Chemainus Takes the Arts Seriously

Every community on Vancouver Island displays its own distinctive character and charm, but few population centers demonstrate the creative and artistic energy exhibited on an ongoing basis by the Town of Chemainus. Often referred to as “The Little Town that Did” Chemainus has evolved from a rustic forestry community to one of the Island’s key artistic and visitor destinations.

What began as an isolated logging town in 1858 has grown and changed over the years, switching from a resource-based community into one powered by art, entertainment and tourism. That’s not to say the community has forgotten its forest sector roots – forestry and the myriad industries that support it continue to play a major role in the economy of the town and of the entire region. But it is as an artistic venue that Chemainus has made its presence felt most keenly in recent years.

Located about 30 minutes south of Nanaimo, Chemainus, with a current population of just over 3,000, is situated within the District of North Cowichan. The name Chemainus is believed to come from the First Nation name “Tsa-meeun-is” which means broken chest.

According to native legends, a powerful prophet and shaman survived a massive battle wound to later becoming an inspirational chief and leader of his people. To honor this almost miraculous event his people took his name to identify their entire community, becoming collectively known as the Stz’uminus First Nation (formerly known as the Chemainus Indian Band).

From a simple logging camp situated on Vancouver Island’s east coast, the town of Chemainus really began to grow when the railway first arrived in the region in the 1880’s. By the 1920’s the town had grown to more than 600, with forestry (based around a large scale sawmill) and the shipping of forestry products being among its major economic strengths.

But as the 20th Century progressed, and changing markets and technologies became the norm, the expansive MacMillan Bloedel sawmill was massively overhauled. Thanks to state-of-the-art technology the mill’s staff of more than 600 shrank to less than 150, having a potentially devastating impact on the town’s economy. That’s when vision and an artistic spirit of adventure began to change the town’s face and fortunes.

Capitalizing on the town’s idyllic seaside location and its distinctive downtown core, Chemainus began to evolve from a forestry town into a tourist center in the 1980s with the staging of the first Chemainus Festival of Murals in 1982. That first year five, of what would eventually become more than 40 murals began to adorn walls and structures throughout the community.

Typically depicting scenes from the town’s pioneering days – from its original First Nation’s inhabitants, to the earliest arrivals to its forestry glory days – the murals serve as beautiful reminders of the town’s past and showcase its enthusiasm for the future.

That artistic energy was further enhanced with the opening of the Chemainus Theatre in 1993. An elegant venue for professional theatre productions, the Chemainus Theatre has hosted hundreds of productions throughout the decades, with its 2020 lineup just the latest in its long and creative history.

Today the Town of Chemainus has become the go-to place for visitors from around the Island and across the world. Check it out for yourself when you have the time, the experience is well worth the journey.

March: A Busy Month for Gardeners

Winter is finally receding and the air is starting to warm – springtime can’t be far away. For many homeowners March is the ideal month to get out into the yard, clear up the debris of past months, and to prepare for the glorious days ahead. March can be a very active month for gardeners.

While by no means an exhaustive list, what we offer here are a few tips and suggestions that will help begin the process of turning a winter-weary yard into a visual wonder, or a productive source of flowers and produce – all depending on the tastes, desires and inclination of its owners.

Clearing Away Debris – The first step in the spring time is to clear away any debris, dead leaves or other materials that have accumulated over the winter. The flower and garden beds can be prepared by raking the leaves and mulch away to permit the foliage of spring-flowering bulbs and perennials to poke through the soil. During winter, leaves can pack down, forming an impenetrable barrier to new growth. Another bonus of raking is that by turning the mulch the soil will have a chance to warm up, thanks to its renewed exposure to the sun.

Start with the Annuals – March is the time for planting the Annuals, those flowers or plants that germinate, grow, flower, set seed and die all in a single growing season. Marigolds, Geraniums, Vincas, Zinnias and Cornflowers are example of annual flowers that thrive in the cooler Canadian climate. Even though Vancouver Island has a much milder climate than other regions of the country, gardening experts suggest keeping a light blanket or grow cloth handy just in case the temperatures unexpectedly dip, and to cover plants at night if it’s expected to drop below freezing overnight.

