Thursday, 16 February 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Malcolm Island and Sointula

Malcolm Island and the town of Sointula offer a picturesque west coast lifestyle, complete with colourful homes, historic buildings, pretty fishing boats and lots of walking trails.

 Sointula was originally founded by Finnish immigrants in the early 1900s looking for a better way of life, and that history is still reflected in the town. It has also been an active fishing centre in the region.

Accessed by ferry from Port McNeill on Vancouver Island, Sointula has shopping, fuel services, private and public docks, a library and a medical clinic among other amenities. There is a vibrant community of approx. 800, an eclectic mix of old-time families, artists, fishermen and those looking for a quieter life.

Whale watchers and outdoor enthusiasts favour Malcolm Island for its whale rubbing beaches and hiking trails, especially the Beautiful Bay Trail between Bere Point and Malcolm Point. There are a few campsites on the island, including Bere Point Regional Park campground as well as a number of B&Bs and guest houses. Pulteney Point lighthouse sits on the northeast point of the island and is accessible by a nice beach walk. The main roads along the eastern shore are paved, while the further out roads are gravel.

Malcolm Island sits at the junction of Queen Charlotte Strait, Broughton Strait and Johnstone Strait off the northern end of Vancouver Island. 

Definitely worth the trip!

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

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Tips For Selling Your Home in Winter

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 and 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, as are the daylight style bulbs. There are many options to choose from nowadays, so pick a light that suits the space and the time of year.

2. Windows
Winter light often comes in at an angle, and dirty windows are really noticeable. Make sure the windows are clean and clear. During the day open the window coverings to let as much natural light in as possible while in the evenings have window coverings closed against the dark.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Outdoor Lighting and Access
While people won’t spend as much time looking at the outdoors in the winter, they will notice a dirty entryway our one that is not well lit. Keep it clean and bright, so the entrances are reassuring, welcoming and safe.

6. Use Timers

Dark days in winter can meet sometimes outdoor lights should be one earlier, while a bright sunny day might mean lights don’t need to come on until later. A good timer from the hardware store can be set for a certain time or even better is to buy one that is light sensitive. This insures that when people show up the lights are on if needed.

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

Thursday, 26 January 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Winter Harbour

On the north-west tip of Vancouver Island sits the community of Winter Harbour. Renowned for access to amazing west coast fishing, this small village is home to about 20 full-time residents yet services hundreds of people during the fishing season. Well-protected moorage, services in the village, and (gravel) road access make this a popular choice with fishermen and adventurers looking to access the northern west coast of Vancouver Island.

The boardwalk running along the waterfront is a great spot to watch the boats or just look out over the water. There is a nice walking trail in the village as well. Winter Harbour has its own Post Office, and a small general store. There are a number of fishing charter companies that base out of Winter Harbour, and the docks get busy in the summer.

Winter Harbour is at the mouth of Quatsino Sound, and is also accessible by boat from Coal Harbour (45 - 60 minute boat ride). The drive in on wide gravel road from Port Hardy can take up to 2 hours, and it is advised that you watch for logging trucks.

Winter Harbour is a great place to visit while exploring northern Vancouver Island.

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

Thursday, 19 January 2017

What Does No Zoning Mean?

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. 

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

No matter how we might want 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 because they don't meet the requirements.

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. As the property is in a remote location and likely to be unoccupied at least some of the time, following the code in these instances may help keep the property protected and as safe as possible.

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

Resources: (note, this is the same as HPO, they have just changed their name recently) (A copy of the BC Building Codes is likely in your local library as well)

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

Thursday, 12 January 2017

The Delights of Vancouver Island

Conde Naste released its top 20 islands (outside the US) of 2016 and Vancouver Island was #6 on the list. What makes that even more impressive is that Vancouver Island is the only temperate climate on the list. (While the Greek Islands do have a mild and wet winter, their summers are on average much hotter than ours.)

Why does Vancouver Island attract and interest travelers? The reasons are much the same as what appeals to those of us who live here, and what makes travelers look to buy recreational property in the region.

Cape Scott, north end of Vancouver Island

Natural Beauty: Miles of sand beaches, stunning rock beaches, mountains, waterfalls, large rivers and towering rainforests. There is so much nature on this island that just exploring it can keep one occupied for a lifetime, let alone a one week visit.

