A great river runs through it . . .
What is the best asset in Campbellton? Of course there are many notable assets in Campbell River's oldest neighbourhood, starting with the iconic Quinsam Hotel that's approaching 100 years old, but there also are several important parks and tourist attractions, notably the new Elk Falls Suspension Bridge in Elk Falls Provincial Park on the northern side of Campbellton and Nunns Creek Park on its south side (which will soon be upgraded).
Another major asset is the fact that a major highway runs through Campbellton, both the old and new versions of the Island Highway, though more work needs to be done to encourage more of that traffic to stop and visit for a while (for which planning work is now in progress for an entrance feature at 14th Avenue).
One could easily say the best asset in Campbellton is its people, for there are lots of interesting characters around, but really there are not many actual residents in Campbellton compared with other neighbourhoods such as say Merecroft or Willow Point or Georgia Park, and much of the housing that is in Campbellton is small and aging.
Variety of businesses
Similarly one could say the best asset in Campbellton is its wide variety of businesses, from major ones serving resource industries to small ones serving niche markets, which no other neighbourhoods in Campbell River come close to matching in size or range or number of employees.
Indeed Campbellton is a major hub in all of B.C. for large businesses serving forestry, mining, fishing, transportation, communications and other heavy industries - like B.C. Hydro's John Hart Generating Station now in the midst of an upgrade costing $1.1 billion!
A prime example of those businesses is York Machine Shop, which was profiled here on Dec. 2. It was founded by Peter York in 1983 in a small shop at 1971 Island Highway, acquired in 1992 by Dennis Cambrey and expanded to a large facility at 1641 17th Avenue, and now it is constructing a much larger "shop" across the river in North Campbell River; it now employs about 45 people and is inventing, manufacturing and selling new machining devices all around the world.
There are many other outstanding businesses in Campbellton worthy of mention, such as Daigle Welding & Marine, which manufactures aluminum boats for major clients such as Port Metro Vancouver, and Bailey Western Star Trucks Inc., which has a very large operation at 1440 Redwood, and perhaps some day the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association will assemble and publish a roster of them.
There are dozens of notable small and mid-sized businesses in Campbellton too, many of them unique, such as Mussels & More Pottery Inc. at 1791 Island Highway, which has a great array of artistic gifts (pun intended), and HYGRO Gardening Supplies Inc. at 1791 Tamarac, which has an eclectic array of products including for the burgeoning hydroponics and greenhouse sectors.
Campbellton's array of restaurants may not be on the bucket lists of many international gourmands but for local customers they too form a notable asset, with good quality foods at affordable prices in a variety of genres from drive-through coffee and burgers to some interesting ethnic outlets, and arguably some of the best pizza in town at Ryan's Pizzeria at 1661 16th Avenue and White Tower Restaurant at 1920 Island Highway.
The Quinsam Hotel's live-music venue the Quinnie deserves honourable mention too as a community asset, and Haig-Brown House at 2250 Campbell River Road is a haven for arts and culture from prose and poetry to fly-fishing and environmental activism (though it needs better parking).
Similarly we should give a shout-out to the Quinsam River Hatchery, which is another local world-class facility which recently was expanded and upgraded; its work helps keep the Campbell River reputed to be one of the world's greatest fishing rivers, but it's also great for river rafting, snorkeling and simply walking and hiking too.
All of which is a very long segue to the main point, namely that Campbellton's best asset probably is the Campbell River itself.
As the novel and subsequent movie title say, A River Runs Through It.
But the problem is that public access to that river is limited by fences, blackberry bushes and other impediments such as rocks and lack of parking at the end of Maple Street.
The options for dealing with those river access problems are addressed in a soon-to-be-released professional study prepared for the City by consultants affiliated with the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association; it will be presented soon to City Council.
CNA AGM Jan. 13
Those and other issues were on the agenda for discussion at the CNA's annual general meeting scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 13 at the Eagles Hall (another notable asset!) beginning about 5:30 at 1999 14th Avenue. It is open to all interested people.
Perhaps the Campbellton Neighbourhood Association will soon be seen as a major community asset too, but that will depend on the level of involvement of people determined to make a positive difference.