Preserving Gabriola from clearcutting and development
The controversial “parks in return for development” deal sought in the 1990s for the Weldwood lands in the centre of Gabriola Island, its rejection, and the subsequent clear-cutting of those lands by local loggers profoundly shocked our community and we became acutely aware of the lack of public land, trail access, and preserved ecosystems on Gabriola Island. In those days, there was no Cox Community Park, no Elder Cedar Nature Reserve, no 707 Community Park, no Coats Marsh Park, and there were many fewer legitimate public trails.
In the late 1990s and around 2000, members of the Gabriola Walking Group engaged in discussions about public trail access, as did the Gabriola Horse Group; and the Gabriola Land Conservancy people were advocating for the preservation of ecosystems on the island. They were all actively promoting ideas that later became central to GaLTT’s philosophy and action.
In 2002, the RDN purchased the lands now known as Cox Community Park on behalf of Electoral Area B (Gabriola, Mudge, and De Courcy Islands). The Electoral Area B Parks and Open Spaces Action Committee (POSAC) was inaugurated in June, 2003, providing an avenue of liaison between the RDN and our community. Several POSAC members recognised that a Gabriola community-based registered charitable society could be beneficial in fundraising and organizing volunteers for park and trail initiatives.
Through 2004 a group of Gabriolans coalesced to establish a registered society to advocate for more park and trail access, and to provide a vehicle to raise funds for land and trail acquisition. The Gabriola Land and Trails Trust was formally founded in the Fall of 2004.
The constitution and by-laws were drafted by founding members Carol and Stewart Boyce, Peter Drodzd, Ron Holmes, Andre Lemieux, Gail and Gus Lund, Kerry Marcus, Colin Masson, Gary McCollum, John McCormick, and Ernie Rushworth.
Community support was strong and more than 80 people attended the first AGM. Kerry Marcus was elected the first President, and Colin Masson Vice-president. Other elected board members included Marilyn Beaubien, Carol Boyce, Dyan Dunsmoor-Farley, Em Gavin, Nigel Hart, Ron Holmes, Bart Jessup, Paula Maddison, and David Swanson (who resigned after the first meeting post AGM). After the AGM, Richard Welsh was appointed to the Board to serve as Treasurer.