Land Acquisition Project – Friends of Holland Creek
Fund-raising drive saves trail from developer
by LEXI BAINAS – The Cowichan Valley Citizen Newspaper
After months of frantic fund-raising, the Friends of Holland Creek Trail happily announced this week that they have gathered the $130,000 needed to protect the “deep woods” quality of their beloved trail.
The money will purchase 2.88 acres that fronts a proposed development to provide a buffer for the trail area within the Ladysmith town boundaries.
Spokesperson Gail Wiseman Reed said the fundraising “was like climbing Mount Everest. We’ve got a wonderful clip of some extreme kayakers going over (a waterfall). That’s exactly what it felt like for us.
The town of Ladysmith contributed $43,000 to bring the effort close to its goal and last week the Morningstar Corporation of Red Deer, Alberta, brought the fund-raising to a conclusion when it announced it is giving $17,000.
The park is in a beautiful valley with trails already in place. They’re often used by teachers from area schools and this helped gain the interest of the Alberta group.
“Their foundation is interested in the education of children,” said Wiseman Reed, a former teacher. “They were interested that the (urban) naturalist programs were there. Last year school groups went out on the trail. That’s ongoing. When the weather settles, the teachers will be raring to go.
“Visitors say, ‘you don’t know what you have here’.”
Wiseman Reed said she hopes the campaign’s success, due in part to help from the Cowichan Community Land Trust and The Land Conservancy of B.C., will encourage other communities to do the same.
“We want to celebrate that those trees will remain dancing in the wind with their river… and to thank and celebrate every one of our donors from the smallest school child to the B.C. Hydros, credit unions and TD Banks of this world for their validation of the beauty of nature and the trail,” she said.
“We sort of always knew we could do it, but the rational voice inside would say: how are you going to do it.”
All negotiations have taken place between the Town and the still-unnamed developer. The Friends of Holland Creek were only involved with raising money to buy the land.
The group approached hundreds of prospective donors, she said, but discovered many are prohibited from contributing to land acquisitions within municipal boundaries. Many others felt the Town should pick up the tab.
As a result, donors were found far and wide. Besides the Alberta corporation, they include California residents, famous artists and musicians, participants in the Great Lake Walk and a host of Cowichan-area individuals and businesses who stepped up to the plate. The Ladysmith Credit Union voted to contribute $15,000 towards the project.
“I think the most important thing was making all the people aware of the beauty of that trail, and the importance of maintaining nature right now on Vancouver Island,” Wiseman Reed said.
“We never wanted to go head to head. We all wanted to do this thing peaceably. People spoke up with their contributions. I think everybody won.”
Now the money must be gathered and forwarded to the Town.
You can read more about the Friends of Holland Creek in these documents: