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Authority and diocese seal deal on Canterbury Hills sale

HCA to pay $200,000 for 25-hectare plot in Dundas Valley

 By Richard Leitner, News Staff

The Dundas Valley Conservation Area is about to expand now that a deal to buy 25 hectares of environmentally sensitive land by the Canterbury Hills Conference Centre and Camp has cleared the final hurdle.

Anglican Diocese of Niagara parish representatives on Saturday approved a sale agreement with the Hamilton Conservation Authority that will allow the church to continue using the grounds.

Canterbury Hills will retain two properties of about two hectares each. One is home to a summer camp, outdoor education centre, pool and playing field; the other houses a conference centre.

Authority chief administrative officer Chris Firth-Eagland said he’s excited to finally acquire the area, which is home to several provincially and nationally rare plants and animals.

He said the authority has been interested in the property for two decades and is paying $200,000, about one-third of its market value.

“It’s a wonderful price, but also they will continue to run their summer camp on the property, which is of benefit to them,” Firth-Eagland said.

“It’s a unique relationship that we have struck and a unique price,” he said. “The diocese has been a very good steward of the land and we will continue their work to protect it for the public for generations to come.”

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird also welcomed the sale, approved during the diocese’s annual Synod on the weekend.

“This mutually beneficial arrangement ensures our ongoing connection to this land and that its uniqueness will continue to be protected and enjoyed by many,” he said in a prepared statement.

Firth-Eagland said a key step in the purchase was the Niagara Escarpment Commission’s decision to allow the property to be severed.

Escarpment protection area policies only allow such severances if no new building lots are created.

“Their report concluded that the severance not only met with their objectives and permitted uses, but it was in the public interest,” he said.

According to a report in the diocese’s January issue of the Niagara Anglican, Canterbury Hills has run deficits for the past five years and the red ink reached an all-time high of more than $400,000 in 2013.

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