound will find dedicated guest moorage, with 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service, available on the South East side of the Harbour from mid May to mid September each year. Washrooms, showers, laundry, tourist information as well as an air conditioned lounge are located in our new building on the Wharfhead to make your stay in port more enjoyable.
Goose Spit Recreation Area Near Comox
The Goose Spit Recreation Area park is a unique landform, which together with Gartley Point creates the Comox Harbour. It is a flexible sand spit fed by the Willemar Bluffs. On the inside is a sheltered lagoon which provides food and habitat for many migratory and resident waterfowl. Brant geese use the park as a migratory stop over from March to May every year. The park lies within the provincially rare coastal sand ecosystem and is home to a number of provincially blue and red listed plants and animals
Perhaps not as well known are the ancient coastal temperate rainforests that inhabit Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island on Canada’s west coast has some of the most spectacular rainforest landscapes in the world. Coastal Rainforests cover less than 10 per cent of the world’s land surface. Some areas of the temperate Rainforests have trees well over 1,000 years old, and some of the trees have bases more than 30 feet around.
Spectacular views are often available from our shorelines. Some look out towards the Coastal Mountain range on the mainland while others look out towards the Comox Glacier
Our Crown Isle Golf Course
The Crown Isle Golf course is a platinum rated par 72 18-hole course that was designed by Graham Cooke & Associates. It opened in 1992. The course has 11 lakes, views of the Beaufort mountain range & Comox glacier.
Our Mount Washington Ski Resort
Mount Washington Alpine Resort is an alpine skiing ski resort located on Mount Washington on the eastern edge of the Vancouver Island Ranges in British Columbia, Canada.
Bald Eagles are common around Vancouver Island. They build their nests at the top of large conifers selecting trees with open access, good visiblity and close to water. The nest can weight several hundred kilograms and are used over many seasons. Bald Eagles require five to six years to be their full adult size. Juvenile birds are dark brown, and are often taken to be Golden Eagles. Second and third year birds show considerable white on their undersides, but by the fourth year, the white of the head and tail are beginning to show.
Whales can be viewed in the ocean that surrounds Vancouver Island. There are Orcas (killer whales), Pacific grey whales, humpback whales and lots of other marine wildlife. An estimated 79 Orcas live in the the waters around southern Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands, while the northeast coast is home to about 250 Orcas, as well as minke and humpback whales. Some 20,000 Pacific grey whales make their annual migration along Vancouver Island’s west coast
Our Filberg Festival
The Filberg Festival takes place in early August in the gardens of the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park. It encourages excellence in all forms of arts and crafts, and to assist in the promotion and sale of quality work. The Festival has established a world-wide reputation for the excellence of the work of its artisans, and today is one of western Canada’s largest outdoor arts show. Over 300 people volunteer each year to make this event a reality.
Our Music Festival
The Vancouver Island Music Festival takes place at the Comox Valley Fairgrounds just outside of Courtenay in the middle of July of each year.
Our Car Show
The Comox Valley Classic Cruisers Car Show takes place about the 3rd week of July each year and it is preceded by a Cruise around the valley the day before.
Our Seafood Festival
The BC Shellfish Festival takes place in Comox Marina Park in the middle of June of each year
Our Regional District
The Comox Valley Regional District provides services to rural areas, and to urban areas in cooperation with municipalities. The Comox Valley Regional District manages over 100kms of forested trails. There are 9.2 parkland hectares per 1000 people in Comox and 7 in Courtenay compared to the national standard of 4. The village of Cumberland enjoys 66.3 where the average age is 38.2. Recreational facilities and spaces most accessed include local beaches, CVRD trails (Goose Spit, Seal Bay, Nymph Falls, Grassy Point, etc.), municipal parks and playgrounds and provincial parks (Strathcona, Kitty Coleman, Helliwell, etc).
Our Transit System
The Comox Valley Transit System is cost-shared between BC Transit and the regional district.
Our School District
The Comox Valley is served by School District 71 which provides elementary and secondary schools and services.
