Hundreds of clubs and nonprofit organizations operate regionally. The Sunshine Coast has its own Community Foundation, a central Volunteer Centre, and an exceptional Community Services Society that runs a broad range of social service programs for people of all ages. Through the Gibsons & District Public Library, residents have easy access to the resources of over 80 Vancouver area libraries.
Recreation and social activities abound at the Gibsons Area Community Centre, with its arena, fitness centre, youth centre, indoor racquet courts, table tennis facility, and Parent-Tot Drop-In room. The Harmony Hall Seniors Centre operated by the Gibsons Seniors Society offers activities, monthly luncheons, dances, and more for the 40+ crowd. Smaller community halls and meeting rooms in the area are managed through the SCRD Recreation Department, and are available for classes, private and public functions.
The Town of Gibsons is home to a number of places of worship, including the newly-rebuilt St. Mary’s Catholic Church, St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church (St. Bart’s), Calvary Baptist Church, Salvation Army, Christ the King Community Church, Christian Life Assembly (CLA), and Gibsons United Church. St. Bart’s and the Salvation Army each run a monthly food bank, and CLA is active in the annual Elves Club Christmas Hamper project for those in need. (Historical note: St. Bart’s is the Sunshine Coast’s oldest church; the original building dating back to 1892 was refurbished and incorporated into the present structure as its ‘Bethlehem Chapel.’)
The Sunshine Coast offers a wide selection of schooling opportunities through School District No. 46 (which includes an alternative education program , an international student program, and excellent Early Learning options, and a very active home schooling network). Sun Haven School in Roberts Creek offers the Waldorf program for preschool through elementary grades.
The new Gibsons Elementary School opened in the fall of 2014. Built to LEEDS Gold standard, this energy efficient building includes facilities for day care and early learning programs.
The Sunshine Coast campus of Capilano University, located in Sechelt, offers a range of certificate, adult education and undergraduate study programs including first year Arts & Sciences and Business Management. The campus also offers an English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program featuring classes and individual tutoring. The main university campus is located in North Vancouver, about an hour and a half by car and ferry from Gibsons.
The Sunshine Coast’s close proximity to Vancouver allows residents to commute to school in the city, which boasts two major universities, plus the BC Institute of Technology, and many other public and private educational institutions offering a very broad range of educational opportunities.
Sechelt Regional Hospital is a 20 minute drive from Gibsons. A new tower opened in 2013, with state-of-the-art medical facilities and larger Emergency, Radiology, Maternity and Critical Care wards. Gibsons has a walk-in medical clinic, and a selection of medical and dental practitioners.
Recreational opportunities are second to none on the Sunshine Coast, especially for the outdoor enthusiast. Boaters, paddlers, fishers and divers enjoy over 800 kilometres of coastline with secret waterways, island archipelagos and deep sounds (fjords). Visitors are also surprised at the number and quality of freshwater lakes. Our many Provincial Parks, Marine Parks and day use areas make our ocean side and lakeshores places for families to enjoy.
The coast is becoming known for its unparalleled mountain biking, with two major local bike races and is a favourite feature of the annual BC Bike Race participants. The slopes of Mount Elphinstone are networked with trails, including those at Sprockids Mountain Bike Park, minutes from the Langdale ferry terminal, and day-accessible from Vancouver. Now drawing international attention, Coast Gravity Park in Sechelt is open year-round. Its MBX trails (marked for beginners through Pro) feature challenging jumps and rides with breathtaking views of Porpoise Bay and forest vistas.
There are also hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails on the Sunshine Coast. Three major parks (Tetrahedron, Mt. Richardson and Spipiyus) offer back country hiking, and dozens of shorter trails lead to panoramic lookouts, waterfalls, lakes, wetlands and a variety of marine and rainforest ecosystems. In winter, Dakota Ridge is a dedicated Nordic and snowshoeing facility.
The Gibsons and Area Community Centre at Brothers Park offers a variety of activities through the Sunshine Coast Regional District Recreation Program. The ice arena hosts local hockey teams and league play, as well as classes for skating, The centre offers facilities for indoor racquetball and squash, a fitness centre, a Youth Centre, Parent-Tot Drop-In facility (open weekday mornings except June – August). Meeting rooms are available for exercise, yoga, and other classes. The Brothers Park playing fields and adjacent Ryan Dempster Field host baseball and soccer games, and the skatebowl is popular with boarders and cyclists. Playing fields and playgrounds at Gibsons Elementary School, Cedar Grove Elementary School, Whispering Firs Park and Shirley Macey Park are also popular for outdoor activities and league sports.
The Sunshine Coast also has a number of private recreation venues, including Gibsons Curling Club, Suncoast Raquet Club, Sunshine Coast Golf and Country Club, Blue Ocean Golf Club, Pender Harbour Golf Club and Langdale Heights RV and Par 3 Golf Resort.
The Sunshine Coast has one of the highest concentrations of artists, musicians and writers per capita of any community in Canada. Consequently, an amazing wealth of cultural activities are available, including numerous festivals, art crawls, authors’ readings, live theatre, non-mainstream film screenings, dance performance ranging from hip hop to ballet, and live music performance by blues, jazz, big band, choral, chamber and orchestral groups. Public art galleries, museums, the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden, artist co-ops, private galleries and studios offer exhibitions and activities for all interests and age groups.
Events range from intimate, informal dances and house concerts to community celebrations and parades, and large annual festivals drawing thousands of attendees.