Thursday 20 December 2018

Looking Forward to 2019

The holidays are upon us, and as we batten down the hatches here in Campbell River (very stormy weather at the moment) we thought we would take this opportunity to share our look forward to 2019....

With all the real estate changes in 2018 (elimination of limited dual agency, speculation tax, stricter mortgage rules) we are hoping for a more settled 2019! It would be nice to see some reconsideration of the ban on limited dual agency for our more remote property listings, and we continue to communicate our concerns as well as those of our clients where appropriate. We will of course keep our clients updated with any changes that may come our way.

The coast is attracting a wide variety of interested buyers – from young people looking to live off grid to retirees looking for a recreational property and investors purchasing holding properties. This is reflected in the diverse range of properties selling in the remote and recreational market. Providing our listings with good exposure in a variety of venues is the continued focus!

Campbell River is being recognized as an affordable coastal location, and according to Zoocasa* is actually one of the top 4 most affordable places in BC. The City has been working on infrastructure improvements this year, most noticeably through sewer upgrades and high-tech upgrades in the downtown core. We have seen a number of new builds in the condo, rental and patio home markets reflecting current demand.  “Campbell River is still seeing high levels of construction with hundreds of new dwellings built in the past year. There’s a continued interest in new development as well, with many new subdivisions and multiple housing projects currently in the approval process.” City manager Deborah Sargent.

The BC Oceanfront Team is looking forward to another great year, with providing professional and exceptional service always front of mind. We wish all our clients a successful and healthy 2019.

*November 2018 report

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

Thursday 13 December 2018

What are Forest Service Roads?

Anyone who spends time exploring the central and northern parts of Vancouver Island will soon come to realize that the adventures happen mostly off the paved roads. There is an entire network of gravel roads on the island, most of which are Forest Service Roads.

What are Forest Service Roads? According to the BC Government, they are part of the Resource Roads of BC:

Resource roads are typically one- or two-lane gravel roads built for industrial purposes to access natural resources in remote areas. Over 620,000 kilometers of roads on the British Columbia landbase are considered resource roads. Resource roads are a highly valued part of B.C.’s transportation network and are essential to economic development.

The B.C. Government administers about 60,000 kilometers of Forest Service Roads (FSRs). FSRs are maintained by the forest industry under road use permits, or where there is no industrial user responsible for maintenance, by the B.C. Government.  Where there is no industrial maintainer, the B.C. Government carries out maintenance, subject to available funding, where communities, rural residents and high value recreation sites have priority.

Many of the BC Oceanfront listings will say that a property is accessible by limited Forest Service Road access. This is because Forest Service Roads are not guaranteed to be be open and in working condition at all times. However most of the main lines on northern Vancouver Island are generally open.

Driving on a Forest Service Road on Vancouver Island is not the same as driving on a private gravel road or farm track. The condition of the roads vary greatly depending on the season and the amount of industrial traffic using them at any given time. In the rainy winter months it is not uncommon for the roads to get very slick, and for parts to be partially washed out. For roads that head towards the mountains snow is more common than on the rest of the island. In the summer the roads can be rutted and dusty, making visibility a challenge. Drivers should be prepared for any conditions and if it is the first time driving on these roads, take it slow. Keep in mind, the large work trucks generally always have the right of way!

There are many maps available showing the forest service road networks. The one used most often in our office is the Backroads Mapbook - an excellent resource for anyone looking to venture beyond the paved roads of Vancouver Island. However spurs and side roads can open and close depending on the logging work in the region, so a sharp eye and good sense of direction helps in navigation.

For many people living on Vancouver Island, the Forest Service Roads provide access to remote communities, lakes, hiking trails, rivers, hunting grounds and much more, enhancing our connection to the rich landscape.

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

Thursday 6 December 2018

BCO Coastal Gems: Southern Gulf Islands

When people think of the Gulf Islands of BC the first islands that come to mind are the big ones: Saltspring, Mayne, Pender and Galiano. While these are the anchors of this island system, the Gulf Islands are also home to a myriad of smaller islands.

 Galiano Island
Islands such as Ruxton and Gossip are smaller, boat access islands but still are home to many - either as a recreational get-away or as a permanent residence.
Gossip Island in the foreground

There are also private islands dotted among the bigger islands.

Leech Island with Thetis Island behind

The Gulf Islands are renowned for natural beauty, great climate, relaxed atmosphere and diverse culture. They are becoming known as a food destination as well as a vacation destination.

Decourcy Island

The Gulf Islands offer residents and visitors alike a quick escape. They are close to both Vancouver and Vancouver Island yet are very different in culture. Each island offers something unique. The islands are very popular with boaters who like to explore the many beaches and protected hidden coves.

