Frequently Asked Questions
Considering a new way of life is a big decision. We’ve started a collection of frequently asked questions to help you feel confident in taking the leap into Vancouver Island North life.
Frequently Asked Questions
We heard that elementary and high school options can be quite limited in small communities like the ones on Vancouver Island North. Is this true?
Not true at all! The region has 8 Elementary schools and 2 High Schools. Smaller community schools offer the advantage of significantly lower student/teacher ratios than what you’d find in major centres.
Through “interactive” technologies, The two high schools, located in Port Hardy and Port McNeill, are partnered to provide more extensive options to students studying at either school. Technology is constantly being advanced to offer more distance learning options. For example, the high schools can now link with North Island College to allow students to take first year courses, ultimately leading to advanced standing in their post-secondary pursuits following high school graduation. Take a look at our amazing network of education options.
Over the last few years, the students at the Port McNeill High School worked together to fundraise enough to build a climbing wall. Our high schools are highly engaged in their communities through programs such as Connections, which is offered at both high schools.
How is the cell coverage and wi-fi in the region?
TELUS has completed a $14 million fibre optic network build connecting Northern Vancouver Island to the fibre network.
The fibre build also enabled TELUS to enhance wireless service in the area, providing the capacity needed to upgrade existing sites to 4G LTE, the fastest wireless technology available in the world today.
Cell coverage, like much of the Island, is limited in remote areas, however it is available in all major communities. You can get more information on cell coverage from your current provider here.
I’ve heard it can be difficult to find housing to purchase or rent. Is that true?
Yes, it can pose a challenge at times. Rental availability throughout Vancouver Island communities is limited, and the North Island Region in particular doesn’t post a lot of this information online. That being said, the North Island does boast the most affordable housing prices on the Island.
Would you consider this a safe region to raise a family in?
One of the strongest reasons people choose to move to Vancouver Island North is for the safety and security that our small communities offer. The North Island is still a place where children play safely outside on their own. We go out for the day knowing our homes and properties are safe and secure (even if we may have left our doors unlocked).
My kids are currently enrolled in a number of extracurricular activities. What kinds of options are there in the region?
So many! North Island communities offer a wide range of community activities for young people. First and foremost there is hockey for all skill levels. House leagues and “rep” hockey teams exist for both boys and girls. If hockey isn’t your kid’s thing there is also figure skating through the fall and winter months. Dance schools are also popular in Port McNeill and Port Hardy. In the early spring soccer starts and runs through to the end of the school year. This is organized at the community level, with several tournaments throughout the season hosted by each community. There are karate classes as well. And of course we have the hidden gem of Mount Cain for skiing and snowboarding. Known for its fresh powder the ski hill is about 45 minutes south of Port McNeill.
Isn’t employment limited primarily to forestry jobs and careers?
Forestry is our largest employment sector. The scope of the industry includes both direct and indirect jobs, which includes trades and professional occupations.
But forestry is by no means the only viable employment sector We having a growing tourism sector, a solid retail sector, as well as health care, education, other government services, construction, transportation and aquaculture, to name a few.
Got an internet based business? Why not set up your computer overlooking the ever changing Queen Charlotte Strait and onto the majestic Coast Range mountains! Inspirational!
How isolated is Vancouver Island North?
Though Port McNeill is 200 km north of Campbell River and Port Hardy is 240 km north, living on Vancouver Island North doesn’t feel isolated. Highway 19 is well maintained and a beautiful drive north of Campbell River. The route is also serviced by Tofino Bus.
Pacific Coastal Airlines has regular flights between Port Hardy airport and Vancouver. The big city is just an hour away.
With new fiber optic connectivity internet and cellphone access has never been better in our VIN communities. Netflix? We’ve got it!
We have all the services needed to make life in our communities feel anything but isolated and there’s a connectedness to community that one just doesn’t get in a bigger city.
What kind of healthcare options are available in the region?
Island Health offers a wide range of health care services on Vancouver Island North. Port McNeill, Port Hardy, Port Alice and Alert Bay have medical clinics staffed with doctors and nurse practitioners. There are three hospitals in the region.
The region also has mental health and substance abuse counselling as well as services for youth and seniors, including supported living facilities.
Telehealth is used, where appropriate, to connect patients with specialists in bigger centres in BC.
Because of proximity to the outdoors, is the wildlife ever a problem?
Black Bears, Cougars and Wolves are occasionally seen within the communities but rarely cause issues.
To reduce unwanted encounters with predators:
- properly dispose of all household garbage & food scraps,
- regularly harvest fruits & berries,
- keep pets in at night & livestock securely pended,
- do not leave BBQ’s, freezers or garbage cans outdoors during ‘bear season’.
Anyone who encounters a problem animal is asked to immediately notify a conservation officer at 1-800-663-9453.
For more information go to;
I’ve heard Vancouver Island gets a lot of earthquakes. Should I be worried?
You should be no more worried about Earthquakes in our communities than you are in any other communities on the the West Coast of Canada. Emergency preparedness is a big deal – no matter where you live. Each community has an emergency preparedness plan – get familiar with the resources provided by each of the regions, and know how to take care of yourself and your family in the event of an emergency.