Canna residents take more control in attempt to double population

Canna residents take more control in attempt to double population

Residents on the Isle of Canna are set to take more control of their island in an attempt to double the population, with a Partnership for Canna launched this week.

The partnership, which brings together the island owners, the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), and the island community, aims to use the skills and experience of all to develop a positive future for the island.

A formal agreement will see residents become more involved in the formal operational and strategic management of the island.

Residents will work with the trust to employ staff, develop island properties, deliver better services for visitors, and look after Canna’s unique cultural and natural heritage.

The Isle of Canna is the westernmost of the Small Isles archipelago. It is home to just 15 residents. A major setback for the island’s plans to grow its population is that currently there are no available empty houses on the island.

The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust (IOCCDT) launched a crowdfunding appeal to complete the £750,000 total of funding required to build the houses.

The community has to raise £200,000 as its contribution to the overall cost, The Herald reports.

The houses will be managed and owned by the community – they will be warm, energy-efficient and let at affordable rents. It is planned to start building the three new community-owned houses in spring next year.

Geraldine Mackinnon, chair of the Isle of Canna Community Development Trust, said: “This is a real step forward for Canna. The National Trust for Scotland have owned Canna since 1981 and, as a community, we have benefited from their ownership.

“However, the time has come to work even more closely together to build a thriving and sustainable community here.

“We all work and have very busy lives, but have found time to come together as a community to open and run a community shop, develop our own award-winning renewable energy system for the island, and install and manage community moorings.

“We are currently raising money to build three new houses on the island to help grow our population and looking at plans for new tourism accommodation and community and visitor facilities. We may be small in number, but we are very resourceful and resilient, and we will be bringing that, together with our passion for this beautiful place, to the partnership.”

Phil Long, chief executive of the NTS, added: “As well as the island, they also gifted to the trust an exceptionally important archive of Gaelic song, stories and poetry, a vital part of Scotland’s heritage.

“The Campbells’ legacy was clear in that the island was gifted to the trust to ensure the preservation of the unique Hebridean way of life and culture of Canna. In our 40 years of ownership, we have invested significantly to protect this legacy and ensure the special natural and cultural heritage of Canna is preserved for future generations.

“The people who live on Canna are central to that legacy and we could not fulfil our obligations to John Lorne Campbell without them. The partnership will ensure we can harness the trust’s long experience of caring for such special places to the community’s drive and passion to build a successful future for the island.

“Our joint work on housing development and improving the visitor experience are examples of where we can work better together.”

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