Home & Land – January 2016 Issue

JAMES BAY
Falling for the west coast in this charming Vancouver Island community.

On a crisp but mild winter day sunshine winks through the mist, falling in beams over the back of the ocean. Clouds, stretched long and tissue thin—as if being pulled across the sky on an imaginary string—punctuate the horizon. It’s a scene fit a postcard (or, nowadays, Instagram), but for the friendly locals here in James Bay, rubbing shoulders at neighbourhood coffee shops or out walking the windswept beaches, it’s pretty much business as usual.

With a history that dates back further than any other on Canada’s glinting west coast, this stunning residential community takes root along the southern side of Victoria’s downtown Inner Harbour and is flanked by inky ocean waves on three sides. Home to many of Victoria’s most historical landmarks, some of its more magnificent attractions are the capital’s stoic Parliament buildings and the Royal BC Museum, as well as the bustling cruise ship port-of-call at Ogden Point, Beacon Hill Park, and Fisherman’s Wharf. In light of this, it seems redundant then to point out the obvious—this place has a lot going for it.

Comprised with what local realtor, Kyle Kerr of Coldwell Banker Slegg Realty describes as, “A healthy mix of many different kinds of properties,” James Bay has everything from single-family homes and condos to townhomes, lots, character homes, and oceanfront property. And although they’re often looked at more as a photo op than a housing opportunity, James Bay is also home to an extraordinary and colorful assortment of houseboats. “It’s a place where everyone can find something they like,” Kerr says confidently.

With more and more people looking to buy here, there is no doubt that James Bay has become one of Victoria’s most desirable areas. Because of its density, new developments tend to make the most of what space is available with the majority going for multi-level homes. Frank, an exclusive project of 6 townhomes from ARYZE development and construction, is indicative of what one might find from newer homes in the area. Straightforward with open concept floorplans and built using natural or reclaimed materials, Frank has a good understanding of what is desirable to Victoria residents.

Joining the action, Dallas Pointe townhomes—another recent development from Homewood Constructors Ltd—is as close as one can get to the ocean without actually purchasing waterfront property. Located on a quiet street off Dallas road, these homes feature contemporary design and sophisticated interiors already installed by award-winning firm, Nygaard Interior Design Ltd.

Perhaps one of the most exciting new developments in the area however, is Capital Park. Described on their website as the “vision” of Concert and Jawl Properties—both of whom are BC based developers with significant expertise in Victoria—Capital Park is almost an entire city block (close to 6 acres in total) with a land parcel owned by the provincial government. Now home to parking lots, commercial buildings and five unoccupied heritage homes, “vision” is the only way to describe what these developers have in mind for the area. After restoring and relocating all heritage homes currently on-site, over 100 new suites (a combination of both family-friendly and single person residences) will be built, as well as a public library, fitness facility, and plenty of opportunity for retail amenities. With abundant green spaces and a network of plazas, courtyards and pathways, “Capital Park will be a gathering place that encourages exploration.”

One of the most walkable neighbourhoods in Victoria, James Bay embraces all that anyone would expect from the west coast: a friendly community made up of diverse demographics, a mix of contemporary and historical architecture, with accessibility to nature and activity (quite literally) at one’s doorstep.

Homes & Land Volume 10, Issue 4 — January/February 2016

CAMPBELL RIVER
After years in the wings, this coastal paradise readies for its debut.

To sports fishermen and those with a deep admiration for the sport, it doesn’t take much more than the title “Salmon Capital of the World” to get them dancing in their waders. It would however, be unfair to crown Campbell River with this title alone. A placid yet rugged region known for its protected waters, rich wilderness, and more marine life than you can shake a fishing rod at, this jewel set in amongst the east coast of Vancouver Island is just beginning to hit its stride.

As mentioned, Campbell River has long held a soft spot in the heart of many an angler. Salmon enhancement and stewardship programs ensure an abundant population of all five species of Pacific salmon for visitors wishing to cast a line; while those who prefer to sit back, relax, and enjoy the day’s catch can feast sans effort in one of the numerous local seafood restaurants.

A 90-minute drive north of Nanaimo, and approximately 3 hours from Victoria, wildlife and nature lovers have flocked for years to this modest community of just over 30,000 with promises of whale and bear sightings. Located on the south end of Discovery Passage—a thin channel of water between Vancouver Island and the Discovery Islands—its rich history has served to establish its reputation as an ecological and cultural stronghold.

