Homegrown Holiday: Rediscover Canada and recharge your batteries
Growers Guide Cover 2020 Web
New Taste Comox Valley app responds to COVID-19 issues   Buying local has never been so important, and in support of increasing local farm gate sales, the 2020 Comox Valley Growers Guide arrives today, showcasing over 40 different farms and producers, and a myriad of incredible products available throughout the seasons. The Growers Guide has become the go-to tool for those looking for fresh, local products in the Comox Valley. Each producer listing shows icons of product types including those farms that are bike accessible, and is supported by a seasonal growing charts and maps indicating the producer’s location, plus editorial on a range of topics including local industry associations, seafood availability, and a message from the Minister of Agriculture, Lana Popham. The partners in the Growers Guide expanded in this edition to include Mid-Island Farmers Institute, Comox Valley Exhibition, in addition to founding partners the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute, and Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism. This year has brought many new challenges to the local agrifood sector, and in response to COVID-19 crisis, the Taste Comox Valley App was established to promote shopping locally and raise increase awareness around the farms and producers who sell direct to the public. Available on the Apple App Store or Google Play, users can download the app for free and start exploring farms, collecting points, deals and discounts using this interactive platform. For those that like cycling and learning about agriculture, the annual Comox Valley Farm Cycle Tour will be held on Sunday, September 20, and provides the opportunity to bike around the Valley to meet the producers and farmers, and learn about their practices and products. Presented by agricultural industry groups, and the Comox Valley Cycling Coalition and Comox Valley Economic Development & Tourism, new for 2020 the registration fee will be replaced with donations to the Comox Valley Food Bank, in response to COVID-19. “I want to congratulate the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, Comox Valley Exhibition Society, Mid-Island Farmers’ Institute, and Comox Valley Farmers’ Institute for their leadership in putting together this excellent guide for the local community.” said Minister Popham. Just under 100k copies of the Growers Guide will be distributed via the Comox Valley Record and Island BlackPress papers in June and again in July, as well as the Comox Valley Farmers’ Market, the Vancouver Island (Comox Valley) Visitor Centre, through local participating farm stands, and can be found online at agrifoodcomoxvalley.com.
British Columbia is a many splendoured place—that’s why we live here after all! We’re spoiled with snowcapped mountains, beautiful beaches, verdant forests, crystal-clear lakes and rivers, bountiful oceans, amazing food and drink, warm summers and mild winters. Yeah, it rains a bit, but that’s what the Gore-Tex is for. In some lucky corners of the province—like the pocket of paradise that is the Comox Valley—you can even experience it all within a 30-minute drive. Kayaking, snowboarding and mountain biking, all in the same day, if you’re so inclined. But what truly sets the Comox Valley apart as a vacation destination is the wealth of quality food and drink options. Three distinct communities make up the Comox Valley—Comox, Courtenay and Cumberland—each with their own personality and offerings. The valley’s shared agricultural history has given rise to a healthy local food culture. Eating and drinking local is a way of life here—whether its wine from local wineries like 40 Knots or Beaufort, award-winning cheeses from local dairies like Natural Pastures, fresh produce from the many roadside farm stalls like Sieffert’s Farm Market, or beer from any of the many local craft breweries. Speaking of beer, the past year has seen three new craft breweries open in the Comox Valley, along with new craft beer-focused taprooms and restaurants, creating a craft beer mecca almost overnight. It’s just another reason to put this part of Vancouver Island on the top of your B.C. craft beer road trip list.
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Innovation And Technology Viewed As Target Sectors To Supplement Economy

