When we left the big smoke 15 years ago, I thought we would be a smidge early in the expected exodus of retirees from the city. After all, we left long before typical retirement age. I was 55 but escaped early because my heart and soul were already MIA. I had to go find my spirit. Or die.
Sorry, my drama teacher Prime Minister is rubbing off on me……
To be fair, I knew we were early departees but I really thought we were only 5 years early. I really thought a huge number of greying and wrinkled urbanites would be leaving soon after especially as that five years coincided with the financial recession of 2008. But they didn’t. So, like all good prognosticators, I moved my projections up and made predictions for a bit later only to find that, once again, I was wrong. 2013 was not the year of the Lemming, not a migrating year. Lower mainlanders stayed put.
Aging city folk, it seemed, still liked the hustle and bustle of traffic and regulations, obligations and fees, line-ups and smog, restaurants and film festivals, more than I thought they would. I stopped predicting. I decided that I must have been just a bit odd. Maybe….still am?
And THEN they started coming. This last year has seen a HUGE increase in domestic, outer and inner-province ‘migrants’ to Vancouver Island and the Campbell River area is really starting to feel the increase in population. They say Campbell River is ‘booming’.
One of the ways in which this kind of thing is measured is in house prices. Properties in Campbell River are about 30% higher than a year ago and, over the past five years have almost doubled. A house that was $300K in 2013 is now in the high fives.
Most people like a ‘booming’ economy. I don’t. I don’t see booming as any better at all than idyllic, affordable, slow-paced, personal and human-scale but I KNOW I am different on that score. Most people like fatter wallets. I prefer quiet. And it is not like we experience traffic jams in Campbell River. It’s busy but still very livable.
“Dave! Surely you don’t feel the population pressure way out where you are?”
Well, that’s just it. We do. There are more kayakers. There are more tourists in the remote, forest parking lot. More campers. More litter. There are slightly longer lines at grocery stores. There are helicopters and planes, boats and hikers, there are simply more people. But, again, NOT so much as to worry about but there are more. It just is.
I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again; “Maybe we just didn’t go FAR enough!”
The articles in the paper suggest that it is people like us (like we were, anyway) finally opting to ‘cash-out’ and realize gains on their Vancouver properties but the vast majority are buying into urban-similar cul-de-sacs in developments on the BIG island and NOT going OTG. That’s good. But, of course, the small percentage that are inclined to OTG-ing is still there and now that number – in real terms – is also larger and so we are seeing a few ‘extra’ people coming to the boonies. And that might be good.
Could be good. A few more people COULD be good.
One of the first to get noticed, however, was a Meth-making, drug dealer with a retinue of ne’er do wells in tow but he kind of disappeared rather quickly so maybe he and they were just an aberration. But the Mounties are curious.
But that’s ANOTHER sign……the Mounties are curious……
…we didn’t use to HAVE Mounties being curious about anything.
The good news? We still have the visitors we really, really like. See below.