Nanaimo Mine Disaster: The City‘s Darkest Day

During Nanaimo’s earliest days coal really was king. But the black richness that opened up the community and helped to power the Victorian era didn’t come without cost – in some cases that currency was the lives of the miners themselves. On May 3, 1887 a massive explosion, believed caused by improperly placed charges, tore through the Number One Coal Mine (Esplanade) taking with it approximately 150 miners – making it the city’s (and the province’s) largest and costliest industrial accident in terms of lives lost.

The Number One Coal Mine, located at the foot of present day Milton Street (where a marker describing the tragedy currently exists) was a vast labyrinth of tunnels spreading out in a jagged network that even extended beneath the growing community’s harbor. In fact it is said that miners working in those more remote branches of the claim could actually hear vessels as they sailed over their heads.

Operated by the Vancouver Coal Company (VCC) the project was originally started in 1884 and was one of the largest operations of its type in the town at the time. No one will ever know with real certainty what happened to trigger the blast, but when the underground darkness of the mine’s galleries lit up in that fiery detonation dozens of men perished instantly, while many others lingered trapped and dying in the choking fumes of that unimaginable Hell for an extended period.

When rescuers finally reached those trapped souls they found that in some cases farewell messages had been scrawled on their shovels, a tragic testament to the loneliness and desperation they must have felt as their lives slowly ebbed away. Only seven of the dozens of men working that day managed to make it to the surface alive – leaving the community with more than 150 fatherless children and nearly 50 widows facing an uncertain future alone.

The rescue effort, while heroic, was slowed as a fire that blazed beneath the ground for more than a day prevented crews from reaching the more remote corners of the operation. Had the blaze not erupted it was believed that many more workers would have survived.

Industry in 19th Century Nanaimo was much less safety-conscious that it is today, so a full tally of the destruction or even an accurate layout of the mine itself is very much open to debate. What is known is that documents of the day put the death toll at 148 workers, but subsequent research has pegged the carnage at 150 or even more, including approximately 53 workers of Chinese origin. During the Provincial Government inquest that took place after the tragedy the Minister of Mines of the day, in his annual report, listed the names of the perished, and the insensitive notation: “Chinamen, names unknown”, followed by an employee tag number – a continuing sore spot for many of the current descendants of those lost workers.

Seven of the lost miners never made it to the surface and have remained entombed to this day, a somber reminder of the dangers and the uncertainties that went into opening up the community.

Despite the cost in terms of lives and money, the VCC went on to reopen at least part of the mine, keeping it in operation until 1938 when it was shuttered and sealed for the last time. During more than 50 years of operation Nanaimo’s Number One Mine is said to have produced more than 18 million tons of coal, the black fuel that was ultimately shipped to customers around the world.

A tragedy on a scale unprecedented in the community, the great Nanaimo mine disaster is a poignant reminder of the dangers present during the city’s earliest days, and an important part of the region’s history – a lesson that needs to be remembered and shared.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Homeowners

The dusting of snow the East Coast of Vancouver Island recently experienced is a reminder that despite the region’s benign climate this is still the winter, and a cold snap could still see the Mercury plunge on short notice. For homeowners energy bills during the dark days of winter can climb dramatically, so it’s important at this time of year to take steps to ensure that energy isn’t being wasted, and that costs can be maintained. To help with that goal we offer a few simple tips to help keep residents warm, even when it’s cold outside.

Bundle Up: While it may seem like an obvious idea, energy and money can be saved by keeping a household thermostat below 20º Celsius and simply putting on a sweater to ward off the morning chill. Many believers in the ‘bundle up approach’ say putting on extra clothing is even healthier that cranking up the furnace or baseboard heaters, so why not give it a try?

Ceiling Fans: Did you realize that the direction a ceiling fan turns should reflect the time of year it’s in operation? During the hot days of summer the spinning blades should be used to draw the heat away from the living spaces, while during the winter a reverse rotation will push the warmer air (as heat rises) down into the room to aid with heating. Conduct a few experiments with your fans to find the best approach for your individual home.

Ongoing Maintenance: Like any mechanical system – from lawn mowers to automobiles – a furnace needs to be properly maintained to work at peak efficiency. A furnace filter choked with dust will not work as well as a clear one. For many the addition of a furnace filter alarm, a device that advises when a filter needs replacing, is a worthwhile investment. Do a little research, or ask questions the next time you’re in a local building supply store, to find the right product for your needs.

