Thursday 26 March 2020

Toilet Options for Remote and Recreational Properties

One of the many things that need to be considered when looking at a remote or recreational property outside of municipal boundaries is how septic waste disposal happens. There are many options, and each has its own merits.

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 Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA). You can find more information about regulations for septic systems at the VIHA 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 (such as Quadra, Cortes or Gabriola); however 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 common, 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:

*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.

There are solutions for every budget and every lifestyle!

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

Thursday 12 March 2020

Lakes of Vancouver Island

While most of the focus on Vancouver Island is on the ocean water surrounding it, and rightly so, there are also an amazing number of lakes - over 9,000 - both big and small, local and remote, on the island.

 Upper Campbell Lake
On the southern end of the island Shawnigan Lake and Lake Cowichan are the two best known lakes. These are heavily residential lakes, and used for many recreational purposes. In the summer they can be extremely busy!

As you travel further up the island, there are more and more lakes, but fewer of them have private residences. Some of the most popular are Nitnat Lake outside Duncan, Westwood Lake and Brannen Lake (both in Nanaimo), Sproat Lake near Port Alberni, Comox Lake in the Comox Valley, Upper and Lower Campbell Lakes outside of Campbell River, and Alice Lake near Port Alice.
Alice Lake
Many of the lakes are well known for recreation - Shawnigan Lake is popular with water skiers, Nitnat is world renowned for windsurfing, and Alice Lake is well known for trout fishing. Many of the lakes have wonderful camping spots on them, ranging from private campgrounds to large provincial sites and small recreation sites. The lakes in and around Strathcona Park and through the North Island are good examples. Other lakes on the island are known for canoeing, such as the Sayward Loop or Kennedy Lake.
Buttle Lake
Access to the lakes varies from paved road to gravel roads in various stages of maintenance. Most of the popular lakes have excellent day use areas but many of the other lakes have just small access spots that only locals know about.
Wokas Lake
Vancouver Island is one of those rare places that on any given day a person can wake up and think, "Do I want to hang out at the ocean or the lake today?" Both are just a short drive away.
Buttle Lake

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

Thursday 5 March 2020

What to know about Wells

Dealing with properties outside of an urban centre brings up many questions. One of the big ones we ask/get asked is where does the water come from? The answer can vary from cistern collection (rain water or spring water), to a water licence on a local creek, to a well.

Wells generally come in two forms - dug wells and drilled wells. A dug well does not mean necessarily dug by hand, a bucket auger may be used for deeper wells. You will often hear Ed or Shelley reference these types of wells as shallow or deep dug wells, meaning of course the depth of the well. Drilled wells are just as they sound, drilled by a machine to reach water.

The level of the underground water aquifer, the type of ground material, and the cost of the project all help determine what type of well will be installed. In BC a well should be installed by a qualified well pump installer, and there are specific rules that should be followed during installation. These rules are set out in the Ground Water Protection Regulations of BC.

Well documentation is something that is very useful to have when it comes to selling a property - well logs, installation, etc - so keeping good records if your property has a well will definitely be of benefit.

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