James Island owned by billionaire Craig McCaw lost in value, but remains the most valuable property in the region and the third most valuable property in British Columbia at $56,747,000 as of July 1, 2019 (Photo courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty).

James Island off Sidney lost value, but remains most valuable on Vancouver Island

BC Assessment lists the island’s value at $56,747,000, a figure eclipsed only by two Vancouver homes

An island near Sidney, and owned by American billionaire Craig McCaw, has lost value, but remains the most valuable property in the region and the third-most valuable property in British Columbia.

The latest figures from BC Assessment peg the value of James Island at $56,747.000 as of July 1, 2019, down from the previous figure of $56,757.000. The publicly available assessment notice does not explain the drop in value.

Tina Ireland, assessor with BC Assessment, Vancouver Island Region, said she could not speak about specific properties, but rather general trends. “The general trend is a softening of values, and in many cases, seeing a reduction in values over last year,” she said.

This said, James Island remains one of the most valuable properties in British Columbia, retaining its third place from last year behind two single-family residences in Vancouver — 3085 Point Grey Rd. valued at $64.946.000 and 4704 Belmont Ave. valued at $58,728.000.

Forbes lists McCaw’s net worth at $1.8 billion (US), good enough for 1281st spot on the magazine’s list of billionaires. The wireless pioneer occupied the 358th place on Forbes’ Fortune 400 list in 2015. He dropped off the list in 2016.

The 770-acre parcel is the second largest privately owned island in the region and the most expensive acreage. It features a 4,500-square-foot main house, six guest homes, a private airstrip and an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus, according to a recent article in Discovery Magazine, the in-house publication of Discovery Land Company.

The Arizona-based company specializes in building private, luxury residential communities and resorts and formed a partnership with McCaw to develop “fewer than 100 or so housing sites” on lots ranging in size from two to five acres.

The development would likely be one of the company’s smaller developments, the article states.

RELATED: Billionaire enters deal with developer over James Island near Sidney

McCaw purchased the island in 1994 from a developer who was planning a subdivision of more than 300 houses, according to Discovery’s article. A explosives plant operated on the island between 1913 and 1978 and McCaw spent more than $5 million removing remnants left by the plant from the island.

The Tsawout First Nation launched a lawsuit last year against Canada and B.C., suing for the return of the island. The lawsuit alleges James Island was part of the 1852 treaty with then-Governor James Douglas.


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