In addition to their own rich landscape, residents of Campbell River can easily travel to both Cortes Island and Quadra Island—two of the most popular Discovery Island destinations. Just ten minutes by car and passenger ferry to both destinations, Quadra—a stunning natural playground of moss green forests and snow capped mountains—is well-known for its adventure recreation activities, with a particular emphasis on its kayaking. Cortes Island offers more of the same, with white sandy beaches, abundant camping facilities, sailing, and many local charter boat operators for those planning wildlife watching or fishing excursions.

In addition to easily accessible ferries, residents benefit from the Campbell River and District Airport and its regular flights to Vancouver, as well as seasonal floatplane services to and from both Vancouver and Seattle.

Due largely to its position outside the major city hubs, those looking for a good real estate opportunity would be well served to look into this welcoming community. A diversified housing market boasts prices significantly lower than many of its more populous counterparts, and it’s not uncommon to find a well-tended 2 bedroom, 2-bath condo for under $150,000. Houses, condos, lots and commercial real estate are fairly abundant and provide a good investment opportunity for natives of the island, or those eager to trade in their city lifestyles for a slower pace of life.

In addition to these more modest offerings, Campbell River delivers an incredible opportunity for luxury real estate without the equally lavish price tag. This statement is exemplified by a recent listing sitting on over half an acre of park-like grounds, totaling over 7500 square feet. A 7 bed, 8-bath home with elegant details and a full view of Discovery Passage, one need not look far to realize that this is a rare opportunity indeed.

Coastal living, a tight-knit community, wildlife and nature in abundance—Campbell River is the personification of west coast living at its most charming and unpretentious.

CAMPBELL RIVER [PART II]

With a real estate market ranging from modest homes to rustic cabins, acreage estates and sweeping waterfront properties, Campbell River has no shortage of choice for homebuyers interested in the region.

One of the most talked about new developments is the Campbell River Hospital. Developed by the North Island Hospitals Project, once completed it will feature a 95-bed hospital with a price tag of $274.5 million. Intended to increase the quality of life amongst residents of the North Island, it is no doubt in part linked to the projected 20, 000 new residents Campbell River is expecting in the next 5-8 years. Together with the $1.093 billion renovation of the John Hart Generating Station, it is clear the province sees potential in investment here.

To get an idea of how comparable Campbell River is to other communities on the island, a local realtor was just advertising slightly over 1,200 listings with an average list price of approximately $320, 000. Another recent listing in the area illustrates what is, for now, a fairly typical find. A newly renovated condo—both interior and exterior—with a clear ocean view and spacious deck was on the market for $159, 000.

Also on the list of newcomers to the area is Berwick by the Sea—an upscale seniors retirement home offering independent and assisted living. With three GOLD Care Awards, the community has cultivated a high standard of living for its residents and describes itself as, “Oceanside Adventure in Retirement Living.”

Luxury properties include a recent listing along Lakeview Road. Described as a ‘private retreat’ surrounded by Crown Land, it has an illustrious 7,600 feet of waterfront on a private 95-acre lake with a price tag of $6 million. Those looking for something a little more modest are encouraged to look into older homes in the area. With such tremendous growth in the sales of newer homes, these heritage-like houses can present some excellent deals.

In typical west coast fashion, Campbell River is an outdoorsy and active community. One of its most popular destinations, the Rotary Seawalk, winds its way along 6 kilometres of shoreline in Discovery Passage. Rotary Beach Park is connected to the path and provides an opportunity to stop and picnic while enjoying the ocean views. One of numerous municipal parks in the area, other favourites includes Baikie Island Reserve and relative newcomer, Dick Murphy Park.

Golf lovers have access to three main courses. Sequoia Springs Golf Course is a short jaunt from downtown and offers 18 holes of golf on a lush, expertly landscaped course. At just 9 holes, Pacific Playgrounds is a small executive course on the slopes of Saratoga Beach. Widely lauded as one of the best golf courses in BC, Storey Creek Golf Course was given a four-star rating by Golf Digest.

Campbell River has also added world-class scuba diving to its résumé. Seymour Narrows—at one time a perilous ridge of rocks—was blasted by explosives a few decades ago, and is now a vibrant ecosystem with a stunning boat drift dive. Rivaling that is the HMCS Columbia, a naval destroyer sunk in 1996 by the Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.

As the housing market in Campbell River continues to swell, so too does the number of new projects and developments coming to the area. Whatever it is you’re seeking, Campbell River is sure to deliver.

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