The BC Parks Foundation is attempting to raise funds to purchase West Ballenas Island to avoid private development.
The island is the last non-park parcel remaining in a proposal to establish the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago as a 4,900 hectare marine park — a long standing conservation initiative within the Mount Arrowsmith Biospere Reserve.
“As a partner of the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region, the Town of Qualicum Beach is excited at the prospect of protecting this island for future generations and for the further development of the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago conservation area,” said Mayor Brian Wiese.
The island would normally be out of reach for the foundation, but it was able to reduce the asking price from $2.2 million to $1.7 million. The foundation has until Nov. 17 to secure the funds.
West Ballenas Island is within the Snaw-Naw-As Nation’s territory. BC Parks Foundation said it has discussed the purchase of the island with the nation and if they purchase it, all communities and the Snaw-naw-as people will regain access to the land.
The foundation said it only needs to raise $850,000 because an anonymous donor pledged to match all contributions from the public.
The island is listed as one of the top ten most biodiverse sites in the Gulf Islands and is home to abundant bird populations, rare plants, threatened species and marine life, according to the BC Parks Foundation.
Acquiring West Ballenas Island could act as a catalyst for garnering support from the Snaw-Naw-As (Nanoose) First Nation, the province and federal government for creating a world-class marine protected area in one of B.C.’s most threatened ecosystems, according to the foundation. It has raised 76 per cent of its goal.