Visiting the main Gulf Islands is as simple as a ride with BC Ferries, while the smaller islands require either a personal boat, a water taxi or a charter flight.

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

Thursday 29 November 2018

2019 BCO Calendar

The 2019 calendars have arrived fresh from RH Printing here in Campbell River, and we are getting ready to mail them out.

The calendar process takes about 5 weeks every fall, as pulling together and agreeing on the 13 photos takes time. We love doing it though, every time it reminds us of all the cool places there are on the coast. Making sure we represent different aspects and regions of this diverse coast is a challenge we enjoy as well.

The calendars should be in the mail next week, but with the Canada Post disruptions this fall and the reported backlog of mail and parcels it has caused, we don't know when they will reach people. Let us know when you have yours!

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

Thursday 22 November 2018

BCO Road Trips

While a majority of our listings are boat access, there are a handful that require a driving road trip. Properties in Zeballos and Tahsis require a long drive, first on paved roads and then on gravel roads. These are all day trips, starting generally by 7am and not ending until 5pm or later.

Driving the large forest service roads into these communities requires one to be alert. However it also requires stopping along the way, as there is some breath-taking scenery and views to be found.

These small communities are shaped in part by the long drive in - not everyone wants to make such a drive. A truck is not a must but generally is better equipped to handle the varying road conditions, especially in the wet winters. And whatever one is driving - it's going to get dirty!

Just another aspect of the type of real estate BC Oceanfront deals in!

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

Thursday 15 November 2018

Homesteading History on the BC Coast

The BC Coast is not just rich in First Nations history, it is also rich in homesteading history. Throughout the last two centuries as resource workers and other groups made their way to the coast small groups, individuals and families took up residence throughout the coast, including on the many islands between the mainland and Vancouver Island.

It is not uncommon to come across relics from homesteading in the middle of what looks like untouched forest or grassland. From broken fencelines to house foundations and even old tools, evidence is abundant when you start to look. In particular on the north end of Vancouver Island, it is easy to stumble across pieces of machinery and household items from the early 1900s. Apparently at one time 1000 people lived in an area where only a handful of people now live at the Cape Scott area of Vancouver Island.

Another visual reminder of this past history is the abundance of fruit trees scattered throughout the region, from old orchards that have been reclaimed by the surrounding wild. Going for walks in parks and along beach fronts it is not uncommon to find a gnarled old plum or apple tree, still producing fruit. Along with the fruit trees it is possible to also find overgrown domestic plants that survived long after the homestead itself has disappeared. Rhododendrons and holly bushes are common ones to come across.

People have come and gone for various reasons. A number of Scandinavian groups came in the early 1900s to places such as Cape Scott and Sointula on Malcolm Island, looking to establish a new type of community. Many of the homesteaders in the Discovery Islands were families of the local resource workers whose livelihoods depending on the fishing, mining and forestry industries. Then in the 60s there was another wave of homesteading as the hippy generation found the mild weather of the coast perfect for their communes and back-to-the-earth ideals.

As larger communities grew on the coast and on Vancouver Island especially, many of the homesteader families moved away from the more remote areas to the convenience and steady jobs that towns could offer. Now it seems the homesteading movement is gathering interest and attention, and so more people are coming to the coast to once again connect with those more remote areas.

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

Thursday 8 November 2018

BCO Coastal Gems: Broughton Archipelago and Area

The Broughton Archipelago is a collection of islands and waterways off the north-eastern coast of Vancouver Island, between Vancouver Island and the mainland. It encompasses dozens of islets and islands, collectively brought together into the Broughton Archipelago Provincial Park. Many people refer to the area in general (not just the park) as the Broughton Archipelago, or the Broughtons.

The park was established in 1992, however the region has long been known by boaters and kayakers as a wonderful place to explore. It has also long been known as an excellent place to see whales and other marine wildlife.

Many of the communities around the area provide services into the Broughtons, such as whale watching, fishing and kayaking tours. There are also a number of floating lodges and marinas tucked in to the waterways and islands.

Whether exploring from a base such as Telegraph Cove, Sointula or Alert Bay, or taking a multi-day boating trip in the region, the Broughton Archipelago will amaze and delight any outdoor adventurer.

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

Thursday 1 November 2018

Vancouver Island City Life

Living on Vancouver Island you have easy access to lots of rugged wilderness, large trees, amazing beaches and vast spaces. While these are definitely a big part of the appeal of island living, what people don't realize are just how many amenities Vancouver Island offers as well, making it an ideal place to live with the best of both worlds at your doorstep.

looking across the water to Victoria, from Esquimalt

The four main urban areas on Vancouver Island are (in order of population) Victoria, Nanaimo, the Comox Valley (including Courtenay and Comox) and Campbell River. All of these centres have major hospitals (Victoria has two) and vibrant downtown districts.

