A small village looking to capitalize on its natural beauty
Right at the heart of Vancouver Island is Gold River. Tucked between the Gold and Heber Rivers, it is the gateway to the historic Nootka Sound. Its beautiful and rugged terrain makes the area popular with hikers, fishermen, whale watchers and kayakers alike.
Land Area, km2
Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting, Mining Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction
Courtenay, Campbell River
Originally developed as a logging and pulp and paper industry community, Gold River has seen many changes over the years. The paper mill closed its doors in 1998, and even though the forestry and logging industry has employed many people over the years, the work is unsteady and periodically ceases. A fish farming company and a deep sea port in the area do employ some people. In addition to these industries, there are few small businesses in the community; however, lack of employment opportunities is a major challenge. Many forestry workers work rotating on and off weekly shifts, but because the jobs aren’t stable, not many move their families to the area.
Over the years, the community has become quite small and small businesses are struggling – many of them, like the bank and the pub, have been forced to close their doors. Because of this, services in Gold River are limited. Residents have to commute to Campbell River, approximately an hour and a half away, for banking and government and social services. Because of this traveling, people are choosing to shop in Campbell River as well, causing even more of a strain on the existing shops in Gold River. Housing in the area, though affordable, is very hard to sell.
Despite the challenges Gold River is facing, the area has huge potential to boost its tourism industry. Beyond the area’s natural beauty and abundance of outdoor activities, Gold River is the home of the MV Uchuck III, a coastal freighter in Canada that regularly takes supplies and people along the rugged coastline to Yuquot, or Friendly Cove – a National Historic Site on Nootka Island where Captain Cook first landed. The village is also surrounded by beautiful hiking trails, provincial parks, limestone caves, ski hills and camp grounds that make it an ideal spot for nature lovers who prefer to stray from large crowds. The school district even offers an outdoor education program that could be expanded to attract students from other regions.
On top of the potential to expand on the area’s tourism, the infrastructure is the community is in good shape, with a great recreational centre, great schools, nice houses, clean drinking water and a good clinic. What the village does lack, however, is cell phone service and accessible internet services -something to be remedied to attract new people to the area. Furthermore, the population is aging rapidly and most youth have migrated away. Despite these challenges, the village has the potential to expand on its natural beauty, resources and infrastructure.