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Lots at Britannia Beach ‘sold’ in four days

Mining town about to be transformed through real estate development, mine clean up



If it weren’t for the mine it would be easy to miss.

Unlike many of the other communities along the Sea to Sky Highway, for almost a century Britannia Beach, the "front door to Squamish", has remained largely untouched by land developers.

The houses at Britannia Beach were originally for miners who, at one time, worked on the largest copper mine in the Commonwealth. Then, in the 1950s, workers building Highway 99 moved in.

It was a ramshackle town thrown together to house a bunch of people who were there to work, not play.

Back then no one thought the land might actually return some serious business of its own.

But all that changed earlier this month when MacDonald Development Corporation, the "landlord" at Britannia Beach, received offers on 91 new lots in four days. The total value is nearly $25 million. Sales of the properties won’t close until next spring.

Meanwhile, the residents of Britannia Beach also have until June next year to decide whether they will buy or rent their existing homes, but at press time 33 of the 105 residential lots had been spoken for by the residents who live on them.

There have been other developers come and go at Britannia Beach but Macdonald Developments Corporation, or MDC, have brokered a solid deal with the community and the result is shaping into something that should benefit everyone.

According to Jerry Bordian of MDC, by June next year Britannia Beach should have "new water, new sewage and new hydro, electrical and cable lines, which will be put underground."

There should also be new roads and landscaping that will reshape the town into a modern neighbourhood.

Another mitigating factor in the development of Britannia Beach is that the provincial government, in particular Natural Resources Canada, is working to turn the mine from an "eyesore" to a unique tourist attraction that showcases Canada’s sustainable mining techniques.

This project has five stages and if enough funding is forthcoming then by 2008 Britannia Beach could also have a mine site that’s been cleaned and revamped to include a raft of features and a research facility.

Bordian said his company had worked closely with the provincial government but he also praised the residents for their involvement in the redevelopment.

"We did have a good working relationship with the province because we were hoping to be part of the Britannia solution," said Bordian.

"The residents have also worked hard and the Britannia Beach committee has done a good job with the community working on building schemes and rezoning bylaws and all the other issues.