Since 1952, Campbell River was known as a dirty little industrial town that smelled like a pulp-mill. Little did we know that it was an unpolished diamond.
I remember those days well. At that same time you could buy a decent house in Victoria for about $275,000 and gas was at about 75 cents. It took about 20 minutes to commute across Victoria at most times of the day.
Fast forward 15 years — a decent detached house in Victoria costs $900,000+ and gas is about $1.30 and it can easily take over an hour to commute through Victoria.
Wages have increased, but not nearly as much as the costs of housing and feeding a family. There is a growing sense of desperation for young families and seniors.
It logically follows that many people are looking up-island and noticing that they can buy a nice little house in Campbell River for $350,000, enjoy a 5 minute commute to work, and still earn about the same as if they lived in Victoria. Granted, we lag behind in some cultural elements and shopping, but the gap is narrowing every year…examples below:
- We now have an outstanding brewery (Beach Fire Brewing)
- Our local Tidemark Theatre attracts excellent performers
- Our arts scene is steadily improving
- Nobody – not even Victoria – has the variety of nearby options for outdoorsy things like hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, skiing, foraging, beach-fires
Retirees are reaching many of the same conclusions, especially now that we have a brand new hospital.
City council and staff have a strong vision for the future and have been working on bringing it to fruition with the refresh downtown and Seawalk expansion/beautification initiatives (among other things). Apparently there are some very big plans in the works for downtown over the next ten years.
Campbell River’s good affordability, short commutes, and natural beauty will continue to drive growth for the foreseeable future. I hope prices stay reasonable and jobs are plentiful so that my kids can afford to live here too!