Thursday, 20 April 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Kildonen Inlet

The west coast of Vancouver Island has so many pocket communities that are almost unknown to the majority of islanders unless they live or boat nearby. One such area is what was historically known as Kildonen.

 This is a spectacularly scenic and well-protected location on the west coast of Vancouver Island, 21 nautical miles from Port Alberni and 14.5 nautical miles from China Creek. The Alberni Inlet not only provides quick, easy access to Barkley Sound but also at the head of Uchucklesit Inlet is 1km of river which flows out of Henderson Lake. The lake is approximately 22.5km in length and averages 2.25km in width. This combination of access provides excellent opportunities for both fresh water and salt water activities. 

The area known as Kildonen is on the eastern shore of Uchucklesit Inlet. Like many of the small settlements on the west coast, it was originally the site of a cannery in the early 1900s. It was named after the town in Scotland where the cannery founders were from originally.

Now Kildonen is a recreational residential area. Cheeyah Island is also in the Kildonen region of the inlet, and is a nicely developed recreational residential area as well.

With easy access to both Port Alberni and Barkley Sound, Kildonen is an excellent option for a west coast retreat. At the BC Oceanfront website you can see two properties currently available in the area.

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

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Aerial Photography

While drone photography is now making low aerial photography more common on real estate listings,for years Ed has been taken photos from planes to best market BC Oceanfront listings. As so many of these listings are remote and often acreages, aerial photography presents a good overview of a property and a perspective of the size that is hard to achieve with photos from the ground/water and mapping alone. 
 Bligh Island

While we have used photography from drones flown by an independent company for a few listings, our aerial photography is still done by Ed or Shelley going up in a plane and taking photos. This is challenging in itself - properties can be hard to identify from the air! The more times they fly over places the more familiar they become with the view from up there, but they still rely on extensive mapping and landmarks to locate properties. They also make sure to take lots of photos before and after the subject property, so we have lots to choose from. When you are flying you don't have time to review all your photos and go back for more - so you need to get as many photos as you can in the time available!

North Rendezvous Lot 14

Taking photos from a plane can also be challenging as you are in a small space and there are a lot of parts to get the lens around. Some of our favourite office photos are ones where the plane has gotten in the way of the subject property and changed the focus. They're not useful for marketing the property however. Even things like glare off a window need to  be taken into account. There are no do-overs, at least not until the next time one of them is up in the plane in that area.
Propeller rainbow!

When the photos come back to the office there is then the challenge of identifying the entire property. If it is an oceanfront property we can generally identify that portion, but it can take a lot of mapping and careful comparison to get the rest of the property identified. And even then we make sure to advise that the lines are only approximate. Sometimes, as with North Rendezvous above, the angle of the photo makes it too difficult to determine property lines and so an arrow will be used to identify the property from the shoreline.
Cape Scott

Aerial photography is a useful tool for the properties BC Oceanfront markets. It is not uncommon to hear in the office "We've got the opportunity to fly - what properties do we need photos of in this area?"
Turn Island

Just another unique aspect of the BCO office.

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

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Ronning's Garden, Northern Vancouver Island

This post, from five years ago, was the second blog post we put up and is one of the most viewed posts ever on the blog....

The BC Coastal regions are rich with historical stories, thanks to the many unique characters and groups that have settled through-out the area over the past several hundred years (or further back in the case of our First Nations). Many of these areas are no longer inhabited, but if you know where to look the stories remain.

In 1910 a Norwegian man by the name of Bernt Ronning settled in the forests on the northwestern end of Vancouver Island. At this time there were almost 1,000 people living in the area, all trying to make a go of homesteading and surviving in this remote region. Most of them were of Scandinavian descent. The government of the time had promised a road from Cape Scott through to Port Hardy, but that never happened and so many of the settlers left after a few years. But not Ronning, who over the next 50 years made a living as a trapper and fisherman, and established an incredible exotic garden in the midst of the northern island wilderness.

According to an article written in the 1950s which is posted at the garden, Ronning used to order plants from nurseries all over the world and then hike them in to his place, sometimes taking a couple of days to get there. The 5 acres of gardens almost disappeared, until some locals decided to save what remained and reclaim the gardens from the surrounding forest. No buildings remain, but many of the plants are now giants, appearing oddly at home in the midst of the rainforest.
A giant Monkey Puzzle tree.

 To find Ronning's Garden, you take the gravel road to Cape Scott. The turn off is about 1.5 hours from Port Hardy, and is well marked by a wooden sign. From the marked parking area it is about a 15 minute walk to the gardens, where there is an information board posted to tell you about the plants and the work being done to rescue the gardens. 

