Comox council issues reprieve for Mack Laing’s historic house

A historic home in Comox has been given a reprieve by comox council from demolition.

Naturalist Mack Laing's Baybrook House has been given a reprieve by Comox council.

A historic home in Comox has been given a slight reprieve from demolition as council approved a recommendation for additional time for a full market analysis for tourism potential and funding.

Mack Laing’s ‘Baybrook’ house at 70 Orchard Park Dr. has been at the centre of discussion since June, as the Comox Valley Naturalists Society and Project Watershed asked council for a delay on demolition.

Built in 1922, Mack Laing resided in his first Comox house until 1949. It was there where he wrote scientific articles, more than 1,000 journal articles and 14 books.

Council asked for an assessment to determine if the structures (including the main house) which, were in sufficiently poor condition, were worth saving.

The report determined the cost of renovating and saving the building would exceed the cost of reconstruction, and the plan was to remove the structure and return the property to a natural, park-like state.

The groups — known as the Mack Laing House Conservation Committee — enlisted a team of biologists, planners, engineers and historians to examine two homes: ‘Baybrook’ and ‘Shakesides.’

In their report, the committee determined due to flooding, ‘Shakesides’ is structurally unsound and cannot be salvaged in the long-term.

‘Baybrook’ meanwhile, was found to be structurally sound by a professional engineer and salvageable by a professional architect, the report states.

On Wednesday’s committee of the whole, council granted additional time through 2014 to conduct a full market analysis of conservation tourism in the Comox Valley, constitute the Mack Laing Society and pursue alternate sources of funding through BC Heritage.

The groups — known as the Mack Laing House Conservation Committee — describes two options and their socio-economic limitations: a national parks-style post-and-beam viewing cover with signage with an infilled basement (cost estimated between $75,000 to $100,000) or a full restoration developing conservation tourism and education (cost estimated between $150,000 to $200,000).

In his report to council, Richard Kanigan, the Town’s chief administrative officer, said the option that council chose would require the better part of 2014, and a final decision by council could be deferred until 2015.

photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

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