Groups unite to preserve historical landmark

Comox Valley Nature and Project Watershed members are working to preserve Baybrook, Mack Laing's former Comox home.

Comox Valley Nature and Project Watershed members are working to preserve Baybrook

Mack Laing’s heritage home, Baybrook, stands on the largest forest midden in British Columbia and is the Comox Valley’s foremost historical landmark of this relationship.

Project Watershed and Comox Valley Nature with Area B heritage funds have hired First Nations firm Nu’tesne Consulting to prepare a heritage assessment of its natural and cultural heritage potential.

PW and CVN recognize that — as well as the economic value of their work, they also have a significant heritage component of interest to many visitors, and that it is important to co-ordinate work to preserve and enhance heritage values for forthcoming generations.

“We must celebrate, promote and enhance our natural assets and heritage to bring more revenue into the Valley,” notes Jim Gillis, Comox Valley Regional District Area B director.

Shane Hartman, the principal at Nu’tesne Consulting, is a graduate of UNBC’s Natural Resource and Environmental Studies program. He brings to the project independent objective professional skills, and special expertise and experience in identifying and measuring recreation risks and opportunities to heritage.

Given the importance of the estuary’s archaeological heritage and its potential sensitivity to ongoing and future restoration programs undertaken, it is critical to bring professional First Nations expertise to assess both educational and recreational opportunities and their potential risks to the Comox Valley’s heritage and enhance cross-cultural partnerships.

“Change in the way we do business has been upon us since the ongoing recession of 2008, as BC Nature’s motto says: “To Know Nature and  Keep It Worth Knowing,” is the only way to be sustainable. And that’s the Mack Laing way,” said CVN president Dr. Loys Maingon.

An indirect beneficiary of this project is the Mack Laing Heritage Society’s plan to restore Baybrook.

As the Valley’s premier cross-cultural site, given the historical importance of Mack Laing and the rich First Nations heritage associated with the midden and the estuary’s archeological and natural history, this is a conservation crossroads, CVN says.

The location presents a unique opportunity to develop heritage opportunities inherent in conservation tourism which the Mack Laing Society, together with PW and CVN feel is essential to the future of Baybrook.

“Young people who come to the Valley need to find the sense of continuity, that heritage that is essential to community building,” said Kate Panyatoff of the Mack Laing Heritage Society of the Comox Valley.

— Comox Valley Nature

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