A Chinese development group intends to breathe life into a B.C. ghost town.
Consultant Mike Mills said the Heibei Group is currently deciding what they are going to do with Bradian, which is in the Bridge River Valley about two hours north of Whistler and three-and-a-half hours from Vancouver.
Mills, who is a builder from Delta, was engaged by the Heibei Group to evaluate Bradian after the story that the town was up for sale came up last year in the media.
Bradian was planned to be a suburb of the neighbouring community of Bralorne, home to a still-functioning gold operation.
The town was never built out — and now Mills said Heibei is deciding its future.
“I think, ultimately, it will be recreation,” he said.
Mills said there is lots of snow in the area but it’s not that cold, making it ideal for winter sports like snowmobiling or skiing. There are several lakes nearby for fishing, boating, white-water rafting and swimming, along with plenty of scenic areas to hike.
Bradian had been on the market since 2010 for $995,000. It was sold Dec. 29 to the Heibei Group by Tom and Katherine Gutenberg, who had been using it as a summer retreat since they purchased it in 1997.
The little town was spared the fate of another nearby hamlet, Pioneer, that was levelled when its mine closed.
The Bradian sale included title to the entire town, which has 22 buildings on 50 acres.
Included is everything from the streets to hydrants, with hydro power and telephone lines — although the services will require upgrading.
“It needs infrastructure work,” said Mills.
In particular will be work to water lines and sanitation, because the community formerly used septic fields.
“Before that, you need to know what your intention is,” he said of the planning process for Bradian.
But Mills thinks Bradian will see a “significant difference in a year.”
John Lovelace of Sutton Seafair Realty was involved in the Bradian deal and thinks it could be the beginning of more foreign investment in his specialty of rural B.C. property.
He has another deal pending with Chinese buyers for a blueberry farm in Pitt Meadows and said investors from China are looking beyond simply buying homes in the Vancouver area.
“They are looking further afield,” said Lovelace. “They’re looking at not so much of securing their investment but ‘Are there other things we can do in B. C.?’
“I think it bodes well for the areas of rural B.C. that need the investment.”
Those investments could include farms, like the blueberry property, or the more northern areas of the province where wheat, oats and barley are grown, or even another unique property Lovelace is handling: the Flying U Ranch on Green Lake in the Cariboo.
The ranch is being offered in two parcels, with a 2,000-acre grazing area for cattle selling for $3 million while the ‘dude’ ranch portion of the property, which is on 292 acres, is availabile for $3.25 million.
But the dude ranch, which includes horses for trail riding and the whole cowboy experience, also comes with 44 buildings, including a saloon, a general store and a museum.