Trees and Shrubs – March is a good month if you’re intending to plant any trees or shrubs on your property. The early spring when it’s cool and damp is a great time for adding shrubbery. The process if fairly basic, simply dig a hole that’s slightly wider than the root ball of the plants you’ve purchased. Then place the plant into the soil at the same height it was growing in its nursery pot. Always apply mulch and thoroughly water to help the tree or shrub settle into its new environment.

The Time for Berries – The early spring is also a great time if a feast of succulent berries is a part of your future diet. Strawberries and raspberries for example grow better when planted in the early spring. Both of these delights can be grown either in the soil or if you prefer as containers-based items. They both require well-drained soils and ample amounts of sunshine (at least 6 to 8 hours per day) to grow and produce at their best.

Start Vegetable from Seed – In cooler climates vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, peas or any other so-called ‘cool season crops’ can be sown from seed directly in the garden this month. In frost-free regions (which ideally means our area), warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes and squash can also be planted – but always cover your plants if an unseasonal cold snap threatens.

These are just a few suggestions to help kick start your gardening efforts. Check online for other ideas, or have a conversation with the operators of the area’s many gardening centers to help finalize your springtime gardening plans. Now get out there and have some fun – it’s your yard, why not make the most of it?

February Housing Sales on the Rise

There was a major jump in Vancouver Island housing sales last month. According to the latest statistics released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) the sale of single family homes across the Island rose by 15 percent in February when compared to a year ago, and were actually up a whopping 49 percent when compared to January of this year.

According to the VIREB report 260 single family homes were reported sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System last month, compared to the 227 that traded hands during February 2018. But that sales spike was mild when compared to January’s stats when only 174 homes were reported sold on the MLS® System.

Interestingly the energized housing marketplace was restricted solely to single family homes, as all other residential housing categories reported sales declines. For example 19 percent fewer apartments were reported sold during February than traded hands a year ago, while the townhouse segment recorded 10 percent fewer sales year-over-year.

The overall number of properties on the market across VIREB’s coverage area, which extends from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the start of the Malahat in the south, continued to rise during February. Last month there were 1,069 single family homes for sale on Vancouver Island, up eight percent from the same month last year when 992 properties of this type were on the block.

The number of apartments for sale climbed dramatically in February, jumping 37 percent from a year ago, with 358 homes of this type listed for sale on the Multiple Listing Service® System. During last February only 261 apartments were listed for sale. The number of townhouses on the MLS® System actually dropped 11 percent year-over-year to 144. Last year at the same time there were 162 townhouses on the market.

VIREB uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its individual zones, and the latest report shows that housing prices continued to rise across the Island last month. The February board-wide benchmark price of a single family home was listed at $516,500, a three percent increase from the same month last year. This price is an incremental rise over January’s board-wide price.

Price increases were reported in all housing categories last month. For example the board-wide benchmark price in the apartment category was up five percent to $310,800, which is up slightly from January’s benchmark price. The board-wide benchmark price of townhouses also edged up, by two percent year-over-year, to reach $411,200 last month. This is a marginal increase from January’s price.

Price increases were also reported in most of VIREB’s individual zones, such as in Nanaimo where the benchmark price rose by three percent to close the month at $564,700. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price actually dipped slightly to $578,300, when compared to a year ago. The benchmark price of single family homes in the Cowichan Valley rose by four percent last month to reach $479,300, while in the Comox Valley the price had edged up two percent to $517,600.

Further north in Campbell River the benchmark price was up four percent during February, ending the month at $442,000, while in the Alberni Valley the February benchmark price of a single family home was also up four percent, reaching $321,000 when compared to the same month last year.

By any standard the real estate marketplace on Vancouver Island is dynamic and ever-changing. Today more than ever you need the services of experienced sales professionals to navigate such complicated fiscal waters. Contact Peter and Kathy Koch today to begin your journey toward home ownership.

Cowichan Valley: Quite Literally the Warm Land

One of the unique things about Vancouver Island is the wide variety of terrain that exists across its expanse. From rugged mountain peaks, to towering temperate forests to lush farmland, Vancouver Island is home to a myriad of different landforms. As one of the Island’s premier agricultural regions, the Cowichan Valley is a classic example of how distinctive the different areas of the Island can be.

