In 1990, the Central Okanagan Foundation felt it was time for the central part of the Okanagan Valley to incorporate a Land Trust that could accept land or other material assets, to purchase or hold land for the “preservation, conservation or fostering of nature or wildlife sanctuaries, parks or reserves” for future generations. This new Trust would need to be a charitable organization that could issue receipts for donations. Accordingly, the Foundation struck a small committee to decide on the composition of the new organization, and to determine who should be eligible to stand as a Director including representation from the Central Okanagan Naturalists’ Club, B. C Wildlife Federation, Central Okanagan Heritage Society and others.
The new organization was called Central Okanagan Parks and Wildlife Trust. The Central Okanagan Foundation and the City of Kelowna [whose Mayor and Council heartily endorsed this proposal] each donated $25,000 as ‘seed’ money. The Regional District of Central Okanagan added $9,000 to this total. In the event of dissolution, the Trust is obligated to transfer all of its assets to the Nature Trust of British Columbia for continuous use by citizens. In 2007, the name of the society was simplified to the Central Okanagan Land Trust (COLT).
Regular monthly meetings of COLT began in early 1991. Almost immediately, the Thomson families in the Mission area of Kelowna donated 4.5 acres to the City of Kelowna and requested COLT hold a covenant on the property. This transaction was finally completed in 2006.
A small citizens group on the Westside of the lake wanted to preserve Rose Valley pond, adjacent to Rose Valley Elementary School. Private funds were needed, and COLT donated to this cause, along with other organizations, so the land could be purchased by the Regional District of Central Okanagan and included in the new Rose Valley Regional Park. The Province of B.C. recognized the value of the pond and agreed to lease additional Crown Land to this park, which is now maintained by the Regional District.
From these very modest beginnings, the Central Okanagan Land Trust has continued to grow. Assets in 2012 are approaching $8 million which includes property and convertible assets. The Board of Directors quickly recognized the need to include a local government in the land title where COLT holds property that is used by the general public, such as the Mission Greenway. This partnership with local government helps facilitate the highest and best use of the property on behalf of the donor, the broader Central Okanagan community, and the environment.
In other parts of this website, you can learn more about property that is under COLT’s stewardship. The Board of Directors take a pro-active approach to securing additional lands in the region, particularly those that are sensitive as wildlife habitat; especially ponds and riparian habitat that is fast disappearing in the Central Okanagan.