Our Health Care
Our local hospital is St. Josephs General Hospital located in Comox soon to be replaced by a new one under construction in East Courtenay. The Comox Valley offers diverse accommodations, dining, recreation, cultural, and leisure activities surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in all of Canada.
Car Insurance and Health Care
If you are contemplating a move to the Comox Valley and are new to British Columbia there are a few differences between our province and others that you should be aware of. The first is car insurance and the role that the Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) plays. Click on the following PDF link to obtain a copy of the ICBC Brochure called Motorists Moving to or from BC. Motorists Moving to BC an ICBC Car Insurance The second is Health Care and the BC Medical Services Plan (MSP). Click on the following PDF link to obtain a copy of the BC Government Ministry of Health brochure on the provincial MSP. BC Medical Services Plan
Quality of Life in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, BC
Our Comox Valley communities offer a terrific place to live. The Comox Valley weather is one of the most temperate climates in Canada. Discover more about each of these Comox Valley communities by reading the information below. If you are not familiar with the Comox Valley, take a few minutes to watch the two videos below – Discover Comox Valley and the Comox Valley Escape. These videos were produced by Comox Valley Tourism Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Increasingly, people from other parts of Canada are choosing to relocate to the Comox Valley for the quality of life that is offered out here on the West Coast.
Access and Accomodations
Access to the valley is through the Comox Valley airport the ferry operated by BC Ferries from Powell River to Little River and by Highway 19 (a four lane express highway) or 19A (a two lane scenic highway). Both highways are part of the Province of British Columbia road system.
Local area accommodations include a number of hotels and motels, resorts, campgrounds, and many other options.
The Comox Valley is located about one-half way up Vancouver Island on the Eastern side. From this fairly central location, you will find an incredible number of things to do on the island.
Vancouver Island has been recognized by Conde Nast Traveller magazine as the Top North American Island for a number of years. The island is well known for its saltwater and freshwater fishing.From the Comox Valley you can lauch your boat into the Strait of Georgia and go after salmon, cod, snapper, halibut and other species of saltwater fish and shellfish. You can also fish a number of rivers for steelhead, and fish from the beach for pinks. Or, if you prefer, you can head out to one of the lakes and catch trout (rainbow and cutthroat). If you venture further you can go to the West, North, or South side of the island and catch fish as well.
Perhaps not as well known are the ancient coastal temperate rainforests with trees well over 1,000 years old, and some with bases more than 30 feet around. The largest trees are found in areas such as Carmanah Walbran Provincial Park (20 km northwest of Port Renfrew on the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island), Cathedral Grove (MacMillan) Provincial Park (25 km west of Qualicum Beach and 16 km east of Port Alberni on central Vancouver Island), and Clayquot Sound (on the West Coast opposite the Comox Valley).
Strathcona Provincial Park is the oldest Provincial Park in British Columbia. It was designated in 1911 and is located in almost the centre of Vancouver Island. Two areas of the park, Buttle Lake and Forbidden Plateau, offer developed areas for visitors while the rest of the park is mainly undeveloped. Buttle lake is home to Cutthroat, Dolly Vaden and Rainbow trout and can be accessed by following highway 19 north past Courtenay to Campbell River and then highway 28 west for about 48 km. Forbidden Plateau can be accessed by taking the Strathcona Parkway (exit #130 on highway 19 north of Courtenay) to the Mount Washington Ski Resort and then taking the Paradise Meadows trailhead at Mount Washington.
There are quite a number of good golf courses spread throughout the Comox Valley. Within Courtenay and Comox these include the Comox Golf Club (9-hole course that opened in 1913), Crown Isle Golf Club (par 72, 18-hole course), Glacier Greens (18-hole championship course), Longlands (18-hole par 3 course), Mulligans (executive length course with 6 par 3s and 3 par 4s) and Sunny Dale (18-hole course). Watch out for the deer on the courses on the Comox Peninsula.
From the Comox Valley it is possible to go fishing, skiing and golfing in the same day!