Keep it Clean: Maintenance of furnace vents and other ductwork is another way to ensure that the air you’re paying to heat will effectively circulates through the home. The same is true for laundry room dryer vents and other appliances so equipped. As the winter months will see you more housebound than usual it’s vital to keep all of your systems working as obstruction-free as possible to improve comfort and to reduce costs.

Planning Wisely: Try to avoid heating areas of the home that are typically not as well insulated including the garage, subfloor crawlspace, attic or storage sheds. If parts of your home are typically unused during the winter, then try closing doors, or shutting heating registers to save money.

The Fireplace: A needlessly open chimney can literally suck money out of your home. Working just like an open window an unused chimney with an open damper is a 24/7 drain on your household heat. Always close the damper when not in use, but remember to reopen it if a warming blaze is called for. In addition, consider installing tempered glass doors to a wood-burning fireplace and even a heat-air exchange system that will help to blow warm air into the room.

Open the Curtains: Make a full use of the sunshine if possible. By simply opening the drapes or blinds on sunny those days natural and free heat will automatically stream in. Likewise remember to close the drapes or blinds once the sun sets.

These are just a few ideas, each home is unique and each situation is specific. So why not look around, ask questions of experts and do a little online research to find the best approach for your property? Winter can be fun, but it doesn’t have to be needlessly expensive.

Sales Dip Marked End to 2018 Real Estate Market

In terms of housing sales 2018 ended with more whimper than it did bang – according to information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). During the month of December a total of 170 homes changed hands across Vancouver Island, a drop of 48 percent when compared to December 2017, and 44 percent lower than the number of homes reported sold during November.

VIREB reported that in December 2017 a total of 328 homes were sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System, while in November 304 sales transactions occurred. The slumping sales weren’t restricted solely to single family homes as townhouse sales dipped two percent when compared to a year ago, with apartment sales plunging a full 65 percent year over year.

Looking at the year overall, during 2018 4,543 single family homes were sold within VIREB’s coverage area (which extends from the Malahat in the south to the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island) a drop of 19 percent when compared to 2017.

One bright spot in the real estate marketplace is the size of the available housing inventory, currently pegged at 941 properties. This figure represents a jump of 23 percent when compared to December 2017 when only 761 properties were available for sale. This expanding pool of homes has provided buyers with a wide range of housing options.

Surprisingly, despite a drop in sales, housing prices continued to rise all across Vancouver Island last year. VIREB uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its separate zones and without exception prices were higher in each when compared to a year ago.

The board-wide benchmark price of a single-family home in December was listed at $506,300, which is an increase of 10 percent when compared to December 2017. The board-wide price of an apartment last month was up 13 percent year over year to $319,000. The benchmark price of townhomes finished the year at $411,500, an increase of 12 percent over the same month last year – but down slightly from November’s benchmark price.

Housing price increases were reported all across Vancouver Island last month. In Nanaimo for example the December benchmark price of a single family home reached $538,300 – which is seven percent higher than it was a year ago, but is actually down two percent from November 2018.

In the Parksville / Qualicum area the benchmark price climbed 11 percent to $580,500, with the benchmark price of a home sold in the Duncan area reported as $466,600, an increase of 10 percent when compared to December 2017.

The benchmark price of a single-family home in the Campbell River area climbed 13 percent in December to hit $414,600, while in the Comox Valley the benchmark price climbed 10 percent to $508,100. In the Alberni Valley the benchmark price was up 20 percent form a year ago, finishing 2018 at $299,000, which is actually four percent lower than the November benchmark price.

So what does it all mean? In a market as volatile and as quickly changing as Vancouver Island’s its more important than ever to rely on the skills and experience of a professional REALTOR® to guide you when buying or selling a property. Give Peter and Kathy a call today to learn more about today’s dynamic real estate marketplace.

Christmas Has an Ancient & Complex Origin Story

Special on so many levels Christmas positively impacts millions of people around the world and not solely based on its modern spiritual interpretation. Christmas has origins that can be traced back long before the current Christian era, to ancient pagan rites trailing back into the dim mists of prehistory.

Christmas as we currently know it has been celebrated on December 25th since at least the year 336 AD, thanks to the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine. He formally set the day aside as an important Christian observance as part of his conversion to the new faith. The imperial dictate was further cemented into our culture and calendars a few years later when the Pope of the day, Pope Julius I, officially declared that December 25th would officially be celebrated as the date of Jesus Christ’s birth.