Mild Temperatures: While some people love to lie in the hot sun (as evidenced by the many tropical islands on the list), others enjoy our temperate summers which allow you to still be active even on the hottest days. Plus the evenings generally cool off nicely. Our fall and spring are lengthy and even our winters, with wild rain and wind storms, appeals to those looking to experience nature's ferocity.

Walking by the Quinsam River in November

Urban Amenities and Services: Victoria, Nanaimo and to a smaller extent Campbell River, the Comox Valley and the Cowichan Valley, offer almost all the amenities of the big mainland cities. Concerts, plays, sports, art galleries and world class museums as well as a large variety of shopping and dining attract those looking to see nature from a more sophisticated setting.

Wildlife Viewing: Whale watching seems to be number one on many travelers' lists and there is lots of opportunity to do that around Vancouver Island. In addition seals, sea lions, bears, eagles and much more wildlife are easily viewed. Being so close to the mainland and having a number of smaller islands off its east coast means Vancouver Island is easily accessible for shore animals as well as ocean dwellers. It's cooler waters are rich in sealife and food sources, encouraging many local populations as well as putting it on migration routes for many species.

Orca, Malcolm Island

Fishing: Salmon species, halibut, cod species - Vancouver Island waters have them all and the fishermen come in droves to experience pulling them in. Plus the numerous lakes and rivers on the island are a mecca for fly fishermen and other freshwater fishermen.

Shelley fishing

Ease of Access: Vancouver Island is easily accessed by plane or ferry and once on the island all the main communities have good road access. So both getting to the island and getting around the majority of the island are easy. It is possible to drive from one of the island to the other in a day, which makes it possible to visit a number of communities and regions in a week or two.

central mountains of Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island, and the surrounding coastal islands, is a unique place in the world that offers something to everyone. It is majestic, breath-taking, beautiful and exciting. We are privileged to call it home.

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

Thursday, 5 January 2017

The Agricultural Land Reserve in BC

The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is always a hot topic in BC. The Agriculture Land Commission (ALC), the body that governs the ALR, defines it as:

"The Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) is a provincial zone in which agriculture is recognized as the priority use. Farming is encouraged and non-agricultural uses are restricted."

Quadra Island

Residential and recreational properties can be found within the ALR, and it is a good idea to understand what restrictions that places on the property. The ALC website provides clear guidelines in this regard, as well as providing mapping of ALR land in BC.

The ALR protects approximately 4.7 million hectares of agriculturally suitable land across British Columbia, according to the ALC. Buying property within the ALR does not stop one from having a home on the land, it does however restrict what activity the land can be used for.

It is also important to note that different municipalities and regions may have zoning bylaws that also affect the land and uses.
Keep in mind that buying property in the ALR means your neighbours are likely in the ALR as well, and may well be engaged in agricultural practises - this could mean all the unique things that are part of farming and agriculture are part of your neighbourhood (e.g. machinery noise, fertilizer spreading, etc).

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

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Looking forward to 2017

The last blog post of the year means we look forward to the new year and what it may bring. 

Looking Forward to 2017

Social media has become an important part of everyday business and the BCO Team continues to expand and develop in this area. We enjoy sharing the coastal lifestyle on our Facebook page and now on our new Instragram account.

Client interaction is something we give serious consideration to whenever we review our office procedures. Regular marketing reports, thank you cards and the like are all details that show our clients we are thinking of them and appreciate their business. We encourage our clients to share reviews on Google. Referrals are also always welcome!

For 2017 the recreational and remote property market looks promising and Ed expects that lower inventory available will start putting upward pressure on pricing. The Campbell River market will likely see steady action. This is a desirable community as well as affordable in comparison to the other urban centres on Vancouver Island.

“We are looking forward to another busy, productive year.” – Ed
“I think this year an important focus for the entire BCO Team will be working towards finding that nice balance between work/family/personal interests that makes us all happier and healthier and in the end more productive.” – Shelley

The BCO Team – Ed, Shelley, Kate and Karen – wishes you all a fantastic holiday season and looks forward to working with you in 2017.

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