‘Big vision’ needed in Comox Valley to balance natural environment and prosperity

Dear editor,

While many do not realize it, here in the Comox Valley we are in a constant economic struggle.

Dear editor,

While many do not realize it, here in the Comox Valley we are in a constant economic struggle.

It is worldwide and it is a struggle for wealth — and specifically, a struggle to attract for a certain type of person I will refer to as the portable professional.

Just what is a portable professional, you might ask? Well, they come in all shapes and sizes, but the unifying factor is that they can create wealth anywhere, and their wealth creation mechanism isn’t necessarily reliant on a single resource, natural element, or specific location.

An example of a portable professional is a video game developer. They sell their games online and through various retail outlets which they do not typically own or operate. They need an Internet connection, electricity and basic amenities to power, connect and house their computer, and then they generate wealth.

Another example would be a design specialist who develops detailed drawings of a certain widget or type of widget. They don’t necessarily have to be located where the widgets are made, and again, require the same basic amenities as the video game programmer.

The fact that these portable professionals aren’t linked to a specific natural resource is a key factor to the Comox Valley.

Traditionally, our wealth has been derived from forestry, mining and fishing. However, there is a finite amount of land for trees to grow on, and thus a finite amount of people who can operate in that industry. Mining is similar, with a finite and limited resource, and thus little room for expansion in the true long term.

However, those individuals who generate wealth by using their education, experience and intellect have no such limiting factors, and the Comox Valley can support an almost infinite number of these type of wealth earners.

The main question is, how do we attract these portable professionals? What do they look for in terms of lifestyle, amenities, natural surroundings and culture?

Fortunately, we have some key ingredients here in the Comox Valley. We have incredible natural surroundings. We have a ski hill, marinas, a freshwater lake, a large provincial park and we are on the ocean. These are factors that we have by accident, but we need to make the protection of them a priority.

What many people may not be aware of, or may have forgotten, is that the majority of the forested mountainsides that surround our community are privately owned, and thus not protected. If we wish to maintain the competitive advantage our natural surroundings bring us, we need to be prepared to fight to keep them.

The other aspects of the equation; lifestyle, amenities and culture, are all things we can directly influence. Some concrete examples of communities pursuing projects that will attract portable professionals are places like White Plains, N.Y. — population 56,853.

The municipal government conducted focus groups with young professionals and determined that they chose White Plains over other local centres because of the nightlife, restaurants, family activities, diversity and proximity to Manhattan.

In an effort to emphasize their City’s profile, the municipal government recently introduced bike lanes, Zip cars (a car share service) and approved a temporary closure of a main street for an outdoor yoga event.

How does the Comox Valley compare?

Well, it is an easy float plane trip to Vancouver, and we are starting to see some bike lanes. We’ve had a couple of Car Free Sundays, and our nightlife is vibrant.

If we are to take this war for the portable professional seriously, and attempt to grow this most expandable and sustainable sector of our economy, we need to work collectively to mold the built environment of the Comox Valley into a place these people want to live.

Physically, this will mean bike lanes, improved transit, a pedestrian-only Fifth Street, a bike bridge, a waterfront trail linking Comox to Union Bay; the list goes on.

Cultural amenities like increased arts, music, theatre. Sports amenities like a multiplex with adequate seating and several ice surfaces. Conference amenities like a 1,000-person room that is attractive and in a central location.

A community that works together with a shared focus at all levels — with all of the various municipal governments co-operating and sharing services where possible.

Our housing will have to be more urban, and more attractive to this younger generation of adventurers. They will be comfortable with a smaller footprint, because they go out of their home to recreate and socialize. They look for a place they can walk to work, to school and to the shops. Our planning and development will have to focus on this.

Is this a big vision? Yes — because if you consider the fact that you will generally only ever achieve half of your vision, where we currently have our collective vision set won’t get us very far.

We need a big vision in the Comox Valley to hope to achieve economic sustainability and a balance between our natural environment and prosperity.

Andrew Gower,

Courtenay

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This house at 1514 Trumpeter Cres. is currently for sale, with a disclaimer that the property was used as a cannabis grow operation in the past. Photo by Record staff
Drug trafficking at Courtenay residence nets over $250K forfeiture

Ruling comes from a search warrant executed in 2016 on Trumpeter Crescent home

The inaugural board meeting for the last UBID board was held online May 6. Screenshot, Zoom meeting
Union Bay board says no to ‘No’ side committee addition

Community is preparing to move its services to regional district for July

An excavator reported stolen in March from the Comox Valley was recovered on a rural property south of Nanaimo last week. (Submitted photo)
RCMP recover stolen excavator, return it to Comox Valley owner

Machine located south of Nanaimo; no charges yet as investigation continuing

Town of Comox council (from left) Alex Bissinger, Ken Grant, Nicole Minions, Mayor Russ Arnott, Stephanie McGowan, Maureen Swift and Pat McKenna. Photo by Kim Stallknecht
Comox council calls on B.C. to defer old-growth logging, decriminalize illicit drugs

The motion is similar to a resolution passed by Courtenay council

B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains in the B.C. legislature, May 13, 2019. (Hansard TV)
VIDEO: B.C. to provide 3 days of sick pay for COVID-19 absences

Province will support employers on cost, labour minister says

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

The only access to 5th Street bridge heading east (toward Lewis Park) is via Anderton Avenue. Photo by Terry Farrell.
Single lane alternating traffic controls on Courtenay bridge now in effect

Single lane alternating traffic on the 5th Street Bridge is now in… Continue reading

RCMP. (Black Press File)
Major Crimes called in after two bodies discovered on remote road near Penticton

A manhunt involving a police helicopter took place on May 10

Vancouver court on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Defence lawyers call foul as Crown counsel granted access to COVID-19 vaccines

Defence attorneys are pushing the province to extend inoculation access to workers in courtrooms across B.C.

A Nanaimo RCMP officer is recovering after his patrol car was hit by another vehicle at an intersection on Monday, May 10. (Photo courtesy Julia Rose)
RCMP vehicle broad-sided in Nanaimo intersection crash

Police officer recovering at home following collision Monday

A partnership is looking to identify skeletal remains that were discovered by recreational divers in the Gorge Waterway this February. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Divers find partial human skull in Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

B.C. Coroner Service determines remains likely historical, not ancestral

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. Indigenous leaders are calling for an investigation into the conduct of Mounties on Vancouver Island after two police shootings of members of a small First Nations community in three months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Indigenous leaders call for clarity, investigation into RCMP after B.C. shooting

The RCMP declined to comment on the requests by Indigenous leaders

Most Read