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TLC - The Land Conservancy

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#1 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 June 2010 - 01:27 PM

I don't think we have a dedicated thread for TLC. I'm no environmentalist, but I have a lot of respect for what TLC does, and what they get done with private fundraising.


Conservancy Concerns
Posted By: Jason Youmans
06/09/2010 8:00 AM

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. All is not well at The Land Conservancy . . . again.

Last September, elections to TLC’s board of directors brought to the organization’s helm a slate of candidates who promised to return co-founder and executive director Bill Turner—ousted from the top spot by the previous board—to the head of the organization.


However, Monday has learned that since February, three board members have resigned from the beloved land trust, all citing the same grievances that pitched the organization into tumult last summer—discord with TLC’s senior staff, concerns about the transparency of its accounting and an ongoing debate about the appropriate level of risk the charity should carry. Gone from the new board of directors are Vancouver businessperson Elspeth McVeigh, former Saanich municipal councillor and seniors advocate Carol Pickup and UVic scientist Barry Glickman.


TLC’s monthly operating expenses—which include paying staff, running vehicles, maintaining properties and paying down debt—are over $250,000.


#2 Mike K.

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Posted 16 August 2010 - 12:01 PM

The TLC just issued a press release:

Labour Day Marks a Labour of Love at TLC’s Ross Bay Villa

VICTORIA, B.C. – What do microscopes, scalpels, paintbrushes, dental picks, a sewing machine, and an antique printing press have in common? They have been used to restore the Dining Room of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia’s Ross Bay Villa. Many years of work by TLC volunteers will culminate this Labour Day weekend with the official unveiling of the meticulous restoration of this room on Monday, September 6, 2010.

Thousands of volunteer hours have transformed a once badly deteriorated space back into an elegant 1860s Dining Room for all to admire. The ornate mirror reflects the glow of a handsome oil-lamp, hanging over a dining table set for breakfast with period china. Dark Victorian furniture and an oriental carpet set off the classic wallpaper and heavy velvet drapes. Every detail is appropriate to the 1860s period in which the Villa was built, and represents an astonishing labour of love by a number of heritage professionals and skilled artisans and artists. Specialist craftspeople on the project have included an historic wallpaper designer, a retired paperhanger, a lath-and-plaster expert, a conservator, a heritage carpenter, a cabinet-maker, a heritage mason, and a textile specialist. But many more of the volunteers are everyday people with a love for heritage, all of whom have painstakingly scraped away the layers of paint and wallpaper, and restored the original baseboards, door, frames, floor, glass, and fireplace.

“TLC is extremely lucky to have such a wonderful group of dedicated volunteers,” says Deborah Hudson, TLC’s Vancouver Island Regional Manager. “A number of volunteers have been working weekly at the Villa for 10 years or more.”

“Time: That’s what it took to make this room and project a success,” says professional conservator Simone Vogel-Horridge. “Restoring the plaster ceiling-rose alone probably took a hundred hours, with volunteers working on a scaffold at neck-breaking angles! And every Saturday you can find a volunteer working away methodically on a section of the Villa, and the results are breathtaking. When you walk into the Dining Room, it is like you are going to sit down for dinner with the Roscoes, the original family to occupy the home in 1865.”

Please join TLC’s Ross Bay Villa Labour Day Lawn Party on Monday, September 6, 1 – 4 p.m. Admission to the grounds and heritage group displays are free. Visitors may also enjoy a comprehensive tour of the Villa for an additional $7.00 and traditional ‘Cream Tea’ on the lawn for $7.00. Period 1800s music will also be provided by the Windrift Woodwind Quintet.

Ross Bay Villa is a rare 1865 colonial cottage, one of about a dozen buildings of this era known to survive in the Capital Region. Located at 1490 Fairfield Road in Victoria, this historic site is directly opposite historic Ross Bay Cemetery. TLC purchased the property in April 1999 rescuing it from demolition. Under professional guidance, a dedicated group of volunteers is bringing the building back to its 1865 appearance. TLC intends to restore the building as a multi-use facility including period rooms and interpretive displays open to the public, and office rental space for local heritage organizations. With the restoration nearly complete, the Old Cemeteries Society is poised to be the first group to move into one of the offices. The 1860s style garden will also be available for small gatherings such as weddings.

