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Services around Hornby Island

One of the biggest challenges to living on the island is that most things are only open a couple of days a week and/or part of the day and there is no universal closing days or times. This can result in wasted trips. What I have done to get around this is until to take a picture on my phone of the sign on the door of places I visit. There are not many websites with opening and closing times. Times can vary by season with longer opening hours in the summer. There is a map that you receive on the Ferry with a list of services with location and hours. However a universal website would be of benefit to summer visitors. That said, because the cell coverage and WIFI is variable across the island, people tend to rely on word of mouth,  Facebook, signs poster on roads, paper and land lines.  I have included links to some of the services I have accessed that might be handy for other visitors.

The master site for Hornby Island is http://hornbyisland.com/ which includes links to accommodation, arts, events and transportation.

Accommodation

The range of accommodation is wide in terms of size and modern conveniences. Some cottages are without TV, laundry etc.   Some people rent out space on their properties for RVs and tents. Some rentals are done by word of mouth.  Many accommodation are posted on the Hornby Island Site with few if any listing on Airbnb. Booking is done by contacting the individuals listed as contact for the accommodation. Starting rentals are around $ 1500 a week to sleep 4-6 people over the summer months.   An availability calendar is available on the site. Booking in May for July/Aug is wise. Trip advisor is another site for booking accommodation as is Wind and Waves. Camping sites are at a premium. There is a beautiful campsite site at Heron Rocks under management of the Heron Rocks Camping Cooperative which is open to members and then non-members if space available. Phone: (250) 335-2670 as no website was found.

Transportation

Getting to and from Hornby Island is a lengthy process. Here is a typical schedule for a trip as a foot passenger from Vancouver to Hornby Island. If you are coming as a foot passenger there is an express bus from Downtown Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay. The Ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay at Nanaimo is about 1 hr 40 min.   Then you can pick up the Island link shuttle from Departure Bay to Buckley Bay.  Advance booking for the Island Link is necessary and can be done online.  From Buckley Bay you get the ferry to Denman Island. Then you have a 20 min drive to the ferry landing on the other side of Denman Island to pick up the ferry to Hornby Island. Each crossing is about 10 min. People travelling as foot passengers often approach travellers with cars to hitch a ride across Denman Island.  Seniors with a BC ID are free on Mon-Thurs but you still have to pay for your car.  The ferry fare on Hornby/Denman includes the return fare.

One should check the BC Ferries website up to an hour before leaving as ferries have been known to break down and not be replaced due to lack of availability of replacement ferries.  The Denman and Hornby Island operate on a schedule but will increase sailings if line-ups occur.

The Island Link shuttle will also stop on the highway next to the Nanaimo Airport and then it is a 5 -10 min walk to the departure terminal. You have to book to Ladysmith.

Here is a typical schedule for a walk on passenger from Vancouver.   Times can vary so check the schedules of Translink, BC Ferries and Island Link.   Taking your car requires advance booking on BC Ferries to ensure a spot on the ferry at your desired departure time. The ferry schedule for Denman/Hornby is different on some days of the week so close scrutiny of the schedule is warranted.

From Vancouver to Hornby        
depart Depart time arrive Arrival time fares
Granville and West Georgia downtown Vancouver bus 250 9:56 Horseshoe Bay 10:30 $ 1.85 senior
Horseshoe Bay BC Ferries 11:00 Nanaimo Departure Bay *free for seniors Tues-Thurs
Departure Bay -Island Link Shuttle Bus 1:00 Buckley Bay 2:10 $28.99
ferry Buckley bay-Denman Island 3:00 Denman 3:10 *
ferry Denman-Hornby Island 3:40 Hornby 3:50 *

Total travel time 6 hours

From Hornby to Vancouver      
depart Depart time arrive Arrival time
Ferry Hornby -Denman 10:00 Denman Island 10:10
ferry Denman-Vancouver Island 10:40 Buckley Bay 10:50
Buckley Bay Island link 11:20 Departure Bay 12:30
Departure Bay BC Ferries 1:15 horseshoe bay 2:55
Granville and West Georgia downtown Vancouver bus 257 3:15 Georgia and Granville downtown Vancouver 3:45

Flying from Vancouver into Comox Airport with Harbour Air is an option. There are 2 flights a day and prices range from $ 132-$ 199 depending on the day. This would require ground transport or water taxi to Hornby.   A site called Rome2rio.com gives a number of options to get to Hornby from Comox with the shortest being a 2 hour trip using a car from Comox Airport.  A Water Taxi service is available to/from Hornby and Buckley Bay $ 150, Comox Harbour ($175) as well as other destinations. Comox Water Taxi advertises Hornby to Comox in 35 min.

