Born & Raised: New Lorne plan misses the mark

Katie Maximick

Special to The Record

 

From the 1870s to 2011, the Lorne Hotel & Pub was the cornerstone of downtown Comox.

I can still see it now, with its beautiful wrap-around veranda, its welcoming blue-shuttered windows and the row of cedar hedges that hugged the historic building like a protective wall of evergreen.

Within that quaint white and blue building lived 133 years of Comox history, and walls that watched clothing evolve from Victorian bustle gowns and top hats to glittery halter tops and skinny jeans.

The Lorne was Comox.

When it burnt down in the spring of 2011, the community was devastated, just as gutted as the building itself, and for years the lot sat there empty, a sad reminder of what we lost and what would be hard to replace.

So when plans started to come together to rebuild the Lorne and to finally fill that gaping hole with a new Comox cornerstone, the community came to life, buzzing with anticipation over potential development ideas.

When I eagerly opened the first news article I saw on the Lorne Hotel proposal, my heart sunk.

There staring back at me wasn’t a beautiful tribute to the old Lorne Hotel (and Comox’s history) that I had been hoping for – instead there was an artist’s conception of a towering five-storey “mixed-use” building, a building similar to many of the other newer condo developments on Comox Ave, only this one was taller.

I had hoped this development would reflect the community’s respect for what stood on that corner for over 130 years; that maybe there would be at least a few homages to the architecture of the old Lorne Hotel, but no, there is absolutely nothing nostalgic about the ‘new Lorne’ at all.

And another thing is that the new Lorne project has pretty much snuffed out my hopes for any revival of live music in downtown Comox. With four storeys of condo owners living above, I can’t imagine this “pub/bistro” hosting local bands to play late into the night like the old Lorne had, not with residents trying to sleep upstairs.

Comox used to be a great place for live music with the Edgewater Pub and the Lorne, but with both establishments now gone, the live music scene has sorely been missed in downtown Comox. The fact we don’t have a single option for live music in central Comox is actually pretty sad, and I had been hoping the new Lorne’s pub would change that, but I’m starting to doubt that.

It might be too late to change this one project, but all I ask for is that the growing number of young families and professionals – and their interests – are taken into consideration by council and developers when it comes to future ideas and planning.

Consider the potential money this generation of 30 and 40-somethings can put back into the community with the right businesses to lure them. I’m sure some of us will buy one or two of those condos in the new Lorne development, but I can guarantee that even more of us will make the trip to downtown Comox and spend our money there if this pub is a hit.

Sure, Comox might be a bit louder as a result of another pub and (God willing) a live music revival, but it will at least be livelier and more energized by a new nightlife that’s been clearly lacking for the past four years.

If it can’t be done in the new Lorne because of the condos above, then maybe a developer can find a better spot in downtown Comox to build a new live-band pub for all the music lovers out there, young, old, and in between.

The Lorne used to bring people together of all ages and from all walks of life, and if we can’t get the old Lorne back, then maybe we can at least keep its lively spirit going in another form. I think it’s earned that from us.

Katie Maximick is a freelance columnist for the Comox Valley Record

 

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP looking for suspicious man in Courtenay

Man was frantically waving at vehicles

Comox Valley golfers prepare for another 55+ Games

Competition, camaraderie name of the game

Comox Valley firefighters assist with wildfire effort

Four Courtenay firefighters are in Fort St. James helping with the fight… Continue reading

Woman rescued from Stotan Falls calling for safety measures

3L Developments did not comment on immediate plans to add safety precautions

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Glacier View residents take a ride on the river

Ground Search and Rescue guides floaters on Puntledge

Two hurt in car wreck on old Island Highway

Honda and Volkswagen crash at 10 p.m. Friday at highway intersection in Nanaimo

Authorities mull evacuation order for Zeballos

Smoke billowed from the steep hillsides of Zeballos on Friday evening, as… Continue reading

Safeway union urges prejection of mediator recommendations

Says mediator asks for too many concessions

Fire chases B.C. crews out of their own camp

Crews in Burns Lake had to leave after a wildfire reportedly overtook their sleeping quarters

To address peacock problem, B.C. city moves ahead on trapping plan

Surrey’s new bylaw focuses on ensuring people no longer feed the birds, ahead of relocation

Hospitals to see ‘delays’ in care after losing Saudi students, health group says

About 1,000 Saudi residents called back to kingdom after suspending diplomatic relations with Canada

Bernier diatribe against ‘extreme multiculturalism’ boosts Liberal coffers

Party spokesperson Braeden Caley says online donations doubled, social media engagement quadrupled

‘Disjointed’ system hinders British Columbia First Nations in wildfire fight

More than 550 wildfires were burning in B.C. and crews were bracing for wind and dry lightning

Most Read