The small white farmhouse, surrounded by 16 hectares of farmland and forest, stands as Norma Lohbrun-ner's legacy to nature and tribute to her bird-loving husband.
But Lohbrunner's family is worried that the property, designated the Joseph Lohbrunner Farm and Bird Sanctuary, is at risk because of financial difficulties facing The Land Conservancy.
"The family has not only given up any rights to it, but the promises are not being honoured," said Jocelyn Lohbrunner, Norma and Joseph's daughter.
Lohbrunner said her mother was assured that covenants would be put into place to protect the property from development.
"After she died last October, we found there were never any covenants applied to that land."
Norma, who was 84 when she died last year, donated the farm on Lippincott Road to the TLC in 2007 as she was worried that it would be developed if split between family members.
The agreement allowed her to live in the house as long as she wanted. The TLC would be responsible for the covenant, farming the property and maintenance.
"Now they are talking about disposing of some of these parcels," Lohbrunner said.
But Alastair Craighead, TLC board chairman, said the process to get a covenant on the property is underway, and there is no intention of selling it.
"We had started the process with the Habitat Acquisition Trust, but the staff person at TLC that was doing it is no longer employed by us," he said.
Since TLC's financial problems came to a head in summer, the number of staff has been cut from 50 three years ago to 10 fulltime equivalents.
People who have a specific interest in TLC properties are worried, said Craighead, who has received calls about other properties, such as Wildwood Forest, an eco-forestry site near Cedar.
"There's no way we are going to be letting Wildwood go to anything other than what was originally intended," Craighead said.
The group hopes that covenants can be established and monitored more efficiently, using volunteers when possible, he said.
"We hope to have more dispersed responsibility instead of a centralized control model. It's one of the reasons we have had such high costs in the past," Craighead said.
Finding a more realistic management model is one of the topics to be addressed at the TLC annual meeting today, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Michèle Pujol Room at the University of Victoria's Student Union Building.
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