“Baybrook” is officially a ”significant heritage site”

The Mack Laing Heritage Society received two pieces of good news, which fully vindicate what it has been saying for the past two and a half years.  Heritage BC has issued a public statement in which it designates Mack Laing’s original home, Baybrook as “significant heritage site” for British Columbians and all Canadians.  Additionally, it has received a legal opinion by a well-known BC jurist, which confirms the legal foundation of its proposals, and seriously questions the Town of Comox’s handling of the trust. (Both documents can be found at macklaingsociety.ca).

For eight months,  MLHS has been publicly vilified by insubstantial claims made by parties who placed their personal interest above the interest of Canadian heritage and history. They have repeatedly cherry-picked and distorted  the evidence laid out in the reports.  Unworthy personal attacks in the press even falsely claimed that the architect’s report did not find that Baybrook had heritage value. The Canadian citizenship handbook notes that it is the obligation of all Canadians to protect their heritage. Clearly these people should be invited to sit – or re-sit – a citizenship exam, when they advocate the destruction of Baybrook.

Based on the two false claims, that Baybrook had no heritage value and that there is no legal grounds for transferring the trust to Baybrook from Shakesides, these parties also circulated a bogus petition which is misleadingly entitled: “ Commercialization and Development of Recently Acquired Parkland….”  This is preposterous since the reports repeatedly state that the MLHS is interested in the house only, as a walk-in only facility open to the public, and has no interest in “the Parkland”. There was no “development” only restoration to heritage standards. Malicious and defamatory claims were made that MLHS wanted to appropriate the house as a private club, expand it as a “convention centre,” and that a digital “communication hub” (meaning: “1 laptop”) meant an physical influx of thousands of physical tourists, and that the project would cost Comox taxpayers.

Particularly odious was the claim that if MLHS were to have to apply for provincial or federal grants, this would be an imposition on Comox taxpayers. When any other party receives one of these grants, that is celebrated by the community as a positive influx to the local economy that reduces taxes. That claim was therefore tantamount to hate propaganda and discrimination against a particular cultural group – and that is a criminal offense in this country.

Also reprehensible is that fact that the petition’s reasoning,  and disingenuous claims, became the basis of the “staff report.”  Just as the upright citizens, who circulated and signed this petition, refused to meet with MLHS, so staff never invited MLHS to comment either on the opposition’s submission, or on its own contemptible report.  (Comox held kangaroo court at Town Hall.)

So, as I have said before, MLHS has simply accepted the political decision to turn down its offer to save and manage Baybrook as a heritage site, at no cost to Comox. MLHS had about $200K available to do that work, volunteer support, and pay for trust transfer.  The reports showed that the site can be operated with minimal impact – using common funding techniques commonly used by other heritage properties.  Shamefully, this inconvenienced influential citizens, who simply used every bogus and biased argument to further their intent to demolish Canadian heritage.

Now, MLHS has fully accepted that its proposal has been rejected. MLHS hopes that Comox  will find a better fit with the generous offer made by Heritage BC. However, what I will never accept is that the Town of Comox has any right to wantonly engage in the reckless destruction of Canadian environmental and cultural heritage to satisfy the whims of a few nabobs. Nor should anyone accept the suggestion that the trust which a venerable and generous Canadian historical icon placed in municipal government officials can be breached, as MLHS’ legal opinion indicates it was.

A conservative calculation suggests that between the principle left by Laing 33 years ago ($55K), “to be invested”,  and rents from Shakesides (@$400/month), trust money should have grown exponentially to between $400K and over $1 million! When Comox representatives tell us that they have increased the trust from $55K to $72K in 33 years, as a humble taxpayer, I think it is time to follow the money, have a forensic accountant look into this, and refer the matter to the Attorney General, as recommended by MLHS’ legal counsel.

Wishing everybody a Happy Canada Day, and reminding everybody that Canadian heritage is our birthright. It should never be bartered away this shamefully.

Loys Maingon
Courtenay

5 comments for ““Baybrook” is officially a ”significant heritage site”

  1. Terry Chester
    June 29, 2015 at 10:43 pm

    This is hardly a balanced piece. Let’s just “cherry-pick” pick some of the choice phrases out of this, shall we? 1. “publicly vilified by insubstantial claims. 2. “repeatedly cherry-picked and distorted the evidence”. 3. “Based on the two false claims……circulated a bogus petition”. 4.”Malicious and defamatory claims were made” 5.”Particularly odious was the claim…” 6. (Oh this one is a beauty) “That claim was therefore tantamount to hate propaganda and discrimination against a particular cultural group – and that is a criminal offense in this country. (Yikes!). 7. (Here’s some slander) “or on its {Comox council’s} own contemptible report. (Comox held kangaroo court at Town Hall.) 8. (Here’s some common sense for a change)-Now, MLHS has fully accepted that its proposal has been rejected. (Yay, I think?) 9. “satisfy the whims of a few nabobs”. (who is name calling who? I thought Nabob was coffee, anyway. 🙂
    Yes, Loys have a happy Canada Day yourself..Please try to remember what we folks here are trying to do, with the help of the reasonable and thoughtful people we elected. We want them to restore the area to exactly the condition it was in when Mack Laing found it. He despoiled a great deal of the natural state of the area, desecrated a Midden, diverted a natural stream and left it in worse shape than when he found it. Keeping a couple of derelict buildings on the site merely reminds us of those things.

