‘A wonderful gift’

Public speaking and endless meetings make farmer Patrick Evans uncomfortable.

The new 161-acre Bear Creek Nature Park surrounds the Oyster River salmon hatchery

Public speaking and endless meetings make farmer Patrick Evans uncomfortable.

He would rather plow fields, repair fences, build sheds – anything that avoids idleness. But Evans’ patience was the key in a landmark deal to create a new park surrounding the Oyster River salmon hatchery and to protect valuable habitat at Shelter Point Farm.

“I don’t like process. I like getting it done,” Evans said at Wednesday’s announcement. “(This deal) is good for everybody. There’s not a wrong thing about it. It’s a hell of a good thing.”

During the celebratory announcement at the new Shelter Point Distillery – also located on the farm by the Oyster River – the entire Evans family was credited for their eco-gift which creates the new Bear Creek Nature Park.

“The Comox Valley Regional District is very pleased to have been part of this nature park partnership, and thanks the Evans family for their vision and support in bringing this to completion,” said Edwin Grieve, chair of the regional district. “In addition to the sustainability benefits of the hatchery, the park provides a benefit to the area in terms of conserving natural features of regional significance and promoting nature appreciation.”

Back in 2005, conservationists and wildlife supporters nervously awaited news about who would buy the 357-acre farm, as well as the uplands near the hatchery, from the University of British Columbia. They were concerned the farm land could be turned into a residential development.

However, those concerns were eased when the Evans family, long-time farmers in the Comox Valley, purchased the properties. They continued farming the land, as well as protecting critical waterfowl habitat, and looked at options of what to do with the unproductive farm land – mainly forest and wetland – near the hatchery.

Over the past 18 months, during the course of many meetings and a barrage of e-mails, the deals were completed to create the 161-acre park and to establish new covenants at the farm to protect and enhance areas for wildlife, and to help prevent future development.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of five years of persistence, meetings and negotiations, with a lot of hard work, patience and generosity thrown in,” said Len Everett of Comox, a director with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Ducks Unlimited B.C. manager Less Bogdan added, “We’ve taken an important step to ensuring Shelter Point Farms continues to offer an oasis for wildlife…projects of this nature provide a win-win for conservationists and the surrounding community.”

Ducks Unlimited has been working to protect waterfowl habitat at the farm since the 1970s. The new conservation agreement will allow the volunteer organization to do even more habitat work, which may include re-opening the Woodhus Slough to the sea like it used to be.

Ducks Unlimited also contributed to the $3 million purchase of the uplands surrounding the salmon hatchery. Other contributions came from the federal and regional governments, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Cliff Jackman.

The Evans family also donated part of the property through the federal Ecological Gifts Program, which entitles them to a tax deduction. More importantly, the new park provides an umbrella of protection – as well as access – to the volunteer-run salmon hatchery.

“This will allow us to maintain the hatchery – we were worried it would be sold,” said Father Charles Brandt, a tireless conservationist who lives just downstream of the hatchery. “This gives us a guarantee…it really is a wonderful gift.”

Just Posted

VIDEO: Students from RainCoast School of Musical Theatre perform at festive Campbell River event

Italian Cultural Society, Malarkey Mummers and Santa all take part in Museum at Campbell River event

Environment Canada issues wind warning as fallen tree knocks out power for 1,500 customers in Campbell River

‘Strong winds that may cause damage are expected or occurring,’ says forecaster

‘A place to call home’: New housing project opens in Campbell River

Renovated motel to accommodate low- and moderate-income people in 39 units

Strong winds expected to hit north, west Vancouver Island: Environment Canada

Environment Canada said southeast winds will reach speeds of 70 to 90 kilometres per hour

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

BCHL players help Team Canada in shootout win over U.S.

Massimo Rizzo scores the shootout winner at World Junior A Challenge

Canada Post backlog, Greyhound exit creating headaches ahead of the holidays

The federal government forced members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers back to their jobs late last month

No NDP challengers for Sheila Malcolmson in Nanaimo

Resigning MP will be confirmed next week as B.C. NDP’s nominee for Nanaimo MLA

Top EU court rules UK can change mind over Brexit

Britain voted in 2016 to leave the 28-nation bloc, triggering a two-year exit process

Salmon runs produce highs and lows on Vancouver Island this year

Chinook salmon did particularly well on the Island this year

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Most Read