The Wilson Nature Park sign was unveiled at the Englishman River Estuary on Marine Way in Parksville on Sept. 16. Pictured from left, The Nature of BC chair and CEO, respectively, Emily Griffiths-Hamilton and Jasper Lament, and founders of the Wilson 5 Foundation, Summer and Chip Wilson. (Michael Briones Photo)

The Wilson Nature Park sign was unveiled at the Englishman River Estuary on Marine Way in Parksville on Sept. 16. Pictured from left, The Nature of BC chair and CEO, respectively, Emily Griffiths-Hamilton and Jasper Lament, and founders of the Wilson 5 Foundation, Summer and Chip Wilson. (Michael Briones Photo)

Wilson 5 Foundation donates $6M to re-naturalize Englishman River Estuary in Parksville

Largest land conservancy gift made by the foundation to date

The Wilson 5 Foundation has donated $6 million to The Nature Trust of BC to purchase a 2.8-hectare in-fill property at the mouth of the Englishman River on Mariner Way in Parksville.

The sizable gift was announced at the site of the property on Thursday morning, Sept. 16. It’s the largest land conservancy gift made by the Wilson 5 Foundation to date.

The land acquisition is a key step to re-naturalize and restore the tidal flow of the Englishman River estuary that has been impacted by dikes, roads, residential and industrial development since the 1980s. Currently, portions of the estuary are almost completely cut off from natural tidal, river and nearshore processes, making it less accessible for fish and wildlife that would normally frequent these habitats to shelter, feed, and rear their young. The goal is to ultimately enhance the ecosystem function of the entire river.

The Nature Trust of BC has secured 500 conservation properties, including nine properties along the Englishman River. They now own 67.4 hectares in the estuary and has successfully conserved 244.3 hectares along the Englishman River.

READ MORE: Island near Nanaimo preserved as park after $4M donation from Lulemon founder

“Conservation of land is important to us, not only as a family, but as British Columbians who care deeply about preserving land for all to enjoy for generations to come,” said Summer Wilson, foundation co-founder. “We are thrilled to partner with the Nature Trust of BC to support the Englishman River and Salish Sea and to create a dedicated park accessible to everyone to explore nature, birdwatching and exercise.”

CEO of The Nature Trust of BC, Jasper Lament, said they are honoured to be the recipient of the generous donation from the Wilson 5 Foundation.

“This donation moves the needle for the restoration of the Englishman River,” said Lament. “It means that migrating salmon will be able to reach an expanded estuary that flows more freely into the Salish Sea.”

The founders of Lululemon and current owners of Arc’Teryx, Chip and Summer Wilson, and their five sons have pledged through their foundation, Wilson 5, to protect and conserve critical habitats in Vancouver and Southwestern British Columbia. They donated $4 million to BC Parks Foundation to protect in perpetuity West Ballenas Island, Saturna Island and 250 acres of waterfront on Lasqueti Island in support of the threatened Salish Sea ecosystem.

— NEWS Staff

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