TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Newlyweds Tom and Ayn Cameron stand in their new lot in Forrest on Thursday evening. They purchased the land on Thursday morning when the RM of Elton put 15 new lots up for sale. Eleven of the lots sold before 10 a.m.
Tom Cameron waited in his truck for more than 12 hours to ensure he was first in line when lots went up for sale in the RM of Elton.
After Tom and his wife Ayn found out 15 new lots were going up for sale in Forrest, the newlyweds thought it would be a perfect place to build a home and start a family.
"It’s been a long time since I’ve had to sit in a vehicle for 12 hours not doing anything," Tom said. "I would do it over in a heartbeat."
The lots —ranging in size from less than one acre to two acres and in price from $76,000 to $99,500 — went up for sale yesterday at 8 a.m. By 10 a.m., 11 of them had been sold. Lots were being sold at the RM of Elton municipal office on a first-come, first-serve basis, and Tom made sure he was first in line on Thursday morning.
"I thought there’s no way we’re going to pass this up now," he said.
Corynne Hutton and her two-year-old daughter were behind Tom in line around 8:30 a.m., but didn’t manage to get the lot they wanted. Hutton said the schools in Forrest are what drew her and her husband to the area.
"We grew up in the Rolling River School Division and we just like smaller towns, smaller schools," Hutton said.
Despite Hutton having six people ahead of her in line, the Brandon family still purchased a lot and plan to move in sometime this fall.
"Our goal is to be in by fall so my son will start kindergarten out there," she said.
Kathleen Steele, the RM of Elton’s chief administrative officer, said she thought it would be a busy day, but the number of sales far exceeded her expectations.
"I wasn’t expecting 11 lots to go on the first morning," Steele said, adding she believes the rest will be scooped up over the next couple of months.
RM of Elton Reeve Jim Boyd said the quick sales are "really encouraging" for the growing rural community.
"We couldn’t be happier," Boyd said. "We got a great community and I think this is just a testament to how good the schools are and the people are in this district.
"We put a lot of hard work into developing it and to see that type of response was really gratifying."
The Camerons, who were married last month and currently reside in Brandon, had been house hunting for almost a year before deciding they wanted to build on a piece of land outside the city.
After purchasing the 0.92-acre corner lot in Forrest the couple had their sights on, Tom said he couldn’t wait to tell his wife.
Instead of sharing the good news with her over the phone, Tom showed up at Waverly Park School, where Ayn works as a kindergarten teacher.
"I just kind of showed up there and surprised her with the receipt from the municipal office," Tom said.
The couple is looking at a bungalow-style, ready-to-move home for their property that they plan to move into next fall. With the move, the couple will also be closer to Tom’s parents, who have lived in Forrest since 1985.
Although some work will have to completed before the new land owners can start building, they should be able to start construction some time in the spring, Boyd said.
Boyd added there are still some lots available in the village of Justice and there’s some interest in building a housing development in the village of Douglas.
The RM of Elton’s business park has also recently been expanded to accommodate more businesses.
"We not only want to have more people come to town, we have room for businesses to come out too," he said. "We’re almost bucking the trend in a lot of rural communities where our community is strong and we’re actually growing. It’s a good sign."
Steele said the first time Elton put a number of two-acre lots up for sale was in 1994.
They put eight lots up for sale, and it took almost two years to sell all of them.
She added that the majority of the purchasers Thursday were from Brandon. An updated map of the lots still available for sale can be seen on the RM of Elton’s website at rmofelton.ca.
Tom said he and Ayn are looking forward to starting a family and laying down some roots.
"We’re in it to win it," he said. "We’re going to be there forever."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 10, 2014