For further information:

Heather Skydt, TLC Communications Manager, 604-733-2313, hskydt@conservancy.bc.ca

Bill Turner, TLC Executive Director, 250-479-8053, bturner@conservancy.bc.ca

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#3 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 02:39 AM

Well, a series of articles in the TC today have made them no friends at the TLC. Here is one, but there are three more online at the TC:

Financial worries raised over prime TLC properties

Three former board members say they're distressed by mortgaging of heritage sites and green spaces

By Judith Lavoie and Carla Wilson, Times Colonist September 15, 2010 1:05 AM

Financial practices at The Land Conservancy could put at risk dozens of landmark heritage properties and iconic wild spaces throughout the province, three former board members say.

Read more: http://www.timescolo...l#ixzz0zaqM0OxG
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#4 Bernard

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:24 AM

The TLC is suffering from Founder's Syndrome. Non profits that do not have their founder step down within ten years of starting tend to so completely enthralled to the founder that the organization is the founder and ultimately fails when the founder leaves/dies.

The TLC needs Bill Turner to leave and needs to clearly know who is taking over to run things and it can not be a proxy for Bill Turner. The board had made the right decision when they removed him as Exec Director, but when he engineered the coup against the board and put himself back in the job he doomed the organization.

I suspect that the TLC will collapse within the next two years, it may not happen, but most likely it will and the fate of the properties will be up in the air. People need to prepare to have to save many of the properties all over again

#5 spanky123

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:48 AM

When I read that they had used an endowment to pay for the Madrona purchase they lost me as a fan. Vendor financing / mortgages are one thing but using funds for a purchase other than what was intended is another.

The robbing Peter to pay Paul scheme always ends badly.

#6 Rob Randall

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:57 AM

Devil's Advocate here, (not advocating financial mismanagement!)

Can it be argued that the dangerous juggling resulted in saving land that would have been lost to development otherwise?

"[Randall's] aesthetic poll was more accurate than his political acumen"

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#7 North Shore

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:08 PM

^ Sure, but if the whole thing falls apart in a mass of unserviceable debt, then the same forces that were interested (in developing?) the properties in the first place will be back - with the same interests in mind...
Say, what's that mountain goat doing up here in the mist?

#8 Bernard

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 12:50 PM

If the TLC falls apart, there is going to be a nightmare. Land conservancy organizations have a duty to the donors and the public to be fiscally very conservative so they can secure the property long term.

Who gets the properties if the TLC goes under? The banks will place them on the open market and sell them meaning the whole point of buying them has lost. There will be a public cry to save the properties and an expectation of government to buy them.

I think local governments in this region should send a clear letter to the TLC saying they will not step in to save the properties when the TLC goes under due to financial problems.

In my opinion the TLC lacks focus and has purchased properties that had no real need to be 'saved' as they were not under threat from much. The TLC seems to approach land acquisition on the basis of what catches the fancy of the Exec Director. There seems be a fair of bait and switch going on, people donate for property X and the money is used for operations Y.

The TLC board needs to clean house and spend a couple of years fixing the mess, like the previous board was trying to do.

#9 yodsaker

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 01:05 PM

Is TLC a case of well-meaning amateurs in charge? Or just too much granola?
The Madrona farm affair is disturbing because it certainly can be seen as misappropriation of funds or "false pretenses". If I were Teck Corp. I'd be pretty angry seeing as those monies were donated for use in Teck's local area.

#10 Sue Woods

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 02:41 PM

Land conservancy organizations have a duty to the donors and the public to be fiscally very conservative so they can secure the property long term..

And CRA regulations require all non-profits to provide regular updates to donors - which Tech Corp has not been recieving according to TC article this week. Would be interesting to know how much of Tech's $400,000 donation has been applied elsewhere - and a breakdown of TLC admin costs as well. I'd think this would be public record?

#11 spanky123

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Posted 30 September 2010 - 03:13 PM

And CRA regulations require all non-profits to provide regular updates to donors - which Tech Corp has not been recieving according to TC article this week. Would be interesting to know how much of Tech's $400,000 donation has been applied elsewhere - and a breakdown of TLC admin costs as well. I'd think this would be public record?

My reading of the TC article is that the entire $400K was used to fund the Madrona purchase and that the property maintenance the original $400K endowment was intended to provide was not completed.

