Former Courtenay fire chief and member of the City of Courtenay Heritage Commission Lawrence Burns has been recognized by Heritage BC. Photo: McKinnon Photography

Heritage BC honours longtime Courtenay fire chief

Lawrence Burns — the city’s former fire chief who serves as chair of the Heritage Advisory Commission — has received the Heritage BC’s Award of Recognition in the Distinguished Service category this year for his life-long volunteer commitment to Courtenay’s heritage conservation. The annual award ceremony has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Local historian Judy Hagen prepared the following description for the award presentation:

“Living all his life in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, Lawrence Burns, now aged 90-plus years, still has a great love and passion for local history. His years as a volunteer for the City of Courtenay Fire Department, and later as Fire Chief, ensured Lawrence was always front and centre in every major event in the life of the city. This makes him a living encyclopedia able to provide ‘chapter and verse’ to confirm city history. When he joined the Heritage Commission and later became chairman, he always had a story to add to the conversation. Without him, the heritage of Comox Valley would not be told so completely.”

Mayor Bob Wells said the recognition is well-deserved.

“We have long felt that Lawrence deserved wider recognition for his years of service to our community and his passion for local heritage,” said Wells. “Lawrence continues to be a tremendous resource for our staff and the public, and we’re really pleased that his efforts have been acknowledged by Heritage BC.”

The City has previously recognized Burns for his contributions to the community through its highest honour, the “Freedom of the City” in 1995.

He was a ‘Citizen of the Century’ award winner during the 2015 Courtenay centennial.

Council will arrange a presentation at a future meeting or public event.

Patio proposal on hold

Considering the mixed views coming from the neighourhood, council has requested additional information from City staff before approving Ace Brewing’s application to add an outdoor patio to its microbrewery.

The pub is located at 150 Mansfield Dr. near the Air Park. The patio would seat up to 68 people on the western side of the building, facing other commercial properties. It would be licensed to operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily — same hours as inside the pub. There are residences to the north across Mansfield, about 50 metres away and separated by landscaping.

“I believe a patio at Ace would be an excellent idea and opportunity for Courtenay, and provide an amazing place for the community to congregate and socialize,” a resident stated.

“I live across the street and I do not feel it’s a good fit for the neighbourhood,” another person said.

Burning to be regulated

Council passed a building bylaw amendment to include provisions to regulate solid fuel burning appliance installations in new and existing construction.

A staff report notes that smoke from stoves and fireplaces is a significant source of air pollution in the Comox Valley due to frequent temperature inversions and mild winds in winter.

“The Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment have identified the burning of wood can have negative health and environmental effects,” the report states. “The fine particulates found in wood smoke can have negative effects on young children and older adults, especially those with underlying cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Environmentally, wood burning produces black carbon, which is part of a group of short-lived climate forces that are considered to be contributory to climate change.”

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