Momentum is starting to build for the creation of the Mary Lake Nature Park as more people attend our “Spirit of Nature” Walks and fall in love with the beauty. Because the land has been under conservancy ownership since 1947, when Gertrude Snider bought it from a logger; Mother Nature has had 70 years to do her work.
Learn more about the "Spirit of Nature Walks" HERE
Many groups have also been booking private tours with each person giving a minimum $5 donation and others purchasing a Guardian of Mary Lake Membership so they can attend monthly walks for free.
On March 26th a group from the Victoria Natural History Society spent some time cataloging the birds on the property and are coming back in May when the migrant birds return. They were also identifying the many mosses that carpet large areas of the property.
Members of the Victoria Club Tread who came out to the March “Spirit of Nature Walk” were so inspired they organized a private guided walk and slide show at Mary Lake on April 9th – over 40 people attended and also saw the slide show in the nature house. They expressed lots of enthusiasm and one of the resident beavers did a lovely swim across the lake for them.
Sat. April 29 at Mary Lake – 1772 Millstream RD.
Join us lakeside to hear powerful voices of support
for the future “Mary Lake Nature Park”
A sanctuary protecting a 13,000 year old watershed, pristine forest and many species,
while creating a new link for a 25 km hiking trail loop.
Check out the lineup and get an entrance and shuttle bus ticket early to help us plan and fund-raise.
Entrance is by $10 min. donation or free with Guardian of Mary Lake Membership.
Children under 12 are free.
Parking is limited so check out the option to park at Western Speedway and take a shuttle bus on our Event Page
Looking forward to hearing the pipes and drums of the VanIsle Caledonia Pipe Band in the forest by the lake.
Follow this link for times and other important details
Do you have some time, energy or skills that you can offer to help us in our efforts to create Mary Lake Nature Park?
We need help for the April 29th Gathering such as
Day Before: 6 people - site cleanup, setup of tents, tables & chairs
During: 2 hr shifts for
4 @info table,
2 parking attendants for 2 hrs pre event
2 tea attendants in house 3 - 5 pm
After: 6 people – site cleanup & tear down
Contact: Athina Conner email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The hard work of the three feisty Highlanders of the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society has paid off. Their initiative to acquire the 67 acre lot surrounding Mary Lake has made it possible for the CRD to now purchase a hiking trail corridor from them for $500,000.
This protects the forest and ecosystems from development and helps to pay off the mortgage. Thank you CRD
Mary Lake property in Highlands added to CRD trail system
Excerpt from article in Goldstream Gazette
“It’s a fabulous addition,” said Mayor Ken Williams, adding the trail will also act as a wildlife corridor. “It’s one of the true successes of the CRD.”
He thanked the society for having the vision to get this process started and the CRD for creating the connector. “It’s pretty amazing … You can access it from anywhere,” Williams said, pointing to the ways the trail will link neighboring municipalities.
Hats off to Ken Williams, Mayor of the Highlands for his strong advocacy for the Mary Lake Trail Link as a board member at the CRD.
First of all we want to thank all of our supporters who made it possible to close on the purchase of the Mary Lake property on Dec. 23.
It has been an exciting and momentous milestone in our collective effort to protect this beautiful green space so vital to the health of our local ecosystems.
"It was so great to share a cup of mulled apple juice and toe tapping Celtic tunes with local supporters who came to our Jan. 1 celebration in the house at Mary Lake. Lots of excitement was in the air. Special thanks to the Mayor & Councillors of the Highlands who showed up to express their support."
The property is now protected from development and owned by the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society. Over the next 2 years we will continue to raise funds through grants, partnerships and fundraising campaigns to pay off the mortgage so it can become a municipal nature park. Until that time it will be closed to general public use with a full time caretaker on site.
We will be hosting special events and a monthly walkabout in the upcoming months.
Spirit of Nature Walks or Guided Walk & Talk at Mary Lake:
Each month you will have an opportunity to visit the beautiful Mary Lake property.
