The Land Conservancy starts process to sell land trust property

Victoria-based land trust caught been paying off creditors and B.C. that prohibits selling charitable land to pay debt

The Land Conservancy has started to zero in on properties in Victoria and other parts of B.C. it could sell as it begins the process to repay $7.5 million it owes to creditors.

In a report issued Tuesday by Wolrige Mahon Ltd., the court ordered monitor for TLC’s creditor protection proceedings, TLC will try to sell a parking lot it owns beside Abkhazi Gardens for $539,900 and a residential development property in Sechelt for $1.9 million. It also wants to sell its 35 per cent share of the protected Maltby Lake property in Saanich.

Of note, the Wolrige Mahon report listed the 27-acre Madrona Farms in Saanich as potential asset to sell, and described it as a property with “marketability in the near term.” TLC director of operations John Shields said including Madrona Farms in the list of potential sale properties was an error and a “mis-listing of intended actions.”

“Madrona is not under consideration at the moment,” Shields said on Thursday.

In its place, he said TLC is considering selling the Keating Farm Estate in the Cowichan Valley, a 13 hectare farm in the agricultural land reserve with 1880s era buildings.

Gord McMorran, with Wolrige Mahon, apologized for the error in the monitor report and for causing undue alarm for supporters of Madrona Farms. The court will be notified Monday of the error, he said.

“The TLC board knows about it and are calling the appropriate people,” McMorran said. “I apologize but its out there and folks are rightly upset.”

Properties purchased by TLC are regulated under the Charitable Purposes Preservation Act of B.C. (CPPA), which prevents land within a trust to be sold or seized to repay debts. Shields said TLC is obliged to follow court orders under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA), a federal law.

“In the situation we are in, the CCAA requires … that we review each of our properties for their potential to pay off our creditors, in the context of our mandate to protect ecologically sensitive and environmentally important properties,” Shields said.

“We are definitely looking to sell properties, while making sure we are mindful of the CCPA.”

TLC has hired outside consultants to identify and prioritize which of the conservancy’s 50 properties could be readily sold. A list of 17 conservation properties – which includes Madrona Farms and the Sooke Potholes – and seven heritage properties, will be reviewed.

Shields said TLC can satisfy court orders and the CPPA by selling, for example, the parking lot it owns beside Abkhazi Gardens, the residential property it owns in Sechelt, and the Keating farm in Duncan. Ross Bay Villa itself sits on two lots, giving TLC the potential to divide and sell the property.

The provincial and federal governments too might be interested in acquiring TLC property for parkland, he said, although that process could take years.

TLC owns 50 properties across B.C., 8,300 acres worth, with an aggregate assessed value of $43,784,000.

“We are working so we are in a position to pay off our creditors. The intent is to pay off everybody in full,” Shields said. “We want to sell as few (properties) as possible, keeping in mind we have to raise a certain amount of money. I’m thinking this will be minimum a two year process.”

Whether it’s legal for TLC to sell properties to pay its creditors “is a question for the courts,” McMorran said. “This is all being done under the supervision of the courts, it’s all transparent,” he said. “Everyone is mindful of the statutory legislation and protection of trusts. There are a host of issues and there’s a long way to go.”

Nathalie Chambers, who with her husband Dave, have a long-term lease on Madrona Farms and were the driving force behind raising funds to have it purchased by TLC, said it’s deeply disturbing that current TLC management could circumvent CPPA.

“They’re attempting to overturn a law that protects properties in perpetuity,” said Nathalie, who at one point worked for TLC for its farm stewardship program. “It will take the trust out of the entire land trust movement.

“This is a real issue for remaining conservation lands in B.C.”

Bill Turner, a former executive director and founding member of TLC, said unless TLC can find a charitable organization to purchase its properties, the sale plan could undermine the land trust system.

“If future boards can sell assets to raise money that came from a specific gift, nobody can trust charities,” Turner said. “The act was brought in to protect the wishes of donors. This could be precedent setting.”

TLC has used a handful of properties as collateral to secure loans for operating capital during creditor protection proceedings, which Turner notes violates the CPPA. He said the parking lot at Abkhazi Gardens is an integral part of the property, and necessary for the parking variance the garden has from Victoria.

“The sale of Abkhazi (parking) flies in the face of the act,” he said.

editor@saanichnews.com

 

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

Just Posted

Students from SD62 stepped up to help members in the community with the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive. This year’s organizers had to adapt during the campaign as COIVD-19 public health orders changed. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore students step up to make sure community members don’t go without

Students of SD62 are this year’s recipient of the Youth Volunteer Award

A cat died in this house fire in Sidney afternoon. The fire started on the house’s deck and spread from that point. Sidney Volunteer Fire Department Chief Brett Mikkelsen said the permanent presence of crews at the Community Safety Building prevented worse damage. (Photo courtesy of Clayton Firth)
Sidney house fire kills cat, causes extensive damage

Official says fire started on deck and damage to the house could have been worse

Millstream Village is welcoming a new Marshalls location March 9. (Photo courtesy GWL Realty Advisors)
New Marshalls store in Langford brings boost to women in need

Retailer will hold opening ceremony in Millstream Village March 9

Abstract Developments is donating $75,000 to support community programming at The Cridge Centre for the Family. (Courtesy of The Cridge Centre)
Victoria developer builds support for community programs

Abstract Developments donates $75,000 to The Cridge Centre for the Family

SD 62 (Sooke) has announced a COVID-19 exposure at David Cameron Elementary in Colwood. Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24. (Black Press Media File).
COVID-19 exposure at Colwood’s David Cameron Elementary

Potential exposure dates are Monday, Feb. 22; Tuesday, Feb. 23; and Wednesday, Feb. 24.

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. The federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, start with the vaccination of police officers in internal police vaccination centers. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
B.C. officials to unveil new details of COVID vaccination plan Monday

Seniors and health-care workers who haven’t gotten their shot are next on the list

A boat caught fire in Ladysmith Harbour on Saturday morning. (Photo submitted)
Search underway for missing woman after boat catches fire in Ladysmith harbour

A large boat caught fire on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 27

Lone orca from a pod that made its way north from Georgia Strait and into Discovery Passage on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. Photo by Ella Smiley/<a href="https://www.facebook.com/Comoxvalleywildlifesightings/?ref=page_internal" target="_blank">Comox Valley Wildlife Sightings </a>
Island wildlife viewers thrilled by close view of passing Orca pod

Group gives wildlife photographers a classic opportunity to view them off Campbell River shoreline

An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man shot and killed by RCMP near Tofino, police watchdog investigating

Investigation underway by Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C.’s compromise on in-person worship at three churches called ‘absolutely unacceptable’

Would allow outdoor services of 25 or less by Langley, Abbotsford and Chilliwack churches

Baldy Mountain Resort was shut down on Saturday after a fatal workplace accident. (Baldy Mountain picture)
Jasmine and Gwen Donaldson are part of the CAT team working to reduce stigma for marginalized groups in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Jasmine’s story: Stigma can be the hardest hurdle for those overcoming addiction

Recovering B.C. addict says welcome, connection and community key for rebuilding after drug habit

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

Most Read