History of Arbutus Ridge and Hatch Point
History of Hatch Point and Arbutus Ridge, Canada’s First Gated Community for Active Adults
The information below has been compiled from various sources, including residents, developers, government officials, newspapers, government documents, etc. We cannot guarantee that all the information noted below is accurate. If you have information that you believe would be a good addition to this document, or if you believe that some of the information noted below is inaccurate, please send your comments to AR Administration for consideration.
The earliest inhabitants of the area around Hatch Point were the Cowichan tribes. Their territory centered around the Cowichan River and estuary. In 1859 Oliver Wells, a colonial surveyor first charted the land. However, as the land had poor agricultural potential it was not sold for many years.
The land was christened “Hatch Point” sometime during the 19th century when a wooden hatch cover from an unknown sailing vessel was found along the shore.
Hatch Point was part of the substantial land grant made at the turn of the 19th century by the Dominion Government to Robert Dunsmuir who was Vancouver Island’s coal baron. In return for the grant, Dunsmuir built the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway.
Until the early 1950’s Hatch Point remained wilderness. Then Mr. A.J. Ratcliffe of Cobble Hill came on the scene. He purchased the land and harvested trees.
In 1958 Mr. Ratcliffe sold the land to the Cowichan Copper Company (“CCC”). CCC built a deep-sea loading dock at Hatch Point, with longshoremen tying cargo freighters to a large cedar tree located on the property. CCC used the dock to ship copper concentrate from its mine located near Jordan River, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The Patrick Family Era:
In 1973 the Patrick family of Vancouver purchased the property from CCC. The purchase included 285 acres of land right up to the present-day Manley Creek Regional Park, as well as the dock loading facility. Around 1976 the Patrick family leased the property and use of its dock loading facility to Thompson Ready Mix Company (“Thompson”) of Vancouver. The land contained large gravel deposits and Thompson built a small rock crushing plant on site and then shipped the gravel to its concrete plant in Vancouver. The rock crushing plant was situated where Parkland Fuel Corp now maintains a storage facility. Hatch Point gravel was used in many projects including the construction of the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal. The Patrick family maintained a simple A-frame cottage just above the water on what is today Hatch Point Lane. This cottage remained there for a few years after the commencement of Arbutus Ridge (see picture below).
(Courtesy of Lorraine Hawe (painter), Joan & Don Thomson (owners) and Mike Dobel (photographer).
In 1981 the Patrick family sold 48 acres of land to Chevron Canada. Much of the money from this sale was later used to start the community of Arbutus Ridge. In 2017 Chevron sold this facility to Parkland Fuel Company.
Around 1983 Jim Patrick (founder of Arbutus Ridge – see picture below) started researching the need for large senior / retirement communities in Canada, based on successful retirement communities located in Washington State and Arizona. Around that time Patrick hired Ken Anderson who was active in the real estate development industry in British Columbia as his development manager.
In the early 1980s Patrick incorporated CRC Canadian Retirement Corporation (“CRC”) a company with the sole purpose of designing and building the community of Arbutus Ridge. The project would include its own water and sewage treatment plant, underground services, paved roads with lighting, 24 /7 gated security, R.V. and marine facilities, a 9-hole golf course and other amenities. By the time CRC actually started selling lots it was already 17 million dollars in debt, due to the costs associated with building the Village Square, the five display homes, as well as installing the roads and all other services.
As a condition of rezoning approval by the Cowichan Valley Regional District (“CVRD”), CRC agreed to acquire and dedicate a four-acre waterfront parcel adjacent to Manley Creek, north of the proposed Arbutus Ridge property, as a park dedication. Since developed as “Manley Creek Regional Park”, this property continues to form part of the CVRD’s regional park system.
CRC broke ground in 1984 – 85 and the first house was sold in 1987. The official Grand Opening was held on March 13, 1988. In order to maintain consistency within the community, the original plan called for one builder to build all buildings and houses. While over the years other builders have been involved, the vast majority of buildings and houses in the community were built by John Tidman Construction.
Strata Plan 1601 was incorporated as a bare-land strata in 1987. The strata plan filed at the time of incorporation included a plan for 679 lots to be registered in phases. The community, now in its completed form, comprises 3 commercial lots and 643 residential lots.
The original plan included a 9 hole golf course to be built by CRC. The plan included an option for the owners of Strata Plan 1601 to purchase the golf course when the development was completed. In 1989 CRC (the developer) re-configured the original plan to allow it to build an additional 9 golf holes. In agreeing to this idea, CRC shelved the plan to turn the course over to the owners at completion, a decision that upset some of the residents. Expansion of the golf course required the acquisition of more land. CRC obtained the Decker land across Ratcliffe Road, which was mostly pasture and is now called Arbutus Ridge “Uplands”. It accommodated three additional holes along with a new clubhouse, which was completed in 1991. Other land was obtained by leasing pasture from the neighbouring Cameron family, and it now comprises holes 4, 5, 6 and part of the 7th fairway. In 1990 the 18 hole golf course and clubhouse were completed.
In 1988 an RV and boat parking area was created on an available portion of utility land, and it continues in use today.
In 1990, CRC set up the Arbutus Ridge Development Partnership (which included CRC itself) and raised 8 million dollars by selling shares in the Partnership at a price of 5 thousand dollars each. The money raised was used to pay off the bank that help fund the initial startup costs.
A marine boom and dock were installed in 1988/89 and a breakwater was installed in 1993/94. This dock was replaced in 2018, however due to many factors was removed in 2020.
In approximately 1990 the real estate market throughout the region, including Arbutus Ridge, dropped substantially, which led to CRC running into financial difficulty. This eventually led to CRC entering into a Joint Venture Agreement with Burrard International Holdings, Inc, whereby Burrard would own a 50% interest in the assets of CRC, including the golf course. As part of this transaction all assets owned by Arbutus Ridge Development Partnership were taken over by Burrard, resulting in the original shareholders losing their investment.
Since 1992 Burrard has continued to develop the community, including installing infrastructure, building houses, and selling properties and houses.
In 1991 the covered tennis courts at the golf course were completed.
In 1994 Jim Patrick retired. He now splits his time between BC and Hawaii.
In 1994 the Strata Plan owners were offered the opportunity to purchase the golf course, however, owners at that time turned down the offer and relinquished their option to buy the golf course. The “tennis bubble” remains part of the golf club, separate from Strata Plan 1601 facilities.
Self-management of the community began in 1988 with the formation of an Advisory Council, followed the next year with a fully elected Strata Council. The community continues to be managed by a staff (paid) of 4, plus a 7 member Strata Council (all volunteers). Councilors are elected annually at the community’s AGM.
By 2015 the community was completely developed, and therefore CRC sold its interest in 3 buildings located in the Village Centre to Mr. Gerry Chaperon, who was involved in real estate. In 2020 Strata 1601 purchased those buildings from Mr. Chaperon. This marked that for the first time in its 33 year history the property owners of Strata 1601 owned everything within the community boundaries.