Conservation covenants: an important task for the SCCA

by Jason Herz, SCCA Chair

The SCCA was granted the right to hold conservation covenants under Section 219 of the Land Titles Act. In the fall of 2010, the Sunshine Coast Regional District inquired as to whether the SCCA would consider holding such a covenant on Cliff Gilker Park.

The request was brought about by people’s comments during the development of the Cliff Gilker Management Plan, which was prepared in 2007, and more recently reaffirmed in the Roberts Creek OCP process. The board and our executive directors felt that this was a great opportunity to merge the wishes of the community with our mandate for the protection of biodiversity.

Upon review of the original covenant presented by the SCRD, it was decided that we would attempt a rewrite to make the document more suitable to the long-term goals of the community, the SCRD parks department and the SCCA. To do this, we enlisted the assistance of retired SCRD head of planning Judy Skogstad and the legal assistance of Lois Potter. It has been a year-long adventure and education in legalese and the language of conservation covenants.

As Cliff Gilker Park has two fairly distinct areas, one with playing fields and various structures and the other a forested area interlaced with several paths and bridges, it was difficult to make one covenant suit both needs. It was decided to demarcate the two portions, recognizing that each required different types of permitted activities, as described by the Cliff Gilker Master Plan and monitored by the SCCA as the covenant holders.

We hope that we have found that balance with this document, meeting the wishes of the community while protecting and hopefully enhancing the natural values of the park in perpetuity.

Gambier Island

While we were considering taking on the Cliff Gilker covenant, our friends from the Gambier Island Conservancy approached us, hoping that we would consider joining with them in holding three more covenants on Gambier Island: Mt Artaban Nature Reserve, Long Bay Nature Reserve and Brigade Bay Bluffs Nature Reserve. These reserves are presently under the control of the Islands Trust Fund, and the trust was interested in seeing that the three were protected and secure over the long term. We reviewed the three properties in question and agreed that they were indeed worthy of protection in perpetuity.

Our first task was to write up a memorandum of understanding with representatives of the Gambier Island Conservancy to describe our relationship and responsibilities in relation to the covenants. That document was just signed recently in January 2012, during a visit to Gambier Island.

The Islands Trust Fund is preparing the language of the covenants, which will be reviewed by both the SCCA and GIC over the coming weeks, and is having baseline studies done to
determine ecological values within the three areas. The three parties involved hope to gather by the end of the summer for a signing to protect these valuable natural assets.

Photo: On 16 April, 2012, Peter Scholefield from Gambier Estates accompanied Tess Johnston from the Sea Ranch, Jason Herz and Angela Kroning from the SCCA and Doug Hopwood, Islands Trust Fund consultant (left to right) on the annual site monitoring visit to the three nature reserves.

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