Community lives "Off the Grid" on island near Vancouver

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150 km away from Vancouver lies a small island with a population of 400 people, living completely cut off from the modern amenities of daily life.

Lasqueti Island is a community off the coast of Vancouver Island, south-west from Texada Island, 8 km wide and 22 km long, covering a total space of 73.5 km squared. The land is not serviced by B.C. Hydro and most residents either live without electricity or find alternative sources of energy.

It is an island where life is reminiscent of an earlier century; no microwaves, televisions or flush toilets.

This is a place where elections and politics have little affect, the transit referendum noise is a distant echo from a far away land and the morning commute congestion is non-existent.

In many ways, this island life is a utopia of sorts.

While us city slickers may imagine a community of little productivity, a hippie commune with flower circles lounging in the stench of stale marijuana, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“Nobody can work a five-day week away from home because it takes three days work just to survive —  to cut firewood, to maintain power, water, and waste systems, to work in your garden to produce your food,” the community’s website states.

The lifestyle echoes the earlier days of hunting and gathering and labouring for quality of life – before we had gardeners or grocery stores or big-box retail chains catering to our every need.

But the amount of work it takes to put a meal on the table doesn’t mean education isn’t valued. Statistics Canada found Lasqueti Island to be the most highly educated community in British Columbia. The residents are physicists, engineers, published authors, professional musicians, artists and consultants in well-regarded industries, to name a few.

One’s past career or networth is practically moot; according to True Activist, Lasqueiti has very little economy or need for money. There is one bar, one cafe and a “free” shop where people can take or leave items at their will. There isn’t a grocery store,  but people often keep chickens, fish and grow their own food.

While the community seems quite tight-knit, they don’t appear very welcoming of new residents. A website FAQ section humourously states that “only nice people” are welcome, It also hints at their desire to stop new people from moving in. Understandably, this community relies on each other as much as we in the urban world rely on our taps to keep flowing – they have to be sure the right people are moving there for the right reasons.

With a sudden surge in media attention, the Lasqueti Island community might soon be growing.

The island was featured on Global’s 16×9 series in 2012, but recently started trending around the internet. The documentary featured one man, Al, who gets his drinking water from a creek up the hill. It is not treated or filtered.

For ubanites, the drinking water – and the idea of living on Lasqueti – might be a little hard to swallow.

 


 

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Jill Slattery Jill Slattery was born and raised in Vancouver, where she also earned an Arts degree from UBC in English and Creative Writing. She is an avid TV-watcher and a shameless Taylor Swift fangirl. Jill is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. Contact her at jill@vancitybuzz.com
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