1 - 4 pm self guided with map of trails
2 - 3 pm guided walk & talk
We ask that children be accompanied by an adult at all times.
Please stay on marked trails and be mindful not to disturb the wildlife
that call Mary Lake their home.
We are starting the application for subdivision that is necessary to create the 25 acre section along the south and west part of the property for the regional trail corridor.
At the same time we will also be creating a 10 acre lot along Millstream Rd. This lot could be available for sale in the future if we are in need of the funds to meet our financial goals over the next 2 years. (This is our plan B and we will be working very hard to fulfill our original mandate to protect the whole lot.)
Support from more Local Municipalities
Both the City of Colwood and the District of Metchosin have sent us their letters of support. Thank You!
Read Complete Newsletter HERE
Highlands District, BC – Dec. 13, 2016
The Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society is pleased to announce the completion of phase one of our new campaign to create a 73 acre nature park which includes a 7 acre lake, creeks, wetlands and surrounding natural forest land on the Mary Lake property in the Highlands just 30 minutes from Victoria, BC.
With lots of behind the scenes work since July we have just secured the bridge financing through the Vancity Community Business dept. necessary to close on the purchase on Dec. 23, 2016.
In just 6 months we have raised $1.3 million in funding with a generous private donation of $100,000 from GVGS Chair Bob McMinn and partnerships that include the CRD as well as an innovative architectural group who has an interest in creating an eco-cohousing project on the adjacent lot. This group will also be contributing important riparian areas back to the GVGS for the Parkland. Support in principal from the Highlands District has been ongoing and once the mortgage is paid in full the Mary Lake Nature Park will become a municipal park. Until that time it will remain a private property.
As the saying goes “Timing is Everything” and this is definitely the case with Mary Lake. Since the first attempt to purchase the property for $4.6 million the Estate has sold off 20 acres to a developer and the purchase price has dropped to a more achievable goal of $2.6 million. After the closing GVGS will continue during the next few years to raise the remainder of funds needed to complete this project thru grants and donations.
In many ways the property is really priceless, as it sits in the middle of a 13,000 year old watershed with its sections of rare Costal Douglas Fir ecosystems and riparian areas which are all fast disappearing under the threat of encroaching development. This will be a true legacy for generations to come for both the Highlands and Greater Victoria communities that recognize the significant role that local natural areas play in the regions clean water and air.
Nature enthusiasts, hikers and all great lovers of the outdoors are getting excited about the vision which would complete a new trail loop. This 25 km world-class hiking loop will join together the beautiful Thetis Lake, Gowlland Tod and Mount Work Parks. The Mary Lake property sits in a strategic point between Thetis Lake Park and the Gowlland Tod Provincial Park.
Mary Lake will also become the first park with lake access in the west Highlands just a short walk from a new social hub being planned at Finlayson Arm and Millstream Rd. This area already contains the new Community Hall with plans for the District Offices and a Community Garden at the same location.
You can support the creation of the Mary Lake Nature Park through charitable donations on the website
It has been an exciting and busy couple of weeks here at GVGS as we move closer to the Dec. 23 closing date.
Lots of good news!
Walkabouts at Mary Lake: 2 more were hosted, that had over 40 people attending including Eric Backman a professional photographer from Metchosin who has generously offered to donate his services to our cause.
Click on the image below to see some beautiful shots he took at Mary Lake of the 13,000 year old Millstream watershed that runs through the property.
Stay tuned for more opportunities to walk this beautiful property..........
The District of Highlands Council has indicated their support for the Mary Lake park project with a letter of recommendations for initiatives that they will begin in preparations for public input and to raise a portion of the funds needed for the acquisition of Mary Lake for Park purposes.
The Friends of Mary Lake also presented to council an additional 151 signatures from Highlands’ residents who support the vision of Mary Lake as a public park. This brings the totals to 368 signatures of support so far from the 783 single family residences. In his presentation to council Michael Bocking also noted that 51% of the Highlands residents are less than a 20-30 min. walk to Mary Lake.