This determination was in spite of the views of some leading historians and scholars who suggested that Jesus was actually born in the springtime based on the information provide in the Bible and in other recognized holy scriptures.

Long before the modern era ancient peoples around the world would acknowledge the winter solstice, normally falling on December 21, as an important annual event.It is that point in the solar calendar when the sun reaches its furthest point from the earth, marking the slow return of longer days and warmer weather. Long before the birth of Christ ancient Europeans would routinely celebrate light and birth during the darkest days of winter. The ancient people would celebrate as they knew the worst of the winter was over and they could begin to look forward to spring.

The Norse peoples would celebrate what they referred to as Yule from December 21 until January – an observance similar to our modern holiday season. To honor the slow return of the sun the Scandinavian men would bring home large Yule logs to burn in their homes, around which the people would feast until the log had burned itself out. Often this could take as long as 12 days, the root to our modern “12 Days of Christmas” observance.

During Roman times the celebration of Saturnalia, to honor their God Saturn, was held during mid-winter. As Saturn was the Roman God of agriculture the winter festival would be held to encourage the deity to provide a warm and fruitful spring and planting season. Saturnalia was also a time for hedonistic Roman over indulgence, when food and drink were plentiful and when business and schools were closed for nearly a month so that everyone in the society could join in the fun.

By the time of the Middle Ages the church has taken the various and more ancient celebrations and had re imagined them into the familiar structures and customs we honor today. In the 21st Century it’s believed that as many as two billion people, in about 160 countries around the world, celebrate Christmas in some form or other each year marking it as one of the most significant and best loved holidays on the planet.

Regardless of its roots or its interpretation Christmas is an important and very special day, a time of family, of togetherness, love and sharing. Take the time from the busy bustle of modern life this season to pause for a moment, to be grateful for the joys in your life and the happiness that you’ve found. The solstice is past, the worst is over and a new beginning is about to happen.

Holidays Offer a World of Entertainment Options

It’s that ‘most wonderful time of year’ when children’s faces glow, lights turn ordinary homes into spectacular outdoor art installations and local shops burst with confections and treats to tempt and delight children of any age. It’s Christmas on Vancouver Island; a season of music and merriment and family.

The holiday season is also the time of year when organizations, businesses and entertainment institutions of all sizes do their very best to thrill and entice. To describe a Vancouver Island Christmas as a time of plenty is to do the season a disservice. Christmas 2018 promises to be a busy and exciting time, so here are just a few of the many delights planned for the next few weeks.

At the Port Theatre, Nanaimo’s largest professional entertainment venue, there are a variety of festive events on tap during December. From a live performance of the timeless Nutcracker to a holiday evening with a Frank Sinatra tribute performer to ‘O Christmas Tea’ a presentation in classic British comic style, the Port Theatre offers a wealth of seasonal happenings. Check with the theatres events calendar to see for yourself.

Another regional holiday happening is the yearly Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular, a celebration of music, dance, lighting and decoration, this year marking its 12th anniversary. A popular holiday tradition, drawing attendance from across Vancouver Island, the Yellowpoint Christmas Spectacular runs at the Port Theatre from December 10th to 23rd and features a cast of 14 highly skilled performers.

This year’s extravaganza includes musical tributes to Buddy Holly and Richie Valens, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson, Edith Piaf, the Rat Pack, a collection of Disney classics, a Motown medley starring the Supremes, Bing Crosby’s classic ‘White Christmas’ as well as many other classical hits and Christmas favorites – with the event promising to offer something for literally any musical taste.

A few other local events include the ‘Old Fashioned Family Christmas Party’ being organized by the Nanaimo Child Development Centre. To be held December 9th the session includes lunch, games and activities for children of all ages.

Another seasonal favorite is the Nanaimo Singing Christmas Tree, held at the Generations Church on Princess Royal Avenue. This live choral event brings together more than 50 choir members who will sing a range of holiday themed favorites, both old and new. This year marks the church’s 26th annual staging of the event. The sessions take place December 8 and 15 and will include a drama presentation and light show in addition to the actual choral performance.

A few other delights include the Harbour City Theatre’s presentation of Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ to be held at the organization’s venue at 25 Victoria Road. There will also be a singles ‘Jingle and Mingle’ get together at The Deep Blue at 70 Church Street on December 15 – a great way for local singles to meet others having to contend with facing a holiday season alone.

