General Information

The Island

Hornby Island is 2,990 hectares (7,388 acres) in area. About 25% of the Island's land mass is preserved within three provincial parks and one regional nature park. A further 9% is Crown land protected for its importance as a groundwater recharge area. 28% of the Island is in the Agricultural Land Reserve. About 30% is upland and rural areas with large residential lots. The remaining 8% is designated for small lresidential lots, commercial activity and public uses. 2.803 hectares of Hornby's marine waters and foreshore are included within Helliwell Provincial Park.


Hornby has a rich but vunerable natural environment. The Island is within an ecological region unique in Canada. The Coastal Douglas Fir zone is one of the smallest biogeoclimatic zones in BC and also one of the most endangered. It has exceptional biodiversity. As an Island with no natural lakes, Hornby has a strong dependency upon groundwater resulting in the need to protect the quality and quantity of this resource. The waters around Hornby support a high diversity of marine life including many species of fish, mammals and sea birds.


Hornby Island was used seasonally and cyclically by the Pentlatch people before contact with Europeans which began with Spanish exploers who named Hornby Isla de Lerena in 1791. The Pentlatch were virtually wiped out by the 1860's when George Ford became one of the earliest settlers. For the next hundred years farming, logging and fishing were primary activities along with small resorts. The sub-dividing of Hornby farms into small lots lead to the formation of the Islands Trust in the 1970s to preserve and protect the Gulf Islands. The arrival of new "settlers" at around this time began the transformation of the community with art, crafts and culture being integrated into the self-sufficient island way of life.


Hornby Island's resident population increased from an estimated 150 in 1960 to 1,000 in 1996. Since then the population level has been fairly stable. The 2006 census recorded 1,074 year round residents. Over the past quarter century there has been a significant demographic shift. 1981, 32% of Hornby's population was under 20 years of age and 12% was over 60. In the 2006 census, 16% was under 20 years and 34% was over 60. 67% of Hornby's population is over 45 years in age compared to 43% across BC. There is a substantial increase in population every summer when the 45% of dwellings that are used only seasonally are occupied.

Income, Employment & Businesses

The median household income on Hornby Island is $32,000. This is 60% of the provincial median which is $52,709. Median annual income from employment is $10,044. The provincial median is $25,722. A third of Hornby households earn less than $20,000 per year.

Hornby's work force consists of about 500 people. About half of these are self employed with almost 200 people working in their own home. About 35 people work off-island. 120 have no fixed work place. Only about 100 people have full-time year-round employment. About half of all workers are employed in three sectors: arts and culture 19% (100people), construction and trades 17% (85 people) and sales and services 15% (75 people). There are about 100 businesses advertising on Hornby Island. That is one business for every ten residents. Fewer than twenty businesses are operating on commercial property. The remaining operations are home-based or farm-based businesses, trades and services.


There are almost a thousand dwellings on Hornby. About 450 dwellings are occupied year-round by owners while a similar number are only occupied seasonally. About 100 dwellings are rented. 60% of dwellings require minor or major repairs (compared with the provincial level of 32%). House prices increased by 116% between 2001 and 2006. Household income increased by 7.4% during the same period.

Only about 18% of the housing stock is available for rent compared to 30% for the province as a whole. The number of rental units available went down from 165 in 2001 to 100 in 2006 - a 40% decrease. 45% of Hornby households are paying more than 30% of their income on shelter which is generally considered the threshold level for affordability. Click here to view Housing Needs Assessment completed in 2008.


Hornby Island is within the federal riding of Vancouver Island North and the provincial constituency of Comox Valley. Hornby is in Area A of the Comox Valley Regional District, which contracts the provision of some services with the Hornby Island Residents' and Ratepayers' Association. Hornby Island is also in the Islands Trust, a special purpose local government with the object of preserving and protecting the Trust Area. The Hornby Island Local Trust Committee is the authority for land use planning and regulation. Other agencies include the Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Comox Valley School District (#71) and the Agricultural Land Commission.


Hornby has a rich community life, perhaps because of its relative isolatiion and because of the commitment of residents to meeting local needs and creating a vibrant culture. This richness is reflected in the proliferation and diversity of community organizations and the number of volunteers contributing to their work. Some well-established organizations, such as the Hornby Island Co-op, the Hornby and Denman Community Health Care Society and the Hornby Island Residents' and Ratepayers' Association provide important services and employ a significant number of people thereby making a valuable social and economic contribution. Others, such as the Hornby Festival Society and the Hornby Island Blues Society create significant cultural experiernces for both residents and visitors. Maintaining capacity can be a concern when so many volunteers are required to keep all these organizations fuly functional. Click to view Hornby Island Community organizations


The Hornby Island Official Community Plan (OCP) is the key planning document for the Island. Its provisions cannot be in conflict with the Islands Trust Policy Statement. All land use regulations must comply with the OCP. The Community Plan includes advocacy policies directed at government agencies, property owners and residents. The Plan contains objectives for the protection of the environment, for the stewardship of resources and for sustainable infrastructure and development. The OCP is reviewed or updated every five to ten years. Visit these weblinks to view our Official Community Plan and Land Use Bylaws