Community Archives: A Rich Resource For Research

Do you have an interest in local history? Did your grandparents live in the city and you want to learn more about their lives? Are you a researcher working on a historically themed project? Then the place for you is the Nanaimo Community Archives (NCA).

Located at 60 Wharf Street (lower level) in the CIBC Arts Centre in the city’s downtown core, the NCA is quite literally a treasure trove of documents, photographs, audio recordings and other pertinent information detailing the day to day history of the City of Nanaimo and its immediate area. A not for profit organization established in 1991 the Nanaimo Community Archives is the official repository of a vast range of historic information.

The NCA maintains and preserves archival records of a diverse group of local organizations and bodies. On hand are records related to the City of Nanaimo, the Nanaimo District Museum (which is located within the nearby Vancouver Island Conference Centre) and of the Nanaimo Historical Society – another non-profit group that has been collecting and preserving local history since 1953.

The expansive collection of the Nanaimo Community Archives includes the records and documentation of local service clubs, community organizations and fraternal clubs. In addition the NCA is also the depository of a wealth of donated documents and memorabilia from many local families and individuals – adding that personal flavor to the collection.

With origins dating back to the middle of the 19th Century, the City of Nanaimo has grown from a rough and tumble coal mining town into the centre of commerce and education is has become today. Documenting that evolution is one of the primary roles of a dedicated entity such as the Nanaimo Community Archives. The NCA collection includes a wealth of audio recordings, an irreplaceable assemblage of preserved memories from the people who helped to build the city, in their own words.

The Archives also contains a vast assortment of documents related to the city’s pioneer days, specifically related to its founding and operation by the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). Prized in the NCA collection are a series of letters and journals penned by Joseph William McKay, a one-time fur trader, businessman, politician and explorer who had a long career in the employ of the HBC, and is someone credited with establishing much of early Nanaimo’s structure.

For those visiting the Archives, while personal research can be conducted free of charge, there will be a fee if Archive staff members are asked to carry out research on their behalf. There are also fees for photocopying (color and black and white), scans to disk as well as print charges if photographs are to be reproduced. Check with the Archive staff for the current price list.

A resource and a treasure of local information, the Nanaimo Community Archives is the place to be if local history is your thing. The NCA states it well on its website: “These records document ordinary and extraordinary people and the events that allow us to establish a sense of community, of family, and of particular times and places. They are, in essence, the actual evidence of how we have lived.”

To learn more about the Nanaimo Community Archives please take a moment and visit its website at: www.nanaimoarchives.ca

Year Ended Positively For Local Real Estate Sales

Home sales activity on Vancouver Island ended with bang in 2017, according to information released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB). December 2017 was the busiest December on record in terms of home sales according to the VIREB stats, with 667 individual housing units changing hands within the real estate board’s coverage area. This sales figure represents a 35 percent hike over the same time last year!

Overall a total of 5,612 single family homes were sold on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System during 2017 – down seven percent from 2016 when 6,059 homes were sold. The Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s coverage area extends from the Malahat in the south to the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island.

The elephant in the room as far as real estate activity is concerned continues to be a shortage of available housing inventory. Last month there were only 762 homes available for sale on Vancouver Island, which is the lowest number ever recorded by VIREB. This dearth of homes has created a Seller’s Market that dominated real estate activity throughout 2017 and is likely to continue to impact housing sales well into 2018.

The real estate board reported the shortage of homes isn’t limited exclusively to detached houses. The VIREB records show the inventory of available apartments dropped 13 percent last month when compared to a year ago, while the number of townhouses on the market was down a full 33 percent. These numbers are the lowest since the board began tracking inventory numbers in 1999.

The math is pretty simple – with fewer homes for sale, and the demand for housing on the rise, sellers are clearly in the driver’s seat when it comes to selling their properties. The result of all this is a general rise in housing prices, making it ultimately harder for groups such as first time buyers to enter the marketplace.

For example the benchmark price of a single-family home sold within the VIREB coverage area last month had climbed 17 percent to $466,400. The price hikes were not limited to single family homes either as the benchmark price of an apartment sold last month rose to $284,400 which is an increase of 28 percent board-wide from 2016. In addition the benchmark price of townhouse sold last month hit $370,700, an increase of 23 percent year over year.

