I get a wry smile when I read that Mayor Russ Arnott and his councillors have moved that they are going to meddle with the Parks Department of the Comox Valley Regional District regarding fire rings at Goose Spit. A long time ago, 2008 it was, I ran against Barbara Price for Area “B” and much to my surprise and Barbara’s I won and took a very strong stand on “no fires” at Goose Spit. For years people had been setting piles of wet flotsam and beach wood on fire to smolder for weeks. The southeast wind would blow the smoke into area homes and as it is the worst kind of smoke you can breathe, people, along with the health officer objected to it.
Not Coun. Arnott (who was not the mayor at the time). He saw fit to organize hundreds of local families to a Sunday meeting to carry on with fires at any cost. People were setting little fires with wet wood and demanding the right to have fires as they had been when they were youngsters. Today is not yesterday. The rally, along with hundreds of letters and emails helped, as it caused our CEO to review the funds spent on the spit and we found it was a few dollars more than none. We then found that there was virtually no money being spent on parks and lenticular walkways (the best bang for your dollar) and all of it was being spent on swimming pools and ice rinks. Yet when counts were taken, more than 300,000 visits were made in 2008 to our spit alone. The most popular park in the Comox Valley. It still is.
The spit is one of the best-managed parks in the Comox Valley Regional District and must service 500,000 visits a year. A park ranger manages the park and the wood when fires are allowed, families have been roasting dogs and burgers there since 2008, plus they have stairs, a clean beach with no burnt garbage, logs, etc. to foul the beach. The CVRD now manages some of the finest parks such as Seal Bay Forest and Nature Park, Bear Creek Park, Lazo Marsh, Ship Points Park and many more all signposted with vertical posts and with appropriate First Nation names. Those were the days when Edwin Grieve, Bruce Jolliffe and myself along with staff, particularly Michael Nhiles, created an annual fund of $20 per property to support and purchase future parks. It brings in $250,000 a year and provides the funds for the park manager to recommend expenditures for future lands for all time.
The spit was so popular, the Town of Comox called the spit and stairs their number-one park in one of their brochures. Russ is back at it again. He is more interested in what happens outside his town than what goes on in it. He is astounded that they had to wait for an answer. What is new?
I open the paper today and see a full-page ad from the macklaingsociety.ca stating that the Town of Comox is once again, delaying its court case from Nov. 15, 2021, to sometime in the spring of 2022. Justice delayed, is justice denied.
Why is there a court case? It appears that when Mr. Laing left his property (which is worth millions today) and remaining cash to the Town of Comox in trust, the town forgot what the words “in trust” meant and mismanaged the funds in every way possible so they are now up to their tutu in a court case, which is costing the good citizens of Comox a lot of unnecessary money. Arrogance and power ease to the fore, rather than compassion and contriteness. If only the town’s councillors, mayor and staff, and those from the past had done their job.
By accepting the land and the funds the town agreed to the conditions of the trust. I would respectfully suggest to the mayor and council that they should concentrate on what they can control and leave other municipalities to manage what is theirs. Their first objective in the New Year should be to take responsibility for Shakesides, let the Mack Laing Society lead the way by refurbishing the existing building which is a fine example of what could be bought out of Eaton’s catalogue in those days. Put the funds they have set aside for contesting their position towards Shakesides and walk away from this no-win game with their heads held high ready for a New Year.