An aerial view of Kyuquot. (Photo courtesy, Walters Cove Resort)

Coastal B.C. community’s real estate predicament might be turning it into a ghost town

In Kyuquot, off treaty land, more outsiders have ‘holiday-home’ properties than locals who can’t secure financing to buy homes

When schoolteacher Joshua Ogden decided to buy property in the remote B.C. town of Kyuquot, he faced an inconvenient dilemma.

Ogden learned banks were skeptical about providing mortgages to buy property in the tiny community on Vancouver Island’s northwest coast. Banks in Campbell River told him a regular mortgage was impossible. Private lenders, meanwhile, would require a 35 per cent down-payment with a minimum seven per cent interest rate.

Independent mortgage brokers pointed out that no bank or financial institution will lend to a place with limited accessibility. Kyuquot is accessible only by boat or float-plane.

Matt Bruining, manager of Royal Bank of Canada’s Campbell River branch confirmed Ogden’s story.

He said that while the lending policy for the bank is standard throughout the country, there are external factors to be considered if the property is not in a “service area.” Properties that lack easy access to fire-safety services, are examples of what the bank considers a “non-service” area. Insurance, and the cost of maintaining the property are also other criteria that weigh in on the lending decision.

So when a person with a good credit score can’t get a mortgage for a property in such areas, Bruining said the bank is “not declining people, but it is declining the property.”

Ed Handja, is a realtor with BC Oceanfront Properties. In his 25-year career, he has sold six properties in Kyuquot and considers it a “limited market,” meaning properties there can typically take anywhere from two months to two years to sell. Most banks consider that a financial risk not worth taking.

“Banks aren’t really comfortable because they do know enough that if they end up taking a property in foreclosure situation, it could take couple of months or years for them to sell it and they don’t want to get themselves into that situation,” said Handja.

Kyuquot is a vibrant community for four months of the year. However, at other times, outside of the Kyuquot Checleseht First Nation treaty land, it is almost a ghost town. On Walters Island where Ogden lives, most homes are owned by summer residents who use it as a holiday home.

Despite that, Ogden said renting was not easy either.

“Of the properties outside Kyuquot Checleseht First Nation treaty land, majority sit vacant for much of the year – unavailable to rent or purchase,” said Ogden.

Home owners are not comfortable giving out their properties for rent. Donna Holmes Vernon, a home owner on Walters Island who rented her place three times in the past said, landlords who don’t live in Kyuquot face “serious limitations” when it came to maintenance.

First of all, there was always damage done, said Vernon. Secondly, insurance prices and hydro rates on Kyuquot are exorbitantly high.

A lot of “outsiders” have bought property in Kyuquot because they had the money to pay up front said Eric Gorbman, who resides and runs a restaurant on Walters Island. Twenty years ago when Gorbman, an American, bought his property, locals were horrified, he said.

But the trend continued for a while when Kyuquot’s real estate was in demand by the “million-dollar club” of Americans, Vancouver-based tycoons, and out-of-province buyers who “gobbled” up property when it became available.

However, after the 2008 financial crisis in U.S., demand decreased. The owner of one of the last houses sold on Walters Island had to lower his price to the point where he literally had to give it away, said Gorbman.

The dilemma is always going to be a “circular issue,” said Gorbman and added that since locals cannot afford to buy houses, outsiders will continue to buy houses, most of which will be left vacant when they’re not around. He said this is something the provincial government needs to figure out.

“What Kyuquot needs to survive are young families, who can be assets to the community. But if they can’t find places to live, it’s a different thing altogether.”

economy

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. mogul sells Naikoon properties to parks system in $1 million deal

NIHO founder Rudy Nielsen sells 320 acres to BC Parks; Ministry statement expected in ‘coming months’

B.C. premier ‘not going to be apologetic’ about closure of Haida Gwaii fishing lodges

Horgan says ‘public health takes the priority’ over business in implementation of travel restriction

Regional district proposes closure of unmonitored recycling bins, new depot for Masset

Proposed updates to Solid Waste Management Plan aim to reduce waste on Haida Gwaii, save money

Rainmakers of Haida Gwaii set to perform for Special Woodstock

20th festival will feature musicians with special needs and other bands from around the world

Boon Docs comics illustrate Haida Gwaii health staff ‘Behind the Mask’

Family doctor and cartoonist Caroline Shooner shares inspiration for new comic series

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Answers to 5 common questions facing families for the COVID-19 school year

COVID-19 protocols are likely to vary even more at the school board level, and even and school-to-school.

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Most Read