COMOX VALLEY – Careful planning has been a hallmark of Comox Valley Economic Development Society, and the results of that foresight are visible throughout the area. Almost two decades ago, CVEDS, also known as Invest Comox Valley, identified agriculture and aquaculture as huge opportunities for economic development. Fast-forward to today, and the Comox Valley is dotted with new land and water-based food growing operations. Innovate 2030 is the moniker for an update for their current five-year economic development strategy, a guiding master plan that will inform policy, develop clear actions and outcomes for sustainable economic growth, and suggest key strategies and business case examples for major projects over the next decade. This time, the future focus will be on community economic development, agri-food/seafood, and technology and innovation. “This new strategy is intended to serve as a unifying plan, spurring action to support a sustainable and growing economy through innovation and technology,” says Invest Comox Valley CEO John Watson. “Emerging technologies, such as automation, digitization, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are now shaping and impacting local economic development opportunities and businesses across all sectors. “When combining these disruptive technologies, together with environmental challenges and constraints, and the changing trade environment, it is clear that a new, longer term approach to economic development is required to keep pace in planning and promoting the Comox Valley.” An Innovate 2030 Advisory Committee, comprised of leading companies and industry associations representing a wide range of sectors and small businesses, are working towards a document that will become the guidelines to help drive long‐term technology and innovation initiatives within the community. It will also include Community Economic Development and Agrifood/Seafood Sector Innovation strategies, but the focus on technology and innovation will be intensified. The Innovate 2030 Advisory Committee is co‐Chaired by Deana Simkin, CVEDS Board and Executive, owner of High Tide Public House; Lara Austin, Investment Advisor, RBC Dominion Securities. The process has included numerous information and input gathering sessions, business surveys and open houses, a January 23-25 Forum, and the final update is due May 23. “We approached it a little bit differently this time,” says CVEDS President Justin Rigsby. “We sought out people from the local business community that wanted to be part of an advisory group, and we have around 30 members now. “Obviously we’ve been pretty successful around aquaculture, particularly with the BC Seafood Festival, where we introduce our producers to buyers from throughout the world,” he says, adding that with a technology/innovation focus, they’ll be reaching out to organizations like Innovation Island, and others. Rigsby noted that there is still plenty of room to growth in the agri-food sector, as recent studies showed that Comox Valley agri-food producers yield about $850 per acre in terms of economic activity. “The Fraser Valley is something like $17,000 per acre, so we target that,” he says. Why focus on Technology and Innovation? Based on the Comox Valley’s Employment and Industrial Lands‐based Foreign Direct Investment Strategy completed in 2016, the technology sector was identified as a strong opportunity for growth in the region. The BC Government has identified technology as one of the fastest growing sectors in the province. The most recent BC Stats profile of the sector shows the immense and growing impact it is having on BC's job growth and GDP. While much of the growth in the technology sector has been in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, there are 1,481 technology businesses on Vancouver Island (15% of the provincial total) and 96 in the Comox Valley, according to the BC Technology Strategy (2016). The overarching goal is to attract and support technology initiatives within the Comox Valley while assessing the impact on key areas of growth. Nodes in the Comox Valley The Comox Valley was named a pilot community for the new Export Navigator Program through the province and Small Business BC, as a result of the area’s strong exporting companies. The pilot provides new, streamlined export services designed to help and support business growth through exporting, and for those that are already exporting. There have been a number of beneficiaries of the pilot program, including Mac’s Oysters and Wayward Distillation House. Mac’s Oysters are known worldwide, thanks to an increased emphasis on exporting the company’s products, which are sold under several name brands – named depending on the method used to grow the oysters and the body of water where they are harvested. Wayward produces True Craft Unruly Gin, Unruly Vodka and other spirits that are honey-based, with vodka infusions. It is the first distillery in Canada using honey as the base for all of its spirits. The company’s website states: “Our signature Unruly Vodka and Unruly Gin are beautiful, hand-crafted examples of what can happen when unruly people meet unruly bees. Couple this with our seasonally changing, ultra-small batch experimental Wayward Order Line and you will truly understand our need to break moulds and blaze trails. CVEDS has also developed a new Export Products Catalogue to assist companies in their pursuit of new customers and exploring new markets and international trade. Development Nodes For those looking for opportunities within the Comox Valley, CVEDS has developed a new BizMap (available through www.investcomoxvalley.com) that shows exactly where development opportunities are available. This tool has proven to be effective, as important information was ready when Anandia Laboratories was exploring options to build their new Cannabis Innovation Centre outside the very expensive lower mainland. The Town of Comox had land rezoned near the Comox Valley Airport years ago and added “cannabis” to its zoning allowances, and it was a perfect fit. Other land is available near the Comox Valley Airport for development as well. In the southern area of the Comox Valley, Union Bay Estates (formerly known as Kensington Island Properties), is a new 346-hectare real estate development development overlooking Denman Island. Along with a new marina, shopping and restaurants, Union Bay Estates will be home to a new community of condominium, townhome and single-family neighbourhoods. The project involves development of mixed commercial, multi-family and single-family residential and affordable housing for a total of 2,949 new residential units. The project will be built in phases over 10-15 years, including redeveloping the Union Bay beachfront and adding two hotels and a marina. There is always something happening at Mt. Washington Alpine Resort, where new owners, Utah-based Pacific Group Resorts Inc. purchased the ski area, which has served Vancouver Island skiers since 1979. To the north, Saratoga Beach Estates is a 76.6 acre residential development 25 minutes north from Courtenay near Black Creek, on the only large parcel of land that is not in the agricultural reserve. The first phase is approved for a 143 lot subdivision on 35 acres of land, and all of the underground services are now in place. Current zoning is for 1-2 acre residential lots, although plans include higher density residential in later phases. These projects illustrate the fact that, just as the forecasting planning for the future aims at diversification, development in the Comox Valley is spread out throughout the area.
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Life has its own way of shaping our paths, life will even create road maps for us… for me it came in the form of BC Seafood Festival in Comox Valley.