#12 forestgranny

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 05:53 PM

Bill Turner and his Land Conservancy of B.C. team have helped us preserve land on Salt Spring Island. I was involved in one such successful fundraising when the whole community and people across the world gave to save a portion of temperate rainforest bisected by a salmon stream. Bill was a mentor every step of the way. See http://www.savesalts...grainforest.com for details. This land would have been lost forever to development had it not been for TLC. In the past 13 years over 300 properties have come under the protection of TLC. Every financial report is on line and I was at the AGM and heard the auditor's comments. Let's not weaken this great organization and the land it protects. All details must be understood in the context of saving land for generations to come.

#13 spanky123

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Posted 04 October 2010 - 06:59 PM

Few people are saying that the TLC hasn't done good work. Your argument is that the end justifies the means. May be, but there was a follow up article in the TC yesterday regarding Teck and their displeasure that their funds were misallocated. This is a slippery slope and the TLC is going to find that the negative press takes a big bite out of donations in the near term. Whether they can recover given their $300K a month in overhad costs remains to be seen.

#14 Bingo

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 06:46 AM

If a TLC property has a mortgage, it really isn't "SAVED" if the whole thing collapses. In 2006 the mortgage on Abkhazi Garden was $455,000, and the 2010 financial statment shows it at $1,052.411.


#15 Bernard

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 10:08 AM

I am looking through the financial statements of the TLC and at the moment it is not financially sustainable unless they are able to get about $2 million in cash donations per year. Anything less and the group will suffer from serious cash flow problems. In 2009/10 they improved their cash flow situation it would seem, but 2008/09 was not so good.

Their accounts are not clear at all because the TLC is very land rich but cash poor. The donation of a piece of land is recorded as a current year revenue and makes the income statement look much better than it would seem. They clearly have a lot tied up in land but it is not clear to me that they have enough money to sustain the organization.

There is also movement of money around in the accounts that is not clear. There is a $400,000 endowment fund that I am not certain if it ended up in the restricted or unrestricted fund.

They currently carry about $5.2 million in debts on about $31,000,000 of properties. Not all their debts are secured.

Their restricted fund, which is where the properties are recorded, is going up in value, but the unrestricted fund has $3.2 million more in liabilities than assets.

If there were no new campaigns to buy land, would the TLC bring in enough income to sustain itself? If it needs to find new properties to save so that it can fundraise effectively, how many can it buy before it becomes a problem?

#16 Bingo

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Posted 29 April 2011 - 02:39 PM

The Land Conservancy is up to its old antics again, with staff deferring part of their salary. Apart from donations, they have very few revenue generating properties. The TC story claims that Abkhazi Garden makes some revenue, but has an outstanding mortgage of $1.17 million owing. This same mortgage was down to under $500,000 a few years ago, but was remortgaged to allow TLC to "SAVE" other properties.

I doubt that they can maintain this shell game, and ask staff to defer salaries much longer; let alone attract $10 million from investors.


#17 Bingo

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 04:34 PM

Merv Wilkinson has died just shy of his 98th birthday.

Mervyn Wilkinson was awarded the Order of Canada and the Order of B.C. and was given an honorary degree for his commitment to sustainable logging techniques.

He co-authored a book Wildwood: A Forest for the Future, that continues to be sold worldwide. Wildwood near Yellowpoint, was sold to the Land Conservancy in 2000 with the hopes that eco-forestry would continue to be taught.

According to those who spoke at his memorial service on Saturday, the teaching by TLC is not happening.

Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/forester+Merv+Wilkinson+died/5344909/story.html#ixzz1Xh3BVreS

#18 Bernard

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 04:48 PM

Merv Wilkinson and family have been unhappy with how the TLC has managed the property for a couple of years now.

#19 Bingo

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:35 PM

Consolidated Financial Statements of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia

and the auditors report as signed Sept. 15, 2011


#20 Baro

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Posted 20 September 2011 - 06:47 AM

I can't go into details but I sort of worked with the TLC a little on a project and it soured me on the org. They were GIVEN a gift worth a hundred grand or so, which would have saved them thousands a year, but they never actually used their gift because they were so unorganized and apparently couldn't get funding for a few thousand to actually install/use the extremely valuable equipment they were given, so it all sits decaying.
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