Another event on tap is Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Milner Christmas Magic 2018, which is an outdoor Christmas light show for the whole family. Visitors can navigate over half a kilometer of lit and decorated trails. The outdoor event includes a visit from Santa, live Christmas music, a Teddy Bear Cottage, Story Telling in the Magnolia Room, Camellia Tea Room, outdoor Refreshment Stand, two Gift Shops and more. Check with VIU for more information.

This is just a short list, do a little research on your own to discover just how exciting a time Christmas in on Vancouver Island really can be. You’ll probably be surprised and delighted to see what’s coming next.

Housing Sales Slide While Prices Continue To Rise

 

Housing sales all across Vancouver Island dipped sharply last month, despite the fact home prices continued to rise – according to information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). In its latest statistical release VIREB reported the sale of single family homes on Vancouver Island dropped a full 28 percent from the same month last year, while being 21 percent lower than October’s totals.

During November 305 homes were reported sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System, down sharply from the 426 that were sold during November 2017. In October a total of 384 homes reportedly changed hands. The reduction in sales activity wasn’t limited solely to single family homes as both apartment and townhouse sales also dropped, 14 percent and 28 percent respectively.

In addition to a significant dip in sales the actual number of single family homes available for sale on Vancouver Island also declined last month. While VIREB declined to publish the number of available properties in the current housing inventory it did suggest that the number of active listings currently available had dropped each month since July when the inventory hit a peak of 1,418.

Interestingly the declining inventory of properties was restricted only to single family homes as the apartment and townhouse inventories climbed significantly. For example the number of apartments available for sale last month rose 11 percent to 319 (from 287) while the number of townhomes on the market skyrocketed 74 percent to 177 properties from the 102 available for sale at the same time last year.

VIREB uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its individual zones, an area that extends from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Malahat in the south. Board-wide the benchmark prices of all classes of properties (single-family homes, apartments, and townhouses) reported increases when compared to October.

The real estate board reported that the board-wide benchmark price hit $509,500 last month, a jump of 12 percent from November 2017. All classes of properties reported price hikes in November including apartments with the benchmark price rising 15 percent year over year to $314,800. Townhouses also rose 15 percent in price last month, finishing November with a benchmark price of $415,900.

Looking at each individual zone the benchmark price of a home sold in Nanaimo in November rose 10 percent to $550,200, while in the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price climbed nine percent to $571,500. Further south in the Cowichan Valley the price of a typical home jumped 12 percent from a year ago to $473,600.

Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, the Campbell River market reported a price increase of 15 percent with the benchmark price reaching $409,000, while in the Comox Valley the benchmark price broke the half million dollar mark, reaching $500,000 after climbing nine percent from November 2017. In the Alberni Valley prices jumped even more, rising a full 23 percent from last year to end the month with a benchmark price of $311,300.

When the real estate market is as dynamic as the Vancouver Island one currently is it is more important than ever to have experienced professionals on your side – whether you’re a seller or a buyer. If you’re considering entering the market, Peter and Kathy should be your first call.

Discover the Englishman River Regional Park

With so many fabulous places to check out Vancouver Island is much like a visual banquet, with each destination offering a luscious treat distinctly its own. One such experiential delicacy is the Englishman River Regional Park, easily accessible from the Alberni Highway near Parksville.

Encompassing 207 hectares the Park was acquired by the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) in 2005, partnering with The Nature Trust of BC, Ducks Unlimited Canada, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Province of BC to acquire the park and its adjoining conservation area along the Englishman River.

Through lease agreements with the agencies that now own the property the Regional District of Nanaimo became the manager of the park. The Regional District’s has the responsibility to manage and operate the property as a regional park; ensuring actions taken are compatible with the conservation aims of its landowners. The regional park is easily accessed from the end of paved Allsbrook Road (off Bellevue Road, off Highway 4A) or the end of Middlegate Road in Errington.

This exceptional property is home to numerous wildlife species including Roosevelt Elk and a community hatchery with extensive salmon side channel. Visitors are encouraged to wander or ride the many forested park trails and admire the beauty of nature along one of BC’s most important rivers. Spawning salmon return to Englishman River Regional Park each September and are celebrated annually there on BC Rivers Day.

Other things to do when visiting the Englishman River Regional Park include taking a hike, mountain biking, salmon viewing, fishing, picnicking, going for a horseback ride or just pausing for a moment to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the park.