Looking at the individual areas, the benchmark price of a home sold in Nanaimo’s last month was up 17 percent from the same time last year to $500,500. In the Oceanside area the benchmark price of homes sold in the Parksville and Qualicum Beach region had climbed 16 percent year over year to $524,900. In the Cowichan Valley the Duncan benchmark price of homes sold reached $418,000, a jump of 16 percent when compared to December 2016.

In accordance with VIREB’s calibration method a benchmark price involves tracking the value of typical homes sold within specific areas. As an example the December 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home sold in the Campbell River area was $375,100. This represents a spike of 20 percent over the same time in 2016. In the Comox Valley the benchmark price was up 19 percent to $467,400. In Port Alberni the benchmark price of homes sold was up 16 percent from a year ago at $249,800.

With prices on the rise and inventory at an all time low, now more than ever home buyers and sellers need the services of real estate professionals to navigate the Island’s complex marketplace. Give Peter and Kathy Koch a call today to learn more about real estate in your area.

Home Decorating Ideas For The Holidays

It’s almost here, the holiday season. That time of the year when families gather, friends and neighbors visit, and thoughts turn to togetherness, feasting and gift giving. For many homeowners Christmas is also the time to break out the decorations and turn the home into a holiday-themed highlight of the neighborhood. We offer a few suggestions here to help make this holiday season a safe and memorable one.

Outdoor Lighting: A bright and joyful outdoor lighting display is among the most visible and noteworthy things a homeowner can do to commemorate this special time of year. Thanks to the wide range of festive outdoor lighting options available in today’s market it’s easier than ever to deck your home with an illumination display that attracts attention.

A well lit roof line is an excellent way to highlight a home’s edges, angles and distinctive contours. With the range of lighting options available it’s easy to create a unique and personalized effect. Traditional colored bulbs, solid or blinking, create an effect that harkens back to earlier times. White modern LED lighting can produce a dramatic effect, and offer the bonus of long life (they can be reused for years) and lower energy consumption – to put a little ‘green’ in your festive display.

If using light strings from last year always check for damaged cords, and make sure to replace any burned out bulbs. Remember to discard any decorative light sets with broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wires, or those with loose connections.

The Christmas Tree: Nothing says Christmas like a trimmed and decorated tree. If you like fresh, local vendors will soon be opening their lots for business – with sizes and shapes to satisfy any need. If buying a live tree always ensure it is fresh. A fresh tree will be vivid green with its needles firmly attached (and don’t break between your fingers). If the tree has been cut down too early it will start to dry and its needles will start to drop off.

One good way to test the freshness of a Christmas tree is to check and see if its bottom is sticky with resin and sap. Another good way to check freshness is to tap the tree on the ground. If the needles drop away too easily it is drying out which presents a potential fire hazard and should be left where it is. Once home and set up always ensure that a natural tree is kept watered to prevent it from drying out.

If you prefer artificial trees to natural ones ensure the item has a label clearly stating that it is fire resistant. This doesn’t eliminate all fire risks, but it certainly helps to reduce them.

Inside Decorations: There are also a number of simple things that can be done to liven up the inside of a home for the holidays. Table centerpieces with festive themes or seasonal motifs add to the Christmas spirit at meal time. Evergreen boughs (real or artificial) strung along stairway banisters or over doorways add a clear and simple touch. Of course stockings hung on the fireplace mantle, colorful wreaths hung on the door and other classic festive add-ons also encourage a little extra Christmas cheer.

On the big day itself nothing says Christmas like a roaring fire in the fireplace if you have one, lighted red and green candles on the tables, and the smell of fresh gingerbread or other baking filling the air. The holidays are times of sweet memories and togetherness, so don’t forget to hang the mistletoe.

The origins of the whole mistletoe and kissing thing has become somewhat lost in time – with some experts saying the tradition goes back to the time of the Norse. According to the tradition, it’s considered bad luck to refuse a kiss beneath the mistletoe. After the kiss, the couple is expected to pluck one of the berries from the plant. Once all the berries are gone, the bough no longer has the power to command kisses. So if you hang a bough of mistletoe this year, make sure it has plenty of berries!

