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Large scale second home recreational communities in the Pacific Northwest : characteristics and potential for permanent settlement. Birtwell, R. Ian

Abstract

Recreation land sales for cottaging have recently taken on a new form, that of marketing lots on a large scale in communities which incorporate on-site recreational and community facilities. The study examines those characteristics of the communities which could create a potential for permanent settlement to occur. Seventeen major developments in the Pacific Northwest were studied, together with a review of other surveys dealing with cottaging. It was found that lots had similar service levels to regular subdivisions, and that this plus the close proximity of commercial and social facilities supplying daily needs makes the communities amenable to permanent settlement. 29 percent of the homes in the communities are occupied permanently. A full assessment of the impacts such permanency would have on regional development is premature. Possible impacts are long term diseconomies, the establishment of new settlement nodes and the subsequent dispersal of government services. The provision of land for recreational cottaging has taken on a new aspect in recent years. The concept of marketing lots in large scale second home recreational communities has been introduced into the Pacific Northwest by major developers. The integration of recreation opportunity with the home follows changing life style trends in North America. The second home recreational community has been developed as a means of tapping a growing market. The marketing requirements of these large scale land sales operations determines in part the nature of the community, and this in turn attracts a different consumer than traditional cottaging does. The communities not only cater to ‘weekend’ recreational demands, but are also providing permanent home sites. This study examines the special features that contribute to a potential for permanent settlement. The impact on regional development is the guiding rationale for undertaking the study of the potential for permanency. Seventeen major communities in British Columbia, Washington and Oregon are investigated, with data gathered from interviews, mailed questionnaires, observation, publicity brochures and government filed prospectuses. In addition, a comparative survey of other cottaging studies was undertaken. Due to constraints of time and logistics, property owners were not contacted. Second home communities are characterized by the large number of lots, high levels of lot service and on site recreation and commercial facilities. It was found that the provision of services and lots similar to those of a regular subdivision, plus the close proximity of commercial and social facilities for everyday needs makes the communities amenable to permanent settlement. Furthermore, it was found that homes built in the communities are also similar to regular homes. 29 percent of homes built in the developments are occupied permanently, and it is estimated by developers that permanency is a growing force. An assessment of the impacts that such permanency would have on regional development is premature as nearly all the communities are less than two years old. The implications for regional planning are discussed briefly. They are the possible long range local diseconomies, the establishment of new settlement nodes and the subsequent dispersal of government services. Public policy alternatives and control measures are suggested, together with further research required.

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