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Victoria woman donates 8 acres in biggest donation in Land Conservancy history

Joan Alston-Stewart left chunk of land in Saanich to TLC, valued in the millions
Joan Alston-Stewart wanted the land in Blenkinsop Valley to be protected to preserve the biodiversity in the area. (Courtesy of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia)

The Land Conservancy of British Columbia received the largest donation in the charity’s 25-year history from a Victoria woman who left a chunk of land in Blenkinsop Valley to the charity in her will.

Joan Alston-Stewart, who died on Feb. 3, 2020, at age 89, left three adjacent properties that total more than eight acres to the conservancy. The donation also included funding to maintain the properties in perpetuity (valued at approximately $3.5 million) and a $40,000 gift to Abkhazi Garden.

Stewart moved to the Saanich valley as a young girl and wanted to see the land protected “to advance the biodiversity of the Blenkinsop Valley,” according to a statement from the charity. Alston-Stewart met with the directors of the conservancy before she died and decided to donate.

“It was an honour to meet with Joan and discuss her history with the Blenkinsop Valley, as well as her vision for the future,” said Cathy Armstrong, TLC executive director. “She was an astute investor who did her homework to ensure our organization was the right steward for her legacy. We are incredibly grateful for her generous donation and look forward to safeguarding the three properties she left in our care.”

Located near Blenkinsop Lake and the Lochside Trail in Saanich, the three properties cover more than eight acres of wetland, Garry oak, and Douglas-fir habitat. The properties currently house single- or dual-family dwellings with significant greenspace and their 2022 assessed value is more than $5.3 million.

TLC’s portion of Alston-Stewart’s estate is valued at around $3.5 million, with the rest split between other charities.

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