Regional communities on Vancouver Island / Coast

Last updated: May 27, 2024

The Vancouver Island/Coast economic region is located on the west coast of B.C. and includes all of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and some of the coastal regions of the Mainland. It includes the cities of Nanaimo and Victoria, the provincial capital. This region is known for its temperate climate, unspoiled wilderness, and beautiful coastlines. In this very diverse area, you will find mountains, beaches, ancient rainforests, and agricultural farmland. Boating, kayaking, surfing, hiking, and wildlife viewing are very popular, and the region is home to many artists, festivals, and cultural events. 
Vancouver Island/Coast’s economy includes health care and social assistance, retail trade, professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and educational services. Many people have jobs in public administration.


Participating communities in the Vancouver Island/Coast region:

Campbell River

Community Description
The City of Campbell River wants to attract entrepreneurs that are interested in innovating within industries that are already present there, such as forestry, aquaculture, aviation, and food production. The city is also seeking entrepreneurs who can support its tourism industry by bringing a diverse and innovative approach to its community of restauranteurs.

Campbell River offers many programs to support entrepreneurs, including access to the modern entrepreneur series and training opportunities, access to the NexStream Tech Challenge, connections to the Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, Immigrant Welcome Centre, Young professionals of Campbell River, and the North Island Employment Foundations Society.

People are increasingly drawn to this growing city by its livability, affordability, and incredible natural environment. Nature is never far from home, and outdoor activities include hiking, watersports, whale watching, and skiing. Residents enjoy arts and culture, indoor and outdoor recreation, top-notch shopping and dining. Campbell River’s resources, facilities, and services include a new hospital, elementary and high schools, and campuses for North Island College and Discovery Community College.

Campbell River’s vision is for a diverse and thriving innovation economy, where individuals, enterprises and organizations come together to co-create solutions to pressing economic, environmental, and social problems—for the community and the world, within the region’s established industries, and its many emerging ones.
Priority Sectors:
3119 - Other food manufacturing
3212 - Veneer, plywood and engineered wood product manufacturing
5417 - Scientific research and development services
7225 - Full-service restaurants and limited-service eating places

Population: 36,167



Community Description
The Town of Comox is looking for entrepreneurs in the food and beverage processing, professional and high-tech services, and marine tourism sectors. Comox is strategically located next to the only air force base in western Canada, and the Comox Valley Airport which is serviced by major airlines. Comox would also like to see development of the nearby industrial lands with aerospace and transportation supply chain businesses.

The Comox Business in Action (BIA) organization supports local business in the town by promoting trade, commerce, and an enhanced business and social environment. The Downtown Vitalization Program provides incentives to encourage mixed-use commercial and residential development to support and increase entrepreneurship and business expansion, as well as grow the area’s social and environmental vitality.

Surrounded by the ocean and beaches, Comox boasts a vibrant downtown core, stunning marina, extensive greenways, public schools, parks, and sports fields. Comox is also home to North Island College. Visitors and residents enjoy a wide range of experiences year-round including whale & marine wildlife watching, kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, sailing, culinary tours, biking, hiking, and skiing at nearby Mount Washington. 

Comox is gaining its reputation for its quality of life and as a popular tourism destination. Over the next 5 years, development within the Town of Comox could include hotels and accommodation, continued craft brewery district growth, airport industrial lands development, and contemporary retail businesses that appeal to the area’s growing base of active and healthy residents.
Priority Sectors:
3113 - Sugar and confectionery product manufacturing
3114 - Fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing
3364 - Aerospace product and parts manufacturing
5414 - Specialized design services
5415 - Computer systems design and related services
5417 - Scientific research and development services
7211 - Traveller accommodation
Population: 13,812


Mount Waddington

Community description
The Mount Waddington region includes the communities of Alert Bay, Port Alice, Port Hardy and Port McNeill, all of which are looking for entrepreneurs in various industries.

