Pender Island parkland to stay intact after partnership deal

A key expanse of Pender Island parkland will remain intact, thanks to a partnership between the Capital Regional District and the Pender Islands Conservancy Association.

The move ensures a 1.17-hectare parcel of prime waterfront is protected and completes Brooks Point Regional Park on South Pender Island.

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In 2010, the CRD borrowed $1.65 million to purchase the 1.17-hectare parcel, which joins Brooks Point with neighbouring Gowlland Point.

Keeping the parkland in one piece is significant, said Jeff Ward, manager of planning for CRD parks.

“It’s a vision we’ve had since the late ’90s.”

However, the Pender Islands Conservancy Association had some concerns about the 2010 deal because the CRD required about a third of the cost to come from the community.

It also included an option allowing the CRD to resell the property to pay the loan.

An initial partnership was made with The Land Conservancy of B.C. to cover interest on the loan and help with fundraising. The Pender Islands Conservancy Association also got involved, raising $151,770.

The Pender Island group said that general economic challenges, along with financial issues at the TLC, prompted it to step in again with an offer to generate another $150,000 by the end of 2014 — provided the CRD would do away with the resale option and commit to keeping the park in one piece.

The CRD board accepted.

The Land Conservancy will continue to pay interest costs.

In 2000, the initial 4.3 hectares of Brooks Point was acquired and turned into a regional park.

Local organizations raised $540,000 to help buy the land and the Brooks family contributed property valued at $225,000.

The new agreement has the Pender Islands Conservancy Association, The Land Conservancy, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and the Brooks family covering 34 per cent ($940,000) of the total park cost of $2.77 million, while 66 per cent ($1.83 million) will come from the CRD’s land acquisition fund.

The park includes areas of Garry oak meadow and is home to the endangered sharp-tailed snake.

The area also is known as an excellent vantage point for watching orcas.

Pender Island’s Poets Cove Resort as well as Purdy’s Chocolates are already in fundraising mode.

A total of $20,000 for the cause has been generated through an accommodation package named for the chocolate lily, one of the many spring flowers found in the park.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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