Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fall/Winter Property Care

Fall is upon us and with it comes the promise of rain and wind and storms. 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, 15 September 2016

A Summer of Islands

Every year in the BCO office it seems some region or type of property is the 'hot' property. One year it might be Quatsino and another year it might be Haida Gwaii. We never know what it will be, but it does provide for some entertaining guessing.

Farquharson Island

This year it seems to have been the year for islands. Private islands make up a small portion of the BCO portfolio but they do attract a lot of attention. The appeal of living on your own island, owning your own private place that way, seems to appeal to many people. Given the logistics of it however, islands can also make people nervous and so don't necessarily move to the short lists of prospective purchases.
Turn Island

We have had a good selection of islands and that means something to offer no matter what people are looking for. It started with the sale of the exceptional Sturt Island last fall. This stunning 85 acre island in the heart of Surge Narrows is one of the most magnificent islands BC Oceanfront has worked with.
Sturt Island

This summer the trend has continued, with the sale of Round Island, North Trail Island and Shewell Island. These three islands are very different from each other and in different locations. In fact the only thing they have in common is that they are private islands.
Round Island

North Trail Island

Shewell Island

At the end of the day, private islands are in fact no different from other recreational properties in that they can be raw land or with improvements, close to amenities or in the middle of nowhere, large or small. It is the emotional and romantic pull that private islands have on our imaginations that make them something special in the world of recreational and remote properties. For that reason, they are one of our favourite properties to sell.

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

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Moorage in BC, What to Know

An oceanfront get-away, complete with dock for the boat, is a dream of many people. However, many people don't realize that putting in a dock isn't as simple as, say, putting up a fence. There are requirements, applications and permits that must be obtained.



In BC the installation of docks is overseen by the Provincial Government. Any person wanting to build a permanent dock on any body of water in BC (river, lake or ocean) should read the Private Moorage Requirements. There are specific requirements that must be met. If one is thinking of putting in moorage it requires detailed plans, often requiring the services of a surveyor, an engineer and/or a professional dock builder.

Other parties also need to be consulted. The Ministry requires that local government be consulted for any local zoning or regulations on moorage and docks. First Nation consultation is required, and the Ministry recommends that applicants start the conversation process with  any local First Nations groups, as this can make the process more streamlined. Finally, if there are any upland properties that will be affected by the proposed moorage then those owners must provide permissions.

Applying for permission for moorage and installing the moorage do not have to happen at the same time. Often property owners will apply for moorage knowing that eventually they want to install moorage facilities, or knowing that it will enhance the selling of their property. Once Specific Permission for Moorage is obtained, it can be transferred to new property owners without them having to go through the approval process, although First Nations consultation is required and the transfer process can take up to 6 months. Specific Permission is the normal approval given for moorage now and has no expiry date once given. One can still get a lease for a set term as well, usually this is for larger, commercial moorage applications. It is important to read the Private Moorage policy to see which one you would be applying for.


Note that moorage buoys are not governed by this policy, they are instead under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada and more information can be found here.


Like any other major project, the best advice is do your homework. Talk to the appropriate officials, get recommendations of experts from people who already have docks or know about docks. Make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
It's a Coastal Lifestyle ... Live It! 



Thursday, 25 August 2016

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, 18 August 2016

BCO Coastal Gems: Kyuquot

Kyuquot is a west coast village well known as a fishing destination and rich in First Nations and homesteader history. Kyuquot Sound is one of five major waterways on the west coast of Vancouver Island, north of Gold River, where the fishing is exciting and the scenery breath-taking. It is a place to experience the true west coast. 


The small village of Kyuquot is on Walter's Island in a sheltered bay. It is home to a general store, a government dock and even a seasonal restaurant. Some of the local residents are third generation of families who settled in the area. Most visitors come for the fishing, but there are also opportunities for other marine adventures, such as whale watching and kayaking.


Kyuquot is accessible by water or air only. Fair Harbour is the closest drive-to community, and that is a three and a half hour drive from Campbell River, mostly on gravel roads. It is a 30 minute boat ride and water taxi can be arranged ahead of time. One can also fly in from Gold River, or take the passenger boat from Gold River (MV Uchuck III).



The region has a true west coast history, with high First Nations significance (there is a First Nations village on Walters Island as well, pictured below), fur trading, whaling, forestry and fishing all as part of the development and story.




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

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Non Residents and Real Estate

The coast of British Columbia is known as one of the most beautiful places on earth, offering a natural wilderness and sense of adventure not to be found in many other places. With quick access from urban centres to the more remote areas of the coast, BC is a unique offering. It is no surprise then that it appeals to people from all over the world. Whether it is a visitor who wants to have a place to retreat to once a year or someone who is seriously thinking about relocating for a different lifestyle, the coast draws people from all over the world.

Every country has its own way of dealing with non-resident buyers, and so it is important that someone coming from outside Canada and wanting to buy property educated themselves on the requirements and rules.The BC Real Estate Association has a good overview here.


For people looking to make a more permanent move to Canada, then the place to start is the Government of Canada and their requirements for immigration.

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

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Cathedral Grove and the Trees

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!