Sooke landowner Ken Van put an irreversible preservation covenant on 10 of the 15.5 hectares of his property

Sooke landowner Ken Van put an irreversible preservation covenant on 10 of the 15.5 hectares of his property

Covenants save green space forever

Land trusts help protect and preserve special places

Ken Van and Patti Homer first hiked the lower peak of Sooke’s Christopher Goodman Mountain in 1985.

The trail is on a private parcel of land that runs north along the east side of the Sooke River, not far from the potholes. In 1994, Van and Homer bought the 15.5-hectare parcel, which includes the smaller peak of Goodman Mountain.

They’ve since transcended from environmentally sensitive property owners to its guardian angels, by placing a conservation covenant on the title.

“We considered making it a park but then it’s open to the public,” Homer said.

“There was a tacit understanding when we bought the land, which was owned by our friend, that we would protect it.”

Other than building their home near its entrance off Phillips Road, they’ve done nothing to harm the property. The covenant is co-managed with The Land Conservancy and Habitat Acquisition Trust. The federal government is also on the covenant.

It prevents them, and anyone else, from taking as much as a shovel to 10 of the 15.5 hectares.

“We wanted a multi-party covenant so it couldn’t be broken. It’s irreversible,” Van said.

Properties under covenant are monitored annually and are subject to fine, though HAT’s never issued one.

Obviously there’s more to the property than a good hike.

It’s a refuge for a variety of wildlife, including the red-listed sharp-tailed snakes. There’s plenty of deer, black bears, cougars (including a den full of bones), pine marten, and the recent encroachment of Roosevelt elk, Van said.

“Two of the ecosystems present are provincially red-listed, the Garry oak ecosystems and Coast Douglas fir forests, as well as two that are conservationally valued, the riparian corridors and ephemeral streams,” said Wendy Tyrell, HAT’s covenants and acquisitions coordinator.

In all, Habitat Acquisition Trust co-holds 28 covenants in the Capital region with numerous land trust partners, 16 of which are with TLC.

It’s no secret TLC’s economic status was not strong going into 2013. TLC owns and manages 300 protected properties worth $32 million across the province – including the Sooke Potholes almost adjacent to the Van and Homer property – and is currently undergoing massive restructuring after its bank accounts were temporarily frozen by the Canada Revenue Agency in 2012.

Andy McKinnon was chair of HAT’s board of directors in the 1990s and was on the ground floor when HAT began acquiring covenants for the purposes of preservation.

“We deliberately established these covenants as co-held with other land trusts, so we could work together and ease the workload on each trust,” said McKinnon, a research ecologist with the province.

“To have at least two covenanters guards against that situation.”

Regardless of what happens to TLC, HAT will be OK, said executive director Adam Taylor.

“In the short term, we anticipate this will mean more work for HAT as we are called on to do more to maintain these natural areas and the legal agreements that protect them,” he said.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

February 17, 2021 - Kaelyn (L) and Costin Campbell are Goldstream News Gazette 2021 Local Heroes.
Pint-sized duo inspires others to be green

Costin and Kaelyn Campbell are this year’s Environmental Heroes

Erin Oldman received a scholarship through Royal Roads University (RRU), called the Legacy Award, which is given out once every five years. Oldman graduated from RRU with a Masters of Arts in Human Security and Peacebuilding, and is using the award to establish a charity called International Humanitarian Assessments, which helps people in war-torn areas of the Middle East. (Photo contributed by Erin Oldman)
Royal Roads University graduate receives $25,000 award

Erin Oldman will use the award to establish a charity in the Middle East

Sandy Carmichael is a Goldstream Gazette 2021 Local Hero as Seniors’ Champion. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Worker bee returns to volunteer: Sandy Carmichael a fixture at Langford Royal Canadian Legion

Sandy Carmichael is the 2021 recipient of the Seniors’ Champion Award

The It’s Critical campaign has raised $5.89 million towards its $7 million goal to expand critical care capacity at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital. (Black Press Media file photo)
Critical care improvements make the list with Greater Victoria shoppers

Save-On-Foods pledges $300,000 to Victoria Hospitals Foundation’s It’s Critical campaign

West Shore Parks and Recreation facilities face a challenging future in terms of funding, due to reduced operations throughout the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore Parks and Recreation faces challenging future

West Shore Parks and Recreation Society submits 2021 budget request to owner municipalities

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Dasher is back home with mom Christine Girvin thanks to some help from BC Ferries staff. Photo supplied
The cat came back, with help from BC Ferries staff

After Dasher made a dash, staff in Comox found her and got her home safe

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

Most Read