There are any numbers of other things that can be done, only imagination, space and funding stand in the way, so every home will be a little different. What is universal is the love and joy found at this time of time. From our family to yours we wish you a safe and Happy Holiday Season, and a very Happy New Year.

Vancouver Island Remains A Seller’s Market

Fewer homes were sold last month across Vancouver Island when compared to October – but the residential sales were up markedly when compared to a year ago. According to the latest statistics released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) home sales were down seven percent in November when compared to October’s total – but the sales activity was still 23 percent higher than what took place during November 2016!

During November a total of 426 homes were sold within the VIREB coverage area, which extends from the Malahat in the south to the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island, according to the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) System. During October 458 home sale transactions occurred. But in comparison, during November 2016 the MLS® recorded only 346 sales.

VIREB’s stats continue to support the presence of a true seller’s market on Vancouver Island, as fewer homes are available for sale, leading to multiple offers being placed on those properties currently on the market. The Real Estate Board also indicates that the inventory of available single-family homes for sale on Vancouver Island was down a full 13 percent last month when compared to October.

However the number of homes on the market during November was down only four percent when compared to the inventory present during November 2016. The Island’s housing inventory has been very slowly rising each month during 2017, after it hit a record low of 859 homes during December 2016.

A seller’s market typically means that those wanting to sell their property will find a ready marketplace, and could discover more than one buyer interested in their home. VIREB’s November statistics do indicate however that Island home sellers were receiving fewer multiple offers last month than in recent times, which suggests the buyers are becoming more selective in their house hunting endeavors.

In a seller’s market house prices tend to rise and the current Vancouver Island marketplace clearly supports this theme. During November the so-called benchmark price of a single-family home sold within the VIREB coverage area was pegged at $463,200, which is an increase of 17 percent from November 2016.

The demand for apartments and townhomes on Vancouver Island also continued unabated in November, with a corresponding rise in sales prices. Last month the benchmark price of an apartment was up an impressive 26 percent from a year ago, to $274,100. Townhouse sales prices spiked 21 percent from November 2016, with a benchmark price of $359,200.

The November 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home sold in Nanaimo was listed as $497,200, an increase of 14 percent from a year ago. Homes sold in the Parksville-Qualicum area reached $525,600, an increase of 16 percent. In November while Duncan’s benchmark price was up 15 percent to $410,700.

In the Comox Valley the benchmark price of a home reached $467,200, a jump of 15 percent from 2016, while Campbell River’s benchmark price was $366,300, an increase of 18 percent. Finally, in Port Alberni the November benchmark price of a home sold in the city was $252,700, which is an increase of 18 percent from November 2016.

So what does it all mean? Throughout all of 2017 a smaller than normal inventory of available properties has impacted sales activity and elevated prices, a trend that doesn’t seem likely to change appreciably any time soon.

Despite that there are still a wide variety of properties available for sale, and bargains to be had if you’re willing to look for them. Interested in buying or selling? Then give us a call and we’ll be happy to introduce you to your next new home.

The Christmas Season: The Time For Sharing & Giving

The holiday season; a time for bright lights, the love of family, colorfully wrapped presents under the tree and a bountiful Christmas table groaning under the weight of succulent seasonal fare. That’s the cherished image of the holiday season the blessed in our community know and look forward to. But not everyone in the Harbour City can claim such memories, nor look forward to anything but a cold, bleak and lonely time in the dark of winter.

But Nanaimo has traditionally been a city of givers. It’s a community carved from the forest and from the depths of the Earth by hands that were calloused, yet they remained hands that are also open to help those who couldn’t help themselves. That sense of sharing is what has made Nanaimo a community, not merely a city.

Year round, but especially at Christmas, the open hearts and willing hands of Nanaimo’s citizens reach out to make this potentially dark time brighter for those in our community who are less fortunate. If you’d like to play a part, here are just few places where your kindness, your donations and your time will make the most difference.

