Comox Valley, British Columbia
- The Comox Valley is a region on the east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada, that includes the city of
Courtenay, the town of Comox, the village of Cumberland, and the unincorporated settlements of Royston, Union Bay,
Fanny Bay, Black Creek and Merville. The communities of Denman Island and Hornby Island are also considered part of
the Comox Valley. The Comox Valley is listed as the 59th largest metropolitan area in Canada.
During the 1990s, the region was one of the fastest growing in British Columbia, although the growth rate between 2001
and 2006 has averaged just 2.0% annually. Its growth is mostly due to a building boom in Courtenay, but other parts of the
area are being suggested for development, including Cumberland and Union Bay. The growth industries are tourism and
construction, with the Canadian Forces in the form of CFB Comox having long provided significant economic stability
since the decline of logging and mining in the region after the 1960s and fishing in the 1990s. The service sector accounts
for over 50% of employment.
Originally developed as an agricultural settlement in the 1860s in the wake of the Fraser Gold Rush, the area became the
centre of one of the British Empire's largest private railway concerns, the Comox Logging & Railway Company.
Comox Logging owned Block 29, one of the world's best stands of Douglas Fir timber, stretching from south of
Courtenay well to the north of Campbell River. This stand is now owned by TimberWest and is being cut for the second
time. For many years, logging provided the largest single paycheque in the community, but since most workers in the
industry commuted to camps and logging operations further north on the Island or the mainland Coast, the Field lumber
mill in Courtenay was disassembled in the fall of 2006. The legacy of the Comox Valley's once proud forests is
scattered amongst small woodlots on individual farms, or in isolated parks that give a sense of the timber wealth once
drawn from the region.
The wealth of today lies in its combination of natural beauty and rich cultural scene. Besides the many music and arts
festivals the region has a legacy of dramatic and musical instruction in its high schools and through the Comox Valley
Youth Music Centre, which draws students from around the world. The community is also rich in its numerous volunteer
and non-profit organizations devoted to cultural pursuits. The many small communities in the region also boast a wealth of
education and skills, and a devotion to 'place' that gives each neighbourhood and hamlet an inviting texture
and atmosphere. For these reasons, as well as relatively mild (for Canada) climate, the Comox Valley is very attractive to
people looking for small town and rural alternatives to suburban homogenization and urban congestion. With air service
direct to Calgary and points south and east, as well as Edmonton, Albertans have in recent years become a major driver
of the real estate and population boom.
The Valley is also known as The Valley of Festivals. Events include (amongst others) the Art & Bloom Festival, North
Island Hot Jazz Festival, Comox Valley Shellfish Festival, About Town!, Marina Park Main Event, CYMC Summer School &
Festival, Vancouver Island MusicFest, Hornby Island Festival, Filberg Festival, Comox Nautical Days, Showcase Festival,
Comox Valley Exhibition Fall Fair and the Big Time Out.