The Bottoms

There used to be family who lived in the valley bottom beside the salmon beds. Mosquitoes, swamp, their house flooded every year in high water. They also had the train tracks running right beside their house.

The CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) came to them, said they wanted to twin the track and they would give them above market value for their place.

The property owner said, no. The CPR countered with a better offer and he still said, no.

Negotiations went on for awhile without the home owner budging. The CPR finally built the twin rail on the other side of his house. The opposite side was out of the question due to the flow of the Columbia River. He and his family lived there for the rest of their time, trains running on either side of them.

Some locals thought they were nuts, others thought good for them for standing their ground.

***

Lisa and I headed north on the highway today. It was peaceful after Radium. Not much traffic. We stopped in Edgewater, Brisco and Spillimacheen. We stopped and bought some smoked meat and Gorgonzola cheese to have for lunch. Absolutely delicious. We picked up a few plants at a roadside nursery even though the garden is full. It was a nice outing.

Lisa asked me on the way back if I still liked where we live.

We live in town and things are changing by the minute. When developers started putting up condos they looked out of place. Now our place, without an 8′ fence, on a big lot with a garden looks out of place.

***

A few years ago the Mayor stopped by my place to tell me our place, as the town grows, will be the next to be zoned commercial.

He was a snivelling little bastard who’s claim to fame was captaining the local Jr B hockey team to a championship.

His point was, sell now and get out of Dodge. He also didn’t like me very much and took satisfaction in telling me the score.

Once he gave up small town politics, he counted his money, cashed in favours and got the hell out of town.

***

Perhaps we are like the family that lived by the tracks. Refusing to leave, stubborn, while the place takes on a different life, changing. Sometimes I feel like the trains are running on either side. But where do you go?

Real estate

A male Western Meadowlark, does it’s best, giving the sky shit while trying to get laid.

Lisa had a late start this morning. We spotted a few Meadowlarks and Ospreys, while heading into the bush. Less snow than the other day. Willow and I walked down the mountain getting muddy.

***

Real estate is going crazy in the valley with many listing selling the same day they hit the market.The property I grew up on has just been listed again.

I come from a long line of men that buy high and sell low. There truth is I’ve always felt the same regardless of my bank account. With that said, Lisa and and I have been lucky enough to have never seen our kids go hungry.

I have tried to instil in my children that money can give you freedom and nice things. I’ve done this mostly by posing as a negative example. Believe me a negative example is just as powerful as a positive one.

My brother and sisters sold our family property and house after my parents passed away many years ago. We sold it for a price recommended by the realtor. It sold the day before it hit the market. The realtor made more money on the deal than any of us did.

It was bought by a couple small time local developers. Lisa and I knew them well. Our kids even went to school together. We knew them for what they were. I would run into them here and there and they would say how they were going to turn into a Bed & Breakfast with nature paths around the property. In short a bunch of bullshit. Which was fine with me. The only thing that bothered me was that they thought I was stupid enough to buy their shit.

After sitting on the property they sold the property for a cool $200,000 + profit. Not a bad take and who can blame them.

The second Alberta developer had grand plans, buying the 3 adjacent properties and proposing a large 10 story resort.

The Mayor and town council of the day was all too happy to rezone the property salivating over the taxable business they promised. Of course it was, as well, bullshit.

They kicked the renters out of old family home and left it unlocked and vacant. Its turned into a crack house. Police were called often. Nobody complained to the Developer because the promises they made were still in play.

It was heart wrenching to watch the home we grew up in being abused in such a way. I called the developer myself and told them to board the place up. I had a newspaper at the time and wrote editorials about corporate responsibility, that did not endure me to our advertisers that were waiting on the developer to deliver on the 10 story hotel that would put Invermere on the map.

I remember going down to the house late at night and walking through it. It was like I was a ghost. The inside was graffitied, garbage everywhere, crack heads had started a fire in the fireplace and burnt part of the mantle, a cedar plank from a washed out bridge in the Palliser my father and I found and spent days sanding by hand.

There were bodies in every corner passed out among garbage and feces. It crossed my mind, just briefly, to bash their skulls in. It would have been easy, but the truth was I was angrier at the developer for letting this happen.

I do have a regret. I gave it a great deal of thought, over the year the house was used as a crack house, I considered getting the derelicts out and burning the place down. Again it would have been easy. The only reason I didn’t was I knew the fireman and first responders would have to charge in to try and save the people who were using it.

Eventually, after many phone calls, I shamed the developers into tearing the house down. These people and our own Mayor and Council were some of the worst people I have ever had to deal with. Absolutely blinded by their own ambition and the pipe dreams sold to them.

***

Regardless, of that history. Our house was a place of love, flawed at times, but nothing, looking over the sun coming up over the lake, or walking into the surrounding bush couldn’t cure.

***

The property, thanks to the previous developer is zoned for just about anything, condos, commercial, multi or single dwelling even a 10 story hotel. The realtor I talked to said they expect it to sell to a wealthy Albertan looking for a lake view. There is no shortage of those guys. Guaranteed, like usual in the valley, they will care less about the history that came before.

***

The property is offered for 1.2 million. It’s not for me. I buy high and sell low.