While located less than an hour south of Nanaimo, the Cowichan Valley is starkly different from a geologic point of view. Where the Nanaimo region is primarily forest and stone, the Cowichan Valley features some of the richest and most productive farmland found anywhere on the Island.

Located within the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD), Cowichan takes its name from the First Nation word Quw’utsun’, which literally means “The Warm Land” – an attribute recognized and capitalized on by farmers for more than a century.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District covers an area of 3,473.12 km² (1,340.98 sq mi) and is located between Stuart Channel and Saanich Inlet on the east coast of Vancouver Island and the southern part of the West Coast Trail, with Cowichan Lake located in its central region. The Regional District also includes Thetis, Kuper and Valdes Islands, which are part of the Gulf Islands group.

In the most recent census of the region, held in 2016, the Cowichan Valley Regional District was found to have a population of 83,739, up from the 80,332 who called the area home during the previous census in 2011. Of that population more than 55 percent (46,383) reside in the region’s principal communities of Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan. The remainder of the population live within CVRD’s Electoral Areas, a land mass that also includes several First Nations reserves.

The Cowichan region is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone and as a result is home to some off the warmest year-round temperatures found anywhere in the country. Reporting average summer temperatures of 25ºc and lows of 13ºc, the Cowichan Valley is known for having some of the best weather on Vancouver Island, and regularly receives as many as 2,000 hours of sunshine in a year.

Thanks to its idyllic combination of rich soil and benign climate the region is known as a prime agricultural region, with local farmers producing everything from meat, poultry and dairy products, to all types of fruits, nuts, vegetables and even mushrooms. But thanks to its unique geographic location the Cowichan Valley in recent decades has also become known for the quality and variety of the wines, ciders and distilled spirits produced within its boundaries. Originally serving a regional marketplace, many of the more successful operations now routinely provide products for customers on a continental and even global scale – giving the area in some circles the nickname of Napa of the North.

Beautiful, blessed by Nature and located only a short drive away, the Cowichan Valley and the numerous communities that dot it, is an area that deserves to be toured again and again – as new surprises and discoveries will be found every time you visit.

The Function and Value of a Home Inspector

It’s unlikely you would ever buy a car without first taking it for a test drive. Hiring the services of a trained and professional home inspector is like taking your future home for a test drive – where the inspector will ideally identify any issues or deficiencies in the property before you commit to the largest purchase of your life.

A properly trained and licensed home inspector will successfully seek out existing and potential problems in a property using the various tools and systems at their disposal – locating issues that you simply won’t be able to find on your own. The training and certification of home inspectors in British Columbia is overseen by Consumer Protection BC, the regulator of a variety of industries as well as specific consumer transactions within the province.

To become a licensed home inspector (and always ensure the home inspector you hire is fully licensed and certified) an individual must successfully complete a rigorous six step process – beginning with an in-depth educational regime. The candidate must complete a full 150 hours of formal training, exploring construction issues ranging from roofing and chimneys to plumbing, electrical and all other interior and exterior systems.

Once they have satisfactorily navigated the educational portion of their program they are required to take and pass a detailed and designated exam from one of four different examination-hosting bodies. These include the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia, the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors CAHPI(BC), the Canadian National Association of Certified Home Inspectors or the Examination Board of Professional Home Inspectors.

Assuming the future home inspector passes their exam with a satisfactory mark they are then required to complete a minimum of 50 hours of practical on the job training, working alongside of a Consumer Protection BC approved home inspector to ensure meet the basic practical training requirement.

This step is followed by the agency receiving a formal letter of recommendation from an approved home inspector that states the candidate has demonstrated they have a sufficient level of skills, education, ability and knowledge to successfully perform a quality home inspection for a client.

The candidate then has to arrange with a Consumer Protection BC-approved evaluator to accompany them during a real-world home inspection. This allows the evaluator to gauge the candidate’s professional skillset and abilities during an actual inspection. A ‘Peer Recommendation Letter’ will then be completed by the evaluator if the candidate successfully passes this detailed assessment.

Once that rigorous step is completed the candidate is required by law to obtain Errors & Omissions Insurance (E&O) and Commercial General Liability Insurance (CGL) with a minimum of $1 million limit / aggregate coverage for both E&O and CGL. This is only a minimum, as many inspectors are insured above this level. Only after all of these steps have been completed and the proper forms and letters submitted will the candidate become licensed and able to open their business.

