Logging income no match for value of residential viewscapes in North Cowichan
People who buy a home in North Cowichan are willing to pay a premium for a water or mountain view — and that preference translates into untold millions of dollars in house prices as well as added tax revenue for the municipality.
If you’ve wandered up to Kingsview Road and Nevilane Drive lately near Maple Bay you’ve been surprised at the pace of residential development.
The phased Kingsview Comprehensive Development Plan anticipates up to 1,190 residential units, including single-family detached homes, multi-residential units, and townhouses, as well as an additional 189 secondary units, for a total of 1,379 units, according to the North Cowichan municipal website.
One real-estate website boasts a development featuring “a panorama of Quamichan Lake to the west with Mt. Prevost as the back drop, to Maple Mountain to the east.”
We can debate whether this rate of development is a good for the community, but one thing is irrefutable — people are attracted to a home with a view.
“There’s no question that people coming onto the Island crave an ocean or mountain view,” confirms Don McClintock, managing broker with Remax in Duncan/Mill Bay and immediate past president of the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board.
McClintock says it’s hard to put a specific value on a view, but suggests it could be worth up to $50,000 — more for homes with the best views in great neighbourhoods. “A spectacular 180-degree panoramic view is going to be worth quite a bit to people,” he said, noting that view properties are also easier to sell.
That adds up to millions of dollars in extra cash put out by residents for a view home. And while I haven’t canvassed them all, it’s fair to say they’d prefer that North Cowichan not degrade those views — and their investments — by logging the 5,000-hectare Municipal Forest Reserve (best known as the Six Mountains — Tzouhalem, Prevost, Sicker, Richards, Maple, and Stoney).
How do those figures compare with municipal income from logging?
Last year, North Cowichan reported a profit of $261,077 from timber harvesting, much of that, sadly, derived from timber exported as raw logs. The reported annual average profit since 1987 has been less than half that value — $128,286.
The comparisons continue.
While logging is a quick one-shot deal employing few timber workers, the taxes on those new homes accrue annually to the municipality. Of course, there are also municipal costs associated with servicing new residential communities.
One 2000-built view home selling for $664,500 on Nevilane generates $5,233 in annual gross property taxes. Multiplied across a development “it doesn’t take long” for those kind of taxes to add up to “millions for the municipality,” McClintock says. New homes atop Nevilane with prime views are selling for closer to $900,000. For the foreseeable future those views will include other homes under construction below them.
McClintock concludes there is another reason for keeping the trees that has nothing to do with real-estate values. “The whole ecology question is vitally important. We have to be very mindful of maintaining certain lands in their natural state.”
Indeed, a standing forest can provide immeasurable benefits in terms of ecological diversity, recreation, tourism, culture and personal well being — with the potential for carbon-credit cash for simply leaving the trees be.