A rendering of an initial representation of what a viewing platform might look like on the footprint of Mack Laing's Shakesides home. Photo submitted

LETTER – It’s not too late for the Town of Comox to honour Mack Laing’s original trust agreement

Dear editor,

It is so sad that Comox remains one of the few communities in BC with no Heritage Registry, no apparent appetite for conservation and such limited ability to see the value in celebrating a Comox citizen of our past, Hamilton Mack Laing, renowned naturalist, recognized nationally and internationally by experts in his field.

Please see a recent article by archivist Sue Halwa, Royal Museum of British Columbia, from Spring 2021, “What’s Insight” publication titled , “The Motorcycle Naturalist- The Records of Hamilton Mack Laing at the BC Archives”.

Laing entrusted his home and seaside lands on the estuary, to the Town of Comox in a trust agreement, which should have seen the establishment of a nature house in his home, according to the trust agreement he negotiated long before his death and signed with the Town of Comox.

It will be 40 years in February since Mack Laing died, with no apparent intent on the town’s part, to meet the conditions of the written trust agreement. The town rented out his house for 30 years, beginning two months after his death, with no rental funds reserved for his trust. I wonder how many citizens “in the know,” would enter a trust agreement with our municipality now?

The town proceeds with “platform only” plans once again – which was the one-and-only option focus of the “open” house and now usurps the KFN’s description of the “Great Midden” for their own ends. If the town really wishes to minimize harm to the midden, restoring the current Shakesides foundation ( experts confirm it can be done) and Mack Laing’s home (expert confirmation of this also) would be the least disruptive to the midden. The KFN recused itself from talks with the Town regarding their platform ideas until such time that the Supreme Court of BC has ruled on the town’s request to vary the trust agreement. Unfortunately, Comox once again has cancelled the last scheduled court appearance ( Nov.15, 2021).

Until the court decides whether or not the trust may be varied, the plans of the Comox council remain only plans. The court may well decide otherwise.

The Heritage Society of BC has written a letter of support for the conservation of Mack Laing’s home, Shakesides. They have also offered the town their assistance in fundraising, grants, and education.

Local trades and contractors have offered to volunteer support for this community project. Over 1,000 local signatures have confirmed support for restoration rather than excavation.

Here’s to the citizenry of Comox making their voices heard to support changes to the Town Council’s position toward the Mack Laing Trust agreement.

Let us honour that original trust agreement and work together to bring to fruition Mack Laing’s vision of a community nature house. Let’s imagine it and work towards it.

Barbara Martin,

Comox