New to Comox Valley, I feel confused by the June 22 provisional report to Comox council regarding the Mack Laing property and residence bequeathed to the community. A beautiful oceanside property, residence and maintenance trust, gifted by one of Canada’s earliest naturalists. Who would not take pride in this heritage? The committee recommended demolishment of this Mack Laing House (Shakesides) and the building of a commemorative platform. No questions were taken.
Did council consider how Roderick Haig Brown’s aging residence and property have been preserved as a provincial park for Campbell River residents and tourists, housing a “writer in residence” from Canada’s Arts Council? Sybil Andrews’ will was honoured, her seaside cottage now used to enrich the arts in Campbell River. The council demonstrated the imagination needed to preserve this waterfront jewel.
The Mack Laing property and residence has so much more potential. The site has already been given national/provincial heritage designation. Could we not seek grants and explore community ideas to maximize the use and value of this gift to local residents and tourists? Are we losing opportunities for the “revitalization” the council has claimed to seek? While other communities clamour to create green spaces and heritage sites, it seems we have been secreting ours away. Is this a deliberate under-usage of this area?
Will the attorney general grant the opening of the trust and a change in its provisions as the city is requesting? Perhaps we will have another opportunity to broaden the vision for our community – present and future.