Services on Hornby

The location of most of the services listed here are on the visitor maps you receive on the ferry.

Laundry & Showers. Joe King Park Laundry takes 2 or 3 loonies per load. Water is cold unless you opt for the $ 3 loonie wash.  This is apparently for members.  How to get a membership is posted in the laundry room.

Computer access center Mon-Friday 10-4 near the school offers WIFi and printing but the WIFI coverage was intermittent when I used it.

Credit union Hornby Island Branch 2115 Sollans Rd      250.335-2326 Tue, Wed, Fri 9:30 to 3:00 and there is no ATM.

Co-op Store. You can find most things you need here both groceries and hardware. The website includes hours of the COOP, the  gas bar  and  businesses in the same location as the COOP and the Gas Bar.  There is an ATM there.

The Cove Store Has some groceries, marina, camping and cottages. 7:30 am ~ 9:30 pm everyday July and August  8 am ~ 8 pm everyday September to June

Medical Care Monday to Friday     9:30 am – noon and 1:30 – 4 pm

 The Library offers free computer access and wifi

Sun/Mon Closed
Tue 10am-12pm & 1pm-5pm
Wed 4pm-8pm
Thu 10am-12pm & 1pm-5pm
Fri 1pm-5pm
Sat 10am-12pm & 1pm-5pm

There is a summer bus.

Farmers Market Wed and Sat 11am -2 pm

Recycling/Free store The recycling depot is open from 9-1 Thursday to Sun (summer)  for vehicles but you can walk up the driveway to access the services during other hours. The free store is the place to find anything you forgot to bring with you. I have accessed warm clothes, scissors, a frying pan and ice cube trays. There is a great selection of books.  A friend recently scored a couple of Persian rugs and a radio in excellent condition.

Bank Machines are available at the COOP and the Thatch during opening hours. Many merchants only accept cash.

Cell phone coverage is variable but seems to be good around the library.

Arts/Entertainment

http://hornbyisland.com lists many events including concerts and movies.

Art Gallery shows and events: https://hornbyislandartscouncil.wordpress.com/

One of the major events on Hornby is a music festival Aug 1-10. www.hornbyfestival.com

Hornby Island Community Radio 96.55. The community radio station is one of the treasures of Hornby Island. The sad part is that it does not transmit beyond Hornby Island. However you can enjoy it while you are there. Multiple DJs have wide ranging tastes in music and deep knowledge of the artists and genres. You can support the station with an online membership.

Hornby Island has a unique natural history including rocks, marine life, fossils and birds. The natural history museum is only open during July and August, Tuesday – Saturday from 10am – 3pm. It is well worth a visit before you go exploring.  It is on the corner of Central and Sollens in the school.

Fitness

https://www.sundooryoga.com/

New Horizons offers yoga and other activities for seniors. Chair yoga, book readings, and  The Kitchen runs 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) at 12:30 with meals by donation.

Cycling rentals- 250-335-0448 lucielemay@yahoo.com

Mountain Biking. A map of the mountain biking and walking trails in Mt Geoffrey Park can be purchased at the bike shop beside the CO-OP.

Kayaking

Hornby Ocean Kayaks

Denman Hornby Canoe &Kayaks

Walking trails are shown on the visitor’s maps you receive on the ferry.

Diving

There are a number of Facebook groups related to Hornby interests: Hornby Helps,  Word of Mouth and Hornby Island Buy and Sell.

The Kindness of Friends – My summer vacation on Hornby Island.

Moving out of Vancouver had never crossed my mind when I came to Hornby Island for a few days to attend the BluesFest in May 2018. In fact it was the farthest thing from my mind. But I caught the magic of Hornby Island.

Last night at a movie at the community center, a gentleman came up to me apologise for shouting at me when I backed into his car in the parking lot last week. The incident was so out of character for people on Hornby Island that it really threw me off-balance. Everyone has been so kind and friendly here, it is a startling contrast to Vancouver. I feel like I have gone to a different country or planet. It is like a dream. I went for walk today and everyone says good morning or HI. Try that in Vancouver!

When I come over for the BluesFest in May I was struck by how many baby boomers there were here. So many people had gray hair and were of my generation. The island residents are a mix of hippies from the 60’s and 70’s, people from Vancouver with summer cottages, artists and summer visitors. Some have lived here all their life or a large part of it. I have met more people here than I have in 40 years in Vancouver. The friendliness is on a par with what I experienced as a child in the Maritimes.   I have been touched so many times.

The first week I arrived here I met a fellow blogger living Parksville that I had not met before. She moved to Parksville 2 years ago from Beijing where she had worked as a school administrator. We had many things to talk about. Her experience in China was interesting to me as I am teaching English online to students in China. We shared our blogging experiences and her experience with relocating and retiring. We had so much to talk about we arranged for a follow up lunch at her place.

Another fascinating person I met is the woman across the street teaching English as a second language online to students in Taiwan. She has been doing this for about 10 years… really before on-line teaching took off in a big way. Her business targets adult s, many of whom are still her students 10 years later. She teaches students early in the morning due to the time zone differences while I teach children in the evening. She was interested in my use of technology and my rates of pay! And I found a walking partner who lives across the street in Hornby and near me in Vancouver!

I was also invited the a Womens’ Wednesday cocktail hour, a fundraising event and have enjoyed the movies at the community center which are similar in calibre to the Vancouver International Film Festival. One of the most memorable events I attended was the one man show by singer and story-teller John Mclaughlan who did a personal look back at his life on Hornby.

I had a struggle to find a place with a good wi-fi connection for using the teaching software for online teaching. But here again 5 people stepped up and offered me their home for a 3 1/2 hr session 3 x a week. Finally I found an office with good wi-fi where I could settle down and do my online teaching. Many thanks to the people who offered their spaces and to the business center that offered their space on an ongoing basis.

All this spirit of good will has caused me to reflect on my life in Vancouver and how unsatisfying it feels. It is not something I was conscious of until I got out-of-town. I lived in Ottawa for a couple of years and I felt the difference there as well. So as I have spent time here, I wonder about moving out of Vancouver. I recall a recent story about the differences in happiness by geography in Canada. However the survey found that variables affecting life satisfaction were not specific to geography but to gender, income, education, health status and to whether you knew your neighbours. Clearly knowing your neighbours is about the only modifiable variable at this point in my life. Vancouver ranked at the bottom on the life satisfaction scale but this would seem to be a function of the demographics of the population, with slightly lower life satisfaction among immigrants. So if one is to move to improve life satisfaction, the one variable that might have an impact is moving to a place where you are likely to know your neighbours.   Clearly Donna from RetirementReflections found a place where she knows her neighbours in Parksville and seems pretty happy with her choice. She joined a Newcomers group that appeared to make the transition easier.

Clearly knowing your neighbours in Hornby is easier than in Vancouver. And probably easier in any small place in Canada.   But statistics don’t capture the personal, emotional and financial aspects of moving.

Much has been written about moving in retirement.. pros and cons, how to, where to, best cities. More fundamental is why more? Why pull up stakes were you are living to move someplace else? Lots of people have family reasons. e.g. to be closer to children or aging parents. For some people it offers a chance to cash in on real estate or downsize. A recent article in the Vancouver Sun reported on the Exodus of Vancouverites to the promised land driving up prices on Vancouver Island. And it is not just retirees moving but young couple with families. Clearly one can make a business case for moving out of Vancouver.

While Vancouver is spectacular, Hornby is more spectacular. Hiking trails and beaches are a five-minute drive from just about anywhere.   I am loving the lack of traffic, free parking and the COOP radio. Others have compared the cost of living in rural vs urban areas but that is related to circumstances. There are differences in the cost of living in cities in BC with Vancouver being the most expensive and Abbotsford the least expensive with Nanaimo in the middle. The major downside of Hornby is that it is a 2 hour commute to the nearest city via 2 ferries that sometimes have line ups in the summer so you can’t always be guaranteed a spot on the boat when you want it.

So the question dear readers is.. move out of Vancouver? to Hornby?

My next post will include details about day-to-day life on Hornby.

Condos that have passed by-laws against short term rentals… What can you do if you want to rent your condo out on a short term basis?

