The Land Conservancy faces tough road ahead

Non-profit looks at ‘bold and innovative’ ways to move forward at Nov. 3 annual general meeting

Supporters of The Land Conservancy are holding their breath to see how the B.C. non-profit will weather the worst financial crisis it has faced in its 15-year history.

TLC, which owns and manages 300 protected properties worth $32 million across the province – including Sooke Potholes and Madrona Farm in Saanich – is currently undergoing massive restructuring after its bank accounts were temporarily frozen by Canada Revenue Agency last month for unpaid taxes.

The federal agency has since released TLC’s accounts, allowing staff to be paid and freeing up $23,000 for an immediate tax payment.

It now faces the difficult task of rebuilding trust with its 8,000 members while trying to woo more, and must navigate its way through a short-term debt repayment plan with minimal revenue options.

“We have faced difficult financial situations before, but the current economic situation demands we take an innovative and bold look at the way we do everything,” said Al Craighead, TLC board chair, and Kathleen Sheppard, acting executive director, in a joint statement.

Sheppard took over when founder Bill Turner retired in June.

The organization’s financial problems were apparent as far back as 2009, when internal disagreements boiled into the public sphere.

Internal critics at the time said Turner had been too focused on acquiring properties without due concern for stretching TLC finances too thin.

Proponents of Turner cited the necessity to respond quickly to new opportunities, while Craighead and Sheppard said TLC’s acquisitions have saved “properties of natural, cultural and agricultural significance when others said it was impossible.”

Board member Briony Penn said in a letter to members that TLC’s board of directors is working on a sustainability plan that is expected to be revealed at the non-profit’s annual general meeting Nov. 3.

Immediate measures include reducing of staff from 60 to 12, moving to donated office space and paying down capped short-term debt.

TLC’s Long-term initiatives will build on core membership to generate steady revenue, and look at alternative management options for its properties.

An action plan will be agreed upon in November and finalized before the 2013 annual meeting, said Craighead and Sheppard.

TLC’s own bylaws, standards of practices and charity legislation prevent it from selling its conservation properties to generate revenue, although in a worst case scenario, properties could be transferred to other charitable organizations with a similar mandate, Penn said.

TLC is expecting two significant government grants before the end of the calendar year as well, she said.

Across the province, TLC is involved with 300 projects totaling about 48,500 hectares.

Created in 1997, TLC is a non-profit charitable land trust that works throughout the province protecting habitat for plants, animals and natural communities as well as properties with historical, cultural, scientific or recreational values.

– with files from Nanaimo News Bulletin

Just Posted

Community rallies behind Langford man battling lymphoma

More than $20,000 has been raised to help Mike Gordon

Career fair inspires Royal Bay students

Inaugural event brought together 72 workers from various fields

U-Bicycle plans to ride into Esquimalt

Dockless bike share service launched last fall in Victoria, aims to spread across CRD

Group calls for limited access to backcountry roads near Jordan River

Victoria Fish and Game Protective Association says closures would limit misuse of woods

Saanich Police speed reader board stolen

Traffic safety device taken from the 4700 block of Interurban Road

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

Women’s Expo seeks to empower women this weekend

Victoria Women’s Expo set for Saturday and Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre

Rescued Comox canoer credits those ‘at the right place, at the right time’

James Milne was rescued in a hypothermic state Sunday near Goose Spit

Proposed gun bill attacked by gun owners and shooting victims

The federal government tabled the bill today in order to tighten the sale and tracking of firearms

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals of the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

B.C. bravery, public service honoured by Governor General Julie Payette

UVic basketball coach Kathryn Shields inducted into Order of Canada

Sea lion with rope wrapped around neck saved by Vancouver Aquarium

Steller sea lions are a species of special concern and some populations are endangered in parts of Alaska

B.C. can learn from Washington’s wine industry growth

Winery owner cites importance of industry collaboration

50-million-year-old fossil found in B.C. town makes history

Paleontologist Dr. Bruce Archibald says Princeton, B.C. is becoming famous for giving up rare fossils

Most Read