Pender Island’s Brooks Point park exceeds fundraising goal

The grassroots push to create Brooks Point Regional Park on South Pender Island has been finalized a year sooner than expected.

Brooks Point is coveted as one of the last pristine headlands in the southern Gulf Islands. The area is home to the endangered sharp-tailed snake, provides a prime viewing spot for orcas and features meadows of chocolate lilies and camas. It is also frequented by more than 100 species of birds.

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The effort to have a continuous stretch of parkland from Brooks Point to Gowlland Point got a key boost earlier this year when the Pender Island Conservancy Association, known as PICA, became a partner in the project with the Capital Regional District and committed to raising $150,000 by December 2014.

A $50,000 grant from Environment Canada’s Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk has put the campaign over its $300,000 goal.

A brief ceremony Wednesday at the CRD’s Victoria offices marked the completion of fundraising.

“We’re done,” said PICA’s Paul Petrie. “We can’t believe it. We’re still doing cartwheels.”

He said the grant from Environment Canada came as a surprise.

PICA had earlier donated another $152,000, before fundraising began.

The purpose of the campaign was to secure an integral piece of land that would complete the five-hectare park. “There was the spectre of losing the link that would complete the park,” Petrie said.

At the heart of the effort to preserve Brooks Point has been the tight-knit 2,400 residents of North and South Pender islands. Petrie said the all-volunteer PICA was prepared for another year of fundraising before the goal was quickly met.

The project received two legacy donations, one for $10,000 in memory of longtime Pender residents John and Dorothy Henshaw and one for $15,000 in memory of Pender resident and conservationist Leo Hamson. Also received were $10,000 from the Islands Trust Fund and $15,000 from the Habitat Acquisition Trust.

Habitat Acquisition Trust executive director Adam Taylor called Brooks Point “an ecological treasure,” while CRD regional parks committee chairwoman Susan Brice praised PICA for its pivotal role in ensuring that the site remains in its natural state for future generations.

“Now, in perpetuity, that gorgeous park will be maintained.”

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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