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Please assist Western Canada Permies  RSS feed

 
Ryan Auty
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Hello my SO and I will be doing a tour of BC in the coming weeks looking for some potential land to start a homestead. To abandon this culture I have become accustomed to and start anew, A fofilling lease on life I hope! I am hoping of using this great resource to get some input from the pioneers who have tested this venture already. Any information on areas regarding growing seasons and developed homestead communities would be very helpful! Dont be scared we would be great neighbors!
Cheers thanks for your time!
 
Scott Strough
Posts: 299
Location: Oklahoma
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Welcome. I am no where even close to Canada but at least welcome to the forum.
 
raven ranson
master steward
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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Welcome to the group.

BC is a lot larger than people think with many different climates. It's very hard to talk about it in general terms, especially with growing seasons. With our bumpy landscape and the ocean, weather zones can vary drastically. Walk less than a minute down the road from my home, and you've gone through two microclimates to end up in a third that is an entirely different growing zone (9b) than our farm (8something).

In general terms, winters are damp, summers are dry. Forests fires are a concern. We feel very disconnected from the federal government, and consider everything east of the great divide to be The Maritimes. The great divide is the point where the water stops running towards the Pacific and instead drains towards the Atlantic. (This is describing the stereotype of how many people in BC see themselves. It's rather tongue in cheek and not an actual description of actual people you will find here.)

The culture here seems to be very friendly towards permaculture ideas, especially with food.

Do you have any specific parts of bc that you would like to learn more about? Or maybe there are specific style of life you are looking for?

 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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Welcome to permies, and soon to BC! It's kinda a great place. Where are you coming from?

Do you have anything specific you're looking to find in terms of land?


If you're going to be in or around Victoria, shoot me a PM, I'd be happy to talk in person. I can give some general info about most of Van. Isle. The southern portion is not the greatest area to homestead in unless you've got pretty deep pockets, though... I don't expect to be staying. I'm sure you've already scoped out prices on realtor.ca and the like, so you'll probably have noticed how steeply prices increase as you get closer to the southwestern corner.

In very broad strokes, the Comox Valley has quite a bit of farmy/permacultury goodness going on. Duncan/Cowichan Valley as well. Nanaimo and Campbell River are not nearly as promising IMO, not a fan of either place. Then there are all the islands; if you're not planning to commute for a job the northern and smaller islands can be a nice option.

As far as interior BC goes, I've heard a lot of good things about the Nelson/Castlegar/Slocan area and know of some permaculture homesteads around there. I'd be interested to hear which areas catch your fancy, as I'll be driving around doing a similar search later this year.


R Ranson's comment is spot on, too.
 
Ryan Auty
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Hey these are some thoughtful replies! Thank you
Yeah these are the areas we are going to focus on... Around nelson/naskup and then hopefully make it to the island. I was talking to someone from Comox and it sounds great. I am looking for just simple features like south facing and maybe a creek. I guess I'll just judge the climate zone when walking properties down.
If we make it across I'll send you a message thanks!
 
Ryan Auty
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I would like some help more on the long term historic climate info if anyone has any knowledge.
 
raven ranson
master steward
Posts: 5266
Location: Left Coast Canada
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Historic climate info, like how things have changed in the last 150 years?

It's actually very interesting. For example, during the early years of European settlement in Victoria, winters here were very harsh. The lakes regularly froze over and buildings were built on the ice for dance parties and for people to have refreshments while ice skating. I don't know if they are still there, but there were photos in the basement of the Empress Hotel downtown Victoria, of some of the buildings and skating parties held on the ice of the inner harbour - brackish water, which takes a colder temperature to freeze than simple lake water. Circa 1871, so the story goes, as part of the celebration of BC joining Confederation, the royal navy was to do a sale past the harbour. However, before the festivities began, the boats froze in the ice off James Bay, in salt water, and were stuck there for some time.

Now, winter in Victoria is exceptionally mild. Some nights it goes below freezing and there are years when it even snows! If the snow sticks to the ground for more than an hour, the entire city shuts down and it can be quite dangerous to drive as few people here have snow tires or practice driving in slushy conditions.

Close to the coast, the weather is very dependent on the currents of warm water that flow in the pacific. The Little Ice Age, had a huge influence on the weather here, and I suspect we will be at the mercy of future changes to the ocean currents caused by climate change.

Or were you thinking more recent data?
 
Vera Stewart
Posts: 227
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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Here in the Okanagan Valley, older life long residents have told me that Lake Okanagan used to freeze. It hasn't recently - a quick google indicates that it may have seen some freezing in the early 1990s, but that the last time in froze shore to shore was in the '50's. This past winter (my first winter here) was supposedly one of the warmest ever. But maybe the weather will surprise and freeze solid this coming winter. Of course, a lot of vineyards/orchards would be quite alarmed by the prospect.

If you're looking for climate data for particular places, check out environment canada's Climate Normals The data available there goes back to the 1960's for some stations.
 
Ryan Auty
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Yes! These are great replies from my research it seems the west is getting warmer and the east is getting colder. Who knows if this is just temporary or long term but it doesn't make sense for me to invest in the east right now. I am looking for first hand experience of this for good green zones. But really I'm probably just going to fall in love with something... I just want to know where to focus my time looking. Thanks I will scope out that link
 
Dillon Nichols
pollinator
Posts: 597
Location: Victoria BC
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Alright, more anecdotal climate data, coming right up!

When I was growing up (and I'm 30, so not all that long ago!) we could skate on the pond here at my parents place, some winters. It's been quite a few years since a freeze like that. The main downside is, it doesn't seem to be just the winters getting warmer; it's the summers, too. Warmer, and drier. A good water supply and land that will readily accommodate earthworks for water storage are critical.

I would say that in Victoria there was one real winter in the last 5 years; while I don't remember which year it was, I remember walking to work on the very sketchy compacted snow/ice for several days in a row.


Microclimates will have a huge impact on a site. See if there is an older resident who's been there for a few decades. When I lived in town, it was common for my parents ~15KM up the Saanich peninsula to have 2-3 pretty mild snowfalls, a few inches to a foot, while in the city nothing would stick, if it even came down as flakes. A friend living in the Willis Point area another 15 minutes away would have twice as much pretty reliably.

The only 'serious' winter in my lifetime was the blizzard of '96, when my parents house had 6' snowdrifts. I have no idea what it was like in town, since we were snowed in for days despite having a 4x4 truck. Our neighbours house collapsed under snow-load. Being a kid, I thought the whole thing was pretty wonderful, except my pet fish froze to death while we were in a hotel for xmas, after we dug out the 100M driveway, and a tree took out the powerlines and a chunk of the roof...


The farm I interned on last summer was 5 minutes drive from Duncan. Several times through the summer someone would be in town running errands, and it would rain. Most of the time the farm saw none of this rain; the neighbouring hills would shunt the clouds the wrong way. On the hottest days, it would be 10-20C hotter in the low fields on the farm than the coast ~5KM away. The heat-pocket would become a cold-pocket in the winter. I visited in late winter last year, and there was a foot of snow on the farm, compared to nothing at the highway 1.5KM away.
 
Liar, liar, pants on fire! refreshing plug:
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