Although I’m a passionate West Coaster today, I had the pleasure of growing up in a small town in Ontario. We lived in a humble house, but on the water–in this case, a river in Bracebridge that feeds into Lake Muskoka. With a small boathouse and a beach in our backyard, it was a regular occurrence for me to paddle my canoe, swim or even water-ski after school. Ahh… those were the days, of being carefree and enjoying all the amenities small-town, waterfront-living could offer. The area hasn’t changed much when I visit today, other than the cottages on Lake Muskoka getting bigger and grander, and the water a bit more crowded.
I also learned to downhill ski at the local ski hill, Rainbow Ridge, which was perhaps only 200 vertical feet but satisfied most of the neighbourhood kids. My passion for the mountains and water eventually brought me to British Columbia 25 years ago, where I fell in love with B.C.’s substantially bigger mountains and ski towns (see page 60), which are now becoming year-round lifestyle communities. Of course, B.C. offers not just renowned skiing but communities with more water-based activities than you can dream of–whether along B.C’s wild coast or the interior’s rivers and freshwater lakes (see page 14). The allure of waterfront living is still strong.
Living in a city, it’s easy to forget that life in a small town can offer so much for young couples and families–and possibly even more for an older generation of residents moving into the next exciting phase of working, playing or retiring. In this issue, we were nearly overwhelmed in our research putting together a massive, first-ever list of prime B.C. waterfront communities currently in development (see page 38), eminently livable mountain towns and even spots for rural ranch living (see page 34). B.C.’s options for great communities, located within reach of urban conveniences, are almost limitless.
Thinking back to my golden childhood days, it was a big deal even when a fast-food franchise opened up in our town. Today, smaller communities are offering everything from fine dining, craft breweries and innovative distilleries (see page 19) to world-class sports facilities (see page 24).
One of the most exciting things I’ve noticed while travelling B.C. to work on Right Sizing is the advent of large master-planned communities like the visionary Wilden in Kelowna (see page 56) popping up all over the province. Not all have Wilden’s massive generational scope, but the thoughtfully planned, resort-style living concept such places offer is taking off everywhere.
As a younger generation looks for better value outside the city centres, while people like me reminisce about small towns and consider moving back to one, we’re all giving the lifestyle amenities that B.C. communities offer a fresh look. Among the dozens of places profiled in this issue, B.C. has it all!