A grassy field with trees

Interest in protecting property grows in Islands Trust Area

By Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Gabriola Sounder, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Islands Trust Conservancy has been fielding more inquiries about land conservation and property donations.

Islands Trust Conservancy manager Kate Emmings estimates interest is up 25 to 50 per cent.

“We currently have 10 open conservation applications, both land transfers and covenants, which are at various stages of completion,” Emmings said. “We typically manage six to seven applications at a time.”

Those current applications total nearly 400 acres (160 hectares). The southern Gulf Islands account for the majority of interest, particularly Salt Spring, North Pender and Lasqueti, as well some of the smaller islands in the Trust Area.

The extra time at home that COVID has allotted some seems to be part of why there is an increase, Emmings said. 

“This is allowing [homeowners] to contemplate donation or partial donation of land and covenants.

“The demographics of the islands are such that many landowners are contemplating what will happen to their land when they can no longer care for it,” Emmings added.

With such a small staff, the conservancy is “stretching its capacity at the moment.” It generally takes one year to go through an acquisition or covenant project though some can take longer to negotiate.

Islands Trust Conservancy manages 99 protected places, according to its website, including seven on Gabriola and Link Islands.

Top photo credit: The 18-acre McRae Covenant is one of seven protected places on Gabriola and Link islands donated to Islands Trust Conservancy.Islands Trust Conservancy