May 22, 2014

Where the living is easy

Communities from Nanaimo to Whistler, Pemberton and Predator Ridge are welcoming homebuyers looking for the perfect getaway


As baby boomers age, the role of recreational property in their lives is starting to evolve. That ol’ cabin on the lake or tucked up in the mountains morphed decades ago into golf course and ski resort condos. However, priorities are changing. Parents want to be close to their kids (and perhaps just as important, their grandkids). Architects and developers are offering adaptable, customized living spaces constructed with durable, environmentally sustainable building materials that save energy and money. Even the communities we’re choosing to live in are changing.

Vancouver Island has long been a popular second home/retirement spot, and what’s not to love about Nanaimo? Frequent ferry service connects residents with Vancouver, while real estate remains a fraction of the Lower Mainland’s sky-high prices. Boating, fishing, beaches, trails, as well as city-style retail and professional services make Nanaimo the perfect getaway.

At The Ridge, Century Group aims to create a livable neighbourhood with walkable streets, shared public spaces, durable buildings, and other features that advance environmental conservation. Ridge homes combine quality craftsmanship of the past with modern design and esthetics. The beauty of traditional architecture is matched with contemporary floor plans.

But living in The Ridge is more than just a home, it’s a specifically designed neighbourhood where the traffic-calmed streetscape enhances pedestrian safety and minimizes hard surfaces to reduce storm water run-off and nurture the significant wetlands on the site. These innovative “sustainable streets” allow rainwater to infiltrate the ground and be filtered by the natural vegetation.

Downsizers would do well to consider Squamish, a formerly somewhat rough and tumble resource town that has made the transition into a more diversified economy that embraces tourism – it’s the site of the new Sea to Sky Gondola – while also serving as a commuter base into the North Shore and Vancouver.

Developed by Solterra, Eaglewind is a master-planned community on 25 acres of land right in downtown Squamish. Solterra spokesperson Laura Rizzo says, “Nature is a predominant theme. Embedded in the rustic West Coast architecture is a Contemporary Modern twist – vibrant hues, timber and stone accents and quality materials. The first two communities are complete and bustling with life. We are in the last phase of The Streams and have 15 homes available. These three-bedroom townhomes feature efficient layouts and superb interior design.”

Given its Coast Range climate, “sunshine” and “Whistler” aren’t two words you would usually see in the same sentence. The aptly named Solana homes are located in a small microclimate in the Rainbow neighbourhood – a vibrant community of young families, seniors, and second-home owners who are all passionate about the Whistler lifestyle.

Denise Brown of Re/Max Sea to Sky Whistler says that Solana “offers big 180-degree views of both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains from its nine- and 10-foot windows and oversized covered balconies.” This BuiltGreen building consists of 18 single-level condos that range in size from 910 to 1,872 square feet in two-bedroom or two-bedroom plus den configurations. Buyers can customize their interiors to make the condo their own. Shared amenities include a rooftop terrace with outdoor furniture, an outdoor fireplace and individual garden beds for each suite. There are also two separate bike and ski tuning rooms.

Farther north at the end of the Sea to Sky Highway, “buy local” is a way of life in Pemberton. According to BC Census figures, Pemberton is the province’s fastest growing community, thanks to its proximity to Whistler Resort and employment created in a diversity of industries, including even agriculture. “

Pemby’s” future is so bright that it has attracted the interest of Marcon Homes, developer and builder of the new Elements project which offers West Coast design at unusually affordable prices. Marcon has been creating quality homes throughout British Columbia since 1985. Known for architectural excellence and dedication to detail, Marcon is recognized as one of the province’s most respected builders. Located in the heart of Pemberton, Elements makes out-of-this-world experiences possible. From fishing to foraging, hiking to heli-skiing, golfing to cycling, Elements connects you with nature in a way you never imagined.

Pemberton is the province’s fastest growing community, thanks to its proximity to Whistler Resort

Golf course communities are a staple of the B.C. recreational property scene, and the Thompson Okanagan tourism region has long been popular with vacation home owners and new retirees from both Vancouver as well as Calgary and points farther east.

Located near Vernon in the North Okanagan, Predator Ridge Resort is British Columbia’s premier golf destination. Predator Ridge was established more than 20 years ago and with a strong infrastructure in place, is home to a thriving year-round community.

Predator’s new Whitetail development is “designed to fulfil the wish lists of a wide range of buyers,” says Claire Radford, the resort’s property specialist. “There will be a few estate lots for people who want that added space and privacy. We’ll also have something that’s been in short supply here, rancher lots in a range of sizes for buyers who prefer a single-level home.”

Urban designer Bob Evans is taking Predator into a new architectural direction at Whitetail. “We’re evolving from Predator’s traditional Craftsman roots toward a product that’s more uniquely its own, an architectural style that responds to the Okanagan landscape and lifestyle,” says Evans. “That means introducing natural elements, such as rock and stone, and focusing on the relationship of the architecture to the site,” he explains.

In the southern Okanagan, investors and vacationers alike have long eyed a spectacular benchland on land owned by the Penticton Indian Band. Now, it’s coming into play – literally. Skaha Hills is a planned residential golfing community situated on a spectacular 550-acre site set on a pristine hillside just west of Penticton. Only minutes from the beaches of Skaha Lake and the ski slopes of Apex Mountain, Skaha Hills commands an inspiring view of the valley and vineyards to the south.

“Never before have you been able to buy a home on these amazing hills overlooking Penticton and Skaha Lake,” says Curt Jansen, vice-president sales and marketing.

The land was recently released for development to Greyback Developments and is a fully secured Crown Lease with the Government of Canada. The $250 million development site is the first of its kind to designate a 150-year lease term.

Skaha Hills will develop in seven phases and include a $5.2 million vineyard and winery to be opened in 2015. At full build-out, Skaha Hills will consist of up to 600 homes with protected lands surrounding the community, guaranteeing uninterrupted views. Proposed amenities include golf, beachfront access, exceptional hiking trails throughout the resort community, pools, clubhouse and sports courts.


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