Land conservation deal respects wishes of Comox Valley naturalist

The natural area of a rural Comox property will be protected into the future, thanks a recently signed conservation covenant.

THE COMOX VALLEY Land Trust's Jack Minard

The natural area of a rural Comox property will be protected into the future, thanks a recently signed conservation covenant.

The St. Joseph’s General Hospital Foundation and the Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) signed the covenant for the two-acre Hawkins Road property, which was willed to the hospital in 1991 by Phyllis Capes. In her will, Capes stipulated the natural state of the property, which features woodland and wetland area, be protected and the land never be subdivided.

According to St. Joseph’s General Hospital Foundation board president Patti Fletcher, the Foundation hopes to sell the property to gain funding for hospital needs, but it first wanted to ensure Capes’ wishes were respected.

“I personally am really, really pleased that we were able to come together and balance the wishes of Phyllis Capes in her will and to meet the needs of the hospital, as well,” says Fletcher. “It was really important for me to ensure that the integrity of the Foundation was recognized — that we were really honouring her will and her wishes 20 years later, that was really important to us.”

The CVLT will monitor the property annually to ensure it remains in its natural vegetative state — including monitoring it for invasive species — something CVLT executive director Jack Minard is happy to do.

“We are very pleased the CVLT is able, with this covenant, to extend the conservation values and create a designated biodiversity corridor with the creation of the Phyllis Capes Covenant,” says Minard in a news release. “Without a doubt this partnership has been a win-win for both parties.”

An heritage home is located on the property, which was used for 20 years to assist with locum accommodation and other hospital uses. Ownership of the property was transferred from the hospital to the SJGH Foundation in 2011

Fletcher notes the property could be on the market by the end of the year, though she says the Foundation has just engaged a real estate agent, and assessments and inspections need to be completed before she can say what the asking price will be.

Funds from any future sale of the property will be used by the Foundation to improve the hospital via things like new equipment and renovations.

“The Foundation’s goal is to raise funds to assist St. Joseph’s Hospital to ensure that equipment, staff education and the physical environment can be improved to the best possible standards that it can be,” says Fletcher.

Phyllis Capes was born in 1915 and died in 1996. She was an avid naturalist, and became well-known on Vancouver Island as a champion of local nature conservation, habitat protection and a sustainable environment, according to a short biography written by CVLT board member Bill Henderson.

She led many regional conservation campaigns, such as the establishment of Seal Bay Park and the conservation of McDonald Wood, and she received the Elton Anderson Award in 1978 from the Federation of B.C. Naturalists for her efforts.

“With the altruistic support of the St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation the majority of the wetlands and woodlands on the Phyllis Capes property will become part of the protected reserve of natural woodlands in the area,” writes Henderson. “This legacy would have greatly pleased Phyllis Capes, one of the Comox Valley’s early prominent naturalists.”

For more information about the CVLT, visit www.cvlandtrust.ca, and for more about the Foundation, visit www.cvhospitalfoundation.com.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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