Hiring a home inspector will typically cost a few hundred dollars, but when compared to the hundreds of thousands of dollars a home in the Nanaimo area might cost, for many the investment in this professional level service is well worth the price.

January Home Sales Dip While Prices Rise

Vancouver Island housing sales dropped last month, while prices continued to rise. That’s the key finding of the latest statistical report released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). According to VIREB 16 percent fewer homes sold across the Island last month when compared to a year ago, and a full 26 percent fewer homes were sold than during December 2019.

The stats report indicated that 174 single family homes traded hands last month within the VIREB coverage area, which extends from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Malahat in the south. In January 2019 a total of 208 single family homes were reported sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System. In December 2019 a total of 235 single family homes were sold on the MLS® System.

The decline in sales was not restricted solely to single family homes either, as apartment sales dipped three percent year-over-year in January, with the number of townhouses sold dropping by a full 18 per cent from a year ago.

The inventory of available properties edged upward slightly last month year-over-year, with a total of 992 single family homes being listed for sale, up from the 981 homes on the block a year ago. The number of apartments currently for sale with the VIREB coverage area was up three percent last month year-over-year, rising from 299 units to 309. During the same time period the inventory of available townhomes actually dropped by 24 percent. Last month only 125 homes of this type were available for sale on Vancouver Island. During January 2019 there were 165 townhomes listed for sale on the MLS® System.

VIREB uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its individual zones. Board-wide the benchmark price of a single family home reached $515,400 in January, an increase of four percent from a year ago, but down slightly from the December benchmark price. The board-wide benchmark price of an apartment rose five percent year-over-year to hit $309,300, two percent higher than what was reported in December. The board-wide benchmark price for townhomes was up three percent from the same month last year, reaching $408,600 – virtually identical to December’s price.

Price increases were reported in nearly all of VIREB’s separate zones last month, such as in Nanaimo where the benchmark price rose four percent to close the month at $562,700. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price actually dipped slightly year-over-year, hitting $571,400. In the Cowichan Valley the benchmark price rose three percent to $478,000 while in the Comox Valley the benchmark price was up four percent from last year – reaching $521,900 during January.

In the Campbell River area the benchmark price climbed four percent from January 2019 to $437,300, while in the Alberni Valley the benchmark price of single family home soared a full 10 percent to reach $328,900 last month when compared to the same month last year.

In this continuing buyer’s market, with rising prices and increasing supply, it’s more important than ever to rely on the services of real estate sales professionals, such as Peter and Kathy Koch, when its time to buy or sell a home. Give them a call today.

Lasqueti Island: a Unique and Distinctive Destination

If the pace and pressures of modern life are not to your liking, or if you just want to experience a lifestyle that works in complete harmony with Nature, then Lasqueti Island might be the ideal place for you.

Administered by the Islands Trust, which was created by the Province of British Columbia in 1974 to preserve the special nature of the islands in the southern Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound, Lasqueti Island is known for the laid back and low impact focus of its residents. In many ways a trip to Lasqueti is like a journey back in time, as the only regular sea-link to the island is by a passenger-only ferry – no cars are carried by the Centurion VII, a 70 gross ton, 60 passenger vessel constructed in 1985.

Operated by Western Pacific Marine under contract from BC Ferries, the Centurion VII runs from its terminal at French Creek Harbour (just north of Parksville) to False Bay on Lasqueti Island where visitors will find the Island’s only hotel, pub and restaurant. Pay parking for cars is available at the French Creek marina, with the trip taking up to an hour to complete, depending on the state of the sea.

Approximately 19 kilometers (12 miles) long and nearly five kilometers (three miles) wide, Lasqueti Island covers an area of 6,645 hectares (16,420 acres). This area increases to 7,358 hectares when the more than 20 other neighboring islands are factored into its dimensions, the largest of which include nearby Jedediah, Jenkins, and Sangster Islands.

The island received its Spanish-themed name in 1791, thanks to the explorations of the region that nation was carrying out at the time. A Spanish Naval officer, José María Narváez, who at the time was serving as the commander of the 42 foot schooner Santa Saturnina, was the first European to reach the island. He named his new discovery after Juan Maria Lasqueti who was a well-known Spanish naval officer.

