Dear Friends of Nature,

As you may know, Charles Brandt is a deeply respected member of the Comox Valley’s conservation community as well as a spiritual leader. He is acknowledged for his important contributions to the protection and recovery of the both the Tsolum River and the Oyster River. He is also the first ordained Catholic priest-hermit in two centuries and has dedicated the latter half of his life to quiet contemplation about spiritual ecology: the spiritual inter-connections between humans and non-human life on this planet.

While he originally built his hermitage on the banks of the Tsolum River in 1965, in 1970, “Father Charles” as he is known, moved his hermitage to the Oyster River where he had purchased 27-acres of riverfront wild land. Now at the age of 95, he has decided to protect these mature forests and riparian areas for future generations in perpetuity.

He has asked the Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) to hold a conservation covenant over the property to ensure that the conservation values he so deeply believes in, are protected forever. He is currently exploring opportunities to donate the land to the CVRD as parkland (allowing for pedestrian-only public access), but with a registered society in place to lease back the hermitage building (for $1/year) for use by a contemplative individual to carry on in his tradition. Should this proposal succeed, the CVLT covenant will protect the land from the potential for inappropriate parks management in the future (e.g., the development of incompatible park infrastructure such as soccer fields etc.).

Although Father Charles has very kindly offered to donate a covenant over his land, covenants are never actually “free”. CVLT staff have worked to negotiate the specific details of the covenant and to complete the requisite Baseline Documentation Report. The CVLT lawyer has been engaged in drafting the covenant and there are fees charged by the Land Titles Office to register the covenant on the title. Finally, there are long-term monitoring costs.

To ensure compliance with the restrictions of the covenant in the long-term, CVLT (or any other covenant holder) is required to annually monitor covenant compliance in perpetuity. CVLT along with most other Land Trusts have instituted policies to ensure the funding is in place to undertake this obligation each year. The CVLT policy requires that a $10,000 contribution for each new covenant they hold be placed in their endowment fund held by VanCity. This model ensures that the annual disbursement from the endowment is sufficient to cover the costs of CVLT’s annual covenant monitoring expenses.

Combined, these project costs total $20,000. Thanks to the generosity of Father Charles, this is an extremely good return on investment. Particularly in relation to what the costs would be of purchasing 27-acres of high conservation value, sensitive ecosystems on private land along the Oyster River. CVLT and Father Charles are looking to our supporters to consider a financial contribution so that this important project can reach a successful conclusion.

Donations to the project will be matched dollar for dollar up to a maximum of $10,000 by Judy Hager in memory of Bob Hager. Thank you for considering this request. We hope that you appreciate as much as we do, how important it is to protect our remaining wild places in the Comox Valley.

To make a contribution, please visit: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/comox-valleyland-trust/campaign/father-charles-brandt-hermitage-covenant/ Online donations through Canada Helps will automatically generate a tax receipt that is emailed to you immediately. Through the Canada Helps portal, CVLT is also able to receive gifts of stocks/securities, which may have improved tax benefits to some people.

Alternatively, Cheques can be mailed to Comox Valley Land Trust at: PO Box 3462, Courtenay BC, V9N 5N5. Please note on the cheque what the donation is for (e.g., Brandt covenant). Tax receipts associated with cheque or cash donations are mailed out manually by CVLT in the month of December. CVLT is able to arrange for US tax receipts upon request – please contact us first.

A fantastic article about the life of Father Charles is available here:
https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-oracle-of-oyster-river/

And another wonderful piece of writing about him is here:
http://www.sweetgrassrods.com/index.php/hmenu-photos-stories/featured-fish-tale

 

Tim Ennis

Executive Director, Comox Valley Land Trust