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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Latest marsh purchase attempt blocked

Park status has long been sought for Hamilton Marsh but continues to elude after negotiations to purchase the marsh and adjoining lands from its private forest company owners broke down last month. - Submitted
Park status has long been sought for Hamilton Marsh but continues to elude after negotiations to purchase the marsh and adjoining lands from its private forest company owners broke down last month.
— image credit: Submitted

There was more money on the table but those hoping to see Hamilton Marsh set aside as park are again stymied in wake of land owner Island Timberlands' continuing refusal to sell.

Tom Osborne, manager of parks and recreation services for the Regional District of Nanaimo said a Dec. 9 meeting between the RDN, Ducks Unlimited and the forestry company didn't result in the sought after agreement park proponents have been seeking.

"They did not agree to the cash offer brought forward," said Osborne. "If there was a willingness to accept the offer there would be an immediate solution."

The marsh and forested lands south of Qualicum Beach have been identified as a land acquisition priority by the RDN with hopes for regional park status. The 90-acre wetlands along Hilliers Road is an important contributor to water flows, home to more than 120 bird species and has developed trails for recreation.

Island Timberlands "brought forward a plan that would include some protection but it was not consistent with our regional growth strategy," said Osborne noting the forestry company was insisting any deal have allowance for limited forms of land use that were not seen as acceptable.

With negotiations still possible Osborne would not divulge the amount of money involved in the offer.

"At that point we weren't able to discuss things any further. It's now in the hands of Island Timberlands on how they wish to proceed," he said.

Previous negotiations were postponed for nearly a year when the forestry company declared they would not proceed with any deal until after a land analysis review was complete.

Last fall hopes had risen among conservationists on news the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation would join donors already assembled with

a $200,000 contribution towards the cause.

Representatives from Island Timberlands were not available for comment.

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