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Donations needed to land new park in Sooke Region

Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society covets 58-acre Otter Point property

Efforts to purchase a parcel of land for a park in Otter Point are in the home stretch, but the clock is ticking on the deadline.

The Juan de Fuca Trails Community Society has raised about $100,000 in pledges to buy a 58-acre parcel of land for a community park, about $20,000 short of the total required by the end of May.

The society has been assisting efforts by the Juan de Fuca Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee to acquire the property, with the Habitat Acquisition Trust providing a significant amount, said Sid Jorna, president of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society. Jorna is not permitted to divulge the total purchase price at this time.

The land is part of a portion of 130 acres formerly owned by Rear-Admiral John Charles, a long-time Sooke resident who historically gave permission to community members and horseback riders to use the trails.

The portion in question was left in trust for five years after Charles died in 2010.

JDFCTS member Margot Swinburnson said Charles was one of the last commandants of Royal Roads when it was a military college, and there is an intrinsic connection between the two properties.

“There’s an unbelievable variety of wildlife and natural beauty there,” Swinburnson said. “The fungi is like the flowers of the forest. A lot of work has gone into purchasing the property, and it’s nice to see it’s coming to fruition.”

Jorna said the plan would be to maintain the existing trails while keeping the property as wild as possible.

“It’s been undisturbed since the ’60s,” he said. “We see it as a wildlife refuge as well as a community park. This is important because Otter Point has no large parks like this for the community to enjoy.”

Anyone who would like to pledge a donation should contact Jorna at Pledges will be called in when the property is secured.

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About the Author: Rick Stiebel

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