A group of creditors is ready to forgive about $2 million owed by The Land Conservancy of B.C. in order to help preserve ecologically important properties.
In addition, a coalition of other trusts is banding together with a proposal to pay $1.5 million to buy properties from The Land Conservancy and protect them, said John Shields, the organization’s operations manage.
Further details are not being immediately released.
The non-profit organization is also seeking a developer to buy $1.5 million worth of housing density under a proposal that would keep the Abkhazi Garden on Fairfield Road intact. The Garden’s current zoning allows for
12 townhouses and a home to be built on an adjoining lot.
Instead, the idea is to sell that housing development potential to a developer to build on another location. The proposal would require City of Victoria approval following public hearings.
These are some of the pieces of a complex puzzle the Victoria-based conservancy is trying to arrange in a plan that would allow it to climb out of a debt of $8 million while preserving as many of its properties as possible.
More than a year has passed since The Land Conservancy sought court approved protection from creditors. Wolrige and Mahon, the court-appointed monitor, is asking for an extension to April 30.
The Land Conservancy owns about 50 properties, with ecological and heritage value, around the province. Some have been sold and others are expected to be sold to pay debts.
The process has been complicated by legal fights about what should happen with particular sites. Many properties have their own group of advocates, who do not necessarily agree with The Land Conservancy plans.
A court case saw The Land Conservancy lose the Binning House in West Vancouver after a challenge over a will. Families of former owners and part-owners of land are also in disputes with the organization.
One group working with The Land Conservancy is the Ross Bay Villa Society, which has raised $88,000 toward its $130,000 goal. The society is hoping to pay off the mortgage and take ownership of the partly restored heritage house from The Land Conservancy.
Debt consists of about $3 million to secured creditors, $1.5 million to professionals such as the monitor and lawyers, and $3.5 million to unsecured creditors. Secured creditors will be paid in full, Shields said.
A meeting of creditors was held this month to find out if there was interest in giving the organization more time to pay or in forgiving all or part of its debts with the goal of staving off sales of important properties. A letter was also sent to all unsecured creditors.
The amount that unsecured creditors appear willing to forgive works out to about $2 million, under the formula set out in federal legislation for a proposal to succeed.
A plan outlining the creditors’ willingness to forgive some of the debt will go before the Supreme Court on Feb. 23. Shields is hoping the monitor will support it. If the court agrees, the proposal will go to the creditors for a meeting, likely to be held March 30.