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post #16 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
Thought has crossed my mind, and point well taken. But at least there is reasonable option; I am hearing now TransLink is going to considering regular express line Horseshoe Bay - Squamish; that opens up further possibilities, without having to take car (and bleed your money) on a ferry



These are long term considerations, not immediate. For now I am only interested how Sechelt / Sunshine coast compares to Comox / Island overall. I have some other options I am thinking about (Hope is definitely not one of them) Living by water in retirement appeals. Main priority is continuous exploring of nature; preferably new places not old. Then peace/quiet (the less populated, the better, no traffic noise, etc), overall safety (no Vansterdam/drugs/petty crime/breakins), quality food/shopping, availability of certain services. Social aspect (i.e. shows, plays, theater etc) is secondary

Thinking about getting to Horseshoe Bay:
From the southern Comox area (Royson), it's about 1h5m to the ferry. Build in a 20 minute buffer. First sailing 6:20 am. Sailing time 1h 40 m.
From Sechelt, it's about 25 minutes to the ferry. Build in a 15 minute buffer. First sailing 6:20 am. Sailing time 40m.

So from Comox you leave at 4:55 am and arrive in Horseshoe Bay at 8 am.
From Sechelt, you leave at 5:40 am and arrive in Horseshoe Bay at 7 am.

Sechelt is definitely better on that front (and would also be more affordable) but both can work.

If you start considering one or two night trips, the impact on the overall trip becomes even smaller.

I know you live in Alberta now. If you want to go to Alberta on a regular basis there are direct flights from Comox to Edmonton and Calgary which is much more convenient than doing the trip from Sechelt (ferry, get to YVR, etc.)


Living by the water:
Both options are probably similar in your ability to do that

Continuous exploring of nature; preferably new places not old
Being on the Island will give you a lot more options on that front before you feel a need to hop on a ferry. I'm sure you have seen Solo75's photo report from a few years ago and I think that was constrained to a single park. Tons to explore.
https://forums.clubtread.com/27-briti...cona-park.html

Then peace/quiet (the less populated, the better, no traffic noise, etc)
I'd say that you can find that solitude in both places. The difference is that in Comox you can also drive into town and have more options for food/services, etc. than you would be able to find in Sechelt. I would imagine you are more likely to find a traffic jam in Comox (at the bridge in Courtenay,) than in Sechelt but it's easy to avoid those issues if you just stay a little further out.

overall safety (no Vansterdam/drugs/petty crime/breakins)
Tell me when you find that place! I don't think that either place has a particularly bad reputation but petty crime is a province wide issue. Break-ins happen at Tetrahedron Park and I'm sure they happen in Comox as well.

Quality food/shopping, availability of certain services
Comox wins this one. Also, Nanaimo is only an hour away and it's about 150,000 people now so they have stores for everything.
Comox will also be better than Sechelt for various social groups (e.g. there is the critical mass for a photography club, etc.)

Drop me a PM if you want to talk in more detail. I know Comox fairly well. I've certainly enjoyed your trip reports over the years and would be happy to share some info.
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post #17 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 12:34 PM
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As for ferry to/from the sunshine coast, if you're driving to from the mainland you will quickly become aware of how much of an impediment the ferry is for you. Frequent overloads, poor 'on-time' performance and a schedule that will not add more sailings because Nanaimo gets the priority. The ferry cost plus reservation costs adds about $80.00 to every trip you take. We live 1 km from the ferry terminal, travel to the mainland frequently and consider the ferry as a major impediment to hiking over on the mainland. We went up the sea to sky a few days ago, nice sunny day, returned to face a three sailing wait home adding many useless hours of waiting to our trip. We couldn't get on the last boat (yes, they left about 50 cars stranded) so had to get a motel in North Van. Grrrr $#$%$# This happens a LOT during summer, even in fall and spring season.

Access to the mainland may seem easier from here but during better weather, which is when you want to hike, the ferry fills up fast, reservations are not available and that nice day of mountain adventure turns into a ferry nightmare. I can't make this point strongly enough. If you want access to the mainland, the ferry is not your friend.

It's a quaint, pretty place the sunshine coast but it is much more isolated than the 20 km (direct distance) to Vancouver suggest.

