Thursday 9 December 2021

Port Hardy: Northern Gateway for Vancouver Island

Port Hardy, with a population of approx. 4000, is the largest coastal community on North Vancouver Island. The community embraces a strong First Nations culture and also recognizes a past rich in resource-based work.

The community is a gateway to the Cape Scott Provincial Park as well as to the diverse waters of Johnstone Strait.

Visitors enjoy the beauty of Storey’s beach, an expansive sandy and pebble beach just south of town. The seawall along Hardy Bay is also a great way to enjoy the beautiful views.

Recognized as having some of the most spectacular underwater scenery on the Pacific coast, the waters around areas like Stubbs Island, Christie Pass and Quatsino Narrows attract divers from all over the world, who see an array of interesting marine species as well as shipwrecks and sunken cargo ships.

Port Hardy services as a transport hub for the BC Central Coast region and is the terminal for the BC Ferries Inside Passage route to Prince Rupert.

The town offers a wide range of amenities including shopping, hotels, marine services, a full recreation/community center, seaplane base and more. Just minutes away is the Seven Hill Golf and Country Club.  

Spectacular mountain views, large expanses of natural wilderness areas and miles of undeveloped coastline are readily accessible and combine to create an ideal setting for a full range of outdoor activities, from sports fishing & boat cruises to wilderness hiking.

Marine recreation opportunities for visitors include fresh and salt-water fishing, world class caving, underwater diving and ocean kayaking and canoeing. A kaleidoscope of colourful marine life abounds in the waters around northern Vancouver Island.

Port Hardy is definitely a place to visit and use as a base to explore more of the North island region.

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

Thursday 25 November 2021

Goal Setting for the Business

Do you set goals every year? Whether personal or professional, setting goals can help achieve the outcomes you want. 

 Every year towards the end of November the BCO Team does its goal setting for the upcoming year. We find this so helpful, as it lets us both reflect on what the past year brought at the same time as looking forward to a new year. It allows us to deep dive on what worked, what didn't, what we need more of and what we need less of. It also allows us to kick around new ideas and discuss possible new plans or directions.

Goal setting for BCO puts our clients front and centre. It is all about how can we help our clients achieve their goals in real estate? What information, systems and tools can we provide or develop that will serve our clients' needs?

Meeting our goals means bringing success to our clients and helping them reach their goals. Having a plan in place makes our success, and their success, that much more reachable.

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

Thursday 11 November 2021

No Zoning? What Does That Mean?

Most people who live in a municipality with a governing body are familiar with zoning bylaws. These tell a property owner what types of activities, buildings and uses are allowed for a specific property. However, the rules change when you move to a more secluded or remote area. 

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.”

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

While we might want, and plan for, 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 right away because they don't have a home warranty or Owner Builder Authorization. Rectifying this, when possible, can take time and cause frustration for someone who needs to sell the property.

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. In remote areas where services such as fire departments and emergency support are minimal or non-existent following the code may help keep both the property and the people using it protected and as safe as possible.

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

Resources: (A copy of the BC Building Codes is likely in your local library as well, or at your city/village/regional district office)

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

Thursday 26 August 2021

BC's Agricultural Land Reserve

The ALR is a land term that has been around in BC for decades. Most people know it has something to do with farmland, but what is the ALR exactly? Can you build in the ALR zone? What does it mean to own land in the ALR?

ALR land Haida Gwaii

According to the BC Government: The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial land zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are restricted. ALR land makes up 5% of BC's total land-base.

This does not mean you can't simply live on ALR property. There is no requirement to farm, however there are restrictions on what else you can do on the land. Keep in mind that most ALR land is in an agriculture-rich area, so even if you are not farming your land it is probable that properties around you are being used for agricultural purposes.

ALR land Quadra Island

Properties within the ALR should have it noted on their title, although the Agriculture Land Commission (who oversees the ALR) warns that this is not definitive. Mapping is a help in determining what land is within the ALR as well, and the ALC website hosts a number of mapping applications.

ALR mapping

The Vancouver Island region has ALR land in a number of areas, including in what might be thought of as rural residential areas close to urban centres, so it is good to do your homework when it comes to owning property in this distinct land class. This is something we research on our listings and provide mapping information for if a property does live

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

Thursday 12 August 2021

Moorage in BC

 While some of our remote access listings can be reached by vehicle, the majority of them are water access. While the occasional buyer may have a float plane, for most people water access means arriving by boat.

So where does the boat park? Unlike a driveway which generally is on the owned property, docks and other moorage options are in the water, which is not owned privately. 

Docks must be granted permission by the government. In the past this meant a license of occupation, or a special permission document. Since 2017 many of the oceanfront properties in BC are covered under general permission, which does not require direct application to the government but does require adherence to certain rules.

Information on moorage in BC can be found here. This provides details on General Permission as well as when actual documentation and application is required (for instance if you do not own the upland directly in front of where you want to place the moorage).

Once the rules for moorage are understood, then begins the assessment for what type of moorage. Although most common, not all properties are candidates for docks due to location, weather conditions, extreme local tides, local boat traffic, etc. Mooring buoys, pulley/anchor systems and in some cases a local public dock are all options to be considered when a dock isn't the right solution.

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

Thursday 22 July 2021

Vancouver Island Beaches Perfect for Summer

 Summer on Vancouver Island is generally warm, sunny and dry – perfect beach weather. This top 5 list is for beaches outside of Victoria that are perfect for summer relaxing.

·         Rathtrevor: This stretch of beach in Parksville is popular with tourists and locals alike, and big enough that there is room for everyone. At low tide the sandy beach stretches for miles. This is the site of one of the province’s most popular provincial parks, Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park, as well as home to numerous resorts. No dogs are allowed on the beach in the summer months, so don’t bring Fido.

          Chesterman Beach: Tofino and Long Beach on the west coast of the island have many beaches to choose from, but Chesterman is a favourite with the locals and for good reason. With two beach fronts it is easy to be protected from any wind and to choose what wave action to play in. Both sides are nice and sandy, and the large space where the two beaches join gives lots of room for play.

      Saratoga:  Just north of popular Miracle Beach, Saratoga Beach is home to small resorts and RV campgrounds, as well as the popular Pacific Playgrounds Resort and Campground. Another sandy stretch, Saratoga has stunning views of the mainland coastal mountains and is great for a swim when the tide is coming in over the warm sand.

·         San Josef Bay: At the top of the island in the Cape Scott Provincial Park, San Josef is a walk-in beach well worth the easy 40 minute walk on good trails. With an interesting forest environment through the trails leading down to the marshy tidal area of the San Josef River, the beach itself is a shock with its stretches of sand broken only by amazing rock formations. This is a remote area, so the beach is never busy (although locals from Port Hardy do like to come there on sunny days).

·         China Beach: West of Sooke at the bottom of the island, China Beach is another one that requires a short hike to reach. It is well worth it though, with a long stretch of sandy beach, amazing views, and even a waterfall at one end of the beach close to the day use trail. This is also the head of the Juan de Fuca multi-day hiking trail. There is a small campground at China Beach, separate from the day use area.

These are all sandy beaches great for summer fun. Do you have a summer favourite?

It’s a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It!

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!