Mack Laing dissuaders need to get their facts straight

Reaction to letters by Dave McLeod and Tony Farrell (The Record September 2 and September4)

On behalf of MLHS I want to thank the many people who have written and offered donation in support of the restoration of Baybrook and its future contributions to the Comox Valley as a Nature House.

Of grave concern to us have been 3 letters by Dave Mcleod and Tony Farrell opposing the project.  Over half of the MLHS directors are neighbours of Baybrook.  As long-time residents they have taken care to discuss the project with their neighbours.  We therefore regret to hear that newer residents, such as Mr.Mcleod, who seems unavailable by phone, were not consulted. (A public tea is being organized to invite any concerned neighbours.)

Anybody wishing to be informed of the project can read the 2 professional reports prepared in 2013 and in 2014 can do so at http://macklaingsociety.ca/wp/ , and get the facts straight.  The reports are very clear on the following points which are thoroughly misrepresented in these 3 letters:

1.  Baybrook was assessed by professional engineers, architects, historians, environmental scientists and was found to be structurally sound, historically and heritage significant both locally and nationally, and of special educational interest.

2.  At the moment, Baybrook was acquired at taxpayers’ expense. It costs the public $5,000 a year plus the amortized cost of acquisition.  The proposal relieves taxpayers of the annual tax, would create 6 local jobs, and would bring a minimum $600,000 into the local economy.  This would provide tax-relief to the public, who will be continuing to pay for the acquisition of Baybrook if it is demolished and not used  economically.

3.  The project is entirely financed by MLHS.  It will cost the Town of Comox nothing.  It is an opportunity to put money in the taxpayers’ pockets, and create local employment for young people.

What will cost the taxpayers of Comox will be, continued mis-information, short-sightedness, and delays to block this project.

The only letter that matters is Mack Laing’s last letter in which he trusted that his will would be respected. That letter is pretty clear on 2 things that override all other privileged opinions and interests we hear today.

Mack Laing donated a park for the public, not for a select privilege few, not for future inhabitants of a neighbouring development.  He explicitly requested and trusted that the public interest would be protected in a particular way promoting conservation and natural history.  He even entrusted money directing that it be used to that end.

32 years after his death the question is now cross- generational.  Can an old person who bequeaths land and money to the Town trust that his explicit will be respected?  And can young people trust that what was entrusted for their sake will be protected and passed on to their children, as Mack Laing would have wanted?

MLHS is not the Filberg Heritage Lodge and Park Society.  Unlike Mack Laing’s home, the Filberg was not willed, nor intended, to become “a natural history museum”.  It would be an abuse to force the function of a nature interpretive centre and a nature pre-school onto the Filberg, as Farrell suggests.

Over the past 12 months, MLHS sought a just solution, respectful of the neighbourhood,  that would make the bequest accessible to all, at no cost to the taxpayer.

What we should remember is that ongoing discussions on Baybrook, repeat the historic opposition to The Filberg.  When we look back on these, and consider the contribution of the Filberg to Comox’s economy, we see how misleading and wrong the opposition was then, as it is now. For the taxpayers’ benefit, let us hope that political leadership will be as wise for Baybrook as it was for the Filberg.

Dr. Loys Maingon per Mack Laing Heritage Society

(CVN President, MLHS Director)