The Village of Port Alice is visually stunning and a great place to begin outdoor adventures. It has a community centre and an elementary school with small classes. The community is seeing an influx of families and couples moving to the area permanently and needs more local businesses to support them. Port Alice would particularly like to see new accommodation options, restaurants and a convenience store.
Port Hardy is seeking entrepreneurs with an interest in construction trades, marine services (such as a boat haul-out facility), commercial laundry, tourism-related industries, or daycare facilities to fill niche markets. The community offers support for new and existing businesses through easy access to the Municipal corporate services and city planning services, a business-friendly tax structure, and a responsive Chamber of Commerce. Port Hardy’s strategic plan is focused on affordable housing, training opportunities to ensure employers have access to qualified staff, innovative business programs, a new regional airport and an extensive marine highway system. Tourism Port Hardy will continue to position its community as a desirable vacation destination. Port Hardy’s friendly residents enjoy high quality of life and amenities such as high-speed internet, a state-of-the-art airport and a deep-sea port, healthcare facilities, a high school, as well as a College. It features extensive indoor and outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages such as park and trail systems, tennis, golf, skating, and curling. Several service organizations and social groups provide invaluable support for the community.
Port McNeill is surrounded by mountains and ocean, with opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, storm watching, kayaking, fishing, whale watching, and boating. Port McNeill is looking for eco tourism, property development, RV and boat storage, marine support activities, campsite(s), seniors care, and daycare businesses. The community features business support organizations such as Community Futures, a downtown improvement committee, and economic development staff. It also offers many volunteer opportunities and family-friendly activities. Port McNeill is hoping and planning for a 2% population increase, per year, for the next 20 years. They are also hoping to grow ecotourism opportunities. Port McNeill is also currently reviewing zoning to facilitate strategic growth within existing areas.
The Mount Waddington region is an attractive place to live where the future looks bright. Mount Waddington offers regional services for businesses through organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce, as well as partnerships with the surrounding municipalities, and various programs related to business development. The communities in Mount Waddington work to support policies that will ensure jobs, a healthy environment and sustainable living for the future.
Priority Sectors:
238 - Specialty trade contractors
487 - Scenic and sightseeing transportation
512 - Motion picture and sound recording industries
711 - Performing arts, spectator sports and related industries
2361 - Residential building construction
7139 - Other amusement and recreation industries
Population: 11,035


Powell River

Community Description 
Located within the traditional territories of the Tla’amin Nation, Powell River has the coastal mountains in its backyard and the ocean on its doorstep. The community provides a wonderful mixture of world class arts, culture, recreation, heritage, festivals, and high quality education, healthcare and infrastructure that have drawn many people to Powell River to build a different kind of life in a safe and comfortable environment.
Powell River is growing. Over the last five years it has seen enhanced domestic migration, housing starts are up, and commercial growth has followed. Many of Powell River’s new residents, some having emigrated from other countries, are entrepreneurs and started new businesses, or they have bought established businesses. Others are telecommuters, working remotely and enjoying the wonderful balance of work and life. Despite the growth being experienced, there is still a need to attract investment in the sectors identified for future growth.
Powell River welcomes entrepreneurs in the IT sector, and those in clean technology industries that have a low carbon footprint and provide products or services that mitigate the effects of climate change. The city has infrastructure and space to support land-based recirculating aquaculture, food production and manufacturing, and aviation-related businesses. Powell River also has a strong artistic reputation and would like to continue attracting motion picture, television, and video workers. In addition, the region is looking to add new higher end accommodation options.
Powell River has numerous stakeholder agencies and programs to help entrepreneurs start their businesses and become part of the community. These include a WorkBC Centre, Lift Community Services Society, Community Futures, Coastline Colab, and a Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber offers regular opportunities for professional development and networking, benefiting new and existing entrepreneurs in the community. 

Priority Sectors:
311 - Food manufacturing
512 - Motion picture and sound recording industries
5415 - Computer systems design and related services
11251 - Aquaculture
48819 - Other support activities for air transportation
54169 - Other scientific and technical consulting services
721113 - Resorts

Population: 13,865