Loaves & Fishes: The city’s premiere food bank, the Loaves & Fishes Community Food Bank has been helping the needy for more than 20 years. It prepares (in partnership with the Salvation Army) the annual Christmas hampers that aid so many families, and works with a range of businesses and partners to keep its shelves stocked and stomachs full. They are located at 1009 Farquhar Street if you’d like to learn more. www.nanaimoloavesandfishes.org

Salvation Army: As already mentioned the Salvation Army of Nanaimo has been a central player in the drive to bring light into the dark corners of the city for more than a century. Did you realize that the organization has been an active part of our city since 1888? The Salvation Army operates three thrift stores, maintains a community meal program, operates a 23 bed emergency shelter and provides a host of other services that include a crisis response vehicle. Feel free to contact them if you’d like to learn more.

www.salvationarmynanaimo.com

Secret Santa: A local grassroots organization and not a charity in the traditional sense, Secret Santa Nanaimo was created to accept monetary donations that are distributed 100 percent to Nanaimo families in need. The group and its volunteer team organize food hampers and provide gift cards, clothing, household items and all of the necessities of modern life that the lucky take for granted, but the less fortunate yearn for. The organization can even arrange for a company to sponsor a family at Christmas, to make their memories joyful and bright – in keeping with this special season. Working with a variety of local businesses and individuals, Secret Santa Nanaimo works tirelessly to help the less fortunate in our community.

www.secretsantananaimo.ca

Great Nanaimo Toy Drive: The classic image that the word ‘Christmas’ conjures up is the sight of gleeful children happily opening presents on that frosty morning. But what if there were no presents? Helping to ensure that dark event doesn’t happen, the Great Nanaimo Toy Drive, is currently in the midst of its 35th season and is eagerly accepting gifts, books, games and toys to light up the eyes and to brighten the memories of children all across the city. Interested donators can help ensure a joyous season for the community’s youngest residents by donating or volunteering.

www.thegreatnanaimotoydrive.ca

Of course there are many other groups and ways to help bring cheer to the season, including through Pemberton Holmes Nanaimo’s own food drop off for the food bank (here at our offices). Talk to your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow church members or search the Internet to find the organization you’d like to support. Every effort helps, every donation makes a difference. Help do your part and make Christmas 2017 one of best ever.

The Discovery Room: A Unique Culinary Experience

 

If you’re a foodie – then Nanaimo is definitely the place to be. The city is well stocked with a wide range of restaurants and cafes, including a couple that have previously been featured on international food-themed television programs. From fast food outlets to fine dining, and from home cooking to exotic foreign fare, Nanaimo’s various eateries have something to offer everyone regardless of your budget or the sophistication of your palette.

But if you want to try something exclusively Nanaimo in flavor, Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Discovery Room is an experience you might want to explore. Have you ever been to a minor hockey game, and have seen some young player who clearly is playing at a level far above his teammates? You instinctively know that this youthful athlete is ultimately going to be destined for something greater. They may even become a future NHL star. Well, eating at the Discovery Room is the culinary equivalent.

VIU’s Discovery Room is staffed, served and operated by the students of the University’s Culinary and Hospitality Management students. The Discovery Room is a full-service ‘learning restaurant’ – a facility operated to provide the program’s students with a real world opportunity to connect with the community, by serving and cooking for real patrons.

The VIU training philosophy is one based on ‘learning by doing’ so the Discovery Room is the perfect venue for the Hospitality Management and Culinary Students to grain real world experience in an authentic setting. But just because it is a student run operation, that doesn’t mean the food options are elementary – quite the contrary in fact.

For example the current dinner menu features appetizers such as Black Bean Soup or Linguine Clams and Prawns. The main course includes continental favorites such as Duck l’Orange, Bouillabaisse and Pork Chop Marsala, while for dessert there are a range of ever changing chef’s favorites. The price of this top shelf three course meal is listed at $29 per person, including tax – providing a fine dining experience at medium level prices.

The lunch menu is as equally varied, at $19 per person. While alcoholic beverages are not currently being served, the Discovery Room does provide a complimentary corkage fee for those who decide to bring their own wine to accompany their dinner. Barring any changes, in the New Year the Discovery Room expects it will become authorized to sell alcoholic beverages alongside of its food selections.

