From Whistler to Sun Peaks-Some homeowners shift to interior

Village Walk seen from the air. Photo Dom Koric

Liz Forster, managing broker at Sotheby’s Realty International, said she has seen an increase in buyers moving from Whistler to Sun Peaks since the summer of 2016.

“A lot who are looking at buying in Whistler get priced out or change their mind and say it’s too busy,” she said. “People are shopping resorts like Big White and Silver Star but are choosing Sun Peaks eventually.”

Dawn Zandstra and her family are making the jump to Sun Peaks after owning a home in Whistler since 1995.

They visited Sun Peaks the same year and even purchased property on Sundance Drive in 1999. But the lack of a school made it unrealistic for them to stay after the birth of their two sons.

They kept their property in Whistler as a second home while travelling. She said she appreciated the outdoor lifestyle and how quiet the village was in the summer months.
“We had all the wonderful facilities Whistler has now without the huge visitor numbers. Whistler was at that time a very relaxed mountain destination, in which you always felt privileged to live.”

But over the years their sanctuary began to change. Zandstra said they didn’t begin to notice an increase in visitors until 2003 when it became difficult to get dinner reservations.
“The locals suddenly didn’t feel that the town was quite so much theirs anymore.”

When preparing for the Winter Olympics, Zandstra said the community pulled together and was proud to showcase their home, but a few years later it was just too crowded for her.
“It wasn’t until around 2012 that things changed dramatically and the town basically became overrun year round. Now it feels claustrophobic, the trails are full, the town is bursting with people.”

During the Vancouver Olympics the family began to visit Sun Peaks more. Zandstra described it as “a wonderful antidote to the crowds of Whistler.”

Recently they began to look for a Sun Peaks property which would be used as second home. She said they wanted space and to be close to the village.

When the Village Walk development was announced in September 2016 they liked the look, location and flexible layout of the homes.

Forster said Zandstra and other buyers making the move say Sun Peaks is like what Whistler used to be when the first bought around 25 years ago and now they are frustrated by the crowds, sometimes describing it as an amusement park. Five buyers in the new development are from the Lower Mainland.

She added buyers like Zandstra are just one piece of the growth at Sun Peaks. While most buyers are Canadian, a growing per cent are international buyers from Asia, Australia and the U.S. looking for vacation properties or rental homes.