Vancouver Island has two universities. The University of Victoria has been around for 50 years and attracts students from across Canada as well as many international students. It is also a popular choice for students on Vancouver Island. The second university is Vancouver Island University, which is based in Nanaimo. It was originally Malaspina College, and in 2008 was granted full university status under its new name. All the urban centres have local colleges as well as private colleges.

The Save On Foods Memorial Center in Victoria regularly features high profile music acts. The MacPherson and Royal Theatres in Victoria and Port Theatre in Nanaimo attract major stage and dance productions, while the Sid Williams Theatre in Courtenay and the Tidemark Theatre in Campbell River provide a nice variety of live entertainment for those communities. Victoria also boasts the world-class Royal BC Museum as well as an art gallery. There are many other places of culture, history and creativity throughout the urban centres and even on the smaller islands near Vancouver Island.

Empress Hotel, Victoria Inner Harbour

Both Victoria and Nanaimo have a number of indoor shopping malls, including The Bay Centre and Mayfair Mall in Victoria, and Woodgrove Centre in Nanaimo - all very popular with island residents. All the urban centres have a wide variety of shopping available.

One of the appeals of living on Vancouver Island is that you really can have it all. Anywhere you live on the island offers amazing coastal beauty, while all the amenities needed or wanted are also available.

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

Thursday 25 October 2018

Quinsam River Salmon Hatchery

Vancouver Island is home to a number of salmon hatchery programs where the public is welcome to view the ongoing efforts to enhance and encourage the wild salmon populations of the west coast.

Quinsam River Hatchery is our local hatchery and is a common field trip destination for the local schools. It is also a great place to walk, especially in the fall when the salmon are running upstream. It is not uncommon to see bears, eagles and lots of seagulls on the banks of the river, feasting on the salmon swimming upstream.

The hatchery itself is also an interesting place to walk around and look into all the pens, troughs, etc. From one week to the next you never quite know what you'll see!

Salmon are such an integral part of the coast, both from a fishing view point and also as a common topic in our news and political arenas. The hatcheries provide a valuable look for the general public, through their educational programs and displays, into the importance of salmon in our local waters and within our coastal culture.

The hatcheries also happen to be on rivers which provide beautiful walking trails, making them the perfect place for a Sunday walk.

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

Thursday 18 October 2018

Dealing with Archeological Information

Archeological sites are a common topic with coastal properties these days (the majority of these are sites with cultural and/or historical significance), and even make the news every once in a while. They can be controversial, but they are an essential part of developing property these days on the coast of BC so it is important to know what needs to be done.

Some properties have already had investigations done and have marked archeological sites on them. Understanding the implications of these sites is important, as an owner, or potential owner, needs to know what can and can't be done with the property. A small site can simply mean making sure you do not disturb it when creating development plans, while a large site can mean further action is required.

 You can first determine if there are any known sites on the property by contacting the provincial government through their Archaeology Branch. This is something that we at BC Oceanfront, a part of the Royal LePage Advance Realty team, do on most of our listings. We have found the Arch. Branch to be very easy to deal with, and the forms required are straight forward to fill out. We submit directly from online.

If you wish to build on a property or make major alterations to a property, then an archeological assessment is generally required. Most municipalities and regional districts will require an assessment during the permitting process. These are done by private companies, and there are often many steps involved in the process, which the company should be able to facilitate.

From the Archaeology Branch's FAQ document, these are two things they see as important to property owners: "The current use of the property is seldom affected unless the use involves significant land alteration. A house on a fully developed lot is not affected by overlapping with an archaeological site. An active gravel pit is a concern, because this current use will damage or destroy a site.
New development, such as changing the building footprint, major landscaping, or installation of an in ground swimming pool, will be a concern, because the new activity may damage the archaeological site. When planning for land use change, ensure that a professional consulting archaeologist is part of the planning process. They can determine if the new development will have an effect on the archaeological site.
In many cases, the archaeological site is not within the development zone. As an example, sites on waterfront properties are usually close to the water and are often contained within zoning setbacks set up to protect other environmental values."

Owning property on the BC Coast is a dream for many, and it is important to have all the information on hand when making those dreams reality.

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

Thursday 11 October 2018

Walk the River

One of the wonderful things about Vancouver Island is that every season offers a different nature show. The Fall happens to be a great time to walk along local rivers. With the beauty of the changing leaves on the trees along the banks of the rivers, the salmon returning to spawn and the extra water brought by seasonal rain, rivers are the perfect place to be in the fall.

