Group forms to block sale of Wildwood forest

NANAIMO – A group is concerned that the non-profit holding Wildwood Ecoforest in trust will amend its bylaws to help facilitate a sale.

With Wildwood Ecoforest’s fate up in the air, a grassroots group is concerned the non-profit society holding the site in trust will amend its bylaws to help facilitate a sale.

The 31-hectare site, located in Cedar, was sold by the late Merv Wilkinson, a sustainable forester, to The Land Conservancy in 2000, with the understanding it would remain in the public domain. But with a multimillion-dollar debt load, the land trust is looking to sell to a private party.

Because Wildwood has been declared inalienable, it can’t be sold or transferred, according to conservancy bylaws.

Jessica Wolf, member of both the conservancy and the recently formed Protectors of Wildwood, said notification was sent out last week of a June 12 extraordinary general meeting in Victoria, where she says it will be decided if properties previously deemed inalienable can be transferred and sold.

“I think they have to make these changes in order to even transfer those properties to another land trust because it says that they can’t unless [The Land Conservancy] dissolves,” said Wolf. “I completely support a change in order for them to transfer properties to another land trust. The Protectors of Wildwood do not support selling it.”

Wolf said her group will be reaching out to conservancy members and ecoforestry experts and is circulating a petition expressing opposition to the sale.

“We’re definitely gearing up for a fight here because it’s not going to happen,” said Wolf.

John Shields, The Land Conservancy director of operations, said he couldn’t comment on Wildwood as there were ongoing negotiations, but he did confirm there would be a June 12 meeting.

Shields said the meeting was not specifically for Wildwood, but for language related to ecological properties being transferred to the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Nature Trust of B.C.

“As a result of the financial difficulty, we are transferring 26 eco-gift properties to the NCC for protection, but in order to do that, we have to amend the bylaws to put into the bylaws, the provision of [a] court order,” Shields said.

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