What if we could achieve the exceptional as a community? What kind of community do we want to leave behind for our children and grandchildren? How do we create the transformative in our plans that help get us to our aspirational horizon line?


The Town of Comox is creating an Economic Development Strategy that aims to answer these questions.

Good things have been happening in Comox. But the global, national, and BC economy continues to rapidly evolve and innovate, and recent economic activity in Comox generates a number of considerations – including downtown / marina / airport vibrancy, employment lands, and housing – that are important economic development enablers.   

We have a generational opportunity to have our community look back on 2023 as a landmark year. Economic Development Strategies speak the language of job creation, workforce attraction, workforce retention, and entrepreneurial enablement – which is the heartbeat of community vibrancy. But they also speak the language of broader community development and the joy we seek in life well-lived - from placemaking to housing choice and affordability. When we connect these dots into a holistic story of an ambitious future, an Economic Development Strategy can be the ONE plan that answers a question at the soul of community pride, sense of belonging, and belief in a positive future (for each of residents, investors, and visitors): what is Comox in future and why does it matter?

Economic development strategies specifically focus on new ways forward for:
  • Investment Attraction (further sector development and diversification of dynamic elements of our economy like marine, food and beverage, tourism, defense, air/water transportation, and entrepreneurship);
  • Business Retention & Expansion (supporting existing business in their growth plans).
  • Destination Development (enabling tourism infrastructure and product development).
  • Workforce Attraction and Retention Development (skills matching with employment opportunities, community development foundations like housing, etc.).
  • Resident Attraction (attracting quality of life seekers & entrepreneurs).
  • Marketing (investment attraction/job-creation focused salesmanship).
Where we can really use your help is to better identify specific opportunity and challenge areas, and to identify solutions. Your input and ideas are important to the Town’s future! This survey will take approximately 15 minutes to complete and is open to all Town of Comox residents.

Thank you in advance for spending your valuable time completing this survey. All responses are confidential and only aggregate results are used to inform the creation of the Economic Development Strategy. 

The Town of Comox is committed to protecting your privacy. Any personal information you provide to us is collected pursuant to 26(c) and 26(e) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of administering Town services. Should you have any questions about the collection of this personal information please contact the Corporate Officer @ 250-339-2202

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* 1. The Town of Comox is providing a draw for a gift card for completing this survey. If you would like to be entered into the contest please provide your name and telephone below.

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* 2. Do you own or operate a business in Comox?

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* 3. How long have you lived in Comox?

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* 4. What attracted you to Comox vs other places you have considered living? (Choose up to your top 3)

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* 5. What makes Comox different / better than other places as a matter of lifestyle? (Choose up to your top 3)

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* 6. Do you know people who have left Comox?

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* 7. How long do you intend to stay in Comox?

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* 8. What needs to be done to attract people to, and have people stay long-term, in Comox? (Choose up to your top 5)

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* 9. Are there any other specific initiatives / actions / facilities / opportunities / recreation or other amenities, and / or "fixes" that would encourage more people to live in Comox longer?

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* 10. Imagine Comox in the future has achieved something exceptional. What BIG IDEA(S) did the Town and its residents implement?

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* 11. Using 25 words or so, what is your vision for the future of Comox? Please be specific as possible.

The “Middle Ground”

As an entrepreneur in BC and Canada, there are gaps – in either availability of the right type of space, or support programs – that can stand in the way of a business idea coming to life, or that constrain business growth. As one example, cost barriers can be too big to jump from home-based business to large commercial space. A little help from others at a key time can be critical. These entrepreneur challenges are often called “missing middles.” The space gap can be visualized as:



Image source courtesy: Strong Towns www.strongtowns.org/journal/2018/11/6/theres-a-missing-middle-for-commercial-spaces-too


We can add to this visualization of missing middles: Accessory Commercial Units (like a garden suite but a visible commercial enterprise in a residential district typically in a mixed-use zone or adjacent to a commercial area); co-work spaces, incubator/accelerator/hub space to grow companies – particularly tech companies; market spaces and buildings; and the “corner store.”

There’s no end to the types of financial, mentorship, learning, start-up and other support programs that can help support entrepreneur development and business growth. What is ultimately offered is about considering programs that best work for local business.

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* 12. What types of “middle ground” spaces do you feel would best help businesses and entrepreneurship grow in the Town of Comox? (Choose up to your top 5)

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* 13. If you were traveling anywhere in the world how would you describe Downtown Comox to someone you met, or perhaps to a family member, potential client or investor, visitor, boater, or a senior? List as many words as you like to convey the Town of Comox and its Downtown core!

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* 14. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Downtown Comox in the next three years?

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* 15. What solutions are there to the Downtown challenges you mentioned in the previous question?

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* 16. If you could wave a magic wand and create something amazing and needed in the Town of Comox what would it be?

Public Investment

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* 17. Do you support further public investment in the Downtown?

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* 18. Please prioritize the following potential public investments in downtown enhancement.

