Thursday, 22 April 2021

Where Does the Waste Go?

On a remote or recreational property, figuring out the best way to dispose of waste water is important.

Indoor plumbing is generally an option, but it can be costly. All properties who choose to have indoor plumbing, and that are not on a municipal waste system, are supposed to have a permitted system, which means installation and inspection by a professional. In our region this is covered by the Island Health Authority. You can find more information about regulations for septic systems at the Island Health site here.

Many of the systems available still require pumping and disposal of the waste from a holding tank. These can be great options for those living on larger islands where pumping services are available (basically any of the islands serviced by ferries where the pump trucks can easily travel on and off island); however they are not such a great option for many recreational and more remote properties. There are also filtration systems and outflow systems, all of which direct the waste somewhere else (such as gravel fields or in some cases directly out to bodies of water). 

For most people when they think of cabins and remote properties, the traditional outhouse comes to mind. These are still very popular, and once established require little more than routine maintenance. Outhouses can be fun to decorate and they can range from incredibly rustic to quite fancy.

There are three waterless options for  toilets that property owners can consider. These can be inside a cabin or in an outhouse-style building.

*Composting Toilets. These are toilets that use aerobic processing through composting. This is a controlled composting system that protects the surrounding environment. These are popular systems and readily available in many countries. Here is some more explanation on how they work:

a composting toilet, in an outhouse

*Incinerating Toilets. As the name implies these toilets burn the waste. This can be done in a few ways depending on the system's design but generally the waste is reduced to an ash in a holding tank and then can be safely disposed of. This is an information sheet from 1999 created by the EPA in the US, all about incinerating toilets:

*Evaporating Toilets. These systems actually dry-out the waste and create a sterile, compact waste that can be safely disposed of in the trash system. There are both passive systems that require no outside electricity and systems that do require some energy input. Evaporating toilets are very low maintenance.

Dealing with waste is one of those less fun but practical things that is part and parcel of owning off-grid properties. The good thing is that there are solutions for every budget and every lifestyle!

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Friday, 26 March 2021

Northern Vancouver Island Parks

Many people will continue to explore on Vancouver Island this summer as they stick within their region, and the northern end of the island has an abundance of space to investigate.

Provincial parks are plentiful on the northern end of Vancouver Island, and a travel itinerary could easily be compiled to do a road trip visiting a select number of them (or spend the whole time just visiting one of the bigger parks).

 1. At the top of the island is the famous Cape Scott. While people think of this as a serious hiker's park (for the well-known Cape Scott Trail) it has some easily accessible day-use areas, including the beautiful sandy San Josef Bay. Wilderness camping is allowed in this park, but there are no services. Just outside the San Josef entrance there is a private campground with cleared sites and picnic tables.

San Josef Trail

San Josef Bay, Cape Scott Park

2. Raft Cove is not far from Cape Scott, on the open west side of the top of the island. It is easier to access by boat however there is a short but sometimes challenging walking trail. Some people also choose to walk in from Cape Palmerston at low tide. The sweeping sand beach at Raft Cove is well worth the adventure to get there. This is a popular spot with intrepid surfers, who somehow manage to carry boards down the trail!

Raft Cove

3. There are a number of lake parks scattered around the north island - Woss LakeSchoen Lake and Nimpkish Lake are all provincial parks. Schoen Lake Park is the largest and actually comprises several lakes. At Schoen Lake there is a small campground accessible by forest service roads. Woss and Nimpkish Parks are mainly boat access and have no established amenities. Wilderness camping is permitted. All three parks offer visitors a glimpse into the rugged and remote beauty that makes up the interior of northern Vancouver Island.

4. Marble River, at the edge of Quatsino Sound, is an easy river park to access (via logging roads) and there is a forestry campsite just outside the park boundary. Marble River offers hiking and biking trails as well as good angling.

the Marble River Park surrounds most of Varney Bay 

A number of the parks on the north island are much more difficult to access and in fact some are almost inaccessible. Much of the access into the northern portion of the island is dependent on logging roads, and once a road is deactivated it is no longer serviced and can quickly become impassible. This has happened with the Artlish Caves Provincial Park, where there is now a hike in to the park as the logging road access was deactivated several years ago. These parks have been established to protect sensitive habitats and ecosystems, so creating access is not a priority for the parks program.

