Tofino Monks’ Point Property in Jeopardy
Tofino, BC. The District of Tofino announced today that negotiations between the District and The Land
Conservancy for the acquisition of Monks’ Point Property are stalled. The property is in danger of being
lost to the public.
The spectacular two-acre property on the tip of Grice Point (known as Naa-chaaks by the Tla-o-qui-aht
First Nations and also known as Monks’ Point) was home to the Monks family since 1933. Born and raised
on this property, Harold Monks Jr. returned in his retirement wanting to ensure the long-term protection
and public enjoyment of the house and property. Before his death in 2008, he undertook many
conversations with The Land Conservancy (TLC), ultimately bequeathing the property to them in its
entirety, with the understanding that TLC would establish Monks Point Park.
Since 2008, TLC has experienced financial troubles that now place the future of many TLC-owned
properties at serious risk, including Monks’ Point. By October 2013 TLC was in arrears of over seven
million dollars and was granted creditor protection by the court.
“The Land Conservancy has failed to live up to Harold’s dream,” said Mayor Josie Osborne. “In the
absence of its transfer to another land trust or heritage organization, we believe that the District of Tofino
is the appropriate owner, co-owner or custodian of the property. We can execute the wishes of Harold
Monks and preserve this historically and culturally significant site.”
In recognition of the financial difficulties TLC is experiencing, the District of Tofino recently made an
offer to redeem the property for $250,000. As part of this purchase offer, the District further committed to
work with appropriate parties to place a conservation covenant on the property and to respect Harold’s
family’s entitlement to use of the property. To the District’s disappointment this offer was rejected.
Instead, TLC has proposed subdividing the Monks’ property, selling lots on the open market and “gifting”
a portion of the lands to the District. To date the District has declined this TLC proposal with the strong
belief that the property should remain intact.
“We believe that TLC wishes to raise in excess of $1M through this venture,” said Mayor Osborne. “We
consider it to be entirely and utterly inappropriate for the property to be listed and sold at market price so
that TLC can recoup cash from a property that was donated outright and in good faith. This is total
disregard of Harold Monks’ wishes, and completely ignores the community and cultural values attached to
this property. We intend to do whatever we can to save this property for the benefit of future generations.”
Mayor Josie Osborne
District of Tofino
Monks’ Point Background and Timeline
- The site, called ‘Naa-chaaks’ in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, is located in Tla-o-qui-aht First
Nations territory. For thousands of years, it was an important lookout site providing nearly a 270°
view over several Tla-o-qui-aht village sites and out to the open ocean.
- The house was built in 1927 by John Cooper and sold to Harold Monks Sr. in 1933 after the death
of Mr. Cooper’s wife and his decision to move to Australia.
- Harold Monks Sr. and his wife Katie raised their two children, Harold Jr. and Lois, in the family
home and Harold Sr. ran the Imperial Oil marine oil and gas station below the property.
- Born and raised on the property, Harold Monks Jr. purchased the family home from his parents
and lived on it part-time throughout his career as a sea captain. He retired to live full-time again
on the property in 2000.
- Harold Monks Jr. passed away on July 28, 2009, bequeathing the Monks Point property and all
personal and household contents to The Land Conservancy.
- In 2011, TLC entered into discussions about a conservation convent with District staff. A covenant
was never completed.
- In April 2011, TLC applied to rezone the property from RA2 (Acreage Residential District) to CDTLC
(The Land Conservancy Comprehensive Zone). The intent of the CD-TLC Zone was to
ensure that the property would be maintained in its current state while permitting both public and
private use of the land in a manner that would permit the property to be financially sustainable. At
a June 2011 Public Hearing for this rezoning, a TLC representative stated that it was their intention
to protect the natural and heritage values of the property through a conservation covenant. Third
reading of the zoning amendment bylaw was also passed in June 2011. Failure of the TLC to
complete the conservation covenant resulted in Council denying the rezoning application in late
- TLC applied for and received a property tax exemption for the land portion of the property in
2010, 2012, and 2013. They did not apply for an exemption in 2011.
- In July 2012, the District of Tofino received a letter from TLC acknowledging their property tax
debt and requesting forgiveness or a grant. The total amount outstanding at that point was
$7,827.64. As of June 30, 2014 TLC owes the District of Tofino $2,907.83.
- September 2012: the District of Tofino’s Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee recommended that
the District of Tofino restart discussions with The Land Conservancy to ensure that the TLC
understands how important a community asset the Monk’s Property is to the District of Tofino.
- November 2012: TLC presented as a delegation to a District of Tofino Committee of the Whole
meeting to continue to discuss with Council ideas for revenue generation on the property. Council
directed staff to investigate a potential partnership that would address the needs of both
organizations (of the TLC for preservation and the District of Tofino for community space at
Monks Point). Subsequent attempts to contact the TLC were unsuccessful.
- In 2013, Council continued to direct staff to pursue discussion with The Land Conservancy
regarding conservation covenants and public use of Monks property, and further requested that a
delegation of staff and Council meet with The Land Conservancy as soon as possible. Despite
several attempts to contact TLC, no response was received nor any meetings held.
- In 2013, TLC applied for and was denied a property tax exemption for 2014.
- February 2014: TLC staff responded positively when contacted by the mayor regarding permission
to conduct a public open house on the property.
- March 21, 2014: two TLC consultants visited the District of Tofino to present the idea of property
subdivision. It was agreed that further discussions on property acquisition should take place after
the community open house and survey.
- March 29, 2014: The District of Tofino and the Tofino-Clayoquot Heritage Society conducted an
Open House on the property and subsequently conducted a community survey of over 200
residents. In that survey, 92% of respondents supported long-term preservation of the Monks
Point property and 75% of surveyed residents were in favour of the District of Tofino acquiring
- May 20, 2014: The District of Tofino’s mayor and CAO met with two TLC board members and a
staff person at TLC’s office in Victoria to present an Offer of Purchase of $250,000.
- May 25, 2014: The District of Tofino received a letter from the TLC containing the proposal of
subdivision and sale and stating that the TLC must realize close to $1M. To date, the District has
declined this proposal.
- The Land Conservancy is one of approximately 33 land trusts operating in the Province of BC. It
is an anomaly amongst them as it is the only one that has used mortgages to buy properties.
- From 2009 to 2012, TLC attempted to restructure the organization in response to concerns about
its governance and financial management.
- On October 7, 2013, TLC was granted creditors protection (pursuant to the Companies’ Creditors
Arrangement Act) and Wolridge Mahon Ltd was appointed Debtors’ Monitor. Under CCAA
protection, all land sales or transfers must be approved by the court. Since October 2013, three
properties have been sold.