Our Valley offers many places to stay and eat, and you can hike, bike, swim and camp in a number of areas. Among a number of other things to do are museums (Air Force museum and the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre), the Rialto Movie Theatre, and the Sid Williams Theatre. Some of the events during the course of the year includes Canada Day in Courtenay, Nautical Days in Comox (end July), Empire Days in Cumberland (end May), the Comox Valley Exhibiton off Headquarters Road in Courtenay (end Aug), the Filberg Festival in Comox by the Filberg Lodge (end July), the Comox Valley Shellfish Festival (Mid June), Vancouver Island Music Fest (early July), the Big Day Up on Mount Washington (mid July) and the Big Time out near Cumberland (mid Aug).
There is always something to do in our Valley. If you want to chill out and relax, visit the pier at the Comox Marina, and sit and enjoy the view of the Beaufort Mountains and the Comox Glacier. Go out to Kye Bay Beach and sit and admire the Strait of Georgia and the Coast Mountains in the background. You may even catch a cruise ship heading north. Or head down to the Comox Spit, enjoy a fire on the beach and a spectacular panaramic ocean view. You can also visit a local brewery (Surgenor Brewing Company in Comox) or winery (Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in Courtenay), (40 Knots Winery in Comox), (Blue Moon Estate Winery in Courtenay), (Coastal Black Winery in Black Creek), and on Hornby Island – Middle Mountain Mead, Carbrea Vineyard and Windery, and Hornby Island Winery, or the Shelter Point Single Malt Whisky Distillery just north of the Oyster River, and try some excellent local offerings. When you get hungry drop by one of our local orchards, berry and vegetable farms and farmers markets and pick up some locally grown food. To burn it off, head out to the hiking and biking trails at Seal Bay Nature Park on the Comox Peninsula or the meandering trails that follow the Puntledge River in Nymph Falls Park.
Clearly, there is much more to do on Vancouver Island. To find out what else you can do, browse through the online Vancouver Island Vacation Guide.
Comox Valley community organizations are numerous. Following are a few of the service-related and other community organizations that exist in the Comox Valley have been added to this page for the information and convenience of people who are not currently residents but who are considering making the Valley their home. These links are provided for information only and should not be taken as endorsement. If any community organizations listed here wish to be removed from this page please let me know. Others who have a web page who wish to be added, please send me a request. thank you.
There are two online publications that provide an overview of accomodations, recreation, restaurants, entertainment and area information in the Comox Valley. They are the Comox Valley Guide (www. comoxvalleyguide.com) and Discover Comox Valley (www. discovercomoxvalley.com). Toursim Vancouver Island provides information on our entire island and it offers a virtual guide for the island on its home page (www. vancouverisland.travel). The If you are looking for more information on businesses, visit the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce website (www. comoxvalleychamber.com)
Information on the arts can be found through the Comox Valley Arts Council (www. comoxvalleyarts.org) and by visiting the website of the Comox Valley Art Gallery (www. comoxvalleyartgallery.com) or the gallery at 580 Duncan Avenue in Courtenay. The Sid Wiliams Theatre Society for the performing arts is located at 442 Cliffe Ave in Courtenay (www. sidwilliamstheatre.com). If museums interest you, the Courtenay & District Museum & Palaeontology Centre is located at 360 Cliffe Avenue in Courtenay.
There are many community service organizations in the Comox Valley. They include the:
Courtenay Rotary Club which meets Tuesdays at 12 pm at the Westerly Hotel (1590 Cliffe Ave in Courtenay);
The Rotary Club of Comox which meets Thursdays at 630 pm at the D’Esterre House (1801 Beaufort Ave in Comox);
Rotary Club of Strathcona Sunrise which meets Wednesdays at 7 am at the Best Western (1675 Cliffe Ave in Courtenay);
Comox Valley Lions Club which meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of each month at the Lion’s Den (1729 Comox Ave – Comox);
Comox Valley Monarch Lions Club which meets Mondays at 12 pm at the White Spot (2299 Cliffe Ave in Courtenay);
Royston-Cumberland Lions Club which meets the second Tuesday of the month at 7pm in various locations; and
Black Creek Lions Club which meets on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 730 pm at 1547 Dingwall Rd in Courtenay.