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post #18 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 12:49 PM
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[B]
Then peace/quiet (the less populated, the better, no traffic noise, etc)
I'd say that you can find that solitude in both places. The difference is that in Comox you can also drive into town and have more options for food/services, etc. than you would be able to find in Sechelt. I would imagine you are more likely to find a traffic jam in Comox (at the bridge in Courtenay,) than in Sechelt but it's easy to avoid those issues if you just stay a little further out.
During busy season, Traffic in Gibsons has become very congested in large pulses through the day. A few years ago Highways realigned traffic flow through Gibsons (to accomodate left turn lanes) resulting in hundreds of cars surging from the ferry into town on the main street which now has only one lane. This causes nearly dead stop bottlenecks for about 20 minutes, a dozen times a day, all summer long. Quite similar to the comox/courtenay intersection.

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post #19 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 01:52 PM
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I have lots of thoughts, but will have to put them in writing after the weekend as I have guests arriving from the Lower Mainland. Those darn Lower Mainland escapees! Coming up to Powell River for some kayaking and hiking in relative solitude.
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post #20 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 03:01 PM Thread Starter
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Very good discussion; transport does seem to be bigger issue than I thought based on my (tourist / few times a year) experience.

Steventy, thank you very much for detailed breakdown. Another bonus in my book is ferry Comox - Powell River (50 min only??) I am very keen on exploring Sechelt; this would make it quite feasible even as day trip, at least upper Sechelt. I knew about direct flights to Alberta (actually someone I knew that works Calgary downtown used to fly in Mon morning & fly back to Comox Fri afternoon). How much of an issue is airport noise?

Looking forward to susie point of view (as soon as she is done with 'darn escapees', lol). Women tend to look at things differently from guys Would be great to hear solo75 as well
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post #21 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 03:33 PM
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During busy season, Traffic in Gibsons has become very congested in large pulses through the day. A few years ago Highways realigned traffic flow through Gibsons (to accomodate left turn lanes) resulting in hundreds of cars surging from the ferry into town on the main street which now has only one lane. This causes nearly dead stop bottlenecks for about 20 minutes, a dozen times a day, all summer long. Quite similar to the comox/courtenay intersection.

Interesting to know. I tend to avoid the peak times so I did not realize it was getting that bad.

In Courtenay/Comox, there is an amazing lack of foresight with respect to the bridge. After the sawmill shut down, they had the perfect opportunity to build a new crossing. Instead, they allowed people to build new apartment buildings on the other side of the river. I'm hoping they lock down some land for a new crossing sooner than later. I don't know think the issue is very bad right now (I'm not living in the Comox Valley at the moment but I have in the past and will in the future,) but it will get there over time. Fortunately, most people can just stay on one side or the other most of the time or avoid the peak periods.
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post #22 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by zeljkok View Post
Very good discussion; transport does seem to be bigger issue than I thought based on my (tourist / few times a year) experience.

Steventy, thank you very much for detailed breakdown. Another bonus in my book is ferry Comox - Powell River (50 min only??) I am very keen on exploring Sechelt; this would make it quite feasible even as day trip, at least upper Sechelt. I knew about direct flights to Alberta (actually someone I knew that works Calgary downtown used to fly in Mon morning & fly back to Comox Fri afternoon). How much of an issue is airport noise?

Looking forward to susie point of view (as soon as she is done with 'darn escapees', lol). Women tend to look at things differently from guys Would be great to hear solo75 as well
I'm also interested to hearing more from Susie. I've actually never been to Powell River but I've always been interested in learning more about it.

Re Airport noise: In most houses in the Comox Valley, you wouldn't notice anything. Would only be an issue for a handful of lots right near the airport.
That said, when the snowbirds practice each spring, you may see/hear them from across the region.

