Oaklands neighbourhbood campaign to save St. Albans nears deadline

Victoria residents rallying to raise $1.1 million to buy church

The task at hand seems daunting, but an innovative model of community investment is proving it can raise funds in a hurry for the right cause.

The Oaklands Community Centre and Association is raising money in a hurry to purchase St. Albans church and hall, home to Lansdowne Co-operative preschool.

“We respect that (the preschool has) been here for 48 years and that they do a great community service,” said Kristi Rivait, executive director of the centre. “It’s a beautiful space for a community hub.”

Oaklands hopes to raise $1.1 million by May 18. It’s a 11th-hour rush the community tried to avoid.

Two years ago it approached the Anglican Diocese with an interest in purchasing the property. At that time, the Diocese wasn’t ready to sell and Oaklands bought the former Discovery School instead, where it operates a child care centre.

Shortly afterwards, the diocese put St. Albans on the market and a private developer purchased it. The sale was finalized April 16.

The developer has a plan to build private homes on the lot, but is willing to sell it to the community instead, at a small profit.

“The developer has been terrific in giving us extra time,” Rivait said.

Oaklands’ main fundraising strategy revolves around a type of investment to own St. Albans through a self-directed RRSP.

“This is a bit of an innovative approach,” said Rivait.

The details of the investment and its returns are still being worked out, but it has so far generated $100,000 in pledges, mainly from parents belonging to the Lansdowne Co-operative preschool.

Lansdowne operates with low fees and in return, parents help run the school. It’s recognized as the last fully co-operative model of preschool on the island.

To learn more about the campaign, visit savestalbans.com.

rholmen@vicnews.com