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.