Just took a peek at realtor.ca for the Sechelt listings. On a quick glance, it seems like there is better value in Comox Valley at the moment (esp if proximity to a job is not important.) I wonder how many people on the Sunshine Coast are doing weird things to commute to Vancouver for part of the week.
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post #23 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 05:08 PM
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Here's my take on living on the Island (Campbell River for 6 years and Comox for 1 year).
  1. Comox has a population ~14,000
  2. Comox Valley population ~66,500 (includes Comox, Courtenay and surrounding small communities).
  3. Had to deal with 4 boil water advisory notices this winter, one of which lasted one month but that should be resolved in the future when intake pipes are relocated.
  4. Can be noisy at times living near the airport especially when Snowbirds do their training. The sound can be deafening.
  5. Some rural properties in Comox will be on septic tank.
  6. Seal Bay Park is 1.5 times the size of Stanley Park. Nice for a refreshing stroll along the beach and in the forest throughout the year. Due to close proximity to airport, jets fly overhead.
  7. Comox-Courtenay has more stores & services than Campbell River. It has all the major stores like Walmart, Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Costco etc
  8. Crime rate severity index (2011) is low in Comox and higher in Courtenay/Campbell River.
  9. Campbell River is ~40 min drive to Buttle lake. This part of Strathcona Park has less crowds and steeper trails (not including easy nature trails) in terms of elevation gain. Thieves tend to prowl the area mostly during weekends and stat holidays. Backcountry camping fee is limited to Elk River and Bedwell Lakes and all other places around Buttle Lake is free.
    Comox is about a 20 minute drive to Mt. Washington and 1 hr and 25 minutes to Buttle Lake. Park infrastructure is more developed at Mt. Washington with ongoing repairs and boardwalk construction. Very crowded at Mt. Washington during summer especially in the afternoon. Expect school groups at the end of school year and at the start in Sept to crowd the trails at Mt. Washington and Elk River Trail.
  10. Average annual precipitation is less than Vancouver.
  11. Windstorms occur during the winter months.
  12. The drive to the ferry terminal in Nanaimo is about 1 hr and 25 min. and for most of the way, the speed limit is 120 kph.
  13. Winters are usually mild but with exceptions.
In general, a lot of hiking areas on the Island are accessible by rough logging roads and if you don't have a vehicle with proper clearance, it will limit your exploration. Although I did enjoy Strathcona Park, there comes a point where I wished for other areas to hike and photograph. Perhaps, if I wasn't interested in hiking, it would be a good place to retire and just relax near the ocean.
You should also read up on the Cascadia Subduction Zone and be prepared for an earthquake. Something which I've always kept in mind while living there. http://beforeitsnews.com/self-suffic...s-2515137.html
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post #24 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 05:48 PM Thread Starter
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great sum up solo75! Kinda confirms, no place is ideal & there are always ups and downs to everything. As for Cascadia Subduction Zone, I am pragmatic -- tsunamis, earthquakes, this or that -- if it happens, happens. I lived in California 6 yrs & people were saying "Its only question of time when will California sink into Pacific"; hasn't happened yet!

Hiking / photography is concern to me as well; second red flag I see is this airport, as I am easily irritated by noise. Living in Kits for years low flying small / float planes most people never notice drove me crazy.

Took a peak at realtor.ca as well, and Comox appears considerably lower than Sechelt ; there also seems to be more availability.
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post #25 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Steventy View Post

Just took a peek at realtor.ca for the Sechelt listings. On a quick glance, it seems like there is better value in Comox Valley at the moment (esp if proximity to a job is not important.) I wonder how many people on the Sunshine Coast are doing weird things to commute to Vancouver for part of the week.
We have been property searching between north nanaimo and Comox for about 6 months. Our daughter and son in law just purchased a place in Qualicum village area and we've been getting weekly advice from their realtor for some time. The lower sunshine coast (Gibsons area) is definitely a lot more pricey than the central island, about 25% more on average for the same place/features. Prices have been also been rising faster in Gibsons/Sechelt area than the central island. The lower sunshine coast is now firmly a part of the Lower mainland real estate market with much of the action driven by 'work at home' types cashing out for huge bucks in town and buying here. Our realtor in Gibsons says 40% of her clients are now from off coast. The lower coast has excellent internet service everywhere, natural gas to nearly every property, decent schools and is safe and quiet. There's a lot to like for a family. However, there is very little to buy as there has been almost no housing development on the coast since 2008.

I commuted to downtown from 1996 until 2009, pretty much every day. Hundreds of people continue to do it by taking advantage of the good bus service but there are many loud complaints from the vocal commuters association. The demand for better ferry service is loud, but falls on deaf ears.

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post #26 of (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 08:43 PM Thread Starter
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Interesting how much this discussion is really about escaping urban mess, escaping people.
Awhile ago I bookmarked this property on realtor.ca

https://www.realtor.ca/Residential/S...mbia-Z6-Tofino

I am not considering it seriously (too much $$$ to begin with), but sometimes just daydream "get the heck out of it all, calm, peace, quiet, nature, self-sufficient"

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post #27 of (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 02:34 PM
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I am not considering it seriously (too much $$$ to begin with), but sometimes just daydream "get the heck out of it all, calm, peace, quiet, nature, self-sufficient"
That pretty much sums up why we love Powell River. To start with the cons:

- small population (about 20,000 on the peninsula, about % in Powell River itself). I don't mind this, but it does mean that we don't have the big box stores, apart
from Canadian Tire and Staples
- isolation. We are ferry dependent, although there are several flights a day to the south terminal in Vancouver
- alpine access. The alpine here is stunning (think heather, blueberries and slab granite), but it takes about 2 hours on logging roads to access it
- very quiet in winter.
- not much good for cross-country skiing. We do have a back country ski area with huts.

