Comox resident Barbara Martin is saddened to see graffiti covering parts of the Mack Laing House, also known as Shakesides. For over a year, she says there’s been an increasing amount of graffiti appearing on each side of the house, along with a failing roof, and doors and windows that show signs of attempted entries.
“Is this a training ground for the young and not-so-young graffiti artists of the area?” she states in a letter to Comox council and parks superintendent Al Fraser. “Many communities have active programs to discourage the proliferation of graffiti. It’s a sad commentary that while the Town ‘boasts many beautiful parks’ on its website, a home and property held in Trust by the Town of Comox can suffer such indignities.”
CAO Richard Kanigan said the Town was notified of a party near Shakesides during Family Day weekend on Feb. 11. Staff attended to the site the following day. The building had not been breached, but some graffiti was evident.
Staff returned Feb. 13 to replace a sheet of plywood — the front door of the house — that appeared to have been pulled back. Kanigan said staff returned Wednesday, March 7 and again replaced the plywood, which had sustained minor damage.
He said Fraser will attend to the graffiti issues when he returns to work next week.
Kanigan also notes area residents and users of the surrounding park area provide regular monitoring of Shakesides. There are also regular staff patrols of the park.
In 2016, council voted to disassemble Shakesides, and to use the site and some materials from the home to create a viewing platform, in conjunction with the existing walkway. In his will, Laing bequeathed to the Town belongings from his home, as well as $45,000, 25 per cent to be used for capital improvements. The other 75 per cent was to be invested by the Town. Income earned was to be applied to annual operating expenses of a natural history museum. Kanigan had said the latter does not appear to be possible or practical.
The Town, he added, has applied to the courts to modify the Mack Laing Trust to remove Shakesides, and to use trust funds to construct a viewing platform on the same location as the current foundation.