As the Western Communities surrounding Metchosin continue to grow in population and vitality, the residents of Metchosin increasingly view their role as preserving the plant and animal life in this region, together with the rivers, lakes, wetlands and marine areas that support this healthy, rural environment.
With those goals in mind, the Metchosin Foundation was created as a registered charity to achieve three overarching goals: to encourage and support the rural nature of the district, to support and maintain a harmonious community, and to preserve and safeguard the flora and fauna of its unique ecosystems for the benefit of all Canadians.
Chris Pratt, a man whose roots in the community date back to 1925, the year he was born, chairs the foundation’s board. He says the not-for-profit society that was established a few years back to raise money for conservation has been well received by the community.
“With events like our Halloween dance, the annual Apple Festival, the Bio-Blitz and our Talk and Walk program, it’s raised our profile as an organization,” he says. “It’s an indication that there is support for keeping Metchosin the way it is.”
The Talk and Walk program specifically has proven a great way to educate and inform residents and others interested in the natural attributes of Metchosin. Professional naturalists, some of whom live in the district, present talks on the flora and fauna of Metchosin and issues of importance, then take participants on walks to give them a hands-on connection to the topics of discussion.
“We’ve had 70 or more people attend the talks, Pratt says. “Forty to 50 is not unusual.”
As with all foundations, the goal is to raise enough money to create endowments that support the foundation’s conservation and community goals. “Fundraising is a bit of a preoccupation.”
Among the group’s goals are the creation of conservation covenants on private land. Pratt estimates that it costs upwards of $10,000 to create a legal covenant that will protect sensitive ecosystems in perpetuity. A first victory in that department came when the Elrod family, owners of a 10-acre piece of property on Blinkhorn Mountain called Ty Mynydd, worked with the foundation, the Habitat Acquisition Trust and the Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society to formally protect this stand of oaks and old growth fir that provides crucial cover for bears and cougars.
The foundation is currently working on raising funds to secure a second covenant, for lands bordering Langford, where development is fast encroaching on the rural municipality.
The group’s activities have attracted the attention of at least one high-profile group. The Victoria Foundation, one of the oldest in Canada and very well established financially, has offered to match funds invested with it by the Metchosin Foundation.
Whatever it takes to produce a long-term funding source, Pratt says. “The better capitalized we are the more we can do.”
The foundation is always looking to recruit new ideas and new members. While its major registration event happens at its annual general meeting in the spring, interested parties can find out more by visiting metchosinfoundation.ca or by calling Pratt directly at 250-478-3817.
– with files from Carol Carman