Time Colonist June 1, 2003
By Norman Gidney
Times Colonist Staff
Westbay Marina owner Mark Lindholm
shows off the first home in his unique development. Debra
It's been a long voyage through municipal council and federal
government regulations, and tough sailing around rezoning
hearings, design and construction, but a new kind of subdivision
will soon rule the waves of Esquimalt.
What's billed as southern Vancouver Island's only legal
mixed-use floating village will be christened in July at
The first floathome is in place, a three-level angular, modern
design with gas fireplace and barbecue, radiant heat in the main
slate-covered floor, two bathrooms and two bedrooms.
It's for sale at $260,000 and also will be a display home for
the floating village, which has 33 "lots" now
and ultimately will total 40 homes.
Less expensive versions of life on the water are available,
starting at about $190,000, said developer Mark Lindholm,
who owns the adjacent marina and 61-site recreational vehicle
Finishing carpenters still have four weeks of indoor work remaining
on the first floathome before the July 19 kick off date
for the marine village. The angular lines of the tall floathome
are already a contemporary contrast with the sailboats moored
Lindholm said he started on the floathome village in 1996 and
it has taken this long to get all the approvals, permits and
services for the unconventional development. The effort
it took "tells me it's not something that's going to be
duplicated in Victoria."
It's not like regular real estate. At Westbay, owners lease
their floathome sites from Lindholm over 20 years, which is the
term of his master lease from Ottawa. And it isn't a strata title
project. The buyer's lease can't be registered at the Victoria
Land Title Office, but it can be sold or otherwise assigned.
Despite the legal differences, Lindholm has had many inquiries,
from the 21-year-old who wants something unconventional to well-off
50-plus couples. "This is the ultimate lifestyle choice," he
Floathome owners can lease by the month at 60
cents a square foot or pay the whole two decades' worth upfront
amounts ranging from $90,500 to $174,500, depending on the
size of the marine lot. Owners will have
to pay the usual municipal property taxes, too.
Lindholm is providing all the usual municipal
services to floating residences and will install concrete floats
to connect the
homes. Each will be anchored with its own pair of 40-centimetre-diameter
steel pilings. Floathomes will be arranged in an irregular pattern,
different from a marina's pigeonhole style.
He runs his own utility at the site, providing
all the telephone, natural gas, electricity, cable TV and Internet,
water and sewer
hookups to the floathomes, even an automated wastewater pumping
system that sucks sewage out of floathome holding tanks and flushes
it into municipal sewers.
B.C. Hydro, Telus and the other utilities "wanted nothing
to do" with people who might just unplug and float
away somewhere else.
The improvements and new forms of tenure have
cost money -- some $2 million to date -- and the higher costs
of the new-style village
wasn't popular with long-term liveaboards who faced bigger
bills to continue living at Westbay. Many have moved to Fisherman's
Wharf on the Victoria side of the harbour.