The Feb. 1 deadline to save Mary Lake has come and gone, but the campaign to raise $1 million has taken a twist.
After months of fundraising to secure the pristine, 107-acre property in Highlands, the Mary Lake Conservancy is looking into obtaining bank financing to purchase the land.
The deal remains tentative, but the MLC is negotiating with the Brotherston estate, which owns the property, to give the group until the end of February to secure a $3.4 million loan, said MLC director Bob McMinn, using fundraised cash as collateral.
The purchase price of the property is $4.4 million. The MLC is also negotiating with the estate to loan it $1 million to cover the remainder, McMinn said.
He is hoping to raise another $50,000 this month to bring the fundraising total to about $300,000.
“What has transpired is the executors suggested they would take a second mortgage on the property,” he said. “I am very pleased that (the family) is following the desire to have this land become park.”
“In the past five weeks the campaign has gained significant momentum,” added McMinn, 86, who was the first mayor of Highlands. “We have established ourselves and our credibility now.”
Terms and conditions of a loan from the estate isn’t yet clear, although McMinn said the bank loan would be given priority to pay off. The family has generously put themselves second in line for repayment, he said.
Since last October, the MLC has “sold” 17,228 square metres of the Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem, nearly a third of its 65,000 square metre goal, through an innovative online campaign that employs social media.
In that spirit, last week the MLC hosted a web-a-thon fundraiser at Cabin 12 restaurant in Victoria in hopes of reeling in more donations. The telethon-type fundraiser drew political figures, musicians and environmental activists for a live-streamed Internet event. Guy Dauncy, Vicky Husband, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, among other environmental advocates threw in their support.
“We had a full roster of speakers,” said MLC volunteer Pattie Whitehouse. “Over January 27 and 28 we raised $10,000 associated with the web-a-thon.”
At this point, the MLC directors are looking at expanding into other fundraising ideas and concepts, Whitehouse said. “The ideas are still in the works.”
“We will be looking at getting bigger grants through agencies and getting bigger donations,” McMinn said. “Right now we have be getting individual and relatively small donations.”
The Power of Many video contest has come to a close, with the top 10 videos chosen and judging underway. Winners will be announced Feb. 6 and cash prizes will be awarded.
Check out www.savemarylake.com to donate and for more information. Check out twitter.com/SaveMaryLake to find the links for the event videos.