A stewardship group that would be responsible for fundraising and the maintenance of the aging Elkington Heritage House is being proposed.
Sheila Kitson and Paul Gowland asked for support for the idea from the Municipality of North Cowichan at its council meeting on Feb. 15. The two-storey historic house on Maple Bay Road is owned by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.
Kitson said the Elkington House, built in 1895 by William Howard Elkington, and property have “languished” since 2008 when the residence became the first house in North Cowichan to be given heritage designation by council.
She said she’d be willing to begin the process of forming the stewardship group if all parties agree to its formation, and also asked council if North Cowichan would provide funding of up to $25,000 to replace the structure’s failing roof and gutter systems.
“The Nature Conservancy of Canada has no mandate to put time or money into the house,” Kitson said.
“We’re also asking the municipality to consider negotiating a transfer of ownership of the property to North Cowichan. Acquisition costs are negotiable and could be low,” she said.
“The property could be made into a destination park and the proposed non-profit steward society would be responsible for raising funds for it.”
Coun. Tom Walker said he’s “always interested” in the Elkington house and the surrounding area.
“I’m just one voice in seven and I’m making no commitment at this time on what decisions will be made on the property, but I will be paying close attention to see what the community thinks of these proposals,” he said.
In 1998, sparked by the initiative of Barb Stone who feared that the historic property would be developed, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, the Cowichan Land Trust Society and the Cowichan Valley Naturalists’ Society raised approximately $800,000 with which to purchase the Elkington estate.
They wanted to preserve it mainly for the endangered Garry oak trees which grow on much of the 50-plus acres that remains of what was at one time a 300-acre dairy farm.