Pros:

- hiking, hiking, hiking. The 180 km Sunshine Coast Trail, with multiple access points, for starters, plus many other trails. And our trails are hikeable all year round, and are fantastically well maintained by the BOMB Squad.
- 32 warm lakes for easy summer swimming. Many great hikes combine hiking with a dip in the lake. For example, yesterday I took my guests for a lovely hike on the SCT, and we stopped for a great swim in Lois Lake.
- lots of kayaking options. Desolation Sound, obviously, but lots of other choices, and the lakes are big enough to make for good kayaking.
- surprisingly good cultural scene, PRISMA (Pacific Region International Summer Music Academy) just wrapped up, and every other year we have the amazing Kathaumixw choral festival which brings choirs from around the world
- logger sports! Just revived last year, and probably the most fun I have had in years
- good selection of reasonable restaurants
- km upon km of mountain biking trails. One of the favourite stops on the annual BC Bike Race
- housing prices. Substantially less than the island or lower Sunshine Coast. And Powell River is built on a west facing slope, so many houses have ocean views.
- more sun than Vancouver.

In other words, we like it here - and it's a very friendly community.
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post #28 of (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you Susie, very detailed.

I looked briefly at real-estate and it is low indeed. I.e this condo would be 3 or 4 times more somewhere in Kits. Powell River real-estate for someone with $$$ would be great investment as things will eventually link with mainland, just as lower Sunshine coast did.

Big part of your pros are outdoors; this is why I am interested in Sechelt / Sunshine Coast in the first place & why I started this thread. But overall isolation is significant. What do you do when you need to go mainland? Is driving totally unpractical, considering you have not 1 but 2 ferry crossings? Others have indicated Gibsons - Horseshoe ferry as major pain in the a$$; how much pain is Earls Cove -- Saltery Bay crossing?
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post #29 of (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 06:16 PM
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Others have indicated Gibsons - Horseshoe ferry as major pain in the a$$; how much pain is Earls Cove -- Saltery Bay crossing?

Here's a real world ferry-mess example for you, from today. My wife and i are heading to whistler tonight to take some friends for a day hike in that area tomorrow. Ferry should be no issue. It's not full summer yet, it's not a long weekend and so we thought we'd go for the 1:05 ferry. No problem we thought. By 11:00 the 1:05 was on the way to overload, one sailing wait (two hours added to a 40 min ferry ride). So now it's the 3:25 which is right now 95% full so we might not make it and have to wait till 5:30 ... to heck with it, we're going to hang on and see if the 5:30 is lighter. If not it's the 7:35 ... so write off the dinner with friends in squamish, forget the shopping trip to superstore in north van... and now, the $75.00 cost of the ferry we'll take back on wednesday has just increased by $15.00 because we made a reservation knowing it's a long weekend coming up. As if that's not painful enough the boat is, of course, running late, as usual.

This crap happens all the time during the busiest 7 months of the year. If moving to the Sunshine coast means staying put on the coast, not really wanting to head off coast very often, then Gibsons to powell River is great. If you regularly want anything that's on the other side of Howe Sound, the ferry will become an enemy in no time.

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post #30 of (permalink) Old 06-26-2017, 08:56 PM
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Big part of your pros are outdoors; this is why I am interested in Sechelt / Sunshine Coast in the first place & why I started this thread. But overall isolation is significant. What do you do when you need to go mainland? Is driving totally unpractical, considering you have not 1 but 2 ferry crossings? Others have indicated Gibsons - Horseshoe ferry as major pain in the a$$; how much pain is Earls Cove -- Saltery Bay crossing?
Our focus here tends to be Courtnay/Comox if we need something from the mainland. That ferry is not usually very busy, except for the usual long weekend crowds, and it is pretty easy to plan around those or get reservations. When I first moved up here I thought I would be back and forth to the Lower Mainland a lot, but it has not panned out that way. Courtenay/Comox basically has everything we might need from the lower mainland, except our friends. And our friends seem to like visiting Powell River!

The Langdale run is definitely much more of a gong show than Saltery Bay/Earls Cove, although that too can have a backup on a summer long weekend.
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