VIU’s Discovery Room is located in Building 300 at the Nanaimo campus and is located at the side of the University’s regular cafeteria – an operation its culinary students also operate and cook for. For the epicurean curious, lunch is served (by reservation) at the Discovery Room Wednesday through to Friday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm, with dinner served only on Thursdays and Fridays, starting at 5:00 pm – again only by reservation.

All dinner openings are fully booked throughout November, so interested diners should check out the operation’s website listed below to book their seating.

The Discovery Room is the perfect place to satisfy everyone’s inner gourmet while providing real world experience to the city’s top chefs and culinary experts of tomorrow. Why not treat yourself to something special? Check out the Discovery Room website today.

https://www2.viu.ca/discoveryroom/

Low Housing Inventory Impacting Sales Statistics

While the number of homes sold across Vancouver Island in October is higher than it was at the same time last year, the region’s shrinking inventory of product has resulted in a drop in sales when compared to last month. In its latest statistical report, the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) stated that single-family home sales within its coverage area last month had climbed a full 16 percent from October 2016.

However, when compared to September 2017 the number of homes sold on Vancouver Island was actually down 10 percent in October when compared to the month previous. Last month, 460 properties were reported sold on the Multiple Listing Service® System compared to 398 one year ago. In September within the VIREB area, which extends from the Malahat to Port Hardy, a total of 511 homes were reported sold during the month of September.

VIREB pointed out in its report that 2016 was an exceptionally busy year for real estate sales activity, so the current sales figures may reflect a return to a more typical marketplace. The real estate board remains confident that sales activity across the Island continues robust.

The real estate board blames much of the sales decline on the region’s continuing housing inventory shortage. Sellers are holding onto their properties longer in hopes of generating a larger sales price, resulting in fewer properties finding themselves on the market. At present the sellers are clearly in the driver’s seat in the region’s current marketplace.

That said the reported supply of single-family homes available for sale has been slowly but steadily rising each month during 2017 – after VIREB hit a historic low of 859 in December 2016. During October 2017 there were 1,138 homes on the market on Vancouver Island, down two percent from last year and eight percent from September.

The British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) reports that the housing market in British Columbia, especially in the southern half of the province, continues to thrive due to strong economic fundamentals. The province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is currently tracking at four percent and is expected to average 3.7 percent for the remainder of the year. Government policy decisions, including slightly higher interest rates and the new mortgage stress test, could also have an impact on the housing market in 2018, but experts state that it is still too early to say in what way.

These attempts to temper rising home prices – aimed mainly at overheated markets in Vancouver and Toronto – will likely be counterbalanced by demographic factors, such as baby boomers entering their retirement years, Millennials purchasing their first homes as well as international and interprovincial migration.

In October 2017, the benchmark price of a single-family home in the VIREB area rose to $463,800, up 17 percent from a year ago. (Benchmark pricing tracks the value of a typical home in the reported area.) The benchmark price of an apartment last month rose to $272,300, up 28 percent board-wide from the previous year, while the benchmark price of a townhouse hit $360,100, a 22 percent increase from 2016.

The October 2017 benchmark price of a single-family home in Nanaimo broke the $500,000 mark, rising 14 percent to hit $501,400. The Parksville-Qualicum area saw its benchmark price increase by 17 percent to $524,900.

In the Comox Valley the benchmark price hit $466,200, up 20 percent from last year. In the Campbell River area the benchmark price was listed as $366,800, up 19 percent over October 2016. Duncan reported a benchmark price of $409,500, an increase of 14 percent compared to October 2016, while the benchmark price of a home in Port Alberni was $253,600, up 18 percent from a year ago.

While solidly a Seller’s Market, the gradual rise in the available inventory should ultimately help to level prices and make a home purchase easier and more accessible. Only time will be the ultimate test.

