Climate change could help and hurt B.C.’s recreational properties

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      Rudy Nielsen talks about rain reverentially. As someone who has sold waterfront recreational properties for 40 years, he considers it a blessing.

      “I say when it starts raining here in the fall and everybody starts bitching about the rain and the dark clouds, you should instead get down on your hands and knees and kiss the ground that you live in British Columbia,” Nielsen told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      For the man behind NIHO Land & Cattle Company Ltd. and LandQuest Realty Corporation, it’s rain that fills the aquifers that feed wells. It puts snow on the mountains so creeks and rivers run all summer long, keeping the lakes nice and clean.

      In a time when climate change is wreaking havoc on weather patterns across the globe, Nielsen sees a huge opportunity for B.C.’s recreational-property market. He mentioned as an example the current drought in the U.S., the country’s worst since the 1950s.

      “As these world crises develop in water and as the global warming is starting to take more effect, and as some of these droughts in the United States take place, I think there’s going to be a lot of buyers looking for properties where there’s lots of fresh water,” Nielsen said.

      With B.C. possessing five percent of the world’s fresh water, Nielsen is confident about the future.

      But climate change also poses serious risks. These dangers are highlighted in Telling the Weather Story, a report released in June 2012 by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

      According to the paper prepared for the national association of private insurers, catastrophic weather events in this country cost the industry about $1.6 billion in property-loss payments in 2011. It also paid out almost $1 billion in each of 2009 and 2010.

      The report noted that Canada has become wetter during the past half-century. In that period, average precipitation increased by about 12 percent. We experience an average of 20 more days of rain compared with the 1950s. The document states that climate change is at least partly responsible for more frequent and severe weather events in Canada, such as floods, storms, and droughts, “because warmer temperatures tend to produce more violent weather patterns”.

      In B.C., temperatures have risen by 1 ° C to 1.5 ° C since 1950. In the years to come, there could be a 10-to-15-percent increase in “intense rainfall events” in the province, the report stated. The incidence of “severe wildfires” in forests could increase by 50 percent or more through the period up to 2050.

      Stephen R. J. Sheppard is the director of the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning, a UBC interdisciplinary research group that looks at the impacts of climate change on communities.

      Sheppard noted in a phone interview that B.C. has seen major climate change–related events in recent years. One was the massive rockslide near Pemberton in 2010 that was caused by the melting Capricorn Glacier.

      Forest fires are going to be a bigger concern in the coming years, according to Sheppard. This means that recreational property owners in backcountry locations will have to work closely with their neighbours to reduce fire hazards. Certain waterfront properties may also face greater risks of flooding.

      “The overall trend is we can probably expect increased losses,” Sheppard told the Straight, referring to property damages.

      Ian Bruce, a climate change expert with the David Suzuki Foundation, suggested that because of emerging threats, insurance companies may increase premiums on properties that are in areas more at risk than previously believed. Or some places may be considered so dangerous in the future that insurance coverage may be denied.

      “It certainly presents a risk to the value of those properties,” Bruce told the Straight by phone about the potential effects of climate change–related events.

      For now, Nielsen is seeing a revival of B.C.’s recreational-property market. “This has been one of the best years all my companies have had since the crash of 2008,” he said. “People are buying.”




      Aug 1, 2012 at 4:39pm

      I'm sick of greedy capitalists thinking global warming is just another opportunity. As noted, waterfront property is worthless if it's underwater, subject to storm surge or windstorms, a dead rock devoid of plant life that couldn't adapt quickly enough to the changing environment, looking out at dead waters too acidic for shellfish or much of anything else, surrounded by a moat and a solar-powered electric fence to ward off the billions of climate refugees hungry for food (or human flesh)... Capitalists are a lesser form of ill-adapted human, soon to be extinct hopefully.

      Former BelieverandLiberal

      Aug 2, 2012 at 11:40am

      Not one single IPCC report warns of crisis without a "maybe" in the report. Science is not certain. Science does not have consensus of unstoppable warming and science lab coats gave us pesticides.
      Threatening the voter’s kids with a climate change death pushes Romney into power for the next four years. Nice job girls.
      -Canada killed Y2Kyoto with a newly elected NEOCON climate change denying prime minister with an all-powerful majority government and nobody cared, especially the millions of scientists warning us of unstoppable warming (death).
      Is this CO2 exaggeration really worth being ruled by cons? We could just drop the CO2 death threats and go back to calling it environmentalism?


      Aug 13, 2012 at 12:41pm

      Just taking issue with the comment about Mt Meagre landslide being related to climate change. This is not aimed at the CO2 debate, it's about keeping the data real. No qualified person has ever said that the landslide is attributable to climate change and Stephen Sheppard should know better than to use whatever headlines are readily available to promote interest in his research area. Mt Meagre has been very, very, very unstable for centuries and global warming is the last thing a gazillion tonnes of rock on a mountain really cares about. Geothermal activity is huge in that area so the less ice/more water argument doesn't hold any! That rock was coming down the it 10 years ago, last year, or 10 years from now. Lots more will be coming to.