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Covenant drawn up to protect Oyster River hermit-priest’s land

BLACK CREEK, B.C- The legal agreement to protect the land of Father Charles Brandt along the Oyster River has been set up.

That’s according to an announcement from the Comox Valley Land Trust (CVLT) on Thursday, which said that a conservation covenant had been donated to the trust by Brandt in order to protect the mature forest and riparian areas along the river.

The driveway up to his home, looking back towards the main road. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

“Our sincere thanks to Judy Hager, the Oyster River Enhancement Society, members of the Tsolum River Restoration Society and others who made donations to CVLT in order to cover the costs of covenant establishment and long-term monitoring,” read the announcement.

“Most of all, thanks to Father Charles for all that he has done, and continues to do to protect the rivers and forests of the Comox Valley.”

Brandt has told the newsroom that he always wants a hermit to always live along the Oyster River.

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He’s been living by himself since 1965 on the 27 acres of land along Catherwood Road, just west of the Oyster River fire hall. The ordained Catholic hermit-priest is planning to hand over his land to the Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) after his passing.

According to the land trust, the parkland will be only accessible to pedestrians, and a registered society will lease the hermitage building for use by a “contemplative individual” to carry on the priest-hermit tradition.

“We must fall in love with the Earth, and we only save what we love,” said Father Charles, in the trust’s announcement.

“It is my deep love of contemplation and communion with the natural world that has led me to act in its defense.”

Brandt has previously said that CVRD has agreed to let the building stand, with five to six acres of land around it, as a hermitage.

The CVRD would own the building and the park, and a committee is being formed to maintain the building, separate from the regional district.

The Oyster River home of Father Charles Brandt is pictured on November 21st, 2018. Photo by James Wood/98.9 The Goat/Vista Radio

The CVRD’s Manager of Parks Doug DeMarzo has said he is familiar with Brandt’s wishes, and indicated that the land has not yet been donated to the district at this point.

The district has also confirmed Brandt’s statements on the plans for the district to keep the building intact under their ownership, with a hermit coming to live at the site.

An announcement of the donation terms from the district has not yet been made.

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