Comox council voted in favour of removing the remaining structures from the Baybrook/Mack Laing Park property Wednesday in order to return the property to a natural state for passive recreation use.
In a report to council, Richard Kanigan, the town’s chief administrative officer, confirmed the remaining structures are in poor condition.
Situated at 70 Orchard Park Drive, Mack Laing’s house has been at the centre of discussion since June last year, as the Comox Valley Naturalists Society and Project Watershed asked council for a delay on demolition.
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 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.
In the report to council, Kanigan said in addition to the poor condition of the house, the access road is sub-standard, the bridge spanning the creek is non-engineered and the site’s animal, fish and plant communities are vulnerable if concentration of human activity continued to be contemplated for the area.
He added passive human movement through the space is acceptable.
Coun. Barbara Price inquired about creating a pavilion with materials left from the destruction.
Kanigan explained the timber from the home is worth salvaging, and the town could store it until a reasonable design was considered.
Mayor Paul Ives added a park use plan will come back to the council table for consideration.
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Following a discussion around the first draft of the town’s 2015-2019 financial plan, council suggested looking at a 2.5 per cent residential increase in taxes for the upcoming year, and a 1.5 per cent increase in commercial taxes.
They asked staff to bring back options for the budget with those increases, and will re-consider the financial plan again in two weeks.
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It’s the first step in the Comox marina vitalization project, as the town received the green light for their grant application to the Island Coastal Economic Trust.
“I’m pleased to deliver the good news,” said Kanigan at Wednesday’s committee of the whole meeting.
ICE-T approved a grant of $320,000 for the project, which includes a harbour services building, two new buildings with recreational spaces for rendezvous boating gathering as well as public meeting spaces for up to 70 people each.
The next step is awaiting a grant application to Western Economic Diversification for $530,000, with the result estimated to come in September.
The project is anticipated to be complete by fall 2016.