Nanaimo’s Rich & Varied Theatre Experience

 

Nanaimo residents have plenty of entertainment options. From the home-based joys of television and countless online options, to random live entertainment in local clubs and bars to trips to the city’s two multi-screen cinemas, there is plenty to keep people entertained. But few things compare to the immersive experience which is live theatre and Nanaimo is blessed with variety and professionalism in this distinctive art form.

Two of the city’s key venues for theatrical performance and for entertainment in general are the iconic Port Theatre in the downtown core, and the Nanaimo Theatre Group (NTG), which puts on its own presentations at the smaller but no less professional Bailey Studio.

Opening in 1998, the Port Theatre is an 800 seat performing arts facility located at 125 Front Street in the heart of Nanaimo’s downtown. It took a decade from the formation of the Port Theatre Society to the opening of the doors for the $13 million multi-use complex, a centre designed by respected Victoria architect Terence Williams.

The Port Theatre has been acclaimed for its ‘green’ building initiatives which include the use of durable indigenous materials which have inherent acoustical isolation properties, energy efficient lighting, high performance glazing with an exterior insulated rain screen, and its thoughtful design that reduces the requirement for mechanical lifting systems. The construction of the project has resulted in an energy efficient structure utilizing local building materials whenever possible.

Each year more than 250 events of all types, from symphonies, to entertainment headliners, to local performers entertain for the enthusiastic regional audience. It’s estimated that more than 100,000 people are attracted to the Port Theatre each year to enjoy the wealth of entertainment options presented within the imposing and well designed structure.

In contrast to the expansive Port Theatre, the NTG’s Bailey Studio has been designed for an intimate and personal theatrical experience. Located at 2373 Rosstown Road, the Studio (named after Ivy Bailey – an ardent supporter of local theatre) is a comfortable 172 seat theatre space known for its good acoustics, excellent audience sight lines, comfortable seating, professional sound and lighting equipment, paved parking and convenient handicapped access. There is lots of costume storage area and an adjoining workshop has been added to allow for the staging of ever more complex performances.

Home to the Nanaimo Theatre Group, a group of amateur theatre lovers formed in 1961 the site of the current Bailey Studio was purchased in 1969, with the present, greatly expanded facility constructed in 1975. A tribute to the love of theatre, the Nanaimo Theatre Group has put on countless first class live performances over the decades – from musicals to comedy classics to serious drama. The Bailey Studio has been the heart of amateur theatre in Nanaimo for decades and has a full slate of events on tap for the current 2017 – 2018 entertainment season.

Two venues that couldn’t be more different, the Port Theatre and the Bailey Studio have been envisioned, built and supported by a common love to entertain and inspire. The two centers and the people that operate them are some of the city’s most dedicated lovers of the arts and are welcome contributors to Nanaimo’s expansive entertainment mix.

Island Continues To Be A Seller’s Market

If you want to sell your home, now is a terrific time! The latest statistical information suggests the Vancouver Island real estate marketplace continues to favor home sellers. Statistics released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) shows that the number of homes available for sale last month were down three percent from the same time last year – a shrinking inventory trend that has generally continued all year.

In September there were only 1,233 single family homes available for sale within VIREB’s service area, which extends from the Malahat in the south to Port Hardy in the north. In addition to a dwindling supply of homes, the actual number of homes sold last month also dropped three percent – with 511 properties changing hands as compared to the 527 that were sold in September 2016. On a month to month basis homes sales dipped five percent between September and August when 540 homes were reported sold.

With a smaller available inventory home sellers can afford to be more selective about whom they sell their home to, and for the price they ask for their property. VIREB reported that the benchmark price of a single family home within its coverage area rose a full 18 percent from last year to $462,500. Price increases were also reported in the region’s apartment and townhouse market.

In September the benchmark price of an apartment was listed at $270,600 – which is an increase of 30 percent from September 2016. Townhouses also rose in price, with the benchmark price of a townhouse sold in the VIREB area rising 23 percent from a year ago to $357,200.

VIREB’s stats show that average home prices increased in all regions of the Island last month. In Nanaimo the benchmark price of a home was listed at $498,300, which is an increase of 18 percent from September 2016. In the Parksville / Qualicum Beach area the benchmark price climbed 16 percent o $518,000 with Duncan’s price also climbing 16 percent to $410,500.

