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Private island near Nanaimo worth $3.7 million donated for conservation

Betty Swift, who died in 2021, instructed that Link Island be donated to Islands Trust Conservancy
Link Island Nature Reserve. (Carmen Smith photo)

A private island off the coast of Nanaimo is being donated in the highest-value land transfer in the history of the Islands Trust Conservancy.

Link Island, a 21.5-hectare island between Gabriola Island and Vancouver Island valued at $3.73 million, has been donated to the conservancy by Betty Swift, who died in 2021. According to a release from Islands Trust Conservancy, Swift left instructions regarding the land transfer.

The family’s dream is that the Link Island Nature Reserve can become a location for climate-change research.

“This gift is about the future,” said Barbara Swift, Betty Swift’s daughter, in the release. “It is a gift for us all.”

The land transfer means the reserve now has a new conservation covenant held by the Nanaimo and Area Land Trust and the Gabriola Land and Trails Trust, the release noted.

“Having an entire island set aside for conservation is an incredibly rare thing,” said Paul Chapman, executive director of NALT. “I’m excited to see what we do with this unique opportunity, and to work together to find innovative ways to steward the island in the face of climate change.”

Rob Brockley, president of Gabriola Land and Trails Trust, said in the release that the island is “an incredibly generous gift for conservation.”

Linda Adams, chairperson of the Islands Trust Conservancy, said her group is honoured to be entrusted with stewardship of the island.

“It is our intent to manage Link Island in a way that recognizes and protects both its cultural and ecological values,” she said in the release.

The conservancy stated that it is currently developing a management plan and is initiating conversations with multiple First Nations “whose territory and interests” include Link Island.

Link Island is located between Mudge and DeCourcy islands and is connected to both those islands at low tide. According to the release, Link has more than three kilometres of undeveloped shoreline, cliffs, wetlands, sandstone formations, tidal flats, Douglas fir and arbutus trees, prairie oak meadows and threatened species including the western screech own, barn swallow and great blue heron.

The land transfer reserves right of use of the island for Swift’s children and grandchildren, but the island will otherwise remain closed to the public “so it can provide sanctuary to the rare and threatened ecosystems and species that reside there.”

READ ALSO: Island near Nanaimo preserved as park after $4-million donation from Lululemon founder

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Betty Swift, middle, with son-in-law Ted and daughter Hally on Link Island. (Islands Trust Conservancy photo)
Link Island Nature Reserve. (Carmen Smith photo)
The southern point of Link Island. The island, valued at $3.73 million, has been donated to the Islands Trust Conservancy. (Nanaimo and Area Land Trust photo)