A $5-million dream to protect Vancouver Island eagles is now just $300,000 away from coming true.
The Save Estuary Land Society and Friends of French Creek Conservation Society have persevered for years to protect 18 acres of French Creek estuary land located between Parksville and Qualicum Beach. The dream is to create a protected eagle reserve within the forested land.
The property was recently appraised at $5,180,000. Both groups collectively were able to raise, through community donations, $200,000. The prospect looked bleak but recent events have lifted their spirits.
The owners of the property, French Creek House, entered a purchase agreement with BC Parks Foundation and in doing so, agreed to gift $3,280,000 of land value, provided the balance of the cost could be raised by April 10.
Quinn Griesdale, director of French Creek House, says they are pleased to work with BC Parks Foundation and local partners to make a legacy gift to the eagles and community. The property was being primed for housing development.
“When I started working on this project it became obvious very quickly that this 23 acres is a green space and should stay like that,” Griesdale says. “And that any development if it’s going to happen it needs to be elsewhere. It needs to be taken away from this spot which should be left to nature.”
With the land and donation secured, plus the money raised locally, the BC Parks Foundation and local partners needed to raise $1.7 million to complete the deal. Their fundraising goal was brought down significantly when they received a surprise blessing from another major donor, Dax Dasilva’s non-profit Age of Union Alliance, which provided a landmark gift of $1 million in matching funds.
Dasilva, the founder of Lightspeed, a global commerce solution, is a British Columbian committed to conservation. When he launched Age of Union in 2021, he pledged to donate $40 million toward conservation efforts around the world.
“This is an exciting and symbolic project, and I am honoured to join other British Columbians, including local First Nations, who are supporting it,” says Dasilva. “Being a part of this crowdfunding effort shows that all acts, big or small, when brought together can change the trajectory of our planet for the better. Every individual has the power to transform our world for good, especially when we act in unison.”
The Regional District of Nanaimo also got involved and made a $400,000 contribution toward the purchase of the estuary lands which now leaves $300,000 to be raised.
“We will work with the BC Parks Foundation on an agreement to manage this important ecological area as a nature preserve,” says Lehann Wallace, Area G Director. “When added to existing park lands in the area, 23 acres will be conserved.”
BC Parks Foundation, Save Estuary Land Society and Friends of French Creek Conservation Society have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise the last $300,000 by April 10.
“We’ve been successful in a number of campaigns,” says Andy Day, the CEO of BC Parks Foundation. “Every time, there’s a kind of magic that happens that’s hard to explain. But every time we’re able to do it, it comes down to the last day when our knuckles are white. But I hope with this one we’re going to be able to do it. British Columbians and donors around the world tend to show up when we put out the call.”
The Qualicum and Snaw-Naw-As First Nations have also expressed support for the eagle sanctuary.
To find out more and how to contribute, visit online at bcparksfoundation.ca/french-creek-estuary
Plan your adventures throughout the West Coast at westcoasttraveller.com and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @thewestcoasttraveller. And for the top West Coast Travel stories of the week delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our weekly Armchair Traveller newsletter!