The Nanaimo and Area Land Trust hopes to restore crucial funding provided by the Regional District of Nanaimo this year.
The land conservancy organization, represented by Fraser Wilson, appeared before the RDN Committee of the Whole Tuesday evening to advocate for full restoration of a $30,000 grant previously provided to NALT by the RDN, which has been reduced to $20,000 in the last few years.
“The investment of the regional district funds in NALT is a good investment which does pay itself back many times in benefit to the region,” Wilson said, in his presentation.
“The grant provided by the regional district is money well spent.”
Made up of a board of directors, staff, members and volunteers, the land trust was established in 1995 to protect property through conservation covenants, and to designate and monitor land use agreements.
Since 1998, NALT has raised approximately $1.4 million for land purchases, including $500,000 to purchase Linley Valley property for parkland, $475,000 for the purchase of 209 hectares on Mount Benson,and most recently, $41,000 was raised to contribute to the RDN’s acquisition of Moorecroft Regional Park.
Wilson said that the regional park covenant for Mount Benson is expected to be signed off sometime this year.
“Once signed off, that covenant alone will involve NALT monitoring the natural values of the park at an estimated value of about $2,500 a year,” he said.
In addition to its work on land conservancy, NALT also carries out stewardship programs, hosts workshops for organizations and schools, and runs a native plant nursery off Spruston Road in Cassidy.
The grant reduction hit heaviest in 2011, when the organization could not secure funding through other grants. In fall of that year, NALT made some cut backs to staff.
“One benefit of that was we did take a very hard look at our finances,” Wilson said. “We launched a direct fundraising campaign under the name Project NALT, and we also looked at cutting costs.”
In 2012, NALT’s financial situation improved with the approval of two B.C. gaming grants and a one-time $80,000 donation from residents David Stanley and Ria De Vos.
However, the organization will not be eligible to apply for more gaming grants until summer of this year, and approval would not take place until November.
A full restoration of the $30,000 would, in part, help provide seed money that in turn provides leverage for the organization to obtain more money, Wilson said.
Nanaimo director Jim Kipp was one of the first to speak up in favour of the organization. He said he would like to see the use of more local plant species promoted in the Nanaimo.
“We are now, in a lot of our planning with the city, looking at more native planting and one of the problems is our local plant suppliers have always had exotic plants, they’ve never focused on the local stuff,” he said.
Following the presentation, the board approved a motion by Kipp to refer the request to budget deliberations.
For more information on the land trust, please visit www.nalt.bc.ca.