The term “off the grid” definitely describes life on Lasqueti Island. The island lacks paved roads, has no public transportation and is not serviced by BC Hydro. The island’s nearly 400 residents (according to the 2016 Census) have elected to either live without electricity at all, or have invested in alternate power sources, primarily generators, solar power or in some cases micro-hydro. The Lasqueti Island Hotel for example shuts off its generator at 11:30 each evening, allowing its guests to better enjoy the peace and serenity the island is famous for.

The residents in many cases live a quiet ‘back to the land’ type of lifestyle, as there is little in the way of industry or business on the island. Small scale subsistence farming provides for much of their needs, with trips to Vancouver Island looking after the rest. Get away cabins, and retirees seeking a slower pace make up much of the remaining full time population. The resident population had actually dropped by four percent between the 2011 and 2016 Census, as people moved on to other adventures.

For somewhere different, for a region operating at a slower more Natural pace, there are few destinations more idyllic than Lasqueti Island. Why not check it out for yourself?

December Housing Sales Up 40 Percent From 2018

Island home buyers were active right up until the end of the year, according to the latest information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). Single family home sales across Vancouver Island were up a full 40 percent during December when compared to the same month last year.

The VIREB report stated that 237 single family homes were sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System last month. During December 2018 only 169 single family homes traded hands. The December sales figures were actually down 24 percent when compared to November, when 312 single family homes were reported sold.

An interesting fact revealed by the VIREB report is how buyer preferences have changed from a year ago. While single family home sales climbed markedly, apartment sales spiked even more, with 68 percent more homes of this type selling last month when compared to a year ago. Interestingly enough 20 percent fewer townhomes were sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System during December than were reported sold in 2018.

Despite a flurry of activity during December the year-end sales stats show that nine percent fewer homes were sold within the VIREB coverage area during 2019 than were sold in the previous year. VIREB reports on real estate activity occurring from the northern end of Vancouver Island to the north end of the Malahat in the south. During 2019 a total of 4,119 homes were reported as sold. During 2018 there were 4,539 completed sales.

The inventory of available properties across Vancouver Island last month was nearly identical to what was available during December 2018. Last month there were 937 properties of all types on the market, while in the previous December there were 934 homes on the block. The December totals were actually down 19 percent from the inventory available during November.

The number of apartments available for sale last month climbed 10 percent year over year, from 270 to 298, with the inventory of townhouses plunging a full 35 percent year over year. During December there were only 96 properties of this type available for sale across Vancouver Island. Last year at this time there were 148 townhouses on the market.

The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its individual zones. During December the board-wide benchmark price of a single family home had climbed five percent from the previous year to end the month at $518,000. This was slightly higher than the board-wide price reported in November.

VIREB reported price increases in all available housing types. In the apartment category for example the year over year benchmark price had climbed by four percent to $304,600, while the board-wide benchmark price of townhouses had edged up two percent to $408,500.

Price increases were reported in all of VIREB’s individual zones last month. In Nanaimo the December benchmark price of a single family home climbed four percent from a year ago to reach $562,000. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price was up one percent to $583,400 while in the Cowichan Valley the benchmark price year over year was up six percent to $484,700.

Further north in the Comox Valley, the benchmark price of a single family home was up four percent from December 2018, closing the year at $528,600. In Campbell River the benchmark price was up two percent from a year ago, reaching $423,900, while in the Alberni Valley the year-end benchmark price of a single family home was up nine percent to $324,500.

In a marketplace as complex and dynamic as Vancouver Island’s it’s more important than ever to have the skills and experience of a professional REALTOR® on your side when buying or selling a home. Call Peter and Kathy today to ensure you have the information you need when it comes time to buy or sell.

Island Home Sales Edge Upward As Prices Rise

The public’s appetite for single family homes is on the rise on Vancouver Island, according to the latest information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). In its latest statistical report VIREB stated that 312 single family homes traded hands last month, an increase of three percent when compared to the same month last year.

