There is a common misperception in Erin Haluschak’s otherwise fine article: Political will not there to preserve Laing house (Record, A2, Aug. 1).
When Comox Valley Nature and Project Watershed first became aware of the impending demolition of Mack Laing’s original 1921 home, Baybrook, it was also immediately evident that Town of Comox council was unfortunately unaware of the historical importance, and heritage value, of the house.
When it was informed, council proved understanding and quite supportive, and acted appropriately.
This illustrates something extremely important, which is increasingly misunderstood by the voting and tax-paying public.
Politicians are not elected because they are all-knowing, but because they generously take the time out of their lives to represent us and our community’s best interests.
Similarly, the role of environmental NGOs (non-governmental organizations) should not, in the first instance, be adversarial.
An NGO’s primary role is to bring sound information to public debate, and serve the community’s best interests. Politicians need relevant information and support — from the public — to make sound, and frequently difficult decisions, and to provide direction to staff.
Democracy is an ongoing public process, not a one-time vote handing over of power to legislators.
Volunteer NGOs provide an important voice for the public will. The “political will” is only a reflection of the public will.
Volunteer NGOs, such as CVN and PW, are a means to civic engagement. The work we are doing now to preserve the Mack Laing heritage is professional non-profit work: “pro bono” (for the public good.)
“Political will” does not originate in city halls. It resides primarily in all forms of civic engagement and the support that the community gives to NGO’s to help guide our representatives.
Volunteer work is therefore the foundation of “political will.”
Given the level of public support, which has drawn together a team of professionals and residents for the preservation of Baybrook, the “political will” is alive and well in Comox.
Whatever decision is made in October, it will reflect the civic engagement of the public — and therefore the public is encouraged to support CVN and PW in this process.
Editor’s note: Loys Maingon is president of Comox Valley Nature and co-chair for the Preservation of Baybrook.