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.


19 thoughts on “Yikes!

  1. I think you’re seeing a combination of Boomer retirees and Retirees flogging Lower Mainland houses( one in the same?) while they still can…..listings seem to be climbing as sales and prices are dropping.
    I dont blame anyone for flogging a 40 year old mouldy house for $1million or more, when they can retire out of the Lowermainland traffic, taxes, higher ICBC rates, on and on and on. AND have the added benefit of paying 500k for a house while stashing 500k in a retirement plan.
    You were well ahead of the curve.
    Enjoy the benefits of being well established in your “kingdom” while watching others build and struggle( thats my evil side showing itself).
    More kayakers, more cars in the wilderness parking, alas……The tourism season is upon us.
    Promise me when some wide eyed tourist asks you what you do in the winter out here you answer…..”Every Monday night ..Male Nude Square Dancing….keeps me trim!” with a straight face.


  2. In my neck of the woods traffic is the least of the inconveniences, of more concern is finding a family doctor with some years of experience. The doctors with experience are retiring or dying. Care clinics are fully booked, in many cases, by noon. Not taking patients for the rest of to day. Or one might go to the hospital emergency. The challenges of living a life off the grid is way too challenging for most. I think twenty-five is the time to go feral.


    • True enough.
      My GP died a few years back. He worked until he was 76.
      I went into one of the “Care” Clinics a few months back because I had the fllu, very congested, coughing, hacking, wanted a prescription to clear the muck.
      No one at the reception……just keyboards and screens.
      No signs explaining anything.
      Elderly walkin patients were totally confused.
      I was livid.
      I tried using one of the computors( and I consider myself somewhat computor literate) and the endless prompts to correct something, redo something, etc etc etc, all while I’m coughing and hacking AT THE KEYBOARD.
      The elderly walkins were just standing hoping for ….someone to give some sort of direction…..
      Finally I said to no one ” Jeezus CHRIST! What does it take to get SERVICE here?”
      Scurry scurry.
      Out pops a 20 something gal with medical togs on.
      “Can I help you?”
      “Well I seem to be unable to fill out the endless questionaire for BC Medical. Isnt anyone here to check us in?”
      I’m sorry sir I’m a nurses assistant and the receptionist is only here two days a week.”
      “So sick people just cough and hack over the keyboards the rest of the week?” Jeezus no wonder this flu is spreading!”
      I walked out.

      One wonders how many ER visits could be avoided if the beaurocrats in govt would stop having meetings about gender parity in the workplace to actually hire people that give a sh!t

      Move off the grid and boil dandelion tea…..It will cause less stress


    • I think it is a great mix. And I am happy to see it. Having said that, at a certain point, the store clerks no longer remember your name, trust has left the building and doors are being locked. I kinda hope we get slow and minimal growth so that doesn’t happen.
      Can someone explain to me why rising house prices is a great thing? Doesn’t that just make it harder on the next generation, increase your taxes and take more of your income for mortgage payments?
      I remember when traveling through Saskatchewan a few decades ago (same for Winnipeg), I remarked at the incredibly low-priced real estate and my ‘local friend’ said, “Don’t disparage our real estate. It’s affordable and we are debt free a great deal sooner than Vancouverites as a result. And, not only that, our payments are so much lower, we can afford to vacation down south every year. You can’t.”
      He was right. At that juncture of my life I never figured to ever own a home in Vancouver and that is true for many people today. So, why is that a good thing?
      “Oooohhhh! Dave! We are NOW world-class. THAT’S what’s so good. World-class! We wanted to be world-class since Expo and now we are. Ooooh. oooh, oooh…world class!”


      • When we were first looking for property in Powell River in 2000 there were lost of choices under $100,000 and some good places for $50,000. Now the average is about $250,000 and many places way more. Glad we bought when we did. – Margy


  3. Male Nude Square Dancing. May be an attraction; or not! I guess it would depend on the eye of the beholder, the composure of the nude and the length of time one’s been OTG.
    The giant napkin probably wouldn’t enhance the scene.
    I certainly don’t get visions of sugar plum fairies dancing through my head.


    • I agree. But the basic concept isn’t all bad. A slight adjustment gender-wise (all the rage these days it seems) and things could take a turn or dosey-do for the better, I think.


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