The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) says it recently received the largest donation in its 25-year history — a bequest valued at over $8.8 million, including three properties in Greater Victoria.
The estate of Joan Alston-Stewart gifted the conservancy adjacent properties spanning more than eight acres of wetland, Garry oak and Douglas-fir habitat located near Blenkinsop Lake and the Lochside Trail in Saanich.
The conservancy says 1074 Donwood Dr. (4.94 acres), 4386 Lochside Dr. (2.14 acres) and 4394 Lochside Dr. (1.00 acre) each consist of single- or dual-family dwellings with “significant” greenspace.
According to TLC, the combined value of the land and buildings, as per 2022 assessments, is more than $5.3 million.
In a news release, it says it was one of 17 charities to receive bequeathed gifts from Joan, including one-third of the liquid assets of her estate — a portion valued at approximately $3.5 million.
The funds will be used to create an endowment fund with the Victoria Foundation to maintain the three properties in perpetuity, as The Abkhazi Garden, a TLC-owned heritage home and garden on Fairfield Road, also receives $40,000 from Joan’s estate.
Pre-deceased by her husband Gordon in 2017, Joan passed away on Feb. 3, 2020 at the age of 89 and had always sought to advance the biodiversity of the Blenkinsop Valley, her long-time home.
She moved to the Valley when she was a young girl and met with TLC staff years before her death to discuss her wish to protect the surrounding urban greenspace for birds and other wildlife.
“It was an honour to meet with Joan and discuss her history with the Blenkinsop Valley, as well as her vision for the future,” said Cathy Armstrong, TLC executive director, in the release.
“She was an astute investor who did her homework to ensure our organization was the right steward for her legacy,” added Armstrong.
“We are incredibly grateful for her generous donation and look forward to safeguarding the three properties she left in our care.”