By: Nanaimo News Bullitin
Members of The Land Conservancy blocked a move that some say could have paved the way for the sale of Wildwood Ecoforest in Cedar to private interests.
The conservancy, a non-profit land trust, is dealing with an $8-million debt and is attempting to fulfill legal requirements to creditors through a B.C. Supreme Court-approved plan.
It held an extraordinary general meeting on June 12, where a special resolution for bylaw amendments was voted down.
The resolution would have advanced the plan, but according to the Ecoforestry Institute Society, Wildwood managers, it included language that could have taken away Wildwood’s right to be held in the public domain.
According to Kathy Code, society spokeswoman and conservancy member, it isn’t the intention to hamper the conservancy’s ability to pay back creditors. Code said the society wants to secure Wildwood’s future as being in the public domain, which was the wish of the late Merv Wilkinson, former owner and sustainable logging pioneer.
“We had tried to work with TLC on various occasions, through [various strategies] and they were refused, basically to commit to ensuring that Wildwood remains in a trust, in the hands of a charitable purpose society and a non-profit organization.”
The court-approved plan involves transferring of properties and debt forgiveness, according to John Shields, conservancy director of operations, and monies are essential to paying back secured creditors. The bylaw has to be amended or the plan will fail, he said.
Shields said Wildwood will remain unaffected for the time being.
“We are keeping Wildwood out of any next steps until it’s much clearer what we can do with it, that meets the majority of our members’ interests and we have to get to resolve this issue of the transfers,” said Shields.
Shields said the conservancy must weigh its options.
“We have to talk to our lawyers about which is the most effective thing, whether to go back to court or have another meeting. Both are extremely expensive to TLC and we want to do just one thing and get it right,” said Shields.