You can discover all the provincial parks (and ecological preserve areas) through the BC Parks website. A good place to start is the geographical locator page, which lets you zoom into the region you want to explore.

Vancouver Island north of Campbell River is a massive space that may seem empty as the communities are small and spread out, but for the intrepid explorer there are some beautiful areas to discover. Doing a circuit of Provincial Parks is just one way to get out there.

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 11 March 2021

East Side vs West Side Vancouver Island

 Most people don't think of islands as being very different from one side to the other. But Vancouver Island is a bigger island than many people realize and it differs greatly from one coast to the other.

Vancouver Island is approximately 460km long, 80km across at its widest, and has an area of just over 32,000km. It is the biggest island on the coast of North America. The defining feature of the island is the Vancouver Island Mountain Range which runs up the centre of the island. These mountains are home to Comox Glacier, Della Falls (Canada's largest waterfall) and the Golden Hinde, the highest peak on the island at 2,195 metres. These mountains effectively divide Vancouver Island into the east side and west side.

 Vancouver Island Mountains

The west coast of Vancouver Island is open to the Pacific Ocean. The constant wave action and storms of the open ocean have shaped this coast, which is famous for its deep bays with sandy beaches and windswept rocky coastline in between. There are fewer people living on the rugged west coast, and road access is limited to a few points of access from the east side of the island. The west coast constantly attracts outdoor enthusiasts for its rugged beauty, amazing open water fishing and stunning landscapes.

Rugged Point

Cox Bay

The east coast of the island, facing out to the Strait of Georgia (and the Salish Sea on the south end) is a much calmer coast by contrast. Typified by sandstone, cobblestone and smooth rock shorelines with pockets of sand beaches (notably in Parksville and between Courtenay and Campbell River) the east coast is more protected for the most part and less rugged. While winter storms still hit on the east coast, they are not as aggressive in wave action as on the west coast of the island.

Campbell River


Saratoga Beach

The east coast also provides access to the mainland of BC through the ferry service from both Nanaimo and Victoria. The main highway system runs along the east side of the island, and most towns and cities have been built from the east coast inwards. While there are still more remote areas on the east coast of the island, most of them are north of Campbell River.

Discovery Passage, north of Campbell River

Thanks to its size and geography, Vancouver Island offers an array of outdoor experiences, from calm ocean kayaking among small islands in the Strait of Georgia to wild and wet storm watching on the west coast. Both sides of the island offer amazing beauty and incredible regions to explore, vacation in or call home.
West Coast Vancouver Island

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 18 February 2021

BCO Coastal Gems: Read Island

 Read Island sits in the heart of the Discovery Islands, with Maurelle Island to the North, Quadra Island to the west and Cortes Island to the Southeast. There is a large provincial park at the south end of the island and a government dock is located at Surge Narrows.

The census has approximately 80 people as full-time residents of the island, and there are many other part-time residents with summer cabins and residences.

school house

Read Island is home to Surge Narrows School, serving the outlying areas in the Discovery Islands for School District 72. Like most of the Discovery Islands, Read Island has a rich and varied history, having been home to loggers, farmers and homesteaders throughout the years.

Surge Narrows is at the junction where Read Island, Quadra Island and Maurelle Island meet and merges into White Rock Pass. This is a picturesque and protected location with quick, easy access to services and amenities located at Heriot Bay on Quadra Island or the larger centre of Campbell River on Vancouver Island. From here one is also minutes away from the BC mainland and majestic inlets such as Toba and Bute.

Read Island has a network of internal logging roads, which provide access throughout most of the island and to areas such as Surge Narrows, the Government Dock as well as the community hall and elementary school. Rosen Lake and 1550 acres of Provincial Park are both located on the south end of the island.
White Rock Pass

It’s a Coastal Lifestyle … Live It! 

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Listing a Residential Property in Winter

This winter has seen a more active residential market than in most years, so if you are thinking of listing it is definitely worth talk about. Winter weather can change how to best feature your home and property. These 5 tips can help you get the most out of a winter listing!

