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Pointed bid made for waterfront park

Arbutus trees add colour to the Sansum Point property, which faces Salt Spring Island between Maple and Genoa Bays. The Land Conservancy and the Cowichan Land Trust have joined forces in a bid to acquire the site. A purchase deal is in place, but nearly $600,000 must be raised for the deal to close. - courtesy TLC
Arbutus trees add colour to the Sansum Point property, which faces Salt Spring Island between Maple and Genoa Bays. The Land Conservancy and the Cowichan Land Trust have joined forces in a bid to acquire the site. A purchase deal is in place, but nearly $600,000 must be raised for the deal to close.
— image credit: courtesy TLC

$595,000.

That’s how much more the Cowichan Land Trust and The Land Conservancy must raise by June 30 to complete an option to purchase Sansum Point on North Cowichan’s Stoney Hill Peninsula.

The $1.85-million oceanfront eco-jewel would become a 128-acre park within the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the purchase project’s biggest partner.

The CVRD’s chipping $1.2 million of taxpayer cash from its parkland acquisition fund into the buy cheered by politicians and eco-folks Tuesday at Maple Bay Yacht Club.

“Imagine what this park will mean to our community in 20 or 50 years,” said CVRD chairwoman Gerry Giles.

She noted her regional board needs to partner with citizen groups to buy all 11 park sites — less Stocking Lake bought about a year ago — targeted in the CVRD’s parks master plan.

That wish list includes Sansum Point owned by the U.S.-based Sterling family.

CLT member Roger Hart understands the urgent teamwork.

“It’s just over two years since we made a presentation to CVRD parks suggesting we partner to acquire this property.

“We’re absolutely delighted with this partnership to move this forward.”

Hart’s also happy CLT members decided to use $50,000 bequeathed by Charles Poole to help buy sensitive Sansum Point that’s loaded with wildlife, wetlands, bluffs, beaches and forests.

Those trees, said North Cowichan Mayor Tom Walker, include stands of rare coastal Douglas fir he’d like protected.

That’s why Walker supported Sansum Point’s fundraising drive, but stopped short of guaranteeing seashore timber in the nearby municipal forest reserve won’t be logged.

“It’s a working forest — it could be,” said Walker.

However, visual-quality objectives will be used by staff and contractors concerning that block of public timberland, he said.

“I can say you will not see one house in any of our municipal forests,” said Walker.

He hopped aboard the fundraising eco-bandwagon with Giles and CVRD parks chairman Mel Dorey.

Teamwork between the CVRD, the two land trusts and North Cowichan “speeds up democracy,” said Dorey.

“These properties come up for sale, and you have to move on them.”

TLC is finding and coordinating tax-deductible donations from companies and citizens — such as Friday’s large donation made anonymously.

TLC hit pay dirt to buy Cowichan’s Keating Farm Estate, TLC’s Cowichan River Cabin site, plus other B.C. eco-properties including the Sooke Potholes.

Maple Bay’s Barb Stone said her community members believe saving pristine Sansum Point — that could see regional trails added — lures boaters aplenty.

Brian Farquhar, CVRD’s parks manager, said local Native bands will be consulted to ensure protection of any possible Sansum Point middens and other sacred sites.

TLC boss Bill Turner explained future plans include parkland spanning Sansum Narrows and Salt Spring Island.

“Water doesn’t divide, it connects.”

Hart hinted at another tract the CLT aims to help buy as parkland, while Walker urged folks to dig deep.

“We need about $600,000 by June so we’ve got to get at it.”

To donate, visit conservancy.bc.ca or call 1-877-485-2422.

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