A man who made his fortune in British Columbia selling security is giving back to the provincial community he calls home — including making a $700,000 gift earlier this week to the Osoyoos community.
Victoria businessman Bob Conconi, through a foundation he administers with his wife Diane, has deeded a $700,000 property to the care of the Town of Osoyoos.
The 1.02-hectares is contained within two parcels located at 6010 Maple Drive in the community’s east end.
“We ended up owning this property and went through a process of what to do with it,” explained Sanja Simic, the Robert L Conconi Foundation’s Executive Director. “We’re certainly not a developer or an operating charity that runs programs, but we wanted to make sure that whatever takes place is something of value to the community.”
The foundation, she explained, primarily grants in three different sectors — poverty and economic security, health care and education — and expects the Town will provide for a development on the property that fits within the foundation’s mandate.
[wps_pullquote style=”classic” align=”left”]“Each of us have a responsibility to leave this world in a better place than we found it. The Foundation is our family’s way of contributing.” — Bob Conconi[/wps_pullquote]
“We didn’t want to be the ones dictating what the needs in the community are or what should be built there,” said Ms. Simic. “So we decided to seek out a partner and find someone who has the local knowledge and the expertise and can responsibly conduct this process and eventually can build on that property.”
The foundation, she added will “have an ongoing relationship” to ensure the property’s development “shares the purpose of the community and it’s used for public good.”
“We’ll be in discussions with the Town on what that will look like,” she said. “Nothing has been determined or pre-set when it comes to that.”
The alternative, she said, was for the property to be sold to the business sector for commercial development.
“That’s really what we wanted to prevent from helping,” said Ms. Samic. “Our options were we either sell that property or we find a partner who will responsibly take care of that property and build something that will be used for that community.”
Although promising to include the Osoyoos community in its decision-making, the Town doesn’t expect to begin and engagement process to determine a relevant use for the property until 2019.
“There’s no discussion (right now) about what the future development could be, but they’ve given us a fair chuck of land that can be used for some community purpose,” said Osoyoos CAO Barry Romanko.
“It’s going to take time; that’s why it’s in the 2019 business plan for the engagement. “We’ll be taking a look at what we want to develop in the land in 2019.”
The property is tied by strata development agreement to Palms by the Lake and the Town is now in discussions with the Palms to enable a subdivision of the donated property from Phase One of the Palms development, Mr. Romanko said.
“The Palms was a three-phase development and only Phase One was developed,” he explained, adding the property contains some elements of Phase Two.
Ms. Simic describes Mr. Conconi as a self-made businessman, originally from Victoria, who made his mark by establishing Canadian Securities Registration Services, which provides title search and registration services for chattel properties.
“When he sold that company, he and his wife decided they should set up a foundation — they had more than what they needed to live comfortably — so they decided to endow some of their assets and set up a foundation to give back to the community.”
Since 2003, the foundation has donated more than $6 million to organizations and communities across British Columbia. The foundation’s state goal is to “form partnerships that aim to add value to our communities.”
For more information about the Robert L Conconi Foundation, visit conconi.org.
What are your initial thoughts on a great community use for this property? Please share them below.