Canadian Forces Base Comox has a number of unique community organizations that support its personnel including the:
19 Wing Community Gateway (www. cfpsa.ca)
Comox Military Family Resource Centre (www. familyforce.ca)
The Comox Air Force Museum (www. comoxairforcemuseum.ca)
888 (Komox) RCAF Wing (250-339-0888)
The Comox Valley Newcomers Club is a social group for men and women who have moved to the Comox Valley in the past year or two. This club meets at the Filberg Centre at 411 Anderton Ave in Courtenay the 2nd Monday of the Month at 7 pm. Contact ellispat @gmail.com
You Are Not Alone (YANA) offers help to local families who need to travel to access medical treatment for their children. The office is located at 495 Fitgerald Ave in Courtney (www. yanacomoxvalley.com and 250-334-3268)
The Service Canada Job Bank can be accessed online at www. jobbank.gc.ca and the Comox Valley Job Shop can be accessed at http:// the jobshop.ca
The Comox Valley Food Bank is located at 1755 13th Street in Courtenay (250-338-0615)
The Comox Valley has many different sports organizations that include the:
Comox Valley Minor Hockey Association (http:// cvma.goalline.ca);
Comox Valley Baseball Association (www. cvba.ca); and
Comox Valley United Soccer Club (www. cvusc.org)
Other community organizations include:
The Comox Valley Senior’s Centre Association (d’Esterre House Seniors’ Centre at 1801 Beaufort Ave in Comox – call 250-339-5133 or visit www. comoxseniors.ca
The Georgia Straight Jazz Society (Thursdays at 730 pm at Elk’s Hall 231 6th St Courtenay (http:// georgiastraightjazz.com)
The Comox Valley Classic Cruisers car club meets the 4th Sunday of each month at the Whitespot restaurant in Courtenay and during the summer months members gather at the A&W on Thursday nights around 630 pm (www. cvclassiccruisers.com)
Early History of the Comox Valley
The Comox Valley has changed greatly since the Elasmosaurus roamed this region of Vancouver Island. This marine reptile genus of plesiosaur used four flippers to propel itself through water and roam the land and sea during the Campanian stage of the Late Cretaceous era roughly 80.5 million years ago. Substantial change occurred in successive waves during the Earth shaping glacial ages between 650,000 years ago and the last “ice age” that gave way to warming about 20,000 years ago. The Comox Glacier remains as visible evidence of this “Fraser Glaciation”. The warming was followed by human inhabitation of North America by Paleo-Indians. Evidence of First Nations settlements in British Columbia dates back about 9000 years to the time when the climate stabilized.
The Salish word Komoux (original spelling of Comox) means “plenty”. This label became “Land of Plenty” as it was applied to what is now known as the Comox Valley by its original inhabitants. According to our local museum and paleontology centre Sir Francis Drake visited the area in 1579. This assertion is made based on research by Canadian Samuel Bawlf. Bawlf suggested, in his 2003 book The Secret Voyage of Sir Francis Drake, 1577-1580 (ISBN 1-55054-977-4) that Drake’s reference to landing in what he called New Albion (the name of the region of the Pacific Coast of North America explored by Drake) was, in fact, what is now known as Comox on Vancouver Island. This conclusion, however, is not shared by other historians like Jules Verne and Samuel Johnson.
What does not appear to be contested is the claim that first contact in Comox between the original First Nations inhabitants and its European visitors took place in 1792 when the Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Discovery anchored in the Comox Harbour.
Interestingly, the sign erected at the Comox Harbour to describe its history does not mention either of these dates. It does mention that the Comox Harbour was used by the Royal Navy in the mid-1800s, that it played an important role in the maritime history of British Columbia, and that it was once known as Port Augusta. The sign discusses the arrival of James Robb in 1862, the construction of the wharf in 1874, and the subsequent growth of the community and Town of Comox (view my video below on the Comox Harbour to read the sign). The sign adds that this harbour provided the only means of connecting Comox to larger centres such as Nanaimo and Victoria until a connecting road was built in 1910. Four years later the E & N Railway connected Courtenay to these other locations.
For a complete history of the Comox Valley click the following link to a PDF comox-valley-and-comox-history