B.C. conservationists scramble to raise $1.7 million to buy island, Report

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B.C. conservationists scramble to raise $1.7 million to buy island, Report
B.C. conservationists scramble to raise $1.7 million to buy island, Report

The B.C. Parks Foundation is raising money to try to buy an Island off the coast of Nanoose.

Each year, the foundation chooses one place to concentrate its fundraising efforts. This year it picked the 40-hectare West Ballenas Island in the Strait of Georgia, “one of B.C.’s most threatened environments,” according to the foundation’s fundraising literature.

While the island would normally be out of reach financially, the foundation was able to reduce the asking price from $2.2 million to $1.7 million. The foundation now has until Nov. 17 to secure the remaining money.

Nanaimo and Area Land Trust said in a letter to its members Wednesday that thanks to an anonymous individual who has offered to provide matching funding toward the purchase, the amount of money needed is “a more manageable $850,000,” and notes that more than half that sum has been raised. NALT said its board of directors has agreed to help promote the B.C. Parks Foundation’s acquisition campaign.

West Ballenas Island is described in the B.C. Parks Foundation’s literature as “an undeveloped island gem and is listed as one of the top 10 most biodiverse sites in the Gulf Islands. It is home to abundant bird populations, rare plants, threatened species and marine life.”

The West Ballenas Island is in a prime location for human use, says the foundation. Part of Snaw-Naw-As First Nation territory and popular with local and international boaters visiting the surrounding archipelago, many people are not aware the island is privately held and zoned for development into a number of individual parcels. The island is the only private non-park parcel remaining in a proposal to establish the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago as a 4,900-hectare marine park.

“As a partner of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region, the Town of Qualicum Beach is excited at the prospect of protecting this island for future generations, and for the further development of the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago conservation area,” said Mayor Brian Wiese.

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