1. Lighting
In the winter, especially on the coast where it is often grey outside in the winter months, lighting is crucial. Check that all your lights are bright, change out any weak or dim bulbs.  Look for dark areas in the house and see if lamps or strategically placed lighting will enhance those areas. Warm light in the winter is nice or try using the daylight-style bulbs.

2. Warmth
People love to feel cozy in the winter, but keep in mind that they will be coming in with coats on after being out in the cold air, so a house interior will already feel warmer to them. In other words you want the home warm but not hot. A nice throw on the couch and some soft accent pillows will enhance the cozy feeling.
Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash

3. Cleaning
In the winter when the outside spaces are dormant and cold the inside needs to shine even more.  Make sure the indoor living spaces are sparkling. Flooring in the winter can quickly become muddy and dirty, so keep watch on that. Also mud rooms and entryways in the winter quickly get cluttered with coats, boots and gear which need to be cleared away.

4. Outdoor Lighting and Entryway
While people won’t spend as much time looking at the outside of the property in the winter, they will notice a dirty entryway or one that is not well lit. Keep it clean and bright, so the entrances are reassuring, welcoming and safe. 
Photo by Nathan Walker on Unsplash

5. Bring the Outdoors In
With very little colour outside, having some fresh flowers or a plant or two inside the home improves people’s moods without them even realizing why. A kitchen or dining room table with flowers in a vase, a green plant in the living room, or even a colourful bowl of fruit can add a fresh and inviting ambiance to a home.
Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Welcome 2021

 How to know what 2021 will bring? At least through the winter and perhaps longer, Covid-19 will continue to be a force to reckon with in all aspects of life, including real estate and office work. We feel confident in our ability to serve our clients’ needs as a team whether in our main office or at our individual home offices.

The recreational and remote markets are doing well. The biggest issue is a shortage of inventory currently – properties are selling faster than the inventory can be replaced! So if you have been thinking about selling,  give us a call to discuss the market and your options.

Predicting the residential market is difficult with Covid, but trends and forecasts indicate that prices will continue to increase slightly and the market will remain strong.

In 2021 we expect to see a further increase in doing business online, something we have worked hard at becoming proficient at in the BCO office and continue to train on. From online searching to completing documentation and even virtual showings, real estate is thriving in the online world. When we do real estate in person, be assured that safety and proper health measures continue to be front of mind for everyone involved.

Real Estate, like every business, is always changing. The BC Oceanfront Real Estate Team continues to improve systems and procedures to both keep up with new requirements and regulations and also to provide top service to all of our clients.

We wish you all a safe, healthy and happy 2021 and look forward to working with you on your real estate needs.

 It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday, 10 December 2020

What Is the Coastal Lifestyle?

This year more than ever the BC Oceanfront Real Estate Team has appreciated the amazing coastal region we call home. We talk a lot about the coastal lifestyle, and how that relates to both our work and our time outside of work.

Big Picture, this has meant Ed and Shelley finding a way to get some time away in the summer especially, but really all year round, for fishing/hunting/camping. This may mean one is out of town while the other is covering the office, or it may mean Ed is at his cabin in Quatsino fishing in the mornings and working remotely in the afternoons and evenings. This year there weren’t so many away trips, but there were still days out on the boats.

On a smaller scale, the coastal lifestyle means week-ends outdoors, and often evenings as well. It means stopping and looking out the windows at the office when someone thinks they spot whales, or an interesting boat is going through the passage between Quadra Island and Campbell River.  It means talk about fishing taking as much time as talk about properties during client meetings, and photo uploads of our week-end adventures to share on social media. It also means that when Shelley and Ed show clients a property they share in the delight a buyer feels upon seeing the wonder of the coast for the first time. After years of living and working on the coast, that feeling of awe and wonder hasn’t gone away.

The coastal lifestyle doesn’t mean you just live on the coast. It means every day you appreciate that coast and the lifestyle it allows you to enjoy. It means you relax a little more often than if you lived in the big city, and getting to spend time outside is a priority.

 We believe in it, we live it and we love to share it.


It’s a Coastal Lifestyle … Live It!