Situated as it is along the pristine Englishman River just north of Nanaimo, Englishman River Regional Park features two stunning waterfalls cascading along the descending riverbed into a deep and rugged canyon. This idyllic and picturesque destination, set as it is among a lush old-growth and second-growth forest (primarily Douglas fir, cedar, hemlock and maple) is an ideal location from which to explore and appreciate the incredible diversity of south central Vancouver Island.

Other nearby natural attractions includes the towering Cathedral Grove old growth stand located on the road to Port Alberni, the world famous Pacific Rim National Park, and the popular sandy shores of Parksville and Qualicum.

The park was originally established in 1940 to protect its old-growth Douglas fir forest and associated plant communities. It was also set aside to preserve the overall area around the river and the waterfalls. According to a local legend First Nation people travelling through the area a century ago found the skeleton of a white man along the river near the present day waterfall, providing the falls and river with its distinctive name.

Today the park is noted primarily for its natural beauty, which includes a deep crystal clear pool with a small rocky beach downstream from the base of the lower falls, a great fresh water swimming hole and sunbathing area. The park has a large day-use area and campground and contains several hiking trails that meander through the forest and along the river.

Visitors can expect spectacular views along the way, particularly from two bridges that cross the river where it plunges down the narrow rock canyon toward quieter waters below. The lower falls end in a deep crystal-clear pool – an ideal swimming hole in the summer when river levels are low and a great place to view spawning salmon in the fall.

Beautiful and a living reflection of what all of Vancouver Island once looked like the Englishman River Regional Park is a destination that draws both locals and visitors from all across the globe.

November: A Busy Month For Gardeners

Just because the year is slowly starting to wind down that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in the yard. In fact November can be a very busy month for the avid Greenthumb. In the fall gardening tends to focus on preparing the yard for its long winter’s nap. Before the snows fall plants need to be tended and tucked cozily into their beds to ensure they’ll return healthy and vibrant in the spring.

For many gardening in the autumn is also an exercise in delayed gratification – as new plants will barely put down roots before going dormant, cleaned and amended beds won’t show their gratitude for months and bulbs disappear underground, making a person wonder if they’ll ever reappear.

Across the country, even with Vancouver Island’s benign climate, November is normally the time when the first real frosts and hard freezes start to occur – as a prelude to the dormancy of the winter. Until snow actually blankets the ground any of the chores you would normally undertake in September or October as still valid this month, at least until the soil actually freezes.

Here are a few things you can do around the yard while the weather remains fairly mild:

Shrubs and Trees

  • After the leaves have fallen, carefully prune deciduous trees and shrubs. Vancouver Island typically experiences a short warming period referred to as an Indian Summer, so it’s best to hold off serious pruning until the plants are fully dormant to not negatively impact future new growth.
  • While working in the yard remain on the lookout for berry-covered branches for potential use in indoor holiday season decorations.
  • Continue planting container-grown ornamental trees and shrubs until the ground freezes.
  • Water evergreens until freezing weather, but make sure they don’t get waterlogged.
  • When actively pruning keep some of the cuttings handy to root indoors if interested in adding to your deciduous inventory.
  • Winterize roses after the first frost, but before the ground freezes. Prune canes back to 3’- 4’ or tie up climbers. Then mound soil at least 12” deep and 12” wide around the stem and crown.

Perennials and Bulbs

  • After the leaves turn yellow, gardeners can divide and transplant fall-blooming bulbs such as autumn crocus, colchicum, and sternbergia.
  • Continue planting winter and spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Check on stored tender bulbs to make sure they’re kept in a cool, dry place – always ensure they are labeled for identification before planting in the spring.
  • In frost-free areas, you can keep on planting bulbs that don’t require a winter’s chill, such as anemone, amaryllis, calla lilies, freesia, lilies, and garlic

Annuals and Containers

  • Empty and clean out spent annual containers.
  • Store clay pots indoors, since they can break in freezing weather.
  • Smash up cracked or broken pots to use as drainage in next year’s containers.

These are just a few possible suggestions, each yard and situation is as individual as the gardener who tends them. Whatever the scale and nature of the property, November is a great time to prepare the yard for winter and for the bounty that will emerge in the springtime.

Remembrance Day 2018: A Wartime Centennial

Always somber and meaningful this year’s staging of Remembrance Day is especially significant as it represents the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War. Precisely at 11:00 AM on November 11, 1918 the guns fell silent on the Western Front ending what had been up until that point in time the deadliest conflict in human history.