There is a great selection of rivers with walking trails close to most of the towns and cities on Vancouver Island. Many of them are within minutes of town and are easy to drive to. Some walks are just meandering strolls while others can be quite the hike.

Be aware of rising river levels in the fall, especially when walking near dams (such as on the Campbell River trails near Elk Falls). Exploring the trails in the fall is a great way to get out in nature!
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

Thursday 27 September 2018

BCO Coastal Gems: Malcolm Island (Sointula)

Malcolm Island sits just off the north-east corner of Vancouver Island, in the Queen Charlotte Strait, on the edge of the renowned Broughton Archipelago. The island is known these days for its rubbing beaches - stretches of round stone beaches where orca whales come and rub their bodies under the water.

Whales at the Bere Pt rubbing beach

Malcolm Island is a sprawling island 24km in length. A wide logging ride runs down the spine, from the small residential area of Mitchell Bay to the lighthouse (still manned) at Pulteney Point.
Pulteney Point lighthouse

The village of Sointula is on the eastern side of the island, facing Port McNeill and Vancouver Island. Sointula was established in the early 1900s by Finnish settlers hoping to create a perfect utopia. Although the group disbanded, the village remained as did its Finnish influence. It adapted to become a resource hub for the area in fishing and logging, as well as a place for artists and summer visitors. The village is home to the province's oldest co-op store, and offers amenities (fuel, food, lodging, medical services and even a library). 
the side of the Sointula Co-op

Access is by BC Ferries from Port McNeill (a 25 minute ride), or by personal boat. 
looking back at Sointula from the ferry

There is much to see and do on the island, from visiting the Sointula Museum to hiking the Beautiful Bay Trail to eating at the local cafe/bakery. 
Old building across from the Museum

Like all the islands off the coast of Vancouver Island, Malcolm Island has its own character and vibe. Welcoming (be prepared for every driver to wave at you as you pass), slightly off beat, and full of history, Malcolm Island is a place to visit and explore and perhaps even stay.

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

Thursday 20 September 2018

Winterizing your Recreational Property

Fall begins tomorrow and with it comes the promise of rain and wind and storms on the west coast. Just like you should clean your gutters, unhook your hoses and put away the patio furniture at your residence, you should prepare your recreational and remote properties for the fall and winter seasons.

Water - if you are not going to be using your property over the winter your water supply should be properly shut down. There is nothing worse than burst pipes in the spring!

General tidy up - make sure all the loose items from summer, such as chairs, tables, planters, tools, etc are put away in a secure place. Winter weather can wreck these items, and winter storms can send them flying.

Clean up - make sure that food stuffs are either well packaged, stored somewhere else or thrown out. Mice love a winter meal! Putting linens, towels, dishcloths, etc somewhere extra dry will help keep mould from growing on damp fabrics.

Lock up - make sure the property is closed up properly. Windows and doors should be latched so wind doesn't blow them open and so that critters can't get in.

Docks - make sure the surface is "gripped" or cleaned so that if someone needs to use the docks they won't slip on the slick surface from all the winter moisture.

Trees, shrubs, etc - now is a good time to prune any dead branches or long branches that are getting too close to buildings. These can come down during winter storms doing a lot of damage with no one around to clean up. Better to deal with it now.

A small amount of time spent shutting down, cleaning up and locking up will save time and possibly money come spring. Time to get it done before the big storms come!

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

Thursday 13 September 2018

Power Generation on Remote and Recreational Properties

When dealing with recreational and remote properties there are considerations that don't come up with regular residential properties. For instance - is there power and where does it come from?

Some recreational and remote properties are close enough to small communities that they can hook into existing BC Hydro power supplies. It can be surprising how many boat access communities, such as Quatsino on the NW coast of Vancouver Island, actually have power from BC Hydro. This is then just like obtaining power for any new property - lines need to be accessed and power brought into the property through coordination with BC Hydro, neighbouring properties and local communities.

For properties beyond the scope of BC Hydro, there are still options for power. Many of the older, more established remote properties will have gas generators of some sort. This involves generators and usually a battery bank to store power so that the generators aren't running all the time. This requires gas to be brought on to the property, and general upkeep on the equipment.

Solar power has become an attractive option for some, and it is not unusual to see a house or cottage with an array of solar panels on the roof, or as a stand-alone system. These supply a battery bank which stores the energy. Some larger properties have been known to use solar power but keep a gas generator on hand as an emergency back-up system.

Another option for those who have access to a running water supply is personal use hydro-power. This requires a license for the water use, and on a good, strong water source can be a great power supply. There are a variety of set-ups depending on the amount of power required.

