Organizers of a grassroots fundraising effort are celebrating after raising enough money to purchase 75 acres on Salt Spring for a new park.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, the Salt Spring Community Park campaign reported the initiative to raise $850,000 towards the purchase of forested land on Hwmet’utsum (Mount Maxwell) reached its goal ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline, thanks to a final push and a generous grant from the Salt Spring Island Foundation, enabled by funds from the trust established for the estate of the late Susan Bloom.
Plans for the property include the establishment of a multi-use trail network for horseback riding, mountain biking, disc golfing and hiking. Managed and shared use of the park will secure conservation of the area while encouraging outdoor recreation.
Moving this land from private to community ownership will create the largest contiguous tract of protected land in B.C.’s Southern Gulf Islands. Naturalist and campaign supporter Briony Penn said the purchase would safeguard the forest from further ecological degradation, development and deforestation, as well as bring “enormous benefits” to local biodiversity.
“Just as importantly,” said Penn, “it will protect a significant area capable of sequestering carbon for the next seven generations, a critical component of local efforts to combat climate change.”
Salt Spring Solutions co-chair Elizabeth FitzZaland said the goal was reached after three years of community partnership involving a coalition of community groups and stakeholders, all coming together to save the land.
“I’m so proud of how the community has jumped in at the end to get us across the finish line,” FitzZaland. “So many islanders and friends of Salt Spring Island have contributed in different ways, from cash donations to organizing events, but we owe a special thank you to Foxglove Farm and Bullock Lake Farm for hosting two recent events that made all the difference. We’re deeply grateful to the Bloom AlterEco Trust for their timely generosity in helping us complete the funding and the Salt Spring Island Foundation as our charitable partner.”
Once the purchase is finalized, the Capital Regional District’s (CRD) Parks and Recreation Commission will begin to engage the community in the development of a management plan for the land. Campaign fundraising advisor Christopher Roy said that effort was an important next step.
“Now we begin the work that meaningfully engages local Coast Salish elders and community members,” said Roy, “the environmental community, and youth — in planning, protecting and enjoying this new recreation resource on Salt Spring Island.”
Further donations received by the Salt Spring Island Foundation’s Land Protection Fund, up to and including those dated Oct. 31, will be tax receiptable and will contribute to the CRD fund for planning, designing and implementing the park.
For more information or to donate, visit the website: communitypark.ca.