Since 2013, I have been a keen observer of the interactions going on between the Mack Laing Heritage Society and the Town of Comox. I read both reports from the Society, which as I understood it, was requested by the former council to come up with a plan. In my opinion, a reasonable proposal had been made, and a totally plausible way to cost recover and pay for the restoring of the historic home was provided by the Society. It would not have put any burden on Comox tax payers. This all seemed evident to me in September of last year.
Then a municipal election was held and everything seemed to be put on hold. In February of this year, without additional discussions with the Society, the new Council considered a staff report and recommendation to demolish Mack’s original home, that the Society was trying to save.
One could conclude that a newly formed Society, with a list of highly qualified professionals, was pitted against the town’s staff and CAO, and Council sided with their staff. Pretty reasonable way of doing business. This could be concluded without taking sides.
But then key historians weighed in, and an award-winning journalist from the Vancouver Sun (Stephen Hume wrote editorials ), and most importantly, two governmental organizations – BC Heritage and the federal National Trust – wrote letters to the Mayor and Council, confirming everything the Society was proposing about the significant historic figure and his original home. One would think that this should change the landscape and that a reasonable Council should consider this new information from the “experts” and reconsider the decision made in February. Instead, without informing the Society, a wrecking crew appeared at the site of Laing’s original home early on August 6th, and it is now gone forever. Who is to blame?
That is an easy question to answer – the Mayor and Council.
Two more questions to pose are:
1. Did the Mayor and Council read either of these two letters and consider them, especially since both letters proposed financial assistance to help restore the home of this “iconic” figure in Canadian History?
2. If they actually did read and considered both letters, what is their justification for ignoring them and not at least opening up a new public discussion on the issue?
As a naturalized Canadian, who studied and passed the test to become a citizen, I clearly related directly to the comment made in the Wednesday, August 5th, Hume article in the Vancouver Sun: “Canadian Citizenship handbook specifically states that it is the duty of Canadian citizens to protect Canadian heritage.”
So, why did the elected officials in Comox not do this, especially after it was recommended by the two governmental heritage groups?
As a new citizen, I need these questions answered.
A new citizen, confused in Comox