  1 - Not at all important 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - Very important
Street improvements
Plantings/Public Art/lighting/benches
Sizeable Town Square
New Town building – government function only
New Town building – mixed-use
Opening of the Town marina to public uses of the main dock
Public pop up / permanent commercial use/decking along the east side of  the harbour
Walking and biking connections in the Downtown – waterfront walkways / access from marina park east and west
Walking and biking connections in the Downtown - marina to downtown to golf course
Walking and biking connections into the Downtown
Parks and open spaces
Designated Market building / space - indoor
Designated Market space - outdoor
Downtown entrance signage
Downtown wayfinding signage
Creativity hub (joint working space that gathers a community of independent professionals)
Pageantry (e.g. banners, brand elements)
Performing arts centre

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* 19. Outside public investment, what other downtown enhancement initiatives do you feel would have the most positive impact on the Town / Downtown?

  1 - Not at all important 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 - Very important
Hotel(s)
Marketing the Town (parks, recreation, marinas, businesses, tourism etc.)
Downtown parking strategy
Downtown revitalization tax incentive
Events (e.g. Nautical days, Filberg Festival, Halloween, Christmas etc.)
Enable patios on sidewalks
Golf course – recreation asset enhancement
Temporary street / partial street closure – events
Downtown infill / density (e.g. 4-6 floors)
Fast track permitting for downtown development applications
More residential / commercial mixed-use density throughout Comox
Business retention and recruitment initiatives
Farmers / fish market
Marina commercial/ expansion of usable spaces/moorage
Industrial development adjacent to the airport

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* 20. Comox does not have a lot of developable land in its boundary. Under what conditions might you support boundary expansion?

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* 21. Of the following infrastructure foundations in Comox, where do you think a Comox Economic Development Strategy should prioritize actions? (Choose up to two)

Comox Valley Airport

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* 22. How important is the presence of the Comox Valley Airport to you to choose to stay / move to Comox?

Not Important Fairly Important Very Important
Clear
i We adjusted the number you entered based on the slider’s scale.

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* 23. How satisfied are you with the services and facilities at the Comox Valley Airport?

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* 24. On a scale of 1 to 10, indicate the nature of your support for airport expansion.

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* 25. Do you support airport expansion if there is some municipal cost involved in enabling expansion?

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* 26. A primary obstacle to airport expansion has been identified as parking – which is currently at capacity. Would you support more aggressive Town of Comox involvement in developing a solution for this (e.g. land purchase, storm water infrastructure)?

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* 27. The lands around the airport are zoned for industrial uses which can support new meaningful jobs and economic benefits to Comox. Do you support an increased focus by the Town of Comox to support development of the airport lands?

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* 28. How do you get to and from the airport when you fly? What are your opinions on taxi service, bus service and / or parking as it relates to your journey to / from the airport?

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* 29. What would make your journey through the airport better? What changes would you like to see?

Housing

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* 30. The BC Government has recently announced a new housing policy framework that will permit 4-6 residential units (depending on location) on existing properties for all communities with a population greater than 5,000 people. Do you support this for Comox?

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* 31. What could Comox do to help this transition / increase your satisfaction with housing density increase? (Choose as many as you like)

Economy

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* 32. Approximately 9% of Comox's workforce works out of the home. Home-based business can be an important economic development strategy. There's a variation of regulation across Canada intended to ensure limited impact on neighbours. Under what conditions would you support effort to accelerate the growth of Comox's home-based business industry?

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* 33. What industries do you believe Comox should pursue to further diversify the economy?

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* 34. The Town of Comox has a far lower commercial and industrial base than most of the mid island communities which means there's room to boost Comox's commercial and industrial development to be “comparative” with other communities. New and expanding businesses can provide local employment and reduce residential tax burden but can also generate impacts (e.g. noise, lights, pollution, traffic etc.)

In this context, please agree or disagree with the following:

  Agree Disagree
Economic growth and development would improve Comox quality of life and community experience
I would prefer to shop in Comox, if possible
We need more employment opportunities in Comox
I support commercial expansion in Comox
I support industrial expansion in Comox
I support boundary expansion to secure more industrial land
We need higher architectural standards, even if it means some developers won't build here
We need architectural standards that create a more distinctive look than we have now
The Town should purchase and develop industrial lands for sale if the private market won't
We should pursue further public investment downtown to enable more commercial development
We should have strict development conditions to minimize impacts (e.g. noise, pollution, traffic, visually compromising)
We should require “green” standards (e.g. alternative energy use, drought tolerant landscaping, reduced water use, green construction techniques)
We should work further with the development industry to develop policy and standards win-wins that encourage investment business models

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* 35. To create more commercial opportunity Comox should:

Final Thoughts

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* 36. How likely is it that you would recommend the Town of Comox as a place to live and work to a friend or colleague?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely

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* 37. In 25 words or so, what's your vision for the future of Comox?

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* 38. Do you have any other comments or suggestions that would help the Town of Comox achieve an ambitious future?

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