Thursday, 18 May 2017

BCO Coastal Gems: Port Hardy

Northern Gateway

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. It is now best known as a tourism and transportation centre.

The community is a gateway to 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. The drive from Campbell River to Port Hardy on Highway 19 takes 2.5 to 3 hours.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Getting a Listing Up and Running

What Happens When BCO Lists My Property?

Once the listing documents are signed a number of things happen in the BCO office. Documents need to be handed in and processed through the real estate systems. This happens generally at Karen’s desk, where she makes sure all the paperwork is accounted for and accurately uploaded into the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board system (and/or another board depending on the location of the property). She also is the one who uploads the property and all its photos and text to the relevant websites (BC Oceanfront, the MLS system, and other regional sites as appropriate).

Once the listing is signed the file then goes on Kate’s desk, where Kate and Ed or Shelley work on putting together the write up for the property. Once that is completed a package is prepared, with mapping that Karen has pulled together during the listing research and any other information deemed pertinent (zoning for example).

Kate also begins preparing advertising text and placing the property into the advertising schedule. We advertise in a number of print publications, and make sure that a property is placed in the appropriate ones to reach the widest audience that may have an interest in that particular type of property.

Signage can be tricky for our out of town listings, but best efforts are made to arrange for signs to be placed at the property. Most of the time this is done by Ed or Shelley on one of their field trips, but sometimes it is done by a third party (in town signs are placed by a local contractor) or even by the property owner.

Once we know everything is up and running on the internet, we send our listing clients an email outlining where the property can be seen online, as well as provide a copy of the information package we have prepared.

All of this takes place within an intense system of checks and balances that have been developed over time, along with time parameters for when these procedures are done.  The BC Oceanfront Team takes pride in the work we do and the comprehensive service we provide.

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

Thursday, 4 May 2017

No City Sewer? No Problem!

Even with indoor plumbing on a remote property, a conventional septic system may not be an option. While some people are content to turn to the convenience and tradition of an outhouse, not everyone wants to access an outdoor toilet nor handle the maintenance of an outhouse. There are many other options out there in the world of alternative systems and they are getting easier to find.

A lot 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 (such as Quadra, Cortes or Gabriola), however that is not the case for many recreational and more remote properties. There are also filtration systems and outflow systems, all of which direct the waste somewhere else (holding tanks, gravel fields, or in some cases directly out to bodies of water).

There are three other waterless options that property owners can consider.
*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.
*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.
*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.

Living without a regular flush toilet does not automatically relegate one to an outhouse if that is not wanted. There are options out there and doing a little research will lead to suppliers and resources.

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

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Working After the Offer

You've found your dream property, you've had a look at it and you've had your offer accepted. What comes next?

There is a lot of paperwork involved with buying property, but there is also a lot of due diligence involved. Whether the property is local or remote, residential or recreational, there are things about the property that you may want to have checked and/or verified before you commit completely to purchasing.

Due to the diverse range of properties we sell in the BC Oceanfront office at Royal LePage Advance Realty, we have a wealth of resource information when it comes to the various inspections a property may require and who might be available to perform those inspections.

These could be:
  • For properties that aren't on a city sewer system a septic inspection could mean having someone come out and check the system, as well as verifying with the local health authority that the system has a valid permit.
  • For properties that aren't on city water, a water inspection insuring that water lines, wells or other domestic water sources are all in healthy, working order.
  • Building inspections, for all properties with improvements on them. If wood stoves are involved then certain certifications (WETT) are required of the building inspector so they can also check the wood stove system.
  • Docks and moorage for oceanfront properties, to insure all is in safe, working order.
  • Electrical systems - this can require an electrician for a basic wired system or an alternative energy systems company for off-grid power systems.
These are just some of the onsite inspections our office arranges for clients. Many of these require Ed or Shelley's attendance, and some properties can require several days of inspections depending on the complexity of the systems.

When you work with the BC Oceanfront Team, you are benefiting from a group experienced with the logistics and inspections required for all types of properties - and we put that expertise to work for you.

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

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!