Introduction

In 2017, the CVRD developed a Master Plan for the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds, located on Headquarters Road in Courtenay, BC. The site includes the original property and an acquired adjacent site (previously Stonehenge Farm). The Master Plan addresses the needs of the community and stakeholder groups, and incorporates potential economic opportunities and actions to support growth in the agriculture sector. Yates, Thorn & Associates consulting managed the process and prepared the draft Master Plan. 

View the Exhibition Grounds Master Plan

Public Consultation

Focus group sessions were held as well as an open house. View the presentation given at the open house in November 2016.

Future Considerations
 

The CVRD has been considering future improvements at the Exhibition Grounds based on the 2017 Master Plan recommendations. These range from a phased plan being implemented for key upgrades to any future building and development occurring above the 200 year floodplain. The Master Plan also goes on to state that “Comox Valley Regional District Board supports the concept of there being a single agricultural trade and awareness centre constructed on the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds and that the concept plans for such a building be developed.” The Comox Valley Multiplex Association is an independent organization with the purpose of promoting and facilitating the development of a multi-purpose facility on the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. The Association has been working with the CVRD to explore the potential of this facility, developing a concept and business plan in order to share their vision of this facility with the community and potential user groups. It is proposed by the Association that the facility will be used to support and enhance various farming and agricultural sectors in the Comox Valley. They will be working closely with other potential users to ensure the facility is fully utilized and beneficial to a wide variety of community groups, to ensure financial sustainability.

There are many approvals required to realize such a facility. The lands are within the City of Courtenay and subject to their development regulations, the land is within the Agricultural Land Reserve and subject to their approvals, and finally public funds cannot be spent without CVRD Board approval. There will be several public updates through the project’s life cycle including engagement sessions with potential user groups to provide feedback on the facility. 

Background Information

One of the CVRD’s responsibilities is the management of the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. The first Master Plan for the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds was prepared in 2002. A Revitalization Study that explored Master Plan options was conducted in 2008 with a full process involving stakeholders and the public. Since that time, a number of conditions that affect the future of the site have changed:

  • The 2008 exhibition grounds revitalization plan shows a multi-purpose building attached to an agricultural arena and was approved by the CVRD board.
  • The curling rink has been renovated and is now called the Curling Centre (the 2008 study assumed it would be removed). 
  • Water and electrical infrastructure were upgraded in 2011/2012.
  • The adjacent property, Stonehenge Farm, was acquired by the CVRD in 2016, and was part of the space to be examined as part of the Master Plan. Some of the challenges on the new property include the fact that it is within the Agricultural Land Reserve and portions of it are within the floodplain.
Given these new conditions and opportunities, the CVRD required an updated Master Plan for the site. The master planning process considered past work, gathered and addressed stakeholder input and looked at the long-term future of the region in the context of its changing environment, demographics and emerging priorities and needs related to the agriculture sector, community events and economic opportunities. It took into consideration community and user group input and combined it with technical analysis and consultant expertise to balance what is wanted and what can realistically be afforded over the next ten years. The Master Plan serves as a guiding document for the CVRD Board, staff and stakeholders, providing high level strategic direction, identification of priorities and specific recommendations for the first phase of implementation. The Comox Valley Exhibition Society and the Comox Valley Farmers Institute both had proposed building projects, together they decided this would be better suited as one building to suit both their needs as well as needs of other user groups.