The University of British Columbia today announced the sale of its Oyster River Research Farm property to Patrick Evans of Evansdale Farms in Courtenay.
The 1,746-acre property, in Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley, was bequeathed to the university in 1962 with a stipulation that it be used for agriculture teaching and research for 20 years. UBC ceased academic operations in 1999, having moved teaching and research facilities closer to the Vancouver campus. Earlier this year, UBC sought expressions of interest for purchase.
The property, within the Agricultural Land Reserve, is in two non-contiguous blocks, with 1,379 acres on an Upper Farm and 367 acres on the Lower Farm, which fronts the waters of Georgia Straight. The properties contain high-quality agricultural and forestry land, and the local community has invested significant volunteer effort in a salmon hatchery and other environmental enhancements.
“This is a win-win for the university and the community,” said Tom Gunn, President of UBC Investment Management Trust, which is responsible for UBC’s endowment fund. “The community will see a committed local agricultural owner make improvements to the farm while respecting the environmental values for which the community has devoted so much care.
“UBC’s mission is teaching and research. Now, the university can use sale proceeds to honour the original intent of the bequest as endowment funds to support scholarships and research.”
Evansdale has farmed in the Comox Valley since the 1960s. “We don’t want to just realize the agricultural potential value of the land, as great as that is,” Evans said. “We also want to work with our neighbours to preserve the salmon hatchery and we want to discuss with the regional district how we can make the main nature trail safe and accessible.”
Evans says he will retain Montfort House, named after the New York stockbroker Barrett Montfort who donated the land to UBC, in its current use as an education resource centre for the community.
The sale has been approved by the UBC Board of Governors, and requires further approval by the Minister of Advanced Education.