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Courtenay is one of three Comox Valley municipalities, and is the largest incorporated municipality in the region. To the southwest is the Village of Cumberland, and a few kilometres east of the city is the Town of Comox. Lands outside these incorporated communities are regulated by the Regional District of Comox Strathcona, which is also based in the Courtenay area. The current Comox Valley population including the three municipalities is estimated at approximately 70,000.

Courtenay has experienced very rapid housing growth over the past 5-10 years. The majority of new housing growth in Courtenay will result from redevelopment of some larger properties in the single family neighbourhoods, and development of additional multi-family sites and vacant lands that can be supplied with full utility services. This growth will be located principally east of the Courtenay River in the Ryan Road area. Assuming optimum conditions, and redevelopment, around 20,000 more people could be accommodated. Longer term growth can only be accommodated outside current city boundaries, and will require boundary adjustments.

The City of Courtenay has 40% of its employment generated from three industries: retail trade at 18.2%, government services at 12.6%, and accommodation, food, beverage at 12.2%.

Courtenay has 5 elementary schools (one has French Emmersion) and two secondary schools (one has French Emmersion) within the city.
Post secondary education is offered by North Island College which has developed a new campus north of Ryan Road.