Aerospace & Defense Sector
The Comox Valley Airport (YQQ) has been revolutionized since the Comox Valley Airport Commission (CVAC) took over management of the civilian airport at CFB Comox in 1996. In addition to upgrading and expanding the civilian airport terminal and the tarmac area to provide more room for both passengers and airplanes to maneuver, the development of air cargo facilities is a long-term goal for the airport. The 10,000 foot runway is one of the longest in British Columbia and boasts full firefighting and rescue capabilities with the potential for 24-hour operation. These features are completely unique among regional airports in the province and mean that the airport is able to handle fully loaded air cargo planes going to Asia. In 2018 the Comox Valley Airport welcomed over 420k passengers via WestJet, Air Canada, and Pacific Coastal which is a 14% increase over 2017.
Other air transportation services in the area are provided by the Courtenay Airpark, which features a 1,800 foot runway designed for small light aircraft. It is located on the river in Courtenay and has facilities for floatplanes. The marina in Comox is also able to accommodate floatplanes and is currently services by Harbour Air Seaplanes with regular, direct flights to downtown Vancouver.
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19 Wing Comox
The presence of 19 Wing Comox creates significant and ongoing economic impacts for the Comox Valley and is the largest economic generator in the region. Data provided by CFB Comox shows that it currently employs more than 1,600 people who earn about $55 million per year. Annual spending on ongoing maintenance and repair, as well as some significant infrastructure upgrades (e.g. $26 million for a new mess building) will average an additional $40 million per year for the next five years.
A simple input-output analysis based on these figures suggests the total employment impact from the base, including all of the indirect and induced impacts, is about 2,100 permanent jobs in the Comox Valley. The significant infrastructure improvements in the next few years will support an estimated 120 full-time-equivalent jobs per year, depending on exactly how much of the spending goes to local contractors and suppliers. The total annual economic output generated by the Base in the next five years will be about $170 million per year in BC, much of this spent in the Comox Valley. Further, the federal government paid about $2.4 million in PILT (payment in lieu of property taxes) to the Town of Comox in 2011, the majority of which is from 19 Wing. This is a significant contribution to local government finances (although the Town only captures a portion of these funds with some allocated to school taxes, hospital district, etc.).
In addition to these impacts, 19 Wing Comox is the reason the Comox Valley has such an exceptional airfield and it leases land for the civilian Comox Valley Airport, which has its own very substantial economic impacts not just in the Comox Valley, but throughout central and northern Vancouver Island.
There are also an estimated 3,000 retired military personnel residing in the Comox Valley, many of whom start second careers or make significant contributions to the community by volunteering their time and expertise.
Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement
Acquiring the next generation of seach and rescue planes and opening a new training facility at 19 Wing Comox.
The new CC295 aircraft are replacing the current fleet of CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules, which have served Canada well over the last 20 to 40 years. They perform over 350 missions annually and are responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Canadians each year. The new fleet will gradually take over search and rescue missions after the first few are delivered.
The project also includes the construction of a new simulator-equipped training centre. In 2017, construction began on the training facility at 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia.