Gillies Bay, Texada Island, BC

Gillies Bay is one of two small, vibrant, communities on Texada Island, the northernmost and largest of B.C.'s Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia. It is located northwest of Lasqueti Island and north of Qualicum and Parksville on Vancouver Island.

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Unincorporated, it operates as an Improvement District under the B.C. Municipalities Act. It is home to approximately 450 permanent residents and more than twice that number of part time residents and visitors during the summer months. The district itself is organized into the Gillies Bay Water District, and the Gillies Bay Fire District. It shares some services with Powell River under the Powell River Regional District. It is separated from its sister Texada community of Van Anda, one of the earliest mining towns in the province, by 20 kilometers of paved road over forested mountains and lakes. About a third of the Islandís permanent residents live in Gillies Bay, a third in Van Anda, and the remainder in more outlying areas.

Gillies Bay also serves the wider Texada community as it is home to the Island medical clinic, RCMP Detachment, community hall, library, seniors' center, and a well-established and stocked General Store. The volunteer fire department serves both fire district and beyond as needed. The island's airport, with a 3,000-foot asphalt strip, is also located near Gillies Bay, with charter flights to Qualicum and Vancouver.

Click here for pictures of places around Gillies Bay.

The community has a strong sense of identity developed over decades - initially as a farming area for residents of Van Anda and its mining community, then later as a retirement and recreational seaside area for residents of Vancouver and elsewhere. Subsequently, spurred by the development of an iron mine in the 1960s, the community was expanded and better planned to house iron mine executives and workers. The iron mine closed in the late 1970s, but many employees decided to stay on the island and raise families here. There is also an infrastructure legacy from the mine: community TV cable system, street lighting, tennis courts, and the clinic.

The permanent population is a balanced social mix. Many permanent residents work at the three active quarries that form the major industrial base, supplying more than 90% of all limestone used in concrete manufacturing and construction aggregate on B.C.'s lower mainland, Seattle and beyond. There is also a long-established logging industry on the island. Recently Gillies Bay has seen several start-up businesses, with newcomers bringing in small-business expertise. Other residents include retirees, artists and artisans. A significant number of new residents are professionals, who manage to perform work for distant employers and clients despite being restricted by current dial-up internet service or paying high costs of alternative access via satellite.

The local population soars during the tourist season and on holiday weekends: the Regional District campsite and park at Shelter Point, just south of Gillies Bay, is often full of visitors.