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Pit Bull Island - Some Good News

Hollygirl
March 27th, 2008, 09:30 AM
Pit Bull Island
Calgary-area veterinarians buy B.C. paradise
Joel Kom, Calgary Herald
Published: Friday, March 07, 2008
What started as an advertisement on the back of a sailing magazine has turned into an island paradise for three Calgary-area veterinarians.
The trio has closed a $2.19-million deal for Rabbit Island, a 14.5-hectare craggy and treed piece of British Columbia in the Strait of Georgia that will soon be home to pit bulls rescued from one of the most devastating hurricanes in memory.
Pilar Gosselin, who bought the island with her partner, Dave Brace, and their friend, Dave Szentimrey, said the three wanted something as far away from their stressful jobs as they could get -- though Brace initially had other ideas.
"His dream was living on a boat," she said from her Canmore home. "I told him I wouldn't do that. So this was a bit of a compromise. It's a boat that doesn't sink."
For the 40-year-old Gosselin, the island will be a haven for some of the dogs she rescued from the havoc wreaked by hurricane Katrina.
She has seven dogs -- four of them pit bulls -- that survived the storm.
"It's like a pit bull moat almost," she said of the island. "There's no neighbours there, so (the dogs) can't cause any trouble."
Brace is looking forward to boating around the island, she said, while Szentimrey, a veterinarian in Calgary, is close to retiring and relishing the chance to go windsurfing and kayaking.
They're bent on maintaining the integrity of the ecologically delicate property, she said.
She and Brace own several properties in Canmore that have shot up in value -- something that helped them afford the island.
None of the buyers have children, she added.
The island comes with some add-ons. It has a 900-square-foot main lodge, four cabins that sleep six each, a bathhouse, solar and wind power and its own desalination plant that turns seawater into drinking water.
"It's kind of like camp," Gosselin said.
You can get to the island by water-taxi or float plane from nearby Nanaimo.
Realtor Kurt Nielsen of Courtenay, B.C., who brokered the deal for the trio and the college, said the island is the second most-expensive property he's sold.
The other was a $5-million slice of waterfront -- also bought by an Alberta couple.
About half of the high-priced properties he sells nowadays are bought by Albertans, he said, something that's in part attributable to WestJet Airline's recent launch of direct flights to Comox on Vancouver Island.
"We're getting a lot of Albertans who are retiring or about to retire," he said.
Gosselin, who plans on driving out instead of flying so that her dogs can come along, isn't planning on hanging up her white jacket anytime soon, she said.
But when she does, the island -- about 80 kilometres north of Vancouver -- will be a perfect place to go.
"It's so pristine, just the isolation of it appeals to us," she said. "It's absolutely beautiful out there."
The three bought the island from California's Orange Coast College, which received the land as a donation in 2002.
The California yachtsman had been using it for nearly a decade as a family retreat. The college had hoped to turn the island -- said to be home to a unique species of grasshopper that gets up to five centimetres long -- into a field research station.
But the maintenance costs started climbing, leading the college foundation to put it up for sale, said Doug Bennett, the group's executive director.
After an initial deal with a Vancouver man fell through, the island went back on the market in December.
That's when Gosselin's group started to show interest.
jkom@theherald.canwest.com

The Calgary Herald 2008