Visiting BC Seafood Festival in Comox Valley in British Columbia, Canada, was a dream come true for me, this trip not only shaped my future and career plans, this trip propelled me into adulting by inspiring me to make concrete life-goals. A place where crystal clear waters mirror deep blue skies, where the sun sparkles on rippling waves, where fresh air rejuvenates the body and soul. British Columbia’s Comox Valley, is possibly one of the most peaceful places in the world.

Comox Valley

Comox is situated on the southern coast of the Comox Peninsula in the Georgia Strait, on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Comox Valley is known for its perennial beach, sea island and fish and shellfish farming. In this beautiful coastal paradise, seafood is not just food, seafood is an entire culture. Oyster is one of the many seafood that is farmed, processed and immediately air freighted to cities around the world, Fanny Bay Oysters anyone, maybe mussels or geoduck, or fresh farm raised salmon?

Comox Valley is synonym of Seafood culture

The annual British Columbia Seafood and Shellfish Festival or simply BC Seafood Festival is held here every year in June, and it is right here where top chefs, local chefs and chefs from around the world, come to prepare & exhibit their own special seafood recipes. During this 2-week long BC Seafood Festival, people are introduced to the farming of oysters, mussels, prawns, geoduck, salmon and sable fish, and much more.

Organic Farming Market in Comox Valley

In addition to this, BC Seafood Festival introduced us to the organic farming market which is filled with passionate farmers exhibiting their products, here the vendors and farmers encourage all to be environmentally friendly, while being economically sustainable.

Wine & Winery of Comox Valley

Comox Valley is also famous for their wineries. One of the main wineries here is The 40 Knots Estate Winery, which is run by Brenda Hetman-Craig and Lane Robert Craig. Visiting these places were part of BC seafood festival & believe me if you’re wine lover, this place is worth everything. In addition, the Weaver Distillation House is famous for making wine and vodka from honey. In this 7-days long festival, visitors are attracted to all these specialties of Comox Valley. The BC Seafood Festival is not only about food and wines and distilleries, a big part of the festival is full of activities like boating, swimming, island tour, oyster and fish farm tour, Wildlife Tours and even sailing. Comox, on Vancouver Island, welcomed me on day one with light raindrops from pure white clouds, like a blessing from the skies. By the time I had checked into my hotel room, I was reeling from the stunning views of the phenomenal nature scenes everywhere.

I opened my eyes, conquered my fears, and opened my mind to new experiences, new foods.

