Thursday 26 January 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Winter Harbour

On the north-west tip of Vancouver Island sits the community of Winter Harbour. Renowned for access to amazing west coast fishing, this small village is home to about 20 full-time residents yet services hundreds of people during the fishing season. Well-protected moorage, services in the village, and (gravel) road access make this a popular choice with fishermen and adventurers looking to access the northern west coast of Vancouver Island.

The boardwalk running along the waterfront is a great spot to watch the boats or just look out over the water. There is a nice walking trail in the village as well. Winter Harbour has its own Post Office, and a small general store. There are a number of fishing charter companies that base out of Winter Harbour, and the docks get busy in the summer.

Winter Harbour is at the mouth of Quatsino Sound, and is also accessible by boat from Coal Harbour (45 - 60 minute boat ride). The drive in on wide gravel road from Port Hardy can take up to 2 hours, and it is advised that you watch for logging trucks.

Winter Harbour is a great place to visit while exploring northern Vancouver Island.

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

Thursday 19 January 2017

What Does No Zoning Mean?

Many rural properties in BC are excluded from zoning bylaws by their respective Regional Districts and are simply referred to as No Zoning areas on maps. However, if you read the fine print, most Regional Districts will inform you that there are still requirements. This example is taken from the Mount Waddington Regional District site:

While there is no Building Bylaw in effect outside of the communities of Coal Harbour, Hyde Creek, Malcolm Island and Woss, that requires a Building Permit or Site Permit to be applied for and issued for new construction, all construction must meet the requirements of the BC Building Code. 

While this may seem to be a bit too much structure for someone who just wants to go build a cabin in a remote location, there are some good reasons to pay attention, and not only because all buildings built in BC are required to meet the BC Building Code.

No matter how we might want our recreational or remote property to stay in the family for generations, sometimes life happens. If you need to sell a property that you have built on within 10 years of the building being completed, you have to have a Home warranty (Homeowner Protection Act) in order to be able to sell. This is becoming more of an issue, and there are properties that cannot be sold because they don't meet the requirements.

Insurance premiums are constantly on the rise, and getting insurance for a remote property can be a challenge. Building it to code may help your chances of getting insured.

A lot of the basic Building Code is around safety issues. As the property is in a remote location and likely to be unoccupied at least some of the time, following the code in these instances may help keep the property protected and as safe as possible.

Education and information are key, whenever and wherever you want to build in BC.

Resources: (note, this is the same as HPO, they have just changed their name recently) (A copy of the BC Building Codes is likely in your local library as well)

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

Thursday 12 January 2017

The Delights of Vancouver Island

Conde Naste released its top 20 islands (outside the US) of 2016 and Vancouver Island was #6 on the list. What makes that even more impressive is that Vancouver Island is the only temperate climate on the list. (While the Greek Islands do have a mild and wet winter, their summers are on average much hotter than ours.)

Why does Vancouver Island attract and interest travelers? The reasons are much the same as what appeals to those of us who live here, and what makes travelers look to buy recreational property in the region.

Cape Scott, north end of Vancouver Island

Natural Beauty: Miles of sand beaches, stunning rock beaches, mountains, waterfalls, large rivers and towering rainforests. There is so much nature on this island that just exploring it can keep one occupied for a lifetime, let alone a one week visit.

Mild Temperatures: While some people love to lie in the hot sun (as evidenced by the many tropical islands on the list), others enjoy our temperate summers which allow you to still be active even on the hottest days. Plus the evenings generally cool off nicely. Our fall and spring are lengthy and even our winters, with wild rain and wind storms, appeals to those looking to experience nature's ferocity.

Walking by the Quinsam River in November

Urban Amenities and Services: Victoria, Nanaimo and to a smaller extent Campbell River, the Comox Valley and the Cowichan Valley, offer almost all the amenities of the big mainland cities. Concerts, plays, sports, art galleries and world class museums as well as a large variety of shopping and dining attract those looking to see nature from a more sophisticated setting.

Wildlife Viewing: Whale watching seems to be number one on many travelers' lists and there is lots of opportunity to do that around Vancouver Island. In addition seals, sea lions, bears, eagles and much more wildlife are easily viewed. Being so close to the mainland and having a number of smaller islands off its east coast means Vancouver Island is easily accessible for shore animals as well as ocean dwellers. It's cooler waters are rich in sealife and food sources, encouraging many local populations as well as putting it on migration routes for many species.

Orca, Malcolm Island

Fishing: Salmon species, halibut, cod species - Vancouver Island waters have them all and the fishermen come in droves to experience pulling them in. Plus the numerous lakes and rivers on the island are a mecca for fly fishermen and other freshwater fishermen.

Shelley fishing

Ease of Access: Vancouver Island is easily accessed by plane or ferry and once on the island all the main communities have good road access. So both getting to the island and getting around the majority of the island are easy. It is possible to drive from one of the island to the other in a day, which makes it possible to visit a number of communities and regions in a week or two.

central mountains of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, and the surrounding coastal islands, is a unique place in the world that offers something to everyone. It is majestic, breath-taking, beautiful and exciting. We are privileged to call it home.

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

Thursday 5 January 2017

The Agricultural Land Reserve in BC

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is always a hot topic in BC. The Agriculture Land Commission (ALC), the body that governs the ALR, defines it as:

"The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are restricted."

Quadra Island

Residential and recreational properties can be found within the ALR, and it is a good idea to understand what restrictions that places on the property. The ALC website provides clear guidelines in this regard, as well as providing mapping of ALR land in BC.

The ALR protects approximately 4.7 million hectares of agriculturally suitable land across British Columbia, according to the ALC. Buying property within the ALR does not stop one from having a home on the land, it does however restrict what activity the land can be used for.

It is also important to note that different municipalities and regions may have zoning bylaws that also affect the land and uses.
Keep in mind that buying property in the ALR means your neighbours are likely in the ALR as well, and may well be engaged in agricultural practises - this could mean all the unique things that are part of farming and agriculture are part of your neighbourhood (e.g. machinery noise, fertilizer spreading, etc).

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