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General News · 3rd December 2015
Yifan Li
Dear friends and supporters,

We, the board of the 591 Society, have made the difficult decision to end our effort to acquire the property at 591 Whaletown Road. We have promises of about 2/3 of the capital we wanted for the purchase, and monthly pledges to about half the amount needed to repay a loan. Although the purchase deadline has not yet arrived, we do not believe we have the resources to purchase the property and follow through responsibly.

We are ever grateful to you, our Cortes community, for your help in this endeavor. We would like to extend a “thank you” first and foremost to Trude for her support of this vision, for giving so much, and asking so little in return. We are also grateful to Trude’s fundraising team: Izzy, Bobbi, and Mario, for their hard work in getting the ball rolling, and to Noba for her fundraising assistance.

We would also like to thank Richard Glickman for his support of our effort, especially for providing a clear timeframe for us to work around; Frances Guthrie and Jay Havelaar for their help and advice; and VanCity Credit Union for their generous offer of financing.

Finally, a big “Thank you!” to all of our friends and neighbours who share the vision.

Unfortunately, the barriers we faced proved to be insurmountable. The brief timeframe we had to work with was challenging and prevented us from implementing a coherent fundraising campaign. We acknowledge that some community members had very legitimate concerns, some of which we were able to address and others which had no easy answers. We also understand that there have been several other significant asks for capital recently and that monetary resources are finite.

Still, we did surprisingly well considering the short timeline, and we put together a network of people who support this idea and can continue to discuss, brainstorm and come up with a more successful campaign next time.

All the support we received suggests that the idea of a Whaletown “village green” is very much alive. Many members of our community miss having a social space, and we have lacked the means to build a viable local economy for some time now. These needs will not disappear. We will have other opportunities in the future to build a different model of community and economy.

It seems that Cortes Whaletown anyway is not quite ready to take the leap into this specific model of community and business. Not today anyway; many good ideas on Cortes have taken years or even decades to grow from initial inspiration to functional reality, and our first attempt at a dedicated space for community enterprise in Whaletown shouldn't be seen the only chance to make this happen. We believe this push for community owned commercial land in Whaletown was good to bring to the table and will indeed find its place and time.

591 will continue to exist until we have taken care of all our loose ends; we will be issuing full refunds by January 15, 2016 to everyone who donated to us. Donors who used Electronic Transfer will be reimbursed earlier (you can request this form of reimbursement if you paid using another method). The January 1 date is in anticipation of holiday mail delays and will allow us time to order cheques. To properly acknowledge your collective generosity, we would like to invite all of our supporters to a thank- you event early in the new year.