All of the options have pros and cons when it comes to upkeep, initial cost of installation and materials, efficiency, etc. It requires some good research both on the options and the property itself. At BCO we have a good deal of information on alternative energy and are always looking out for new and innovative ideas in power for remote/recreational properties.

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

Thursday 6 September 2018

BCO Coastal Gems: Tahsis

The coastal village of Tahsis is situated at the head of protected Tahsis Inlet, on the West Coast of Vancouver Island near Nootka Sound. Tahsis offers access to a number of wilderness hiking trails, caving, incredible ocean kayaking, scuba diving, wind surfing, sailing and canoeing.  

 The Village of Tahsis offers a variety of accommodations, from guest houses to campgrounds and marinas. 

The area is best known for offering world-class sport fishing as massive runs of salmon migrate down the west of British Columbia to their spawning grounds in coastal streams and rivers. Anglers can also venture out to the Pacific Ocean where fishing is excellent for halibut, flounder, rockfish and lingcod. Crabs, prawns, shrimp, oysters and other seafood are also plentiful. Wildlife abounds! Black bear, wolves, cougars, Roosevelt elk and coastal black-tailed deer are frequent visitors to this area. 

Guests from around the world marvel at the eagles, sea lions, whales and other marine wildlife that is common in the nearby waters. The picturesque and versatile west coast village offers a full-service marina and a safe, friendly small town atmosphere that boasts an incredible blend of outdoor adventures and some of the most rugged and breathtaking scenery in British Columbia, Canada.

Tahsis is located on the west coast of Vancouver Island, approx 2.5 hours' drive from Campbell River along the Gold River Hwy and then past Gold River onto gravel road. It can also be reached by boat launched from Gold River or other west coast communities.

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

Thursday 30 August 2018

BCO Website Slideshow

Between us all in the office, we take thousands of photos a year. Not only property-specific photos, but area photos and landscape photos. We don't let these photos languish - not only do we feature them on our social media channels but we also use them for print material and for the website. If you have visited our office you may have even seen our slideshows of photos running on the big TV!

Our calendar is always a custom print made up of photos taken by the BCO Team (with a few rare exceptions). If you have received a card or magnet from our office, those were all photos taken by team members.

The place we really love to feature the photos is on the BC Oceanfront website slideshow. The home page slideshow is changed up 3-4 times a year and is a showcase of the variety of locations BCO represents as well as the natural beauty of the regions.

Vancouver Island and the surrounding islands and waterways are a natural paradise unlike any other, and we hope to convey that with the photos we share.

The BCO website slideshow was updated today - check it out!

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

Thursday 23 August 2018

Cathedral Grove, Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island has so much forest, we sometimes forget to look more closely at the amazing trees in these forests. Sight-seeing gets taken up by the amazing water features of the island, while we drive past acres and acres of forest.

Cathedral Grove, or as it's more formally known MacMillan Provincial Park, is found on Highway 4 on the way to Port Alberni. This small provincial park celebrates Vancouver Island forests, both their eco-systems and their history. In a very small space that is bisected by a busy road, one is quickly overwhelmed by the majesty of the trees.

largest tree in the park

rain forest moss

tall, tall trees

If the forest seems vaguely familiar, it is because scenes from Star Wars Return of the Jedi were filmed here. 

Cathedral Grove is worth a stop, even if you live on the island and think you know trees. It's worth the reminder that these forests of ours are something special.

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

Thursday 9 August 2018

Marine Parks to Explore

The coast of BC has over 40 designated marine parks. These are parks that include both water and land areas but are generally accessible by float plane or boat only (with some exceptions). Many of them allow wilderness camping but only a few offer even basic services (an outhouse, water, campsites).
Rebecca Spit Marine Park, accessible by road as well as boat on Quadra Island.
These marine parks run along the entire coast of BC and among the numerous islands that dot the coast. They are an attraction for boaters, kayakers, hikers and many others. The largest marine park on the coast is the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park, off the NE coast of Vancouver Island, which consists of dozens of small islands and the waters around them. This park is very popular with kayakers and people whale watching.

Marine parks often provide a welcome refuge for people traveling along the coast, and are common meet-up spots for boaters.  Desolation Sound Marine Park, along the central mainland coast, is very popular with boaters due to its protected waters, easy access to the Discovery Islands and its beautiful beaches.
private properties within Desolation Sound Marine Park

Some of the remote and recreational properties we have listed through the BC Oceanfront office either border or are very near to marine parks. A select few are even lucky enough to be private property within a marine park - very rare.
flying over Surge Narrows Marine Park

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