I was surprised to read in “Society slams Comox for failing to preserve historic Laing homes,” (The Echo,6 March) Mayor Ives’ claim that “interpretive panels had been erected to highlight the historic significance of Laing’s work.” As only one small not very visible panel exists, I leave it to your readers to weigh the substance of the mayor’s other statements.
Only a cairn with a brass plaque erected at the direction of then councillor Alice Bullen and friends of Laing will now remain. (This small plaque and the nature panels at Shakesides do not “highlight the historic significance of Laing’s work.”) The fact is that Mack Laing as early as 1927 was one of the first prominent environmentalists in BC to report the impacts of oil pollution. No friend of the establishment, he was always an outspoken conscience. Comox’s anti-environmental establishment has sought to erase his memory for the past 40 years. (They almost succeeded until MLHS revived local interest in 2013.)
Contrary to your report, MLHS fully accepts council’s political decision, because we believe in the political process, much as Mack Laing trusted in the integrity of the Town of Comox. However, we strongly recommend that seniors wishing to donate to the town, carefully consider Comox’s treatment of an elderly Laing’s will and memory.
Whatever decision council has taken, merely reflects on the town. I fully accept staff’s position, particularly since a CAO who cannot balance his budget and promises annual 2.5% tax increases for the next 5 years to be borne by joe-average, has found MLHS budget projections to be wanting. CVN has been around 50 years, longer than most businesses, and has always run a balanced budget, with surpluses.
MLHS proposed a walk-in low-impact public facility that would have paid taxes and contributed to the parks budget at no cost to Comox (see macklaingsociety.ca). When Comox taxpayers see their taxes increase to pay for parks, they should ask relevant questions of parties who opposed this with a campaign of deliberate misrepresentations, for their own benefit.
MLHS will continue its mission to document and advocate for the protection of the environmental history of the Comox Valley for many years to come. A $1000 annual literary prize is being established by MLHS to record , celebrate and disseminate the history of Mack Laing’s values and impact in the Comox Valley.
Loys Maingon (President)
Comox Valley Nature