Photo by Toby Snelgrove

The Mayne Island Conservancy is taking measures to ensure it can live up to its legal commitment to protect our conservation covenant on St John Point. This commitment is twofold:

  • Monitoring the site at least annually to see that the owner (Capital Regional District) honours its commitment to preserve the ecological values of the property. These are detailed in a “baseline document” that describes the state of the property when the CRD took ownership. The baseline document is a codicil to the covenant agreement between the Conservancy and the CRD, registered against the title.
  • Being able to take action to defend the covenant if, through monitoring, any breach of the agreement is detected. With the current goodwill that exists between the Conservancy and the CRD, it is to be hoped that any breach would be minor and possibly inadvertent, and resolvable with a conversation. However, the covenant is forever and conditions may change in years to come. There may be a need someday to go beyond conversation to formal mediation or even legal action.

Monitoring, and any defence beyond a simple phone call, take money. Consequently, we are creating two special-purpose funds, to be held by the Victoria Foundation. This is considered a best practice for land trusts in North America and was budgeted for in the fundraising target of the Save St John Point campaign. The amount deposited in each fund will be $100,000. The Victoria Foundation is a well-established charitable organization managing a large pool of funds for many charities and dedicated to doing its own charitable work in the province.

The monitoring fund will provide a revenue stream in perpetuity to cover the cost of paid staff to regularly visit the property, write monitoring reports for the owner, and related activities. The terms of the fund prevent us from ever drawing down the capital, and the fund allows for growth to at least match inflation as well as providing the monitoring revenue.

The defence fund will also produce returns, though these will be reinvested in the fund. We will be able to draw down the capital if needed. In the unlikely event of a serious legal dispute, $100,000 may not go very far, but it is certainly adequate to launch an action while we seek support from other organizations. This is a standard practice for land trusts that makes efficient use of their dollars while enabling them to avoid having to create massive reserves in case of very unlikely worst-case disputes.

These funds are examples of the conservative, long-range financial planning that the Conservancy practices. We have had another endowment with the Victoria Foundation for a few years now, that we intend to grow over time to the point where the proceeds will be able to cover at least 50% of our operating costs. This would make us less dependent on yearly grant-seeking with its ups and downs, and help provide the financial stability that conservation work with its long perspective requires. Anybody who is interested in legacy giving or a bequest to the Conservancy’s long-term viability, is invited to talk to us.

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