GaLTT land agreement first of its kind in B.C.
A land agreement in progress on Gabriola may result in securing 22 acres of mature second growth forest and waterfront, thanks to a groundbreaking “cross border conservation” agreement between Gabriola Land and Trails Trust, an American charitable organization and a generous landowner.
American Friends for Canadian Land Trusts is working with GaLTT to develop a conservation covenant on Sally Robinson’s property on Cooper Road in the south end. The land has eight acres of waterfront facing Pylades Channel, a renovated farmhouse, circa 1914 and mature Douglas fir, hemlock, big leaf maple, arbutus and Garry oak trees, as well as an old apple orchard.
There are many conservation groups Sally could donate a covenant to in order to protect her land from future development, including the Islands Trust Fund; however, as Sally is an American citizen, she would benefit financially by working with American Friends.
Sandy Tassel, program co-ordinator for American Friends, explained Sally would get a break on her U.S. taxes in addition to lowering her property taxes, which would reduce capital gains her heirs may have to pay when they inherit the land.
“American Friends exists to assist Canadian conservation entities ... and American landowners to accomplish natural resource protection actions that might otherwise not be possible,” said Sandy. This will be American Friends’ first project in B.C.
“The conservation covenant ... will ensure that trail users can experience an undeveloped part of Gabriola, that visitors to the beach will never have a house looming over them, and people sailing, kayaking and fishing off the south end of Gabriola will see oaks, madronas and Douglas fir, not a mansion or subdivision on that ridge.”
As the local partner organization, GaLTT will be responsible for land stewardship. John Peirce, GaLTT president, said they had built boardwalks across the wetland areas on Sally’s property prior to the covenant discussion and have trail licences in place on her property, making the trails publicly accessible.
GaLTT is interested in working with other American landowners who would like to see their lands protected in perpetuity. One analysis has suggested that 25 per cent of the land in several of Canada’s prime vacation areas, including the Gulf Islands, is owned by Americans.