posted on Sep, 30 2009 @ 03:15 PM
Canada, the second largest country in the entire world. Numerous provinces, 30 million inhabitants. A wealth of every type of terrain from
semi-tropical rain fores, to desert, to prairie and tundra. Also, 95% uninhabited. But why? Surely in a country so utterly expansive, it would be easy
to find land there to settle! Not so, and I will explain why. In this article, I will be focusing on Rural rather than Metropolitan real estate, for
reasons that will become clear.
Part 1: An Overview of British Columbia.
BC is a lush province. Wild, untamed, filled with the bounty of nature. A land of opportunity for those willing to move here and settle. At least,
that’s what the Tourism advertisements would have you believe. In reality, BC has the lowest minimum wages in Canada, the lowest standards of
living, and the highest real estate prices.
A search of the MLS listings will reveal the shocking reality that the cheapest land
parcel currently for sale in rural BC is $50,000 for less than 1 acre. Above that, the prices can vary from $100k for 2 acres to as much as $1.4m for
a single half-acre lot on Vancouver Island. This might be understandable if this was, for example, France with its 700 years worth of overlapping
title deeds. In fact, an online search of Real Estate will demonstrate that for the price of a decently sized rural land parcel or a 4-bedroom family
home in a Vancouver suburb, one might obtain a Castle with several dozen acres in France.
How can this be? BC has a total population of just over 4 million people, half of that contained in the sprawling coastal city of Vancouver. The total
Landmass of BC is more than that of Oregon, California, & Washington combined. To put this into perspective, the population of those 3 states is 47
million people. As you can see, that is a drastic amount of free land!
So, with the perspective set, how can land be so ludicrously expensive in BC when the province is literally empty?
Part 1: A Conspiracy to keep the land for the corporations.
The short answer is, the vast majority of the province was simply never allowed to enter into private ownership. Unlike the US which experienced a
massive land rush throughout the opening of the various Frontiers, BC was cut off from the rest of Canada by land until the opening of the Canadian
Pacific Railway in the early 1900’s. The Trans Canada Highway did not gain a stable and safe connection to BC until the opening of Rogers Pass in
the late 1980’s. Most of the Interior remains tenuously connected to the major arteries.
Thanks to this, much of it was never homesteaded. With BC’s heavy snowfall, who would want to trek into the wilderness aside from the lure of gold?
Much better to stay by the established towns. Thus, when the Homesteading act was repealed in the 1970’s, a staggering 95% of the province remained
under the control of the Crown (the provincial government).
Since then, less than 400 sales of crown land to private individuals have occurred, and for staggeringly ludicrous sums of money when you consider the
relative isolation of existing crown parcels. To understand why, we need to look at BC’s two primary industries: Mining and Lumber. The crown does
not wish to sell any land to individuals to develop, because at this time it holds a veritable monopoly on the leasing of Mining and Lumber rights to
corporations. Any large reduction in crown land holdings will reduce the amount of resources that it can barter with corporations in return for
favors, and barter it has.
Despite the isolation of the vast majority of BC’s interior, one need only take a flight across it to see the damage wrought by the lumber barons
throughout the past century. There is not a single spot between Vancouver and the Rocky Mountains that has not had a slender logging road driven into
it so that the mountainsides can be stripped bare. By conservative estimates, a staggering 67% of the mature lumber in British Columbia has been
logged in the past 100 years.
As a result, the Crown is loathe to remove its grip on the land it holds lest it lose precious resources that it can sell the rights to, plain and
simple. There are no parcels of more than 1800 acres for sale in British Columbia, and no large parcels for less than $1million. The Crown does not
even consider applications for purchase or granting of large land parcels unless you are a corporate interest. I know, I have tried.
[edit on 30-9-2009 by D.E.M.]
[edit on 30-9-2009 by D.E.M.]