What Would You Pay For a Private Island Right About Now?

We’re in tough times. Unemployment’s through the roof. The unfunny dance going on down south is still going on. And there’s that ever-increasing pandemic thing, too. It sucks. But doesn’t looking at this make you feel better?

How many of us have thought “Screw it, I want to move to a private island.” (I’m hoping mine isn’t the only hand up). I’ve been doing a swack of research on the Howe Sound and Gulf Island’s property boom for our upcoming January Real Estate Issue and I’ve noticed that while desirable oceanfront properties were flying off the shelves like Purell in March (I’m trademarking that as a colloquialism BTW), private island properties were taking a little longer to move. There was this beauty very close to Ganges in Salt Spring that’s under $3,000,000 and while that is a big chunk of change, it is over 12 waterfront acres. Move it a kilometre or so and situate on Salt Spring proper, and a waterfront property of this size would be double or even triple the price. Why the discount for what, to the average person, is the definition of dream property? Convenience really. Which boils down to electricity, plumbing and accessibility. The reality is that with advances in technology, the first two can be managed pretty easily with solar, batteries, rain receptacles and composting toilets. The last one—you better like boating.

All of which brings us to West Trail Island—16 acres just off the coast of the prestigious community of Halfmoon Bay on the Sunshine Coast (where 16 waterfront acres might set you back 8 figures). It’s also just a stone’s throw away from the tony Thormanby Island, playground to Vancouver’s gilded class for the past 100 years (when the Union Steamship used to ferry wealthy Vancouverites there for some R&R). My pal Cam, often cited as the greatest mariner in the history of Howe Sound, also tells me there’s great sheltered moorage here from the frequently angry Straight of Georgia. So you have land, you have pedigree and you have what looks like a serviceable 2,300 sq.ft house built in the 1970s. And it has a map painted on the ceiling of the kitchen, an idea I’m totally going to steal but using Westeros instead.

I appreciate that the island thing is a bit of a fantasy (although it’s cheaper than this shoebox in Dunbar). And a little dreaming isn’t the worst thing right now.