Let’s be clear about one thing: I very much appreciate a good tongue-in-cheek satire. Case in point: Dog Lotion’s recent spin on WB/Vail’s “breaking” announcement re: new Blackcomb gondolas and chairlifts was nothing short of perfection.
But after reading BCBusiness’s “Big Fat Deal: $4.7 million to be swish in Squamish“, I was left shaking my head and thinking, “What the heck did I just read?”
I subscribe to Google Alerts for a few of my favourite topics: Whistler, Squamish, Whistler Real Estate, and Squamish Real Estate. Every morning, I scroll through my daily digest before rolling out of bed. Today, the BCBusiness article was one of the links. The short excerpt made it seem like it was a showcase of a high-end Squamish home, so I clicked to read it in its entirety.
I’m pretty familiar with BCBusiness: it’s a BC-based (duh) publication that generally posts interesting, well-researched, and well-written news and profiles. I’ve never seen anything that could be described as funny or satirical on their website or in their magazine… until, possibly, this morning, when I discovered their biting “Big Fat Deal” real estate section. (I still can’t figure out if it’s 100% a satire.)
Let’s dissect the article.
Here is the house in question:
It’s a 5 bed, 5 bath stunner located in Britannia Beach, listed at a cool $4.698M.
“The skinny: Five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 6,225-square-foot house on a 39,500-square-foot lot in Britannia Beach, Squamish.”
In BCBusiness’s defense, the MLS lumps a few different communities together into the Squamish geographical area – but anyone who is mildly familiar with the Sea to Sky knows that Britannia Beach is a distinct community from Squamish. Wikipedia classifies it as a “small, unincorporated community” and, although it is in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional Disctrict (as are Whistler and Pemberton, among others), it’s not Squamish.
“Leaping large into the luxury price range comes Squamish, previously known as the “poor man’s Whistler.” “
Poor man’s Whistler – ouch! Although not exceptionally original, this jab considerably discounts Squamish’s history – both short term (logging, anyone?) and long term (First Nations, anyone?) – and its place on the map as a mecca for rock climbing, mountain biking (in a non bike park setting, thankyouverymuch), and kite boarding, among others.
Aspirational weekenders should no longer feel ashamed to call the former pee-stop to the mountains their home away from home.
It’s true – when I lived in Vancouver and weekend warriored my way to Whistler, we stopped at the combination Tim Hortons/Wendy’s for a bathroom break and a Frosty. But the use of the word “ashamed” is a little off-base. I’m not exactly sure why one would have ever felt ashamed to live in a community that is flanked by mountain ranges and an ocean and full of awesome people who like to connect with nature and improve their community… but sure, BCBusiness. Sure.
“Indeed, here you get to lord it over the miserable middle-class commuters who fled Vancouver for a back yard that didn’t cost more than your Lamborghini (and no, we’re not talking SUV), and the service workers of Whistler who can’t afford to even rent where the really rich people play.”
Where do I start here. The lawyers, real estate brokers, medical professionals, and other Squamish-Vancouver commuters that I know are neither what one would classify as “miserable” or “middle-class” (though, for the latter, what does it even matter?). Their commute along the Howe Sound is pretty breezy, with the only real hiccup being the dreadful Lion’s Gate Bridge (which even the Lamborghini-owning West Van crew must contend with). I wouldn’t worry about them, BCBusiness – judging by the smiles on their faces and the grass stains on their kid’s knees, they’re doing alright.
As far as the Squamish-Whistler commuters, I’m sure many of them belong to the service and hospitality industries that are the backbone of Whistler. But I know many others, too: tradespeople, teachers, filmmakers, writers, and real estate agents, to name just a few. While some of us move because of the nutso Whistler rental market (not just price-wise [$2,900 for an unfurnished 2-bed-1-bath is the most recent I can find on Craigslist] but supply-wise, too), it can also be exhausting to live in a Lala Land where we are expected to serve and entertain visitors with attitudes like that of the author of this article. Some of us like Squamish because we can find parking, seats on a patio, and other people who don’t think they’re better than the “miserable middle class” or “service workers”.
“For the price of a small, out-of-the-way townhouse in the world-renowned ski resort, here you get to be top dog.”
This one is just plain old false. A 2-bedroom (is that small?) townhome in Creekside (is that out-of-the-way?) is currently listed at $725k on the WLS.
The price point that this Britannia Beach property is listed it is comparable to the following Whistler listings (to name a few):
- And a 3.5 bedroom home with a private dock on Alta Lake, built in 2016 (listed at $4.498M):
Also, this may be overly picky, but the ranking of “Top Dog” in Squamish is not determined by the size of your home – factors such as which peaks you have bagged, whether or not you have personally named a bike trail, your finishing time in the Squamish 50, and whether you can snag a seat at Fergie’s at 9:30 AM on the Saturday of a holiday weekend hold much more clout. Of course, I can’t for sure say if the same is true for Britannia Beach – it not being Squamish, and all.
“Look at it as a stepping stone to your ski-in, ski-out mountaintop cabin; get in now and let the escalating Squamish prices lift you up where you belong.”
May I presume, BCBusiness, that you believe you belong in Whistler? If so, I hate to be the one to tell you – but prices there are on the rise, too. By the time your Britannia Beach home has appreciated to an amount you deem acceptable, all you’ll be able to afford in Whistler is (gasp!) an out-of-the-way small townhome in Creekside.
“Meanwhile, feel free to invite your (much wealthier) friends over for après drinks and nibbles on their way back to town—they’ll be so glad to avoid the washroom line at Tim Hortons, they’re bound to wait until they are at least back on the Sea-to-Sky before wrinkling their noses at your B-list postal code.”
See, sentences like this are why I am not exactly sure whether or not this article is a satire. It just packs a lot of meanness into very few lines. Let me break it down:
- First of all, I am so very grateful that my baller city friends are still able to tolerate my company, despite the fact that I live in Squamish, which obviously means that I make no money at all and must be a very awful person (a miserable middle-classer, right?)
- I am also flattered that my rich friends prefer snacking on my homemade bread to the overpriced and underwhelming nachos of the patios of Whistler. Of course, I wasn’t up on the mountain enjoying a few runs (I must be too poor to ski – I live in Squamish!) – I was busy arranging a charcuterie board and cocktails for my elite skiing friends. I hope they tip!
- BCBusiness author, as someone who once skied 38 days as a weekend warrior and stopped at the Squamish Timmy Hos nearly every single time, both on the way up and on the way down, let me assure you that I NEVER had to wait in line for the bathroom. The efficiency of that place is astounding. Can I get a fact check here?
- My B-list postal code is such an embarrassment to me that I rented a PO BOX in Vancouver so that when I send my Christmas cards, my return address doesn’t reveal my true self to my friends (who are royalty and who care about such things). [end sarcasm – seriously, postal codes?!?!?!?!?!?!?!]
“The hidden extras: Sea view, self-contained nanny quarters, geothermal concrete floors, security system, just up the road from Mountain Woman’s legendary burgers. Take that, Whistler!”
You forgot about the mine museum, dear author!
In conclusion, here is my advice to you, BCBusiness: you’re not Mad Magazine (or even Dog Lotion). Reading this article was like watching a first-timer crash and burn on amateur night at Yuk Yuks. If you would like to discover Squamish, I’d be happy to show you around and fill you in on how there’s more to it than the fact that it is not Whistler.
Of course, you’ll have to find a Britannia Beach resident to give you the real scoop there.