Thursday, 20 October 2016

Arbutus and Garry Oak Eco-Systems on Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island is home to a number of different eco systems. Some of the most distinctive on Vancouver Island (and the Gulf Islands) are the Garry Oak and Arbutus forests on southern Vancouver Island.

A garry oak in Beacon Hill Park, Victoria

Garry Oak eco-systems are becoming quite rare, and are protected in many places on the southern islands. The system likes dry, partially meadowed areas, often along the seashore or on rocky hillsides. There are a few pockets of this eco-system on some of the more central islands, for example Hornby Island.

Arbutus trees are very common south of Nanaimo but they too have had stress, and in recent years have suffered from diseases that threaten to do serious damage.
Garry oaks and Arbutus along the Westway walkway in Esquimalt

Both of these trees and their respective eco-systems are part of the magic that is the natural beauty on Vancouver Island.

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

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Fall River Walking on Vancouver Island

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 to many of the rivers and the extra water brought by seasonal rain, rivers are the perfect place to be in the fall.

There is a great selection of walks and rivers 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.

We are expecting a series of storms to hit the island over the next few days. Should make the rivers even better for a visit next week!

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

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Weather Watching on Vancouver Island

Fall is well upon us here on Vancouver Island, with the trees quickly changing colour and the mornings being quite cool and damp. While this indicates that the fog and rain and storms are coming, it does not mean the down turn in tourism and adventuring that it once did. These days many people come to the island in the winter, both for the mild climate compared to the rest of Canada and also to watch nature in action.

Fall colours on Quadra Island.

Fall and winter weather is a part of life here on the island, and it can be awesome to watch. Many regions of the island have marketed this, none more so than the west coast through Tofino and Uclulet. However the west coast isn't the only side that gets stormy wet weather.

Campbell River shoreline after a winter storm.

Parksville and Campbell River are two of the communities where one can easily enjoy the wild weather months along the shoreline. With miles of beaches (both sand and rock) and fewer people around, being on Vancouver Island in the fall and winter can be an exciting and invigorating adventure.
Miracle Beach in winter fog.

Vancouver Island really is a year-round destination, and the natural beauty shines in all seasons.

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

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Archeological Sites on Properties

Archeological sites are a common topic with coastal properties these days, and even make the news on a regular basis. 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 assessments 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.

 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.

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, 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!