Oceanside Beaches: Qualicum Beach & Judges Row

Sponsored by Ron & Peggy Mehan

Written by Jill Davies for the PQ News

Harry Wood and Ailsa Fenton-Wells think Qualicum Beach is the perfect place to share an ice cream!

As the highway rounds the bend at the top of the hill that curves downward to Qualicum Beach from Parksville, the bay unfolds as a picture book. Once there, holiday makers will  find a unique variety of beach options that should satisfy a range of preferences!
 The main beach, centred in the arc of the bay, is ever popular throughout the seasons. Above the beach are extensive and well maintained grassy areas with plenty of trees to provide welcome shade on the hottest of July days. Here, too, are picnic tables and benches. Along the curve of the bay is a board walk with special appeal for those who may not want to descend to the beach.
 The beach itself is an especially pleasing playground for beach lovers as the tide falls away exposing a broad expanse of smooth sand, occasional rocks and tidal pools. With stairs to the beach at intervals along the waterfront, access is easy. At the south end of the beach there are four standing posts. Between them, tempting swimmers, is anchored a raft. When the tide is low there are nearly 20 kilometres of beach offering
opportunities for long walks in either direction however, when the tide is high there remains only the pebbly foreshore.

Qualicum Beach has a long history as a genteel ‘Victorian’ seaside resort dating back to the days when Port Alberni was a developing and thriving town.  Then the judges, lawyers and other professional people would come from Port Alberni and Victoria to relax by the water, enjoy the ever spectacular views to the Coastal Mountains and paddle in the temperate waters. Now, south of the busier main beach lies the quieter sandy stretch of Judges Row.  The lane there is bound mainly by larger homes on the far side and smaller cabins on the waterside. Once down the few steps to the beach however there’s a feeling of seclusion granted by the beach grasses, wild  flowers and high towering hedges, entwined with wild roses and honeysuckle that grow between roadside and seashore.
 The beach itself is tranquil. Typically bounded by a strip of large round pebbles, when the tide is out the sand is smooth with shallow tidal pools of warm water for little ones to paddle in.  These pools are also much sought after by enthusiastic skimboarders.  The wide expanse of sand invites you to run, play or stroll to the far point.
Towards the end of Judges Row above the beach there is a sweep of grass and three benches. Here is the perfect place to enjoy the spectacular sunrises, glorious sunsets or at dusk, the fairy nightlights from distant cruise ships.

Notwithstanding the nearby highway, this beach feels more untamed. The access is less easy with an expanse of gravel and boulders to be crossed. When the day is too cool to

Riding the waterfront along Qualicum Bay to the North Beach feels just
like being on holiday says Nanoose cyclist Denise Hogge.

swim or lounge on the sand, adventurous children will enjoy exploring the limpet-laced boulders, searching for hermit crabs, blennies, whelks, dog winkles, chitons and other
marine creatures.  The larger outlying rocks beckon those with a fishing line in hand whereas the soft sand above the tideline, bound by eel grass, provides the perfect spot on which to settle with a book, binoculars or just the time to gaze across Qualicum Bay or out over the water to the snowcap peak of Mt Tantalus on the distant mainland. For those who
come to see the migrating flocks of Brant geese as they rest and feed on shore in March and April there is also a sturdy viewing platform.

What you might see there in July…

Walking the beach at Judges Row was Karen Semple with her dog Sammy. Said Karen, ‘I love the breadth of this beach. It’s so sandy and there’s hardly anyone here. It feels very serene. My dog loves it and just runs like a crazy thing’. Sitting in the sun on  the Beach
Hut patio, enjoying an afternoon ice cream were Harry Wood and Ailsa Fenton-Wells. “ the beach seems to go on forever’ said Harry. ”It’s very peaceful here, quite lovely. And having an ice cream is just perfect.

Directions to Judges Row:
• From Parksville, descending the hill down to the bay turn right onto Judges Row.
• There are three access points to the beach. The second of these provides a bigger
gravel lot than the first and accommodates maybe a dozen cars (depending on how
people park!)
• The third access point is ½ km toward the end of the road and allows for parking
beside the road. In the high season all these can be busy on a warm summer afternoon
• Access to the beach is almost immediate and easy though there are a few steps down from each point.
• Dogs are not permitted on the beach between March 1st – April 30th (to protect
the feeding Brant Geese).
• May 1st – End February: Dogs can run on the beach without leashes however please carry baggies and ‘pick-up’!
• Parking only between 6am-11pm
• Parking is plentiful
• There are public toilets close to the waterfront
• Boardwalk
Directions to north end of Qualicum Beach:
• Travelling north, passing the main sweep of Qualicum Beach look for a low trimmed
hedge separating the highway from a long gravel parking lot immediately behind
the shoreline
• The signs regarding dogs are as above as are the overnight restrictions.

Vancouver Island – Steady Market Growth

August 2013

VIREB Reports Steady Market Growth Continues Through Summer

NANAIMO, BC – Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) sales summary data for July released by the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board (VIREB) shows housing sales activity across Vancouver Island us up 12 per cent compared to last year, while average sale prices remained relatively stable. The average price of a single family home sold within the VIREB region in July 2012 was $333,056, which is comparable to the $334,530 average sale price recorded in July 2012. There was also a 12 per cent increase in unit sales for July 2013, where 433 units were recorded, in comparison to July 2012, when 385 single family homes sold.

At the end of July 2013 there were 2,945 single family homes available on the MLS® within VIREB’s coverage area, down from the 3,317 homes in the system at he end of July 2012.

In terms of unit sales year-to-year, there continued to be large variances among our different areas: Campbell River witnessed huge growth, reporting an 87% increase; Comox Valley unit sales increased by 12%; Nanaimo sales dipped 1%; Parksville/Qualicum sales rose 2%; Cowichan Valley saw a 25% increase, and sales for Port Alberni/West Coast remained virtually unchanged from last year.

“There are a number of projects underway in the Campbell River area, and it seems this construction activity is directly contributing to the growth in their housing market,” said VIREB President, Gary Gray. “This is a good example of what economic drivers can do to the market,” he stated.

Cameron Muir, chief economist for the British Columbia Real Estate Association, felt the statistics were encouraging. He noted that, “the upward trajectory of sales show that demand is starting to come back. Home sales are up year-over-year, and flat pricing continues to indicate a balanced market condition.”

Comparing July 2013 to July 2012, the average sale prices across VIREB’s six geographic areas saw: Campbell remain virtually unchanged with average sales price listed at $296,789; Comox Valley up one per cent to $347,954; Nanaimo also went up one per cent to $362,918; Parksville/Qualicum prices remained relatively unchanged at $376,060; Port Alberni/West Coast increased by nine per cent to $50,910, while the Cowichan Valley was down two per cent to $327,410.