The dream began in 1992 when Art Skipsey, an ex-mayor of Qualicum Beach, met the head of the Vancouver Foundation at a conference in Port Alberni and was intrigued with the idea of starting a foundation in his own community.
In April, 1998, the Recreation Commission of District 69 held a strategy session to vision the community of the future. Art was there and put forward the idea of starting a community foundation in the district. It started small, with a group of six people who began to work together on what was eventually the Parksville-Qualicum Community Foundation. These pioneers were: Rick Foster, David Freeman, Karen Flannery, Brad Wylie, Jim Storey and Brent Johnson.
These founders sought advice from other community foundations of the area and Community Foundations of Canada about how to proceed and were told that they must incorporate as a non-profit and elect a Board of Directors. By January 1999 a first public meeting was held. Memberships were sold at this meeting and a founding meeting was set for February 24, 1999 at the Qualicum Beach Civic Center. A board of 17 community minded citizens was elected at this founding meeting.
The first challenge of the new Board was to begin to build its Community Fund. The Vancouver Foundation helped by providing two matching grants of $25,000. By the end of year one, the Community Fund stood at just over $116,000. Operating funds were contributed by the Coastal Community Credit Union, the Lions Club, Kiwanis Club, and the Canadian Legion.
The Foundation’s goal is to build permanent endowment funds totaling $5.0 million by the year 2020. At present the total equity of all funds is almost $2 million. The income earned on these funds is paid back to the community through grants which are awarded on an annual basis.
The Foundation’s status is a non-profit and tax exempt grant making organization. It provides tax receipts for all donations over $10. Governance comes from an independent and voluntary Board of Directors who are broadly representative of the community. It is an operational board without paid staff. This means that the board members, supported by a number of standing committees, contribute to the day to day running of the Foundation. The Foundation relinquished its office space at the train station in Qualicum Beach and as of October 2012, has become a “virtual organization” making use of email, the telephone and the internet to stay in contact with its members and the public.
Our Foundation is one of 170 similar organizations located all over Canada. There are hundreds more around the world. We are members of Community Foundations of Canada, a national voice for this movement to use local resources and local stakeholders to find local solutions. Together, Community Foundations help Canadians invest in their vibrant communities to make them strong and resilient places to live, work and play.