By some estimates there were more than 40 million casualties (killed and wounded) during World War I including nearly 10 million soldiers of all nations. Canada, then a small and under populated part of the British Empire, heroically answered the call and sent more than 600,000 of its best and brightest to the front, with nearly 60,000 to fall through illness and enemy action.

To honor that sacrifice Remembrance Day (originally known as Armistice Day) was introduced in 1919, and is today commemorated throughout the British Commonwealth of Nations. While today held annually on November 11th that wasn’t always the case. In the years after the end of the First War (up until 1930) Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell.

It took a Member of Parliament (MP) from Vancouver Island (Comox – Alberni MP Alan Neil) to create the commemoration we recognize today. He introduced a bill in Parliament to observe Armistice Day only on November 11. The wording of the bill also changed the name to today’s Remembrance Day. The House of Commons passed the bill, with the very first Remembrance Day being observed on November 11, 1931.

Each year on Remembrance Day Canadians across the nation pause for a moment to honor the men and women who have served, and who continue to serve to protect the country and its way of life. Since its inception more than 2.3 million Canadians have served in the Armed Forces in times of both peace and war – with more than 118,000 having made the ultimate sacrifice.

The poppy, made famous in Canadian Army surgeon John McCrae’s famous wartime poem In Flanders Fields has become the principal symbol of Remembrance Day. The Royal British Legion first introduced a ‘Poppy Appeal’ in 1921 with the practice quickly being adopted throughout the Commonwealth. Today the Royal Canadian Legion continues that proud legacy having sold millions of replica flowers over the decades.

In Canada Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday across the nation and is also a statutory holiday in three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) and in six provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador).

While Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month other nations observe a similar solemn day but on different dates. ANZAC Day for example is observed in New Zealand on April 25. In South Africa, Poppy Day is marked on the Sunday that falls closest to November 11.

Many nations that are not members of the Commonwealth also observe Remembrance Day on November 11, including France, Belgium and Poland. In the United States Armistice Day had been recognized on November 11 but in 1954 the US Congress changed the name to Veterans Day.

Regardless of the name Remembrance Day is a time to pause, remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, and to give thanks for the peace that continues to exist. Nanaimo’s celebrations, held at the city’s cenotaph across from the Federal Government building, always attract a large and heart-felt crowd so it is advisable to come early to find a good spot before the services begin.

Island Housing Sales and Prices Continue to Rise

According to information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) more homes were sold across Vancouver Island last month than the month before – but far fewer than were sold during the same month last year. The VIREB stats show that during October 385 single family homes were sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System – up 11 percent over September’s totals.

However in October 2017 458 single family homes changed hands, 16 percent more than were sold last month. The year-to-year slump in sales weren’t restricted to single family homes alone as fewer apartments and townhomes were also sold in October – eight and 21 percent respectively.

A bright spot for those in the market for real estate is a steady increase in the Island’s inventory of available properties. VIREB reports that the inventory of single family homes rose slightly last month from a year ago to 1,175 homes. In October 2017 there were 1,138 homes on the market. Interestingly October’s inventory levels were actually down eight percent from those recorded in September. In addition, last month there were 322 apartments for sale across Vancouver Island, an increase of seven percent from October 2017. The inventory of available townhouses was even larger, up a full 28 percent when compared to a year ago.

VIREB’s stats show that home prices all across Vancouver Island continued to rise last month. The real estate board uses ‘benchmark pricing’ to track the value of typical homes in each of its coverage areas, which extends from northern Vancouver Island to the Malahat. The board-wide benchmark price of a single-family home increased 11 percent last month to $508,200. The benchmark price of apartments sold on Vancouver Island in October increased 16 percent year-over-year to reach $313,500, while townhouse prices climbed 13 percent to $411,800.

Looking at the individual areas, in Nanaimo the benchmark price of homes sold last month was up nine percent year-over-year to $548,000. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price also rose nine percent last month to $570,200, while in the Duncan area the benchmark price climbed 12 percent from October 2017 to reach $475,700.

Elsewhere across Vancouver Island last month, in the Comox Valley the benchmark price was up nine percent to $501,400, while in Campbell River the benchmark price climbed 14 percent to $408,100 when compared to October 2017. In Port Alberni the benchmark price of a single family home increased by a full 18 percent from a year ago to close at $300,300.

What does it all mean? As more homes are now available for sale on the Island buyers have a greater selection of properties to choose from, while sellers are receiving better prices for their properties – a win / win for everyone. If interested in learning more about the real estate marketplace or wanting to place your home on the market give Peter and Kathy a call today.