  2. Loys Maingon
    July 3, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Yes Chester, that list doesn’t reflect well on the campaign to demolish Canadian heritage, nor on the behaviour of some participants with whom you associated. It would have been nice if people would just have taken time to sit down and discuss issues intelligently. Unfortunately the intolerance is all documented for posterity to see. (And apart from not knowing English words, I see you also have problems with subjects – staff, not council wrote the report – and it is as contemptible as the petition – all of which nobody wanted to discuss.)
    Is there any other piece of Canadian Heritage you propose to “return to nature?” (Why not John A. MacDonald’s, Fort Henry, or Craigdarroch? Or if you prefer something comparable, Grey Owl’s cabin, or Tom Thomson’s cabin.) Of course you could just start by returning most of the local residences to nature too, they definitely desecrate the natural state of the area?
    And again, we have no interest in the area. We are only interested in the house in which he wrote.
    However, FYI I am just a humble biologist, and as far as most of my colleagues can tell, particularly with the progress of Climate Change, it is increasingly difficult if not impossible – and very expensive- to turn the clock back, particularly after decades of people denying some of the things that Canadian environmentalists like Mack Laing have been saying about conservation values. Some of the so called restorations, in fact frequently result in lower ecological function, That is why celebrating Laing is an investment in Canada’s future. That house has been there for 100 years and represents an important part of the trajectory of Canadian environmental history. Now, all you can come up with is to vilify Mack Laing, just as some extremists actually blame environmentalists for Climate Change?
    This is Canadian heritage. The destruction of Canadian heritage is not negotiable.

    • Terry Chester
      July 3, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      Well, Maingon, (since you seem prefer a formal salutation), your reply hardly spoke to the concern that I raised which was that you appear to prefer to use invectives rather than reason to persuade, and that this was not helpful. I was relived to see you are a humble Biologist, not a lawyer, for your arguments appear, to me, to be specious whilst you attempt to use a philosophical ploy, Reductio ad absurdum -a mode of argumentation that seeks to establish a contention by deriving an absurdity from its denial, thus arguing that a thesis must be accepted because its rejection would be untenable.
      I am uncertain who is mounting this “campaign” of which you speak to destroy Canadian Heritage; my career taught me a thing or two about campaigns, and if you believe that the caring and thoughtful people who are questioning the scope and direction of this poorly planned and sketchy project are involved in some sort of a cabal, intent on destroying our heritage, (Grey Owl? Sir John A?) well, you are sadly mistaken. You even managed to infer blame on us for global warming whilst you were at it!
      From my reading of the dialogue(s) to date, the efforts of the neighbourhood group have always been open and constructive; we have taken the high road wherever possible and our consultations have ultimately been with the officials who make the decisions that matter – the very officials that you choose to slander and belittle at every opportunity, even accusing them of financial impropriety! Accordingly, you can probably see why we have not “sat down with you and discussed the matter intelligently”. With your hostile approach you have weakened what ever plausible argument you might have had, alienated any civic support you might have accrued, dragged this entire matter down to the level of tirades, polemics and histrionics and wasted a whole lot of time that could have been better spent elsewhere. However, I must thank you on one level. You have brought our neighbourhood together by uniting us in a common cause, and my wife and I now know the people who live here much better than we did before – and if you lived here you would know what we found out – They are a really decent bunch! Thanks, Maingon.
      You chose to end with an interesting turn of phrase “the destruction of Canadian heritage is not negotiable!. In my time as a Canadian peacekeeper I found that in negotiations the guy yelling the loudest always had the weakest argument. And one only makes a definitive statement like “not negotiable” from a position of strength, authority and position. My reading is you satisfy none of those criteria.

      • loys maingon
        July 4, 2015 at 8:10 am

        Yes Chester, you do seem to be yelling very loud. Your reply speaks for itself, and not surprisingly never deals with the facts. And all your arguments always seem to get personal.
        Mack Laing is an important local historical figure who has been shown to be important to Canada’s environmental history. Baybrook is a heritage house.
        Whenever an outside impartial opinion is brought in to judge, such as Heritage BC, or retired professionals, the objective outcome is not in your favour. And all you can do is obfuscate, abuse and belittle.
        I don’t know why you and your friends seem to be so determined to demolish what would in any other place in Canada would be preserved.
        In terms of maligning Laing. I really don’t understand your comment. If Mack Laing’s house sits squarely on the midden, did the creek run through the midden?​ Never heard anything about this from fellow biologists who worked on Brooklyn Creek. I know that the 1947 earthquake changed the direction of the mouth of Brooklyn Creek. But never heard about Laing re-routing the creek (though it would not surprise me as it was a common pioneer practice).
        The point is only the house interests us, and it is not where the creek lies.
        And yes, my position is that Canadian heritage, whether it be at Vimy or Ajawan or Baybrook, is sacred ground, and no Canadian should ever destroy Canadian heritage. Canada is a nation of compromises and we have to compromise what inconveniences us for the greater good of the nation. I am sorry that the presence of a heritage site in your neighbourhood inconveniences you and your friends, but it is Canadian heritage.

        • Loys Maingon
          July 4, 2015 at 8:20 am

          And by the way Chester. I do admire the work you put into restoring a Canadian Spitfire in Comox, and was quite saddened to hear that it had to be sold. I only wish you might have joined this effort to save Canadian heritage at Baybrook.

          loys

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