If you were thinking of purchasing property further north, both the Comox Valley and Campbell River market recorded benchmark price hikes of 22 percent in September. The average Campbell River price was listed at $370,700 with the Comox Valley price hitting $461,700. No region of the Island was immune from price hikes last month, as Port Alberni’s benchmark price in September was $254,700 which is an increase of 18 percent from last year.

The shortage of properties on Vancouver Island, the smallest available inventory in more than a decade, suggests that prices will continue to rise as sellers are holding out for better returns on their real estate investment. With the overall British Columbia economy showing signs of recovering, and Vancouver Island’s population forecast to rise in the coming years (thanks in large part to retirees and other new arrivals to the Island) the time is now to make a real estate purchase.

Whether it is a buyer’s or a seller’s market, home ownership is always a sound investment. Quality properties are still available so let us help you find the right property at the right price to meet your needs. Prices are only likely to go up so now is an excellent time to enter the market, and if you’re selling, today is the right time to sell. Give us a call and let’s begin the process.

Nanaimo’s Rich Wealth of Walking Trails

Nanaimo is truly a Vancouver Island gem, with its colorful history, beautiful harbor and extensive range of services, attractions and opportunities. For those with a taste for the outdoors the city, situated as it is in a rustic wooded setting, is the perfect destination for hikers, picnickers, nature photographers and others – in large part due to its extensive and well maintained network of walking trails.

From those suitable for an after dinner stroll to strenuous treks that will test the most stout hearted – the Harbour City has something to appeal to hikers of any skill level or outdoor interest. Here are just a few of the region’s better known, and best traveled hiking destinations – all located within a few minute’s drive from the downtown core.

West Wood Lake: One of the best known and most accessible, the Westwood Lake Trail is considered one of the city’s most popular. One unique aspect of this rustic outing is that users can either enjoy the full 5.51 km trail that circles the entire lake, or they can enjoy the much shorter loop available near the lake’s southern end.

Located within Westwood Lake Park the area offers swimming, boating (electric and non-powered boats only), a playground, an off-leash dog park, and of course a great walking, running or even biking trail. The well-maintained pathway is considered a relatively easy walk, with only one short steep section near the western end of the lake. It’s even dog friendly. While all pets must be kept on a leash on the trial itself, there is an off-leash dog area that runs along the Hydro lines, which are found on the far side of the lake.

Neck Point Park: A jewel in the crown among Nanaimo’s top walking trails, the Neck Point Park Trail is a leisurely 1.5 km loop that makes the most of the Park’s spectacular ocean vistas. The Park itself was named for the existing gravel bar that connects the park to a large rock located out in the water. Offering stunning ocean views, the rocky vantage point is the idyllic spot to simply sit and take in the marine panorama. Wildlife such as birds, seals and even the occasional Killer Whale can often be seen.

The rustic trail is well developed and consists of a few boardwalks (with stairs), lookouts, and information boards. The shoreline and rocky bluffs offer many nooks and crannies for the adventure minded to explore. While much of the park is wheelchair friendly the rugged shoreline is not. If you choose to bring Fido please remember that in the park all dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Pipers Lagoon Park: The nearby Piper’s Lagoon Park is separated from Neck Point Park by the city’s iconic Shack Island – the rustic and impromptu gathering of huts that has graced countless Nanaimo postcards.

Pipers Lagoon Park has eight km of lush walking trails that offer scenic vistas and the opportunity for some easy, non-technical rock climbing. Traveling from the parking lot visitors walk along what’s referred to as the isthmus, making their way to the rocky headlands where hikers can climb the rocks, or follow the narrow trail through beautiful Arbutus trees while enjoying the spectacular Georgia Strait views.

Not really stroller or wheelchair friendly, due to the rugged nature of the trail, pet owners must also remember to keep their dogs on a leash at all times. The park is considered an excellent place for bird watchers and other lover’s of Nature.

These are just a few of the city’s top hiking destinations. Why not do an online search and find the location of a trail near you? With such a variety to choose from there’s bound to be something to appeal to any taste – from novice to adventurer.