Mainly forested land between French Creek, the Island Highway and Columbia Drive near Parksville is closer to remaining untouched, thus averting a decades-old plan to turn it into high-density housing.
“It was zoned by my uncle in the 1990s to be a housing development and not just a light density housing, there were about three or four five-story buildings,” said Quinn Griesdale, Director of French Creek House which owns the land.
The 9.3 hectare property is home to eagles and the nearby estuary supports 180 species of birds, 60 species of waterfowl, salmon, river otters and beaver so two local conservation groups have been fighting since 2018 to protect the forest.
“That would be a real shame if development were to happen because it’s such an ecological piece of property,” said Denise Foster of Save Estuary Land Society. “We joined with Friends of French Creek Conservation Society and approached the owner to try to come to an agreement to save the land.”
And French Creek House which owns land and buildings at the nearby marina started listening.
“It just feels like the right thing to do,” added Griesdale. “You know, us being a part of the community means that we just can’t be trying to pull every cent we can out of it and it just feels right.”
The result is a deal to sell the $5,180,000 property to the BC Parks Foundation and French Creek House also gifted $3.28 million of the price.
“That’s a really special thing when you get these places that are clearly of importance to other species,” said Andy Day, BC Parks Foundation CEO. “There aren’t many of these places that aren’t developed so to be able to protect a place like this is really special.”
“They needed some money for the sale of the land but that’s a huge gift that they’ve made to keep it as protected land,” added Foster.
Another private donation of $1,000,000 came from Dax Dasilva and his non-profit Age of Union Alliance. The founder of Lightspeed -a global commerce solution – is a British Columbian and has pledged to donate $40 million towards conservation efforts around the world.
The Regional District of Nanaimo is also kicking in $400,000.
That leaves $300,000 which the BC Parks Foundation has been crowdfunding with a deadline of April 10, which they have so far raised over 90 per cent of that goal.