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

Thursday, 30 March 2017

BCO Coastal Gem: Owen Bay

In the heart of the Discovery Islands lies the recreation area known as Owen Bay. It is located on the south side of Sonora Island on Okisolo Channel, just above Hole in the Wall. Busby Island, sitting just off shore of Sonora Island, is often included when people are referring to the Owen Bay area.

Owen Bay has a long homesteader history; at one point it was a thriving coastal community of about 1200 people and home to a school and general store. It has evolved into a quiet, coastal vacation and recreation community with a small complement of full-time residents. There is evidence of this long history scattered throughout the area.

Owen Bay has a government dock and local road/trail access for the property owners.

There are several marine parks to enjoy within close proximity, in particular The Octopus Island Group Marine Park is only minutes away. 

Owen Bay offers a number of excellent features. The bay itself enjoys primarily south and west exposure and is one of the best-protected areas from wind throughout the region. At the head of the bay is a large tidal beach that extends for ¼ mile at low tide. There are two creeks, which enter the bay – one of which originates at Hyacinth Lake. Just outside of Owen Bay are the magnificent upper and lower rapids of Okisollo Channel – an awesome display of nature’s power and beauty.  

Traveling to Owen Bay by boat takes a little less than 1 hour from Campbell River and approximately 40 minutes from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island. During the summer months there is regular scheduled water taxi service to and from Campbell River. 

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

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Mountains of Vancouver Island and the BC Coast

One of the amazing things about the east coast of Vancouver Island is that you are surrounded by mountains. Whether it is the central coastal mountains across from central Vancouver Island, the Vancouver mountains across from Nanaimo and region, or the mountains of Washington and Oregon across from Victoria (Mt. Baker being the most noticeable of these), the coastal mountains are a strong visual background for the eastern side of the island.

To the west and in the centre of the island are the mountains of Vancouver Island. These slope up from the south through gentler mountains such as Arrowsmith to the steep and imposing mountains found in Strathcona Regional Park, such as Mount Albert Edward and the Golden Hinde. The mountains continue up the spine of the island, again sloping off as they reach the northern end.

The mountains on the island are the source for much of the drinking water on the island and are the birthplace of the majority of the big rivers that Vancouver Island is so well known for. They also split the island and impact the climate from the east to the west coasts. Accessing west coast communities such as Tofino or Port Alberni requires crossing through the mountains, which can of course change your road conditions drastically.

There are two ski hills on Vancouver Island - Mount Washington is well-known as a ski resort and offers both cross country and excellent downhill recreation. Mt Cain is a lesser known ski hill, famous amongst serious skiiers for its west coast powder.

In the summer the mountains are a popular hiking and climbing destination, and Mount Washington offers trails and access for mountain bikers.

As much as the ocean forms the rhythm of life on Vancouver Island, the mountains also are part of the island lifestyle. Even if people never go into the mountains, the fact that they are always there makes them as much a part of an islander's experience as the ocean.

Vancouver Island embraces nature from shore to mountaintop, and it shows.

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

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Drinking Water on a Remote Property

For those living in a city or other residential area, domestic water is only really thought about when water restrictions are enacted. Otherwise it is hard to really think about where water comes from, when it is readily available at the turn of a tap.

For those who live outside the boundaries of cities and towns, domestic water can be one of the most important issues when establishing a home. Where will it come from? How will it be used? How much will be needed? All of these questions should be answered when considering a home on a remote or rural property. If the property already has a home in place, prospective buyers should be asking the same questions.

Domestic water outside of city water systems generally comes from three sources: groundwater through wells; surface water through springs, creeks or rivers; and rain water. (There are other options, such as desalination plants if one lives on the ocean or water delivery which many island communities use in the dry summers when wells and cisterns are empty.) Of these three, it is currently the use of surface water that requires a licence to access in BC.

The Water Act of BC defines what licencing is required and what that licence entitles one to. A licence will define where the water may be taken from, how much water will be taken and what the water will be used for.Information on applying for a domestic freshwater licence can be found here:

The BC Government is in the process of evaluating the Water Act and changing the laws to reflect licencing for non-domestic ground water usage. This is expected to become law early this year, and more on that can be found here:

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

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Licence Renewal Season is Here

The end of March is definitely the start of spring here on the coast. That's not to say we don't ever have snow in April, as it has happened, but it is obvious when you look around that spring is arriving.

The other thing that the end of March brings is fishing licence renewal. Both salt water and fresh water licences run from April 1 - March 31. Anyone who fishes tidal waters must have a licence on them, regardless of age. A fresh water licence is required by anyone 16 and up.

He had a licence

She had a licence

He did not need a licence

She had a licence

He had a licence

She had a licence

Tidal water licences are regulated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and you can find more information here: Fisheries and Oceans Tidal Licence

Freshwater licences are regulated by the BC Government, and you can find more information here: Fish and Wildlife Freshwater Licence

If you already have a licence, don't forget to renew before April 1!

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