“Acquisition of Mary Lake as a park would be a visionary act, keeping environmental protection and public access to wild land in a climate of development that will not relent any time soon. Let's do it for the next generation (and then enjoy it ourselves!) “ ~ J Nelson
See more comments from the public…..
We at the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society are so grateful for the enthusiasm, encouragement and donations we have received from our local community for a project that aligns with our mutual values of protecting green spaces, nature and especially the watershed.
Alistair MacGregor MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford and Jennifer Hermany his Community Outreach Coordinator visited Mary Lake. They were impressed by the beauty, and peaceful environment of the lake and forest. Alistair's local community office has been helping us track down government grants applicable to the project and we just received an official letter of support from him for our initiative. Thank you, Alistair and Jennifer!
Read Complete Newsletter HERE
The team at the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society is very busy getting ready for a number of important deadlines.
Nov. 7 the District of Highlands will be making their decision on the level of funding they will be providing for the Mary Lake park initiative.
The Friends of Mary Lake have been gathering signatures from Highlands residents (over 200 so far from the 800 Highlands households) to give the council an indication of community support.
If you are a Highlands resident please spread the word locally and help the FOML get signatures for this petition. Contact: Evelyn Samuel email@example.com
Nov. 9 the CRD (Capital Regional District) board will be making their decision on the level of funding they are committing to the purchase of the trail corridor at Mary Lake.
The Intermunicipal Advisory Committee on Disability Issues, (I.A.C.D.I.) is acknowledging support for our efforts towards securing the Mary Lake property as a park.
"Since the creation of the User Friendly Trail Guide, I.A.C.D.I. has been seeking another ‘user friendly’ trail in the Highlands. The Mary Lake property is just what we have been looking for and requires little to no alterations to make it inclusive to everyone."
Upcoming Mary Lake Guided Walks
Opportunity to join a 45 min. walk on this private land, witness the natural beauty and discover why people are so excited about creating a park here. Rain or Shine. Petitions will be on site to sign.
1st Walk 1:30 pm 2nd Walk 2:30 pm
Dates: Sunday Oct. 30 (click for event link)
Sunday Nov. 6 (click for event link)
Mary Lake Supporters Survey
Instead of trying to be mind readers we decided to create this survey.
Your feedback helps us to make sure we are supporting your ideas about the Mary Lake park.
Your past support has made this initiative possible. If you contributed to our previous campaign and have any questions about it please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In many cases we were not provided with sufficient contact info so we would love to hear from you.
Thanks for supporting the Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society's Mary Lake Park & Trail Project
Please Spread the Word !
Help us get to 1500 likes on Facebook
"Together we are the instruments of change"
"Together we are the instruments of change"
We have just launched our fundraising membership campaign
that will help us achieve the stewardship of Mary Lake thru land acquisition.
I know many of you will be visiting Mary Lake park and trail in the coming years .
This is your chance to be part of realizing this vision
Your involvement matters and is so important to the other organizations
who are partnering with us to provide funding for this special project.
Guardians of Mary Lake will receive:
Sunday, Oct 2
1 - 2 pm at Mary Lake – 1772 Millstream Rd.
(This private property is not open to general public at other times) Park along the road
2 - 4 pm at Highlands Community Hall - 729 Finlayson Arm Road
Please join us for an Info Session about the Mary Lake Park Initiative to create an awesome
73 acre Public Park, that includes a 7 acre lake, creeks, wetlands and natural forest land.
The Greater Victoria Greenbelt Society is back with new partners to raise the remaining funds to acquire
the Mary Lake property in the Highlands to become an incredible new 73 acre public park .
It will includes a 7 acre lake, creeks, wetlands and surrounding natural forest land
to connect the communities, link a 25 km hiking trail and preserve nature.
Visit our new website and find out how you can become part of making this legacy a reality.