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Donated land becomes park on Cortes

Property owned by an American organization now has a new owner and will be maintained as a community park on Cortes Island.

The land known as Hank’s Beach, which provides for wildlife habitat, was recently transferred to the Strathcona Regional District.

The deal was more than a year in the making. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by three parties on June 25, 2010. Under the agreement, Tides Foundation, a United States-based charitable organization that works for positive social change, was to transfer the property to the regional district, which it did two weeks ago. The land was considered as a gift under the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program. The regional district has since re-named the property, calling it Hank’s Beach Forest Conservation Park, and will make improvements to the area.

“Staff recently conducted a site visit to confirm the condition of the land as well as ascertain specific requirements related to the start-up and operation of the park,” said Brian Reardon, Strathcona Regional District Chief Administrative Officer. “In addition to the requirement to install park signage and develop a designated parking area, staff itemized the key maintenance and inspection requirements that would be required on an on-going basis through the year.”

Tides Foundation provided the regional district with a $150,000 endowment to help with ownership and management costs, as per the Memorandum of Understanding.

The regional district also developed and passed a bylaw that imposes restrictions on the park.

“The current regulatory considerations included within the bylaw include restrictions on such matters as vegetation removal, camping, campfires, motorized vehicles, animal control, hunting and the discharge of firearms,” Reardon said. The land, which is of significant ecological value, has a trail system running throughout that has been used by Cortes Islanders for beach access for nearly a century. The regional district plans to maintain those trails year-round.

It is also proposing to hold a park dedication ceremony in mid to late August to celebrate the transfer of land to the Regional District for community park purposes.

 

 

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