The 40-acre Maris Estates oceanfront property has been gifted to the Comox Valley Regional District through the federal Ecological Gifts Program. Photo supplied

40 acres of oceanfront property donated to Comox Valley Regional District to create a park

The Comox Valley Regional District has received a donation of 40 acres (16 hectares) of oceanfront property in the Merville area for use as a park.

On May 13, the CVRD board authorized staff to work with the donor to receive this donation through the federal government’s Ecological Gifts Program. The program provides a way for owners of ecologically sensitive land to protect nature and leave a legacy for future generations. The donation was finalized on Sept. 29, 2022.

The property, identified as Maris Estates, was donated by Christopher Investments, Ltd.

“This is an incredibly kind donation that will benefit so many Comox Valley residents and visitors for years to come,” said Electoral Area C Director Edwin Grieve. “The CVRD would like to thank Christopher Investments Ltd. for this very generous gift.”

The land itself is just off Eagle Drive. There are no structures on the property, and at this time, no access to the oceanfront from area roads.

“Basically, the property is all mature, second-growth forest, with some old growth in there,” explained Mark Harrison, manager of parks for the CVRD. “There are no trails, there is no driveway access or anything like that. It’s basically just wilderness.

“At this stage, we do not want people to go in there – we do not want to promote public use. We just got the land. We still want to do inventory in there, do an assessment and come up with some kind of management plan on what we are going to do with that park.”

The Ecological Gifts Program is based on conservation, so any kind of infrastructure design (i.e. pathways, etc.) must be approved through the program.

“I see in the future, we will probably build in some trails to access the ocean… but there are a lot of restrictions,” said Harrison. “So right now there is no set plan for the site. We just want everyone to know the great news of this pretty incredible, generous donation. But in terms of next steps, all that stuff still needs to be worked on.”

Harrison added that there are plans for an official ribbon cutting and grand reveal sometime this spring, with representatives from the former owners on hand.

“At that stage, we should know better what the possible next steps are,” he said.

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