Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The best of the loveliest of days. The weather is perfect, and we hosted a noice little party for friends this evening, capping a day in which I spent a terrific few hours hanging out with my friend Jeremy Hiebert from Summerland. Jeremy and I are old blog friends, and we get together every few years with that natural kind of "pick it up where we left off" kind of feel. Today I picked Jeremy up in the Cove, we came back up to the house for some beers and then we went for a little drive about, poking around Artisan Square and then hitting Hood Point beach for the nicest swimming of the year so far. Finn came with us and sniped at us from behind the big old tree there with a super soaker water gun. It has been a perfect summer so far. Not even the 24 small lacerations on my leg caused by an errant weed whacker have managed to make a dent in the vibe.

Lots of folks are leaving Bowen these days, many of them heading for Gabriola Island. Corbin Keep and Cindy Marsden left last week and Mara Brenner and Stu are looking at leaving soon as well. Our good friends the Hardin's are moving back to Manitoba next month.

I suppose it has always been like this - people coming and going - but it seems unfair that we are losing all of these good people. The economics of Bowen are not easy at all - it is hard to make a good living on island and commuting into Vancouver is becoming prohibitively expensive. BC Ferries operates now as a business rather than a public service and the fares increase once and sometimes twice a year. When I moved here in 2001 the price of a book of ten walk on tickets was $27.00 making a return fare to Bowen less than the price of a bus ticket into Vancouver. That same fare is now $5.20, with the commuter discount. Rents on Bowen are expensive and there are very few spots available for a family. The irony is that the economy is so high end now that the businesses like Tuscany Restaurant can't get the help they need to take advantage of the wealth in this market. With no affordable housing, service sector employees are coming to work from the continent, and with that ferry fare, they have lost a good chunk of their first hour or two of work just getting here.

I know lots of people read my blog here as they are deciding to move to Bowen, so my advice if you are thinking of it is to be careful about whether you can actually afford to live here. At this point the housing market is going a little soft, and you can get nice houses under $600,000, but in most of the rest of Canada, that would buy you half a province. So think about it carefully.

The economics are hard if you didn't get here when we did, when the housing market was cheap and interest rates were low. That's the reality, and I count myself as lucky that we are able to stay here, even as many of our friends head to more affordable and prosperous climes. It's funny to think of Bowen as so rich, we're impovrished, but that seems to be the case. Alas, we still have the great beaches, and good friends and sockeye salmon and veggie burgers to grill on the barbeque. Summer is what it is.