If you have driven by the Britannia Beach community lately, you will have noticed it is evolving.
From its early days as a copper mine town to a residential area with a mine attraction to soon becoming a commercial hub and growing community anchored by Britannia Mine Museum, Britannia Beach has changed with the times.
Currently, Phase 2 of a new Britannia Beach Townhomes development is underway.
All told, with combined phases, there will eventually be 73 townhouses.
This phase includes 20 two and three-bedroom plus den townhomes, ranging in size from 1,500 to 1,700 square feet.
Ten of these are "‘end homes" with double car garages, and all homes come with outdoor patios.
Half of the available homes during Phase 2 have rooftop decks with views of the Howe Sound.
Phase one has 30 units, two of which aren't yet available because they are display homes.
Homeowners will be able to start moving into some of the units in 2023.
"I would say that this whole project is going to be done by the end of 2024," said Eric Andreasen, Adera’s senior VP of sales.
Maintaining heritage buildings
Also part of the project is a “heritage artisanal village.” The site’s historic older buildings are being restored and updated to modern standards and will eventually become part of a commercial hub.
The hub will include a grocery store, brewery, restaurants, adventure tours, affordable daycare, bakeries, and a variety of other retail shops.
The heritage upgrades are time-consuming and detailed, as special care has to be taken with each element, including carefully replacing each window frame, Andreasen said.
More development in the corridor?
Andreasen said he understands that the news of more development in the Sea to Sky may concern some locals, given the pace of growth in Squamish in recent years.
In response, he notes that 73 homes are not that many, overall.
He also notes that some buyers will be local residents.
Two already are.
“The first buyers at Britannia Beach, they’ve been waiting for this for like 20 years,” he said.
"The interest again, is very strong. And it's from people that are from North Van to Whistler, the ones that are primarily interested that are buying. We've got a few people that have used to live in the neighbourhood, but the funny thing is, it's all people that are very familiar with that location. They want to be there. They've been waiting for a long, long time."
Each townhome will be priced in the $1-million range, depending on the size.
"For the size of home, it's a good value compared to anywhere in the Lower Mainland or the Vancouver area or even Surrey for that matter," Andreasen said.
He said that the rising cost of homes in the increasingly sought-after corridor and beyond is a result of many factors.
"The people that own the land in the first place charge more money for the land, and that just inherently gets passed on," he said, adding that rising construction costs and supply chain juggernauts have added to the sticker price of homes, too.
"Costs are skyrocketing," he said.
"It's not like it's a magic thing where the developers just grabbing all the money. The developers [are] trying to make a living, obviously, yeah, but the reality is, is that there's always a number of different elements that go into this whole process."
What about traffic?
Andreasen said he doesn’t think the townhomes or commercial hub will significantly increase traffic on the highway.
He believes many of the folks stopping by to eat, drink or visit the shops will be those already going through the corridor to Squamish or Whistler.
"I think that people are going to Whistler will say, 'Hey, we're gonna stop at Britannia Beach.' And they might not leave Britannia Beach because…it'll be like its own little experience," he said.
He also noted that folks who live in Britannia Beach now may not have to travel as much as there will be supplies nearby in the commercial hub.
"You're going to have this revived and revitalized town that was original from the area that's been relocated and is going to serve as a commercial hub, which is part of…this serious attraction for the people not just in Britannia Beach, but in Britannia, and in the corridor itself."
To learn more, go to the project’s website.