Interestingly enough that figure is actually down nine percent from the number of homes reported sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System during October, when 343 properties were reported sold. The spike in sales was restricted solely to single family homes however, as apartment and townhouse sales declined last month (eight and 33 percent respectively) when compared to November 2018.

During November a total of 65 apartments and 26 townhouses were reported sold within the VIREB coverage area, which extends from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to the Malahat in the south.

The Real Estate Board also reported that the number of homes currently on the market continued to rise last month when compared to a year ago.

During November 1,155 single family homes were listed on the MLS® System, up eight percent from last year when 1,065 single family homes were on the block. The swelling housing inventory also saw 15 percent more apartments being listed for sale last month when compared to November 2018 – 368 versus the 319 reported on the market last year.

The number of townhomes on the market actually dropped significantly from a year ago, with only 123 listed for sale in November, as compared to the 177 on the MLS® System last year. This drop represents a 31 percent decline in available properties of this type.

Housing prices across Vancouver Island continued to edge upward during November, despite an increase in the number of properties listed for sale. VIREB uses benchmark pricing to track the value of typical homes in each of its individual areas. The board-wide benchmark price of a single family home climbed three percent to $517,100 during November. This month-end price is actually down from October’s benchmark price of $521,800.

Year-over-year incremental price increases were also reported in the apartment and townhouse categories. Last month the board-wide benchmark price of an apartment was up three percent to $297,000, with the townhouse benchmark price edging up two percent to $405,700. In both cases these prices were slightly lower than those reported during October.

Single family home price increases were reported in each of VIREB’s individual zones last month. In Nanaimo for example the benchmark price showed a marginal increase of less than one percent to end the month at $558,400. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price rose two percent to $576,500, while in the Cowichan Valley the benchmark price climbed an identical two percent to $479,500.

In the Comox Valley the benchmark price of a single family home climbed a full five percent from a year ago to $530,200. Further north in Campbell River the benchmark price also climbed five percent to $440,200, while in the Alberni Valley the benchmark price of a single family home hit $329,000, a six percent price increase over the same month last year.

In Vancouver Island’s dynamic Buyer’s Market it’s more important than ever to have sales professionals like Peter and Kathy Koch on your side. Call them today if you’re interested in buying or selling a home.

Overview: Vancouver Island Regional Library

The American novelist Norman Cousins is credited with saying: “A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life.” If that’s the case than Vancouver Island should be fountain from which a wealth of ideas spring – thanks to the efforts of the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL) system.

Ranked as the fourth largest library system in the province, the VIRL serves clients all across Vancouver Island (with the exception of the Greater Victoria area) as well as the town of Bella Coola on the central coast and the island communities of Haida Gwaii. In total the regional library system serves a population of more than 430,000 via its 39 individual library branches and its innovative eLibrary and ‘books by mail’ services.

Headquartered in Nanaimo, the Vancouver Island Regional Library first opened its doors to the eager minds of the region in 1936 and at the time was only the second regional library system of its type in North America. Presently the VIRL operates with budget of more than $20 million and during 2018 saw nearly 3 million visitors enter its various branches, individuals who checked out nearly five million separate items.

But a modern library is much more than a collection of books and magazines – in many ways the online world has enhanced rather than detracted from the value of the local library. Operating more than 220 computer systems within its various branches the VIRL’s users participated in more than 53,000 WiFi sessions last year, while more than 140,000 people took part in the 5,800 individual programs offered by the library system.

This is a far cry from the early days of the VIRL. When it first opened its doors, the entity that would eventually blossom into today’s regional library operated from six branches, structures that housed fewer than 13,000 books. The fledgling library operated with a budget of less than $9,000 to serve a total membership of just over 6,000 persons.

An interesting bit of demographic data is that presently 83 percent of the VIRL’s members are adults, with only 17 percent of its membership being children – a statistic the regional library would like to change. To appeal to a younger audience, and to instill the joy of reading in the region’s youngest citizens, the VIRL operates many programs specifically geared toward the younger set. These include special story reading sessions, enhanced online tools and even helping to construct a local skate park on Gabriola Island.

While having grown and evolved over the decades to better serve the changing needs of its audience, the Vancouver Island Regional Library continues to plan for the future, having renovated many of its branches in recent years and having willing embraced the latest in digital delivery systems to make the library experience exciting and appealing for members of all ages.