Oceanside Living [Part II]

Editorial Written by Kristen Ross

Oceanside Living
Is Reality On Vancouver Island’s East Coast [PART II]

It’s not difficult to see why so many Canadians dream of owning a home on the coast. Here the calm waters and sleepy cottage atmosphere of its freshwater cousins are replaced with jagged bluffs, dramatic vistas, and miles of sandy, argent-hued beaches.

Vancouver Island offers up some incredibly appealing options for Oceanside living by way of its Parksville, Nanoose Bay and Qualicum residential communities. Although new developments continue to thrive, the market has not been saturated – an attractive incentive for homebuyers on its own. In Parksville, long stretches of windswept beaches are still the norm, and residents share this spectacular scenery between what remains a small, tight-knit community.

Aaron Nicklen from Coast Realty Group in Qualicum Beach, points to “Resort Row” as a good sampling of availability in the area. Stretched out along the coast from Parksville, one can find options ranging from cottages and townhomes with ocean views, to luxury long-term vacation rentals and bungalows. He describes one of his more recent properties, a walk-on oceanfront home at 3021 Island W. Highway, as “a perfect example of a beach getaway home.” Together with the area’s calendar of summer markets and musical events, this special slice of Vancouver Island presents a tremendous opportunity for those looking to get away from it all.

By virtue of its easy access to Nanaimo, Nanoose Bay offers those looking for open waters endless opportunities for sailing, windsurfing and one of the most active scuba diving communities in the world. Known for its world-class diving, Vancouver Island is gaining fame for its artificial reefs found just off the coast of Nanaimo. A decommissioned Navy destroyer is now just one of many old war ships that have been turned into a playground for divers and a new ecosystem for threatened marine life thanks to The Artificial Reef Society of British Columbia.

Love of the natural world, together with efforts aimed at its preservation is a deep and common thread among the oceanfront communities. The Gulf Islands, which stretch along the eastern coastline, represent yet another delightful opportunity to get out into nature, meet likeminded souls, and take advantage of the numerous amenities scattered throughout the area. Residents can make a pilgrimage to Galiano, Gabriola, Salt Spring and Pender Islands to play a round of golf with friends, or simply to enjoy fantastic local fare – from ethnic foods to farm-fresh cheeses, artisanal marmelades, hand-made pastries, and pop-up coffee shacks. The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is a boater’s paradise with 33 square kilometers of parkland that includes reefs, smaller islands and islets.

While it’s true that these burgeoning oceanfront neighbourhoods share stunning natural scenery and a healthy, active lifestyle, what residents pay homage to time and time again remains unchanged – the quality of life that accompanies the slower pace and safe environment simply has no substitute. This realization has also reinvigorated the local community to take a proactive stance towards local commerce, with incentives such as The Oceanside Initiatives Project. A regional business enhancement program, it was designed to promote and foster the development of small businesses and an entrepreneurial culture meant to see these neighborhoods continue to thrive.

With a keen eye on their future and long list of natural features, those looking for a place to call home with a difference would do well to heed the call of this island’s ocean.

Homes & Land Vancouver to Whistler edition, July 31st issue.