Background

In the fall of 2017 the property management company for my condo passed a bylaw to ban rentals of less than one year.  The property management company seemed to think there has been complaints about disruption of residents’ peace and quiet due to short term rentals.   The ban includes rentals, home exchanges and rentals to home stay students. Most owners in the building are in their 40’s and I am one of the few seniors in the building. The controversy around housing in Vancouver and Airbnb has been ongoing for several years and the clamp down on Airbnb rentals is collateral damage.

Municipal policy and regulations

“City of Vancouver Short-Term Residential Rental Policy 2018  implemented new regulations concerning the operation of short-term rentals through services such as Airbnb and VRBO, with the objective of protecting Vancouver’s long-term rental supply, encouraging neighbourhood fit, enabling supplemental income for operators, supporting the tourism industry, ensuring health and safety, promoting tax and regulatory equity, and encouraging regulatory compliance”.

The city wants more short term rentals and has made an arrangement with Airbnb to monitor the licensing, supply and safety of accommodation. The City of Vancouver has specifically set up the licensing program to support short term rentals in Vancouver.  This involves buying a business license for $100 which is required when creating a listing on Airbnb. You are not eligible to buy a business license if your strata council does not permit short term rentals.  Thus the bylaw passed by the strata council is contrary to the direction in the City of Vancouver.

The city has a list of requirements for the business licenseBefore you apply for a license:

Strata properties   Make sure your building’s strata bylaws allow for short-term rentals.

Building and fire safety   Confirm your home is a legal dwelling unit.   Provide 24-7 contact information.   Post a fire plan at all entrances and exits.   Have interconnected smoke alarms on every floor and in every bedroom.   Have a working and accessible fire extinguisher on every floor.   Have carbon monoxide detectors on every floor if there are gas appliances.   Have a fire alarm in the building if it has more than three dwelling units or 10 occupants.   By January 1, 2023, have an automated sprinkler system or fire separation between units with at least a 45 minute fire-resistance rating, unless a higher resistance rating is required for the building type by the Building Bylaw or Fire Bylaw, if your short-term rental accommodation is attached to another dwelling unit.   Inspect, test annually, and keep related records for smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors.   Review your insurance policies and cover any costs or damages that come from operating your short-term rental business.

How widespread is this problem of strata councils banning short term rentals? Where did it all start? What is the perceived vs actual risk.

  • New South Wales has banned restrictions on strata councils restricting short term rentals and found no evidence of negative impact of short term rentals.
  • In Queensland, it is written into the act that strata bylaws can’t be passed which restrict the lawful use of a property (so if council zoning allows something, then nothing strata can do about it).

Here is what I have done to try to get around the problem and resolve the issue.

I have submitted a letter to my strata council to exempt me from the regulations.

In accordance with the requirements of the Strata Property Act, please accept this letter as my application for an exemption from our rental restriction bylaw # 2.12 on the grounds of  financial hardship and I believe I am exempt from the rental bylaws as I purchased my unit prior to Oct 31 2005.  I also believe that a 5 week rental will have minimal impact on anyone and that a short term rental is keeping with the policy adopted by the City of Vancouver re: short term rentals. Furthermore the Strata Council Act grants a one year exemption to a bylaw that prohibits or limits rentals. As per the Strata Property Act, I am requesting a hearing with the strata council to discuss this matter should you feel the grounds for exemption are not adequate. I understand that an exemption granted by the strata corporation may be for a limited time and that the strata corporation may not unreasonably refuse to grant an exemption

So what processes are in place to fix this problem?

  1. The strata council can rescind or revise the bylaw.
  2. The strata council can grandfather in my suite so that the by-law will not apply to my suite as long as I am the owner
  3. I can apply for a waiver of the by-law based on financial hardship as suggested by the Civil Disputes Resolution.  The Civil Disputes resolution site has a place where you can make a complaint about anything to do with the strata council and they said that a strata council cannot limit your rentals if you have a case for financial hardship.
  4. I can make a complaint to the City of Vancouver about the strata council limiting short term rentals as this is contrary to the policy of the City of Vancouver. See The VanConnect app.
  5. There is a one year exemption from the date of passing of Rental Bylaws according to the Strata Property Act.

Have you had any success keeping your condo open to short term rentals?   What have you done?