Land swap a win-win say participants

A land swap between the Municipality of North Cowichan and the The Nature Trust of B.C. will benefit the community.

A land swap between the Municipality of North Cowichan and the The Nature Trust of British Columbia will benefit the community in two ways, say the groups.

The municipal land being traded will end up as a conservation area while the land the municipality gets in return will enable the completion of the region’s dike system and storm flood pump station.

“I am very pleased that we’ve been able to work with The Nature Trust of BC for the conservation of the Somenos Marsh area, while also protecting the urban areas within the University Village and the City of Duncan from a one in 200 year flood event,” said Mayor Jon Lefebure in a press release issued Sept. 2.

North Cowichan loses ownership of the land north of the dike (between the Trans Canada Highway and the dog park at Lakes Road) but gains lands on the east and west side of the Trans Canada Highway, north of Beverly Street.

“It has been six years since the 2009 flood, and with the completion of the final phase of diking, those previously-affected areas will be protected,” Lefebure said.

He was pleased the land the municipality is giving up will be used for conservation purposes.

With the transfer, “we will also be able to achieve the objectives of North Cowichan’s Official Community Plan to protect environmentally sensitive areas,” he said.

Nature Trust CEO Jasper Lament said the land swap enables the group to add a significant amount of land to its current Somenos Marsh Holdings.

The Nature Trust of British Columbia first acquired land at Somenos Marsh in 1976 to conserve habitat for a wide variety of migratory and resident birds as well as several species of salmonids,” he said. “Dedicating these lands for conservation purposes will help sustain the ecological values of Somenos Marsh. It will also assist The Nature Trust of B.C. and our local community stakeholders in furthering the restoration, enhancement and management objectives, including the use of wildlife-friendly agriculture.”