Key environmental groups launch “Heritage Crossroads Study”

Overlooking 6,000 years of the K’omoks estuary’s cultural history and standing on the Comox Valley’s premier cross-cultural heritage site at Baybrook, Project Watershed (PW) and Comox Valley Nature (CVN), together with the Mack Laing Committee, inaugurated a far-reaching project to assess the heritage value and implications of the many conservation and environmental projects they undertake and are planning to develop throughout the Comox Valley.

Wherever we work, stand or walk in BC, we do so on traditional First Nations heritage territory, and sometimes where westerners have made history that has shaped this province’s future. Mack Laing’s heritage home, “Baybrook” which stands on the largest forest midden in British Columbia is the Comox Valley’s foremost historical landmark of this relationship.

In a bold far-sighted move Project Watershed and Comox Valley Nature with Area B heritage funds have joined to hire “Nutesne Consulting” a First Nations firm to prepare a heritage assessment of the natural and cultural heritage potential of the projects which some 25 conservation and environmental groups carry in every corner of the valley. PW and CVN recognize that notwithstanding the very significant economic value of their work, they also have a significant heritage component of interest to many visitors, and that it is important to co-ordinate work in order to preserve and enhance heritage values for forthcoming generations.

For thousands of years heritage and conservation are what has given the Comox Valley its reputation as the “Land of Plenty”, as its historians and archaeologists have duly noted. As CVRD Director Jim Gillis pointed out at the event: “ We must celebrate, promote and enhance our natural assets and heritage to bring more revenue into the Valley”.

Shane Hartman, the principle at Nutesne is a graduate of UNBC’s Natural Resource and Environmental Studies programme. He brings to the project independent objective professional skills, and special expertise and experience in identifying and measuring recreation risks and opportunities to heritage. Given the importance of the estuary’s archaeological heritage and its potential sensitivity to ongoing and future restoration programs undertaken, it is critical to bring professional First Nations expertise to assess both educational and recreational opportunities and their potential risks to the Comox Valley’s heritage and enhance cross-cultural partnerships.

“Change in the way we do business has been upon us since the ongoing recession of 2008, as BC Nature’s motto says: “To Know Nature and  Keep It Worth Knowing” is the only way to be sustainable. And that’s the Mack Laing way” said CVN’s president, Dr. Loys Maingon.

An indirect beneficiary of this project is the Mack Laing Heritage Society’s plan to restore Mack Laing’s home, Baybrook. As the valley’s premier cross-cultural site, given the historical importance of Mack Laing and the rich First Nations heritage associated with the midden and the estuary’s archeological and natural history, this is a conservation crossroads. The location presents a unique opportunity to develop heritage opportunities inherent in conservation tourism which the Mack Laing Society, together with PW and CVN feel is essential to the future of Baybrook.

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