According to a report on CBC Radio News, the Canada Revenue Agency has seized the bank accounts of The Land Conservancy.
The conservancy is the environmental organization that Upper Clearwater residents Trevor Goward, and John and Edwina Kurta have donated and sold land to over the past few years to assemble a wildlife corridor connecting two lobes of Wells Gray Park.
“I’m not too concerned,” said John Kurta. “I put covenants on the land that it has to remain in its natural state forever. If The Land Conservancy folds, then it would go to some equivalent organization, such as TRU (Thompson Rivers University) or Land Conservancy Canada.”
The retired lawyer said he had been aware that the TLC was having financial difficulties but was fairly confident the organization would survive.
The downturn in the economy resulted in a significant reduction in donations, he said. TLC had responded by laying off staff and seeking relief from its creditors.
According to TLC vice-chair Briony Penn, the organization has $64 million worth of property but has about $6 million in debts.
The property is protected by the Charitable Purposes Preservation Act, which means it can’t be sold to cover the debt, even if they wanted to.
TLC used mortgages, primarily from individuals, to finance some of its land purchases, rather than raising the money through donations first. Those mortgages are only a small part of the problem, said Penn.
She felt the new, smaller organization could survive on only its membership fees plus a few small donations. Unfortunately, that means they have had to lay off the stewards who managed many of their pieces of land. Instead, they will need to rely on volunteers.