The very next day I was boarding a vessel at fisherman’s wharf, leaving the harbour behind, riding the waves towards Hollywood Oyster farm. It was an incredible journey, especially for me. Incredible because I used to be deathly afraid of deep waters, but throughout that journey, I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the pristine blue sea. In Delhi, India, I live on a mostly vegetarian diet at home, and eating out I tend to stick to chicken and goat meat when I must. Up until my visit to Comox Valley I had only eaten frozen fish and prawns…not because I didn’t want to, but because I have always lived in a landlocked city. Visiting and eating in Comox I fell in love with, salmon and sable fish, Humboldt squid, crab, wild meat, Shrimps & Grits, Pork Jowl, and so many new flavours and foods I could not have ever imagined. One week in Comox Valley, British Columbia, changed my life for the better, forever. I look forward to the 2019  festival where I plan on sampling every dish created by the talented chefs, and living every adventure on offer to the fullest. Article Source
Thursday, September 20, 2018 COURTENAY – A new project led by the Comox Valley Economic Development Society (CVEDS) will receive $30,000 in funding from the Island Coastal Economic Trust to support the development of an agri-food innovation strategy for the Comox Valley. Technology is changing how almost every industry operates, however Canadian food producers have fallen behind their competitors in the global agri-foods sector. As a leading agri-food and culinary region, the Comox Valley has the potential to fully embrace and provide long-term support for agri-food innovation. “Changes in purchasing patterns, e-commerce and technologies like robotics and autonomous vehicles are just a few of the examples which could impact the nature and the labour force of the agriculture and agri-food industry,” said Mayor Josie Osborne, ICET Chair. “There is tremendous potential for communities in our region to be at the forefront of innovation ensuring that we get the highest possible value for our primary products.” The project, a comprehensive Agriculture Sector, Agri-food and Seafood Innovation Strategy, will be a key component of the five-year Comox Valley Regional Economic Development Plan. “The strategy will consider potential growth areas for future and long-term agri-business development, ag-based infrastructure and inputs required for future growth, ag-tech and emerging innovations and trends in digitization, automation, production supply chains, e-commerce and direct to consumer demand,” stated John Watson CVEDS Executive Director. Funding for the project is provided through the Sectoral Development Strategies funding stream of the Economic Development Readiness Program.  Up to $30,000 in matching funding is available for targeted sectoral strategies, bringing together stakeholders to develop plans to support new investment, increase productivity and grow business opportunities. “CVEDS has collaborated extensively with the region’s agricultural stakeholders for many years, in the expansion and support of this important sector,” said Justin Rigsby CVEDS Board President.  “Stakeholders will be invited to engage in this project to bring industry-led understanding of the longer trends in agriculture development, how future agri-businesses and ag-tech start-ups can enhance and create new sustainable opportunities for growth and investment in the Comox Valley.” The project is expected to begin in early fall, with completion anticipated by March 2019. About the Island Coastal Economic Trust Created and capitalized by the Province of BC, the Island Coastal Economic Trust has been at the forefront of economic diversification, planning and regional revitalization for the past twelve years. ICET is independently governed by a Board of Directors and two Regional Advisory Committees which include more than 50 locally elected officials, MLAs and appointees from the Island and Coast. This exceptional team of leaders collaborate to set regional priorities and build vital multi-regional networks. Through a community centered decision-making process, ICET has approved almost $50 million in funding for over 180 economic infrastructure and economic development readiness projects.  These investments have leveraged over $270 million in new investment into the region creating more than 2500 construction phase jobs and 2600 long term permanent jobs. A full overview of ICET can be found at www.islandcoastaltrust.ca. -end- For further information: Line Robert, CEO Island Coastal Economic Trust Tel. 250-871-7797 (Ext. 227) line.robert@islandcoastaltrust.ca Mayor Josie Osborne, ICET Chair District of Tofino Tel. 250-725-3229 osborne@tofino.ca John Watson, Executive Director Comox Valley Economic Development Society Tel. 250-792-0375 john@investcomoxvalley.com
In order to continue to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural regions get their goods and services to new international and interprovincial markets, the Government of British Columbia has extended the Export Navigator pilot program for another year. Read more here: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018JTT0012-000504
Read this news release here: https://aircanada.mediaroom.com/2018-01-30-Air-Canada-to-Launch-New-Domestic-Regional-Routes-starting-July-2018